This might be super boring but I've worked on this for years.
THE STRATUS WAR
For the civilization that followed the Stratus War, there could no longer be a separation between being a global citizen and being a galactic citizen. In the wake of destruction brought about by Adam Graves and Jordan Hara the galaxy had a new order to follow. It separated history from the ancient to the modern. It established humans as the apex race and non-humans - or aliens - as second-class citizens. It forced people from their homes and out into the unknown blackness of space.
The importance of this war cannot be understated. When Annabelle Dawson begged the galaxy to reconsider peace in a time of constant warfare, she recalled her memories of broken worlds and half-starved children on the streets. Annabelle had seen her family torn apart by years of strife and her closest friends killed by a megalomaniac. Yet these men and women who played such an important role may not have been wholly responsible for the pain as we might think. The galaxy was poised for another war to fill the vacuum the Gid Empire had left. It is the intensity of the ideals left behind by Graves and his followers that simultaneously repulses us and beguiles our curiosity. How could such men wipe out thousands of years of history and billions of lives in search of peace? It may be difficult to understand but for people living so close to the shadow of the Gid, it may have been the only sensible thing. Either humans carved out their own empire or they would be swept under the rug by the influence of Dunamis or Aarea or Alta.
This history of the Stratus War touches on over a hundred years of history to properly accommodate the surrounding events that led to and were in turn caused by the catastrophic war. Most of it takes place in Orion but pivotal moments like the creation of the Union of Free Worlds and the worlds discovered by the Animus take place over thousands of lightyears apart. The war itself lasted for twenty years with long breaks between. Historians often classify the Stratus War as the first galactic war, being the first interstellar conflict to traverse the length of the Milky Way.
The Stratus War is referred to by many names as are its many phases and tangent wars. During the first phase, the Ermen referred to the war as the “War with Dunamis.” Historians in the Republic of Frontier and Dawson Empire referred to this phase as the First War or First Dunamian War. Dunamians refer to it as the Alliance War (Bholon Tr). Equally, the second part, or the phase of the war between the Détente and the Siege of Frontier is called the Second War by the Ermen. It was called the Stratus War or Terran War during the siege. Terrans and Adam Graves called it the Great War of Orion, a name that is often used by historians but was abandoned by the Ermen after the Civil Wars five hundred years later. Most of Orion calls the Gid campaign the Last War or Last War of the Gid. Liberal Ermen call it the Ermen Extermination or group it together with the Xenocide the Terrans committed. Most worlds in Orion adopted the Stratus War name.
Similarly, the empires Adam Graves and Jordan Hara built have had different titles. What is commonly referred to as the Stratus Empire has been called the Stratus-Dunamis Empire or the Terran Empire by Ermen historians. Dunamians called it the Human Empire during the war. The Ermen called it Graves’ Empire. Graves himself called it the Dominion of Mankind, a name that would be transferred to everything humans would go on to conquer following the end of the war. Jordan Hara named his empire the Empire of the Three Suns but most called it Hara’s Empire during his reign, even his subjects. After the conquests of his son, it became known as the First Hara Empire. Non-historians sometimes incorrectly refer to it as the Stratus Empire because of Hara’s association with Graves.
Dates are given in the Holocene form, using the HE for Human/Holocene Era and adding ten thousand years to the ancient Common Era. For those using the Terran Gregorian calendar, simply subtract ten thousand years, leaving the year 2,082 HE as the year 2,082 CE. The calendar came into use during the hundred-year peace in Frontier as a reaction against the outdated ideals of Earth.
The Galaxy Before the War
2,082 HE – 2,201 HE
The Milky Way before the Stratus War was an empty expanse of billions of stars. What lied beyond the Orion Spur, the rogue arm of the galaxy, was completely unknown. To those living in the tightly knit group of worlds belonging to the Alliance of Independent Worlds the stars beyond posed the greatest mystery one could imagine. If such fascinating creatures and worlds existed in this pocket of the universe, what could possibly be among those hydrogen clouds? They toiled on this question for years. Humans traveling from Earth to Frontier often left for worlds in the fringes, searching the furthest arms of shortspace to catch a glimpse of what might be behind that veil. Yet nothing was known for sure except that not much had been explored of the galaxy. While thousands of stars had been explored, billions remained. It was anxiety inducing to have tasted what the cosmos had to give yet not receive the full meal.
This was the state of optimism in Frontier. A hundred years of immigration and industrialization had created a cultural elite that had not ever existed in the galaxy. The city of millions was brimming with excitement about this ever-changing world. Underneath the structure of the Alliance, there was a foundation which in hindsight must have been ready to fall. Humanity, new to this community of beings, could see that with barely three worlds (as Mars was in the process of terraforming) they were the smallest empire in Orion. The Gid had been pushed down to the core of their worlds and yet still they could fly their ships along an extensive network of routes. They had been robbed of their colonies yet still they had the largest portion of the spiral arm. Dunamis and Aarea had established lucrative trade ports over the last centuries. Most civilizations in Orion had many years to form their connections and trade networks. Yet Earth, victor of the Wars of Liberation felt alone in the universe. The Red Clouds had claimed Frontier. Frontier was fast becoming the center of trade and culture for the entire matrix of races. Ships landed daily with immigrants from the most remote corners of Orion. The world of the Red Clouds was soon to become the capital of the known universe. Among humans, especially on Earth, there was still bitterness against anything that was not humanoid. The war on Earth had been the most devastating. They had been driven to near extinction by the belligerent Gid. For a hundred years, humans had to rebuild their scarred home world. Inexplicably, their numbers grew so large that Earth became an unintelligible mass of people, overpopulated to the point of exertion. The blossoming wealth brought in from space was scattered sparingly throughout the world without reaching the starved masses. Yet purist humans refused to leave Earth. In fact, they closed themselves off from any world but Mars and Frontier, their reluctant ally. Their isolation drove them to build a system based around human exceptionalism which the pluralistic Ermen (Fronti) looked down on as backwards and archaic. Their world was one of optimism while “Old Earth” was antiquated and bigoted. This division only grew wider until the government of Earth began asking for travel visas to humans if they had not been born on Earth.
With shortspace open and free for anyone with a hook, trade exploded in Orion. Dunamis and Aarea, as the two superpowers (along with Frontier), spearheaded the largest economic projects of the time. They began building new routes between worlds and even expanded out into unknown space, out into the engrossing monstrosity that was the Milky Way galaxy – or Okanela to Dunamians. Although allies, these worlds were in competition. They were weary of the new ideas of interracial cooperation. The Gid had tried it with the Ploranans, the Kronians with the Aareans, and Dunamians with their stellar neighbors. Good intentions had a short lifespan when the survival of an entire species was at stake. Dunamis had by far the largest fleet in Orion. Their ships were not the fastest or most comfortable. They were eons old. Only recently had they been equipped to freely fly through shortspace as before they had been taxed an exorbitant amount by the Gid. While humans on Earth felt left out, the Dunamians saw clearly that human ships were better by magnitudes. With better drives and the best AI anyone had ever seen, humans were overtaking every other race. Dunamian senators began hiring large mercenary armies and exploring deeper into unknown space, hoping to tap into some romanticized empire of fortune.
More than a hundred years after the end of the Wars of Liberation, Frontier made an incredible discovery. Many think that this discovery, more than any war, more than any cultural or political change, was the single greatest event in history. They found the remains of a shortspace route stretching from a star near Frontier, all way to the other end of the galaxy. It would take every single route in Orion to stretch as far as this Route. Knowing the gravity of the situation, the government of Frontier amassed the greatest minds of the time to take on a monumental journey. If properly explored, the Trans Galactic Route would serve as the lifeline from Orion into everything that lay beyond. Less than five percent of the galaxy had been explored in the last six thousand years. Exploring the rest, at the current pace, would take a million years without rest. But with the TGR, a gift had been handed to Orion, to humans, to Dunamians, to the Gid, to everyone. What had been a fever dream could now be a reality.
The journey of the Animus took off, leaving behind a group of worlds at the brink of war.