AN: Here is the final part of the Expanding Horizons story. It has taken a bit over a year to bring this story to this end and it has seen more than a few moments in time that I would have preferred to not have lived through. Thank you to everyone who stuck around during the doldrums parts and for the infrequent updates. Once again, I do not own Babylon 5 or any of the intellectual property of Peter F. Hamilton (awesome author, worth a read) that was used in this story. Without further ado…
Epilogue Part 1
Excerpt from In the Company of the Angels of Death, by John J. Sheridan, New Avalon Press 2281
It is beyond any particular understanding that I have of international or in this case interstellar diplomacy the unintended consequences of us gaining so much First One technology. We were selected by the First One himself, Lorien, to take over their technology. I don't know if Lorien had any idea of what exactly that would do to the current status quo. Personally, I think he knew exactly what would happen and it was all a colossal joke to him. He was gone, though how gone no one really knew, and wouldn't have to deal with the consequences of his actions.
All too much has been written about the state of the galaxy and I have no real need to recount the tales of woe. I was there for much of it. The Bureau's governing council thought that since I brought back the tech and had the memories of how to use it effectively, I should be in charge of the new agency created around having that tech. I didn't ask for the knowledge from Lorien, but the ass decided that I should have since I had been "selected" as the Kirishiacs' representative. That was a singular honor that I wouldn't wish on anyone at all, though Len'char would be the best asshole to take on that responsibility.
The new agency, called the Ancient Tech Agency (not very original at all in my opinion), was there to evaluate what pieces of ancient tech was best suited for wider dissemination to the Hegemony as a whole and what pieces could be "sold" to the various other powers. On paper the idea wasn't too bad, but in practice it fell apart quickly. Too many of the other powers out there had built their tech base on what they had found or stumbled across (the Vree for one found an old battlefield from the Shadow War filled with cast-off Vorlon tech that had been given to the Minbari) and they didn't take kindly to our selling the more "advanced" versions to just anyone. Other powers, read the Centauri and a few developing powers, weren't happy with us not being willing to sell them advanced weapons technology.
In short, no one was happy with the new agency. A few of the former League powers tried to go to war with us in order to get our tech. It wasn't very smart of them, though few would admit to thinking that the former League had any brain cells. The Brakiri of course had been one of those nations that tried and failed often enough to gain any technology from us. They should feel happy that we decided not to destroy their nation and send all of their colony worlds back to their equivalent of the Stone Age for their part in attacks on our nation and the Dilgar Remnant. It took some intense negotiations by the Abbai who decided to step up once they found out that we planned on pummeling the Brakiri into submission with lots of asteroids. Something about holocaustic weaponry, a treaty the Hegemony never signed, made them queasy.
The Centauri turned out to be a major pain in the ass as well during this time period. They thought that their previous ties to the Hegemony would gain them a "back door" for the more advanced tech out there. Unfortunately for them, they decided to try to underpay us for the tech. After they were rebuffed for the third time, something that wasn't all that unusual as most of them had no tact, the situations went from comical to deadly. We knew that the Centauri had been building up their fleet and building some additional weapon systems, but assumed that they meant to take out the Orieni once and for all. Of course I was there when the Orieni lost their flagship and their allies lost a bunch of ships, so as a whole the Hegemony was not concerned with the Orieni.
The truth came out when a large fleet of Centauri warships jumped into the Epsilon Eridani system. Babylon Station 4 was there along with the Great Machine, though the Centauri didn't know about the Machine. The fleet that jumped in was cruiser heavy and had a decent sprinkling of dreadnoughts and a few of their smaller ships. What surprised everyone was that a number of the ships were assault ships and they were loaded to the gills with lots of power armor. They didn't have too many fighters and it was odd what happened.
Babylon Station 4
"Babylon Control, this is freighter Chieftain headed your way. What's the weather like today?"
"Chieftain, it's always sunny in here. What's your load?"
"Good to hear. We've got a small load of spares for the station and a couple of cargo bays full of goodies from the Ancient Tech Agency."
"Clearance is being sent over to you now Chieftain, we're looking forward to seeing what you've brought over."
The Chieftain was one of the ubiquitous Clipper ships built by the Hegemony for close to a century. Their large cargo bays made them ideal for carrying all kinds of cargo and they had their own jump drives to make for quick entry and exit to target systems. They even had decent weaponry to defend themselves from most privateers and fighters. They formed the basis of the Hegemony's Merchant Marine and many of the former League nations and even the Centauri used them to transport goods and people around the galaxy.
The Chieftain was carrying a small quantity of spare parts that couldn't be fabricated on the Babylon Station, but the real buzz was about the Ancient Tech Agency goods. For the past ten years the agency had been parceling out the latest in First One tech that didn't have an overt (or for some any covert) applications for weapons research. Many nations tried and failed to get any weapons technology for themselves. Most were contented that no one else was getting the tech, though all of them knew that the Hegemony was making full use of the technology.
Already a number of Hegemony worlds had been declared off limits, though it wasn't as much of an issue since they were not listed on any official (or unofficial) maps of the Hegemony. Most of these worlds housed the HRAD (Hegemony Research and Development) Centers for design technology and they tested much of the new technology that was developed in the Hegemony and they were already experienced with dealing with new technology from a variety of sources. The HRAD Centers had been experimenting for quite some time with the various pieces of technology and it was even rumored, with intact ships. Most of the ships were put through their paces and then evaluated for their future potential; that is the possibility for future sales. It was not just weapons research, but potential powerplants and other pieces of advanced technology that were being tested there.
The technology carried by the Chieftain was for the foundries and assembly areas of the Babylon Station. The Clipper ships had been designed by the shipwrights at Babylon Station 4 and the station continued to be the locus for new ship designs. The parts had the potential for giving the Clipper ships a greater range and speed and didn't have a direct impact on any weapons research or implementation. Most assumed that the technology did have a direct impact on weapons research and many tried to ambush the various ships going out to the Babylon Stations. It seemed for many that they had forgotten that the Babylon Stations were very well armed and had survived numerous assaults in the past and not so distant past.
It was all the more sad to note that the Centauri had failed to realize what the Dilgar and Brakiri had come to find out to their detriment: the Babylon Stations were a foolhardy target. The large war fleet that jumped into the Epsilon Eridani system was cruiser heavy, an attribute that showed that the Centauri had learned from watching the Hegemony's war doctrine. Of course the lack of any substantial fighter support showed that they hadn't learned quite that much.
"Babylon Control, this is Chieftain, are you getting the same telemetry?"
Little did anyone know of the true capabilities of the Babylon Stations, especially the scanning equipment and the layers of detection capability across multiple dimensions. The dimensional scanning capabilities were the newest part of the detection capability and it joined the hyperspace pickets that were already in place. Babylon Control already knew about the incoming fleet and had sent off a message to the HAF Navy and a relief fleet was on their way. After the combat actions against both the Dilgar and Brakiri, the Babylon Stations were no longer lightly defended with fleets. Marathons had been built for the purpose of defending the stations, but had not been as useful in their intended role. Each Babylon Station contributed their own ships for their defense and was supplemented by the latest warship designs.
These same warships were either already on station, but hidden with active stealth or they were en-route to the station. The better jump engines that were already in use by the HAF Navy and Bureau's fleet had been augmented by the best jump engines that were in use by the Walkers. These interdimensional jump drives allowed for pocket dimensions that could hold fleets dimensionally static to realspace. It allowed warships to jump into this status where they could be fully powered up and ready for combat, but the space allowed the ships to remain in a suspended status until needed. It was the ultimate means of providing combat ships for the spacestations without resorting to time consuming and complex station keeping measures. It also provided each station with a covert combat force that could be brought out quickly and prepared for combat without the wear and tear such readiness produced.
The Centauri had expected minimal defenses and they also knew that the Babylon Station would be a tough target. They came out with numerous assault ships loaded up with power armor troops to negate the station's combat capability. Their large force of Morados would pummel the station and to provide security for the rest of the fleet. The few Centaurums were there for their heavy firepower capability and a small fleet of Vorchans provided additional support. It was odd that the Centauri had decided to forgo fighter support for their fleet, but they could also have decided to reduce their fighter force due to the excellent anti-fighter capabilities of the Terran battlestation.
Ships of the Centauri Royal Navy were headed toward Babylon Station 4, but noticeably absent were any of the House Navies. It appeared that the new Emperor had directed only the Royal Navy as either a punitive detail or someone else in the Centaurum had sent part of the Royal Navy to "acquire" examples of ancient technology at the point of a sword. Pundits and scholars would spend years trying to figure out who had sent parts of the Royal Navy into Hegemony space and the why's of the situation. Very little of the situation was borne out by the evaluation and the Centauri learned why attacking a Babylon Station was such a hard thing to do.
Pride of Syma
Centaurum – class Dreadnought
For quite some time, House Syma had been known as either a Centaurum faction or a Supremacist house in Centauri politics. They had been shunted to the side as Houses Mollari, Jaddo, and Kiro had received the best trade deals and armaments deals. Other houses on the periphery had received a number of deals and had received some kind of preferential treatment, but there were other houses that received nothing at all. House Syma had been known as the primary house during the wars with the Orieni. They had fallen far during the drawback from the Republics heyday period. House Syma wanted the Centauri to be known as the "Lion of the Galaxy" once more; of course it would be under their control. The Centaurum had been marginalized and the power of the Emperor had been increased and that was due to the influence of the Terrans.
Everything came back to the Terrans and what they had done to the Republic. They were the primary trading partners and those houses who worked with them had reaped massive profits and with those same profits came political power. Alliances were formed and then shattered in the wake of the profits being thrown around in the Centaurum. Soon enough several of the Centauri houses had more power than ever before and more than a few had grown strong in naval skills due to numerous joint exercises. Even during the Terran's war with the Dilgar, they had sent over one of their RCTs (Regimental Combat Teams) with full fleet support. Everyone in known space knew about the combat capability of the RCTs, especially the now defunct 4th RCT. It was surprising that the Terrans would send one of their RCTs to Centauri space and even more surprising that it was not changed due to the war preparation needed against the Dilgar.
House Syma had fallen far and they slowly watched as their influence waned almost to the point of nothingness. Several smaller houses had already lost everything to the larger houses or were the victim of being absorbed by a larger house. Some of them had "benefited" from the absorption and it was more mercantile, though many others were brought low during the usual political maneuvering common in the Centaurum. House Syma narrowly avoided this fate and had to form a voting bloc in the Centaurum to keep their original place.
They were soon joined by several smaller houses and later they received support from several alien species who agreed with them concerning the rise in power of the Terrans. Slowly, House Syma began to form a more "modern" fleet. One of the few reforms that had been well received by the Royal Houses had been the one allowing each house to form their own Navy and removed the restriction on ship types. Most of the larger houses had fleets that were almost the same size as the Royal Navy and the Emperor had allowed the Royal Navy to almost become eclipsed by the house Navies. It was almost intolerable that it was possible for this happen. The current Emperor had already decreed that the Royal Navy would be expanded further to keep any one House Navy from having a larger fleet, but it would take time train the crews brought in from several of the Imperial-aligned Houses to the "standards" of the Royal Navy.
House Syma's Centauri allies and the other alien species provided both materials and equipment to upgrade their House Navy with technology not usually found on Centauri ships. Indeed, House Syma benefited from the upgrading of their ships with the now venerable Vorchan attack ship and with the joint Terran/Centauri designed Morado. The majority of the fleet was the versatile Morado and was appropriate given that cruisers were best for escorting merchant shipping, a task usually given to the Houses' ships. A few Centaurum Dreadnoughts rounded out the House's Navy and they even were able to purchase several Astur Assault Ships with a full load of Lakrit Assault Shuttles. A large number of Kutai power armor suits made the Asturs well suited for the commerce raider role. The only true fault of House Syma's Navy was that they lacked fighters, but they did "allow" the majority to go to the Royal Navy and a sign of their "loyalty" to the Republic. It was hoped that the better point defenses on many of their ships and the better weaponry would give them an advantage.
"This had better work." House Admiral Durrens Syma commented to the House Representative who was on his ship. It was a bit less tolerable to have the House Representative on his flagship rather than the alien "advisors" who were on the rest of his fleet.
"It will work. Our allies have given us some good intelligence on this operation. This particular Babylon Station is known as an engineering hub and they are the best choice to search through for any ships that use the new technology that the Terrans are so unwilling to share with us. Is the fleet all through hyperspace?"
"It is House Representative. We made the transition well, but I'm not certain that we were able to pass through the Terrans' sensor nets on our way here."
"No matter, it is difficult enough to hide a fleet in hyperspace and the Terrans have shown an aptitude that borders on the supernatural when detecting ships in their space."
The House Representative looked around the bridge of the Pride of Syma and he could see the original lines of the Centaurum Dreadnought and he could also see the new weapon stations and the ad-hoc upgrades that had been provided by a mysterious coalition of alien species. The aliens were upset as well that the Terrans had gained a good deal of technology and even more upset that the Terrans declined to share any of it or to sell any of it. This was the best means of acquiring the technology without having to pay a monetary cost up front for it. The Representative did understand that the Terrans would more than likely resist fiercely, but didn't think they would react too badly about it. He really didn't understand the Terran mindset and his House would suffer for their arrogance.
"Combine the fleet groups and permission is given to execute the mission House Admiral. Make our House proud."
"Agreed House Representative" the House Admiral turned to his handpicked bridge crew and felt a stab of jealous pride at the assemblage of the best of the House Navy, his next order came quickly "Pull us in tight and bring everyone out into battle formation."
The House Syma fleet was trying to use a bit of maskirovka by using the paint job of the Royal Navy, or at least what the Royal Navy had recently used. The paint scheme of purple with gold had recently been reversed with purple accenting gold on all Royal Navy ships. The House Syma ships were painted purple with gold trim and the usual markings had been slightly modified from the Royal Navy standard. House Syma's symbol was close to the Royal Navy's emblem and it was hoped that it would confuse the Terrans into launching a reprisal strike on the Royal Navy. The resulting war would benefit the aliens who were assisting House Syma and House Syma would be able to reap some political benefits as well. With those houses that supported the Emperor implicated in bringing ruin on everyone by their alliances with the Terrans, the resulting vacuum would be filled by House Syma and their allies.
The House Syma fleet took up position in the Epsilon Eridani system. They had come out close to Epsilon Eridani IV since it was a known position where the Babylon Station "usually" occupied and the world was also known to be uninhabited. It was difficult to determine if a world was one of the Terrans' Inside out worlds, but the House Syma fleet believed they had found the determining factor. Their sensors had been calibrated to find those worlds that had a higher than "normal" mass and it was usually these worlds that yielded up the most secretive of technologies used by the Terrans. The great bulk of Epsilon Eridani IV would (hopefully) shield most of the fleet from any initial counterattacks by Terran forces.
As with all plans that rely on a great deal of assumptions, the Centauri plan was greatly flawed. It would only come when the Great Machine and the defenders there showed themselves to the Centauri and to the galaxy as a whole.
The Great Machine
Epsilon Eridani IV
When the Hegemony expanded out past their original borders thanks to the Treaty of Vega, they encountered the odd system of Epsilon Eridani. It had a Jump Gate in system, but no world was considered to be habitable. Once the Jump Gate was disabled, though the beacon was left alone, Hegemony teams began to conduct research on the system. Because of the location of the system very near to the Centauri border, it was selected to feature a Babylon Station and a further survey was necessary. Several of the worlds were large enough to sustain an Inside out world and so multiple worlds were searched. Out of all of them, Epsilon Eridani IV was selected as the best option. Little did the survey crews realize the situation and what it would result in for the Hegemony as a whole.
The first ships conducted a deep scan of the planet's surface to see if there were any problems with the world: i.e. the world was cracked inside, the world had a dense core, or the world had hidden subsurface water deposits. No one could have imagined what the survey crews found when they first started to scan the world. They found a massive machine that was controlled by an organic component; an actual being was at the very center of the Great Machine. The Great Machine was built under the crust of Epsilon Eridani IV and was the very center of the world. The world itself was dead and geologically inactive. Only the outer parts of the world had been left as both a form of camouflage and a crude armor from external assaults.
Finding out the identity of the alien species was more difficult even though the alien was very cooperative with initial survey crews. After many long days, the survey team was able to ascertain the language of the alien species and they were able to start a dialogue. Eventually, after many long hours, the alien agreed to exchange knowledge and to allow the Hegemony to use part of the unused portions of the Great Machine to setup their own outpost. The health of the person attached to the Great Machine was a source of much debate and was told to the Hegemony team that the alien was dying. His race had built the machine to keep alive all of the information they had pulled together over the eons. He was the last of the Keepers, those who formed the "brain" of the machine, and he was looking for a worthy successor.
Soon enough a parade of individuals went before the Keeper, but all were rejected. In the time period known as the Golden Century, the cultural and developmental period of the Hegemony, the Keeper was on his last legs. He eventually chose a family, the Ivanova family, as the new Keeper. It would pass from parent to child for perpetuity. It was from this family that others were able to expand the Hegemony outpost into a HRAD Center. Combined with the engineering teams at Babylon Station 4, the Great Machine's knowledge was used to create the allotrope of Quantium-40 along with the Clipper ships that became so popular around the galaxy. What few people knew and even fewer were told was the vast storehouse on weaponry stored within the Great Machine. The forced diplomatic team led by John Sheridan on Z'ha'dum was able to present to the Walkers the "missing" data from their world that had been destroyed by an asteroid sent from Vorlon space because of the information stored on Epsilon Eridani IV.
When the House Syma fleet, disguised as Royal Navy ships, jumped into the Epsilon Eridani system the Great Machine had already been aware of their approach. The main sensor command station was on the world and that was due more to the mobile nature of the Babylon Station and that the world was in a stable orbit. The network of sensors stretched throughout hyperspace into realspace out for several light years in all directions of the system. Ironically, the sensor net was actually placed very near to Centauri Prime and had watched the House Syma fleet organize and then jump out. The sheer volume of data could be overwhelming at times and the analysts in charge had assumed (incorrectly) that the Centauri fleet was headed to another world or holding.
With the House Syma fleet opening a jump point directly near to Epsilon Eridani IV, the optical sensors picked them up quicker than the more sophisticated gravitic sensors or even the radiated types (i.e. radar, lidar, or maser). An accurate count of ships revealed that the House Syma fleet came in with three Centaurum Dreadnoughts, eight Vorchan Destroyers (or Frigates using the Centauri designation), twenty Morado Cruisers, and six Astur Assault Ships. The fleet jumped in together in good order, though they were spread a bit further out than a typical Royal Navy formation. Less well trained navigators could be the reason for such a spread and indeed the House Syma fleet wasn't known for their jump accuracy (at least to the same standards as a HAF Navy squadron or the Royal Navy). The complete lack of carriers or bombardment ships was also noted as atypical.
The whole time as the House Syma fleet was masquerading as a Royal Navy fleet, the highly tuned sensors that made up the mechanical intelligence network of the Great Machine were tuned to any transmissions from the fleet. Even though the fleet was trying to remain under EMCON (EMissions CONtrol), a stray transmission was picked up by the ESM (Electronic Sensing Measures). It was a short burst, but came from a unique source on one of the Morados. The source was Brakiri in origin and when decrypted showed that the Brakiri were one of several races who were assisting the House Syma fleet in their crusade against the Hegemony. Further transmissions were found from the various races onboard their ships and showed that in addition to the Brakiri the Abbai, Ipsha, and Descari were also present. It was not as surprising as the races all were originally part of the now defunct League of Non-Aligned Worlds and even the pacifistic nature of the Abbai had changed after the end of the Dilgar War.
THS Archangel 6
Rapid Readiness Ship
Epsilon Eridani IV
The Archangel series of ships were built as a test ship by the Ancient Tech Agency's shipyard as a test ship for the new technologies that were given to the Hegemony by the departing First Ones. Each ship was not named, but rather each was given a numerical designation. They combined bits of advanced technology and each ship's weapons configuration and equipment could be completely different than any other ship thanks to the modular nature of Terran ships. They also were the first defensive ships to test out the dimensional lock technology. Each ship is held in stasis with the crew at General Quarters and the weapons grid at full power and any shielding at such a state as well. While it would normally be draining to keep a crew and ship at such a state, the dimensionally locked ships were in a null state "just" outside realspace. With a pre-coded signal from a command ship or spacestation, they could be brought out of the null state and ready for combat. Thus were important worlds and spacestations guarded by the Hegemony in case of attack by hostile powers.
Archangel 6 received the activation signal from the Great Machine command post along with the seven other rapid readiness ships in the Epsilon Eridani system. A total of twelve ships were in a null state and the first of them started to come to life. Archangel 6 was outfitted with a mixed bag of ancient weapon systems along with "proven" systems that had recently seen action against the Shadows at Z'ha'dum. With a Torvalus Volley Laser mounted on a Heavy Weapon Orbital, the other Heavy Weapon Orbital mounted a Triad Neutron Burst, and the front of the ship had a Heavy Molecular Slicer. "Conventional" orbitals held the mix of Gravitic Augmenters/Dissipaters to round out the equipment. The powerplant and auxiliary power system were a mix of Hegemony standard systems and Hyperspace Taps of a Shadow origin. The external appearance of the ship was similar to the Warlord that went to Z'ha'dum and featured an antimatter form that made the ship look like an orb of light travelling through space. The addition of several dissipater fins in a "halo-like" shape on two opposite sides gave the ship its name. Ironically, the Aspect of Order's principle combat ship had the same name, but a different function. All told, it took the Ancient Tech Agency several years to develop software and hardware interfaces to get all of the technology to work together.
As the Archangel 6 came back into realspace, the threat system onboard came to life and showed the Centauri fleet near Epsilon Eridani IV. The data link between each warship synced up and an optimal target was assessed for each warship. Taking just a few picoseconds, the targeting systems arrived at a target lock before the human crews had a chance to respond. As the ships came out of their dimensional lock into life, the main weapons array on each ship opened fire before the House Syma ships knew that they were there. Pulses of energy, solid beams of varying strengths, and streams of projectiles flashed out through the void of space and impacted with full fury on the Centauri fleet. Ships shook under the impact of so many weapons striking all over the Centauri fleet and many of the ships were destroyed by the weapons fire striking them. The fleet of Archangels began to maneuver after their initial weapons fire. Return fire was spotty at best and a large number of ships had major damage or had been destroyed or disabled by the Terran weapons fire.
The Triad Neutron Burst was an incredibly deadly weapon system that allowed a ship to disable an enemy vessel and it used their own power generation system to disable the ship. The drifting Centauri ships made combat maneuvering harder and would result in a number of intelligence "a-ha" moments and the complicity of the various alien backers of House Syma. The surviving Centauri ships began to fire on the Terran ships and the first volleys met Terran shielding systems. The hits caused no initial damage and caused innumerable problems for the House Syma crews. They had been expecting a tough fight, but finding out that their weapon systems were next to useless frightened the crews. The fright was made worse as one of those ships that had been disabled was one of the large Centaurum Dreadnoughts.
Morado Cruiser, House Syma Fleet
The Morado cruisers fared better than the larger Centaurum Dreadnoughts. As many as all of the larger ships had either been destroyed, knocked offline, or heavily damaged by the first salvos from the Terran ships. Most of the cruisers had been moving into their escort positions and while they could not have been there to shield the larger ships, they were spared from the heavy weapons fire that hit their larger charges. The smaller Vorchans began to move to support the Morados, but a quick message came from the cruiser's command ship (the House Pride) that they should instead guard the assault ships. Reluctantly (and in some cases happily), the destroyers/frigates began to move back toward the ungainly assault ships. They would remain in that formation for the duration of the skirmish.
Wrangling the escorts took time and time was not a factor that was on the side of the Centauri in this naval engagement. The biggest problem of the entire Centauri force was that their discipline was not as absolute as the Royal Navy that they were impersonating. Instead of breaking off into supportive formations, they instead tried to vie for personal glory. The several long seconds (a lifetime in a close quarters space battle) it took to bring each ship back into formation cost the Morados dearly when eight of the remaining nineteen ships were destroyed by Terran fire.
Finally bringing those few ships back into formation, House Captain Roberto Syma brought his greatly reduced fleet of Morados into formation. He knew he would have only one shot at getting the lightly armored Asturs into position to send over their assault shuttles loaded up with Kutai power armor. Summoning the Vorchans to run interference for the Asturs, the Morados began several coordinated attack runs against the Terran defense ships. They were of an unknown type to him and the House Captain wasn't certain of victory. They had no communications with the Pride of Syma, the flagship, and it appeared as though all of the Centaurums had been disabled already.
'The one good thing', the House Captain thought grimly, 'is that the destroyed and damaged ships at least give us some cover to get to the Babylon Station.'
"Keep moving forward, permission is given for a saturation strike on the Terran spacestation only. Keep the defenders away from the Asturs and we can still complete our objective."
Morados and Vorchans both rapidly launched missiles from their forward launch tubes. The Vorchans added in their torpedo bays to the salvo. It was a tactic learned from watching the Terrans fight. Missiles were a great way to break up an enemy fleet's formation and were a solid tactic as well. The house had precious few high yield munitions, yet another strike against their planned maskirovka, unlike the Terrans (or even the Royal Navy) with their numerous high yield graviton missiles. The few that they had were already on their way toward the Terran spacestation. It was hoped that the conventional explosives launched first would soak up any anti-missile fire from the spacestation in order for the higher yield explosives to make the most of their few numbers.
All the while, the Terran ships continued to swarm the House Syma fleet. Each time an individual ship was forced away, it momentarily opened a hole in the Morados. This hole was ruthlessly exploited by the Terran ships and they continually fired on the Centauri ships. Instead of going for "kill" shots, they instead were going for disabling strikes and many of the Morados were forced away from the formation. A few of the Vorchans decided to move back to support these disabled ships and they too joined them.
Babylon Station 4
Disorganized chaos was the order of the day. Enlisted ratings were running around the command deck of the Babylon Station while officers tried to make sense of what was being put before them. Through it all, the spacestation continued on in the long night. Out of all of the Babylon Stations, only two of them had never been attacked and Babylon Station 4 was one of them. Babylon Station 5 had been attacked twice and it was because of those attacks that each of the stations received such a lion's share of new technology for defense.
'Well, there goes our record' was the glum thought of the station's Governor General.
"What's the situation?"
"Governor General, we are under attack by a Centauri fleet. Their markings correspond to the Royal Navy, but the formation is all wrong."
"What do you mean?"
"Here sir," the aide brought up the holographic display to show the Governor General the standard tactics of the Royal Navy. The Governor General watched for a few moments and then realized that no fighters had been launched and the fleet was very cruiser heavy rather than an even mix of all ship types.
"What's the status on the Archangels?"
"Eight of the twelve are out of initial stasis and the last four can be brought out on your orders. All are reporting that they have taken minimal damage and combat effectiveness is high."
Eight should be enough to take on the combat force, but it was always better to be safe when dealing with enemy fleets. Not for the last time did the Governor General curse the attackers. 'We're a science and engineering station, not some warship shipyard or battlestation.' With an inner sigh, he began to speak the orders for the station:
"Bring the last four Archangels out of stasis and bring the defense grid to Condition One. All power is to be diverted from the manufacturing areas to the shields for those areas. Warn off any ships out there about the hostiles and get our ready squadrons launched as soon as possible."
"Sir, we just have a Clipper, the Chieftain that is in system and maneuvering toward us. All other engineering ships and refineries are at the remote stations in this system."
"Good, let the Chieftain know that we are under Condition One status and to try to make a beeline to a safe zone in system. Our defense grid is online and warships are in the area."
"Sir, I think they already know about the warships."
"Get going you scamp."
Powerful engines and systems began to come online across the Babylon Station as the Governor General's orders went out. They had been at Condition Two status and many of the systems were ready for use, but had not been switched on. That changed and the station began feeding power to the heaviest weapons, Shadow-derived Molecular Slicer Cannons. These massive cannons were the same model as used by the Warlords, but separated from the super heavy coilgun. Other systems were coming online as a massive wave of fighters was launched from the station. Some of the fighters were manned models and others were the latest in AI controls. The AI controlled fighters would get their first combat trial against the Centauri fleet. This particular system had been pioneered from information given by the Kirishiacs and formed the basis of all AI systems within the Hegemony.
The point defenses had come online just as the wave of missiles from the Centauri fleet began arriving. The conventional explosives were detected quickly and ignored by the AI system on the station. The larger and deadlier nuclear munitions had been detected by the AI system and given first priority. The AI controlling the defense grid even made a decision to frighten the Centauri fleet: the conventional explosives would be allowed to strike the Gravitic Dissipaters on the station while the nuclear ordinance would be engaged by point defenses. Space around the Babylon Station became a maelstrom of energy pulses and explosions. As each missile was either intercepted or allowed to explode impotently against the station's defenses, the return fire became even more deadly.
As the Terran fighters entered the fray, they quickly found the lack of fighters to be a great enticement to directly attack several warships. The Mk I Interceptor systems on the Centauri Morados did some damage to the fighters, but the self-repair features allowed them to avoid enough damage that would take them out of the fight. Without any opposing fighters, the Terran fighters were able to do heavy damage to the Centauri ships by taking out turrets and heavily damaging sensor arrays. Most of the remaining Morados had been stripped of external features by the relentless assault of fighters. A chance encounter came when a Terran Thunderbolt made it through the Vorchan screen and spotted the Astur assault ships. Guessing (correctly) that they were trying to get them closer, the pilot reported in the position.
Immediately a quartet of Archangels appeared and began to fire their Neutron Burst weapons at the Asturs and the unique weapons fire disabled the transports. Within the span of half an hour the entire Centauri force had been stripped of weapons capability, disabled, or destroyed around the Babylon Station. Recovery units were going through the fleet to find any survivors and to remove any others for custody onboard the station. The presence of aliens would be the death knell for the imposter fleet. Each of the Archangels returned to the station as well as the combination of the high spirited combat and the stasis put them under a great deal of stress. The ships were given some time for R&R while other combat vessels entered the system. The dimensional lock idea worked out very well and other installations began to use it heavily.
The ramifications of the Centauri attack on Babylon Station 4 ignited a firestorm across the Hegemony and in the Centauri Republic. The Centauri Emperor came very close to disbanding the Centaurum because of the actions of the lesser houses that joined the bloc under House Syma. The full confession of the House Admiral and several of the House Captains sealed their fate under Centauri law. Full restitution was paid once again to the Hegemony by the Centauri for their actions. Those houses that had extensive trade deals and other ventures with the Hegemony were outraged as well, though it was mostly that the actions of a few could have spoiled their monopolies on Terran goods and services. In the Hegemony the outrage was muted and more than one pundit was heard to note that the Centauri had a great method for "cleaning house" by sending their dissidents and traitors against the Hegemony.
Relations became poor for a short period of time as the reason for the assault came out and the Centauri were not the only species who wanted more of the advanced technology that the Hegemony had under their control. The auspices of the Ancient Tech Agency came under intense scrutiny by most of the galaxy as those races that had the funds wanted to advance more rapidly than normally and others wanted to prevent that very happenstance. Times were tense and the situation made life on the Babylon Stations even more frantic (as they were the only places where alien species could come into the Hegemony), but it wasn't anything that Terran Security couldn't handle.
It came down to the proposal for another treaty. Treaties were a fact of life for the Hegemony as they had negotiated several with the Dilgar following the end of hostilities and the much maligned Treaty of Vega with the Centauri. The goal for the new treaty was the creation of an organization that could deal with the ramifications of "giving" or selling the First One technology held by the Hegemony. Several farsighted individuals could foresee a time when humanity went the way of the other First Ones and left for the Rim. Their technology would be left around for anyone else to pick over like scavengers. The only consolation was that so many of their worlds were unknown to the galaxy, especially the Ring World complexes.
What was needed was a world or even a spacestation where the known denizens of the galaxy could go meet, trade, and get assistance with any issues. The initial idea was squashed quickly by the Hegemony when they stated publicly that they had no reason to host such a place. They got to their position by hard work and only a bit of assistance. Most other races had their technological leaps shown to everyone that they too had not developed their own technology. Both the Vree and Minbari decried such public information being shared about their developments, but the point was made that two of the higher advanced races had been helped along also. The Vree had found an ancient battlefield where Minbari ships had been left, most of them the precursor to the Tinashi. The Minbari had been elevated by the Vorlons and made their thrall race in the Vorlon's previous encounters with the Shadows and the Shadows' thrall races.
The Hegemony's Ancient Tech Agency had already planned on releasing several energy generation methods, most notably those by Vorlons (the enmity between the Hegemony and the Vorlons remained even after their departure to the Rim) along with a few other systems deemed "safe." The bio-organic systems proved to be popular as they were robust enough for most worlds and required little maintenance. A number of start-up colonies could easily make use of the generators and their "upgrade" potential was high as they could be continually used as the biological components constantly regenerated themselves. Best of all was that they could be loaded with nanoware (all of Terran origin) that could regulate the systems and keep it from being used as a weapons source. The biggest problem that occurred with most of the First One technology was that the human race was not telepathic. So much of the technology required a telepathic capability and wasn't usable by humanity, though it wasn't true in all circumstances.
The whole situation bogged down quickly as the Hegemony had no reason and very little willingness to create a new station to house the Ancient Tech Agency. As a compromise to the large number of races who wanted to purchase the new technology being offered, even if it was a "watered" down version, storefronts were opened on the "public" Babylon Stations. These "stores" were would become the public face of the ATA. Research would be carried out elsewhere within the Hegemony and any marketable systems would then be shipped to the various Babylon Stations for sale.
Excerpt from In the Company of the Angels of Death, by John J. Sheridan, Avalon Press 2281
I should have realized that Lorien was a wily coot. I was a damn fool for not realizing it sooner, especially since he had told me that I was being given the capability to control the equipment and technology we were being given there at Z'ha'dum. I had assumed that knowledge would be implanted in my brain, but the true situation was anything but that. I did get the knowledge and every other member of my crew and those who traveled with us got that ability as well. Our brains were basically rewired to handle the knowledge. It made sense, especially once we realized that so many of the First Ones had no physical form, in a very perverse way that our "primitive" brains couldn't handle the information.
Since we couldn't handle the information, we had to be modified in order to use it. Lorien "cheated" a bit by tweaking the nanoware in all of our bodies in addition to what he had done to our brains. In order to even be on a Bureau ship required a great deal of nanoware in your body. All control interfaces required nanoware and most functions needed it. Our nanoware was modified to change our brain chemistry and how we processed memories. Lorien even added in a limited capability for telepathy. At least we thought that it was limited until we found out just how powerful we could be. Our only problem was the extreme lack of any kind of training in our new mind powers. I think Lorien wanted that "limiter" in place to keep us from getting conceited like so many of the other First Ones who were powerful telepaths.
We were all augmented to around a Psi-rating of 15 to 20. The Triad and Lorien were some of the most powerful telepaths out there and they averaged around a rating of P20 and were known to be strong against the Shadows in that realm. That certainly was a surprise for us and one of the first "marketable" aspects of the ATA (Ancient Tech Agency) was to release the specific nanoware update to allow for telepathy. The update was as much software as it was of a hardware fix. We started developing our own nanoware to sell, but soon passed that off to the actual manufacturers in the Hegemony, especially once others wanted to experience what we could do. We did have some technology that needed this particular upgrade and having another agency to release the nanoware "updates," we could keep on developing our own abilities. Of course we had to learn how to control the ability, but much of it was more the manipulation of energy that was necessary for the technology from the Mindriders, Torvalus, Triad, and even some things learned from Lorien.
Being able to create a ship using our minds and a bit of energy from hyperspace formations or even stars was a heady change from using your hands and nanoware to make things happen. It took long hours to even get our minds to understand the power we held. It was needed as the majority of the ships that we had been given as examples of First One technology needed this ability. It also proved very "handy" when we needed to get somewhere fast and were not around any other Hegemony ships. Not having to pay for parking was another unintended side effect of our new found abilities.
One of the first examples that required this ability to manipulate matter using our nanoware came just after we had learned of the ability. The Brakiri along with the Drakh had just attacked the Hegemony and the Dilgar Remnant. We had numerous political parties in the Senate trying to force out all aliens from Hegemony space and the upcoming operations that were being prepared for strikes against the Brakiri were feeding this type of paranoia. Bureau Command was informed of our new abilities and they really wanted a demonstration of what we could do. All of the crews of our ships thought that we could do the strike using our ships, but that was quickly vetoed as the ships were not known outside the Bureau and the Bureau wanted to deny all knowledge of the operation.
The situation was almost tailor made for our new abilities and it would be a strong pitch for the start of our agency. The Bureau wanted access to most of the new technology, but were a bit startled at the initial "investment" needed to get it going. Operations against the Drakh and the Brakiri would go on to show just how successful the new technologies could be for the Bureau and for the Ancient Tech Agency. Of course, the rest of the galaxy wouldn't know about our part in the operations against the Drakh and the Brakiri and if they did, they more than likely would not have been very happy about it.
I brought together a small group of the best out of all the varied crews. We took a few hours looking over the ships in their boxes. Lorien was wily indeed, the boxes looked like cardboard and the seemingly hand written note included showed that he had an idea of what was to come. How he did this, we really didn't know and for the most part we didn't really care to learn about it. We went through the ships and selected several of those that could be controlled directly from a single person. It wasn't quite that easy at all and we had only a little amount of time to enact the plan. Fortunately, the commanders of the Warlords had been given the "best" upgrades (all of us were around P19s, though I was the sole P20) and we could handle the ships.
As commander for the group, if only because of the changes Lorien made in my nanoware, I chose a Shadow Dreadnought as my command ship. That proved to be even more difficult than I could have imagined. The Shadows had a central computer on Z'ha'dum and with the destruction of the world the Eye was gone. The Shadows had long stopped piloting their own ships and used thrall races and they had to have a telepathic ability in that race. It was part of the reason why the Vorlons kept interfering with the development of other races by trying to give them a telepathic ability; albeit one that had the Vorlons in the best possible light and they could be used against the Shadows. The ships were directed from Z'ha'dum and the Eye and the thralls were little more than a bio-computer system for each ship. By placing myself in charge of the Dreadnought, I became the ship. My nanoware was necessary to control the ship and the Psi-rating that I now had, thanks to Lorien's meddling, was enough to force the ship to bend to my will. It felt like I was fighting a migraine every time I melded with the ship. The hanger bay was unlike anything I knew about and the fighters were completely AI controlled. I knew that the system was very marketable and knew that the experience I gained from using it was priceless.
Others in my groups selected a myriad of ships from the Torvalus (a Dark Knife), Mindriders (a Mind's Eye), and one from each of the Aspects of the Triad (a Fiend, Archangel, and Banshee). No one chose a Vorlon ship and that was truly the start of our campaign to eliminate the technology of the Vorlons from the eventual portfolio of the ATA. We had six First One ships and before the HAF Navy could bring together enough ships to combat the Brakiri, we planned on taking care of the targets they would have gone against. The Dilgar were supposed to be unleashed on the Drakh, but I was sent out in my Shadow Dreadnought to meet with "our" underlings. That truly was a unique circumstance, one I won't soon forget.
We went out and prepared a location for the Drakh to come to in an uninhabited star system that they could travel to. It was near to Abbai space and ironically near one of the former colony worlds of the Dilgar. We set up a single world that had an atmosphere that could support the Drakh's physiology and turned it into a massive repair facility for their ships. Once I broadcast the recall message for all of the Drakh to come here, the modified AI we left behind would set off the Endgame once 95% of the Drakh were in the system. The AI had been modified by removing most of the "personality" matrix and making it suicidal. The joke at the time was that the AI would be like the Goth sub-culture from Terra and we hoped that it wouldn't take us with it when it started the cascade in the system. The whole system was mined with singularities and the star was set to nova as part of the trap. The singularities would help to absorb any excess energy from the star going nova, or so we hoped.
I went out in the Dreadnought and directed several of the smaller ships using an AI system to put in an "appearance" for the Drakh's sake. This level of AI control would come to be a hallmark of ATA operations. They were surprised by the appearance of my ships, but agreed to travel to the system. When they were told that Z'ha'dum had been attacked, they wanted to know what orders that we had and where they should attack. It was a bit sad to hear that they still had some loyalty to their masters, but they had attacked our worlds and stations and needed to be put down like the rabid dog that they had become. In any other case, their "concern" would have been touching. Slowly they all came into the system and the modified AI system worked like we expected. Once 95% of the Drakh fleet was there, the star went nova. Singularities went off on the outskirts of the system that sucked in the massive amounts of energy created by the nova. What wasn't absorbed was used to "test" our new abilities to create ships and other systems much like what the Triad and Lorien could do. It was good practice and we learned all that we could using the stray energy that was there in the system. Indeed, the ships we created were used to exterminate those few ships that were late arriving for the charnel house. By our count, we estimate that over 98% of the Drakh fleet had been destroyed and those few who were left had no more support from the Shadows. We knew that they might be a problem in the future, but that was left for later.
The Brakiri Syndicracy was only four worlds and the six ships that we were in control of appeared over Cormac, Ekalta, Lorka, and their homeworld of Brakos. They had several unmanned complexes that were set to be destroyed by our own unmanned fighters. Brakos was my target and I sent the others out to the other three worlds. Each world was visited by one of the Aspects of the Triad and both the Torvalus and Mindrider ship joined my Shadow Dreadnought over Brakos. No call went out for surrender and the few pitiful ships that the Brakiri could put up were instantly destroyed. They only had a small force of corvettes and destroyers plus lots and lots of poorly trained pilots in a myriad of different fighters. Against First One ships, they were no match for them, indeed the HAF Navy would have swept them aside as well. The Dilgar could have taken them out, so poorly were they equipped after the loss of so many of their ships in their crusade against the Dilgar.
We enacted a plan that was poetic justice on the Brakiri. They had colluded with the Drakh to poison the Dilgar with a plague. They wanted to have the Dilgar quarantined and unable to interact with the outside galaxy. We decided to do something similar. We began launching satellites that broadcasted on all channels that Brakiri space was being quarantined due to an unknown outbreak across their worlds. We kept the transmission in Interlac to keep any suspicions away from the Hegemony being the source of the attack. Of course we used our weapons fire to drive that point home across each world, but kept our fire on only those targets that were of a military nature. We didn't set fire to any fields or anything civilian regardless of our feelings to the contrary. To further isolate the Brakiri their orbital defense grid, satellite manufacturing facilities, and shipyards were destroyed in a precise pattern that created an impenetrable barrier to all ships approaching their worlds. The "calamity" that affected them necessitated this final measure to keep any ships from being contaminated as well. Weapon satellites were seeded among the debris in orbit over the four worlds that the Brakiri lived upon to further isolate them from the rest of the galaxy.
It was determined that it would take upwards of several centuries before gravity brought the debris back into the atmosphere and the worlds would be clear once more. We really didn't care so much as the potential problems of the Brakiri, that being to find food and to survive, would keep them occupied for that time period. It also served as an object lesson to the rest of the galaxy that the First Ones were still around for a little while. We used these ships to "visit" a few other worlds as a show of force before ATA came out and the ruse was no longer needed. It almost started a war when the Mind's Eye was used against the Minbari. It was probably a good thing that I didn't take my Dreadnought there. I had a feeling that they would take umbrage to it slicing apart a few of their warships. While it would have been very tempting to take a Vorlon Dreadnought instead, our practice of non-use for any Vorlon technology rendered that a moot point. I did think a few times of the implications if I did take a Vorlon ship there and what might have happened…
Excerpt from A Changing Galaxy, Ioto Press 2271
The world outside changed dramatically when the various races known as the First Ones left the galaxy behind for a place called the Rim. We have been told that the Rim is actually the "edge" of the galaxy and they were off to another galaxy, but some of the documentation gained from the Walkers reveals that the Rim is actually that of another universe. Galaxies further away could be possible, but hardly necessary for a wormhole to travel to. The greater distance meant that the wormhole was justified for the various First Ones to travel there. Not quite all of them went along happily and the few remaining minds of the Kirishiacs live on in their AI controlled synthetic bodies.
We were left with the technologies of so many different races and trying to find a way to get them to work together for the good of humanity. It wasn't until the Ancient Tech Agency came into being that things began to take a change for the unique. Better or worse wasn't the best way to describe things and unique became the qualifier for so much of what was happening. The first few products offered by the Agency mollified many of the denizens of the galaxy that humanity was willing to sell off so much of what was gained from the First Ones, but the long expected weapons technology never emerged. Many of the races had heard of what happened to the Brakiri by the First Ones before they left the galaxy and many did not want to upset the holders of that kind of technology.
No First One ships were seen after the incidents before the wormhole closed completely at Z'ha'dum and more than one race has tried to pick over the remains of that world. It was a fruitless search as nothing remained in the system. The star was turned into a burned out husk that barely reads a temperature over absolute zero and none of the planets exist anymore there. Other known areas, most notably where the Vorlons were known to have worlds, have also been reduced to nothing at all. The worlds are still there, but nothing remains of any particular civilization that might have been there. Without any chance to find leftover First One technology, the various races in the galaxy were left with one alternative: deal with the Hegemony.
Most of the missions to gather technology from the worlds left behind were overt, but several ventures were covert as well. One of the worst overt attempts was by the minor Centauri House Syma when they chose to masquerade as a Royal Navy fleet that went after Babylon Station 4. The new defensive measures that are identical across the Hegemony thwarted that attempt. Of the house fleet that chose to travel to Epsilon Eridani, no ships remained after the defensive fleet took care of them. They had been uniformly disabled and not destroyed, but were confiscated on the authority of the station's Governor General. The crews were stripped of their equipment and shipped back to Centauri Prime in disgrace. Several other smaller houses were implicated along with House Syma and the Centaurum came close to being disbanded by the wrathful Emperor Londo Mollari.
The few covert attempts were by the former nations of the League of Non-Aligned Worlds. Several of the near human species attempted to gain access to one of the storefronts run by the Agency at Babylon Station 6 near Markab space. Each of the Babylon Stations has a storefront and has been surprisingly successful selling touristy items to the various races that make use of the stations. The covert attempts have all been at infiltrating the storefront and trying to ascertain the location of any actual items of value. The Agency has already made it clear that none of their items for sale have a military use and those few items, like their portal generator matrix (based on Vorlon biotechnology) have AI governing systems on them to prevent that occurrence. Each of the covert attempts has failed and the security footage used to embarrass the diplomats of each race who tried this particular approach.
Providers Pave the Way Forward – Ad slogan for the Provider launch
The approach to technology within the Hegemony has taken a different route. The key piece of technology gained was how the Triad and the earliest known species, known only by a single member called Lorien, were able to manipulate energy to create matter. Biological systems are complex and life even more so and the system is unable to create such things, but mechanical systems and the like are extremely easy to create. Combining in a protein synthesis system along with the matter generation system, the new Provider system is fast becoming a key commodity in the Hegemony. Each of the Providers is a globe which at the widest is less than a meter in diameter and can be found in any number of colors. The most common color is a flat black, but they can be found in a wide range of colors and styles. Parents can even request to have the Providers reshaped to that of a cartoon character for an additional fee. Larger Providers or even those with better capabilities are available, but not usually on the personal side of things, as they were developed for commercial applications.
The Providers are powered by a newly developed Otherspace Tap, which is similar in nature to the Hyperspace Tap used by the Shadows. Otherspace is the derivative name for several layers of high and low energy that are somewhat separate from hyperspace. The detrimental effect of numerous taps, even with their minimal energy usage when compared to the massive quantity of hyperspace, was felt during the initial testing phases. A hyperspace anomaly, in this case a massive storm, was drained of its energy by the prototype Provider globes in an endurance test. Otherspace uses a revolving series of dimensions that are like hyperspace, but which have no travelers or known life forms within. Otherspace is the result of knowledge gained from the Walkers and refined by the Great Machine.
Each Provider can create food stuffs for each individual user thanks to the protein synthesis system that uses energy to convert inert matter into the appropriate molecule chain. The same pocket dimension technology that is used to "hide" defenders in unique "dimensionally locked" spaces is used to hold several thousands of tons of silica and other cast off material. Each Provider can contain up to four of these pocket dimensions, though the primary consumer model only has one (commercial models are considerably larger and can have as many as thirty pocket dimensions of a larger size, usually in the millions of tons of filler). Specialty models can contain any number of pocket dimensions, though the cost of these Providers keeps them out of the reach of many, but the extremely well-connected. The filler material is used to provide mass and base material that can then be changed by the application of energy from the Otherspace taps into the necessary consumer product from the synthesis systems in each Provider.
Each Provider can create anything, within reason (no overt weapons or dangerous equipment, as set by the parents or each individual user), and are only limited by imagination or built-in limiters. Providers meant for military service have no such limitations. The Provider can create up to three cubic meters of any object and several Providers can be used in unison to create larger objects (commercial units can be used to create ships and spacestations using this method). Most Providers are used to create snacks, meals, and toys for the average user. Flavor and texture is taken from memories held by each user's nanoware, though many people do still prefer to travel to restaurants since so few people have the necessary culinary skills. Some specialty nanoware has since been developed that allows Provider users to create their own unique dishes. Others are used to create spare parts, construction materials, or any other commercial uses. The Provider quickly became the primary commodity produced by the Ancient Tech Agency for use within the Hegemony.
More than one alien diplomat, upon viewing a Provider, has wanted their own model. The biggest stumbling block is that nanoware is necessary to make the Providers work. The lack of any nanoware systems outside of the Hegemony's control makes such systems useless to the other races in the galaxy. The Ancient Tech Agency has restricted sales of this technology for the Hegemony as a whole as the Provider system can be used for weapons research. Indeed the numerous Hegemony Research and Development (HRAD) Centers make use of them to create fanciful designs for the HAF Navy. Bureau 13 continues to use them as well for the same purposes and several new worlds have been created by using Providers to supply all of their material and energy needs.
It came as no surprise to anyone else that the new technologies enjoyed by the Hegemony would cause bad blood to exist between so many of the different species in the galaxy. The biggest problem faced by many of the races was that they could not get along with each other and they could not force the Hegemony to give them the technology needed to force compliance. Several of the nations tried to use diplomacy and trade to get their way, but the market remained saturate by other races in the same areas and the new Provider technology denuded others. The economy of the Hegemony literally changed overnight by the introduction of the Provider technology and aside from some products, i.e. wines and other specialty drinks, almost all trade ceased with other races.
The Providers proved to be too good for the common consumer in the Hegemony. Many worlds had to introduce restrictions on who could buy them and at what age. The new cultural benchmark for a child was when they could use the family Provider or for those in more affluent households when they could get their own Provider. The added complication of needing nanoware to control a Provider added in another wrinkle as most children already had some form of nanoware in their bodies. Parental controls came into their own since a dedicated interface was needed to control a Provider. Even with the restrictions loaded into each Provider direct from a factory or those input by parents, the Providers proved to be a force unto their own. Even the nanoware interfaces used by so many in the Hegemony could not keep up with the demands placed by the operation of Providers. The landscape of technology and innovation changed completely with the development of the Provider systems.
It is ironic that the idea for the Providers came because of the knowledge given to those who were at Z'ha'dum and who would later become the board of directors for the Ancient Tech Agency. They received a great bit of knowledge of how to manipulate matter and even for those who rated at the low end (for those in the Agency) with a Psi rating of 15 could still do some of the alterations that were possible. Those who received the higher Psi rating of 19 (only one captain would have the highest rating of 20) were the captains of the Warlords who were at Z'ha'dum and they had the ability to generate any kind of ship or system as needed. Unlike the Triad or Lorien, they couldn't travel in hyperspace without a ship as they remained in a corporeal body and didn't have the same energy form. Only one of those with the advanced knowledge could do that, but John Sheridan chose to remain in a physical form.
Providers and the technology that they could create gave the Hegemony a vastly superior technological stance than ever before. Even when they were using First One technology on their ships as a matter of course, they still could not create their own systems or understand the complexity of such systems. The new knowledge that was being shared across the Bureau and HRAD Centers meant that the military was getting technology that quickly outstripped the current classes of ships in use. The HAF Navy changed seemingly overnight by the new technology. Gone were the original ships and even the newest ships like the Archangel series became obsolete as soon as they came off the assembly line. The new systems caused the fleet to being to experiment with a large number of different concepts and designs. Having the various First One ships as an example of what they did and their own imagination, ship designers were able to experiment with flights of fancy for the Deterrence Fleet.
The dissolution of the HAF Navy caught many people by surprise in the Hegemony, but the new technology of the Providers was given as the most obvious answer. As with many public issues there are multiple sides of reasons for the departure of the HAF Navy. Aside from the Provider issue, the Admiralty and the Council of Lords saw the use of the Navy as something that was starting to change in the "new" galaxy out there. The absence of the First Ones and the near destruction of the Drakh was a result of using older ships with new ideas (though the old ships were ancient in that many of them were thousands of years old) and these same new ideas created other problems for the Hegemony. The situation with the Brakiri also had the makings of a full blown problem, but a pair of merchant ships had been there over Brakos and the Balosian merchants had watched as several unknown ships semi-permanently blockaded the system. Finding the other systems blockaded and with reports of other First One ships around; most considered this another play to be done before the First Ones left the galaxy. Most races assumed that the First Ones "owed" something to the Terrans and that was the "why" for the situation, but most were far from the truth.
The rest of the galaxy was completely unaware of the absence of the HAF Navy and the news did not filter out to the rest of the galaxy until the Centauri Civil War showed how dangerous the new ships of the Hegemony could truly become. The Deterrence Fleet was formed to provide the Hegemony with protection from any hostile races. It was ironic that so few people knew about the loss of the HAF Navy as most of the personnel were using their Providers to create their own ships to explore the galaxy. The closed borders of the Hegemony worked out well as numerous individuals (and some groups) began creating their own ships to explore space.
The Deterrence Fleet was slowly formed as a result of several "breakthroughs" that had been introduced about Quantum States and the nature of the universe. The first example of a Quantum warship was also the first to use a commercial Provider to supply all of the parts for the ship. John Sheridan in his role as CEO and President of the Board was the first to build the ship using only his Bureau provided nanoware and used his own Provider (painted scarlet and black). While he could have done the same thing using the powers granted to him by Lorien, it wouldn't have been financially feasible to use something that no one else has access to. By using nanoware and a Provider, the concept was marketable. The ship slowly took form and it looked for all the world like a small globe surrounded by several smaller ones. At the heart of the ship was the principal power supply and life support for the sole crewman. The globe was a mere eight meters in diameter and each of the smaller globes ranged from two to four meters in diameter. They remained in motion constantly and changed orbits suddenly, so much so that most observers could not get an accurate count on the external satellites (the actual total was eight two meter globes, six three meter globes, and nine four meter globes).
Each of the globes was found to contain weapon systems, electronics, or some form of active defense. The ship was far more advanced than anything else in space and yet was so small that it looked more like a fighter or a gunship. This one ship represented the same power generation capability of a Vorlon Dreadnought or even a Shadow Dreadnought and had more weaponry than a Terran Hyperion. It came as no surprise that the HAF Navy was obsolete given the capabilities that each person could create using an industrial/commercial Provider. The weapons were tested and the ship shrunk in upon itself until it was deposited within a dimensional pocket. It could remain there for years before it would have to be taken out and the power system allowed to cool down and a recycling process for the various components to be replaced with more advanced ones. Or the ship could be broken down to its constituent components and recycled by the Provider into a new system. With each crewman able to create a ship like that using their own HAF Navy provided Provider system, the traditional Navy was replaced with one that was far better at the new job of Deterrence.
Interestingly enough, the ship also contained a dimensionally locked hanger bay. The Shadows used to "store" their fighter craft in such a bay and the new ships could have fighters in the same way. The delivery method was even duplicated and it appears as though a ball of matter is expelled from the warship's center sphere (or a specially modified sphere) that quickly detaches into multiple fighters. AI systems control the fighters and allow the sole crewman to deal with other opponents with the main ship. The addition of a specific type of globe, known as a Director, could allow a ship to control up to thirty two fighters (two Terran fighter squadrons) from each Director. As each ship could have multiple Directors, the precise number of fighters could encompass those carried by a traditional Hyperion all the way past the dangerous Warlock in number. It also provided a scalable technique to provide each new ship with "appropriate" fighter support without an external appearance of having that capability.
Excerpt from In the Company of the Angels of Death, by John J. Sheridan, New Avalon Press 2281
As the Hegemony grew older and with the technological advances that were occurring monthly (in some occasions daily), wanderlust began to take hold for many people. The ability to create your own ships to jet around the galaxy had a strong appeal for many within the Hegemony and when that was combined with the latest nanoware systems that had moved to quantum states, many people decided to start exploring the galaxy. Ships were limited only by what each person wanted them to look like and a particular purpose, if any, for them. All types of fanciful shapes, from truncated cones to 1950-ish stylized spaceships, could be found traveling all over the galaxy.
The new quantum state nanoware gave the "average" person the ability to produce numerous weapon systems that would have astounded the Bureau's R&D less than half a century ago. While these weapons were useful for defensive purposes, the true genius of new nanoware was to be experienced in a different way. Each person could now survive, albeit for short periods of time, in space and even in hyperspace. While it was nowhere near the capabilities of the Triad or Lorien's people, it did make the new spacecraft coming into their own across the Hegemony that much more popular. A person could step outside of a spacestation and didn't have to worry as their nanoware protected them and their Provider created their personal ship around them.
There wasn't anywhere in the galaxy that was off limits to this breed of explorer. Naturally, most of the races found were not happy that their space could be found and their defenses pierced in such a way. Numerous other races were found that either had not yet reached tool use or were still in development. A strict nonintervention policy, much like with the Narn, was enacted and the Deterrence Fleet was expanded to help garrison these worlds as well. The commercial implications of this rapid exploration phase in human history were staggering as well. Numerous worlds were found that had exploitable material wealth and many of these were catalogued for future use. With the Provider technology allowing for so many new products to be created, the market for filler was fast becoming a commercial necessity.
It became ironic that the castoff material from manufacturing could be reused and so many of what had been considered useless space junk suddenly became useful. I do remember traveling through a number of systems that had been previously passed over as not worth using. The asteroids had very little in the way of heavy metals or hydrocarbons and most were made of silica. With filler needed for Providers, the silica and other "light" metals had a use. Even though the Hegemony had mass concentrators for over two centuries, their use remained in the realm of military technology and very little was used by the "average" citizen. Provider technology changed all that and these minor systems were slowly stripped of anything of value.
This rapid need for raw material quickly developed problems. Many of the star systems had been "balanced" by the mass of each system's planets and planetoids and the gravity of each star. Without the mass to cancel out the gravity of each star, hyperspace began to have massive gravitic eddies that started to make travel in hyperspace dangerous for most of the galaxy. The vast majority of the damage done to hyperspace was within the bounds of the Hegemony and quickly became a way for other races to find habitable areas of the Hegemony by looking for those systems that did not have the gravitic tidal problems. The Senate and Council of Lords agreed to limit Provider filler operations to those systems outside the control of the Hegemony. One plus that came from this gravitic tidal problem was that the Bureau went out of their way to firmly establish the borders of the Hegemony. Only small routes were created through hyperspace to the various Babylon Stations and little else through Hegemony space.
Only the Hegemony and a few other races had the hyperspace sensor technology to navigate around the gravitic tidal areas and many races became incensed that their travel methods would be curtailed. More than a few became frightened that they could be cut off from the rest of the galaxy by the Hegemony's use of technology. The only route through the Hegemony's space came between the Babylon Stations and many races could not use anything else due to a lack of advanced sensors. Little did many of the races realize that the gravitic tidal problem was little more than rampant consumerism and the need for additional resources. Filler missions now had a stringent series of restrictions and each system had to be evaluated to determine the cut-down; that is the minimal amount of resources that had to remain in the system in order to keep the system from becoming a gravitic tidal problem.
New worlds came into their own during this outward expansion and many new systems were opened up for trade. Once again the better First One sensors, especially those of the Walkers, made it possible to travel to these worlds. An unintended consequence of the Provider systems and the new methods of ship creation were ironically enough on the ship building infrastructure of the Hegemony. With each person able to create their own ship, the market for ships quickly dwindled. Providers also caused many of the large shipping companies to lose position as the market for consumer goods dried up. There was a distinct period of unrest as tried and tested companies were ousted for new methods and processes. While there were hard feelings on both sides, the situation soon came to equilibrium.
One of the last big situations to happen while I was CEO and President for ATA was the long anticipated war with the Centauri, though we were surprised when it became a "Civil" War. Their position in the galaxy had slowly and steadily been eroded by the Hegemony's development of numerous technologies. Where once the Centauri had been looked up to as a pinnacle of development, the Hegemony took over that position. The lack of response from the Centauri during the Dilgar War doomed any diplomatic effects from their entry on the side of the League of Non-Aligned Worlds. The Hegemony's efforts, for themselves and not for the League, didn't endear them to the League either. The League's original goal of a limited self-defense treaty and trade conglomeration met its end by the indifference of both the Hegemony and the Centauri. The power vacuum that resulted allowed for the Drakh to begin swaying several governments with talks of aid. Only the Brakiri moved fast enough to take advantage of the offer by the Drakh and it resulted in their systems being barricaded away by debris and left to their own devices.
The Centauri Civil War had been held off by the Second Encounter War; that is the war between the nascent Hegemony and the Centauri. The Centauri were on the brink of a Civil War as those who supported the Centaurum were against those houses that looked to form their own government (with them in charge of course) and the third group was those who supported the Emperor. The war with the Hegemony caused support for the Emperor to come back into "style" and the Centaurum was given lip service as well. The first negotiations were with the Centaurum and backed by the Emperor. This clout gave two of the sides a good bit of momentum, but the houses that looked to their own elevation simply bided their time. The loss of prestige for the Centauri allowed them to take up arms against their own.
Throughout the galaxy most of the races looked first to the Hegemony and very rarely to the Centauri. The Orieni threat had been removed for quite some time as the coalition of races had been battered by numerous war games and testing of Bureau ships. The various races that made up the secondary partners of the Orieni were found to be good for testing ships and tactics. The Orieni were used as a punching bag by the Bureau and several of their ship tests, especially those before the strike at Z'ha'dum, were successful at eradicating several Orieni systems. Their economy was depleted and when the Centauri realized that their old foe was no more, the repercussions were surprising. Too many of the houses in the Centaurum wanted to roll over what was left of the Orieni, but others showed fear of the Hegemony or another race as the reason for the Orieni's losses.
For many years nothing was ever done by the Centauri until the waning years of Emperor Londo Mollari's reign. He was a staunch "friend" of the Hegemony and had even been an ambassador for several years. His family owned several joint ventures with the Hegemony and their trade networks made them very wealthy. All talk of attacking the Hegemony in the Centaurum was squashed quickly by House Mollari and House Jaddo. The two houses had the best relationships with the Hegemony, though neither one was able to gain access to the Provider systems, nor were they willing to give up that kind of status. The smaller houses all vied for more parts of the lucrative trade between the Hegemony and the Republic, but the larger houses had them locked out completely. Even in the realm of military technology, the Hegemony showed up the Republic, especially when we gained First One technology. We didn't share with the Centauri and that made them angry.
Had we known what would have happened to the Centauri, I sincerely doubt that we would have caved into their demands. The institutional regard for "giving" technology away was too ingrained in the mindset of the Hegemony. Even though the Centauri had been erstwhile allies, they had also been opponents of the Hegemony in equal measure. This resulted in a political vacuum that really didn't culminate until the Republic dealt with a crisis. Succession of the Emperor tended to be such a crisis for the Centauri. We had aided the Emperor's current position with our trade and the lack of trade and response from us made the problem worse, especially as the Emperor's detractors became bolder. Of course the issue of which illegitimate child should take the throne could have been another possible issue that led to the Civil War.
The discontent with the Hegemony reached a boiling point as Emperor Mollari was on his deathbed. The Centaurum was stuck dealing the succession to the throne by a small army of legitimate and illegitimate children of the Emperor and with it distracted, a small number of houses with external help managed to convince the Royal Navy to strike out at the Hegemony along the long mutual border between them. The alien assistance came from the incredibly small surviving contingent of the Drakh. They had mostly been wiped out by their masters and they were leaderless. Only granted asylum by a desperate house, the Drakh had once been hunted down by the Centauri. They were homeless because of the Centauri and it was ironic that a small house had decided to give the Drakh a home.
The part I played in this situation was when I got the gang back together. The old Angels of Death were pulled back together for one final mission. Nothing quite so final sounding, but we had all gone our separate way after our training squadron was reassigned to another batch of cadets. We had started out as twenty barely teenagers thrust into a role that would define our lives forever. Out of our original intake of twenty, fourteen of us made the final cut and we were with the Nemesis when she went to Omelos. We were also with that legendary ship as we battled the League and Dilgar at Mitoc. All throughout the war, we were with her. After the Dilgar War, or at least our part in it, the training squadron was split up and the eight of us who survived the war moved on to other duties. I've already mentioned a few of my own experiences as a ship's commander and the Bureau's War College.
A few of the original members of the Angels of Death even served with me at Z'ha'dum on the Agamemnon and received a similar set of "upgrades" from Lorien. The eight of us would represent the core of the Hegemony's response to the Centauri's aggression. They originally planned to attack en masse along our common border. The work of the Bureau in closing off the borders using the gravitic tidal hazard had closed off our borders very nicely. The only ingress points, at least for those using "traditional" jump drives, were near to the Babylon Stations and their Jump Gates. Fortunately for us the Centauri and the Drakh had only the "traditional" jump drives or else the situation would have been grimmer. It was still a bad situation and we went into battle without knowing what to expect. We knew that the Royal Navy was large and well-funded, but we never truly needed to know just how large and funded they were until it was too late. The fact that the Centauri Royal Navy could/would be caught up in the Civil War didn't bode well for the outcome of the War.
Our border defenses were better than any time before, but the lack of ships doomed us as a wave of dreadnoughts poured through at Babylon Station 4. Not even the hidden collection of warships in their dimensionally locked positions was enough to turn the tide. Overwhelming firepower does have a way of counteracting shielding and the Archangel crews found out about that first hand. Even with, what had been considered to be, an overwhelming force of sixteen ships they had been destroyed completely. The attacking Royal Navy had lost almost all of their attacking ships; over thirty of them destroyed by half their number. The follow on squadrons moved quickly through the Jump Gate as a follow-on strike on the Babylon Station, but that failed when the station jumped into hyperspace leaving the Centauri guessing about what to do next. The Epsilon Eridani system had nothing in it that could support life and aside from moving in a small station for keeping their supplies "safe," the Centauri moved on to other targets.
It was ironic in the extreme that the Centauri thought that the Epsilon Eridani system was safe, especially with the Great Machine in system and several Inside out worlds. It was ironic that the Centauri had "forgotten" the lessons of our first encounter and the Inside out worlds. The new ship building techniques, using Providers and nanoware, made lightning raids all the simpler to accomplish. Adding in our usual method of hyperspace travel and the Centauri quickly had to deal with a number of raids on their supplies. It was only after they had flooded the Epsilon Eridani system with their ships did the raids taper off. A number of missile strikes continued to happen as steathed warships launched teraton graviton missiles at the Royal Navy ships, but most strikes were blunted by the large number of ships present. Slowly the Centauri began moving more of their ships along the only jump routes available, those traveling to the Babylon Stations. The next target would be Proxima Centauri and our seat of government. Plans were made to stop this series of attacks and raids were stepped up, but the Centauri presence at Epsilon Eridani was too strong. Something else needed to happen and that's where my old combat group came to be in the right place at the right time. We would force the Centauri back much like what Hannibal did to Scipio Africanus by attacking into their homeland.
The Angels of Death had been tapped to take the war back to the Centauri and we were positioned at Melat in Pak'ma'ra space. It was a short jump from there along a trade route to Quadrant 17 and then on to Centauri Prime. There were a number of jump routes to Centauri Prime and our plan was ambitious. We would follow these routes and disrupt any Royal Navy bases and formations while heading on to Centauri Prime. We assumed that a direct strike here would take out their command control apparatus and end the war. Our secondary objectives were to sow mistrust and discord among the various races that had territory next to the Centauri in order to cover up our insertion. The Corillani, Pak'ma'ra, and Antareans would all be implicated in our strikes as all were near to Centauri space.
Our ships would be created as before, but we also had "shells" made to appear like some of the races primary ships. Our smaller ships could easily fit within each shell and we had enough Providers to keep us well stocked on our way. Special care was given in the choice of weaponry and all of our warships would have a mix of the nastier of the First One technology that we had to offer. I liked using the molecular slicers with a series of fuser arrays. Being able to slice off the outer parts of enemy warship appealed to me and I loaded up my ship with plenty of graviton missiles in a variety of yields (from the low end megaton to the high end teraton). Others chose other systems that allowed them to combine their fire into one massive beam weapon from multiple smaller ones and still others chose coilguns to hammer home that the Centauri had angered the Hegemony. I also had lots and lots of Director modules to control a vast amount of AI controlled fighters.
Angels of Death Squadron
Melat, Pak'ma'ra space
The Pak'ma'ra were considered by many to be scavengers and they had the body hygiene to prove that particular point. Their ships were unique enough and the shell around John Sheridan's own ship was filled with several nasty surprises. 'I wonder what the Centauri will think when I let off all of these graviton missiles in their formation.' Loaded with lots of graviton missiles in the nearly empty shell of a ship, the parts of his own ship were tightly compacted. While the original idea for his ship had used spheres, the actual shape for the ship could be anything the pilot wanted. His original idea was more to do with the first generational capabilities of the Provider he was using than any actual function.
John's new ship was a strong proof of that intention. While the Kirishiac influence on the Bureau's building program had resulted in a squashed ovoid for the Artemis Frigate, the design of John's ship had more to do with geometrical shapes than borrowing designs from any other race or ideal. His ship looked like a series of spheres, the idea worked before so why change it? The central sphere was surrounded by a multitude of smaller spheres and largest number of "equal" sized spheres were for the AI directed Director modules to control the large number of fighters his ship could handle (512 fighters, with sixteen Director modules). Other globes formed a spherical shell around his craft and were made up of the weapons, defensive systems, and auxiliary modules needed for combat. His ship's overall size was still fairly small, only around 300 meters in total diameter and even smaller once the actual main body was figured into the size. The other ships of the Angels of Death Squadron were much like his own, but they too had different shapes. Their shapes were different, but they all had the same spherical outer shape to hide their capabilities.
The goals of the squadron were to make their way into Centauri space. Only a few systems had been found that provided direct hyperspace lanes to Centauri Prime, though in truth the Hegemony force did not need those particular routes given their own grasp of technology. They would be traveling along these direct lanes to lay siege any shipping that they could find and to destroy any way stations on their way to Centauri Prime. It was hoped that a concentrated attack, much like what happened during the first war with the Centauri would bring them to the negotiating table. If anything the raids were expected to cause the Centauri to reevaluate their attacks on Hegemony space. It was hoped that the raids would go off prior to the Royal Navy's attack on Proxima Centauri.
Unfortunately warfare has a mind of its own and things rarely go the way that they should. Sheridan's force was racing against the clock to get in position to sow discord on the Centauri while the Royal Navy moved on Proxima.
Centauri Royal Navy
En-route to Proxima Centauri
The mood on the Royal Navy ships was high, though the constant pin-prick attacks from the Terrans were getting to be a bit much. Hyperspace wasn't even a "safe" zone anymore, not with the more advanced sensors on Terran ships. Fast assaults had become the norm and the Royal Navy was surviving more than winning against the smaller Terran ships. The lack of a large fleet once typical of the HAF Navy was surprising to the Centauri and more than a bit frightening. The Royal Navy was once the most dangerous fleet among those in the galaxy, aside from the Minbari's fabled fleet, and the Terrans had proven everyone wrong during their operations against the Dilgar. The large fleet was nowhere to be seen and the smaller ships packed a mighty punch. Many of the sailors of the Royal Navy were waiting for the proverbial "hammer" to drop against them and alertness was high across the fleet. Unfortunately, many hours at watch and with a high readiness causes many to begin to waver.
It was during the late watch on the Centauri ships, the ship's time set to Centauri Prime, that the expected Terran counterattack came. Like ghosts or wraiths, the Terran ships appeared in the middle of the large Centauri fleet between the escort ships and the massive Octurion and Centaurum dreadnoughts. Releasing a salvo of high yield graviton missiles, the Terran ships also unleashed the Neutron Burst cannons on the unsuspecting fleet. While the missiles were dangerous, especially as the diverted energy function slashed massive holes in the smaller ships; it was the Neutron Burst cannons that did the most damage. Ships were left floating in hyperspace without power. Many of the largest ships were left without any power to move them back onto paths near the beacons that broadcast their siren call into hyperspace. As the pride of the Royal Navy was slowly being stripped away, their brothers-in-arms tried to force away the Terran raiders, but to no avail.
Facing the prospect of losing more of their capitol ships, the Royal Navy commander chose to bring out into realspace those ships that were still under power. A small number of the Royal Navy ships had been outfitted with mass drivers and also had tractor beams to bring projectiles into place; these ships were sent out in battle groups to attempt to bring back into realspace those ships disabled by the Terrans. The conditions were poor and most of the battle groups did not return and their loss denuded the bombardment capability of the Royal Navy, but enough were able to return with a small number of the older Centaurum dreadnoughts. The newer Octurions were completely lost, or so was the prevailing thought among the Royal Navy officers.
Their location was poor as well. The system was one of the few systems that had not been stripped for Terran filler operations as it was on the direct "path" from Epsilon Eridani to Proxima Centauri. It was unknown to the Royal Navy if the system had been left in place because it had Inside out worlds in the system or if it was an elaborate trap. Every small step forward away from the Epsilon Eridani system had met with disaster as either hyperspace anomalies or Terran Navy ships continued to attack them. Only the spacestation in the Epsilon Eridani system had been left in place, but even it had to deal with a number of Terran raids that continually destroyed vital supplies and fuel. Pretty soon the Royal Navy would have to return to Centauri space to rearm and refuel if they continued to experience these delays. Their goal of bringing war to the Terrans had been ill-planned and they were dealing with the consequences of their actions now.
The few escort ships that were functional were brought into battle groups along with several larger ships that had functioning jump drives to keep the fleet together. While most Royal Navy ships had jump drives, only the larger ships (cruisers and above) had jump drives that could open up a large enough emergence window for multiple ships to pass through. The Royal Navy was fortunate that the majority of escorts that survived were of the Vorchan class. Enough of the few remaining Morados survived as well and they were quickly dispatched back to Epsilon Eridani to apprise the rest of the fleet of the losses. It was found that the Terrans had no problems with allowing ships to go back out of Hegemony space; it was just those fleets that tried to move further into their territory who were systematically destroyed.
Between Epsilon Eridani and Proxima Centauri
A number of ships floated out of control in the ether of hyperspace; the majority of which were disabled Centauri Royal Navy ships. The other ships were those of the Deterrence Fleet of the HAF Navy. They were far smaller in size than their Royal Navy counterparts and far more advanced in design. The combination of nanoware and Providers meant that the Deterrence Fleet was able to operate at a quantum level beyond the technology and ships left behind in the rest of the galaxy. These advanced ships had been waging a low intensity campaign against the Centauri fleet, though the Centauri were loath to admit that they considered it be of a much higher intensity. Numerous ships had been disabled as often as possible, especially those in hyperspace, and allowed to float around in this high energy plane.
These ships were of Centauri design mostly, though other ships had been brought here by other races who had sought to take advantage of the Hegemony's focus on the Centauri. All had been disabled and "allowed" to float off beacon. Since Terran ships had no need of the beacon network to navigate through hyperspace, they had slowly been pulling captured ships into an unexplored part of it (at least for the rest of the galaxy). The most recent ships of the Centauri Royal Navy joined others that had been disabled, but repaired enough for their life support to work. The wholesale slaughter of the enemy wasn't the goal of the Hegemony, though they did know that soldiers did die in combat, but they fought to avoid this loss of life as much as possible. The "common" soldier and seamen had done nothing to the Hegemony and were only following orders. They were left in place, disabled, but still alive until something could be done about the state of war.
Other races, like the Minbari and Koulani were trying to probe the closed off borders of the Hegemony as well. They were treated as invaders and most had been destroyed (especially those of the Koulani). Those few that had been captured (mostly the Minbari, more due to pity) were left in other areas of hyperspace and left in the company of several Deterrence Fleet ships turned into wardens rather than simply ships of warfare. These ships would be returned at a later date and in as a dramatic fashion as possible once the war with the Centauri had been concluded. Hyperspace had proven itself as a great location to hold the enemy fleets. Of course, the Hegemony had learned all it could about this exotic energy plane and held a great body of information about this area.
The knowledge gained by the Hegemony had changed how they viewed hyperspace. No longer was this realm a source of fear for the Hegemony, but rather they had come to enjoy being around in it as much as "normal" or realspace. Their identification of numerous sub-layers and other planes in hyperspace (most notably Otherspace) had been fueled by information gained from the Great Machine and the Walkers. These planes were being studied as much as possible by the Hegemony and the actual area of hyperspace that most of the other races had ever sought to learn. Even those races who had gained their advanced technology from either ancient modification or archaeological efforts had not fully studied hyperspace. It was considered to be a shame that more races had not taken the time to explore hyperspace, but the ideal of defending themselves had left most of them with little time to much else.
The Deterrence Fleet ships had small crews and most of them were unhappy about being left in charge of so many ships. They would rather be conducting strikes on the Centauri or even joining in on the planned strikes on Centauri space. The Royal Navy's crews had been very forthcoming with information on their supply bases and locations of caches of material. Of course, seeing hyperspace all around them and numerous disabled ships had that effect on the morale of the Royal Navy. Many of them had never been so far off the beacon network that they truly feared what would happen to them. A few offhand comments of great danger and the oft repeated remarks of "Here there be monsters" made by Terran crewmen made them very afraid of their situation. They knew that the Terrans could be vindictive when provoked and they had made the mistake of trying to attack a badger in its home.
The end of the ill-advised war with the Hegemony could not come soon enough for many of the Royal Navy crews. They all hoped that a new Emperor would be crowned and this war ended. Most also hoped that they would not be killed or left out here lost forever.
AN: I've decided to split apart the Epilogue once the muse stepped back into full time position. The Epilogue Part 2 will conclude the series. Thanks for reading!
AN2: In case anyone was wondering about the Provider tech, it actually came as inspiration from reading Peter Hamilton's Night's Dawn Trilogy. The alien Kiint species uses a similar bit of technology that I "borrowed" from for the Provider tech. It is a bit like Star Trek's replicator tech mixed with the Kiint's own tech that gives humanity the abilities of the First Ones like Lorien or the Triad to create matter from energy all without needing to be telepathic.