2381-2624 AU

Eastern Aesgar, with its greater diversity of races and nations, has seen the majority of galactic wars. Yet for a thousand years following the Siege of Salzus the galaxy knew peace, albeit a tense one. Terra Nova was still at the pinnacle of known galactic power, but had stagnated militarily and socially after centuries without challenge. The Graedian Confederacy had reached even greater heights as the galaxy’s center of commerce, but tensions outside caused political fractures within.

Most of the uncertainty lay with the Nebulans, who were constantly expanding their reaches with mechanical efficiency; by 2380, the Nebulan Star Empire was roughly half the size of the Terra Nova Empire – and showed no signs of stagnation. Their military had evolved from a nomadic, skirmishing paradigm to one based around overwhelming strength. They developed a distinct line of armor plating for their infantry that proved superior to any competing form – armorweave or otherwise. And their fleet, adapted heavily from Orian styles to suit their needs, was becoming known for its brute strength. Terran tacticians began to ponder more seriously the possibilities of a coming conflict. At no time did free Aesgar feel completely safe.

The first signs of upheaval occurred in 2380 with the Elan. The nomadic race had long raided Nebulan interests, attacking convoys and production facilities near worlds sacred to the Elan. Nebulan commanders often put their least experienced troops in danger zones as a proving ground for raw recruits. But the raids suddenly intensified, and Nebulan tolerance evaporated. As the conflict was concentrated on the northern Nebulan Fringe, outside sources and accounts are few and far between, but reports from both sides hint at some of the worst carnage since the Orian War.

2380 AUMost of the major engagements in the Elan Wars were in space; Elan tribes rarely occupied or colonized worlds beyond fulfilling their most basic of needs. The worlds they did settle were considered important, even sacred. Such a way of life allowed Elan ships to become among the most efficient and agile in the galaxy. (It is important to note that early Nebulan fleets shared similar capabilities and characteristics.)

Unfortunately, Elan civilization was decentralized and fluid. Tribes were scattered across the whole of Aesgar, sometimes even warring against each other. When conflict with the Nebulans escalated, calls were sent out across the galaxy for aid, but the haphazard manner in which news arrived to the hundreds of tribes made forming a coordinated front impossible. Nebulans proved quick to adapt, fortifying Elan worlds to prevent them re-supplying in their own territory. The war turned to one of attrition, in which the united Nebulans had significant advantages.

Early diplomatic reactions were mixed, as little direct outside observation could be made. Initially, Terra Nova actually supported the Nebulans, regarding their efforts as fighting a defensive war – as did the Squire Clan and others on Graedius. But there were ulterior motives behind this reasoning.

Some on Terra Nova legitimately believed that the Elan were the aggressors, and thus in the wrong, but most military officers and tacticians saw this as an opportunity to divert Nebulan attention. Terra Nova was already in the process of re-arming its military with new tachyon disruptor weaponry – a recent advance. The switch was made for economic reasons as well as strategic: tachyon weapons were paired with heavier warheads, a combination both potent and cheaper to produce than equivalent plasma weapons. The Nebulans already held significant advantages in plasma weaponry, providing them with superior destructive firepower, and tachyon disruptors were seen as a way to level the playing field – and the Elan Wars would buy the time needed to fully upgrade the fleet. Additionally, tactical analysts saw this as an opportunity to observe Nebulan capabilities from a safe distance.

The Squires of Graedius, on the other hand, simply saw a chance to weaken the Nebulan Empire – which they felt had become entirely too formidable for an aggressive neighbor. They supported the Nebulans outwardly at first, believing the vast Elan fleets would do to the Nebulans what the Nebulans had done to the Orian Empire. But Graedian factions secretly supplied Elan forces, hoping to cause maximum damage to the Nebulans.

Thus was the political climate at the outset of the Elan Wars, which were fought intermittently from 2381 to 2613. The “wars,” as they are called, resulted from semi-united tribes attacking the Nebulan Star Empire in a series of waves – sometimes enormous hordes, sometimes simply strong raiding parties. Had the Elan been centrally governed and not dispersed across the galaxy, the wars might have gone differently. Some tribes even refused to answer the call, having no affinity for the Fringe regions being contested.

Still, at the outset, many military analysts gleefully watched the Elan fleets systematically destroy the Nebulans. But as the Nebulans fortified worlds and turned the conflict to attrition, the tide dramatically turned. Each successive wave of Elan forces was eventually destroyed, as they could not fully recover after battles and lacked proper siege craft. And there was usually enough time before the next invasion for the Nebulans to recoup prior losses. These waves, while damaging at times, were progressively better dealt with and destroyed. The survivors of each wave were subdued and settled by force on the outskirts of the empire, near the Core. Severe laws were enacted against the settled Elan, and they were permanently denied citizenship. True outside intervention in this discrimination did not occur for several decades.

As the Nebulans settled into their almost seasonal routine of warfare, the Graedian Confederacy – as a whole – voted to aid the Elan openly and publicly shifted their alliance, infuriating the Nebulans. Elan forces began using starlanes through the Confederacy to attack Nebulan holdings in the rear. Soon Elan even adopted ground and siege craft from the Graedians. Terra Nova maintained its distant support of the Nebulans until factual evidence of atrocities was leaked out; toward the climax of the wars, Terra Nova responded by denouncing Nebulan conduct of their campaigns. Nebulans ignored the criticisms and continued winning by any means necessary.

In final response, Terra Nova’s ruling Draco – who had at first supported the Nebulans – resigned from office. The new Draco, a dragon named Swift, vowed to bring the Nebulans to justice, and to foil their reputation and expansion by any and all available means. New siege and infantry technology was donated to the Elan, and Terran-Graedian privateers began operating in contested regions.

The climax of the Elan Wars finally came with the rise of charismatic leaders on both sides: Nebulan General Kardak Raegen and Elan chieftain Maghalor (“pale death” in Akreshna; his real name was never known). Maghalor managed to bring centrality to the remaining Elan tribes and led them to a series of stunning victories. Combining Terran and Graedian technology with Nebulan tactics, he perfected new methods of sieging fortress worlds. Kardak was specifically given the task of defeating Maghalor, as this change in Elan fortunes was deemed either fated by the Cycle of Order or a gross failing on the part of higher Nebulan commanders.

Unlike his ancestors, Kardak did not share in superstitions and spirituality. To counter wavering internal support, Kardak engaged in a campaign of total war on a scale far beyond his predecessors. He destroyed worlds to cut Elan supplies indefinitely, wantonly exterminated entire populations, and took the war to the Elan women and children. This turn of tactics was deemed abominable by both his superiors and the rest of Aesgar, and would water the seeds of an ideological revolution long lingering in Nebulan politics.

Regardless of the condemnation of his tactics, Kardak finally succeeded in defeating Maghalor in 2612, and the final Elan surrender occurred on Shi’an in 2613. The remaining tribes – numerous enough to pose a threat if combined with their settled brethren – were placed quietly under a quota. Kardak herded the Elan remnants in camps on Shi’an at specific intervals and ordered his fleet to target those who exceeded the quota. The targeted camps were bombarded out of existence, and any survivors were exterminated by Nebulan ground forces surrounding the camps. Reports as to the number of Elan killed in the Shi’an Massacre are in dispute, as some state that no less than 70,000 were murdered; others claim 700,000 or more. No exceptions were made in the quota, which itself is a source of historical conflict, as the origins of its creation are unknown.

Shi'anWhen the Elan Wars ended and facts began to surface, public outcry in Aesgar was enormous, particularly in the Terra Nova Empire. Many believed that the Graedians and Terrans allowed the Elan to die, others that they wanted the tribes destroyed completely. The primary reasons for Terra Nova’s neutrality were strategic, as were Graedius’. Even after the full-fleet armament upgrades, interfering in a Nebulan war far beyond Terra Novan influence could have easily provoked a full-scale war. Although Terra Nova was superior in strength, the memories of the destruction wrought in the Orian War was well-documented and had been deeply studied. A galactic war against the Nebulans would have been far more destructive than against the Orian Empire – although it could have been won, it would have been crippling for the galaxy. Graedius, on the other hand, simply did not have the military capability and infrastructure to actually enter the war; and so they resigned themselves to aiding the Elan, advising, and leveling sanctions against the Nebulans.

Public outrage continued for a great while after the Shi’an Massacre, until time ultimately dimmed the memory and extinguished the fervor.

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