The discovery of the Labyrinth completely changed the landscape of space exploration. The Corvo, who had made rigorous but primitive strides towards wormhole technology, put their research on hold as they did not need to create their own wormholes anymore. The Labyrinth, a gigantic web of naturally occurring, interconnected wormholes - a web with more exits than can be counted - is very treacherous to navigate. Some tunnels are so narrow that only the tiniest of robot probes can navigate them without colliding into themselves, while others contain entire star systems. Many teams have been sent to explore its tunnels but very few have returned; as communication inside the wormhole is extremely complicated, one can only wait.
The Corvo and the Iz'kal started to explore the Labyrinth as soon as they were capable, unaware of the other as they mapped, conquered, and exploited the resources of dozens of star systems. Since they found the Labyrinth, the growth of the Corvo had been exponential - at least until their first encounter with an iz’kal colony. For the first time in their age of exploration, they had met another species as advanced and as powerful as themselves.
The first contact was tense and all attempts at a diplomatic and friendly relationship had failed. Their civilisations were too different, their moral codes disparate. To each, the other represented decay and evil. One wanted freedom, and the other wanted community. They tried to stop communications, to keep the other away, but both species were too involved with the Labyrinth. They had grown into it, and their colonies and their interests lied within it. In each species’ quest for expansion, interaction would be inevitable: often one would spend enormous amounts of resources to explore a system, only to find that the other had arrived first.
There were two choices: start a war or go somewhere else. Open war was not an option on the table: the destructive power of both civilisations ensured the complete annihilation of both sides, with no one left to enjoy the spoils. And both sides were not ready for a full scale space war, especially in a place as strange as in the Labyrinth - where things can go south at the smallest miscalculation.
The relationship between the Corvo and the Iz’kal had to continue. They met, they discussed, they fought, and they hated. An agreement was created, and the rules of intergalactic exploration and conquest were drawn. It was very simple: there could be no attacks between the two civilisations and whomever landed first on a planet had all rights to it.
The space race began. Each species wanted the best planets, either to colonize them or to mine them. They set up their flags everywhere they went, whether it was a habitable paradise or a desolated rock. And while the rules were fair, the space race resulted in plenty of dirty tactics.
Expedition teams into new territory would disappear regularly, followed by the discovery that the other species had already claimed that territory for themselves. The governments took advantage of the fact that communication was difficult, and that it was hard to find proof of foul play. The war was slow, silent, and deadly.
The Corvo and the Iz’kal now coexist in a state of cold war, as direct confrontation is nearly impossible. They compete for resources and try to collapse their opponent’s economic systems through fierce commerce. They fight black-op wars on remote planets, while incredible duels between hackers take place on a daily basis, fueled by the information that intelligence and counterintelligence agents provide them. Missionaries and inquisitors convert their rivals’ populations to their own Gods, and agitators stir the native species of planets under their enemies’ domain into rebellion.
However, each species has its own internal conflicts, as many religions coexist and their greedy Gods are always hungry for expansion. Prophets, politicians, and businessmen all struggle for control. The universe holds its breath, waiting to see who will fall first and what will be the fate of the known species.