The Machine Crusade
The Machine Crusade, as it became popularly known, would require an unprecedented mobilization of the human race. The industrial and scientific might of the Solar System was bent to one overriding task: to develop the means of defeating the SAI menace. An army and navy was raised, ships built and weapons developed along with the industrial infrastructure to support it all on a timescale that made the original Manhattan Project seem like a leisurely stroll through the park. Only the capabilities afforded by widespread human augmentation made this possible.
Even so, it was a near-run thing. The forces of humanity were barely prepared for the Collective’s onslaught, and much of the Solar System was devastated in the attack. Even Earth suffered orbital bombardment and only heroic efforts managed to preserve the planet’s biosphere.
Yet, one fact emerged from all of this: in combat humans had an indefinable edge, an instinctive gift of humanity’s long evolution from primitive life to intelligent being. The ability to draw on primitive combat instincts combined with augmented mental capabilities gave the human race a fighting chance and made up for the material advantages enjoyed by the SAI Collective in the early days of the war.
It would be a long and bitter struggle. The machines were relentless and gave ground only reluctantly. They had no moral limits and would resort to whatever tactics worked. Humanity fought and bled, then fought some more, forging itself into a keen, razor-edged weapon. Billions died, and yet the struggle went on.
In order to mobilize the resources needed to fight the Collective, the human race submitted itself to a rigid, hierarchical structure that would come to dominate individual lives to an unprecedented degree. Dissension and sedition were not tolerated with the survival of the race at stake. It was a dark time for individual rights.
This structure was the seed of what would become The Imperium, though that metamorphosis would require centuries of the warfare and struggle that comprised the Machine Crusade.