The Shyedarians are a highly aggressive, competative race of draconoids who have been terrorizing the Zulu Sector for thousands of years. Although they are currently part of the CIS and their obligations under the Treaty of Kyuusei keeps their aggression in check, their expansionist tendencies and history of bloodshed make them poorly trusted. Nevertheless, they also hold the largest territory and the most military power of any one race in the CIS.
|Average Height||2.4 meters||Average Weight||150 kg|
|Hair||None||Eyes||Two, pupilless or with a vertical split pupil, can be any color|
|Skin||Reptillian scales. Typically a single color with another color forming patterns of spots, stripes or striations along the back. Colors span the entire spectrum.|
|Limbs||Two arms; two legs; two strong wings; one long, muscular tail|
|Physical Strength||++ (Above Average)||Physical Agility||- (Somewhat Below Average)|
|Personality||Competative, ruthless, cunning, intelligent|
|Marriage||Stable mating pairs|
|Reproduction||Occasional clutches of 2-6 eggs for fertile couples|
|Family||One dominating partner is common, but equal partnerships are not unheard of|
|Outlook||Rigid class structure, great disparity between poor and wealthy|
|Where||State-run military and vocational academies|
|Who||Military service is mandatory, but often overlooked for individuals considered by the state to be poor prospects except in times of war. Individuals who show promise during their military obligation are often singled out for more specialized state training.|
|Main Goal||Personal achievement|
|Food Preferences||Strictly carnivorous, mainly carrion-feeders|
|Spices||Sour, acidic sauces are preferred|
|Public Eateries||Individually owned restaurants are plentiful|
|Fabric||Leather, metal, plant fiber or synthetic|
|Description||Shyedarians typically wear clothes covering them from their shoulders to their knees, usually keeping the wings and most of the tail free. The most common form of Shyedarian clothing consists of a tunic with a loose panel in back that ties under the wings, a lower body wrap that is pulled up the tail and tied around the waist, and a pair of leggings tied at the waist and knees. However, individual tastes in fashion vary widely.|
|Tone||Harsh, with many growls, snarls and hisses. Shyedarians have two sound-producing structures in their throats, giving their voices a polyphonic quality when speaking Unilang.|
|Building Materials||Mainly stone, metal alloys and synthetics|
|Characteristic Features||Somewhat oppressive, modern-gothic|
|Entertainment||Recreational combat, hunting, broadcast entertainment (video and audio), prostitution, music and theater|
|Transport||Antigrav sleds, shuttlecraft and starships|
|Weapons||Highly advanced plasma and fusion technologies, high explosives, biological and chemical warfare|
|Resources (in order by relative value)||Weapons; manufactured goods; high-tech goods; mercenaries|
|Military||The Shyedarian military is the largest of any culture in the Zulu sector, and covers everything from planetary defense and interstellar police to full-fledged invasion forces||Purpose||Furthering the interests of the Shyedarian Empire (currently, supporting the CIS)|
|Law Enforcement||Strict within the middle classes, but becoming more lenient both up and down the class scale.|
|Courts and Punishment||Complex legal system with strong protections for the recognized rights of individuals except when in conflict with the interests of the State.|
FIRST AGE: EARLY SHYEDARIAN HISTORY
The planet Melatarin is a tropical world, but with little moisture. Its landscapes are dominated by vast deserts and mountain ranges. There are only two major bodies of water, covering a total of about a fifth of the planet's surface. The atmosphere is composed mainly of nitrogen and oxygen, with other compounds, sulfur the most prominent of them. The Melatarin sun is red, so most of the life that evolved on Melatarin is most responsive to red light, while plants tend to be blue, purple or black in color.
Most of the animal species on Melatarin are either insectoid or ichthyoid in appearance. A notable exception are the plainsbeasts, which are large buffalo-like animals that were widespread across the plains regions before the Shyedarians rose to prominence.
So far, Shyedarian paleontologists have failed to discover an evolutionary link between the Shyedarians and the other species known to have inhabited Melatarin. Early theories suggested that Shyedarians evolved from a particular fish species living in the oceans, but fossil evidence for this was sketchy. A more recent, and more popular view has been that Shyedarians actually evolved someplace else, and were transported by the A'rthans to Melatarin some time less than 200,000 years ago. While this theory does not contradict the evidence discovered so far, there is also no way to confirm it either. Nonetheless, about 95% of the population of Melatarin currently holds this view.
In any case, with the arrival of the Shyedarians came a decline in most of the other species of the planet. Early Shyedarians were hunters and carrion-feeders, and their predation made species like the plainsbeasts all but extinct. It is also widely believed that Shyedarians preyed on eachother, up until the time of Enlightenment.
SECOND AGE: THE SHYEDARIAN AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT
Current estimates suggest that Shyedarians became a sentient species roughly 100,000 years ago. This period has become known as the Age of Enlightenment, although most other sentient species would argue that the name is inappropriate. Indeed, the period from 100,000 years ago to 20,000 years ago was little more than a long, drawn-out clan war. At first, the Shyedarians formed family groups, with the eldest male and female in charge of the entire clan. As the clans grew, they became too large for a single pair to manage, so sub-leaders were chosen. These sub-leaders tended to make themselves more popular than the clan heads, since they did not have to claim responsibility for the clan's problems, so they eventually rose to power, and became Warlords, replacing the clan leaders.
The primary interest of the Shyedarian Warlords, of course, was waging war. They fought mainly for land, for resources, and for slaves. A free Shyedarian could either be a hunter, or a warrior, and nothing else. Captured Shyedarians were used for labor, breeding, or entertainment. Any Shyedarian born in a clan, whether free or of slaves, became a free member of the clan.
Over time, the various Warlord clans became so large and so powerful that it became impossible for any of them to attack any other. As the Warlords realized this, they also realized that they might be able to find a better way to live. One by one, the Warlord clans forged treaties and alliances. Those clans that would not agree to live peacefully were squashed and dispersed by those that had, and a new period, the Classical period, began.
THIRD AGE: THE CLASSICAL AGE OF MELATARIN
Without the constant inter-clan fighting, the Shyedarians discovered they could be far more propserous cooperating with eachother, rather than competing with eachother. What followed was a period of about 15,000 years of development. They discovered the pure sciences of logic and mathematics, and from there went on to develop other sciences. Socially, they went from clan leadership to a democratic system. They began to build permanent structures, rather than the bivouacs they had been accustomed to. This led to the study of engineering, and they learned to work stone, and then metal (Melatarin has no woody plants).
Slowly but surely, a great intellectual society emerged, curious about themselves, but also about the universe around them. They built telescopes to search the heavens, and vehicles - first powered by fuels mined from the earth, then by solar power, and all the way to nuclear fusion - to explore their world. They also took a keen interest in medicine, and then genetics. They built computers of increasing complexity, and learned increasingly effective ways to utilize plasmas for energy. Eventually, they built starships, and began exploring space.
The Shyedarians first explored their own solar system. They discovered rich mineral deposits in other planets and asteroids, and mined them to take back to Melatarin. Eventually, the concept of colonizing other worlds to enrich Melatarin evolved, and when their science produced their first functional stardrives, that was how they were employed.
The Shyedarians discovered no other sentient races during the Classical period. The worlds they discovered and settled were uninhabited. The government on Melatarin extended out to the colonies, so that they had a say in their management, and stability reigned. However, astronomers and physicists began to worry about some of the signs they were seeing from Melatarin's sun. When they finally figured out what was about to happen to them, it was too late to do anything about it.
FOURTH AGE: THE AGE OF FIRE
Historians have called the period that began about 3,000 years ago, and lasted over a thousand years, the Age of Fire, in reference both to the widespread destruction of this age, and the trigger of that destruction.
The levels of radiation from Melatarin's sun increased unaccountably. Some theorize that a brown dwarf had been absorbed by the sun, while others say that a space-faring race with highly advanced technology caused the change (no race known in the Zulu sector has been accused). But whatever the reason, the effects on the Shyedarian population were devastating. The event is commonly called the Stellar Catastrophe.
Within a month of the initiation of the catastrophe, nine-tenths of the population of Melatarin died of radiation-related injuries and illnesses. It was found that those who surived carried a specific gene that had previously lay dormant, but when exposed to the radiation it became active. Many more Shyedarians died as their bodies tried to adapt to the change brought by the new gene, but the survivors began to change. Physically, the only difference was a third lobe that grew in their brains, but behaviorally, it was as though they took a step backward in evolution.
While the Shyedarians did not lose their intelligence, they did lose all control over their emotions. Their geneticists worked frantically to find a treatment that would reverse the gene's effect, but their closest success resulted in a scaleless, aggressionless creature who lacked the instincts to survive in an environment such as Melatarin. The scientists believed they were on the verge of a breakthrough, but one by one their emotions overtook them, and the research was never completed. The test subjects, immune to the radiation but unable to cope with life on Melatarin, escaped the planet in shuttlecraft.
As the Melatariners tore their society apart, the 30 or so colonies became fearful, and with good reason. They were relatively small, and depended on Melatarin for goods and supplies. Fortunately - and unfortunately - their separation from Melatarin was brief. However, they were completely unprepared for the ravening maniacs the Melatariners had become. Just like during the Enlightenment, the colonists were captured as slaves, and dragged back to Melatarin, where they met the same fate the others had. Soon, nothing was left of the colonies but ruins.
The Age of Fire saw a return of the pre-Classical days, with Warlords gathering people around them, and attacking their neighbors indescriminately. The difference this time was, now the Warlords had advanced technology at their disposal. Needless to say, the brutality of this period was incredible, and almost nothing of the old social structure survived. Their vehicles of exploration and tools for research became weapons of destruction.
Some historians argue that the Fire period never really ended, it merely evolved gradually. However, there was a pivotal event that is commonly taken as the beginning of the next age: the crowning of the Emperor.
FIFTH AGE: THE SHYEDARIAN RENAISSANCE
By most races' standards, the Shyedarian Renaissance hardly qualifies as a period of scientific and cultural advancement, but compared to the Fire Age, it most certainly does. One Warlord, an exceptionally wily and intelligent male named Roughesh, managed to forge an alliance with the Warlords of two adjacent clans, creating a rough coalition. The treaty stated that the three would act as one Warlord, and that their armies would obey orders from any of them. Roughesh then had the other two Warlords assassinated, before sweeping across the face of Melatarin, conquering everything in his path. After a few years, he had united the entire planet under his rule, and the Empire was born.
Melatarin under Roughesh saw something of a revival of interest in science and technology, only this time it was geared strictly towards military applications. The field of cybernetics saw huge advances, as did plasma physics, which became the basis of practically all new Shyedarian technologies. They built great warships, and trained vast legions of soldiers. The armed forces were divided into the Army, Navy, and Marines, each with its specialized purposes. And so, about 9,000 years ago, the Shyedarians set out to begin their conquest.
They started by retaking the colony worlds that had been abandoned during the Fire period, wiping away almost all remnants of Classical culture to make room for military installations. From there they went onward, absorbing every planet they encountered into the Empire. When they met with resistance, they attacked with mind-numbing ferocity to obliterate it. Entire races, still emerging technologically and unable to defend themselves, were assimilated through the Shye's viral bites. What technologies the Shye discovered in their conquests, they added to their own, and so became even more dangerous.
This spirit of conquest has lasted through the years, and remnants still can be seen in modern Shyedarians. They remain a very aggressive and competative race, and many races fear the thin veneer of civility allowing them to be members of the CIS could be torn away at any time.
The Shyedarian Empire is based around the true homeworld of Melatarin and has had a interesting history that extends over thousands of years. See 'news Shyedarians history' for details.
The Empire still exists, at least in the hearts and minds of the Shyedarian people. The current Empire consists of approximately 400 worlds, tied together economically. Most of the inhabitants of the Imperial worlds are Shyedarians; as a race, Shyedarians are generally speciesist, and members of other races who try to make their homes on Shyedarian worlds are rarely made to feel very welcome.
Prior to the Melatarin stellar catastrophe, Shyedarians expanded outward and colonized worlds peacefully rather than through conquest. These 30 worlds are known as the Core Worlds, and are considered the home of "Classical" Shyedarian culture. Most of this culture, however, was wiped out during the "Fire" period, when the Melatarin sun rained radiation on the homeworld, forcing the Shyedarians to adapt by becoming stronger, but more brutish and violent. There was no expansion during the "Fire" period.
The Shyedarian "Renaissance" period followed, although rather than heightened culture, it consisted of heightened conquest. Fuelled by their new aggression, the remainder of the planets now considered part of the Empire were subjugated, and their inhabitants were "infected" to become Shyedarian. (See 'news Shyedarians weapons' for information on the Shye bite.)
No name yet has been assigned to the current period of Shyedarian history. The Emperor has recognized the rights of the races adjacent to the Empire to exist, so ending centuries of hostility. While the Empire still has enemies, with the bulk of the Imperial armed forces devoted to defense rather than conquest, the Empire has found new stability and internal growth. There has been a renewed interest in Shyedarian culture, as well as research and exploration. The Empire still seeks to expand itself, but now it is engaged in more surveys for uninhabited worlds, both outside its borders, and within, which may be colonized.
The Empire's other main occupation is the defense of the other CIS worlds. It was decided, since the Shyedarian military machine was the most developed in the Zulu sector, that they would be responsible for maintaining a neutral fighting force to enforce peace in the CIS, and to help defend it from outside invasion.
The Emperor during the time of the Shyedarian Rebellion has remained in power, although he is currently counterbalanced by Prince Vrilnashter, a member of the former dynasty, and publically declared heir to the Empire. Shyedarian Noble Houses form the rest of the political strength of the Empire, each controlling worlds and sections of the military.
It should be noted that a faction of the Shyedarian "old guard" broke off from the Empire during negotiations with the emerging CIS, and has formed a group called "The Fist". Their desire is to seize control of the Empire, and break away from the CIS to resume the old ways of conquest. They are a powerful and secretive group, but definitely a minority. The Empire considers them an internal nuisence, and is striving to eliminate them without involving the CIS.
The Shyedarian Rebellion is what most historians consider to be the beginnining of the end of the Renaissance period.
The last recognized Shyedarian dynasty was that of Emperor Grehergher and Empress Htomari, which had lasted roughly 150 years. The dynasty ended roughly 60 years ago when the then leader of the Shyedarian Marines staged a coup d'etat, invading the Imperial Palace (or as more commonly known, the Crag). Grehergher was killed in the attack, while Htomari escaped. They had three children at the time: two sons, Sufur and Haeliacxe, and a daughter, Morlhug. All were captured.
Htomari fled to the planet Cretzin, where she gathered those of her supporters who had escaped the coup. There, she formed the Shyedarian Rebellion, which had the goal in its initial stages of retaking the Crag and restoring the dynasty.
The military force that took the Crag declared their leader the new Emperor, and under his direction, the Shyedarian Empire entered a heightened phase of conquest. They attacked anyone and everyone outside their borders, seeking to expand the Empire in all directions as quickly as possible. The Emperor evoked the concept of manifest destiny, claiming to have found evidence in an excavated A'rthan site that the Shyedarians were meant to rule the galaxy.
At first, the Shyedarian Rebellion was too small and too distant to do much real damage to the regime ruling the Empire. Looking outward, they made allies of those worlds threatened by the Empire, forming a defensive coalition. When the Empire met their united front, the Rebellion succeeded in repelling them. Now the Empire took notice.
Engaged in wars on every front, the Empire was never able to bring its full strength to bear on the Rebellion, but neither did the Rebellion have the resources to fight their way into the Empire. What resulted was a 50-year stalemate, with each side winning victories while suffering losses, and neither gaining decisively. Many names rose to near legendary status during the conflict, such as Tanaka, the commander of the Rebellion Fleets, and Roshar, one of the most feared Imperial commanders in the Zulu sector.
The battle between the Empire and the Rebellion finally ended when the Vraath attacked both the Imperial and Rebellion territories simultaneously, with a strength neither side anticipated. Individually weakened by their constant fighting, the two sides were forced to form an alliance to meet the Vraath threat. Prince Vrilnashter - actually the young Prince Haeliaxce captured during the coup - with the support of allies such as Prince Sol Karichee of the Haspur, and members of some Shyedarian Noble Houses, used the situation to force the Emperor into a permanent treaty, which formed the groundwork for the modern CIS.
While Shyedarians observe no racial separation among themselves, individuals may come from two distinct sources. There are those Shyedarians who were hatched as Shyedarians, the products of ordinary sexual reproduction. Then there are those who were once of other species, and "infected" to become Shyedarians, normally as part of a planetary conquest. Through interbreeding, this "mixed" genetic stock has become suffused throughout the Shyedarian gene pool, with only the Imperial line guaranteed to be "pure". The only significance of this genetic purity is that generally, all males of the Imperial line are fertile, while roughly 80% of "mixed" Shyedarian males are sterile.
Shyedarians raise their own young from hatching, until they reach about age five, where the Empire steps in and takes those it feels would be valuable to the military -- whether the parents want them to or not -- and trains them. Those who do not go into the military, however, may learn another trade. Most of Shyedarian society is geared to support the military, so it is heavy on research and industry, but there are also traders and merchants, educators, traffickers, pirates, and many other possible occupations.
During the time of the Rebellion, most of Shyedarian society was geared towards supporting the war effort. That has been slow to change, and currently, most Shyedarian research is for military applications. In addition, military service is still considered mandatory for all Shyedarians deemed suitable. At age five, Shyedarians are conscripted into one of the military branches, to serve for at least 20 years. Afterwards, those who wish to continue serving the military are allowed to do so, while the rest are returned to civillian society.
It should be noted that the Shyedarian military industry is not without some corruption. Those families rich enough to bribe the local military officials can have their children "overlooked" for compulsory service. Also, it is possible to hide from the military, usually by moving to very poor or rural communities, where the military usually does not bother to check, expecting most candidates from those areas to be sub-standard.
During the Rebellion, popular opposition to the Empire was swiftly and decisively crushed by the Shyedarian Army and Imperial Gestapo whenever it arose. Now that the Imperial dynasty has been restored (sort of), most Shyedarians are fairly content with their government. An end to the indescriminate hostilities against the Empire's neighbors has meant more attention has been put on domestic problems. There is still poverty and crime within the Empire, but at least now the government is paying attention to it.
At the same time, however, the old government had its supporters too, and they still try to raise unrest within the Empire. And then there are always those who protest the government no matter what it is doing. It is rumored that the Imperial Gestapo is still active to deal with these sorts of threats, but they are no longer operating in plain sight. Whenever political dissidents vanish, or turn up dead, the Gestapo is often blamed, although rarely publically.
Shyedarians are primarily predators by nature. They are strict carnivores, preferring to eat what has been recently killed or still alive, or in the process of decaying. They are avid hunters when they have the leisure, but will kill and eat domesticated animals as well. In a pinch, they can even eat other Shyedarians, since they are immune to their own venoms.
In spite of their vicious nature, towards eachother they will be more sociable. They are capable of showing affection for their children and their mates, as well as their parents, while they are young. Towards Shyedarians they are not familiar with, they tend often to feel a competative urge, making it difficult (but not impossible) for them to form relationships outside their own families.
Shyedarians are large draconic creatures, standing at about 7 to 9 feet in height, excluding their tails. They are bipedal, with a digitigrade stance; their hind legs are generally very powerful, letting them move, run and jump with considerable speed and agility, despite their size. Their forepaws carry long, sharp talons, as do their feet. They have long, flexible necks and tails, and fairly large wings. Shyedarians have reptillian heads, with large snouts, prominent brow and head ridges, and long, sharp teeth (and especially long fangs) that tend to protrude slightly, even with their mouths closed. Their eyes are typically amber, red, green or blue (although other colors are not unheard of), and have slitted pupils. Their skin is covered with fine, smooth scales, like snake scales; they molt a few times each year while young, then less and less, until they stop altogether when they reach adulthood.
Shyedarian skin colorations vary across the entire spectrum, with no apparent preference for any particular shades. Most Shyedarians are mostly of a single color, with a secondary color that appears as spots, splotches, stripes or striations. There is no biological or social significance to a Shyedarian's colors: it only seems to serve to help identify specific individuals. Shyedarian blood is dark brown or grayish black.
Shyedarians are warm-blooded, with a body temperature typically around 100 degrees farenheit. They prefer warm climates, and need little water to survive. They are also exclusively carnivorous: by nature they are hunters and carrion-feeders. Their staple diet is red meat, although they can and will eat the flesh of any animal for variety.
Male Shyedarians are generally larger than females, although there are some exceptions. It is generally accepted that males have stronger instincts than females, but that females have better intuition and reasoning skills. Again, naturally, there are always exceptions.
Although Shyedarian wings are functional, and most Shyedarians are capable of flight, Shyedarian designs in architecture, shipbuilding, etc. generally do not require the use of wings. This has been true for some time, and studies have shown that the wings of Shyedarians are gradually getting smaller and weaker with the passing generations. Scientists believe Shyedarians may lose the power of flight completely within the next few thousand years.
The effects of the Stellar Catastrophe can still be detected in Shyedarians, although most have adapted and are able to live in civilized societies. However, many Shyedarians still suffer from a periodic relapse in behavior, losing their emotional control every 30-50 days. This condition can be treated with drugs, although the side-effects of those drugs include lethargy and a sense of mental dullness that many Shyedarians find disagreeable. Instead, most Shyedarians make arrangements to vent their emotional energy through more natural methods, such as indulging in violent pastimes like hunting or bloodsports, or attending gladiator exhibitions.
Shyedarians are an egg-bearing species, with typical clutches between two and five eggs. The eggs are fertilized while still carried by the female, and then laid about a month later. They incubate for about three months, usually in a mechanical incubator, although the female may use her body heat if she prefers, and has the time.
Since the onset of the Age of Fire, roughly four out of every five male Shyedarians has been sterile. So far, no treatment has been successful in restoring fertility in males, so surrogate parenthood is fairly typical among the common populace. A notable exception is the legitimate Imperial families, which for some reason have always had fertile males.
Shyedarians are generally monogamous, inasmuch as they usually claim only one partner at any given time, if they choose a permanent mate at all. Typically it is the female who dominates in relationships, although those roles may be reversed if the male is considerably older, or holds greater social influence. There are no formal mating ceremonies like weddings in Shyedarian society: usually, the pair, or at least the dominant partner, will publically announce their claim, and that is it. It is up to the partners to enforce that claim, either voluntarily, or by keeping a wary eye on eachother. However, most Shyedarian pairings only last long enough to raise one clutch of young to maturity, and some don't even last that long.
Among Shyedarians, heterosexuality is considered the social norm. Ever since the Age of Fire, with the widespread sterility of the male population, reproduction has been a major concern for the Shyedarian race. It was assumed that a Shyedarian in a non-reproductive pairing was sterile; if it were discovered otherwise, they would suffer persecution for not helping perpetuate the species. This stigma remains, especially among the lower and middle classes; the upper classes are seen as having more time for such "leisurely" activities, so homosexuality is more accepted for them. Now that the Empire/Rebellion conflict is over, and Shyedarians are gaining more exposure to other cultures, this stigma is slowly beginning to erode, but it will take some time to disappear entirely.
Shyedarian Technology is backward yet advanced at the same time. Shyedarians have teleporter technology and are experts at plasma energy, as it powers most of their systems and is the major component of their weapons and engine designs. The ships usually are small and pack more punch than block, all but the mighty Destroyers of their Empire have shields. Instead of shielding, they find armored hulls to be more cost effective for anything but ships larger than a certain size. They are also experts in cybernetics and will do such in order to improve troops and to brainwash those who do not coorperate. Some troops are just basic cyborgs with little sense of self. Other devices, such as Heart Crystals and Clog Legs are used for prisoners or soldiers for whom loyalty may be an issue. The Heart Crystals reroute blood away or to points of the body upon command of the local leader or the Leader him/herself. Legs are normal cybernetic legs that can be simply turned off. Other inventions exist, but are not used to the extent of these basic controls. They do have good computer systems and excellent knowledge of biology and how to make technology work with it.
The Shyedarians have several natural weapons at their disposal. Besides their sharp claws and teeth, designed for piercing and tearing, they have the following:
They can launch a glue-like ball or spray of material (commonly known as "goup") from glands in their mouth, sticking instantly to anything it hits. This is good for immobolizing creatures and other annoyances. It is dislodged with time (30 hours) or alcohol.
Shyedarians have several bite weapons. These poisons are introduced into an enemy's body via the sharp fangs that Shyedarians have. A Shyedarian who has been through some simple training can choose at will which effect his or her bite will have:
- Complete paralysis. This last until 6-12 hours, depending on the size of the creature bitten.
- Acidic venom. The poison is a chemical which reacts with ordinary water (or the water content of a creature's blood), and produces a highly acidic substance after about a minute. As the substance spreads through the body, it dissolves the blood vessel walls, causing massive internal bleeding. A very painful way to die.
- Viral Injection. This bite introduces the so-called "Shye change retrovirus".
The "Shye change retrovirus" is not in fact a natural virus, but an artificially engineered nanorobot. It behaves almost exactly like a virus, using the mechanisms and energy of an organism's cells to reproduce itself, allowing other cells to be invaded as well. However, the nanorobots are careful not to destroy the cells they invade, because they have a second purpose: they reorganize the host's mollecular structure, including genetic material, to "reformat" the organism into a Shyedarian form.
Because the nanorobots must use the materials available to them, the conversion is not always perfect, and some residual traits from the original organism are sometimes left over -- for example, colorations, or relative physical strength or size.
The Shyedarians did not develop this nanorobot "retrovirus", nor is there conclusive evidence to suggest who did, although the A'rthans are commonly cited -- especially since the HKorjorans possess very similar nanorobots of their own. These nanorobots, for some reason, must be present in sufficient quantities in a Shyedarian's body for survival. If the levels get too low, the Shyedarian's heart stops beating, causing immediate death. For this reason, Shyedarians can only "infect" others with their bites only so often, before they must wait and allow their own viral levels to rise again.
The symbol for the Shyedarian Army is a crosshair symbol with a crescent moon with points upward.
The Army's main purpose is to serve as a general police force across the Empire, and to a lesser extent, the CIS. They patrol borders and orbital space, and occupy outposts on settled worlds to maintain peace and stability. The Army favors infantry combat, and has some of the best-trained foot soldiers, as well as mechanized units such as tanks, hover units and combat mecha. Most Army starships are transport vessels, with some fleet defense craft and reconnaisance vessels.
The Army is often thought to be the weakest branch of the Shyedarian military, but this is not necessarily so. They may lack the advanced training and equipment of the Marines, and the advanced ships and vehicles of the Navy, but they make up for it in sheer numbers and experience.
The symbol for the Shyedarian Navy is two crescent moons with points facing outward left and right, with two crescent moons above and below with points inward, up and down.
Most members of the Shyedarian Navy are specialists. They receive standard combat training, like all military personnel, but their educations beyond that are in starship operations, intelligence gathering, espionage, and other disciplines. There is also a Special Elite Combat Unit program for Naval personnel with especially high tolerances for physical hardship, matched with an ability to make fast decisions, and use sophisticated equipment in combat conditions. These Naval commandos are widely considered even deadlier than the Shyedarian Marines, but their numbers are few, and they are only used for highly specialized, often clandestine missions.
Almost all Naval operations are conducted from starships. Indeed, their primary function is to counter and eliminate all space-based threats, be they defensive satellites, fighters, battleships, carriers or starbases. They also have an array of orbit-to-surface attack weapons, for "softening up" ground forces before either the Army or Marines move in.
Naturally then, the Navy specializes in ship-to-ship combat. The bulk of Shyedarian starships are Naval vessels, and they also include nearly all starfighter groups. Furthermore, the Navy is responsible for most of the research that goes into developing new weapons, starship components, and combat cybernetics. Finally, most military commanders in any branch began their careers as Navy officers.
The symbol for the Shyedarian Marine Corps is two cresents facing in to a hollow circle with a filled in perfect circle within that.
The Zulu sector offers few terrors to match that of the Shyedarian Marines. They are tough, relentless, and worst of all, mostly brainless. When their commanders give them an objective, they will do literally whatever it takes to attain it. To a large extent, they have no choice: most Marine "drones" are deserters or criminals who have undergone extensive cybernetic alteration, as well as a memory wipe and reconditioning to turn them into automatons who obey their commanders without question. As an added measure, loyalty drugs are used to the extent that most Marines are addicted to them -- and the withdrawl symptoms are fatal.
The commanders of the Marines are known to be very intelligent, and are usually those who signed up voluntarily. The High Leader of the Marines is considered the supreme commander of the Shyedarian military, although in practice the three branches usually operate independently.
All Marines, regardless of rank, are given extensive and highly advanced combat training. Even members of the other branches of the military fear and respect their abilities in single and group combat. The Marines use few combat vehicles, trained instead for up-close-and-personal engagements in a wide variety of combat scenarios. They may carry weapons ranging from simple plasma rifles to SOAS (surface-to-orbit anti-ship) missiles, and they are experts at survival and ambush. To date, their success record stands at roughly 90%.
Much like the Roman Empire, the Shyedarian Empire, in its prosperity, sees its share of decadence. The biggest example of this is the Shyedarian pleasure worlds, such as Rukarat -- entire planets dedicated solely to recreation and enjoyment.
During the Classical period of Shyedarian history, a form of ritual combat was practiced when one Shye felt that another had done him injury, or questioned his honor. During the Fire period, this tradition degenerated into a simple one-on-one brawl, whenever one Shye was feeling aggressive, and a potential victim was available. During the Renaissance, order was brought back into the competition, without sacrificing the brutality, and the gladiator tradition evolved. Since then, it has become one of the central forms of recreation available on the Shyedarian pleasure worlds.
The gladiator arenas not only provide entertainment for affluent Shyedarians (and anyone else who cares to watch), they also perform a valuable social function. Many Shyedarians, as a result of the radiation of the Fire period, suffer from a neurological imbalance that causes them, on regular cycles, to become unaccountably vicious and bloodthirsty. Without an outlet for this aggression, the sufferer often becomes homicidal. The spectacle of gladiator combat, it has been found, is a suitable substitute for actual bloodletting, allowing these Shyedarians to control their conditions. Its therapeutic benefits aside, however, it is also a highly popular and well-established form of entertainment, and that is seen as its primary purpose.
During the Shyedarian Renaissance, gladiators were either criminals or traitors from Shyedarian society itself, or prisoners of war with suitable combat skill to make for an exciting match. In current times, Shyedarian arena administrators are no longer allowed to use prisoners of war, but through loose interpretation of the laws, they are still able to acquire non-Shyedarian combattants through the legal system. In addition, there are still bounty hunters operating within the Shyedarian Empire who are licensed to capture escaped prisoners and known criminals, and sell them as gladiators. The Empire itself has enstated strict rules to prevent the poaching of innocent people for the arenas.
Typically, gladiators wear either collars or implanted devices to prevent them from leaving the arena grounds. In addition, gladiators are implanted with heart crystals to allow their owners to better control them. Also, security around gladiator arenas is extremely tight, so escapes are all but impossible, and rescues are extremely rare.
Being sent to the gladiator arenas as a criminal is equivalent to a death sentence. Most arenas have first-rate medical facilities, so sometimes a gladiator can be revived, but there is no sentence limit for a gladiator, except for conscription into the armed forces. The expectation is that a gladiator will eventually be killed; often, gladiators guilty of particularly high-profile crimes are given a certain exhibition period, and then ritually executed for the entertainment of the audience.
A variety of weapons, cybernetic enhancements and armor are used in gladiator combat -- generally a combination designed to present the most exciting battle to the audience. The idea is to present a cathartic experience to the Shyedarian crowd, and as such, each battle is expected to contain large amounts of pain, blood and savagery. Improvements on the gladiators and their methods of fighting are always being made, as the gladiators themselves become guinea pigs for the testing of new cybernetic enhancements being considered by the Shyedarian military. A gladiator has no legal rights, although each owner is allowed to make their own rules regarding the handling of their gladiators.