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The Tarmigan Apocalypse was a historical event that led to the destruction of the Human Galactic Commonwealth in the 55th Solar Century.

Who Were the Tarmigans[]

Short answer: Nobody knows.

Long Answer: The Tarmigans were a powerful species that destroyed the Human Galactic Commonwealth, wiped out 10,000 worlds, killed, perhaps, 99% of the human race (some two trillion people!) set back human civilization by thousands of years, and nobody knows who they were, exactly.

The Tarmigans were very powerful beings of undetermined origin; possibly a much more ancient and powerful alien species residing in an area of the galaxy not previously explored by humankind. At the time, the Commonwealth had begun exploration of the Galactic Core and the remote reaches of the outer spiral arms of the galaxy. Either could have been the point of origin of the Tarmigans. It is also possible they came from outside the galaxy entirely, or even another set of dimension. It is possible that they represented the subconscious collective ID of the human race manifesting a deeply embedded, self-fulfilling Apocalypse myth.  

Theories abound, but facts are rare.

What is known --- or at least, fairly certain --- is that the Tarmigans were far more powerful than humans of the time, so far beyond humans in capability that some have suggested that wiping out an entire galactic scale civilization was just an incidental side effect to some other thing they were doing. The Tarmigans ignored all attempts at communication, negotiation, and surrender. No human defense was effective against them.

Some scholars have suggested that Tarmigans were a myth propagated to explain the collapse of human civilization, and attribute it to an external force rather than the internal forces of decadence and decline. That was me, actually. And I was wrong. Probably. In part.

Descriptions of the Tarmigans[]

From eyewitness accounts and data recordings, Tarmigans appear to have been creatures of light and energy, tens or hundreds of kilometers in length. They appear as swirls of bright white sparkling light with long flowing tails of energy.

Tarmigan Attack Patterns

The Tarmigans appear to have begun their destruction of the Human Galactic Commonwealth with an attack on the Terran Solar System; annihilating the Earth's rump population as well as the populations on the colonies elsewhere in the solar system. From there, the Tarmigans spread outward through the galaxy attacking and destroying all of the major human colonies in the Orion and Centarus Quadrants.

The experience of the planet Parallax provides one of the only accounts of a Tarmigan attack. After bypassing the planet's orbital defenses, the Tarmigan's annihilated the planet's entire population. Witness accounts describe bright flashes of light, like lightning, as the entire human population vanished. Structures, technology, animals, and artificial life forms were left untouched.

When the Tarmigans reached the Perseus Quadrant, their tactics changed apparently. Most of the outer colonies of humankind were left intact. Those few that were attacked were not flash-fried, but subjected to different kinds of attacks. The reasons for this are a matter of speculation. Perhaps, having proven their point, they merely wanted to leave the survivors of humanity with a reminder of their power. Perhaps, they chose to selectively eliminate colonies in order to shape the trajectory of human history. Perhaps, they were merely toying with us, like stalking cats torturing a rodent. Perhaps they had simply grown bored with genocide.

The Tarmigans shifted the orbit of the planet Dominia, resulting in a global ice age, but they did not eliminate the population directly. The population died out for lack of food and energy, the last of them surviving for sometime in subterranean bunkers.

The Tarmigans halted the rotation of the planet Organa, resulting in disruption of global weather  patterns. One side of the planet burned, the other froze. The entire human population died out.

The Tarmigans attacked the Auroran colony on Ecco 1, turning the entire human population into salt statues. 

The Tarmigans attacked the colony on the Sapphirean moon Hyperion, subjecting it to a gamma ray burst that killed the entire population of 4,000.  However, the planet Sapphire itself was left unscathed. Some suspect that the moon was not attacked by Tarmigans at all; an overload detonation of a starship's engine would have produced the same effect.

Effects of the Tarmigan Apocalypse[]

Obviously, the major effects included the deaths of two trillion people, the destruction of a Galactic Scale Civilization, and millennia of setbacks to human civilization as a whole.

Interstellar transportation ended. Interstellar communication networks broke down. The colonies that survived were remote and lightly populated.

Due to a lack of contact with other colonies – coupled by a fear of attracting the attention of the Tarmigans – each colony proceeded to evolve independently of the others. Throughout the Commonwealth period, colonies had always developed distinct cultures, but this development had always been leavened by contact with the greater Commonwealth. The Tarmigan Apocalypse left each world alone. When contacts began to be restored some 1,600 years later, each colony had its own distinct culture, some so profoundly different from the rest that they were almost alien.