By A.D. 2611, the United Earth was in dire need of aid. After twelve years of war, their armada had dwindled to a shriveled specter of what it once was, while the economy had lost the priceless wealth of intergalactic trade. The Prekc race, on the other hand, had enlisted most of the sentient races in the galaxy, promising a share in the spoils to any civilization that would turn its back on the United Earth and cut off all communication. Those who did not ally were intimidated into flaccidity by the horde of the Prekc. For humans, the war had turned the once-bright opportunity of the galaxy into ominous dread, and left earth cold and alone. Then, out of the swelling shadow of the Prekc army, a spark of hope appeared.
On February 5, 2611, a Ráphan messenger made a furtive appearance in the U.E. Council. He explained that Rapha, a core member of the Prekc alliance, wanted to defect. The Ráphans were technological leaders who controlled RESIMEC*an advanced reality-simulation continuum, used as a training program for Prekc recruits. In addition, Ráphan representatives had integrated into high offices in the Prekc government. The ambassador explained that once his people had assimilated into Prekc society, they had realized and soon come to abhor its greed and brutality. The leaders had met and resolved to destroy the corruption*but they could not rebel openly against the fleet, so instead they offered to leak priceless information to those who could fight.
The council was skeptical of their long-time enemy, but this proffer gave them hope, and their thirst for hope was great. So they negotiated with the messenger for a covert exchange of U.E. and Ráphan communication codes, with which the Ráphans would begin to smuggle information to Earth. Three representatives from the U.E. were to meet Ráphan agents on the neutral world of Indril at 0400, June 17, A.D. 2611. The meeting would later be known as the Ráphan Pact.
*United Earth Library Archive (400.281.543)
The planet Indril's capital city was a labyrinth of cramped buildings that reached nearly a mile into the starlit sky. Each building poured light into the canyon-like streets from thousands upon thousands of tiny pinprick windows. Near the planet's surface hung long vertical neon signs that blended with the distant sounds of hovercraft traffic to imply a vibrant nightlife.
However, on the flat metal roofs of the buildings far above, where the cold breeze whispered, only a few sickly lights dared cast their rays into the twilight. On one such roof, three human silhouettes hid themselves against the sky. The figures formed the sides of a triangle, each facing outward, protecting the backs of the others. Their eyes, reflecting the distant lights, watched every direction, scanning back and forth across the roof with relentless precision.
One of the figures spoke, "The building is empty, Wolf. It's just us for three hundred yards in any direction."
"Very good," replied another in a gravelly German accent. "Now all we have to do is wait for our Ráphan friends to arrive, swap a few communication codes, and we'll have a bug in the middle of the Prekc headquarters." The sparse lights of the upper city revealed the speaker's massive shoulders, thick arms, and salt-and-pepper hair, and cast an eerie mixture of fire and shadow on his blue eyes.