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The Dark Age is the period that followed the Collapse when the Golden Age ended. According to Lakshmi-2, "a thousand kings" rose and fell during this age. It is followed by the City Age. Looking through various sources on the beginning of the Dark Age—which directly succeeded the Golden Age—as well as comments made by Ghost throughout most of the campaign missions, it can be assumed that the Dark Age and those that followed lasted for at least four centuries.
The Dark Age was a time of vast suffering and terrible evil. Many survivors formed colonies in the wilderness in a desperate attempt to survive. Colonies tended not to last long from either alien hordes or infighting. Humanity was on the brink of extinction.
But out of it, the Awoken emerged, and the Exo appeared from the ruins with their memories broken. Furthermore, the Ghosts had begun looking for their Guardians, and rumours circulated of the haven beneath the Traveler that would one day become the Last City.
However, some of the earliest Guardians chose not to protect the world, but subjugate it. Taking over various parts of the planet, Guardians became warlords and injustice reigned. Eventually, Guardians with integrity chose to stand up to their warlord brethren in groups such as the Iron Lords or the Pilgrim Guard. Eventually, more and more noble Guardians joined the cause until an an army hundreds strong was formed and the oppressive warlords were deposed.
Elsewhere in the Solar System the Cabal established a beachhead on Phobos for initiating the invasion of Mars. During the invasion the Cabal encountered the native Vex programing the Virgo Prohibition, and began a massive war of attrition following their nearly uncontested conquest of Mars. The Vex fought to protect the entrance to their "birthplace", the Black Garden, from the ever expanding Cabal Exclusion Zone, but apparently failed to halt the Cabal advance. This war was fought with little outside interference, the City busy with her own problems.
The Dark Age is sometimes noted for driving the development of advanced, but haphazard weapons typically derived from Golden Age salvage, such as the Jade Rabbit, which is a scout rifle built from lunar kinetic propulsion systems, or the Arbalest, a hand-held railgun that would later be mirrored by the linear fusion rifle class of weapons long after the Dark Age.
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