Sixth Era of Humanity
5323- The General Galactic Alliance is established. It is a powerless, useless institution that nobody but hopeless dreamers really care about, dispite it calling itself the "ruling body of mankind". The Alliance is so weak that many people aren't even aware of its existance. It's Policing and Defense arm possesses less starships than a lower tier pirate gang.
On the other hand, piracy becomes more and more common. Soon, pirates begin gathering in groups to better protect themselves against other pirates. Pirate skirmishes slowly (or quickly) develop into full blown wars. The pirate groups start recruiting from planetary populations and assimilating other groups, and soon there are entire pirate Clans with their own fleets, who are the undisputed rulers of space. The only known force that is known to be capable of resisting them are the Knoth, and they are too busy licking their wounds after being beaten so badly by the humans, and then having to fend off Hive cults that tried to absorb the Knoth Monarchy from within, to care.
5350 - The pirates continue to gain power, constantly raiding planets for valuable commodities and reselling them to other planets, who often don't have any choise as trade with the pirates is their only source of food and other vital commodities. Many pirate groups arbitrarily declare themselves rulers of certain planets. If the planet refuses to bow to the pirate ruler, it is bombarded from space, and the "request" is repeated. Soon, various pirate empires begin to form, each being similar and yet very different from each other.
The technological level drops significantly, most of the advanced technologies mankind developed with the guidance of the Mastermind are lost.
5710 - The General Galactic Alliance officially ceases to exist. Nobody notices.
5900s - Several of the most powerful pirate empires sign a cooperation treaty and become the de-facto ruling body of mankind. They are called the Union of Superpowers.
6500s - The Messenger Order is founded by Don Dezneir, ruler of the Empire of Dezneir.
6590 - The Union of Superpowers enters a war with the Empire of Dezneir, and quickly loses dispite their overwhelming numerical advantage. The only reason for the loss is the Shipwrecker, a small, frigate-sized ship that was constructed using rediscovered Hive, and even some extremely rare Onslaught technologies. The overwhelming power this single ship possessed was enough to utterly embarass the huge fleet the Union of Superpowers ammassed. Thus, Don Dezneir has assured himself a place in history, not to mention expanded his influence in the galaxy, as the neighbouring empires learned to fear the Empire of Dezneir and the unbeatable Shipwrecker.
6700 - The Union of Superpowers, the single most long-lived institution during the Dark Age, is dissolved because of internal frictions that quickly grow into a huge war. Planets are bombarded, civilians are killed, primitive aliens are abducted by various empires, and thrown into the battlefields half-trained, to be used as cannon fodder against their human (or other enslaved aliens) opponents.
6880 - The remains of Smeegole, the Gondorian home planet that was destroyed by the Onslaught Fleet, are re-settled by certain historians, philosophers and others who are fascinated by the Gondorian heritage, and have constructed an entire religion based on the Gondorians. These people, imitating Gondorian practices, begin to implant and replace their body organs with artificial machine-based ones. In their zeal they go farther than most Gondorians did, many of them even replacing their entire body with non-humanoid mechanical frames.
However, due to flawed and lacking technology, there are problems with these implants, and these Neo-Gondorians fail to replicate certain functions the original Gondorians had. One of the more apparent failures was their attempts to synthesize a functional artificial cardio-vascular system. As a result, because the Gondorians did replace some organs that are tied to this system, they required to replenish their blood supply from an external source once in awhile. In case they won't have any cloned stock availible for this purpose (such as when visiting a far away planet), many Neo-Gondorians have installed devices that will puncture a human's skin and suck-up their entire blood. Thus, even though they rarely ever needed to resort to this system (only when doing this was the only option for survival), the Neo-Gondorians soon recieved the monicker "Cyber-Vampires".
6900 - Last major war of the Dark Age is fought. This war sees an unprecedented cruelty, an amazing feat considering the already huge cruelty of the previous wars. The casualty rate reaches a staggering 2 billion dead and countless more wounded or otherwise affected, as nerve gas agents are released on entire planets.
6920 - The galaxy is relatively peaceful compared to before, as far as a fractured, pirate-infested, largely despotic galaxy could be.
6,999 AD - First Contact with the Nec'Toom, with disastrous results. The various empires throw everything they've got against the 3rd interstellar race they've ever met, but it seems not enough as the Nec'Toom keep tearing through human systems, only occasionally bothered by the desparate Terran defenders.