For centuries, members of the genetically engineered human subspecies known as Nietzscheans lived as loyal Commonwealth citizens, obeying its institutions, serving in its military and energetically contributing to its welfare... until they decided to destroy it.
By most accounts, Nietzschean discontent with the Commonwealth had been growing for decades, with many viewing it as a decadent and insufficiently challenging environment for a people as energetic as Homo sapiens invictus. But this simmering unhappiness rose to a boil after the Magog invasion of CY 9766 and what many Nietzscheans regarded as an insufficiently aggressive Commonwealth response. Long a frontier-dwelling people, many Nietzschean worlds found themselves along the front lines of Magog/Commonwealth confrontation, and suffered greatly from Magog attacks. Dawkinstown, Hawking, Kagame's World - these are only a few of the Nietzschean planets and settlements despoiled and terrorized by the Magog.
Historical accounts suggest that talk of Nietzschean secession from the Commonwealth began in earnest during this period, with the leading Drago-Kazov Pride beating the drum for a full-scale insurrection. But many Nietzscheans opposed such a radical course of action - until the Treaty of Antares. This peace treaty signed with the Magog in CY 9781 was viewed by the vast majority of Nietzscheans as the ultimate betrayal of the losses they had suffered and the burdens they had borne in the fight against this implacable foe. The negotiators who made peace with the Magog may not have realized it at the time, but in the course of taming one enemy, they created a far more dangerous one in its place.
With the majority of Nietzscheans now backing a full-scale assault against the Commonwealth, preparation for the attack began in earnest. Nietzschean-owned shipping firms went on a ship buying and building spree, always choosing vessels which could easily be converted from harmless civilian uses into lethal military ones. Passenger liners became troop ships, cargo vessels became cruisers and destroyers, and couriers were converted into stealthy attack fighters.
Similarly, the Home Guard units on Nietzschean worlds were beefed up with new personnel and equipment, and even in the elite High Guard Argosy and Lancer Corps, Nietzschean officers and crew made plans to betray their ships and units and turn them over to the enemy. In secret, a vast armada of 10,000 vessels was assembled in the Hephaistos system, with smaller strike groups positioned throughout Commonwealth space, ready to pounce on unsuspecting High Guard bases and Commonwealth seats of power when the signal to strike was given.
At Hephaistos System, a convenient rogue black hole allowed the insurrectionists to send distress signals to a large number of High Guard starships, summoning them into a trap where they could be picked off one by one. Over 200 top of the line vessels were destroyed in this fashion, until the captain and crew of the heavy cruiser Andromeda Ascendant managed to draw off the fleet's fire long enough for much of the crew to escape and reach Slipstream. Their veil of secrecy about to be rended, the Nietzscheans struck, and struck hard.
In the opening days of the war, the attackers inflicted devastating losses on the High Guard fleet and ground forces. Despite the Commonwealth's overwhelming superiority in ships and personnel (Nietzscheans comprised less than 2 percent of the population of the Systems Commonwealth), defeat appeared swift and certain, with the Nietzscheans already planning to establish a post-Commonwealth Nietzschean Empire.
But rather than roll over and accept defeat after these initial losses, the Commonwealth regrouped and fought back fiercely. Interestingly enough, some of the High Guard's few victories were actually achieved by Nietzschean commanders, for a sizeable minority of Nietzscheans remained loyal to the Commonwealth and fought bravely to preserve its ideals.
A war that was supposed to end in weeks lasted over two years [see timeline for details], and rather than resulting in a Nietzschean triumph, ended in the two sides' mutual annihilation. In fact, the brutal, anarchic status quo in known space that persists to this day can be traced directly to the power vacuum left at the end of the Nietzschean Uprising. So in attempting to ensure the survival of their people, the Nietzscheans instead condemned themselves, as well as the rest of known space, to three centuries of chaos and misery - an historical irony that's not lost, even on some Nietzscheans.