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The Invasion

Wehrmacht forces engage the Scinfaxi in the ruins of Europe.

It is impossible to determine when the Scinfaxi Invasion truly began, as it is entirely unknown when exactly their dormant Virus first arrived on Earth. It may have always been there, waiting for the opportune moment when the climate of the planet suited it best. For mankind, however, the first effects were felt in the early summer of 1936. From across Africa and the Middle East there came reports of a strange reddish-gold substance spreading quickly across areas of a certain climate, infecting anyone unfortunate enough to come into contact with it.

By the time the true extent of the Virus was known, it was almost too late. The worldwide refugee crisis triggered by its rampant spread across the Southern Hemisphere was misunderstood at best and exploited for political and territorial gains at worst. To the Soviet Union and German Reich, the Virus was a distant concern; a distraction for the other global powers that could serve to keep foreign interference in check. In the tumultuous years following the emergence of the Virus, the Reich annexed almost the entirety of continental Europe, with the Eastern states falling into the hands of the Soviet Union.

Only the United States of America and British Empire made any serious moves to combat the spread of the Virus. With a massive manufacturing base and a global domain of colonies between them, they embarked upon an unprecedented humanitarian effort. As conventional methods were found to be useless in the face of Viral growth, a policy of evacuation was enacted. Millions of citizens from Australia, Africa, Asia, and South America were granted safe haven in the United States and Canada.

By 1943, nearly a quarter of the planet’s surface had been overrun by the Virus. The nations of the Southern Hemisphere had collapsed into violent and chaotic anarchy (and, ultimately, utter destruction) or simply fallen silent. Large pockets of Viral growth appeared across North America, Europe, and Asia, sometimes hundreds of kilometers in diameter. Even the Greater German Reich and Soviet Union began to realize the severity of the situation and pledged to eradicate the disease, but this belated effort did little to stem the tide.

It was then, in the Summer of 1943, that the true enemy arrived. Across the world wherever the Virus lay thickest, thousands of columns of green light appeared across the sky. Brief flashes of huge glowing objects, nearly as bright as the sun, were seen streaking across the horizon and slamming into the Earth with tremendous force.

What followed was swift and brutal. Even before the affected nations could react to the disaster, all contact with the areas surrounding the impacts was lost. Only several days after the landings did the situation's full nature become apparent. Towering machines, some thousands of feet in height, began to advance out of the craters, annihilating everything in their path. Across Europe, North America, and Asia, wherever human nations remained, mankind now moved to contain an enemy from beyond the Earth itself.

Organized resistance seemed hopeless, as human forces were battered and turned back in every engagement against this new enemy. In Europe, the Greater German Reich began a ferocious campaign of counter-attacks that achieved little more than buying time for refugees to escape. It is around this time that the enemy was given their mysterious name; the Scinfaxi.

In North America the situation was, if possible, even worse. The Scinfaxi swept into Mexico, advancing through the center of the United States. By 1945, their lead elements had reached the Canadian border. The pacific states, now effectively cut off from the U.S. government, were forced to create an emergency authority based out of Los Angeles.

The Soviet Union, aided by the vast distances of the nation, was spared this initial slaughter but soon found itself confronting a problem of a different kind. Having granted limited sanctuary to Chinese communists during the early days of the Virus, it soon found itself absorbing tens of millions of Chinese citizens hoping to escape the killing fields of Asia. With food production already a concern, the Soviet government was forced to contend not only with the Scinfaxi invasion but the threat of starvation as well.

In 1945 the turning point came. Scinfaxi forces advancing through the ruined streets of Chicago were obliterated in an instant. The Manhattan Project had finally yielded the first atomic bomb. Across the world, the alien advance stopped almost immediately. When the second and third American atomic bombs were detonated in Tennessee, and with the Greater German Reich detonating its first atomic bomb in Italy, the Scinfaxi began to retreat worldwide. Following in their wake, the advancing human armies set foot on what was essentially another world. Ravaged by the Virus for years, the territories once occupied by the Scinfaxi had been transformed. Viral growth was everywhere and yet the goldish red color that had once been so prevalent had turned a charcoal grey. Throughout Europe, North America, and Central Asia, the Virus had begun to wither and die, fueled by this discovery the hopes of mankind turned to total victory: the total eradication of the Scinfaxi off the face of the Earth.

The jubilation turned sour as the advancing armies moved further south. While the Virus seemed incapable of surviving indefinitely in the colder climates of the North Hemisphere, it faced no such problem in the south. When the first scouts arrived in North Africa all hope of retaking the planet was lost. The transformation that had taken place across Scinfaxi occupied Europe and America was nothing compared to the devastation inflicted on Africa. Further reports from Mexico and China revealed nothing but the same. Viral growth still thrived, gashes had been carved in the Earth, sometimes hundreds of kilometers in length, and in the distance immense black obelisks rose in to the sky radiating tremendous bursts of unknown energy.

A new border had been drawn across the Earth and what lay beyond was unlike anything that humanity had ever encountered. As the reconstruction began there would be no denying that every nation now lived in the shadow on an unimaginable threat.

The Aftermath

The border of the Scinfaxi Quarantine Zone.

The Scinfaxi War left human civilization in a state of chaos never before seen on such a global scale. Nearly half the world’s population had been cut off by the Scinfaxi advance, and as the months wore on with no outside human contact, hope dwindled. For those who had escaped, many were now in countries unprepared or unwilling to accommodate them, putting further strain on recovery efforts. In Europe, the situation was reminiscent of the collapse of the Roman Empire. Half the continent was without any sort of organized government, with villages, towns and even cities fending for themselves as part of an almost quasi-feudal post-apocalyptic anarchy.

While various governments in exile or provisional councils attempted to restore order, the only real force in Central Europe that had survived the war was the German Wehrmacht. Moving swiftly through the ruins of Europe, the remnants of the German Reich began a systematic campaign of absorbing the disorganized nations of Europe under their dominion. The reactions of the local populace varied from gratitude to outright resistance, but whatever the feelings of the people of Europe the truth was that the Greater German Reich was now the only power capable of preventing the complete collapse of European society. Over a grueling period of years, the Wehrmacht forged a new Steel Curtain around Central and Western Europe in defiance of both the original inhabitants and the weak protests of the exhausted major powers.

Further east, the movements of the Soviet Red Army mirrored their German counterparts. During the previous decade, the Soviet Union had absorbed nearly 40 million refugees from China and Eastern Europe and was desperate for arable land. Parts of Bulgaria, Poland, Finland, Mongolia, and China were all absorbed and in each case, Soviet Republics were established and enormous collective farms created. Soviet policy towards these refugees was inconsistent at best however, and tens of thousands would die before the situation could be stabilized.

In Asia, only the Japanese remained as the last great human nation. Having undergone a Navy-backed coup during the final days of the Scinfaxi War, the Imperial Army’s dreams of a Co East Asia Prosperity Sphere were dashed. Japan turned inward, providing only limited support for its puppet governments in Korea, Manchukuo, and the South Pacific.

The United States and Canada were perhaps the most transformed in the aftermath of the conflict. Each had absorbed tens of millions of refugees and half a dozen governments in exile. A dramatic restructuring of the continent was necessary and inevitable. Split in two over the course of the war, the United States was now bordered in the west by the newly formed Pacific States of America. While representatives in each nation were adamant about reunification, conflicts over reconstruction policies and disagreements between P.S.A. President Douglas MacArthur and U.S. President Harry Truman made any reconciliation difficult. MacArthur’s authoritarian policies in particular created tensions between the two nations and only a bloodless coup in the P.S.A. led by Admiral Ernest King prevented further escalation.

The United Kingdom, the first nation to respond to the Scinfaxi Virus was also the hardest hit. With the majority of its colonial possessions lost and nearly a quarter of its population evacuated to Canada the future of the British Empire remained in doubt. Yet the steadying presence of Queen Elizabeth II and the growing sense of camaraderie between the UK and Canada fostered a powerful sense of national pride that transcended previous national borders. Having technically been annexed by the United Kingdom in the Scinfaxi War in any case, a national referendum held in Canada in 1952 made the union permanent, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Canada.

The one exception to the new British Union was the semi-autonomous region of Quebec which had itself experienced a flood of refugees from France and French overseas possessions, including the government-in-exile that had fled the advancing Wehrmacht. Granted independence as the Free French Republic it would form the new center of French culture and society.

The Space Race

The first manned moon landing.

Since the end of the war, the activities of the Scinfaxi in the territories they now controlled was of foremost interest. Reconnaissance was attempted at each moment of opportunity but every clue and insight raised only further questions. Unable to ascertain the purpose of the Scinfaxi Obelisks, the energy they radiated, or the cause of such tremendous geological devastation, the nations of Earth turned toward one another.

In the late 1950s, a series of high-level meetings between the major world powers were held, sharing the findings of their most gifted scientists. From this, a hypothesis was formed from the thousands of theories regarding the specifics. The one overarching idea was that the activities of the Scinfaxi in the Southern Hemisphere were designed to affect the world’s climate. Over the course of their interaction with the Scinfaxi Virus during the war, it was common knowledge amongst the superpowers that the Virus spread more easily in certain biospheres. Even in certain areas controlled by the Scinfaxi however, the Virus was unable to spread at any meaningful speed. It was in these areas that the Obelisks were most prevalent.

Using their most accurate models of the time, it was predicted that the surface of the Earth would become uninhabitable within the next three hundred years. More ominous still was the revelation that the “tipping point” for this transformation had likely already occurred.

Only nuclear weaponry had proven effective against the Scinfaxi, yet the number required to completely eliminate the Scinfaxi would do as likely wipe out human civilization as well. Another option was needed, and it was found within recovered Scinfaxi fuel sources. By using this material as the basis for terrestrially-produced alternatives, significant advances could be achieved in rocket propellants. With enough research and development, the future human colonization of other planets was not just possible, but achievable.

With this knowledge, the human exploration of space exploded. A German Weltraumfahrer became the first man launched into orbit in 1959, and less than a decade later following similar developments by the United States, United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, the German Reich again made history, landing the first man on the moon in 1967.

In the subsequent decades, the exploration of space was given the ultimate priority by every human nation. While the exact purpose behind these programs was never fully revealed to the public, national pride and the concept of the “space race” ensured space exploration was never threatened.

For every milestone reached and barrier overcome however, there was never any doubt in the minds of human leaders that these were mere stepping stones to the thousands of stars that lay beyond.

By 1994 it was impossible for the governments of the world to conceal what had first been discovered roughly half a century before; the Earth’s climate had started to drastically change. Rising temperatures, extreme weather, ocean acidification, and widespread coastal flooding wreaked havoc across the world and by every indication it would only get worse. When the plans for the colonization of other worlds went public, support and expectations for the program was overwhelming.

In the ensuing decades global support for the programs remained consistent but there was a growing realization that not everyone might be eligible for resettlement given the immense sophistication of the undertaking and the limits on resources available. This fear was especially prevalent in the large numbers of dislocated peoples and refugees who had lost their home nations in the Virus Crisis and Scinfaxi War. Even though the planned colonization program was still decades, potentially centuries away, the idea that the children or grandchildren of certain people would be less of a priority sparked riots in many North American cities and several smaller incidents in Europe and Asia. The concern was a valid one, the Soviet Union had introduced a “One Child Policy” in the early 2010s, a policy later adopted in the Reich and the United States. Furthermore, the question of citizenship for the displaced peoples of the Scinfaxi War and their legal status within their new countries of residence had never been formally addressed in any of the major powers.

In 2024, the “Greatest Discovery” was finally made. A joint American and British project successfully transported an object at faster than light speeds. Two years later the process was replicated, this time on an automated spacecraft which jumped from Earth to Pluto almost instantaneously. In 2029 a German spacecraft followed suit, and a Soviet spacecraft a few months later. The greatest surprise was the Japanese vessel that made the same jump, not six months later.

The stage was now set for the first phases of the colonization project. Thousands of probes with new FTL drives were deployed across the Orion Arm, each designed to seek out potentially inhabitable worlds. Amazingly, the best candidate was also Earth’s closest. Within the Alpha Centauri system a planet almost identical to Earth was discovered, one that required only a few years of terraforming and atmospheric processing. The cost however, was nearly immeasurable. In a rare moment of international cooperation, the Soviet Union, French Republic, United States, United Kingdom, German Reich, Italian Empire, and Federal Nordic Cooperative all agreed to jointly fund and develop the Alpha Centauri Colony Venture. The lone major holdout, the Empire of Japan, resolved to continue its colonial developments independently.

The first thousand colonists departed Earth on March 1st, 2041. And despite fears of alien diseases, terraforming disasters or even the presence of the Scinfaxi, the success of the colony was almost immediate. As would later be discovered to be commonplace across the Orion Arm, the local flora and fauna was comparatively primitive in comparison to its Terran counterparts. Crops swept away any potential native Centauri competitors and without sufficiently advanced insects on the world, even pesticides proved unnecessary. A year after landing, the Centauri population swelled to over 10,000. Only two years after that, it reached 40,000.

Despite the obvious success of the project, serious cracks had begun to form in the political coalition behind its funding and development. The immense costs to interstellar colonization that had necessitated the coalition in the first place had been drastically reduced. By 2051, only a decade after the start of the project, Germany announced it would pursue the development of its own colonies. Its withdrawal from the Centauri project triggered the complete collapse of international interest in the project. The Soviet Union followed shortly after, and soon the Centauri colony was left to fend for itself as even support from the so-called 'Western Powers' was diverted.

The space race had resumed, this time however the prize was more valuable than simply national prestige. The wealth of thousands of worlds lay open to whomever could get there first.

The Colonization Era

German transports flee from Earth

By the start of the 22nd century the Earth had endured over a hundred years of Scinfaxi terraforming and the decline of the environment began to accelerate. Rebreathers were required outdoors in the majority of the remaining cities, while across the world, crops began to fail as plant life withered and died. A 'total war' mentality was adopted as each nation invested all their resources and energy into the colonial programs.

As the race off-world intensified, the influence of the private sector greatly increased. Soon colonial charters were granted to corporations, organizations and in some cases even individuals. Dozens and then hundreds of privately funded settlements were established. While many of these would eventually be subsumed into one of the superpowers, a small number remained independent. Over time they grew into fledgling nations, mirroring the development of the Alpha Centauri System, which continued to stand as a monument to the failure of human co-operation but also as a shining beacon of what was possible.

These independent colonies were of great interest to the newly created Federation of Allied Worlds, an economic union and military alliance established by the United Kingdom, United States, Pacific States, French Republic and Confederation of Australasia to act as a counterweight to the Soviet Union and Greater German Reich. Since the end of the Virus Crisis and Scinfaxi War, tens of millions of refugees had settled in North America as part of the “Nations Within Nations” program. Still struggling to provide for the evacuation of their own citizens, the governments of the United States, Pacific States and United Kingdom were looking for any type of solution of what to do with the descendants of these refugees.

In return for economic incentives, aid packages, and other promises, neutral colonies began accepting refugees from Earth. A follow-up to the “Nations within Nations” program, the “Sanctuary Worlds” initiative would eventually transport millions of people to new homes across the Orion Arm. The colonies that had agreed to this program underwent a dramatic demographic shift. Refugees who on Earth had once thought of themselves as being Indian, Bolivian or one of any hundreds of identities now saw themselves as citizens foremost of Tau Ceti, Sirius, Vega, and many others. These small, neutral colonies would give rise to powerful nations, forming the basis of modern interstellar politics. The Greater German Reich established an equivalent program known as the "European Stars", which saw certain worlds (not necessarily willingly) earmarked for the re-settlement of particular client peoples. Many of the worlds of the authoritarian Italian Empire and Spanish State owe their existence to this program. The Soviet Union made no effort to create an independent home for its minorities, who were simply absorbed into the wider culture of the Communist state.

On March 1st 2150, the Scinfaxi resumed what they had started over two centuries before. Their Virus, whose containment to the Southern Hemisphere had begun to deteriorate along with the environment, now spread unimpeded across America, Europe and Asia at a rate not seen since the initial crisis of the 1930s. Wherever the Virus spread, the Scinfaxi themselves followed, just as in the first war, their towering machines advanced on every city in every nation. Modern human weaponry, while far more capable, could still only provide the slightest of resistance.

Over the next three years, delaying actions were fought on the outskirts of every major city, buying time for the remainder of humanity to escape. Transports left for the colonies every hour of every day, as every serviceable transport across the Orion Arm was rerouted back to Earth to aid in the effort. The Empire of Japan was first to abandon the Earth completely when Hokkaido, the last remaining Japanese isles, was finally overrun in 2152. Japanese transports were then simply rerouted to assist in the evacuation effort in other cities across the world, a rare yet famous example of international cooperation from the isolationist Japanese Empire. When Leningrad was lost later the same year, the Soviet Union began to unravel on Earth. Order broke down, with the Soviet government having been transferred off world a decade before. Any attempt to re-coordinate the evacuation faltered in the face of the Scinfaxi advance, and the last transports out of Russia and Finland were barely able to escape in the face of total chaos. North America was lost soon after, the last remnants of humanity simply swept away by the tide of the Scinfaxi Virus.

Europe was the last bastion of mankind on Earth and when the last colony ships completed the evacuation of the British Isles, the German Reich became the sole remaining human nation on Earth, an honor the then Reichskansler had become fixated upon. When Berlin was finally surrounded, ten thousand Wehrmacht soldiers, all of them volunteers, were deployed into the city to make a final, almost ceremonial and certainly suicidal, stand. For thirty hours all across the Orion Arm mankind watched the final broadcasts from their former home as the Scinfaxi advanced into the last human city of Earth, into the teeth of German guns and German steel. On August 20th 2153, the last human on Earth was killed in Berlin. In the seconds following, nearly a thousand nuclear weapons were detonated across the Earth; humanity's last gift to the Scinfaxi.

From that day forward the Sol system was placed under strict quarantine by international agreement, with no ships of any nation, of any kind, allowed access to the former cradle of humanity.

The Golden Age of Exploration

For the next century, humanity established itself within the Orion Arm. Across hundreds of systems, and thousands of planets and moons, great colonies flourished and grew and soon began to rival Earth at its height. Tens of thousands of ships were constructed as human society was reestablished as a network of vast interstellar empires. The Soviet Union, German Reich, Empire of Japan and the nations of the Federation of Allied Worlds remained the foremost powers as they had been on Earth, but new colonies and nations continued to establish themselves. Within the border systems between the great powers and on the outskirts of the frontiers, dozens of planets and nations declared their independence. While most were little more than a few scattered settlers, some developed to the point where their cities and technology began to rival even those within the superpowers.

As the threat of the Scinfaxi dwindled and faded into obscurity, and the great task of resettlement was completed, old rivalries began to take hold once again and conflicts broke out across the Orion Arm. While most of these were petty disputes over land or resources, others became proxy wars as the major powers competed with one another to spread their ideologies and expand their influence.

Yet, despite these incidents, civilization continued to thrive. By 2200 the cost of interstellar travel had been reduced to within the reach of the average citizen. Hundreds of thousands of spacecraft were built and immense fleets of transports and passenger ships soon prowled the void linking the worlds of humanity together.

In spite of the economic prosperity achieved, or perhaps because of it, unscrupulous individuals were quick to take advantage of the situation. A large criminal element developed nearly overnight, as hastily converted vessels boarded and seized the cargo of unprotected vessels. With even the poorest of colonies able to operate and maintain a small fleet of interstellar vessels, havens for those operating outside the law appeared all across the Orion Arm. Space grew at once both incredibly friendly and incredibly dangerous to the new spacefaring humanity.

Dawn of Victory

The Orion Arm had become a beacon of human progress as the frontiers of civilization extended ever outward. Yet for all these achievements, the more brutal and baser instincts of humanity began to exhibit themselves in increasingly evident ways.

Nowhere in settled space was the situation more perilous than on the border systems between the Soviet Union and Greater German Reich. Their mutual rivalry and hatred was undeterred throughout the centuries.

The star systems of Tanarsus, Valencia, and Vistula became the setting for the next great confrontation between these indomitable powers. Both sought influence there with the local independent nations, providing military aid, economic assistance and even deploying military observers of dubious intentions. The rivalry between the two powers intensified and it became only a matter of time before open conflict would finally ignite.

When war broke out between two alliances on the industrial system of Tanarsus both superpowers recognized the immense potential for shifting the balance of power in the region. The German Reich and Soviet Union gave nearly unlimited assistance to their respective proxy nations, investing everything to win influence over the vital strategic system. When the war ended with the victory of the Communist-aligned nations, the Soviet Union not only secured the resources of Tanarsus, but had effectively upset the status quo that had kept both sides in check.

Fearful of the potential for a Soviet invasion, however unlikely, the German Reich launched a preemptive strike. Under the pretense of preventing further Soviet aid to the nations of Tanarsus, guaranteeing their 'freedom from outside influences', the Reich moved to occupy the system. The invasion started a chain of events that would culminate in the first interstellar Soviet-German war.

Tanarsus, Valencia, and Vistula all became battlegrounds as thousands of starships and tens of millions of troops were dispatched to a front extending across dozens of worlds. As the conflict stagnated the potential for escalation grew exponentially. Vega, a major trading world and ally of the Soviet Union was invaded shortly after, opening a major new front that would see some of the bloodiest fighting in history.

Yet while the galaxy’s attention is focused on the conflict between the Soviet Union and German Greater Reich, less obvious moves point to an impending confrontation. Paralleling developments on Tanarsus, a game of proxy wars and intrigue between the Democratic Federation and the Empire of Japan are poised to give way to an open and terrifying conflict. The United States and Imperial Japan are on a collision course, and the subsequent conflict is sure to expose cracks in not only the Japanese domains, but also in the very foundations of the Federation's alliance.

Amidst it all, almost forgotten and unwatched, the Scinfaxi are not blind to the rise and expansion of humanity. As the old alliances of mankind fall apart they begin their plans to complete what they had started nearly three centuries before.