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I don't know what they told you, but it wasn't all bad at first. We were the first ones to settle Etheria, to really study this planet's magic. How could it go so wrong?
The First Ones are the posthumous overarching antagonists of the 2018 Netflix original series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. They were an ancient race of spacefaring explorers who colonized the planet Etheria centuries ago. They are the creators of the Heart of Etheria, an extremely powerful superweapon capable of destroying worlds, and plotted to use the Heart against their enemies.
Originating from the planet Eternia, the First Ones were a highly advanced civilization. They possessed a deep understanding of magic to the point where they created technology that was capable of storing and interfacing with magic. They built various monuments and structures all across Etheria, many of which still existed by the present day. They also gifted She-Ra the Sword of Protection and created Light Hope in order to assist She-Ra in defending Etheria.
Secretly, the First Ones planned to weaponize Etheria's magic. Over time, they used their technology to transform Etheria into a superweapon known as the Heart of Etheria. About a thousand years ago, they activated the Heart but were unable to control it, causing them to flee the planet.
Despite having abandoned Etheria, many of their technological marvels and large structures still exist in the forms of ruins. Both the Rebellion and the Horde have since salvaged FIrst Ones technology and use it in their ongoing war.
More than a thousand years prior to the series, the First Ones had established a powerful empire. They came to Etheria to study its magic and later colonized the planet. Secretly, they planned to weaponize Etheria's magic and use it as a weapon of mass destruction. This would eventually become known as the Heart of Etheria project.
Additionally, the First Ones also established a colony on Krytis, a planet with magical properties similar to Etheria. According to Melog, after colonizing Krytis, the First Ones drained the planet of magic, causing severe damage to the ecosystem.
In order to control the Heart, the First Ones created the Sword of Protection and gifted it to Etheria's champion She-Ra. In actuality, the sword would enable the First Ones to take control of She-Ra's body and use it as a conduit for the Heart of Etheria. They also created the artificial intelligence Light Hope to act as the overseer of the Heart of Etheria project.
About a thousand years prior to the series, the First Ones were at war with Horde Prime. By this point, the First Ones had finished preparations for the Heart of Etheria and decided to use the weapon against Horde Prime. However, this would have likely destroyed Etheria in the process. Mara, the She-Ra of the past, discovered their plans and turned against them. The First Ones then reprogrammed Light Hope to activate the Heart by any means necessary. When Light Hope activated the Heart, the First Ones were unable to release the Heart's power as Mara had hidden the Sword of Protection and fled in her spaceship. Without She-Ra, the magic in the Heart continued to build up and became unstable to the point where all of Etheria was in danger of being destroyed. With their plans foiled, the First Ones fled Etheria. In order to prevent the First Ones from ever regaining access to the Heart of Etheria, Mara used the last of her power to hide Etheria in the shadow dimension of Despondos.
During the First Ones' war with Horde Prime, a battle broke out on the planet Krytis. The First Ones lost the battle for Krytis and retreated, although Krytis proved to be too wild for even Horde Prime to control. According to Horde Prime, he later defeated the First Ones and nearly wiped their entire race out. However, there were some First Ones who survived.
As of the present day, only a small, hidden faction of First Ones remain. They lived in an unknown world, when a First One baby named Adora was abducted by Light Hope and brought to Etheria.
Despite the fall of the First Ones' civilization, their legacy lives on in Etheria. Ruins of old First Ones buildings can be found all over Etheria. Prior to Etheria's reemergence into the wider universe, the First Ones' technology was the most advanced on Etheria. Despite the First Ones' empire being no more, Light Hope became determined to bring it back by using the Heart of Etheria.
In the original series, the First Ones were heroic entities.