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The Brokers are a species native to the Trappist-1 system, which is located 40LY from Sol. It is noteworthy for having an unusually high density of terrestrial planets within the habitable zone of its M-class star. They hold territory that encompasses several outlying systems, creating a small, but dense interstellar empire.
They are an insular people, preferring to remain isolated from the rest of the Coalition, and travel into their territory is tightly controlled. Due to this, very little is known about their society or their culture, and few people outside the highest echelons of the Coalition have ever seen a Broker in person. When they do deign to reveal themselves, they do so through mechanical proxies. The nature of these proxies is unknown, and there is some debate over whether these are autonomous drones, surrogates being controlled remotely, or exosuits that conceal an organic pilot. Nothing is known about Broker biology, and they have never been seen in the flesh.
The Brokers encountered the Betelgeusians sometime around the year 2300 when a hive fleet launched an invasion targeting one of their systems. The colony there was quickly wiped out, and subsequent Broker attempts to retake the system were met with failure. For almost a hundred years, the Betelgeusians were able to shore their defenses and adapt to their new environment, using the system as a beachhead to launch daughter fleets, which made deeper incursions into Broker territory. At least five fleets were launched, suggesting a rate of one new fleet roughly every twenty years, which is in line with known development rates of Betelgeusian Queens.
Despite being a technologically advanced civilization, the Brokers ceded more and more ground, as the drone armies that they employed were ineffective due to their inability to adapt to changing battlefield conditions.
In the year 2412, the Brokers made contact with a neighboring species known as the Krell, and recognizing their shared interest in combatting the rapidly-expanding Betelgeusian threat, they entered into an alliance that signaled the founding of the Coalition.
Armed with Broker technology, and supported by drones, the Krell were able to leverage their numbers and their natural combat prowess to recapture all of the lost Broker colonies in only a few short decades.
It wasn’t until 2598 that humanity became aware of the Brokers during the tragic event known as the Betelgeuse Incident. After the destruction of a UN colony ship along with all forty-thousand hands when it unknowingly entered a Betelgeusian-occupied system, the Brokers invited the United Nations to become the third member of the Coalition, citing their shared interest in defending civilized space from the alien threat. This would be humanity’s first contact with a species that was not hostile. In 2599, the treaty was ratified, and construction of the Fort Hamilton starbase began with significant Broker funding and involvement. The base would later serve as the Coalition’s headquarters and remains the largest Naval dock in known space.
While the Brokers have never shared the exact details of their early history, it can be safely assumed that they have been a technological, spacefaring civilization for hundreds of years longer than humanity. When they were engaging in interstellar warfare, humans were only just taking their first tentative steps towards colonizing the solar system. As such, Broker technology is far more advanced than anything available to the United Nations. They make extensive use of autonomous and remote-operated drones, as well as spacecraft with unidentified propulsion systems which may operate through the fine manipulation of AG fields rather than chemical propellants.
Despite this, the Brokers seem unwilling to share their advancements with the rest of the Coalition, only divulging their technological secrets when absolutely necessary. Whether they believe that their technology will be misused or if they want to maintain an edge over their allies is unclear, but they seem certain that the Coalition’s present level of technology is sufficient for accomplishing its strategic goals.
The only Broker spacecraft encountered so far have been the transport vessels that carry Broker ambassadors, Krell troops, and other personnel to and from Broker territory. These vessels vary in size and are vaguely cigar-shaped. Their hulls are silver or chrome in color, and are completely featureless, with no identifiable thrusters, viewports, or airlocks. The method of propulsion that they use is unknown, and rather than deploying landing gear while at rest, the vessels seem to float on an invisible cushion of air which could imply some kind of electromagnetic or gravity field-based technology. When boarding or disembarking from these craft, apertures in the hull appear which are seemingly formed from the hull material as needed, and access ramps extrude towards the ground. Whatever materials are used in the construction of these vessels seem to be fluid and flexible enough to change their configuration on command.
Drone carriers are large vessels that serve as motherships for the Broker drone fleets. Their existence has been confirmed through conversations with aging Krell Scholars who survived the campaign to retake the lost Broker colonies, but nothing is known about their actual dimensions or specifications.
Drones are autonomous craft used extensively by the Brokers for both combat and industrial purposes. Little is known about them save for the fact that they were ineffective in countering Betelgeusian troops and were subsequently superseded by Krell auxiliaries. The reason given for this – an inability to adapt themselves to changing battlefield conditions – implies that they only have a rudimentary form of artificial intelligence. Combat drones are not commonly used by UNN forces in space due to the inherent communications lag that is present over the distances at which fleets often operate, incurring one second of delay for every 300,000km of distance. A maneuver of several light-minutes would leave said drones out of communication for that duration of time, and could even result in them receiving outdated orders that are no longer relevant. The Brokers seem to have gotten around this problem by imbuing their drones with some degree of decision-making ability, but with limited effectiveness.
The Brokers make use of robotic proxies when interacting with other species, never revealing their true selves. These platforms are eight feet in height and walk on a pair of legs with backward-facing joints. The blocky housing that makes up the main body is made from a matte white material, as are the coverings that protect the machinery in the legs, while the arms and structural elements are made from a chrome-colored metal.
The four arms that emerge from the chassis are segmented, acting as flexible tentacles, and each one ends in some kind of manipulator attachment or tool. Brokers are capable of extreme precision and dexterity using these arms and are able to grip even fragile objects without damaging them.
On the front of the chassis are a series of cameras and sensors that allow the proxy to see in various wavelengths of light, and to pick up radio transmissions and other signals. The sensitive apparatus gives them a great deal of information about their immediate environment and presumably allows them to remain in contact with their superiors.
Proxies communicate in English and other languages when interacting with aliens, emitting a tinny, synthesized voice from a speaker on the chassis.
Role in the Coalition
Although the Coalition charter mandates that each member provide frontline troops in the form of auxiliaries, the Brokers are exempt from this rule, and their ships do not participate in combat alongside UNN fleets. The official position of Coalition representatives is that due to their relatively low population when compared to other species, and the extra funding they provide the organization, the Brokers are allowed to fulfill their obligations through providing economic assistance and raw materials for shipyards. Their secrecy inevitably leads to speculation, and there is an undercurrent of mistrust towards them in the general population.
Culture and Society
Almost nothing is known about Broker culture or the structure of their society, and what little can be confirmed has been gleaned from interactions with merchants and traders. These merchants do not do business face-to-face, but rather through the medium of drone ships and middlemen, yet their presence can be felt throughout the Coalition. This could suggest that the Brokers are a mercantile people who value trade and commerce above all else, but the merchant class are one of few who would have a reason to engage with aliens on a regular basis and travel outside of Broker territory, so that assumption may be flawed.
It is not uncommon for Brokers to invest in human corporate ventures, most notably in the fields of prospecting and mineral exploitation, and they have invested significant resources into the developing economies and infrastructures of several Borealan territories.
Relationship with the KrellWarning: the following text contains important spoilers for Return to Krell.
The Broker relationship with the Krell is not as mutual as they would like it to appear. During the early stages of the war against the Betelgeusians, it became apparent that the combat drones employed by the Brokers were unable to adapt quickly enough to changing battlefield conditions to be effective. They did not employ true AI, but rather a series of complex (albeit rigid) directives that determined how they would respond to threats. As their desperation mounted and they continued to cede territory, the Brokers turned their eyes towards neighboring species who they intended to conscript for their war effort.
Humanity was evaluated as a potential candidate. In this period of time, the human race was just starting to colonize their solar system and were on the path to developing superlight travel. It was ultimately determined that humans were too aggressive and too technologically advanced to be reliably controlled, and so the Brokers turned their attention to the Krell.
The Krell had a primitive, pre-industrial society, but they were intelligent creatures with incredible physical strength and durability, making them ideal candidates. Their semi-aquatic nature made them even more suited to recapturing the abandoned Broker worlds. When the Brokers made contact, they presented themselves as saviors, arriving to rescue the Krell from the Betelgeusian hive fleets that would soon target their planet. While this may have technically been true, the Krell were not presently under any direct threat from the fleets that were ravaging the Broker colonies. The two species made a mutual defense pact, and the Coalition was formed. The Brokers began to train the Krell, outfitting them with advanced weaponry and armor, and teaching them battlefield tactics, which the Krell took to quickly. Broker fleets began to deploy squads of Krell supported by drone squadrons to great effect, liberating one of the Broker colony planets from the clutches of a hive.
Despite their effectiveness, the sheer numbers of the Betelgeusians meant that more soldiers were needed, and the Brokers began to tamper with the Krell genome in an attempt to speed up gestation and development, accelerating the production of troops. They grew Krell in vats, editing their genes to make them develop more rapidly, producing adult Krell in only a matter of months. These Krell were then sent directly to training, where they were turned into soldiers who had no connection to their people’s history or their tribal culture. Over the hundreds of years of war that followed, millions of these soldiers were created, and hundreds of thousands would die in the campaign to retake the Broker colonies.
It soon became apparent that accelerating the already prodigious growth rates of the Krell meant that they became too large to be deployed into combat after only a few decades of service. Rather than try to correct this defect, the Brokers simply returned those who were no longer useful to the homeworld, growing a new clutch to replace them. They released them outside of random villages around the planet, where the locals took them in as orphans, teaching them all of the necessary skills required to survive and reintegrating them into society.
The Krell born from the vats continued to grow at an alarming rate, eventually becoming too large to live in the villages. They were forced to leave civilization behind, retreating to the swamps and lakes where they lived in a somewhat more primitive state, hunting fish and ungulates to sustain themselves. Even these enormous Krell would soon find their place in society, acting as living information repositories known as Scholars, recounting the oral histories of their people.
Towards the end of the war in 2598, one remote Broker outpost remained occupied, a planet orbiting the star Betelgeuse. A fleet was sent to recapture it, but on the way, they detected the presence of an alien vessel that was on a direct course to the system. That vessel was a human colony ship. Rather than warn the vessel that they were about to enter a warzone, the Broker council decided to hold their forces back, allowing the unsuspecting colony ship to be destroyed. In the wake of this tragedy, the Brokers revealed themselves to humanity. They professed their regret at the loss of the colony ship, claiming that they had no way to warn them of the danger, and extended an invitation to the Coalition to the UN.
Now that the Coalition had a very populous, spacefaring member species, and the war to retake the Broker colonies was all but finished, the Brokers set about shutting down their genetic engineering program. They returned the surviving Krell soldiers to their homeworld and did their best to erase any evidence of their presence on the planet, establishing a blockade to ensure that only those with their permission could come and go. They would transport Krell to UNN stations for training and outfitting, then return them to the planet as needed, portraying their relationship with the species as one that was protective rather than exploitative.