Been dying to think up a new race, finally hit on and idea, the following is a draft background for my Mato auxiliary, model below..
------The Mato(pro. Mah-Toe)
An aquatic race of crustaceans, the Mato were discovered on a large ocean world known as Or'Es Por, near the eastern edge of the Damocles gulf. A world speckled with atolls and reef borne islands.
A lot of these islands are in fact the uppermost part of ancient Mato colonies. It was the Mato who created many of these dry 'surface gardens', to explore the above water realm many centuries ago.
This has allowed them to stargaze and learn much more about their place in the galaxy than at first assumed by our envoys. They possess amazing visual traits (discussed later) which have been incredibly useful during these observations.
This brings into consideration their technological skills. Whilst at first they appear to be no more than rustic natives, they have mastered aquatic husbandry to such a point as it can be considered a form of low tech genetic manipulation.
For example, overgrown mollusks provide an endless supply of protein rich food and the massively thick shells are used as panels in construction. Other modified species excrete compounds used in creating bio-plastics, others bred to sift out minerals from mined rubble by digestion. Whilst limited at the moment, the Mato have theorised some very technical devices for undersea and overland use.
One of the more important species farmed by the Mato, is that of a mutated shellfish that is bred to continually grow a flattened upper shell, which is cut into slates for inscription by all Mato. A process performed by using a sharpened scribing tool, manipulated in a Mato's mandibles.
These slates provided a written documentation of their studies, history, culture and languages in the last few hundred cyr's. Once presented to our envoys, they were instrumental in finally breaking the stilted communication which had frustrated both sides.
When considering their vast algae farms, fisheries and coral structures of their underwater realm, discussion for acceptance as a protectorate of the Empire in becoming a trade ally has advanced quickly. This is a great opportunity for the Empire and the Mato, as our Empire's borders and population expand.Brief History
An overview of Mato history has been gained only recently after successful communication was established by our gifted por caste translators.
In the early Cyrs, the Mato gathered as co-operative colonies, protecting each other against predators and natural disasters. Soon, aqua-culture and construction advance to house and feed the growing population. This led to an initial population explosion, which only good governance and communal hatchery laws curbed effectively.
Eventually, the Mato lived in reef cities with bio-luminescent lighting, purpose bred creatures for farming and daily life. They had reshaped their own eco-system to accommodate themselves as the dominant race of their oceans.
However, above sea level, several races have visited the Mato and for various reasons, ignored thee colonies and set about utilising the islands as bases for their own purposes.
Descriptions provided by Mato observers suggest they were in order; Tallerian raiders, The Nagyr, Orks and Imperials. The latter whom we ousted from this system two cyrs ago.
Prior to our empire's annexation of this world, Imperial engineers harvested whole colonies for passing ships to restock their food supply. The Imperials had little time to consider that they were culling intelligent, cognitive beings. Using improvised depth charges, whole coral cities were annihilated, those stunned or killed were collected by various means for the bulk carriers in orbit, feeding the attending Imperial fleet. Presently the Mato inhabit six of the forty known coral reef city sites under the oceans of Or'Es Por. Their near genocide at the hands of the Imperium had come tragically close to ending their civilisation.
Unsurprisingly, the Mato have a deep hatred for humans of the Imperium.
The warrior class, who were left impotent to dealing with these assaults, had their zoo of underwater purpose bred attack beasts rendered useless against the threat. There is certainly opportunity for their incorporation into the Empire's cadres if a suitable means was provided for by our every inventive Fio. They are eager for a measure of calculated retribution, with appropriate guidance.General Traits
Most of their features are common to all known Crustaceans. A thick carapace provides a hardy natural armor, eight limbs assure sturdy mobility. However their thorax has shrunk in closer, the uppermost carapace splitting into two side plates, protecting the sense organs. Yet the most dominant feature being their tail which is curled permanently about their underside, protecting their softer areas. Over many millenia the Mato have a developed a more upright stance as they evolved from scavengers to self-providers.
A Mato is about two thirds the height of a Shas'la, living twice as long as any tau. In their prime they generally become quite robust, the carapace becoming rougher and more rigid. Particularly in the males.
Whilst predominantly an aquatic race, they can exist out of water for several rotaa requiring only an occasional, refreshing immersion. Without, the hardiest of Mato can last only a rotaa or less without nearby water source. Eventually a lengthy return to the ocean is required before another above sea-level exploration.
Beyond their crustacean ancestry, the Mato have one other fascinating trait.
They possess what is known as hyperspectral colour vision. Their compound eyes are able to view their environment in unison or independently of each other. Each individual eye possesses trinocular vision and depth perception. The upper and lower hemispheres are used primarily for recognition of forms and motion, and do not provide colour vision, this is gained by the mid-band.
The midband contains specialised rows of receptors for colour vision, from ultra-violet to infra-red. They even possess polarised vision to detect different planes of polarised light. This is then further enhanced with receptors they have to concentrate to use, which enhance the resolution of what they see in one particular spectrum. By comparison, our keenest eyed Shas'la only has four colour vision, like any other tau.
Whilst the midband can only see a narrow field of vision, Mato can manipulate their eyes rapidly in a seemingly chaotic pattern, which allows them to utilise every element of their vision as a whole to create an image in the multi-spectrum. In short, very little escapes their attention.
However, their ability to detect sound outside of water is greatly diminished. Additionally, during daylight hours their vision is greatly effected over distances. Mato overland research teams are renowned for their intricate mandible and bold, theatrical, leg sign language. This was one of the first breakthroughs for our envoys in communicating with the Mato.Castes:
There is actually two sub-species among the Mato, which creates two distinct castes, workers and warriors.
The workers, who are female, have slender armored legs, are well suited to construction and more technical work, whilst the male Warriors possess two heavily armored raptorial forelimbs.
When aiding workers during peace time, the Warriors can smash materials for construction projects using blindingly fast strikes, combining impact and concussive force to do the work. It is with little stretch of the imagination what this can do to an opponent at close quarters.
However, this physical separation of caste does dictate a single purpose in life. Mixed group efforts in farming, construction, research and exploration are regular occurrences.Conversing with Mato
Whilst more complex communication is the path of our por envoys presently, the following guide was provided to our forces stationed on the Mato homeworld recently :
The use of whole arm movements is important :
Common signals can be easily understood by the Mato. When indicating a direction, pointing to an object, person or even a 'Come here' have been quickly picked up by most Mato we deal with. In general, be bold in your movements, if your Mato counter-part is still confused refer to the full guide in you HUD linguistic selector.Unique Signs :
Clap wrist armour together twice : Mimic of a Mato 'Hello' a polite acknowledgement of your opposites presence.
Right arm up and out in front of chest, forearm parallel to chest : Formal salute
Hands together, wriggle fingers : Exciting, Delicious, Hungry. Sign changes with context.
Place arm over shoulder, touch your back : Take cover, hide, get down. A general alarm. Again interpreted within context.
Knit fingers of both hand in front of chest : Formal end to a conversation, or you have nothing to say, cannot help. The Mato have many nuances, but they accept this abrupt manner is the best sign a Tau can make politely.Final notes :
In the near future a pictogram projection screen will be provided to all Shas'ui for more complex sign language communication, an advanced spectral display is under development for undersea communication. We are awaiting the first scribe-boards shortly, these will allow our Mato associates to be able to directly enter data and conersation, with real time translation, via display panels suited to each user. Some training will be required due to Mato syntax and grammar differences.Possible suit idea :