The Shaltari are an ancient
and highly developed species. Their technology is advanced to a level of
sophistication rivalled only by its potency. They have traversed the stars for
millennia, learned myriad truths, and have fought countless wars. Through their
knowledge, the Shaltari transcend even death itself, and can endure
indefinitely, perceiving the ebb and flow of time like no other race.
In battle, the Shaltari are fearsome adversaries. Their swiftness is unmatched, their firepower unequalled, their bravery undeniable. The beauty of their constructs bellies their true nature; engines of death, honed to lethal perfection long before humanity learned to throw stones. They are peerless masters of technology.
Shaltari are diminutive in stature, standing a little over four feet high. They are roughly humanoid, although disproportionately long-limbed. They are covered from head to foot in long, thick spines, the colour of which can be changed at will. Waves of complex patterns can be broadcast at bewildering speed, a trait which has been likened to cuttlefish on Earth. Despite this, individuals do present a 'dominant' colour for the majority of the time, believed to be linked to complex psychological conditions.
Shaltari have large, ovoid eyes. Unlike human eyes, these appear opaque and lack pupils. Despite this, their vision is broadly equivalent to that of humans. A Shaltari has no discernable nose or ears, although a small mouth is visible, lined with short, sharp teeth.
The Enduring Consciousness
The natural life of a Shaltari is believed to exceed three centuries. Like all known lifeforms, biological mortality eventually sets in, bringing old age and death. This loss of education, expertise and experience was mourned deeply by the early Shaltari, a race which has always valued knowledge above all things. This sense of futile loss was eventually banished by their most important technological innovation - consciousness transfer.
Near mortal death, this advanced process allows the psyche and memories of the subject to be transferred into another physical body. Brain-dead 'shell' bodies are grown especially for this purpose, allowing the consciousness of the individual to endure beyond natural demise. This simple summary represents the limits of human understanding of this revered and enigmatic process.
In this manner, some
Shaltari have 'lived' for millennia, progressing though dozens of bodies. These
'Elders' have vast levels of experience at their disposal, knowledge which
enabled the Shaltari to expand technologically beyond the scope of all other
In current times, the most common way for a Shaltari to meet death is in battle. To the human psyche, it would seem logical that participation in war would be desperately avoided by such a race. This could not be further from the truth, due to the central tenet in Shaltari culture - Warrior Veneration.
While the Shaltari value knowledge above all else, they respect martial endeavour beyond all other undertakings. The Shaltari have had to fight for their existence countless times over millennia as starfarers. As such, their veneration for warriors has reached a zenith unequalled by the younger races.
This deep reverence has resulted in a dominant warlike subculture within Shaltari society. This is a clear two-tier structure where those who have never seen battle cannot even be bestowed with a name. The Shaltari believe that this basic level of respect can only be achieved by fighting for the race. This attitude has extended to dealings with humans, where Shaltari ambassadors refuse to speak to or address by name those without military experience.
Over time, the Shaltari have come to embrace the concept of strength through diversity, struggle and competition. Since they are accustomed to being the most advanced and powerful race in their spheres of influence, the only logical source for such contest has been with each other.
Throughout the ages, differences of opinion and various cultural nuances have developed between disparate groups, resulting in clear divisions within Shaltari society. These divisions are appreciated and indeed lauded by all Shaltari as a driving force for development, invention and improvement against stagnation.
Humans have come to refer to these distinct blocks as 'Tribes', a simple term used by early Shaltari ambassadors. Tribes were assigned designations corresponding to early indigenous Earth nations and cultures, a practice continued by the UCM (United Colonies of Mankind). These are normally allocated randomly and do not indicate any similarity between the Tribe and its original namesake. Ancient names such as Apache, Inuit, Amazon and Inca are in common usage once again, although now with very different connotations.
Shaltari vehicles are highly distinctive, and justly famous for their geometric complexity and exquisite splendour. Many have likened their appearance to jewellery, although this masks their true nature as beautifully engineered killing machines. It is understood by UCM scientists that practically every apparently ornamental feature has a real function, the nature of which is normally a complete enigma.
A central pillar of Shaltari battlefield technology and strategy is teleportation. This allows for troops to be deployed, rerouted and extracted in a matter of seconds, without needlessly putting lives at risk during transit. Their tactical manoeuvres are therefore quite unlike those of any other known race, making them slippery and formidable adversaries.
Shaltari gunnery is rightly feared, their weapons being the most advanced yet encountered by mankind. A wide array of lethal devices can bring shattering firepower to bear from afar. Only the very strongest armour can hope to withstand such overwhelming force.
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