Freeborn Prince Batu Delhren is a key figure in the Determinate and in the fight against the Chryseis Shard and Virai Dronescourge. He originally arose from a community contribution. Here, Tim Bancroft takes us through Batu’s House, the Delhren. We welcome player contributions of the background to their own houses.
House Delhren* is a relatively minor Freeborn merchant house in Antares space that exerts more influence than might be expected. It is a vardos governed by a predominantly hereditary vard and, like all vardos, it has its own mannerisms, idiosyncracies and eccentricities. Also like most other houses, it has its own sparse, isolated, heirarchical nanosphere that is a totally separate and secure shard from that of the IMTel nations it may trade with or even from other houses.
As with any other vardos, the Delhren trading ships are scattered across Antarean space. In addition to these, however, the Delhren have a Home Fleet and lay claim to five systems and six habitable planets, depending on the definition of ‘habitable’ and ‘claim’. The planets are referred to as Delhren I-VI, partly for reasons of secrecy but also as a statement to other houses and factions. The house also shares a claim with a number of other houses to Tamala, a source of feral humans – the Tamalair – even more primitive than the Mhagris (though not more ferocious).
One of the ‘planets’, Delhren-IV, is a just-habitable moon orbiting a gas giant in the same system as Delhren-III. Delhren-III sits in the Goldilocks zone of the system in which their fleet is most often to be found. Delhren-VI is not, as yet, able to be settled or fully claimed.
Leadership of the house is normally passed to the most powerful or appropriate, living, descendent of the abdicating or dying Vard – there is no primogeniture. Whilst this is a tradition meant to regularly revitalise the vardos, in practice this means the position can remain within one of the leading families in the vardos for several generations. However, it does enable the leadership to occasionally switch between the richer and more influential families as intermarriage is common, as with other houses often even used for political purposes.
Owing to a series of unfortunate ‘accidents’, the current Vard has no direct, living descendent in his doma (the Tsulmar) which means the jockeying for position amongst his family is particularly acute. It is possible that leadership of the House could transfer to a different clan entirely as his dilettante nephew, Prince Batu, is not seen as an acceptable choice by many in the Delhren and is, anyway, currently in a self-imposed exile.
The Delhren Fleet
The home fleet orbits the system in which Delhren III and IV can be found. The gate location is kept as hidden as it can be for a such a major terminus and access to the gate is controlled by specially built craft who rotate in orbit in the Antares photosphere and vet anyone trying to come through; the ships launch message drones through the gate as soon as they detect an approaching ship in the Antares atmosphere. Needless to say, the system-side terminus of the wormhole is heavily guarded by Delhren warships.
The gate-guard duty is not a pleasant duty as the guard-ships are little more than a highly heat-resistant globes that need constant maintenance to withstand the rigours of the Antarean photosphere. It is used as a punishment detail and those who serve on the guard-ships once try not to ever do anything that might cause them to be selected again.
The capitol ‘ship’, the Vard of Delhren, is really a slightly-more-mobile, orbital habitat and is host to millions of vardari and substantial manufacturing facilities. Other major ships used as habitats are typically all named ‘…of Delhren’ and have specialised functions. Amongst these is the slightly smaller Radiance of Delhren that is the focus for diplomacy, houses embassies from the primary factions, and has living space for representatives and visitors from other factions, houses or planets.
Ships of the trading fleet are named by their captains or occupying families. Sometimes the names survive centuries if there is honour attached to them. One scout ship, a repurposed sixth age hulk, is captained by a half-insane renegade NuHu, the Raya, who has called it Death-is-only-the-beginning (see the story ‘Batu and the SITAI’ in the Open Signal anthology).
- Delhren III – the jewel of the Delhren systems.
- Delhren VI (Shamasai), an abandoned planet from the fifth or sixth age now home to dangerously invasive bionanocytes. Though mainly dormant, they can be activated by advanced technology or the presence of nanosphere implants or blood-born nanocytes.
- The house uses the primitive Tamalair as ferals. These come from a number of clans on Tamala, a world in a system whose gate is masked by another to the more affluent and advanced Pherohn. Delhren is one of five signatories to the ‘Tamala Accord’ whereby five Freeborn Houses commit to keeping its location secret in return to using arena facilities in which they allow locals to fight for the honour of serving the ‘skypeople’. The most useful factor about Tamalair physiology is that their fear response is ‘fight’ rather than flight, so limited soma control is needed from mind implants. Batu Delhren’s own Tamalair were, against his wishes, implanted with full soma grafts by his Shamasai Drone.
- Other signatories to the Tamala Accord could be seen as Freeborn allies. Of these, those known are the mercenary house Fenhryr and the highly advanced allies of the Isorians, House Isoptix.
- Ranks of the Delhren Mercantile and Military – a quick overview.
Names and structure
The house uses a number of structures to delineate where an individual fits within their family, clan and the house overall. Though people frequently use their clan as a surname, their full names are often in the format “Title given-name family clan”. The “ara-” prefix is sometimes used to denote a lesser family that associates itself with a clan but which does not have any claim on the leadership (see below for adpoted individuals who use the “an-” prefix).
For example, “Decurion Merut kharaki ara-tsulmari” is a junior officer whose forename is Merut. His family is the “Kharak”, part of the “Tsulmar” domas, but the “ara-” prefix to the clan name indicates the kharaki family is not in line for any hereditary leadership roles and, in reality, could switch domas.
- The current leading domas is Clan Tsulmar (the people of which are the domara tsulmari). However, the leading clan adopt the Delhren name for a clan name until another clan’s Doma becomes Vard.
- Batu Delhren, is the errant nephew to the Vard. Technically, his name would be Prince Batu tsulmari delhreni.
- The Vard’s forename is rarely used, but is Ordaichen. Technically his name and title would be Vard Ordaichen tsulmari delhreni, sometimes just (but still respectifully) Tsulmar Delhren acknowledging his leadership of all the doma and vardos.
- Clan Tridethe are the second family, one of its major familia being – until recently – Jarain Tridethe, the fleet Head of Security. The story of his fall is recounted in the ficton about Batu.
- Minor clans are many, though two known clans are Verayis and Erenthe
- Individuals adopted into the house are given the name of the adopting domas but with a prefix ‘an-‘ (literally ‘of the’). Whilst they cannot receive inherited titles and positions, their descendents are full members of the house and drop the ‘an-‘ prefix. Occasionally, the Vard will grant full domas status to such individuals.
* Delhren is pronounced Del-hhrren, with a guttural ‘hh’ and ‘rr’ and an emphasis on the second syllable.
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