Their Formation, History, and Philosophies
“A Brief History of the Diaspora”
From Keraleece of the Guild of Light (deceased), 27 AD (After Diantos)
It has taken me seven parses to cycle my Vault, ready production, and open the tunnel to the asteroid’s surface –this after twenty parses of growth, education, and preparation. I have established some contact with the other Guilds, discovered the tragedy that befell the minor Guilds (and myself), and come to the conclusion that I should at least try to see to it that the true history of our doomed race was told.
Therefore, I am transmitting this history of the time before the Cataclysm to all receiving COSMs. Our Guild of Light Vaults cycled too soon—we were too anxious to be the first Awakened—and we are now just walking dead. But our contribution to the New Malkari existence may prove to be one of the greatest: the truth of our past.
Before the Threat
The realization of the approach of Diantos out of the southeastern quadrant of the Malkari sky shaped the history of ten generations of our race.
Before that dark day in 2378 Golden Calendar (GC), the Malkari system had lived in an enlightened age for centuries. The wounds of the early history of our people—with its warfare, persecutions, and ignorance—had been cauterized in the fierce blaze of atomic power discovered by one of the first Technologists of the oligarchy that would become the Golden Order of Reason (GOR). The release of the powerful energies stored in the bonds of the atom freed our ancestors to explore their horizons rather than fight over the land within them. A new age was born and from it a new government: the GOR TechnoAristocracy. For 250 parses, our Malkarian ancestors—under direction from the ten oldest Families on Malkari—worked in harmony, explored their star system, settled its asteroid belt, and developed material processing and energy production sciences to levels that the Guilds can now only dream of.
The Golden Order of Reason was stunned when their Space Sciences Division realized that Diantos, a star thought always to be part of a constellation far distant, was actually approaching the Malkari system on a perfectly direct collision course. The Ten Families debated for over a parse as to the actions to be taken to save the race. Arguments were made for destroying the star, diverting it, moving to it, moving away from it, burying the cities of the Six Worlds: anything to preserve the history and greatness of our people. In the end, these very arguments to preserve our way would destroy it forever, sundering the unity of the Golden Order of Reason and forging, from the remains, the Guilds. It became obvious during the debates that the apparent unity of the GOR Families was inherently unstable and fractured by personal ambition, aesthetic disagreements (very important to our people, then as today), and philosophies of ethics and propriety.
The Age of Arks
The seed for strife was sown when the GOR resolved to save the Malkari race by constructing massive Arks—generation ships designed to carry a select few thousand Malkarians, technological records, and genetic material to be used when a new Home World was found. The GOR Families designed the supply vehicles for the Arks’ construction in space as huge, blocky buildings with launch systems in their foundations. Entire cities sprang up around each continent’s launch centers to support the construction of the Arks; new lines of research were explored, exploited, and cataloged for the Arks.
In all, the GOR plan allotted 200 parses to accomplish three things: develop whatever technologies could aid a deep space vessel, locate a habitable planet around a nearby star, and build the Arks to be as strong and reliable as possible. Their Technologists locked down to the task, first perfecting their traditional nucleics and heat transfer technologies, the very sciences that had pulled Malkari out of its Dark Age decades past.
The Six Worlds pooled their resources, Technologists, and peoples to construct nearly 500 Arks over the next 200 parses. As each was completed, it was staffed, stocked, and hurled into the depths of space. Though no destination was ever determined, each Ark was sent towards the Chotheth Cluster in the hopes that one of its forty stars would contain a habitable planet on which the Malkari race could again rise to greatness.
And Diantos crept ever closer.
Malkarian technology reached its height in the late 2500s, as the last Arks powered for the Chotheth Cluster. The Six Worlds could not continue to drive their peoples to save others AND advance Malkari technology AND support their people and the massive Launch Cities. The Golden Order of Reason convened what remained of the Ten Families to come up with any last ideas they could. From that meeting came the Vaulting.
The GOR resolved that to best insure the survival of some shred of the Malkarian way of life, hundreds of Vaults would be buried deep into the mantles of the Six Worlds. These Vaults would be fully automated, heavily armored bunkers the size of a normal home which would contain nothing but support machines, computers systems (COSMs), and genetic banks. The banks would hold samples of the greatest lineages in Malkari, from which could be grown new people to reawaken and unify the Vaults after Diantos’ pass. The COSMs, it was decided, would be responsible for containing the history and knowledge of the original Malkari and for educating the new Malkarians in their great heritage.
The factories of the Six Worlds retooled. People moved away from the Launch cities to construction sites peppering the planets, and the Vaults were begun. By this time, Diantos’ approach was making its mark as seismic activity reached record highs, with some worlds having earthquakes or volcanic eruptions as much as twice a day! The Vaults had to be buried into miles of hard rock to insure them any chance of being left after the gravitational forces of Diantos’ pass tore the system to shreds. Further, by the time the Vaults were dug, armored, insulated, shielded, automated for maintenance, and wired for COSM networks, there was precious little space left for gene banks and COSM memory storage. Originally, the Vaults had been designed to each contain sufficient COSM memory and material banks to reconstruct, eventually, all of Malkari culture and science.
Instead, it became obvious that the Vaults would have to be, like the Arks, a slice of Malkari life rather than the whole pie. The announcement of this by the GOR lead to their first strife in almost 500 parses.
The First Schism
When the task of deciding what of Malkari life should be preserved in the Vaults came before the GOR, it was considered by Families very worn by constant quakes, popular pressures, and the agonizing decisions of who should leave on the Arks. The Families became reactionary.
The Golden Order declared that the only things to be preserved in the Vaults throughout the Six Worlds were those technologies and practices which existed before Diantos’ threat was realized. They argued that the Malkarian way of life was NOT in the past two hundred parses of hurried research and advancement while building the Arks, but rather in the stately existence they had enjoyed for the prior three centuries. They ordered that the Vault COSMs be filled only with nucleic and heat transfer designs, armored by the toughest, most tried-and-true techniques of shielding, and seeded with the pure genetics of the Families of Malkari.
Unfortunately, one Division of the GOR, the Space Navy, was outraged by this reversal of progress. They had enjoyed the benefits to their Division that arose out of Ark research and demanded that the silicate construction and beam and plasma power control techniques at least be preserved as well. Further, they argued with the GOR about finer points of aesthetics and what should be taught to the Emergent Malkarians after Diantos finished its destruction. In particular, on spacecraft (which would be the first necessity of the Malkarian that would reawaken the Vaults) the Navy favored lithe and agile designs, demanded by their role as defenders of commerce and mining from piracy, over the bulky and stolid designs used by the GOR in mining and transportation. Their Admirals resisted the GOR design of the Vaults, trying to push technologies and genetics into them that were deemed “too incidental” by the GOR. Ultimately, their efforts to persuade to GOR Families just angered them, and several key figures in the Space Navy were asked to resign.
Those figures did just that, taking with them 90% of the Space Navy’s personnel, ships, and resources. The GOR demanded that the rebellious Admirals return the forces they had taken; the response from the Navy was that those forces did not want to return to an uninspired, old-tech government. To drive the point home, the Space Navy adopted a new designation, one which drew from Malkarian avian wildlife for its inspiration; since the Admirals prided themselves on striking with speed and lethal force, they looked to the raptors of Malkari for a namesake.
In 2580 GC, the Blue Talon Corps was formed under the direction of a council of the eight top Admirals in the former Navy. Each Admiral was placed in charge of an “Aerie” and given near complete discretion as to its use, within the confines of the Admiralty’s dictates. Almost immediately, the Blue Talon Corps (BTC) was faced with a problem: they had gained independence and become the first dissenting party in the Malkari system in almost 500 parses, but now they had to plan for Diantos without the GOR coffers upon which to rely.
Admiral Shrike of the Command Aerie suggested that they purchase mining equipment from the GOR and use it on the largest asteroids of the Malkari Belt for their Vaults. They would wait through the Cataclysm and then the Blue Talon Corp would rise like a phoenix and reclaim whatever remained of the Malkari system. Marshalling the remaining resources of the shattered system, they would construct their own Ark, fast enough to overtake the GOR Arks and claim the new Home World for BTC rule before the Ark colonists even arrived!
Shrike’s plan met with resounding agreement from the Admiralty, and a communiqué was dispatched to the Golden Order of Reason, offering a truce and seeking the trade agreements. Sadly, the Families were too accustomed to getting their own way and refused to open talks with the BTC until they gave up on their rebellion and the Admiralty returned to the Home World.
Of course, this was unacceptable to the proud individualists that had formed the Blue Talon Corps. They stormed and complained and sent repeated requests and veiled threats. Finally, after three parses of diplomatic intrigue, cold war, and strained tempers, the Admiralty threatened to attack the mining ships the GOR required for Ark construction. This proved to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Though the oldest of the Families grew indignant over the churlish threats and posturing, many of the Barons and Earls who did not sit on the GOR Council (and, it would be found, even some who did hold Seats) were terrified by the prospect of war in space. Still more of the Lesser Nobility could stomach the idea of war in space, but could not tolerate the losses of Vaulting resources that war would bring. The idea of independent preservation struck a chord in these Lessers’ minds, and they began maneuvering both to provide the BTC with needed equipment and to establish land control on regions of the Six World so that they could construct Vaults of their own, for their own Family and their own set of technologies that they felt should be preserved.
Laser radios flashed, and the call for war was “mysteriously” dropped by the Blue Talon Corps. Members of the Ten Families of the GOR spent months trying to determine what had calmed the BTC’s ire; when they finally discovered the deals being made behind the scenes by the Lesser Families, the second great schism of the Diaspora occurred.
The Families Divided
Investigations by the Fifth Family lead to the discovery of the secret plans and deals between two of the Great Families, the Lessers and the BTC. When Heads of the offending Families were brought before the Council, they tried to persuade the Council of the expedient wisdom of their decision. They argued that the BTC was still Malkarian, deserved a chance to survive, agreed with the GOR that no further developments should be pursued. They asked why aesthetic differences were grounds for schism, why the GOR would fight that which was once their Finest Son, why saving SOME part of Malkari had to suffer over ideals of form and governance.
The Golden Order of Reason responded with an unprecedented rigidity, fueled by fear of the looming star and the remaining sixty parse time limit to finish all of the Vaults. They told the Gordano, Luchensa, and Lesser Families to “cease dealing with the rebels or cease dealing with us”. And a second battle line was drawn.
The guilty Families made their break from the GOR in the Declaration of Free Memory of 2582. While they would not oppose any efforts of the GOR or the BTC, they would charge for any part they took in such efforts, for either side. The disaffected Families withdrew to their private asteroids and Orbitals and formed the Diamond Cooperative, taking their name from the hardest substance their mines yielded. The more poetic of the Cooperative also attributed the use of Diamond to that stone’s inherent quality of yielding, from yellow Malkari light, any color of the visible spectrum. This metaphor of facility represented the ideal of freedom to preserve toward which the Diamond Cooperative would strive.
But the ruddy speck of Diantos grew ever larger in the night sky, and the virus of factionalism had penetrated deep into the once-harmonious Malkarian psyche. Seismic activity swelled even higher as the worlds began to wobble in their orbits and be drawn off kilter by the approaching angry star.
The Vaulting Conflicts
The Diamond Cooperative immediately opened for business, providing the BTC with much needed mining systems. The Vaulting of the BTC’s genes and technology began in earnest. At the same time, the Diamond Cooperative (DC) began trade with the GOR to provide them with the materials still needed for Ark construction.
Within a few parses, the division and aggression of the First Schism gave way to cooler debates on worthwhile aesthetics to preserve, what gene defects were “part of the Malkari legacy”, and how many people were to be released from the Vaults to facilitate the Emergence after Diantos started leaving the system.
Throughout these philosophical duels and dances, the Diamond Cooperative ran their mining interests, developed more efficient power supplies for the asteroids that would hold their Vaults, and kept the machines of industry running. Taking their cue from the Blue Talon Corps, they adopted the aesthetics of marine life on Malkari for their ship designs and interfaces. As new hulls were designed to accommodate the greater traffic the DC had to bear as independents, their systems and skins were styled after octopi, shellfish, and predatory fish. Further and most ominously, the DC began imposing their own brand of control on the BTC and the GOR.
Essentially, the Cooperative was still true to the vision of the GOR for the preservation of Malkari culture. While the risk of becoming hypocrites prevented them from denying the use of BTC silicate and beam technology, any technologies which significantly deviated from the core discipline of thermodynamics and nucleics were restricted. Basically, they wanted Vaulting to proceed apace and would not wait for any new techniques just to have to find room for them. The DC encouraged any and all Malkarians to develop new technology, and in fact the approach of Diantos had stimulated research to levels unmatched by any in history or antiquity. But once that technology had born fruit, the DC would clamp down on it, restricting the dissemination of it through their vessels and infrastructure. Since they controlled a vast majority of the shipping and mining resources of the Malkari system, they were free to hold whatever developments of which they did not approve or that they did not feel were in keeping with the traditions of the race or worth the effort. Anyone disagreeing with their restrictions would have to steer clear of the standard shipping lanes or risk discovery and ‘censure’—destruction, or at the very least, incarceration.
Basically, they became the watchdogs of the solar system for the next two decades. They never delayed Vault production—but they never allowed anything new to be added to the Vaults. They never prevented the BTC from evolving faster and quieter methods of destruction—but they never allowed the new technology to leave the planet on which it was born. They never told a single individual what to do—but they never allowed the governments to change anything again. They were the greatest force for stability—and stagnation—in Malkari history.
So for twenty parses, the three Guilds dealt in shuttle diplomacy, shady materials trades, and prohibitive policies. Where once war between driven thinkers and passionate survivalists was brewing, now a cold apathy held sway and colored every dawn gray. Divided from each other, the Guilds spiraled deeper into their ideologies, becoming more stubborn and fanatical with each parse of repetitive digging, cataloging, and construction. Throughout this period, the Diamond Cooperative grew more and more greedy and more and more idealistic. Their Guild was started out of a desire for the right of choice of preservation; many within the Guild’s Chapters saw the trade restrictions and Vaulting prohibitions as the purest hypocrisy the DC could practice.
Finally, in 2602, two of the ten “Chapters” of the Diamond Cooperative seceded from the Cooperative in the Declaration of Dissent, forming a monopolistic corporate government called the Emerald Combine. Their leader, Jhoern Sperring, came up with the name by basing it on the color of his lover’s eyes, the second most useful gemstone their mining produced, and the fact that his ideal of unlimited development would be driven forward under the reins of his totalitarian control. At least he was honest, if not terribly creative.
The Emerald Combine’s organization was unlike any since the beginning of the Golden Calendar. They were run totally from the top down and had not one compunction about methods of production, which technologies were ethical and which were not, or whose genetics should be Vaulted. They were open for business and one of their “Departments” was sure to please. Within weeks, prohibited developments were being shuttled around the usual space lanes and the Emerald Combine (EC) was taking any orders refused by the DC or the GOR. This licentiousness shocked and chagrinned the GOR and even the relatively liberal DC, but the Emeralds were not going to let whining and words slow down the last fifty parses of development and invention left to the Malkari system. And every penny of profit went into the Emerald Combine Vaults—any Vaults held by the two dissenting DC Chapters as well as those added by themselves during the final decades of the Golden Calendar. To make their separation from their heritage complete and open the way for whatever expediency, they rejected even the aesthetics of the original Families. Form meant nothing to them in their preservations; function and utility to survivors were the only merits a stored gene or tech could boast, inutility or sentimentality were the only flaws they could possess. To remind themselves and the other Malkarians of this, they adopted the utilitarian aesthetic of the machine and of architecture to their ship and interface designs. Though horrid in appearance to other Malkarians, eminently practical. And fuel for the fire that had never been quenched.
With forty parses remaining before the Vaults must seal, the Malkarian psyche splintered, became schizoid, turned on itself. The examples of division and conflict presented by the Blue Talon Corps, the Diamond Cooperative, and the Emerald Combine drove other, smaller groups to declare their independence. Being left behind to die in the spectacular collision of stars, without even their family history remembered or preserved for the survivors: this dreadful end made people agitated. These Splinter Guilds, as they came to be called, forgot the enlightened arguments and idealism that lead their parents to agree to the supreme sacrifice of the Ark Solution; instead they formed groups of their own, sometimes with as few as 200 members, sometimes with a whole asteroid base as a constituency. Most of these Guilds did not survive the Cataclysm, be it from placing their Vaults unluckily at ground zero of one of the stellar discharges that pulverized the solar system or from never getting the things built due to resource or motivational shortages. Many more, like my Guild of Light, did not fare much better: they managed to create Vaults but then their genetic material was scoured and destroyed by radiation leaks, dooming them to a single despairing generation of existence and then extinction.
One Guild that was secretly formed in the Fragmentation seems to have survived well, since they have as many surviving Vaults as the Major Guilds. But, then, that should not be surprising, given the characteristic which defined their Guild.
The group that came to be called the Crimson Dawn was composed exclusively of Psys—psychically sensitive individuals who could see across the gulfs of space, talk via thoughts, hear words barely whispered on a nearby continent. Before the Cataclysm, these people were a marginal concern. Their powers were very useful for some—critical even, for the Space Navy and subsequent BTC-but they were never trusted with high office or important secrets. Or so it was thought. Apparently, this population of mutant oddities was better organized than any of their keepers imagined. During the Fragmentation, they seem to have been coordinated by a unifying force, a leader, and seem to have subverted a number of Vaults that the records show were in the hands of other Guilds before the Sealing. The Guild of Light records make note of struggles between some elements of the BTC and a Psy faction, but it was thought at the time to be more of an internal problem than a system-wide revolt by all Psys. The most that was ever suspected was that a minor Guild had formed around some Psy’s banner only to be short on time to sink Vaults. Little was it known that this “minor” Guild would subvert those Vaults with the highest probabilities of surviving and become, with the help of Diantos, a “major” Guild in the Emergence.
Thus, out of the Fragmentation after the Vaulting Conflicts, there were four major Guilds, a score of minor Guilds (all but one of which, as we now know, were doomed) and a star two parses away from getting down to the serious task of fully destroying Six Planets, an asteroid belt, and another star. The sealing began.
At the end of the rainy season of 2652, the last of the construction sites around the Six Worlds were evacuated. The Vaults had been vacuum-sealed for months, undergoing final testing and sequencing. The filthy streets, muddy, brackish waters, and smoke-filled skies were mute testimonies to the great cost of the Vaults, the resource shortages, and the Fragmentation. Most of the fauna that was not preserved was dead from pollution or neglect; some said that this was a greater favor than Diantos would have done for them. Countdowns began to tick. Vault doors ground closed and detonated their tunnel linings, sealing the miles of shaft that had ferried their precious cargo down into them. Families walked into ‘euthanasia rooms’ rather than wait for the lava to sear them or rock to crush them or the air to simply thin away. Stores were locked down, defense system were armed—just in case.
The waiting began. The Vaults awaited the Awakening.
No COSM sensor records show what exactly happened as Diantos eased closer to the spasming Malkari system. Simulations run after the Emergence based upon data about the remaining stellar bodies tell a story of tremendous tides buckling the tectonic plates of the Six Worlds, crumbling them and shearing them from their magma beds. Whole continents and seas sailed away from their worlds, orbiting the central sun as if they should always have been there, as if a planet should be smeared along its orbit.
For millennia, Diantos crept nearer, collecting its share of the debris of Malkari’s planets, divvying up the asteroid belt, swapping hydrogen like travelers swapping stories of their wide worlds. Then it reached perigee and began to lumber away from its blazing partner, Malkari, like a spurned lover.
Within six thousand parses—eleven thousand parses after the Sealing had set the Vaults to watching the Cataclysm—Diantos had egressed to the orbit once held by the outermost world, Perdu, and still shuffled outward. Autonomic systems in the remaining Vaults began their cycles, evacuating fouled air that had breached their seals, growing the custodians who would take over the Emergence, and powering up life support systems.
Malkari awoke from the nightmare: traumatized, divided, in now-alien space, and short-handed.
The New Age
The Malkari system is now just a jumbled collection of asteroids, shattered planets’ cores, and two stars, one of which is leaving us. Out in that void, the other Guilds are also Awakening, Emerging, and seeing the perfect desolation. Had I the resources, the time, the genetic staying power, if you will, to build an Ark, the Guild of Light would chase after the others, into the deepest space, to find a whole planet and start again.
But I am doomed and can only wish my cousins luck in this endeavor. While I suspect that some of the Guilds will eke out a living in the new Malkari system, I believe nearly all of the survivors will try to build their own Arks, now that the pressure of eminent Cataclysm is past and time can be spent on such a costly goal. Sadly, I know that the schisms of our race’s history will not fade, may even worsen, since so very little of the system’s resources have not been vaporized in the solar storms. Perhaps, however, one Guild or two will pull the others together and save the rest of the Malkarians from a cold, quiet extinction.
More likely, the Last Five Guilds will just finish Diantos’ job….