The galaxy is in turmoil.

Millennia ago, mankind discovered an alien artefact, the Arc of Ascension, calling out from the Martian surface, where it was hidden amongst the dust of the red planet. Its invitation brought scientists to investigate, consider and study. They discovered that the Arc was a vast store of information: not simply scientific, but artistic, social, and more esoteric knowledge, which would advance humanity and take them to the stars. If only they could navigate the seven locks that guarded that information.

But mankind has always been fickle. As some doubted this gift, thinking the intention behind it may stem from evil, others sought it out, wrestling for the knowledge contained within; the opportunities the Arc offered being squandered between children, fighting in the dark. Through this conflict, others strove to deal with the Arc more maturely, slowly and decisively opening each lock and marvelling at the knowledge that was released. They used this knowledge to improve humanity’s lot and spread their seed further afield.

As the locks were opened, those close to the Arc identified its purpose: a route would be created, a designated path, that would lead mankind to the Arc’s creators and, in so doing, potentially release such promise that the next step in our evolution was at hand. And so, in time, after a thousand years, mankind gathered before the Arc, the final lock to be opened, and The Path to be revealed. Ascension was within their grip.

Then real war shook the foundations of the old Sol empires. As the final steps to open the lock took place, Jovian and Earth ships attacked the site, trying to seize the device. At this time of reckoning, The Ancients tell of a star map beginning to unfold and a bright sentinel appearing in the midst of the gathered congregation, and then, a vast pulse sucked the energy from everything near and far. The solar system seemed to jar, if just for a second, and the Arc laid waste to the surface of the Earth.

The majority of Mankind was forced to leave. The former inhabitants of Mars, the A’Kari, stole away the Arc and took a nomadic fleet out to search for the partially revealed path. The Orthani gathered mankind’s records and then followed the A’Kari, seeking revenge. The rest of humanity abandoned the damaged and destroyed cities that were left. Sol was all but dead, but for some small freeholders, desperately trying to make a living.

On their travels, humanity nursed their wounds, developing their own colonies, seeking a better way of life. The vast and advanced knowledge from the Arc had barely been scratched, and still had the potential to develop all aspects of human life. But as they spread out into the stars, the Orthani and A’kari became desperate to regain Ascension, to reactivate the device; the Orthani constantly hunting those they called traitors, whilst the A’Kari struggled with their nomadic existence, their own factionalised beliefs in the Arc rendering their tribe asunder.

It was a time of guerrilla warfare and running battles, of temporary alliances and transient associations. Without the guidance of any central governance mankind’s clans formed their own, each developing in different ways as they waited, with baited breath, for what they knew was coming: the time the A’Kari and Orthani would meet.

When it finally came to pass, the heavens of untold systems were ignited by the fire of battle. The Arc Wars raged from deep space to planet surfaces, dragging the rest of humanity into the centre of the fray. Fuelled by distorted views and feelings, the need for revenge, and the death of the Orthan monarch, the war did nothing but harm humanity; Ascension, itself, a lost dream in the blood of battle.

Where a war of a hundred years had been of note on Earth, this war, amongst the stars, dwarfed it, lasting a thousand. As the appalling casualties mounted, the last human colonies finally forced the two combatants to draw up peace accords, for the very survival of the species. It was a truce of convenience for both, as the mutilated A’Kari had their hidden lodges to go to, licking their wounds, whilst the Orthani leader, Orthan, sought a different path to Ascension.

Then, years later, and as if by chance, the A’kari found the planet Aos, a place that so closely matched the ancient data they held that it must be the start of The Path. Now, with Arc in hand, they could re-learn the knowledge needed to open each and every lock and be the ones to gain final enlightenment.

But, as the final lock on the Arc was to be opened, the tribes of humanity again fell upon the A’Kari; many unsure whether they were there to stop them, or to simply take part in the journey. As humanity descended into its final anarchy, the Arc was the peaceful centre of it all, until it reacted. Seemingly understanding that this species could never be tamed, it sent out a pulse of such vast energy, that the pathways of interstellar space were destroyed and each pocket of humanity was isolated.

Now, after almost seventy-five thousand years, this curse has been lifted. The interspatial ways have begun to restabilise. Mankind has a chance to spread into the stars again, but even now, those who were once the same are still implacable enemies… and the search for the Arc has begun again.

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