State of affairs: 2226
As 2226 dawned, the Terran Alliance found itself in a weak position. The powerful empires of the Arceans and Torians were nearly three times its size, while the Drath, Altarians, and Iconians, though just mid-ranking powers, also easily outmatched it. Though little was yet known of the Thalans and Korx, Terran Intelligence agents verified that both also possessed manufacturing capabilities that far outmatched humanity. (A useful history of Terran Intelligence or "DarkOps" can be found at this link). According to an intelligence report at the end of the year, only the feeble Yor Collective was ranked lower then man.
However, most of the human race was unaware of this. Though relations with the Korx and Yor remained cool, the Terrans were on excellent terms with the other major powers. In particular, the Torians were closely tied to the Alliance by trade and ethical views, while the Altarians had always held their galactic 'cousins' in high, if slightly condescending, regard. With diplomatic relations at such excellent levels, few members of the Alliance supported high military budgets, particularly in the aftermath of the "colony rush", which had led to a severe national debt. Thanks to this, and an ecologically-minded colonial administration, much of James Colony was left undeveloped for the time being - another Terrran error.
However, other signs this year indicated that the Terrans were not as complacent as they seemed. In late January, President Bradley signed the Colonial Defense Act, authorizing the creation of the Earth Space Service, Navy Branch, expanding what had previously been only an exploratory force. The first vessel, the corvette ESS Guardian, was launched soon after. Though merely an upgrade of an old Defender class system corvette with hyperdrive (link to stats), it was a start.
Other useful sources can be found at the following link:
2226: Ignorant Bliss
State of affairs: 2227
At this point, the galaxy was still in the ‘golden era’ of hyperdrive. Though tensions existed between some powers, such as the Korx and Terrans, Altarians and Drath, and Torians and Yor, most races remained unaware of the dangerous nature of the galaxy. Interstellar trade flourished as never before, with particular enthusiasm among the Terrans, Arceans, Torians and Korx. As those races’ economies flourished, tax cuts were initiated by their governments, leading to further popular support.
By far the most powerful military at this point was possessed by the Torians, the acknowledged galactic ‘superpower’. Although the capabilities of the Thalans remained a mystery, the Torians clearly surpassed all other known races, most of whom possessed only a small defense force.
The peaceful period was rapidly approaching an end, however. The Torians aggressively sought action against ‘evil’ races like the Yor and Snathi. The Korx began a large-scale ship-building program; as their leader Kralax (biography link) liked to say, “Profits are always bigger when you take them by force”. Clearly, interstellar conflict was imminent.
First Torian-Yor War
Causes of the War
Following their liberation from the mysterious Drengin (never encountered by any other race), the Torians had developed a powerful and militaristic society. Although the Arceans were not far behind, and the enigmatic Thalans were an unknown factor, the Torians were considered by far the most powerful race in the galaxy. As a young, expansionist race much like the Terrans, but far quicker to act, they were opposed strongly to the “evil” races, the Yor and Korx.
The Yor, by way of contrast, had fared poorly in the ‘colony rush’ that followed the invention of hyperdrive. Failing to settle any world outside their home system or develop a military, yet retaining their genocidal attitude towards organic life-forms, they were a prime target for the Torians’ tendency towards ‘crusades’. The declaration of war in December 2227 came as a surprise to no one.
As the war began, the Yor possessed almost no military forces. The Torians, in contrast, had a large force of fighters and heavy fighters, as well as a standing ground army several billion strong. Both sides’ weapons consisted of the same basic railguns. The only advantage the Yor had was the defensive nature of the war. Torian forces would have to approach a long distance – nearly 45 parsecs, or about 150 light-years – to attack, and would then face Yor defenders with the full support of planetary defenses. Thus the Yor strategy was simple – let the Torians come to them.
The Torians obliged. With the relatively slow hyperdrives of the era, it took weeks for each Torian force to arrive. Thus, what was called the Iconia Offensives occurred over a period of eighteen months, but only four major battles occurred. Each time, the same pattern would repeat: The Torians would arrive and destroy the few Yor defenders, but lose most of their ships. By the time the Torian transports made it to the area, the Yor would have rebuilt their defenders and swept away the remaining Torians. The massive distances involved made reinforcing or repairing those Torian ships in the area almost impossible.
Only once did the Torians succeed in eliminating the defenses on Iconia. Immediately afterward, the Torian Eighth Army attempted to land troops, but the attack was a failure (link). By the time the Eighth Army’s support arrived, the Yor had again rebuilt their defenders.
Ultimately, the war was a draw. On June 1st, 2229, the Treaty of Weber V (link) concluded hostilities between the Torians and Yor. The Torians had not been severely strained by the war, while the Yor had incurred surprisingly little damage. However, with relations remaining poor, it was clear that the Torians would strike again, and the Yor remained in no shape to counterattack.
Further details can be found in the excellent study by Tzil Hlathena (link)
State of affairs: 2228
By this point, tensions were high in the galaxy. The Korx continually demanded tribute from the weak Terran Alliance (albeit couched as “protection fees”), while the Torians engaged in several military conflicts. Even the pacifistic Iconians had begun a military buildup as the elder race realized that the galaxy had become a much more violent place since the heyday of the Precursors.
With war clouds growing with the Korx, the Terran population grew increasingly dissatisfied with the Bradley Administration. The Alliance government, aware it wasn’t able to equal the military might of other races, engaged actively in diplomacy, particularly with the Torians. Though aggressive towards ‘evil’ races, the amphibians got along well with the Terrans, with whom they shared a number of characteristics. In fact, all of the ‘good’ races grew closer this year, as even the grudge between the Drath and Altarians faded in the face of larger concerns.
First Snathi War
Causes of the War
When the Terran survey ship ESS Fearless first made contact with the Snathi, the crew found the squirrel-like race little more than a joke, easily dismissing Iconian tales of their creation by the Dread Lords. By this point, however, it had become clear that, though backward and limited to their home planet, the Snathi were indeed a "vicious collection of rodents" (as one Terran captain called them). For the Torians, still crusading to rid the galaxy of evil, they made an obvious second target. Much criticism has been leveled at the Torians for attacking only weak evil races, while ignoring the powerful and dangerous Korx. Evidence indicates that the Torian ‘crusades’ were motivated by both opportunism and genuine beliefs. Soon after the Torian declaration of war, the Thalan ambassador to the United Planets announced their intention to support the Torians. No explanation was offered then or later for this action.
The Torian High Command always considered the Snathi a secondary target to the Yor, and little fighting would occur at any point in the war. In addition, much of what did happen remains relatively unknown. It is known that the Snathi managed to defeat both Torian and Thalan forces during the conflict, a surprising achievement for a minor race.
The most significant event of the war was the Terran decision to join it in the fall of 2228. Although already engaged against the Korx, the Terrans saw support of the Torians as a key step in diplomatic relations, and a dramatic difference from races such as the Arceans, who condemned the Torians in the UP council for “warmongering”. Although no military action was taken by the Terrans, it proved a key step in Terran-Torian relations.
There was no formal end to the First Snathi War; instead it simply petered out. The Thalans were first, ceasing military action in April of 2229. The Torians and Terrans never officially made peace, and indeed the Terrans would go on to fight the Snathi again in the Second Snathi War. However, military actions ended, and quasi-normal relations began, in the spring of 2229. The war never involved much of the militaries of the Torians and Thalans, but for the Snathi, who managed to fend off the two most powerful races in the galaxy, it was an impressive victory.
Much has been written about both Snathi Wars; a good summary is found in Chester Wu's "Nuts" of Vengeance (link)
1st Korx War
Causes of the War
From the beginning of 2228, the Korx had exacted tribute from several of the galaxy’s weaker powers. Especially hard hit were the Terrans, whose weak military made them vulnerable to Korx demands for ‘protection money’. While both knew quite well what the demands were, the Terrans were reluctant to confront the powerful Korx directly.
Also aggravating relations were the various starbases the Terrans had constructed throughout local space (link). Although unarmed, the starbases served as fueling stations for ESS military vessels, and several races – not just the Korx – were nervous about them. The Korx, however, saw them as perfect excuses for more tribute demands and repeatedly charged outrageous fees for Terran ‘permission’ to build them.
The final straw came in August 2228. The Korx demanded that Terran forces surrender the starbase located in the Martin System, off Martin II, or face an enormous fine. Although the Martin system was not even Korx territory, being claimed by the Drath, many Terran senators questioned the value of making an issue of the strategically worthless starbase. For President Bradley, however, the time had come to make a stand. Following a closely contested Senate vote, on August 22, 2228, the Terran Alliance declared war on the Dominion of Korx.
The principal challenge awaiting Terran Admiral Leonard Cheng (commander of the ESS, biography link) was simple: no one knew where the Korx were. Although Korx freighters routinely visited many planets and Korx starbases were scattered around, the area marked as “Korx space” had never been fully explored by any other race. Therefore, Cheng ordered elements of the ESS Exploratory Division (including the famous ESS Fearless) and a number of one-man Star Fury fighters to disperse through Korx space in hopes of finding their homeworld.
The Korx, on the other hand, knew exactly where the Terrans were, but faced an obstacle of their own. Their life support systems were completely inadequate to the task of reaching the Terran colonies to invade. As a result, their primary goal became chastisement – teaching the impudent simians what it meant to deny the Korx money. They would do just that in the coming months.
In October 2228, Terran senate elections resulted in a strong showing for the Pacifist Party, a clear sign of the war’s unpopularity. The Pacifists were fueled greatly by the disastrous news of the following month: on November 8th, the Fearless, first hyperdrive-capable ship of the Earth Space Service, was ambushed and destroyed by the Korx.
The death of the Fearless had had one beneficial result – a Korx fleet had been sighted. Admiral Cheng promptly assembled forces of Star Furies and dispatched them towards the area. Disappearing fighters marked the Korx fleet’s path as it easily rolled through the inferior Terran ships. Indeed, later evidence suggests that at this point, the Korx actually cut the military budget and demolished several outdated ships, in insulting defiance of their enemies.
The final action of the war took place on April Fool’s Day, 2229. Appearing at the same Martin System starbase that had led to hostilities, the Korx obliterated the unarmed base after an hour-long bombardment. The “Martin II Massacre”, rather than arousing public anger against the Korx, led to further unhappiness with what was seen as a pointless losing war (link to editpost archive). The Terrans immediately sought to open negotiations. The Korx agreed, at the price of another enormous tribute and the donation of those few Terran technologies that the Korx lacked. After a week of negotiations, President Bradley signed the humiliating Treaty of Martzia.
Though actual losses had been slight, the disastrous war had been an enormous blow to Terran prestige. Admiral Cheng was promptly sacked, replaced as commander of the ESS by a former asteroid belt law enforcement officer named Roshenkov. The Korx, by contrast, were now convinced that the inventors of hyperdrive were ripe for conquest, and began immediate research to rectify their lack of life support technologies. The stage was now set for the Second Korx War, which would dramatically reshape the face of the galaxy.
Sources used for this and preceding wars can all be found at this link.