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Three thousand years have passed since Transhumanity was abducted from the known Universe, and cast into the the Bulk.   The Local Habitable Nexus is a cluster of universes situated in a fortunate region of hyperspace that can support familiar forms of biochemistry and advanced technology, though threaded by vast smears of spacetime rent asunder, the aftermath of an ancient war between beings of immense power. It is home to countless peoples linked together by a myriad of wormhole nets, who share culture and cameraderie among thousands of alien societies; and trade in artefacts and materials with wondrous properties manufactured under different physical laws - some indistinguishable from magic, their true natures yet impenetrable to the highest transhuman sciences.   Despite their vast differences, almost all are united in at least one regard: that they live in fear of the Liruma Mandate, or at least have good reason to. The Mandate, a vast international union that dominates the lesser polities through military might and financial regulation (with a beaming smile on its face), emerged five centuries ago and swiftly subjugated titanic swaths of star systems and trillions of beings. Its horizons seem endless, and the old powers of Transhuman Space - the Federation, the Rose Commission, and the Free Traders Union, seem only to be able to hold the tide at bay as it surges beyond them.   Yet even as the multiverse falls under heel, cracks are beginning to appear in the imperial armor. Rumblings of economic collapse and overreach abound, riots break out across the great habitats, and in one of the Federation's bleakest hours it finds a tense new comradeship in the Sasasi Autonomous Zone, a breakaway group of worlds in the industrial heartland of the Mandate itself. And trillions gather their breath again in the hope that the cycles of empire may finally be broken...

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