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RSI.com This Day in History: The Third Imperial Age

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July 4, 501 CE

It’s impossible to imagine what life must have been like for Humans almost 2,500 standard Earth years (SEY) ago. Humanity was still constrained to their homeworld, and though vast societies and cultures spread across Earth, many were not even aware of each other’s existence. Attempting to cross one of the planet’s major oceans was akin to a death sentence, one that some strangely believed would involve the boat simply falling over the horizon’s edge.

Meanwhile, on approximately July 4, 501 CE*, the Xi’an officially entered their Third Imperial Age by elevating U.e’o se Kr.ē to the position of Emperor. The coronation of U.e’o se Kr.ē was a historic event and cause for great celebration across the Xi’an Empire, which had already expanded to many planets and systems. While much has changed for Humanity over the last two and a half millennia, House Kr.ē’s control has remained resolute, as they still govern the Xi’an Empire to this day — an outcome few Xi’an would have predicted when they first gained power.

The Third Imperial Age pulled the Xi’an out of a particularly tumultuous time in their vast history. The species had been locked into a nearly 800 SEY engagement with the Kr’Thak, a conflict that we have come to know as the Spirit Wars. To make matters worse, the species had been without an Emperor for almost 90 SEY prior to U.e’o se Kr.ē’s coronation.

This period began during the Spirit Wars, in 412 CE, when an expertly planned and executed Kr’Thak attack targeted the reigning Emperor Xy.ō and her house. Timed to coincide with an important family celebration in honor of Y.ah’a se Xy.ō, the house’s great matriarch and first Emperor, the Kr’Thak’s orbital bombardment of the Xy.ō estate was executed with shocking devastation, leaving nothing but a massive crater behind. Then the Kr’Thak activated dozens of strike forces around the Xi’an empire, systematically targeting any location with a remaining member of the Xy.ō family. When the dust had settled, countless innocent Xi’an had died, but the Kr’Thak’s plan had succeeded. The entire Xy.ō line had been eliminated and their house’s 1,735 SEY reign was over. The Xi’an’s Second Imperial Age had been brought to a brutal and decisive end.

The eradication of the Xy.ō house unleashed chaos across Xi’an society, earning that period an ominous title roughly translated as The Dark. Those in the bureaucratic class tried to keep the government functioning, but struggled to do so without an Emperor and royal family dictating an overarching policy. The Xi’an war strategy also suffered from the leadership vacuum, as the Imperial house controls the military just as directly as it does the government.

Instead of a clear vision, powerful Xi’an houses feuded and political factions formed. Some argued that retribution against the Kr’Thak was necessary, while others claimed it was the time to discuss peace. Various houses acted unilaterally, with some trying to broker deals as others started secretly arming themselves. Similarly rampant inter-house conflict had demonstrated the need for a single ruling family during the Great Divide, triggering the formation of the first imperial dynasty. This time around, the dissolution of the Empire was a real possibility in the chaos that followed the death of House Xy.ō. Primarily due to the fact that a new Emperor could not be found.

The specifics surrounding the transfer of power from one house to another in the Xi’an tradition is still not well known by those outside the species. What little is understood is that part of the process involves searching for certain genetic ‘markers’ that only the new Emperor will carry. Any and all Xi’an are tested to see who might carry these markers. The process is an incredible bureaucratic undertaking in peaceful times, and nearly impossible during a war whose duration was approaching a millennium.

The Xi’an tested anyone they could but still didn’t find a match. After decades of this uncertainty, some Xi’an philosophers pondered whether a new ruler would appear only after their war with the Kr’Thak was over. Public opinion swung in that direction and eventually a ceasefire was negotiated by the remaining military bureaucrats.

Though the specifics of this armistice with the Kr’Thak have never been revealed to us, it allowed the Xi’an to search for their next Emperor in earnest. Envoys were sent to every Xi’an settlement, but even more years of hunting still did not reveal their new ruler. Some began to wonder if the Xi’an were doomed to remain ungoverned.

Meanwhile, powerful houses grew concerned that they might lose everything if a new Emperor weren’t found. Divisions between houses grew deeper and the threat of another brutal civil war was all but certain. Therefore, while there’s no evidence that a conspiracy involving a number of powerful Xi’an families resulted in the Kr.ē house ascending to power, rumors of this sort persist.

The official story is that U.e’o se Kr.ē was tested for the Imperial markers shortly after being born and proclaimed to be the new Emperor not long after. Some Xi’an welcomed the coronation of an infant as a blessed sign for the start of the Third Imperial Age. They believed it meant that the Xi’an had been given a new lease on existence after barely surviving their first interspecies conflict.

Others noted that the new Emperor being born into a powerful family was a bit convenient.

It was under these circumstances that an infant named U.e’o se Kr.ē was proclaimed the new Xi’an Emperor on July 4, 501 CE. Family matriarch IIth se Kr.ē was given provisional power until U.e’o was of age. Raised to be a ruler, U.e’o se Kr.ē eventually ascended to the throne with a quiet confidence and immediately instituted a number of sweeping changes. She strengthened settlements and military fortifications in systems connected to Kr’Thak. She banned jump point hunting in those systems too, believing that the less contact with the Kr’Thak, the more chance the ceasefire would hold. Some believe this shift away from Kr’Thak space is what forced the Xi’an Empire to expand in a different direction, one that would result in them crossing paths with Humanity.

2,500 SEY later, the Kr.ē family still rules the Xi’an Empire. However, the current Emperor Kr.ē has no legitimate heirs, meaning that his family’s rule will end with him.

There is much uncertainty about what will happen when the reign of house Kr.ē comes to an end. Humanity has scant understanding about what will happen or how long it will take. There’s also no clarity as to how it’ll affect our diplomatic relationship, trade deals and so forth with the Xi’an Empire. For now, all we can do is reflect back on what we know about the last time the Xi’an had a political transfer of power. It happened on this day in history — July 4, 501 CE.

* For the reader’s convenience, all Xi’an dates have been converted to standard Earth time.

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