The Protectorate of ManEdit
Of all the races which call the Milky Way home, few can match the murderous cunning of humanity. A creature with little in the way of natural weaponry, man nevertheless rose to dominate his world and gain mastery over animals far more powerful than him. For wherever man looked he saw the potential for destruction. From the moment he first gazed upon a rock or the fallen branch of a tree, he knew that these things could smash the bones and spill the brains of his enemies.
For millennia man developed the science of death, clubs and rocks giving way to swords and spears, then guns and bombs. Untold millions of their species died violent deaths, but the survivors became even stronger for that. It was only when war gave way to long-term peace, when the major powers of Earth formed agreements which brought an end to serious conflict, that mankind began to stagnate.
The human race was prosperous, but perhaps too much so. Advancements in medicine and genetic manipulation allowed people to live for centuries rather than decades, leading to a massive increase in the Earth’s population. A planet which had once seemed well populated with six billion men and women became host to fifty billion by the twenty-fifth century. Its cities evolved into vast, sprawling hives little more pleasing to eye or mind than ant nests.
Faced with an overpopulated homeworld quickly draining its resources, the people of Earth began to look heavenward to the colonies. Improvements in extraterrestrial travel had long since enabled man to leave not only his native world but even the Sol System itself. New worlds had been colonized out in the reaches of space, and many human communities flourished far from their native world. But those colonies were closed and insular, only willing to accept the best and brightest immigrants from the old world. They had no wish to fill their own cities with what they referred to as ‘Earth scum’.
The government of Earth demanded that its colonies accept millions upon millions of refugees to alleviate the planet’s plight, noting that it had legal dominion over the colonies. This resulted in the colonies severing political ties with Earth. The human race became split in two: the Inner System Coalition (ISC) which ruled from mankind’s native world, and the New World Resistance (NWR) which controlled the distant colonies. Once more, with almost a subconscious sense of relief, mankind was at war with itself.
Though the colonies were prosperous, and Earth a bloated steel and plastic wasteland of a planet, the ISC had access to powerful military technologies. Chief amongst these was the ability to create synthetic war machines, constructs capable of acting autonomously with a remarkable degree of artificial intelligence. The ISC sent wave after wave of synthetics into space, where they attacked the NWR’s peripheral worlds and began to conquer them.
The ISC gleefully watched its interstellar displays as the synthetic armies continued to push forward, a series of blue dots blipping deeper and deeper into NWR territory. Then, in a matter of seconds, the smiles of triumph vanished from their faces. The synthetic forces had disappeared, the blips vanishing as if they had never been there at all. The commanders were puzzled, for it was impossible that their entire force could have been simultaneously destroyed at a single stroke, in every part of the cosmos. Their confusion ended and their terror began when the synthetic troops were seen again. For they were heading in the opposite direction, and attacking worlds controlled by the ISC.
Whether through some malfunction or other such reason, the ISC’s synthetic armies were waging war on the very men who had created them. Earth’s greatest weapon was now its deadliest enemy. Countless lives were lost as the synthetics raged across the systems, heading towards the homeworld. The ISC was on the brink of annihilation. Had they been left to their own devices, there is little doubt that Earth would have fallen. But the New World Resistance was unwilling to see the other half of humanity wiped out. The Lord Martial, military leader of the NWR, sent his armadas against the synthetics.
United once more, its destructive mind focused towards a single goal, mankind fought back against the synthetics and hurled them away from Earth, forcing them to retreat to the planet they had made their base of operations. Though some human leaders advocated containment of the synthetics upon that planet, that they might be examined to determine the cause of their attack on the ISC, the Lord Martial refused. He was a man of war, and envisioned only one end to the conflict. His ships carried out a sustained bombardment of the planet, leaving it a lifeless world of molten sludge.
In the wake of such a brutal war, in which they had collectively stared death in the face, the people of Earth sought a strong leader. They cast aside the old political order, and accepted the Lord Martial as their ruler – the new master of mankind. The Lord Martial proceeded to turn the human race into a mighty war machine, one capable of carving out its destiny amongst the stars. Never again would mankind be content with its lot, and allow itself to become bloated and stagnant. Instead the human race would venture onwards as a conquering interstellar empire, and make the galaxy tremble before it.
Two powerful symbols rose to represent the new Protectorate of Man, two great tools of war which humanity’s enemies would have cause to lament over the coming centuries. Ganymede, Jupiter’s moon, the largest satellite in the Sol System, was converted into a vast foundry, its surface covered and bowels filled with shipyards and factories. Renamed as the Juno Star Forge, a fact which would surely have brought a smirk to the lips of that goddess from Earth’s ancient mythology, the former moon began to give birth to a force capable of dominating the galaxy. Countless spacecraft and military vehicles poured forth from its womb, ready to bear man’s banner into the dark void.
The other symbol of the Protectorate’s might was the Azeral, a war machine built in the image of man, an indomitable engine of destruction which would lead mankind’s legions across space. With the Juno Star Forge behind them, ever spawning new weapons, and the fearless Azeral at their head, humanity’s forces began to wage war against its interstellar neighbors.
Centuries of conquest followed, a golden age of man lasting hundreds of years in which one species after another perished or submitted before the Protectorate’s unmatched military power, and their worlds became absorbed into the human race’s vast dominion. Then word reached the present Lord Martial that a colony on the periphery of the Protectorate of Man’s domain had been attacked by alien forces. The Hyperion Empire, a potent civilization dwelling far from the heartland of humanity, had chosen to wage war. The Lord Martial smiled. How long had it been since a race dared to attack the Protectorate? Finally, after centuries of overwhelming desperate defenders trying in vain to protect their homeworlds, mankind had found a true adversary.
The Protectorate’s armada cut through the blackness of space like a series of blades, aiming for the heart of the Hyperion Empire. The ensuing war was everything the Lord Martial could have wished for. The Hyperions were worthy foes, though unable to hold their ground against the mighty children of the Juno Star Forge, led by the Azeral. One by one their worlds were taken, and the Lord Martial could thus celebrate the expansion of his empire whilst also hardening his troops in the fire of true interstellar warfare.
But such celebrations proved to be premature. For another species chose to enter the fight: the Jucati, bizarre biomechanical creatures unlike anything mankind had ever seen before. Now facing a Hyperion-Jucati alliance, the Protectorate of Man may have finally met its match.
The Hyperion EmpireEdit
The origin of the Hyperion race is murky, submerged in shadows. For millennia their oral history echoed down the ages, twisting and turning, mutating with each retelling. By the time their writing system had developed into something sophisticated enough to chronicle events, rather than merely catalogue weapons or wealth, history had blended with mythology to such a great degree as to make their separation impossible. If their most prominent legends are to be believed, the Hyperions were created by the gods in an attempt to produce great warriors to whom they could bequeath the galaxy. The tales say that the Hyperions were bred for strength, the weak culled and the mighty left to continue the species. Then the gods withdrew, leaving behind powerful beings ready to conquer the universe.
Scholars from other races scoff at such lofty notions, and instead argue that the Hyperions were really a slave race bred as beasts of burden, until they finally managed to rise up against their masters. But wherever the truth may lie, there is no question that the Hyperions’ legends have shaped their civilization.
Believing that they were created by the gods and bred for supremacy, the Hyperions regard the mixing of bloodlines as both blasphemous and treacherous – an insult to the gods as well as an attempt to weaken their species. Thus Hyperions only breed with other members of their family dynasties. These familial groups are known as the Houses, and represent the fundamental units of Hyperion society. Each House is a potent political and military entity, ready to fight for the Emperor and earn glory both for themselves and for the entire Hyperion race.
The Hyperions see the galaxy as theirs by divine right, each system and every world theirs to conquer. And so they have always gazed longingly towards the black heavens, and from the moment they developed efficient spaceflight they began to carve out their empire. It was not long until their expansion brought them in contact with another form of intelligent life, the Jucati.
Once considered the most dangerous race in the galaxy, the Jucati were in the waning of their power when the Hyperions encountered them. Their race had been ravaged by forces well beyond the understanding of the Hyperions, who were but infants when it came to interstellar affairs. Even so, the Jucati were fierce fighters, their strange technology allowing them to stand against the brute force of the Hyperions. So the great Houses of the Hyperion race gained their first taste of inter-species warfare, and became stronger for the experience. At last the Jucati vanished, leaving behind millions of corpses, and the Hyperions bellowed a cry of victory that seemed to echo amongst the stars.
The Hyperions went on to take many worlds, spanning the systems with their empire. They encountered other enemies in the void, though after their hard fighting against the Jucati none was a true challenge, and their opposition was crushed. It was after millennia of such campaigns that the Hyperions came across the Jucati once more. On a distant frontier of their empire, one of their garrisons was overrun by a force of bizarre biomechanical creatures which seemed to pour out of the very bowels of the planet. It soon emerged that these were the Jucati, strangely altered from their appearance in the ancient archives, but still with the same ravenous ferocity. A new war began, and once again the Hyperions found an opponent worthy of them.
As the war with the Jucati raged at one end of their empire, at the other an even greater threat would arise. Mankind, once a feeble and insignificant species, had in what seemed no more than the blink of an eye made great leaps in technology. Now they were expanding their own empire, the so-called Protectorate of Man, and it seemed as if the two powers would soon collide.
Curious about this species with its rapid development, and wishing to test their mettle before a full-blown war erupted between their races, the Hyperions attacked a human colony just beyond the periphery of their dominion. Their warships smashed through its orbital defenses as if they were paper, and their troops invaded the surface. The Colonial Guard was quickly overwhelmed, and the Hyperions celebrated as they anticipated the conquest of the entire human empire.
The Hyperions had made a grave error, however. Their own method of expansion was to set up heavily defended colonies on the frontier, and they had expected the same behavior from man. But the Protectorate often sent lightly defended groups of colonists to distant regions, that they might gain some understanding of that territory and its dangers before committing valuable battle groups. Thus the Hyperions were premature in their celebrations, and had brought the full attention of the Protectorate of Man upon them.
The Lord Martial of the Protectorate mobilized his Fifth Battle Group, and from the Hour of Reckoning, his massive flagship, he led over a hundred ships to avenge the colony. The ensuing battle was more like a massacre. The human armada tore the Hyperion fleet apart, dealing with them as easily as they had dealt with the colony’s orbital defenses. Then their armies landed on the planet, vast columns of men wearing war suits the likes of which the Hyperions had never seen before, and wielding energy weapons which cut through their muscular bodies effortlessly. The Hyperion forces were slaughtered down to the last warrior.
The Protectorate of Man did not stop there. The Hyperion Empire had incurred their wrath, and so made themselves the next target for the expansion of the Protectorate’s own empire. Human fleets and armies swept across Hyperion space, seizing their worlds in a series of brutal battles. The Hyperions fought well, and no planet was relinquished without the shedding of much blood on both sides. But they knew that they were overmatched. Their empire now faced annihilation.
With this existential threat before them, the Hyperions were forced to end hostilities with the Jucati, withdrawing their troops from that area of space that they might help fight against the Protectorate. They expected the Jucati to gobble up some of their territory in that region, accepting this as a price they must pay to continue their defense against mankind. Instead the Jucati offered not only peace, but an alliance. For their own inscrutable reasons, the Jucati wished to join the Hyperions in their battle against the Protectorate of Man.
The Jucati’s proposal was received with incredulity and suspicion by the Hyperions, but they had little choice in the matter. If they stood alone, their empire would fall. The alliance was made, and to their surprise the Jucati proved true to their word, and began to fight side-by-side with them against the humans.
The Jucati (Sub-race)Edit
Though the Jucati are an advanced race, a cunning species which has mastered interstellar travel and visited many worlds, their history is like that of a ravenous plague rather than a civilization.
Twenty thousand years ago the Jucati appeared on their first known planet. Where they came from none can say, for surely not even the most twisted of ecosystems would have evolved such a species. But within a week of being sighted they were the dominant life-form on their world. Dozens of queens brought forth hundreds of thousands of Jucati warriors each day, infesting the planet. Their birth rates were like those of insects, but without short life-cycles or predators to keep their overwhelming numbers in check and spare the planet from destruction at their hands. They swept across the continents, devouring all before them. The galaxy looked on in horror, and each species breathed a sigh of relief that the Jucati were trapped on that single doomed world.
Though their savage hunger had spurred them on to gluttonous genocide, the Jucati were not mindless. They knew that their species would soon drain their world and face starvation. Millions of them placed themselves in a state of extended hibernation, lying dormant for years on end that their food supply might sustain their race for as long as possible. Meanwhile those who remained active, feasting upon the last pockets of life to ensure their survival, harvested the planet for useful materials. With these resources they sent probes out into the system, and began to construct ships capable of surviving the vacuum of space.
To the dismay of their galactic neighbors, the Jucati escaped extinction and instead began to settle on other worlds, starting the cycle anew. As they spread, gaining new resources and infecting new worlds, they became more cunning in their infestations. Some planets were turned into farm worlds – sufficient numbers of their native species left alive that they might breed and rebuild their populations for later harvesting. Thus the Jucati hoped to have a perpetual food supply. But their numbers continued to grow at an exponential rate, and their need for sustenance eventually exceeded their available supplies once more. It was clear that they had to keep expanding and taking new planets if they were to survive.
Intelligent life-forms whose systems were threatened by the Jucati massed their forces in an effort to drive them away, but they may as well have attempted to turn back the tides of an ocean. With their nightmarish birth-rates the Jucati could sustain losses in the millions and replace them effortlessly. Meanwhile their enemies fell by the myriad, overrun as they fought in vain to preserve their homeworlds. Entire species either died out or were forced into a mass exodus, sent fleeing through the stars as behind them the Jucati stripped their planets until the worlds which had cradled their civilizations were turned into barren husks.
It was obvious that the Jucati were an existential threat to all life-forms in their vicinity, and only one race was powerful enough to deal with them. The Mor’Rossan, guardians and overseers of the galaxy, convened a great council, and ruled that the Jucati should be exterminated.
Attack fleets cut through the interstellar darkness, converging on the area of space infested by the Jucati. The indomitable Mor’Rossan forces rarely had cause to go to war, but when they took the field they did so with overwhelming might. Mass bombardments blanketed continents with flame and smoke, wiping out millions of Jucati and heralding large-scale invasions designed to ensure a complete purge. The Mor’Rossan were determined to cleanse the worlds of the plague which had ruined them. But though they killed countless Jucati on each planet, leaving enough corpses to smother their oceans, they were unable to eradicate them. With their birth-rates and ability to remain in hibernation deep within the bowels of a planet, the Jucati seemed immortal. The Mor’Rossan might leave a world, believing their task to be complete, only to find that a queen had awoken in their wake, spawned thousands and thousands more Jucati underground, and brought about the re-colonization of the entire planet.
Where military might failed, the Mor’Rossan’s science eventually prevailed. Their best thinkers gathered, and plotted the genocide of the Jucati race. Many ideas emerged from their minds, stratagems for achieving death and destruction on a scale never before contemplated. In the end one particular plan won out. The Mor’Rossan decided that if the Jucati were a plague, they would be destroyed by an even greater plague.
A disease was engineered, one made possible when a heroic Mor’Rossan assault squad managed to capture a live queen so that appropriate tests could be carried out. It was designed to infect the queens, and contaminate them on a genetic level. Each generation of Jucati they spawned would receive a faulty genetic structure, and experience rapid degeneration of their cells. The disease was introduced to every Jucati-infested world, distributed to have complete species-wide coverage. One by one the Jucati colonies fell silent, and the Mor’Rossan gave a grim smile as they witnessed the race slip into oblivion. As a result of this action, in a lonely system far from the heartland of interstellar politics, a young race known as the Hyperions won their first interspecies war when their strange enemies mysteriously died out.
It was thousands of years later, on a world garrisoned by that same Hyperion race, that the Jucati were seen again. At first they went unrecognized, for they had changed a great deal over the millennia. Their bodies were now biomechanical, and strange technology was fused with their flesh to render them even more bizarre and repulsive. But the Hyperions soon made the connection upon consulting their ancient archives, and knew that they were embroiled in a new war with an old enemy.
For their part, the Jucati found the galaxy to have changed during their slumber. Though the Hyperions were familiar, a new power had since stepped onto the galactic stage. The humans – a species previously unknown to the Jucati, trapped as they had been on their little, distant world – now ruled a powerful empire. As the Jucati fought with the Hyperions at one end of the Hyperion Empire, the Protectorate of Man beset them at the other. And to the amazement of the Jucati, the Hyperions withdrew from their theatre of war in favor of bolstering their defenses against the humans. To a species which had once been the terror of the galaxy, this was surprising indeed.
The Jucati began to observe, and learn about the conflict which appeared to dominate galactic life. They soon determined that mankind was the greatest threat to them other than the Mor’Rossan – who now seemed conspicuously absent from interstellar affairs. Hence when the Hyperions cried out for aid against the human race, seeking allies in their desperate struggle, the Jucati decided to answer them. The Protectorate of Man had to be stopped.