The Irif are humanoid – a Seeder race. There are no distinctions in skin color among the Irif – all members of the race look like humans of Saxon extraction – pale and with brown or black hair (blonde hair is unknown among the Irif.) What makes the irif stand apart from their human counterparts is their “warpaint.” In a coming of age ritual, all Irif of both sexes have complex patterns marked onto their skin when they reach sexual maturity at eight years old. These patterns are often striking and have a very deep and personal meaning to their bearers.
The Irif are also notable for having a low-level telepathic ability. They are natural linguists, able to pick up and convert a language to its meaning with concentration, and in their future contact with other races they will acquire a reputation for knowing someone’s “meaning” even if they’re trying to obfuscate what they’re trying to say. It’s hard to lie to an Irif.
The Irif have had no contact with the Custodian. Like the Four Races fifty years ago they found an asteroid with eight Jump Drives on board actually orbiting their home world. They used these drives to kickstart their technological development and technology. In this respect they are a “young” race, enthusiastic and curious to a fault. They know that there must be life on other planets from their discovery of the Jump Engines.
Irif numbers are greater than those of any individual of the Four Races, except for possibly Humans, if one were to group all of Sol’s colonies together. They are lucky in that several of the worlds within their home system of Metania are habitable for them, and even before their discovery of Jump technology they had set up bases on two of these. One of these worlds – Metania III – was originally inhabited by some other race, and Irif archaeologists have spent time unearthing and decoding artifacts from this ancient civilisation.
In terms of technology, the Irif are no more technologically advanced than the Krayce. They have the ability to launch a large spaceship to another world and begin colonisation, but they have never needed to do anything that could be considered to be terraforming. They have space stations but nothing on the scale of Hoboville. Their race has nothing that might set it apart from other races like the Teth’s anti-agathic medication or the Tarn FTL communication devices. The Irif do have an edge when it comes to war. Their home system is well guarded and patrolled by a proper navy of spacegoing vessels, the majority of which are also Jump-capable. While this navy might not be as extensive as that of the Sol Unity, for example, it dwarves the combined might of any two of the Four Races.
The average Irif is heavily war-painted. They may belong to any one of a number of religions. They speak plainly and without guile most of the time because they know what each other are thinking and are not used to liars. Irif make for very bad traders with non-Irif. Irif diplomats also find it hard to work with non-Irif.
The Gandhi Incident / The Irif War
Roughly twenty years ago, astrogators and scientists working for a Hamak group called the Atlas Foundation discovered what they believed was the location of one of the original Sol colony ships – the Gandhi. A scoutship – the Mauritania – was dispatched to investigate and possibly to make contact with the human colonists aboard, in the event that any were present.
Though reports are garbled, the following facts are clear: The Mauritania discovered the Gandhi, devoid of human occupants. They made first contact with the Irif, and with some other mysterious alien entity responsible for murdering the crew of the Gandhi. The Mauritania’s crew fled, and in doing so caused the much larger Irif vessel to be attacked, and its crew murdered by whatever entity murdered the crew of the Gandhi. The Mauritania was destroyed on its return to Hamak space to avoid any possible risk of contamination.
The Irif got even more garbled reports of the incident, merely understanding that their exploration vessel had discovered some enormous ancient starship, had investigated, and had met representatives of a number of races from the Four Systems. Not long afterward the exploration vessel, and all of its crew were lost. In order to make a statement to the Four Races, the Irif retaliated by attacking and boarding an early Four Systems colony JumpShip – the Kingfisher. Though serious damage was inflicted on the Kingfisher – enough to put back the Jump-capable colonisation program by a couple of decades – the vessel was recovered, and the Irif invaders killed.
The Four Systems retaliated, setting up a combined Four Systems War Commission set up along the same lines as the Trade Commission that had been successfully put into place by Kees Plaas decades earlier. The War Commission, primarily made up of Teth soldiers and strategists, was responsible for the construction of a fleet of Four Systems JumpShips which began patrolling each of the Four Systems for protection. War Commission astrogators began work on determining the location of the Irif home systems and a number of scouting missions of reconnaissance were carried out.
The Irif were better set up for war and scouting missions revealed that it would be foolish for the Four Systems to mount an all-out attack. Rather, a position should be consolidated, and like during the conflict with the Sol Unity guerilla tactics would work better than anything else.
The Irif adopted a similar tactic and the cold war continued for ten years. A number of large space-based constructions came under attack in sudden battles – The Four Systems Trade Commission space station Equilibration in Teth space was destroyed in one attack and there was damage to Hoboville in Hamak space in another. However, Hoboville’s inhabitants had seen this kind of attack before and were well-prepared for the. The loss of life was minimal.
Peace with the Irif
The Tarn proved to be unlikely politicians in the conflict with the Irif. While the Krayce, Humans and Teth have the capability to lie, the Tarn are, for the most part truthful, which enabled the Irif to trust them in peace talks more than they trusted the other three races. Tarn diplomats are, however, still Tarn – the peace process has been ongoing for ten years now, with the Four Systems and the Irif operating under a mutual ceasefire.