The Gurdergen

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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.

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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.)

The Illayko

The Illayko race were travelling the stars long before humans. Physically tall, muscular and humanoid, they evolved from tree-dwelling omnivores on their home planet. The Illayko grew to controlled a large area of space to the Galactic East, their behaviour to other species neither overly aggressive or pointedly peaceful. Their most famous planet was Ehoi, their lush jungle homeworld. Large, stable and teeming with life, the planet is still spoken of in hushed tones – but nowadays for all the wrong reasons.

ill2Above: Typical Illayko male

Ten years before humans reached Alpha Centuari, trouble came a-calling. A civil war within the core Wun’Tux worlds meant the outlying BroodClans could expand in only one direction – outwards still. The Illayko became the next resource in this Wun’Tux civil war – they were attacked by numerous factions on several fronts. Distant colonies were besieged, their populations harvested as slaves. With no allies and no apparent hope, the leaders fled ‘South’ with a fleet of colony ships, the surviving Illayko military paid heavily to protect them.

Ehoi was left virtually unguarded. Those not airlfted in the retreat became the largest ever single slave haul of a Wun’Tux BroodClan. A small proportion of those left behind resisted, using their knowledge of local geography and conditions to flee the Wun’Tux, to make every invading step painful. The majority became slaves in their own homes as the Wun’Tux civil war expanded onto their doorsteps. Modern day Ehoi is situated well within Wun’Tux territory. It’s towering palaces and walkways are rubble, replaced with the drab, ungainly structures of the Wun’Tux.

The new Illayko worlds were chosen in haste – they remain under-developed and isolated from many trade routes.  The government is loosely organised and poorly led – politicians lack the confidence of the population. The soldiers who protected the retreat from Ehoi are held in similar contempt, treated as failures for their unavoidable defeat; the surviving veterans of the war are bitter and twisted. The fledgling government could offer them little work, opportunity or chance to retaliate and their anger simmers under the surface, undiminished. Now they scour the galaxy for work suitable for their skillsets: bounty hunting, assassination and hired muscle are the most common roles.

ill4Above: Typical Illayko bounty hunter

Their tragic story has had unexpected fallout. The most angry of the Illayko are vocal in their feelings of betrayal: by their leaders and the rest of the galaxy. They accuse the Gnobo and Vonn of presiding over their near extinction and seize on any opportunity to do either race damage. Indeed, whatever ethical code they originally had has disintegrated; instead they pursue profit and power over others to extreme lengths. Some are so lost and jaded that they are even known to keep slaves of their own in some odd vengeful twist to the universe at large.

The Lonova

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There is no Earth law against interaction with less developed civilisations in the universe. Human treatment of the Lonova goes to show that perhaps there should be.

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Typical Lonova male

The Lovona are a race of bipedal humanoids physically similar enough to humans to use the same equipment with little modification. They prefer warmer climbs than humans and a slightly different oxygen/nitrogen/carbon dioxide atmosphere. Their society is caste-based and rigidly organised against any social mobility. The Lovona had just discovered the ability to travel within their own star system when the USEF stumbled upon their world.

The Lovona found themselves in the middle of a complex geopolitical situation, within reach of humans, Gnobo and the Wun’Tux. The leadership caste called upon the human race for assistance and – with little wringing of their hands – the US opened Lovona society to a handful of favoured megacorporations.

With little hard currency available, the Lovona leaders bargained off land and resources in exchange for technological innovations. And so their race went through an accelerated technological upheaval, creating an odd schism between the people who could afford new gadgets and gizmos and those who looked upon the new world from afar – predominantly the worker caste who were the first Lovona utilised as cheap labour for new human factories.

The Lovona have become entwined with some of the larger human megacorporations; their colonisation and defence programmes became particularly dependent on the technological assistance from humankind. However, no formal military alliance exists. Something that makes the Lovona military caste both outraged and simultaneously very nervous.

Megacorporations aren’t the sole beneficiaries of the Lovona emergence. Top human business schools and military academies have profitably marketed themselves to the Lovona leadership caste. A number of human academics refuse to be involved, believing tacit support and legitimacy to a deeply undemocratic caste-based society is ethically wrong. Academics lacking such scruples, however, have become very rich indeed.

The Lovona leadership rather naively believe that humankind has stepped in the protect them from the Wun’Tux, although the Lovona have only lost a small number of their people to the slavers. Humans are held in a disproportionately high regard trusted above other species; the Gnobo have attempted to woo Lovona with discounted technology but received short shrift so far.

The Gnobo

The Gnobo are a race of space-faring humanoids active throughout the known galaxy. They evolved from a rugged, territorial animal called the Shatterback – a hardy, horned beast perfectly adapted to their arid, mountainous homeworld.

Even as they expanded out into the galaxy, this rugged and territorial streak continued unabated. The Gnobo are seen as uncultured, brash and quick to anger by other space-faring races, but – of course – things are never so clear cut.

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Gnobo are roughly physically analogous to humans. However, the high gravity of their home world means pound-for-pound they are stronger; this makes them formidable melee fighters. Gnobo arguments are often settled by tests of strength; meaning a Gnobo bar can be a hazardous place to relax. Their society is an unusual matriarchy. Male Gnobo are taken at birth and kept away from The outside world. These collectives of males undergo a strict regime designed to remove independent thought and replace it with a sense of slave-like duty to the females. Once males reach the age of ten they are allowed out into society for use for a number of prosaic tasks; refuse collection, crop harvesting and civic construction to name but a few. Female Gnobo, meanwhile, are more free to choose their fate but are frequently channelled down certain routes due to family arrangements, obligations or debts.

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Above: The Gnobo League Insignia

The Gnobo League maintains a small standing army and navy to defend their borders. This armed force is dwarfed in size by the various mercenary brigades originating from the annals of Gnobo history. These brigades are obliged to defend the Gnobo League from outside aggression, but in times of peace are free to pursue whichever contracts they please. This has led to participation in several conflicts and skirmishes throughout the galaxy; only adding to the already fierce reputation of Gnobo warriors.

The Gnobo people take part in business with all of the enthusiasm brought to battle by their warriors; traders and brokers are known for their hard-bargaining and hunger for profit. Several high profile smugglers, fences and fixers throughout the Rim are Gnobo; a fact that contributes to the glut of stereotypes and preconceived perceptions levelled at them by the rest of the galaxy. With regards to galactic politics, the League is officially neutral.

Unofficially it is more complicated than that. The fact that enough resources can buy highly effective Gnobo mercenaries means brigades (who are endorsed and sometimes part-funded by the League) end up fighting for the highest bidder. This two-faced behaviour makes for awkward diplomacy between the Gnobo and any civilisation under attack from their hired guns. The Hirudin, frustrated by their cowardly Trinax thralls, are known to use Gnobo space and ground assets in times of conflict.

The most famous feat of Gnobo coordination led to their war against the Illayko. A lightning offensive almost took them all the way to victory, but their advance was checked at The Battle of Ompolor VII. With their war effort stalled, the various brigades descended into arguments and acrimony. This period of chaos allowed the Illayko Defence Force to counter-attack and re-take lost ground. A peace deal was signed soon after, to the resentment of Gnobo and Illayko alike.

The one race who they never work for are the Wun’Tux. Gnobo are targeted just as frequently as any other race by the Wun’Tux; their strength and hardiness makes them valued slaves.The Gnobo mercenary brigades take turns at guarding their more vulnerable border worlds from Wun’Tux raids.

Threat Analysis

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Agency Threat Analysis: Species Profiles

The following information is Omega-Level Classified. If you have access to this briefing and are not Omega Level, please shut down this console and inform a supervisor immediately. Non-compliance will not be tolerated.

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Human Factions

Intra-Agency cooperation is non-negotiable. Any reports or non-cooperation or conflict will be severely punished.

The Americans continue in their attempts to ape our gifts with their Project Atlas. Although direct conflict would be bad for business, any Atlas soldiers found interfering with missions or contracts should be destroyed on sight. Aside from these genetic aberrations, the US retains the largest and most advanced military of the Earth factions. Proceed with caution on any contracts against or conflicting with them.

The British are similarly advanced in military technology and tactics. They utilise the Agency very rarely. Still, try not to antagonise and if you have to engage, destroy everything and leave no trace.

The Asian Coalition and European Union have no special forces as effective as Agency assets and so utilise our resources frequently. They should be treated carefully. When a contract is based in one of their territories, collateral damage should be kept to a reasonable minimum. This is strictly a business decision: they are of no credible military threat to Agency assets currently.

Megacorporations: Frequent users of Agency assets. Frequent targets as well. Intra-Corporation conflict is highly profitable, though Agency assets are only contracted for the most important tasks. Megacorporations will be otherwise protected by corporate security of negligible threat and mercenary forces of varying potency.

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Non-Humans

The Oroso are well organised and difficult to infiltrate. Missions targeted at them or their territory should be processed through a Beta-Level Handler and approved by personnel at least two levels higher. Their military is competent and well equipped. Equal threat to the American equivalent. Individually, Oroso are physically similar to humans and should provide no extra threat.

The Wun’Tux are ferocious and resilient in battle. Their ships can usually be outmanoeuvred and destroyed, if necessary, with fast moving warheads. Individually their warrior caste is faster than a human soldier and can take serious damage before falling. Engage with caution. Conflict can often be avoided by the gift of humanoid slaves of various species. This can be sanctioned by Delta-Level Handlers on a case-by-base basis.

The Vonn should not be engaged. No contracts are accepted against them or verging into their territory. They are extremely advanced in defensive technologies and have ways of neutralising the powers of various assets. They are ideologically opposed to the Agency and will try to stop contracts wherever they come into contact with one.

The Hirudin are to be treated with extreme caution. They are a secretive species, but we know the older examples are high-level telepaths and their abilities are not yet fully understood. Militarily, their Trinax slaves are of no threat whatsoever. A Hirudin in one of their armoured shells, however, is of considerable threat.

Like the Oroso, the Amani are extremely distrustful of outsiders and therefore very difficult to infiltrate. Militarily the Amani have significant firepower concentrated within travelling fleets (“caravans”). Amani often contest ore-rich worlds with human megacorporations, who have employed Agency assets before to assassinate Amani elders. Long-range targeting is recommended. Assets have been lost to angry retribution from Amani families.

The Amani

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 Above: Climate control suit Amni

The Amani are a race of bipedal humanoid desert dwellers. Advanced enough to travel to different star systems, they occupy a small string of planets in the Galactic North. Nomadic and independent, the Amani have very few dense population centres on-planet or in space, where they travel in loosely organised caravans for trade, protection and battle.

To the rest of the galaxy the Amani are known by the climate control suits which each one has to wear in order to survive temperatures below 40 degrees Celsius. Although their temperature requirements limit which worlds they can colonise, the Amani thrive on hot and arid worlds deemed inhospitable for the majority of space-faring races. Many of these desert worlds are rich in valuable ore deposits meaning these travelling Amani caravans are often rich and well heeled.

Their society is regarded by the galaxy at large as insular and mysterious. In actuality they have quite the vibrant culture with a variety of art and expression. Few outsiders ever get close enough for long enough to see this, however. Amani have been known to destroy on sight any automated probes or mining equipment they find on worlds deemed ‘theirs’, bringing them into conflict with various human factions.

Trade is the responsibility of the eldest and wisest Amani, some of who live for up to 120 years. Most Amani view external influences as base and corruptive and the younger members can go for decades without meeting a non-Amani. Although not martial in nature or culture, the Amani are fiercely protective of their people and what they see as their territory – even though this can be ever shifting. In combat they channel their affinity for heat, utilising fusion cannons usually used in mining. They have few classically designed “warships”, preferring to arm the ships on which they live and work. On one hand this makes even a small Amani caravan a tough prospect for a pirate raid. Given the rich rewards, however, it is a risk many are willing to take. The Amani prisoners from successful raids are often sold as slaves and a highly prized by the Wun’Tux – who thrive in warm and dry conditions themselves.

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Above: An Amani outside of a climate control suit.

The Inachidae

The Inachidae

A race akin to highly evolved Crustaceans, this species of humanoids are wisely feared throughout the galaxy for their fearsome ability in combat. Their razor sharp pincers mean they are seldom unarmed and the chitin carapace of their shells make them near enough immune to a wide variety of damage.

The Inachidae are known more-so for their lust for battle, their ferocious courage in the face of danger. This anger that burns within them means that as mercenaries they are known for taking tough jobs with relish. Their society is highly competitive. Individuals compete for prestige, be it in money or reputation for battle prowess.

Famously difficult to enslave, these giants are known to kill their captors or themselves before they submit to another. Conversely, their loyalty can be bought for significant enough sums or compensation.

There exists a fabled ‘blue’ sub-species, residing in the rare cold-water areas of their homeworld. These Inachidae are said to be calmer, centred and focused. Just as capable in battle, but less likely to rush head first into it.

Through the galaxy, however, the warm-water variety are the norm. Feared and respected, often unwelcome on the more civilised and peaceful worlds.

The Trinax

IMG_4557Widely known as the client race of the aquatic Hirudin, the Trinax are a mammalian humanoid species originating from the Galactic North.

They evolved from a prey species historically more smart than strong, more clever than courageous. This made them conflict adverse, even as they reached for the stars and ventured out into the galaxy.

Their cunning and charm made them excellent traders. And because they had no instincts to conquer or destroy, many of the sentient species of the galaxy were content to allow them access to their space.

They explored far and wide for new opportunities. It was this exploration that led them to the homeworld of the Hirudin. And, to a real extent, into their thrall.

The Hirudin used their evolved ability to control certain minds to enslave a small group of Trinax explorers. Like a virus, the Hirudin used this group to gather others, to enthral them as well.

This part of Trinax society became the servant race of the Hirudin. The fingers and feet and eyes and ears of the jellyfish-like creatures. The galaxy at large believes the diminutive humanoids are all agents of the Hirudin. In actuality, there is a duality. The majority of Trinax treat the individuals who have succumbed to mind control with pity at best and as a plague at worst.

The Trinax remain the most prevalent traders and dealers across the known galaxy. A select few even work within human megacorporations.

The Hirudin

The Hirudin are an amorphous, aquatic race residing past Oroso and Wun’Tux space in the galactic west. They are most known for their ability to access and control the minds of certain sentient beings, a quality which leads them to be treated with fear and suspicion. Hirudin are unable to survive out of water, so travel off-world in a variety of mobile containment units.

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Above: Artist’s impression of a Hirudin containment unit

The Hirudin are regarded as symbiotic with the Trinax race, but this is something of a misnomer. Although the Hirudin rely on the Trinax to build and maintain their machines, the Trinax survive happily without their aquatic masters.

Thousands of years before the Fourth Age, the genetic great grandfathers of the Hirudin were akin to jellyfish, drifting around the giant seas of their homeworld. These ancestors evolved a defence mechanism: a telekinetic blast, able to inspire a primordial fear within animals threatening them. This freak of evolution transformed them from prey to survivor and over hundreds of years they rose to the top of the food chain. With the further evolution of intelligence, they found they could do more with this ability: inspire not just fear but obedience too.

Although the modern-day Hirudin could control minds, they were still isolated on their planet. Until one fateful day when the Trinax arrived. Relatively peaceful and unambitious traders, the Trinax race were hardly know for their quick wit and towering intellects. But as they explored one of the small archipelagos on the Hirudin homeworld, the landing team felt something tugging at their minds. Nagging. On that one day their futures were sealed.

The Hirudin mined the trading crew’s memories and databanks for information. Ordered them to leave and bring back more Trinax, more ships and technology. Over the next year, the Hirudin expanded their horizons and gathered more and more Trinax in their thrall. They built the first and most rudimentary of their containment units and travelled off world. As they explored the wider universe the Hirudin found their abilities were able to effect very few sentient species. The Trinax finding them first had been just dumb luck.

The Hirudin approached the galaxy with the intelligence and sense of superiority they had conquered their own world with. However, harsh lessons were to be learned quickly. Their Trinax client race was not built for war or conflict. Slow in thought and uncourageous, they would avoid or flee from fighting unless being directly controlled by a Hirudin individual. The masters, then, had to use their guile combined with the Trinax canny ability to trade to establish relationships, develop worlds and ideas.

Senior Hirudin travel the galaxy inside car-sized, multi-limbed robots they call their ‘containment units’. Although ostensibly peaceful, the units carry a variety of hidden weapons and defences. They also have the ability to ‘plug in’ to ships and vehicles. These Hirudin masters possess the mental alacrity to coordinate and command the majority of systems on-board even large starships and become a living bridge, delegating the menial tasks to their Trinax thralls.

In a military sense, the Hirudin have constructed ships of their own to enforce their will but also utilise Gnobo Mercenary Brigades when an occasion calls for more widespread firepower. This has led to conflict between Gnobo and human forces even though the two races are officially at peace.

Slavery

Though the many colonists who work long hours for little or no monetary gain might argue otherwise, slavery remains illegal in human space. This fact is not reinforced by the Far Planet Revolution, an armed backlash against perceived slave-like working conditions. Nevertheless, slavery remains punishable under the laws of the various human factions and a number of the advanced alien races. Several, however, take less of a hard line.

The most famous of these slavers are the Wun’Tux, who regularly snatch up civilians from the evolved races to work in their durillium mines, man their starships and serve their matriarchs. The number of slaves kept by a BroodClan is a sign of their prosperity and superiority.

The Illayko are found as slaves following the fall of Ehoi to the Wun’Tux. A subset of surviving Illayko are so bitter and twisted for the loss of their homeworld that they have become slavers themselves.

The aquatic Hirudin utilise what is rumoured to be mind control to keep a large number of Trinax in their service against their will.

The Oroso are highly valued in slave markets for their resilience in the face of physical labour and cold temperatures. Gnobo are equally hardy and fetch a high price. Conversely, humans are traded in quantity over quality to compensate for for a perceived fragility towards hard labour and difficult environments. Vonn slaves are unheard of.

The Wun’Tux border world of Dronta VIII functioned as the galaxy’s main slave market through the Second Age. One of the first operations out of the USEF base at Ursa Minor was a targeted strike against the world, resulting in complete Wun’Tux defeat and the emancipation of hundreds of slaves. Wary of a repeat performance, paranoid slave marketeers now run auctions in secret, frequently changing the location and guests.