Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Droves & The Rhylish

In the twelfth century messages were received from the government of Goodland that they were being invaded. They came too late to help the Goodlanders, but the governments of New Hope and Greenworld were alerted in time to arm and equip their fleets such as they were. New Hope was lost after a valiant struggle against overwhelming odds, but a sizeable portion of their fleet was able to escape and go to Greenworld where it was thought that the Droves were headed.

They combined with the Greenworld fleet and waited for the appearance of the Droves. Meanwhile, fleets of the neighboring stars were forming up and preparing for the invasion. When the Droves appeared at Greenworld, they faced a force larger than any they had faced before, although it was still only a traction of theirs. It also developed during the battle that the Droves were not as aggressive as they had been on Goodland and New Hope, as if their appetite had been slightly sated by the previous two conquests.

The colonies were still at a big disadvantage, and had the help from New China and Broadsea not arrived when it did, they might have succombed to the attacks of the Droves. When the Droves detected the arriving help, they decided to disengage and retire from the battle. A force was quickly assembled from the Human forces and assigned the mission of tracking the Droves to discover their intentions. After the Droves had left, the wreckage of several of their ships was recovered. The Drove ships, at least those recovered, seemed to be entirely crewless as no crew or crew living spaces could be found on the ships. A theory, ridiculed at the time but which we now know to be true, was that the Droves were machines built by a long extinct race, and without their creators had gone mad.

It was while the Droves were being followed that the existence of the tunnels was discovered. The preserved log of the command ship shows that the Droves were suddenly seen to disappear one at a time as they entered a sector of space. Cautiously, after a fruitless attempt to capture a straggling small Drove ship, the Humans followed and they too disappeared, reappearing, it was determined later, in the Sagittarius arm of the Galaxy. The Droves were nowhere to be found. After leaving a beacon to mark the tunnel entrance, the tracking force began an exploration of the space they had entered. It was then that the Rhylsh were discovered.

It was immediately apparent that the aliens were not the Droves, and an attempt was made to contact them. After many frustrating attempts, a common medium for communication was discovered, and it was learned that the Rhylsh had been guarding the tunnel entrance against the return of the Droves. The Droves had attacked them, but uncharacteristically, had left without a serious attempt at defeating them. It was also learned that the Droves and the Rhylsh were old enemies, having met many times before. A meeting of ambassadors was arranged which, at the insistence of the Rhylsh, took place at the Rhylsh end of the tunnel.

The meeting was by communicator only, since the liquid, methane Rhylsh atmosphere precluded any physical contact. The CEG representatives had been instructed to attempt to get the Rhylsh to join with the CEG in a mutual defense agreement but were continually frustrated by the Rhylsh in their efforts. The Rhylsh refused to enter into any agreement that compelled them to leave their system. They did agree to let the CEG station a watch force in the Rhylsh system that would alert the Empire of any approach of the Droves, and also to exchange with the Empire knowledge of the Droves and the tunnels.


The recalcitrance of the Rhylsh to join with the Empire did not sit very well with certain minority forces in the CEG. After some heated discussion, it was reluctantly decided to send an expeditionary force to compel the Rhylsh to join with them. During this war the Rhylsh surfaced as a much more tenacious defender than the Empire had imagined, refusing to give up any ground at all to the Empire's forces.

Reluctantly deciding that the Rhylsh could not be forced into agreement with the Empire, the CEG declared a truce. The Rhylsh, oddly enough, did not seem to bear any lasting resentment at this heavy handed diplomacy by the Empire and agreed to allow the restationing of the watch force and the resumption of the technological exchange and assistance programs. But as before, under no circumstances would any Rhylsh leave their galactic system to come to the aid of the Empire. It was during this period that the Rhylsh, after having been given the Mason Field Drive, vastly improved on it and showed the Empire how to increase the upper limit of the drive to upwards of twenty times the speed of light, one of the major discoveries after the Mason Field itself, in recorded history.

The Rhylsh over the next several hundred years, began to function as advisors to the members of the CEG. Whenever it seemed that a technical problem could not be solved, a representative was dispatched to the Rhylsh to seek their advice for a solution, in exchange for materials that could not be found in the Rhylsh sector. As time went on, a symbiotic relationship developed between the two races. This increasing interdependency rankled some members of the CEG who maintained that the human race was losing its skills in solving their own problems.

The agreement with the Rhylsh specifically excluded any mention of a mutual aid pact, in fact it decreed that under no circumstances was either party obligated to come to the defense of the other. So when the Droves reappeared, this time in the Rhylsh system, certain parties in the CEG sat back rather smugly as they watched the Rhylsh slowly being beaten back from their frontiers. The Rhylsh, in keeping with the agreement, relayed word to the CEG about the progress of the conflict, and it became apparent that the Rhylsh were losing.

Slowly, but inexhorably, the Droves were advancing toward the Rhylsh and the Empire, seemed almost fanatical in their aggression. The Rhylsh, equally desperate, were determined that no quarter was to be given to the Droves; anything that could not be defended or evacuated was destroyed, to leave the Droves with nothing more than a charred remnant for their conquests.
When the Droves reached the Rhylsh home system, it seemed as if an era was about to end; no longer could the CEG and all its myriad planets and colonies call upon the Rhylsh for assistance with their problems. The Rhylsh were in a struggle with the Droves to the very end, and the end seemed near.

Finally, reason prevailed in the CEG; a decision was reached that every possible aid was to be sent to the Rhylsh even if it meant stripping every colony of its defense; the Rhylsh must survive. Wave after wave of forces were called up and sent to meet the Droves. On thirty planets, fierce battles were fought to determine if the known universe was going to succomb to the Drove menace. Slowly the tide turned; the Droves were beaten back planet by planet as the forces of the CEG and the Rhylsh combined to meet their common enemy.
As they were slowly beaten back from their former conquests, the Droves began to grow desperate. They formed a formidable force of suicidal squadrons that would throw themselves in the way of any enemy force no matter how overwhelming, determined to stop them at any cost, and if they couldn't be stopped, to perish in the attempt.

Almost suddenly it seems now, the Droves had been beaten back to the very edges of their system; the last step was to enter the tunnel to the Drove home system and totally destroy them so that no further menace could be expected from them ever again. Then the Rhylsh revealed their fatal weakness - they could not enter the tunnels because their life system could not survive a tunnel crossing. With embarrassed expressions, they admitted that this was the reason that they could not enter in the mutual aid pact with the CEG, no matter how much they wanted to, to cross the tunnel meant death.


With this news the war against the Droves ended. The Rhylsh explained to the Empire that the only tunnel into the Rhylsh and Empire sectors was the one they now commanded. The Droves could never invade either of their sectors again as long as they controlled the tunnel exit. It was decided that rather than pursue a costly invasion of the Drove home system, it would be better to maintain a constant guard on the tunnel to prevent the Droves from ever entering their sectors again. The Empire and the Rhylsh concluded an agreement to join efforts in their common problems and eventually this agreement encompassed so much that they decided to form the Third Empire, the first human and non-human coalition.

Source: Alpha Omega Rules

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