The Iron Crusaders
What follows is a brief summary of the Hestatic Empiriums fall and reformation as the Iron Crusaders, written by one of their historians, it is followed by a list of their fleets primary ships. This group is located in a particularly remote section of sector 43-72a , as such they have a distinctly different weapons knowledge, for instance they have not discovered deflector technology. The group seems particularly fond of peace, but know well the chances of it occurring, as such they have a large fleet [relative to their current population]. Attempts were made to research the disease that caused what they call 'The Second Fall' but no traces could be found. However there are significant amounts of abandoned technology and infrastructure in the surrounding galaxy. [The technology at the Hestatic Empires peak was far inferior to our current research, so nothing new was learnt]. There may be some confusion with the name Iron Crusaders, there have been two factions with the name, one in the past, and the new one of the reformed Hestatic Empirium.
The Hestatic Empirium was once a powerful galaxy spanning Empire, trade, commerce, and peace were it's bastions. Formed by the Iron Crusader faction in 2435 [The first time space travel became cheap, with the discovery of the warp drive] the Hestatic Empirium did an excellent job colonising and terraforming barren planets across the galaxy.
They knew war however, the planet earth they left after the First Fall was desolate and wartorn, until Iron Crusader researchers discovered a way to launch ships without huge fuel supplies [IE the warp drive] this allowed a mass exodus from the hell-hole Gaia [Their homeworld] had become, Centuries earlier. The Iron Crusaders believed in peace and spread their carrier ships in all directions terraforming and colonising, in an attempt to gain territory and resources quickly, while remaining out of contact until superior ship and communication technology was made. The plan succeeded. Humanity spread out and colonised, and eventually Hyperdrive and LRGPC [Long Range Gate Protocol Communications] were discovered by the spread out colonies, once again humanity was reunited and much for the benefit, after lengthy debates over government and politics, it was decided that each colony would have it's own elected member of a galaxy wide councel, they made decisions for whole now named Hestatic Imperium, while individual colonies governed themselves, creating laws and governments in their own manner. The system worked. Centuries of peace began, interrupted only by brigands and pirates, misfits among the original colonisers, who decided anarchism worked better than any government, as such weapons technology for ships was existant, and minor militias of craft were produced by each planets colonies. A few major fleets were formed, a decision amde in lieu of the possibility that there was other life and it may be hostile. Their fears were well founded.
The Tel'Rathians were a hardy combat race, humanoid, large, strong, technologically advanced, but of a much slower reproductive cycle. They could destroy 10 men for everyone one of them that fell, but the population of the Empirium far outweighed theirs [872 Billion Pre-Second Fall]. They were decimated and captured for research. The Tel'Rathians were a race not mentally capable of surrender, many commited suicide rather than help their enemies research, and even when their population was decimated to the tens of thousands, they fought on.
The Tel'Rathians had a trump card though, their race was wiped out, all diplomacy had failed miserably, they were unshakeable. The universe wasn't big enough for the Tel'Rathians to share. The final act of the final Tel'Rathian, was to activate the Weapon.
Nobody knew what the weapon was, it had been planted on a particularly valuable asteroid, larger than most and saturated with minerals, named Katrath. That was where it began.
It was biological, and nobody expected it. A disease with a dormancy of over a year, and during that time it was virtually indetectable, and highly contagious. It spread silently throughout hundreds of colonies through merchants and space pilots. Nobody knew about it until a terrifying distress fall came from the Katrath mining facility. A transcription follows.
One: Does anyone copy? We've made it into a sealed off bulkhead but they'll find a way through the vents soon... Something happened to the c-...
*Yelling and snarls*
One: Holy shit, shoot him! He's gone now, shoot him for gods sake!
*Gunshots and a quiet thump*
One: Listen there's something wrong, the crew have gone berserk, killing everyone... Blood everywhere. Oh god someone copy this!
One: We don't know how it spreads or what it is... Just... Send a team, blow this fucking asteroid. Don't try a rescue!
One: Oh god I feel like shit.
Two: Shit he's gone too!
Two: How much longer can you keep the door locked down?
Two: Shit. Uh. That's not good. Do we have any clips left. Oh shit, you hear that?
Two: They've found the vents!
*Crashing, yells, further gunfire*
That was what we found in the highly classified files of the Cruiser Jamatica. That was the first warning of the threat to come. Put simply, the Tel'Rathians had found a way to cause a highly contagious form of human rabies, or if you prefer. Zombies. They were insane, aggressive, inhuman, and dangerous. Thousands died, people turned into these fiends across the colonies, no planet was spared. Sheltered groups hid and survived. The Zombies needed meat, they were still human, and the intense increased metabolic strain needed to sustain their new speed and strength made them need to eat, a lot. Humans were easy prey, but once survivors hid, and survived through luck or weight of numbers. They had to find food, they turned on themselves. Ninety five percent, of the entire Empirium. Was killed in what we now call the Second Fall. Those remaining had wildly varied skills, supplies, weapons. Those who managed to regian ships headed straight for planets, to be greeted by more of what had erupted in their own crew. Eventually survivors climbed out of the wreckage, clearing up the remaining starved Zombies. They rebuilt shelters, reinhabited the buildings, now ruined. But knowledge was not lost, databanks still existed and we rebuilt our society, always finding new friends, eventually we scrounged together some shipyards and built up a fleet, we moved to colonise a new, completely uninhabited planet named T-32c Beta, or as we now called it. New Gaia. None of us could return to the original colonised planets, the horror was too intense. The memories. We still scanned for any messages, and picked up a few scattered groups. But the regrouping was for the most part, done. We had survived, with roughly 10 Billion total survivors spread over several new planets in the T-32c System, we rebuilt. And recuperated. Now our fleet stands strong, ready for a new challenge. Our government has changed into a democracy of one leader, rather than a councel. And we have regained our ancient name, of the Iron Crusaders. Our fleet is comprised of new ships and tattered old ships alike, the capital ships being recovered rearmed old ships of the Empirium, the smaller ships replaced by salvaged fighters and frigates, as well as several new designs.
Humanity is strong. We have faced true horror in the face, and we have not bowed. We are of Iron, and we are the Crusaders.
We are the testament to the human species. And we will not be destroyed.
FOR THE EMPIRE!