It is an interesting thing to be aboard a ship full of the creatures used to frighten unruly children. It is also quite informative. Initial posturing aside, the Earthers and Coqnur seem to get along terrifyingly well. Woe betide any foe that inspires them to ally together.
They have been swapping stories of ancient conflicts, trading tales of battles that ended scores of lives as casually as we might discuss the weather. It is unnerving to listen to, but tells much of their races and the fearsome reputation they have earned.
They had shared countless tales of their great wars, largest battles and greatest defeats. Finally, the topic I dreaded arose; the first contact and combat between the Terrans and Coqnur. I feared a great conflict would arise, one I would have no escape from in the close confines! But instead it was met with great curiosity, as neither species seemed to know much of the other's motivations in the battle. Indeed, all that is known throughout most of the galaxy is that the human victory was absolutely crushing.
As you well know, it all began when a Human settlement was established on a world claimed by the Coqnur at the fringe of their space. It was a loose claim, but the planet held little most of the galaxy deemed of value (including the Coqnur themselves) and to my knowledge there was no formal claim to denote its ownership. Some even theorize that having heard of the Terran's habit of planting at least an outpost on every unclaimed world with a vaguely stable orbit, that the Coqnur claim was planned to gain an excuse to attack, and perhaps reclaim their former glory as the terror of the galaxy. However it came to pass, the galaxy watched in horror as a Coqnur battlefleet mobilized against the fledgling spacefarers. It was feared that a conflict, if it truly arose, would engulf and destroy all of known space, such were the reputations of both species.
No strangers to warfare, the Coqnur used the humans impressively advanced, though somewhat questionable in content, datanet to perform research. Where the civilized inhabitants of the galaxy would avert their eyes in horror lest they imagine the terrors the Humans had inflicted upon themselves, the warriors of the galaxy read with keen interest. But it seems that in their haste and eagerness to prove their dominance, errors were made in their analysis.
The Terrans were nothing if not efficient at establishing a colony; the encampment was already well emplaced when the Coqnur fleet fell upon it like a meteor shower. Armed and armored, the Reapers of Battle are a terrible force, and the humans fell before them as had been expected. The young Coqnur, known to the humans as Randall due to their inability to properly ennunciate several of the sounds of his true name, explained that initial reports of the battle led the generals to believe they had already won. Even as the commanders prepared to toast their victory over the supposed might of the Terran Military, the tide of battle began to turn. The token resistance faced in the intial wave stiffened, and the Coqnur advance slowed to a crawl. Still, it was thought that with so dominant a position, the humans would surrender or collapse under the strain of battle, trapped as they were in their fortifications. How wrong they had been...
Randall relayed the sense of horror shared by the Coqnur forces as the Might of Terra joined the battle in earnest. These humans, descendents not of mighty predators, but of mere omnivores, even herbivores did not collapse, did not surrender. When the Reapers were poised to capture a structure, the inhabitants would sacrifice themselves and destroy it to defeat their foe; Such structures were taken at no small cost to the invaders, only for their gains to be stripped away amidst thunderous blasts and rending fragments. At every turn, every advance, horrific traps were sprung. The top planners had predicted that unconditional surrender or complete annihilation would be reached within an hour; by the third hour of the engagement the weary forces of the Coqnur were beginning to be pushed back.
While most forces, such as the automaton war brigades kept by most civilized races, would deem a battle lost, the Coqnur did no such thing. Driven by pride and a sense of sure superiority, they were determined to cow the uppity usurpers to their throne as terror of the galaxy. As it would turn out, they never stood a chance.
By the end of the first day, the Terrans had taken the offensive. By the third, the Reapers were facing tremendous losses not to battle, but to fatigue; despite their best efforts at maintaining reinforcements, the troops were falling dead of the strain. Yet, the humans advanced, through day and night, without tire. Even the automaton brigades, a favorite foe of the Coqnur for their ability to provide a proper battle, fought nothing like these monsters. The finest war machines would falter, or stop to run combat analysis, but the humans advanced without fail. Only the greatest of damage seemed to slay them, and still they came. As the fourth day broke, even the most stubborn of generals admitted that the battle was lost to them and attempted retreat; the humans prevented any escape, seeming determined to delay or destroy their attackers.
It was at this point that the large human who had thrown the knife at the bar took the narrative. John, his name is, explained that the humans had seen the fleet coming. Indeed, the Coqnur made little attempt to hide their initial approach, and such measure are questionable at best against the backdrop of the void regardless. Unbeknownst to the Reapers, Humans are masters of defense, and think little of refusing to join in glorious open combat. They knew little of the enemy, and were prepared to fight to the last man, woman, and child with every trick at their disposal.
Then, the true turning point happened; On the fifth day, the Terran military arrived. The forces that had faced the mightiest military then known to the universe to a standstill and forced a retreat were mere militia, a term unknown to both the Coqnur and I until John explained. The militia is a force, composed not of any warrior caste, but merely any human willing to take up arms. John continued to raise a fair point; The humans had evolved as persuit predators, a terrifying concept to discover. Armed with mere sticks, they had hunted many of the greatest beasts of their homeworld to extinction not by might of arms, force of numbers, or sheer power, but simply by dogged determination. They simply tracked their prey until it died of exhaustion in its attempts to fight or flee, just as the Coqnur had. Even their first ally on their world seemed to be selected as the only creature to somewhat keep pace. Most of the great predators of their world were like the Coqnur, mighty and peerless in battle, but unable to sustain the effort beyond a brief and furious initial clash.
Randall spoke, revealing the terrible flaw behind the whole confrontation. When planning, the Coqnur had indeed found many of the measures of human battles. What they failed to comprehend was the sheer scale; the differing measures of time led months and years to be taken as their equivalent of days and weeks, a common length for great wars among the Coqnur. John explained that wars lasting for generations were not only not unheard of, but not even uncommon throughout Terran history. Even Randall was cowed, to hear it so casually explained that humans thought very little of wars lasting longer than the adulthood periods of many galactic inhabitants!
What manner of terrible world would produce such a horrific creature, and how could it survive to spread into the great void? Then again, having heard even this much about them, how could such monsters not thrive? Though they are amiable enough once known, they are not to be crossed if it is possible to avoid. Still, they seem willing enough to risk themselves in defense of galactic denizens, and swap stories of facing uncontrolled war machines in defense of their creatores with the same casualness we might apply to a simple jaunt to one of our moons from the planet.