I will tell you a story, or rather events that lead to the beginning of our story.
In the outskirts of a galaxy, there is a red star named Briga 4. It has otherwise little interest to anyone, as it has no planets, but it has an amazing shining ring around it. That ring is the Scrap Belt. To understand Scrap Belt, we need to go back in time for some 1 000 years.
At that time, a space battle of unimaginable proportions was fought around Briga 4. That battle was intended to be the glorious culmination of a war that had raged between seven intergalactic Alliances for centuries.
Prior to the war, the Alliances had expanded their influence over galaxies for many millennia, and tension between them had grown higher and higher. Finally the inevitable happened and attacks to inhabited solar systems started. First these were local conflicts between neighboring civilizations, but evolved soon to a full scale war when the Alliances stepped in to protect their allies.
The war brought destruction to many worlds that had been paradises for their people. Blossoming civilizations were wiped out overnight. This was unbearable for all the warring parties, but they were too proud, too involved, to simply put an end to it.
Thus they agreed on the final battle, where the Alliances would throw their vast armies into a decisive showdown far away from their homeworlds. Perhaps that was an honest effort to put an end to this everlasting, ever growing and all consuming conflict, and a noble act to save their people from horrors that had already destroyed billions of lives.
Thus the desolate space around the red star named Briga 4 burst in flowering field of folding gates, that begun spewing continuous streams of mightiest warships ever built. Battle erupted, and it kept on for 140 years, chewing men and machines in horrendous pace.
Sadly, the Alliances failed in all their targets with the battle. Winner was not declared, and once the Alliances had depleted their resources, they could no more sustain the fighting in the distant system. This was a point where war could have been ended, but few would even consider it as an option anymore.
Thus the war was taken back to the homeworlds, and it turned bitter and vengeful. Now the Alliances were no more looking for honorable victory, but retaliation for their own losses. This drove millions of civilizations to ruin and oblivion. The amount of suffering laid on the people was unprecedented and still is unsurpassed in this cycle of the Universe.
In the end, the seven Alliances were no more.
However, as a memorial of the Alliances, their war, and the battle that should have ended all battles, there is the Scrap Belt. It is beautiful, shining ring around the sun that once was the playground for the armies.
Unlike rings around planets made of rocks and dust and ice, the Belt is a graveyard, or a treasury, of billions of destroyed warships, still full of dream-like technology and rare materials, worth of million planets.
The Belt is long forgotten or has become part of the legends to the rest of the Universe. However, it is inhabited. The inhabitants are not creatures of biological origins, but countless species of creatures composed of metals and artificial materials. They are the evolutionary descendants of the war AI's, Artificial Intelligences, that once commanded giant war fleets, armadas too vast for any bio-born to comprehend, let alone command.
One of the species are the Stingrays, living and feeling creatures with fabricated nervous systems, partial folding engines and tough body made of composites.
The stingray flocks live on the edge of the Belt in a massive compound. Long have they prospered and bred, but now they are attacked and their feeding grounds are under siege. The enemy are mysterious Aberrants. Their origin and intents are not known, but their weapons are superior to Stingray lasers.
To turn the balance of power to their advantage, the Stingrays sent out a war flock of Mastodon class Stingrays, their most formidable warriors, to break through the siege. Their destination is the Absolute Devastation, one of the last remaining battleships from the ancient war. Their grand plan is to acquire the anti-matter particle guns of the Absolute Devastation, by whatever means necessary, and to decimate the Aberrants.
But the party is ambushed and destroyed to the last Stingray.
Yet there is one left. A new stingray was still in its final stages of construction, laying hidden and lifeless inside its creators torn-up carcass, and it avoids the Aberrant sensors.
Once its life sequence is completed, it awakes and finds itself alone in the space, cut away from the Stingray home grounds, cut away from the flocks that mean life to Stingrays.
About the only thing that the juvenile Stingray knows is the plan to save the flocks. It also knows that the plan is its only way back to its kin, and that it needs to grow a flock of its own to even have a small chance of success.
Thus the path is laid, but it will be a hard journey through wonders and horrors of the Belt. The stingray soon learns that the journey is not only in time and space, but inside itself, answering questions of its own essence and purpose of its existence.