Introduction and Physical Description
This document covers what is known to the Empire about its primary enemy, the Vl'Hurgh, as well as their primary client species, the Neebil, who are found serving in many menial roles in the Vl'Hurgh military.
The Vl'Hurgh are a bilaterally symmetrical, bipedal, amphibious lifeform whose planet of origin is unknown. Their main torso is covered almost entirely in a hard shell, from which the Vl'Hurgh can extrude two manipulatory tentacles and two appendages which can be used for either walking (on land) or swimming (in the water). Vl'Hurgh coloration is dark; blacks, reds, and purples are the primary colors for their shells. The Vl'Hurgh occasionally wear clothing which denotes rank and status; amongst their space- and ground-based forces (but not their navies) they wear jeweled battle shorts around their lower appendages. Rank can be determined by the color of these shorts; ranging from white to black, the darker the color, the higher the rank. When on land and standing upright, the Vl'Hurgh measure between nine and ten feet in height.
The Neebil are a genetically unrelated race that were conquered early in the Vl'Hurgh's history and now serve in many roles in the Vl'Hurgh military. They are a quadrupedal race that stand between four and five feet tall when walking upright on their tentacled, prehensile lower limbs, which can also be used for climbing. They have two manipulatory tentacles in the middle of their torso, and their coloration is always a blue and mottled purple. The Neebil constantly surround themselves in a scent-masking vapor produced by a large bladder on the right side of their bodies; this vapor is often described as sweet-smelling, and is thought to be an evolutionary relic of some kind.
Senses and Diet
The Vl'Hurgh have a set of three large crystal-like structures at the tops of their bodies which serve as some form of biological electromagnetic sensory organs for the creature. These structures are covered in a highly impact-resistant, near-transparent calcified bone-like substance and are honeycombed with small, hollow chambers. Organelles and nerve endings run through this structure, with nerve endings connecting to the creature's center-body-located brain, but the exact function of these organs has never been determined beyond the assumption that they are sensory organs.
The Vl'Hurgh also have two, yellow, slitted eyes on either side of their torsos, protected by eyelids which are made of the same calcified substance as their shells. The eyes afford the Vl'Hurgh a nearly 360 degree field of vision, and are located above the area where the Vl'Hurgh's brain is located. Vl'Hurgh communicate via sound waves produced by vibrating membranes that allow the passage of air arrayed in a sequence of slits above their eyes. They have hearing organs located to the left and right of their eyes in the sharp, shoulder-like protrusions which extend beyond the reach of their retractable manipulatory tentacles.
Neebil, on the other hand, have a relatively simplistic sensory structure. Their compact bodies feature two large, bulbous eyes atop their head, which contains the brain, and two antennae immediately above the eyes vibrate in response to sound waves and provide the creature with a sense of hearing. A nose and small mouth are located below the eyes.
Both races seem to share a similar, omnivorous diet. The Vl'Hurgh feed via two mouths which are at the center of their lower appendages; food reaches the Vl'Hurgh stomach via a peristaltic muscle motion from the mouths to the stomach which is located beneath the brain.
The Neebil have a more traditional arrangement of a centrally-located mouth into which food is placed by the manipulatory appendages. Both races seem to eat either animal or plant material, though their diets seem quite bland as there are few spices found in their foods that the Imperial races recognize.
Very little is known about the method of reproduction for either the Vl'Hurgh or the Neebil. Of those bodies collected from the battlefields for dissection, no gender differentiation has been discovered; and no children have been found from either race. Hence it can be assumed that these creatures either have other sexes which do not fight in their wars, or that they require special conditions in order to breed. None of the specimens dissected have either ovaries or the ability to carry young within the body; though what appears to be sperm-generating organs have been found in some specimens, others seem to lack gonads of any sort. Investigation into this matter continues.
Culture and Art
Insofar as the only contact the Empire has had with the Vl'Hurgh has been of a military nature, nothing is known of the Vl'Hurgh's concepts of art and culture.
Society and History
The military society of the Vl'Hurgh seems to be a strict conservative hierarchy. Their military tactics and strategy are oriented with a tightly structured order of command ranks, and their units move in mass formations with a geometrical precision that rivals the Iyali's. They show surprisingly little innovation or initiative on their own, which may prove to be a weakness that the Empire can exploit. They act conservatively, withdrawing after what some would consider relatively minor losses while on a strike and attempting to resume their attack at a less-defended point. While this behavior has led some Imperials to consider them cowardly, others consider this a brilliant strategy.
While little is known of the Vl'Hurgh's overall history and society, captured spies and Imperial intelligence have determined that the Vl'Hurgh are a militaristic race which has a history of violent warfare. The Vl'Hurgh once coexisted with a race known as the Neebil, with whom they fought a millennia-long war. The Vl'Hurgh went on to completely subjugate the Neebil, then decided to continue their conquest of the Galaxy to replace resources and planets which had been devastated by war. During this conquest, they discovered the artifacts of the Shining Ones, and have been seeking more ever since.
The history of their contact with the Imperial Races goes back to 1000 Y.E., when the Vl'Hurgh first encountered members of the four Ruling Races in the form of the disgraced exiles of the Imperial Rebellion of 750 Y.E.. The Vl'Hurgh subjugated several of the exiles' planets and eliminated others in their sweep across Galactic space towards the Imperial borders. It is these subjugated exiles which the Vl'Hurgh have infiltrated into Imperial Space and used to assassinate the Emperor and spy on our activities.
The Vl'Hurgh dominate other races whom they have conquered and integrate them into their society as servants and in menial roles. Thus far, the Empire has encountered several races serving in various lower-ranking positions in Vl'Hurgh military races. While the most prevalent amongst these are the Neebil, the Iyali, Sorvu, Grune and Thrile descendants of the rebels have also found some positions within the Vl'Hurgh military.
After completing the absorption and integration of the relatively small Rebel holdings into their conquered territories, the Vl'Hurgh went on to test the borders of the Empire. Beginning in 1700 Y.E. and continuing until 2000 Y.E., the Vl'Hurgh launched a series of raids into Imperial territory at different points along the border. The purpose of these raids was to gather information on Imperial defenses, strategy, tactics, and exploitable avenues of attack; the Vl'Hurgh struck in all four of the Ruling Race's spatial territories to gather information and, as we have discovered with the assassination of the Emperor, to infiltrate our society with their spies and assassins.
Psychology and Tactics
The Vl'Hurgh psychology is, again, only something we have encountered as it pertains to their military operations. They do not believe in surrender; they fight a total war of domination, subjugation, and destruction. Their spies and intelligence networks seem to have identified those Imperial figures with a vested interest in command and control over the Empire. Their fleet strategies seem to target only those systems with ruling representatives on the Imperial Council; destroying worlds from their systems after plundering the planets for whatever useful materials may be had.
Relations with Other Races
There exists a state of war between the Vl'Hurgh and all of the Ruling Races; hence, relations are relatively fixed, on a general level.
The spies which have been caught in Imperial space are primarily Grune, Thrile, and Sorvu; descendants of former rebels integrated into the Vl'Hurgh culture after being conquered. The Iyali make poor spies save amidst their own culture due to their aquatic nature, but there have been a few. The spies and assassins sent by the Vl'Hurgh tend to be quite dedicated and fanatical, viewing the Vl'Hurgh as a vehicle to realize their dream of destroying the Empire that their ancestors rebelled against over a millennia ago.
There are, however, a few collaborators amongst the people of the Empire. Those who harbor secret desires to see the Empire overturned have been known to pass information to the Vl'Hurgh. Those seeking economic or political advantage over an opponent have been known to leak target information to the Vl'Hurgh as well, a form of treason which is considered especially vile by most beings in the Empire.