Human spacers call this species "Hivers" (or even more informally, "Bugs") because of their resemblance to the countless insect species found on Earth. Size notwithstanding, Hivers do have many features in common with terrestrial insects, especially when it comes to social organization and physical appearance. Nonetheless, they are a fully sentient space-faring race.
Hivers move through space using a combination of slower-than-light and instantaneous-transport technology. A fleet of Hiver ships, driven by standard STL engines, begins by traveling a great distance the hard way: It may take them months or years, moving at near-relativistic speed, to reach their destination. However, once they arrive, a ship with the Gate Section can build a teleportation gate. Should other Hiver ships choose to follow, they can travel instantly to the newly erected gate from any other gate in the Hiver Empire.
Hivers may be encountered in any part of the galaxy. The location of the Hiver home world is presently unknown. They are highly adaptable and able to thrive in a wide variety of environments, however; Hivers can colonize worlds which many other races would find inhospitable due to low gravity or atmospheric density.
Hivers at WarEdit
Wars are common among Hivers. The Hiver military impulse is generally driven by population pressure or the urge for supremacy. Because each Hiver princess can produce countless offspring per year, the population of Hivers in any one place can spike very quickly leading to intense competition for space and resources. A hive under pressure has one of two options: either they can cull their own population or eliminate the competition.
Although there are more than 30 words for "suicide" in the Hiver language, many families choose to go down the warpath rather than institute any other population control measure. Wars of this kind are grim and brutal battles-to-the-death in which the full-time and resources of all Hive members are devoted to destroying the enemy Hive and its princess.
Occasionally an ambitious Hiver princess will take it into her head to become the High Queen of her species. The global wars of dominion in Hiver history are many and some have assumed legendary status over time. The destruction and loss of life associated with a battle for the throne has often left the planet almost completely depopulated with only a few exhausted clans left alive in the rubble.
The Hiver species is divided into three physical and social classes: the Worker, the Warrior, and the Breeder. All three classes are very different from one another, and might almost appear to be different species to the casual observer. A Worker bug looks, thinks and behaves so much differently than a Warrior or a Breeder bug that it is sometimes difficult to believe that all three bugs could have hatched from the same cluster of eggs!
Despite appearances, Hivers are not insects in the physical sense. They are much larger than any Terran insect, ranging from 40 to 250 kilograms in mass and 90 to 450 centimetres in height. They do have six limbs but the upper four are equipped with opposable digits. Most Hivers have a pair of wings on the dorsal surface of their bodies but these are vestigial and useless for flight.
A Hiver's body is partially covered with chitin but the shell is not an exo-skeleton. Hivers have an interior skeleton, a full array of internal organs and a circulatory system similar to that of a terrestrial bird or mammal. The chitin is not used for tissue support; it is adapted to serve as armor. Some scientists speculate that the bright colours and patterns of a Hiver's body also convey a great deal of social information to other Hivers.
Hiver voices come in a variety of pitches, from the trilling song of the smallest workers to the organ-like notes of the great queens. Hivers are capable of forming most of the sounds of human speech simply with their mouthparts, although there are a few that are difficult because they do not have the same arrangement of tongue and teeth that we do.
Due to the quirks of Hiver physiology, death is not necessarily the end for any given Hiver’s life. A great deal of short and long-term memory is stored in crystalline form in a Hiver’s brain case, and these chemicals can be extracted intact for up to 72 hours after death. With the help of the princess, who passes these chemicals through her own digestive tract, the memory of the fallen Hiver can be injected into the thorax of a freshly laid egg. The result is a new-born Hiver which has many of the memories, skills and experiences of the Hiver who died.
Hiver gate technology entered development some 500 years ago, finally granting them a quick and reliable method to travel between stars—once they reached them. Although a few ships were sent out in the pre-Gate era to reach and colonize more distant worlds, these early colonization attempts did not fare well; the distances involved were too great, and it was too hard to develop transport routines that would allow the building and maintenance of adequate domes or terraforming efforts for a pioneer colony. Gates were revolutionary, as they allowed new colonies to access more settled worlds for much-needed support.
Hiver gates function by manipulating the Menisceal Principle, which states that the obervable universe is merely a thin 'skin.' Anything that can leave this 'skin' temporarily becomes a non-event in space-time, and certain technologies can manipulate it in different ways. The Gate mechanism employs the non-event property to remove and re-insert matter at different locations of the universe. Each Gate represents a nexus of simultaneity; a ship passing through the Gates is briefly everywhere and nowhere at once. Hiver ships become one with the skin for a moment, and then re-coalesce at the desired coordinates. In general, all enemy races have a similar attitude toward the Hivers drive tech, which is probably the same attitude players will adopt toward them in the game. In brief:
The one salient feature of the Hiver approach to technology is that Hivers will always consider the possibility of adapting their own bodies first, if it is easier and less expensive than creating a general toolset. They are more than willing to create specialized Hivers to do particular jobs; if they consider it more efficient to create a vacuum-proof Hiver than to solve the difficulties of creating a Hiver space-suit, they'll go with the vacuum-proof Hiver. In general Hivers prefer to standardize certain aspects of their racial physiology. Their ability to specialize can become dangerous to the empire if overused on a wide scale; they are a species very much in danger of evolving into subspecies if too much genetic tinkering is done.
In general the Hiver military is run by the warrior caste, so worker caste members of the military would tend to serve in more menial jobs (loading ammunition, preparing meals, cleaning and repairing ships), unless they proved themselves to be of extraordinary value somehow in combat.
In terms of a Hiver ship's crew, the smaller the ship, the more likely the members of the crew will all be the members of one clan, and commanded by a clan commander. Larger ships of the line will have mixed crews, with the resulting tensions that one might expect. In general, the crews of a massive ship of the line will tend to replace some of their loyalty to mother and clan to their ship and crew-brothers. This process is somewhat aided by the fact that the ship itself will have a certain resemblance to a female Hiver.
A gifted military Hiver may not only serve aboard many ships and rise up through the ranks according to his talent and ability, but may be reincarnated multiple times over the course of his career. Recovering the body of a great general is worth the lives of several other Hivers.
The warrior caste has its own musical tradition. Drills and marching parades are as common among Hivers as they are in other races with a strong military tradition, but Hivers are nearly miraculous in their ability to move in unison by the thousand. All members of the Hiver military, regardless of rank, address one another as "brother"—because this is a universal in all Hiver society, unless one is speaking to a Prince, a Princess or the Queen.
Due to the extremely strong emotional attachment that most Hivers have to their mothers, a great deal of their art, sculpture and literature is devoted to glorifying their mothers, extended families and ancestors. A great deal of their engineering and architecture is also based upon the female form or on scenes vaguely remembered from the hatching period.
Hiver dances are very intricate and some of the best can involve thousands of individuals moving in perfect unison. They also prefer choral music and symphonic arrangements for up to two-hundred musicians. So far as entertainments which are unique to their species, they enjoy a language of perfumes and pheromones which is incredibly sophisticated and can create the olfactory equivalent of poetry and painting with scents.
Hivers are avid gardeners, farmers, and raise various herd animals for their own sustenance. Food is rationed and tends to be distributed on a daily basis through clan hierarchy channels. Withholding of food is a common mild punishment for those who commit any offense, and free access to communal food stores for a brief period is a common reward for meritorious conduct. Sharing of food or preparing meals communally with others is a sign of affection and esteem. Sacrificing of one's ration to another is a rare but powerful gesture. Hivers love cooking and fine dining; workers in particular are usually capable of creating gourmet delicacies which are very strong on presentation—each individual makes the most of his food as their rationing tends to be tight and food is considered a clan gift.