Conflict and CausesEdit
Near the end of the Second Extrasolar War, arms manufacturer Jorhan Stahl and military commander Admiral Orlock vied for position as Autarch following Scolar Visari's death at the hands of invading soldiers of the Interplanetary Strategic Alliance during Operation Archangel. Both Stahl and Orlock had extensive military resources and political backing, and their contention for power escalated into a brief civil war. After having Oorlock dealt with, Stahl arranged for an experimental attack vessel, the Khage, for carrying irradiated Petrusite from Pyrrhus. The Petrusite missiles were intended to be targeted towards Earth, the capital world of the United Colonial Nations.
Following Orlock's death, a conflict emerged between remnants of the ISA invaders and Stahl's military. In the effort to vanquish Stahl, ISA operatives commandeered a pair of Strike Fighters and chased Stahl to the Khage. Eventually, Tomas Sevchenko launched a nuclear missile from his Strike Fighter towards the Khage, and the impact caused the unintended detonation of the irradiated Petrusite warheads in Helghan's atmosphere. The combustion of the warheads caused a chain reaction of Petrusite irradiation.
Enormous Petrusite fires ignited as a result of the missiles, and propagated rapidly throughout the planet. The irradiated Petrusite missiles used in Stahl's cruiser, combined with nuclear weapons and Helghan's high levels of radiation, fueled a large-scale chemical combustion. The resulting detonation caused tremendous damage to both organic life and inorganic structures such as vehicles and buildings. These fires engulfed the planet in a wave of nuclear fire.
In general, Helghan's civilian population had no inkling of the oncoming disaster or at what time it would strike, and for most purposes it was like any other day. Many people who were far enough away from the Petrusite fires not to be killed on impact, were killed by the collapse of buildings or fallen debris. The death toll resulting from the detonation and its immediate aftermath was estimated at one billion.
Damage from the detonation left large portions of the planet uninhabitable and largely unsafe, particularly because of subterranean tremors. These tremors echoed long after the blast and continued to stimulate large buildings and city structures to collapse. Despite this, there were a number of survivors. The civilians who survived migrated in large numbers toward the less affected zones, establishing temporary shelters and makeshift hospitals. At one of these hospitals, future Black Hand leader Vladko Tyran was said to have been born.
In the shelters, rumors began to circulate that Jorhan Stahl was still alive somewhere on Helghan, and speculation began as to how the disaster was caused. The Helghast ultimately blamed the ISA as responsible for the disaster (as it was an ISA soldier, Tomas Sevchenko, responsible for the Khage's destruction within Helghan's atmosphere).
The remnants of the Helghast government provided cruisers for use as escape vessels for the survivors and moved many them off of the planet. However, some civilians could not be transported, either because the vessels were at full capacity or because they could not reach the evacuation site quickly enough. In particular this was an issue with elderly people and small children. Civilians in this category remained on Helghan.
The devastated Helghan military corps regrouped its resources and remained active. Those that were evacuated from Helghan were offered refuge on Vekta by the ISA, allowing them to colonize half of the planet and established New Helghan, the successor state of the Helghan Empire. Others have also taken residence on planet Gyre.
Despite the eradication of all major settlements, a number of corporations continue to use the planet as a base of activities, resulting in a small, semi-permanent population. The most notable of these corporations is Stahl Arms, along with its own R&D personnel, and connected military base. New Helghan continued to use Petrusite imports as a power source and an economic commodity. This compelled the refineries on Helghan to remain active and staffed despite the hazards of extraction and the refineries' distance from most consumers.
Ruins from former settlements, such as the former Pyrrhus region, were numerous and remained strewn throughout the planet. Some regions remained fraught with automated attack drones and other combat automata, which were remnants of the Second Extrasolar War. There was a large concentration of drones adjacent to Stahl's base, which may have been a deliberate decision by Stahl. These remained engaged long after the evacuation to New Helghan, making it difficult for non-military groups to survey the area.
The Helghast blamed the cause of the Terracide on ISA soldiers Tomas Sevchenko and Ricardo Velasquez, who were responsible for detonating Stahl's cruiser. Sevchenko and Velasquez were forced into hiding while the ISA claimed the two soldiers as "missing in action." The Helghast has since post a manhunt for the soldiers, who still remain uncaught.