Operation King Drift
Operation King Drift was the Kamian invasion of the M'KHaren Empire during the Kamian Succession Wars in A.Y. 6207. Or, as history would more accurately remember it, the Kamian "Invasion", since the Kami not only failed to capture any M'KHaren territory, but didn't even breach M'KHaren space.
Circumstances of the "Invasion"
Though widely regarded as a space power during the Mage Wars and The Golden Age, M'KHara had an unoficial policy of isolationism for the past five Ages. The border was mostly closed and protected by a wide demilitarized zone. Available inteligence indicated that this region was sparsely guarded, making an attack on the M'KHaren interior possible.
There were a handful of trade routes in and out of M'KHara, which were controlled and monitored, but military presence along these lines was small. Kamian inteligence agents inside the M'KHaren interior failed to locate the bulk of the M'KHaren fleet, leading to the belief that they no longer had one. In all, M'KHara appeared an open and inviting target.
With the war going well on other fronts, the Kamians assembled a sizeable fighting force and prepared for a lightning assault. This same tactic had served them well, and in 110 years not one attack force had been stopped.
Reasons Why the Invasion Gets "" Around It
Before even reaching the edge of the M'KHaren neutral zone, the Kamian fleet (of some fifteen-thousand ships) had to cross through a large, sparsely populated region. Though they encountered no resistance, the growing length of the supply lines and lack of local access to resources greatly slowed their progress.
Eyes in the Darkness
This is where the first fundamental lack of understanding of M'KHaren tactics became a problem: the M'KHarens did not patrol their nuetral zone or the buffer regions beyond it much, because they had deployed an extensive network of telescopes and sensor grids. Small, easily camouflaged detection systems told them the Kamian invasion force was coming well before they reached even the official doorstep.
The demilitarized zone itself, established in a treaty signed by Eieber of the Alliance, Laytami of the Gudersnipe Foundation, and the M'KHaren government at the beginning of the Golden Age, was chosen specifically by M'KHaren tacticians for the navigational problems it presented. This region had halted M'KHaren expansion, and was selected for its defensability. Though many habitable worlds and natural resouces existed beyond it, the M'KHarens made a willing choice to draw the lines there, to maintain a strong border.
The reason for so few "approved" trade routes into the M'KHaren interior, was because they were the only safe routes. The DMZ was a quagmire of black holes, nebulas, X-Ray bursts, pulsars, and other stellar phenomena which made for hazardous travel.
Add to that the part where the M'KHarens had published inaccurate maps which showed none of these hazards to the rest of the known worlds for the past five millennia, and you had possibly the best defensive strategy in history.
When the Kamians finally arrived at the DMZ, they found their pace slowed to an absolute crawl. They had chosen to avoid the "defended" trade routes and instead plunge right through the "open and inviting" DMZ, and lost entire battle groups to uncharted black holes, gamma-ray bursts, nebulae, and other things more exotic.
The M'KHaren Fleet
Unannounced to the Kami, the M'KHarens actually did not maintain a large, active fleet. Relying on their remote location and early-warning-systems, the bulk of the fleet was kept as a "ghost fleet", unmanned and moored in out-of-the-way solar systems where a few career military personnel could maintain a large number of inactive vessels.
Having seen the Kamians coming from a long way off, the M'KHarens had plenty of time to call up reserves, reactivate old ships (some dating as far back as the Mage Wars), and prepare an extensive armada.
In total, the M'KHarens reactivated 65,000 ships and called up 3.7 million soldiers to man them. Although the millitary force was made primarily of reservists and drafts, they had extensive time to train and prepare, making them already a skilled, if inexperienced, fighting force by the time the battle began.
The Home-Field Advantage
With the Kamians lacking functional charts and the M'KHarens abounding in them, it was a home-field advantage to M'KHara. Not only did they have maps which showed the dangers of the DMZ, they had hyper-accurate charts with pre-planned routes and precision manuvering plans.
This allowed M'KHaren ships to travel through the region over three times as fast as the Kami, and use the natural hazards of the zone to hide their paths. M'KHaren stealth technology, which while not advanced (by Gudersnipe standards), was a well-kept secret, and the M'KHarens chose exactly when, where, and how to meet the Kamians in battle.
The Battle of King Drift
The M'KHarens chose a narrow band roughly halfway through the DMZ. They had already predicted that the bulk of the Kamian fleet would reunite here, as it was a safe haven in an otherwise inhospitable region. The Kamians would stop there to let their supply lines catch up, refill consumables, and prepare for the final assualt on the M'KHaren interior.
This proved far too tempting a target to miss, wherein the 15,000 Kamian warships would be joined by an additional 5,000 support vessels. The M'KHaren fleet outnumbered them four-to-one in warships and three-to-one over all, and had used their advanced knowledge of the region to completely surround the Kamians.
The M'Kharens attacked from all directions with very little warning. At the time, it was the single largest space battle in the Ages, yet lasted less than twelve hours. The M'KHarens suffered relatively few casualties, while the Kamian fleet was obliterated.
While the Kamians were not foolish enough to try anything like King Drift again, their attack had a far more damaging side effect than the loss of 20,000 ships: it brought the M'KHarens into the war.
Prior to King Drift, the latter empire had been content to sit well behind its lines, profiting from wartime trade, siding against the Kamians but not "with" anyone else. The attack, while an abysmal failure from the Kamian standpoint, was viewed as an outright insult by the M'KHarens: How DARE they launch an attack on the mighty Empire, which had endured then for more than eight millenia?!
The M'KHarens did not launch a counter-offensive; their position was still remote and well-defended. While their contributions to the war effort were small in comparison to other nations, it is important to note that M'KHaren ships were present at the Battle of the Don't Pass Line 600 years later, and made several confirmed kills.
The "Ghost Force" is a slang name applied to a lost Kamian Task Force, believed to exist somewhere within the M'KHaren DMZ. In the aftermath of the King Drift battle, countless ships were left unaccounted for, and Kamian records of the conflict were spotty at best. Tacticians and strategists spent years trying to piece together what they could from captured Kamian documents and M'KHaren sensor records. It was well known that many Kamian ships were lost traversing the DMZ. Of the fifteen thousand warships, and five thousand support vessels that set out in the invasion fleet, only a little over seventeen thousand ships were actually present. Yet intelligence gained later in the war indicates that only seven ships ever returned to Kamian space.
A few centuries later, historians going over captured logs and other information were able to piece together a little more, what little information did survive included an inventory of ships, both how many set out, and how many reached the final combat point. No single battle group or task force reached King Drift intact, but amongst the lost ships historians found an entire task force, roughly seven hundred vessels (including two hundred capitol ships), that was simply missing.
The ships definitely set out, and intelligence from the Foundation's archives proved it. But the captured reports from the surviving ships indicated that not a single vessel from that task force reached King Drift. Losing most of a battle group was understandable, but it seemed odd that the entire task force, to a man, would befall some disaster.
Thus, the legend of the Ghost Force was born.