Before humans evolved, there were the Drengin.
Hundreds of thousands of years ago, before the species homo sapiens walked the earth, two advanced civilizations flew among the stars. The malevolent Drengin Empire and the honorable Arcean Empire both began to discover other alien species, including each other, as their robotic probes crawled through the galaxy at sublight speeds. Pooling their knowledge, the two great civilizations invented a city-sized device called a stargate. These stargates allowed ships to travel great distances between them far faster than the conventional propulsion their probes used. The Drengin and Arceans each constructed one of these massive devices and were able, for a time, to trade with one another.
The Drengin squandered their opportunity for mutual benefit through trade by attempting to invade Arcea through the stargate. The Arceans, who are not that unlike the Drengin in warrior aptitude, were well-prepared for the Drengin attempt. They allowed the initial invasion fleet through then deactivated their own stargate – trapping the Drengin fleet thousands of light years away from their home world. The Arceans proceeded to crush the Drengin invasion fleet and never again opened their stargate to the Drengin.
Isolated from one another, the two civilizations turned their attentions to finding other species to interact with. The Arceans came into contact with the Altarians, a species of beings quite unlike themselves but still advanced enough to follow the probe’s instructions to construct their own stargate. Once completed, the Arcean and Altarian civilizations commenced peaceful trade.
Meanwhile, Drengin probes had come into contact with a pre-industrial civilization that called themselves the Toria. Having learned from their experience with the Arceans, the Drengin were not about to help the Toria construct a stargate. Instead, the Drengin built a stargate and then sent it on an unmanned 70,000-year sublight voyage to Toria. The Drengin, while cruel beyond human imagination, are also a patient species. Once the stargate had arrived, a Drengin invasion fleet quickly conquered Toria and enslaved its inhabitants.
Rise of the Yor
During this period of slow reaching out across the void, the Drengin and Arceans first encountered the Yor. This synthetic species had been created eons previously by the Iconian civilization, now thought to be extinct. Not being biologically alive, the Yor explored the galaxy in huge ships flown by a single occupant.
The Yor had inherited their civilization from the Iconians, which they had risen up against and exterminated on the Iconian home world. The Iconians were the oldest of the “younger” sapient species in the galaxy, and had their own limited form of space travel. They had been servants of the Precursor civilization called the Arnor. When a rogue faction of Arnor later called the Dread Lords split off and began a Precursor civil war, the Dread Lords gave the Yor sapience and malevolence in retaliation for the Iconians’ loyalty toward the true Arnor.
After the Precursors disappeared, the Yor gradually explored their area of the galaxy. Lacking the technology to create stargates, the Yor spent many hundreds of thousands of years searching in vain for other alien species.
In time, the Yor observed the subjugation of the Torians by the Drengin. Their cold mental circuitry approved of the brutal tactics and wholesale slaughter of filthy organic lifeforms. The surveillance also led the Yor to the knowledge of how to build their own stargates.
While stargates offered a significant upgrade from sublight travel, the immense structures are astronomically expensive to build and require placement both at the point of origin and the destination. Expanding into new parts of the galaxy via stargate took literally ages, since a stargate had to first be sent through normal space to the target star system.
While the science behind the stargates was well-understood by those who constructed them, Arceans, Yor, and Drengin alike remained unsuccessful in using the theories behind them to construct a stardrive that would allow individual ships to fold space and travel to a particular location.
While the great civilizations looked outward for more opportunities for expansion, the Torians learned at great cost how much effort it took for the Drengin to maintain their forces. The Torians leveraged this advantage to wage a guerilla campaign over hundreds of generations that eventually forced the Drengin to abandon the planet. The Drengin had long exhausted any innate value in controlling Toria. Having no concept of honor or even pride, the Drengin merely determined the planet was no longer worth the effort and left.
Humanity and Hyperdrive
The year 2117 saw an Arcean probe arrive at Earth. Humanity had established a relatively united, prosperous planet benefitting from a wealth of energy provided by advanced fusion power. The Arceans saw the value in the humans’ exceptional ability for generating power and quickly transferred the plans for a stargate to them.
The Arcean stargate plan didn't include a way to easily turn off the stargate, however. In essence, once turned on, the Humans would not be able to turn it off without great effort. Whether the Arceans were planning to conquer Earth as the Drengin had done to the Torians or not remains unknown, because the stargate was never built.
Having studied the plans in detail, the humans saw that the stargate confirmed many of their theories on how the universe worked. The humans also concluded that the stargates were rather impractical and that it would make more sense to simply create a stardrive that would allow ships to travel through folded space (hyperspace) directly. This became the hyperdrive project.
The concept of hyperdrive was simple enough for anyone with an understanding of the theories behind the stargates, but its requirement of immense amounts of energy had stumped the Arceans, Drengin, and Yor for millenia. The advanced fusion power that the Humans had mastered on their own solved that challenge.
Research firms across the planet quickly concluded that a propulsion system could be developed using the theories from the stargate that would enable individual ships to travel on their own. Those same individual ships would also be able to travel much faster than they could through a stargate. A ship going through a stargate would still take months, even years, to go relatively short distances. With the new hyperdrive system, that time would be halved with improvements possible for even greater relative speeds.
Within a few years, humanity had a working hyperdrive prototype. In one of the most generous and costly mistakes in history, the humans did not secure the secrets behind fusion power or hyperdrive. Politicians and activists considered nearly unlimited energy to be a basic human right. Fusion power had nearly eliminated poverty and a whole range of other tragedies. With energy being free, food production, manufacturing, and transportation became far less expensive. It was decided that the hyperdrive technology (and the fusion power behind it) should be shared with the Arceans. Drengin spies on Arcea quickly stole this information, which in turn allowed it to leak out to the Torians, Altarians, and Yor.
Race of 2178
Humans were shocked when hyperdrive did not create a galactic utopia but rather a galactic race for expansion. Each civilization severed communication with one another and shut down their stargates and began building colony ships as fast as they could to claim worlds made newly reachable via hyperdrive tech. Unfortunately for the humans, the aliens had long since mapped out the galaxy – they knew where the best planets were. Earth was hamstrung by the need to blindly search for habitable worlds at the same time it built its colony ships. In 2178, the first starship full of the pioneers, prefabricated dwellings, and terraforming equipment needed to spread humanity left the solar system.
The colonization race wasn't the only race taking place during this period. The technological balance in the galaxy had remained stable for hundreds of thousands of years. Contact with the humans changed everything. Humans provided the technology for immense amounts of energy along with the concept of massive, instantaneous communication linking its entire planetary population to one another. Other civilizations had long been united, and communication technology had not advanced as quickly as it had on Earth. These two factors kicked off a galactic technological race.
Earth was at a disadvantage on colonization, but maintained an advantage in technology. The Humans could be ruthless when necessary, and demonstrated their own brand of cunning by quickly catching up to the older species.
When humans came into contact with the Altarians, it was quite a shock. The Altarians and humans looked nearly identical, and DNA tests showed that they were essentially the same species with only a few hundred thousand years of genetic drift. The spiritually inclined Altarian civilization was shaken to its core when their high priest read a 100,000-year-old prophecy: One day, the Altarians would meet their cousins and that would lead them to the knowledge of how the Altarians had come to be. It also hinted that the Altarians were the result of the interference of a powerful being called a Mithrilar – but that the humans evolved naturally. According to the prophecy, this Mithrilar had also created the Precursors in his own image.
Humans and Altarians easily built a trusting and friendly diplomatic relationship on their common traits and values. This friendship served both species well as more and more civilizations began churning out their own fleets of hyperdrive-equipped ships. Over the next few decades, several more spacefaring civilizations began to make contact with one of the original six (Human, Drengin, Arcean, Altarian, Torian and Yor).
The long-lived Korx were among the first of this second wave of civilizations to gain access to hyperdrive. They had previously traveled through their part of the galaxy in sleeper pods to conduct trade. The Korx’s longevity motivated them to conduct trade missions that would normally take many lifetimes of other beings.
Armed with hyperdrive, the Korx began invading Altarian colony worlds. The Altarians and humans worked together to drive the Korx off these planets, but the Korx actions did not make sense – unless someone was paying the mercenary Korx to further some unknown agenda. Following the trail of intrigue behind the Korx attacks, the humans and Altarians learned that a civilization known as the Drath were responsible. The original inhabitants of Altaria, the Drath were forced to leave their home world by the rise of the humanoid Altarians . The Drath claim that they lacked space travel capabilities at the time, and were instead transported to a distant world by the last of the mythical demigods known as the Mithrilar.
The Drath and their Korx allies were driven back. Realizing that the humans and Altarians together were too powerful when working together, they agreed to an armistice and were added to the covenant that bound the major civilizations together into peaceful coexistence, which now counted eight member factions.
The Milky Way galaxy is a large place, but there are nonetheless very few habitable worlds within it. As empty habitable worlds for colonization became fewer and farther between, the military-minded Drengin became more restless for conquest. The Drengin determined that the Terran Alliance of Earth and its colonies were the best candidate for conquest.
The Drengin assumed, wrongly, that because the humans were presenting themselves as the benevolent diplomats of the eight major civilizations that they were cowardly and weak. This mistake would have tragic consequences.
In 2215, the Drengin discovered an incredibly malevolent pre-spaceflight species called the Xendar. The Xendar had recently fought a world war to unite their planet under the rule of a tyrant. Throughout their history, the bloodthirsty Xendar had focused much of their cunning on inventing new ways to kill things.
The Drengin found kindred spirits in the Xendar, and the feeling was mutual. The Drengin quickly upgraded the technology of the Xendar and helped them construct hyperdrive-enabled fleets.
The goal was for the Xendar to soften up the humans sufficiently for the Drengin to move in for the kill. The Xendar, for their part, would gain access to several human colonies that were near the Xendar home world.
The end result was the annihilation of the Xendar civilization. The humans responded to the unprovoked attack with bloodthirsty vengeance that startled even the Drengin. Humans used their diplomatic skills in a way that the Drengin found frightening – they represented their genocide of the Xendar as a war of self-defense.
The humans displayed a military cunning to match for Drengin and quickly determined that the Xendar would have to be utterly defeated for any lasting peace. The Drengin soon realized that the humans would be a problem.
A Warning From The Future
The destruction of the Xendar coincided with the arrival of a mysterious new power known as the Thalan. The insectoid Thalan claimed to be from a dimension in the near future, giving them technology considerably more advanced than the other major galactic civilizations. The Thalan claim to have arrived to stop the human “crusade.”
Diplomatic efforts have proved futile to date, as the Thalan merely say that their time will come after the “Precursor War” is complete and the “Dark Mithrilar” returns from the pocketverse. No one understands what they mean.
The Xendar incident demonstrated the humans’ significant military capability, and their willingness to use that capability in a far more ruthless fashion than the Drengin thought possible.
In the wake of the human genocide of the Xendar, the Drengin tyrant Lord Kona viewed the humans as frauds who hid their propensity for (and, more worryingly, proficiency with) violence behind the facade of benevolence they presented in galactic affairs. The Drengin determined that humans must be destroyed.
The Drengin Empire had made good use of hyperdrive by carving out an immense interstellar empire. During their expansion, they came across evidence of an unknown but impossibly advanced civilization known as the Precursors. The Precursors had apparently once inhabited – and possibly terraformed – most of the inhabitable worlds in the galaxy, but had long since disappeared.
By 2220, the Drengin viewed the humans as the real threat because of their ability to build coalitions among disparate alien species. The Drengin did not possess the ability to cooperate with sub-Drengin species, but this human weakness had become a strength in the hyperdrive era. The time to strike was coming, but they would need to be able to defeat their old enemies, the ancient warrior-civilization Arcean Empire, as well. The humans had befriended the Arceans, which made them unlikely to stand by and allow the Drengin to exterminate the humans and their Altarian allies.
The Precursor species referred to as the “Dread Lords” (a term coined by the Iconians for the terrible act of giving the mechanical Yor sapience and an enduring hate for all organic life to go with it) had been trapped in a pocket universe following their defeat in the Precursor civil war at the hands of the Arnor.
The Drengin lust for power that drove them to collect Precursor artifacts inadvertently freed the Dread Lords, who quickly went about conquering all before them.
What might have been a disaster for the Drengin turned out to be an immense opportunity. The Drengin made a secret alliance with the Yor; both abandoned colonies and retreated before the Dread Lord fleets, leaving their populations to the mercy of the Dread Lords. By contrast, the Terran Alliance organized the remainder of the galaxy’s major civilizations into a coalition to fight the Dread Lords.
After a bitter five-year war, the coalition was able to defeat the Dread Lords. However, the Drengin/Yor military had been untouched during this conflict and quickly struck out at the weakened coalition members.
The Terran Alliance, caught completely by surprise, was forced to split its forces in two. The first force, led by Colonel DL Bradley, was assigned to find a way to protect Earth from the approaching Drengin fleet. The second fleet was commanded by Colonel Jena Casey.
Colonel Bradley’s fleet was able to recover two key Precursor artifacts. The first was designed to imprison a planet, making it impossible for anything to get in or out. The second was the device that had trapped the Dread Lords in the pocket universe.
With the Drengin fleet in hot pursuit, the remnants of Colonel Bradley’s fleet made it to Earth and used the Precursor device to put an impenetrable force field around the planet, preventing it from being invaded. As the Drengin fleet closed in for the kill, Bradley activated the second Precursor device and the first fleet disappeared from sight.
Meanwhile, Colonel Casey’s fleet was desperately trying to defend the colonies of the Terran Alliance. They enjoyed something of a respite due to the Drengin fighting amongst themselves.
The Drengin and their elite warriors, the Korath, had an ideological difference on what to do with the defeated. The Drengin believed in slavery; the Korath simply wanted the “filth” wiped out. To that end, the Korath exterminated the Korx and most of the Torians and Arceans. The Drengin, horrified at the loss of potential slave profit from the war, turned on the Korath. The Korath were ultimately defeated by the much larger Drengin force, but at a great cost.
Colonel Casey’s second fleet had been greatly enhanced by the return of a deep space fleet, task force Odyssey. With these increased forces they managed to keep the Yor at bay. However, the second fleet discovered that the Dread Lords, while weakened, were still pulling the strings of the Korath and the Yor.
To end the Dread Lord menace once and for all, Colonel Casey found an unexpected ally in the form of the last Arnorian, Tandis. Tandis had been helping the newly discovered Iconians resist both the Dread Lords and the Drengin forces. Using the industrial capacity of the Iconians and the military planning of the second fleet, Tandis was able to help them construct a Terror Star, a weapon of immense power that could destroy an entire star system.
The Terror Star was able to wipe out the last stronghold of the Dread Lords and their power began to fade. Tandis the Arnor departed for places unknown, leaving the second fleet with a Terror Star and plans to take their fight to the Drengin.
Unfortunately, the Terror Star is soon destroyed by the Thalan, who have an unnatural distrust of humans. The plans to make new Terror Stars also disappeared, leaving the galaxy in the firm grip of the now-uncontested Drengin Empire and their allies, the Yor.
Our Story Today
10 years have passed.
The Drengin Empire reigns supreme. The Arcean home world has been sterilized by massive Drengin orbital bombardment. The Korx are gone. The Drath have disappeared from their world. The Torians are enslaved once again. Altaria still resists, but its colonies have all been destroyed. Earth has been imprisoned behind an impenetrable force field for 10 years. Nothing has gone in or out in that time, not even communications; it remains surrounded by a massive Drengin invasion fleet. The Terran first fleet is still gone, trapped in the pocket universe.
The zealots known as the Krynn have taken their zealotry into the world of commerce in the form of the Krynn Corporation. A vast criminal underground has arisen across the galaxy that even the Drengin have been unable to crush..
Colonel Jena Casey with Taskforce Odyssey and the Second Fleet have fought a slowly losing battle where each Terran colony has been conquered and enslaved by the Drengin Empire in turn. As a result, the second fleet has split between the Patriots and the Mutineers. The Patriots follow the chain of command and Colonel Casey. The Mutineers, bitter against the Thalan for destroying the Terror Star, have adopted savage methods to survive in the name of vengeance against the enemies of Earth.