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Vargo: Imperial Survey

History

Occluded Origins

     We know that the Annunaki visited Vargo in ages past, for they left their ruins and artifacts behind as proof of their presence there. In fact, the abundance of these relics implies that Vargo may have held some special interest or significance for the Ur, yet what that might be is anyone's guess. Who can fathom the enigmatic motives of the ancient race that built the jumpgates? The Annunaki presence on Vargo may explain the interest that the Vau have recently shown in this world, so far from the borders of the Hegemony. Then again, the motives of the Vau are equally inscrutable.

     Humanity has likewise left an indelible mark upon Vargo, yet our history there stretches back only two-and-a-half millennia, a mere blink of an eye in the span of aeons that stretch back to the beginning of all things. Much of Vargo's human history has been lost to the ravages of time and war, for few records of that world appear in the Imperial Library. For a world but two jumps from Byzantium Secundus to have been all but forgotten is a curious occurrence indeed, even considering the chaos associated with the Fall of the Second Republic.

     The Imperial Eye has speculated that at some point, parties unknown made an effort to expunge all mention of Vargo from the public record. Perhaps House Mercedes, Vargo's former ruling family, was behind this selective deletion. A few surviving documents from the Second Republic mention in passing a trade route from Tethys to a world named Tern's Vista. This was apparently the name by which Vargo was known in ancient times. The final record of Tern's Vista that appears in the Imperial Library is dated to 3897, more than a century before the Fall.

     What happened during the thousand years that have passed since then is no clearer than Vargo's earlier history, for many archives on the planet were destroyed during the battles that took place shortly after recontact. Other historical documents are believed to have been spirited away and hidden by native priests after the Inquisition declared their sect heretical. The Eskatonic Order has helped illuminate much of Vargo's lost history by gathering ancient books and documents from obscure places, and by interviewing natives about their folklore and oral traditions.

Embattled Colony

     Anecdotal evidence gathered by Eskatonic scholars suggests that Vargo was first colonized sometime during the early Diaspora, by means of a jumproute that once existed between Tethys and Holy Terra, lost now for many centuries. Archeological studies conducted by the Scravers Guild appear to support this contention, for they have dated certain ruins to the early 2400s. The science of this lies beyond my ken, but if true, this would count Vargo among the oldest worlds settled by humanity, making its absence from the historical record even more suspicious.

     When the first human colonists arrived on Vargo, they found that they were not alone. An indigenous, sentient species of amphibious reptiles called the Pakti was well established on the planet, although relatively few in numbers owing to the hunter-gatherer subsistence methods by which they lived. A fierce conflict ensued between the human settlers and the Pakti, resulting in loss of life on both sides. Superior technology gave humanity the edge over the stone-aged Pakti, and slowly the reptiles were driven back. By the end of the Diaspora, the Pakti were believed to be extinct.

     A more serious challenge arose during the Age of Miracles, when Vargo's settlers found themselves besieged by renegade Sathraists who called themselves Children of the Void--remembered in folklore as the Void Wizards. For centuries, battles raged across the planet as these renegades sought to conquer the other settlements. Time and again the Sathraists were driven off, only to rise again years later to threaten the peace of Vargo. The last hurrah of the Children began toward the end of the 29th century, when it seemed they might succeed at last as they captured settlement after settlement.

     Finally, only the colonial capital, Vista City, remained free, crowded with refugees fleeing the tyranny of the Void Wizards. Among the people gathered there was a young woman named Vargo, a healer belonging to a religious sect called the Hospitalers. As the Void Wizards closed in on the city, this woman performed some sort of miracle that saved the day, leading to the defeat of the Sathraists. Afterward the capital city was renamed in her honor. At some point after the Fall, the natives started using the name Vargo for their entire world as well.

Republican Interlude

     We know little of the events that transpired on the planet Vargo during the centuries following the defeat of the Void Wizards. There is a passing reference to the 'liberation of Tern's Vista' in Spiegel's History of the Ukari Wars, written during the early years of the Second Republic, but few details are provided to illuminate the context of that event. An armada organized by House Hawkwood in conjunction with the fallen houses Hamid and Windsor apparently took part in this campaign. The Hawkwoods claim to have to record of the event.

     Vargo had become a layover for mercantile traffic by the height of the Republic. The Charioteers Guild has found the name Tern's Vista listed among the ports of call on bills of lading for cargo vessels bound for worlds that lie in what is now barbarian space, and others that are now lost. This suggests that Vargo's jumpgate may hold other routes as yet undiscovered, beyond the two that are currently known. We might surmise that Vargo prospered during the heyday of the Republic, an era that the planet's inhabitants look back upon fondly, as a golden age in their folklore.

     Yet we all know the sad history of the Republic's downfall, a tale of corruption and sin that cast humanity down from its greatest heights to the slow decay of the dying universe that we now call home. As human civilization descended into chaos before the treacherous onslaught of the Rogue Worlds, Vargo's Senator, one Ishmael Mercedes by name, returned from Byzantium Secundus to save his constituency from destruction. The Senator sealed Vargo's jumpgate, isolating his beloved world from the savagery that ruled the universe beyond until order had been restored.

     Or so the people of Vargo were told. The truth was uncovered recently by the Charioteers during the salvage of a wrecked Mercedes starship. The Senator had merely changed the jumpcodes, sealing Vargo off from outsiders but leaving the way open for his agents to travel the jumpweb. As Vargo's inhabitants abided in ignorance, the Senator established his family as the ruling house of the planet. For a millennium, ships of House Mercedes ranged across the jumpweb, engaging in barter, theft, and even piracy to secure the resources they needed to sustain their hold over Vargo.

Family Business

     Senator Mercedes' pocket empire apparently rolled along smoothly for centuries under, his descendants living well at the expense of Known Worlds that had forgotten about Vargo's existence, until civil war split the family over the fair division of their ill-gotten spoils. The principle actors in this internecine dispute, and their motives, are but dimly remembered in Vargen folklore. Yet their feud had dire repercussions for the entire planet. Thousands of people were killed during the course of the fighting, and much of Vargo's industrial infrastructure was destroyed or damaged.

 

     According to folklore, the losing faction was driven from the planet, retreating to parts unknown and taking much of the Mercedes' starships and technical expertise with them. The winners were left with a ravaged world, robbed of the knowledge they needed to rebuild the machinery upon which their high-tech infrastructure depended, and deprived of the pirate fleet that had kept their storehouses flush with essential resources. Vargo's technology level experienced a rapid decline as vehicles and equipment failed and there was no one left to repair them.

     The Imperial Eye estimates that before this catastrophic civil war, Vargo's technology level averaged 6 on the Markham Scale for the general populace, and averaged level 7 or 8 for the ruling elites, especially House Mercedes. Within two centuries of the war's conclusion, the average technology level for the planet had fallen to 3, with pockets of level 4 tech concentrated in the urban areas. The upper classes hoarded what little high-tech remained, apparently employing it to help sustain their power in the face of rising unrest as the masses experienced a steady decline in their standard of living.

House Mercedes

     Such were the prevailing conditions when Imperial scouts discovered the hulk of a Mercedes ship in the Tethys system, and used a jumpkey found aboard to open the route to Vargo in 4994. House Mercedes retained sufficient technology to detect the arrival of the scout ship, and make contact with it. The reigning Senator agreed to meet with these unexpected emissaries at night at the Lowport north of Vargo City, hoping to keep their presence secret from the masses. Unfortunately for him, the ship's landing did not go unnoticed.


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