The Biraka are an insectoid race originally hailing from the harsh, arid world of Bastis. The Biraka have forged a formidable empire in their corner of the galaxy known to its rivals as the Biraka Clanhold. The Biraka are a race with a strong sense of honor and civil service. However they are also a species that is proud, stubborn and dedicated to aggressive expansion of their territories and resources. This has resulted in the Biraka becoming a warlike race that is almost perpetually combating any other intelligent lifeforms within reach. This has led them into conflict with such factions as the Imperium of Mankind, the Tau Empire and the irbian Nirvana time and time again. With the M41 coming to a close the Biraka have explosively expanded their territory with the weakening of the Imperium. If left unhindered the Biraka may soon begin competing with the Tau as the reigning super power in the galactic East.
The Biraka are insectoid in biology, with many traits reminiscent of beetles. Biraka stand a head taller than than humans on average, and their chitinous bodies are more bulky than that of a human. Biraka possess a strong exoskeleton composed of flexible plates and segments of of strong carapace. Biraka exoskeletons are colored in various shades of brown, with lighter shades being most common but shades as dark as black being possible. A Biraka's exoskeleton is strong enough to give them adequete protection in battle, allowing them to forego the need to wear external armor. Beneath the exoskleton is the Biraka possess highly complex mulscular and circulatory systems for an insectoid species. Biraka are significantly stronger than normal humans, and possess stamina far in excess of of even species as robust as Orks. The strength and tirelessness of the Biraka have served them well on the battlefields of the MIlky Way.
As with many insectoid species the Biraka are Hexapods. Biraka stand upright with the use of their hind limbs, which the Biraka use for locomotion. The second pair of limbs are a pair of large arms that attach at the shoulders. These are each end in hands that possess two fingers and a thumb each. The Biraka use these for general, unsophisticated manipulation of their environment. Below these arms, tucked against a Biraka's thorax are a smaller pair of arms. These arms each possess hands that contain five fingers and two thumbs each. These hands are more dexterous than the primary limbs, and are used for fine manipulating of the environment. The Biraka usually keep the smaller arms folded against their torsos when they are not using them.
The head of a Biraka is crowned by a chitinous frill that runs from the back of the head. A Biraka's carapace of a Biraka's head is particularly strong. Biraka have a pair of black eyes located within slight indents with the Biraka's head. Biraka all sport a pair of insectoid mandibles. These mandibles are very strong and can exert enough force to crush steel. The size of one's mandibles are a source of pride among Biraka, and are often viewed as a symbol of one's strength. in addition to the mandibles the Biraka possess a mouth with a more humanoid structure that sports a set of sharp, exposed teeth. Near the back of the Birakas' mouth are a set of plates that are used to grind food in preparation for digestion. Biraka have a very complex vocal apparatus that can roughly mimic the sounds of the Human voice, and make sounds that humans are incapable of as well.
Biraka are very durable creatures with the ability to function after recieving injuries that would kill or cripple many lesser species.The circulatory system of the Biraka is unique in its ability to effectively compartmentalize itself. If a Biraka suffers a severe injury that significantly breaches its exoskelton or compromises a part of their circulatory system they are capable of isolating parts of their circulatory system in order to stop the flow of bleeding. Biraka can effectively isolate whole sgments of their body and certain major organs from the rest of their circulatory system, often preventing themselves from bleeding out. However doing this for long periods will result in the necrosis of the isolated anatomy, and certain vital part of their anotomy such as the heart can not be isolated. In addition the Biraka experience the sensation of pain to a far lesser degree than humans or other creatures. Wounds that would cripple other organisms with pain may not slow down the Biraka. all of this combines to many an organism with increased resistance to injury and suffering.
Biraka reproduce sexually via eggs. It should be noted that there is not a great deal of physical difference between male and female Biraka outside of their reproductive appartuses. Thus male and female Biraka are visually indistinguichable from another. Female Biraka lay large clutches of fertilized eggs, and as a result the species can reproduce fairly quickly.
Biraka are considered fully mature at 10 Terran solar years. Without the aid of extensive medical treatment Biraka have an average lifespan of 180 years, though with access to the right resources they can live past a millenium.
Roughly one out of every five hundred Biraka are born with a pair of insectoid wings. The Biraka refer to those born with wings as Keshra, a Biraka word which roughly translates into Low Gothic as Hornet. Biraka Hornet's are usually born slightly smaller than their more orthodox Biraka kin, and their bodies are significantly lighter in order to accomodate flight. The reason why Hornets are born amongst the Biraka is not understod by Imperial Xenobiologists. Hornets are born seemingly at random, and the children of a Hornet will not necessarily be Hornets themselves. Hornets are prized among the Biraka as their ability to fly is useful to the Clanhold, especially amongst the Kinsworn.
Additionally there is a special breed of Birak called the Warborn. Warborn Biraka are the result of special breeding programs that go back into antiquity. Warborn Biraka are truly bred only for combat. On average they are larger than a fully grown Space Marine. These massive Biraka are far stronger and more aggressive than their normal brethren, and the carapace of their hulking frames can withstand a great deal more punishment than a normal Biraka could. All Warborn are born into the Kinsworn, and they are well valued as elite shock troops and line breakers.
The Biraka are believed to have originally evolved on the seemingly arid world of Bastis in the Tothor system. Bastis is a world that one would believe to be incapable of sustaining life if viewed from orbit. The planet is fairly close to the system's star, and as such the surface of Bastis is constantly pounded with intense heat and stellar radiation. Thus the surface of Bastis ismade up of vast scorching deserts and rocky, sunblasted moutain ranges. Only a few specially evolved organisms can survive on the surface.
Below the plan'et surface is another matter entirely. Bastis contains large amounts of water, nutrients and minerals in various pockets beneath the surface. The vast majority of the worlds biosphere developed and survive under the world's hellish surface. This includes the Biraka themselves. Bastis' underground is honeycombed with vast caverns and tunnels that have resulted either from the natural erosion of the planet's ground water, or from eons of tunneling caused by Bastis' living organisms.
Among the more important organisms are the Valja plants. These unique flora are unique to Bastis, and serve an important role in many of the world's ecosystems. The top of the plant stays on the surface, being one of the few organisms that can survive there, and gathers the intense stellar radiation for use in photosynthesis. The Valja is very efficient at converting this radiation into biological energy, but the plant can not process the sheer amount of enrgy it absrobs all at once. The plant thus vents the excess energy from it's roots as light and heat. These emissions are similar in quality to sunlight from Holy Terra's Sun. The roots of many Valja delve deep into the planets crust, and as a result they provide sunlight harmless, life supporting sunlight to many of the underground caverns. It is for this reason that the Biraka can handle sunlight on many worlds despite being subterranean creatures by evolution.
Bastis remains the Biraka's homeworld and capital. The Biraka maintain vast subterranean cities beneath Bastis' surface, from which they have built space ships and launched themselves into the capricious cosmos. Bastis is the meeting plan of the Clanhold's Moot, the home of the reigning Clan Father regardless of his planet of origin and serves as the beating heart of the Biraka's interstellar empire. Throughout the Clanhold's long history they have lossed and gained many planets through their struggles wit hthe other species of the galaxy. However throughout their history no military force that has assaulted Bastis has survived to tell of it, a point of pride for the Biraka. Thus Bastis serves as the administrative and spiritual heart of the Clanhold, much as Holy Terra does for Humanity.
According to certain old tales told among the Biraka Bastis used to play host to other "Clans". Given the Biraka's use of the term this would seem to imply that at some undetermined time in the past there were other intelligent species that made Bastis their home. If so it's possible that other intelligent species managed to evolve on the planet, that the Biraka used to have subspecies related to them or that at one point or another the planet was host to a non-native species. Regardless of the possibilities the Biraka's stories all state that these other clans were wiped out by the Biraka in various wars, and none of them exist today. these stories seem to originate to a time before the Biraka began keeping accurate historical records, and thus Imperial scholars have been incapable of determining whether they are indicitive of actual historical accounts, or if they are simplyfables and allegory.
The exact history of the Biraka is mostly unknown to the Imperium at the moment. The reasons for this are multiple. For one it seems that the Biraka went through a shadowy age in which much o f their historical records have been lost, much like that of humanity. In addition the Biraka have a habit of embellishing their history. Imperial scholars have often had difficulty descerning the difference between Biraka histroical accounts and simple folklore.
According to the Biraka's perhaps unreliable records the Biraka went through a period known as the Great Clan Wars some time far in their past. According to accounts of this period the Biraka were in constant conflict with a number of other clans at this point. While many would mistake this as some period of civil war among the Biraka, the Biraka's usage of the word "clan" can be misleading. The Biraka refer to their entire species as a clan, and likewise refer to other species as clans as well, such as the Human Clan or Eldar Clan. Given this fact some of those that have studied the Biraka have inferred that the Great Clan Wars was in fact a conflict between multiple sapient species on the Biraka's ancient homeworld of Bastis.
The truth about the period is largely shrouded in mystery and allegory. According to the accounts of the Biraka themselves the wars against the other clans lasted for centuries. The conflicts were said to be both brutal and glorious. During the period the Biraka managed to defeat clans such as the Veskar, Berphoit and Lorvikim. Each of these generations long conflicts ended in Biraka victory. The most notable war was between the Biraka and the Kolrikeem. The events of this conflict have seen a great deal of dramatization on the Biraka's part, with tails of atrocities and epic heroics aplenty. The Great Clan Wars ended with the defeat of all the other clans, many of which were exterminated outright, while remnants of others were kept as slaves of the Biraka, dying out slowly. The end of the wars supposedly heradled an age of peace and progress for the Biraka.
Later at some undetermined time the Biraka managed to attain space flight, and later interstellar travel via development of the Warp Drive. When exactly this occured is impossible to determine, but the Biraka may have been travelling the stars for as long as Mankind has. As the Biraka spread out into the cosmos the species reorganized itself into the modern Clanhold.
Age of Conflict
The Biraka society in it's current incarnation became well known to the Imperium in 317.M32. This was the year of the 1st Great Biraka Infestation as the conflict is referred to by Imperial records. Among the Biraka it was called the Kvain Conquest. Prior to this point the Biraka had been undergoing a period of unchecked expansion. The Clanhold had rapidly seized a slough of new worlds to add to their domain, and had subjugated a number of rival species. It seemed as though the Clanhold was quickly entering a new age of dominance. However the expansion had not gone unnoticed.
The Biraka's conquests had bordered a number of nearby worlds in the Kvain Sector. Though the Biraka had not actually invaded Imperial territory directly, the close proximity of their campaigns caused a number of Imperial Governors to grow anxious. Appeals to deal with the Xenos threat, or at least fortify the worlds near their territory quickly poored into the office of the sector's Governor. The Biraka were relatively unknown at that point, and the Governor considered them to be a minor species that could quickly and simply be dealt with should the Imperium see the need. His lack of vigilance would cost the Imperium dearly.
Emboldened by recent victories and swollen with resources and manpower, the Clanhold decided to launch an offensive into the Kvain Sector. Almost all at once nearly a dozen important Imperial Worlds came under the Biraka's control. These worlds provided crucial resources, and were a major part of the Sector's economy and infrastructure. The office of Kvain's Governor rapidly went from a delusional sense of security to near all out panic. The Clanhold used the mayehm to further conquer nearby worlds as the Imperium's forces tried to reorganize and regroup.
Matters were made all the worse when the Imperial forces came to understand how formidable their opponent was. Despite the grievous losses that the Sector had taken the Imperium was still operating under the impression that the Biraka were a foe that could be easily dispatched by an organized Imperial retaliation. Sector Command believed that the losses of the previous worlds were merely the result of near treasonous neglect, and that since the Imperium was no longer ignoring the Biraka the incident would be over soon. They were horribly mistaken.
The Imperial Guard and Navy launched assualts on several important worlds occupied by the Biraka. However they soon found that the Biraka did not give ground easily, or without sacrifice. The ill prepared Imperial forces were repelled again and again by determined Kinsworn Broods, and Battlefleet Kvain suffered gregious losses to the Clanhold's Sentinel Armada. The matter reached a head at the world of Camfrost VI, a significant Hive World under Biraka control. Imperial forcs launched their most potent counterstrike of the conflict on the world. The battle it was said was truly intense with both sides taking heavy losses, but the Biraka were ultimately victorious. The losses sustained at the Battle of Camfrost VI nearly crippled the Sector's local military power, and Lord General Militant Kost died during the battle, derpiving the Imperial Guard of the Sector of leadership.
With such significant losses mounting the Governor became desperate. He had already called for aid from outside his sector, but he became convinced that the Biraka would overrun his territory before help could arrive in time. Hoping to contain the threat and save himself from death at the hands of strange Xenos, the Governor pressured what was left of the Imperium's military command in the Sector to take drastic measures. He had them order Exterminatus on several of the Biraka's greatest strongholds within the Sector. The hope was that these would deal a blow that would throw the enemy into disarray, and deny them their solid foothold in Imperial Space.
To an extent the strategy woked wonder. When reinforcements came from outside the Sector they found the Biraka forced disorganized and scattered along a number of barely defensible worlds. From that point onward the Imperium quickly mopped the remaining Clanhold forces up, and took back all the territory they had lost. However this was a most pyrrhic of victories. The planets that the Governor had subjected to Exterminatus were crucial to the wellfare of the Sector, and their loss crippled the Imperium's control in that area of space.
Kvain as a Sector ceased to exist, and the territory became known as the Kvain Rift. The Imperium still maintain a number of frontier worlds in the Rift, but the losses suffered during that first war with the Clanhold along with continued aggression by the Biraka has stopped the Imperium from refounding the Kvain Sector. The Sector's Governor was executed for criminal incompetence. Meanwhile the Birak continued as usual. While they had suffered considerable losses during the war, those losses did not break the Clanhold's stride and the only loss in territory that was suffered was that which the Clanhold had taken from the Imperium initially.
This was the first recorded conflict between the Birak and the Imperium. Though interestingly there are records that indicate that the Imperium may have been at loggerheads with the Clanhold since the Great Crusade. One battlefield record of the time recounts a battle between the Ultramarines Legions and insectoid Xenos whose description closely resembles that of the Biraka. The account mentions that the Xenos fought formidably, but were ultimately swept away by the strength of the Astartes. It is altogether likely that more concrete records of battle with the Biraka were swept away during the Horus Heresy much like many other historical accounts that went up in the flames of that horrifying civil war.
The Lertes Crusade
The Imperium would seek revenge against the Biraka for Kvain roughly one century later. Unable to stomach the indignity of their losses to the Biraka the Imperium organized the Lertes crusade to wipe the species out once and for all. The Imperium gathered a significant force of Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy, with support from a number of Space Marine Chapters, the Adeptus Mechanicus and elements of the Inquisition. These forces mustered on Calginan, one of the few worlds within the KVain Rift that they maintained control of. From there they prepared to launch themselves like a lance into the heart of the Biraka Clanhold.
The crusade started in earnest as the Imperial forces plunged themselves into battle all across the frontier of the Biraka's territory. Initially the crusade went extremely well for the Imperium. This time it was the Biraka that had been caught unawares, and a number of Biraka world fell one after another to the Imperium's holocaust. In addition the Imperial forces that were waging the crusade were a very different animal than those that were fought in Kvain. The troops then had been disorganized, unprepared and ineffectively lead. The troops this time were being lead by officers that had survived the previous conflict with the Biraka, and were driven to seek revenge. Thanks to these elements the wolds within the Clanhold's frontier quickly fell, and the crusade forces swiftly moved deeper into Biraka territory.
The rest of the campaign did not go so smoothly. Once the Biraka realized they were being exterminated the Clanhold rallied to push back the invasion. Enlistment in the KInsworn swelled to the point that the Clanhold had to take certain Biraka out of service in order to perform vital civilian jobs. With their pride and survival on the line the Biraka marched to war in droves.
Meanwhile the crusade was plowing on. The Imperial forces scored victory after victory, sweeping numerous planets clean of their Birak population. However the Imperium soon found it's momentum blunted. Now organized and reinforced the Kinsworn engaged the Imperium across all fronts. The Birak were dauntless in the face of the human onslaught, never retreating unless it suited them. The Imperium was forced to bby every inch of territory with human blood. With each passing victory the loss of human lives and material increased. The crusade's command quickly realized that the Biraka excelled in the art of attritional warfare.
However the Imperium would not be deterred. While their forward progress was slowed immensely, the Imperium's war march was not stopped by the Biraka's stubborn retaliation. Thus in the next few years the IMperial forces slowly ground their way through the Biraka domain, suffering terrible losses all the while, but moving ever slowly towrads the heart of the Biraka's empire. Near the wars end the Biraka would have lost all of their territory save for four systems.
With the end nearly in sight the IMperium made a push to destroy the Biraka's homeworld of Bastis, and rip out the heart of the species. A victory was essential. The Biraka had made the war as costly as they could for the Imperium. The loss of life had been considerable, the crusade forces were running low on supplies and morale had been steadily eroded as the war raged on. The Imperium needed to end the crusade soon, or risk their offensive withering on the vine.
The Imperium concentrated their remaining forces into an all-out assualt on the Biraka's home Tothor System. The Biraka responded by reinforcing their capital with as much force as they could. The battle would be the most intense of the war. The Sentinel Armada and Imperial Navy engaged one another in every theatre of the system. The Kinsworn, Imperial Guard and Astartes fought on nearly every planet, moon and space station within the system trying to gain, or deny the other a foothold. The battle lasted for weeks on end, but finally the Imperial attack flagged. The Biraka successfully defended their capital, and brought the Imperium's Xenocide to an end.
The remnants of the Imperial forces tried to request reinforcement, but Segmentum Command denied them. The Crusade had been very costly for the Imperium, and they were not ready to commit more troops and assets to it, for doing so at that time would have left them vulnerable in other nearby conflicts. With the majority to the Biraka's territory and populatiopn put to flame the Imperium came to the conclusion that they were no longer a viable threat at the moment. The Imperium thus opted to finish the job at a later date when they had more troops to spare, reasoning that when they returned mopping up what remained of the Biraka would be a simple matter.
The Imperium would learn their mistake in the millenia to follow. The Biraka have a high rate of reproduction, and are endlessly industrious. The Clanhold slowly but surely recouped their losses, replenishing their numbers and slowly expanding out past their meagre territory once more. In time the Biraka would grow strong enough to challenge the Imperium once more, and the iMperium would counter attack with all fury. The 1st Birak Infestation and the Lertes crusade would form the beginning of a pattern between the Biraka and the Imperium that would last up to current day.