Time: 128 million years ago.
Note: We now know that at least some of this information is wrong.
The Great Old Ones Edit
Long ago (several hundred million years ago) there was a collection of dread beings that completely dominated this galaxy and others (we have no way of knowing how many, but it was more than ten). No one today has any clue as to what the Great Old Ones were like. We know they could control and manipulate all the forces that we know of today: technology, biology, psi, extra-dimensional technologies, and magic. Their mastery in every field makes the galaxy’s best work today seem like primitive experiments at fire making.
The Great Old Ones also created many servants. Many of those have survived to this day, although most seem dormant, or sealed into neighboring dimensions, or otherwise inactive (thank God!). All speculation on the nature of the Great Old Ones is based upon the remaining servants. Some of those servants are powerful enough to threaten Victorian scholars. Some are powerful enough to consume worlds, cast planets out of this universe, and topple immense stellar empires. It’s hard to tell which is which ahead of time. All servants radiate a psi aura which is (long-term) incompatible with the galaxy’s modern life forms. Even in their inactive form, they will radiate a weak form of this field at close range.
The “Others” Edit
At some point in those times, there arose an opposing race, known now as “The Others”. As with the Great Old Ones, The Others have vanished completely, and all speculation on their nature is based on the servants they left behind. Because of this, it is believed that the Others were humanoid. The Others had a mastery of forces to nearly rival that of the Great Old Ones. The Others also had the advantage of greater population, a faster lifespan, and the natural adaptation that comes with that. The Others also had the advantage of variety. They employed a wide variety of weapons, fighting styles, and techniques in their battle for mastery of the cosmos. Many of these survive in remaining civilizations as psi, magic, science, martial arts and odd mixes of these and others in strange, but effective combinations.
Some few hold to the belief that The Others were the antithesis of the Great Old Ones as Good opposes Evil. Most, though, believe that The Others were simply another race who rose up in the Dawn of Time and were powerful enough to contest with The Great Old Ones for possession and mastery of all they could see. Making The Others no better in many ways than The Great Old Ones.
Although The Great Old Ones were individually more powerful, the Others’ advantage of numbers, variety, and adaptability was able to counter that.
The “Departure” War Edit
The beginning point is marked clearly throughout the galaxy. One hundred twenty eight million years ago, this and other galaxies erupted in unimaginable violence. Planets throughout those galaxies were swept by massive extinctions. We have little understanding today of the unimaginable weapons used in this initial foray, but the results speak for themselves.
On planets throughout the galaxy, skirmishes were fought. Some evidence exists that Earth’s moon was a minor output, before being blasted by (comparatively minor) weapons that left crater-like scars that covered the face of a minor planet.
It was during this war that the Great Old Ones first attempted to counter the variety and number of the Others by creating their endless variety of soldier and servant creatures. The Others countered, by traveling to the many planets of the galaxy and uplifting the forms they discovered evolving. Once again, the battle shifted back to the familiar lines of few-but-powerful against numbers-variety-adaptation.
Atlantean research (not yet discovered by modern humanity) indicates that minor confrontations occurred on the planet Earth, as life recovered from that massive extinction. The Atlantean research indicates that The Great Old Ones had created stations and outposts for their usage, such as one that was dubbed R’lyeh by the Atlanteans, which was operated by a High Servant named Cthulhu. (Here is a fine artist’s impression, for which the artist paid with his sanity:.)
The Others acted by uplifting two races: a group of bipedal lizard-like humanoids, and a draconian race. These two groups fought skirmishes and then faded back to hide among the great lizards that were then evolving across the planet. Details remain obscure (even to Atlantean scholars, much less to modern humans).
The ending of the Departure War is as well-documented as the beginning. Sixty-five million years ago, another wave of extinctions washed across the galaxy. At the same moment, distant galaxies exploded, with entire galaxies igniting in self-destructive fury. Some races cowered, hid, and survived, to become today’s galactic elders (they don’t like to mention the cowering and hiding part). In the end, the Great Old Ones were gone, as were the Others. Neither has been seen in the intervening sixty-five million years.
Some say The Great Old Ones were driven into another dimension by The Others, who followed in a relentless drive to destroy their eternal enemies. Another claim is that The Great Old Ones moved into a Place that gave them an advantage, and they pulled The Others in with them, hoping to destroy the most persistent enemy they had ever encountered while there. Many hope that both sides simply destroyed each other, and that they are both gone forever. Of course, no one left behind is certain of the truth of either claim, and neither race (fortunately) has returned to claim the cosmos they fought so savagely to hold exclusively.
While the creator races had gone, both sides left civilizations, cities, servants, weapons, technologies, and biological tools behind. The Others left spores or deliberate seeds throughout the galaxy. This is assumed to be the explanation for many parallel life forms that have evolved in recent times – humans and humanoids, felinoids, ursoids, and other mammalian types, as well as plenty of reptilian types. This is taken as the explanation as to how these races seem to have evolved in parallel, on separate planets, and yet remain genetically compatible and capable of interbreeding with similar-appearing lifeforms that evolved “independently” on the opposite side of the galaxy. The contradictory result is that intelligent life forms have evolved upon millions of planets, but only in several dozen varieties.
The servants of the Great Old Ones have also pursued their own agenda. In many cases, that agenda seems to be something along the line of “mothball the facilities, enter maintenance mode, await the reactivation call.” Beings or races who have inadvertently triggered what is thought to be a “reactivation call” have been unpleasantly surprised. More minor servitors have often remained more active, with many attempting to engineer a situation that would initiate various forms of “reactivation calls.” The more adaptable of the servants (recall that adaptability was never their strong point) have taken to co-opting the native intelligences that have since grown up like weeds around those ancient installations. Even among the most adaptable servants, finding common ground for communication and motivation among the “weed species” has been hellishly difficult, particularly since those same weed species seem unable to survive for long the close proximity of even a minor servant. One positive point – the longer a “weedling” is in contact with a servant, the easier communication and motivation becomes (even as the weedling’s mind is blasted away). Ah, how frustrating it is, just to reach the cusp of real progress, only to have your weedling servant collapse dead or lapse into hopeless insanity.
One frightening theory is that the Great Old Ones have left behind beacons, to guide them back to this reality. The theory speculates that someday a minor servant will succeed in activating one of the major installations that houses such a beacon. And since The Others and their great arts are long gone, this corner of the universe would be helpless against the returning conquerors.
The servants of the Others, in contrast, seem to be present, but hiding. Direct intervention by “higher forces” has been too common to allow any other explanation. These servants, if they exist, have been dubbed the “Caretakers.” Their agenda seems to be the overall improvement and uplift of the galaxy’s many races. This intervention has been particularly apparent in several cases:
- The first concerns the interventions and unlikely circumstances that often arise to assist those who act *against* the interests or servants of the Old Ones.
- The second is “pocket civilizations” where a small, isolated culture has developed fighting skills, or mental techniques, or other abilities far beyond their neighbors. Upon investigation, these developments were often inspired by the revelations of one or two key figures, with mysteriously shrouded pasts.
- The third is the strange bursts of “spontaneous evolution” that will allow a species to suddenly advance in astonishing ways. The truly odd aspect of these advances is that the new germ-line invariably remains cross-fertile with the original line, allowing the “evolutionary experiment”, if successful, to breed back into the main populace. The Earth race of “faerie” may have been one such example. Some have suggested that Earth’s current mutant population is an example in progress.
- The fourth is the tendency to foster competition and conflict, at a carefully controlled level. Intervention seems to “happen” to societies that are too stable and peaceful, and similarly when a group becomes too destructive or wasteful.
- The fifth is the rare, spontaneous appearance of Unique Powers. Sometimes these find their place in galactic society, sometimes they prove a menace to everything around them. In the latter case, they are often dealt with in circumstances that can only be described as “wildly lucky.” It is assumed that the Unique Powers are left-over experiments of The Others, and that the Caretakers monitor the experiments as they are discovered, dealing with them directly if necessary. Some have speculated that all intelligent races in the galaxy today began as Unique Powers or similar experiments. Others have speculated that the outbreak of mutation on the planet Earth is due to such an experiment, and the Caretakers are even now moving in to monitor the situation.
Atlantis Rises Edit
This backdrop, then, leads to Atlantis, and the fabled “five-fold court.”
Diverse forces survived on Earth. This included a slowly decreasing population of dragons – survivors of the previous extinction cycle before the end of the Departure War. It included Faeries, an early offshoot of humanity that may have been crossed with a Unique Power. There were also humans, some of whom were in contact with humans that had evolved separately upon distant stars. It included “gods”, who came from a wide variety of backgrounds. There is evidence that the Caretakers meddled several times in the mix.
There were also survivors from the other side. R'lyeh survived, ruled over by the great Cthulhu. From there issued countless spawn, each more hideous and powerful than the last. Other entities and installations survived, sometimes seeming to work at cross-purposes, sometimes pursuing an agenda that seemed (to human intelligences) “insane.”
In the tremendous span of time following the Departure War, the greater servants of the Great Old Ones had become (mis-)identified as “Old Ones” themselves, although true scholars (non-human and ancient beings of great wisdom) know that however frightful and horrid the servants were, the true Great Old Ones were a thousand times worse.
But though Cthulhu and its associates may have been but servants, they were greater servants, and by themselves held more power than entire pantheons of so-called “gods.” When reinforced by legions of lesser servants and spawn, they were nearly unstoppable.
At this critical juncture, a nameless scholar arrived from somewhere in the galaxy at large. This scholar pulled together many previously disconnected discoveries:
- Given its stellar position and apparent importance, Earth should have been largely ignored by both sides in the conflict
- Instead, Earth had a surprising number of Old Ones installations
- “Old Ones” in the galaxy at large were generally much less active, unless deliberately provoked,
- Cthulhu and associates, in contrast, seemed to almost burn with some purpose unimagined by men.
- Contrary to common wisdom, Cthulhu and company were not actually Old Ones, but servants of far greater masters.
- At this point, the “beacon” theory was brought forward
After spreading these findings to all who would listen, the unknown scholar vanished again. But the seed had been planted…