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As in a spider, the limbs are angled upward as they leave the body and then turn back down toward the ground after the joint. The Brinn limbs are much thicker in proportion to the body than those of Terran arachnids. The six hindmost limbs are used for locomotion. Each of these ends in a strong set of six grasping claws. While useless in combat, they provide excellent traction on the rough terrain amid which the Brinn evolved.
The leading four limbs are manipulatory. The first pair of arms are slender and terminate in manipulatory hands, each of which is made up of four fingers and two thumbs. These are similar enough to human hands to permit the use of many pieces of human equipment without modification or unusual difficulty. The remnants of claws can still be found on the fingers and thumbs, but these serve no purpose .
The second set of limbs is heavier than the first and ends in a trio of sharp talons. In melee combat, these are the primary weapons of the Brinn. The talons are quite sharp and the great strength of the arms renders them deadly.
The body of a Brinn is not hard like that of a spider, but is covered with a tough, leathery, black skin. The brain is at the center of the body, surrounded by a protective bone case. Two major nerve stalks, known as the dorsal and ventral columns, leave the brain and run to clusters of sensory organs on the back and belly.
A large bump, known as the dorsal sense cluster, rises from the center of the back, and serves as the primary sensory organ. It has six eyes located around it which provide the Brinn with a full 3600 field of vision. Brinn eyesight is far more sensitive to infrared radiation than that of the average human, but is very limited in the so-called "visible spectrum". In fact, Brinn are wholly unable to perceive many higher-frequency colors, such as green, blue, and violet.
Also located in the dorsal cluster is the intake for the Brinn respiratory system. Air is drawn in through an opening atop the cluster and into the creature's lungs. Here, the vital methane is extracted and passed into the blood stream for distribution about the body. Also, the dry air is filtered for any traces of liquid (mainly hydrogen cyanide) which the body needs to survive. In this manner, the Brinn are able to survive on a world with almost no hydrosphere.
Lastly, the dorsal cluster contains the Binn's sense of smell. Air which is headed for the lungs passes along several membranes which sample it for trace elements in a manner not unlike that of a human olfactory system. The Brinn sense of smell, however, is not very acute.
On the underside of the Brinn is a smaller group of sensory organs, the ventral sense cluster. A small set of photosensitive spots encircles it, but these provide only a general sense of light and dark. In practice, the Brinn all but ignore the input from these "eyes".
Of far greater interest is the vibrational sensor, which makes up the outer surface of the cluster. While similar in some ways to a human ear, it is far less sensitive in the air. But when placed against the ground, it becomes an important sense organ. Except for the faint impressions of sound which the vibrational sensor can pick up, Brinn are deaf.
Prior to their evolution of intelligence, the Brinn hunted by hollowing out areas beneath the surface of the planet and waiting for prey to pass by. When the vibrations in the ground about them indicated that a creature was passing above their dwelling, they would spring out and strike in a manner which has been likened to that of a trap-door spider on Terra.
Nulls, the first of the sexes, are actually just Brinn children who have not yet attained maturity. From birth until the age of about nine standard years, all Brinn are nulls. It is impossible to tell which sex a child will be when it matures until the change actually occurs. All nulls are dark grey in color.
As the young near what the Brinn call the 'time of progression", they become lethargic and listless. At this point, they must decide which sex they will assume as adults. All evidence collected by Imperial scientists to date indicates that the change is totally up to the individual. Once the choice is made, the youth enters a state of hibernation which is very near death and the body begins to alter itself. After seven to 12 days, the changes are complete and the Brinn awakes as a fully mature adult. Males, the second of the four sexes, are off-white or light grey in color. In reproduction, the males supply the sperm which fertilizes the eggs and allows them to begin growth.
Alpha-females (often called simply "alphas" or "alphafems") are the egg producers. They are black or dark grey in color and tend to be somewhat smaller that the other sexes, averaging only 1,200 kilograms in mass. Beta-females (often called simply "betas" or "beta-fems") receive both the sperm and the egg from their mates and store them in their bodies until the eggs mature enough to survive on their own. This takes an average of three months. Once the egg can survive on its own, it is expelled from the beta's body and placed in a nursery area which provides incubation for all of the eggs in a given community. After another two and a half to three months, the egg hatches and the child is born. Betas are light grey on their dorsal surfaces, fading to black on the underside.
With the help of the First Imperium, the Brinn quickly established a systemwide society that thrived on the exploitation of its asteroid belts and jovian worlds. Under the beneficent rule of the Vilani, the Brinn culture prospered and grew. In -2207, shortly after the advent of the Rule of Man, things began to change for the Brinn. Their good relations with the Ziru Sirka government did not carry much weight when the Solomani took power. After a series of military exchanges, which went largely against the Brinn, the Kateri system fell. The Solomain quickly established a military government to keep the natives under control. Brinn culture began a stagnation that was to last for almost 3,000 years.
The next five centuries saw the rape of the Kateri system and the violent subjugation of its people. Almost without fail, the military rulers appointed by Terra were despots and tyrants. The few exceptions made no change in the deteriorating state of Brinn-human relations. With the passing of the Rule of Man and the onset of the Long Night, the Brinn managed to drive humaniti from their system. Long forgotten was the kindness and co-operation which had existed between the Brinn and the First Imperium. Now, humaniti was remembered only as a race of sadistic slave masters and economic pirates.
As the Long Night ground on, the Brinn expanded their society and moved outward from their system. When the Terran dictators were driven out of the Kateri system, the Brinn captured much of their equipment and were able to assemble a formidable space fleet. One by one, human settlements in neighboring systems were located and attacked. In a matter of years, the Brinn overran three nearby worlds and instituted a policy of genocide unmatched by any other known civilization.
Because the Brinn find the environment of the worlds on which mankind settles inhospitable, they rarely engaged in long and costly ground battles for control of a system. Once the defending space fleet of a human system was overcome, the Brinn simply began to bombard it from orbit.
The attacks were horrible and effective. Small asteroids were diverted to fall atop major cities and nuclear weapons were employed without concern for the ecological havoc which they would bring to the worlds . The Brinn did not wish to enslave the humans they found, only to destroy them.
For nearly a hundred years, the Brinn expanded outward. As they moved, they brought death to numerous human worlds and outposts. However, the endless warfare cost them heavily.
The starships which they had claimed from the fallen Second Imperium began to fail beyond repair. While the Brinn could maintain starships, they could not build them. Centuries later when Cleon Zhunastu began his campaigns to forge the Third Imperium, the human cultures around the Brinn had united against them and driven them back into their home system.
The Pacification Campaigns (76-120) forced the Brinn, via military actions, to join the Third Imperium. For the second time in their history, the Brinn found themselves under the hand of an unwelcome human government. Economic and political programs established under the rulership of the Lentuli dynasty were little more than vengeance for the Brinn's genocidal campaigns during the Long Night. As the turmoil of the Civil War shook the foundations of Imperial control in the 600s, the Brinn attempted to throw off their human masters in a violent but unsuccessful rebellion. Although they did manage to reclaim their own system, they were unable to hold it against the subsequent counterstrikes which quickly decimated their makeshift war fleet.
When the Imperium regained control of Kateri less than a year later, it was found that the Brinn had once again embarked on a program of genocidal warfare against humaniti. Every single human being who had been trapped in the system when the Imperial troops were forced to withdraw had been slain by the Brinn.
After the fires of the Civil War had cooled, the Brinn were once again subject to retribution for their actions. Although an official policy of Imperial Absolution was granted by Arbellatra for all military actions fought in the course of the Civil War, the Brinn were returned to a state of military rule and forced to accept unusually harsh socio-economic restrictions again. Early on in the rule of Strephon, the Imperial Military Government of the Kateri system was ordered to assist the natives in the formation of a civilian government. After ten years of negotiations and political arbitration, the Brinn established a civil service bureaucracy to govern the planet.
Despite their new liberties, the Brinn are still almost wholly under the thumb of the Imperial Military. Every new ruling made by the government has to be cleared by the military before implementation, and the Brinn are forbidden to raise any form of military other than a local system police force.
The innermost orbit, at a distance of roughly 15 million kilometers (0.1 AU), is filled by an unusually dense ring of asteroids. When the Brinn first began to explore their system (less than fifty years before their first contact with humaniti) they found a treasure trove of ores in these rocks. To this day, a population of almost 35,000 prospectors works amid these mineral-rich planetoids.
The third and fourth orbits, at 0.32 and 0.48 AU, are occupied by jovian worlds similar to Assiniboia in the Regina system or Jupiter in the Terra system. The innermost of these two is 150,000 kilometers in diameter and has been named Kleslin in Galanglic. It has 11 major moons, five of which are currently home to various Brinn installations, and a pronounced ring of ice.
The outer of the two gas giants is Galidesh, and is only half the size of its sister world. It has only 6 major moons, two of which are occupied by the Brinn. Although Galidesh has its own ring system, it is much fainter and far less spectacular than that of Kleslin. The farthest occupied orbit in the Kateri system is 0.72 AUs from the star. Like the inner most orbit, it is home to an asteroid belt. This one, unlike the first, is sparse and geologically average. It has seen some exploitation by the Brinn during their history, but is normally home to fewer than 5,000 prospectors at any given time,
In the second orbital position, at a distance of 0.2 AUs, is the Brinn homeworld, Divad. In human terms, a less hospitable world would be hard to find. If it were not for the need to oversee the native race, it is doubtful that the Imperium would ever established any form of colony or outpost here.
Divad is 13,120 kilometers in diameter with a rocky core. Its density is only 0.76, giving it a mass of 0.82 standard and a surface gravity of only 0.78 gees. Divad turns on its axis every 36.7 hours and circles Kateri every 12.28 local days (18.78 standard days). Divad's axial tilt is 16", while its orbital eccentricity is 0.02. Divad has no moons. The atmosphere which shrouds Divad is a mixture of hydrogen (70%) and methane (28%). The remaining 2% is made up of various elements which are non-toxic to the Brinn, but quite deadly to humans. The atmospheric pressure is 1.9 standard. There is very little precipitation on the world and only 4.7% of the surface is covered by liquid. In almost all cases, this is hydrogen cyanide which, although vital to Brinn metabolism, is quickly lethal to humans (and most other oxygen-breathing races known to the Imperium). Because Kateri is such a weak star, Divad is a cold world despite its close proximity. On the average, the surface temperature is almost -1000 C. On the poles, this can fall to as low as -170*. Regions near the equator have been known to reach temperatures of -550 during the height of summer,
Unlike worlds with molten cores, Davao's crust is not broken into multiple tectonic plates. In fact, geologically it is quite stable and has been for a very long time.
As the atmospheric pressure on Divad is greater (in most cases) than that found within human inhabited facilities, most leaks involve the contamination of a standard oxygennitrogen atmosphere inside by the methane-hydrogen mixture outside. On rare occasions, the opposite exchange occurs and a quantity of terrestrial air is released into the Brinn environment.
In both cases, the results are almost instantly hazardous. Both hydrogen and methane, the two primary components of a standard Brinn atmosphere, can combine explosively with the oxygen found in a conventional human environment. Once the contamination reaches a sufficient level, the slightest spark can set off a powerful explosion which may injure or kill those in the area.
In additiun to the risk of detonation, there is the danger of toxins in the area of an air leak. To humaniti, the trace of hydrogen cyanide found in the atmosphere of Divad quickly causes unconsciousness and death. Likewise, the oxygen in a normal human's air supply is deadly to the Brinn, though to a lesser extent.
Although the two major components of Divad's atmosphere are both odorless and colorless to human perceptions, there are trace elements which are quite noticeable. Humans who have been fortunate enough to inhale traces of the outside air and survive agree that it smells like very bitter lemon with a hint of almost sickly sweet almond. The Brinn say that our atmosphere smells like "a thing long dead which has been pulled from the belly of a predator".
Another concern of the non-Brinn inhabitants of Divad is the danger of diffusion. The hydrogen in the atmosphere is able to seep through many standard materials even without a break in the integrity of an environmental seal. Although diffusion does not pose the threat of poisoning those who breathe it, it can still reach flammable levels in time. The enire human settlement on Divad is sealed against hydrogen diffusion, so it is not normally a problem. Those who leave he main settlements and in small vehicles or vacc suits should remember to take precautions, however.
One must also take into account the low average temperature on Divad. In the city of B'Rel'Lhas, where the Imperial presence is most pronounced, the average temperature is almost -1000 C. This has made the continuous operation of heating systems vital in areas which are used by humaniti. Even a small failure brings temperatures dangerously low in a brief period of time. In order to counter both the hazard of environmental leaks and heating failures, every area of the Imperial Complex in B'Rel'Lhas is linked to a computer monitoring system which constantly tests the environment in the facility and sounds an alarm in the event of a malfunction or other hazard. Dangerous areas are evacuated (it possible) and then quickly sealed off.
The Dominion is made up of over three dozen councils, each of which is charged with the control of one area of society. The more important councils are those of Wealth (economics), Truth (religion), Knowledge (education), and Service (public welfare). Each of these is composed of 15 members (known as Dominators) who are grouped into three internal councils, approximating the functions of the judicial, legislative, and executive branches.
For example, the Council of Wealth is wholly in control of the Dominion's economy. Five of its members set down the laws which govern society in such matters, another group controls those portions of the planetary police force which enforces those laws, and the last team of Dominators passes judgment and hands out punishments to violaters.
Members of the various councils are selected by the Grand Council of Dominators. This group is made up of the senior members from each of the various ruling councils and serves no function other than to select replacements for those who die or retire from government office.
The Grand Council also has the power to decide that Dominators are unfit to continue in office; it can order them removed from government. The head of the Grand Council is the Grand Dominator (the senior member of the group) and it is he who adjudicates all ties in the council's decisions.
The nature of this arrangement is such that older, more conservative members of the government tend to be in posittion of greater power than younger, usually more liberal, citizens. The overall result is that the Grand Dominion is somewhat resistant to large scale changes in governmental or social programs and generally supports the status quo.
Although their actions have not posed a serious threat to the Imperial forces in Kateri since the first Civil War (604-622), they have served to remind the citizens of Divad that they are under the hand of a human government.
As soon as their long sought-after revolution came and the Imperium was forced to leave the system to the Brinn, the Council of Valor took its place among the other branches of the Grand Dominion.
Two Brinn converse by settling upon their ventral clusters, bringing their vibrational sensors into contact with the surface below them, and then thrumming the ground with their powerful legs. Words and concepts are expressed by the number and duration of vibrations (in a manner similar to Morse code) while emotion is imparted by the intensity.
As might be imagined, two Brinn having a heated argument can engage in a great deal of stomping and pounding. In many cases, the evidence of a past conversation (deep foot prints, broken stones, and damage to the ground beneath them) may be obvious for several days.
During this time, as the past glory of the First Imperium was quickly being bled away by the parasitic takeover of the Solomani, the existing
Brinn religions began to lose popular support and falter. In less than a century, nearly every previously existing faith was in ashes, replaced by what is now simply known as the Truth. In short, the Truth states that the Brinn (and all other lifeforms) were created by a single divine being of a universally unfathomable nature. This entity, known as H'Tykk'Ral, is cruel and slightly sadistic. The Brinn point to their own suffering over the last three millenia as evidence of this claim.
The reason for this unabashed hostility toward his offspring is obvious (to the believers): H'Tykk'Ral is testing his peoples. Those who cannot answer his puzzles and face his challenges are not worthy of ascent and evolution.
The Brinn believe that it is their purpose to rise up against their deity one day and confront him in the Great Conflict. If they are able to defeat him, and thus escape the tortures and torments which all who live in this universe must endlessly endure, they will assume his role as masters of the cosmos. With this in mind, individual Brinn work constantly to perfect themselves mentally and physically.
Their view of humaniti is greatly tinted by the Truth. They see all other lifeforms, but most obviously mankind, as competitors who must be overcome in the course of their struggles toward the final battle with H'Tykk'Ral. The fact that the Imperium is so far ahead of them in technology indicates that they are nearer to the Great Conflict than the Brinn. The Truth encourages them to believe that victory over so superior a foe as humaniti would be greatly valuable in their preparations for the coming confrontation with H'Tykk'Ral.
The Truth is so much a part of the day-to-day life of the Brinn citizenry that they have no special churches or temples for religious services. All believers are expected to carefully cultivate the rage which they feel for H'Tykk'Ral and for the hostile way in which he has treated them.
The Brinn do not pray to H'Tykk'Ral in any conventional way, but rather, offer him threats and promises of defeat in the Great Conflict. It is not unusual for a Brinn in a desperate situation to make statements which, roughly translated, mean "This is another insult to my race which must be avenged" or, as the Imperials on Divad often joke, "That's another one I owe you, God".
The Second Grand Survey, published in 1065 by the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service, listed the religion of the Brinn as having a Universal Religious Profile of 9130992-8.
It should be noted that the Brinn are not simply monsters with an unending hunger for brains, as many stories of battles with them might indicate, and that the process is not commonly invoked on humans. When it is done, however, R'Earst'Ahlann is considered to be the finest compliment which one can pay to an enemy.
The Brinn have a saying which, when translated, goes something like this : "I will savor the taste of your thoughts and learn from this diet of your flesh". These words, or others to the same effect, are often "spoken" to a respected enemy prior to his death as a sign of respect.
One of the foremost reasons for the rarity of R'Earst'Ahlann in battles against humaniti is simple medicine: human beings (and their brains) are quite toxic to the Brinn. Hence, when the Great Tribute is to be paid to a human (or similar) foe, the Brinn is placing his own life in grave danger.
Only the closest of medical supervision and the injections of massive doses of anti-toxins can make the ritual fairly safe.
Much of the complex has been constructed beneath the surface, with only the starport and portions of the Imperial military installations found above ground. Underground are the normal bureaucratic offices of the Complex, housing for both military and civilian inhabitants, as well as a small complement of shops, theaters, and similar recreational areas.
Due to the vastly different environments which human and Brinn inhabitants find comfortable, direct contact between the two races has always been limited. The military situation on Divad has not helped matters, and many of the humans who live there have never seen a Brinn in person.
Only recently, with the theoretical return of the system to civilian rule, have Brinn been allowed to enter the Imperial Complex. When inside, they must wear bulky environmental suits to protect them from the terrestrial temperature and atmosphere. Over the last few years, a few of them have taken up residence within the Complex, in areas sealed off from the rest of the facility, to work more closely with humans.
Smaller but similar Imperial settlements exist in the cities of THoris'An and V'Hol'Dahl. Each of them has a population which is roughly half that of the Imperial Complex at B'Rel'Lhas.
As soon as the area was secured, the Brinn began to slaughter their captives under orders given to them by the Council of Truth. Their liberation was at hand and the oxygen breathers would be destroyed at last. Whenever and wherever they were found, non-Brinn were put to death quickly.
Over the course of the next ten years, during which the civil war was at its height, the Brinn stayed within their system and built up a military force. Outside, the shattered Imperium did its best to commit suicide and paid little attention to the loss of the Brinn system. It was a fatal mistake.
The Brinn moved out of the Kateri system quickly and struck at nearby human worlds. Once again, their tactics were simple and effective. Whole cities were incinerated by thermonuclear weapons and billions of people were slain in the initial attacks. The majority of those who survived the first onslaught fell victim to the ecological collapses brought on by extensive radiation exposure and the blocking of sunlight by the gigatons of dust which suddenly filled the upper atmospheres.
Currently, the Brinn occupy a group of six star systems in the rimward portions of Corridor Sector (located at 2039, 2040, 2140, 2238, 2239, and 2338) which can be reached only,by jump-2 or better. They have isolated themselves from humaniti and seem, for the moment, to be content with the area of space which is currently in their grasp. There can be little doubt, however, that the Grand Dominion will seek to expand its power in this region as the unrest following Strephon's assassination continues.