The Biraka Clanhold is a growing Xenos Empire that has begun to threaten the borders of the Imperium. The insectoid Xenos known as the Biraka have always been warlike and expansionistic ever since the Imperium first came in contact with them. As a result the Imperium has a long running history of conflict with the species in it's corner of the galaxy. The Clanhold has weathered numerous attempts at Xenocide by the Imperium's hands. Conversely the Imperium has always managed to keep the Biraka mostly contained through force of arms. In recent years the weakening of the Imperium has allowed the Biraka Clanhold to rapidly expand. It is currently a moderately powerful empire with 73 planets under its control. Given the Biraka's belligerent disposition it is very likely that they will continue to further expand their territory, and will inevitably come into conflict with the Imperium and other factions of the milky way galaxy.
Nobody knows exactly when the Clanhold came into being, and detailed accounts of the Biraka's history prior to attaining space age technology are virtually nonexistent and mostly allegorical. Stories told by the Biraka mention warring with other "clans" on their homeworld before they took to the stars. Given the Biraka's use of the term this may mean that the Biraka homeworld of Bastis was home to multiple intelligent species, or that the Biraka may have been one sub-species of many that were of common descent. Regardless of the case what is known is that the Biraka warred these other clans out of existence. This near mythical period in the Biraka's history was known as the Great Clan War.
When exactly the Biraka attained space flight and began forming an interstellar Empire is not well known. What is known by humanity is that the Biraka have been competing and warring with the Imperium since at least M32, and perhaps earlier. The Imperium naturally far outstripped the Biraka in resources and territory, however the tenacious aliens have always managed to stop the Imperium just short of Xenocide, and recover. At times the Clanhold has managed to turn the tables on the Imperium, retaking worlds lost in previous wars, and even conquering human colonies in return. This is inevitably temporary as the Imperium has always managed to drive the Biraka back. That is until the 41st Millenium. With the Imperium weakened the Clanhold has begun to expand almost unchecked.
The Clanhold is located within the Ultima Segmentum. The Clanhold currently maintains a respectable territory of 73 sparsely distributed systems. It is bordered by an area of unmapped, and mostly unexplored space to the galactic East. Many Imperial officials point to the Clanhold as the reason why the Imperium has been unable to expand into this region of space, and exploit it's resources. Aside from this the Clanhold is bordered on nearly all sides by Imperial Space, with the closest Imperial territory directly to the galactic West of it. The Imperium maintains a border of uncolonized worlds around the periphery of the Clanhold to act as a buffer. Skirmishes within the Clanhold's Shield Space are near constant as patrols ofthe Imperial Navy and Clanhold Armada patrol these stars.
The Clanhold is located to the north of the Tau Empire by a moderate distance, and is close enough that the Biraka and Tau have encountered and fought with one another. The Clanhold has only come across the Tau very recently, and the Tau have become a subject of interest for the insectoid peoples of the Clan. The Tau for their part are of mixed feelings of the Biraka. The Biraka's reckless expansion and aggression has caused many among the Tau to view the Biraka as little better than the Orks, and yet the Biraka wear the trappings of civilization and have at times responded to diplomacy, albeit with great difficulty. Whether the Biraka can be reconciled with the Great Good is a matter of some debate among the Tau, with many believing that the Biraka are too savage to be accepted into the Empire and others pointing out that the Clanhold could be a strong ally if they could be convinced to join the Tau.
Also within a moderate distance of the Clanhold is the Ibrian Belt. This area of space is mostly undominated by any particular faction except the Ibrian Nirvana. The Nirvana has become one of the Clanhold's greatest rivals after the Imperium, and war between the two empires has been common, and ever more frequent.
Along with their holdings the Biraka maintain a territory known as Shield Space around their territory. The Clanhold's Shield Space extends several system's distance around the periphery of the Clanhold's territory. Naturally given the expansionist nature of the Biraka, as well as the aggression the Clanhold is subject ot as a result of it, the Shield Space tends to fluctuate with time as the Biraka gain and lose star systems.
The Biraka themselves do not have any holdings within Shield Space aside from a few Space Stations and the patrolling ships of their Sentinel Armada. Despite this Shield Space is still considered the territory of the Clanhold. As such the Biraka's Sentinel Armada are given free reign to treat any non-Biraka vessel or force within Shield Space as hostiles, and engage accordingly. The function of Shield Space is to act as a buffer between the Biraka's territories and hostile forces, allowing the Biraka to encounter and engage foes before they have the chance to Assualt the Clanhold's populated worlds. As such Encrouchment into Shield Space is viewed as a precursor to hostile invasion by the Biraka.
The Clanhold operates as a sort of republic. Each planet or colony of the Clanhold is lead by an individual known as a Guardian. The Guardian is inevitably a Biraka that was born on the planet that had the most Alkin amongst his fellows. In the case of newly colonized, or reconquered worlds the Guardian is usually the one that was responsible for colonizing the world. Due to the Biraka's drive to achieve, and differences is the personality or ideology of the various Guardians the governance of the various worlds may be very different from one another. Most commonly a Guardian will rule as the head of a council that advises their Guardian on the proper course.
Above all the worlds is a organization that is referred to as the Moot. The Moot is made up of Biraka known as Clan Eldars. A Clan Elder will have achieved great things throughout their lives, and will have one much prestige. There is one Clan Elder for each habitated world in the Clanhold. Thus the size of the Moot has varied wildly throughout the Clanhold's history as it has lost and gained territory. While Guardians are mostly given leave to run their worlds as they see fit, the decisions of the Moot are final and must be honored by any and all members of the Clanhold.
At the head of the Moot is the Clan Father, the overall leader of the Clanhold. The Clan Father is almost always a former Elder who was promoted to the position either when the previous Clan Father dies, or he proves himself to have more Alkin than the encumbent. In essence the Moot acts as the advisory body for the Clan Father, who ultimately has the last say. However few Clan Fathers make the mistake of completely disregarding the Moot, as each Clan Eldar has proven their worth time and again, contributing to the Clanhold greatly. Thus it is rare to find an incompetent Clan Elder. Furthermore if a Clan Father chooses to act without the approval of the Moot, then should he fail the shame will be entirely his to shoulders. Often the loss of Alkin results in the Clan Father being forced to step down from the position. Thus Clan Fathers do not move against the Moot's will lightly. Due to the responsibilities associated with the post of Clan Father those chosen usually have served within the Kinsworn, or may still be a part of the Clanhold's honored military arm.
The Clanhold is a strict meritocracy. One advances in position through the accumulation of Alkin, which is gained through personal achievement and notable contributions to the Clan. One can not advance without the acknowledgement of their fellow Biraka, and even those from wealthy families and prestigeous lineages have no power amongst their peers that they did not earn. Thus to hold great rank within the Clanhold is proof of great achievement.
The Biraka as a whole have a culture that is highly geared towards honoring their kin, and the accumulation of prestige. The foundation of all this is a concept known as Alkin. Alkin roughly translates into Low Gothic as honor, or glory. One gains Alkin by contributing to the Clan, or by achievements that one's peers acknowledge. Often the two are pretty much the same. There is no formal measuring system for how much Alkin one possesses. Rather one's position is generally viewed as an indicator, since promotions, awards and in the greatest examples fame come with the acquisition of Alkin.
To disrespect one who possesses greater standing than yourself is considered an intolerable offense in Biraka society. If a Biraka believes himself to be the better of one who is considered above them they are allowed to formally challenge their superior. The challenge can range to nearly any kind of contest depending upon the ones participating. By custom the one who is challenged usually gets to choose the nature of the contest. If the challenger wins they are given a promotion, elevating them above their defeated foe. If they fail they are demoted.
Lineage is considered very important by the Biraka. Most Biraka can trace their geneology back 13 generations at the drop of a hat, and nearly every Biraka will have memorized at least one prestigious ancestor. In addition to this mating is not performed out of love in the Clanhold, but for reproduction. It is deeply frowned upon for Biraka of significantly different social standing to mate, as it is believed that the blood ofthe lesser partner could dilute the greatness of the more respected partner's bloodline. However it is important to understand that having a prestigious heritage does not entail any priveleges in Biraka society, rather it creates expectations. While having high ranking, or wealthy parents does grant certain advantages, like access to better resources, all Biraka are born of equal Alkin, and thus equal standing. A high bred Biraka would be just as scorned for disrespecting one of superior Alkin, even if his lineage is more glorious. Likewise if a child does not even approach the level of prestige their parents, or at least one recent ancestor has attained, then they are considered to be a waste of resources, and a source of shame.
Those that perform actions that are deemed dishonorable or harm the Clan lose Alkin as a result. Often in the case of one with standing the loss may be minimal, or simply result in a reduction of rank and standing. However in cases where a Biraka is of low standing already, or the act is considered particularly deplorable the Biraka may be labelled Nar'alkin. Nar'alkin roughly tranlates as into low Gothic as "without honor", and it functions in much the same way the the Imperial brand Excommunicate Traitoris does. Nar'alkin are either executed or exiled from the Clanhold, and should another Biraka come across them they are to act to their detriment. Nar'alkin form the ranks of the Clanhold's criminal elements, and splinter factions.
It should be noted that the respect afforded to individuals that are seen to possess a great amount of Alkin is great, and goes beyond all barriers, including race. Biraka are quite likely to extend great respect towards an individual of another species or "Clan" as they would say, if they view them as having taken part in some impressive achievement. This is most evident with the Imperium, which the Clanhold refers to as the Old Enemy, which is as much a term of endearment as spite to the Biraka. Enemy commanders often find the Biraka are more open to negotiation after particularly brutal fighting.
The Clanhold's religion is based on Ancestor worship. The Biraka believe in a pantheon of ancestors, each of which accumulated so much Alkin in their lives that their souls achieved Apotheosis upon death. This means that Alkin is as much a spiritual concept as it is a cultural one. The belief is that Alkin makes one's soul "heavier" and more potent. Those that have much are afforded a place of honor beside the Divine Ancestors, which stand in judgement of every soul. Nar'Alkin are believed to have lost their souls, and upon their death it is believed that they simply wink out of existence. There is no concept of Hell in the Biraka religion.
The military arm of the Biraka Clanhold is called the Kinsworn. Fighting to defend and expand the Clanhold is considered a sure way to accumulate Alkin, and thus the Kinsworn is never starved for manpower. However while the Clanhold has a larger percentage of it's population serving in the military than some other forces, it should be noted that this is not the result of drafting, but rather a result of the Biraka's culture.
For a very long time the Imperium believed that the Clanhold mandated military service by its citezens. Certainly this would have explained the unusually large numbers the Kinsworn had despite the size of the Clanhold's territory. However the exact opposite is true. Service in the Kinsworn is considered a privelege, not a right. A Biraka is only extended the right to join the Kinsworn after they have achieved a certain level of service in the eyes of their peers or superiors. Since military service is one of the quickest ways towards gaining honor and glory most Biraka immediately exercise this right. Unless currently engaged in battle Kinsworn are expected to contribute to society in civilian matters as well. While a Biraka of high standing may enter service into the Kinsworn, they are not granted increased rank despite their status. While these individuals may be given a deal of respect by their peers, climbing the ranks of the Kinsworn can only be done through service in battle. Thus no matter what ranks or titles a Biraka possess outside of the military, once they enter it for the first time they start on the bottom of the hierarchy.
The Kinsworn tend to be a highly active part of the Clanhold. While there are occasional times of peace between conflicts, or when the Biraka do not have the necessary strength to wage war, these periods are overwhelmingly outnumbered by periods of conflict. The natural zeal of the Biraka combined with their lust for claiming glory in the name of their "Clan" has pushed the Clanhold into near constant attempts to expand, and found new colonies for its people. These colonies are usually accompanied by a contingent of Kinsworn for security purposes. It is sometimes the case that the Biraka attempt to take the worlds of other sentient species, in which case the Kinsworn will act as a conquering army. Most often the Kinsworn defend the realms of the Clanhold from a number of hostile forces, not least of which is the Imperium of Mankind, which the Biraka Clanhold has been in conflict with for millenia.
One Imperial Guard commander once referred to the Kinsworn as "Heavy". This is no doubt a reflection on the fortitude of Kinsworn forces, and also may refer to the Kinsworn's lack of highly mobile units. Biraka are tough creatures both physically and mentally. They only become more so when they undergo combat training, and recieve the mandatory enhancements required to be Kinsworn. In addition to this Biraka put far more faith in good, thick plates of armor rather than light, highly mobile vehicles. As such Kinsworn Broods tend to to somewhat slow when compared to the forces of other species, but possess a great deal of armor. Between the tenacity of their infantry, and the sturdy make of their combat vehicles the Kinsworn has often proved itself to be amongst the most stalwart of opponents. A trait that many of their foes loath, and some can't help but respect.
The Sentinel Armada is the Naval branch of the Clanhold's military. The Armada is filled with those that have dedicated their lives solely to the defense of the Clan. Unlike the KInsworn those that are part of the Sentinel Armada are not expected to contribute to the Clan in civilian matters since they operate within the fleet full time. The Armada is also a slightly less desired posting than the Kinsworn. This is because Alkin is most easily obtained via direct combat with the enemy. However while this means that relatively few Biraka actively seek to be stationed with the Armada, those that do are highly respected by their peers as they set aside personal glory for the sake of the Clan, and many within the Armada are those that choose to make a career out of military service.
The Armada patrols all the Clanhold's territories, protecting them from piracy and other hostile forces. They also provide the Kinsworn with orbital and air support. Thus the Sentinel Armada is a vital part of the Clanhold's expansionist agenda. Among the most important duties of the Armada is patrolling the Clan's Shield Space. This buffer area around the borders of the Clanhold's legitimate territory is maintained in order to better protect population centers. Despite the Biraka not having any colonies in Shield Space the Sentinel Armada is given permission to engage anyone that enters Shield Space as though they were invading. As a result the Armada is highly active in Shield Space, with near constant skirmishes with other race that brazenly, or ignorantly breach the Biraka's border.
The Warborn are a special breed of Biraka that exist solely for warfare. While other members of the species have to earn the right to enlist in the Clanhold's military, the Warborn are considered a part of the Clanhold's Kinsworn from birth. The warborn are the product of an eons long breeding program which began in antiquity, and from the moment they are old enough to take instruction they train as warriors. Thanks to their superior breeding and training the Warborn are on average far superior combatants to average Biraka warriors. They are larger, stronger, more durable and more aggressive than normal Biraka, and are often considered to be to normal Biraka soldiers what Imperial Space Marines are to Guardsmen. Warborn operate in extended families called Lineages that are often sworn to particular planets or Kinsworn Broods. Lineages are usually subordinate to their Brood, acting solely as elite shock troops, at times a Lineage's Patriarch is given a command of a Brood.
The Clanhold has an extremely aggressive foreign policy. The Biraka aim to expand their empire at an exponential rate, and they're more than willing to stomp all over the opposition to do it. As a result the Clanhold's interactions with outside entities tend to be hostile as a rule. The Biraka themselves see nothing particularly wrong with uprooting the natives of planets that they desire. From the Biraka's point of view if they can take a world from it's previous owners then their "Clan" was too weak, and thus undeserving of it.
It should be known however that the Biraka are not altogether incapable of diplomacy. The Biraka are willing to negotiate with outside parties under the right circumstances, though the Biraka tend to take a simplistic view to diplomacy and are notorioulsy stubborn and difficult to deal with. It should be noted that the Biraka refuse to negotiate with forces they view as being weak. If a force is obviously inferior to them then the only option they should have is capitulation in the eyes of the Biraka. Only those that have proven their strength and earned the Biraka's respect as a result can speak with the Biraka as equals.
The Imperium is the Clanhold's oldest eneny, and the one that they know best. Reliable records of war between the Clanhold and the Imperium can be found as far back as the middle of M32, and it is altogether likely that the two have been warring since before even then. The relationship between the two forces is simple enough to understand. The Biraka have always been relentless in their expansion, and more than willing to take what they want by force. On the Imperium's part they despise Xenos and are fiercely protective of their territory. It was inevitable that the two would clash, and that this fight would continue until one side fell. So the battle between the Imperium and the Biraka has gone on.
To the Biraka the Imperium are the Old Enemy. The Imperium has fought to check the expansion of the Biraka at every turn, and much of the Biraka's territory was won with the blood of many Biraka and humans. During periods in which the Biraka had mustered their strength the Clanhold would often send their armies to strike at their imperial foes. In response the Imperium would always retaliate with extreme prejudice, pushing the Clanhold's borders back, and trying to annihilate the stubborn Xenos.
The Biraka hold the Imperium with a great deal of grudging respect. The blood of generations of Biraka have been shed upon Imperial blades, and the Imperium has always been an obstacle to the Clanhold's manifest destiny. Yet despite this the Biraka have a somewhat romantic view of the Imperium. The Imperium's strength has been a match for the Clanhold for a great many years, and the Biraka have come to respect the power of the Old Enemy. Many a Biraka dreams of someday meeting the warriors of the Imperium in battle and showing them the might and valor of the Clan. Certain Imperial Commanders that have dealt the Biraka significant defeats are well known and respected amongst the Biraka. Indeed Imperial Space Marines have achieved a kind of folk hero status among the Biraka, albeit an antogonistic one. The Biraka are proud of their distinction as one of the few Xenos Empires that has survived the Imperium's wrath for a significant amount of time.
The Imperium on the other hand does not share the Biraka's respect in general. The Biraka have been a consistant aggravation to Ultima's Segmentum Command as they are contantly finding themselves having to reinforce the Imperial holdings near the Clanhold. The Imperium has launched no less than six crusades with the sole purpose of wiping the Biraka out. Each time the Biraka have managed to stop the Imperium just short of Xenocide, making the battle so costly that the Imperium is forced to withdraw just short of a killing blow to recover their losses.
The Biraka do not get along with the Eldar at all. The Biraka view the Eldar race as their enemies, and unlike the Imperium the Biraka do not respect the Eldar. This is mostly the result of certain misunderstandings made by the Biraka. The Biraka have yet ot understand that the Eldar as a race are no longer united. As far as the Biraka are concerned the Craftowrlds, Exodites and Dark Eldar are all merely segments of the greater Eldar "Clan". If a Biraka were asked the difference between a Dark Eldar and a Craftworld Eldar they would simply point out the difference in tactics and wargear. The idea that these two forces aren't on the same side would likely never occur to them.
As a result of this the Biraka tend to view the actions of one of these groups as representative of them all. To the Biraka the Craftworlds and the Exodites are just as guilty of the horrific crimes that the Dark eldar commit as the Dark Eldar themselves. This has resulted in Craftworlds and Exodite Worlds recieving unprovoked aggression from the Biraka. On a whole the Biraka have looked at two things in their judgement of the Eldar as a species. The first is the abominable acts commited by the Dark Eldar. The second is fickle nature of the Craftowlrd Eldar, who are known for striking without reason, or at times providing aid. However the Biraka look at any attempts by the Eldar to help them on the battlefield as some kind of trick. Thus the Biraka treat the Eldar as hostiles regardless of the situation, and single-mindedly try to annihilate them.
For the Eldar's part they view the Biraka as a dull witted species. The Craftworlds have tried to manipulate the Clanhold before, but they have found the Biraka unwilling to speak with them, and unwilling to listen when the opportunity to communicate presents itself. Thus any attmepts to direct the Biraka require the understanding that the Biraka will refuse to listen and treat the Eldar as hostile. For their part the Dark Eldar find the Biraka to be good slave material. The Biraka have reduced ability to feel pain and fear, which many Dark eldar see as a worthy challenge. In addition Biraka tend to be strong fighters, and they are often popular when brought into the Colliseums of the Wych Cults. This has sometimes created a demand for Biraka slaves within Commorragh.
The Biraka have been fighting with the Orks at least as long as they have been fighting with humanity, and in all likelyhood longer. The Biraka tend to have mixed feelings about the Orks. On one hand the Orks are a near constant nuisance. Like nearly every other space faring species the Biraka have had to suffer through constant Ork raids, and many of the worlds that the Biraka have conquered in the past were occupied by Orks. More infuriatingly often the Biraka return to planets lost in their wars with the Imperium only to find that the green-skinned savages had occupied the world in the Biraka's absence. In addition the Orks' inherent savagery has lead most Biraka commanders to viewing them as a race without honor.
From the other perspective the Orks prove a worthy challenge to the Clanhold's strength. While many Biraka would argue that the Orks are unworthy of respect, none can deny that the Orks have slowed down the Clanhold's expansion with their aggression. In spite of their lack of honor the Orks are a dangerous foe, and many commanders have viewed them as a necessary test of the Clanhold's might. By fighting off the Orks, and pushing them back through conquest the Clan does not grow soft, and becomes stronger with each victory.
Ultimately the Biraka view the Orks as dangerous foes, but not ones worthy of respect or courtesy.
The Tau Empire are one of the Clanhold's more recent relationships. The Tau only recently made contact with the Clanhold, and eagerly began engaging in diplomacy. The Biraka are a strong species, and much like the Tau themselves they possess a strong sense of civic duty. The Ethereals are generally of the sense that the inclusion of the Biraka into the Tau Empire would strengthen it by leaps and bounds, and laying claim to the Biraka's considerable territories and resources certainly wouldn't hurt either.
However the Tau have found the Biraka less than receptive to their offers of trade and friendship. The Biraka are a rpoud race, and they have no interest in being assimilated into some other species' empire. In addition the Tau have yet to distinguish themselves in the eyes of the Biraka. To the Biraka the Tau are a young race, still yet to be tried by the rigors of living in the Milky Way. However the Clanhold has chosen to acknowledge the Tau Empire as a territorial rival. conflicts between the two Xenos empires are infrequent, but not uncommon.
Another of the Clanhold's more recent rivalries. The Ibrian Nirvana is an empire located in the nearby ibrian Belt. The Nirvana and the Clanhold first made contact with one another when the Biraka tried to colonize planets within the Ibrian Belt. They were unaware that the Nirvana had just recently begun expanding, and had become more territorial. A clash was inevitable.
As was its way the Nirvana began by trying to establish peaceful contact, but the Biraka merely responded with their typical aggressive approach. Conflict quickly ensued, and then escalated. To their surprise the Biraka were eventually driven off by the Nirvana's Sepharim armies. The mechanical beings proved worthy opponents for the Kinsworn. Ever since that initial conflict the Biraka Clanhold and Ibrian Nirvana have been at loggerheads.
The Ibrian Nirvana determined that the Clanhold was one of the greatest threats to its security in the area, and has taken assertive steps to protect itself, and to neutralize the threat that the Biraka pose. To the Biraka the Nirvana serves as a challenge. The Nirvana is yet another obstacle in their expansion, and a worthy foe to overcome for the glory of the Clan. It is very likely that the rivalry between these two factions will only become more potent with time.