The Ancient "race" started with one individual specimen, a Droyne who found himself to have remarkable mental and psionic powers.  This individual, who calls himself "Grandfather" (Yaskaydroy), is till alive today, hiding out in his own private "pocket universe."

Grandfather was an incredible specimen of an otherwise fairly ordinary intelligent race.  His psionic powers enabled him to regenerate any damage, including that leading to normal aging, which rendered him virtually immortal.  His mental prowess, on the other hand, fueled a burning curiosity for anything and everything that he could learn.

He started researching but realized that he needed competent assistants.  He tried to fulfill his need in three different ways.  The first method was that of procreation: Grandfather sired 20 children, each of whom had 20 children of their own who were all nearly as intelligent as Grandfather.  With 420 offspring, Grandfather decided he had enough and stopped.

His second method was to experiment with other species of life.  In his attempt to find good help, he carried humans from Terra to many other worlds in this part of the galaxy.  He and his descendants also experimented with Terran canine stock, and genetically created intelligence in the race now know as the Vargr.

Last, Grandfather created a number of different models of superintelligent robots to assist him in his research.  Only this last method proved successful, with living beings proving to be unreliable.

Grandfather assigned research projects to each of his children and grandchildren, and progress was rapid, with many new discoveries made by the teams of scientists on their various worlds.  Grandfather, basking in the light of this success, decided to take a vacation, and travelled about Droyne space seeing all that there was to see.

When he finished with this vacation, he decided to explore the remaining frontiers of existence.  He called all of his children to come and help him, but they had started on their own projects and were too busy to show up.

Grandfather started his work anyway, but he soon found that his children's experiments interfered with his own.  His decision to have children long ago was an error, he realized, and now he must rectify it.  He began a campaign to eliminate all of his offspring.

Naturally, the children found out about his campaign and resisted.  The war of Grandfather against his children was a long and complicated one.  Initially, his opponents did not understand that he meant to totally eliminate them; later, they adopted his tactics of total destruction.

The war went on for two thousand years.  Staggering weapons were called into use, including planet-busters, nova-triggers, bombardment with asteroids, and such ordinary weapons as tailored plagues, poison gas, and thermonuclear devices.

By the end of the war, Grandfather had beaten all of the opposing factions and destroyed all of his children (he kept careful count).  The galaxy was somewhat the worse for wear; it had many new asteroid belts and quite a few ravaged worlds.

Grandfather determined that he would in the future limit himself to more easily controlled assistants.  He improved on the robots he had built before and constructed a corps of robots and androids to help him in his experiments.  Then, he pinched off a pocket universe around his base world, and retreated from the larger universe to pursue his studies unhindered by the concerns of the larger universe.

Who in the Imperium today knows these facts?  No-one knows them all, but there are a few scattered sophontologists who have come to the conclusion that the Droyne are the modern day descendants of the Ancients, and they are somehow not as intelligent as the earlier race.  The fact that the "Ancients" still exist is not known by anyone.

See also Chirpers, Church of the Chosen Ones, Coyns, Droyne, Solomani Hypothesis, Vargr.

This of course is not the whole truth.  The winners write the history -- or, in this case, those who hang around openly write the history.  The Crusader War passed through the Spinward Marches right as the Final War was going on, and caused a temporary truce as these greater -- in some ways -- powers fought a battle here.  As the Crusaders left, they left behind some of their own, and a set of rules of war that were to apply to Grandfather and his children -- among them, that Digitis was to remain inviolate.

-cam MW
-IE ldr