Spacers call the warp point Charon's Ferry.
No star ship has ever entered it and returned since a vengeful Orion task force pursued a doomed Terran colonization fleet into it in 2206.
Almost a century has passed. The fiery hatreds of a quarter-century of warfare between the Terran Federation and the Zheeerlikou'valkhannaieeee, the cat-like species humans called the "Orions," have eased at least a little. The "Grand Alliance" forged by the need to fight side-by-side against the genocidal Rigelians remains, but there are those on either side who continue to hate, continue to distrust.
Now the strength of that war-forged alliance is about to be tested. For Charon's Ferry is about to give up the secret of its dead. A ship has emerged from the deadly warp point at last. A ship which responds to the challenge of an Orion star ship using ancient human communications codes . . . then opens fire.
The holocaust of interstellar warfare has been ignited anew, in a bloody crusade to free Holy Mother Terra.
In Death Ground:
In difficult ground, press on;
In encircled ground, devise stratagems;
In death ground, fight.
—Sun Tzu in The Art of War (circa 400 B.C.)
The more things change, the more they remain the same. Three thousand years after Sun Tszu wrote those words, in the time of the Fourth Interstellar War, the ancient advice still holds true.
The "Bugs" have overwhelming numbers, implacable purpose, and a strategy that's mind-numbingly alien. They can't be reasoned or negotiated with. They can't even be communicated with. But what they want is terrifyingly clear. The sentient species in their path aren't enemies to be conquered; they're food sources to be consumed.
Totally oblivious to their own losses, rumbling onward like some invincible force of nature, their enormous fleets are as unstoppable as Juggernaut. Yet for the desperate Federation Navy and its enemies-turned-allies, the Orions, there is nowhere to go. Their battered, outnumbered ships are all that stand between the billions upon billions of defenseless civilians on the worlds behind them and an enemy from the darkest depths of nightmare, and there can be no retreat. But at least their options are clear.
As Sun Tzu said, in death ground, there is only one strategy: