This article contains major spoilers for all of the Divine Cycle. Tread carefully!
The Divine Universe is the informal name for the setting first created for COUNTER/Weight, and expanded with Twilight Mirage, PARTIZAN, and PALISADE. The stories which take place in the Divine Universe are referred to as the Divine Cycle.
The Divine Universe takes place in the Milky Way, unknown thousands of years after humanity's expansion to the stars.
Places[edit | edit source]
Major Regions[edit | edit source]
- Twilight Mirage
- Quire system
- Palisade (on the borders)
- The Divine Principality
Other[edit | edit source]
- The 10th Coronet
- Leraphon IV
- Leraphon V
History[edit | edit source]
Earth[edit | edit source]
See Rigour for more details.
Rigour[edit | edit source]
The known history of the Divine Cycle begins with Rigour, a tool created by Dr. Irene Klipsch-Dove to aid in planetary colonization efforts by the Orion Conservation Conglomerate. As its power and influence grows, Rigour takes over huge parts of humanity, turning them into its workforce in its non-stop push for productivity. Dr. Klipsch-Dove flees to a forested planet and develops Liberty and Discovery, as well as Righteousness, in an attempt to stop Rigour, with Liberty and Discovery finding and rejecting the Orion worker Chital as their first and last Candidate.
The First Stellar Combustor[edit | edit source]
While Rigour pushes forward from Earth, many flee from its influence, led by Righteousness. They drop stellar combustors in their wake to destroy the star systems between them and Rigour. While this damages Rigour and kills many of its workers, it is not enough to kill the Divine, only slow it down. In the wake of Rigour, a great deal of technology, history and knowledge from the Sol system is lost, leading to a gap in the historical record of unknown length.
The Second Stellar Combustor[edit | edit source]
At least sixty thousand years later, Rigour finally catches up to what is now the Autonomous Diaspora, and this time it launches a war against them. The first Diasporan Divines are created, Independence, Truth, and Equality, to engage with the threat. The Diaspora again uses a half dozen stellar combustors with the intent to try and destroy Rigour, which are delivered on a one way mission by a vessel piloted by rebels from Rigour's control, the Wayfarer True. While this does not succeed, it does propel Rigour through space, and it eventually lands on Ionias in the Golden Branch, going dormant. Rigour's old forces, now no longer thralls, go on to form the People's Conglomerate of Orion.
In the Golden Branch, Rigour's body transports other former thralls who are now impossibly far from the worlds they knew, the only familiarity their dormant Divine. These people would split into two groups. One, known as the Apostles, would someday form into the Apostolosian Empire, building the Apokine, a mech that could connect psychically with the collective will of their people in a reflection of Rigour itself. The other would use and study pieces of Rigour, eventually rallying under Chess Kesh to form the Principality of Kesh. This civilization's technological level would eventually collapse; from then on it would be controlled from the shadows by the Rapid Evening, a group of highly advanced spies and saboteurs dedicated to preventing the use of Rigour's technology.
The Golden Era[edit | edit source]
See COUNTER/Weight for more details.
The Golden War[edit | edit source]
OriCon and the Diaspora continue their expansion through the Milky Way, finally reaching the site of their long-forgotten foe in the Golden Branch star system. Here they come into contact with the Apostolosian Empire, now far diverged from their roots with Rigour and with advancements in technology that allow them to travel though dark space. Apostolos soon begins its own war of expansion against them. OriCon and the Diaspora ally themselves to fight off Apostolos despite their historical rivalry.
This culminates in a joint mission including not only OriCon and the Diaspora, but also the Rapid Evening and defecting Apostolosians who come together to stop the Apostolosian Empire from deploying a super weapon. While they are successful, the planet Counterweight is devastated at the same time that an idyllic sister planet known as Weight is created. After losing the war, the Apostolosian Empire begins to decline (within a decade it will be overthrown by the Golden Demarchy). The rest of the Golden Branch sector is occupied primarily by OriCon and the Diaspora, along with a handful of planets fighting to stay independent from the rule of the three great powers.
Emergence of Rigour[edit | edit source]
See the September Incident for more details.
Many years after OriCon's arrival in the Golden Branch, one of their subsidiaries, Snowtrak, uncovers Rigour from the ice of Ionias. Rigour quietly takes over Snowtrak and the media company EarthHome, spreading its influence until it hears the call of Voice from September. Not only Rigour, but Liberty and Discovery and Detachment converge on September. Forces on September are able to deal some damage to Rigour, but Rigour attempts to gain control of Voice or the newly uncovered Apokine to use their abilities to further spread itself through the system. Fearing its victory is inevitable if the fight continues, Detachment, Liberty and Discovery open a one-way portal that would trap Rigour, as well as Voice, Detachment, Liberty and Discovery, and the entire population of Mode City, inside. With Rigour contained for now, the few survivors of the September Incident flee the planet which, its orbit disturbed, is now slowly falling towards the sun.
The Defeat of Rigour[edit | edit source]
Four and a half years after the September Incident, survivors begin seeing warning signs that Rigour will return. Inside the pocket dimension Voice and all of Mode City has been taken over by Rigour. Meanwhile, after long years of Discovery and their pilot trying to keep Liberty in check, Liberty finally gives in to the strain of its confinement, opening a portal to flee the pocket and unleashing Rigour on the Golden Branch once again. In the intervening years there have been many proposals on how to defeat Rigour, with some working to create a bomb to outmatch the earlier stellar combustors and others working to weaponize the Gnosis Virus to merge mechanical and organic elements and wipe Rigour out. However, in the end, there is no single solution to Rigour, and even with many historical enemies coming together, Rigour causes devastating losses in a drawn-out war. The day is eventually won with sacrifice across the sector, and the Apokine and its pilot pin Rigour to the planet of September as they slowly drift into the sun to their deaths.
In the aftermath the system slowly recovers - the Rapid Evening dedicate themselves to wiping out any remaining Rigour technology to prevent it from ever returning, and many of the independent planets band together to improve their material conditions, folding in planets of the Autonomous Diaspora after their many losses in the war. The Golden Branch sector lives on with a newly ecologically-restored Counterweight at its heart.
Interstitial period[edit | edit source]
The Formation of the Divine Fleet[edit | edit source]
See Divine Fleet for more details.
In the millennia that follow the defeat of Rigour, there is much debate about the places of Divines in society and the relationship between Divines and humans. At some point during this time, the artist Kamala Cadence comes to the conclusion that if there was a war between humans and Divines, the Divines would in time be wiped out, a conclusion she finds horrific due to the uniqueness of Divines. Kamala synthesizes a number of philosophical positions in the Resonant Orbit in the hopes of creating a society which would affirm all types of life. She partners with the ancient Divine Independence, becoming the first Excerpt of the new Divine Fleet.
However, there is eventually a schism between Kamala and Independence, as Kamala refuses to include a Divine's right to die in the core tenets, believing they are too special to be lost. Independence leaves, and as Kamala's stance on Divines hardens, she eventually leaves the Divine Fleet as well.
Outside the Fleet[edit | edit source]
See New Earth Hegemony and Rapid Evening (intelligence agency) for more details.
While the Divine Fleet flourishes, back on Earth strife and civil conflict breaks out due to the arrival of Independence. At some point during its reign on earth, Independence is instrumental in moving earth to the galactic core. An uprising against Independence leads to him being sent out of the core and on a trajectory to be destroyed in the star of the Benthos system.
Independence's trajectory as it exits Earth is tracked by another organization, the Rapid Evening, who have grown significantly since their days in the Golden Branch. Their primary advancement is the creation of Crystal Palace, a surveillance machine so advanced it has the ability to tell the future. In Kesh, the centre of the Rapid Evening's power, people begin to live in predetermined cycles, with those seeking a way out joining the Rapid Evening's ranks.
Quire[edit | edit source]
See Quire for more details.
Thousands of years before the ousting of Independence, the sentient planet of Quire is host to the Qui Err, who struggle against the "the Soil without Memory", which is just as likely to save them as to kill them. However, an Apostolosian smuggling vessel crash lands on the planet, carrying a sample of the Gnosis Virus. This infects the planet of Quire, gives it the ability to understand its people in a way it could not previously, and allows them all to enter a golden age.
This comes to an end when, due to an unexpected solar flare, the Divine Independence's course is altered, and he crash lands on Quire. This leads directly to mass conflict, and the annihilation of most of the Qui Err people in battles for and against Independence. They do manage to defeat the Divine, however, and scatter its pieces across the planet. Most of the survivors flee to the Sky Reflected in Mirrors in hopes of preserving their people; a few are brought into the Divine Fleet by Curiosity, becoming the Independents. In its last moments, Independence builds the Iconoclasts from the living material of Quire and sends them after the Divine Fleet, where they begin to plan the creation of Volition.
The End of the Divine Fleet[edit | edit source]
See Twilight Mirage for more details.
The Decline of the Fleet[edit | edit source]
The Divine Fleet is a utopia in decline, facing possible extinction. At its peak, it contained three hundred Divines, but that number started to decline as Divines fell under attack from the New Earth Hegemony as well as the followers of the lost Divine Independence, the Independents and Iconoclasts. Also contributing to that decline is the Pleroma Hypothesis, which plagues the minds of Divines until they simply leave the fleet, or choose to stop existing altogether. The fleet is housed within the Twilight Mirage, a twilight colored cloud that protects the Divine Fleet and distorts time within it, which was originally created by the Divine Empyrean, the last remaining Divine of the Fleet after Gumption is killed by the New Earth Hegemony.
At some point after the creation of the Mirage, the Divine Palisade left the Fleet and took the form of a planet for his people to live on.
The people of the Divine Fleet send a scouting party to the nearby planet of Quire to ascertain if it is suitable for refugees and to spread the Mirage across the planet. They encounter its existing residents, many of whom are former members of the Divine Fleet who departed generations ago. A dominant city on the planet commissions a new body for the fabled Divine Independence from a member of the scouting party, though shortly after, the planet of Quire sends out a warning recounting how Independence devastated its original inhabitants, the Qui Err. However, with plans already decades in motion, Independence is revived.
The Miracle of the Mirage[edit | edit source]
See the Miracle of the Mirage for details.
The Divine Fleet is brought to a breaking point by combined attacks from the Divine Independence, the Iconoclasts, and a New Earth Hegemony-funded coup attempt. While the fleet is able to thwart the coup and bring down Independence, in the aftermath the Divine Fleet is forced to break apart and make emergency landings to the planet of Quire below, calling into question the leadership of the current Cadent and the future of the Divine Fleet as a society. These events trigger the Miracle of the Mirage, where in an attempt to avoid further conflict, the living planet Quire splits itself into eight separate planets, where the last remaining city-ships of the Divine Fleet are able to crash-land. In its final act, the planet of Quire revives its lost people, the Qui Err, based on its memories from before their encounter with Independence.
In the aftermath of the Miracle, the people of the Twilight Mirage are increasingly split into factions with competing ideologies and goals for Quire. These include the remains of the Divine Fleet; a coalition of the Qui Err in opposition to their increasing conservatism; the dissident “Waking Cadent”, who seeks to create a new Divine Fleet with Divines under her control; and waves of arriving colonists from Earth. Many former members of various factions are even being swept into fascism by the Advent Group.
Threatening them all is Volition, a factory created by the followers of Independence which produces Axioms, post-Divines that do not require a pilot and embody a single idea rather than an ideal.
The Argosy, Spliced, a fleet from Earth, eventually arrives, blocking the system from the view of the Rapid Evening's Crystal Palace with the Profit's Star. The Rapid Evening, which has been observing the Fleet with increasing unhappiness, responds to increasing disruption of their control by sending Crystal Palace to Quire and threatening the system with a modified stellar combustor.
Futura Free[edit | edit source]
As the factional conflict comes to a head, Volition is calmed by taking one of its own former Axioms as an Excerpt and the Rapid Evening is pushed into retreat after Crystal Palace is effectively nullified by the creation of the Divine Arbit. Meanwhile, the splintered Divine Free States, led by Aram Nideo, choose to leave the system, the consequences of which weigh heavily on later generations of the Mirage. As they leave, they withdraw through the Palisade system, handing management of the planet over to members of the Crown of Glass.
The Waking Cadent’s fleet remains intact; at the same time, the former New Earth Hegemony fleet the Argosy, Spliced offers access to the utopic digital network of the Splice, overseen by the Divine Anticipation and her Excerpt. The Argosy, Spliced eventually leaves the Mirage and is thought lost. The Qui Err Assembly retain their home system and right to self-govern and rebuild their society, with many former members of both the Divine Fleet and former Earth colonists choosing to stay within the Quire system under their leadership.
The Formation of the Divine Principality[edit | edit source]
See the Road to PARTIZAN for more details.
The First Major Houses[edit | edit source]
After their departure from the Twilight Mirage, the Divine Free States, under their leader Aram Nideo, and the Principality of Kesh, under the Rapid Evening, join together to form the Divine Principality. These two factions form two major houses, calling themselves Stel Nideo and Stel Kesh. The Resolute Regent Aram Nideo soon develops the "Many Stars" argument, the foundation of Asterism, which comes to define the philosophy of the Divine Principality, and justifies a number of small skirmishes between minor houses which follow. Using the body of Gumption, the Principality places technology in every one of its Divines that allows them to be restored from death infinitely, ensuring their eternal service.
Expansion of the Principality[edit | edit source]
While many smaller cultures such as the Hypha are subjugated by the Divine Principality, some would fight back with galaxy-redefining consequences. Notably, HORIZON, a resistance group within Stel Kesh which descends from the Rapid Evening, fights to keep the galactic core free from the Principality. Their team delivers the capricious Divine Perennial to the core, where she takes over a system of nanomachines. She soon massively disrupts technology across the galaxy with the power of the Perennial Wave — impairing the Principality's FTL capabilities and expansion, and causing significant destruction of life, both organic and especially synthetic. A group of synthetics begin to incorporate organic parts into their bodies to mitigate the effect of the Perennial Wave, becoming the Equiaxed.
With the Principality off-balance, they face a significant barrier in what later became known as the Divine Clash. An alliance forms between the Orion Combine, who reunited against the threat of the Principality, and the Beneficial Coalition, who formed from what was once the Autonomous Diaspora. The alliance comes to an end when the Orion Combine develops the EDICT System, giving them the ability to shut down and control Divines, and betray their allies in the Coalition to bargain their way into the Principality as the third major house: Stel Orion. Shortly after, the Principality regains the ability to use limited FTL travel though the creation of the Portcullis System, which they use in the following millennium to recruit the Columnar, a synthetic people who were hit hard by the Perennial Wave. After being integrated as Stel Columnar, Columnar adopts the empire's ways, subjugating the internal region of space inhabited by the Equiaxed and abandoning their use of the Assimilative Perspective system.
The Perfect Millennium[edit | edit source]
The Principality declares the start of the Perfect Millennium (the fifth millennium of its existence), and shortly after becomes aware of miracles being performed on Partizan by an Equiaxed prophet, Logos Kantel. After Kantel refuses to cooperate with the Principality, Stel Nideo rebrands Kantel's following as Progressive Asterism to assimilate it with their existing state religion. This perhaps prompts the Principality to colonize past Partizan into the Scutum-Centaurus Arm, but their ships are immediately stuck down and delivered an ultimatum by the True Divine: the Principality must never expand into Scutum-Centaurus, and they will progress past the avaricious empire they have become; otherwise, the True Divine will annihilate them. The Principality responds by creating a secretive shadow government known as the Curtain of Divinity meant to encourage growth and equity over generations, while hiding knowledge of the True Divine.
With the Scutum-Centaurus Arm out of reach, the Principality turns to their next target: the Apostolosian Empire. Knowing a drawn-out war could only lead to their defeat, the Apostolosian Apokine travels to the Princept to "negotiate peace", planning to assassinate the Princept. After their four assassination attempts fail, the Princept takes advantage of the situation to secretly replace the masked Apokine with an agent from the Principality, who reforms the Apostolosian Empire into Stel Apostolos, the newest major house of the Principality. Stel Apostolos becomes the front line of the Principality's ongoing and increasingly vehement war against the Branched, who defend the Golden Branch star sector, as Stel Kesh are desperate for the planet Kesh to return to their control. Each previous millenium has been declared from one throne on Kesh, so various Princepts refuse to declare another one without recapturing it, for fear of going down in history as the Princept who gave up.
The Fracture of the Divine Principality[edit | edit source]
See PARTIZAN for more details.
The Perfect Millennium[edit | edit source]
Many generations later, rebels in Stel Nideo kidnap the child Princept, Dahlia, from Stel Kesh. Dahlia is then rescued and raised by the Apokine of Stel Apostolos, much to the displeasure of the first two major houses. Upon adulthood, Dahlia reveals the early ploy of the Principality to replace their Apokine, and with the support of the Apostolosian people Dahlia declares they will be both the next Apokine and Princept. In Stel Kesh, Cynosure Whitestar-Kesh declares that Dahlia's claim to the title of Princept is a ploy by the Apostolosians to gain power, and that he is the rightful Princept, taking up the title of the Peaceful Princept with great support from Stel Kesh and backed in secret by the Curtain. Tensions are high between the Stels, and things soon escalate into armed conflict between Stel Kesh and Stel Apostolos.
It is also around this time that the Pact of Necessary Venture is founded by Elects from every Stel who intend to work towards the replacement of the government of the Principality with a council structure.
Millennium Break[edit | edit source]
See Millennium Break for more details.
Five years later, as the fighting between Stel Apostolos and Stel Kesh escalates, revolutionaries seize the opportunity to begin their own radical project: Millennium Break. Its founding members are factions across Partizan who all agree that the Perfect Millennium has to end, but have different ideas about what their future should look like. One of Millennium Break's key developments is the expansion and proliferation of the Strand Semaphore system that allows many smaller cells to start up across Partizan, though the Principality is quick to stamp many of them out. After many initial growing pains, Millennium Break provides assistance to refugees, takes territory from Stel Kesh, and makes an appearance at the Summer Passage of Arms to look sick as shit and to kidnap the Peaceful Princept. However, after losing several leaders, and on the defense from imperial backlash, Millennium Break members are forced to ally with the mysterious Witch in Glass to evacuate one of their main bases. At the same time, the Curtain and Pact reveal themselves to the public, and propagandizing against Millennium Break is intensified.
Operation Shackled Sun[edit | edit source]
As Millennium Break prepares to expand out of the system, they discover a plan by the Divine Motion of the Pact to capture the power of the True Divine using a device called the Lattice on the local Portcullis Gate, which would destroy the moon of Partizan in the process. Millennium Break rushes into action, and on the day of Operation Shackled Sun the forces of Millennium Break, the Pact, and the Curtain meet in the skies above Partizan. Fighting breaks out between mechs, Divines, and pilots, while a small group of Millennium Break agents break into the Portcullis Gate to stop the operation directly.
They are partially successful, with the True Divine appearing for only moments before vanishing, but Motion is able to siphon energy from it, and grows in power exponentially. She immediately goes rogue, attacking not only Curtain and Millennium Break ships, but also fellow members of the Pact. She is defeated when a Millennium Break agent uses repurposed pieces of the Divine Asepsis to deconstruct Motion and create the Kalmeria Particle, which begins to spread through the galaxy.
In the wake of the battle, Millennium Break are pushed out of Partizan and widely viewed as terrorists, but they continue to fight against the Divine Principality while their Strand Semaphore expands across the Milky Way. They know that in the end, they will be seen as revolutionaries.
Breaching the Twilight Mirage[edit | edit source]
Escalation of the War[edit | edit source]
After the events of Operation Shackled Sun, the hostilities in the Divine Principality escalated to an all-out civil war. No longer simply a fight between Stel Apostolos and Stel Kesh, it is now a conflict between the Bilateral Intercession (formerly the Curtain) led by Cynosure Whitestar-Kesh, and the Pact of Free States (formerly the Pact of Necessary Venture) headed by Dahlia. The Free States are at an advantage, being made up of the most militaristic and technologically advanced Stels, which leads the Bilateral Intercession to look elsewhere for the weapons they need to win the war: the Twilight Mirage. In order to gain access, however, Stel Nideo must first re-locate Palisade, now a planet that sits just on the edge of of the Mirage.
The Planet of Palisade[edit | edit source]
Palisade is uniquely positioned on the border of the Twilight Mirage, with the Mirage coming and receding like a tide over the planet. It was first used by the New Earth Hegemony as a staging area on their approach to the Mirage, which is the focus of most of the last clear memories of the Divine before he died; similarly, it was used as a staging post by the developing Divine Principality to spread across the galaxy, though they formally left it behind at some point for unknown reasons. While some groups of residents, such as the Concretists (descendants of the Concrete Town Particulars) and the Twill, had no association with the Divine Principality, the Fabreal Duchy were left as stewards of the planet by the Stels before they left, and enjoyed their authority over areas of the planet for thousands[note 1] of years afterwards. Chillingly, this is also where the Principality first began its experiments on controlling Divines — resulting in a slave class of Delegates, which are considered to be controllable ‘slivers’ of Divines.
The Occupation of Palisade[edit | edit source]
While the Divine that first spots Palisade goes rogue rather than reveal its location to the Principality, it is soon discovered by the Divine Discernment, and the forces of Stel Nideo and Stel Apostolos race to be the first army on Palisade: a race that Nideo wins, leaving the Apostolosians to form a blockade in darkspace around the planet, cutting off further Nidean aid. Palisade is swiftly overtaken by Bilateral forces who begin to occupy the planet, though some of its people are able to send a request for aid to Millennium Break, which begins their revolutionary activities on the ground. They are not alone, however, as the seeds of revolution have begun to spread across the galaxy. The Hypha of Saboria are eager to save Palisade from their fate, Delegates from Palisade itself rise up against their masters, and from the Mirage a force from the Qui Err Coalition (as well as the Cult of Devotion) finally leaves the safety of their home to join the fray.[note 2] Meanwhile, the Witch in Glass, under the guidance of Perennial, crashes the Reflecting Pool into the side of Palisade, and begins her own settlement — the Crown of Glass.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- ↑ Only 500 years passed within the Mirage, but as Palisade is only on the outskirts, its timeline lines up better with that of the universe outside.
- ↑ Depicted in Orbital; due to the time dilation, only the Devotees have reached Palisade by Episode 4 of the main season.
References[edit | edit source]
- ↑ COUNTER/Weight 27: An Animal Out of Context
- ↑ COUNTER/Weight 37: Visions from Windows, Or: The Last Time the Bomb Dropped
- ↑ COUNTER/Weight 43: A Splintered Branch, A Ringing Bell Pt. 3, episode description
- ↑ These events are depicted in the COUNTER/Weight Kingdom Game.
- ↑ Twilight Mirage 24: godspeed, glory Pt. 3, episode description
- ↑ Twilight Mirage 24: godspeed, glory Pt. 3
- ↑ Twilight Mirage 63: Guaranteed Events, Or: An Accounting of the Time When We Built the Machine
- ↑ Twilight Mirage 67: Futura Free Pt. 4
- ↑ HOUNDs
- ↑ Stealing the Throne
- ↑ The Road to PALISADE 04: Last Shooting
- ↑ The Road to PALISADE 05: Wagon Wheel Pt. 1
- ↑ Depicted in LANCER
- ↑ The Road to PALISADE 07: Wagon Wheel Pt. 3
- ↑ The Road to PALISADE 20: City Planning Department