The Northern Rim
The Northern Reaches of the Galaxy
A little over 60 interstellar empires inhabited the north-central regions of the galaxy. They accounted for approximately 3.4 billion inhabited starsystems. Another 250 million inhabited starsystems were scattered in the uncharted areas, such as the Darkling Drift. Prominent among the empires of the north were the arthropods, the arachnids, and the nomads. It was also home to two of the three Great Trade Houses; Western Rim Trade and the Molnsa Trade Guild. The other Great Trade House, Stelltron, operated in the southern half of Estra.
Spiders. Huge, man-sized, smooth-skinned killers. They came in various sizes, shapes, and colors. Long front limbs served as arms and hands for grasping and for hand to hand combat. The large eyes gave the observer the uneasy feeling that they were being sized up for dinner – which was often the case. Their mouth with the long chelicerae or fangs gave them a fierce appearance. Q'Kwagat skin and fur coloring included every shade imaginable.
Q'Kwagat raiding vessels had a spidery configuration. Long spiky appendages sweeping forward of the primary hull were used to grapple and breach the hulls of hapless starships. Q'Kwagat boarders would then enter the ship, dispose of the crew and carry off everything that they found useful.
Invasion by a Q'Kwagat army usually meant certain death for every inhabitant of the planet. Battalions of arachnid warriors would flood across the field of battle, overwhelming all resistance, with individual spiders stopping only to devour an especially tasty looking victim.
The Phantatwain Empire (FANT-a-twain) was the most prominent of the arthropod empires of the north. A subspecies of ants, when standing on their hind legs, they averaged two meters in height. The warrior caste measured close to 2.5 meters. Like army ants, the Phantatwain roamed from place to place searching for food.
Phantatwains had typical ant biology. The two hindmost limbs were often employed for bipedal ambulation. The front 4 limbs worked as either legs or arms. They could travel overland at up to 60 kilometers per hour. They used their mandibles to carry items and for close combat. Mandible size varied by caste. Warriors had massive jaws, and their hard exoskeletons acted as body armor. The Phantatwain were omnivores, and their practice of eating friendly casualties often caused difficulties during joint military operations with alien troops.
Soelian-Twa (so-EL-ian-TWAH) were cousins of the lowly Terran dung beetle but much more substantial. There were four castes; Soels were man-sized, Croela were as big as a car, Greol were about double the size of their Croela cousins, and Dromadens were the size of a house. The Soelian-Twa (sometimes spelled Soelien-Twa) was a tunneling culture, and so they naturally became a source of mined raw materials. Their Starhips were beetle shaped affairs with little to distinguish ship classes other than size. Soelian-Twa fighters looked pretty much like teeny versions of their battleships.
The term 'nomad' in the Estra galaxy is much different than you might imagine. A nomad empire was a race that had developed planetary engines that could fold space around a world and transport it to a new location. These planets were called 'platforms' by the Radnians who developed the technology, but the science behind folding space was lost in the ages after the Radnians passed into the mists of history. The Phantatwains, Sythians, Purta, Gengi, and Seth-Naf-Gar were some of the ancient races that once roamed the stars on their platforms.
Great Trade Houses
Two of the three great trade houses, Western Rim Trade and the Molnsa Guild, were located in the northern reaches. A trade house was not a building or a station. It was a corporation or a guild with millions of warehouses, freighters, trade centers, and tens of millions of starship captains, crewmen, longshoremen, and support staff of every human and alien race imaginable. Western Rim controlled the shipping routes in the west, and the Molnsa Guild controlled everything in the eastern part. The northern regions were not the only areas where these two massive organizations operated, the north was merely home turf. Each of the three great trade houses including Stelltron in the south were involved with commercial shipping and military contracts across the galaxy. The competition was fierce between the three, and violent clashes were frequent, if not the norm when these giants collided. These behemoths, especially Stelltron, would play a vital role in the destiny of galactic civilization.
NEXT TIME...The Eastern Reaches of the Galaxy
|Phantatwain Scout Warship|