The Known World/Lustria
2065 - Year of the Great Catastrophe
Lord Mazdamundi gripped his chest, shaken to his very core by what he had seen in his visions. The Great Plan was over, the Old Ones' designs for this world had crumbled. The Lizardmen had failed. His people's only hope was to restore the Old Ones' great vehicles to their former glory and leave before the Great Catastrophe that would inevitably come. He immediately commanded Qro-ekop, his loyal Skink Priest aide, to summon the other Mage-Priests and Kroq-gar.
It took months, but the great Temple Ships were finally awake, and just in time. His spies told him of the work that was under way by the Skaven. The final preparations for the evacuation of the entire Lizardmen people from the Known World began. Within weeks, nearly the entire Lizardmen population was embarked in the great Temple Ships at the heart of the great cities. Those that remained would not live to see another day.
"It is time," rumbled Mazdamundi. With those three words, the command was sent to every city in the Lizardmen civilization, and as one, the Temple Ships at their hearts lifted off the ground for the first time since the Old Ones' arrival to this world. Almost immediately after they left the surface, Morrslieb started cracking apart. With a panicked gesture, Mazdamundi bade his civilization into the Realm of Chaos, their destination a world described by the Old Ones as a paradise.
They arrived years later, not above a paradise world but instead somewhere shrouded in a red so dark it was almost black. In the distance, they could barely make out a great light. Knowing something had gone wrong, but not knowing exactly what, Mazdamundi entered a meditative state to commune with the cosmos. What he found was bizarre. They had arrived in the correct system, albeit the wrong planet, but not only was their target destination populated with sapients, the very moons of the gas giant they had arrived within were as well.
Knowing that acting rashly could very well bring about their extinction, after having come so far, he sought guidance from the writings of the Old Ones themselves.
2068 - 97 years before the Skaven invasion of the Vular system
In one of the moons orbiting the gas giant Halegeuse, monitoring the autonomous mining platforms in Halegeuse's atmosphere, Gipok Aenok suddenly noticed a minute but abrupt shift in Halegeuse's mass coming from a specific region of the cloud layer, and it wasn't going away. He decided to call up one of his co-workers to confirm, before he sent this up to his superiors.
"Hey, Zustaf, I'm looking at the readings from mining drone HGC-5, and it seems to be seeing something funky in the cloud layer there. Can you get one of your drones over there for confirmation?"
"Define funky, Gipok."
"The first law of thermodynamics seems to have just gotten bent over its own desk, cause there's some shit there that wasn't before, yet nothing entered the atmosphere. It's almost like it just appeared out of nowhere."
"Seems like our definitions of funky are similar enough I guess. I'll check it out."
A few minutes passed, when Gipok's comm chimed again.
"Yeah, Gipok, I'm looking at the readings from mining drone HGC-6, and it definitely seems to be seeing something funky in the cloud layer. Damn near has the mass of a mountain, too. You sure no one saw an asteroid enter the atmosphere or something?"
"Positive, Zustaf. Someone would have noticed that."
"Right. We should probably tell the bosses, shouldn't we."
Mazdamundi knew his people had been discovered by the locals, from the distinct feeling of being watched that was conferred by his sixth sense. Tracing the intent to its origin, he felt the simultaneous curiosity and panic, coming from a mind almost his polar opposite. Its thoughts moved like a school of fish scattering in the wake of a predator, but not out of fear, merely this was the way this creature was.
This would likely be the best opportunity he'd have to ensure a peaceful contact, for he knew that the survival of the Lizardmen, for once, was dependent on peaceful coexistence. This was not an enemy they could afford to make, not with the vast disparity of numbers given what he could feel of the garden world in this system.
Without even turning to Qro-ekop, he psychically commanded the Skink Priest to assemble and lead a cohort of Skinks, supplemented by a squad of Temple Guard. They would take one of the awakened void ships and orbit the moon the creatures he had sensed were inhabiting, and wait for the hyperactive ones to make contact. To that end, he provided Qro-ekop with an Orrery and stacks of tablets upon which were carved the basics of Lizardmen language and mathematics. Qro-ekop dutifully accepted his orders and began administering the plan.
Annos Basin/Pranas/Sur'Kesh/Halegeuse Corporation Headquarters
"I'm telling you, we need to inform Dalatrass Narra. She has to be made aware of this! Our probes show some sort of fleet - composed of a nearly a hundred frigate-weight vessels completely devoid of element zero, as well as as many dreadnought-weight ships as the Asari - just literally appeared out of nowhere, into the cloud layer of a gas giant. It could be the most important discovery since the Citadel! With this, we could finally give the Union the upper hand over the Asari!"
"And I'm telling you that you're losing sight of what's really important. This is our opportunity to make ourselves a true galactic player. We go to the Dalatrass, and this is out of our hands for good. Yes, we have an obligation to the Union, but we have a greater obligation to our family, our shareholders."
"And I'M telling YOU, YOU'RE ALL MORONS!" shouted a third voice. The two stared at him, eyes wide and mouths agape. "This isn't about duty, whether it be to family or Union. This is about survival. We keep this to ourselves, and you can say goodbye to everything, and say hello to an STG cell on a planet you've never heard of. Jails suck. An STG jail will make you yearn for a Batarian one. I've no doubt the STG already knows about this mystery fleet, and I for one like my life too much to leave it behind. We need to go to the very top. We need to tell Councilor Lurin."
SIlence fell across the room as the others realized he was right. The prospect of rotting, or worse, in an STG Prison was on none of their lists of priorities. They called the Councilor, even knowing that the STG probably already knew. Unbeknownst to them, similar machinations were unfolding aboard the alien ships in question.
Lurin Narra, the Salarian Councilor, knew what had to be done. His Dalatrass Nagante, his beloved sister, had had to be made aware of the news. Upon learning of the situation, she had given him three clear priorities: get it done well, done quickly, and most importantly keep it quiet from the other Councilors.
To cover all the bases, he would likely need a linguist, a mathematician, a physicist, and a biologist. They'd all also need to be as trustworthy as possible, so he'd want to start by looking for candidates in the STG. He spent the next few hours finding and reviewing dossiers of potential candidates, until he was rudely shaken out of his work by his omnitool alerting him to a priority message. Upon opening the message, a video started playing, showing some sort of craft leaving the atmosphere of Halegeuse and heading toward the nearest moon. Knowing he had no time left, he quickly checked his list of potential candidates and selected those which he felt most confident about, with an emphasis on those closest to Sur'kesh.
STG Major Ratik Hilban quickly appraised his team one last time, before their shuttle docked with the alien ship to meet these aliens face-to-face. The aliens in question had left Halegeuse and entered the nearest moon's orbit a day before, and had seemingly done nothing else other than open their ship's airlock and wait. His team consisted of four other members apart from his own men: Japol Suhe, the physicist; Lasant Teja, the Mathematician; Caetum Saemnor, the Linguist; and finally Lordrin Solus, the Biologist. While he had never met any of them before, he had heard of all of them by their reputations within the STG. He decided to ask if they had any insight into the aliens they were about to be meeting.
"Right, what do we know about these aliens? I don't want to be going in blind," asked Ratik.
"Well, I'm afraid we will be," Lasant responded.
"Not entirely accurate, actually. We know they do not use the mass effect, that their ships seem to be made out of some kind of stone denser than even basalt, and we can infer they don't have radios," said Japol.
"How do they communicate between ships if they don't have radio? It can't be optically, otherwise we'd have noticed," asked Caetum.
"Maybe they're a hive mind?" said Lordrin.
"Let me get this straight: We don't actually know anything about them," said Ratik.
"Well, yeah, but…" every scientist said nearly in unison.
"I'm not interested in buts, I'm interested in facts, and if we don't have any, we might as well get on with this. Pilot, take us in!"
Silence descended upon the team as everyone checked their hardsuits for leaks and prepared for disembarkation. Suddenly, the pilot chimed up over the intercom.
"I'm afraid I'm not gonna be able to actually dock with them. Best I can do is match their delta-v. Hope you're all up to date on your EVA training!"
With the team fully inside the alien airlock, and suddenly under what seemed to be a full G, the airlock's outer door closed and the airlock's pressure started to increase. Caetum had barely enough time to notice what seemed to be pictograms on the inner airlock door before it opened and the team was met by a pair of rather large reptilian bipeds. The words "rather large" might have been a severe understatement. The aliens must have been around eight feet tall, they were clad in shiny but primitive metal armor, and rather than helmets they wore the skulls of some even larger creatures.
After a quick appraisal, almost as if they were sizing the team up, the massive reptilian aliens stood to either side of the doorway and gestured them inside.
"We uh, we sure these are space aliens? They don't look very space-y to me, more like… bronze age aliens, if that's even a thing," said Caetum as the team made their way inside the ship..
"Could be culturally significant, emblematic of rank perhaps," pointed out Lordrin.
Entering a large room, they were greeted by a very different sight to the guards they had first seen. Small creatures, each about 5 feet tall, all working intently at various stations placed around a platform in the center of the room. They were, Caetum thought, positively adorable. Upon that platform, on a very fancy looking stone chair, sat another such creature, this one garbed in intricately woven robes and crowned with a brightly colored feathered headdress.
He noticed it was staring back at him, with eyes as big as a baby's head. Suddenly, quick as a salarian child, it got off its chair and darted toward them, stopping barely three feet away from him. Then, almost paradoxically slowly, with one hand making a placating gesture, it reached its other hand into its robes and pulled out an ornately carved stone orb with crystal inlays. Gesturing upward with its free hand, the inlays began to glow and a holographic projection appeared above their heads. It showed a highly detailed map of a solar system, one planet of which glowed a bright blue. The creature pointed to the planet in question, and the projection zoomed in to show it and its two moons, one muddy red and the other a bright green. Then the green moon began to crumble, fragments heading toward the surface of the planet. Zooming in further, this time to one of the continents on the planet, it showed cities rising from the ground and then as one, they disappeared into what could only be described as wormholes made of colors that did not have names. After that the projection collapsed and the creature returned the orb to within his robes.
Collecting himself after what they had witnessed, mind working even faster than normal, he dimly noticed the alien directing two of the larger ones to bring a crate filled with stone tablets to his group. After setting it down, the two large aliens returned to their positions on either side of what was obviously their leader. The leader then bent over the edge of the crate and, after some searching, picked out a tablet and handed it to Lordrin. Almost immediately, Lordrin activated his omnitool and took a scan of the tablet. The alien merely stared at Lordrin with its head tilted, before turning back to the crate and distributing more of the tablets, one to each member of the team.
In return, Radik stepped forward and carefully produced a simple electronic tablet, one that Caetum knew had the Salarian language and maths, as well as various helpful codex entries. After showing the alien leader how to use the device, which simply involved swiping to the left or right to change pages, Radik returned to the center of the group and gave the order to go through and scan the rest of the tablets in the crate.
A/N: I know I said we'd find out whether the Skaven would discover hand sanitizer this week, and I will, but I needed to get this out there.