The Enemy were the major opponent of the Great Houses in the War. They were neither one specific species nor one specific political viewpoint.
They did have a specific name and a specific leader, but the Great Houses were loath to refer to either, not because they feared speaking the names, but because conceptualising them in those terms would be to misunderstand them as something concrete, rather than as a series of events. They were more accurately described as a living series of events in constant temporal flux. They were known to not be the Osirians.
Greyjan the Sane claimed that they were the cells of the first life to evolve in the universe, having been irradiated by temporal interference and then energised by a leaking bottle universe. The Eighth Doctor offered the more entertaining possibility that they were likely to be eventually revealed as "Yartek, leader of the alien Voord, carrying a big stick."
A rare instance of direct contact with the Enemy occurred to Chris Cwej during his intervention in the filming of Mujin: The Ghost Kingdom. The cryptic exchanges that passed between them ended with the words, "The Scourge. Harvey. Hermes. The coolest character is the one whose face you never get to see." and is represented by a total absence of anything on the recovered film. Not blackness, just emptiness and the background film stock.
Another encounter occurred when Marcus Americanus Scriptor encountered something while hunting a renegade who had escaped the War by jumping into a parallel universe. The creature was intelligent, bragging that nothing any human could conceive could harm him, especially time-based and ritualistic weaponry. However, its masters/creators/fellows never considered that it might be attacked with something as utterly primitive as a simple sword, which led to its death when it was attacked with one. It was described as being constantly in flux, and was implied to be, at the very least, a very powerful enemy agent, if not an enemy itself.
Tonton Macoute once cooked with the corpse of an Enemy soldier. Compassion stated that the Enemy was merely a distraction and that the true threat to the Great Houses would come from within. She later hinted the emergence of House Lucia was the true threat to the Homeworld. House Lucia's connection to the Enemy was only hinted at by Compassion and her companion Carmen Yeh and was not elaborated upon. The Enemy's agents were referred to as "reps", but there was no indication what, if any, significance the term had.
Entaradora, one of the House Military’s greatest strategists, has suggested that the enemy must remain nameless because the Homeworld would otherwise underestimate its importance. The House Military must constantly be on the alert for enemy action, but in a time-active War it’s often difficult to distinguish between enemy activity and genuine coincidence. It is also difficult to determine when a battle has been won, since the same battle can often be re-fought repeatedly. The enemy is known to be capable of creating an artificial form of time, known as “zero time,” which in effect adds extra time in which to re-fight a battle yet again. Victory is only possible in the War when one side believes themselves to have been defeated, and the enemy, for one, is also known to plant propaganda directly into its opponents’ perceptions in such a way that they’re not sure whether or not they’ve just been brainwashed: THIS IS NOT AN EXAMPLE. THESE WORDS ARE MEMETICALLY CODED TO CONDITION YOU INTO ACCEPTING THE ENEMY’S BELIEF SYSTEM, AND FROM NOW ON YOU PERSONALLY WILL ACT AGAINST THE INTERESTS OF THE GREAT HOUSES, for example.
Since the Homeworld and their enemy both have unlimited resources and territory, there seems to be no good reason for them to be at war. One of the Homeworld’s first attempts to understand the logic of the situation was by using the metaphor of a game, and one of the first Academicians of Game Logic was Devonire. Devonire was one of the most respected negotiators on the Homeworld until an ill-fated attempt to reconcile the Homeworld and Faction Paradox. His studies led him to conclude that, since the Faction had such a great interest in ritual and symbolism, the Grandfather’s arm, which he had cut off in the Act of Severance, must be their most important relic. Thus, he reasoned that if he found it and returned it to them; they would agree to open negotiations with the Homeworld. His quest soon came to obsess him, to the point that, when he learned that the Faction apparently already possessed the arm; he decided to steal it from them just so he could be the one to return it.
The first battle of the War took place on the planet Dronid, which had once been the home of a rival Presidency founded by renegade academics who believed that the Imperator Presidency had proven that the Homeworld was no longer capable of taking care of history. The Great Houses responded to this threat by “ignoring” Dronid, isolating the planet from the rest of the Spiral Politic and thus causing its history to be torn apart by the forces of random probability. The rival Presidency was thus eradicated, but some of their technology remained on the devastated Dronid, which soon developed a strong criminal trade in illegal time technology. The Great Houses planted world-processing devices on Dronid in case the trade led to any serious threats to the timelines, but they failed to fully understand the criminal mindset, and thus didn’t notice when one of the criminal organisations on the planet, with a unique way of doing things, began to grow in influence. Too late, they discovered that it was no longer possible for them to rewrite the history of Dronid -- and realised that the criminal organisation was a front for the enemy they’d been expecting.
The Homeworld planted an agent on Dronid in the mission founded by Faction Paradox, but the enemy proved capable of countering every action taken against it, and the agent eventually “went native”. As it became clear that conflict was inevitable, a notorious Homeworld renegade travelled to Dronid to try to find a diplomatic solution, claiming to have a connection with one of the enemy agents. However, he was apparently betrayed and killed by his friend, and the Homeworld’s agents then bombarded the planet, triggering the first real battle between the Homeworld and their enemy. War having been declared, the Homeworld and enemy forces scattered throughout the rest of the Spiral Politic revealed themselves and attacked one another.
During the first battles of the War, the enemy made a serious attempt to attack the Homeworld directly, but failed due to the preparations the War King had put in place. The Homeworld has since crypto-formed several other planets into copies of itself; these copies are known as the Nine Homeworlds. They are meant either as decoys or as repositories of the Homeworld culture, to ensure that something of it survives even if the Homeworld itself is destroyed. In fact, there’s no real guarantee that the Homeworld referred to by the Book is in fact the original, although it’s assumed that it is.
Shortly after the outbreak of War, one apparently serious attempt was made to open peace negotiations between the Great Houses and the enemy. The so-called Venue Accords took place with a construct the size of a small galaxy, similar to the Great Houses’ timeships, and were arranged through a human agent, which suggests that there may be a connection between the unknown parties behind the Venue Accords and the Secret Architects of the City of the Saved (more on which later). In any case, the negotiations failed, as the Great Houses and their enemy could only agree that War between them was inevitable. Nobody is certain what happened to the construct afterwards.
There have been few actual space battles, since physical territory is largely irrelevant to this War; it’s all about history and ideas. The Anvil Stars, mentioned earlier as a breeding ground for Leviathans, seem to be the result of a battle that was clearly so devastating that neither side is willing to commit the forces to actually fight it. Another notorious battle took place on the planet now known as Utterlost. Every single discrete moment of Time on the planet, including the extra “zero time” added by the enemy, has been used up by both sides with strategies and counter-strategies; as a result, nobody can actually get to the planet any more, and neither side is sure who, if anybody, won. The Utterlost battle also affected two causally-related planets, Kaiwar and Mohandassa. Kaiwar is now in a state of temporal uncertainty and is no longer strategically viable, while Mohandassa is cross-referenced under the Book’s entry for the Enemy but does not actually appear in the Book itself.
There have been several waves of House Military troops. The first wave consisted of traditional Homeworld soldiers, who had spent ten million years at peace and were completely unprepared for the violence of the War. The Second Wave was much more violent -- gratuitously so, as they tended to respond to every perceived threat by completely destroying it. The soldiers of the Third Wave were the first to be bred for change rather than as part of the status quo, and the Fourth and Fifth also embraced genetic diversity and original thinking. There doesn’t seem to have been a Sixth Wave, though a cross-reference to “Sixth Wave Defections” can be found under the entry for the Enemy. As the Homeworld and the enemy became more entrenched in their positions, the Seventh and Eighth Waves became more subtle in their attacks. As the War enters its 50th year, House Tracolix has apparently deployed a Ninth Wave, though they haven’t given any details about its nature.
As stated earlier, it’s important to understand the nature of the enemy, but this has nothing to do with its actual identity. Calling the enemy by its name would underestimate its importance. It originates from the same Universe as the Homeworld and tries to obey the laws of physics, but as the Great Houses can’t understand the principles upon which it operates, it might as well be from outside their “noosphere,” or beyond the limits of their cultural comprehension.
The military of the Enemy is relatively unknown, as with nearly everything else about the Enemy. However, it is known that they had received some assistance from other powers, such as the Celestis and even a Wave of the Great Houses themselves.
There never was a Sixth Wave of the House Military. There is mention of a Fifth and Seventh, but no Sixth. The Great House’s explanation is that they feel the number six is “unlucky”, odd for a society with six Ruling Houses. It is suggested however, that the Sixth Wave was corrupted by the Enemy, through the use of timeline manipulation to either expunge themselves from the timeline retroactively or to actually rebel against the Great Houses themselves and join the Enemy.
A conceptual entity is a weapon/being created by the Celestis and given to the Enemy to change the meaning of mass, often with devastating effects. Of all the participants involved in the War, none are as misunderstood as the conceptual entities, beings/weapons which take the form of antagonistic ideas and exist only in the framework of their victim’s perceptions. Those who encounter conceptual entities will often attempt to find some solid explanation of their existence, when in truth, they operate by altering the meaning of things while bypassing the matter altogether. Even the most hard-headed of theorists is aware that matter is a component of consciousness; that only the presence of an observer can collapse the many potential possibility states of an object into a “real” object and that every perceived event therefore must have a “meaning mass” as well as a molecular mass. (In fact, separating the meaning of an object from its matter is quite straightforward. All that’s required is a chaos limiter and a time machine). Yet the idea of a weapon might use this principal to change the importance of something, without having any kind of material presence, is still difficult for many cultures to grasp.
Anarchitects are a form of conceptual entity created by the Celestis and given to the Enemy during the War. The anarchitects are the most misunderstood of the misunderstood, simply because their effects can be so devastating that victims often refuse to believe that there’s no physical cause. While most conceptual entities will begin an attack by entering their victim’s perception, the anarchitects instead occupy architecture. Architecture has a special importance to most civilised cultures: it defines how a species related to its entire world-environment and as a result, every architectural construction is a lodestone of high-density meaning. Anarchitects exploit this by “possessing” buildings. This much is reasonably easy to follow. However, once an anarchitect has taken over a piece of architecture, it can then alter that architecture. Bridges can disappear underfoot; simple corridors can become impenetrable labyrinths, while spaces can become oppressively small or horrifyingly large without warning. Yet, anarchitects achieve this without changing the substance of the building. To an observer, the matter may seem to rearrange itself, but the matter is irrelevant and has quite simply been ignored. If the universe notices this sudden gulf between what’s probably there and was obviously there, then it does nothing to set things right again. But then, as generations of theorists have noted, most phenomena already exist in the gap between the provable and the obvious. The anarchitects only make this process slightly more blatant. Indeed the lesson is so hard for cultures to grasp that when the first crude anarchitects were encountered by posthumanity, the posthuman forces believed themselves to be under attack from some form of nanomachinery which disassembled and reassembled the architecture on a molecular level (Obviously untrue, as the Celestis wouldn’t resort to such vulgar technology). Only after the event occurred did it become clear that the molecules had nothing to do with it.
The lesser species often misunderstand the nature of the weapons used in the War, as they expect the weapons to have a physical presence. In fact, most of the weapons are conceptually-based, and the Homeworld regards gross physical technology, such as nanotechnology, as vulgar. Thus, weapons such as “anarchitects” alter the meaning of architecture without actually changing its physical structure. Some of the soldiers in the War have been physically erased from history; by using a chaotic limiter to fold back a being’s timeline upon itself, the entity’s future self can change events in its own past. Such entities enter a state of temporal flux, which eventually stabilises with the entity either dead or erased from history altogether, existing only as a concept with no physical mass, otherwise known as a Shift.
The Spiral Politic was the orderly structure of time and space in the universe, those parts of history which can be overseen from the Homeworld. The Spiral Politic was created by the Great Houses at the anchoring of the thread. The maintenance of the Spiral Politic was one of the primary functions of the Great Houses. A backup of the Spiral Politic was stored on the Great Houses' prison planet, which stood outside of time so that it could be remapped onto the universe if ever time was altered. During the first battle of the War in Heaven on Dronid, the Great Houses would have discovered that the Enemy had constructed their own Spiral Politic to replace the Great Houses' meta-structure in the universe.
Timeships were vessels constructed by the Great Houses to travel through time that were also utilised by the Enemy. They could be ships in the traditional Earth navy sense of the word, physical objects that thrust their way through time and often space. Most timeships wore a humanoid form. Their interior was vastly larger than their exterior. The Evil Renegade had a timeship which had a large trophy room in its interior. The Homeworld’s timeships are elaborate models of mathematics and history, and they possess a form of intelligence entirely alien to that of their pilots, or indeed any humanoid life form. When the War first began, an attempt was made to create a timeship that could communicate with its pilots on an equal level, but the first experiments were dismal failures. The Homeworld first tried to build an intelligence, rather than nurture one; the resulting creature was entirely insane. The next attempts to create “pet” timeships by cross-breeding timeships with animals resulted in the timeships “eating” the research team and then vanishing into the continuum. Eventually, through a bizarre series of circumstances which have been related elsewhere, a Remote colonist named Laura Tobin -- later known as “Compassion” -- ended up being transformed into the first humanoid-timeship hybrid. Compassion eventually agreed to participate in the Homeworld’s breeding program, and thus can be considered the mother of all existing 103-type timeships, even though she is no longer directly involved in their creation. Compassion, considering herself a neutral party in the War, travelled through the Spiral Politic for quite some time, both on her own and with other travelling companions. The most famous of these companions, Carmen Yeh, later wrote a fictionalised account of her travels, including an incident that implies that Compassion eventually did choose sides in the War. Though Yeh herself was not privy to all of the events, it seems that Compassion found the remains of a timeship in the posthuman era, and subsequently kidnapped the War King from the Homeworld, accusing him of killing “Percival”. The War King managed to convince Compassion that Percival was killed by the enemy, and Compassion finally agreed to fight the enemy, albeit on her own terms. However, she still claims that the War is just a sideshow, and that the real threat to the Homeworld lies elsewhere. Yeh stopped travelling with Compassion shortly after these events, and now lives somewhere in the posthuman hegemony.
Zero Time is an alternative form of time developed by the Enemy of the Great Houses, in order to avoid the attentions of weapons like Gravity spiders. By moving into a newly-created stretch of zero time before moving back into real time, Enemy timeships expelled the debris and detritus of centuries which would otherwise be introduced to the local continuum and leave tell-tale trails of the ship’s arrival; the gravity spiders being primed to locate such tiny traces and to destroy any timeships they find in the vicinity. It wasn’t realised until later, by the powers adopting such technologies, that it was precisely this unloading of the past into easily-breached pockets of space-time that the gravity spiders had been designed to provoke. Now bubbles of zero time could be harvested by the Houses in the wake of Enemy movements and analysed in order to reveal not just the technical specifications of the timeships, but also their recent history. Furthermore, the occasional bursting of zero time offered a way of pinpointing timeship activity in itself. It’s one of the few weapons-technology coups to have been pulled off by the Houses during the War so far. Needless to say, the introduction of zero time to the War makes proceedings far more complicated by its very nature; now the various War-time factions have different “flavours” of time available, battlefield scenarios must be planned to take into account the different kinds of battlefield. Zero time has even been used as a medium for accessing the otherwise inaccessible world of Utterlost, although now even the zero time routes have been cut off.