Shadow ships are starships that the Shadows employ when instigating conflicts among the Young Races. These ships are superior in almost every way to the warships of the Young Races, but they can still be defeated with clever tactics and/or sufficient numbers.
Examples of organic technology, Shadow ships are living things grown to serve their purpose. Their origins aside, Shadow ships are extraordinarily fast, powerful, and durable by the standards of Babylon 5. Features include:
- A beam weapon capable of cutting a Narn heavy cruiser in half in less than a second, suggesting hundreds or thousands of terawatts of firepower. The weapon is accurate enough to easily hit starfighters and is also useful for precision orbital bombardment.
- A pulse weapon capable of causing hyperspace jump points to collapse, destroying any ships attempting to transition through them.
- A launch mechanism capable of rapidly deploying at least one squadron of Shadow starfighters.
- Hyperdrive technology capable of transitioning the ship to hyperspace in less than a second, without forming the vortex typically generated by B5 hyperdrives.
- Hull materials capable of withstanding sustained fire from the weapons of Minbari warcruisers and even Vorlon warships before suffering significant damage, indicating that they can withstand or repel hundreds of terawatts of firepower for at least a short time.
Shadow warships are not sapient entities and are not capable of operating independently. Each Shadow ship requires a sapient being to serve as a pilot and central operating system. Virtually all aspects of the ship's performance can be degraded by subjecting the pilot to telepathic attack, although such an attack is traumatic for the telepath, as well. In the last Shadow War, the Shadows attempted to reduce this vulnerability by acquiring telepaths for use as pilots for their ships. Connecting a person to a Shadow ship to serve as a pilot is a highly effective means of brainwashing that makes the subject loyal to the Shadows.
The spines of Shadow warships appear to be somewhat more fragile than the main body of the ship. While Shadow ships seem to be able to disperse energy directed at the central body of the vessel, on at least two occasions, Young Race warships have blown spines off of Shadow ships that were not under simultaneous telepathic attack. The spines may be related to the ability of these ships to enter hyperspace, as the Shadow ship damaged by the Narns at Gorash 7 was apparently no longer able to transition to hyperspace on its own.
Other Ship Types
The Shadows also employ a scout ship that is roughly the size of a White Star, making it between 120 and 250 meters in length (probably closer to 120). The scout ship is armed with some kind of pulse weaponry and can transition to and from hyperspace much like larger Shadow ships.
The Shadows also have a starfighter that can be deployed from their warships. The fighter is similar in size to the starfighters of the Young Races, but it is substantially more durable; how its firepower compares to that of other starfighters isn't clear. Unlike the fighters of the Young Races, they appear to be capable of entering and leaving hyperspace like larger warships. To deploy them, a Shadow warship ejects a blob of organic material that subdivides into several Shadow fighters. Presumably the Shadow ship recovers its fighters simply by reabsorbing them.
- Many Fivers have taken to calling these ships "Battlecrabs", a term that originates in the B5 Wars game.
- B5 "The Long, Twilight Struggle" and "Messages from Earth"