The war wasn't going well.
The mind-numbingly alien Arachnids were an enemy whose like no civilized race had ever confronted. Like some carnivorous cancer, the "Bugs" had overrun planet after planet . . . and they regarded any competing sentient species as only one more protein source. They couldn't be reasoned with, or even talked to, because no one had the least idea of how to communicate with a telepathic species with no recognizable language . . . and whose response to any communication attempt was a missile salvo. No one knew how large their civilization—if it could be called a "civilization"—actually was, or how it was organized, but the huge fleets they threw against their opponents suggested that it was enormous.
The Grand Alliance of Humans, Orions, Ophiuchi, and Gorm, united in desperate self-defense, have been driven to the wall. Billions of their civilians have been slaughtered. Their most powerful offensive operation has ended in shattering defeat and the deaths of their most experienced and revered military commanders. The edge in technology with which they began the war is eroding out from under them and whatever they do, the Bugs just keep coming.
But the warriors of the Grand Alliance know what stands behind them and they will surrender no more civilians to the oncoming juggernaut. They will die first . . . and they will also reactivate General Directive 18, however horrible it may be. Because when the only possible outcomes are victory or racial extermination, only one option is acceptable.
The Shiva Option
The authors would like to extend their sincere thanks to Fred Burton, war gamer and friend, who personally designed the entire Star Union of Crucis and not only made it live, but also gave us permission to steal…er, borrow it for our story.