AN: Standard boilerplate on ownership/intellectual property, etc. I'm sorry about the time between updates but thing like life are unavoidable. I thank you all for your kind reviews and enjoy.

Transmission from: RSV Hellhound, Rydunya System

Receiving station: Whynil II, Sector Aurelius Armory

Classification: Immediate Action Required

Authentication: Vermillion-56-01742

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\Authenticated- Lieutenant Commander Arnold Brighton, RSN, Commanding

-Message Follows-

8 September 2180

Admiral Huang,

On 7 September 2180, Rydunya system, Sector Aurelius at 0823 Zulu time RSV Hellhound detected a large anomaly in the outer reaches of the Rydunya system. Upon investigation two objects of xeno-origin were discovered, one a large structure which was the source of the anomaly and a smaller ship nearby which was masked by the larger xenos object. Upon approach we were hailed by a message package from the xenos ship in a series of unknown languages. We immediately responded with the standard first contact package. However immediately after transmitting our package the xenos fired a missile barrage though at an extreme range. After a brief engagement with mass drivers the xenos ship was crippled with no damage to the Hellhound. By the time we returned to the hulk secondary explosions had destroyed much of the structure. Escape shuttles were observed leaving the hulk prior to explosions. Interference was too great to determine how many shuttles were launched but we did observe them "activating" the larger structure and then disappearing. Large structure appears to be some sort of interstellar transportation hub but it rests at no known Alderson point. Salvage operations begun. Request immediate reinforcement to secure system and investigate the xenos structure. Analysis of engagement and preliminary threat assessment follows.

Lt. CDR Brighton

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Analysis of engagement between RSV Hellhound and Xenos vessel:

Xenos vessel launched a missile barrage at a range well beyond any missile system developed by the Republic even taking into account the Hellhound's approach vector and speed. Amazing accuracy given the circumstances but negligible effect. It needs to be re-iterated that these are missiles not torpedoes; the ordnance was extremely accurate to an extreme range and had the ability to find and track an approaching ship under field dampening even going so far as to compensate for our sudden increase in relative velocity by going to flank speed acceleration after missiles were launched. Limited payload compared to Republic torpedoes; most likely a long range weapon to deter small ship borne craft with high-maneuverability. Likely these Xenos have developed successful carrier based space warfare techniques if such a weapon as this has been designed.

Xenos vessel fired an unusual direct energy weapon. It exhibited a high-EM frequency coupled with alloyed tungsten rounds to direct enormous energy in a short period of time. Despite being under fire for less than one second the Hellhound's field shifted alarmingly quickly into the red. These direct fire weapons are unlike anything in our arsenal; implied that we avoid prolonged direct fire fleet engagements if these sorts of weapons are the standard as their ability to overwhelm the Langston Field cannot be underestimated.

Xenos have no apparent knowledge of the Langston Field or equivalent to reduce or absorb motive force. Unknown what sort of defensive capabilities their ships have but what they have is insufficient to defend against mass drivers under constant acceleration. Hellhound crippled the ship in one volley. Hellhound was under flank speed acceleration for less than 15 minutes and at only 2.3g acceleration for the previous 10 hours but still was able to exert enough force to completely overwhelm their defenses. Recall that the RSV destroyers in the Whynil I engagement required to be at flank speed acceleration for almost an hour and 2g acceleration for almost a day prior before they could finally penetrate the field of the Outie battleship SSV Valiant.

It is unknown what sort of maneuverability/acceleration capabilities these aliens have as they barely seemed to accelerate at all during the engagement; most likely due to actual contact happening before we could safely decelerate and achieve a respective velocity and before they could accelerate at all.

-Message ends-

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Transmission from: Whynil II, Sector Aurelius Armory

Receiving station: RSV Hellhound, Rydunya System

Classification: Immediate Action Required

Authentication: Magenta-72-12953

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\Authenticated- Fleet Admiral Jiang Si Huang, RSN, Commanding

-Message Follows-

8 September 2180

Report all findings. Battlegroup Kraken en route. Under no circumstances will you attempt to investigate the large xenos structure beyond passive scanning. You have successfully created the largest shitstorm in the Republic since its founding, congratulations.

-Message Ends-

-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-

24 September 2180, Palaven

Imperial Ministry of War

Fleet Admiral Chellme Syter was disgruntled. The subtle flaring of her mandibles indicated the fact that she was just this side of furious with the news that she had received just this morning and her combative stance at the table sent a signal to everyone else that she was intent to beat someone, anyone, into submission to set things straight again. Her steely gray eyes noted the small cluster of decision makers filing into the cramped meeting room with nothing short of contempt.

How dare they! How dare they strip her of fully half of her force without even being consulted! Beside her Admirals Kouster bore a similar glare of outrage; she had heard that Kouster had both of his capital ships including his flag ship detached from his fleet without even an hour warning to remove his personal effects.

She privately suspected that these ships were being stripped from the core fleets to reinforce the border fleets. It was too easy for the commanders along the borders to demand forces to help patrol the waste lands they were assigned to due to the fact that border incidents with the Asari were increasing again. But didn't the fools in the War Ministry remember what had happened in the last war when the core fleets were stripped down to gunboats and missile frigates? The Hegemony had managed to slip in a small task force of three cruisers and a half a dozen destroyers; the result was two planets burnt to the bedrock and the entire economy of the Empire thrown into disarray for months as merchants refused to move without military escort.

However... looking across the room at the faces of Admirals Jothe, Verne, and Wrenz troubled her slightly; they seem to be glaring daggers over towards her and Kouster and muttering amongst themselves. If their fleets had gotten reinforced by gutting hers then what were they grumbling about?

A functionary at the door announces the entrance of the Hierarch and the small collection of Admirals scrambled to their feet. A distinctly harried looking Hierarch of War Venari Pallin fairly stalked in and sat down, waving his hand to dismiss the ceremonial announcement of his titles and honors throwing the functionary for a loop. The Empire was run on an elaborate system of ceremony to reinforce the hierarchy of being within the Empire's social structure; there was a place for every Turian and every Turian knew their place. For even one as exalted as a Hierarch to deliberately ignore it was unsettling.

"I know that all of you are infuriated right now but before you start talking as if you know what you're talking about I'm here to inform you that as of late last night the strategic situation of the Empire has just been thrown for a spin."

The assembled group of officers managed to make a surprising turn from simmering anger to a vague mix of horror and curiosity.

"Two weeks ago the Kallten was sent through the recently discovered Relay in the fringe space of our territory in order to patrol the region and to evict squatters from our sovereign territory. She was destroyed shortly after entering the system with almost two-thirds of the crew killed in the resulting engagement. From the reports given by the survivors they were attacked by a previously unencountered race which refused to respond to our hails through the trade language. Unfortunately very little other information is available for this incident except for the verbal statements of the bridge crew that survived as the majority of the electronic records were unsalvagable."

Those assembled looked on with a mixture of horror and outrage. The loss of any Turian vessel was a horrible price to pay as the Empire was so weakened after the last war but the audacity of these aliens! Every race used the ancient relays and every race ever encountered knew enough of the common trade language engraved on the relays to at least respond ineligibly to hails made in the common tongue. To even use the relays relied on some knowledge of the language as the commands to activate the ancient mechanisms had to be in that tongue.

"The verbal reports of the survivors indicate a surprisingly brief and violent encounter in which the alien vessel moved at a speed which is needlessly wasteful in known space tactics especially if relying on directed energy weapons. However the exact means that they used to destroy the Kallten is uncertain as the survivors reported structural damage consistent with the aftermath of Rachni pod attacks but without any of the associated unpleasantness."

Admiral Styer shuddered at this comment. During the war she had been part of a Turian punitive expedition into Salarian space to punish them for actions that Salarian mercs had committed in parts of their disputed space. Her task force had walked into the middle of a skirmish between a Salarian patrol and one of the splinters of the most recent Rachni hive fleet. She witness the Rachni ships launching "pods" of living matter which battered the Salarian vessels; one of the pods had the fortune to break through a Salarian frigate's shielding. It then burst open releasing a horde of Rachni spawn creatures into the midst of the crippled vessel. She still heard the screams of the victims over the communications channels in her sleep.

"To respond to this incident the War Ministry has assembled a punitive expedition to demonstrate the full power of the Empire to these miscreants. Given their demonstrated hostile nature we cannot allow them free access to a relay which leads to our domains. It is reasonable to assume that given their lack of knowledge in the trade language they've only recently discovered the use of relays and their racial zone will only span two or three systems. Our experience with the Volus attests to this. Perhaps when this species has been pacified they'll be a useful vassal race."

This was a reasonable assumption of assimilation as the first encounter with the Volus was colored with a similar incident. The first time the Volus activated their relay their expedition ran headlong into a Turian battleship. Needless to say after a short sharp war the Volus were now good subjects of the Empire.

The assumption of a small racial zone was also reasonable as there were so many of these dead end paths in the known relay network. Often relay lane networks grew very congested as bottlenecks occurred when multiple "branches" condensed into a hub system with no rhyme or reason. Some theorists claimed that there were surprising breaks in the way that the relay network was set up; certain scientists who specialized in the relays reported evidence of ancient furrows and scars on many relays. This led many of those with wilder imaginations to speculate that there was a major war amongst the creators of the relays which led to many of them being destroyed explaining why the current system seemed very spotty and incomplete. Indeed the borders of space faring races were mainly demarcated by control over bottlenecks in the relay system.

Admiral Styer rose with her colleagues as the Hierarch rose and dismissed the assembly. Her mind was clouded with thoughts about these revelations. The vast force being assembled spoke volumes about the uncertainty that the ministry found itself in. The fact that a Turian vessel had actually been destroyed was an indication that these aliens were not to be merely swatted and then subjugated like the Volus were. No she suspected that at least a few of their worlds would be burned to ash in retribution. Shrugging at the thought she continued to here office from which to plan out how her fleet would have to be distributed to compensate for the sudden shift of forces.

-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-

AN: As you might imagine, this universe has things playing out very differently than what we are used to. For those of you who like epic space battles and are curious about things will play out in this universe I hope you will be pleased with the next installment.