The Fatal Shadows’ story began like so many others, with the discovery of a planet at the dawn of humanity’s expansion into the wider galaxy. An innocuous fault in the navigation array of a Solarian Nation’s deep space exploration vessel had caused the ship to drop out into normal space at the edge of an uncharted system. Whether by chance or fate, the star-drive had barely begun its cooldown when cheers of joy erupted throughout the bridge. The sensor returns fed back into the science stations as the crew saw an ever-growing list of contacts appear on their scopes; the system was a veritable treasure trove of resources, a prospector’s paradise. But it was not until the planetary body scan completed that the intrepid crew realised exactly what they had discovered: the rarest of jewels in the galaxy; a paradise planet without equal that dwarfed even mother Earth’s natural beauty; a world that would inexorably alter humanity’s destiny. The nexus of the ancient galaxy had been born from a fluke of bad maintenance.
While the circumstances that led up to their creation remain shrouded in mystery – since much of the early history was lost due to the events that followed – we know that this is where they were conceived, in the cultural and political heartland of the rapidly expanding human sphere. They were born from humanity’s deepest desire, to push the boundaries of understanding and abolish all limitations, so that even time itself could not hold sway over their destiny, but they were not greeted with joy. The advent of the Cellular Over-Ride Enhancement technology – what should have been heralded as humanity’s finest hour – had not only granted a small group of humans the gift of immortality, it had brought the ire of a galaxy down upon the heads of the experimental subjects: the ‘Shadows’.
Tensions were already high when news of the Shadows was made public. A war of unification had burned a path across the stars with no signs of abating, a theological shift tore at the very soul of humanity and resentment poisoned the outlying fringe systems as they looked on at the excesses of the old colonies in anger. It was in this tumultuous time that the Shadows took their first steps into the galaxy, and all they found was confrontation at every turn. Whipped into a frenzy by the ruling elites, people of all factions quickly began to see the new arrivals as monstrous creations. Some saw the technology that had created the Shadows as an abomination to be destroyed, while others salivated at the mere thought of the endless possibilities. The hands of fate began to move, with all colonial powers in search of a way to either control or eliminate the fledgling Shadows for the knowledge they possessed.
In the midst of this turmoil – betrayed by the colonial power to whom they had sworn their allegiance and persecuted by a religious cult – a group of like-minded Shadows stood up and vowed to protect the innocent. They cast aside their peaceful ideals and pledged themselves to eradicate any force foolish enough to threaten their kin. The Fatal Shadows would give no quarter to anyone who dared to harm their family and friends. Their reprisals were ruthless, their aims always accomplished, but the FS’s military victories across space only served to fuel the galaxy’s fear and anger. The conflict seemed endless, with the only likely outcomes either the complete destruction of the Shadows or the forced ‘pacification’ of all colonised regions.
The solution was clear, the Shadows decided to leave the known systems and settle in unexplored space – outside the reach of the ancient hatreds. The plan was epic in scope, with the creation of the Artemis Shipyards and a fleet of Zenith class deep space colonial exploration ships, but before they could take the final step and leave the known regions, calamity struck once again.
The local FS garrison – charged with protection of Artemis Beta – looked on in sheer horror as the shipyards were ripped apart by internal explosions and unknown enemy ships fired on anything that moved as they poured into the region from strange anomalies. Their final hope to protect the fleeing civilians was to try and press the Cosmos – a Zenith class carrier still under construction – into service in order to stem the tide. The brutal battle lasted for hours. The Fatal Shadows struct relentlessly against the enemy ships as the civilian convoy assembled and prepared to make a run for the nearest system. The Cosmos’ hull burned as it vented its atmosphere to space through countless breaches and missing bulkheads, but the ship stood firm against the attackers as the civilian convoy spooled up its FTL drives.
The FS ships rallied around the convoy, shielding it from harm as the countdown reached zero. The day seemed won, but the unthinkable happened: the Cosmos’ main reactor went critical, ripping the ship in half as a charged particle wave pulsed through the system and hit the escaping vessels.
The Shadows emerged in an unknown system.
Decades passed before one of the FS scout ships – In search of a route out of uncharted space – finally stumbled across a human vessel, but all was not as it seemed. The Fatal Shadows moved cautiously, so as to not expose their return to known space to those who meant them harm, but their caution was unnecessary.
When the scout vessel returned to high command with information on the Sol system the Shadows didn’t know how to react: the ancient colonies did not exist; it was as if this galaxy they now called home had taken a completely different path in history; the keystone event that had defined the galaxy they had once known – Elysium’s discovery – had never come to pass in this reality.
They didn’t understand how they had managed to travel to a different dimension or how to get back home, but they did have one hope left: Elysium. If the planet existed in this strange new galaxy, then they had to find it. If they couldn’t get back home, they would rebuild and start anew with all the secrets of the ancient planet under their sole control.
Their new host galaxy seemed beset by chaos as the factions warred against each other. Innocents died as greed and fear spread rampant across the stars. The Fatal Shadows would not stand for it. They swore a new oath: to find their ancient home-world and protect all innocents from the factions that would seek to enslave them. And they renewed their ancient pledge: to fly, fight and die with honour.