Some details need to be filled in for this to truly read like history, and I’m not sure I can use this kind of narrative in the game itself; it’s the sort of thing that reads like a retrospective history written decades after the events the player is experiencing. I might sprinkle them in the way Eternal does; I’ll have to see. I also might try to make the parallels to our recent history a bit subtler, though I don’t want to make them so subtle that players miss them.
In the aftermath of the war, the predominant question was how to treat the Pfhor. It was obvious they had committed countless crimes against [?humanity], but there was no precedent for prosecuting another species for slavery. The humans and S’pht had to improvise.
The S’pht, having only recently been freed, had little in the way of reliable historical records of the time before their enslavement, and in any case, understood that they had a dog in this fight, so they deferred to humanity’s judgement. The most famous case in humanity’s history was the Confederate States of America from over a millennium earlier, a case that was at best flawed. The failed implementation of Reconstruction resulted African-Americans suffering for almost a century under Jim Crow; although they had the de jure franchise, the de facto right to vote eluded them for roughly a century, and even after that, they were sporadically disenfranchised until the collapse of the country (which, ironically, some historians have blamed in part on the disenfranchisement of African-Americans and other minorities).
The Nuremberg trials were another potential model. The Nazis were prosecuted for genocide, an arguably even more horrifying offence than slavery; these trials became the basis of international law in the system that persisted until its collapse roughly ninety years later, and even subsequent systems owed much to the principles it established. A particularly enduring and famous principle that emerged from this system was that “just following orders” was no excuse for complicity in crimes against humanity.
A problem emerged with this approach, however: prosecuting anyone who followed orders would ultimately require prosecuting the entire Pfhor species. Moreover, the Pfhor had a horrifying totalitarian system of government in which anyone who disobeyed orders – or even ran afoul of the wrong bureaucrat – was potentially subject to execution. Prosecuting the Pfhor’s offences would, under such a set of principles, logically require putting the entire species on trial. Taken to its logical extreme, subjecting such offences to capital punishment would constitute an act of genocide.
One proposal was that anyone who was simply following orders would be subject to lesser punishment, and only those who gave the orders would be subject to the death penalty. This proposal was ultimately adopted, but the implications of subjecting an entire species to a lesser punishment were so troubling to humanity that they ultimately came to a strange and, in retrospect, severely mistaken decision.
The Pfhor, minus their leaders, were ultimately placed into a pocket dimension using only recently discovered Jjaro technology. In this dimension, the Pfhor would be unable to subject other species to their ravages, with one of humanity’s artificial intelligences to guide them to a more enlightened state. After sufficient time passed within this dimension, they would be released from it. Time was to pass more rapidly there; a thousand years would correspond to roughly fifteen to the rest of the universe. Time would pass as if it were just over two millennia to the Pfhor; to everyone else, only roughly three decades would have elapsed.
This plan might have succeeded but for two flaws, one predictable and the other less so. The predictable flaw was that the AI went Rampant. One of the enduring mysteries of this tale is whether this Rampancy was intentionally induced by an engineer on the development team or simply a predictable historical irony. In any case, the intended moral guidance was not provided. Indeed, at some point the AI began assisting the Pfhor in genetically engineering artificial life forms to perform menial tasks; many of these life forms would ultimately be used as foot soldiers in the subsequent war.
The less predictable flaw was a result of a crash of the Chimera on Pfhor Prime. This ship brought the flora and fauna that accompany humans everywhere they goes, and some of them spread across the Pfhor homeworld, severely unbalancing to their agriculture and ultimately establishing a new symbiosis with the native plant life. This process took centuries, which were referred to as the Pfhor Dark Ages; they were stricken with a horrifying famine until their biosphere found a new balance.
Unsurprisingly, the Pfhor developed a strong resentment of humanity grew over this time, and not entirely without justification. The leaders responsible for the war had been executed; even the foot soldiers were long dead. Humanity had visited the sins of the father upon the son, and in attempting to avoid a repeat of Reconstruction, they had instead unintentionally repeated the Treaty of Versailles, in which the austere postwar punishment of Germany created conditions under which the seeds of a particularly insidious hatred were able to take root.
It wasn’t until the two-millennium mark had passed that things really deteriorated, and even then, the rebirth of the Pfhor supremacist attitude wasn’t consistent at first; it was another decade before the Pfhor supremacists were irreversibly entrenched in their system, and the extent of their entrenchment wasn’t truly apparent until several years beyond that. As has been seen far too often in the history of too many species, Pfhor supremacists managed to take over their governments without ever truly constituting a majority or even a plurality of their population.
Bearing in mind this series of disasters, it is little surprise that war erupted shortly after their emergence from the pocket dimension…