History of the Relthoza

Posted by on Oct 30, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

History of the Relthoza

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The Relthoza are a relatively young and vigorous race of sentient, social aliens descended in their distant past from arachnoid lifeforms. Their extraordinary mastery of nanotechnology and fearsome military power adds to the intimidating image the glorious Relthoza Empire projects to the rest of the known galaxy.

Yet, behind this facade of implacable strength of purpose, Relthoza society is far more complicated. Although near-immutably bound by caste to certain roles in society, Relthoza are individual creatures with considerable capacity for self-will and emotional expression.

Although the modern Relthoza Empire seems to outsiders to be a monolithic force in galactic affairs, this uniformity was not easily achieved and their dominion still suffers dramatic ructions from time to time. Relthoza evolution has been swift, eventful and at times painfully violent.

Aziza’s Children
The Relthoza are intimidating creatures. They stand on four locomotive limbs, their bodies sheathed in chitinous plates. However, their thoraxes stand erect in a centauroid fashion, their ‘necks’ and heads hunched over, giving them a predatory, brooding aspect. They generally have four more manipulator limbs, ending in clusters of fine hyper-dextrous tendrils, and are agile creatures, capable of scaling sheer surfaces or even hanging upside down.

Heavy Armour Helix

Heavy Armour Helix

Their inscrutable faces usually have ten eyes. Six are lidless, dark onyx ovals, clustered at the front of their craniums. The remaining four are much larger, positioned around the edges of their faces. Relthoza are sensitive to bright illumination, but their close-range visual magnification abilities are extraordinary; this, along with their excellent fine manipulation skills, is believed to be why they are adept with miniaturisation and nanotech.

Their jaws are fearsome; a mass of cutting and piercing implements. Dark legends from the Thessaly Wars asserted that the Relthoza liquefied and digested living prey. In fact, they can subsist on virtually any organic matter and tend to disdain eating meat unless absolutely necessary.

Relthoza breathe with a complex network of channels around their bodies. They ‘speak’ through their cranial apertures, using fine muscle control to create a vast array of subtly different sounds. The Relthoza language sounds like a musical score, and is regarded as extremely beautiful. Remarkably, they can also replicate other languages and speech patterns. A Relthoza speaking Terran Basic has soft and melodic tones that are strangely compelling. The Dindrenzi refer to them as having ‘bodies of demons and voices of angels’.

The Unity
The Relthoza are divided into castes, similar to ants or wasps. The giant Aval’ssor’siss Brood-Queens are their leaders. Each of them is the absolute ruler of a Relthoza hive. Though physically formidable, mature Brood-Queens soon become virtually immobile egg factories. However, these long-lived monarchs exert enormous influence.

The K’ss’ark are the only Relthoza males. Their only function in Relthoza hives other than acting as royal consorts is as warriors. They are large and powerful creatures, and a mature K’ss’ark in his powered battle-suit effectively qualifies as an armoured vehicle.

The greater mass of the Relthoza are the two worker castes. The Vass’ur are the senior caste. They perform a large array of roles, from industrial workers to ship crews and heavy engineers. Some are highly political; a Brood-Queen’s Vass’ur handmaidens are close advisors and often serve as her emissaries. Vass’ur historians maintain archives of the heritage of individual hives, as well as the glorious empire itself.

The humble Ss’virss are the bedrock of Relthoza society. Small and nimble, they are engineers, technicians and administrators, toiling away patiently at the myriad tasks that hold the structure of a hive together. Ss’virss design and produce the remarkable nano-technological devices upon which Relthoza civilisation relies. They are also the driving force behind much Relthoza culture, creating such marvels as shifting nanotech sculptures and extraordinary musical scores.

Firepower Leviathan Helix

Firepower Leviathan Helix

All of these castes are bound together in a strong hierarchy of duties and responsibilities called the Unity. Although each Relthoza is a thinking creature, and inter-hive rivalries and conflicts often occur, the Unity is near-sacrosanct; the philosophy that each caste has its role to fulfil shapes a Relthoza’s entire existence.

The Unity has sometimes actually been broken in isolated or rogue hives; where warriors or workers have enslaved their own Brood-Queens, or one caste has been wiped out by the others. However, such occurrences are so rare as to be considered freakish, and such hives are inevitably mercilessly purged by other Relthoza.

The Taming of Aziza Prime
Despite the strength of the Unity, Relthoza society is, and always has been, rather volatile. This is down to not only the Relthoza themselves, but also their home world. For a long time, Aziza Prime was once a geologically active world. The planet’s painful and turbulent youth left a dangerous topography; water-rich and heavily coated with plant life, but shot through with highly unstable subterranean warrens.

In these shadowy regions, the Relthoza evolved. They are estimated to have arisen as a sentient species no more than four thousand years ago – a chronological eye-blink even compared with mankind. However, their intellect, sheer numbers and dynamism combined to ensure that their evolutionary development was swift.

The Relthoza quickly came to dominate Aziza. Although relatively short-lived creatures, other than their huge Brood-Queens, they multiplied rapidly, spreading out through Aziza’s twisted depths, hunting for resources. Although the Unity kept the peace between the castes, early Relthoza development was wracked by inter-hive warfare.

The pressures of overpopulation and conflict also accelerated Relthozan technological development. Efficiency in resource use, together with the Relthoza’s peculiar physical characteristics, led to their early adoption of miniaturised devices of all types.

Relthoza scientists were perfecting the principles of nanotechnology at about the same time as mankind colonised the Sol System. Swarms of tiny robots working in unison, almost miniaturised facsimiles of Relthoza hives, helped tremendously to stabilise ravaged Aziza.

Relthoza cities had been very dangerous, prone to sudden cave-ins, flooding and other disasters; some tremendous in scale. Entire early hives were wiped out, swallowed or swept away by the treacherous landscape. One of first applications of Relthoza nanotech was in architecture, strengthening weak areas and shaping structures. These strong but fine ‘webs’ of nano-robots are still used by Relthoza architects, allowing them great freedom in expanding or reshaping buildings and settlements.

Patrol Fleet

Patrol Fleet

The Swarm Wars
Even with the power of nanotech, the Brood-Queens of Aziza Prime realised that their species was outgrowing its homeworld. By the time of humanity’s first voyages beyond Sol, Aziza had effectively been exhausted of habitable regions.

Chronic overpopulation became highly dangerous when the Relthoza reproductive cycle peaked roughly once every three centuries. During these ‘swarming urges’, Relthoza society was rocked by instability, as new generations of Aval’ssor’ssis emerged and sought to establish new hives.

Swarms were marked by increasingly savage wars for living-space, the new nanotechnology repurposed for destructive ends. As hordes of rival K’ss’ark warriors clashed in the twisting tunnels and caverns, virulent nanotech ‘plague’ weaponry unleashed by Vass’ur and Ss’virss scientists dissolved everything in their path. Tunnel networks collapsed or flooded as their supporting rock and webs were eaten away; thousands of Relthoza were baked alive by massive releases of waste heat generated by the voracious nano-robots trapped in sealed caverns.

The Rise of The Twenty
The most powerful hives on Aziza realised that their entire species was destined to destroy its world and itself unless drastic action was taken. The greatest of Aziza’s Brood-Queens formed a body called the ‘Unity of the Twenty’. These venerable leaders, rulers of the twenty greatest hives of Aziza could exert considerable influence over large numbers of ‘cadet’ hives.

Between them, the Twenty developed a grand plan for their race to expand beyond Aziza. Nonetheless, the process by which the Twenty themselves came together was fractious and bloody. One of the measures they formulated to curb destructive disputes would later have far-reaching consequences – Ess’Kass’a, a formal code of diplomacy via ritualised combat. When rival hives had a dispute, rather than going to war, they would resolve it by means of duels of honour – often to the death – between K’ss’ark judicial champions. A whole complex code of Ess’Kass’a practice developed, and it was eventually adopted by all castes as the dominant imperial judicial system.

Only later, when Ess’Kass’a principles were applied to diplomatic activities involving aliens, would the Twenty revise the system somewhat to avoid the slew of problems it could create.

The Leap Into Space
Under the influence of the Twenty, Aziza’s great hives turned to solving the challenges of space-borne expansion. The Ess’Kass’a system allowed the Relthoza to channel the tremendous energy and dynamism in far more productive directions.

Carrier Group

Carrier Group

Within only two centuries, Relthoza expeditions had colonised all of Aziza’s many moons, through a process unique in this galactic quadrant. Nanotechnology was employed to construct space elevators, powered by the tremendous heat exhaust emitted by quintillions of labouring drones. A great silvery web extended upwards, linking together a mass of orbital stations; a whole transport infrastructure enveloping the planet.

The first Relthoza spacecraft were constructed here within shimmering ‘egg-sac’ drydocks. Driven by fusion powerplants, they transported whole hives on colonisation expeditions to Aziza’s moons. Smaller nanotech webs sprouted from their surfaces.

These vast networks eventually physically connected the orbital rings of Aziza Prime and its three closest moons with countless ‘threads’ of travel-tubes and way-stations. Across the gulf of space, they are nearly invisible. But when the light of Aziza’s sun strikes them, this spectacular interlaced mass becomes strikingly apparent.

Webs Between The Stars
The leap into space ushered in a new era of peace for the Relthoza. With the pressure of immediate survival lifted, many hives began to practice co-operation rather than conflict to achieve goals. This was different to the peace imposed by the Twenty, which had had to be enforced against rogue or rebellious hives. Now, the Relthoza became a more cohesive whole for the first time. Space exploration gave the Relthoza race a new idea of what it was – an imperial power.

The necessity for expansion was replaced in most parts of the Relthoza dominion by a desire for conquest. Every hive could potentially have control over its own world, or even stellar dominion, within the greater Relthoza Empire. This ambition drove them to confront the challenge of interstellar travel with singular purpose and dedication.

Relthoza research eventually developed a unique form of long-distance propulsion device comparable to the Fold Space Drive. The Relthoza jump-drive was again dependent upon nano-robots; the massed computing power of these tiny drones could create effects far greater than the sum of their parts.

Essentially, these devices could construct and power a temporary, individual wormhole gate sufficient to project the vessel from which they originated through Fold Space to their destination, with the portal closing up behind them.

Cruiser Group

Cruiser Group

As with the FSD later developed by mankind, ‘blind jumping’ over short distances was possible, but hazardous. The Relthoza manufactured ‘jump-drones’; little more than jump-drives with onboard computer systems to serve as a combination of beacons and surveyors. Projected in large numbers towards a target system, their findings could be mapped and those that emerged in ‘safe areas’ then acted as beacons for crewed craft to home in on.

The Empire Expands
In a remarkable example of parallel development, Relthozan exploration commenced almost simultaneously to human Fold Space colonisations in the Storm Zone. But where mankind’s spread following long narrow ‘trails’ like creeping vines, Relthoza expansion took a form more akin to a swelling balloon.

The core of Relthoza occupied space remains compact. However, within these boundaries, the rate of successful colonisations was high. Even worlds which were only marginally habitable soon developed a population of hardy ‘pioneer-hives’.

However, inter-hive disputes still occasionally sprang up, especially on the remote frontiers; often when two or more claimants clashed over a particularly promising world. It was during one of these extended disputes that the Relthoza received one of the first true shocks of their interstellar expansion – their first military encounter with mankind.

The Thessaly War
Relthoza long-range scout ships had observed human activity beyond the empire’s borders for some time, but gave it little concern. The strange bipedal aliens seemed few in number, and intent on merely surviving in their small colonies.

Having largely dismissed the aliens, the local hives soon fell into protracted disputes over a cluster of mineral-rich systems the humans called Thessaly. No less than ten different hives claimed the right to settle them, and protracted negotiations bogged down.

None of the ruling Brood-Queens referred the matter to the Twenty, fearing excessive interference. Soon, armed skirmishes broke out between the rival factions. The new systems became the scene of protracted space battles. However, this proved a serious mistake.

While engaged in a routine patrol, a scout squadron of the Ssy’lakh hive’s fleet noted intense activity taking place around the fourth planet of Chironus. They identified the ships orbiting the planet as human in origin, and detected substantial construction activity.

The squabbling hives quickly became aware of more human encroachment into the systems they were fighting over. They quickly called a truce, for fear of their claims being stolen out from under them. A united fleet was hurriedly pulled together and sent to Thessaly, where the largest concentration of human interlopers had been found, with an uncompromising ultimatum. The Brood-Queens gave them one year to evacuate, completely, or there would be war.
To their annoyance, the humans flat-out refused to accede. However, the Broods could not attack immediately, even though several privately wished to. They needed to recoup losses from their own conflict.

Dreadnought Group

Dreadnought Group

Moreover, no one Brood wished to assault the humans alone, for fear that their rivals would take advantage of any weakness. When their reinforced fleets finally moved against the aliens, they found their enemies also reinforced, and determined to fight.

The resulting conflict, which the Broods had expected to be swiftly resolved, bogged down into a bloody quagmire. The disputed systems became the scene of many savage battles, but for every human warship eaten to a husk by swarming nano-robots, a Relthoza craft was smashed to pieces by the enemy’s crude but tremendously powerful impeller-weaponry.

For all the hives’ determination to win, their enemies were equally committed. Human reinforcements poured in, including powerful warships which smashed several hive flotillas to blazing ruin with devastating atomic-fission weaponry. But despite their predicament, the united hives were still unwilling to appeal to the Twenty, still fearing that the cost in potential lost claims would merely compound the expense of the war.

Instead, they tried to entice the aliens into ceasefire negotiations. Unfortunately, the imposition of Ess’kass’a principles proved disastrous. The slaying of several human emissaries merely convinced the enemy to fight all the harder.

However, matters reached a dramatic head in the tenth year of the war, when a human fleet successfully attacked the Remica system, within Imperial space. Although the attackers were destroyed, their nuclear strikes caused substantial damage. Worse still, the incident revealed the full extent of the Thessaly crisis to the Twenty, who forced a resolution. Having seen the lengths the aliens were willing to go to, the Twenty ordered the warring hives to come to terms with them, whatever the cost.

The emissaries from Aziza took careful stock of the humans. For all their radical differences, they seemed possessed of just as great a drive for survival and expansion as the Relthoza themselves. The pragmatic Twenty considered that continuing to wage war with humanity could potentially result in large amounts of unnecessary destruction.

Battlecruiser Group

Battlecruiser Group

New negotiations were opened, this time under the Twenty’s auspices. Ess’kass’a was put aside, and eventually the humans were persuaded into dialogue. The compromise agreement divided the Thessaly cluster between human and Relthoza ownership. For Relthoza society as a whole, the war was momentous for another reason – there were powers abroad in the galaxy harbouring strength equal to their own. They could no longer afford the surety of ignorance.

Swarms of Conquest
The war also caused the Relthoza to become more cohesive, and certainly encouraged the Twenty to take a more active role in governing the dominion. It was after the Thessaly conflict that they created the position of Empress, seeking a stronger hierarchy to bind the empire together.

The first Empress, Iss’karss’ees’kla, took a very pragmatic line. She encouraged greater contact with the empire’s human neighbours, seeking to develop a rapprochement to avoid future conflict, as well as more knowledge about both humanity and the wider galaxy. The Empress’ efforts established formal borders, allowing for future expansion during swarming urges. This state of affairs allowed the empire to avoid entanglement in serious wars for several centuries.

One of Iss’karss’ees’kla’s last acts was to keep the empire out of both the human civil wars that spilt their stellar dominion, despite the desire of many lesser Brood-Queens for intervention to secure future concessions. The old Empress died just after the Dindrenzi state came into being, and was succeeded by a very different monarch.

Ak’vass’ira’gak’vassaa was known as staunch conservative, and her early actions to assert her authority included re-imposing traditional Relthoza values, including the requirement to impose Ess’kass’a on all diplomatic processes.

Unfortunately, this ruling coincided with an increased diplomatic contact with both the Dindrenzi state and the corporate powers of the Directorate, both of which were seeking to build a working alliance against their rival dominions to the galactic west. A new slew of ambassadorial fatalities almost provoked a sudden war with the Dindrenzi before the pragmatic of the Twenty compelled Ak’vass to change tack.

Ak’vass agreed only grudgingly, but in doing so discovered a great opportunity for the empire. The wealthy Sorylian Collective was well endowed with rich worlds ripe for Relthoza colonisation, and Ak’vass herself had long advocated it as a target for territorial acquisition when the next swarming urge arose. Now Al’vass and her supporters seem set to fulfil their ambition, while also benefiting from alien aid. As far as ‘Lady Venomspine’ – her name among the Dindrenzi – is concerned, the new war will be a new dawn for the glorious Relthoza Empire!

The Relthoza Empire Today
Of all the Zenian League powers, the war has had the greatest impact upon the Relthoza Empire – mostly because of the swarming urge convulsing it. On all Relthoza worlds, workers are building warships in vast quantities. Every major hive is contributing as many of its forces as it can to the expansion effort. Once territory is conquered, it will be parcelled out by the Twenty among all those hives who contributed to its capture. On many planets close to the front lines, millions of Relthoza immerse themselves in war-practice, ensuring that the fleets which leave their orbital webs have the best possible chance of success.

Planetary Defence Group

Planetary Defence Group

Times of swarming are always regarded with great excitement, and the vast majority of Relthoza of all hives are focused on making their war of conquest a success for both their home hives and the greater glory of the empire. This is not to say that the Relthoza’s war is confined to the conquest areas. Some hives have old rivalries that are still maintained, and are consequently engaged in covert conflicts with one another. Still more hives, affiliated with the Twenty, have found their own forces engaged in suppressing these outbreaks whenever they occur.

Spaceborne Military Strength
The Imperial Admiralty of the Relthoza Empire, under the overall control of the Empress and the Twenty, is responsible for orchestrating the massed strength of the Relthoza fleets. It has established a number of operational areas, called Incursion Streams, each of which thrusts into a particular region of space. The streams are then subdivided into many Barbs, which focus their offensive efforts on key clusters of systems.

The Imperial Admiralty has an important political as well as military role. Not only must it review the empire’s total naval strength and allocate it to the various Incursion Streams, it must also balance the aims of the myriad hives hoping to gain from the conquests, as well as the empire’s own interests with the demands of the Zenian League.
Relthoza warships are formidable engines of battle, built of tough ceramics. However, all Relthoza ships are permeated with countless nano-robots, making them capable of extraordinary feats in battle.

Advanced damage-control systems can rebuild entire shattered hull sections even in the heat of battle; but the most notorious uses to which the Relthoza put nano-tech is their weaponry and shielding systems. Rather than relying on power-hungry Dispersion Shields, Relthoza ships use cloaking fields, known as the ‘Web of Shifting Mirrors’. Quadrillions of nano-bots deflect visible light and smother energy emissions, making Relthoza vessels very difficult to target.

Their primary armaments are banks of hydroxide cannons. These weapons fire showers of frozen water needles containing trillions of combat nanobots. These vicious devices are activated by heat and upon impact, voraciously consume matter of all kinds. Combined with their use of tactical Fold Space jumps to quickly strike a foe, the Relthoza have acquired a reputation as terrifying foes in battle.

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