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May 30th, 2009

The Legend of the Black Ships

The Legend of the Black Ships is a tale told by spacers all across the League, while the details blur and change the core tale remains unchanged. At the end of the Transhumanist War, the League (or a faction thereof according to some sources) committed ten prototype warships and their crews to a suicide mission. These stutter-jump capable ships were removed from the registries and sent into the black in pursuit of fleeing Transhumanist elements. Their mission was simple; pursue these elements and engage them with extreme prejudice so that they could not pose a future threat to the nascent League of Human Nations. None of the Black Ship vessels ever returned to Earth; on this one point, conspiracy theorists and folklorists agree. What remains a point of contention is where exactly, the ships went. What were the destinations programmed, according to some, in impenetrable and unalterable black boxes? Were they pursuing known fugitive Transhumanists or striking out blindly into the night hoping to get lucky? An even stranger rumor holds that the Black Ships had a darker purpose than mere retribution; a duty to protect humanity not just from Transhumanists but other forces as well, specifically alien forces. Many point to the Elder Druun as proof positive that pre-jump humanity had contact and knowledge of E.B.E.'s before the supposed "First Contact" at Alpha Centauri A; some claim that knowledge of E.B.E.'s extended all the way back to the late 19th century and that at least seven distinct species of E.B.E.'s were known to humanity including the supposed Predecessors whose ruins were discovered in Antarctica. The claim persists that the pre-jump governments compiled a list of targets for the Black Ships that included known and suspected E.B.E. threats as well as the Transhumanist ones. According to Hiram Dell, author of Project WEASEL, who claims to have seen files relating to the construction and deployment of the ships, "The Black Ships were armed to the teeth with the most barbaric weapons imaginable to pre-jump humanity; these included nuclear fission, panspecific biogenic agents, disassemblers, anti-matter and even some of the more exotic weapons salvaged from Transhumanist hands. They were smoking guns in the hands of 22nd century pirates whose goal was murder and rapine on a galactic scale. Xenocide was the order of the day." While claims that xenocide was the Black Ships' true purpose, if that was the case then why have we found no sign of the resultant carnage? We've found no worlds freshly denuded of life, no Transhumanist tombs, no alien charnel houses; in fact, quite the opposite, within our immediate neighborhood. According to xenoarchaelogical evidence the youngest extinct species we've encountered to date died out over fifty-five thousand years ago. With the possible exception of the Transient Retaliation which took everyone back on Earth by surprise, no Transhumanist extra-solar presence has become evident. There are three theories to explain this; the first posits that the Black Ships were successful in wiping out the Transients and the E.B.E.s. so completely that they have left no trace; this theory is contested by lack of evidence of such a xenocidal massacre. The second theory holds that the Black Ships found nothing nearby and that their targets in fact lay at the periphery of known space. Again, with no evidence, this theory cannot be proven, while the most unlikely of these scenarios, some future expedition may find it otherwise. The final theory claims that the Black Ships, with their unreliable stutter-jump drives, simply were lost on a fool's errand in the black. Strangest of all is the very vocal minority which claims that the Black Ships succeeded either partially or in full in eliminating the local competition. Some claim they even succeeded in securing xenotech artifacts and materials which greatly advanced the League's subsequent scientific development.