When Humans finally met aliens we didn’t encounter just one species. We met a whole Union of Stars. And it wasn’t our dazzling charm that drew them to us: it was our mode of space travel.
In the mid-twenty-first century, we found a crashed alien ship on one of Saturn’s moons and the real Human push into space began. Within twenty years, we went from sublight speed to a subspace drive that shortened lightyears to years for the adventurers willing risk cryo sleep in order to venture out into the Vasty.
The day after we established our hundredth colonial outpost the Whooex Union of Stars came calling. They did not come bearing an invitation to join in hand, or claw; they came with an ultimatum for us to cease the use of our subspace drive. It seemed our method of travel cut across an alternate dimension, threatening the life there. One of the diplomats explained that they, too, had used that method of travel in the early stages of their expansion into space—until the threatened dimension had declared war upon them. After a few years of devastating battles they had developed a new method of space travel.
That was fine with us: we were willing to accept a few years slowdown in our colonial expansion in exchange for a better system of travel.
That was not what the Whooex Union had in mind. Apparently, they simply wanted us to stop using our method of space travel. Otherwise, they explained, our interdimensional neighbors would declare interdimensional war on us.
No one had come to us threatening retaliation. We weren’t the nervous species in the room. “Us, as in Humans?” we asked.
‘No,” they said. “Us. As in the whole Whooex Union.”
Obviously they had never dealt with Humans before. The now-famous mother of Human advancement into intergalactic space, Chloe Patel made a suggestion to the Whooex diplomats. “Share your system with us. Or,” she said, “we must continue to use our destructive drive.”
In the end the Whooex had no choice. It was admit us or go to war.
Of course, there were stipulations. We, the new Earth Alliance, were accepted as junior, secondary members with limited benefits. We were not full trade members. We could handle that. Just as long as they gave us full access to the new, for us, drive technology.
So, we became the newest, and first-ever junior, member of the Whooex Union. It took several decades to make and master the new tech. After that, we had contact with the species whose spatial territories butted up against our own. Frontiers formed and trade developed. We had things to offer in exchange for the things they had and we got along fine. Small time stuff, but good enough for a fledgling alliance. The crown jewel of the admission to the Moneyworld, the Whooex trade conglomerate, remained beyond our reach.
Not everyone in the Whooex welcomed us with open arms, however. The Endar hated us from the first moment we sat down to discuss the drive situation with the Whooex delegation. They would have preferred to send us back to the Stone Age and they made that abundantly clear. It seems, however, that the Whooex Union has a rule in its charter that any civilization comprising a hundred worlds or more is an established society and is potential membership material. Impeccable timing for us!
The Endar Primacy hasn’t changed its position in the last hundred and fifty years. Luckily, there are several empires and associations padding the space between us, so we do not meet on a regular basis. An Endar will occasionally show up on our frontier, or the Outer Rim, however. We eye each other warily, but membership in the Whooex chokes any open hostilities or laser fire.