The Kilrathi are a race of sentient, felinoid, bipedal aliens from the planet Kilrah.
Society and Culture
The Kilrathi are a warrior race who inhabit the territories of the Empire of Kilrah. Without combat against external forces, the Kilrathi quickly fall into civil war and inter-clan warfare, as was prevalent before the Kilrathi gained interstellar flight. Kilrathi are naturally predisposed to attack over defense, and to ambush over attack–in-force. Kilrathi are most comfortable attacking in groups. In groups of three or more, Kilrathi warriors will often display suicidal courage and engage numerically superior forces. However, a lone Kilrathi (and sometimes a pair) will sometimes avoid contact, even against an evenly matched enemy.
Kilrathi are believed to have evolved from carnivorous pack-hunters, resulting in their belligerent and expansionist behaviour. They are natural guerrilla fighters. Proto-Kilrathi hunting packs would conceal themselves along known game-trails, lie in wait until a herd of food-animals passed by, identify the weakest, most vulnerable prey, and execute a co-ordinated attack. Kilrathi have been hunting in this fashion, using instinct and natural weaponry, for at least 10 million years. These pack-hunting tactics are very deeply ingrained in the Kilrathi psyche. Obviously, anything the Kilrathi instinct suggests, the Kilrathi intellect can overrule, but the pack-hunter paradigm is the one that comes the most naturally to the Kilrathi, and therefore the one they will turn to under stress, or when they believe they have the advantage.
Physically, Kilrathi are around two meters in height and resemble Terran felines. Kilrathi are significantly stronger than humans, with a warrior being able to dead-lift about 700 kg overhead. Kilrathi have natural weapons in their teeth and claws. Kilrathi claws are capable of cleanly severing a human spinal column.
Kilrathi society is built upon honour and the strength of the individual. The society is incredibly class-based, with a nobility that holds absolute power over those below them.
Kilrathi infrastructure, architecture, and space vessels all follow a unique design pattern; most Kilrathi structures are polygonal and feature razor-sharp towers, and most of their spacecraft follow this pattern, all sporting sharp "arms" that extend from their hulls like Kilrathi claws. This style further reflects their combative nature and affinity for aggression and hunting, serving to strike psychological fear into their opponents.
Notable Kilrathi starfighter designs include the Salthi, Dralthi, Krant, Gratha, Jalthi, Gothri, Strakha, Vaktoth, and arguably their most prized design, the Bloodfang. Notable Kilrathi include Bakhtosh nar Kiranka, Bhurak nar Caxki, Dakhath nar Sihkag, and Khajja nar Ja'targk.
Kilrathi have a natural affinity for the ambush and sneak attacks. A lone Kilrathi is frequently a decoy planted to lure opposing forces into an ambush situation. Examples of Kilrathi sneak attacks are clear with the events at McAuliffe and the Battle of Terra.
Kilrathi will sometimes fixate on a wounded enemy, pursuing it to the death, while ignoring more dangerous, undamaged opponents. This happens enough that Confederation tacticians have dubbed it “blood frenzy.”
Because of their affinity for group tactics, Kilrathi are not naturally prone to sabotage or spy operations involving the insertion and action of a single operative, although they have been known to do so on the rare occasion, generally using threats of force to coerce members of other races to spy for them.
The Kilrathi are, of course, fully aware of these tendencies in their psyche as they have exploited them against each other in inter-clan warfare for millennia. As a race, they have developed numerous social constructs designed to bypass these racial tendencies when it is advantageous to do so.
These behaviours include:
- Obey without question
- Focus on the strongest
- Respond to the challenge
Obeying one’s superiors without question is the most basic and pervasive social tenet of Kilrathi martial culture. Imagination and creativity are only encouraged in senior commanders and nobles. Line troops and commoners are trained to simply follow orders, specifically and without question or interpretation. The conceptual basis for this custom, it is believed, is the idea that a warrior given specific instructions can concentrate on fulfilling them, to the exclusion of other distractions, while a warrior given more general goals may become distracted by instinctive hunting behaviours to the detriment of the overall strategic mission. As a result, if an enemy makes the mission goals of a Kilrathi unachievable or logically impossible, the Kilrathi force will sometimes be thrown into complete chaos, particularly if not under the direct supervision of a dominant leader.
Focusing on the strongest is the absolute opposite of the Kilrathi hunting instinct, which is to focus on the weakest prey. In warfare, however, it is inadvisable to leave the strongest opponents alive and capable of attack. As a result, the Kilrathi have made focusing attack on the enemy’s strongest asset first one of their primary tenets.
The necessity of responding to a challenge is an integral part of Kilrathi society. Any insult of challenge can be considered the grounds for a struggle to the death. It is, in fact, punishable by death for a warrior in the Kilrathi military to back down from single combat. Through challenge, the Kilrathi dominant/submissive relationship is established. This dominance and submission is the underlying basis of the entire Kilrathi social system, with the stronger Kilrathi having complete control over the actions and fate of those beneath them. A notable exception is that challenges by subordinates to superiors do not always have to result in a fight to the death, for varying reasons. A subordinate is, in many cases, honour-bound to follow the orders of his superior. Challenging his superior, except in extremely unusual situations, would be a violation of his oath, which is a great crime in a society built upon rules of honour.
The Kilrathi first came into contact with Terrans on 2629.105 in the Vega Sector. After first encountering the exploration ship TCS Iason, the Kilrathi ship waited twenty minutes and then opened fire with all guns, utterly destroying Iason and all hands. The Kilrathi would go on to wage a five-year campaign of raids against any and all human vessels they encountered, preying upon innocent civilians even as the Confederation government tried in vain to pursue a peace agreement with the Kilrathi.
The Terran Confederation formally declared war on the Empire of Kilrah on 2634.186. The first large-scale Terran-Kilrathi engagement occurred on 2634.235 when the Kilrathi Fleet launched an assault against the Confederation colony of McAuliffe and the space station Alexandria in orbit around it. On 2639.033 Kilrathi forces invade and occupy the Confederation world of Enyo marking the beginning of the Enyo Engagement. A prolonged retaliatory strike by the Terran fleet eventually saw the liberation of the latter world, but in the opening stages of the conflict, the Kilrathi had significantly decimated the Confederation fleet, and proceeded to overrun hundreds of Terran colonies across the frontier, enslaving billions of humans across the galaxy.
Over the following decades, the Kilrathi continued their brutal campaign across Terran space, taking control of key strategic sectors throughout the Confederation and maintaining the offensive through much of the war. However, despite being forced onto the defensive, the Confederation continued to hold its ground, stalling the Kilrathi's advance into the Sol Sector. Much of the 2650s was dominated by the Vega Sector Campaign, in which the Kilrathi sought complete dominance in the Vega Sector, aggressively hunting their Terran opponents. However, the tide turned when emerging ace pilot Christopher Blair of the TCS Tiger's Claw was deployed against the Kilrathi armadas, eventually destroying their sector command at Venice and establishing the Confederation's dominance across Vega. However, despite this significant loss, the Kilrathi continued their aggressive tactics against the Terrans, culminating with the destruction of the Goddard Colony in 2654 by means of the Graviton Gun and the capitulation of the Confederation's Firekkan allies on Firekka in 2655. However, the Terrans repelled these offensives as they continued to skirmish with the Kilrathi all along the frontier.
For much of the War, the Kilrathi remained firmly on the offensive, forcing the Terrans into an eleven-year campaign to conquer the Enigma Sector and striking every vulnerable sector they found. Although characteristically disdainful of humans as a whole, the Kilrathi had the aid of a Terran-based terrorist network known as the Society of Mandarins; sympathetic to the Kilrathi cause, the Mandarins would wreak havoc on the Terran defensive network through much of the War with open collaboration from the Kilrathi. However, as the war progressed, Kilrathi separatists forces from frontier planets such as Ghorah Khar became disillusioned with their bloodlust and sought asylum with the Confederation, leading to an intensified standoff amongst the loyalist and separatist Kilrathi. However, even as these rebellions raged and the Enigma Sector was eventually liberated by the resurgent Terrans, the Kilrathi continued to push deep into frontier worlds across the Epsilon Sector, with Kilrathi raiders infiltrating Terran lines in vulnerable areas of space like the Gemini Sector. By 2667, the Kilrathi had decimated Confederation forces in the Deneb Sector and once more drove deeper into the heart of Terran space.
The tide turned against the Kilrathi in 2667 after the Terran High Command commissioned a series of elite carrier forces, spearheaded by the newly-commissioned Wake-Class Escort Carriers such as the TCS Tarawa to strike deep into Kilrathi space at their military bases and infrastructure. These raids grew increasingly lethal and soon entire Kilrathi task forces and shipyards were falling prey to the Terran raids. One of these raids resulted in the Battle of Kilrah in 2667, an attack that smashed the Kilrathi's incoming carrier fleet and thoroughly humiliated the royal family. An massive attack on the Kilrathi inner colonies by the Terrans in the decisive Battle of Vukar Tag further reduced the Empire's offensive capabilities. As losses continued to mount, the Empire found itself at a standstill with the Confederation; until a daring plan by the ambitious Baron Jukaga nar Ki'ra and Crown Prince Thrakhath nar Kiranka saw the Kilrathi sue the Terrans for peace, deceive them into mothballing their navy, and launch a masssive counteattack against the Terran homeworld of Earth in 2668. The attack was ultimately a failure due to the treacherous actions of Baron Jukaga and an intervention by the Free Republic of the Landreich, but saw the deaths of billions of Terrans and reestablished the Kilrathi's offensive prowess in the War. By 2669, the Terran fleet was decimated and the Kilrathi began rolling across the entire frontier practically unabated. With the Terran defensive lines collapsing, the Kilrathi Empire's ultimate victory over the human race was imminent.
Through the final year of the war, the Kilrathi were pushing deeper into human space as the shattered Terran fleet fought a desperate holding action to delay their advance on Earth. Crown Prince Thrakhath personally led the Kilrathi's renewed crusade against the humans, launching a campaign of extermination of entire star systems by the means of biological warfare. A bold but desperate counteroffensive spearheaded by Terran Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn nearly saw Kilrah destroyed by the Confederation's new superweapon, the TCS Behemoth, but this ended in failure when the Kilrathi sleeper agent Ralgha nar Hhallas leaked the vessel's technical readouts to the Crown Prince. The battle resulted in the destruction of the vessel and all but guaranteed the Kilrathi's triumph over the humans. Thrakhath then proceeded to amass a grand armada with the purpose of finally conquering the Earth and destroying the human race once and for all. However, a last-ditch offensive masterminded by General James Taggart saw the deployment of a superweapon known as the Y22A-1 Temblor Bomb, which had the power to destroy a planet by destabilizing its tectonic structure. Kilrah was discovered to be highly susceptible to such forces by a small team of Terran agents led by Colonel Jeanette Devereaux, who was personally executed along with her comrades by the Crown Prince when they were captured on Kilrah. In a last-ditch assault a wing of Excaliburs led by Colonel Christopher Blair deployed the Temblor Bomb against Kilrah on 2669.267, completely destroying Kilrah and the Imperial Armada massing above the planet and resulting in the deaths of both Prince Thrakhath and the Emperor. Their homeworld destroyed and their military might shattered, the surviving Kilrathi officially surrendered to the Terran Confederation with the signing of the Treaty of Torgo on 2669.297, formally ending the Terran-Kilrathi War.
In the years following their surrender, the shattered remnants of the Kilrathi Empire would be forced to adapt to an era of peacetime with the Terrans, reorganizing into the Kilrathi Assembly of Clans and attempting to reconcile the Terrans' terms for peace with their history of continuous inter-clan warfare. These clan disputes would return to impede on the reorganization of the fractious remnants of the Kilrathi Empire, with warlords such as Murragh Cakg dai Nokthtak attempting to restart the War with the Terrans in attempt to lay claim to the Kilrathi throne. It was these such clans and dissidents among the Kilrathi who would continue to wage war against the Terran Confederation and neighboring factions such as the Free Republic of the Landreich even as the Kilrathi Assembly of Clans attempted to maintain the fragile peace and rebuild their civilization. However, the Terrans held their ground against these belligerent factions and in the years that followed narrowly avoided a resurgence of war with the Kilrathi.
Source: WC CIC Encyclopedia