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There are a number of alien species in my Dryden Universe. Some, like the Yrmaks, are totally alien, having evolved on their own world, in their own way. But that's not the case with the Jorts. Jorts are very similar to Humans, and in fact are genetically modified Humans.
About one thousand years after the first settlers arrived in the area of the Sagittarian arm we now call the Dryden Universe a geneticist named Jorian Bannesarna became disenchanted with the Human race. He'd just watched yet another devastating planetary war where two tribes of Humans set out to slaughter each other. He resolved to take himself, along with his wife and their children, away from the Human planets to a new sector. The planet he had in mind circled a sun brighter and hotter than the G-class stars favoured by Human settlers. Bannesarna was already dark-skinned, but he decided to ensure his new group would be able to cope with the climate on their new home. He made some genetic modifications to embryos he took with him, so that the children would have jet black skin. They would also have red eyes, able to cope with higher radiation levels, and the ability to interpret more wavelengths of light. One result of the modifications was core body temperature is two degrees higher than that of ordinary Humans.
Bannesarna deliberately kept his group, which became known as Jorts, away from Humans. Over time Jort society became skilled with all forms of technology, especially nano-tech, building better ships, better medical facilities, and so on. But Jort society also became more rigid, with a class system that was almost impossible to circumvent. A Jort born into the working class could not hope to become a member of the ruling class, such as politicians, judges, military admirals and the like.
Over time a few enterprising Jorts broke away from their restrictive regime and went to Human planets. But the price to pay was high. Any Jort who went over to the 'enemy' was immediately disowned, and could never return to Jort territory. No Human was ever permitted to settle on a Jort planet.
The most famous of the few 'traitors' who left the home worlds was Imperial Fleet Admiral Ul-Mellor. The son of a humble family, despite his military brilliance, Ul-Mellor could not hope to aspire to more than middle rank in the Jort Fleet. In a rare military exercise with the Imperial Fleet, Imperial Admiral Rochester recognized the young Jort officer's ability and persuaded him to defect to the Empire, where he quickly excelled.
Seldom seen outside their small group of systems, Jorts are smart, aloof, and not easily provoked. They protect their borders assiduously. They will not start a war, but if battle is brought to them, they will win.
You can find out more about Admiral Ul-Mellor in A Matter of Trust.
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