Catastrophe is the name given to a roughly three thousand year civil war which spanned this spiral arm of the galaxy about nine million years ago and brought an end to the previously dominant, three million year old civilization of the Cata-Zin.
In its scale, scope and outcome it is by far the worst conflict to have impacted on this region of the galaxy since the near mythical wars of the Empire of the Cold Orbit
, twenty one million years previously and there has been nothing since which even comes close to equaling it.
By comparison, all the later border fights of the Querequian Cultures
, the conflicts between the Tetratic Empire
and the Asamack Response
, the contention that preceeded the formation of the Society Of Contemporary Races
during the Age of Convalesence and all three of the Thinderin
forest fires are nothing more than minor squabbles, which add up to much less taken together than the Cata-Zin Catastrophe.
Although relatively little in the way of primary contemporary source material has survived, we do have a number of accounts in the archives of the Counter Xarctic Traders
, who had been operating in this region, even before the Cata-Zin rose to preeminence. Their perspective is necessarily skewed towards the survival of their own species and its ability to continue to trade. As such, their accounts provide interesting insights into the roles and nature of some of the less important species that lived under the shadow of the Cata-Zin and were caught up in the conflict.
Because the Counter Xarctic Traders
had no access to the inner councils of the Cata-Zin, and the Cata-Zin were exinct as a species after the Catastrophe, we have no surviving records to inform us about their thinking and policies in the prosecution of the war. However, Salamanican and Thinderin
archeologists, working primarily in the Jyncotax Halo
have been able to infer much from the Cata-Zin ruins, and piecing this together with information from the Counter Xarctic Traders
, it has been possible to build up at least a useful overview of the dramatic events of the time.
Cata-Zin civilization appears to have been remarkably homogenious for a very long time during their rise to ascendency and perhaps even exceptionally so. A symbol called the Syradell served as an important cultural marker for almost three million years after they started to travel the galaxy although its precise significance is no longer known. Sometime a little earlier than 9 million years BCE, a second symbol called the Anti-Syradell starts to appear more rarely in the archeological records. Although only sporadic, the symbol is found in widespread locations as far apart as the important site of the Dark Cathedral, Issulon, in the Bubble and Gumtalax III, at the far side of the Jyncotax Halo.
At first, the competing philosophies of the Syradell and Anti-Syradell factions appear to have co-existed for a relatively short time, but at some point they had a violent falling out, which led to the Cata-Zin Catastrophe.
The first known examples of continuity enforcement field
technology being deployed in a military context occured during the Cata-Zin Catastrophe. Loyalist Syradell engineers protected the key worlds of Dranamol IV and Fuwing with an extensive minefield of devices similar to the EM Mines
that would much later be developed by humanity
Five specific engagements are known to have affected the course of the war.
The Lirossema Breakout
The Lirossema system was an Anti-Syradell stronghold, blockaded by loyalist vessels, early in the war. It was relieved by a small force of assassin class starships in a daring raid and went on to become a thorn in the side of the loyalists for the rest of the war.
The Ambush on ByRoute 32
A large force of Anti-Syradell starships, heading for the rimward systems of Cata-Zin space, were intercepted at Tekovess on ByRoute 32 and destroyed by two loyalist fleets in this important battle near the beginning of the war.
The Sterilisation of Klatarnym VII
Anti-Syradell starships conducted a series of chemical bombing raids on Klatarnym VII which included chemical and biological agents specifically designed to render the planet lifeless. Even now, nine million years later, the biosphere of Klatarnym VII has barely recovered and it remains a desolate and struggling world where it was once the home of a rich ecosystem. This engagement was a turning point in the war, considered as an unforgivable atrocity, after which Syradell troops showed no mercy to their enemies. It proved only to be the first of many such war crimes.
The Seige of Fuwing
The approaches to the important loyalist world of Fuwing had been heavily mined and extensive casualties were inflicted on the Anti-Syradell forces that came to take it, resulting in a siege that lasted for two centuries before the defenders were overcome.
The Battle of the Pentamoss Nova Bomb
Syradell technologists engineered the detonation of a nova in the Pentamoss system, wiping out all life on the Anti-Syradell world of Pentamoss III. By now the levels of savagery in the conduct of the conflict had escalated to unprecedented levels and the war was about to enter its terminal phase...
The Cata-Zin Catastrophe has certain strange features which have never been properly explained to the full satisfaction of modern historians. Whilst there were undeniably many titanic battles which resulted in great loss of life and the sterilisation of a score of planets, these obvious physical flash points were probably not the places where the outcome of the war was determined. Instead it appears that underlying all the overt military manoevers there was a deep psychological war taking place; a battle for the heart and soul of the Cata-Zin at its most profound spiritual level.
After almost two millenia of conflict, the loyalist forces of the Syradell appeared to be dominating the Anti-Syradell forces and yet, when it seemed that they were on the brink of victory there was a sudden and horrific turn around. For reasons which have never been explained, a series of loyalist centres just surrendered without any apparently credible threat. In the concluding phases of the war, there were a shocking series of genocidal attrocities and unaccountable mass suicides. At the end, the entire species seemed to vanish in an orgy of self destructive hatred which left no Cata-Zin alive to explain the reason for this apparent decent into a kind of racial madness.
The total extinction of the Cata-Zin
was the most obvious outcome of the war but this was also accompanied by a great deal of collateral damage to other more junior species that had operated under the framework of their civilisation.
Only the Counter Xarctic Traders
were lucky enough to emerge relatively unscathed. Their policy was to scrupulously avoid military engagements of any kind and maintain a strict neutrality. In this way they hoped to survive by keeping a low profile and falling beneath the notice of the combatants. During the hottest phases of the war, they withdrew from the central regions altogether, retreating into what is now called the Barren Reaches
. Their tactics were ultimately successful since they finished as the only surviving species still capable of travelling between the stars when the conflict was over.
For more than a million years after the demise of the Cata-Zin
, our region of the galaxy had no overarching government or legal systems and only slowly began to see the rise of successor species as they gained their own access to interstellar travel.
The Counter Xarctic Traders
consider this period to be the one when they made their most important contribution to the progress of universal civilization. Prior to this time, they already had an old civilisation with a long history of trading, but after the Cata-Zin Catastrophe, they suddenly inherited the mantle of the most technically advanced species for thousands of light years. Their trading ships facilitated the development of more than one intelligent species and prevented a complete collapse into some kind of local galactic dark age. It is not in the nature of the Counter Xarctic Traders
to impose military order, to administer empires or to construct federations. In time the Grumm Movement would arise to do these things but not until circa 8 million years BCE.
The fate of the Cata-Zin
is a continuing reminder to all succeeding species of the transient nature of life in the universe and the dangers of conflict. It serves as a more recent example than the stories of the demise of the Cold Orbiters
and one which is less easy to ignore, since it has left much more evidence behind. It would be naive in the extreme to imagine that the example of the Cata-Zin
had had any sobering effect on the hubris of those species that rose to power afterwards, yet it is not true either that the Cata-Zin Catastrophe can be ignored by any reflective individual and the knowledge of this ancient war was certainly one of the factors that inspired the creation of the Society Of Contemporary Races
many years later.