This is the place to talk about your favorite topic, to share news, theories, ideas, and to connect with others. The content from your Forum has been converted to Discussions posts, so nothing has been lost.
Ask not the hotha how the rokai soars: Essentially meaning "don't waste my time." Refers to two species of flight-capable fauna native to Akanda, the rokai and the hotha. Used by persons of great importance/authority when speaking to persons of much less importance/authority.
Your walkway is creaking: Roughly equivalent to "you're on thin ice." Refers to the many suspended pedestrian walkways present in Izeran cities.
It's toppled like the Republic: "it is" and "it has" are both acceptable uses. Meaning something, usually some situation, has deteriorated very dramatically. Refers to the Akandan Republic, which collapse under the pressure of the revolution that led to Izera's formation.
You're fishing for hziss: variants include "you've gone fishing for hziss" and "you're swimming with hziss." Essentially means "you're in way over your head" and/or "you're screwed." Refers to a well-known species of large, foul-tempered amphibian native to Akanda known as hziss.
The Ark Reach Overcolony is the largest Kin nation in the Known Galaxy. One of the Kin Imperium's successor states, it is technically one of the youngest nations on the galactic scene; nevertheless, in the thirteen decades that it has existed the Overcolony has made great strides in reclaiming and reunifying much of the Imperium's sundered territories.
Society and Culture
Kin society can be summed up quite well in one well-known quote: “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Every aspect of their society, every individual, is expected to contribute to the continued prosperity and well-being of the Kin as a whole; a labourer constructs new warrens for other Kin to live in not out of a desire for monetary compensation, though he does receive payment for his efforts, but because he knows that by doing so he has improved the lot of his fellow Kin and eased the burden on the hive by some amount. This altruism can be seen in every level of their existence; the needs of one’s peers outweigh the needs of oneself, the needs of one’s hive outweigh the needs of one’s family, and the needs of the Kin as a whole outweigh the needs of a single world. So deeply ingrained is this mindset that if a Kin puts the needs of himself before those of his fellows, he is considered criminally insane and labelled as a dissident or renegade; such beings are often stripped of their birth names and exiled to wander the stars alone, where the isolation frequently takes a toll on their mental stability—if they weren’t already unhinged (by human standards) before their exile, a Kin renegade will almost certainly become so as a result of it.
By their very nature as eusocial insects, the Kin are an expansionist people; their large numbers, considerable lifespan and rapid reproductive rate drive them to claim as many worlds that are capable of supporting them as they can find, and once a world has been claimed by the Kin they will stop at nothing to hold onto it. They will not take worlds from other sapient species if it can be avoided, but if no other options are available they may attempt to do so regardless; in such rare cases, the Kin are not motivated by malice or greed but by pragmatism—as they see it, the needs of the Kin outweigh the needs of the Not-Kin.
The geneticists of the Kin’s science castes are amongst the best genetic engineers in the galaxy, having bred numerous species of non-sapient ‘drones’ to fulfill various purposes in both peacetime and war; these can range from simple organisms like living musical instruments to enormous weapons of war such as the tanvyalin, gargantuan centipede-like monstrosities which function as living siege weapons and can change the very landscape with their burrowing habits.
In addition, due to their rather unique physiology as composite creatures made up of thousands of minuscule clades, Kin make excellent spies and infiltrators; they can send their component insects into places which most other species could not even dream of going, and what one bug in a single Kin's swarm knows, they all learn in very short order.
The Caste System
Part social construct and part biological imperative, the caste system (yathahsht'kin, or 'thus we are born, thus we serve') is the primary social system of the Kin as a species; all Kin hold to it, regardless of their colony's individual slants and ideals, and to go against it is considered a serious offense punishable by exile. A holdover from their evolutionary roots as hive-based eusocial arthropods, the caste system defines a Kin's life from the moment it is born to the moment it dies; it is a vast and complex social structure, divided into a number of general categories (castes) and countless different occupations within those categories (also known as subcastes). Listing every single permutation and subcaste would require more memory than even the vaunted Cradel datacore might hold, but in descending order the most well-known, powerful and important castes are:
The ruling caste (yathahsht'yia, or 'those who command'; comprised mainly of the nobility);
The science caste (yathahsht'iax, or 'those who create'; includes physicists, physicians, engineers, mathematicians, etc.);
The warrior caste (yathahsht'atar, or 'those who defend'; this caste includes both the military, comprised of soldiers, strategists and the like, and the lawkeepers, analogues of human police, bounty hunters and private investigators);
The nursing caste (yathahsht'ohru, or 'those who shape'; they are responsible for the raising and education of protolarvae, regardless of caste or lineage, during the formative years of their lives, and serve as doctors and nurses in a more conventional sense for the general populace. They often work hand-in-hand with the science caste in this regard);
And the labourer caste (yathahsht'ahbrahk, or 'those who dig'; this caste includes construction workers and manual labourers, but also includes architects, artisans and sculptors).
A Kin can change his sub-caste several times in the course of his lifetime, much as a human might change jobs; moving into an entirely different caste, however, is difficult but not impossible. Ascension to a 'higher' caste can be done if an individual of a 'lower' caste demonstrates a remarkable aptitude for at least some aspect of the caste they seek to transfer into, but the requirements for this are remarkably steep; it remains a rare occurrence, and is unlikely to occur more than once in a Kin's lifetime if it occurs at all. In addition to the difficulties posed with regular ascension, it is simply impossible to ascend into the ruling caste; members of the Kin nobility must be born into that prestige.
As can be inferred from its name, the ruling caste is the pinnacle of Kin society and also its smallest; its members serve as governors for Kin colonies, and are responsible for ensuring that order is kept and tithes are met. If the local member of the ruling caste is not available or incapacitated--they are away on business, or they have met with an untimely demise--then leadership of a colony defaults to the highest-ranking member of either the science of warrior castes until a replacement can be appointed; the science caste rules during times of piece, while the warrior caste takes the reins in times of conflict.
A typical Kin polity, the Ark Reach Overcolony is a caste-based oligarchy where political power is concentrated primarily in the hands of its ruling caste, and to a lesser extent the highest echelons of the warrior and scientist castes. At the very pinnacle of government is the Imperator, Dis Baba, whose words and edicts are effectively absolute. Immediately beneath him are the Praetors, also called Praetorians, a group of seventeen yathahsht'yia Kin whose members each act as the administrator of one of the Overcolony's star systems; though they deffer to him, within their own territories they are considered the ultimate authority, and throughout the Imperium they are treated with a great deal of respect by the citizenry.
Beneath the Praetorians come planetary governors, each of whom--as the title would indicate--acts as the executive of a single planet within the Overcolony, as well as any natural satellites it may have; they, in turn, have their own subordinates who act as mayors or administrators for any settlements and installations on the planet itself.
Under normal circumstances, executive, legislative and judiciary powers are all the provenance of the ruling caste; however, at a local level, these powers can be conferred to the highest representative of either the scientist caste or the warrior caste under certain conditions. Such conditions include the local representative of the ruling caste being absent or indisposed, or situations--such as an attack by a hostile force, or the outbreak of a virulent epidemic--where a scientist or warrior's skills are of more importance or use than those of the nobility.
The Kin were once one of the most widespread races in this sector of space; their imperium spanned considerable territory and wielded great influence, and it had existed in this state for well over a thousand years. So long have they lived amongst the stars, in fact, that the Kin have forgotten the world where they were born; all memory of this ancestral birthworld, the cradle of their civilization, has faded away over the centuries. Despite this lack of knowledge concerning their origins, the Kin of the old imperium were content; barring the occasional attacks by raiders and wyrms on their outlying worlds, their imperium had been at peace for a fairly large portion of its existence.
As such, they were ill-prepared for the so-called Silent Crusade of the Molo’Qraaat; the crustacean aliens’ homeworld was within spitting distance of Tefvizmar, capital of the imperium, and it was one of the first worlds to experience the unrelenting savagery of these monsters. Because of this, the imperium suffered greatly and the hands of the alien barbarians; even though the soldiers of the warrior castes made the Molo’Qraat pay dearly for every inch of land they took, Tefvizmar fell, the imperator and his most trusted aides and councillors were slain by Molo’Qraaat assassins, and the archive world of Garrholahk, repository of all the imperium’s knowledge and history, was set ablaze by orbital bombardment. With the death of the imperator and no clear line of succession, the only thing holding the imperium together was their hatred of the Molo’Qraaat; once the war ended, the imperium then fragmented into dozens upon dozens of smaller colonies which immediately descended into petty squabbling with one another. As the colonies began to battle each other in an effort to prove their right to succeed the imperator, the Kin’s numbers and territory continued to dwindle, and it seemed certain that their own internecine conflicts would finish what the Molo’Qraaat had started five years earlier.
Yet this was not the end for the Kin; some twenty years after the fragmentation of their imperium, a male of the ruling caste was born on the distal colony world of Dis. This being, known as Dis Baba, matured far more rapidly than was the norm for his species, and with this maturity of body came a keen mind and a drive to restore what had been lost; within two years of his birth, Dis Baba had united all the warring hives of Dis into a single colony, and in another seven he led his people back to the stars to begin colonizing other worlds. What followed was a long campaign to both expand his sphere of influence and reunite the Kin into a single polity, and while this goal is by no means complete at present, Dis Baba’s efforts have certainly gone a long way towards saving his people from extinction; in the past thirteen decades, his empire—known as the Ark Reach Overcolony, owing to the fact that its roots lie in the Ark Reach star cluster—has expanded from a small patch of land on a single, barely-hospitable jungle world to thirty planets scattered across seventeen star systems, and eighty-five percent of all the Kin in known space have sworn fealty to him.
Though still a far cry from the glory of the old imperium, Dis Baba’s Ark Reach Overcolony is a force to be reckoned with; having faced the threat of extinction once already, the Kin will not be caught off-guard in such a manner ever again.
The Kin of the Ark Reach Overcolony are atheistic to a near militant degree; they hold that everything in the universe can be explained through rationalism and science, and that no higher power had a hand in the formation of the galaxy, their development as a species and people or anything else. Kin who come to follow the tenants of a religious faith are considered to be under the sway of alien charlatans, and depending on the Kin’s caste it may be forcibly re-educated as to the proper nature of the universe, exiled for being an insane dissident, or killed off to prevent the ‘poison’ of belief from infecting its fellows.
That said, while the Ark Reach Overcolony follows no faith and holds no dogma, the Kin were not always so empirical in their beliefs. In ages past, the Kin are said to have venerated a complex pantheon of deities, psychopomps and daemons, but—as a result of their archive world’s destruction at the hands of the vile Molo’Qraat—few records of this faith have survived up until the present day; many of these, if not all, are believed to have been destroyed by agents of the Ark Reach Overcolony in an effort to promote and enforce Dis Baba’s policy of ‘empirical truth’. Nevertheless, not all mention of the Kin’s archaic faith has been stamped out; splinter colonies of Kin have been known to venerate a being known only as Yiaxatar, which—purportedly—was worshipped on the Kin’s ancestral homeworld as the god of innovation and strength.
Without the spark of life to animate them, the clades of a dead Kin are simply dead tissue which could be put to use as something else, and so the common practice in the Ark Reach Overcolony is to recycle the fallen whenever possible. This is not to say that they care nothing for those who die, however; whenever a Kin dies, its name is inscribed into what is known as a Gel’horahkt (stone of remembrance), a large slab akin to a mass tombstone located within every Kin hive, and it is to the local Gel’horahkt that relatives of the deceased come to pay their respects.
As one might expect, the vast majority of the Ark Reach Overcolony's armed forces are drawn directly from its warrior caste; receiving near-constant training from shortly after their births to the time of their tenth birthdays, these Kin have the concepts of discipline, unit cohesion and loyalty to the group over the self drilled into them by the time of adulthood. They are taught early on to trust in their comrades-in-arms, and that success in battle comes not solely from oneself but one's peers as well; as such, they make for some of the most disciplined and tightly-knit soldiers in the known galaxy.
As one of the largest castes in the Ark Reach Overcolony, the warrior caste has a considerable amount of manpower at its disposal; not counting the third of their ranks set aside for law enforcement, the Overcolony's armed forces average some seven billion personnel, with three quarters of that making up the terrestrial forces while the remaining one-point-seven-five billion comprise the navy. Many of their weapons, vehicles and vessels are designed and built by members of the science caste, though it is ultimately the warriors who maintain and make use of them in the field.
During the intensive training of their formative years, young warrior Kin are closely scrutinized by their instructors to determine if they possess any sort of aptitude for a particular field of expertise; based on these observations, they will then be sent to a branch of the armed forces best suited for their nascent talents. Each branch is tightly regimented, having a ladder of ranks which a warrior ascends on experience and merit; on rare occasions a Kin might be born into one rank as part of their subcaste, but this does not happen often and those who prove themselves unsuited to their pedigree will quickly find themselves demoted.
Overcolony military doctrine holds that, while its soldiers are not expendable, neither are they worth more than that which they fight to protect; Kin of the warrior caste will not throw their lives away unless they know that doing so will somehow benefit the greater good, and as such they make heavy use of cover and squad-based tactics to avoid sustaining needless injuries or loss of life.
In addition, it holds that one should assail an enemy from all sides, attacking him from avenues that he does not expect; to that end, Kin terrestrial forces will do their best to surround an opponent and hit them from multiple angles. A favourite tactic in this regard is to employ tanvyalins, which will burrow underneath enemy positions and then collapse them; they often leave tunnels in their wake, which the Kin infantry will use to get behind their enemies and trap them in a pincer.
The composition of Overcolony infantry formations broadly mirrors those of terrestrial armed forces, having a similar rank structure. For example, the lowest active infantry rank in the warrior caste, the Zihva (a word meaning "soldier" or "rifleman"), is roughly analogous to a private; they operate in squads of ten to fifteen individuals, who are led by more experienced soldiers known as Ja'naik ("nymph, youth"). Above them are the Vad'naik ("imago, adult"), who lead platoons comprised of three-to-five Zihva squads and who distribute their orders through their Ja'naik subordinates. Vad'naik who demonstrate a consistent degree of skill or competence over the course of multiple engagements are then promoted to the rank of Yia'shrad, roughly analogous to a captain; they lead companies consisting of three-to-five platoons, and are in turn led by the Yia'deshtaht, the colonel equivalents which lead battalions made up of four to six companies, and so on and so forth.
Located immediately below the commander-in-chief in terms of military power and authority, the Attar'rhughat are a small group consisting of the greatest generals, admirals and strategists; their name is a compound word which can be translated as either "grand champion" or "glorious strategist". Each of the Attar'rhughat are responsible for a different branch of the military; some are leaders of the terrestrial forces, including infantry, armoured battalions, aircraft and drone battalions, while others instead command the fleets. In practice, they are the highest of all the warrior caste's many ranks and subcastes, and barring the direct intervention of the imperator himself their commands are absolute; no one else has the authority to challenge or overturn their decisions except in truly exceptional circumstances.
One is not simply born into the ranks of the Attar'rhughat, for the responsibility of this position is great indeed; as the leaders of the Ark Reach Overcolony's armed forces, the responsibility of protecting its worlds and people from those who would do them harm rests squarely on their shoulders. As such, the bare miminum requirement for entering this prestigious group is to have spent thirty-five years in the higher ranks of their particular branch of the military.
Not a large organization by any stretch of the imagination, the Attar'rhughat never numbers less than six or more than twelve at any given time; as of 3645, ten individuals hold the title.
Interstellar Travel & FTL Technology
Being an industrious and expansionistic people, it should come as no surprise that the Kin have a well-developed starfleet. All but the smallest of their vessels are capable of travelling at faster-than-light speeds, which they accomplish by a method they refer to as ‘intravenous transit’, or ‘tunnelling’. Essentially, members of the Kin’s science castes have discovered that there are certain places in the galaxy where the fabric of reality has ‘worn thin’, for lack of a better term, and by subjecting these regions of space to a controlled burst of certain energies, it is possible for a properly-shielded ship to slip through this weakened barrier and enter the realm which lies beyond—a strange sublevel of existence known alternatively as capillary space or simply otherspace.
Within otherspace there exists a complex, winding network of spatial corridors which span incredible distances, thereby connecting stars, systems and clusters that are light-years apart to one another; and furthermore, the flow of time in otherspace is divorced from the flow of time in regular space—one could spend weeks or even months traversing the labyrinthine capillary network of this dimension, and yet upon exiting otherspace one would find that exceedingly little time had passed in the real world since one had first started one’s journey. Because of these unique properties, ships travelling through capillary space can traverse incredible distances in a very short span of objective time.
However, while this so-called tunnelling is rather convenient in that respect, it is not without its drawbacks. Most obvious of these is the staggering degree of time dilation involved in otherspatial travel; a trip which takes only a few minutes from the perspective of an outsider can take weeks or months from the perspective of a starship’s crew, and as such measures must be taken to ensure that the vessel has enough food, fuel and amenities to last the journey—if a ship runs out of a fuel while travelling through capillary space, it will almost certainly never come out. Furthermore, capillary space itself is dangerous; this plane of existence is filled with forces and energies that can very easily destroy an unshielded vessel within moments of it entering otherspace, and even a ship that has been adequately shielded from the hostile environment will find itself courting disaster if it deviates from its path along one of the safe corridors. Worse, it is possible—though fortunately a very rare occurrence—for one of these corridors to collapse for a brief instant; if a ship happens to be travelling through the corridor when this happens, at the very best it will find itself shifted to another corridor heading to the wrong destination…and at worst, the ship will be destroyed outright.
Because of the dangers associated with travel through otherspace, certain vessels—such as the colossal hive ships which are tasked with colonizing new worlds for the Ark Reach Overcolony—opt to forgo this method of transit in favour of travelling to their destination in real space at sub-light speeds; it will take them much longer to get where they’re going, yes, but such tardiness is preferable to taking the risk of losing both the ship and its precious cargo of colonists and terraforming materials to the whims of otherspace.
As one might expect, piloting a vessel through otherspace is not something that the Kin take lightly; such a task is entrusted only to the best of the very best, for it requires both superlative skill at the yoke of a starship and unflagging concentration and attention to detail. The technologies involved in shielding vessels from the effects of otherspace, as well as entering otherspace in and of itself, are a closely-guarded secret that the Kin are reluctant to share with the other races of the galaxy for a number of reasons, and to date no other species has been able to successfully replicate this particular means of FTL travel; acquiring said secrets could make for a good plothook, potentially.
When most sapients hear the words 'genetic engineering', they think of modifications made to their own species in utero or during the course of their lives, to make themselves something more than baseline normality for their species. While the Kin have dabbled with such forms of self-modification, their use of the term does not refer to that practice, but rather to the creation and design of entirely new lifeforms intended to fulfill various roles in their society; these organisms, known collectively as drones, are often of limited sapience if they have minds at all and come in a truly staggering variety of shapes, sizes and functions; unless designed to be otherwise, they are collectively sterile and incapable of natural reproduction--hardly surprising, considering that they are often grown within vats or tubes.
Most drones are mass-produced like machines--fitting, as that is precisely what they are; living, organic machines as opposed to lifeless technological ones--and require little sustenance to survive; they are generally seen as expendable and easily-replaced by the majority of their Kin masters, though it is not uncommon for Kin to grow attached to their drones, particularly if that drone was intended to serve as a pet. More complex drones are custom-made to their owner's specifications and mentally imprint upon them, thus making the creature more receptive to its master's commands.
Some examples of these drones include:
Haemonicae: small creatures with accordion-like diaphragms and tiny openings throughout their carapaces for the passage of air, these diminutive drones are used as musical instruments.
Defenders: hulking organisms built like a great ape and covered in a thick exoskeleton of durable chitin, these drones serve as bodyguards and protectors for their masters. Each defender must be imprinted upon its master and charges if they are not one and the same, meaning that they are quite expensive; as such, they are typically limited to the ruling caste and highly-placed members of the military and science castes.
Palanquinbeetles: large beetles with a thronelike growth in their wingcases, these drones serve as a mode of ostentatious transportation for members of the ruling caste. They are as much a status symbol as they are a conveyance, for only the highest and wealthiest members of that lofty caste can afford such a creature; in addition to carrying their owner about, they can also function well as pets and bodyguards.
Tanvyalins: monstrous creatures resembling armoured worms or centipedes, these drones are utterly gargantuan digging machines that can drastically alter the very landscape with their burrowing habits. Initially bred for terraforming purposes, tanvyalins have since been typecast as living siege weapons; their segmented bodies are covered with thick plates of an extremely durable keratin, making them difficult to injure or kill even with artillery weapons, and they can easily burrow under enemy forticications and lines to either collapse them or create tunnels through which Kin soldiers can slip behind their enemies. On average they measure some thirty six metres in length and three in diameter, and they can be modified to carry multiple weapon emplacements to improve their offensive power.
For the Kin, personal shielding takes the form of what is alternatively referred to as phasesuits or wraith fibre—essentially, garments made of a synthesized material that, when subjected to certain conditions, causes whatever it contains to become fractionally out of sync with the space-time continuum. In layman's terms, when activated this stuff makes whoever is wearing it functionally intangible; how this phasing technology works is a closely guarded secret which the Science Caste is not keen on sharing with the other races at this juncture.
Of course, the stuff is hardly infallible; even for a race as industrious as the Kin, wraith fibre garments are particularly expensive to make, thereby limiting their use to members of the Warrior Caste and high-ranking officials of the Science and Ruling Castes. Furthermore, the amount of protection such garments confer is tied directly to the amount of surface area they cover—a wraith fibre tunic, for instance, would provide adequate protection for the torso and shoulders, but none whatsoever for the head or the legs; as such, full-body coverage is typically restricted to important generals, key scientists and the upper echelons of the Ruling Caste, while basic infantry have to make due with little more than simple vests or tunics, with the occasional helmet thrown in as well.
In addition, there's also the matter of power; wraith fibre has its own internal power supply which recharges over time, but every object which passes through it and out the other side depletes some of its charge, and multiple objects of considerable mass passing through over a very short interval of time will quickly short out the phasesuit, leaving its bearer vulnerable to harm until such time as it can be fixed.
Finally, while phase technology is an excellent defense for infantry and some ground units, it is decidedly less useful as a form of starship shielding; the power requirements for this material, and thus how much it costs to make and how difficult it is to maintain, are directly proportional to the surface area and volume of the object being covered—and as Kin vessels are amongst the largest of the known major galactic powers, the power requirements for such a vast and unbroken phasing field are astronomical. To reduce the strain on their ships' reactors—as well as their construction budget—Kin capital ships instead place an emphasis on sturdy hull armour and make use of small, self-contained 'phase arrays' which operate a bit differently from the standard wraith fibre: rather than rendering the ship itself or even a portion thereof intangible, a phase array instead projects a screen that shunts whatever passes through it from a specific direction fractionally out of dimensional sync, thereby rendering the enemy projectiles intangible. Such an effect on an incoming projectile typically only lasts for five-to-eight seconds, but given the velocity most ships and capital ship weapons would be travelling at this is generally long enough for the projectile to pass through without inflicting any significant damage on either the vessel or its crew. It should be noted that such phase arrays are markedly better at neutralising solid projectiles like missiles, torpedos and magnetically-accelerated rounds than energy-based weapons like lasers or plasma weaponry.
In addition to such defensive applications, it is believed that the highest echelons of the Ark Reach Overcolony's Science and Warrior Castes may be contemplating how phase technology might be applied for more offensive purposes. Rumours abound that the anomalous destruction of Ku'Tharkazz, long believed to be a freak accident caused by a fatal collision with a rogue planetoid, may in fact have been the result of a possible phase-based superweapon; as there is no proof to substantiate such claims, however, these rumours are typically seen as baseless and without merit.
Just as the intangibility-inducing phase technology is the face of Kin defensive technology, so too is the manipulation of plasma closely associated with their offensive technology; the vast majority of Kin weapons make use of plasma, from their sidearm analogues all the way up to heavy starship weapons, and over the years it has gained a reputation for being frighteningly effective. While the precise mechanisms can vary depending on the size and potency of the weapon involved, in general Kin plasma weaponry functions by agitating a supply of ionized gas, imbuing it with considerable heat and energy as it travels along the weapon’s barrel and surrounding it with a specialized gel to contain the gas and prevent it from dispersing harmlessly once it leaves the gun.
The resulting projectile, known informally as a grazz’daht (which, literally, means ‘ball of fluid’), resembles nothing so much as a luminous wad of translucent green fluid that seems to pulse faintly with energy; its overall appearance is due to the containment gel, which leaves the plasma bolt visible and gives it its form, while the latter is a by-product of the plasmatic gas itself. Plasma bolts are extremely dangerous, for their agitated state makes them indescribably hot to the extent that simply being grazed by one can inflict severe burns or melt flesh, and a direct hit can atomize a good chunk of most physical objects; in addition, the gel is decidedly corrosive and will begin eating away at the edges of whatever the bolt strikes, and only the most durable of materials can resist this caustic effect. Because of the extreme heat these bolts produce, most Kin plasma weapons are designed to channel the heat of discharge away from their users so as to avoid soldiers scalding themselves to death.
While extremely lethal and effective, plasma weapons do suffer from some drawbacks; the containment gel cannot maintain its integrity indefinitely in an atmosphere, and the further a shot must travel to reach its target the more this gel wears out, the more the plasmatic gas begins to disperse and thus the weaker and less potent the bolt becomes. Because of this, plasma weapons employed by Kin ground forces cannot achieve the same sort of maximum range as those weapons employed by other races; they are not limited to short- or point-blank range weapons by any means, but Kin sharpshooters will generally not be sniping their targets from twenty miles away. This disadvantage does not apply in regards to ship-based plasma weaponry, however; plasma cannon batteries can hit targets from considerable interstellar distances, indeed.
Another disadvantage which plasma weapons suffer from is their lack of speed relative to other projectiles; within an atmosphere, the containment gel produces significant drag and wind resistance which serves to slow down plasma bolts. At short and medium ranges these effects are barely noticeable, but at longer ranges this can produce a significant delay; a plasma bolt fired from a sniper rifle at a target two miles away might take a full second or more to reach its target, depending on certain conditions, and this can give the target a slight chance to avoid being hit. Though more prominent in ground-based actions, ship-mounted plasma weapons also suffer from this to a lesser degree; it is partially for this reason that Kin dreadnoughts sport vast arrays of plasma weapon batteries, so that they might unleash such a densely-packed volley of fire that at least some of their shots are bound to hit something.
As might be expected from its name, the Ark Reach Overcolony has its roots in the star cluster of the same name; seven of its seventeen star systems lie within the boundaries of this open cluster, forming a loose hexagon with the star Kayhn'ya (also known as a.r. primus) at its rough center. The remaining ten systems form a loose, scattered ring around the core of the Ark Reach Overcolony, spanning a considerably greater area; were it not for the capillary network, it would have taken the Kin centuries if not longer to reach some of these outlier worlds. The inner hexagon is markedly off-center in relation to the outer ring, with the two nearly 'touching' from an astronomical standpoint near the latter's northeastern edge; territories to the galactic south and west are noticeably distant from the core of the Ark Reach Overcolony.