Disclaimer: I do not own either or both Legend of the Galactic Heroes and Mass Effect. They are owned by Yoshiki Tanaka and Bioware respectively.
The Lion Awakens
On June 22nd, Universal Calendar 799, Imperial Calender 490, New Imperial Calendar 1, Reinhard von Lohengramm was crowned as the first Emperor of the New Galactic Empire, becoming Emperor Reinhard the First. Known to later historians as Reinhard the Invincible, Reinhard had overthrown the five centuries-old Goldenbaum Dynasty to claim his throne, and in so doing reformed the corrupt and decadent Galactic Empire into the vigorous New Galactic Empire. By ending the First Alliance-Imperial War, which by then had raged for over a century and a half, Reinhard had set the stage for the reunification of Humanity.
This reunification would be borne out in February of New Imperial Calendar 2, Universal Calendar 800, when Reinhard annexed the former Free Planets Alliance into the empire. Republican remnants would continue to oppose the empire however, engaging them at the Battle of the Corridor, the Eleventh Battle of Iserlohn, and finally the Battle of Shiva. The Battle of Shiva would lead the republicans to making peace with the empire, surrendering Iserlohn Fortress to the empire in exchange for autonomy for the Ba'alat Starzone. On July 26th, New Imperial Calendar 3, Universal Calendar 801, Reinhard von Lohengramm was felled at the prime of his life, aged 25. He died not in battle as he had desired, or with old age surrounded by friends and family as he had hoped, but from disease. With his death, he was succeeded by his son Alexander Siegfried von Lohengramm, who became Emperor Alexander Siegfried the First, Second Emperor of the New Galactic Empire.
Thirteen years of relative peace have passed. Weary and decimated by nearly two centuries of war, the two halves of Humanity have uneasily cleaved together, slowly rebuilding and recovering as one. Nevertheless, leaders on both sides of the political divide, monarchists and republicans, fear their extremist compatriots would commit actions that could lead to a resumption of hostilities, and destroy the new beginning laid down over the past thirteen years.
However there has always been one truly-unifying force in Human history, one call that would always unite them: a common enemy. It is now June 28th, Universal Calendar 814, New Imperial Calendar 16.
New Galactic Empire, Sagittarius Territories, Frontier Starzone A-51, Shanxi Star System
The research ships hung a full light-second from the artefact as they had for the past month, their sensors trying to make sense of the mysterious alien device. Aboard the lead ship Franz Ferdinand, expedition head Doctor Henry Horst of Astrophysics was recording a summary of their findings on his personal journal.
"…based on the lack of obvious propulsion systems and interior access…" he wrote. "…we have dismissed the possibility of the artefact as some sort of alien vessel. We cannot however dismiss it as inert. The tower-like structures protruding vertically from the artefact are clearly sensor nodes of some sort, possibly communication even. This hypothesis is further proven when shortly after the military patrols broadcast radio signals specifically towards the device, it activated shortly afterwards…"
The doctor paused to consider, and after a few moments checking his notes continued. "…given the relatively-large amount of background radio radiation present in the universe, we have hypothesized that the device is programmed to ignore general radio broadcasts and to respond only to radio transmissions specifically aimed at itself…" the scientist continued to type. "…however this is only conjecture. The artefact may have been activated by the presence of the patrol…"
The doctor paused and then continued. "…note: a request should be sent to the Imperial Ministry of Science and Technology with regards to updating First Contact protocols. Given the political nature of the empire under the Goldenbaum Dynasty and the Free Planets Alliance's focus on catching up…" he typed. "…to say nothing of the needs of the First Alliance-Imperial War, the out-dated nature of First Contact protocols – dating back to the pre-Imperial Galactic Federation in fact – is understandable. Nevertheless, now that peace has returned – and will hopefully stay for a long while yet – exploration will pick up within a generation at the least. To that end…"
The doctor paused as the intercom rang. Saving his work, he opened the line on his terminal screen. "Yes, what is it?" he asked.
"Doctor…" the bridge officer answered. "…the bridge artefact has gone active."
Doctor Horst jolted. "I'll be there shortly." He said before cutting the line. Powering his terminal down, he rushed from his quarters to the bridge.
As he entered the bridge and walked over to the front of the main view-screen, he found the rest of the expedition's team leaders already present. Quantum Physicist Michael Crassus excitedly gestured to the screen as he approached. "I think we now know what it does." He said.
Horst raised an eyebrow, and the other scientist continued. "It's an FTL device of some kind." He said. "And what's more, it doesn't seem to make use of warp principles at all! Fascinating…a different form of FTL…"
"I'm more concerned at the ships that came from the device." The ship's captain retorted. The man pressed a button on his command chair and part of the view-screen zoomed in on six, alien-looking vessels holding position in a classic escort formation approximately five thousand kilometres from the expedition's ships.
"I don't know if any of you served in the military in the past…" the captain said. "…but from the way they move they're clearly warships of some sort. We should leave…NOW."
"Won't that provoke them though?" one of the scientists said. "It's not like we've anything to hide."
"I agree." Horst said. "We should send our First Contact package, and avoid making any aggressive…"
"Captain…!" one of the bridge crew suddenly said. "The device has gone active again."
Eyes turned to the screen, the great rings surrounding the glowing core of the artefact beginning to spin rapidly. And then with powerful surges of energy of a type unknown to Human sensors and with blinding flashes of light, many more ships appeared. Most of them were the gunship-analogue ships like before, but six of them were cruiser-analogues, at least in terms of size.
"We read eighteen additional gunship-analogues…" the sensor crewman said. "…along with six cruiser-analogues."
"Doctor…" the captain said, his voice now containing a note of urgency. The scientists however were looking at each at a loss. "…send all our records to Shanxi. Inform them to send it to Heinessen and the Imperial Capital at once."
"Doctor this situation is clearly getting out of hand. Perhaps if the new arrivals were research ships or at least seem to be research ships, I might be more inclined to listen. But those are warships, given that they're beginning to adopt what looks like a siege formation. With that said, I'm only taking precautions. Communications officer, send the First Contact package immediately."
"Do we have scan data about the new arrivals?" Metallurgist Christina McKenzie asked.
"We do ma'am."
"Send it to Heinessen and the capital as well."
"Christina…?" Doctor Horst said.
"I served in the military as well Henry." She said. "And as the captain says, the way they're moving is clearly a fleet…"
"The device is going active!"
Eyes again turned to the screen, and then they widened at the ship that emerged. "H-how long..?" the captain asked.
"One kilometre…" the sensor officer replied, his voice awed and fearful at the same time. "By Odin, it's bigger than a carrier or a battleship. That's a flagship…! Wait…this is…I'm detecting energy readings, spiking along the six enemy cruisers' spines! It's a spinal weapon of some sort!"
"Send the First Contact package again!" Horst shouted in horror. "Quickly…!"
"Too late…!" the captain shouted. "Inform the colony: we're under attack! Inform the capital…!"
The alien cruisers fired, kinetic accelerators firing metallic slugs that blew the research ships apart. One managed to avoid getting hit by the first salvo, turning and running for the colony at full speed. As its warp drive began to spin up, a second barrage from an alien cruiser blew it apart.
With the research ships gone, anti-proton drives came to life, the Turians making for Shanxi at cruising speed.
"Has the hyperspace message been sent?" Captain Neil Rodriguez asked.
"Yes sir." Lieutenant Charles Linden replied, and the captain turned back to the alien ships on the sensor scope as they made for Shanxi. They only numbered thirty ships, an excessively-large patrol by Imperial standards, but without any ships of their own present the aliens might as well be a fleet of a hundred thousand ships.
"Taking their time aren't they…?" the captain said. "The alien bastards probably think they'll just roll over us. We'll see about that. ETA at their current speed and course…?"
"Sir, approximately forty-six standard hours…!"
The captain stroked his chin. "Forty-six hours…" he thought. "…very well, begin evacuation procedures immediately. Begin moving the citizens from the settlement to the countryside. Without any ships of our own, that's the best we can do to limit casualties in case of a nuclear attack or an orbital bombardment."
"Will they really…?"
"They blew up unarmed research ships." The captain interrupted. "I don't doubt they'll start lobbing nukes at the settlement if we push them hard enough. And that's just what we're going to do. I've no doubt reinforcements will come, and we won't shame the Emperor by not holding on as long as we can."
"Sir…!" the lieutenant said, throwing a salute. "As ordered, I will begin the evacuation."
Captain Rodriguez nodded. "I'll leave it to you, lieutenant." He said, and the lieutenant smartly turned and left to carry out his orders. The captain then gestured to Commander Anna Fedorovna. "Draw up a plan for maximum efficiency dispersion of our troops in the settlement."
"We're engaging in guerrilla warfare, sir?"
"Assuming they don't just bomb us from orbit…" the captain said. "…that's the only chance we have of holding out until reinforcements get here. And I'm willing to bet ten thousand marks that they outnumber us in terms of manpower as well."
"Sir, yes sir."
"Hurry it up commander we have less than two days until they get here."
The commander nodded, and then she too smartly turned and left, leaving the captain alone at the garrison's command post.
At the bridge of the dreadnought Iron Resolve, flagship of the 45th Patrol of the Turian Navy, Admiral Tertius Lucius looked down on the world below. His adjutant arrived, and the admiral turned to face the younger officer. "Sir…" Lieutenant Garrus Vakarian said. "…all ships are in formation for orbital bombardment."
"Good…" the admiral said with a nod, and then he noticed the hidden unease in the lieutenant's eyes, though it didn't show on his face. "…what is it lieutenant? Speak what's on your mind."
"Sir, with all due respect, these aliens are clearly newcomers to the galaxy. There's no way they could have known about Citadel law forbidding the activation of dormant relays without knowing what's on the other side."
Lucius allowed Garrus to finish what he was saying before giving a response. "Lieutenant, the last time a dormant relay was activated, the Rachni Wars started. Our job is to make sure something like that never happens again. It should be common sense not to poke around things without knowing what might happen. Ignorance is not an excuse."
"But sir…" Garrus persisted, only to be interrupted by his superior this time.
"Enough lieutenant…" The admiral said. "…we're the greatest military force in Citadel Space. We can handle some backwater primitives if they come after us."
The admiral raised his voice. "All ships…" he ordered. "…target the enemy garrison. Prepare to fire on my command." The view-screen shifted to show a live feed of the alien settlement, targeting markers zeroing in on what was clearly a military compound outside the settlement, opposite from a spaceport. "Fire…!"
"For all the talk of avoiding a repeat of the Rachni Wars, we're really going out of our way to start a war." Garrus thought. He stayed silent though, watching along with the rest of the bridge as for the next several minutes, Turian orbital artillery levelled the alien military garrison.
"Sir…" the weapons officer asked. "…the target has been destroyed. Should we target the alien settlement?"
"Negative soldier…" Lucius responded. "…it is tempting I admit, but we should let Desolas and his men have their shot at glory. Inform the general that he may commence landing operations at will, and advise him to watch out for booby traps at the alien spaceport."
Less than a minute later, and another bridge officer spoke up. "Admiral, the general…" the officer said before pausing. "…he says to mind your own business…sir."
Lucius smiled, and Garrus did as well. They couldn't help it. "Yes, that sounds like Desolas alright." The admiral said. "Understood…send my apologies, and may the spirits watch over them."
"Spirits watch over us all…" Garrus thought as a sense of foreboding fell over him. He stayed silent, and watched as the sensor icons of the landing craft began to descend to the planet below.
In Mass Effect frigates average a hundred metres in length. That's about twice the size of Imperial gunships, so I opted to call them large gunship-analogues. Mass Effect cruisers average around five hundred metres in length, making them cruiser-analogues given Imperial cruisers average six hundred metres in length. Mass Effect dreadnoughts though are a full kilometre in length on average, bigger than Imperial battleships or carriers (700 metres on average), slightly smaller than Wilhelmina Class flagships, which are about 1.1 kilometres in length.