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- Species: Astina
- Homeworld: Slaughter
- Size: 2m for pups, 5-9m for adults
- Color & Markings: Mottled and gray in coor, the thick hide of Asteens is noted for its ability to turn a blade. "The skin of a rhino stretched over a cockroach," was the famous description Admiral Jose Landa made in the armada's first-ever visit to Slaughter.*
- Reproduction & Development: Though commonly mistaken as insectoid, the Astina are closer to marsupials. Female Asteens, after a four-month pregnany, wil retreat to an eight-month hibernation, during which 50 tiny Astina "pups" continue their gestation in a specialized pouch along the mother's lower back. Finally, about a year after conception, the pups are left to graze on the grasslands or family farms of Slaughter.
- Diet: Omnivores
- Lifespan: Strong Asteens can live up to 120 years, but in the kill-or-be-killed atmosphere of modern Slaughter, they average 30-40 years.
- Language: Located between two major galactic powers, Slaughter has largely adopted the trade languages of Grasskan Tneth and Duvello.
- Social Structure: The Astina are a bright, vicious species, ruled by impulse and family loyalties, and entertained by the planet's seemingly endless blood sports, arenas, corner brawls, and gladiator justice. When an Asteen pup reaches the age of trial, the matriarch "calls" them off the grasslands by scent. The patriarch will then put them through a series of physical and mental trials, testing their ruthlessness. These trials are critical, as the mafioso-like structures of Slaughter demand that eah pup contributes to the family's crime business. Throughout their life, a pup will pay a percentage of their income up the chain of command: To Captains, Brood-Setts and finally to the Sett himself.
The planet is famously run by the "Five Families of Slaughter" -- five Setts who each control vast swathes of the planet and moons, all via extended crime families. Violence rules virtually every action on Sluaghter: Promotions and social mobility are aminly determined by strong-arming, destruction, and killing. Disputes large and small are settled by fights, and, where warranted by the Sett, in grander coliseum battles.
The planet is largely inward-looking, with no defensive systems or standing armies in place. The two neighboring powers -- the Consortium of Duvell and the Grasskan Empire -- consider Slaughter to be critical as a neutral (if highly dangerous) have for trade and black-market dealings. Both fleets do their part to see that Slaughter goes untested and unconquered, leaving the Setts to rule as they choose.
- Intelligence Rating: Asteen pups commonly test in the Echo/Foxtrot range, but fully-grown Astina have tested as high as November/Oscar.
- Interaction with Humans: The Empire has forbidden human travel to Slaughter since 2333, during the war with The Vinn. At that time, one particularly opportunistic Sett sensed a distracted human empire, and ordered the raid and destruction of the battle cruiser Triunfo while it was in orbit around Slaughter. His assessment had proved cunningly correct: Humanity's armada was too engaged with The Vinn to exact revenge. All la Familia could do was quarantine the planet to human travel.
After the Vinn were defeated, the topic of conquering Slaughter did come up in imperial proceedings, but business interests in the empire had lost their appetite for war. As such, the quarantine and sanctions have stayed in place for nearly 70 years. Those rare human traders who do return from Slaughter report an intensely violent planet. Even more telling have been the number of humans who have never returned from Slaughter: A fact that imperial propagandists have capably employed in their quarantine of the planet.
*A rarely-remarked historical note: Admiral Landa was killed on Slaughter three days after filing his famous report.
- This wiki has an article on the Astina.