After millennia of isolation, Earth's first meeting with extra-solar life was far from streamlined, and set the stage for the greatest war since the Cataclysm of the Beacons.
The Game is Afoot
In the twenty-two twenties, a civilian mining vessel was officially reported as missing on the edge of explored space. A tragedy certainly, but not-exactly world changing. Likely the poor vessel was pasted by a solar flare or just blew a reactor and was left drifting. That's the official story, anyway.
Several years later a faint EMR transmission from the lost vessel found its way to an outlying colony and became the object of great interest. There was indeed a mayday call sent, but the cause was.... unanticipated. The garbled message relayed that the mining ship had in fact been intercepted by another just before its disappearance. This report was handed to the government and quickly silenced. No records had shown any other private, government, or even exploration probe in the area. The government of Earth quietly discussed plans to deal with an as-of-yet overlooked branch of pirates or terrorists who had set up their own base outside of settled territory. Whoever they were, Earth would not tolerate their shenanigans. Thus, the first class of proper, designated space warship was constructed as a means of safeguarding far-reaching outposts from assault and intercepting rogue vessels. Little more than small, mobile space stations with cannons and missiles, these ships nonetheless were groundbreaking for their time.
In the year 2237, the same outlying colony detected the faint outline of a previously unidentified vessel. Though initially thought to be a modified tanker vessel, the craft did not respond to hails and refused to alter trajectory. Several warships were diverted to intercept the unknown craft - at this point assumed to be hostile, likely originating from the mysterious pirate base beyond regulated space - which then diverted course and disappeared off scanners after a large EMR spike was detected. First indications were that the vessel had detonated - perhaps a suicide ship gone off prematurely - but no debris could be found. Needless to say, this started to make defense and security ministers more than slightly nervous. Probes were sent out to search for inhabited planets, stations, anything really, but turned up empty-handed. The mystery pirates were nowhere to be found...
That is until they showed up and knocked on the front door. The year was 2239 when, sure enough, a faint signature similar to the vessel of two years previous appeared on the farthest reaches of UNE space. The next generation of warships - bulkier and more heavily armored to deal with a mysterious foe -were scrambled to the region to intercept. Unlike previous encounters, the pirate vessel did not deviate upon approach of the warships. Instead it entered a high orbit above the colony and began broadcasting on every frequency, as though it were waiting for a response. The problem was no one had any idea what the hell the ship was saying. For about two weeks it just drifted in orbit, flanked by warships, as engineers hastily studied and attempted to create an adapter for what appeared to be a docking rig. The apparatus was jury-rigged to a warship and, with only a little drop in pressure, attached to the waiting mystery vessel. A squad of marines forced entrance through the secondary airlock and began to move throughout the ship. In later reports, several soldiers remarked their surprise when, as they were crossing the battier into the ship, they suddenly dropped them to the "floor". Artificial gravity of such nature had never been developed by Earth, and such a phenomenon naturally set everyone ill at ease. What was exceptionally curious was the fact that these pirates had access to such technology - let alone the grandiose furnishings of the unnervingly quiet spacecraft. Soon enough, the marines came upon a room which appeared to hold the majority of the crew, who looked understandably nervous about the 7 men pointing assault rifles at their chests. A man who appeared to be the captain spoke, and none of the seven marines had any idea what he said.
The marines began questioning the crew but all that came out of the informal interrogation was the repeated reference to some "Tarsis" –perhaps the name of the leader of the group– as well as all of the men counting to nine using their fingers.
It was decided that the men should be brought planetside for questioning in a more secure environment, and so they were supervised in retrieving personal affects from their quarters. At this point, several of the men retrieved items that looked suspiciously like rifles and, as marines shouted for the pirates to drop their weapons, confusion ran high, tension ran higher, and the language barrier dissolved into a ship full of dead pirates and the international incident to end all international incidents.
The UNE knew this was bad - exceptionally bad. There was still little evidence of what these outsiders were capable of, but analysis of the captured weapons showed technology unlike anything seen before. Whoever they were, they had the know-how to create plasma-beam weapons and were likely very angry at this point. Legislation passed to order yet another new generation of advanced warships in order to defend and possibly press an assault against the terrorist threat. This would prove fortunate as sporadic sightings became more and more frequent until finally a group of three craft, again identified by the EMR spike of their appearance, engaged a UNE fleet of six for the first time. After a brief engagement, three Earth vessels were destroyed, the remaining three driving off the attackers who reportedly "ripped a hole in space" and disappeared. Skirmishes of this nature became more and more common, steadily increasing in intensity.