Wayfarer swimming
Image from Chris Shaeffer

As Terragen civilization has spread into the galaxy, it has encountered both living aliens and the remains of extinct aliens. Some of them once built vast empires but have since vanished but for a few enigmatic traces, and indeed had been gone for millions of years before life even crawled up on dry land on Earth.

Telescopic examination of the Milky Way Galaxy in the Interplanetary Age revealed several locations where artificial emissions seemed to indicate the existence of advanced civilisations; but these locations were all many tens of thousands of light years away. These civilisations (if real) were so far away they might disappear before any signals reached them. But would there be any closer civilisations that telescopes might not reveal?

Those early Terragens who were expecting a galactic community of civilizations in the region near Sol were disappointed. Space turned out to be empty and desolate, and aliens few and far between. The first remnant of alien technology, the fragmentary hull of a robotic satellite, was found orbiting Epsilon Sculptoris A in 1460 AT. This artifact was 196 million years old, a relic of the unnamed species HIE636MZE.

Although a few of the alien sophont races that have been discovered so far have willingly joined the body of Galactic society, others are aloof or reclusive, lack interest or are unable to understand such concepts. Some, like the Meistersingers and the Wayfarers, appear to have some measure of contact with the more distant galactic civilisations, but so far they decline to share any significant information concerning these topics.

The most extensive alien empire that has so far been contacted is that of the Muuh; at first believed to be merely a faded remnant of an ancient empire, these slow, low-temperature creatures in fact have a large and widely dispersed network of colonies which are protected by utterly alien AI weapons systems.

Not one single alien race has been found to be similar in physiology to any metazoan life form that originated on Earth, and the process of panspermia has been shown to have had only a minor effect on the emergence of life in the Terragen Sphere. This is not to say that former races did not engage in terraforming and provolve both their own local and other species, for some of them clearly did.

Recent exploration has shown that some xenosophont empires, such as the Tkzeph Empire and the Auld Limners, were much more extensive than had previously been believed. This invites even more the question of how such mighty empires could remain for tens or hundreds of thousands of years, and then suddenly disappear. Speculation ranges from mass transcension to doomsday weapons and mysterious robot warships, and consensus regarding the answer remains elusive.

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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Steve Bowers

Initially published on 02 July 2000.

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