Backstory

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As cribbed from Tyreth's posting on the forum, as written by Aquitaine, and passed on the old forums, here's the official backstory for the main campaign/mod. This should give you an idea for creating races and developing content, so please make sure it integrates with this story. In your stories, do not say anything about the future - what outcomes will happen.


Following is the final version of the purposefully open-ended back story to the FreeOrion Project. It is designed to support user-specific stories, campaigns, scenarios, new races, and the kitchen sink. This is not epic science fiction, and, extracted from the game such as it is, I personally find it quite boring. It's meant to be a foundation upon which we can build the engine and the game. It also borrows a little bit from Issac Asimov, but only in vague ideas. </disclaimer>

-- Samuel Knowlton / “Aquitaine”

Orion

Long ago, the Orions were the most advanced civilization in the galaxy. They were not the only spacefaring race, but they easily outpaced all of the others They were as strong as they were wise, good-intentioned, eager to explore the universe and its many wonders. Their neighbors were not always so inclined, and several wars were fought; the Orions persevered over races far more warlike than themselves; their unique combination of innovation and unity of spirit made them extraordinarily difficult to defeat. Although the Orions had centuries of internal conflict and often "dirty" politics in their own history, the great majority of them transcended their checkered past, such that their society ultimately reflected the galactic pinnacle of learning and industrial might. Their government, supported by their tremendous technology, was small and universally effective. Poverty was found only in history books, and incredible luxury could be had from even a bare supply of food and minerals. Theirs was the sociopolitical harmony that other races pursued vainly for centuries.

While other races often wrestled with artificial intelligence seeking supremacy over its various masters, the Orions created millions of servile androids who wanted nothing more than to please their enlightened masters. They were the backbone of the Orion industrial sector, and, when the situation called for it, a key part of the military.

The rise of the Orions ultimately slowed to stagnation. While some few Orions were pampered and made lazy by their many luxuries and opportunities, the race was generally quite resistant to such attitudes, thanks to their deep knowledge and understanding of their own history; they were possessed as a people had never before been possessed to fight not for what they wanted, but what they already had, realizing rightly that it was the culmination of the efforts of dozens of generations.

Nevertheless, as in any free society, dissent arose. A small, splinter faction of Orions, mistrustful of the hyper-advanced technology that was the foundation of their strength, recognized early on the futility of attempting to change a utopian society, and embarked on a pilgrimage to a faraway star system, well beyond the reach of the Orions; despite their advanced civilization, the Orions themselves rarely colonized systems far from their home world, instead preferring to rule benevolently over the annexed empires of their fallen opponents. That splinter faction eschewed the technology of their forbearers, taking with them only what they needed to reach their destination and establish a small, agrarian colony. It would be hundreds of years before they returned to space.

Other factions periodically desired independence from the Orions, but it was very difficult for another race to achieve the level of independence and freedom required to secede, or even travel beyond the fringes of the Orion Empire. An inherent logic dilemma within the utopia of Orion society was that no other race had ever proved capable of even approaching them in any significant fashion; no race ever demonstrated a single strength that surpassed, or was even equal to that of the Orion people. There was, many thought, no way for the Orions to be anything other than quietly racist, although they never actively persecuted any of their Imperial subjects on a significant scale. The Orions’ grasp of history showed them the simple truth that no race had ever done as well on its own as it had when guided and governed by the Orions; why, then, should any race desire independence when the statistical likelihood that they would be any better off somewhere else was zero? Most races that encountered the Orions simply allowed themselves to be ruled in return for the very tangible rewards their people received: longer lifespans, improved quality of life, strengthened economies. One race that had been fought to near-extinction during a protracted war with another race simply moved to the home world of the Orion people, Orion 3, and became willing, second-class citizens, responsible for maintaining the tremendous amount of infrastructure and governance functions based on Orion 3. This book-ish, near-extinct race grew to a healthy size, but they never again left Orion, preferring to permeate the academic and bureaucratic systems of Orion 3.

But if the Orions had a keen understanding of history, they lacked foresight. Previous generations had always looked to the achievements of the current generations as the goal toward which they strived. Orion society had reached its pinnacle; there was simply no way the following generation could be better off, because no-one could agree on what “better off” entailed. They had achieved everything that they, as a people, had set out to achieve. They had no significant obstacles and no natural predators. Through millennia of strife, warfare, and gradual progress, they no longer had anything to which they could aspire. A lesser race’s power would have dwindled with apathy, but the Orions dedicated significant resources and most of their energy to prolonging their golden age for as long as they could. As much of a marvel as this was, they could not remain static forever; the universe may have few absolutes, but even her brightest stars must die, and she would not permit the Orions to be any different.

Cataclysm

The scientific and social elite of Orion began to perceive that no degree of effort could sustain the Orion people indefinitely, or even that such an end was desirable. The universe itself had no perfect state; its nature was to always change, and no two moments, however spectacular and wondrous they might be, could ever be the same. The Orions were one such moment. And so the Orions dedicated their energies to discovering an appropriate ‘next phase’ of their being. They knew that they could not carry on as they had, nor even move far away from other races. But neither could they accept that their reward must be the extinction of their species; their pride in all they had achieved refused to allow them to even consider that.

It is impossible to describe the progress the Orions made in their endeavor to anyone that does not belong to their society; not their methods, not even what they were attempting to do. The only knowledge that any other races could glean from the increased goings-on on Orion 3 was that the Orions were working to be “Orions No More” – and no-one that was not an Orion could comprehend what that was, or why the envy of every other sentient race would pursue anything that seemed to entail no longer being what they were.

The only item agreed upon by those still living today is that, in the same instant, every Orion, every Orion world, every building, every databank, every piece of their infrastructure and civilization was terrifically and entirely destroyed. Every physical trace of their being was wiped away. It was not instantaneous; the entire process lasted a few minutes, during which witnesses recall seeing the leaders of the galaxy writhe in agony as some of them imploded, some exploded, some disintegrated, and others simply up and died, but all vanished once they had. It was a tremendous destructive force that killed many, even non-Orions, for everything touched by Orion technology was violently and irrevocably destroyed, with no trace left behind.

With its center fallen away, galactic civilization collapsed from the loss of the Orions. Several races immediately declared independence, while others grudgingly admitted they saw no alternative, as depending on someone that had ceased to exist proved impractical. But with government and technological functions having been conducted by the Orions for so long, no-one retained the theoretical knowledge that the Orions had held; indeed, if they had retained any of it, they were destroyed along with the Orions. As for the Orion system itself, only the former second-class citizens remained, for they, miraculously, had not been touched, nor had their caches of Orion technology. They constructed and activated the Orion Guardian and set about protecting the Orion System from the universe, and protecting the universe from another galactic cataclysm. A dark age had begun.

Half a galaxy away, the descendants of the Orion splinter faction that had forsworn their roots achieved starflight, and encountered another race. Their opening transmission contained a drawing by one of their most famous artists of their physiology, and several mathematical formulae basic to their understanding of the universe. They called themselves Humans.

Did the Orions attempt to achieve some kind of transcendence and fail? If they did not fail, was the destruction of entire races and worlds intentional? Are there Orions left? Were the caretakers left unharmed because the Orions are going to return? The answer is deleted by Rantz. It is the fifth X. It is the secret of this project.