THE BRAKKAN EMPIRE 

I. THE REIGN OF TRADITION

The Brakkan Empire, rich in military traditions and loyal to its roots, was established millennia ago, and became one of the most prominent powers in the Enigma sector, with its influence and military reach spreading across the total of eight star systems.
Brakkan society is very conservative, and their political and social systems have not undergone major changes from the moment their Brakkan ancestors created the first organized state in time immemorial. The currently ruling emperor, unsurprisingly, is a blood descendant of the very Brakkan ruler that pointed into the sky with his paw and signaled the first expansion of the race outside Sha’har, its cradle world.
The same traditionalistic approach applies to how territories are ruled, disputes are resolved, feuds are settled, wars are fought and cubs are brought up. It is hard to understand how a race so steep in conservatism could achieve such grandeur and technological superiority. Anyway, Brakkans of today retain strong feelings of social and family responsibility, as well as a code of honor that was tested by many, many generations.

II. INITIATION. CITIZENSHIP.

Citizenship in the Brakkan Empire is not gained through birthright alone, even for the ruling elites. Every young Brakkan that wishes to fully participate in the life of the society, for example to join the regular army in quest for fame and lands in newly colonized worlds, or to tread the path of a politician, needs to become a citizen first.
Brakkans are very individualistic by nature, and a Brakkan that wants to take a simple profession and get the trade of a farmer, a miner or an artisan, he can do so without becoming a proper citizen. However, with each passing year it will become more and more difficult for such a Brakkan to receive full citizenship, particularly since once a certain age is reached initiation rites become inaccessible for applicants.
Citizenship is not obligatory for Brakkans, and the choice to remain outside the “active” life of the Empire is for the Brakkan alone to take. Approximately forty percent of Brakkans choose to remain non-citizens, working in various spheres that do not require this status. They still receive social benefits akin to a regular citizen, but without a right to vote or to receive share of gains from military raids, so a non-citizen Brakkan will unlikely to be able to accumulate large wealth or gain social recognition. However, even without all these bonuses linked to the citizen status, each Brakkan always has a decent life and enjoys legal protection that is the same of any other member of the Empire.
Citizenship can be bestowed by settlement or city rulers for bravery in combat when it requires participation of irregular forces, for feats of artisanship, valuable scientific or engineering research or even exceptional skills in public speech and foreign languages. Many prominent Brakkan citizens spend their days not on board of hunting vessels, but deep inside laboratories perfecting the already sophisticated and deadly Brakkan tech. However, the dominant way of receiving citizenship is via passing the traditional initiation rites that remained practically unchanged from the dawn of Brakkan history.
A cub of any sex that wishes to pass a trial must spend four years in a military camp, learning the ways of battle, as well as traditions and history of the Empire. There, the aspiring citizens receive regular physical training that allows them to better understand their true capabilities and employ the gifts bestowed upon them by nature – inhuman strength, speed and reflexes.
The final part of the initiation rites is different for males and females, and may take many different forms. For male cubs, it is usually the ritual hunt, in which a Brakkan must kill a dangerous prey that is perfectly capable of turning the tables and becoming the hunter by itself. Once the beast (or man, or any other sentient being that happens to comply with the ideal prey’s criteria) is slain , the cub is considered to be a proper hunter, and a citizen of the Empire. The young Brakkan can now choose every path that he wishes – from politics and military career to working in R&D and scientific facilities.

III. EXPANSIONS AND COLONIZATION

Brakkans of today prefer colonization of worlds not yet populated with sentient native species, and sometimes choose to spend resources on terraforming planets with less favorable conditions over invasion of neighboring planets.
On its planets, the Empire prefers to conserve local flora and fauna, treating spirits of nature to be sacred. Instead, Brakkans try to naturally integrate into the planet’s biosphere, becoming both the keepers of the nature’s balance and ultimate predators in local food chains. Sometimes, Brakkans even forego constructing industrial facilities on colonized worlds, if research shows that factories and hazardous infrastructure are likely to irreparably damage the planet itself. Instead, more environment-friendly energy sources are exploited and settlements are created in locations that allow minimum terraforming.
This does not mean that Brakkans do not have cities of their own – Sha’har system for example, the home world of the Empire, has major cities on each of its four habitable planets, with extensive intercity and interstellar traffic, tall habitation blocks, industrial sectors miles-wide and multiple space docks.
Post-expansion Brakkans always try to minimize their casualties and prevent loss of their highly guarded technologies, particularly energy weaponry, personal shielding systems and AI. As a result, the Empire, while being fully capable of system-wide invasions, instead uses skirmishes, subterfuge or diplomacy to advance its agenda of expansion. Confrontations, if they happen, are short, bloody and one-sided, always in Brakkan favor. In case a Brakkan force falls, cleansing squads are immediately sent to remove any traces of Brakkan presence, usually together with any surviving enemies and witnesses, if they belong to a rival race. This policy is further supported by the fact that Brakkans have very long reproduction cycles, and a rare mother can have more than two or three cubs during her lifetime of over one hundred and fifty to two hundred human years.
For many lesser races that border the Empire, Brakkans sometimes appear to be invaders and aggressors trying to capture their worlds and impose on them their savage order.However, in reality, should their civilizations pose a real threat to the Empire, they would have been wiped from the sector’s maps within months by Brakkan military fleets, as it happened centuries ago during the last Brakkan military expansion.

IV. SOCIAL AND POLITICAL STRUCTURE

The Empire has its heart in the crown system of Sha’mui, with Sha’har being the capital that houses the royal seat. Sulakh the Second is the current ruling emperor, and is considered one of the most diplomatic and peaceful leaders in the last seven centuries of Brakkan history. It was he who stopped the last bloody expansion wars that added two systems to the Empire while costing thousands of Brakkan lives, choosing instead to strengthening bonds with neighboring races and improving the hold that Brakkans have over their already claimed worlds. Most Brakkans call the emperor savior. Others consider him soft and weak, unfit to lead a race that was conceived by nature to be a perfect tool of war.
Today, the Emperor reached a record age of 240 human years and with each passing day it becomes apparent that he will soon have to pass the crown to his eldest son, Na’rukh, who has already proven to be a wise diplomat and cunning manager of the Empire’s resources. However, many Brakkans hope that the emperor’s younger son, Ma’nahr, an active supporter of a new military expansion, manages to get the throne despite lack of rights to it.
Each of the systems in the Empire is ruled by a vassal who shares close blood ties with the Emperor and belongs to his royal court. In turn, each planet is governed by a regent who is appointed by planet-wide voting and who can originate from any part of Brakkan society, as long as the candidate in question is a proper citizen of the Empire.

V. HOT BLOODS

Some Brakkans believe that two centuries of peace dulled their blades and that it can lead to the Empire’s downfall with young new races reaching for the stars. Cubs, as they say, loose respect and forget to use blade and gun. Neighbors no longer fear the sunset, and Brakkan fleets had no substantial engagement for many years, and nothing can prove that they are still capable of keeping the Empire space free from unknown enemies.
These “Hot bloods”, as they are called by Sulakh’s followers, believe that natural aggression of the race together with its technological potential should be used for constant expansion and conquering of new systems. Hot bloods of Brakkan elites pose a threat for the new stable Empire that was created by Sulakh, and sometimes they even dare to launch individual campaigns of their own without receiving agreement from their planet’s regent. This is met with prejudice from pro-Sulakh Brakkan military that quickly stops such acts of defiance and punishes the Brakkans responsible for endangering the Empire’s diplomatic and trade relations.
With each passing year, more and more Brakkans join the Hot bloods, and many fear that at one point the Empire may choose a sword over negotiations, washing neighboring systems in blood.

VI. TRAVEL, OTHER RACES

While incapable of long-distant teleportation or other means of extra rapid inter system travel, Brakkans developed propulsion engines powerful enough to allow them expansion into neighboring systems within years.

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