The United Autonomous Republics was far from united. Constant skirmishing and minor fleet action ravaged the Frontier District, each state teetering on the brink of war with her neighbours. Contested systems like Victory, Triumph and Oasis switched hands seemingly once every couple of years, sometimes as quickly as once every few months. Propaganda spewed forth from the media of every state, proclaiming their superiority over their rivals, while news of weakness and defeat were censored from public channels by shadowy and overzealous government officials. But try as they might, the states cannot argue against the facts of the battlefield.
Though the traditional administrative boundaries of the three districts seemed to give some indication of the relative power parity between the thirteen states, the reality was hardly so clear-cut. Within the Central District, perhaps only the Transsystemic Cooperative could be said to be truly stronger than the other states. The Imperialist Republics was a strong contender, possessing some three colonial outposts in the contested systems. Yet its ongoing war with the Solar Confederacy - a "mere" Frontier District state - seemed to be bogged down, something hardly characteristic of conflict between a strong state and its immediate inferior.
But of course, there were weaker states. Among them could be counted the names of the Mercantile Trade Syndicate, a loose band of traders occupying the system of Port who relied more on their diplomatic prowess than strength of arms to get by. The Metropolitan Great House, a dynasty of independent warlords in the outer rim who seemed more interested in taxing trade than fighting. The Steel Sun Clan, whose fleets are numerous, but poorly led and trained, leading to several humiliating defeats in recent years. The Mining Combine, the ferocity of whose armies were a force to be reckoned with on any battlefield but whose fleets were entirely wanting.
The title of the weakest of all the states, however, has to go to none other than the United Moons Directorate. Poor, starving, practically fleetless after their legendary defeat during the Ellian Civil War, this was a state that was nowhere near ready for the trials and tribulations of another war. But they continue waging war anyway (and continue to lose badly) against their traditional foes; none other than the Solar Confederacy who stood toe-to-toe against one of the Central District states and came out on top. Suicidal was perhaps the aptest descriptor of the United Moons Directorate at this point in time.
Nonetheless, the arrival of foreign vessels caused quite a stir among the upper echelons of military command. Concerned admirals gathered in the recently reconstructed Directorate Military Headquarters to deliberate the nature of these alien craft, their unintelligible transmissions and how to proceed from here. Paige Michael Mossford Sr., the oldest granddaughter of the Mossford House (the dynasty of independent warlords ruling over the United Moons Directorate), stood up to address the small assembly of kinsmen, advisors and general officers.
"Observatories report the presence of several large vessels of unknown origin and design entering the system. Based on their proximity to the planet when they left F-T-L, we know that their technology is far superior to ours. We also know that our radio transmissions have been jammed along a wide band for roughly sixty seconds starting from 13:57:09 to 13:58:03 - that was twenty-five minutes ago. Dahyanyu, what do you make of this?"
Shane Nancy, a prominent military advisor in the service of the Mossford House, rose to reply to his lady-lord. "Mossford-jin, I believe that we should act with all due caution in the presence of these beings. We don't know how strong they are and we don't know where they come from. It would be most unwise to upset them. I would advise not confronting them directly, but instead seeking some way to communicate with them."
Admiral Kyle Lisa thought otherwise, and he wasted no time making his opinion known. "With all due respect, Nancy-jun, if we let every random alien and their lapdogs trot all over our space, how will the other states see us? What of the great Directorate's respect? What of the great Mossford House's dignity? I propose we sally out in force and send them running back to whichever corner of the galaxy they came from."
"Lisa-jun, we don't even know if our weapons will be effective against their ships," Shane Nancy sighed. The hot-headed admiral's reputation for seeking confrontation whenever possible was well-known and it would likely prove to be his undoing one of these days. "Nor do we know the extent of their empire. If they retreat and nothing else comes of it, then that would be fine. But if they come back an even bigger fleet and a burning vengeance, Lisa-jun, that is not a burden neither you, nor I, can bear."
Paige Michael nodded. "Nancy-jun is correct. We ought not to aggravate them. However, I believe that Lisa-jun has a good attitude. We need to show these aliens who owns this system. Hachotakya Kathryn-jun, launch your fleet, but stay in orbit and do not engage. See if you can establish contact with the aliens."
The appointed admiral saluted. "Jisho. I will have my strike force in orbit in ten minutes, Mossford-jin." The lady-lord nodded and wished him Godspeed. With his lord's blessings, he turned and left the room, waving for his aide to follow. As the young lieutenant caught up to him, he took out his note pad to scribble down a quick order before tearing the page off and handing it to the boy. "Pass down my orders. Have the strike force launch immediately."
As Ernest Kathryn's Strike Force was mustering and preparing to depart port, the patrol fleet around Jewel (the planet's name), consisting of Rosy class light cruisers, rallied together to form a thin battle line to oppose the Nordic Sciences flotilla. These spacecraft, although barely a threat to any sizable military vessel on their own, can be very dangerous in concentrated numbers, and the planetary patrol was certainly numerous with a few hundred vessels assembled in front of the Nordic fleet.
Nordic sensors are likely able to pick up the fact that these craft are relatively lightly armed, with a small number of low-calibre guns, and also very lightly armoured but highly mobile. They could probably guess that these vessels were typically employed by Ellian navies as skirmishing elements, screening forces and fast raiders and did not pose too much of a threat to their larger ships.
They would also be able to see that the Ellian ships communicated using Morse code transmitted via signal lamps, but no other advanced communications methods could be detected except for simple, rudimentary radio signals. It could, therefore, be concluded that the Ellians either did not receive their earlier transmission and offer of friendship, or they did not have the necessary technology to understand what the message was saying. In any case, it was clear that further effort was required to establish stable communications with this seemingly primitive civilisation.