The Illina Empire
The Illina empire's dominant species was avian. Originating on a bucolic homeworld that became a nature preserve, the Ave (meaning "people" in the native tongue of the Aquilan caste) achieved spaceflight early.
Ave in the Illina empire were classed into castes. The Aquilan caste was the ruling class, the Raptori serve as the military might of the empire, and the Passerine castes--of which there were hundreds of variants--made up the civilian and mercantile castes.
Aquilans were very selective in breeding and inheritance--complicated practices and protocols went into creating an heir to the powers of each of the ruling families, with lesser heirs, and vassals interweaved to form the bloodline's power structure.
Raptori bred their stock mostly from Aquilan families--lesser branches were designated for military service--but also counted among their ranks many Passerine. By negotiated agreement, Aquilans transferred their allegiance from their bloodlines to the military. Considering the enhancements and genetic manipulation that went with military service much of their biological make-up belonged to the military by virtue of biological patents and trade secrets regardless of allegiance. For the Passerine-caste, elevation to the Raptori military was considered a step up for the individual, but at the expense of the group.
Passerines were tradesfolk, settlers, merchants, workers, and indeed, the wide base of the pyramid that supports the Aquilan hegemony and the Illina empire at large. Without flocks of Passerine settlers, miners, builders, and citizens, colonizing a system was an empty exercise.
Mating displays of males for the benefit of the females--was the practice that earned the Illina their reputation for opulent decadence. The Aquilan caste frowned upon the irresponsible breeding practices encouraged by the competition of males for female attention (and the randomness of doing so without careful genetic screening), but proponents of the practice--and allies of the few polygamous caste-lines--argued that the practice encouraged competitive excellence. The tradition was native to all the Ave peoples, but cultural pressure drove it out of the ruling caste, while genetic and behavioral modification stifled the practice in the Raptori.
Illina Ave preferred temperate worlds for their strongholds, but commoners settled on planets ranging from desert wastelands to oceanic waterworlds. Ave did not, however, favor high-pressure or high-gravity worlds, choosing instead to invite subjugated races better suited for the environments to obtain provisional citizenship in exchange for colonization and labor.
Being naturally predisposed to flight, the Illina achieved spaceflight early on and migrated to the edges of their current borders in rapid expansion. Their flight-capable bodies made survival in the absence of gravity during long space travel a relatively easy obstacle to overcome. Throughout the five galaxies, the presence of an Illina in connection with interstellar expansion was common.
The Illina were known for their unique spatial reasoning. Where more earthbound species found navigation in three-dimensions challenging, the Illina made full use of three-dimensional space. Illina starships were some of the smoothest, most natural environments in the known universe.
Illina ship designs favored flowing lines and transparencies whenever possible. Ground-oriented species remarked that the vast transparent panels on Illina ships caused space-sickness for the unwary. Although not actually a cloaking device, their transparency technology was a cost-effective substitute for cloaking devices.
An obscure notation in the commerce file of a Caeda fertilizer exchange facility for base metal ore remarked that the arrival of Illina low-visibility vessels often startled the laborers in the open-air fertilizer production bins. The notation goes on to say that one minor bureaucrat was retired from her post with a nervous condition after suffering recurring hallucinations of Illina transport vessels in open-air spaces. She was remanded to a Caeda care facility and remained agitated until transferred to an underground ward.
The airborne capability of Illina species favored tri-dimensional combat. The Illina Empire's military philosophy was to strike swiftly from above. They preferred fast, light craft that attacked from singular vectors. Residents of systems subjugated in the early stages of the empire's expansion reported attack vectors and formations that defied definition and confused their troop commanders. The Ave predisposition towards short, intense military operations was, however, so ingrained that they were unable to sustain lengthy military campaigns.
The Illina had an exceptional ability to coordinate during military operations. This ability to "flock" was due to a sensitive gland in the Ave brain that detected fluctuations in the magnetic fields of fellow Ave, causing them to instinctively echo his companions' movements in concert. Publicly considered an amusing quirk or a primitive throwback in most of the empire, this instinct was genetically enhanced by military scientists. Raptor-caste individuals were bred, trained, and modified to flock to an order of magnitude beyond the normal Illina attribute. As a result, Illina fighter squadrons moved as one in combat.
Prior Alliances, Conflicts, and Contact with other Races and Empires
The Illina empire bordered by the Amend Republic, the Sindarin League, the Fifth Republic, the Pressian Empire, the Caeda, and the Oneiromany. They pursued favorable relations to the Amend Republic as an in-road into the Borthan empire, and as a way to keep a wary eye on Wulf activities. One Aquilan-caste bloodline, considered by the many to be rogue, established favorable trade relations with the Caeda. Aquilani bloodlines also persistently attempted to establish firm relations with the Oneiromany, but, given that race’s indecisive nature (when avians consider you "flighty," that's saying something), the history of their relations with the Illina were such that Aquilani diplomats posted to Oneiromany viewed the assignments as a punishment or censure. Relations with the Sindarin League, Fifth Republic, and Pressian Empire were more fluid. The parties constantly tested each other's frontiers with subtle movements and quick border violations, but rarely engaged in open warfare. None of these relationships reached a flashpoint.
In 3486, Illina was invaded by KoR (Knights of Rancor) cybers as the Cybernetic rebellion gained momentum. The last contact from Illina space was a distress call from a refugee convoy in the Cullington starsystem in 3571.
By Athena Grayson
Artwork by Max Bagdasarov, Julian Schlottman and Dmitry Borodin.
Artwork by Max Bagdasarov, Julian Schlottman and Dmitry Borodin.
Copyright 2018 Kgruppe LLC