Taoist, bureaucratic space elves–there’s an anachronism for you.

Little Liery had a hard week of diplomatic efforts. Keep it a secret, but he may have successfully negotiated a trade deal between the Hegemon of Karzoran and the Kitten King for a lifetime’s supply of kibbles. It is widly expected that the kibble supply will run out by this Sunday’s morning feast.

Submitted Memes Corner

Today, we’re looking at some of the broad-strokes opinions common throughout the Hegemony about the other relevant powers in the STARFALL universe.
But first!
Some of our readers have submitted memes based on previous posts. I’ll be sharing a few of them once in a while!

Work In-Progress

Work In-Progress concept art for the Qhurothi species, courtesy of Benjamin Sawyer. Style and final art subject to change.

Precise Manipulation

The Hegemony maintains strict borders with its closest galactic neighbors in the name of harmony. The Aidlean Legions, in particular, require–from the Qhurothi’s perspective–a careful, guiding hand to keep them at bay.
While popular opinion holds the Aidlean’s adherence to law and honor in fairly high regard, the Qhurothi military frequently engages in border raids with individual Aidlean Admirals, often leaving the Speakers in charge of the raids shaken and battered by the Aidlean’s abject brutality in combat. As such, the Hegemony picks its targets carefully–some are reactionary attacks to breaches of various treaties or borders; some peremptory strikes to draw a particular fleet away from sensitive or vulnerable areas. In either case, the raids rather successfully serve to carefully manipulate the Aidlean Legions into actions deemed acceptable–some loses are unavoidable, but keeping the Legions away from the Black Line specifically, as well as other important installations, has long been deemed a worthy trade.
In combat, the Hegemony prefers hit-and-run tactics against the Legions. The Aidlean’s favored tactic of literally smashing their forerunner ships through a blockade has made frontal assaults or staunch defense all but impossible as the Hegemony’s military resources dwindle. Instead, the maneuverable short-range fighter craft deployed by carrier fleets focus on disrupting the Aidlean cruiser’s engines, sending them careening off course. If that fails, Hegemony carriers are equipped with a single cannon, powered by 12 alchemists who don’t always survive the firing process; but, the weapon is usually enough to stop an oncoming cruiser.
Usually.
There isn’t much to say about the two powers’ diplomatic relations–it doesn’t exist. The Legions agreed to denounce Remulanus, the Father-Knight of the Terran Neo-European Empire, as a threat to the peace of the sector; but, that’s about the extent of successful contact the Hegemony has had in the last decade.

Amused Befuddlement

The Otakke are the subject of much interest and amusement throughout the Hegemony. It seems no one can agree on anything relating to the little, green species that seems to thrive on experience alone. Are they a threat to the Hegemony, or, just a child-like species that needs guidance? They’ve obviously achieved interstellar travel and advanced alchemical techniques–are they geniuses ahead of their time, or do they just act so unrefined as a ploy to put the larger races off their guard?
The lack of formal government further complicates attempts at interaction. Unlike the Terrans or the Aidleans, there doesn’t seem to be a recognized institution that represents the Otakke–at least, not one that has made itself known. The most they’ll say when pressured about law and order is thus: “We send our wayward children back home.”
It’s a bit ominous, actually.
Whatever their motives, the Otakke species is adept at integration, adapting to local customs quickly and seamlessly. They seem to revel in new and interesting experiences with almost the same fervor as the Aidleans jump into battle. Despite their distinctive skin and stature, the sector’s littlest species has integrated itself into every facet of Qhurothi society through force of excitement and hype alone.
Of course, the Hegemony is mindful that “integration” does not become “invasion.”

The N.E.E. — Scourge of the Sector

Not that anyone would be so crass as to say so in front of the Father-Knight’s delegation.
The Qhurothi Hegemony interfered in Terra’s Great War for one reason alone: to prevent the mad warlord from controlling the largest source of Azothite ever located. His cannons may have broken the planet-sized rock into manageable, mine-able chunks, but even one of the smaller pieces would power the Hegemony for decades. Just imagine what the former despot of the Legions would do with unrestricted access.
Diplomatic relations are, in a word, tense. The Qhurothi plays nice, permitting the N.E.E. to run rampant in blatant disregard to treaty after treaty, all in order to secure their own mining operations. Oh sure, they’ll stamp their foot when the line has been crossed too openly; but there are those that sit on the Hegemon Council that all-but openly admit they’ve already lost their chance to control them.

May the Light Bless the ADF

Conversely, relations with the Terran ADF have improved dramatically throughout the course of developing the Mercenary Initiative.
The Australian Defense Fleet commands the space lanes of the Sol System, effectively limiting the N.E.E.’s stranglehold to planet-side only. They may have been too late to prevent them from establishing mining operations and from fortifying their shipping lanes; but, the ADF and the Hegemony work together to keep the N.E.E. from monopolizing the alchemy-inducing element.
In fact, it’s well-known that the planetary cannons installed along the Iron Wall that dissipated the Azothite comet are the only reason the ADF hasn’t launched an invasion from space. Will the channelers devise a way to circumvent those devastating weapons before the N.E.E. poses enough of a direct threat to the Australian continent–who can say? But, the Hegemon Council has bet their interests in the system on them. The Americans and the unification advocates in Carthage can seek a peaceful resolution with the warlord; the Hegemony will supply the ADF with whatever resources they can to see him wiped from the planet.

The Paths of Qhurot

Internal to the Hegemony, pseudo-religious organizations inspired by an ancient text have gained significant traction. The Paths preach new ways of living, alternatives to the strict order of the Hegemony. And, of course, none of them agree on what these “new ways” should be.
The Hegemon Council public dismisses the various Paths as minor nuisances, while ordering fiercely loyal Speaker to eliminate the leadership of any Path fellowship with significant sway.
Currently, their assassin’s eyes are focused on three groups: The Cinderfane, the Blue Delta Walkers, and the Skinchangers. Of them, the latter has proved outright hostile the government, provoking violence and rebellion throughout the Hegemony. The Blue Delta Walkers are, at worst, a group of fanatical fighter pilots, hellbent on defending their system from Legion aggression. The Cinderfane worry the Council the most–it seems everywhere they look, its members have infiltrated the upper echelons of government, quietly amassing power and resources; and, possibly more worrying, they seem to have had a hand in Terran society reaching back decades before the Great War.
What could they possibly be planning?

Wrapping Up

In short, the Qhurothi think fairly poorly of everyone except the Australians–they’re useful, you see. For a society built on unity, working together for the common good, and the balance in all things, they seem to actively contradict themselves in policy and action. As the plague continues to ravage their culture, how will they keep the Legions and the N.E.E. at a safe distance?
Next week, we’ll be talking about the goals and structure of the Mercenary Initiative. There will also be a new story from the perspective of our first Otakke character.

As always, hit us up on Facebook! I’d love to hear feedback, thoughts, comments, hypes, and memes from you all.

Until then, may you all walk with the light of Qhurot.

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