AN: This is a plot bunny that's been buzzing around in my head for some time now, and I just had to get it out. I hope you enjoy.
Armali Research Panel on the Discovery of Un-encountered Species and First Contact Protocol
-Archive Date [sic translate] 1876 CE
In the light of recent events concerning the Yahg crises and subsequent quarantine of their homeworld, the Thessian Council has expressed great interest in modifying first contact protocols to better mitigate the risk of undesirable outcomes.
Section Three – Undesirable Traits
History tells us that only one thing is certain when making first contact with a new species; unpredictability.
What is the species in question like? Did they evolve as predator packs or as herds? Are they militaristic or pacifists? What are their cultural norms? How do they view the nature of life and death? How do they treat others beneath their power?
And most importantly;
Are they socially compatible for integration into galactic society?
We've seen the effects of contact with species' beholding undesirable traits. The Rachni, an incomprehensible horde of war-insects driven by unknown goals, waged a devastating war against the Council that lasted three centuries and nearly culminated in the total destruction of the Citadel races. In these desperate times, the Council took exceedingly desperate measures, including uplifting a pre-space flight species to fight against the invading insects.
The plan worked.
The war-like Krogan were uniquely suited for the tremendous physical and psychological rigors of intense ground combat on many of the hostile worlds the Rachni presided on. With an astoundingly high birth-rate to replace losses, secondary and tertiary organ and nervous systems, incredible endurance, and cutting edge technology at their disposal via the Citadel races, the Krogan horde thoroughly swept through Rachni-held territory, eventually pushing them back to their homeworld.
But despite no conceivable chance of victory, the Rachni still refused to surrender. They refused, as they had for three centuries, to open any kind of dialogue with other species. Despite being faced with certain extinction, they stilled continued to fight. What inherent trait caused the Rachni to behave in such a manner?
Studies showed that the Rachni placed no value on self-worth. They did not see themselves as individuals, but as one part of a greater whole. Only the horde mattered, and one would easily dispose of its life in defense of the horde without any thought or concern. This ingrained trait was so apparent in the Rachni that no amount of reasoning, mercy, or show of force could change their behavior. In short, continuing to fight in futility was never a matter of choice. This horde trait made the Rachni biologically incapable of surrendering.
If biology explained why the Rachni refused to end the war, then could it explain what caused it? What drove the Rachni to such immediate and violent actions upon first contact? Later, after much study of the now desolate Rachni homeworld, new theories began to postulate. Research of the species' evolutionary track show that the Rachni conquered their homeworld by swarming out their competition to extinction. Even if said species was no longer a threat to the horde, it was slaughtered down to the very last individual. No concern was ever given to fate of the now extinct animals and insects; the Rachni simply didn't care. Only expanding the horde mattered. Even as their intelligence grew and they colonized new worlds, all that mattered was expanding the horde. Today it is widely accepted that the insects simply saw the Council races as yet another obstacle in hindrance to their expansion.
Whatever the reason for their actions, only one thing was certain; this ingrained trait made the Rachni inherently incompatible with…
Section Five – Underdeveloped Societies
...weren't alone in this regard. The Krogan Rebellions demonstrated graphically the consequences of gifting a species, especially a warrior species, with knowledge and technology it wasn't ready for. However, unlike the Rachni, the Krogan were not inherently incompatible; they simply hadn't developed enough as a society to peacefully coexist with the galactic community. The Rebellions proved that even if a species shows potential for desirable traits, if has not yet matured, then conflict and instability will rise.
Where the Rachni were incomprehensible from most other races, and the Krogan underdeveloped, the Yahg crises displayed the effect of contacting a species that is culturally incompatible. The Yahg, an extremely aggressive and violent race, operate upon a pack mentality. They will not cooperate until a single leader establishes dominance through social maneuvering or force. Obviously, it is not hard to see why such a species cannot thrive peacefully among the galactic community, as evidence by the slaughter of the Citadel's diplomatic team…
It is clear that the old protocol for first contact, a 'one size fits all species' method, is both ill-advised and outdated. As the examples of the Rachni, Krogan, and Yahg have shown, every species is in some ways unique. Thus, our protocols must adapt accordingly.
Recommendations for Pre-space Flight Species
Unlike Space faring species, races that are still tethered to their homeworld present the safest opportunity for first contact. Even if the species proves to be incompatible, the risk associated with negative contact is nearly non-existent since such a race wouldn't have the means to pose meaningful threats. In the case of the Yahg crises, the problem arose when our diplomatic team arrived on Parnack with absolutely no knowledge of Yahg culture or customs.
They did not know, for example, that the Yahg would expect them to act subordinate as opposed to equals. Such actions could have been prevented had we taken the necessary precaution before initiating contact with the Yahg race. As they are a pre-space flight species, it would have been possible for us to safely observe their society and culture from a distance without actually interacting with them.
It is the recommendations of this panel that in the case of pre-space flight species, we should not immediate reveal ourselves, but instead observe and study from afar the race's progression and culture with such thoroughness that by the time we do decide to initiate contact, we will know and understand said species down to its core.
Sixty-three years later
"We'll be entering the outer rim of the 644A-503G system soon," Lateya said in a bored tone. "Exit protocols check positive; internal heat emissions normal. We're proceeding as planned." The young navigational officer fought off a yawn. For the past month the crew of the Ascendance had been tasked by the Thessian Council to plot, chart, and categorize new systems through the recently discovered Relay 314 for possible Asari expansion.
It wasn't exactly the most exciting task in the galaxy. Their month-long journey consisted of travelling system by system via traditional FTL speeds, meticulous scanning each new system world by world, and then moving on. It was a slow, repetitive, and excruciatingly boring task, made all the more apparent by the lack of any comm buoys to connect them with the rest of civilization.
At the very least, she could be thankful that their journey was nearing an end. The crew had just a few more systems to go through in this cluster before heading home to some much needed downtime. And they had even found two worlds ripe for class-1 colonization and five more that showed high potential if given proper infrastructure and development. Not that that in any way brightened her current mood.
"Cheer up," a husky voice said over Lateya's shoulder. "If we stay on task we should be home within a week. Besides, I have a good feeling about this system."
"Yes ma'am." Lateya straightened in her seat; she hadn't noticed the captain was standing directly behind her. Captain Wenteya was competent and well-liked by the crew, but she had a knack for adhering to strict protocol and professionalism while on duty. She expected full commitment from those under her command no matter how routine or trivial the task. Lateya suspected that that probably had something to do with her father being a Turian. The geneticists say that receiving personalities from the father species was biologically impossible. Any Asari with half a functioning brain knew otherwise. "Exiting now."
Wenteya moved back to her preferred spot behind the CIC holographic display. "Give me a situational report of the system."
"We're scanning now," another Asari, Etzey, replied. Etzey was specialized in long-range surveillance and system scanning. Soon enough, spherical objects began to spring up on the holo display before the captain. "Okay, it looks like this is a standard type G2 star," she continued. "Hmm, I read at least eight planets in total; four terrestrial worlds and four outer gas giants. Two of the worlds, planets three and four, are within the possible garden world distance from the star. Two main asteroid belts…oh, this is interesting. I'm picking up massive Eezo deposits in the outer most belt."
Another sensor operator nodded in agreement. "I'm picking up the same thing. The energy signatures are quite large captain. Most of it seems to be centered on one large asteroid. I'll mark it on the holo."
Wenteya raised a brow at the readings. "That asteroid's core must be absolutely rich with eezo." This was good news. Even if there were no habitable worlds here, as was likely the case, this system could serve as an industrial power house for the soon-to-be Asari colonies within this star cluster. After all, as the old galactic saying goes; 'where there's eezo, there's an economy'.
"Should we investigate captain?" Lateya asked.
"Not yet. We must follow protocol first. Searching for habitable worlds is our primary objective. Resources come later." Wenteya tapped on the fourth object from the star. "Worlds three and four are within the garden world zone for this type of star. Plot a course for the fourth world first. After that we'll chart the third, and then start scanning for industrial metals and gasses."
"Yes ma'am. Plotting a course for the fourth world. We should arrive just under thirty minutes.
The crew couldn't scan for any information of the system during their short FTL jump to the fourth world. Despite this, Wenteya had high hopes for the system. The massive eezo readings in the large outer asteroid alone would make this system economically important; it may even become the primary eezo production point for the entire star cluster. Additionally, the system also boasted two large gas giants that could be used for HE3 fuel extraction and as discharge stations for incoming ships. It was great discovery for the Asari Republics.
Exactly 28 galactic minutes later, the ship existed FTL within the orbit of the fourth planet. The ships scanners immediately went to work, gathering relevant information and displaying it on the holo. Just by looking at the images of the world it was immediately apparent to Wenteya that it was lifeless. The entire planet was a pasty reddish brown. Of course, if she wasn't expecting that with a 99% certainty she may have been disappointed.
The planet was also quite small; just 6,700 kilometers in diameter. The lack of a magnetosphere and thin atmosphere meant that the planet had poor heat dispersion across its surface and even poorer insulation from solar winds and radiation. Furthermore, there was insufficient pressure to retain liquid water over the surface of the world. A few more minutes of data mining also revealed that the planet was geologically dead. However, there were large canals and eroded surfaces that, as Etzey explained, may have been evidence of surface water flow millions of years ago. Perhaps in a different time this world could have been teeming with life, but today the planet was quite clearly a dead, desolate world, and the prospects of colonization were quite low.
"Alright," Wenteya said, "we won't be colonizing this world anytime soon. Perform a standard scan for mineral resources and let's move on."
After nearly an hour of meticulous planet scanning and resource mapping, the initial prospects were nearly complete. With little else to do as things wrapped up, Etzey focused some of the ship's sensors on their next destination; the third world from the star. As she gleaned more data, her spirits began to rise. Thick atmosphere. Strong magnetosphere. Ideal surface temperatures. Perfect mass and gravitational pull. She smiled. Vast amounts of liquid water. Initial signs seemed to suggest that this planet looked to be a garden world, but there was only so much information she could attain from this distance. They had to get closer.
"Captain," Etzey spoke, gathering everyone's attention in the CIC. "Take a look at this." She brought up what limited information she had detected. "With most of the resource scanning left to automated processes, I began scanning the third planet. The results are encouraging. The world is in the perfect garden world zone. The diameter is close to Thessia's with a similar mass and almost identical gravitational pull. The average surface temperature is an ideal range. And the planet is mostly covered in liquid water."
"Liquid water? Are you sure?"
"What else can you tell me?"
"Not much else. We have to get closer."
Wenteya looked thoughtful for a moment, and then asked, "What's our progress on mapping this world?"
"Just over 90%," one of the crewmembers answered.
"Let's cut it short then. Lateya?"
"Already plotting a course," she answered swiftly. There was a new-found jubilance among the crew. Finding a garden world was always among the greatest achievements during an exploration mission; and this may be their third find yet! Certainly, it was more exciting than scanning a desolate world for raw minerals. "The planet's close, so a short jump should put us within range in about five minutes."
The short journey didn't take long. After several minutes in FTL the Ascendance re-entered relativistic speeds roughly 200,000 kilometers from the planet. Immediately upon exit one of the screens captured images of the world.
Wenteya's heart leaped into her throat. Even without any data it was clear that the planet was a lush garden world. There were great oceans of water, colorful landmasses, active weather cycles, and green. There was plenty of green. A wide grin crossed her face. "I knew this system was special."
"Three garden worlds in less than a month; that's got to be a record," one of the crewmates commented, excitement present in her voice.
"It gets better," Etzey said. "Ultra-violet scans indicate that the flora life is levo based. And the air composition is a mixture of 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen; comfortably breathable for us. Most of the water covering the world has high concentrations of salts, but there does seem to be large reserves of fresh water in the forms of lakes and rivers."
Wenteya was elated. This was the perfect way to end a successful mission. Truly, this star cluster would be perfect for the next Asari expansion wave that was to come. "Okay, we'll continue to map the geography of this world." She enlarged the projection of the planet in the holo. "Hmm, the weather seems tame enough; we might even be able to launch a probe and get samples and images of the wildlife. Lateya, bring us in closer—"
"Wait!" Etzey put her hand in the air, stopping Wenteya's words in her tracks. She had one hand to her ear canal, listening intently through her comms.
"Captain, I'm picking up large amounts of radio waves." She turned from her seat to face Wenteya, her face ecstatic. "They're clearly artificial!"
The entire crew stopped what they were doing, all eyes now on firmly on Etzey; many in shock.
This whole region of space should be uninhabited, Wenteya thought. That meant…
"Not only that," Etzey continued, "but enhanced visual scans show many artificial structures all over the world." She brought up the scans on the holo. "And look at these lines crossing much of the land mass; they've got to be roads of some kind."
"Are there any structures in space?" Wenteya asked.
Another crewmember answered. "We're not picking up anything captain. There certainly aren't any artificial objects orbiting the planet. But Etzey is right; there are structures and roads everywhere."
"See this here?" Etzey zoomed in on another area, displaying patches of bright green and yellow rectangles in a clearly artificial pattern. "This is most likely farmland. And this," the holo zoomed in on an area with many crossing lines and geometric shapes, "this looks to be a city or large settlement."
"But nothing in space?" Wenteya asked again.
"I'm certain captain. There's clearly intelligent life down there. And whoever they are, they have not yet reached into space."
We've discovered a new species. Incredible! Wevela felt giddy.
"Captain, is this a first contact situation?" Lateya asked.
She smiled broadly. "It would seem so. I guess we can add 'new species' to our list of discoveries." The rest of the crew looked equally jubilant.
"So what now? Do we drop down and say hello? Do we launch probes to the world?"
"Absolutely not," Wenteya answered quickly and firmly. "With the new procedures for first contact put into place decades ago, all contact with pre-space flight species is prohibited until proper examination and study by the Citadel Council."
"What are our orders then, captain?"
"We gather what information we can from this distance and then head back home. We can't risk going closer and being spotted by the natives. And we most certainly cannot launch any probes. If our technology falls into their grasp it could cause potentially devastating effects to their society."
"What about our current objective?" Etzey asked.
"First contact supersedes everything. As of now, our orders are to return to Asari space and inform the Thessian Council." It was clear that the crew didn't much like that answer. They had just made one of the most important discoveries of their life, and now they had to turn around and go home. She sighed. "I'm just as curious as I'm sure you all are, but we must follow protocol. We'll spend a few more hours gathering more information, and then head home."
Wenteya took a deep breath to compose herself. She was both nervous and hopeful at the same time. What are they like? What do they look like? What is their culture like?
Time would tell.
"You don't have to do this!" Elizabeth was infuriated. She threw the damp cleaning rag on the table she was wiping down and put her hands on her hips. The object of her frustration refused to return her glare. "I'm talking to you. Don't think you can just push this talk off."
James sighed in defeat, put his mug of beer down, and responded dispassionately. "What do you want from me Lizzy?"
"I want you to not get killed."
He waved his hand through his messy brown hair. "I gotta do this."
"No you don't!" Fortunately the Pub that Elizabeth's father owned was closed at 2:00am, so no one could hear her excessive shouting. "You always do this. You go thinking you gotta prove yourself to someone, and then go off and get yourself into all kinds of trouble."
"This is different!" James implored, raising his voice for the first time tonight. "I'm not doing this for me. I'm doing it 'cause it's the right thing to do." His speech was beginning to slur.
Elizabeth snorted. "The right thing to do? James, you wouldn't know what that was if it bit you in the buttocks."
"Oh, right, 'cause you're sucha saint yourself," James said in excessive sarcasm.
Elizabeth sighed in discuss. "You're impossible." She turned to head back to the Pub's kitchen.
"I'm doing this for us," James said quietly.
Elizabeth stopped dead in her tracks. "For us?" She turned around, face a fiery rage. "For us! How is getting yourself killed in war a good thing for 'us'!"
For most of the time James only thought of Elizabeth as the most beautiful woman in the world. Her long, curly blond hair and bright, blue eyes were normally entrancing to stare at. Her gorgeous face was accented with her shapely, curvy body and an incredible rack. But as of now the woman simply looked terrifyingly enraged. James put his hands up in defense. "Look at me Lizzy. I'm 24 years old with no future to look forward to. I just got laid off, I'm broke, and I'm forced to live with my bloody parents!" James rubbed his eyes in fatigue. His immediate anger was replaced by immediate weariness. "How do you expect us to have a life together if I can't even support myself?"
"We can't bloody well have a life together if you're dead." Elizabeth's expression softened when she saw James' ashamed face. She pulled the mug out of his hands before he could take another swig. "You've had enough for tonight."
When James didn't protest, she sat down across from him and placed her hands over his. "Hun, please, you don't need to enlist. You can find another job."
"I don't know why you're maken' sucha big deal out of this. I'll still be here. It's not like we're at war."
"That could change James; with that mad hatter marching across Europe."
"Come' on babe. Even he ain't crazy enough to invade England." It was obvious by Elizabeth's expression that he wasn't doing much to convince her. He squeezed her hands. "Babe, don't you want me to do something I can be proud of?"
"I don't care what you do James. I just want you to be with me."
"And do what? Waste my life away working at a pub?" James realized his mistake immediately after saying it. "Wait, I didn't mean it like that—"
"Forget it." She pushed his hands away and stood up. "If you wanna die playing bloody soldier than go right on ahead. In the meantime I'll be right here, 'wasting my life away'." She darted back to the kitchen. "You can see yourself out."
"Lizzy come' on. That's not what I meant." His only answer was a slammed kitchen door. James put a hand to his temple and sighed. Why couldn't she understand that he was doing this for her?
He picked up the mug, thought better of it, and put it down. He needed to do this. He couldn't continue to shift from one dead-end job to the next, hoping that some random event would change the fortunes of his life. He needed to act. And the British Army provided a perfect opportunity to do that. The military improved his brother's life; it could also improve his.
Jerry, you fly-boy asshole. For his whole life James was always living in his older brother's shadow. Jerry was popular; he was not. Jerry had ladies dragging on his feet; James…well, James simply didn't. Their parents would always talk about Jerry's accomplishments with pride; captain of the local football team; graduating at the top of his class; becoming a pilot of the Royal Air Force. In contrast, James' life was rarely discussed.
And why should it be? What's there to be proud of about a low-level dock worker? Former dock worker, he reminded himself. He shook his head. No, he couldn't let his life pass him by any longer. He would prove his worth. He would make his parents proud; make Lizzie proud. He would make his brother jealous.
He picked up the newspaper on the table;
March 16th, 1939: Nazi Germany dissolves Czech Republic. Occupies Czechoslovakia
Ignoring the headline, he flipped through the pages until he found the British Army recruitment ad.
For the first time in his life, he would do something truly meaningful.
AN: Yes, I know in Cannon the Yahg were discovered over a century later. For obvious reason, I changed the date. Don't worry though, just about everything else will be true to cannon.