Galactic Frontier > History
The Infinite Empire
The Dawn of Galactic Civilization
Who invented the hyperdrive and first began exploring the galaxy is lost to history. Many species have varied and contradictory legends of that time, but it is impossible to verify anything other than that there were ancient spacefarers, both using slowships to travel the void between stars and early hyperdrive starships braving the gravitational sheer of that realm.
Aside from legends, the first known interstellar nation was founded by a species known as the Rakata. Many of this species were advanced Force-users, and possessed a unique science that melded the Force with technology in a manner nearly lost to civilization. Only a few techniques remain, mostly in the equipment of Force-users such as the Jedi, the Sith, and a few other scattered Force traditions.
Enslavement and the Grip of the Dark Side
When the Rakata encountered other species, who on the whole could not use the Force to the degree they could, they saw themselves as superior beings. Whether this caused their species’ general decline into the Dark Side or if their affinity for darkness was present before their expansion, the result was the same. The Rakata became conquerors, with no one able to stand against their technology and Force powers. Believing themselves invincible, they named themselves the Infinite Empire.
The Rakata generally exterminated the more powerful Force-users among these “lesser” species, but some were allowed to live as favored slaves, operating lesser Rakatan technology. Low-level Force-sensitive Duros were often placed as pilots on some trade routes, using their natural affinity for hyperspace to navigate the easier routes, while the Rakata reserved their more powerful hyperspace technology for themselves. The extremely violent Vulcans, many of whom had a very low connection to the Force, were usually employed as shock troops to put down rebellions and expand the Infinite Empire, using weapons technology that enhanced the Dark Side of the Force. Wookies were employed as labor, Mon Calamari as technical specialists, and many Rakatan nobles employed Andorian, Trandoshan, Klingon, and other species as soldiers to defend themselves and their property.
However, the Rakatans’ infinity was limited after all; a great disease quickly swept through the Rakata, killing the majority of the species within one or two generations. Some legends say this was a result of their entire society’s devotion to the Dark Side, corrupting their very bodies; others said it was a natural plague, picked up on a newly-conquered world. The most popular story has a slave race — which one varying with who tells the tale — engineering the plague that killed their masters. However it happened, a massive rebellion quickly finished off the surviving Rakata, and the Infinite Empire came to a definite end.
The Dark Times and the Rise of the Jedi
Part of the reason for this chaotic period, popularly known as the Dark Times, was that the Rakata, due to their Force-channeling technology, were able to navigate the gravity bands of hyperspace points that have since been lost to later centuries. Many worlds that had been connected by hyperspace points now found themselves isolated; systems previously considered to be neighboring each other were now forced to use alternate hyperspace paths that took them through dozens of other systems. To the former inhabitants of the Infinite Empire, the very astrography of the galaxy seemed to have changed with the death of their masters.
Even today, modern technology has yet to find a way through many of the hyperspace points, as the shifting gravitational bands prove too difficult to navigate. Declared impassible, the locations and frequencies of many of these so-called Rakatan Points have been lost through incomplete or destroyed records, or even simple disinterest.
The First Lights in the Darkness
Though the Rakata exterminated all lesser Force-users that they felt could become a threat, some inevitably survived and learned to avoid the pitfalls of the Dark Side. During the turmoil after the fall of the Infinite Empire, many of the former slaves returned to their own worlds to rebuild, but several Force-users banded together to form a new order, known as the Jedi. These Force-users dedicated themselves to promoting peace; they believed that war, to be just, must end in freedom rather than subjugation; that those who could touch the Force were obligated to serve life, and not rule over it.
The Jedi Order began moving through the known galaxy, helping to heal the scars left by the Infinite Empire, the rebellion, the loss of trade routes and Rakatan technology, and the power vacuums that threatened whole worlds with genocidal violence.
As much of Rakatan technology required a Dark Side focus, the Jedi were unable to use what little remained after the disintegration of the Infinite Empire. What could be salvaged for a time was usually destroyed in their fight to prevent Dark Side Force-users from replacing the Rakatans as rulers of the galaxy.
The Vulcan War
One place that the Dark Side was narrowly defeated was on the planet Vulcan, one of the many worlds plunged into chaos. Vulcans were a species with a common connection to the Force, albeit usually so weak that the Rakatans had not considered them a threat as a whole. The Rakatans had any strong Vulcan Force-user killed as was their normal practice, but most Vulcan slaves were used to operate low-priority technology. Famous for their violent nature, these primitive Vulcans were even used as shock troops in the Rakata expansion. While simple compared to the legendary Force technology of their masters, the technology salvaged by the returning Vulcan slave-soldiers plunged their world into a civil war that stood out even in the chaos of the Dark Times. Many of the surviving Vulcan slaves had been corrupted by the Dark Side, and both Force-channeling and mundane technology devastated the already arid and inhospitable Vulcan homeworld.
The Vulcan War, known to the Vulcans as the Time of Awakening, was where the Jedi Knights truly came into their own. It was there that they perfected the early techniques of combating Dark Side “Raptors” (as they were known, due to their emblems; their own name for themselves has been lost to history) and their corrupting influence on sentients, animals, and even the landscape itself. While record-keeping in this period was still spotty and much that was recorded was later lost, legend says that this war was where the first lightsabers appeared.
In the end, the Raptors were driven off the planet, attempting to escape through hyperspace paths that only the Rakata had been able to navigate. Many of the ships that left Vulcan were destroyed by gravitational sheer as they attempted to transit to hyperspace, with the rest certainly perishing in the dangerous and powerful hypergravity bands still known as Raptor’s Folly.
The Vulcans themselves refer to this war as the Time of Awakening due to the philosopher Surak. Though he died in the final days of the Vulcan War due to radiation sickness, his teachings were preserved and helped to unify his species under a philosophy of pure rationality; the name for this philosophy has subtle shades of meaning in the Vulcan language, but usually translates into Galactic Basic as simply “logic.” This philosophy, with its rigid discipline and self-denying focus, eventually helped the previously-violent Vulcans achieve their now-famous control.
Just as the Jedi helped to solidify Vulcan, the teachings of Surak greatly influenced the Jedi Order. Surak, though not a strong Force-user himself, helped the Jedi learn techniques for resisting Dark Side influences and clearing the mind to become one with the Force. The Jedi mantra fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering is thought by many to have originated with Surak himself.
The struggles of Vulcan did not end with the Vulcan War, of course. Though the teachings of Surak took hold after his death, Vulcans still disputed among themselves as to what was the proper interpretation of his teachings. Though the wars that followed were nothing compared to the devastation of the Time of Awakening, the people of Vulcan still took a long time to rise from the ashes left by the Raptors. Legend says that Surak left his teachings written down in a repository known as the Kir’Shara, but this is generally considered to be a myth by modern Vulcans, who base their philosophy on the writings of Surak’s immediate disciples.
Bringing a New Order
After the Vulcan War, many Force-users flocked to the Jedi Order for teaching, guidance, and purpose. The Jedi Knights moved through the galaxy, helping to defeat tyrants and Dark Side Force-users where they found them, and encouraging governments that protected the people and their freedoms. They helped return the scattered Wookie slaves to their homeworld of Kashyyyk, thwarted Hutt schemes, and helped the Andorians to write their planet’s original constitution.
They were not welcomed everywhere, of course; many could not see the difference between the techniques of the Jedi and the evil “sorcery” of the Rakata. For example, they were almost universally rejected on Qu’onoS. The native Klingons’ own wars were only less brutal than the Vulcans’ because their lower number of Force-users, though those they had typically embraced the Dark Side. Even attempting to remove these dark Force-users was difficult for the Jedi, who found what little welcome they received among the various clans to be extremely temporary. It is thought by some scholars that the Jedi Order’s teachings influenced Kahless’ honor code; however, this is violently rejected by Klingons, even the extremely rare Klingon Jedi, and even today the suggestion is likely to be met with immediate violence.
All in all, though, the Jedi Order is generally considered to have succeeded in its goals of stabilizing the galaxy and promoting unity. The Order was also able to map some of the hyperspace paths that, previously, only a Rakata could navigate; though many paths still remained impassible or even their frequencies completely lost, the Order’s efforts allowed trade and communication to once again flow between various different species. After centuries of struggle, the Dark Times were finally coming to an end.
It was only because of this tireless effort by the Jedi Order that the galaxy avoided a second descent into darkness, marked by the rise of the Sith Lords.
The Sith and the Galactic Republic
Lords of Darkness
It was during this period that the Sith first made themselves known. The Lords of the Sith were, according to their own tales, founded by the last remaining Rakata and the slaves they taught their last secrets to, before finally perishing.
These former slaves founded a colony on a nearly-forgotten, hard-to-reach Rim world, hidden behind a treacherous hyperspace point prone to intense gravity waves. There, they found a species with a particularly strong connection to the Force and with techniques unknown even to the Rakata. This species was known as the Sith, and the former Rakatan slaves quickly subjugated them, learning their techniques and manipulating their own genetics to incorporate what they saw as the best of the Sith species. Eventually, the original Sith became extinct; in their place rose the dark lords who still bear their name even today.
The Sith Empire threatened to destroy the fragile peace forged by the Jedi Order, but after years of struggle and loss the Jedi and an alliance of many spacefaring species managed to free those subjugated by the Sith and, at least temporarily, defeat the dark lords’ dreams of empire. This alliance soon grew into the Galactic Republic, which, while not as expansive as the Rakatans’ empire, still unified hundreds of species under one banner.
Glory and Decline
The Republic is said to have lasted for a thousand generations, but that depends on when exactly it is felt to have started, when it is finally stated to have truly fallen, and even which species’ lifespan is used to judge it. The Republic is seen as a golden age by nearly everyone, however, and arts and culture flourished to an extent not found today. The Jedi swore to uphold and serve the Republic in all ways except entering any political office, though in times of struggle many were appointed as military commanders and even given the rank of general or admiral. They led Republican forces against the multi-species Mandalorian warrior culture, the unstable yet still dangerous Klingon Hegemony, in border skirmishes against the newly-discovered and isolationist Romulan Star Empire, and against repeated Sith rebellions. Their grand ship, the Chu’unthor, would travel from system to system, finding Force-sensitives and helping wherever they could. Jedi were advisers to kings and commoners, senators and tradesmen, always protecting those who could not defend themselves.
However, many blame the Jedi Order for the collapse of the Republic. With increasing frequency, Jedi were falling to the Dark Side, driven to their darker impulses as they became the same evil they fought. Even the majority of Light Side Jedi became split into factions, some adhering to ancient principles of emotional suppression dating back to the Vulcan War, others blaming those same teachings for the way some Jedi would give in to baser instincts under extreme stress and fall away to the Dark Side. The people of the Republic began to feel they could not depend on the Jedi as the cornerstone of their civilization.
Sundering of Civilization
With the Jedi caught up in what might even be called a civil war among themselves, and an isolationist movement taking hold among the Vulcan systems, many scholars count this period as the beginning of the end of the Galactic Republic. Hutts and Orions took advantage of the instability, and corruption among Republic politicians became rampant. The Klingon Hegemony fell apart as the various houses warred among each other, and many attempted to seize neighboring Republican worlds even as a new Empire rose on Qo’noS. The Romulan Star Empire, fortunately, made no moves to take advantage of the situation.
The growing distrust of the Jedi often sparked into outright hatred, and as the Republic collapsed around them they were forced by the pressure of both political and public opinion to abandon their grand temple on Coruscant. At first, they used the Chu’unthor to continue their efforts against the Sith, the dark Jedi, and the growing civil wars between the nation-states of the Republic. Unfortunately, the Chu’unthor was lost with all hands while on a mission to the Outer Rim of the galaxy. The Jedi were reduced to a single orbital station, and an enclave on the planet below, in a system difficult to reach without a Force-sensitive pilot.
Today, nearly a century later, the galaxy is still rife with instability. The Jedi, having reformed their Order and teachings, still take their ancient oaths to protect and serve. Though few in number and without much support, they do what they can to rebuild the society that collapsed around them. They have halted wars between the Andorians and the Vulcans, they continue to root out the Hutts’ and the Orions’ schemes wherever they can, and they still watch out for the deceptive Sith Lords.
The Appearance of Terra
Unknown to the Republic, the primative world of Earth was growing less primative all the time. The dominant species, the Terrans, mastered space travel around the fall of the Republic and began colonizing their solar system.
Though, like many planets, the world of Earth was divided into several nations, the two major polities were the ones that drove the push into space. These nation states, respectively known as the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, were engaged in a cold war over their competing ideologies and each latched on to the idea of a “space race” as a way of demonstrating their strengths. The Soviets launched the first artificial satellite and the first space stations, while the Americans were the first to land on their planet’s moon in 1969 by the primary calendar of the planet. The Soviets pushed forward with their own moon program, and narrowly lost to the Americans again as the latter established a manned moon base a mere two days ahead of their rivals, on May 26th, 1974.
This effort nearly bankrupted the poorly-run Soviet economy, threatening a collapse of the government in the face of widescale poverty. This was forestalled by the discovery of a previously unknown and radioactive element found in impact craters near the Soviet moon base. Later dubbed pergium, Soviet scientists examining samples back on Earth discovered that its potential use as an energy source dwarfed the then-typical uranium. The Soviets modified one of the reactors under construction at the V. I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station near the city of Chernobyl. As the military put down riots in their country, the new pergium reactor came online, producing an excess of power with a fraction of the reaction mass the reactor had originally been designed for. With this power source tamed, the Soviet infrastructure quickly transformed, and the threat of revolution died away for the moment. The Chernobyl power station soon served the power needs of half of the Ukraine for very little cost beyond the needed power-delivery lines. While the greater Soviet economy still struggled due to government policies, the Chernobyl plant allowed Ukrainian quality of life to rise to levels not found anywhere else in the Soviet Union.
The Soviet space program had a new mandate: find more pergium, at any cost. The government managed to keep the source of this new element secret for a mere seven months after Chernobyl came online, when the Soviet space program began sending dedicated vacuum-capable mining instruments to its Lunar base. The Americans began investigating, but found only faint traces of pergium in craters near their own base. While both nations continued to expand their Lunar bases, the Americans also began to focus on spreading their missions to other bodies in the solar system, searching for pergium-rich asteroids similar to those that had caused the craters on the moon.
The Space Race took on a new focus, and now it was the Americans who began falling behind as they encountered their own economic and energy problems. A setback occured in 1979 when the nuclear plant on Three Mile Island was hasitly modified to use pergium; the modifications were flawed and the operators poorly-trained, and an accident released a significant amount of radiation, resulting in a very few, but highly-publicized, deaths in the local population. American support for pergium and the space program plummeted.
This situation changed, however, when a new head of state took office in the United States in 1981, whose policies encouraged private industries to take up some of the burden of space exploration. Under this leader’s guidance, the United States began to close with the Soviet Union again; its crisis period soon reversed, and the American economy soon thrived even before the first dedicated pergium-fueled fission reactor was brought online. The Americans began a buildup of military and civilian resources geared to increasing and maintaining their country’s foothold in space, leading to an increasing amount of friction between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Though it was feared by many that this would lead to outright war, the result was the opposite. Though the Soviet Union had increased its capabilities and resources, they finally overtaxed themselves and their government peacefully fell, replaced by a more Western-oriented democratic government. Though the country was in turmoil for a little over a year, there was no bloody revolution and the existing pergium reactors and other industries related to space exploration helped the new Russian Federation stay fiscally afloat, as the Russians began selling access to their capabilities to smaller nations without the resources of the two most powerful nations. The rivalry between East and West became less a matter of war, and more an activity of economic competition.
This did not mean that space exploration was free of conflict, of course. As more and more people moved into space, setting up permenant colonies thanks to the solutions to radiation hazards and engineering difficulties developed over the Space Race’s heyday, other conflicts inevitably came with them. A whole new era had come to Terran civilization, one that combined the lawlessness of any new frontier with the strain of the harsh environment. Governing these colonies, regulating new technologies, directing space traffic between an increasing number of national and private sources, and dealing with social changes began to put a strain on existing cultures. This resulted in an increasing amount of terrorism, culminating in the still-famous 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Kennedy Spaceflight Center, and the Armstrong Lunar Spaceport — all considered the greatest symbols of American ingenuity and progress.
GM’s note: this section is a work in progress and unfinished.
Galactic Frontier > History