The Ancients

Little is known about the original inhabitant of O’Ree-Jin, known simply as the Ancients. Despite this, two things are certain: they were a very advanced civilization in terms of both technology and ethics. However, they lacked any kind of space-faring technology and as so, lived confined to O’Ree-Jin.
O’Ree-Jin is itself small compared to most inhabited planets, and the Ancients only inhabited a small portion of one of the major continents. The Ancients constrained their expansion by choice, as they had a seemingly unending life and kept tight control over procreation.
This fact becomes strange when accounting for the vast amount of uninhabited space and unexploited resources around them. This includes the protean substance known as the Essence of Life. This way of life is explained by the Ancients' cultural and moral beliefs. All known scriptures of the society relied on a basic circular logic: one affects the environment through consumption, one can consume because he/she can produce, one produces as much as they need, one’s needs must be contained by their patience, one must nurture patience through diligence, diligence is learned by providing to the community, the community is the ultimate protector of the environment.
It is apparent to anyone studying the planet's history that the power of O’Ree-Jin works in circles. Around this fact emerged the basic precepts of how life was organized for the Ancients. They put extreme effort into educating on a systemic understanding of life and nature. All things are related to each other and affect each other. Self-reliance and independence were significant qualities, but society and the community must allow them.
They understood life as an extension of unity (dependability among self-organizing organisms). As those ideas hold true, a being should strive to live its life unattached to need and desire as excesses may corrupt unity and destroy the systemic balance. The final conclusion is that one must strive to achieve their own desires, but that should never come at the cost of the desires of others or the community as a whole.
The Ancients hold these beliefs as a moral imperative. That is why they grew so slowly until an apparent stagnation at some point in their history. Although the Ancients were quite an advanced and free society, not having a communal goal more sophisticated than the respect for each other and the ecosystem hindered both their advancement and growth. In truth, they were primarily focused on self-knowledge and acquiring a deeper understanding of their community and their place in nature. To order the cultural and societal affairs of the population, a caste of Sages functioned as an oligarchy. The Sages were mostly members of the earlier generations that formed the Ancient species. Some of them had thousands of years of life and experience. The caste was typically a static assembly, and only when a seat was vacated was another Sage able to occupy it. A seat was vacated when a Sage became tired of their current life form. When a Sage wanted to “return to the planet” they would begin a slow process of essence extraction in which their body and essence would return to O'Ree-Jin itself. The Sages, as the oldest inhabitants of O'Ree-Jin, were vast containers of the essence. Most of the time, the Sages were not involved in the decision-making process of most mundane things. In truth, it seems that most of the day to day life was ordained by custom and the following of scriptures. The Sages were simply admired as those with a better understanding of the scriptures. In that regard, the Sages directed the expansion and evolution of their civilization. However, this changed during the final centuries of the life of the Ancients… At some point in their history — not much before their extinction — a schism in their form of life happened. It seems there had always been divergent ways of thinking around the scriptures and the role of the Ancients as the dominant species of O’Ree-Jin. Most of the time, those dissonant voices didn’t get enough traction to warrant a significant debate among the Ancients. However, one of these voices gained enough following to challenge the dominant way of thinking. They summarised these beliefs with an apostate pamphlet named "The Path of Wonder" which contradicted basic precepts of the Ancients' culture: one realizes his potential by means of consumption; one is able to consume because he is able to produce; one produces as much as he needs; one’s needs must be contained by his ability to grow; one shall grow through diligence; diligence is learned by providing to the community; the community's ultimate goal should be to realize its potential. Everything we do must rely on this spiral as the power of our people depends on their growth. This radical change of view proposed a more proactive way of thinking about systemic growth on O’Ree-Jin. It is mostly attributed to the feeling of some of the Ancients that they were wasting precious time and resources just by not acting on them.
The schism tends to be attributed to a natural flaw in the way the Ancients devised growth. The Ancients were capable of amazing biotechnological feats, the likes of which have not been seen anywhere else in the galaxy. At the same time, these technological applications of the essence were always focused on expanding community boundaries, not in the form of raw growth, but how they related between themselves and the planet. As more applications for the substance were found, the more impatient and wondrous the Ancients became.
The followers of the Path of Wonder advocated for a conjoint effort, policing and regulating the means of production and the populace's work effort. This could not abide by the majority of the Ancients as it would hinder people's autonomy and freedom. From an outsider’s point of view, it seems the Ancients found their own kind of decadence. Decadence in the Ancients' society came through a visceral fear based on the idea of inaction waste: if we do not take advantage of the current opportunities, we will face later consequences. Along with this new movement, a portion of the populace started making exaggerated exploitation and use of the essence for growth, experimentation and knowledge acquisition.
This was achieved mainly through the use of Harvesters. A sophisticated technology that extracted the essence from O’Ree-Jin’s bedrock, fracturing it in the process. Over time, this began to impact the environment, creating residue and subproducts of the substance treatment that were dangerous to the ecosystem. At some point, the Sages tried to bring the debate to the public, expand the assembly, incorporate new participants, and reach a mutual consensus between these two seemingly opposing ways of thinking. The popularity of the sages helped sway public opinion their way. Most of the activity of the Path of Wonder became clandestine as it became somewhat shameful. The followers of the Path of Wonder exploited O’Ree-Jin’s essence without care for its consequence, and the Ancients tried as peacefully as possible to control that imprudent behavior.
The crisis was averted only briefly.
The situation on O'Ree-Jin deteriorated as the more traditional Ancients tried to halt the rampant misuse of the primal substance, the more challenging and transgressive the younger generations became. At some point — the conflict stopped being a philosophical debate about how to tackle knowledge acquisition and science — and became a fight for power and self-determinism. Violence followed. Aggression was something new to Ancient society. Most of the aggressive acts were akin to those of a child against a father, those that arise from the frustration of believing oneself in possession of truth and, at the same time being incapable of imposing that truth. The followers of the Path of Wonder started disobeying publicly, rioting and destroying property.
This public disobedience was met with a non-aggressive response by the dominant Ancients, which in the end, allowed the aggressive behaviour to escalate.
Year after year, decade after decade, positions became more and more radicalized. At one point, an extremist group began the process of acquiring essence through live tissue extraction. Ancients were captured against their will, and the essence was taken directly from them. This brutal method of extraction had its rewards, as was demonstrated as the most efficient way of substance acquisition — 1000 to 1 compared to normal unearthing and atmospheric capture. This method had a precondition, the more accumulated substance the tissue had, the more it could be extracted. This horrifying discovery ended up being the demise of the Ancient people, as the practice became a standard among the clandestine experimenters and more extreme groups of the Path of Wonder. The practice was a capital fault in the eyes of the Sages. Their tradition stated that one must choose when to end their current physical form, and the process should entail returning their essence to the planetary ecosystem. The Sages believed that by containing the essence of their people and processing it, they were effectively killing them forever. This became the tipping point for the Sages, as they announced harsher measures and the creation of a prosecuting militia.
It all ended quickly after that announcement. Nuggets of information and recordings have been recovered over time, painting a picture of the demise of the Ancients. Not long after the Sages announcement of strict measures, a terrorist attack took place during an assembly. The attack killed most of the Sages to end their rulership and gather their accumulated essence. Close to two thousand sages containing 50% of all accumulated essence during the millennia. A wealth of energy, power and knowledge destroyed in an instance. This consumption became known to those who studied the Ancient civilisation as "The First Harvest."
The event created a chain reaction within the planetary ecosystem. Some believe that, as the Sages said, they were connected to the planet. The trauma was so immense that O’Ree-Jin reacted against it, scarred for eons to come. Other people believe the sudden expulsion of all that energy in a contained space, created the first of the energy storms we see on the present day.