The last ship from Terra arrived in 2780. A battered merchantman, bearing the telltale marks of laser fire and missile impacts, haphazardly held together by crude frontier repairs. Its hardy crew embarked from Terra in 2762 and slowly traded their way to the Spinward. There they hoped to reach stars less affected by the general collapse of the Rule of Man. Indeed, they found Maadin - with its still-functional economy, cut off from the collapsing 2nd Imperium.
They brought tales of untold horrors closer to the core. Interdependence between well-developed worlds caused mass famine once trade relations broke down. Entire worlds, inhospitable to maintain human life without external shipment of spare parts and supplies died even faster. In the absence of government, pirates and raiders ruled space. Slavery reared its ugly head. World turned upon world in a scramble for dwindling resources. Worlds blamed each other for piracy - in some cases with good reason - and waged wars, destroying their already meager fleets and making way to piracy even further.
The Rule of Man was gone, replaced by Chaos. The merchantman's crew spoke of a dark Night descending upon once-prosperous space. How long will this Night be? Probably very long - as the wounds suffered by Known Space economies will take many decades, or even centuries, to heal. Will anyone ever replace the fallen Imperium with a government of Law and commerce? From the crew's description of dying Imperial-Terran space, this sounded improbably in the foreseeable future.
Regular communications with New Libdis, the titular Dark Nebula Sector Capital, have been intermittent as well, through free traders and the occasional Scout craft. Courier services had collapsed decades ago. Despite the growing Aslan threat, New Libdis has no ships to spare. Neither does it have resources or funds to send to Maadin.
The Rule of Man was dead.
We were on our own.
But it took that battered Terran freighter for us to understand this.
- Klara Semonova (2887). History of the Maadin Confederation, p.12. Confederation Historical Society: Maadin.