The Shadows is when the Concordance breaks down. Though the shock of the Khazaraki horde was managed by the great powers of the time, it is natural for any large system which is not driven by a higher truth to collapse. The existence of resources to profit from and borders to contain them and armies to defend them inevitably leads to conflict. The Aeternus Continuum itself becomes embroiled and much propaganda from our enemies have attempted to paint us as some kind of monstrosity-creating puppet masters of the Mechanist Assembly. I may have more limbs than standard, but my ability to control a marionette is much less than my ability to interpret a true chronology.
The Epoch of Shadows spans the 547-year period from the First Border war to the end of the Second Border War. The Rachlavsky-Laris Combine (RLC) grew fat on its resources and trade and began to engage in the time-honoured tactic of rich nations: Militarism. They decided to expand their borders militarily and bully what they believed was a weak neighbour, overwhelming a Mechanist Assembly outpost at Ekris Majorus.
According to scattered records the RLC forces found the Mechanist outpost to contain monstrosities created through fleshcraft. The notable phrase “The sight of the place of such torments brought even the most hardened eyes to weep with shame by that which had been wrought by a hand we were forced to call human.” Though there have not been any recordings beyond this it seems that this general feeling was true. While the campaign of the RLC was from then on justified by this, it cannot be ignored that they took upon their military adventurism without this knowledge. Let us not create a hero just because their opponent seems to be a villain.
While the Mechanists were always known to be different to other humans in temperament it became clear that their method of waging war utilised a very different philosophy. In response to this attack by the RLC the Mechanists attacked a colony at Wessina IV where they unleashed a biological contagion so virulent that it left the colony uninhabitable for humans for decades.
The Mechanists did not approach war as a contest between nations over resources. They also didn’t approach it as an act of expending precious resources in the hopes of recouping the losses from the defeated. They approached war like a vengeful god. Every action was not defended, it was catalogued and punished through divine retribution. Every RLC victory felt hollow as they gained land but felt like they lost their soul against such an inhuman enemy.
The First Border War came to an end unexpectedly as a workers revolution from within the RLC toppled the board of ruling directors and put the Free Workers Union into power. The people of the RLC were tired of being punished for the adventurism of their ruling class and fought to create a more egalitarian society. The Unions negotiators sued for peace, which was granted, and the borders were reinstated to their position before the war. Truly, nothing was gained.
The memory of this conflict lived long in the consciousness of the great powers. Everyone was uneasy with the Mechanist Assembly but weren’t willing to accept the consequences of engaging with them. 5 long centuries passed where fear kept the powers in line. The Union made a non-aggression pact with the Caspian’s and a bitter peace reigned.
(Editor’s note: It is here that the Consilio Mortuorum is founded. While you are still too novice to know much about them, they are the venerable elders of the Aeternus Continuum, and their guidance has led us to the present and will continue to lead us into the future).
The Caspian Federation, fearing spreading itself too thin and being too susceptible to void gate interruption, established the existence of The Marches in the 312th year of The Shadows. The Marches were a semi-autonomous zone settled on the Arc-Rich planets the Khazaraki peoples used to roam. The Territories are split into 3 zones each ruled by a Marcher Lord. The hope was that these zones would be loyal and profitable but would be self-sufficient in the case that more events occurred in that turbulent region of space. This space immediately expanded as new Arc fields were found deeper into the periphery. The Caspians were eager to find new Arc fields and populate them with self-reliant people eager for trade.
The peace of the Hyperuranion was shattered when the Mechanist Assembly invaded Caspian Space, possibly hoping to renew their reputation for enforcing peace, and attacked Anabraxis VIII. The people who escaped spoke of a population being rounded up into Temple-Laboratories where horrors were wreaked upon them. The Caspian reprisal fleet encountered a nearly uninhabited world covered in bodies which were animate through strange machineries. The Caspians simply destroyed the planet from the air rather than engage with the horrors directly.
The Caspians then acted with speed, charging and devastating multiple Mechanist holdings while attempting to block the possibility of counterattack, going so far as to destroy void gates to delay or even completely block off places with large Mechanist military presences. The Caspians had learned from history. With the bulk of the Mechanists well known terror fleets destroyed or stranded the war continued for 5 more years in a conventional manner. The Mechanists sued for peace, ceding all lands that had been taken by the Caspians, destroying their weapons of war, and expelling our Aeternus Continuum from their territories. As we were merely a sect of historians, it was clear that we were to be a scapegoat for their crimes as they blamed us for the bulk of the terrors committed during the war.
Thus brought an end to the two border wars with a galaxy of nations mostly in decline except for the Caspian Federation. But as I have said many times, all nations not built on truth inevitably fall. It is only a question of how long.
The Shadows was the first look at the horrors that the technologies that had been unlocked could be used for. The Mechanist Assembly had no qualms with destruction and was willing to cast off allies to protect itself. We will see how well that goes for them in the next Epoch: The Dissolution.