While the Llighaqua Mission was busy in 61 Virginis, the spacegoing powers of Earth continued to build up their space forces for the protection of Earth, and to a lesser degree Mars.
The very recent discovery that the L1 and L2 Lagrange points had the minimum required spacetime curvature to enter Heim-Feynman Space was welcomed. The ability to rapidly react and deploy fleets of combat spacecraft to the Feynman Limit was heaven sent in the mind of the military planners.
One of the plans drawn up was to place larger space stations in or near the L1 and L2 points of Earth and the Sun, where international task forces could be stationed for rapid deployment. By adapting the design of the Waypoint Depot, like Amundsen Depot, into a free floating station, the construction time could be minimized, especially given that the modules used for the Waypoint Depot were off-the-shelves.
By October 2055 the SEL1 depot, named Bastion Station, came online, capable of servicing 16 spacecraft, and supporting up to 48 spacecraft stationed at SEL1. Around the same time the first two MMHS, the USC Enterprise and the Soviet Moscva, were finished and stationed at Bastion Station.
While the defensive properties of the Lagrange Points were explored, it was also attempted to try and see whether or not it was possible to use the Lagrange Points offensively, by jumping a fleet of spacecraft into one of these points for an attack. There were numerous problems in this area however and the international teams working on this problem ran into them head first.
The theoretic models used showed the problem quite clearly from the beginning. While it was theoretically possible to use a Lagrange point to exit Heim-Feynman space, it was practically impossible as a spacecraft had to take the correct timing into account. This timing was highly dependent on using the minimal distance between the Lagrange Point and the Feynman Limit, while taking into account various N-body problems with perturbations of bodies weighing as little as a million tonnes.
This meant that the offensive use of the Lagrange points was way outside of the human scope, as well as many potential alien species out there, as the computer power needed to do the calculations didn’t simply exist, either practically or theoretically. Therefore the technology level capable of doing these calculations correctly was best described as ‘magic’. Thankfully The Enemy that fought the Quetzal and Turukal 3000 years ago had not shown to be capable of these feats.
These findings made everyone rejoice, as the ability to engage a potential opponent rapidly, while at the same time any opponent would need at least several hundred days to reach the inner solar system would leave ample time to mount a strong defence. This went as far as being able to complete several dozen MMUS and MMLS in orbital docks during an assault.
On November 9, 2055, JSDC Asagiri arrived back at Sol, way ahead of the rest of the Llighaqua Mission, which weres cooling their systems and took on propellant and resupplied for the return journey. They would arrive on November 16, bearing diplomats from several of the 61 Virginis survivor nations.
There was a general emotional high among the Quetzal population, though it was muted with those that had been born and raised on Earth. Due to the enormous success of the Llighaqua Mission to 61 Virginis, the Turukal also began to petition for a similar mission to their homeworld in the Beta Virginis System.
This almost global feeling of euphoria got crushed horribly with news of the arrival of an unknown fleet of twelve spacecraft on November 11 and their discovery by Sky Watch six hours later. All national militaries went to a high state of alert and the standby fleet at Bastion Station made themselves ready to jump past the Feynman Limit and intercept the unknown fleet.
Following an emergency teleconference between the responsible heads of state, it was decided to keep a cool head. A part of the Bastion Station fleet, the 16 spacecraft of Bastion Task Force 1, executed a HF transit past the Feynman Limit into the vicinity of the unknown fleet. This allowed to keep the majority of the fast response fleet to remain in safety, while probing the potential hostile intent of the unknown spacecraft.
With the USC Enterprise being the leading spacecraft of the Bastion Task Force One and the commander, Major Oscar Hughes, officially charged to speak for the United Nations, this allowed a shorter communication time with the unknown as well.
The unknown spacecraft themselves were of a particular design, with a cylindrical shape and a larger diameter than actual height. Around the center of the cylinder was a rotating ring that appeared to be a massive gravity deck, which was flanked on both sides by the rings that would be the superconducting rings of a HF Event generator. What puzzled the analysts most were the rather small radiators of the spacecraft in relations to the size of its four thrusters, at least if those were fusion thrusters as used humans or Quetzal.
Predictably, the arrival of the task force made the unknown fleet hit Bastion Task Force One with massed radar and lidar systems, before beginning the unknowns began with the transmission of a First Contact message based around mathematical principles. This sent a sigh of relief through the Task Force as well as Earth. During the two First Contact situations, communicative procedures had been developed on Earth and those also had worked pretty well on establishing contact with the Untiph-bel and now the unidentified fleet used similar methods to get in touch.
By the time the Llighaqua Mission returned to Sol, the contact with the unknowns had moved from mathematics to simple text based messaging back and forth, as well as relatively low resolution images.
Much like the Llighaqua Mission the unknown fleet was on an exploratory mission, sent out after the aliens had discovered the fusion plumes of the human spacecraft in the Sol system and had decided to take a look at the source. The fleet also consisted of spacecraft from multiple nations, all of which had a certain say in the mission.
The first images from the other side were of an alien species that greatly resembled dragons of western folklore, though they were covered with a sort of fur and possessed a pair of arms additional to wings and four legs. They also had no less than eight eyes, two of which were permanently closed.
These ‘alien fuzzy dragons’, as several western media outlets dubbed them, called themselves Tiaunt. Another big surprise however was the discovery of Quetzal among the crews of the Tiaunt fleet, with one spacecraft being solely manned by Quetzal, hinting at a third surviving population, called Rak’ris’ayc.
The Tiaunt fleet was invited to Junctio Station, where it was much easier to have a proper face-to-face meeting. With the Llighaqua Mission also unloading the Untiph-bel diplomats at Junctio Station, it would result a three way diplomatic meeting. The diplomats that had been sent to Junction to talk to the Untiph-bel, would briefly talk to the Tiaunt as well, before another diplomatic team could be brought in.
The Tiaunt and Bastion Task Force 1 arrived at Junction Station on November 18, after a short HF transit. During the time the reason for the relatively small radiator areas of the Tiaunt spacecraft became apparent. Rather than using nuclear fusion to reach high specific impulses with moderate thrust, like Human and Quetzal thrusters, the Tiaunt craft were using a high thrust, high specific impulse thruster that was purely theoretical on Earth, the Nuclear Saltwater thruster.
The theory was, that by creating a solution of water and enriched Uranium Tetrabromide, merely pumping the propellant into thruster would let the uranium reach critical mass and induce a fission reaction. Since the enriched uranium salt water needed to be stored in boron carbide neutron dampening tubes to keep it from blowing up in the fuel compartments it was deemed to be too dangerous to be of actual use. Additional problems were that any leak would lead to a pooling of the water and potentially having a runaway nuclear reaction with the water.
This meant that rather than allowing the Tiaunt to actually dock with Junctio Station, they were asked to use their parasite craft to ferry crew to Junctio, while their spacecraft were in a position on the other side of the asteroid, just in case one of them had a problem that would lead to an explosion. Not even the assurance that there hadn’t been any major accident with the fuel systems in over fifty years made the command crew of Junctio Station reconsider.
The parasite craft of the Tiaunt were rather large and the first actual meeting explained why, an individual Tiaunt was about the size of a horse, not including the wings, which were actually heat radiators. It was also discovered that the permanently closed eyes were actually apertures to focus bio-chemical lasers. The Rak’ris’ayc on the other hand were about three quarters the size of the known Quetzal and had a less colorful and thicker plumage.
The first meeting of the Rak’ris’ayc with the larger Earth-born Quetzal and the smaller Untiph-bel was interesting and lead to a few discoveries about their history and that of the Tiaunt.
The Tiaunt were actually a post-apocalyptic civilization, after the arrival of Quetzal survivors on their homeworld 3000 years ago, had sparked off a global thermonuclear war over several nuclear powers trying to assert control over the Quetzal technology.
While several measures made sure that the Tiaunt survived , it ultimatively lead to the collapse of the surviving societies and a dark age of about 1500 years, followed by a slow rise back, after the first Emperor of the Tiaunt managed to consolidate his initial Empire and in turn this slowly lead to the raise of other new stable nations, as well as rediscovery and development of technology to defend their claims.
It also showed that some things were not just bound to Earth. Like racism in this case, where the Rak’ris’ayc were the target of hate and even sometimes genocidal campaigns, in a way that uncomfortably reminded humans of how other peoples had been treated in the past centuries on Earth.
While talks with the Tiaunt, Rak’ris’ayc and Untiph-bel were underway, the spacecraft of the Bastion 1 Task Force as well as those of the Llighaqua Mission returned back to Earth.