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The 17th Disjuncture

This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of the downloadable magazine.

Excerpted from The Wolf-Headed Hydra: Understanding the Reasons for the Vargr Incursion by Dr. Athena Kostanapholous.

Disjuncture: -noun. The act of disjoining or the state of being disjoined; disjunction.

It is difficult to fathom how a state can dub itself as the very antonym of what it means to be an interstellar polity. The 17th Disjuncture, a Vargr state whose corsairs and navy have invaded our divided, but still beloved, Imperium, would seem to be a contradiction in its very name. Whereas even a confederation (a loose alliance of diverse worlds that share a common goal or belief and nothing more) demonstrates some sense of unity through its very name, a “disjuncture” implies the dissolution of said collective.

To understand what is going on here, we must delve further into Vargr history and philosophy. If there is one element of consistency within the Extents it is “change”. It is well known that large stable interstellar states are rare and often short-lived. Much like Terra’s past, the Extents are a heavily balkanized space whose borders ebb and flow with time. While we Humans see this as a flaw, to Vargr this is a strength. Conversely, Vargr view our millennia spanning civilizations as a mystery. To some, they are malevolent monoliths.

The Vargr philosopher, Tsaerrgae, explained that the natural world was constantly in flux - from the cellular to the galactic level. Just as organisms age and die once their cells are no longer capable of renewal and galaxies wither away as their stars burn out, so too should political entities once the sapients who created them fail to maintain their vibrancy.

Tsaerrgae went on to compose a list of great upheavals, which he dubbed “disjunctures”. The Big Bang was the very first. The Ancients’ “Final War” is on there as well. Besides various Vargr empires from antiquity, the list also includes the fall of the First and Second Imperiums. Tsaerrgae predicted that the 17th Disjuncture would bring about the end of the Third Imperium and usher in a new era of prosperity. It should be noted that he made this prediction 23 years before the Rebellion actually began.

Tsaerrgae’s philosophy didn’t catch on right away. The conventional wisdom in the Extents was that the Third Imperium was indestructible, having withstood numerous foreign incursions and a Civil War. But the electronics giant, Knouksarrgh Ong, needed content for its new utuvogh device. Sensing an opportunity to reach a broader audience, and make some money, Tsaerrgae signed a publishing deal with Knouksarrgh.

Sales were modest and Tsaerrgae’s philosophy seemed destined to obscurity. Market research indicated that the growth in utuvogh content sales was in music. Knouksarrgh created synthetic musicians to appeal to various demographics and gave them personalities to bolster their authenticity. The most popular of these synthetic musicians was Oekhsos. His now infamous tirades helped to fuel anti-Imperial sentiment and bolster Vargr self-confidence.

Once Vargr raids of the Imperial frontier became successful, sales of Tsaerrgae’s philosophy received a boost. They shot into orbit once word of the Rebellion spread into the Extents.

Suddenly, Tsaerrgae was besieged by would-be pupils eager to learn his teachings. These pupils went on to become acolytes and missionaries. They left his monastery with one goal: to bring about the 17th Disjuncture. There was no agreement as to how this would, or even should, be accomplished. All that was known was that the time was now. The Third Imperium was falling apart and it was adamant that the followers of Tsaerrgae’s philosophy take part in its dismantlement.

Tsaerrgae’s top acolytes agreed that there had to be some order amidst the chaos their leader had unleashed. Tsaerrgae was not a military man; he was a philosopher. He could lead their minds but he couldn’t guide their armies. The cause was greater than any one Vargr so they named their movement after their cause: The 17th Disjuncture. It granted them anonymity while they managed the affairs of this non-state.

Too few of the acolytes were military men - better opportunities lay elsewhere among the new empire builders. Theirs wasn’t a plan of conquest but of dismantlement. While there were rapid successes against the smaller polities of Windhorn sector, overcoming the well-organized Vilani Navy has proven to be a challenge. A stalemate has arisen midway through the Theton subsector (Vland D). The 17th Disjuncture will have to find a more cohesive strategy to achieve its objective or be content that their brethren in Corridor, Lishun and Antares are achieving their mission.