Part 25: Melnorme - HistoryOne of the things you can buy from the Melnorme is the history of the galaxy as they know it.
So here's the history of the galaxy.
Almost twenty-five thousand of your years ago, there existed near this region of space an association of starfaring races called the "Sentient Milieu." This group formed over several thousand years to mutually enrich their respective cultures, to provide a safe crèche for emerging sentient species, and to afford themselves a degree of protection from external hostilities via military alliance. Of the seven most active Milieu members, the most famous race - indeed you know them well, Captain - were the Ur-Quan.
The Ur-Quan evolved on a harsh planet orbiting a star outside this region of space. They were solitary predators, like your praying mantis, Captain, or polar bear, who had a very limited set of social behavior, most of which dealt with sex. Since they had to compete for survival against many physically superior species, the Ur-Quan evolved intelligence and tool use, in much the same way as your own species. The Ur-Quan also learned to master their fierce territoriality to build a cooperative planetary culture. When the Ur-Quan were discovered by the Taalo, they had just begun exploring their solar system in crude atomic vehicles.
Although the Ur-Quan attacked what they thought to be an invader, the Taalo were patient. They explained the purpose of the Sentient Milieu, and offered the Ur-Quan membership. The Ur-Quan recognized the benefits that such a system provided and once more conquered the hunting beast within themselves to become cooperative, productive members of the Milieu. This lasted for several thousands of years.
Just over twenty thousand years ago, when your ancestors were learning to chart the course of the moon and stars on animal horns, the Sentient Milieu spanned five hundred light years and included the membership of a hundred worlds. Like all other star-travelers, they had discovered ruins and relics of a far more ancient culture, which your species called the "Precursors."
Explorers from many species spent their lives trying to piece together this ancient mystery, but of all races, the Ur-Quan were the most bold adventurers. Their scouts, flying single-ships, penetrated far into uncharted space, and landed on a million worlds. On one such mission, a young Ur-Quan made planetfall on a small, life-bearing alien world to identify some anomalous energy readings, occasionally a sign of Precursor installations. Inside, the Ur-Quan found a small, hideous creature - a Dnyarri.
Before the scout was able to defend itself, the Dnyarri creature took control of the Ur-Quan's mind and commanded the scout to place the Dnyarri aboard the Ur-Quan's ship, along with hundreds of its evil brood. Then the Ur-Quan returned to the heart of the Milieu, landing on its capital planet. Within hours, every resident of the planet was a Dnyarri slave. Within a month, Dnyarri-compelled starships had spread the evil, psychic creatures across the entire Milieu.
When the Dnyarri took control over the Milieu, one race fought back - the Taalo. These slow, quiet creatures were silicon-based life forms, but bore little resemblance to the modern Chenjesu. The Taalo were natural immunes to the Dnyarri psychic compulsion; they were unaffected by the creatures' power, and the Dnyarri would not permit anyone to exist outside of their control, so they ordered the remaining races of the Milieu to attack and destroy the Taalo home planet.
This planet was one of the few Milieu worlds located in this region of space. I believe you call their star Delta Vulpeculae. Their home was a moon revolving about the second planet. I am sad to say that the Taalo were, indeed, eliminated. However, at the time of their devastation, they had completed a device which they thought would give other races psychic immunity like their own. What happened to this device, this shield? It's hard to say. Maybe it was destroyed in the attack on their homeworld, maybe not.
In the Dnyarri's new empire, the Ur-Quan were the favored slaves. This is probably because the Ur-Quan were the most psychically sensitive, the most easily compelled. As the centuries of Dnyarri dominance passed, what was once the Sentient Milieu deteriorated and degenerated into a great galactic gulag. Alien races which did not serve with the efficiency and speed demanded by the Dnyarri were ruthlessly burned from the faces of their worlds.
The agents of this genocide were inevitably the Dnyarri's favored pet, the Ur-Quan. After almost twenty-five hundred years of unrelenting Dnyarri control, there were only four living members of the once-great Sentient Milieu. By this point, the Dnyarri had used genetic manipulation to split the Ur-Quan into two sub-species: the Green Ur-Quan - scientists, technicians, and administrators, who were responsible for maintaining the limited infrastructure of the Dnyarri civilization, and the Black Ur-Quan, who filled the ranks of basic laborer and combat soldier. Then, a chance discovery by an Ur-Quan named Kzer-Za led to the violent overthrow of the Dnyarri Slave Empire.
The Ur-Quan named Kzer-Za was a Green, a researching specializing in repairing the mental damage inflicted by long-term exposure to the Dnyarri's psychic compulsion. By this point in history, the Dnyarri had grown lax in their dominance, and on occasion permitted their slaves moments of self-direction. Kzer-Za was able to use those few scattered minutes to compose a theory.
From its observations, Kzer-Za realized that when a slave died, the Dnyarri "disconnected" from the slave's mind, let it too be dragged down to death. Further, the Ur-Quan scientist uncovered the fact that when a slave underwent great pain, the Dnyarri temporarily disconnected - but that the degree of pain had to be extreme, nearly lethal. Kzer-Za chose its moment carefully - it waited until it was near an open transmission unit. Then, in a short moment of mental freedom, the Ur-Quan injected itself with a dose of acidic poison, sending incredible waves of pain through its long body.
In the few moments before its death, Kzer-Za was able to wrest control of the transmitter, to send word of its discovery across the planet, and into space as well. Before the Dnyarri knew what was happening, the Ur-Quan everywhere were hacking at their own bodies with chunks of glass, burning themselves horribly, doing anything that would give them the few seconds of freedom necessary to find the nearest Dnyarri and crush the bleating creature.
As the gained longer and longer periods of control, the Ur-Quan developed new tools and weapons to destroy their evil masters. The most gruesome of these devices was the Excruciator, a mechanism which was direct inserted into the brain, and generated a constant stream of agony. The Dnyarri could not bring themselves to make the necessary mental connection with these tortured Ur-Quan. They were slaughtered by the thousands. The Ur-Quan slave revolt was won.
When the last Ur-Quan was free of psychic compulsion - when the last free Dnyarri was dead, the combined might of the Ur-Quan star fleets met in orbit above the Dnyarri homeworld. They had come together to make two important decisions. First, how to punish the few frightened Dnyarri left below on the planet's surface. Second, how to insure that never again would the Ur-Quan be made slaves.
The first decision was made swiftly. The Dnyarri would not be allowed to die; ah, that was too kind a fate. Instead, the creatures would be genetically modified into sub-sentience, they would become dumb animals. These low creatures would be further debased by serving the Ur-Quan for all eternity, in the most demeaning way the Ur-Quan could imagine, acting as translators, making physical contact with other species, whom the Ur-Quan now considered grossly inferior to themselves and revolting.
The second decision, how to ensure their freedom permanently, caused great turmoil.
Following the successful Ur-Quan slave revolt, the Ur-Quan met to decide how to ensure their freedom. The green Ur-Quan, who called themselves the Kzer-Za in honor of the Ur-Quan who triggered the revolt, wished to establish the Path of Now and Forever, which required that all other sentient species must become slaves of the Ur-Quan, or be forever imprisoned beneath an impenetrable force shield.
Leading the opposition to this plan was Kohr-Ah, a charismatic field officer. Kohr-Ah proposed a simpler alternative: The Eternal Doctrine. Simply put, this scheme called for the systematic eradication for all sentient life in the universe, aside from the Ur-Quan.
Captain, if these positions seem to you...extreme, or unwarranted, you must remember that the Ur-Quan had been unwilling slaves for a millennia, and each of them had to remain in agony for years in order to defeat the Dnyarri. The followers of Kzer-Za and Kohr-Ah were all on the brink of madness, but neither side would submit, and so they fought a blood civil war.
The civil war between the green Ur-Quan, the followers of Kzer-Za, and their opponents, the death-dealing Kohr-Ah, lasted for decades. It is likely that they would have annihilated each other, were it not for a chance discovery by Kzer-Za: A Precursor battleship. The vessel was huge, many times the size of the Ur-Quan's vessels. The Precursor's ship sliced the many Kohr-Ah forces in days. The Kohr-Ah were defeated.
However, in their victory, the Kzer-Za were humbled. They realized that there was a chance that they were wrong, and that the Kohr-Ah were right. Instead of destroying the Kohr-Ah, the Kzer-Za let them go, directing them to make their way through the stars, traveling against the spin of the galaxy. The Kzer-Za would travel in the opposite direction, and, when the two Ur-Quan forces met, they would fight again in ritual combat, with the Precursor battleship given to the winner.
Captain, this is happening here and now. The Kzer-Za, the Ur-Quan who had enslaved Earth, are fighting their ritual battle against the Kohr-Ah, in a large area centered near the Crateris constellation. If the Kohr-Ah win this battle, Captain, the Kzer-Za will stand aside and let them kill us all. We believe that it is your destiny to prevent this from happening.