No, maybe not that long. Although the political structure of the area of the universe known as 'CivCore' has been massively altered over the past fifteen years, the races who interact today are, for the most part, recognisable as those who were around that mere generation ago, whatever CCTV (broadcasting around CivCore, around the clock) might state in its more sensationalist documentaries.
About fifteen years ago, all that the place known as CivCore had as a common factor among its inhabitants was area of the galaxy. They shared a common 'police force' or army, made up of soldiers from major races, which claimed to be independent, they shared their Matrix, they shared a popular TV channel. It was a loose knit and rather strange area of space.
A few years after that, the loosely knit worlds were threatened with destruction by an entirely new force, of which they had little or no warning from any systems: the New Empire. Now, the idea of an Empire was nothing new - after all, CivCore had existed next door to the Imperium of Zhan (and, if the Zhan bureaucracy is to be believed, once as a part of it) for a great deal of time. Rather than slowly increasing borders, though, this Empire's first act was to order the government and personal representatives at a crisis summit on Cymlana to leave the world in only ten minutes - and then to metal-plate the planet, destroying the planetary crust and, almost incidentally, the entire remaining population on Cymlana.
The New Empire claimed that the reasons they were metal plating worlds was to save the universe. Their Scientists had discovered that the universe was due to collapse in upon itself and developed a scheme whereby certain areas could be protected with a careful distribution of planets, covered in metal and tuned to withstand such collapse. These would be as it were the 'tent pegs' to hold the rest of the universe they were close to in shape. The New Empire claims that this is a vital and immediate urgency, and force their scientific protection upon whomever they can, leaving defences and forcing surrounding civilisations to become a part of the Empire in order to protect these constructs. No-one is yet quite aware when the collapse might take place, but some think it may be imminent. CivCore was almost universally skeptical about these beliefs...
A 'Cymlana Conflict' group was set up, which originally worked to thwart the New Empire's attempts to advance. When the Empire and the Imperium clashed, the Imperium had promised to protect CivCore in exchange for setting up military bases, and many places, including the Karellian Federation, accepted this offer.
Dissension arose among the races of CivCore. The newly arrived Ikzari, known as purveyors of truly bizarre biological sex implants and toys, turned out to have sided with the New Empire, as did their allies, the Rocarnans. The sinister and vicious Dark Legion, led by Lord Nemesis and accused of taking millions of lives, was connected with the New Empire at times (Nemesis is recorded as stating that he had diplomatic immunity as an ambassador for the Empire) but probably owed loyalty to no-one but themselves. Most races, however, preferred the idea of the Imperium to that of the Empire - until everything suddenly changed.
The prince of the Imperium came to the infamous Virgin Bar on Virgus to talk to the Cymlana Conflict group. In this he stated that the Imperium had looked through their records, CivCore was a possession and they intended to annexe it. Larmion, a Pariah from the planet Shari, in a display of awesome near-magical powers which have not yet been explained, killed the Prince. The Imperium bodyguards prepared to take revenge - but they too were killed. It is not clear who was responsible. Imperium guards occupied Virgus, taking the proprietor of the bar into custody (from which he was later rescued by the CivCore legend known only as Johnny Vlarg) and the Conflict group left the planet with alacrity. These individuals reported back to their races and governments, and unanimously CivCore decided to concentrate their efforts on driving back the Imperium. The effort succeeded famously when the enormous spaceships of the race known as the Handrahen were persuaded to join the conflict. Simultaneously, the Imperium jump drives failed, and the New Empire scout fleet that had been in CivCore so far was joined by a full war fleet.
In less than three months the Imperium had been driven back beyond Zhan Gateway, which was, and remains, barred to traffic.
It was a little later on that the refugees started to arrive. In ones and twos, drifting beyond Zhan Gateway in ageing spaceships, coming to jump points within CivCore on what seemed to be a one way journey. There were few of them, and the Karellian Federation offered succour to the refugees as it had done to the dispossessed race of Boreas, the Mesh. It was the 'disappearance' of many of these refugees in the Karellian system, the escalating war (unstopped by the occupying military of the New Empire) between various Clansmen, the abuse of the demand for their services by the few Tharil ex-slaves, and the heroic death in battle of Grand Admiral Gredin Ankash, defending the planet of Grangor against being metal plated by the New Empire, who paid little or no attention to the demands of their dependents in CivCore, which was the deciding factor for now Grand Admiral Nimyek.
A Muat Tien champion and hedonist turned career military, Nimyek had secretly been involved with the Galactic Harmony Movement for several years, and was known by some to be the head of the organisation. Speaking with the voice of that movement, the protest organisation within the New Empire and the CCF, Nimyek moved to blend the three and find some way of making peace from escalating discord.
The reaction of most planets was that the CCF was no longer there to protect them and that they had to strengthen their own weaponry. This was something on which the occupying forces of the New Empire took a very strong stand.
It swiftly became clear that passive resistance with brief bursts of protest fighting was a good way to make an impression upon the occupying force. This was the tactic spearheaded by Nimyek, and from the time she began it, no further inhabited planets within CivCore have been metal plated by the New Empire. She pulled together all three areas of resistance and made them into a more-or-less harmonious whole. When Nimyek's team prevented the New Empire from metal plating Virgus, sending them instead to a nearby uninhabited system, her 'living hero' status was assured.
Upon Nimyek's tragic death two years ago, the whole of CivCore mourned, and factions within the CCF started angling for power. No one knows whose idea it was to build a permanent and active peace memorial to Nimyek, but whoever they were, they managed to persuade Pariah Larmion to let them use and 'alter' somewhat his Omicron Station, a rebuilt GMG base which used to orbit Shari. The memorial is an ongoing peace conference, welcoming anyone and everyone, particularly planetary diplomats, subject (of course) to sweeping security checks. Precisely what the Nimyek Conference at Omicron Station will achieve is yet to be discovered, as the forums are due to start fairly soon.
Currently CivCore is in a state of peace, albeit tenuous peace and with occupation by a military force.
The Helyans and the Aamei have been continuing their political snipings at each other recently, and the antagonism has risen to the extent that there have been threats that each will withdraw their support from the Nimyek Conference were they to discover that diplomats from the other world would be present. The Helyans have regained their capital city and driven the Cknights back into the hills where they remain, a low level terrorist action. Public feeling is swaying towards the side of the defenseless Aamei, since there have apparently been unprovoked and successful attacks on some of their trading vessels by Helyan ships, although the government claims that these are 'isolated incidents not supported by the government that have been made to seem far more important than they actually are'.
The Illisthians have been allowing more traffic to and from their world, and apparently are enthusiastic about the prospect of the coming conference, although they seem to have pretty much ignored the New Empire so far, resting comfortably behind their space shield.
The Karellian Federation is also enthusiastic about the conference, believing that it is an opportunity to extend the hand of friendship and co-operation to many races. However, they seem concerned about the rumours in the tabloid press that they may have been reponsible for the missing refugees, the government refuses to comment and there is an ongoing and so far seemingly fruitless investigation into the missing ships.
There has been a low level Clans war going on, completely ignoring the New Empire and other conflicts, for the past ten years or so. Although the war between Clan Xitra and Clan Irnabe is claimed by both sides to have been devastating, since no clan is known to have a homeworld none of this can be proven. However, it is treated seriously enough that neither Clan is allowed to host one of the famous (or infamous) Clans Trade Fairs until the conflict is resolved.