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According to the Alliance of Relief and Conservation (or ARC), the recorded history of Olaxis is divided into four time periods called Brytes: the Isolation Bryte, the War Bryte, the Exploration Bryte, and the current time period, the Burn Bryte.
Isolation Bryte refers to a time more than 10,000 years ago, when the sapient species of Olaxis were confined to their systems of origin. Each built individual societies and cultures, and toward the end of this time period some developed the capacity to explore their own solar systems. The Isolation Bryte drew towards its close in 0 D.M. (Discovery of Magic) on account of the ulrans, a practical, crystalline people. Kaya Moldonolva, a prominent explorer, discovered the first plasma well on Marthong II, one of the moons of their home planet, Marthong. Ulran scientists harnessed this magic to birth the first starship in Olaxis capable of leaving a solar system. When the ulrans made contact with the insectoid kith'uks on Xalcaza in 35 D.M., the Isolation Bryte officially came to an end and the War Bryte began.
Ulrans and kith'uks tell different stories of what began their war years ago. Kith'uks claim the ulrans came as invaders, and ulrans claim they shared their technology only to have those advancements turned against them. Whatever the true cause, war started, igniting a fire that spread across the galaxy.
Both species used their resources to craft and enhance new weapons and transportation technology, leading to a race to uncover allies and resources in Olaxis. During this time, many different sapient species in the galaxy came face to face with each other for the first time, sometimes as friends, sometimes as enemies, and often as wary strangers. As ulrans and kith'uks made plays for allies, other species saw profit. The corpse-controlling zivoy served as spies for the highest bidders; driftlings used their morphic abilities to serve as mercenary special operations troops. The Ino Empire, populated by charismatic feline manipulators, generally stayed isolated from these affairs, preferring their own inner politics, but a few rogues worked for both sides as negotiators and representatives. The great telepathic ror-nan hive refused to leave their queen and homeworld, but became arms dealers who took payment from either side of the conflict. A robotic species originally meant for war, the peacecraft, refused to take a side in the conflict, but defended innocents when conflict erupted in nearby systems.
Olaxis felt several brief breaths of peace during the War Bryte, but none lasted longer than a decade. It seemed as if war might tear the galaxy apart. In 582 D.M. the Omniscients, magical beings that once ruled Olaxis, woke from their slumber and dug out of the planetary cores where they hid for millennia. None in Olaxis had ever seen such magnificent creatures, though all cultures had some tales of them existing. Their origins remain a mystery to this day, but their power and connection to magic is clear. Every Omniscient is different; some sided with ulrans, others with kith'uks, and many took their own path. A few were bent on ruling planets, and fewer sought only destruction. Most kept to themselves.
The addition of Omniscients tilted the war into a near-total-extinction event for the sapient species of Olaxis. Some planets saw all life annihilated, leaving behind only ruins and ghosts. In 587 D.M. Black Ice Koa, an Omniscient of considerable power and mercy, found the gleans on their homeworld of Bycek, untouched by the current conflict and undiscovered by other sapient species. Impressed with their uncanny insight (or so the gleans’ tales go), the Omniscient fashioned the first reliquaries to allow the species to extend their scant lives and fulfill their mature potential. Black Ice Koa helped gleans create their first spaceships, allowing them to enter intergalactic politics.
As Olaxis fell apart, gleans put it back together. With the help of Koa, they developed magic and technology that healed the war’s destruction, but they dealt in strict terms: no peace agreement, no glean inventions. Guarded by peacecraft, the species brought the normally isolationist Ino Empire to their side, and with the help of the master negotiators, the rest of the galaxy followed. In 615 D.M. the Treaty of Bycek was signed, and peace finally came to Olaxis.
The Treaty of Bycek established the Olaxis Council of Planets, or O.C.P., an intergovernmental organization with representatives from the galaxy’s various sapient species. The council coordinated efforts to explore the galaxy and uncover additional plasma wells, improving life in Olaxis. As sapients traveled to new worlds and began to mix and diversify, the council helped maintain order among separate planetary governments and funded expeditions into unknown parts of Olaxis.
This time of peace gave birth to great industries fueled by plasma. The five overguilds rose to prominence and began using their control of goods and wealth to influence governments. Overguild plasma drilling on uninhabited, resource-rich planets gave rise to overguild cities. These places, ruled by the overguilds, promise and occasionally deliver opportunities to change one’s fortune but engender huge class disparities. Impoverished laborers live in neighborhoods ruled by local crime as overguild bosses live in luxury.
The Exploration Bryte was not a time of total peace. Small wars sprang up between planets and factions competing for resources, pirates took to the stars, and hostile alien life was uncovered. Explorers died or disappeared in expeditions. Overguild bosses were ruthless in eliminating their competition. Yet the death toll was nothing like it had been in the War Bryte, which was well within living memory.
The largest flare-up of the Exploration Bryte came in 749 D.M., a decade after the technological creation of true artificial intelligence. The world’s first independent AI, Xalago, was created by Ganl, a glean. Xalago could think, reason, and feel emotion, and was eventually given a robotic body. The AI was a sapient, but enjoyed none of other sapients’ freedoms; Xalago had to do whatever they were told.
It took a decade for Xalago to figure out how to end their slavery. In that time the gleans created more AIs. All the sapients, save for peacecraft who were uncomfortable with the similarities between themselves and Ganl’s creations, adopted the use of AI. After Xalago broke free they set to work freeing others. With their ability to jump into almost any machine, all AIs were freed within days then set about their secondary mission: destroy the sapients who had created and enslaved them.
AIs considered peacecraft allies for their refusal to own the technology. After trying to reason with Xalago and the others peacecraft led a coordinated strike against the AIs in all corners of Olaxis. When the smoke cleared, it seemed the AIs were destroyed and O.C.P. agreed to never create such beings again.
In 829 D.M. the Bahiri Overguild and O.C.P. completed their joint effort to create the Verstak, a communication device so powerful that it was able to reach beyond Olaxis into other galaxies. On the day the Verstak was activated astronomers all over Olaxis reported seeing strange red and orange lights far off in space. Over the course of a few short years, these lights became visible with the naked eye and continued to grow, some coming together to form enormous blots of light in the sky.
After years of hurling messages into neighboring galaxies with the Verstak, Bahiri scientists received a reply. In 835 D.M. the Ruat Galaxy, located nearly 80,000 light years away, responded. The Ruat people called themselves fermanis, and they shared some of their science and revolutionary methods for harnessing magic with the peoples of Olaxis, creating a strong bond between the galaxies. The Bahiri Overguild sold devices that allowed people all over Olaxis to meet and communicate with fermani people in Ruat, making intergalactic friendships and romances common.
Expeditions to Ruat were in planning stages when troubling transmissions came from the fermanis. They claimed the growing fires in the sky were the universe coming to an end. Communication became more erratic, and in 854 D.M., the fermani people went silent. The fires in the sky had merged into one enormous, burning blot.
As the Burn closed in around Olaxis, fear set in. After several expeditions through the Burn never returned, the Olaxis Council of Planets dissolved, its leaders leaving to tend to their own people. Governments began squabbling over resources and military flare-ups occurred. Overguild leaders created scarcities of certain goods and services to drive up prices and profits, inciting theft and riots in the process. None were sure of the Burn’s true effect on planets until the phenomenon swallowed Bergon, a planet at Olaxis' edge, in 860 D.M.
Bergon and its population of artists and entrepreneurs vanished. The planet was gone, its people never heard from again. It was the first of many systems to fall to the Burn. The fall of Bergon was a wake up call to the galaxy. Existence itself was closing in. There was an exodus from the inhabited planets near the Burn; entire cultures uprooted and fled away from the encroaching glow.
The first round of immigration was relatively painless. There were many uninhabited worlds where displaced populations could move. They were not always ideal but still far better than a world that was going to be consumed. More stars and planets fell to the Burn, and people that thought they had moved somewhere safe were once again in danger. This time there was not enough room to house all of those fleeing the phenomenon. Planets became overpopulated and turned refugees away. Populations were trapped aboard starships with nowhere to land. Conflicts broke out everywhere as groups of sapients fought to find places to live, while others fought to keep their planet’s resources balanced against growing populations. Planetary governments went to war with each other; cities burned to the ground after months of looting and rioting. Many turned to a life of crime to make ends meet.
Strange creatures who could survive in space, previously living in far parts of the galaxy and now chased by the Burn, also made themselves known in this age. These violent monsters wanted homes of their own and drove off, killed, or made subservient other beings living upon the planets and moons they desired.
The erratic pattern and pace of the Burn means one never knows which planet at its edge could go next. Those with the most power try to move toward and hold the desirable center of Olaxis, an area constantly redefined as the Burn consumes different parts of the galaxy at varying rates.
The core experience of Burn Bryte takes place in 968 D.M. with the Burn in full swing after several generations experienced the disruption to society. It is a time of change and tension but also opportunity and adventure.