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History of the Universe

Exodus to Unification: An Overview

Much of mankind's history in space has been shrouded by war.

Since the discovery of faster than light travel via hyperspace, and later subspace, the expansion of humanity across the cosmos can only be described as rapid. The first wave of settlers leaving the Sol system colonized a wide variety of systems with of varying distances to Earth. This event was known as the First Exodus and effectively established the initial colonial powers. Though many colonies in close proximity to the Sol system found it helpful to maintain strong ties with the central government on Earth, many more sought to escape their effective rule and as such cut ties.

This was followed by nearly a century of peaceful prosperity as the dissipate colonies attempted to survive in the harshness of their new environments. However, as the growing colonies found themselves faced with internal power-struggles, a second wave of colonial expansion occurred in which the splinter elements of the so-called "First Systems" broke away to form their own governing bodies, sometimes by force. While on the whole this Second Exodus did not result in all out war, tension between the first and second generation colonies did not subside.

In 187 AE After Exodus the newly formed Polaris Concordat, a collection of three systems bordering the Delphinus Nebula, launched a surprise attack on the piratical Republic of Glyfhaven. This attack touched off a series of conflicts and expanded to include nearly every major and minor colonial power as each moved to settle old scores and/or expand their territory. This massive series of conflicts, known as the Colony Wars, allowed the first major multi-system governments with strong military and political presences to form (such current powers as the Antarean Empire and the Star Kingdom of Mournecreek trace their beginnings here).

Following the Colony Wars, almost four centuries of near constant strife rocked the cosmos as many First and Second generation colonies attempted to gain the upper-hand on one another with varying degrees of success. During this time, a third pseudo exodus occurred when several of the largest Star-nations deteriorated with their leadership being driven into exile. Most notable of these fractures occurred within the Star Kingdom of Cinnabar, whose destruction gave birth to nearly a dozen new nation-states which later re-merged to form the Cinnabar Republic, a key signatory of the ULP.

In 582 AE, the Antarean Federation suffered a violent schism in the government after nearly fifteen years of rapid expansion. Reif Adromedeus declared himself Emperor of the Federation. The newly renamed Antarean Star Empire quickly consolidated its territory and for two-hundred and seventy-four years the ASE was (for the most part) victorious in every war it fought.

However, in 861 AE, a coalition of the five largest stellar nations was able to halt and completely shatter the ASE, forcing them to accept peaceful integration into the newly formed United League of Planets. This marked the end of wide scale conflict in and around the stellar core (excluding the neutral Solarian Federation, Solesian Hegemony, and so-called Eastern Alliance block).

The United League of Planets

Originally the brainchild of Yvette Edrasil, a Taurian diplomat, the ULP was unofficially established in 849 AE as a secret military alliance to counter the growing predations of the Antarean Star Empire whose new emperor, Lucan Andromedeus IV, was showing signs of continuing the expansionist campaign begun by his father, Lucan III. The alliance consisted of five stellar nations who either shared a common border with the ASE or recognized the threat it posed. The signatories included the Democratic Union of Fellbar (DUF), Republic of Cinnabar (RC), Taurian Confederation (TC), Kingdom of Mournecreek (KC) and the Polaris Concordat (PC).

Each nation pledged mutual defense for one another in the event of war with a foreign power, but this ostensibly referred to any hostile acts on the part of the ASE toward ULP member-states. While carefully shrouded in secrecy, this first alliance remained relatively untested for several years. As the ASE border seemed to be settling down, several members began to doubt the wisdom of being entangled in such an alliance, especially given the new trade opportunities beginning to materialize within Imperial space. Still fearing an imminent attack, the Republic of Cinnabar and the Kingdom of Mourncreek quietly built up their respective navies while the rest of their allies plotted new ways to reap the riches of an alliance with the ASE.

Unification War

In 845 AE, the Antarean Imperial Space Navy surprised everyone by raiding the relatively unimportant library-world of Tar Shenna, in the Yarius system before proceeding with the single largest coordinated assault in post-exodus history. The AISN launched coordinated strikes on over fifty systems, completely bypassing the fortified defensive perimeter established by Mournecreek and Cinnabar, and assaulting nearly two-dozen stellar nations at once. The effect was unprecedented, immediately calling on the promises made prior to the signing of the ULP charter, the Taurians and members of the DUF cried out for assistance from Mournecreek and Cinnabar, both of which had been able to repel the onslaught of the Imperial Navy.

Honouring their agreement, units belonging to the respective navies of each country joined together under the banner of the ULP. Their first task as an allied navy was daunting, halting the second wave of Antarean attacks. Choosing Oleand, the capital-system of the little-known Sidemore Republic, as a staging area the newly formed United Space Navy launched its first attack into the Imperial Occupation Zone (IOZ) in a counter-strike designed to dilute Antarean naval strength long enough for the Allies to form more solid defensive plans. As smaller nations flocked to the ULP flag for the protection, the USN grew stronger and bolder.

Despite superior leadership and courage, it took nearly twelve years of grinding combat before USN forces finally halted the Antarean advance at the Battle of Drydoon in 857 AE. Following Drydoon, the USN claimed a string of victories over the beaten Antarean Space Navy pushing them well out of allied space and driving deep into Imperial space. The decisive battle of the war came in 861 AE in the Antares system where USN won a desperate victory over the beleaguered remnants of the AISN, destroying the Imperial worldship Gatarna, flagship of the Andromedeus clan, and dubbed "impenetrable" for nearly two-centuries.

With the death of Lucan IV aboard Gatarna and the occupation of the ASE, the United League of Planets settled on a second charter that bound the member nations more tightly together under a single governing entity. The new ULP combined all of the existing national navies under the umbrella of the USN relegating them to a reserve status. The USN itself was drawn and trained from all ULP member- nations, and thus retained few national ties found in national navies.

Representatives from each nation convened year-round in a grand-parliamentary style body to establish laws fairly and democratically with a new prime-minister elected every five years (Yvette Edrasil served for five consecutive terms before retiring from public service, she died two years later of natural causes at the age of 87).

National borders remained but, ostensibly, in name only, all taxation and regulation became the domain of the League Parliament. Individual systems and nations were allowed to build and maintain craft, but in a regulated fashion and only in proportion to their need. Wider authority was vested in the USN which drew its officer corps from all corners of the League. While national navies still existed, by and large the USN took over much of the domestic (intra-national) and foreign exercises. Despite the seemingly radical changes in power that led to the establishment of the League, it was remarkably stable, and an unprecedented peace reigned for two-hundred years.

Antarean Reformation

Despite the resolution of the war, the indomitable spirit of the Antarean people was hardly phased. Despite the violence and chaos that gave birth to the first generation of ruling emperors, the political and social system of the Antarean Empire had been remarkably stable and robust. From the 17 core systems outward, the Empire's control usually manifested in actual improvements in the living standards of conquered worlds. While the captive populace would never gain true citizenship, it was possible to become a so-called "First-citizen" through a series of military and government positions.

These positions remained open to all, citizen and non-citizen alike, and offered the chance of family advancement through hard work. As a result, within a generation, many conquered worlds unsurprisingly found life under Antarean rule preferable to their previous condition. With the allure of the extensive merchant networks and the safety and protection of the Imperial Space-Navy, conquered worlds were quickly assimilated.

All of this contributed to a strange situation in the second decade of Antarean occupation. Unrest on many of the core worlds of the Antares cluster lead to the induction of several new representatives from Antares to the parliament in 874 AE. Over the next ten years the 17 core-worlds were authorized to send representatives of their worlds to attend parliamentary proceedings, despite heavy opposition from more conservative coalitions.

In particular Merdris Ordem of the Polaris Concordat, head of the "conservative" wing of parliament, particularly detested these new additions and fought for several years to block legislation legitimizing the government of the reformed Antarean Federation. Despite this opposition, the AF was officially recognized by the ULP in 885 AE.

It did not take long for the Antarean bloc to become a deeply influential voice in League Parliament. Much of the early action of the new government were organized around the repatriation of the many formerly conquered worlds, now independent, which expressed deep desires to rejoin the Federation. While this was ultimately doomed to failure, it did outline a very serious power vacuum in former Antarean space, which spanned thousands of light-years and included nearly a hundred worlds. Though highly sympathetic to these planets, Prime Minister Edrasil also recognized the danger of allowing a precedent of repatriation to be set that might preclude the actual reformation of the Empire itself. As a result, external Antarean diplomacy met with failure on every front.

Frustrated, but not deterred, the Antarean Federation (and its representatives) toned down their rhetoric slowly and deliberately, while the storm of the former Imperial worlds grew. When Yvette Edrasil declined to run for Prime Minister a sixth time, the seeds of weakness sewn by her departure were silently capitalized by the Federation. Over the course of the next hundred years, the AF would become a powerful, if largely silent force in ULP proceedings.

The Solesian War: Seeds of Rebellion

The first spark of Antarean revolutionary ideals first manifested themselves in 944 AE at the height of the ULP's undeclared war with the Solesian Hegemony over the worlds in the so-called Delurr Pocket, a tumultuous region of space which had long been a source of piracy which plagued the ULP's frontier worlds of the 6th District. The SH had long been suspected of supporting piracy in this region, the conflict had largely been limited small clashes with Hegemonic raiding squadrons. Both sides maintained such units to hunt pirates, but when it was believed that the Solesian elements might be assisting some pirates in their commerce raiding, the USN responded heavily. Several assault task-forces were dispatched and it was hoped that the region would calm under such a strong military presence. This was not to be.

Outraged by the insult of ULP military elements in an area of space officially claimed by the SH, Hegemon Yuta Idoko dispatched regular navy units. The standoff did not last long, however. In 942 AE, A USN taskforce was annihilated by a superior Hegmonic force, touching off serious, if scattered, violence through out the Delurr Pocket. The war raged on and off for several years, with no side seriously committed to holding the area. In 944 however, the USN decided to take decisive action, launching a surprise attack deep within Solesian space with the goal of forcing the Hegemon to accept the Leagues terms.

In an effort to divert the attention of the ULP's navy, Solesian raiders under the command of Commodores Deimos Rathskeller and Fuyuki Hinata began systematically raiding worlds of the ULP's 2nd and 6th Districts. Former worlds of the Antarean Empire comprised nearly all of 2nd District, whose USN divisions had been severely depleted to sustain the drive in Hegemonic space as well as maintaining a multi-front defensiver operation. As a result, Rathskeller's raiders met with little resistance and menaced many worlds.

Despite calls for support, it became abundantly apparent to the Federation that the USN was far too weak to provide adequate protection for their worlds. In the same year, the AF began privately training personel for a new, independent navy. In early 945 AE, attacks on Antarean worlds ceased suddenly. Assuming Commodore Rathskeller dead, the USN refocused its efforts in Delurr and quickly forced a compromise with the Hegemon, once again leaving the region as a shared protectorate of both governments.

However, reports of Rathskeller's death were falsified. Both he and his command had been enticed by promises of new employment. Specifically, in the employ of the Antarean Federation, forming the core of their new navy. Secluded in the relatively unknown system Kir Asshan, the Antarean Federated Navy established its primary headquarters and research facilities in secret. These facts were largely overlooked by ULP establishment which for years had witnessed the passivity of Antarean diplomacy and simply assumed the Federation languished in its own obscurity.

Meanwhile, Antarean scientists and researchers searched for ways to overcome their lack of trained military personel and severe numerical inferiority. Over the many years, research into highly specialized drone technology and rapid advances in artificial intelligence allowed the development of Antarean hulls with an unprecedented amount of automation. Where a common ship of similar size might require a crew of a hundred, with the new automated technology, the same Federation design could operate with only a quarter of that number. Further advancement yielded many highly experimental, but powerful weapons, as well as drones which, in many cases, far exceeded the capabilities of human pilots.

However, despite these advances the designs proved extremely costly, especially to the vastly shrunken economy of the Federation. Under the guidance of Admiral Rathskeller and his successors, the Antarean Federation continued to develop its navy in secret, while new plans were hatched.

Infiltration and Treachery: The Origins of the Crusaders

In 961 AE, approximately fifteen standard-years from the resolution of the Solesian conflict, a new wave of terrorist violence would sweep out of the 2nd and 6th district, much to the surprise of many in the ULP. It would be the beginning of a decade long struggle known as the Crusader Rebellion.

A little known sect of the Church of Ios, a holdover from the days of the Antarean Empire (and still practiced on over a hundred worlds), known as the Crusaders of Ios was founded on the planet of Laguna, in Aphis star-system, by religious fanatic Trentis Golsheim in the early of the Antarean Empire. Considered radical even for their time, the Crusaders held the Emperor to be a prophet sent to the Antarean people to lead them to galactic conquest. Over time, the Crusaders exported their views throughout the Antarean Empire.

However, despite their popularity, the Imperial leadership took a dim view of the sect, as the Crusaders considered those who would not prescribe to their particular views as heathens, even if they were strongly affiliated with the church Ios. After the assassination of several ranking church elders and foreign dignitaries on a dozen worlds, the Imperial Army moved to crush the Crusaders. Instead of blaming the throne, the Crusaders instead leveled their hatred at the Emperors advisors (as well as outside powers, whom the Crusader leadership believed influenced the Emperors decisions).

A century of persecution only managed to drive the Crusaders of Ios underground, where it reformed itself as a powerful shadow organization. Over time, it managed to extend its influence deep into the roots of the Imperial Armed-Forces. Though active Crusader membership at the time of its inception hardly accounted for a fraction of a percent of the total Antarean manpower, by the start of the Unification War of 855 AE, the Crusaders could claim a small majority among the officer corps of the navy.

After the fall of the Empire, the Crusaders were driven even further underground, relegated to the hushed whispers of the dominated Antarean people. Over the many decades of ULP dominion, the sect remained largely silent. It was apparent they still enjoyed an unprecedented popularity, but their size and influence remained a definitive unknown.

This all changed by 961 AE. Years of neglect and discrimination had left the 2nd and 6th district protectorates rendered as relative backwaters. Riddled with corruption, local governments and their accompanying ULP officials and magistrates had become increasingly despotic. In many cases, the systems which had been returned to independent, local rule were in desperate need of ULP support to repair their war-torn economies. This support often came at high price. Even more insidious were the exorbitant concessions these repatriated worlds were forced to pay for admittance into the ULP. These included enormous land-grants and all sorts of trade agreements that ensured these planets would be directly in debt to the League for decades to come.

Coupled with outright discrimination, this institutionalized inequality among the captured worlds proved a fertile breeding ground for discontent. It was in this climate that the Crusaders of Ios evolved from pure religious fanatics into an organized subversive network dedicated to the restoration of the glory of the Antarean Empire.

In early 961 AE, a series of organized riots and planetary insurrections on dozens of worlds in the 6th District suddenly erupted without warning. In many cases the startled League Army quickly quelled the uprisings, but the sudden violence poised the entire former-occupation zone for tilt towards chaos. Despite the fast reaction by USN and ULA forces, the uprisings continued unabated, and spread like wildfire to grip the entire sector, with no apparent cause.

The Bellmont Conspiracy

The sudden chaos in the 2nd and 6th Districts was hardly a coincidence. At the heart of the violence, the seventeen registered worlds of the Antarean Federation sat relatively untouched. Having realized that a reliance on the League for protection was folly, the plans for true independence formed even as far back 885 AE were now being realized. The brainchild of Senator Vedric Bellmont, Project Black Widow was now in full affect.

Black Widows premise was both efficient and deadly. The Federation understood that its military was still far too weak to challenge the massive numerical and logistical advantage held by the USN, instead it was realized that in order for the AF to even stand a chance of success, the power and unity of the League would need to be disrupted. To this end Black Widow addressed several problems simultaneously.

First, the loyalty of the former worlds to the AF would have to be solidified, and the opposition to the League intensified to the point where secession would be feasible. In order to do this, the Federation clandestinely sponsored Antony Roderis, a radical ex-cardinal of the Church of Ios, exiled for his increasingly violent sermons, to assume the mantle of First Sword within Crusader hierarchy, effectively placing him in control of the entire sect. With Roderis firmly seated, the Crusaders took on a new goal; the expulsion of all vestiges of ULP control from former Imperial worlds.

Under the guidance of Cardinal Roderis, the Crusaders were transformed almost overnight from a secretive, religious organization to a fully operational terrorist/paramilitary network with tendrils reaching throughout hearts the populace, government, and military of the worlds of the 2nd and 6th District.

Second, to address the USNs military superiority, the AF and its allies began to surreptitiously fill the ranks of the USN and ULA forces assigned to the 2nd and 6th Districts with personnel hailing from former-Antarean worlds. In many cases these men and women were also members of the Crusader faction. As a result of these policies (which had been put into action several decades prior), by the time of the Crusader Rebellion, much of the USNs 2nd and 6th Protectorate-Fleets were either under the direct control of the AF or highly sympathetic to the goals of the Crusaders.

Third; the official political rhetoric coming from the Federation itself was highly critical of the actions of the Crusaders, which it characterized as dangerous separatists. As these strikes began to deliberately target the Federation itself, the representatives to the League continued to put on a brave face while highlighting the inability of the USN to stop the attacks or even control the rapidly escalating situation in the sector.

Senator Bellmont died in 952 AE, well before he could ever see his plans made into a reality. However, his son Thomas elected to carry on his fathers legacy. In 957 AE, Thomas Bellmost became the youngest elected ULP senatorial representative in the history of the Federation. Conspiring with several outside powers, including the Solesian Hegemony, Bellmont secured the funds and military supplies necessary to expand the Antarean Federated Space Navy by ten-fold its original size, as well as setting up supply-chains for the Crusaders operating inside of Federated space.

With the AF supplying Roderis and his zealots with arms, materiel, and tactical information, the Crusaders were consistently able to carry out their missions while avoiding a response by ULA ground forces or the USN fleet. At first these missions consisted of simple civic disturbances on a number of worlds, but soon escalated to riots, and armed uprisings.

The populace of the ex-Imperial worlds had long harbored feelings of discontent toward the ULP, this now boiled over at the provocation of Crusader insurgents, who were responsible for the rebellion of many worlds. At first, the League military had little trouble responding to threats posed by the Crusaders, but as tensions mounted, the USN forces found themselves spread very thinly, attempting to cover too many worlds at once.

Discord and Doom

Fearing similar strikes, the representatives of the systems of the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Districts clamored for the senate to call in the fleet to cover their worlds. This effectively limited the logistical support available for the embattled districts, which in turn forced the commanders of units assigned to Crusader menaced worlds to take even more hard line positions with the general populace. These increasingly draconian measures served only to make public support for the Crusaders grow that much more.

Most importantly, interplanetary trade was heavily disrupted, or even halted altogether in many cases. Since trade was in most cases the only economic lifeline supporting these worlds, this caused widespread industrial depravation. Thus many worlds, which ordinarily would have supported the ULP, now began to chafe under its restrictions.

With the situation in the 2nd and 6th Districts becoming dire, USN Fleet Marshal, High-Admiral Kenneth Pritchart, commander of the 2nd Protectorate Fleet declared martial law in his District. This was just the opening Roderis and his anointed Second-Swords were waiting for. In 969 AE, Crusader insurgents stormed and captured the defensive stations and construction platforms above the world of Lastford, capturing several of the newly completed craft, including a Ragnarok class Super-Dreadnought.

Similar operations and mutinies aboard USN vessels yielded the Crusaders a sizeable fleet, which now moved to occupy several key worlds lying just outside the Treadway Line, a series of heavily defended worlds that served as the cornerstone of the USNs defensive network that protected the approach to the core-systems of the 1st District (the Treadway Line follows the old border between the Kingdom of Mournecreek, Republic of Cinnabar, and the Antarean Empire).

Roderis turned his sights on the vulnerable worlds of the 2nd and 6th District border. With their newly captured firepower and wellspring of public support, the Crusaders seemed unstoppable in their drive to capture the former worlds of the Antarean Empire.

A Virulent Disease

By late 968 AE it had become clear to Federation Intelligence that Antony Roderis and his Crusader movement were becoming increasingly more violent and difficult to control. From the beginning it had been the Antarean Federations intention to use the Crusaders as a means to drive a wedge between the former Imperial worlds and the League. As communication began to decline and the actions of the First Sword became increasingly erratic and independent, it was clear that Roderis and his men had to be reigned in.

By 969, the Federation had begun to vastly decrease the flow of arms making their way to the Crusaders. Despite this, attacks by the sect only increased in scope and damage. Federation analysts were now sure that Roderis had begun to develop his own supply-lines and connections, wholly independent of the Federation. By mid 969, the Federation had cut almost all of its support for the Crusaders. But as the attack on Lastford proved, this was little deterrent. By late 969, all communication between the two ceased. The Crusaders had become a fully independent entity, no longer beholden to the Federation for support.

This situation distressed many leaders within the AF, who for years had argued against this element of the operation due to relative instability and lack of control held over the Crusaders. However, various safeguards had been taken for just this sort of scenario. Information regarding the location of the Crusader leadership as well general bases of operation were leaked to League Fleet-Command, which immediately acted on it.

By mid-970 AE, much of the Roderis logistical support had been cut off or destroyed. While they still received support independently from several sources, Crusader craft could no longer move with impunity. In early 971, Antony Roderis and the surviving ships of his fleet of Holy Liberators were trapped and destroyed above his final stronghold, located in a massive asteroid in Bastions Drift. This would effectively end the armed uprising known as the Crusader Rebellion. That portion of operation Black Widow had run its course.

However, there was one final event associated with this period that would forever shatter the balance of inter-galactic power.

The Crowning Day Massacre

For centuries Crowning Day has special significance to the Antarean people. It coincides with the Day of Flaam, an already important day to the Church of Ios, the first day of the year on the old Imperial Calendar. It was on this day that new emperors would officially take the throne, beginning a new age of their ascension. Despite the defeat of the Empire and dismantling of the old Imperial system, this date still remained a widely revered and celebrated event.

For many Antareans it serves it is an important time for reflection and prayer. Followers of the church treat this date with an even deeper reverence, as an emperors ascension to power is viewed as a sign from god of the indomitable spirit of the Antarean people. Thus, throughout the 2nd and 6th District, Crowning Day is incredibly important even one-hundred and fifty years after the destruction of the Empire.

The years following the Crusader Rebellion were tumultuous ones, and not just for the people of 2nd and 6th District. The weakness of the League had become apparent to many, including its staunchest supporters. The widespread devastation and chaos left by Roderis and his men was evidence enough of that. To make matters worse, the USN itself was in a state of disarray. The various mutinies had left a taint in many peoples mind over the reliability and trustworthiness of many naval commanders and crew.

This distrust was especially apparent among the 2nd and 6th Protectorate Fleets, whose crew now largely hailed from the very heart of Crusader resistance. In many cases, the many Antarean commanders who had not mutinied, and were sympathetic to the Crusader cause, had done little to disrupt the activities of the insurgents. Many had flat-out refused the orders imposed by the declaration of martial law in 969 AE. With over seventy percent of the fleet garrisoning the districts composed of Antarean nationals, this dissent would have telling consequences.

In 975 AE, over twenty thousand workers, engineers, and general staff belonging to the Peoples Workers Union staged a takeover of a League orbital dock and shipyard facilities above the Antarean Federation world of Ixion, inadvertently stranding and trapping several thousand tourists and traveling Federation dignitaries. The protesters were upset over the massive layoffs and paycuts being levied at skilled Antarean workers in the employ of the Leagues contractors. This event alarmed many deep in the ULP as several new warships were currently under construction at Ixion, and there was a fear of a repeat of the events of a half-decade past.

While in actuality, the PWU had little intention of disturbing the unfinished hulls for any purpose (save to weld signs of protest on them), Naval Intelligence received many verified tips that the takeover was the work of Crusader loyalists, who were bent on the restoration of the sects military power. This was in fact a lie propagated by Federation to encourage a twitchy ULP response, and succeeded easily. Several weeks later, a taskforce under the command of Commodore Kurtis Bradley arrived in-system.

The choice of Bradley was hardly a random one. Most of the then captains family had been killed some seven-years prior in Crusader gas-attack on Landsdown City, the capital of the planet Urenbeck. Suspended from duty pending mental evaluation, Kurtis had been reinstated a year later as the USN realized the need for trained and loyal commanders. During the Rebellion, he earned a reputation for his ruthlessness as well as his slavish loyalty to the League.

Unknown to all, plants within the Navy itself had made sure that someone with Bradleys background of twitchy instability and ruthless nature would be assigned to deal with the crisis in Ixion. Following the misconstrued Crusader threat, the Commodores ships arrived in-system under full military power and demanded the immediate surrender from the PWU "terrorists". When he was refused, Bradley threatened to storm station and retake by force if necessary. Undeterred, the PWU stood firm and the Commodore advanced his ships further in-system, fully intending to dock his marine platoons with the station to overpower the activists. What happened next would go down in history as one of the greatest tragedies in recent history.

Unknown even to the PWU, Crusader elements had infiltrated one of the docked frigates under construction in the shipyards. As the League taskforce reached close range, the insurgents activated the ships main targeting array and attempted to orient the ships few active guns at the commodores flagship. Assuming it was a trap, Bradley ordered his crews to open fire on the station itself. In an instant the lives of twenty-four thousand eight hundred and seventy-two men and women were snuffed out. A few civilian craft, previously trapped aboard the station, managed to break free in the chaos and attempted to run for the safety of the planet. Bradley had these targeted as well, believing them to be Crusader terrorists fleeing from the attack.

These ships were blown apart before they could reach the atmosphere. One of these ships carried several members of Parliament, and the daughter of the Federations Prime Minister, Varis Lania Gallientus.

Angels Fall First

Lania Gallientus was a revered figure both within and outside of the Federation. The daughter of the Prime Minister elect, Varis Claetus Gallientus, was known throughout the quadrant for her humanitarian organization the White-Wing Foundation. In the aftermath of the Crusader uprising, Lania came to fore as a champion for human rights and rebuilding the shattered worlds of the 2nd and 6th Districts. She repeatedly petitioned the League Senate to rush aid to these areas. In the many cases where her calls were answered with silence, her White-Wing Foundation took a strong hand in assisting the worlds in most dire need of assistance. Seen as something of a saint in many systems, Lanias presence alone was often able to diffuse even the tensest of situations. Whereas the Crusaders advocated violence, the White-Wing Foundation was decidedly pacifist, always encouraging non-violent protest. Above all it was committed to maintaining the integrity of the ULP at all costs.

Thus when word of her death at the hands of a USN squadron, along with news of the incredible tragedy over Ixion, (on one of the most sacred days of the Antarean calendar) public opinion towards the League in the 2nd and 6th Districts turned from battered hope to murderous rage. Stricken by grief over loss of his only daughter, Prime Minister Gallientus took his own life. In the rush to re-establish order, Federation Parliament held an emergency session to elect someone to fill the Prime Ministers position. The man elected in a unanimous vote was Senator Thomas Bellmont.

Prime Minister pro-tem Bellmonts first act upon taking power was to recall the remaining Federation representatives, citing a lack confidence in the leadership ability of the current leadership of the League. Other diplomatic moves soon followed. USN ships were expelled from Federation space and League diplomats and other personnel were expelled from Federation worlds. Despite this hard line approach, the Federation was meticulous in its efforts to avoid seizing any League-owned property; this gave them both the public and legal grounds regarding protest. Bellmont and his cabinet were careful to stay within the boundaries of existing League protocols regarding a show of no confidence, protocols that had not been in acted in over a century.

The storm over the event now dubbed the Crowning Day Massacre reached far beyond the borders of the Federation and the former Imperial districts. A serious doubt over the actions and viability of the ULP had been raised in the Senate. Bellmont had played his game well, by presenting the Federation as a government with no other choices left, both he and his nation now appeared to be acting with moral justification.

The lines of power that the AF had carefully carved into the Senate over many years were put to good use. As planet after planet and nation after nation both, within the districts, followed the AF by closing their borders and withdrawing their representatives, the situation in the senate grew increasingly tense. A pull back of some military forces in the 2nd and 6th Districts was approved in the opening days of 976 AE, the ULP had decided to take a wait and see approach with many of the worlds in question.

The Battle of Magnolia

With the USN fleets no longer securing the space around many worlds, general acts of piracy began to occur with alarming frequency. One planet particularly plagued was the largely agrarian world of Magnolia. A relatively poor world to begin with, Magnolia relied on its grain and livestock exports to support its fragile economy. Largely ignored during the Crusader Rebellion (possibly due to its extreme proximity to the worlds of the Antarean Federation), pirates quickly moved in to fill the vacuum formed by the exit of the small USN squadron, which formerly garrisoned the world and secured the space above. Lacking the funds to supply its own naval forces to police its trade lanes, Magnolia was repeatedly victimized. With a near-stranglehold placed on its exports, the worlds leaders decided to petition the Federation for assistance.

The AF agreed, and planned to send a small force to secure the world in early 977 AE. The ULP caught wind of this almost immediately, and move quickly to re-establish the garrison before Federation forces could arrive in-system. However, they were too slow in responding, and by the time the USN-assembled taskforce made their entrance, the Federation Navy was already ensconced above the world. But it would not end there.

On the worlds surface, opinion was split over whether decision to look to Federation or ULP for help. After several pro-League groups attempted a coup, open fighting erupted in several major population centers. The supporters of the ULP managed to seize the only spaceport on the planets surface and begged for the USN ships holding their position at the hyper-limit to intervene.

While the Federation ships in orbit refused to assist either side, a military buildup began between AF and ULP craft in-system. As more and more planets clamored for Federation or League protection, the stage was set for a showdown.

In early 978 AE, the storm broke. A USN patrol strayed too deep in-system, provoking a response by the Federation, who destroyed the ships in question. USN craft took this opportunity to strike at the Federation Navy, but were defeated after a weeklong battle. The remaining USN forces retreated to their base at Yuletide. The clash between the two opposing forces would be known as the Battle of Magnolia. And while it did not mark the beginning of the war, it was an example of the tension to come.

Undertow

By now, nearly a score of worlds had openly petitioned the Federation for protection from pirate activity, with twice again that number wavering on the edge. The AF responded, and accepted the requests of these worlds with open arms. Now, nearly forty worlds were under the protection of the Federations Navy. As expected by many, Thomas Bellmont won his bid for election as Prime Minister of the Federation. His fathers dream of a strong, independent Antarean nation with a Bellmont at the helm was nearly realized. But it was not meant to be.

Despite the Federations return to its roots, the former Imperial family still held an enormous amount of power over the affairs of government. Though this was in most cases clandestine, often the outcome important decisions were affected by the will of this family. It was believed that Emperor Lucan Andromodeus IV and his immediate family had all been killed with the destruction of the worldship and mobile battle-fortress Gatarna in the Battle of Antares. But this was not entirely true.

Before the fall of Gatarna, Lucan ordered his Imperial Protectors to secret his pregnant daughter, Luca, from the vessel prior to its destruction. Luca gave birth to a healthy infant son three months later, ensuring the Andromodeus line would not die out in an instant. Immediately after the battle, the surviving family members, who were little more than distant cousins, decided it would be better to keep the existence of an Imperial successor a secret until such a time came that the presence of such an individual could be exploited. They managed to hold on to this tightly guarded information for over two hundred years.

Marius Lucan Andromodeus XVI was born in 957 AE. As was custom, his genetic code was submitted to family researchers at the moment of his birth. They discovered something unprecedented as young Marius was confirmed to be a ninety-nine point seven percent genetic match for Lucan IV himself. The Andromodeus family was a firm believer in natural, unmodified birth. Thus, this result hailed as a miracle, perhaps a sign from Saint Ios himself.

Groomed in private, Marius received all manner of political, military, and tactical training, anything and everything that would prepare him to be Emperor. The youth retained a surprisingly humble demeanor despite the intense pressure put on him. Still, it was unclear how he would come to power, especially with the climate of strife that surrounded the Federation.

Conflict had now erupted over nearly every Antarean protected world, as the USN moved to re-establish its hold. While lacking a formal declaration, the League used the conflict between political entities on many worlds as an excuse to move in. Opposing them, the Federated Navy found itself outgunned and outmatched. Despite early victories, the Antareans found themselves continually pushed back.

On Antares, Thomas Bellmont found himself with a crisis on his hands. The war was not going as planned. Despite the widespread public dissent among the worlds of the 2nd and 6th District, without a decisive military victory it was unlikely that they would readily flock to the Antarean banner. Likewise, the collapse of the United Space Navy had not occurred, as the Protectorate fleets were largely left to garrison duty.

Instead, the ULP had opted to activate reserve units from deeper within the League itself, whose loyalty was unquestioned. As the situation deteriorated, it became increasingly clear that Operation Black Widow had failed, and soon the Federation would be overtaken. As USN fleets closed on the last of the worlds beyond the Antarean border, many began to wonder if the anger and outrage of the people would ever be answered.

Hope

As Marius Andromedeus reached the threshold of manhood, the young Imperial-Prince began to chafe under the secretive guard of the Imperial Protectors. In 974 AE he escaped and entered the Antarean Federated Naval Academy on the planet Lobos under an assumed name. Scoring top ranks in his class, Marius graduated in 978 AE, right on the cusp of the Federations undeclared war with the USN. After graduation, much to the dismay of his family, he accepted a commission as the junior tactical officer aboard the destroyer Requiem.

Completely undetected by Federation Intelligence, Marius Andromodeus would serve with distinction in the thickest of fighting, somehow managing to survive while all the ships around his own were burned to dust by the superior firepower of the massed USN fleet. Having earned several field-promotions for bravery, he went on to serve as the Executive Officer aboard the battlecruiser Dawn Star.

With the threat of the AF forming its own independent power-bloc nearly put to an end; the USN now focused its attention on the last stronghold of the beaten Antarean Federated Navy, the industrial world of Halifax.

The Battle of Halifax

Facing defeat once again, the remnants of the AFN had pulled back to the world of Halifax in the Urden system. It been among the first worlds to clamor under the wing of the Federation and for the duration of the conflict served as a major fleet-base and supply node. Though both depleted in men and machines, the space surrounding the planet had several features that made it ideal for defense.

First, a tremendous asteroid field stretched out on all axial planes with very narrow clear routes through. In the past, the ULP had established huge mining bases to access the systems wealth of ore, but with the evacuation of the regular navy units usually assigned to protect such an area, these installations had fallen into disrepair, or been commandeered by pirates as makeshift bases of operations from which to launch attacks at passing ships and organize strikes at the planets surface. These pirates were driven out with the arrival of Federated troops, who converted the mining bases into supply-depots and makeshift fortresses. The asteroid fields would not only form the outer defense, but also provide cover to harass the enemy should the first line be breached.

Second, Halifax itself was a mountainous planet with some 82% of its landmass 6000km above sea level. By building bunkers and planetary-defense guns into the mountains themselves, Federated troops would be difficult to dislodge even with a heavy ground-invasion.

Third, almost a quarter of Halifaxs population lived and worked in undersea mining and refining facilities. In fact, Mosheim, the planets largest city, was located almost a kilometer deep in the middle of the Garam Sea, and stretched out for miles. From these under-sea locations, Federation troops could hide almost indefinitely from aerial and space-based sensors.

Still, defeat should have been inevitable, given the size of the USN fleet facing the Antarean forces. Nearly two-hundred League ships entered Urden space in late 979 AE. To counter this threat, only seventy-six Federated craft. But the ground defenses of Halifax would never be tested.

A week prior, a freak hit on the Dawn Stars bridge had taken the life of the vessels captain and most of its senior staff. Operating in the secondary bridge at the heart of the ship, Marius Andromodeus survived to become the ships next most senior officer. When the ship carrying Commodore Renford Perry, the commander in-charge of Halifaxs defense, was lost in the opening days of the fighting, it would be Marius, under the name Ulric Tovengard, who stepped forward to carry the fight against attacking USN armada.

After three-weeks of constant fighting in and around the asteroid belt, a tattered USN fleet fled the system. Marius had won the battle of Halifax. A month later, conflict with ULP ended, as a ceasefire was brokered for a war that, officially, had never begun.

The Home Front

Returning to the Federation a hero, Marius waited to reveal his true identity until just the right moment. This moment came sooner than he thought. On Crowning Day of 980 AE, in a holo-address beamed throughout the Antarean Federation, Commodore Ulric Tovengard, Hero of Halifax, unmasked himself as Marius Lucan Andromodeus XVI, the heir and successor to the forgotten Imperial throne of the Antarean Stellar Empire. His calls for a renewed Empire would reverberate throughout the cosmos.

The furor surrounding this revelation reached a crescendo when the DNA tests proved the young mans words. Prime Minister Thomas Bellmont, whod suffered a mental breakdown prior to the outcome of the Battle of Halifax, could not be reached for comment on the news and was later found dead in his home in the Bellmont Estate of an apparently self-inflicted pulse-gun wound to the head.

The announcement of Marius identity and goals had far-reaching consequences. The worlds of the 2nd and 6th district, which for years had been tested again by strife and hardship now acted in open rebellion against the last vestiges ULP control. Almost overnight, a majority of the worlds in both districts declared themselves for Marius and his restored empire.

The Great Betrayal

As if the defeat at Halifax and Mariius sudden appearance as the new Antarean Empire, yet another blow would be struck against the ULP. With their reserves stretched thin, the USN would now be required to rely on the protectorate fleets to wage war on the Antareans. This would be a mistake. When orders for a renewed attack against the now sovereign worlds of the AF were issued to the 2nd and 6th Protectorate Fleets, wide-scale mutiny ensued.

Many commanders had already been leery of the increasingly despotic actions on account of the ULP toward their home worlds in the districts. With the destruction of the Crusader Rebellion, the tragedy of the Crowning Day Massacre, and the undeclared war with the Federation, much of the reason theyd still kept their posts was to safeguard their respective planets. Thus, for these men and women, receiving orders to mobilize against a nation and man whom many now saw as the hope for a new Antarean Empire was the last straw.

The 2nd Protectorate fleet deserted the USN almost to a man, taking with it much of the 2nd District. The 6th District faired better, if only slightly. Though it suffered fewer mutinies, Crusader sleeper agents damaged vital equipment, and destroyed or stole ships, rendering the fleet impotent to defend itself against any attack. With more than half of 6th District in open rebellion, or sworn to the new Emperor, the ULP had little choice but to sit back and watch is its union fragmented at the seams. The seeds of Operation Black Widow had finally blossomed.

To make matters worse, many supporters of the ULP deserted, withdrawing their respective fleets to their home borders in fear of an impending Antarean attack. Worst still were those nations that declared their support for the renewed Empire. In one single stroke, the ULP lost nearly a quarter of its worlds and much of its support. With the Senate in disarray, the war, which ended nearly one-hundred and fifty years earlier, was set to begin anew.

The Second Antarean War

983 AE - present

Category:History