The Battle of Hephaistos was the opening battle in The Fall of the Systems Commonwealth against the Systems Commonwealth. This battle saw the Andromeda Ascendant trapped on the edge of the Event Horizon of a black hole for over 300 years, as well as the beginning of the Nietzschean crusade to topple the Commonwealth. This battle occurred in the year 9784 CY (4858 CE; sometimes referred to as 0 AFC).
The Nietzschean Rebellion was the direct result of the Treaty of Antares, where the Commonwealth ceded several systems to the savage Magog. The Nietzscheans became disenchanted with the Commonwealth and vowed they'd set things right, by destroying it and replacing it with a Nietzschean Empire. Hephaistos made a perfect ambush point with over 70% of the half a billion sentient population being Neitzschean. When the black hole destabilized the solar system, the Nietzscheans laid their trap and waited for the expected arrival of the High Guard relief ships.
Luring High Guard starships to the Hephaistos system with messengers and distress signals, the Nietzscheans laid in wait with a fleet composed of over ten thousand ships. When the Andromeda Ascendant arrived, the Nietzscheans encircled her and opened fire. Surprised by the Nietzscheans betrayal the Andromeda's First Officer Gaheris Rhade warned Captain Dylan Hunt that this attack could have been part of a larger incident. Agreeing with the sentiment of his loyal friend Hunt ordered all Nietzschean crew member be relieved of duty and placed in the brig. In the meantime the enemy fleet began to circle in closer around the Andromeda completely surrounding her.Being too close to the gravitational pull of the black hole to enter Slipstream, and realizing the Neitzschean conspiracy, Dylan Hunt ordered the evacuation of the Andromeda, and for survivors to warn the High Guard. Hunt, along with Lieutenant Refractions of Dawn, piloted the Andromeda straight towards the singularity to attempt a gravitational slingshot maneuver. Gaheris Rhade, who was being escorted to the brig by ship security, killed the guards and made his way to the bridge, sabotaging the Andromeda Ascendant Artificial Intelligence and power systems on the way. Rhade arrived on the bridge, killing Dawn and opening fire on Dylan. After revealing the motive behind the Rebellion, Rhade and Dylan engaged in a firefight and hand-to-hand combat, ending in Hunt killing Rhade before becoming trapped in the event horizon.
It is unclear how many Commonwealth ships were lost at Hephaistos to the Nietzschean ambush, but when the High Guard finally found out what was happening, the war began in earnest. Most of the Andromeda's crew survived the evacuation and would later go on to settle refuge planet of Tarazed.
A rescue mission was launched to recover the Andromeda by Hunt's fiance Sara Riley, but met with minimal success after being ambushed by Nietzscheans. However, this rescue mission's efforts made it possible for the Eureka Maru to rescue the Andromeda three hundred years later. Dylan would later go down a hero as Sara told everyone on Tarazed that he would return to restore to Commonwealth one day after meeting him in a strange temporal occurrence.
Rhade went down as a hero on both sides. The Commonwealth remembered him as one of the first great officers to be lost in the conflict. But the Nietzscheans remembered him as a spy and informant who played a key role in laying the great trap. Dylan Hunt later came to the conclusion that Rhade was a double agent, but did try his hardest to let Hunt know the rebellion was coming, short of betraying the rebellion itself.
Rhade's betrayal would haunt Hunt for many months afterward, influencing his perceptions of Nietzscheans forever. He expressed he wanted "to just kill every last one of them" to Rev Bem upon meeting Orca Pride, convinced that Rhade's friendship with him had all been one giant act. When he met Gaheris' reincarnated form of Telemachus Rhade on Tarazed, and was faced with betraying Telemachus and his values in exchange for a signatory to the Commonwealth, Dylan finally came to terms that Gaheris felt he was serving the greater good. Dylan's attitudes towards Nietzscheans in general became softer from this point on, though still suspicious.
In an alternate timline Dylan died at the opening Battle of Hephaistos, and Rhade was trapped at the event horizon of the black hole. Rhade would come to regret his role in the Rebellion and would find himself showing more contempt for the Nietzscheans than even Dylan ever could albeit for different reasons.
While Dylan distrusted the Nietzscheans for the destruction they brought on the Commonwealth, Rhade hated Nietzscheans because they had proven themselves to be inferior by allowing Known Space to fall into anarchy. Upon witnessing the Rebellion's aftermath and that his people were dictators, not warrior poets; Rhade changed his fate by dying at Hephaistos.
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