Insectoid psionic slavers.
Name (Singular & Plural): Tarratch
Sexes: Male & Female, equal split.
Height: 6' 1", average.
Weight: With half of them capable of flight the tarratch are light for their size, their evolution trading the safety and endurance afforded by dense bone and exoskeleton structure to achieve weights of 80-100 pounds.
Hair: Head only, naturally almost universally black.
Eyes: Black, pupil-less.
Wings: Seasonal, male only. See Reproduction.
Antenna: Their most recognizable natural feature, tarratch antennae grow in a “ruff” corona around their necks. They have the appearance of short, wide feathers which when vibrated shimmer with hypnotic, kaleidoscopic colors. Aside from being able to sense vibration the ruff apparently lends its wearer a limited ability to sense nearby minds, and can be used to communicate silently with other tarratch.
Evolving from the strange insect analogues of their uncompromising home world of Origaiz, the tarratch are bipedal humanoids with distinct arthropod features. Their delicately featured spearhead-shaped faces and their alabaster skin are immediately recognizable to humans and ausar; their inky eyes, spidery digits and black exoskeleton-clad limbs are not. Their physical similarity to other sentient insect analogues, such as the recently discovered zil and myr, has lent fuel to the fire of galactic divergent evolution or “Seeder Precursor” theories. Setting them apart from other bipedal insect sentience are their ruffs of diaphanous, multi-colored moth-like feathers, which the tarratch can use to hypnotize and, with the aid of their long, butterfly-like tongues, feed psionically upon prey.
Gender Dimorphism, Breeding and Sexuality
Male tarratch naturally have a black, slightly curved prong penis roughly six inches in length. Their testicles are internal. Females have a black, clitoris-less vagina, the inside of which in turn is slightly curved. Tarratch do not ejaculate in quite the same manner as most species do; the tip of the prong penis is porous, and the male seeps its oily, transparent semen throughout intercourse, in this way facilitating penetration with increasing amounts of lubrication. Although lacking a clitoris, tarratch vaginas are self-lubricating and sensitive, and females are more than capable of sexual gratification.
Gender dimorphism amongst the tarratch is not large, with both males and females sharing slim frames and androgynous, delicate good looks. Females however have small, ornamental chest bumps and an insect abdomen above their rear, which under regular circumstances is as small as a football. Thanks to the scarcity of resources upon their home planet the tarratch remain sterile for most of their lives, naturally only becoming fertile when their bodies sense there are enough nearby resources available to support children. When this happens, the females abdomens become swollen and the males sometimes sprout diaphanous insect wings; both genders become more sexually aggressive. Once fertilized, the female lays a small clutch of eggs from her abdomen after a short incubation period.
Although capable of breeding with other pseudo-insect races (or others sufficiently modded) the tarratch are not particularly driven by the need to procreate. They regard their natural sterility as a boon, allowing them to pursue sex purely for the enjoyment of it and to intensify the sensation of mind feeding. Like humans they enjoy gene splicing themselves to further enhance the pleasures of sex, and encountering tarratch with outlandish appendages and add-ons is common.
Their equal gender split, the lack of physical differences between sexes and the relative ease with which females can give birth has allowed the tarratch to evolve an egalitarian view towards genders that is fairly rare amongst insectoid races. Encountering males in positions of power or significance is about as likely as finding females - if that difference can even be discerned from a chance meeting. As a result of existing in galaxy full of races with marked sexual differences, tarratch often adopt a playful attitude towards gender, exaggerating their natural androgyny to confuse, discomfort or even entice others.
The planet Origaiz is a small rock with minimal axial tilt, which only just falls within the habitable zone of its white hot sun. One side bakes in merciless heat whilst the other freezes to the core with a rapid turnover. All life upon it has evolved the ability to survive both extreme heat and cold, drawing in energy during the day, dissipating it in the night, invariably burying deep into the planet’s crust to escape the temperature and to access aquifers. With food upon the surface at a premium, the tarratch evolved early on to transfix prey with their shimmering collar displays, forcing thoughts and memories to the surface of their simple minds so that the whereabouts of their nest could be accessed. The hostile and fast-changing conditions of their home meant the tarratch developed a capricious, variegated and ruthless civilization revolving around internecine warfare and slave-taking; with the best resources moving constantly with the band of temperate weather between day and night the idea of lasting societies with long term goals was a complete mystery to them.
The tarratch were struggling beyond the iron age when they were discovered and uplifted by the ausar during the tenth planet rush. They escaped Origaiz into a galaxy full of biomes which to them felt like a never-ending summer morning. They also discovered a whole range of sentients with excitingly rich minds and interesting bodies, expanding their capacity to take and trade slaves exponentially. The tarratch communicate only partially via their vocal chords; they also transmit thoughts and feelings to each other through their feathers, involving an intricate art of etiquette and bluff. The insect race are therefore culturally disposed to view even those races with biological or artificial psionic capability with a kind of contempt, stunted sentience that is incapable of understanding that its birthright is to be little more than playthings to the tarratch.
Impatient to begin examination and extraction of the mineral resources and strange wildlife of Origaiz, the ausar regretted uplifting the grateful and non-hostile tarratch so readily once the race had become synonymous with frontier piracy and slave-taking. Origaiz has had its U.G.C. membership withdrawn and placed upon probation numerous times in an attempt to force it to get a handle on the problem, with little effect. Origaiz’s distant location and hostile environment deters would-be occupiers, and the fact the race aren’t technically at war with anyone and are perfectly willing to trade minerals, the prized mood-altering glamorflies and of course indentured servants with anyone unscrupulous enough, means the U.G.C. aren’t inclined to chase more hardball tactics with them. They have further buttressed themselves against opprobrium by becoming heavily involved within the galactic financial sector, with many tarratch hierarchies forging profitable partnerships with human and ausar-owned gene mod, real estate and loan companies.
Away from the frontier the tarratch have developed into an urbane, pleasure-seeking society, forever inquisitive as to the next thrill and high that the galaxy can provide them.
The tarratch are a reasonably technologically sophisticated race, however they have little explicit interest in areas outside modding, pleasure and psionics. Their natural instinct for fast attack and resource seizing has caused them to evolve a lightning approach to warfare; their craft and armaments are designed to shock and overwhelm an enemy immediately, and if that doesn’t work, to retreat as fast as possible. Whilst they prefer the company of their own kind they are willing to work with other races, and can be found throughout the frontier working as mercenaries, traders and splicers. However, the difficulty they have moving throughout the core worlds thanks to their probationary status means that they are almost always found in the lawless hubs of the galaxy. Though they have few official colonies the tarratch have heavy presences on gateway worlds and stations, where intragalactic law is relaxed enough for them to operate freely.
The tarratch lack any recognizable form of central governance, instead organizing themselves into “hierarchies”. What each is concerned with, how big they are and how they are governed varies wildly, and changes all the time as new partnerships are formed, new groups splinter off and takeovers or coups are performed. The swiftly changing conditions of Origaiz did not readily implant a particular style of governance amongst the tarratch. Indeed, they as a culture express a pride in their adaptability, capriciousness and the difficulty other societies have in pinning them down. If they do express a particular trope culturally it is just that: changeability. Tarratch have little concept of betrayal or treason; if one tarratch loses his position of power as a result of their underlings or comrades working against him, this is considered a result of him simply not being smart or adaptable enough.
Since integration into wider galactic society, many profit-based hierarchies have worked out ways of moderating excessive changeability, in order that they may do business better with non-tarratch. This often takes the form of official “fronts”, usually constructed with the help of aliens, which others may negotiate with, whilst backstage the tarratch can continue practicing a form of politics that is bewildering and unsettling to most outsiders. Business travelers should be aware that tarratch rarely enter deals with only one goal in mind; there may be as many as three dozen reasons why they are attempting to buy or sell a good, most of which will be opaque to the other party, if not without consequence.
The only truly stable interest tarratch culture has, aside from a pronounced love of fashion and pleasure, is slavery. Their fast-changing societies on Origaiz has evolved in them a different view of the practice to most; on a world where a dictatorship could become a commune within the same month, tarratch slaves may be presented with plenty of chances to overcome their position, and therefore a slave that stays a slave deserves or desires to do so. This feeds into a wider view amongst tarratch that other races - slow, staid, mostly incapable of pseudo-psionic communication, minds richly nutritious - simply merit enslavement, and that indeed it is a natural state for them to be in. They are perfectly capable of respecting U.G.C. rule of law, however, and scare stories of tarratch cot-robbers and press gangs on space stations are invariably untrue. All official hierarchies confine themselves to indentured servant trading, enslaving outlaws and, during frontier rushes, technically legal poaching of native species.
Tarratch-contracted servants are invariably kept for sexual, nutritional and/or ornate purposes. Any need to use slaves for labor purposes died out long ago, and employing them in this capacity is seen as an embarrassing waste. For the purposes of nutrition, tarratch often expose servants to a wide variety of experiences, in order to make their minds richer and therefore more satisfying to feed off. Tarratch interest in gene-modding is a happy coincidence; richer owners will literally change their servants repeatedly, testing out new combinations of mods that will in turn shift the perceptions of the servant and inflict any number of new emotions on them, from extreme pleasure to shock and horror, which can then be tapped and enjoyed. Slaves have prestige value, and trading exotically shaped and minded pieces of property is an extremely popular pastime. Being an indentured servant to the tarratch is generally an eventful but extremely draining occupation.
Tarratch-run syndicates often market themselves as “specialist” indentured servant traders, looking to meet the tastes of the most discerning of customers, whilst waging turf wars with their rivals and independent pirates in the frontier. More recently, in order to offset bitter competition they have encountered in the indentured servant trade, some tarratch hierarchies have reportedly expanded into drug running and chemical narcotic experimentation.
Aside from the mundane requirement to eat that is understood by most other biological life, the tarratch are driven to feed upon the thoughts and feelings of other beings. This process, still not fully understood by wider galactic society, apparently provides them with the nutrients they need to continue being functionally psionic.
A tarratch looking to feed hypnotizes his or her target with their feather ruff, drawing their most intimate thoughts and memories to the surface, sexually overwhelming them. They then insert their long, hollow tongues into whatever closest resembles a mouth upon the target and feed upon the heady froth of psychic imagery that has formed, usually taking advantage of the aroused state of the victim at the same time. The sensation is described as like receiving long, extremely ruthless mental oral sex.
The tarratch are capable of reading their victim’s minds to a limited extent this way – particularly clear memories and strong impulses can be discerned – but observably and explicitly prefer the “taste” of raw emotion, usually seeking to drain a strongly perceived feeling from an invaded mind before anything else. Short term effects from being fed upon by a tarratch include memory blanks, sexual arousal backwash and complete loss of one or several emotions; if the victim is given enough time to recover however this recedes and missing thoughts grow back.
Having spent millennia feeding upon the simple and base emotions of animals, the tarratch found the sentient life of the galaxy an almost impossibly rich banquet which they have spent most of the intervening time gorging upon whilst working out new ways to make it even more delicious. Tarratch will rarely simply attack other beings on gate-worlds and stations, unless suitably desperate – they are much more likely to solicit willing “donations” with money or credit. Sentients encountered on the frontier, or indentured servants the tarratch themselves own, are considered fair game.