The lights in the command center were dim, as was customary while the ship was at battle stations. Jorah rubbed the ridge of cartilage along his forearm. The act had always calmed him in times of stress. Today it did nothing to help. With a nod from his tactical officer, Jorah stood from his chair at the back of the bustling command room and approached the central table where the fleet's tactical information was being consolidated. The Nuach was the pride of the Gumarian people. Decades ahead of the rest of the fleet in design and technology. Most importantly were her advances in communication systems. Not her short-range sensors nor her communication arrays could be jammed, and therefore she was the ideal choice for the flag ship of the most important battle in their species history.
Kelpach: Admiral, the Gamma squadron is finally in position and Helio squadron has destroyed the enemy screening forces. We've yet to detect the main enemy fleet, but that was to be expected.
Jorah: Yes, how long until our sensors can penetrate their disruption buoy's?
Kelpach: Eight gernets. Maybe five if Yomav squadron can destroy one of the nodes.
The Gumarian admiral motioned his approval and looked over the waist high table. Three hundred thousand ships. Two hundred eighty-one combat groups. Over a thousand squadrons. All built for the moment quickly approaching. What the fleet didn't know was that Jorah was in on the war games for this showdown. He'd fought as the enemy in all of the simulations. Their chances were meager, but time was running out. If they didn't stop the Huraxian threat here in the Sorach system, they stood no chance in the defense of Gumaria.
The wail of a klaxon caught Jorah by surprise and the gills on his neck fluttered slightly at the noise. Anticipation and concern flashed momentarily on his face as the tactical display began making sense of the new data.
Kelpach: Admiral, the Huraxian's are attacking out of their disruption fields! Firan Squadron, no wait, the entire fourth battle group reports they are decisively engaged!
Jorah looked from the display to his tactical officer slowly as the computers tried to sort out the numbers of attacking ships. Yellow and purple dots converged on each other until the display was a wall of intermixed color as the massive fleets suddenly were on top of one another.
Kelpach: Impossible! There's too many of them! They outnumber us at least two to one! Wait, no, more! Admiral, we've got to retreat!
Kelpach's gulped air as the gravity of the situation fell on the young officer.
Finally breaking his solemn look, the High Admiral of Gumaria, leader of the Eighth Fleet, and the last hope of the Gumarian people, pressed a single button on his belt and opened a channel to every deck of the three hundred thousand ships he led.
Jorah: To the crews of the Eight Fleet, this is High Admiral Jorah. (Pause) Take as many of them with you as you can.
Tiny pinpricks of light dot the black canvas of space. A single bright yellow orb bathes the system in the dim light of a dying star. Jagged asteroids float aimlessly at the outer edge of the star's reach, and the occasional meteor soars past a planet, a blue tail of ice smeared across the stars. The picture is not unlike a million other systems over. If not for the obvious. The remnants.
Interwoven between the twinkling dots of stars, flashes of light glean from a million metal surfaces. Chunks of hull plating careen carelessly through space in a dance orchestrated by gravity a millennia ago. Silent husks of mighty warships drift ominously in a perfect orbit of the star, floating tombs. Those craft too haphazardly adrift, consumed by the star a thousand years prior. The entire system is a somber monument to the last hope of the Gumarians. And amongst it all, a shadow unlike the others glides silently along.