The Overseers

Posted by on Jun 15, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

The Overseers

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The Tarakian Conclaves

Far to the galactic north of Terra, on the very fringes of the Aquan Sebrutan, lie a dense string of systems known as the Harrison Belt. Although mineral-rich, relatively few of them are TOB (Terran Optimum Biosphere) type. They also tend to be harsh and lacking in naturally liquid water, meaning that the Aquans have given them a wide berth.

However, the main reason for the lack of either Terran or Aquan settlement of the Harrison Belt is that many of its worlds are home to one of the quadrant’s most mysterious and powerful spacefaring races, The Tarakians.

The Tarakians are one of the most ancient civilisations in the known galaxy. From what little is known about their shrouded history, it is clear that they are not in fact native to this galactic quadrant – perhaps not even this galaxy. The Tarakian race apparently migrated to and settled many worlds in the Harrison Belt over a thousand years before the first Aquan explorers launched themselves into the stars from Csera.

Tarakian - Ganak Class Battleship (Left) & Sulan Class Cruiser (Right)

Tarakian - Ganak Class Battleship (Left) & Sulan Class Cruiser (Right)

The Tarakians are humanoid and bipedal, and they rarely reach more than 1.5 metres tall. Nonetheless, they are well-proportioned for their height, appearing neither squat nor fragile. While not heavily built, they are broad-shouldered, with wide, domed and hairless heads. Their skin tends to be shades of brown, blue or grey, with a somewhat stony texture. Like humans, they possess male and female genders, and are assumed to reproduce in a similar fashion.

Their faces are humanlike, with broad but surprisingly delicate features, vestigial noses and ears, and wide thin-lipped mouths. Their large eyes sport prominent irises which occur in a variety of colours, many far outside the human norm. Although they are undoubtedly rather odd to human sensibilities, their overall appearance and bearing is generally placid.

The Tarakians are masterful linguists, and most can converse in several languages other than their own very precise and subtle tongue. They tend to address others with a calmness and civility which bespeaks their great age as a sophisticated race. While capable of exhibiting strong emotions, Tarakians are generally known for not letting these feelings run away with them.

Individual Tarakians can live to a very great age if they manage to avoid a violent or disease-inflicted death. Some senior Castellans have seen nearly a thousand years of life, although they are not immune to the physical effects of age and infirmity. These elderly lords and ladies are constantly attended by both younger retainers and robotic servants, and may themselves sport cybernetic enhancements to keep them active.

Tarakian society is very ancient, and steeped in complex traditions and rituals. The Tarakian dominion is split into units called Conclaves – analogous to old Terran city-states or leagues. They vary greatly in size; the smallest govern only a single world, while the largest and most influential can encompass several planetary systems.

Conclaves are independent and run their own affairs. Their governments are headed by institutions known as Guardian Councils, consisting of the Conclave’s Grand Castellans, the rulers of each of the Tarakian Citadel Worlds. These are the oldest Tarakian settlements, and the core of the race’s domain in the Harrison Belt. As their name suggests, these generally harsh planets are studded with massive fortresses of stone and metal, ringed with sophisticated shielding and defensive installations.

These Citadel Worlds, which form a deep chain across the whole of the Harrison Belt, were founded for a particular purpose. According to such Tarakian records to which favoured outsiders have been granted access, the race is standing watch for some kind of great threat or encroachment either from elsewhere in the galaxy, or outside it altogether.

The nature of this threat has never been made clear by the Elder-Archivists of the Tarakian Conclaves, but human and other researchers assume that it must have been great indeed to cause a race such as the Tarakians to withdraw before it.

The Tarakians keep watch for this enigmatic threat even today. Much of their social, political and military structures are built around this obligation, which they refer to as Anivar Ansounar. This translates into Terran Basic as ‘The Eternal Duty’.

This is most clearly seen in many of the honorific titles employed in their society. Each Citadel World is governed by a Grand Castellan, the hereditary lord of the oldest family of the largest citadel on that planet.

Lesser citadels are ruled by Castellans, who swear fealty to the Grand Castellan. Below them are the Grand Seneschals of the clans, who are in turn served by the Seneschals of the many branches within those families.

Within the citadels, which are themselves virtually self-contained societies, internal and external trade are governed by the Commerce Guilds, while scientific and engineering processes, including manufacturing, fall under the aegis of the Savant Guilds.

These organisations serve as a kind of social adhesive, since their membership crosses clan lines extensively. The Guilds also maintain their own broad network of contacts, including non-Tarakian mercantile and political interests.

The many Tarakian Conclaves are also bound together by an institution known as the Conarvis Gevanae, or Vigilant Order in Terran Basic. The Vigilant Order appears to be a semi-monastic organisation, and branches of the Order are present upon every Tarakian world.

While they do not appear to hold supreme political power over the Tarakian race, they apparently serve as a constant reminder to the leaders of the Conclaves of the Eternal Duty. They also seem to serve an impartial judicial function. Infighting between different Tarakian Conclaves is not unknown, but rarely lasts for long. The Vigilants are quick to step in and quell any disputes.

Although generally reclusive, the Tarakian Conclaves do trade with other neighbouring powers. They do not favour any one race or power over another, so Tarakian Conclave ports can be surprisingly cosmopolitan, where humans, Aquans and Sorylians rub shoulders with Xelocians, Cheyga, Terquai and many others.

The Tarakians do not generally trade in technology except in a very limited fashion. Many surmise that their own technology base is so advanced that they have little to gain from that of other races.

However, certain lesser Tarakian refinements have made their way into Terran hands. The most notable of these, and certainly the most useful, are the materials known as hyperplastics.

These laminates utilise carbon nanotube bindings to create immensely strong yet ductile components. They have been instrumental in advancing Terran techniques in shipbuilding, sealed environments and specialist structures such as planet-anchored orbital transit systems, or space elevators. Their introduction to the Terran Alliance is generally credited to Hawker Aerospace.

While their domains are confined to the Harrison Belt, Tarakian spacecraft have been a common sight all over known space since time immemorial. Generally no more than silent observers of events, Tarakian craft have been known to intervene when civilian or other unarmed ships have been threatened by pirates or other unprovoked aggression. Again, they do not favour any particular race when doing this, and have acquired various handles and nicknames. The Terrans refer to them as ‘The Watchmen of the Void’.

When roused to offensive action, Tarakian vessels are fearsome adversaries. Their ships are strong and resilient, and appear to utilise a particularly deadly form of artificial gravity field projection system as their primary weaponry.

These ‘G-Beams’, as Hawker Aerospace specialists call them, seem to function by subjecting targets to severe antagonistic gravitational distortions. Some beams ‘push’ the target away from the firing ship, while others simultaneously ‘pull’ it towards the vessel. This process causes such incredible stress that the unfortunate target is ripped apart by the conflicting forces placed upon it. Although Dispersion Fields seem to be effective in dissipating the G-Beams before they can ‘latch’ on to a target, the act of doing so will cause them to collapse, just as if they had been brought under conventional fire.

Although the Tarakians have always held themselves aloof from the conflicts of other races in the past, the advent of the Dindrenzi Wars has forced them, most uncharacteristically, to take sides. Much to the surprise and relief of the Terran government, the race declared for the Alliance of Kurak.

The Tarakians were one of the last races to do so, virtually without prior indication. Surin Vaas, Supreme Grand Vigilant and speaker for the combined Tarakian Conclaves, made contact with Anton Kurak’s office through the Hawker Consortium.

Exactly why the Tarakians chose to do this is as yet unclear. Most believe that their long association with the Terrans and many other Kurak Alliance signatories influenced their decision. Others point to evidence that some of the Zenian League powers, especially The Directorate, lust after the Conclaves’ technological treasures.

The more erudite, however, have a third theory; that the Tarakians have quietly relied on the maintenance of peace in this quadrant as an extra insurance policy against the mysterious threat from which they fled so long ago.

The Dindrenzi war has upset that status quo, and the Conclaves are determined to restore it. Then they may continue their Eternal Duty, confident in the presence of strong potential allies in a perhaps yet greater war to come.