Thousand Points of Light

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2008

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

"Thus ensued the greatest starfighter engagement of the war. Any war."

The Terran Federation was established as a loose interstellar government to keep the peace between the new colonies that were founded by humanity's invention of faster-than-light travel. It maintained the peace between worlds by letting governments do (more or less) what they liked on their own worlds. Four worlds went beyond what was considered permissible and they were Interdicted rather than coerced into behaving. The Federation AstroNavy had nothing more serious to do than police actions and stamping out piracy and secessionists every so often.

In 2454, humans figured out how to use the portals and found their way across to the Nexus Sector, making first contact with alien civilisations including the Silth.

In 2465, a human merchant ship in the Nexus Sector was attacked by Silth raiders. The merchant ship made it to a portal and transit'ed back to the solar system, with five Silth right on its tail. They destroyed the merchant ship and the Federation guard ship (the Resolution) supposed to be watching the portal.

A combined fleet of Belter and Martian naval vessels chased down those five Silth ships and destroyed them before the Silth could attack any of the Belter bubbleworlds or the space habitats near Jupiter. As the Belter admiral in charge stated in his report: "The Handbags were loose with nukes in mankind's home system and we stopped them. Hard."

After the political recriminations died down and the Sol portal was properly guarded, the Federation decided to start hunting down the Silth raiders in the Nexus Sector. That escalated into a full-scale war in 2467. Much of it was fought in the Nexus Sector, particularly the battles around the Trinax systems, but the Silth tried to hit back at human colony planets.

"The Thousand Points of Light" was the most audacious of those raids. The Silth invaded the 61 Virginis system in 2468. The 61 Virginis system has two human inhabited planets Poseidon and Demeter with a combined population of several hundred million. The Silth poured through the portal smashing the squadron guarding it. A courier drone jumped through the portal in time to raise the alarm back in the Sol System. Meanwhile the Silth converged on Demeter and Poseidon. The local forces abetted by a number of civilian ships whose captains and crews had been hastily sworn to the Federation oath. The Virginis flotilla formed a line around Demeter and Poseidon and and fought to the death.

Back in Sol's Belt, a battle squadron of Federation ships and Belter fighter squadrons were assembled. The starfighters went on the outside of their new prototype carriers for rapid deployment (with the unpleasant downside that they got to see hyperspace from a fighter cockpit). Though it would undoubtedly have been safer to jump through to the Trojan point at the gas giant Cronus, the admirals were of the opinion that the greater distance to the planets gave the Silth too much time either to conduct a planetary bombardment or to escape through the portal.

Hence the battle fleet went through the portal back to 61 Virginis, exiting the Virginis portal right into a killing field. There was no way of getting any message back in time to the carriers to stop them coming through, so the cruisers and destroyers just had to take it on the nose and keep a clear space for the carriers to exit. Next came the carriers, entering and exiting the portal at very high real speed, and immediately deploying the starfighters so that they could form up fast and get out of harm's way (as there were still more carriers en-route).

The Federation capital ships were pinned down keeping the portal clear; the Silth had wiped out the colonial forces and were busy dismantling the orbital defenses around Poseidon and Demeter in preparation for attacking planet-bound targets.

At the suggestion of a junior carrier commander, the carriers formed up as a hollow cylinder and punched a hole through the Silth perimeter, screening a gap for fifty starfighter squadrons to scream down upon the Silth battle fleet at Poseidon and Demeter. (Fleet strategists would name this maneuver the Traegar Corridor; Commander Traegar would be promoted to Captain). Into the system of death flew the six hundred. They had a simple plan: get the Silth's attention sufficiently that they leave off attacking the planets and then interpose themselves between the Silth and the inhabited worlds.

Thus ensued the greatest starfighter engagement of the war. Any war. Six hundred starfighters against three hundred Silth fighters and dozens of frigates, destroyers, cruisers, and carriers. From the nightside of Poseidon and Demeter, people could see the battle being played out in the sky. They described it as a thousand points of light moving around the sky, with every light that flared and died a dying ship.

It lasted hours but at the end there were only human starfighters around Poseidon and Demeter. A bare tenth of the pilots and gunners survived.

A second Federation fleet entered the system at the Cronus hyperspatial point and the Silth fleet is eradicated.

Thousand Points of Light is the turning point of the Human-Silth War. An entire Silth battle fleet destroyed. No more human worlds are attacked in the remaining six months of the war, which is fought entirely in the Nexus Sector. There are human raids into the periphery of the Silth Dominions, taking out Silth sentry ships, orbital manufacturing facilities, and the like. Humanity's alien allies indicate that if mankind wants to push this further, the Federation has to be prepared for an all-out war that could last decades. So an opportunity for a truce is taken. The Human-Silth War is over by December 2468 (Earth reckoning).

The current year is 2473. Five years after the Human-Silth War.