The Official Motto of the Tarka Star Navy is "Kaan, Kokari, Kogoru — Habas, Harraku, Hanakuum". Roughly translated, that would be "Force, Desire, Victory — Honor, Ambition, (Interstellar) Empire".
The unofficial motto of the common ranks would probably be "Hanaru ya Bente Vu" — "The Stars Make the Best Eggs".
Tarkasian ships are built by the builder's caste, which has many clans spread over many continents and worlds.
Generally, the ship prefix for the Tarka military is FKM (Fane Kona Mol).
The Tarka employ a decimal–style ranking system in their interstellar navy. Chain of command as follows:
Lac Tar (roughly "admiral" — war leader of 100,000)
Maalk Tar (war leader of 10,000)
Amtara (leader of 1,000)
Sippa (leader of 100)
Saal (leader of 10)
For example, five ships with 200 crew each would generally answer to an officer of "Amtara" rank. A flotilla of 40 such ships would be led by a "Maalk Tar" into battle.
Honorifics are simple in the Tarka military: the Supreme Commander is addressed as "Var Kona". All other superior officers are addressed as "Kaandai".
These ranks are not as literal in the modern day as they were in the ancient times in which they were first coined, naturally, but a good rough estimate of the rank of any Tarkasian officer can be based on the number of warm bodies under her/his command.
The Tarka military hierarchy is unusual in Tarka society in that the vast majority of soldiers, pilots and fleet officers are male Tarkas, while the majority of commissioned officers and graduates from the elite military academies are female. Within the operating fleet this leads to a dynamic whereby almost 90% of all commissioned officers are females. A single female, or a small tightly–knit cadre of females, is often in charge of an entire crew of "immature" Tarka males, who are highly motivated both personally and professionally to distinguish themselves in combat.
As an example, the typical crew manifest of a Tarkasian Destroyer would include a female officer carrying the rank of captain, a pair of immature males at the helm and navigation/communication posts, a female technical officer in the engine room and four to six male gunners. On a larger vessel, the technical officer would have several younger males under her command and possibly a junior female engineer — the command staff on the bridge would include the female commander and a small cadre of junior officers who were either less experienced females or male NCO's who had risen in rank due to distinguished service. By contrast, authority positions outside of the command deck or the drive room are far more likely to be occupied by experienced male officers than by female &mash; it is rare for a female Tarka to acquire the experience necessary to become a gunnery sergeant, for example.
This hierarchy of Tarka in sex–based positions of authority produces highly effective combat units, so long as the officers are always present to keep their men under control and working together. The officers aboard any ship are highly prized for this reason — the command section of any Tarkasian vessel will be more heavily armored than any other part of the ship. Protecting their command staff is not only desirable for personal and social reasons to the junior male crew — it also helps to avoid the inevitable chaos which results when a typical Tarkasian crew complement is left to its own devices. Junior males without leadership are rarely able to establish a clear chain of command.
This system of organization would have a tendency to break down if senior males are not available in the higher ranks of fleet command, of course. Senior males are accordingly promoted for distinguished service and serve a necessary function when it is necessary to group larger numbers of ships and personnel. Ergo, while the vast majority of commissioned officers below the rank of colonel are females, the highest–ranking officer on the line in any given battle group will almost always be a senior male. In combat a senior commands quick and absolute obedience: his image and the sound of his voice are sufficient to keep several ships organized and acting on his orders.
Warrior Culture Edit
Honor and duty are very important for members of the military castes of course. So are courage, discipline, skill and intelligence. Tarkasian bushido is not entirely different from the "way of the warrior" which was once practiced by the samurai of Japan — but there are a few important differences.
Unlike many warrior cultures military Tarka are not grim, humorless or death–affirming. They do not consider it desirable to die in battle and regard suicide of any kind as both shameful and stupid. Most Tarka, male and female, embrace personal risk only as a means to a positive end. Although they hurl themselves into battle bravely and sometimes take extraordinary chances, they never do so because they believe that they have no chance of victory. The plan is always to win — failing that, to survive — failing that, to make the enemy pay a horrendous price for your life. Any Tarka who expressed a preference for a violent death or a desire to perish in combat for the sake of perishing in combat would be regarded as dangerously mad and perhaps mentally defective.
The Tarkasian god of War is called Sardo Kal. Although he is the Lord of Battles, Sardo Kal is also a trickster and a god of chance. Tarkasian warriors love all games which incorporate both cunning and chance and play them frequently in the ranks. Self–deprecation is a common form of humor among military Tarka, often taking form in even formal settings. For example, a formal farewell of affection or respect between two Tarka warriors would probably go like this: "When we meet again, let us cross tankards rather than swords. Either way, I'm sure to get the worst of it."
All in all, theirs is a military culture which has been around long enough to know that the art of war is both sublime and ridiculous, that the best–laid plans seldom survive contact with the enemy, that victory and defeat can always hang by a roll of the dice or the turn of a friendly card — and as the saying goes, "Sardo Kal gave you a tail so that you could hang onto life even when you'd lost your last toenail."
From the Forums Edit
"I'd probably play the Tarka or Liir and adopt the Spartan's philosophy of defending a place to the very last man...I'd certainly send a chat message to any person attacking my planets, no matter how small the force, 'With our shields or on them!' (SotS actually is the second game to inspire this kind of epic thinking in me, with the other being Homeworld.)" (See the Greek phrase here)
— The Writer2
"I hate to rain on the fight–to–the–last–man parade, but isn't this exactly what the Tarka *don't* do? From Arinn Dembo's excellent introduction to the Tarka, I got the impression that their heroes would not be people like Leonidas but people like Odysseus... that they would be a people of Pallas Athena not Ares.
"My intent once AARs and such get off the ground is to write from the perspective of a Hiver prince who travels from hive to hive gathering all the information he can about past conflicts and providing his humble advice in present ones. Much like Thucydides and Herodotus, he is concerned with reporting events as they happened or are said to have happened and much like Sun Tzu, he is interested in observing as many wars and battles as possible in order to discover general principles of strategy and tactics. His observations will not be limited to war and will also touch on his theories about the societies at war, although he will obviously be reasoning and writing from his own perspective which is very much the perspective of a Hiver.
"I bring this up because one of the things I was hoping to work into his musings was the remark that 'the Tarka are degenerate and laugh at war, but the Humans are sick and laugh at death.' What he means by this, stripped of as much of his bias as possible, is that Tarka society is a bit contemptuous of the mysticism of combat. (And that the Humans are unreasonably bloodthirsty, but that's beside the present point.) Like Aristophanes, they make fun of anyone who's too serious about being a warrior. (The Acharnians is my favorite among his plays and contains many good examples.)
"Consider this: despite the natural advantages of changed male Tarka, it's the female Tarka who basically run the show. Why is this? What advantages do they have? The answer is that they are rational and thoughtful. They have metis. They are older and wiser and craftier than the charismatic leaders they use as figureheads and battle standards.
"In other words, the Tarka wouldn't fight to the last man if it wasn't a reasonable trade–off for whatever desirable result it might have. They'd be far more likely to retreat, draw back, and repair. They'd feint, dodge and generally engage in whatever tricky tactics they felt were suited to the situation. And not only would Tarka not fight foolishly to the last man, but they also wouldn't admire such behavior. If some Human captain decides to make a last stand that costs his people a fleet that could have been better used elsewhere if only it had survived, that man is a short–sighted fool, not a hero. He hurt his people's military effort. That kind of thinking is a liability.
"The race most likely to engage in such dubious heroics — it's difficult to say. The Tarka have been discussed above, and I feel they are least likely to do so. The Liir have a history of highly emotionally charged warfare and a complete hatred of their enemies, but the death of a Liir is the loss not only of the individual but also of his mind and his thoughts, and it's not a sacrifice to be made lightly or painlessly. The Hiver have a strong communal bond that might well help to foster the kind of fraternal/societal devotion that leads to such behavior, but at the same time an awareness of and concern for the well–being of the society as a whole might work against it. I'd name the Humans as tentatively most likely. Their method of interstellar travel seems to encourage daring and risk. They are highly motivated by revenge. They are in the very early stages of being a space–faring race and they do not seem to have a particularly stable society. Perhaps most importantly of all, they don't have the kind of interpersonal bonds that other races have — the telepathy of the Liir, the paternal fealty of the Tarka or the brotherhood of the Hive. These things suggest that Humans would be capable of reckless "heroism" in combat.
— Vagabond Prince
"Tarka are not big fans of dying pointlessly, but they prefer to show their enemies the bridge rather than the engines, if you know what I'm saying.
"Of course, the real answer to the question 'what would the Tarka do?' is 'whatever it takes to win.'
"If you ever find yourself chasing after a routed Tarka fleet, it might be wise to look over both shoulders."