Starseige: War in the Heavens
Millennia ago, the Alin people were little more than bands of desperate merchants hauling trinkets from enclave to enclave. The P’kash people had ousted them from the few spots that could be called pleasant in the world, and the mysterious pyramids of the Gyx remained closed to all, refugees included. Despairing, the Alin gathered to make a pilgrimage across the desert ocean, hoping to cross to the other side where they may find a fertile home. What they found instead were the mysterious spirits of the desert – the djinn – and the means to the spirits to their will. With their powerful djinn slaves, the Alin created a mighty trade empire in the heart of the desert to shout their defiance to the world itself. They turned the tables on the P’kan, harrying them into the most remote canyon wildernesses and forcing them to scratch a living on little more than bare rock.
However, when the Triune Empire descended from the skies and conquered the P’kan, the Alin were once more forced back to their desert strongholds. Fortunately for them, another space power took great interest in their mastery of arcane glass: the Distruzian Corporation. With access to Heavenships, the Alin penchant for trade exploded into what is today the Alin Cartel.
The Alin Cartel is actually a conglomeration of several Alin trade princes who obtained jealously guarded monopolies on what resources were available to them. When they emerged onto the Heavenly stage, the princes all signed a price-fixing, non-competition pact, forming the modern Cartel. The richest of the Princes is Abin-Sur the Glass King, making him the de-facto head of the Cartel… until some other prince manages a hostile takeover. Each trade prince controls a fleet of space caravans, each of which are also looking for the first opportunity to corner a new market, establish a monopoly, and become a new Prince themselves.
The Alin are a pragmatic people who always have an eye toward the bottom line. In terms of philosophy, no concept is more central to the Alin soul than The Contract. As the civilization that rose to greatness on the backs of contracts with the Djinn, the Alin recognize the utility of deals – when to keep them and when to break them. Haggling and wheedling are seen as virtuous pursuits in Alin society.
In terms of material goods, Alin society is among the most decadent. With the aid of their djinn slaves, they have raised huge castles of alabaster and bronze to float above the desert sands. Huge crystals of spellglass anchor the floating spires in place and reflect the desert sun into a kaleidoscope of colors. Loose-fitting and luxurious linens are standard wear for most Alin people, with soldiers hiding their armor beneath it.
- Though they were the ones to contact the Alin and invite them to the Pan-Heaven Alliance, the Distruzian Corporation has come to regret that move as the Cartel quickly expanded and usurped their market for all but the most advanced technologies. Relations have predictability cooled, though the membership of both in the Alliance prevents any actual hostilities.
- As the most capitalistic society in The Heavens, the Cartel is extremely opposed to the Undus Union and everything it stands for. The feeling is mutual, as the Cartel’s propaganda was the catalyst for the faction that became Standard Mageium to break away from the Union.
- Being staunch isolationists, the Heavenly Shogunate has rejected all attempts at trade by the Cartel.
- The Nyhnzyl Kingdom greatly values the Cartel for its ability to facilitate trade between the disparate fiefdoms and vassals of its sprawling territory at little cost to the kingdom’s own ships and resources.
- The Cartel seems to regard trade contracts with the White Tiger Dynasty as a punishment – merchants who fail to meet their quota, or princes fallen from grace are often assigned to work with the Rakshasa nation.