Welcome, stranger. Don’t mind my friends here…they’re a little edgy from the last thing that fell out of that hole in the sky. Same one you plummeted out of, except you seem a bit friendlier than that thing. Wouldn’t worry much though, a few grenades down the gullet’s a fatal case of indigestion if there ever was one.
I guess I’ll be the first one to say it. Welcome to Nexus. I hope you know how to fight. Let me bring you up to speed on your new home.
Far History, Before the War
As you can see, we’re kinda a mixed bag of folks, but it wasn’t always like that.
You see, my people, the Terrans, or Humans as we used to call ourselves, set out a long time ago to conquer the known universe, which was pretty small by their estimations. We managed to branch out from our homeworld, Earth, or Terra to some, to the other planets in our system. We used our technology to make even the most inhospitable of the worlds safe for us to live. It was slow going though, and the ships that got us there could take years to reach the farthest planets. The scientists promised that one day, we’d race across the stars in the blink of an eye…but that was never a promise they managed to keep as far as we know.
Meanwhile the Fae…yes, like my pointy eared Elven friend here, they were starting to expand their understanding of the rest of space. The Fae race hailed from someplace called Arcadia, and they see themselves as three different kinds of folks; the tall, pointed-eared Elves, the Seekers or Faeries on account of their bright colors and wings, and the “Commoners,” a bit of a catchall for everyone else. The Elves see themselves as the born leaders of the Fae, a point of disagreement these days…but that’s a long story. Anyways, their skills came from the arcane energies that fuel reality, Songs they call them. They moved through the other worlds via linking portals…imagine them like a whirlpool in a pond. These gates were only good for a planet or two out from their homeworld, and it wasn’t practical, or easy, to move farther. The Fae like to say you’re born to that sort of understandin’, but that didn’t prove to be the case, given the number of Terrans with a knack for magic these days. Anyhow…
Both sides were pretty much playin’ on their own side of the sandbox of the universe. Well, they were. And then the gates opened.
A Way Through
Nobody’s sure how each side figured out that the Nexus existed, or who got through first. What we do know is that both the Terrans and Fae both got what looked like the deal of a lifetime. Stable gates to another place, this world, opened and stayed that way for years. Once people had stuck their toes in and found the water (along with the air and other environmental particulars) just fine, they piled on through. The Terrans wanted to secure whatever resources they could, and giant corporations, mercenaries and other government-sponsored entities bid to secure supply lines and build on this strange new place. The Fae believed this to be their holy land, the source of all magic, so they sent in their scholars, adventurers…and their own brand of muscle.
At some point along the line, they both ran into the natives of this world, the Dwarves, a short, stocky people that live beneath the mountains organized by clans, and the Felinae, cat-like folks who hid their villages in the valleys and dense forests of Nexus. They met the two newcomer races with varyin’ degrees of welcome or hostility. It could have been a lot worse, and the fact that we can all communicate helped more than it hurt. Which brings me to one of the quirky points you might have noticed already: Nexus has a single tongue. The Dwarves,Terrans and Felinae….they all have their own written language. But the spoken word always comes out understood no matter who you are or how long you’ve been here. Nobody’s sure why. Anyways… the dwarves and the felinae pretty much kept to themselves. If we didn’t bother them, they let us be.
Then the Terrans and Fae ran into each other. It didn’t go well.
It lasted a long ass time, and the only thing I can tell you is that everyone lost when the gates slammed shut for good, strandin’ everyone here. Some of the older elves remember the War, hell even fought in The War, but most won’t or don’t talk about it. If you want a history lesson, find a different guy.
What I do know is that at some point Terrans and Fae met, and immediately started quarrellin’ about who had the rights to what on Nexus. Terrans wanted the timber, metals and land, and didn’t understand why the Fae wanted to stand in the middle of resource-rich grounds and just wave sticks at it. The Elves thought the Terrans were barbarians set to destroy Nexus’ natural arcane taps by leveling forests and digging open sores on the very mountains and hills that channeled energy. Pushing and shoving ensued, and “security breaches, police actions and strategic stabilizing maneuvers” became the giant clusterfuck known today as The War.
The Felinae and the Dwarves wanted nothin’ to do with it, took no sides, and pretty much holed up in their turf. Can’t say I blame them. By all accounts it got ugly fast.
Cannon Fodder: Cyborgs and Beastmen
Turns out Terrans were really good at killing, but preferred leaving the dirty work to somebody, or somethin’, else. Enter the half man/ half machine shock troops that took to the field as that handful of battles became The War. While they weren’t created in Nexus, Cyborgs saw a lot of use here once the fighting started. Basically, the Terrans made their own disposable platoons of sentient, obedient soldiers. Grown in labs, conditioned to fight, and implanted with all sorts of mechanical enhancements called Morpheus Tech, Cyborgs were the troops the Terrans relied on to fight and die for their interests. For all intents and purposes they looked, thought and acted like Terrans, but as far as being considered fully human by the Terrans themselves…well…I’ll get back to that in a bit.
The Fae also created their own cannon fodder, the Beastmen…at least that’s what they say they did. Beastmen I’ve talked to claim they’ve always existed, but were given form in this world through Fae magic. Anyways, the Elves kept them on a short leash with about as much regard as the Terrans did the Cyborgs. Beastmen and Cyborgs spent a lot of time killin’ each other, well they *did* until…
It was only a matter of time, really. The Beastmen and the Cyborgs had common causes: Enslaved by their “creators,” treated like shit and expected to die for a war they didn’t start, the two sides began plotting a break together. They sent messengers, met in secret, and figured out a time and place to rebel.
It was called the Battle of Steel River, and both sides were there in force and numbers. The Cyborgs and Beastmen took to the fields, engaged, then united and turned on their Fae and Terran masters. We’re not exactly sure how they did it, and they’re not tellin’, but the Beastmen and Cyborgs revolted everywhere, not just at that battle. They clawed their way out from under their former masters and disappeared into the forests. Neither side saw it coming. Between the Cyborg’s command of technology and the Beastmen’s trackin’ and survival skills, they quickly set up their own front of loosely connected cells. Looking back, we can say it was the beginning of the end, but at the time, both sides thought that it was just a little pot hole on the road to victory.
Death Magic and Dark Elves
That’s not to say both sides didn’t take the rebellion hard, but the Terrans put on a better show of hidin’ their losses than the Fae did. The Elves, then and even now the ring leaders of the the Fae, were worried that they weren’t going to win The War. The paths of magic, control over the forces of the universe, were focused around specific disciplines. The Songs of Life, Protection, Pain and War had worked just fine back home, but in light of the Terrans’ appetite for wholesale slaughter, and the rebellion of most of their ground forces, they needed to tap into a different source of combat power…enter Death Magic.
Death, literally, wasn’t something the elves had dealt closely with before. According to the Fae, barring accident, the Elves were once so closely attuned with the Song of Life, that they were immortal. Emphasis on “were.” Fae commoners and the winged Seekers, or Faeries, lived and died, sure, but not the elves. But when the elves needed an edge in The War, they found a way to harness the power of death itself and created a new Song. The Death Song, and its magic, were scarily effective on the field of battle, with powers that could raise the fallen into controllable, mindless minions, and abilities that could extinguish life with a touch. It came with a terrible price though. This new Song changed, some of them say tainted, the souls of those first practitioners. The Dark Elves passed along their abilities through not only study, but to their genetics, too. Those first Elves, and their children, became known as Dark Elves, whose very nature was inherently attuned to the ways of Death, rather than Life. You won’t know a Dark Elf by looking at one…and neither do the people who spit on them for being “mistakes.”
What’s more, it seemed that the creation of the Death Song brought mortality to all elves. Steep price, indeed.
The Gates Crash, The War Ends
Still, it could have gone on like that for who knows how long had the gates not closed. Folks have a lot of opinions on why it happened. Some say it was the founding of Death Magic here, some say the brutality of it all was too heavy a burden on Nexus herself, but one day both sides woke up to find those big stable gates gone. If you read the letters from that time, you can see both sides fall from patient confidence to all out panic as they realized that the paths to their homeworlds, with their steady stream of support and supplies, were severed for good. Both Terrans and Fae were not equipped for total sufficiency in the Nexus, and could only watch as the Songs changed their tune and technology fell into disrepair.
The chaos after the crash must have been a sight. The Terrans fragmented into three distinct groups. Some stuck by their crumbling corporate headquarters, which became villages, and tried to adapt. Some wandered Nexus, trying to salvage technology that they felt was their birthright and maybe their ticket home. These folks, descended from former scientists, are known as the Tinkers. After parting ways, the Beastmen formed nomadic tribes found across Nexus, while their Cyborg allies created hidden enclaves far from everyone else. You might stumble across either now and then, but they keep to themselves. Seeing as some folks have made them out to be the boogie men of Nexus, complete with bounties for their heads, I don’t blame ‘em.
The Fae races, Elves, Faeries and Commoners, are changed…and still they’re kinda the same. The Elves claim to run things, and in the bigger Fae settlements, they seem to. But the Faeries and Commoners don’t trust ‘em like before, and the Dark Fae, the lineage born out of the Death Song’s creation, suffer bounties in someplaces too.
The Dwarves and Felinae are out again…well, as much as they ever were. Opinions vary from person to person, but most think our predicament is just desserts. That doesn’t stop them from being trade allies now and again, but I wouldn’t generalize too much.
Oh, and before I forget…a couple of years ago, the dead of Nexus started to get restless on their own. Again, lots of ideas as to why, but no answers. Anyways, some of those returned souls weren’t mindless zombies. Called Revenants, these folks look, act and, frankly, smell dead, but their bodies and souls haven’t quite quit this world. Best practice around here says you should try and strike up a little conversation before you open fire on a walking corpse. If it answers back, you have yourself a Revenant. You won’t find many of those folks just wanderin’ the Nexus, in fact most live in the City of the Liberated Dead, a nice little chunk of Fae territory that they’ve claimed as their own. You’re a little too fresh for their tastes, so I’d steer clear of any sightseeing visits for now.
To this day, those gates have never opened back up. Now and then, things and people fall through, but as far as I know, nothin’ leaves Nexus. Yourself likely included.
So that’s the rundown of this place, stranger. That town over there, our town called Oasis, is a small mixed bag of traders and other folks not too keen on keepin’ behind walls. If you want a quiet life, we can point you towards one of the bigger cities that won’t make much fuss about who you are or what you call yourself. But if you’re lookin’ for work, and don’t mind working hard, we have a lot to offer. So let’s get you something to eat and a dry corner to sleep in. You have a lot to think about.