The Screk War
The Screk War is the Dominion title for the conflict that took place from their colony ships’ arrival in the Saliac galaxy (NG1313) in the year 9973 to the year 13072. It was ultimately a Dominion victory, but took more than three millennia to achieve. Most of the surviving colony ships did not land inside Screk space, but between those lost in the wormhole and to the Screk on arrival, only about 70% of the ships in the fleet ever made it more than a few weeks on an alien world. The survivors of the fleet weren’t going to go gently into the dark night however. They quickly set up comms relays and began to coordinate. The ships were scattered and their intergalactic comms fried, but the simpler single-galaxy comm sets were reparable. After the first panicked distress signals and a patrol fleet stumbling upon the destroyed husk of the colony ship CSS Durma, there was no doubt left that there was a clear and present danger in the galaxy. The colonies had some time to prepare defenses before they were attacked. Any notion of counterattacking the aliens died alongside the small fleets sent to probe their defenses. But the survivors had one crucial advantage. The alien hive had much less advanced intersystemary travel tech. They would soon crack the secrets of the Hyperdrive, but for six crucial months the colonies had time to build up a bulwark. Colonies on either side of the alien hive set about constructing defense platforms, ships, weapons, and defensive outposts on nearby worlds. The forerunners of the Dominion undertook one of the largest fortification projects in the nation’s history. But the Screk had numbers. Such slow ftl travel meant they had developed massive populations on many of their planets, and their ability to replace soldiers and ships was far superior to the colonies’. After six years of relatively light skirmishes, the first major phase of the war began.
The Frontline Phase
After six years, things had begun to settle into place on the frontline of the war. There was very little real combat, only the fending off of Screk fleets sent to their systems to colonize, and thus lightly armed and relatively small. On March 3rd, 9979, Sensor array stations all across the Galactic Eastern and Northern fronts reported spacetime disruptions indicative of large fleets inbound via hyperdrive. Some commanders couldn’t believe it, but most kept calm and headed straight to red alert. When the fleets arrived, they were larger than anything the colonies had yet faced, but their advanced weaponry and extensive defenses won them the day. Very few stations and ships were lost, and the enemy was thrown back or annihilated. Then came the second wave, three months later. It was slightly larger, but still manageable. More stations and ships met their end, but the defenses were still holding firm. Six months later, the third wave. At least twice the size of the previous forces. Now the battles were cataclysmic. There were seven “frontline” systems, four west of the enemy concentration in the north-center of the galaxy, and three to the east. Two systems had their voidborne defenses fall entirely in the third wave. Their wars would, from then on, consist of brutal ground warfare trying to hold off waves of enemies from the sky. A stalemate persisted for the next four years, fleets entering the system over and over, but never on the scale of the third wave, and barely wearing down the defenses faster than they were being reconstructed. Four years and nine months after the first wave, sensors picked up a wall of hyperspace vessels headed towards each system. Everything left in reserve was scrambled. The two planets already under ground assault pulled their last armored reserves into the field.
It wasn’t nearly enough. It was so inadequate it would make a snowball in hell thank the gods for their mercy.
The Screk war machine had been in full gear the last four years building up the largest known fleets they’d ever created. The smaller waves repeatedly attacking each system weren’t the main force of the enemy. They were a stopgap measure to prevent raiding by the young Dominion.
Now the full might of the enemy was here, and there was no way the colonies could stop it. They could only hope to slow it down.
The Frontline Phase ended on July 7th, 9985. That was the day the last bunker-complex on the world of Alakari was breached by the aliens. The last few survivors rigged the entire building to blow once their lifesigns stopped. They died heroically, but also pointlessly. They barely made the hint of a tiny scratch in a small part of the enemy.
The Sweep was the period of time where, with their new and massive FTL enabled fleets, the Screk overran much of the Saliac galaxy. There were a million final stands on a million worlds as the human colonies scrambled to fend off the horde. The amount that fell far outnumbered the survivors. Had they been unified and coordinated, the humans might have stood a chance of beating back the assaults. As it was, most were too preoccupied with their systems or little clusters to help one another. It could be gone into in great detail how the Screk overran star system after star system, world after world, but it serves little point. Those records exist for those who wish to find them, but a thousand more stories of defeat serve no purpose here. What is most pertinent to note is that humanity in the Saliac galaxy was reduced to four main clusters of survivors- those that would become the Dominion, in RC 3739-108 in the galactic southwest, and three known as the Astral Diamond cluster, (capital star Astral Diamond), right next to the galaxy’s core in the east, the Reclamation Front, (capital star Flame of Defiance), on the galaxy’s western fringe, and the Light of Liberty cluster, (capital black hole Malevolent Maw), in the southwest.
The time of Dying Lights is the Dominion term for the 3000 year+ long siege that they endured in the Screk War. The Dominion was able to survive by banding together with nearby human systems, including the strongholds of the Dominion Stars. They established unified systemary defense fleets as well as quick reaction fleets to delay enemies wherever they appeared until overwhelming force could be brought against them. Holding a large cluster with many colonies established gave the Dominion Stars a unique position that allowed them to combine forces without exposing themselves to invasion. They were able to hold off the Screk fleets at first because they lost momentum fighting their way across the galaxy. Each system chipped a little bit more off of the Screk fleets, and with supply lines getting longer and longer to their home systems, reinforcements continued to slow. Added to the fact that each remaining human pocket split up the enemy fleets further, the Dominion was able to achieve something that would be critical to its later survival: the colonization of nearby stars.
They took the risk of spreading out their populace to multiple planets, banking on the enemy eventually becoming stretched too thin to reinforce quickly. Their tactical assessment was correct. In later years, having ten to twenty times the populated systems of the original colony ships in the Dominion stars allowed them to stay close enough on the Screk’s heels to stay in the fight. Though the enemy had more men, they had to travel much farther to reach the combat zones. Yet the Dominion’s long war was not easy to them. There were hundreds to thousands of attempts to breach their space, but six of the major attempts made by the Screk to breach the Dominion’s defenses throughout the war are detailed here.
The First Strike
The first wave was the weakest Screk attempt at cracking the Dominion. It was a large but worn-down fleet that had fought from the Frontline worlds all the way to the other side of the galaxy. The first wave was thrown back fairly easily all things considered. The star system of Borodin, home to the capital world of Alech, is not actually in the main cluster of stars often referred to as the Dominion Stars. Rather, it is a fair distance out, on the eastern frontier of the sector. In this wave, enemies never managed to land on any of their worlds in significant numbers. They held out long enough for a coalition fleet to arrive that, despite heavy losses, sent the fleet back to the Screk a disorganised and broken mess, missing 17 of its 23 capital class ships.
The Second Strike
After this, the Screk reorganized their forces and encircled the defiant clusters of the galaxy. The defiant clusters were besieged for 43 years before the hive mind decided it was safe to strike, in 10051. To the hive mind’s surprise, none of the clusters fell. Despite its wisdom, it had assumed the Dominion’s response tactics were a coincidental quirk, of little concern to the war. After its success, they relayed it to friendly survivors across the galaxy. The Astral Diamond cluster, by far the closest to the Screk homeworlds, fared the worst in this incursion. They lost several original colonies in the war, but still managed to halt the enemy invasion. As for the rest of the humans, the Dominion and the Light of Liberty cluster stood firm, and the Reclamation Front regained the few systems it lost by 10057. The Hive would have to reevaluate.
The Third Strike
The third wave, coming in 10096, annihilated the Astral Diamond cluster. They had been the smallest and weakest of the clusters by far, but it was still a worrying sign and a blow to morale. However, the rest of the clusters stood firm once more. Humanity was determined to survive.
The Fourth Strike
The fourth wave came in 10167, after the hive had doubled its forces from the previous attempts combined. The Light of Liberty cluster was shattered by this invasion, and though individual systems survived this wave, they would never recover and fell soon into the fifth. The fear of fighting an unwinnable battle, for the Dominion at least, was only becoming weaker, overshadowed by the kind of grim determination that only revenge and hatred can fuel.
The wave is a collective name for all attacks in the period from 10223-12997. The Screk had become impatient, and ironically that impatience is what allowed the Dominion to survive. They wanted to end this centuries long war with a decisive new strategy: wave assault. The best guess historians have for why they continued to use this tactic for thousands of years is very simple, but matches best with the Screk actions. The Screk overextended its hivemind.
In its slow millennia of growth before human arrival, they expanded slowly, taking great care to ensure the loyalty of their subhives. The Screk did not have one hive mind. They had many, most of whom swore allegiance to the main hive back on the Screk’s homeworld. When they scrambled colony fleets and battleships for the attack against the humans, many new hive minds were created, not all of which were as loyal as previously thought. To put it simply, the hive constantly had planets rising up against the main mind, diverting men and materiel from the front.
The tactic of sending fleets against the humans every year that were truly massive was likely a ploy. They wanted to make the humans think that pushing out would be suicide, becuase in reality they had near constant civil wars plaguing them. If humanity had pushed out, the Screk may have not been able to handle them. As it was, the defensive mindset of the human survivors meant that this never happened on a large scale. The result was a long, grinding war that killed billions or trillions, and in its entirety only saw ten to twenty systems changing hands.
However, luck was not on the side of the Reclamation Front. In 11786, A fresh Screk fleet, intended to help in mopping up a several hundred system revolt, arrived too late to help finish off the rebels. It and the surviving force of the campaign were redirected to the Front front. They cracked through the frontline defenses, and, smelling blood, the Screk scrambled nearby planetary defenses forces and reserves. With one cosmic accident, the fate of the Reclmation Front was sealed.
The Last Wave
After the fall of the Reclamation Front, the Screk were able to reorganize every nonessential fleet on the Dominion’s borders. But they would not break. The Reclamation Front fell in 11786. Against waves holding half a galaxy’s military might, the Dominion held. For 1211 years. Despite all this time, the Screk had not pacified their inner dissidents, and so their might was held back again and again. The Dominion had built up a nigh-impregnable defensive core around their systems that, in an even war, would take decades at best to crack. In 12998, the waves dropped off massively.
They came in at half the strength of the 12988 wave. Nobody knew what to make of it. The dominion sat uneasily, waiting for the hell they knew must be coming and slowly increasing their defenses. In 13072 the strike finally came.
All of the missing forces had been compiled into one fleet. The Screk had split their mobilizing forces, one to tie up the humans, while the rest built up a deathfleet that the humans had no hope to repel. Alech was on the frontline for this round, as always. When the fleet arrived, everything was scrambled. The defense fleet of Alech was wiped out in hours. The last ship launched was the nearly empty shell of the battleship Coronus. It had one man on board, Aleksei Shangunaz, the most famous Alech admiral of the war. He hit full burn and rammed the skeleton of a ship into the center of the enemy fleet, then detonated the reactors. A devastating blow, but not nearly enough.
Or at least, it shouldn’t have been.
Even with such a large hole blown in their advance, the remaining fleet could have easily overrun Alech and pushed into the Dominion Stars, sounding the eventual death toll of the Dominion.
But it did not.
It turned around.
There is much speculation about the Screk exodus. Nobody knows where they went. It’s believed that another naturally formed wormhole lead them to a faroff galaxy, but nobody can say for sure.
What is certain, is that on many of the worlds in Saliac, there can still be found signs of the Screk. Labyrinthine fossilized organic architecture, with strange skeletons inside. A million worlds where everyone picked up and left, at the same time, for no known reason.
Why didn’t they finish us off?
It certainly wasn’t any kind of understanding or mercy.
They can’t understand us. They’re biologically incapable.
Mercy isn’t the nature of hunters.
So what happened? Were they called back, by some creator unknown?
Or worse, are they a splinter?
Is this Screk hive one piece of a ravenous beast that wants to consume and become all?
What is waiting for us beyond the safety of these stars?