The Darkwater Crisis was a period of civil war experienced by the Pax Galactica in the year 89 ADE. It was started when the Patriarch of the Heebrith Family, supported by a senatorial majority, attempted to seize power from the High Council of the Pax Galactica and install himself as Emperor. Although ultimatively defeated, the infighting severely altered the distribution of power between the largest families of the Pax Galactica.
At 14th July of 89 ADE Arta of Heebrith, Patriarch of the Heebrith Family, adressed the Imperial Senate with a speech, proclaiming himself Emperor of the Pax Galactica and dissolving the High Council. The move had been carefully planned and a majority of the Senate supported Arta of Heebrith when he seized power for himself. Artas personal guard arrested the High Council and the minority of Senators who opposed him, planning to hold them hostage until his position as Emperor was secure.
However, Siis of Tenna and Kellon of Trum, two of the most powerful Senators, had feigned support for the coup, evading arrest this way to rally the families of the arrested Senators and High Councillors for resistance.
Liberation of the CouncilEdit
The High Councillors, held hostage by Arta of Heebrith, were considered his most valuable asset after the coup, as the threat of execution would make most of their powerful families hesitant to resist the newly proclaimed emperor. Hence, liberation of the high-profile hostages was deemed a priority by the war council of the resistance that had assembled at Lone Garden.
Rooth of Sharmas, the primus of the Sharmas family, which held a seat at the High Council, was tasked with this mission and he assembled the most capable and trusted members of his patriarchs levy, supported by soldiers from the Tenna and Trum families. Vagabond traders had brought reports that the High Councillors were still held captive at Darkwater and that Arta was hesistant to move them to a more secretive location out of fear of ambushes. Hence the plan was hatched to infiltrate and launch a surprise attack at Darkwater.
The loyalists entered Darkwater under the guise of traders, hidden in cargo trucks, and began a frontal assault at the fortified mansion in which the High Council was held hostage. A detachment of their forces was held back, intervening only after the High Councillors had been secured, to extract them with the use of VTOL crafts. The attack suffered heavy losses, with four out of five soldiers either dead or captive at the end of the mission, but it achieved its goal, liberating the High Council and bringing it to Lone Garden.
Battle for HearthlandEdit
Following the liberation of the High Council, their families began assembling their hosts. Realizing the strength of the forces the High Council could field on Hearthland outmatched his own, Arta of Heebrith wasted no time in assaulting their strongholds, ordering offensives against major loyalist possessions and personally leading an offensive against Lone Garden.
The offensives could not hope to outright deny the loyalists from gathering their forces and driving the coupists back, but forcing the loyalists on the defensive would significantly delay them from doing so and, Arta calculated, buy him enough time to move the bulk of his forces from outside of Hearthland into position to crush resistance against his coup.
The fact that the main strength of the Heebrith family lay in the colonies did not evade the loyalists, who eventually pursued a similiar plan in the colonies as Arta was on Hearthland: by forcing their enemies into the defensive now they hoped to buy enough time to achieve decisive victories elsewhere.
Smaller families began raids onto lands of the Heebrith family and its supporters, while two major fleets were assembled, one at the Brightfire system, one at the Sapphire Planets system, to intercept Heebrith fleets enroute to Hearthland. This resulted in the battles of Jooth and Redstar, both of which were decisive victories for the Heebrith families, slightly delaying them, but dealing crippling damage to the loyalist spaceforces.
Realizing that the Heebrith forces were now almost unopposed enroute to Hearthland, the loyalist forces sought out additional allies amongst factions within the Pax Galactica that had not yet committed to either side. Loyalist senator Noam of Lut was dispatched to Zeist, negotiating an agreement that foresaw greater autonomy for the planet and reforms to the contracts tying the No-Maki to the Pax Galactica, in exchange for their support against the coup.
Following the muster of this success, similiar overtures were made towards Timeri and humans living in the Pax Galactica, with mostly positive results as the strength of the loyalists within the colonies rapidly grew and allowing them to assemble another fleet in time to intercept the Heebrith fleet enroute to Hearthland at the Two Wolves system. The defeat dealt to the coupists in this battle drove the Heebrith supporters back to the outlying colonies, tying them up in numerous minor battles and denying Arta of Heebrith his reinforcements at Hearthland.
Counter-offensive at Brazen StarEdit
Realizing that their forces being kept in fights within the outlying systems might well deny the coupists victory, Kellon of Heebrith, serving as Admiral for a major Heebrith fleet in the colonial systems, began to organize a final offensive. Without clear orders from Hearthland for the given situation he assumed command of the colonial forces and gathered the retreating forces at Brazen Star. Together with fresh reinforcements within the coming weeks as well as winning additional supporters within the system, Kellon managed to surpass initial fleet strenght and began a counter-offensive against the loyalist advances.
Centralized command, experienced crews and strategic ability worked together to deny the loyalists any further successes as those they had enjoyed the previous weeks. Despite winning more and more support from the minor species in the Pax Galactica with promises of reform, the forces of Kellon of Heebrith now steadily advanced towards Hearthland, intent on reinforcing his Patriarch. However, while they could not defeat him the loyalists managed to occupy Kellon with battle after battle, repeatedly intercepting his flight and forcing him into combat, costing him precious time. Ultimatively, this should prove enough to enable the loyalists to defeat the coup on Hearthland.
Fall of Ebony HillEdit
While the battles in the colonial systems raged, loyalists at Hearthland continuously gathered momentum, forcing back the coupists across the whole frontline. The Tenna family then saw an opportunity to lead their forces through a gap within enemy lines to launch a surprise offensive at Ebony Hill, the home of Arta of Heebrith and an important logistical base for the coupists.
Having expected the next offensive to come further to the north, the defenders of Ebony Hill initially regarded to assaults as a ruse to distract forces from the actual thrust of their enemies attacks. This was helped by the fact that, realizing the opportunity that had presented itself to the Tenna forces, other families at the Sylvania front began attacks of their own to tie up the coupists and enable the attack on Ebony Hill to succeed.
The capture of Ebony Hill was a major defeat for the Heebrith forces. Not only had they lost a strategic checkpoint in Sylvania and along with it considerable supply stockpiles for their ongoing operations: being the primary holding of the Heebrith family, seat of Artas palace and home of his closest family members, taking Ebony Hill was a major propaganda victory for the loyalists.
Having realized this long before committing to their offensive, they did not hesitate to utilize the victory, ensuring their victory at Ebony Hill was known to all coupist forces on Hearthland by broadcasting it across the front. As the news spread and Arta was forced to confirm the claims of his enemies, support for his cause slowly but surely began to erode as families that had committed to the Heebrith cause began to doubt his chances at victory.
Artas Last StandEdit
Following Artas failed coup, the Heebrith family was dissolved, Artas heir disowned and its properties and members divided between loyalist families. Its position on the High Council became a cause for continued competition between the Tenna and Trum families, who had both risen to prominence following their role in defeating the Heebrith bid for autocracy.
Most of the Senators who had supported the coup were shunned from its halls, replaced by Patriarchs from families who had supported the High Council during the civil war. This meant that over a hundred families suddenly obtained Senatorship directly after the war. Many more would furthermore see themselves eventually rise to this position as Senatorial families weakened by the civil war could not maintain their power and influence against those who had profited from the crisis.
Other species in the Pax Galactica, most notably No-Maki and Humans, had been won over by the High Council with promises of reform and these would largely be kept in the aftermath of the civil war. Zeist was granted greater autonomy, while many offices of state would be opened for applications by humans. Funding for the outlying colonies was increased and additional Human and No-Maki military divisions created.
The military of the Pax Galactica was fundamentally reformed with the Tenna Reforms, its most important aspect being the abolishing of the system of autonomous levies and instead setting up a more streamlined and professional standing army with independent units. Instead of families contributing entire troop detachments, ships or even fleets, their levies would be broken up and individuals assigned to different units to increase central control over the military.
As the Iron Concordate perceived its rival to be severely weakened by the political crisis and civil war, escalating aggression along the Western Rim eventually led to the Great Imperial War, which was a costly conflict for both sides that saw only few, insignificant gains made at great expense by the Concordate.