When the Gate first appeared on Eena, in the city of Keraan, the people were afraid. It did, after all, seem to be a rip in space-time roughly the size of a small house. But when nothing bad happened, and it just sat there, they became overjoyed. The amount of interest in the city increased ten-fold, and as scientists began to study the Gate, they made leaps and bounds in countless fields.
Energy production, storage, and transfer increased by orders of magnitude. Faster methods of transport were created. Fabrication technology improved. Space travel became more and more feasible, and the people of Eena were on the brink of discovering FTL technology.
Everything seemed great for the people of Eena, until one fateful day.
“Done for the day, doc?”, asked a security guard on rounds at the Keraan Gate Research Facility.
The man he was speaking to, Dr. Ewan Ranuun, was a head researcher of the Facility and was presently fiddling with a machine Trenn couldn’t even begin to comprehend the function of.
“Just about, Trenn. I’ve got one more test to run and then it’s back home to the family,” responded the doctor.
“Good. It’s getting late, wouldn’t want to keep them waiting. I’ve got one more round before I switch off for the night shift guy.” responded Trenn, before heading off down the hallway.
Dr. Ranuun returned focus to his work. The advances made in this building alone in the past cycle had been extremely varied, and he had worked on many of them. But today was a bit more relaxed. The Facility had partnered with a local university to allow students to propose tests involving the Gate and Gate-derived tech for more mundane things than normal, and Dr. Ranuun had volunteered to run them. He always loved seeing how the next generation interacted with science, and the experiments he was running for them only confirmed the high hopes he had for people he would likely work with in the future.
But as he dreamed of a wonderful future, he was ripped out of his thoughts by the blare of an alarm.
A very particular alarm.
The Facility had several alarms of differing tones, easily distinguished by the acute hearing of the Eenan people, that meant different things. This alarm specifically sent a shiver down Dr. Ranuun’s spine. It was an alarm he had only heard during employee training. They had never had to use it, but it had always been there.
Something was wrong with the Gate.
After shutting down the experiment he was currently working on as quickly as he could with proper caution, he ran out of the experiment room and down the hall as fast as he could. He needed to get to the Gate, to figure out what was wrong.
A small part of him held out hope it was a false alarm, but he’d worked at the Facility for nearly a whole cycle, and no alarm had ever triggered accidentally. This was the best-funded building on the planet. It was literally the technological center of Eena, the most advanced construction in their people’s history. The chance of a false alarm, on something as important as the Gate, was miniscule.
Before he could see the gate, he saw Trenn. The guard was looking through a viewing window, face illuminated by a ghastly red light, all four eyes wide in fear. His fur stood up on end and his arms trembled as instinct brought them to his holstered weapons.
“Trenn! What’s going on with the-,” he began to ask, but as he reached the man and could see through the same window, he stopped in his tracks.
The Gate, normally a beautiful starscape in the shape of a circle, a window into the cosmos, was now a maelstrom of chaos. It pulsed with red light, and it almost hurt to look at directly.
He could tell by the subtle movement of equipment in the Gate room that it was exerting some kind of force around itself. Then his own fur began to straighten out, as he felt like he was being watched.
As both he and Trenn stood, shocked into immobility, they noticed in horror as some... thing began reaching out of the gate.
A bony appendage, tipped with a barbed spur and controlled by taut muscles stabbed into the floor of the testing room. It carved a wicked gash into the reinforced floor of the room as whatever it was attached to began to drag itself through the Gate.
“Trenn, we need to run.” Spoke the doctor, barely loud enough to hear.
“Yeah,” responded Trenn, his voice distant, and they fled.
As the captain of a space vessel, you gain an acute sense of harmony with your crew. Being locked in a tin can in space for months on end means it’s hard not to get close with the crew, and if you want the ship to function smoothly and efficiently, you need to be able to spot problems before they appear or quickly thereafter.
Captain Thryyn of the IGDC Basilisk was an expert at this sort of ‘problem-sensing’ after over two decades working as a Captain in the IGDC. So when she noticed her Sensors team, usually talkative and jocular to keep from the boredom of staring at sensor readouts for hours on end, had been silent for about twice the normal limit of 30 seconds, she got worried.
“Sensors, anything interesting out there?” She asked, trying to gauge what had happened from how they responded.
But they didn’t. That was bad. She got up from her captain’s chair and walked over, about to ask again when she saw what they were looking at.
“Tell me that’s not what I think it is, Quinn.”
The head of Sensors jumped slightly as he was pulled out of his stupor by the captain’s voice.
“I’m afraid so, Captain. It looks like a Gate Break just occurred. Fifty light-years outside of Conglomerate space. The energy readings are unmistakable.”
“Great Void,” the CaptaIn spoke softly, before returning to her chair.
This was bad news for a multitude of reasons.
First, every Gate Break meant a fight. If ignored, the planet on which the Gate Break occurred would be overrun in less than a standard month, and soon after the monstrosities would begin to leave the planet and begin their conquest.
Second, Gate Breaks could only occur on planets inhabited by sentient life. Nobody is quite sure why, even after studying the things for decades.
Third, this break was outside of Conglomerate territory. Combined with the previous point, it meant an uncontacted species was encountering a Gate Break. This would complicate any efforts to intervene, as there are many possible responses to encountering intelligent alien life, most of them bad. Especially when you’re already under siege by extradimensional monstrosities you can’t kill with normal weapons.
“Communications, relay a message to HQ. Uncontacted sentient civilization discovered at these co-ordinates, through energy readings showing the occurrence of a Gate Break. Moving to neutralize the Gate with on-board strike team. Send reinforcements and a diplomatic team ASAP.
“Navigation, set our course. We need to be there yesterday. Everyone! We’ve got a planet to save!”
“Yes Captain!” the crew yelled in response, all moving into action to prepare for battle.
As she watched her crew moving in practiced efficiency, Thryyn relayed her battle-ready message throughout the ship via the standard alert system, and quickly received a call from Roko, head of the Basilisk’s strike team.
Thryyn pulled him up on video, and the human immediately began speaking.
“What’s the situation?”
“Uncontacted species fifty L’s out is experiencing a Gate Break. I’ve made the decision to intervene. We’ll be sending your team down to get the situation, and if possible try to save as many sentients as you can. If you think it’s possible, try to close the Gate, but don’t push yourself. The primary objective is protection of the people until reinforcements arrive.”
Dr. Ewan Ranuun had always been an optimistic man. He loved looking on the bright side, pondering how great the future could be, and to his knowledge, trying his best to make it happen.
But recent events had nearly eroded all hope from the man.
The city of his birth, the most advanced city on the planet and the one where he had spent his whole career, Keraan, was gone. Reduced to rubble by those things. Hundreds of thousands died.
It hadn’t even been half a day since the Gate had changed.
Ranuun was currently working with a hurriedly put together team of Gate experts to figure out what exactly had happened and what to do about it, but it was looking bleak, and he was getting overwhelmed. So he excused himself to get some fresh air, and was given understanding looks as he left the tent in the center of the quickly-constructed forward operating base.
As he tried to let his mind rest so he could go back in and find a solution, his eyes wandered to the sky. It was nearly dawn at this point, and as he admired the pre-dawn sky, he noticed something.
It looked like a meteor shower. Several streaks of light made their way across the sky in a dazzling display that helped calm Ranuun’s mind. However, these lights didn’t act like a normal shower. They continued through the sky, almost as if they were heading for the town. As he watched in confused interest, the streaks continued closer and closer.
He hurried back in to the tent to tell the others what he saw only to be stopped in his tracks by the sight of a top Space Agency official being projected on a tent wall. It began speaking just as he entered the tent.
“Our satellite networks have detected a vessel entering orbit around Eena that resembles no known space vessel. Approximately one minute ago the vessel launched several objects out of itself and began broadcasting a multitude of strange signals and messages, most of which our teams here are hard at work deciphering. However, what’s pertinent to you all is a series of images, broadcasted first while the objects were being launched.”
The official’s face was replaced with a slideshow of images.
A ship, launching objects.
The objects, landing on a planet.
Beings leaving the objects.
Those same beings fighting monsters disturbingly similar to the monsters that destroyed Keraan.
The feed returned to the official’s face.
“We believe this series of images was sent in order to stop us from intervening with the objects and ship on the grounds that they are sending personnel to fight back the monstrosities from the Gate. An emergency vote was held, and we have decided to allow them to land with caution. We are warning you of this because their projected landing zone is right next to your camp.”
As the official finished speaking, a great scream of metal striking through air was heard, and Ranuun rushed outside to see the objects nearing the ground in trails of flame before hitting the ground with force great enough he could feel the shockwave in his chest, even from the distance he was at. The objects, which he elected to call ‘pods’, then opened up completely, and he saw each one contained a single being, nearly all of which had completely different silhouettes, implying these aliens were of many kinds. They seemed to grab materials and equipment from their pods before forming up and running directly at the city, in the direction of the now monster-infested city.
Then, for the first time in what to Ranuun had felt like forever, a sliver of hope welled up inside him.