While humanity has had contact with aliens during the first flight of the Ryo-Ohki, that was back in the nearby environs of Old Earth. Even back then, some of the contacts were hostile and disastrous. There was even a system incursion of Iilari that attempted to take control of the Solar Mirror. Unfortunately, the pattern seems to be the same for the colonists of the Hope system.
The First Contact incident came during the second year of building the colony, when ships were sent to nearby star systems to collect data, materials, and possibly allies. What they found were a wary group of Kzinti, a cat-like race who were very similar to the Kzin of the Milky Way. However, those Kzin had already been conquered and were part of a much larger Empire. Here, the Kzin had room and time to create their own empire, or rather, collection of Prides. The scout flotilla in Troy 432 ran into the Rajah Pride, a particularly vicious Kzin group that were known for being able to take anyone prisoner and then ransom them for a high price.
Unfortunately, the combat group that responded to the Kzin was headed by a Lieutenant Commander Grundy. Lieutenant Commander Grundy opted for trickery, to pretend to negotiate and then to open fire when the exchange was taking place, as well as booby trapping the goods. The plan worked, but the Rajah Pride's ships were a little more resilient than LtC Grundy thought, and the battle was long and bloody. The hostilities between the Rajah Pride and the NH System Navy was fought for 9 months before an armistice was signed, with the colonists coming very close to breaching the enemy system. While tensions were high for a while, because of the bravery shown by the colonists, they became respected among the Kzin and no other hostilities broke out for a few years.
Wherever humans have settled, there have always been disagreements. The colonists of the Hope system are no different. While most of the colonists were satisfied with the way the government was set up and the way the economy was run, being mostly hands off, there were fewer citizens who disagreed with this. These people wanted power to be centralized and to be responsible for every aspect of human life and to decide everything in a collective manner. When their desires were rejected by most of the populace, they managed to steal a few ships, a few automated factories, as well as assemblers and miners, taking their ill gotten goods into the asteroid belt.
This was during the First Contact hostilities with the Rajah Pride of the Kzinti Kingdom. During this chaotic time, most of the military were out fighting or patrolling the system and were not close enough to do an intercept. Adding to confusion, the ships did not utilize gravity drives for their entire course. The separatists opted to use their gravity drives to propel them at just under 1G, coasting most of the way and then using the gravity drives to change course when absolutely needed, with most of their life functions turned off and most of the crew in cold sleep. When they reached the asteroid belt, they immediately dug deep into the biggest ones in order to hide any thermal and electromagnetic emissions and set up their operations using stolen equipment.
When the NH System Navy eventually tried to find them, they faced a search of millions of square miles, throughout the entire system and this project was given up, as the military also had to rebuild, after having faced many losses of both materiel and men. This gave the Knights, (short for Knights of Marx) as they liked to call themselves, time to build up their numbers (some through cloning) and weaponry. The first engagement with the Knights and the NH System Navy was an attempted assault on one of the fueling stations orbiting the 3rd planet. The large fleet movement was detected and they were intercepted by 2 of the Mobile Response Groups and two flotillas from the Prime Defense Station. The battle was fierce and bloody, with each side giving no quarter. Eventually, with the NH System Navy getting more reinforcements, after taking some initial losses, the Knights were driven back and retreated to their asteroid fortresses.
Today, the Knights are formidable force, a nation of their own, and there is an peace agreement between them and the rest of the Hope system. The agreement states that the government of New Earth will leave specific sections of the asteroid field alone, as well as allow access to the 3rd planet for fuel. Times are peaceful enough, but there is a simmering anger on every Knight stronghold, one that threatens to burst forth. There is always propaganda among the Knights, one that yearns to lay claim to New Earth and all that they have, but the time isn't quite right, not yet, not yet.
The Kzinti were not the only space faring race in this section of the Universe. The next alien that humanity faced did not need ships to travel. These were the star dragons. Breathing and making use of space-borne helium, absorbing solar energies and traversing space faster than light, even when deep inside a system's gravity well, these star dragons ruled the space lanes with impunity. With every roar, they would cause any electromagnetic receiver to resonate with them, repeating that roar. Their solar wings are wide, easily miles and have the destructive force of a barrage of X-rays and gamma-rays, as if it were some sort of small star. However, they are not an evil race and are not vicious.
The first encounter that humanity had with star dragons, while dangerous for humans, was one that was an oversight for the other. When humanity sends out scouts and explorers, the groups that are sent out are armed in different ways. Some have only speed and shielding to protect them. Others have large armaments when they know they are skirting near dangerous territories. In a previously unknown system, one of the more well armed exploration flotillas was investigating a gravitational anomaly, one that seemed to be pulsing with gravity waves at a fixed interval. Unbeknownst to the Commander of this flotilla, a star dragon was on its way there, drawn to the energy being produced by the anomaly. When the star dragon appeared and started absorbing the object's energy, it also started to absorb the power of every ship there. The ships opened fire, and the star dragon obliterated all but one of the vessels, and it managed to get away.
One of the things that humanity had thought to be impossible was to follow one of their ships through an Alcubierre chute. That is, until the star dragon did it, all the way to the Hope system. The mobile response groups were called in, and the star dragon attempted to communicate with them, roaring its message and causing their communications systems to malfunction for a short time. Of course, the ships fired upon the star dragon, causing it great distress. However, it then attempted to use its psychic powers to communicate with the human fleet, express its distress and trying to explain. Eventually, when humanity's weaponry was found to have not that much effect on the star dragon, a peace of sorts was agreed upon.
In exchange for the lives and materiel lost during the first exchange, the star dragon offered to stay in the system, teaching and helping humanity for a period of 20 years. Of course, the hidden motive for such an offer was that it was very bored, and appreciated having others to talk to, others that would not constantly fire upon it at every opportunity.
The Long War
The most implacable and persistent foe that the people of New Earth have had to deal with were the Waking Dreamers, or simply, Dreamers. This was a ghostly alien race who would produce nightmares in people even when they were awake, making them incapable of doing anything but harming themselves. Once a ship was infested with these beings and their command structure wrecked, they would then start to inhabit the minds and bodies of the crew. The invasions of mind, body and soul weren't for fun or a need for random violence. It was to be able to create the kind of conditions that would allow the Dreamers to thrive. By the time humanity met the Dreamers, they had amassed quite a space fleet, with more on the way.
Luckily, a team of explorers devised a way to stop the Dreamers from enacting their waking nightmares, but not a way of ejecting them from human bodies. Their discovery of a small cache of ancient technology enabled them to manufacture psychic defenses that would block the waking dreams. It was almost too late. Four of the New Earth's bases in other systems had already fallen, and the coordinates to their home system were discovered and followed. Multiple intrusions into the Hope system were detected emerging from Einstein-Rosen bridges, with the ensuing gravitational anomalies they always brought. Hundreds of ships flew on impulse thrusters, gravity drives, fusion torches, and who knows what else, on their way to the second planet.
The Dreamers had the humans where they wanted them. But they didn't want to kill them outright, because they wanted the bodies and the ships intact. Lone ships were captured, and the Dreamer flotillas would hunt down and isolate stragglers, slowly contracting their sphere of interdiction. Even the asteroid fortresses of the Knights were hard pressed to survive, forced to run the blockade time after time in order to get fuel. The NH System Navy was also forced to run blockades in order to get the minerals and fuel to manufacture ships and to repair them. Two years of war began to wear on the defenders while the sphere of interdiction tightened and became ever more effective.
However, after two years, ships began to emerge from various kinds of hyperspace. Kzinti ships from nearly all of the the Prides, with the Rajah pride in the forefront raced into the system, heading inwards and concentrating on a small area. Ships from the other alien races that humanity had made alliances with also rode on faster than light wings, appearing from beyond the Alcubierre limit. The allied ships were armed with suppression devices that stopped the waking dreams. So numerous were the new ships that they were able to break through the interdiction sphere. Somehow, though, the Dreamers were able to sense and know that their formation was broken, even before receiving sensor readings.
The Dreamers, through coordinated movements, managed to make a fighting retreat, escaping via hyperspace on the opposite end of the Hope system. Months before, blockade runners were sent to various alien governments with the Dreamer suppression technology and a plea to save the Hope system. But, it would take a while to coordinate the forces needed to make the system incursion, as well as to arm the ships with the suppression weapons. With the help of the Rajah pride, all of the Dreamers were driven from the system. Unfortunately, they dispersed in hundreds of different directions, with none of them having a home system. They pursuit of the Dreamers would have to wait. Meanwhile, with the New Earth and Knights government thankful for the help, alliances were made to guarantee against future incursions for all members.
After the Dream War, everyone felt the need to have a discussion as to how they would split up the resources of this galaxy. The Kzinti were here the longest, with the most territory and the most established worlds. The Aaloks, a race of very humanoid looking aliens, but with a different set of organs, DNA and musculature, are a relatively new race that haven't developed fusion torches or gravity drives, but have a heavily defended system that can repel a Dreamer incursion by themselves are in need of more resources and technology. The Kyrins, a winged species and a fleet composed mostly of assault carriers, have been here nearly as long as the Kzinti, but do not have a good birth rate,, so have a relatively small population. The Kyrins need a way of reproducing and raising their species faster. The Garundi are a heavy gravity species that are resistant to heat and radiation, having evolved on a normally uninhabitable planet. They have 4 arms, 3 eyes that see into the infrared and ultraviolet spectrum, and have very thick skins that resist both projectile weapons and energy weapons. Their ships are heavily armored, but have almost no shields, having nearly no need to keep any radiation away, and there are many of them. However, they are not very developed technologically and have a difficult time understanding some of the intricacies of the physics involved, so they are looking to be educated and to take genetic enhancements that would increase their intelligence. In spite of all of these war-like advantages, they are a primarily peaceful species.
There are also other minor races, but their contributions to a war effort are minor and their development fall very close to average when compared to the other species. While the humans tend to have so-so technology and weapons systems, there is one thing that differentiates them from the other races: psionics. None of the other allied races have psionic abilities. The other races are eager to study the humans, but remain wary of their war-making capability, and the fact that they've gained the respect and loyalty of the very warlike Kzinti.
The peace treaty hammered out by the aliens is mainly concerned about the division of the current territories as well as where they are allowed to expand into. With the nature of the various faster than light technologies being non-linear, passing through different territories is always allowed, but stopping in a territory is not, except in cases of an emergency. Visitors to a territory are to stop in at the periphery of a territory and receive permission to head to the desired system or world. Most of the disagreements were very minor and technical ones, involving discrepancies in the somewhat nebulous borders. But, eventually, those disputes were settled and a treaty hammered out into something that everyone could agree on.
Trade and Alliances
Today, the interstellar trade is well established with many ships coming in and out of system in order to get goods that are only made there or have a better economic value than other places. The primary natural resources available for trade are hydrogen, helium, methane and water from Hope III. In addition, humanity makes mid-grade computing products, high quality entertainment, and solid hologram technologies. Solid holograms are a brand new technology brought to this galaxy that no one else has, and it is a mystery to the other races as to how they are produced, and this secret is a well kept one. Humanity's gravity drives, while not unique, are produced with mid-grade quality and performance, but with a better price tag than the high end drives, and are of interest to races who have not yet developed that technology.
What is humanity looking for? They trade in higher grade products, as well as in exotic matter. Black hole generators, drives that produce Einstein-Rosen bridges, biological scanners, stronger metals and alloys, as well as weapons technologies that can give them the edge in future engagements. Humanity is also looking for anything that can enhance their psionic abilities, as the manifestations are not very strong and don't have many applications yet.
Today, both human governments have a strong military alliance with various Kzinti Prides and with the Garundi race. The Kzin consider the two human governments as something like their own Prides, similar yet with subtle differences. The Garundi with their single government puzzle over the relationship of the two human governments, but deal with them as necessary, not taking sides, and offering to help against alien incursions, but not with disagreements between the two.