Section 1: Deception
Chapter 1, part 1
The Pentagon Project
(from the Sins of a Solar Empire manual)
The Vasari Empire
The ancient Vasari Empire once ruled over countless worlds. Beginning at the galactic core, the empire expanded uniformly, and brought hundreds of alien races under its control. While most of the species the Vasari encountered were primitive and peacefully subjugated, more advanced civilizations were harshly enslaved. Once conquered, these species were integrated into Vasari society as "valued citizens," giving them minimal standing in the Empire. Each world was then locked down and ruled from vast orbital structures to minimize the chance of rebellion.
As with all empires, the Vasari civilization's fall began from within. Ten thousand years ago the inner worlds of the empire fell suddenly silent. Expecting nothing more than rebellion by the local species, a local wing of the Dark Fleet was sent to restore order, but no status reports were ever received. Soon three more planets fell silent off the communications grid, and while Internal Intelligence deliberated over the response of what could only be the work of traitors, several more worlds fell silent - including the ancient Vasari home world.
The rate of expansion of this unknown enemy was astonishing, far exceeding even that of the entire Dark Fleet! As a last resort, the Dark Fleet Veerr brought the bulk of their forces back from the expansionary frontier for a blind assault on whatever was eating it's way out of the empire's core worlds. When a single, heavily-damaged warship from the Dark Fleet appeared out of phase space in orbit of a planet on the empire's perimeter, the inhabitants decided to board the ship. What they found were the remains of a once battle-hardened crew driven mad with fear.
In a rare act of autonomy, the colony made the decision to evacuate to a system far from the Empire. It would prove to be the last time they would ever see Vasari space. For the next 10,000 years the Vasari refugee fleet traveled from system to system, dropping warning beacons on their way, spending only enough time to replenish their resources before moving on. No matter how far the Vasari travel, their warning beacons fall silent; their unknown adversary continues on its march toward their extermination.
Vasari space - 10,000 years ago, first month of Krashnak
Dark Fleet Admiral Commander Vorg looked up from his desk in astonishment, which quickly turned to anger. On his screen, one of the five inner core worlds had fallen silent. Vorg hissed. Filthy rebels! The five inner home worlds made up a pentagonal shape, and a very special project was being constructed there, one only a few members of the highest reaches of the Empire were even aware of. Fewer knew all the details. And now rebels took one of the five!
Calming himself, Vorg pushed a few buttons and his holographic map of the Empire zoomed in to the 805th division of the Dark Fleet, stationed only a few jumps from the pentagon worlds, as they were collectively called. He pushed another button, and a communication bar popped up, ready to relay his message to whoever commanded that division.
"The planet Kloxtar has fallen to rebels!" He hissed, "Retrieve it!" His desk automatically recorded his voice and sent it to the commander of the 805th. There was a short delay as the message was delivered and a response was formed, and then a notification sprung up on Vorg's screen. He touched it, and a sharp militaristic voice answered, "We our on our way, Admiral Commander."
Vorg leaned back in his chair and smiled. Small rebellions always popped up from time to time, it was bound to happen in an empire that had forcefully conquered so many species, but those usually happened in the frontier worlds before the inhabitants really understood the might of the Dark Fleet; never had it happened in any of the home worlds, much less the inner home worlds. The original Vasari home world itself made up the top of the pentagon! Vorg got up and left his desk, leaving the room swathed in darkness. It would take a few days before news of Kloxtar came. The 805th would have to retake Kloxtar's airspace as well as the planet itself. Foolish rebels, this time none would be left alive!
Vasari space - 10,000 years ago, 3rd month of Krashnak
A sharp beeping noise echoed around Vorg's chambers, and he was up and at his desk in a flash. It had been almost 2 whole months since Kloxtar had fallen silent, and no news had come from the division of the Dark Fleet he had sent to recapture it. Now, as Vorg called up the pentagon sector, his eyes nearly popped out of his head. Two more of the inner home worlds had fallen silent, leaving only the Vasari home world and the world to the left of the pentagon named Hashnak intact! Vorg bellowed loudly in anger. This could only be the work of traitors in the Empire! The 805th must have sided with the enemy! Hurriedly he contacted the other heads of Internal Affairs and scurried to the conference room. Although Vorg was head of Internal Intelligence, for outstanding military service while he was in action, he was allowed to retain the use of his old title. Dark Fleet Admiral Commander. There was no one more powerful.
In minutes the rest of Internal Affairs was in the conference room. Internal Affairs personnel were always ready at any moment for a crisis. They quietly took their seats, wondering to themselves the purpose of the meeting. The Admiral Commander had sent them a mark Z alert, one of the highest possible alert warnings. As the last member took his seat, Vorg called up the map of the pentagon sector, zooming in so all five worlds were clearly displayed. Only two of the five still sent out a signal. No words were necessary.
Worried mutterings filled the room, and one member stood up.
"Rebellion?" He hissed quietly.
"From all three planets?" Vorg answered, "No, traitors. Two months ago Kloxtar fell to this unknown enemy. Now, not even a half hour ago, these two here fell silent."
As the heads of the Internal Affairs departments leaned forward to better study the map, Hashnak dimmed and all information from that planet ceased.
Worried conversations started up again. Vorg caught parts of one close to him.
"What should we do? Send an investigation?"
"No, send the Dark Fleet, this is more than mere traitors, this must be an invasion!"
"Invasion?" Vorg cut in, "Invasion, at the center of our Empire? No my friends, this cannot be an invasion."
Vorg's eyes flitted over to the head of Internal Economics, the only other in this room who knew of the project in the pentagon sector. Could something have gone wrong? Could something have gone terribly, terribly wrong?
"In any case," he continued, "we must eliminate this strange occurrence, and for that I do call for the Dark Fleet. But not for a division, I call for the entire Dark Fleet to leave their posts and head without delay to the inner home worlds."
Once again voices broke out across the room, this time in shock. Abandon the frontier? The entire fleet to the center of the Empire? To Vorg it seemed as if his call would be dismissed. Even him being a former Fleet Admiral Commander seemed not to sway them! They had to confront this now! They must! Then, one by one, the heads of Internal Affairs fell silent as the holographic display caught their attention. Vorg turned back to it as well. The planet Vasar, the ancient home world of the Vasari Empire, home of the conquistadors of old, darkened and fell silent on the holographic map. Even Vorg was speechless. He had needed something to convince them, but not this, not this! Vasar was the most heavily defended planet in the entire Empire, even the whole Dark Fleet would not have been able to take Vasar without a long and bloody fight! Something in the project must have gone wrong, there was no other explanation. Someone in the back of the conference room stood up.
"By hell, Vorg, call up the Dark Fleet!"
Vorg dismissed the meeting and hurried back to his chambers. There, he relayed a general distress call throughout the Dark Fleet.
"All ships to converge on the pentagon sector immediately! Entire sector has become hostile! Engage any and all forces you encounter!"
The message rang throughout every warship in the Vasari Empire, and captains turned their ships around, heading for the nearest phase stabilizer, a Vasari masterpiece. These orbital structures created a pathway through phase space between two stabilizers, greatly cutting down the time it would take to travel throughout the Empie. Instead of the years it would have taken for divisions on the Empire's perimeter to travel to the Empire's core, now it would take only days. Vorg received a notification on his screen. Although unhappy about it, the current Fleet Admiral, Veerr, would lead the Dark Fleet to the pentagon sector. Vorg leaned back in his chair, thinking hard. The Dark Fleet would be overwhelmed, there was no doubt about it. Whatever happened to the project in the pentagon sector, it would destroy the Dark Fleet in minutes, if it had taken Vasar. There was only one option, flee to the most remote planet in the Empire. Hide. Maybe this unknown enemy would be satisfied with the Dark Fleet and leave him alone. But there was no time to waste. Quickly, Vorg contacted the nearest Kortul Devastator starship, redirecting it to the Internal Affair's headquarters. There was no time to think, only to act, to run, to hide. To survive.