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The Ithkul Lover
By Limax

The Terran Empire was second only to the vile harvesters in terms of it's sheer unpopularity amongst the other races of the Orion Sector. As a result of the centuries of isolation in the Eridani System, mankind had lost all diplomacy and economic skills, however this isolation and self-dependence had made us masters of industry and bio-harvesting [OOC: I customized].

Yet as we expanded outwards from one system to many, our lack of tact and bargaining made itself as apparent - we were hated by all the races and it took all our wit to keep the extraterrestrials from declaring joint war annihilating humanity. We were stuck- we had plans to conquer the galaxy, but political tensions were tight and waging war against on faction would raise everyone against us, leading to our downfall.

However, mankind has always had a history of delegating the worst fighting to the worst types- supporting and supplying murderous dictatorships and terrorist organizations to destroy it's enemies. Thus when, we encountered the Ithkul by chance, we saw them not as a plague, like the rest of the galactic community did, but as an opportunity. Here was a race that was willing to wade in and fight everyone we wanted dead.

The ithkul empire, however, was on the decline- pounded by the Ichthytosians from the south, the Cybernetiks from the East, and the Saurians from the North, all racing to see who could reach the Ithkul homeworld first. Before we could twist the Harvesters to our ends, intervention would be needed.

Through various means, we had acquired several developed systems on the other side of the galaxy from us, and away from the rest of habited space. These systems were ceded to the Ithkul, and as the combined armadas of the Saurians and Cybernetiks slagged the last of the known Harvester worlds, little did they know that, as a result of Terran intervention, a new Ithkul empire had arisen in the far East of the galaxy.

The gifts were small at first- farming and economic technologies were smuggled accross the galaxy to the ithkul, covertly and without the knowledge of the citizens of the Terran Empire. Though they still snarled at us and shouted threats over the diplomatic channels, the ithkul empire greedily snatched up these presents in order to expand. Though making sure to stay 3-4 technology levels ahead of the ithkul, lest they chose to attack us, we let them build up like a lake before a dam, constantly adding our technological advances to their growing armada until they were third only to the Terran Empire and the New Orions in technological advance. Unbeknownst to our enemies, a flood was building that would wash them away.

Then all hell broke loose. Like ants swarming from a burrow, the ithkull swiftly invaded both the Meklar and Nommo empires, seemingly from nowhere. The parasite swarms they through they had annihilated were now raging across their core-worlds, devouring all in their path. Quickly, the border empires fell to the pillaging hordes.

Realizing their doom was on the horizon, but unknowing that it was we who caused it, the extraterrestrials had suddenly lost their hate for the terrans. Threats had been replaced for pleads for help and alliance, appeals for aid, smiling. We simply smiled back.

Due to the stellar distances involved, we were one of the last empires the Ithkul attacked in their frenzy. Perhaps it was then the harvesters realized that we had been manipulating them, as their fleets slammed into the fortress-systems of the Terran border- for the whole time they spent raping the galaxy we had been entrenching ourselves, always being sure we were a few steps ahead of them technologically. At the battles of Tau-ceti, Enoch, Betelgeuse and Rigel, the momentum of the Ithkul glaxy-wide charge had been destroyed.

They piled up against the heavily-fortified wall dividing our empires, yet their people still cried for war with someone. Unable to exert this building pressure on the Terrans, now the only surviving free empire, they turned to other means. It was only a matter of time until we heard whispers of a legendary battle that was ocurring in the Orion system.

Apparently, the Ithkul had become more powerful than we thought as hundreds and hundreds of their terran-sponsored vessels poured into Orion. It must have been a spectacular war, for all we heard of it were the tales of the legendary onslought against Orion VIII. After nearly five years of constant fighting, the Ithkul had managed to land a number of transports on one of the Orion worlds through sheer numbers alone as their gigantic fleet was being slaughtered by the New Orions.

Though they slaughtered the harvesters in the millions, the New Orions knew they wouldn't last another decade as their own people, now infected by the parasites, turned against them. Then, in Terran Imperial Command, the order was given. For the Terran Empire, this would be our most treacherous moment.

The Ithkul had lost their entire armada- thousands of warships, to the new Orions when eight terran taskforces crossed the barrier into enemy space - annihilating what few defenses hadn't been sent off to war into the Orion system, and burning the ithkul worlds.

The harvesters must have screamed bloody murder before they were atomised as stellar converters were brought to bear upon their worlds and whole continents were sucked into the molten cores of their planets. Surprise, Strategy, and Superiority were on our side as system-by-system, we began the long, arduous process of purging the galaxy of the Harvesters. Some worlds were simply glassed, others were completely ripped apart, but either way we took no prisoners, landed no troops, not even to preserve a few specimens of these biological wonders.

Like the compressing of a spring, resistance grew exponentially as we neared the last few worlds of the ithkul and their homeworld. Huge fleets guarded these worlds challenging us to battle, but in the end the outcome was always the same- our crusading task forces would move on to the next systems, leaving shattered worlds and the hollowed-out husks of the inferior harvester fleets in their wake.

Having wiped the galaxy clean of it's infection, we turned our attention back to Orion. Through seemingly-perfect timing, we arrived in the system, confirming the tales we had heard of the horrific slaughters that had been waged around this small, orange star. There we witnessed, in person, the New Orions make their last stand on Orion I.

The world would be overrun in a matter of hours. We chose not to intervene as we watched the ithkul overwhelm the orbital garrison, then devour the populace of the planet, plundering the world and burning it's cities. Having watched the fall of the last opposing free-empire, the order was given to "slag every planet in the system."

With that, the crusade was finally over. As the last Ithkul (and whatever few Orions had held out on the surface) were pulled into the destabilized planetary mantles, the Terran Empire ascended to rule over a dead galaxy of shattered planets.

We were the sole superpower.



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