The Shivans are a mysterious and powerful alien race that exists in the Descent: Freespace
universe. Though they have been encountered by both the Human
race very little is known about the Shivans, their motives, their technology or even the most basic facts about them - even the name "Shivan" was given to them by Humans, for lack of anything else to call them. What is known is that the Shivans are incredibly
technologically advanced and have an unstoppable desire to destroy any other sentient race they come across.
The Great War
Their first appearance in Descent: Freespace - The Great War
serves to show the player the Shivans' advanced technology and tactics that make them almost impossible to destroy. Amongst their arsenal is a shielding system that renders them extremely resistant against almost all Human and Vasudan weapons, with the exception of their flagship, the unbelievably powerful warship Lucifer
, which had unique shields that were impervious
to all known weaponry, rendering the ship invulnerable.
Human and Vasudan scientists working together managed to reverse-engineer energy shields similar to those used by the Shivans. These shielding systems were eventually applied to all ships in the newly formed Human and Vasudan alliance. Despite the efforts of this alliance, the Shivans were eventually successful in the destruction of the Vasudan homeworld, Vasuda Prime, thanks to the unstoppable Lucifer.
The so-called "Great War" with the Shivans ended with the destruction of the Lucifer as it attempted to traverse the Sol sub-space node, intending to destroy Earth. unfortunately this collapsed the node and all contact with Earth was lost. The Shivans themselves are shown in a cutscene in this game, they are multi-limbed (at least five) tripedal creatures far larger than a man. The appear to have compound eyes similar to those of insects and have a large laser weapon slung undeneath their chest. Their armour also seems to be part of the creature causing many to speculate that these Shivan footsoldiers are either in some kind of exo-skeleton or are robots or drones. In either case the cutscene shows them to be an extremely formidable adversary in combat.
The Second Shivan Invasion
Part-way through the campaign of Freespace 2
the Shivans reappear in the Gamma Draconis system, apparently having come through the Knossos space portal. The Shivans again appear to have a massive technological advantage using ships that outclass most of the GTVA fleet in almost every way. Many of these ships are of a different configuration to ones encountered during the great war, showing that Shivan technology advances in a fashion similar to that of most species, though much faster.
The Shivans eventually launch a full scale assault on GTVA space that ultimately culminates in the decimation of the GTVA fleet and ultimately the destruction of the entire Capella system which may or may not result in the death of the player (depending on the actions that they take. The jump node to Capella is also collapsed thus denying the Shivans an opportunity to follow the survivors into deeper GTVA space.
It was during the second Shivan incursion that the first linguistic contact was made with the Shivans. This was achieved by Admiral Aken Bosch
and his ETAK project, it is unclear what the nature of the communication was but it was enough to have the Shivans rendezvous with Bosch and take him to an undetermined location aboard. This is also one of the first pieces of evidence to suggest that the Shivans have any intention of communication with aliens aside from going in weapons hot.