During an anti-pirate raid in a remote sector, a small detachment of Federation Vanguard detects powerful energy signatures coming from a sector #1337. Vanguard intercepts a message: ‘Bartle Orders not to meddle. We found them, but staying inside is too dangerous.’ It Soon becomes clear that the sector is a battleground for the Empire’s regular reconnaissance fleet, a Jericho Mendes family fleet and a third, unknown party. The battle ends with the defeat and retreat of the Empire and Jericho. Soon the Empire issues a special decree, blocking access to the sector.
Federation intelligence, meanwhile, decides to use information gathered by Vanguard to destabilize the Empire and presents it to the general public.
Adventurers immediately flood the restricted sector. The few of them who are able to come back alive talk about giant structures, animated crystals and incredible treasures of an ancient civilization.
The energy signature that was recorded by Vanguard, meanwhile, has not disappeared, but instead began to gain strength. Soon, scientists claim — the Signal is back! It’s significantly altered, distorted and weakened, but this is the Signal! The general public forms a mind image of the Precursors — an ancient civilization that lived before us. Sector 1337 is named ‘Precursor Sector’.
Start of Iridium Fever
After the incident in the Precursor Sector, ore deposits of Iridium are discovered across the galaxy. Abnormal material actively responds to the returned signal. Quite quickly it becomes clear that this is the key to a new technological era. The main use of Iridium — as fuel in ship reactors and high power artillery systems. Unfortunately, ore processing technology is very complex and costly.
The relationship between all sides of conflict, despite a fragile peace is heating up again and results in a series of local conflicts. But a full-scale war status is never reached. Naturally, none of the three factions are ready to share their valuable ore deposits. Stocks are extremely limited and with the pace of production, there’s barely enough resources for the needs of fleets and industries. However, pure Iridium can always be found in Precursor artifacts...
Iridium Fever gives impetus to the development of technologies that expand the boundaries and help study remote sectors. Some corporations purchase not-too-promising mines and, with their unique know-how, there start actively producing Iridium.
Fringe sectors, previously considered hopeless, get a new development boost. During this period, there is a large number of small colonies and Iridium mining stations. Soon there is an outbreak of an unknown virus. However, authorities are able to hush up the incident.
One of the most important discoveries of this time is the new space scanning system. While studying a Precursor artifact one of the Federation corporations finds the secret of a location with the anomalous emission. The head of the project claims that the artifact was specifically created by Precursors to find the signal. The technology is copied and reproduced. And while this discovery causes heated debate in the scientific and theological communities, specialized navigational beacons appear on the black market. With their help, the Precursor civilization ruins are discovered at different points of the galaxy. Among the mercenaries and free captains, under the auspices of corporations begins the hunt for artifacts. Most often, they are simply melted into Iridium. This practice becomes very common, though perceived by the general public as barbaric.
The death of the Liu family, Jericho
After an exploratory mission, an epidemic breaks out on the family fortress vessel of the Liu family of Jericho. An unknown virus is spreading with great speed. Soon the ship is taken under military quarantine. Nothing helps fight the disease. More than half of the ship’s population is infected by the third day. Few reports are leaked, speaking of terrible things: madness, mutations and even cannibalism. To prevent the spread of the virus, Family Council decides to destroy the ship, along with all the people. Many of Jericho are sure that Liu-virus is closely related to Precursors.