Friday, 22 January 2010

Aliens Ate My Baby - Part 1: Gamelea Subsector

The Mos Eisley Cantina scene in the movie Star Wars (now called ‘A New Hope’ or some such nonsense) had a profound effect upon me when I first saw it in the mid-late 70s. This was science fiction! This was what a poly-species galaxy should look like. I was always vaguely disappointed by Asimov’s Foundation series for this reason – a humano-centric galaxy seemed to both grant too much importance to humaniti as a species, and to disregard the chance that life might evolve on other planets and in other forms.

I understand that, at some stage, during the evolution of Traveller, a rule of thumb was propagated that there should only be two to three intelligent species per Sector. Well, I must have missed that memo. And I have not really seen any concrete reasoning why this must be so, or why a rule of thumb has now become a Rule. I am quite happy, though, with the differentiation between Major Races (independently develop Jump Drive technology) and Minor Races (have not developed Jump Drive by the time they are contacted by a Major Race) – though the fact three septs of Humaniti (Zhodani, Vilani and Solomani) claim the role of Major Race does seem a little odd.

The RimWorlds, a wisp of stars extending hundreds of light years above the Galactic Plane, was dominated by a hexapedal reptilian species known as the Tsalur. The Thongaloros Empire, as their interstellar polity was known, finally collapsed in 103, nearly 400 years before the first Imperial presence in the RimWorlds. Interestingly, the fall of the Thongaloros Empire is attributed to attacks by ‘Outrim Barbarians’ – these are yet to be defined but it is noted that Aslan colonise Yuwe/Lymethius some 200 years prior to the collapse of the Empire – who obvious possess Jump technology, even if they did not develop it.

The Thongaloros Empire, dominated by the Tsalur, tended to scoop up Minor Race populations and move them wholesale across space to wherever they were required; as workers, slaves, or for other duties. Once established on their new home worlds, the transplanted populations tended to remain, even after the Empire collapsed, as the logistics for moving vast numbers of people over parsecs of space disappeared with the Empire. When the 3rd Imperium began to probe into the RimWorlds in the 490’s, they discovered a mosaic of Pocket Empires, single world polities and systems that had not seen a Jump-capable starship in two to three centuries.

In the Gamelea Subsector, three Minor Races were discovered by the Imperium; the amphibian Julnari of Julnar; the avianoid Rimbaur of Rimbaud II; and the humanoid Kalar-Wi of Kalar-Wi.

Not much is recorded of either the Julnari or the Rimbaur prior to the 11th or 12th Centuries. The Julnari, even with a population of only 900,000 on the water world of Julnar, managed to achieve Tech Level 15 – one of only two systems in the Gamelea Subsector to do so – by the late 1090’s. Homeworld of the computing and robotics megacorporation Julnar Cybernetics, the Julnari enjoy wealth and influence in the subsector far beyond what would be expected of such a small population.

The Rimbaud War of 1042 – 1044 between Kalar-Wi and the Rimbaur nearly resulted in the extermination of the latter Minor Race and extensive damage to the ecology of Rimbaud II. The Rimbaud War only ceased under direct threat of Imperial intervention. Kalar-Wi remained in possession of Rimbaud II for the next 70 years until the defeat of Kalar-Wi in the Kalar-Wi War of 1103 – 1105. The Rimbaur emerged from beneath the domination of Kalar-Wi with a deep-seated racial inferiority complex and an intense distrust of the Imperium.

The Kalar-Wi are a fascinating culture. Intensely militaristic, they blindly follow charismatic leaders. Their head of state has a title that translates as ‘Warlord’. Initial contact with the expanding Imperium was favourable as the Imperium demonstrated superior technology and a cavalier adventurer mentality. The Kalar-Wi were quite prepared to ally with the Imperium and protect the flanks of the nascent Gamelea subsector. Kalar-Wi came to dominate a small, but powerful, interstellar empire during the Outrim Wars of the 10th and 11th Centuries. The Rimbaud War of 1042 – 1044 marked the first time that Kalar-Wi had been checked by Imperial authority – the hopelessly corrupt Subsector Dukes of Gamelea had long since ceded two Imperial worlds to Kalar-Wi control – and this initiated the steadily downward spiral of relationship between the two powers that resulted in the Kalar-Wi War of 1103 – 1105.

As of 1109, the Imperial garrison of Kalar-Wi is in the process of withdrawing and the Kalar-Wi Warlord Vran’kal Youka is set to return from exile in Cabria Subsector.