A Flawed Edifice
The Triamic Hegemony might have seemed strangely monolithic to outsiders, particularly in a galaxy where a government that even encompassed an entire planet was rare. But beneath the surface, the unprecedented edifice of the Hegemony had deeper cracks than any aliens realized.
The Hegemony was ultimately built upon a stratified alliance of triamic packs. It was the result of centuries of wars for territory and dominance, out of which the order of precedence of the packs within the Hegemony slowly and painfully emerged. To some of the more idealistic aliens, the Hegemony seemed to be a dream come true, a truly interstellar civilization of a high order of technology and sociological sophistication. But it was built upon a foundation of hundreds of triamic years of ferocious bloodshed. And, as it turned out, that foundation was far shakier than believed, even by most of the triamic.
The final rupture did not actually occur on the triamic homeworld, but on a tributary world some nine parsecs distant, named Evavie. Unlike most of what came after, since Evavie is a tehud world, the incident was well-documented.
The local triamic governor was accused by a tehud organization of corruption. The Hegemony ostensibly had a process of appeal set up, by which tributaries could protest wrongdoing by Hegemony officials. However, the governor effectively convicted herself when she attempted to crack down on the tehud who accused her instead of allowing the appeal to go through.
A ship from another pack was on the planet at the time, and the ship’s pack leader, incensed at the injustice, intervened. The governor was overthrown, her security forces all but annihilated, and a report of her wrongdoing taken to the homeworlds.
Unfortunately, the victor’s pack was lower down on the ladder in the Hegemony than the governor’s pack. That made the overthrow a direct challenge to the Hegemony’s hierarchy.
Immediately after the Hegemony’s founding, the matter might have been resolved relatively quickly. It would likely have meant the annihilation of the offending pack, but it would not have gone much farther than that.
But over the hundreds of thousands of hours since the founding, with triamic packs spread over thousands of light years, the balance of power between packs, numerical, economic, and military, had been shifting. The hierarchy, meanwhile, had remained static. So, packs lower in the hierarchy were significantly stronger than those above them. The end result was, perhaps, inevitable. Dominance could not be simply accepted over generations. It had to be won.
The war began with frightening speed. The nearest triamic colony world to Evavie was only five light years away. A purge of the offending pack quickly started, and was resisted with devastating force. The pack officially in ascendancy ceased to exist on K’bararak.
Retaliation came quickly, and in a way unheard of in the dominance wars of the past. It is possible that, looking at the bloodbath already in evidence on the planet, the ascendant pack panicked. K’bararak was bombarded from space with asteroids until the surface was utterly uninhabitable.
The war quickly escalated from there. The “lesser” packs, many now stronger than the leading packs, fought with an unbridled ferocity, knowing that annihilation was the only thing they could expect should they lose. The bombardment of K’bararak had raised the stakes from dominance to survival. And suddenly, every pack was looking at every other pack as an existential threat.
Nuclear weapons flattened cities. Asteroids depopulated continents in reply. Many aliens were caught in the crossfire, but no one wanted to get involved in the murderous insanity that seemed to have gripped the triamic.
The war lasted less than fifteen thousand hours, at least according to most estimates. When it was over, the Triamic Hegemony was no more. It had vanished in a relative eyeblink. There were accounts of triamic who had not reached the homeworlds for the war committing mass suicide when word of their pack’s otherwise annihilation reached them. No one knows why.
Some triamic may have survived, but at best, the entire race now numbers no more than a few million, scattered across the galaxy. No ships, and no communication, have come from the triamic homeworlds in over a million hours.