Counter Xarctic Trader by DMFW ()
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The Counter Xarctic Traders are the oldest living emergent species in the galaxy, with a history which is an order of magnitude greater than any other, stretching back long before the foundation of the society of contemporary races to a little known period, some fifteen million years before humanity acquired the flicker drive . They possess the best version of the drive, perhaps having had the longest time to perfect it but they have not joined the society, preferring to remain independent.
According to their own origin stories, there was once a rival species who called themselves the Xarctic Traders and who were notorious for the hard bargains they struck. The Counter Xarctic Traders claim that in the early days of their civilization they struck a deal with the Xarctic Traders to acquire flicker drive technology. The deal cost them the rights to live on their original home world and consigned them to a wandering existence, forever exiled to the hard vacuum of space. They became traders in their own right and achieved their vengeance over the Xarctic Traders when their clever competition and superior mercantile skills, combined with a reputation for honorable and fair dealing drove the Xarctic Traders out of business and eventually to extinction. It is difficult to say with certainty how true this account might be. It is, in many ways, typical of the moral tales they like to share amongst themselves, of which they have a vast fund and which they call Oblique Meditations.
The Counter Xarctic Traders are the only species possessing a racial memory of such ancient extinct species as the Cata-Zin and the Grumm.
The Traders have bodies some four to five metres long, segmented into five parts with a hard iridescent violet chitinous shell. Each segment possess a pair of jointed limbs, which act as legs on the three rear segments but function as antennae on the head segment and arm like manipulators on the second segment. They have compound eyes which can be projected away from the head for a short distance on retractable stalks. A spinneret on their fifth segment allows them to secrete a sticky, glue like substance which hardens outside their body into a remarkably strong construction material. Looking vaguely like a darkly glinting cross between a giant ant and a spider, their form inspires an instinctive (though unwarranted) fear in many species, including humanity.
The cover image shows part of the interior of a long ship, with a trader in an exo-suit preparing to check the flicker drive . The low level of pale blue illumination is standard on most of their starships.