The race, which mankind would come to know as The Horde, called themselves the 'Va-Shakk'. They were a planet bound warrior society who had scoured and scarred their world in both wars and the search for resources.
Very little is known about the aliens which first made contact with the then planet bound Horde. Indeed it is conceivable that no survivours exist. They meant to induct the Hordians into an interstellar brotherhood and were completely unprepared for the brutality with which they were received. They were slaughtered to the last, their ships taken. Nothing is known about the brotherhood.
Species Name: Horde
Trait: High strength. At least two races are suspected of existing. One of these are the red Hordians. The skin colour of this race is a uniform pale red colour. The Reds compromise approximately 75% of the Hordians observed to date. The other race is Stripes. Twenty-nine of the dead bodies are Stripes. The skin of Stripes has brownish-red stripes. The pattern is similar to the stripping on zebras or tigers. The pattern is apparently from cellular pigmentation and not tattooing or a similar process. Other minor differences are present between the two races, also. Hair growth patterns, hair characteristics, and slight and consistent biochemical differences. There may be inter-racial variations that have not been detected. Structurally, Hordians are tougher than Humans. Hordian ships are kept at 2G gravity. Bones are tougher. They are made of complex aluminium oxide crystals which are stronger than human bones. Muscle mass is a greater percentage of body weight. The increased body density resulting from the denser bones and greater muscle mass results in Hordians being heavier than water. The average body density is 2.1 g/cm3 versus 1.0 g/cm3 for water. They must work to stay afloat in water. Horde body structure is better adapted to physical and environmental shocks. The epidermis is approximately twice as thick as the Human epidermis. A layer of fibrous connective tissue forms a honeycomb structure as the lower portion of the dermis. Its primary function is water storage. A secondary function of this structure is to absorb shocks. It is most effective against concussive and blunt impacts. The greater the amount of water in the honeycomb cells, the more effective the tissue is in absorbing damage.
The major organs are all present in the torso, just as with humans. The organ arrangement is somewhat different, but all the organs are functionally present. The only notable detail is that Hordians have two hearts, not one as do humans. Both are in the upper torso area, one on the right and one on the left. These hearts are bichambered. This arrangement effectively divides the functions of the human heart between the two muscles. This separation does not make the Horde less vulnerable to heart damage. Destruction of the left heart will have similar effects as destroying the human heart. The onset of symptoms will take longer. Destruction of the right heart will cause symptoms similar to suffocation.
A Va-Shakk has four clawed digits on each foot and hand - the latter actually being made up of three fingers and a thumb. The most notable differences between Va-Shakk and humans are facial. The lower face is dominated by large throat sacs and strong pointed teeth. The throat sacs are actually a breathing aid necessitated by the high gravity of the Va-Shakk homeworld. Ageing Va-Shakk run to fat, though this becomes obvious only in their heavy stomach. This increased weight upon the torso does not make breathing more difficult as the throat sacs also grow.
The nose is broad and consists of multiple folds of cartilage. The overall effect of the jaw, offset by throat sacs, is to give the face a dog-like appearance. The eyes are black with white pupils that are shaped like vertical ellipsoids. The eyelids actually have this ellipsoid shape cut into them, making it impossible for a Va-Shakk to fully close their eyes. Their ears are close to their heads, and are very similar to humans.
Height: 8 foot
Weight: 280 lbs
Sensory organs: Visual
Reproduction: Sexual. Interspecies breeding between humans and Horde is considered an impossibility. The structures of the genitalia are radically different. It is not possible for a Hordian to have intercourse with a Human without significant, and probably incapacitating, damage to both parties involved. Gene structure is also radically different. It is unlikely that interbreeding can occur even in vitro. Paidea researchers have not decoded Horde DNA yet. As genes are mapped, viral weapons can be developed. The anticipated time frame for these weapons is five to six years(2061 - 2062). Other biological weapons, bacteriological and chemical, specific to the Horde should be available within three to five years(2059 - 2061). The viral weapons are expected to leave terran life unaffected. The other biological weapons do offer the potential to be destructive to a significant number of terran lifeforms.
The biological processes of Horde and human bodies are based on different biochemical reactions. Both species can live on the same foods, however. Hordians have remarkable toxicological reactions to compounds toxic to humans. Research has not discovered any toxins usable against the Horde as weapons. While biological weapons are long term goals, the horde's biochemistry must be understood first.
INT: 3D6, WIS: 3D6, STR: 4D6, DEX: 3D6, CON: 4D6, CHA: 2D6, MR: 3D6, HPs: CON +D12
Orbit/Climate: 1 AU, Very stable, circular orbit, very stable surface temperature.
Atmosphere: Standard Oxygen/Nitrogen with significant ozone component in. stratosphere
Oceans: 25%, 4 large continents and many islands.
Feeding habits: Carnivore. Hordian metabolism is much higher than a human's. Hordians must eat on a regular basis. Their body does not store fat. They can be starved to death in three days. Dehydration, however, would take about two months. Hordians store water all over their bodies. The fibrous layer of the dermis serves to store water. The Hordian biochemical system is very aggressive. Hordians are unaffected by most toxins and drugs because of their immune reaction. There are two notable exceptions: caffeine and thiobromine, both of which are in chocolate. Caffeine acts as a hallucinogenic. Thiobromine suppresses peripheral nervous activity. The combination, as is found in chocolate, produces an euphoric state. It lasts roughly one hour for a 100 g portion of chocolate. During this time, the affected Hordian is unable to interact with its surroundings.
Lifespan: 70 years
Culture: Xenophobic, highly violent.
Since the arrival of the Tall Ones, the Va-Shakk have left their home planet far behind, becoming nomad barbarians plundering and raping fertile worlds. Their procedure is always the same. The FTL ships will arrive in the system, and establish a safe orbit around a planetary body on the outer edge of the system. Leaving the women and children of The Horde behind, the warriors take the non-FTL capable ships and enter orbit around the inhabited planets. War and plunder, of course ensues.
Not all of the planets that the Va-Shakk have attacked have been as easy pickings as the Earth prior to the creation of Strikeforce: Morituri was. Afanomoe, Maghrebinia and Groustark have all successfully resisted the Horde, though Groustark was reduced to an atmosphereless ball of slag. Where the assaults have been successful, the defending races have been subjugated and enslaved, many of them unused to the high gravity that is the norm for the Horde fleet. Notable conquered races include the Mellidar, Translators, Healers, Bozhukoi, Kkel and Yllahandri. Indeed the Earth is the best planet the Horde have discovered for at least a thousand years. The Horde population has been dropping because they have been living off their wastes for all that time.
The Horde has established a position over the Earth dominating orbital and atmospheric operations. This is combined with a planet side command headquarters based in Cape Town, South Africa. There, the Horde's 'First in the Field' commands. For the first three years this was Dread Eagle, but he was killed by The Black Watch. The remainder of the fleet currently orbits Jupiter.
They regularly raid for all kinds of resources. This includes foodstuffs (chocolate is a favourite), materials, cultural products such as movies, and slaves. The slaves are used and abused with contempt, indeed their most callous actions to date have been the dumping of recently taken slaves straight into the high atmosphere for them to die on burn up. The 'High Dive', as this is known, has made Mankind hate the aliens even more.
Va-Shakk government is tribal in nature, reflecting their nomadic origins, with warriors belonging to clan-like organisations known as tents. Warriors are highly loyal to their tents and the race as a whole.
The Hordians are inherently tough. They wear little personal armour. What they do wear is usually light, equivalent to 20th century body armour. When Horde ships land, force screens are sometimes used to protect ships while they were on the ground. The Horde uses guerrilla attacks for raiding. They raid for anything. The two favorite items are chocolate and old movies. They frequently raid for food of all kinds and for slaves. Hordians are excellent melee fighters. They are contemptuous of humans. Horde command structure is based on a five unit base. The smallest unit is the five member squad. Hordians carry blasters when on raids. In addition, higher ranking officers usually carry melee weapons of some type. Intrasquad cooperation is excellent, but intersquad cooperation sometimes leaves something to be desired especially if there is some prestige at stake. On a raid, one squad will stay and guard each ship. Usually all five are stationed at the entrance. All other Hordians gather what they came for. If there is a shield generator, it is set up immediately.
Horde squads will try to eliminate all opposition before proceeding to their objective. They prefer to close and fight in close quarters. Most will resort to melee attacks. While Hordians will not hesitate to use their blasters, they like to get into hand to hand combat. The usual assault will begin with a charge against the strongest appearing position. Any amount of damage is considered acceptable by the Horde in destroying a Human strategic or tactical position. Success is a matter of prestige. Failure causes a loss in prestige. Hordians very seldom back down from a course of action once they have committed themselves. They would have to admit to being wrong, which would cause a loss of prestige. The Hordian attitude seems to be that it is better to die wrong than to admit to being wrong.
When confronted with an unknown, the usual Horde reaction is to destroy it. A distinct behavioural difference based on racial difference has been noticed. The Stripes are much more likely to employ tactics other than a frontal assault. Their first reaction to an unknown is to try to capture it, rather than destroy it. Whether this is a real difference is unknown, but is a factor to be aware of.
The Horde has developed a unique social structure. It is a male dominated warrior culture. They have little understanding of much of the equipment they use. Very little is done by the Horde as far as maintenance. They know how to run the equipment. When it does not run, they trash it. The Horde has had no motivation to develop many of the support services humans take for granted. For instance, what maintenance is done is performed by the Hordians using a piece of equipment, not someone specially trained.
The Horde is spilt up into three basic services: Warrior, Inquisitors, and Breeding. The warriors are the Hordians that do the fighting, in addition, fleet commanders and the rulers of the Horde are drawn from the warrior service. The Inquisitors are what humans would think of as an intelligence and research branch. They have two primary roles, getting information from prisoners and determining how to use captured technology. Their first resort for extracting information is torture. Inquisitors have also been instrumental in developing biological weapons. The breeding service is exclusively female. The Horde is very protective of its females. They live on large, well protected ships that are kept away from all hostilities. The females are a resource of the Horde, not individuals. Mating is a privilege that is given to a warrior or an inquisitor for exceptional service to the Horde.
Va-Shakk dress relatively lightly, but cover their groin and wear heavy metal bands around their arms and legs. Of particular importance to every Va-Shakk is the headgear, which is often ornate and is a measure of their own personal status. The knocking off of the headgear is seen as a personal insult.
Other symbols of personal status are trinkets plundered from the cities of the Earth. The Va-Shakk are fond of coins, buttons or badges, medals and so on.
In attitude, the Va-Shakk are proud and self-centred, caring for their own race and no other. They are extremely contemptuous of any other races they encounter or attempt to conquer. Whilst they show great loyalty to their race and their tent-mates, they are highly aware of their personal status and position in the Va-Shakk hierarchy.
Living by a warrior code, each Va-Shakk usually disdains technology beyond knowing how to operate it. Amongst themselves, prowess in hand-to-hand and armed combat are highly valued. Favoured weapons include spears, polearms, glaives, halberds, and a weapon that is a combination of a flail, morning star and glaive. The Va-Shakk flail is capable of inflicting impaling, cutting or crushing damage, depending on what part of the weapon is used. It is unlikely that a human could effectively wield a Va-Shakk flail, unless they were someone who had undergone the Morituri Process.
Government: Clan. The Horde is a martial society. Advancement within the combat troops is by ritual combat. The combats are for squads. The whole squad advances. The Commander of the unit is the Leader of the Command Squad. The rest of the Command Squad acts as executive officers. The Guard Squads are honour guards and perform clerical and messenger duties for the unit. Guard Squads are chosen by combat just as the Command Squads are.
Hordian Command Organization
Squad(5) - 5 individuals
Population: 22 billion
Number of Stars: 1
Star type: Orange
Planetoid Belts: 1
Inner Planets: 3
Middle Planets: 4
Outer Planets: 2
Much of the Horde's advanced technology is not meant for them or for the use they put the technology to. Hordians take existing pieces of equipment and utilize them as best as they can. Many of the operating principles are not understood by the Horde. This is a manifestation of the Horde's parasitic culture. They seize the produce of a culture and use it, many times ignorantly. For the most part, technological equipment is used on a disposable basis. There have been examples of Hordians abandoning pieces of equipment on the battlefield because it did not work. This practice stopped after PSC forces deployed equipment based on the abandoned equipment. PSC scientist hypothesize that native Horde technological levels are equivalent to mid 1990's Earth technology. Horde-constructed advanced technological items are constructed from modules. Some PSC scientists think that the modules were made by victim races and stockpiled by the Horde for future use.
The primary weapon of Hordians is a blaster. PSC researchers have not been able to examine the inside of a Horde blaster because they explode when they are opened. A substantial number have been captured. The blasters are powered by a backpack battery that weighs twenty pounds. The batteries usually explode when the outer casing is breached. The blasters have five different settings: automatic fire setting, stun (concussive explosion) setting, armour piercing setting, and a fifth setting that generates a repulsion beam. They are energy weapons. The energy is green with a blue halo. PSC scientist have not been able to determine what the weapon is firing.
Archaic melee weapons are used by Hordians. Melee weapons are usually flails or maces of some type. Some officers are known to carry whips. Many Horde officers carry energized weapons. Some weapons have other technological devices included in them also. Even an ordinary melee weapon is dangerous in the hands of a trained Hordian. While the melee weapons are used preferentially, the officers also carry blasters and will use them.
The Horde has used two biological weapons in the past. The first is a genetic mutation of the Hordian healer plant. The plant engulfs its victim in a membrane that encloses the victim totally, rather than just the wound as the unmutated plant does. The victim suffocates as the mouth and nostrils are covered. An enzyme mixture to destroy the membrane is available from PSC-Medical Division and from local civil defence forces. Victims' mouths must be kept clear of the membrane to prevent suffocation. The most effective method is cutting it periodically
The second biological weapon is a small rodent type creature - the Horde rat. It has been used once. The animal can not metabolise food available on earth, however, it has a preference for the taste of Human flesh and so attacks Humans. It dies in days after being dropped on earth because there is no food source for them. Both of the biological weapons have been organisms that feed on humans. No known microbiological or viral or chemical weapons have been used by the Horde.
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