The Gurdergen are a race of fish-like humanoids who reside on a handful of planets scattered throughout the galactic ‘West’. They are known predominantly as traders, merchants and marketeers with a general aversion to violence and war. Their savvy control of several important markets and resources grants them importance despite their lack of military might.
The Gurdergen did not achieve trade supremacy through diplomacy and niceties, however. They were dealt a reasonably lucky hand to begin with; their homeplanet is rich in the so-called ‘rare earth’ elements required for advanced computing and technology. Even the most conniving of the human megacorporations had no choice but to do business with them in order to secure a supply. The Gurdergen displayed a natural talent for negotiation (be it for official funding or bribes, bungs and otherwise) and milked these deals for all they were worth.
These funds were used to finance new enterprise; mining, exploration, infrastructure – anything which would lead to more profit and their continuing existence as necessary trade arbiters. The strategy was led by a powerful group of the richest Gurdergen, known only as The Five.
Although not themselves inclined towards violence, the deep pockets of Gurdergen merchants means they can afford to buy muscle. Their usual armed assistance comes from Gnobo mercenary brigades, although several human ‘corporate security’ companies have successfully horned in on this business. These hired guns provide security around the Gurdergen homeworlds as well as for the convoys and merchant traffic through the galaxy at large. These merchant vessels remain tempting targets for pirates and malcontents regardless. Such criminals are punished harshly by Gurdergen if caught; The Five have a particularly nasty reputation for revenge.
Mercenaries are also used (less successfully) to protect from Wun’Tux, who occasionally probe as far ‘West’ as to reach Gurdergen territory. Gurdaergen are viewed as very poor slaves; they have low tolerances to heat and hard labour. This doesn’t stop their capture by the Wun’Tux, however, and they view the reptilian invaders with a suitable amount of fear.
To refer to the Gurdergen as corrupt is an exaggeration featuring a grain of truth. Transparency in their business affairs is rare, bribes are commonplace and their system of trade and commerce certainly relies on an ‘old boys’ network.
From the outside looking in they operate a very complex and tangled string of operations. This secrecy enables the race to mix legitimate business with more illicit trade; members of The Five are known to run cargo for the mysterious Hirudin; particularly cargo too important to trust to the often naive Trinax thralls. Although the major human players consider this shadowy alliance with the Hirudin a betrayal, they have neither the will nor the ability to ban trade with the Gurdergen cartels.
They maintain well-appointed embassies and keep up diplomatic relations with most modern civilisations, excluding the remote Illayko government and the Wun’Tux and, in spite of their reputation as double-dealers, are known as hospitable hosts who rarely discriminate against other races (providing they have adequate funds, of course.)