Khi’t’tra

The Khi’t’traa are a species plagued forever by the ill fortune of their past. Once prolific in their civilization and prosperous in their culture, they have been reduced by ages of enslavement and genetic “retooling” into creatures of pillage and destruction. Now, even a million years after the fall of their conquerors’ reign, the surviving fragments of Khi’t’traa civilization struggle in near futility to preserve their species existence. With an unremitting lust for violence bred into their artificial natures, the Khi’t’tra are as often at war with one another as they are at war with other species. They make lasting alliances with no one, savoring the military advantages they seem to see in political unpredictability.

History

The first “official” contact with the Khi’t’tra came in 1292 ME, when an New Icarian battlecraft sent to investigate numerous prospector disappearances in the New Lancaster system of the Arcadia Periphery (approximately 57 light-years from the rimward boundary of the Coal Sack) reported sighting an unidentifiable cluster of nine small spacecraft passing by the system’s primary transfer orbit. These vehicles were clearly not of Terran make or design. Visual inspection revealed a hull of unknown material and construction — oddly shaped, as though it had been haphazardly scrabbled together from misfit pieces of scrap.

Detailed scans of the outer “skin” of the hull revealed a number of complex structures just underneath, wrapping the compartments of the ship in a kind of pseudo-living “membrane” that screened out much of the hazardous background radiation and deflected micrometeor impacts. Though heavily hybridized with mechanical and electrical components, the superstructure of the crafts were clearly biological in nature. The technology that had produced them was tangent to that of the Terran Expansion.

This, understandably, raised the hackles of more than a few military officials within the Expansion. Before a detailed examination of the alien craft could be conducted, they fled the New Icarian battlecraft through an uncharted jump point at the edge of the New Lancaster system, leaving behind a mystery and a good deal of apprehension. Rumors began to circulate among the Privateer populations of the area, corroborated by Fringer myths about living starships and butchering alien monsters. None of the ships that had disappeared in the New Lancaster system had been relocated by the New Icarian investigation — local Fringers saw this as no surprise, maintaining that they, along with their crews, had been consumed by the alien marauders.

No one really knew the extend of the Khi’t’tra capabilities — whether the ships the New Icarian investigators had seen were in fact the best these alien had to offer, or simply scrap-piles being transferred to a retirement yard. Additional disappearances and increasingly frequent sightings of Khi’t’tra craft accelerated the propagation of rumors and doomsaying throughout the Arcadia Periphery. Concerted Alliance efforts to track down at least one Khi’t’tra vehicle in the hopes of initiating contact all met with utter failure. The Privateers, it seemed, were having better luck at least spotting Khi’t’tra ships; every Alliance expedition at that time had failed to find anything at all.

Meanwhile, a committee from the Fringer sect of Alexandria approached the New Icarian Council with information on an alien race their people had known of for at least ten generations. This was a race known to them as the Khi’t’tra — a word meaning, loosely, “marauders” in their tongue — and the folkloric description of its vehicles matched so closely the descriptions of the alien craft returned by the investigation team that the Council formally acknowledged the validity of the Fringer accounts. They subsequently recorded the race name, along with even the most remotely verifiable suppositions about the species, in its archives as the “official” account of these beings. The Alexandrians could not provide any reliable evidence of the intentions held by the Khi’t’tra toward human settlements in the region. They could only suggest to the Council that military patrols in the area be stepped up — hopefully deterring the development of any hostile intentions in the near future. Before their departure from the Elderworlds, the Alexandrian committee warned that, in all of their experience, the Khi’t’tra had never attempted peaceful contact. The only exchanges their people had ever participated had been exchanges of fire, and of these, the Alexandrians could boast only a marginally favorable survival rate.

In 1323 ME, any hope of peaceful contact with the Khi’t’tra evaporated when a Khi’t’tra armada emerged from a phalanx of alien jump points in the New Icarian home system, and proceeded to lay siege to the world of New Icaria itself.

Origins

The first “official” contact with the Khi’t’tra species came in 1292 ME, it has long been suspected that certain Fringer societies have been aware of their presence for much longer. The precise location of the Khi’t’tra homeworld is unknown, as is the extent of their territory beyond the few Khi’t’tra colonies known to lie beyond the Arcadia Periphery near the Coal Sack nebula. Those these colonies number only a scant dozen, it is thought that Khi’t’tra civilization has spread much farther through the uncharted territories beyond the Coal Sack Fringe. Fringer settlers tend to avoid this area as a matter of course — much mythology exists among these people to deter any curiosity about this area. In response to the inordinate number of ship disappearances and hijackings by Khi’t’tra marauders in the Coal Sack region, the New Icarian Council has placed a moratorium on sanctioned settlement of this region, and has issued a stern warning to any private colonial interests that might set their sites of this decidedly dangerous volume of space.

It is believed the the origin of the Khi’t’tra lies somewhere toward the galactic core — some distance from any Expansion settlement. Their presence in the Coal Sack region is likely related to advanced scouting for future organized settlement. If this is the case, then their presence in this region is only likely to increase in times to come — a development that could spell trouble for nearby Terran colonies.

Territories

The true number and expanse of the regions controlled by the Khi’t’tra is generally unknown. It has been confirmed that they occupy at least twelve systems on the far side of the Coal Sack nebula. Their primary access to Expansion territory is via a network of remnant Kojin jump points scattered throughout the region. The exact number of these also remains unknown — New Icarian forces have blockaded or destroyed a number of the more frequently used of these, however, the continued incursion of Khi’t’tra marauders into the Arcadia Periphery suggests that there are other, hitherto undiscovered jump points in use.

The Khi’t’tra presence in the Coal Sack region is scattered, at best. There seems to be no unifying force behind their incursions — it has been speculated that any formal “military” presence exists primarily as a kind of “clan warfare” deterrent, as there appear to be a number of unaffiliated (and mutually hostile) Khi’t’tra sects operating in the same area. That this military presence has, at times, complicated the lives of human settlers in the regions seems to be more due to happenstance than to any premeditated intent. It is clear that the Khi’t’tra in the region are very much absorbed in their own affairs. Though they are aware of the human presence in this region, there can be little doubt that this presence has been, for the most part, fairly low on their list of things to worry about.

The Khi’t’tra make no official claim to any galactic territory, as their interests are represented by no single government entity and as there has been no (official) diplomatic contact between any of the Khi’t’tra sects and any human organization. Their dominance within their so-called ” territory” is of a very de facto nature. They maintain a well-established military presence in this region, they are generally uninterested in diplomatic contact with humans or any other intelligence, and there has not, as of yet, been any great Expansion interest in settling this territory.

One point to note is that Khi’t’tra ” territories” tend to center around the remnants of the extinct Kojin dynasty. Many of these territories are considered “haunted” or “cursed” by Privateer and Fringer denizens of the Arcadia Periphery. Whether this folklore was inspired by the presence of the Khi’t’tra or by something else entirely remains unknown. Nevertheless, the close connection between the Khi’t’tra and the Kojin, and the general reliance of the known Khi’t’tra sects on remnant Kojin technology, suggests that this territorial correlation is more than just a coincidence. Why the Khi’t’tra would take such a vested interest in the remains of their former conquerors is a question that has occupied scholars in the Expansion for decades. Answers have not been forthcoming, and until any formal diplomatic contact is established with a Khi’t’tra sect, the mystery surrounding this issue is likely to remain immutably opaque.

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