by Tim Bancroft
Note that the general timeline can be found in the Universe guide. Most of these articles were published on the Warlord article site, so we’re reproducing them here in a more condensed format.
In Part 1 we ran through an overview of the Fifth Age, had a look at the more influential peoples of the period, andmade a quick dash through the Early Factions. Here, we run through three of the more influential factions: Gethderah, Teveron and Ha’Ruul, and look at their motives for forming the alliance referred to as the Ascendancy.
The Rise of Gethderah
The Gethderah Trade Federation was one of the founder members of the Ascendency. Gethderah is a system with plentiful resources, a sizeable planet in the warm edge of the habitable zone and another at the farther, icy edge. In addition, it has two asteroid belts full of minerals two sizeable moons around gas giant that have been terraformed and plenty of other, smaller moons and resources that could supply an exceptional production and manufacturing economy. From an Antarean perspective, the system can provide a stable base with minimal intervention. Gethderah was connected to the Nexus early in the Fifth Age, around 5A128, but was lucky in that it had retained much of its Fourth Age technology by dint of its resources and by having a relatively short period of separation from the Nexus.
After discovering that trade was a hit-and-miss affair due to the raider fleets attacking shipping, the ruling merchants of Getherdeh quickly established their armed traders as convoy and protection vessels and claimed specific routes as ‘pirate free’ with an increase in armed traders, privateers and Q-ships along those routes. This rapidly proved successful and in the space of 80 years, the Mercantile Council of Gethderah found itself at the hub of a trading federation. With the member states under attack from raiders, nearby petty-empires and occasionally the Vorl, the federation quickly morphed into a mutual defence alliance with Gethderah the primary military hub.
For the next 900 years, Gethderah continued to provide trading facilities, safe havens, convoy protection and policing vessel. During that time, more than several hundred systems became permanent members of the Mercantile Council, each system sticking strictly to the trade defence treaties struck with Gethderah and providing safe haven and repair faiclities to any who needed (and could afford!) such facilities. During the Time of Treachery (950-1100), Gethderah earned itself a reputation as an honest broker, one that focused on trade and not on assimilation.
It was unsurprising that the NuHu of Ha’Ruul saw Gethderah as a critical component of their proposed three-pronged structure for a new, panhuman alliance: technology and political influence from Ha’Ruul, military capability from the Saviours of Teveron, and trade and manufacturing from the Gethderah Trade Federation. Though the Gethderahn’s had concerns about an alliance with one of the most successful military empires on Antares, Teveron’s 320+ systems and Ha’Ruul’s fewer but more advanced systems made a tempting offer and Gethderah became a founding member of the Ascendency.
Gethderah was one of the last to disconnect from the Nexus in the 5th Age but was not reconnected until the 7th Age, around 520 years after Isori. Luckily for its inhabitants, once again the local elapsed time was relatively short, only around 650 years, so it retained much of its technology and had even sent exploratory probes to nearby star systems in real space. In the 7th Age, it was quick to adopt the IMTel and found itself a much sought-after prize until finally becoming a major C3 military base and an acknowledged capital of a shard of the PanHuman Concord: the Gethderah Shard, of several hundred thousand systems.
The League of Ha’Ruul
Though never particularly large an alliance, but one which was spread over a large area, the League of Ha’Ruul was a tightly-bound, mutual defence league dominated by benevolent NuHu technocrats. At the dawn of the Fifth Age, Ha’Ruul found itself with the highest population of NuHu across Antares: the nanosphere-soaked successors of panhumanity had thrived during the isolation in off-world orbitals and domed habitats on the surface of large moons orbiting Ha’Ruul’s two great gas giants.
During the early years of the Waring Ages, the technological advances of Ha’Ruul helped it succeed with smaller but more advanced forces against aggressors who tried to overwhelm its defences with numbers. Its starships and drives were amongst the best available, and it had a grasp of nanosphere and genetic developments that kept its front-line troops in exceptional condition – if not superhuman condition – and its technologies in exceptional repair.
Whilst Ha’Ruul provided aid to those who needed it, and would answer requests for defensive support, it would only welcome as allies those who it felt could match its manufacturing capability and understand its technology. In practice, this meant a NuHu-led society or one in which NuHu scientists had considerable influence.
Politically and militarily, the League of Ha’Ruul attempted to remain independent and ignore the chaos around it. This policy proved impossible to sustain after the Time of treachery saw outlying worlds of the Ha’Ruul destroyed by smaller empires who betrayed their trust and turned on what they thought were numerically inferior, easy targets – in places slaying NuHu outright. This angered the leaders of Ha’Ruul such that they sanctioned one of Ha’Ruul’s very few offensive actions, not only regaining the systems but retaliating by wiping out all senior ranks in the armed forces that slew their NuHu.
The proof of a potentially ruthless response kept other such invasions in check for a while. Against rising Vorl pressure, however, Ha’Ruul felt compelled to ask the traders of Gethderah and the legions of Teveron to join it in building an alliance that would stand above petty quarrels and bring stability to the non-Vorl worlds of Antares: the Ascendency was born.
The Saviours of Teveron
Teveron was one of the earliest systems reconnected to the Nexus in the Fifth Age. Unfortunately, when Teveron’s gate shut down at the end of the Fourth Age, a Vorl Ordo was in the process of attacking the main planet, Teveron II. With no idea when interstellar travel would return, the Teveron military sacrificed almost of its spaceships to almost completely destroy the Vorl invasion fleet This left the Vorl in a precarious situation with only a few transports and limited supplies for their armies already deployed on Teveron II.
As neither side had any space superiority, the deadly war continued on and off planet for many years. The standard Vorl strategy was to destroy and irradiate as much of the panhuman manufacturing base as they could, after which – in line with standard Vorl military practice – biocides were used against any panhuman city in reach. The Teveron survivors were driven into deep shelters: underground, self-sustaining arcology-mines. Eventually, the resource imbalance helped the panhumans overcome the Vorl and wipe them out to a zeugma.
Within the underground arcologies, rations remained tight and every effort was focused towards keeping the shelters functioning until the surface became habitable once more. A strict, hereditary caste system developed: at the apex were the Engineers, those who could develop and manage the shelters and research solutions to the problems faced by the Teveronians; beneath this ruling caste were the military and secret police; third in the pyramid were the specialists who controlled the manufacturing, including maintenance jockeys, skilled miners and skilled medical staff; and at the base of the caste pyramid were the general population.
Uprisings were not uncommon, but mistrust of the secret police and extensive privileges for informers kept the lower castes suppressed. With nothing holding them together except for the occasional exchange of technological developments, the shelters became politically isolated from one another though retained the caste structures that kept the Engineers in power – for without its Engineers, a shelter would fail.
Over a thousand years passed before the population returned to the surface. With the chance of freedom came an uprising and over half the populace escaped into the wilderness. There, they lived a precarious, harsh and primitive existence as Iron Age Wastelanders, a far cry from the relatively advanced technology enjoyed by the survivors who remained in the shelters.
The next eight hundred years was one of continual, often brutal war between the two cultures with technology being lost and regained – on both sides. Despite the ongoing conflict, the Wastelander population expanded significantly even though they were forced to avoid great swathes of land where the biocides still remained.
Eventually, in one major, isolated shelter, the Engineers reverse-engineered the Vorl biocides and pressed their military to use it on the Wastelanders. The military leaders refused and a group calling themselves ‘The Saviours’ led a successful coup against the Engineers. Before other shelters could retaliate, the local Wastelander chieftains were invited into an alliance to build a – supposedly – more equitable civilisation. Self-reliant, combined arms and Saviour-led ‘legions’ replaced the tribes and shelters and quickly reconquered the planet.
Then the gate reopened to the chaotic landscape of the Antares Fifth Age. To impose stability, the Saviours unleashed their legions on the nearby systems. Their methods were often to eradicate the local leadership and replace them with loyal Saviours promoted from within the ranks. Within a short space of time, the Saviours of Teveron became feared far beyond their few hundred systems.
The Ordo of Humanity (see below) forced the leadership of Teveron to change, leading to the diplomatic efforts that allowed Gethderah and Ha’Ruul to join with the Saviours of Teveron to create the Ascendency.
Algor and the Saviours of Teveron
Algor had been a planet of minor interest during the Fourth Age, one which seemed to have a largely warm climate. During the thousands of years of isolation, however, the orbit of the twin suns converged, driving the panhumans underground and forcing the development of the Algoryn morph.
When Algor reconnected to the Nexus around ~5A400, it was quickly visited by the Teveron survey. In both cultures, a heavily-stratified society had been forced to make harsh choices to survive and had undergone a number of territorial civil wars during the collapse. The main differences were in the Algoryn morph, one which was tougher and stronger than baseline panhumans.
It is difficult to state which came first: the extreme stratification of Algoryn society and its military capabilities, or the adoption by the Algoryn of Teveron militaristic structure. Rather than fight a war, the Algoryn willingly joined the Saviours of Teveron and provided troops in exchange for passage, technology and resources. Though originally commanded by loyal servants of the Saviours of Teveron, the legions of Algor quickly proved themselves highly effective and loyal. Their loyalty and efficiency proved so great that within 50 years, the Algoryn legions of Teveron were commanded by Algoryn optimates and not by foreign Saviours.
In the next article we run through the emergence of the Ascendency and the return of Isor.