Adapted by BTE from AU-L&F version by AH
Vendor at its apogee was in some respects like the America of the 19th Century -- inventive and industrious world, tending to side with justice in the pursuit of its own interests, yet eschewing imperial ambitions. Sometimes this got them into trouble, slightly more often it was beneficial.
In the AU-3 universe, Vendor reached its height about four hundred years ago, and its fortune was made by trading -- first with the Scalantrans and later with the Velorians and other independent worlds. It was the Scalantrans who discovered the Vendorians -- who, despite having the capability of interstellar travel, had contented themselves with exploiting the riches of their own system.
Besides the home planet that included thousands of small planets and asteroids rich in xintanite, titanium and other elements essential to the alloy that would become known as Vendorian steel. This was used to construct immense arcologies on the home planet as well as space colonies -- some nearly as large as worlds. In time, they might have enclosed their system in what we would call a Dyson sphere.
When they made contact, the Scalantrans quickly realized that Vendorian steel could revolutionize interstellar travel through construction of ships with lighter yet stronger hulls -- mounting more powerful engines that would drastically reduce the "dead time" spent within planetary systems traveling between planets themselves and the wormholes billions of miles out. The Scalantran trading empire, already wealthy, became wealthier still, and Vendor thrived on its commissions.
Following the First Strike, when Aria began to move against the Scalantrans, the Scalantrans had the advantage of better ships -- although not at first equipped for war. They could often escape, even if they couldnt fight, but when they did learn to fight they were more than a match for the Arions. Still, war was unpleasant for the traders -- not to mention unprofitable -- and thus a modus vivendi came into being, later to be called the First Consensus: when the Arions moved into a system that traded with the Scalantrans, the Scalantrans simply withdrew, and the Arions did not pursue, nor did they attack the Scalantrans' own worlds.
This arrangement was violated in 1477 at Nova Iberia, and when word of Arion attack reached the Grand Factors of the Scalantrans, a Second Consensus was reached that called for arming of trade ships and creation of permanent military forces. This new Consensus was still working its way through the remoter regional Factors General during the 16th Century, replacing the old Consensus that the Scalantrans should avoid conflict by withdrawing from systems occupied by Arions.
Until now, the Vendorians had had little to do with either Supremis state, but they had begun to trade with the Velorians, and their technology had also been stolen by Andros, one of the human worlds seeded earlier by the Surrogates. That led them to make overtures to other human worlds, while still relying on the Scalantrans as their primary market. It was all a matter of ships and ship components; despite their later reputation, they didn't have particularly good weapons -- they didn't think they needed them. What they didn't realize was that providing Vendorian steel ships to the Scalantrans and the Vendorians had aroused the enmity of Aria. They went happily on as master ship builder/sailors and used these skills to enforce their economic power base.
Unfortunately this only made them seem all the more tempting to the budding Arion Empire. To understand what happened next you have to understand a little of Arion history. Arion history in the AU-3 as well as AU-L&F is roughly divided into four periods; Birth, Exodus, Emergence and Empire. Birth covered the creation of the Velorians by the Galen through to the point where the Naturalists departed. Exodus followed their use of a dimensional transporter to find Aria, a close copy of the world their gods had chosen for their race, and continued through the Gene-bomb betrayal (the cause of which is ambiguous) that trapped them on Arias surface, adaptation to their new Prime/Betan cast and evolution of their technology. It was during this time that they developed their first crude wallships (huge slabs of metal designed to take enough punishment to get Primes close enough to land on enemy ships) in response to pirate raids, not to mention the infamous Scalantran First Strike. And this led to the Emergence.
Emergence was a direct consequence of First Strike. The Pirates who had come before had never attacked the planet itself -- theyd simply landed in isolated areas and carried off villages of Betans. No one knows why the Arions attacked the first Scalantran ships to come visiting; perhaps they were simply mistaken for pirates. Whatever the case, the Scalantrans were treated as pirates -- they were enslaved, and their ships converted to Arion use. Because they turned out to be simply trading vessels, adapting them to military use was an onerous task -- one still in progress at the time of the First Strike.
The first, and at the time intended to be only Scalantran warship, was a couple of leagues above anything the Arions had seen before and their defences couldnt hope to match it. Single-handedly the vessel destroyed most of their re-commissioned fleet, liquidated their wallships before they came in range, destroyed the orbital platforms and obliterated their capital city before returning home, revenge complete.
Yet this attack did not in fact result in many casualties. Admittedly thousands were lost when the fleet was destroyed, but the Scalantrans werent totally heartless: they broadcast what they were going to do long before they arrived so there was time for a complete evacuation. Scalantrans, being economically motivated, saw more gain in wiping out Arias technical and economic base than killing its people. It had been the same centuries earlier in a clash with the Diaboli.
Had they known what a hornet's nest theyd stirred up theyd have probably accepted the lost ships as an unfortunate accident or, contrarily, simply sterilized the planet. What came next is, as they, history. The Arion attitude changed, far from being passive and merely defending against attack, they wanted to be pro-active and wipe out any threat before it could become a danger. They started with the Scalantrans. Once their economy was back up they rebuilt their wallships, this time with the crucial addition of wormhole shields, and made their first intersystem jump in hundreds of years.
The target was a remote Scalantran Meetpoint world, discovered by chance and only lightly defended. The Arions had learned their lessons and designed wallships accordingly, making them thicker and faster with new materials. They knew from observation that they wouldnt be going up against any warships in any case, just some orbital defences and unmanned drones, none of which was a match for the fleet arrayed against them. Once the Primes hit the ground the slaughter they wrought was unimaginable, the entire colony was wiped out and its technology subverted to feed the growing Arion xenophobia. By the time the Scalantrans learned of the colonys demise, their trading empire in that section of the Galaxy was under full attack by the seemingly unstoppable Supremis.
The First War was relatively short but bloody. While the Scalantran technology and economy were stronger the Arions could only be stopped in space, and their home system was far too distant to be threatened. Again and again the pattern would be repeated with small Scalantran squadrons laying waste to vastly largely Arion fleets (not wallships anymore but smaller, most efficient drop craft,) but always a small number of Arion craft would inevitably slip past and land unstoppable warriors (Primes and Betans) on planet surfaces, or worse, the defense fleet would find their hulls suddenly swarming with Primes whod survived amongst the debris.
Facing an escalating, seemingly unwinnable conflict blossoming before their eyes, the Scalantran leadership did the only thing they could; they implemented the First Consensus -- threw money at the problem until it went away, placating the Arions with systems and resources until an informal settlement was reached. Under that Consensus, the Scalantrans did nothing to oppose the expansion of what was now becoming the Arion Empire, and the Arions -- for the time being -- avoided further attacks.
But the Arions annexed system after system, sweeping across their part of the Galaxy with surprising speed. Normally they took uninhabited, or unclaimed systems, but occasionally they would take an interest in populated worlds and, overnight, another star would submerge out of galactic memory. For anyone whos seen The Chronicles of Riddick, the opening attack sequence is remarkably similar to what an Arion invasion would be (although with less artistic ships); fast, brutal and almost instantly overwhelming.
There was only one force in the Galaxy that could stand up to the Arions on the ground, and, unfortunately, they werent particularly inclined to help because they felt it was against their religion to fight another Supremis -- the ancient civil war was a fading memory. It was only because of the self-chosen role of the Companions on some of the worlds attacked by the Empire that Velor was drawn into a conflict that had heretofore involved only the Scalantrans and independent human worlds with which they traded. Aria's attention turned towards Velor, especially after 1500 when the Protectors replaced the Companions and what became the Enlightenment was increasingly involved in proxy wars with the Arions on distant worlds. Memories or legends of the Gene Bomb, combined with recent conflicts, fueled the hatred of the Imperials -- and that hatred extended not only to the Scalantrans but the Vendorians, who were seen as their allies, and allies of the Velorians as well.
Besides that, there were religious motivations. Vendorians, like Scalantrans, were seen as an affront to the Arions interpretation of the rules the Galen set down -- even a sacrilege: they were sheltering, nurturing and protecting human civilisations but they themselves were not Supremis, they werent even human. So they had to go.
The first battle with the Vendorians was a small affair, an Arion convoy claimed to have gotten lost in the vicinity of a Vendorian convoy of new military craft destined for the Scalantrans, declared an emergency and opened fire when the Vendorians got close enough. After that there was every excuse to declare war; the Arions said the Vendorians had made an unprovoked attack on a helpless trade convoy (their first ever that just happened to be armed to the gills) and the Vendorians told the truth.
It didnt matter, the deed was done and the two races were at war. Unfortunately for the Vendorians, it was a very one-sided war. They were not warriors and the Empire had been preparing for decades. This was not a repeat of the Arion/Scalantran conflict, this time the Arions had ships that based on reverse-engineered Vendorian technology that were nearly a match for their Vendorian counterparts -- and far more numerous. Their first attack on the Vendorian home system destroyed dozens of space colonies before it was beaten off.
The Vendorians had only one advantage: their natural ingenuity with technology. Almost overnight, they became master weapons makers as well as shipwrights. Some of this new technology, they began to share with the Velorians; the rest they kept to themselves. The most destructive of these weapons was, of course, the Lysandedöd or Shining Death, but it was underused due to the fact that it caused almost as much damage to the defenders as to the enemy. About fifty years after that, with the Arion fleet beginning to invest the Vendorian systems, the most impressive Vendorian weapons were invented.
The Frau'lisets, humanoid androids (or maybe gynoids; they were after all based on Velorian Protectors) were fantastically effective, far more than a match for even their Prime counterparts. But, like the Lysandedöd, they were underused, although this time the reasons were ideological rather than military -- the Frau'liset were so effective, and so advanced that the Vendorians were worried that that they might follow the cliché and turn on their creators.
By this point most of the Vendorians, in spite of Velorian intervention, had been slaughtered. Most of their space colonies had been destroyed, the survivors retreating to their homeworld as the military prepared for its last stand. As the last outlying space colonies and mining asteroids fell, it became increasingly clear that the Arions would be happy with nothing less than their complete extinction -- even Velorian demands wouldnt stay their course.
In a last desperate attempt to save their species, they threw away all their reservations and put the Frau'lisets into mass production. On the final day the Imperial fleet swept aside the last of their ships and orbital defences in less than twelve hours, much as, hundreds of years earlier, a Scalantran warship had swept them aside before making the First Strike.
But instead of bombarding the surface like that ancient vessel, the Arions released their army on the surface. After centuries of warfare every Prime and Betan wanted to be in on the final act, so much so that they actually bid for the honor of being in the first ships to touch the surface. It was the largest invasion force in galactic memory; millions of soldiers touched down on the surface. The dominant idea was a bloodless coup at least with regard to the architecture. The Arion leadership wanted Vendor as undamaged as possible so it could sit as the jewel of their crown; a reminder of their strength.
It was a slaughter.
The Vendorians had had months to prepare for this day, months theyd spent by turning out as many Frau'lisets as possible. By the time the Arion troops reached the surface, estimates say that there were two or even three Fraulisets for every Betan and Prime. One tenth of that number would have been more than enough.
The Imperial response was decisive, and final. Many of the Empires finest had fallen during the battle and every family from greatest to lowest was calling for blood. They already controlled Vendors skies but merely wiping out the population through orbital bombardment wasnt enough. To satisfy the lost honor only the complete obliteration of the entire planet would suffice.
It was as much a tactical decision as it was political. Those few hours of ground fighting had proved that the Arions couldnt win through force of arms (which was in itself another humiliation) yet as unbelievably effective as theyd been the Frau'liset had one weakness. For all their attempts to ape the Protectors, they couldnt replicate their most defining characteristic; they couldnt fly.
Vendors last few hours were spectacular for anyone who wasnt on the surface. The skies turned red, the oceans vaporised, the surface boiled. Continents cracked and shattered, yet even this was not enough. Even with Vendors surface floating in orbit and the core burning freely in space the Arion fleet continued firing, not stopping until the entire planet was a slowing expanding asteroid field. The only thing that stopped them from destroying the whole system was that they had not yet discovered the technology to obliterate suns.
Obviously this was not quite the end of the Vendorian race that the Arions had hoped. For all its pyrotechnic impressiveness, the destruction was largely a smoke screen for an evacuation fleet that lain in hiding in the shadow of one of the systems gas giants. Vendor, like most systems had a large number of wormholes, all of which were under guard but given how eager the Arion military was to participate in the final battle, these consisted largely of light screening elements; no match for the four heavy battle cruisers the Vendorians had withdrawn for precisely this purpose. By the time the Arions were aware of what had happened, the Vendorian fleet was nothing but a dissipating echo in the direction of Velor.
The last journey took a year to complete and was not without its casualties. The entire Arion navy, now in the age of Empire, was out searching for them and there were more than a few close encounters; but eventually most of them arrived at Velor. There, with the assistance of the Velorians, they formed the mysterious Vauld and passed into galactic myth.
This was not the only consequence of course, for example a small number of the Frau'liset survived the destruction of their homeworld, but the exact ramifications of this can be left for future stories. And there was also a legend that some on Vendor itself -- unknown to those who later formed the Vauld -- had been rescued by the elusive Diaboli, who used the very energy of their world's destruction to teleport them to safety in some distant corner of the Galaxy.