Without doubt, the discovery of the so-called 'Heart', 20 years ago, was the single most significant event of recent history. However, before discussing the events of that time, it is necessary to understand the background on which they stand.
When the Heart was discovered, so too were its keepers, the so-called 'Security Council'. These four matrix beings were able to confirm the existence of an 'Elder race', previously hinted at in the legends of so many races of CivCore. The Council claimed to have very little knowledge of the elders, but provided the following information.
Once, there were only the Elders, and the place where they lived was called dataspace. They had noticed the existence of another, perhaps parallel, realm of existence, which seemed to be based on 'energy' instead of information. However, the Elders had little interest in such things, since their wisdom and skill were such that their control of dataspace was almost complete, and that was enough to satisfy them.
They began to notice, however, that tiny tangles of data were appearing in dataspace. They could not understand why, but they could easily remove these minuscule flaws in their ordered lives. Until the day came when one of the tangles, just before it was to be deleted, cried 'no!'.
The Elders were shocked: they had never thought that these things could possibly be capable of thought, let alone communication. A decision was made to translate any future such beings into energy space, and allow them to pursue their own courses there. A region of energy space was brought into direct contact with dataspace, and the substance known to CivCore as 'Telhassium' was designed and constructed to perform the translation.
Over the course of time, more life appeared spontaneously, and was ejected from dataspace. Some of the Elders became curious in these simple beings, and began to watch and guide them as they struggled towards intelligence on a hundred different planets. Elders ensured that Telhassium was sufficiently plentiful that some day the energy creatures would have a taste of dataspace. It is thought that the Jump Gates were constructed for similar reasons.
Then came a momentous discovery: the Elders found that they were capable of leaving Dataspace. Where they went, and why they left, is unknown. Before they did so, however, they constructed the 'Heart', effectively a control system with all the power and control of an Elder, in both dataspace and energy space. They also left behind four guardians, the Security Council, who would manage reality according to their complex instructions. However, perhaps in sympathy for the beings they were leaving behind, they left the opportunity for beings of the correct nature and temperament to become as the Elders were: there was a key to the Heart, scattered in pieces across CivCore.
The physical nature of the Heart was a planet, containing vast quantities of Telhassium, which together constituted the hardware of the Heart. On the planet, the Elders placed a race, whose purpose was to prevent physical tampering with the Heart's constituent parts. Certain members were granted the ability to access a tiny part of the Heart's power. These individuals became known as Pariahs, and their planet was Shari.
Much happened after the departure of the Elders: empires rose, spread, and fell. The Tharils enslaved and destroyed those not like themselves. For this reason, the Security Council determined that they should not be permitted to coexist with other beings, and the entire Empire was moved into a secure area of dataspace.
The Zhan race, together with Ragma warriors, also built an empire, but they allowed others to live, and to administrate themselves. When the Aamei sector broke away, over a millennium ago, they barely noticed, and probably did not care in any case. Neither did it trouble them that the Aamei and other races of CivCore temporarily lost knowledge of the Jump Gates and Telhassium.
At the time when this knowledge was regained, along with the independent technology of Jump Drives, CivCore's recorded history began.
It was High Priest Tarik of the HCPD, secretly a Dra'Zan with a great deal of knowledge of the matrix, who first became aware that existence solely in dataspace, or 'on the matrix', could transcend physical existence. Thus he schemed to be destroyed by Pariah Larmion, since he knew that only then could he briefly use the Pariah's connection to dataspace. He was greeted by the Security Council, who he deceived into believing that he would be suitable as their agent.
He betrayed their trust by contriving the return to energy space of the Tharil Empire. It helped him that he did so at a time when the major forces of energy space were in disarray: the Imperium of Zhan was wracked with internal dissent, and was in the process of collapse. The New Empire, a collection of races which had evolved not from dataspace, but entirely the real world, was discovering that their mission to save the universe from destruction was a delusion. As for the CCF: their status will be discussed later.
The Tharil Empire looked set for conquest, under the leadership of the Lord High Arbiter through the then naive and manipulated Empress Barratt. However, their conflicts with the Rocarna resulted in the release of two deadly diseases, the second of which looked set to all but wipe out the entire race.
It was at this point that the Heart was opened, by the Empress Barratt. Tarik was intending to act through her to seize control of the Heart from the Security Council. However, the Empress prevented him from doing so, thereby saving CivCore from a terrible fate.
Others then entered the Heart, and gained a shared control of is powers. These were the scientist Quentin Volte, the mystic Karel, and the matrix being Justice For All. It has been speculated that those three together constituted a reincarnation of ICON, another matrix being previously destroyed attempting to oppose Tarik.
The powers of the Heart were used to destroy the deadly Rocarnan virus, and to restrain Tarik so that he could be brought to trial for his activities. The Heart itself remained occupied for approximately one month, after which its occupants left following requests from Pariah Larmion and others of Omicron Station. It seems that the experiences of the occupants in and around the station, along with the points of view of those they counted as their friends, were pivotal in their decision to renounce the power of the Heart, and allow the occupants of CivCore the freedom to follow their own destinies.
Many of those present at that time had important contributions to make to history. Rear Admiral Monk of the CCF, for example, was the man who revealed to a shocked CivCore that the high command of that organisation had been subverted by members of a shape changing race who called themselves 'Changers'. Helyan purists were able to identify Changers in the CCF, and each was either killed or forced to flee. The CCF returned to Hel to claim the planet back from the Tharils, and eventually surrendered its pretences to neutrality by officially declaring itself under Helyan governmental control. The true situation was rather that the CCF took over the governing of Hel.
It also became known at this time that a large part of the disarray in the New Empire had been due to a strike force from the Imperium of Zhan, lead by the Ragman General Rakhikh. He had conquered Deus, thereby securing a major victory, and all but confirming that eventually his cleaning up process would be complete.
However, when communication lines back to the Imperium were established, the news came through: the Imperium was no more. The Zhanians were dead. Rakhikh was now a citizen of the Confederacy of Zhan, under the leadership of a mysterious being known as Homlu. The status of the Ragma under the new regime was not yet clear.
The Ragman High Command berated Rakhikh for taking such a risk; however, it appeared to have paid off. The New Empire would soon (in Imperial terms) be under Imperial, or Confederal, or whatever, rule, and the Zhanians were finally off the Ragma's back.
Back in the Imperium, the situation was not good. The Xenites were manipulating Homlu as soundly as they had the Zhanians before him. The new regime found the Xenites set up almost everywhere in the civil service and administration, and, as they appeared (and are) very, very competent, let them be. Soon, proposals began to be 'lost in the paperwork', and somehow nothing could ever be done without it going through a Xenite at some stage. The situation in each sector in which the Xenites were established was as bad as ever, and the Government was being blamed. Small rebellions were occurring with increasing scale and frequency.
Homlu's advisors were more or less at a loss. Removing the Xenites would have left those sectors in anarchy. An alternative system, or at least some temporary measures, had to be set up and ready to be implemented before the Xenites are removed.
This was attempted, and, in many sectors, succeeded. However, in most places, the attempts were sabotaged. Sometimes the sabotage was traced back to Xenites, but sometimes, especially in the areas close to CivCore, it was due to a mysterious force of black ships that appeared seemingly from nowhere and disappeared just as suddenly.
Eventually the Confederacy did not have enough forces to police itself. Rakhikh's troops were gradually recalled to help defend and secure the Confederacy. Rakhikh had been making great progress in the New Empire, for their defensive forces were depleted and were behaving chaotically as all organisation failed; however, eventually he did not have enough power to secure the areas he had already claimed. Last year, the New Empire was finally written off as a loss, and the last colonists recalled.
The New Empire is left shattered, having been crushed between the two forces of the Ragma's ordered hatred and its own chaos, induced by the worship of a probably metaphorical being named the 'Infernal Lord of Chaos and Entropy'. The Confederacy is left in no better a state than when it was an Imperium; the people are run in an oppressive regime, organised by the Xenites, using the Ragma as their muscle, and blame their troubles on the faceless Government.
Clan Draxz is a clan that, where it was known at all, used to be known as a group of dishonest traders and con tricksters. However, most of these people were hit hard by the great economic collapses, which sent their homeworld, like the rest of CivCore, into an immense recession. Only a few months later, a large group of honest members, led and inspired by a figure claiming to be the reincarnation of the centuries-old hero Joseph Darke, forged their way into CivCore, making the most of their situation, earning their livings through trading, but always willing to take a loss if it would help an area that was in need. They have done a lot to help relieve the economic crisis and perpetrate the Omicred currency. Clan Draxz is now a large trading empire, and Joseph Darke is, coincidentally, very rich.
Another financial beneficiary of that turbulent time was, of course, the IMF. Led by the marketability of the retired Silas Black, their subsidiary company Black Media Incorporated made huge profits on assets acquired during the time of recession. The IMF decreased their activities as a combat force, but retained the star destroyer Annihilation, and so were a force to be reckoned with wherever they appeared. Their main rivals, the E-Team Tribute Association, never achieved the respectability of the IMF, but certainly equalled their notoriety.
One member of the team, Darien James, was notable for his uncovering of the mammoth secret organisation Auspex over the course of ten years of undercover work. After the closing of the Heart, he travelled for four years then disappeared into obscurity. He was thought to have retired, but returned triumphantly at the end of 'Project: Enlightenment' with a very long list of the identities and illegal activities of Auspex agents. Auspex was revealed to be headed by a Handrahen, also called auspex, who was confronted with overwhelming military force. It is unknown whether auspex was destroyed, or managed to jump away.
Finally, I should like to mention the fate of Omicron Station, since it has served as my home for some time. At the time of the opening of the Heart, Pariah Larmion was concerned that the station was in danger, and as a result, after a little surgery by Annihilation, it was moved through the Shari Jump Gate. Once the situation had settled, it returned to Shari, and has since prospered as a free trade post, and as the financial centre of CivCore. It flourishes under the patronage of the mysterious Xylo Treem in more ways than one, since Ambassador 100 of the Stem has also made Queue Gardens a centre for horticultural excellence, and a peaceful haven for all visitors.
Copyright (C) Dra'Naar, of the Dra'Zan. A more complete analysis, 'CivCore, from Cymlana to the Present Day', is available from the same publisher.