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Batarian Hegemony Section 5: Rise and Fall of the Hegemony Part III
Problems began to accumulate for the Hegemony rather rapidly after Aria seized control of Omega. The immediate reaction from the Citadel Council was an end to the careful détente they had managed with Raik Vol, and a cessation of all official trading with Omega's violent new ruler and her openly hostile attitude towards the Citadel.
This maneuver drew a storm of protest from the Hegemony, who relied heavily on the flow of eezo from that region of space in order to maintain their economy and current fleet construction efforts. In a closed vote, the Council dictated that no exception would be made, and that the Hegemony would have to begin trading with Asari and Volus corporations or face censures. The Hegemon who had personally come to the Citadel to attempt to influence the vote, predictably exploded with rage.
Volus groups could only provide limited amounts, as the majority of their eezo deposits were sold to the Hierarchy. And while Asari organizations could handle the volume needed, they charged four times as much as Aria, rates that would force the Hegemony to accept crippling debts to the Republics. In a public rant to the Councilor's faces, he called the Asari out specifically for 'releasing' Illium as an independent colony specifically to evade their own laws, and all but dared the Citadel to declare war upon the Hegemony.
The final humiliation for Councilor T'Shan came with the Turian Councilor began to applaud upon the conclusion of the Hegemon's speech, and broke with centuries of tradition by publically revealing that he had voted against the measure for the exact reasons that the Hegemon had stated. The political storm unleashed did not abate even after a redrafted law was passed in an open vote, this one allowing the Hegemony to maintain the eezo trade with Omega in specific volumes.
But while the Turians and Batarians walked away having won the battle, in the long term they had already lost the war.
The Shadow War
The so-called Shadow War began in 1985 CE, and continued until the Hegemony Civil War in 2104 CE. While never a public affair, in the dark places of the galaxy Nightwind and STG teams engaged in brutal combat against SIU groups trained by the elite Turian Deathwatch, while Spectres of all four races engaged in backroom violence as they sabotaged each other's missions.
For the most part, this fighting occurred in the near reaches of the Traverse. The primary trade lanes from Khar'shan to Omega ran through this area of space, and was within easy striking distance of the Salarian Union. The Salarians had never been comfortable with the notion of two powerful, militant races being on the Council, and heavily stepped up their efforts to sabotage the Hegemony. Popular and competent Highborn were quietly assassinated, unprotected freighters would mysteriously vanish, and Batarian shipyards would suffer from constant delays as sabotage.
The Hegemony retaliated as best it could, but in the early years the SIU was a new and haphazard organization. It would be nearly two decades before its members could be considered on par with the STG agents they operated against, and by then the majority of the damage had been done. Worse, their allies in the Hierarchy were hesitant about providing any overt assistance, limiting their aid to training and what trade their economy could offer.
The reason for this lack of aid was largely due to the Asari. They had begun their own efforts at home, passing increasingly harsh laws to limit trade with the Hegemony. On the surface these were due to the Hegemony's practice of slavery and it's generally misogynist attitude. Concentrated political campaigns waged over decades built up increasing distrust for the natives of Khar'shan, particularly amongst the 'lesser' races; the Elcor and Volus.
But many of these opinions began to filter into the Hierarchy, and the naturally blunt Batarians found themselves rapidly losing the battle of public opinion. Worse, their better and more personable diplomats were increasingly seduced, or outright killed, by Nightwind teams within days of leaving Khar'shan. Batarian efforts to bring the Shadow War in to the light proved useless as the Republics and Union effortlessly manipulated media outlets to make their claims seem like nothing but raving conspiracy theories, opinions seconded by exiled Batarians who often possessed Asari bondmates.
By 2087, the Hegemony's economy was beginning to seriously labor. It had been heavily focused on trading exports to the Citadel nations in order to bring in the raw materials their resource-poor star clusters desperately needed, and as those trade routes were closed the Merchant caste struggled to adjust. They began quietly violating Council laws by increasing trade with Aria, Halak, Cessa, and several other major warlords in order to cease bleeding hard currency
A Salarian Spectre discovered these new operations in 2097, and this time the Turians were far less willing to back their ally when the Council ordered the Hegemony to cease all trade with the Terminus or face a total embargo. The Hegemon's attempts to stall for time and negotiate at least limited options went nowhere, and the embargo went into place in 2098.
Khar'shan's economy managed to stumble along for three years thanks to a heavy increase in trade with the Terminus and Traverse, but that chaotic region of space simply couldn't offer as many markets for Batarian goods, or to export the rare materials in the quantities needed to maintain production levels.
The eezo trade with Aria began to slow as the Hegemony ran low on the hard currency she demanded, with the merchant caste being forced to continually cut back on imports until there was barely a trickle of the critical material making the long trip along the galactic rim. The Hegemony's economy officially crashed into a depression in 2103, as nearly half of the nation's military yards were forced to cease construction due to a derth of eezo. The chain reaction spread to other industries reliant on eezo, promethium, and other rare earths that were no long available in sufficient quantities to maintain production levels.
The Hegemony Civil War
As millions of lowborn and midcaste suddenly found themselves out of work, the situation began to deteriorate further as blame was flung between the various Highborn families. Ha'diq and Patriarchs began to divide along factional lines as the political movements of the day hardened into tight alliances.
These myriad groups eventually aligned into two distinct groups. One defending the Hierarchy's government and pushing for an increased effort in expanding into the Traverse and Terminus. Supported largely by Khar'shan's population and those living on the smaller colonies, they were highly organized but held only a third of the warrior's castes members.
The other believed that it was the Hierarchy itself that had failed, and that the Batarian people would be better ruled by the Ha'diq alone, with no need for petty councilors or Hegemon. As could be expected, the majority of their strength came from the Class A colonies, where often hereditary Ha'diq had had centuries to influence public perception and to build up resentment towards Khar'shan's bugling and interference. To them, a dispersed Batarian species would better honor the Pillar's wisdom, with the strong surviving and the weak falling on their own merits rather than being influenced by a distant Hegemon.
War officially broke out in 2104, when five Ha'diq allied with one another and struck at Khar'shan's shipyards in the hopes of taking the capital out of the fight before the war even began. Thanks to a timely warning from a loyalist SIU team, the Hegemony Fleet was able to beat back the strike, but not without taking heavy losses. Hoping to replicate the quick victory that Khar'shan had secured against the early separatists, they quickly followed up their strike with counter-attacks, likely hoping to bombard the colonies into submission.
Unfortunately, this time the colonies were prepared for such a maneuver. Deep bunkers beneath colonial cities kept large numbers of the population alive, and heavy GTS defenses shredded frigates and cruises that approached too close to the worlds.
With that effort cut short, emboldened Ha'diq across Batarian space began to strike at other loyalist worlds, at each other, and even at nearby Salarian colonies. The Citadel wasted no time in establishing a heavy blockade of relays leading to the Hegemony, none of its members offering aid or succor to either faction.
The following seventeen years saw the most brutal combat since the krogan rebellions, with neither side offering nor giving mercy in the traditional Batarian fashion for combat. By 2115 the war had largely turned in favor of Khar'shan, the infighting amongst the Ha'diq having crippled them beyond their ability to properly deal with the homeworld's armies and fleets, but it would be another six long years before the war officially concluded.
Cold War Era
2121 – 2180 CE
Political Isolation Begins
In many ways, the Hegemony has still not recovered from the war that occurred at the turn of the century. Even after sixty years of reconstruction, its population remains twenty percent below pre-war levels, its fleet is a mere forty percent of its former goliath size, and more than fifty colonies have yet to be reclaimed, their irradiated and broken cities standing mute testament to the power of modern weaponry.
By the war's end, the political landscape had changed once again thanks to a down decade for the Turian economy that left them further indebted to Asari Matriarchs. Feeling magnanimous, and no longer fearing the broken nation, the Asari Councilor joined her Turian counterpart in rescinding the blockade and a few of the trade restrictions provided that the Batarians limit their trade with Omega.
With their homeworld scoured by long range bombardment, and their most prosperous colonies little more than rubble, the proud Batarians were forced to grit their teeth and accept the demands in order to acquire what help they could. Always intended as a temporary measure, the various Hegemon continuously resisted requests or demands that sought to more heavily bind them to the Citadel.
Any hope of reconciliation with the Turians died in the years after the war, as Palavan increasingly became the target of Batarian ire for not properly assisting them in the years prior to the war. For their own part, the Turians became increasingly dismissive of Khar'shan, wondering what they had ever seen in the nation. If it could be driven to collapse so easily, it would never have been truly capable of assisting them politically after all.
While the Hegemony maintained their embassy, in many ways they were already an unaffiliated nation. The last Batarian sponsored law was passed in 2132, and the last Batarian Spectre was appointed in 2137. After that point the post of ambassador became little more than a paid vacation for a member of the Hegemon's family, the focus of the nation turning entirely inwards as they rebuilt.
The theft of the Verge
Hope, a rare thing on Khar'shan, began to spread wildly with the discovery of a new stellar cluster in the near reaches of the Traverse. Hegemony sponsored explorers quickly began to identify garden worlds ripe for colonization, while asteroids and other barren objects loaded with raw materials were cataloged for mining. Millions of valuable credits were poured into the initial surveying programs and to pay for official Citadel exploration vessels to assist the Hegemony's fleet.
These operations were temporarily put on hold when reports surfaced that a new species had been discovered almost on top of the Hegemony, and that they were even then at war with the Hierarchy. Intrigued by this new development, the young Hegemon Nish Cal'ran of the Warrior caste paid close attention to the news and rumors until official first contact was made following the Asari's intervention in the fight.
During the years of diplomacy that followed, the Hegemony was as an active player as they were capable of being. Humanity was, in many ways, an even more acceptable partner than the Turians had been. The very short relay transitions required to reach Alliance space would make trading an exceedingly simple and entirely safe affair, and both nations could protect each other's flanks against any predation.
Unfortunately for the Batarians, Humanity proved to be both greedy and far more enamored with their new saviors than with the 'four eyed slavers'. Alliance corporations almost immediately began unauthorized colonization efforts into the Skyllian Verge, entirely ignoring the message buoys that Batarian ships had left behind indicated that the worlds were already claimed.
The Hegemony responded predictably and furiously, razing four nescient colonies to the ground and charging the inhabitants with illegal colonization under both Citadel and Hegemony law. But while the Council agreed that laws had been broken, the Hegemony's decision to punish them in the Batarian fashion; terms of slavery, created a brand new political shit storm.
That the Hegemony had legitimate claims to the region was promptly tossed aside and ignored by the Council as they accused the Batarians of government sponsored slaving. Khar'shan's request that the Verge be declared Batarian territory, and that the Alliance be censured, was thrown out after mere minutes of discussion. Instead the human demands that the enslaved colonists be released and returned to their homes, a tactic declaration that those worlds were now human territory was passed, giving the Hegemon an ultimatum.
With Turians still irritable about the First Contact War passing covert messages to his advisors, he quickly realized that his mission was doomed. The humans intended to declare war if their demands were not met, and the Asari and Salarians had agreed to dispatch the Council Fleet to support them if it came to that. In the final hours before the vote, Hegemon Cal'ran was seen quietly walking the presidium, speaking to no one. He ceased his wanderings only once, pausing to offer a single salute to Krogan monument before heading to the Council chambers for the final time.
In a final effort to save face, he attempted to propose that humanity at least repay the Highborn merchants who has sponsored the exploration of the Verge. Ambassador Goyle, recognizing that she held all of the cards, refused before he could even finish his presentation.
Knowing that his nation's military, while assuredly capable of crushing humanity's limited forces, would be overwhelmed by the combined Citadel Fleet, he bowed to the inevitable and released the slaves taken. While hundreds of new groups arrived in the Verge to cover the colonists's release, the Hegemon quietly ordered the embassies on the Citadel and Palavan to be abandoned, and for all Hegemon citizens to return home.
Showing that they were not entirely without sympathy, the Hierarchy's navy assisted heavily in returning expatriates to the Hegemony's borders, in many cases ignoring direct orders from the Citadel Fleet to explain their movements. Within a year the population of Batarians within Council space had plummeted from tens of thousands to a tiny handful of exiles, and the Hegemony officially closed their borders.
Cal'ran finished his tenure as Hegemon by giving a final, impassioned speech on the Hegemony's official media platform. Warning the Batarian people to never trust that the Citadel's races would treat their people with honor, or even obey their own laws, he shifted his words to those of a sermon from the Pillars of Strength, preparing them mentally for the difficult times that would come.
The day after he officially declared the Hegemony alone in the galaxy, he officially resigned for failing his oath to secure the Skyllian Verge. The stately young highborn thanked the assembled Patriarchs before quietly departing. Making his way alone to the Pillars of Strength in the heart of the capital, he followed ancient tradition and committed suicide surrounded by the towering columns.
With his death, the political situation began to unravel. The traditionalist alliance that had propelled him into power began to fracture, too many of its members having exhausted their resources in preparation for colonizing territory that was no long open to them. The violently anti-human Fist of Khar'shan quickly grew alongside the isolationist and conservative movements and formed a new voting bloc that, while unable to breach the rationalists hold on the labor and science castes, or the liberals who came to power in the warrior's councils, was able to heavily influence Hegemony policy for the next several decades.
But just as quickly as they rose, these groups began to collapse as the Hegemony's situation worsened rather than improved. The Blitz failed to push humanity out, and other state sponsored pirates served only to give humanity combat experience and heavily drain Khar'shan's treasury.
As 2180 dawned, the Hegemony remained a pale, crippled shadow of its former glory. Still proud, still capable of dragging an attacker down with them, but also tired, with a broken government and a people increasingly divided amongst themselves.
And we're finally finished with the hegemony, next up will be the Quarians of the Terminus and Xentha.
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