A long, long time ago, in a different galaxy…..
Preamble: An Introduction to the Alderbaran Civil War, also known as
THE A.R.E. WARS
By Wargin Geoff
General Warden, the hero of the Aldebaran Civil War, had two sons. One died in childbirth, but the other was a healthy boy. Skye was the first child born to Thor and his wife Sif. But what is less well known and is often forgotten is that they also had a daughter, Scout, his twin, born some fifteen minutes later than him.
Aria Prime was devastated by the civil war between east and west, and brother & sister were sent to live on planet Genesys Prime. But the new peace between the Western Arians of the old guard on one side and the revolutionaries, who called themselves the Eastborn or the Eastern Bloc on the other, was betrayed soon after and the General slain by the murderous Canker – a leader of the Bloc forces who had emerged as their supreme commander. His habit of wearing a metal mask over his face at all times and confusion over his true identity lead to him being given the name The Steel Tsar. He was disfigured, it was said, during the early days of the war when the city of Aria itself had fallen in the course of a day. Others said that he was an eastern relative of the old queen, Minerva, and perhaps he was an illegitimate son who wished to remain anonymous. And others said that he was only ugly and that he wore the mask out of vanity.
For more than ten years the Warden children were in hiding on Genesys, learning the ancient martial art of Zen Maga with their uncle Ben, who knew that one day their enemies would come for them. He knew that one day they might have to defend themselves, knew that there were those who would like to see Aria returned to what it had once been and saw the heirs to Thor Warden as the ones to restore it, hoping against hope that the ones who hated their father would somehow forget about their existence.
But the Steel Tsar did not forget. He consolidated his position, searching out his enemies one by one until he removed everyone who could still stand against him. Soon all but a few had fallen. Then he sent his legions to Genesys to remove the last threat to his power.
The memory of machines attacking the city was fresh even now, over a decade later, there in her mind first thing every morning when she woke up. Often times she had dreamed of the Devastators hovering over the city of Aria, where she had grown up and had first gone to school, firing their beam weapons over and over again until the entire land was a smouldering ruin for fifty miles in either direction. The fact that she had been one of the lucky ones who escaped on the first transports had stayed with her ever since along with the guilt of having been one of the few who had got out.
Later, she would come to think that the lucky ones were the ones who had died straight away. At the end of the war the old queen and most of her forces were wiped out, and her father as the head of the army was the only thing holding on to the ties that had once joined three hundred worlds. Eight-year-old Scout and her brother had to watch on the news reports as their home world burned.
The Steel Tsar had murdered her father and mother because they were popular, because they could have rallied the old Union together, and the planets that had once made up a galactic empire that had lasted 3,000 years had cut their ties and begun fighting among themselves. Now pirates and gangster organisations ruled the trade routes of the universe and people seldom left their own worlds.
That precarious priviledged beginning to her existence had gone now, her life a simple and sad one ever since. She and Skye lived here with their uncle in Mercator, the largest and oldest city here in this remote part of the galaxy, where they had been sent at the start of the war. In fact it was the only city of note here on Genesys Prime, unless you counted the ancient ruins that had long since disappeared into the jungle, where the wild people dwelled.
There were only an estimated 100 million souls on planet Genesys Prime, and as many as forty percent of those were the FOALs, the mysterious horse-man people who had been common on this planet for as long as anyone could remember. The main industry of planet Genesys was genetic engineering, and the FOALs had been created eons ago from DNA-splicing to produce a race of obedient labourers to do the Genosians dirty work for them. But of course many of them had won their freedom and gone to live in the jungle, where they had established societies and hierarchy of their own, although they largely left their former masters alone. The free FOALs had a deep inbuilt mistrust of humans that was proportionate to their cousins’ servility and the human population in the city mistrusted them and shunned them in return.
The memory of the war she had left when she was so young faded and she was back to looking out of her window at the FOAL workers passing by in the city carrying steel for construction projects that were currently regenerating this area of her neighbourhood. The Old Empire of Aria had been 3,000 years old when it had fallen, and the High Council of the Eastborn had proclaimed a new age of prosperity and freedom for all – that was before the Steel Tsar had slowly had most of them killed over the first couple of years of their five year plan that had failed and brought famine and fear. None of the original twelve had lived to see out the first decade of the new empire which they had founded and which had turned rotten over the course of the next ten years…