The universe is a big place, and a cold place. Countless species live in ignorance of the struggles of great powers--empires and alliance of billions of worlds. Each group of bieng living in their own patch of space without comprehending the scale that civilization exists on, and the scale that it is torn down; reduced to molten worlds and drifting metal.
You are not one of these. You are agents of the Coalition, a military alliance of twelve physiologicaly and psychologicaly similar species, humanity among them. It is an alliance built on simple a single principle: survival of the fittest. You are agents of the most terrifying power in the Milky Way. In just 18,000 years, twelve species spread explosively from humble origins in the Milky Way's Orion Arm, putting fully half of the Milky Way and a sizeable portion of a second galaxy under their armored boot.Thin rays of midday light stab through a dense lattice of walkways and tubes, painfully bright in the intentionally under-lit gloom of the lower city. Above you, the metal spiderweb continues into the pale mist.
Almost a kilometer below the surface of Forge, it is cool and slightly humid. Monstrous and long-dead volcanic fissures cut through the world's black, bassalt crust. Despite Forge's thin atmosphere, the planet's smooth volcanic plains were still hot enough at night time to cook on. Tucked into the planet's gaping wounds, though there was civilization. Cities were built vertically, like vines climbing towards the light. The shelter of the planet housed a population of fifty bilion. Modest for a city world, but a testament to the tenacity and ingenuity of the first Coalition settlers.
Past the edge of the tall railing, sleek aircars snap past in a constant whine of electric turbines, forming a chain of orange running lights that stretches into the distance. Forge's dark-clothed upper class drifts past you. Forge's people live in reverse, midday is when one sleeps, or in their case, enjoys the nightlife.
You finally reach your destination, built into the side of one of the towering spires. You step through a mirrored black door in a sheleterd alley. It slides silently open, into a tiny coatroom--with twelve unused hooks on the wall. The little entryway is just almost claustrophobic, barely big enough for two humans. The poison gas nozzles and recessed railguns are invisible, but you know they're there. A second door slides open, revealing a tiny bar decorated simply but elegantly with blued metal and dimed lights. No voices fill the air, and every seat is empty. A single human bartender sits behind the counter on a stool. He stares at you like an aincient lizard perched on a cool rock. He doesn't speak, but nods to you in simple acknowledgement.
You are here to honor an age-old tradition. Your new colleauges will arrive shortly; one by one. They may be people you have known for years--people you have fought alongside, risking life, limb, and sanity alongside. They may be people whose name you have only heard in passing as you went about your business in tomb-like halls. You don't know. That is the tradition; an irony only an inteligence operative can truly apreciate.