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Swarm
Alien
Homeworld:
Megahive, Sector 46  
Ecology:
Nitrogen-Oxygen-Water (H:E:1:7)  
Biology:
DNA I  
Languages:
Swarm languages  
Human Contact:
2317CE and 2913CE  
FTL Status:
2843CE Indigenous macrojump  
Current Status:
Imperial Major Race 2920CE, Independent Swarm Republic 4786CE  
   
Environment
Ideal
Tolerance
 
Atmosphere:
.17B O2 .10-.25B O2; CO2 < .01B  
Temperature:
280K 270-295K  
Gravity:
1.32G .25-2.50G  
Other:
Humidity 55% Humidity 20-99%  

Overview

The Swarm are a nine-limbed heavy gravity dwelling race that maintains its own interstellar state of over two hundred worlds, mostly in the Rimward Region of Human Space.  Despite their name, the gregarious Swarm are a highly individualistic and proud race, maintaining a distinct civilization in the midst of Human States.

Physical Description

Swarm are a radically symmetrical nine-limbed form, averaging almost two meters across a shelled central body and standing one meter tall with eyestalks extended.  Three limbs specialized as "heads" contain a brain, a single eyestalk and a coating of down-like specialized auditory and olfactory cilia.  Between each head are two thick flexible limbs 60-80cm in length that act interchangeably as feet or hands and end in three stout gripping digits.  The lower surface of the Swarm body contains respiratory vents and separate valves for eating, drinking, and expelling waste.  The two drinking valves include extendable suckers; the three eating valves, rimmed by sharp teeth, are located directly across the body from each head and within easy reach of the two nearby limbs; the central waste "sphincter" has a spitting valve that can propel waste up to ten meters from the body.  An adult Swarm averages 450-500kg in mass.  Central shell coloration is generally brown, tan and gray, with patterns varying between individuals; the heads and limbs are normally pinkish grey, but fade to a dirty white with age.  The Swarm prefer high gravity and are unable to breath under zero gravity conditions.

The Swarm nervous system is tremendously complex.  The three brains each control their two neighboring limbs though strong neural connections and maintain their own web of overlapping nerve tissues that encompasses the central body.  Coordination between the brains occurs both at the neural level and "telepathically" through gigahertz-ranged radio waves that coordinate higher brain functions and integrate the individual Swarm personality.  Under severe stress, the three Swarm brains will sometimes loose "coherence" and act in an unsynchronized pattern.

Physiological and Social Development

The Swarm are highly individualistic and evolved a gregarious, hierarchical society.  When separate Swarm are with fifteen meters of one another, the radio neural patterns of individuals can overlap, and though each individual "thinks" with a specific encoding, more subtle emotional and dominance cues tend to bleed across, encouraging the formation of Swarm "mobs" with a single individual normally dominating.  Through "repeater clusters" of Swarm, such "mobs" can extend for kilometers, totally encompassing a dense Swarm city.  Swarm "mobs" can instigate coherent activities such as warfare, food gathering or disaster relief, but the "mobs" are inherently unstable and rarely last for more than a few hours, though dominance cues tend to linger and become persistent over time.

This communication of feelings through "mobs", combined with gestures by eyestalks and limbs, forms the basis of Swarm language.  A secondary "flag" language, utilizing banners on hive towers communicated over visual distances, evolved into the dozen Swarm written languages used for long distance or persistent communications into the present era.

The Swarm have two sexes of equal size and identical societal roles.  They reproduce though the external fertilization of eggs which are deposited in vast communal hatcheries in Swarm settlements.  The activities of egg laying and fertilization are treated no differently than eating or waste expulsion and the Swarm have no equivalent to familial ties.  Child rearing is communal, with a Swarm reaching adult size and capabilities after 12-15 years.  Swarm evolved from omnivorous gatherers and have maintained their hive-like habitation structure, trading primitive low mounds of regurgitated pulp buildings for modern dense cities of intricate and interconnected towers and tunnels.  Swarm remain loyal to their birth hives for their entire lives, though individuals from a large hive may leave to form a colony hive if the opportunity for expansion exists. 

Though democracy is now the norm in Swarm society, well into their interstellar age, dictatorships, military rule and authoritarian regimes under the leadership of a dominant individual persisted.  Swarm do not like isolation, preferring the company of dozens or more of their peers, and Swarm worlds tend to encompass highly urbanized cities surrounded by large belts of farmland and wilderness.  Swarm decorate the "throats" of their heads with a variety of colorful ribbons and generally wear a mesh covered with pockets and straps across the top of their shells, but leave the shell bottom and manipulative limbs bare except in extreme environments.  Any covering of the lower shell requires supplemental breathing equipment.

The modern Swarm individual has a life expectancy of over five hundred years with a theoretical span exceeding one thousand years.  After the collapse of the Disintegration Wars, the Swarm have readopted some aspects of traditional religions including a belief in reincarnation.  Though some individuals have practiced a form of "Mechanist" Incarnation, such practices are isolated and not part of the mainstream culture.

History

The Swarm evolved from a group of omnivorous gatherers on their homeworld, dubbed Megahive by Human explorers.  A quarter million years ago, semi-sentient Swarm hives evolved into settlements that began to practice agriculture and animal domestication under population pressure.  Over the millennia, these Swarm villages grew in size and the cooperative practices of the inhabitants encouraged the development of full sentience and larger hives.  Early Swarm history was a struggle between hives that grew in size from the original villages of hundreds of individuals to early iron age cities of up to one hundred thousand densely packed Swarm.

When Terran Confederation explorers first contacted the Swarm in 2317CE, the race had developed a pre-industrial technology, including gunpowder, ocean sea vessels and water-wheel factories.  Hundreds of city-states, some of over a million Swarm, fought sporadically against their neighbors and reacted xenophobically to a Human contact team, prompting a quarantine of the system.  The brief contact with starfarers set in motion a period of renaissance and gradually encouraged to better cooperation between Swarm states, leading to the eventual formation of the Confederation of Hives in 2540CE and the beginning of an industrial revolution.  While warfare between hives continued, it reverted to a ritualized form, designed to limit causalities and material damage with prestige the major benefit of victory.

The Swarm achieved spaceflight in 2708CE.  Handicapped by intolerance to zero gravity, they used nuclear rockets, including fission pulse launchers, to establish a large rotating orbital base and build the giant interplanetary vessels used to explore their solar system.  Control of gravity, including HSPG and gravity compensation followed in the early 29th century.  In 2843CE, a hive of Swarm asteroid engineers developed the macrojump drive, beginning an interstellar expansion that led to the establishment of eight colonies by 2914CE.

In 2913CE, the Imperial microjump scout vessel Mackenzie contacted the Swarm at their colony on Danzig.  Attempts at establishing diplomatic relations failed, and the Swarm, having used the fear of Human contact as the catalyst for their technological emergence and political unity, attacked the Imperial colony world of Athena in 2915CE, slaughtering all twenty-four thousand colonists and initiating the Swarm War.  Humans reacted violently to this attack, and despite facing a lager number of Swarm macrojump raiders, mostly 20-30m vessels, the Imperial Navy defeated the Swarm attackers, reactivated the Hellking Beelzebub and methodically destroyed the main Swarm fleets before demonstrating their planetbuster by destroying Megahive's five hundred kilometer diameter moon in 2920CE and forcing a negotiated surrender.

Surprisingly, the Swarm reacted well to their defeat, treating the destruction of their moon as a symbolic gesture of dominance and quickly agreeing to reparations and Imperial integration.  After a period of martial law, the Swarm homeworld and colonies joined the Empire as a Major Race.  The Swarm colonized a total of 40 mostly Rimward world before a traditionalist, isolationist philosophy spread from Megahive in the early 33rd Century.  Swarm colonies tended to be larger than Human colonies, with populations quickly growing into the tens of millions as hive cities peppered suitable high gravity worlds.  After a century of near isolation, the Swarm resumed new colonization, but retained a more traditional culture, limiting interaction with other Imperial races.  A brief revolt by ultra-traditionalists in 3662CE briefly threatened Swarm withdrawal from the Empire, but moderates assisted the Imperial Navy in rapidly putting down the revolt, and the loyal Swarm military fought for the Empire in the Second, Third and Fourth Federation Wars and against the Dragons.

In 4022CE, the Angry Young Ones opened up Swarm society to Imperial cultural norms, including genetic engineering and cultural interrelations, prompting Swarm attendance and participation in the Imperial Expositions and a variety of other cultural exchange missions.  This openness continued until the fall of the Empire, when the Swarm and Alimeen worked together to try to stem intra-Human fighting.  Suffering from the ravages of the Mech Plague and disillusioned by Human leadership, the race formed the Swarm Republic in 4786CE, united all of their nearly two hundred worlds in an independent racially pure state.  The Swarm Republic gradually decentralized as Worm era technology failed and relations with the Khalifate worsened.  The Bengali Dominions bartered Plague-proof macrojump drive technology to the Swarm in return for open trade relations in 5057CE, but contact between Human States and the Swarm Republic remained limited and often strained.  Relations with the Dominions soured and the Betelgeuse Union used technological incentives to encourage the Swarm Republic to threaten the Dominions during the Grim War at the turn of the 54th century.  A period of deep isolation persisted into the 57th century.  Acknowledging the growth of the Bengali Dominions around them, the Swarm again opened up to limited trade relations in the 58th century and gradually began to recontact a few far-flung "lost colonies".  Starting in the early 61st century, the Swarm began to colonize a few new worlds in the Spinward Rim region.

Current Status

The Swarm Republic of 205 worlds is mostly imbedded within the Bengali Dominions, but it is entirely separate from that realm and extends further to the Spinward than the Dominions border.  With a population of 200 billion, the Swarm are the most populous and widespread non-Human race in former Imperial Space and maintain solid relations with the Alimeen and Khzraut, the other two original non-Human Major races.  Human travelers are welcome at designated trade enclaves, usually located in orbital cities or isolated surface hives throughout the Republic, but unauthorized or unaccompanied visits within Swarm society are not well-received and may result in expulsion and permanent censure. 

Notes

Swarm society has reached near universal late macrojump technology and all of the "lost colonies" are reintegrated into the Republic, though rumors of lost enclaves in unrecontacted space persist.

 

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