Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read through the Manifesto; I know it's probably a more extensive read than some of you are used to. Since I have some free time, I'll make replies to some of your questions, and later, make some edits to the Manifesto itself to incorporate them.
Many of you expressed disbelief at the notion of the Shivans "fleeing" from Capella, so I'll try to elaborate on that particular question before moving on to individual queries.
Firstly, if we accept that the Shivans operate with a hive mentality (something we will accept as true for the purposes of the essay), then we need not necessarily conclude that their reaction at Capella was one of "fear", per se. It would be in error to confuse the notion of "fear" with that of "self-preservation".
If there is any dominant principle in the animal kingdom, it is to stay alive. This is commonly observed in the "fight or flight" principle, which even humans possess; we either confront an enemy, or run away so that we might live to fight another day. This principle is more complex when applied to a hive society, as generally, there are no individuals; all drones or workers strive for the good of the colony, and may very well be willing to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of that goal. However, this should not lead us to conclude that mass suicide is acceptable by default; if all the drones in a hive society are killed, who will be left to support the hive itself? In Robert Heinlein's classic Starship Troopers
, a group of the grotesque "Bugs" (also called Arachnids, the book's main "bad guys") have surrounded a space marine who is shielding himself behind a bulbous "brain bug" which serves as the controlling influence for the hive's workers. The "warrior" Bugs screech in protest and frustration, unable to attack the hiding marine; if they do, they risk killing the brain bug itself, destroying the hive hierarchy and silencing the source of their own commands. In effect, the Bugs would be comitting suicide.
For that reason, you Shivan fans out there should not think of the Shivans as being "afraid" of the GTVA. Rather, you should think of them as regrouping and marshalling their forces instead of risking complete decimation at the hands of a Colossus fleet. They are merely exercising good judgment in the face of the unknown. To paraphrase Heinlein himself, any race that possesses enough skill to construct spacecraft is not stupid
Although the Shivans themselves are not the sort to often make retreat, they have
done so on more than one occasion, when the situation calls for it. In "First Strike", the Shivan cruiser Taranis
--low on supplies--attempts to retreat through the Beta Cygni jump node. Shivan cruiser group "Hellfire" tries to rejoin the primary Shivan fleet in Delta Serpentis, rather than lingering to do battle with the attacking GTA fighters, in a show of simple strategy. Even the Demon-class destroyer Beleth
gives priority to making the jump to Capella instead of powering down its engines to combat the Vasudan corvette Thebes
and the player's remaining bomber wings. This is either because the Beleth
does not believe it can survive a bomber attack, or is more focused upon providing reinforcement to the Sathanas. In either case, the destroyer's first concern cannot be the engagement of the nearby GTVA forces, or it would not bother making such a run for the jump node. This is just one more indicator of the Shivan strategic mindset: self-preservation and accomplishing orders take priority over enaging every target of opportunity. This is further evidenced with the first Sathanas, which breezes through to Capella without remaining to mop up the surviving bombers, and by the juggernaut fleet itself, which proceeds on course straight to the Capella star without engaging nearby GTVA warships.
But then, why do the Shivans throw swarms of fighters and bombers at the Alliance with such apparent abandon? The simple answer is that this in itself is not a bad strategy; overwhelming numbers have determined the outcome of many a battle in the course of history. However, we should also take note of the benefits vs. costs standpoint. In the briefing preceding "Their Finest Hour", Admiral Petrarch informs us that the GTVA has suffered over one hundred thousand casualties, a figure which probably includes all military craft and civilian transports. Given the Shivans' military superiority, we will arbitrarily assign them one-tenth the casualties at a figure of 10,000 in terms of fighters and bombers for the purposes of this discussion. This figure in itself is admittedly optimistic, for not every pilot in the GTVA can be a Triple Ace and mop up some 400 Shivans over the course of his or her career. If we include all capital ship classes ranging from crusiers and up, we can probably double this number to 20,000, perhaps 25,000; if we assume the Sathanas has at least
the same crew capacity as the Colossus (the actual figure is probably smaller, for we can assume the Shivans are more efficient in terms of space than either Terrans or Vasudans, and are able to operate their ships with smaller crews), then the number balloons to around 50,000 or 60,000.
If we accept a static figure of 30,000 for a Sathanas crew (acknowledging our uncertainty), and multiply that number by 85 (as we are told there are "more than eighty" juggernauts, but apparently less than ninety), and add this product to our previous figure of 60,000, we are left with a rough estimate of what the Shivans would view as their potential losses in a full-blown shootout with the GTVA: a staggering 2.6 million Shivans
, more than twenty times the casualties of the GTVA, even when taking into account the destruction of the Colossus. This is a considerably larger investment than the dozens of "throwaway" Shivans in any given fighter or bomber squadron. Faced with such tremendous losses to their active forces, it is not difficult to imagine why the Shivans would choose to make a strategic retreat.
As for the notion of the theoretical "Colossus fleet" itself, remember that GTVA space is pretty big
; not large, perhaps in a galactic sense, but still consisting of some 23 star systems, excluding Sol and Capella. If the GTVA did
possess a Colossus armada, it would make sense for them to evenly distribute these vessels throughout their borders, rather than lumping them all together in one particular system. As anyone will tell you, capital ships are relatively slow-moving; even the vaunted Sathanas only has a top speed of 25m/s, with the Colossus matching this velocity. If a Colossus were stationed on the fringes of GTVA territory, in Alphard or even Altair, it would take quite a while to make the complex system of subspace jumps needed to reach Vega. You can rest assured that the Shivans weren't able to round up their own armada in a matter of hours, either. Being intelligent creatures, they would have known a small window of time existed for them to act before the GTVA would have been fully prepared for a confrontation. With this in mind, discretion was "the better part of valor", so to speak, permitting the Shivans to return to Cocytus and lick their wounds.
The argument that the Shivans would already have known the extent of Terran/Vasudan military capability from experience in the First Great War is invalid simply due to the fact that these species make progress
. So far as anyone knows, the Shivan species has remained essentially the same--if not stagnant
--for the last eight thousand years, using the same kind of weaponry (as per the discoveries of the Vasudan scientists in Altair), and presumably, the same kinds of spacecraft. While there are notable additions to the Shivan fleet between the First and Second Great Wars, such as the Mara, the Astaroth, the Moloch, and the Ravana, just to name a few, there are also numerous "older" craft, such as the Basilisk, the Manticore, the Nephilim, the Seraphim, and several capital ships. The folks over in the Inferno
camp would even have us believe that the clunky old jalopy, the Scorpion, is still in use.
In contrast, the GTVA is nearing completion of its switchover from the old "Great War relics", opting to incorporate faster, more capable, more destructive war machines. There's probably little doubt among anyone (except maybe Galemp) that an Erinyes could grease an Apollo any day of the week.
Humanity's potential for adaptation should not be underestimated. We went from having no existing space program to landing on the moon
in less than twenty years. In "The Great Hunt" (FS2), you'll even hear one of your wingmen muse about what a "miracle" it was the Alliance won the Great War, due to the lack of present-day technological advantages: shields (a slight continuity error, as Terrans and Vasudans only lacked energy shielding for a relatively short portion of the Great War, before using them throughout the remainder of the conflict), flak guns, and beam cannons.
It appears as though I've used up all my free time for the moment--that discussion was longer than I thought it would be
--but when I get the chance, I'll try to make in-depth responses to your individual comments!