Humans didn’t find their way to space.
They were found.
And not all who found them would live to regret it.
Humanity had nearly reached the point of true space travel, but were so far still confined to their solar system with no means of long range travel. The probes they launched past their boundaries, however, alerted other space-faring races of their existence.
Because there was no solidified organization in place to control the ambitions of the more aggressive races, when potential competitors emerged there was nothing to stop them from trying to either destroy or subjugate them before they could become a real threat.
This time around it was the Wrakxen who laid claim to the new race, positioning a fleet outside of humanity’s solar system to prevent interference while they sent in a small force to scout the humans. They found a species in near-constant conflict with itself and this observation led to a fatal mistake.
The Wrakxen formed a plan to subjugate the humans by disguising themselves as uplifters who wanted to elevate the species onto the galactic stage, and they sought to undermine any slim chance of unity by sending representatives in secret to the rulers of the most powerful countries and pretending that they wanted to work solely with them.
The idea was to trick them into believing they wanted their country to rule the Earth with their help because they had seen they were the most capable. But they did not consider just how deep the conflicts went between the Earth’s nations and how many spies had been planted into high positions in the governments of rival countries.
So their plans were immediately exposed as information passed from nation to nation regarding the deceptive offers, and the world’s leaders slowly began reaching out to each other, forming previously unthinkable alliances and bonds with the sole goal of removing these invaders from their planet and making use of everything they had brought with them. It was an era of unprecedented cooperation.
For a time the nations acted as if they didn’t know they were being tricked, using it as time to understand how the aliens’ technology worked and more importantly, how to reverse engineer it. In secret the humans began assimilating their new knowledge and adapting their own technology, advancing science by several hundred years in the course of only half a decade.
They played host to the Wrakxen, stalled and extended deadlines by feigning ignorance and playing into their obvious sense of superiority, and placated them with admiring smiles and lavish events. The Wrakxen were lulled deeply into a false sense of security and when the humans were finally ready to execute their plans, they were caught completely off-guard.
A meeting of the U.N. was called and the Wrakxen were led to believe that their respective nations would be using this assembly to declare their intent to take over the planet and take them into space. The invaders couldn’t have hoped for a more perfect scenario, allowing them to sit back and watch as humanity used their new technologies to destroy each other further so they could come in and take over in the aftermath.
But as soon as the assembly was called to order, the Wrakxen suddenly lost all contact with all personnel and ships on and around Earth.
Stunned and confused, they sent more ships in but as soon as they approached the planet, they too disappeared off of their sensors and no one could be reached on any form of communication. Next they sent in a fully armed battalion, thinking that even if the humans were able to block outside contact and take out their scouting ships, they wouldn’t be able to compete on equal footing with combat-oriented vessels.
Yet all that followed was silence.
Earth had become a deadzone that nothing could get close to without seemingly vanishing and falling forever silent, and what the Wrakxen truly found ominous was that each time they sent ships in, they would vanish earlier and earlier.
The deadzone was expanding.
A full year later and the Wrakxen pulled their forces away from the solar system, having lost too many ships and people without knowing why or how to justify further effort. Perhaps if they poured in the entirety of their fleet they could finally overwhelm and crush humanity, but the last year had sapped their courage.
The silence ate away at them. The complete absence of information from friend or foe disturbed them on a level they couldn’t quite understand. The uncertainty of whether these humans were using this deadzone as a shield or a lure plagued their military leaders and divided opinion.
When the Wrakxen finally left, the deadzone had expanded to cover the entire solar system, but of course those who hadn’t experienced it wouldn’t know its ominous terror. So others came and went. They sent ships that they would never hear from again. They sent weapons that would never be fired. They sent people who would never report back.
This went on for ten years.
After that period of time the Sol System, as it would later be known, was given a wide berth and treated like the home of a dreadful monster. Ships wouldn’t so much as approach its border as if fearing the horror living there might reach out and drag them into that inky blackness.
Humanity became the boogeyman of the galaxy even though they hadn’t even taken the first steps outside their solar system. The other races feared what they didn’t understand. They feared the unknown variable that lurked within that blackhole of deafening silence. The utter absence of anything when sensors scanned it screamed at the most primal part of their beings to run and hide from this dark abyss.
It preyed on the most basic, primordial fear of any species. The fear of the dark. And it was even more severe because they knew it wasn’t irrational. Something lurked in that darkness. Something made sure those who stepped inside never made it back out.
Humanity. The beast that called the darkness home.
So they formed bonds, established treaties and pacts, and reached out to friends and rivals alike to prepare for the day that humanity stepped out of the dark and entered the galaxy. The terror of a race that hadn’t even been capable of leaving their system ten years prior and still had yet to leave had inspired the establishment of a Galactic Alliance.
No one dared to aim their sensors directly at the Sol System, feeling like if they stared too long or too closely into the abyss that it would begin to stare back at them. So they kept it just at the edge of their range, just close enough that they would detect something, anything, leaving or entering.
Right on the periphery of their vision, where all monsters lurked.
And one day, something moved, just out of the corner of their eye.
They detected a beacon as it drifted out of the darkness, the technology displaying characteristics of several different species but in a wholly unique construction and melded together seamlessly. It was as if the best parts of the similar technologies had been extracted, combined, and further improved. But more important than the implications of the beacon itself was the message it beamed out to the galaxy.
It was a video featuring a single human male in a military uniform, the epitome of what the humans referred to as a grizzled war veteran. One of his arms had been replaced by a bulky prosthetic that looked designed for combat and one of his eyes had an unnatural glint to it. His gaze was cold and steely as he glared into the camera.
“We’re here and we’re ready. If you want peace and have the courage to come meet us, our ambassador will hear you out. But this message is for anyone out there who gets the idea of trying to kill or oppress us again. Know that whatever part or portion of your forces that reaches into our territory is lost to you the moment it enters. In other words, if you decide you want a war with humanity the only question you have to ask yourselves is…
“What part of you are you willing to give us?”