The technology of the Protheans had catapulted human society forward hundreds of years and allowed them to conquer the solar system. But it had required an even more amazing discovery to open up the vastness of space beyond their own sun.
In 2149 a research team exploring the farthest fringes of human expansion realized that Charon, a small satellite orbiting Pluto, wasn't really a moon at all. It was actually an enormous piece of dormant Prothean technology. A mass relay. Floating for tens of thousands of years in the cold depths of space, it had become encased in a shell of ice and frozen debris several hundred kilometers thick.
The experts back on Earth weren't completely unprepared for this particular revelation; the existence and purpose of mass relays had been mentioned in the data archives recovered from the Mars bunker. In simplest terms, the mass relays were a network of linked gates that could transport a ship from one relay to the next, instantaneously traversing thousands of light-years. The underlying scientific theory behind the creation of mass relays was still beyond the scope of humanity's top experts. But even though they couldn't construct one themselves, scientists were able to reactivate the dormant relay they had stumbled across.
The mass relay was a door that could open up the entire galaxy...or lead right into the heart of a burning star or black hole. Exploratory probes sent through immediately dropped out of contact-not unexpectedly, considering the notion that they were being instantly transported thousands of light-years away. In the end, the only way to truly know what was on the other side was to send somebody through; someone willing to brave the great unknown and face whatever dangers and challenges waited on the other side.
The Alliance handpicked a crew of brave men and women: soldiers willing to risk their own lives, individuals ready to make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of discovery and progress. And to lead this crew they chose a man of unique character and unquestioned strength, one they knew would not falter in the face of untold adversity. A man named Jon Grissom.
Upon their successful return through the mass relay, the entire crew had been hailed as heroes. But the media had chosen Grissom-the imposing, solemn commander of the mission-to become the flagbearer of the Alliance as humanity forged ahead into a new age of unparalleled discovery and expansion.
"Whatever's happened," Eisennhorn said, still hoping he could pull Grissom from his dark state of mind, "you have to believe we can deal with it. You and I never could have imagined that we could accomplish all this in such a short time!"
Grissom gave a snort of derision. "We couldn't have done a damn thing if it wasn't for the Protheans."
Eisennhorn shook his head. While it had been the discovery and adaptation of Prothean technology that had opened up these great possibilities, it was the actions of people like Grissom that had transformed possibility into reality.
"If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants," Eisennhorn countered. "Sir Isaac Newton said that, too."
"Why the obsession with Newton? He a relative or something?"
"Actually, my grandfather was tracing our family's genealogy and he-"