In this series celebrating the franchise's twentieth anniversary (and the recent announcement of Homeworld 3), I look at the background lore of the critically-acclaimed Homeworld series of video games.
In the Galactic Standard Year 9510 – 1216 of the Kharakian Dating System – the Exiles returned home. The almost-50,000-strong crew of the Mothership and the fleet it had accumulated over the course of the six-month Homeworld War began the slow process of thawing out their 600,000 brethren, cryogenically frozen for up to a dozen years before the Genocide.
The Mothership in orbit around Hiigara, now converted into an orbital spacedock.
The return to life was, for many, traumatic. They went to sleep on a world of approximately 300 million people and woke to learn that almost all of them had been killed, a great war had been fought, and the homeworld recovered at tremendous cost. For many the recovery was difficult, almost impossible. The joy of finding themselves on a verdant new world was offset by the knowledge of the losses that had the trip had incurred.
Establishing a working civilisation and industrial base was essential. The Taiidan had occupied Hiigara for over three millennia and considered it their world, but the fall of the Emperor had sparked an exodus. Millions of Taiidan had fled the planet in every ship that could carry them, returning to their own homeworld or one of its numerous colonies. Some remained behind and surrendered with honour, in many cases being remanded into the custody of the Taiidani Republic that had arisen in place of the brutalist Empire. Taiidan cities were occupied, factories converted to Kushan – Hiigaran – use and surrendered Taiidan ships were used to bolster the Mothership’s own fleet. Resource-gathering missions were launched into the small asteroid clusters in Hiigara orbit, and elsewhere in the system.
The Mothership, now converted into an orbital shipyard, began pumping out ships by the score. With Taiidan Republic and Bentusi help, the Hiigarans secured a buffer zone out to ten light-years from Hiigara itself. Several systems in this vicinity were colonised as mining and military bases to defend against incursions by Turanic pirates or Taiidan Imperial warlords.
The New Daiamid was established in the capital city of Hiigara, now named Asaam Kiith’sid. The kiithid assembled, but soon a problem was discovered: seven kiithid (S’jet, Manaan, Soban, Naabal, LiirHra, Paktu and Kaalel) now represented slightly more than half of the Hiigaran population and dozens more were massively underrepresented, in some cases with only a few hundred survivors in the population. Some kiithid, such as Gaalsien, had no representatives amongst the Mothership crew or the “Sleepers” and were presumed extinct in the Kharakian Genocide. Some of the larger kiithid took advantage of the situation to offer a new home to members of smaller ones, a helpful "merger," although some kiithid saw it as a hostile takeover and resisted furiously.
A key moment came seven years after the Landfall. Kiith Naabal attempted to almost forcibly absorb Kiith Somtaaw, which had been reduced to barely 15,000 members. Naabal wanted to use the Somtaaw’s mining expertise to enrich themselves. The Somtaaw resisted, helped by the Soban and Paktu. Several smaller kiithid chose to unite with Somtaaw, raising their numbers to over 25,000. In a furious series of debates in the New Daiamid the Somtaaw proved surprisingly victorious and not only secured their independence but were granted access to the Mothership fabrication facilities. In a matter of months, the Somtaaw had established a fleet of three ships: the mining cruisers Faal-Corum and Kunn-Lan, and the research frigate Clee-San. The Somtaaw used these resources to carve out mining territories in the Hiigaran system and beyond.
Hiigara seen from space, with the lights of an old Taiidan city still visible.
Hiigara’s position in the galaxy was controversial. Some races, looking at the history records of the First Time, were nervous about giving the Hiigarans a place on the Galactic Council, but the Bentusi and the Taiidan Republic spoke for them. Hiigara’s claim to the surrounding systems was recognised, and support and supplies provided until the Hiigarans could stand by themselves. The Bentusi profited from early trade with Hiigara, in thanks for their support during the Homeworld War. Hiigara and the Taiidan Republic also signed a treaty of peace and alliance, with war criminals implicated in the Kharakian Genocide extradited to Hiigara for trial.
The Taiidan Empire had effectively collapsed, placing the fate of its 360 billion citizens in doubt, but sixty star systems remained loyal to the new government on Taiidan. Ninety more collapsed into civil war, or were seized by former Taiidan admirals and generals keen to restore the empire. These warlords spent more time fighting one another or the Republic than challenging Hiigara, but several times (in 4, 9 and 11 After Hiigaran Landfall) they mustered enough forces to invade Hiigaran space. The second and third attacks penetrated the Hiigaran system, but all were thrown back in disarray. Hiigara was secure, but the Exiles would have to fight to continue to protect it.
Some Hiigarans did more than defend themselves: circa 3 AHL the newly-awoken Iifrit Tambuur-sa, the sole survivor of Kiith Tambuur (after his wife was killed in the Taiidan attack on the cryo-trays in Kharak orbit), declared paaura (eternal vengeance) on the Taiidan Imperials and launched a bloody campaign of retribution, claiming over three hundred kills in the next dozen years.
The Hiigarans had endured many challenges in the aftermath of the Landfall, but had overcome them. But a new threat was arising which no one in the galaxy had foreseen, and one that was so dangerous, disturbing and disquieting that almost all knowledge of it was suppressed, an astonishing feat considering the tens of thousands killed in the process.