a brief history of the chaos, vol. I
In ‘A Brief History of the Chaos, Vol. I‘, Alberich Canderwell provides us context for the cataclysm to come. He begins, appropriately, with Zephra, locus of all things Chaotic: a giant soon to be humbled. In Zephra’s insatiable annexation of seven unsuspecting planets, Canderwell sees the residue of the Worlds Wars, which arguably provided the fertile ground in which the seed of The Chaos grew out of.
A Brief Introduction to The Chaos
To truly understand the magnitude of The Chaos requires a cursory examination of the circumstances that preceded it. Inevitably, this entails a focus on the behemoth planet Zephra. As much as I mislike placing blame in one direction or another, it is undeniable that the behemoth can often be found at the centre of whatever misfortune befalls our System, so much so that discussion of any major astropolitical event in the last two hundred or so cycles necessarily begins, and ends, with Zephra.
For centuries, Zephra was the seat of power in the Meridian System (known then as the Vermillion Empire), commanding a vast dominion spanning far across the Broader Reaches of the galaxy. This power was greatly diminished during the First Worlds War, in which several distal sectors succeeded in overthrowing Zephra’s hold over them, scattering the empire into a disordered sprawl of smaller galactic provinces.
The Formation of the Central Meridian Commonwealth
With Zephra’s position substantially weakened, a number of Coreward Worlds, lead by Enacha, moved against the behemoth, sparking the Second Worlds War — mere cycles after the first one ended. This second conflict was far more destructive than its predecessor, costing the System two planets, reducing a third to a ruined husk, and eventually ending in a bloody stalemate.
The two sides begrudgingly agreed to a series of concessions that split the System into two distinct territories, tenuously united under the denomination of the Central Meridian Commonwealth. Zephra would naturally maintain sovereignty over the region designated the Zephran Lunarscape, whilst Decharon was named the capital of both the Coreward Worlds and the planets of the Myopic Belt.
It’s debatable which side came off worse in these negotiations; Zephra may have lost a vital tract of its galactic territory (the part containing the System’s star, no less, which rarely bodes well for any major galactic power), but amidst Decharon’s hard-won spoils were two synthetic planets, an abandoned terraforming project, a crippled world, a heavily antiquated space station and a hermit planet with no real interest in being part of a larger solar community. Compare this to the seventeen-or-so worlds that constituted the Zephran Lunarscape — the majority of which were rich in resources and skilled populations — and it’s easy to see why many consider the victories of the altered astropolitical landscape to be more symbolic than of any real strategic value.
An Act of Unprovoked Aggression
In any case, the System had endured dramatic change in a very short space of time, and both sides needed time to adjust to their new places in the universe. Aside from one or two minor disturbances, things were relatively calm for a period after the Second Worlds War. Evidently this calmness was making Zephra uncomfortable, as in an act of completely unprovoked aggression, the behemoth planet made the decision to annex seven outlier planets along the Tract of Indecisiveness (an orbital subregion situated between the Core and the Myopic Belt), dispossessing billions of people across vast stretches of inner space.
Of course, planetary vagrancy is nothing new for our region; the Meridian System is so-named for being at our galaxy’s apex, sitting upon a major celestial causeway along which countless interstellar bodies have travelled over the millennia. This exchange is part of a natural ebb and flow, and has brought us some of the most important players in contemporary astropolitics. However, when this vagrancy is imposed upon a planet against the will of its inhabitants, well that is a very different kettle of onions indeed.
The Impact of the Annexation
The annexation sparked outrage, but the Coreward Worlds lacked the strength to retaliate; they had lost two major military forces with the destruction of the Canterbury and the Winchester in the preceding war, whilst Ballacross had been reduced to a mere shell of a planet.
The loss of these annexed planets had a significant impact on the Coreward Worlds; Eberis was a pivotal trading post along Selena’s Run, and Visia had an abundance of natural resources that were vital to the Core’s infrastructure. Of course, the most troubling aspect of this annexation was the impact it had on the people residing on these stolen worlds — one can only imagine what it must have been like to endure such an ordeal.
And yet, in spite of such a flagrant disregard for any kind of interplanetary decorum, the CMC had little choice but to ratify the annexation, relegating the stolen planets to vassal moons of the Lunarscape: to act otherwise would have sparked a war they were in no position to fight. Protests from the afflicted worlds appeared to fall largely on deaf ears, prompting many to question what exactly the point of the CMC was if it couldn’t even be relied upon to protect its own people.
The Precursor to Catastrophe
Nevertheless, had that been the extent of it, the situation may not have been so grave; planets, after all, can be returned to their natural orbits (though admittedly it is a laborious process). Unfortunately, this was a mere precursor to events that we now refer to as The Chaos.
Image & book cover courtesy of Tharssia St. Alderwit, with permission from the Far Point Expedition Front
A Brief History of the Chaos, Vol. I. 1st Edition. First published on Midhaven in 71AC by Bharvale University Press
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