Secret Witness

A Shaktar article, by Sam Pay

Writers Note: Forget the other stuff I've written, this is the real thing. Sure, it may not be in line with the Writers Guidelines, but who cares, this could be some of the "Past" that Tide created. Deal.

Introduction:

The Shaktar race are one of many enigmas in the World of Progress. While some races have clearly defined pasts, with clear links between past and present, the Shaktar, along with Wraith Raiders and, to some extent, Humans, seem only to have ever existed in the World of Progress, never in the Conflict Society of millenia ago. While the answers to the questions posed by the existence of the other mentioned races may never be answered, the Shaktar's habit for working truth into quite accurate Mythology assists in recording and remembering their pasts. Certainly they are pasts which are hidden from prying eyes, even the eyes of those such as their current master, Slayer, but they exist nonetheless, and may help in understanding the thought-processes behind the race which has some of the darkest secrets in the Known Universe.

The First Age:

The Shaktar race's first records date back roughly to 1100 years pre-SLA, and the facts behind some of the mythology that is now handed down in stories. The events that took place over this time, and the subsequent 200 years, begin with and are focused around the event known as the Reform.

The Reform was a flash-point in the existence of the Shaktar. Before this time nothing is known about their race, as no records survive, and it is quite possible none were ever made. It is fairly safe to say that pre-Reform, the Shaktar were wild, untamed and generally a bestial group of individuals, rather than the honour-based family groups that now inhabit Kn'thh. The Reform was started by the birth of T'jk Shn'ttk, or Tark Shantii. He is seen as the father of the Shaktar we know today, and his name lives on in the current high-lord of Kn'thh. He created the Grart Tark, the Honour Code, which he introduced as semi-religion and semi-dictatorship.

While Shaktar were apparently undisciplined at that time, they desperately sought direction, and those who lacked it themselves turned to the Code, which gave status, companionship and focused objectives for those who obeyed it.

Tark's concepts stretched far into the future, and included concepts for technology and theories that the Shaktar couldn't possibly have entertained at their time. Many theorise that Tark was not a Shaktar himself, the knowledge and insight he posessed simply was not possible. Whether he was part of some invasion gone wrong, a wanderer who happened to arrive on Kn'thh and saw an advantage, or something very different, it is impossible to say. However, it is fairly certain that he never had children, so while the social changes he rought were considerable, it is unlikely he had any genetic effect.

The Reform was complete in a matter of years, with Shaktar falling in line automatically, seeming to have little or no desire for resistance at all. Whether Tark took steps to ensure this was so, or whether it was simply what the Shaktar were waiting for, is open to interpretation. By 1094 Pre-SLA-Date (PSD), the Shaktar were a unified race.

Now Tark began to expand his influence. He gathered together individuals, tested them for commitment, intelligence and strength. Many were sent away, but an elite few were welcomed into the newly constructed temples as Tark;s lieutenants, and within these sanctuaries, he began to plan.

The Age of Progression:

For the next few hundred years, Tark and his lieutenants/successors re-shaped the planet Kn'thh. Pre-Reform, the tech-level of the Shaktar was primitive, confined to tool-forging and little else. Tark's vision, which was shared with few outside his inner council, was one of a warrior race, armed with weapons beyond possibility and logic. The advances in technology which began to appear were nothing short of impossible. Tark drove his "Preists" (essentially scientists, who had been forced to take the new technology as magic, or simply disbelieve it) at breakneck speeds, always working within strictly-defined guidelines, pressuring for advances in projectile technology, or energy-containment, and later, via "Bibles" opened after his death, energy manipulation, and specific anti-gravity techniques.

The advances were almost complete by 850 PSD. The Shaktar, now unwaivering in their devotion to the Honour Code, were creating devices that would have been unimaginable years before. At one end of the spectrum, the weapons and armour that they were using were powered by strange, uncertain forces, which seemed to appear and disappear without working parts. Tark had called this technology Iconic, and claimed it was powered by the soul of the user. The accuracy of this statement is fairly certain - most of the so-called Icons were placed at what are sometimes known as Life-points, where people's energy can be stored or channeled into.

At the other end of the spectrum, vast craft were floating in orbit above the world which had been oblivious to the existance of space 200 years ago, equipped with vast Ion engines which could rend space and time, and flip the ships between the furthest stars in mere days. This technology is still clearly visible in the World of Progress, and while it is not as efficient as Folding, the effects are very similar.

The Shaktar world became a utopia, with a populace controlled by its own desire for focused, self-sufficient direction. The Code expanded to include the advances in technology, all carefully controlled by Tarks successors so as to allow these changes to appear natural, even obvious progressions. When the Ion technology was complete, when armies of mystically-powered warriors were ready to move, the Shaktar known as Tyr emerged to direct his war.

The Age of the Tech God:

Tyr was a child when he came to Tark, that much is clear, but he was treated as a son, and kept by his "Father's" side right up to his death. When he took power, after his mentor's death, he was considered a demi-god, the leader of the Science-Priests and a Shaktar who demanded obedience bordering on worship. Tyr remains a legend throughout Shaktar mythology, being seen as a great leader and master of his race. Whether the plans he implemented were Tarks, or his own, it cannot be said.

But Tyr's war was a Jihad, a holy crusade which he intended to sweep through the Known Universe, bending other races to his will and turning them from undirected savages into focused servants of the Shaktar, just as the Shaktar were the servants of Tyr himself. As Ion Engines rent the sky above Kn'thh, the majority of the members of the Shaktar race who had built and learned to operate the new technologies, including the remaining lieutenants of Tark, along Tyr himself, disappeared out into the black of space, leaving Kn'thh and the majority of Shaktars to await their triumphant return.

Some say that they succeeded partly, and managed to turn a large section of the Known Universe into slaves before they in turn were wiped out by some other, more advanced race, before Slayer's Big Picture came into effect. Others claim that they departed beyond White Earth, forever fighting until they conquer enough races to satisfy Tyr's vision. Most independent researchers agree that they probably died in their realisation of their Jihad, perishing light-years away from their home. But they never returned.

The Age of Mystery:

The Shaktar now found themselves in a unique situation. They had incredible technology, but did not have the ability to continue to develop that which had already been created. They had the weapons and ships and engines and power sources, but did not know how they worked, or how to operate them. Those who had built these things and knew their secrets were gone. The majority of the skilled pilots and warriors were also gone. The Shaktar had nothing to do but wait, on a planet teeming with knowledge they could not access.

And so they forgot.

They forgot the centuries of semi-slavery at the hands of Tark and Tyr. They forgot that these legendary names belonged to real people, rather than just being legends. They forgot that they had been split almost in half, their brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers exiled by their own obsession. And slowly, as they forgot, so the technology crumbled and died. The Eco-Engines that kept Kn'thh green and lush slowly failed, returning it to a desert world. Ion Tubes, which had allowed instant travel to any part of the planet began to malfunction.

However, not everything was forgotten. The Preisthood, which was practially non-existant, the Preists having departed also, did rebuild itself, pushed by people who hankered for understanding, or just desired a return to the old days of clear goals and a solid leadership. Slowly, surely, the remaining population picked themselves up and began again, regained the conviction that they had been given by Tark and his Code. The Shaktar people became motivated once again, but had lost the reason for that motivation. Until they found a new messiah. Until Intruder arrived...

The Age of Secrecy:

Intruder came to a harsh world, one which had eroded to its original state without the technological knowledge to maintain the complex Eco-Engines. The Preisthood welcomed him as a messenger from Tyr, but when it became clear that he represented one of the people the Jihad had set out to subjugate, they attacked, in great numbers. Using the weaponary they had saved but they did not fully understand, they attacked the interloper, and tried to cut him down. Intruder simply slaughtered them, somewhat detached as he observed the way in which they attacked, fought and died. By the end of four days of killing, the Shaktar surrendered, and asked to be given another chance to welcome Intruder. He was invited to the heart of the temple of Shantii, and offered all the knowledge and technology that the Shaktar had to offer.

At this stage, while the tech-level had dwindled, they were still a force to be reckoned with, and Intruder knew that Slayer would never accept into his World of Progress another people who had such abilites within their own culture, as he had done with the Ebons before. So he agreed on a compromise.

The Shaktar would hide their weapons, their Eco-Engines, their Icon-Based technology, and retain only that which would allow a consistent picture to be presented to Slayer. The Ion Drives, some weaponary and the Code would remain, but all else would be hidden, beneath the surface, in Tark's network of underground complexes. And thus was the biggest coverup that the World of Progress would ever know perpetrated.

The Age of Progress:

The Shaktar today are powerful, dangerous, motivated beings, whose hidden history and culture allows a certain degree of superiority over others. They see their secrets as a trump card up their sleeves, and something that is not mentioned for other's sakes, instead of their own. Occasional slips have been made, such as the appearance of the Switchblade, a weapon superior to SLA's Powered Blades but seemingly without complex oscillating sections, on Mort, but these are covered or explained with a minimum of fuss.

The Shaktar who intend to leave for Mort spend years learning their true history, and then re-learning their official history. They are dumbed-down, made to appear primitive or savage, without refinement, simply savages with misguided ideals. But their true strength lies not in their size, their speed or their honour. It lies in their secret...