Darkest before Dawn
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), "Hamlet", Act 1 scene 5
Life isn't the exception in the universe. Life is the most normal thing there is. Everywhere you go in the universe, you will find that life is already there in all of its facets. Be it classical carbon based life forms, living rocks, living matter clouds in interstellar space, whole planetary ecosystems that are alive and some even aware of themselves.
Whatever mankind has dreamed of as possible forms of life, it is somewhere out there in all of its myriad of possibilities.
In all of its existence of lifeforms and intelligent beings, there always is one exception. It is rather humerus that this exception is mankind. Many science fiction authors on Earth have used mankind as a race that prevails in just about every situation. How would they feel if they knew that they are right? That mankind is something special? Something that was created by evolution, a force that always tries to get the best possible thing, something that happens to be the culmination of evolutions strategies and successes?
You see, life and evolution are linked as are all forms of life in the universe. There aren't many intelligent races that know about this little fact. Now you may ask how life is linked. And you may think that the answer is something incredibly complex and difficult to explain.
You are right, the answer is very complex and difficult to explain, but there was the mention of planetary ecosystems that are alive and aware of themselves as a whole.
The whole universe in itself is like the mentioned planetary ecosystems, it is alive and aware of itself as a whole. That is the link. Evolution is something that is a little like cells in a body that let you grow. It makes life in itself grow and with it the universe get constantly more intelligent as a whole.
It is hard to explain and it may as well be hard to explain for eternity.
But it doesn't change anything. Humanity is something special. Humanity may be young compared to the universe, but she will continue to exist. She will always be there for the future, maybe even until the universe ceases to exist. Or humanity will be even able to flee the big crunch. In this humanity may have its destiny. It remains to be seen.
But humanity wasn't the first exception. She rather is the second. The first exception were the Old Ones. Beings that were born intelligent from nearly nothing during the first billion years of the universe when the universe itself became aware of itself.
The Old Ones were few and they were immortal. But they nearly ceased to exist as life as it exists now came into being. Now there are even less Old Ones in the universe than before and they need tens of millions of years to meat each other again by chance.
There are also a few races that dare to call themselves First Ones, but they aren't. There aren't really any First Ones. Numerous different races all over the universe have evolved at the same time. Many of them ceased to be after a short time, others survived for much longer, but the races that are known as 'First Ones' in the Milky Way galaxy aren't even one of the races that evolved in this time frame.
No they are much younger, but in their arrogance they called themselves 'First Ones', thinking that they would become something special. They are special, but nothing really special. There are a few races out in the universe that are older than them.
Chronologically there are a great many of races that may seem like they have only evolved fairly recently but as they are moving in giant ships between the galaxies at relativistic speeds, they are much older than they look.
There are also a number of sentient or at least living gas clouds and planets that are far older than the 'First Ones'.
But in the Milky Way Galaxy, they are not challenged for their title. Some of these races are learning that they are not 'First Ones'. But those have left the Galaxy to move beyond the rim and explore the universe, where they found a few of the races that were mentioned.
Two of these races however remained in the Galaxy, the Vorlons and the Shadows. At first they only wanted to look after the younger races that evolved everywhere, but over time they differed in their views how to look after the races and help them.
The Shadows embraced a view point that is best described as Darwinian or Chaotic. Constantly spreading wars, strife and challenges for the younger races they wanted to make sure that only the fittest of the younger races continued to flourish.
The Vorlons on the other side embraced the laws of order. Emforcing their views on other races they created societies that were largely inflexible and survived a ling time, but without very much growth eventually stagnating over time.
The conflict between the Vorlons and Shadows became more and more deep and in the end the two races, once closely allied became mortal enemies. Eventually they tried to prove themselves to be right.
None of them knew that the universe detested both total order and total chaos, rather adoring the order that was born from chaos in the effect of self organization.
This is where mankind came into being. The universe in itself noted the long and winding conflict between Vorlons and Shadows after several ten million years and numerous bloody and destructive wars between both races and decided to act in the end creating mankind as a huge asteroid impacted on Earth and killing the dominant life forms, dinosaurs.
But the universe only made this little change, not wanting to do more than this to come to a solution of the Shadow/Vorlon problem. The rest was done by the universes subconsciousness, evolution.
A very long term solution.
Mankind evolved on Earth without any outside interference save for evolution itself. Only in the last few millenia the Shadows and the Vorlons became aware of the humans. They both saw the potential of humanity and decided to change mankind to suit their ways. Both abducted humans from the world and settled them down on different planets far in the depth of space controlled by them, where the abductees would become what their masters wanted them to be. But even than it would need millenia untilk they came to a result, but both races were used to long term sollutions.
Back on Earth mankind continued to grow mostly uncontrolled, just now and than Shadows and Vorlons looked at the homeworld of their 'charges'.
The Roman Empire came and went as did the Dark Ages. The Industrial Era brought technological advances and wars started to become more and more bloody, eventually coming into the bloodiest of all wars the Second World War. Mankind dicovered and tamed the power of the atom, they went from flight to space flight and eventually they started to colonize space.
Both the Vorlons and the Shadows became more and more concerned about the humans on Earth. They were advancing much faster than any other race they knew of, including themselves. For them humanity dared to ask question they 'weren't ready for' at their young age.
Both the Shadows and the Vorlons needed a solution for this problem. They both independently discovered just how dangerous the not manipulated mankind on Earth could be. So they acted without each other knowing.
In the early twenty first century terrorism started to become a great threat to mankind, as was a new Cold War between the United States and China. Eventually incidents would come down to a nuclear holocaust. The Shadow Solution.
At the same time slight course change of an asteroid brought it onto an orbit that would bring it to impact on Earth and doing the same as the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs all those million years ago. The Vorlon Solution.
It was a freak accident that both happened at the same time. The Cold War heated up that much that China and the US needed only a hair fine trigger to press the big red button, closely followed by all other nuclear powers on the planet. The Asteroid on the other side was not easy to find and astronoms only found it as it was already closer to Earth than the moon just a few minutes before the first intercontinetal and interglobal missiles were launched.
As the asteroid slammed into Africa, thermonuclear detonations spread over the planet like a bushfire. In the end Earth's humanity was killed by the Shadows and Vorlons at the same time.
Or so Shadows and Vorlons thought.