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There was a time before the Humans crawled on flippers from the seas of a forgotten world, before the Bjaki learned to speak or the Ptatl learned to fight. Most of what happened during these times is lost to the modern eye but there seems to be evidence that there were other times, other races, and other beings that walked the lands of now-dead worlds. Here and there among the stars are occasionally found inexplicable relics or ruins of unthinkable antiquity, generally in such poor shape that analysis leads to only the merest clues, slight indications that there were others in days past. 

The Dark Age
While little physical documentation exists, there is little doubt that there was a Dark Age. Physical evidence suggests that, at some point, the older races like the Humans, Bjaki, and Iliene underwent the colonization of space. By modern standards, the technologies were relatively crude, matching Ancient or early Archaic era technologies, but it was enough that they appear to spread between sectors and established both colonies and small, burgeoning empires.

But something happened to isolate these scattered settlers and completely cut off galactic travel for an unspecified amount of time. It is unknown if it was result of a single, catastrophic event of galactic proportion or a series of smaller, unrelated disasters but the starfaring races all just cut each other off and fell into primitive disarray. Intelligent life on many worlds died off completely but many others were able to survive and rebuild into the races and empires of today.

There are many speculations as to the possible causes of a galactic Dark Age. Some speculate that the initial colonization of space was based on a tenuous technology or unreliable planning, that a key resource ran out or a single colony failed that had a chain-failure effect on the rest of the galactic travelers. Some cite Ataxia or the violent and erratic phenomena encountered in the Badlands, speculating that a single, massive instance of mysterious phenomena may have swept the galaxy, disabling critical equipment necessary for continued space exploration. Less reputable types even cite the legend of the Dark Walkers, speculating that beings of incredible power swept through the galaxy and drove our intelligent ancestors back to their planets.

Dark Walkers
Many individuals believe that beings of extraordinary power and knowledge flew the spaces between the stars, colonizing and fighting and governing much like the modern powers. There are stories of wondrous technologies beyond the comprehension of modern scientists and countless adventure yarns are published describing fantastic worlds of the past and future. 

Others believe that those who dwelt before time were more than mortal. There are tales of corrupt, evil forces that bastardized the very laws of physics around them and fought for territory or power or simply because that's all they knew how to do. Various races and movements have different names for the beings that populate the stories with which children are frightened: the Old Gods or the Old Ones, Elders, Dark Walkers or the Dark Forces. Some personify these mysteries of the universe in such gents as the Bjaki's nefarious Chitl. In fact, there is a growing branch of science devoted to Ataxia, or the study of places where the laws of physics seem to have broken down on varying scales. Attracting everything from physicists to archaeologists to amateur explorers, the study is called various names to various people including Localized Chaos Theory, Phenomenal Ataxia, and Ghost Hunting.