A Condensed History of Mankind

Part 7 - The New Normal

Follows from First Contact. Return to the lore overview.

By 2250, at least twelve star systems had some Outsider presence, five were in the middle of a full scale invasion and two had been declared lost. The VBU, nominally immune to the predations of Outsider by virtue of not settling planets and having a much greater ability to flee from its attacks, had not been unaffected. In both cases of systems being abandoned, the VBU had stepped in to attempt to move as many people as possible, and had suffered significant losses in the process. This is in addition to the VBU being caught up several times in other affected systems.

Fighting the outsider wasn’t easy, they outnumbered humanity almost three to one in every engagement, showed no mercy and it wasn’t so much that they wouldn’t negotiate, but that they were physically incapable. A silent tide of death and destruction against which there was no obvious defence. Victories were won at great cost, and slowly various parties discovered tactics that worked against the aliens. Their lack of FTL propulsion also provided some small safety, neighbouring systems could be fortified and defences prepared.

The presence of the outsider also caused conflict between the human factions. System governments near, but not on the front line resented resources being pulled from their systems to defend those more imminently in danger. Breakaway groups on the other side of human inhabited space seized their chances, and dealing with them consumed vital time and material. War profiteers seized on the opportunities created and privateers raided everything but the most heavily armed convoys.

Whilst many factions of the VBU did take part in these less than neighbourly actions, far more threw themselves into the defence of imperilled systems. They realised that they could not exist without the rest of human society. By 2255, they had suffered as many losses as any other faction.

Until 2254, humanity was being systematically routed. Human fleets might win battles, but each victory was followed by a dozen defeats and routs that sapped whatever gains they had made. The Outsider’s progress was being slowed, but how much of this was humanity’s doing was up for debate. The primary concern was the Outsider’s incredible ability to regenerate damage.

Each outsider ship, or shard, was made up of hundreds of different kinds of crystal, linked in a complex network. Some worked similarly to a power generator, others propulsion or weapon systems. A single shard could take huge amounts of damage before it was rendered inoperable, and if more than one damaged shard were allowed to retreat, they would freely share parts between them, reconstructing as many brand new, fully operational shards as possible.

It was in 2254 that the tide was turned. It was not recorded who made the discovery, but a device was built that inhibited the Outsider’s ability to self repair over a distance of a thousand kilometres or so. It was not a panacea. When activated, the device could be detected from almost anywhere in the solar system and once the Outsider realised what it meant, eliminating them became their top priority. What it did mean though was that human victories were starting to become more permanent. It also meant that planets could be feasibly defended, with multiple overlapping fields preventing the outsider from establishing beachheads on or near planets.

There were as many names as there were variations on the device, but more than anything else, it brought hope.

Return to the lore overview.