The feared, enigmatic Black Ships are a fleet of spacecraft operated by the Final Accord of Humanity in the Greatcloud Galaxy, enormous, crescent-shaped cruisers tasked with a single purpose: to research and analyze all available data that might prevent the mass extinction of the Greatcloud as warned of by Maius the Soulkeeper, eschewing all else -- including ethics and national borders -- in the name of this goal.
As it follows, Black Ships' distinctive curved silhouettes are universally feared shapes in the sky throughout the Greatcloud, the arrival of one often spelling terror for the denizens of the world chosen for "analysis." The ships, most often crewed by Voidborn, respond to no outside communications and allow no blockade or resistance to impede their progress, responding with violence if presented with obstacles -- what is the safety of the few, after all, in the face of impending galactic doom? -- and non-Accord systems are often wholly at the mercy of their nightmarishly advanced Chrono-tech weaponry, ages beyond even most Ealdremen technology thanks to the Gold Council's singular obsession with scientific progress over all else.
Entire colonies often disappear in the wake of the Accord's harbingers. Though few have tread inside Black Ships and lived to tell the tale, their bellies are thought to be scenes of medical and technological horror, with the collective imaginations of non-Accord space conjuring scenes of gruesome experiments on sapients and unholy fusions of biological and cybernetic creatures. Whatever the truth of their inner sanctums, the Council refuses to shut down the highly controversial operation, and more than one treaty has collapsed immediately upon the broached possibility of the Black Ships' shuttering as a condition of negotiation.
Each vessel is captained by a Lightbringer or small group of Lightbringer officers, and the largest of the Black Ships is the Column of Dawn, which houses the Council itself.