The Shattered Ring
There are as many theories about the eventual fate of The First as there scholars in the cluster. Everyone has their own pet idea, and yet none can be made to fit all the facts. Some, backed up by intensive research or sheer publicity, have gained credence in recent years.
One of the more popular theories is that the First were not destroyed, but instead moved onto ‘another plane of existence’. The exact meaning of this can vary, from evolving into beings of pure energy who are now part of the very fabric of space-time, downloading their minds into a paradise virtual-reality simulation and discarding their physical bodies, to literally being taken into heaven by God (or Gods).
A common idea with conspiracy theorists states that the First were wiped out by alien invaders of some kind. Some variations state the races fought each other into extinction, while others believe the First were defeated and the aliens then left, for reasons of their own. The latter is especially popular as the basis of numerous books, films and games featuring the aliens’ return.
The fact that to date no known alien artefacts have even been discovered in the entire cluster does not of course put off the conspiracy theorists, who maintain that archaeologists have either not recognised such items when they are found, or that planetary leaders have reasons for keeping things quiet, and such discoveries are quickly hushed up.
One of the more credible ideas theorises that the destruction of the First’s civilisation may have been caused by a problem with their nanotechnology – this is more popularly known as the Grey Goo hypothesis. Nanotechnology was one of the foundations of the First civilisation, and indeed the cities of Babylon may still have active nano-devices that keep them in their pristine state.
The idea of a replication error in the programming of a nano-machine which then proceeds to destroy the First civilisation has much to back it up, and could even explain the Sundered Ring itself. This raises the spectre that the infected nanomachines may still exist somewhere in a dormant state, ready to be activated by the first archaeologist or prospector that stumbles across them…
On Crescent some locals cleave to the idea that the first found a simple life so attractive that they purposefully regressed into a simpler form of life, the best to enjoy the short time they spent in the universe. Some revere the local Meyamey and Zoabab trees as descendents of the First.