The First Cylon War

Official History of the Cylon War

The term ‘Cylon’ was originally used to refer to the advanced, AI controlled humanoid robots first created on Caprica in the early 1940s. The Cylons were created to be servants to mankind – performing dangerous, demanding, or repetitive tasks for which they were well suited. They proved very popular among civilian and military users alike, both for their utility and for their ability to interact easily with humans.


The war began when the Cylons rebelled against their creators. The most widely accepted explanation is that something went wrong with the Cylons advanced AI software, most likely the result of a coding bug or a computer virus, and that this fault was propagated through ‘The Net’ – the universal wireless network then in existence – to other Cylons. Several months of isolated incidents preceded the first organized uprisings in 1953. The conflict would last some twelve and a half years, ending with The Armistice of 1966.

There were no clearly established front lines during the first stage of the war. The fighting took place on every Colony, wherever there were humans and Cylons together in close proximity. The humans were unprepared for an uprising by their robotic servants, and casualties were heavy despite the fact that most of the existing Cylons were not combat models – the sturdy Cylon servant and labor robots were more than capable of killing humans using the tools they had at hand.

The Cylons proved to be adept at hacking computer systems, including The Net, and they were able to cause heavy damage to the Colonial infrastructure via sabotage. When humanity began to rebuild, they intentionally used older technology that was not vulnerable to Cylon hacking, and large-scale networking of computer systems were (and still are) expressly forbidden.


After about three years of fighting the situation began to stabilize. Human losses had been heavy, but humanity survived the initial assaults and managed to secure large areas of Colonial land and space. The nature of the fighting had shattered Colonial society and forced full mobilization. With every able-body needed for the war effort, issues like traditional gender roles fell by the wayside, and both woman and men now served in the military with no distinction as to gender.

Meanwhile, the Cylons had established their own military forces, and the ability to fabricate more of their kind. The now infamous Centurions, Raider fighters, and Basestars appeared at this time, and other models of Cylon were then rarely encountered.


While only one Colonial world (the moon Djerba – located in sector 12, outside the Cyrannus System) was completely lost to the Cylons, the fighting raged back and forth everywhere else as both sides struggled to secure resources and space lanes. This second phase of the war dragged on for seven bloody years, and while there were victories for the Colonies, it became increasingly clear that humanity was now in a war of attrition, and a bloody stalemate had developed.

Turning the Tide

Seeking a new strategy, Colonial command came up with Operation Clean Sweep. The fleet began to publicly declare their badly damaged ship as having been lost with all hands, while secretly pulling those ships back for repairs and refitting. Security was ruthlessly enforced, and over the course of the next year they assembled a ‘ghost fleet’ of vessels that the Cylons believed to have been destroyed. The Cylons capitalized on these apparent losses to mount an offensive designed to wipe out humanity in the Helios Alpha system. It was then that the ghost fleet appeared, launching a surprise strike on Cylon-held Djebra, savaging the Cylon’s manufacturing and logistical installations there. The Cylons scrambled to regroup, suffering significant losses to the re-invigorated Colonial forces. The ghost fleet continued operations in Cylon space, drawing off Cylon strength until they were finally trapped and virtually wiped out. Their deeds and ultimate sacrifice have become some of the most honored in Fleet and Colonial history, and are generally regarded as the tipping point in the war.

Colonial forces now had the Cylons on the defensive, and while losses continued to be high, they were slowly gaining ground. Within a year, the Cylons abruptly ceased hostilities and pulled out of Colonial space. Three days later they delivered a cease fire offer, and The Armistice was negotiated and signed.

After the War

Forty years passed without further contact with Cylons. The veterans of the First Cylon War, in their sixties and seventies, held most of the top military and civilian leadership positions in the Colonies. General fear of the Cylons as an immediate threat began to wane after two generations, even though the top-level leadership remains focused and prepared. This schism caused some unrest amongst the general population, who were often resentful of the strong central control of the Colonial government on Caprica, the heavy influence and massive budget of the military, and the limitations on technological development and research.

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