The Umdals (/u:m.dɑ:lz/, singular "Umdal") were a species of reptilian sentients native to Ommol in the Unknown Regions. The horned non-humanoids were among the founding species of the Tetrarchy of Mezlagob.
Biology and appearance
Evolved from four-legged beasts, the herbivorous Umdals were heavily built for their heights—a mature weight below 150 kilograms (330 pounds) for a male or 175 kilograms (374 pounds) for a female was considered unhealthy. Their hides were tough and leathery, and very difficult to cut with anything less than a lightsaber. The thickest parts of their hides could even take a blaster bolt with only surface damage. Umdals had hard, bony plates arranged in a "shield" over their upper skulls. The combination of bone and hide was particularly resistant to injury. Male Umdals also had horns projecting from these shields, as well as frill beards.
Though bipedal, all but the most athletic Umdals had a slow, lumbering gate. They could run in brief spurts, and at a full charge could smash through many obstacles or barriers, but were not designed to run distances. Their hands had thick, powerful fingers, and grown Umdals were strong enough to bend iron or even thin pieces of durasteel by hand. They had broad feet with short, thick toes. Their nails were not claws, but thick and difficult to break.
Umdals had short, stubby tails, their lengths between a third a half their heights. They could swing their tails, and used them for balance, but the movements of their tails were broad swipes, not precise flicks. A strong enough swing of an Umdal's tail could shatter a Human's leg.
Female Umdals were taller and heavier than males, but lacked cranial horns. They also tended to have shorter tails. Total gestation period for Umdals was just over a local year (close to a standard year and a half). This time was split roughly equally between the mother carrying the egg and the egg being incubated before hatching. Umdals were born with only tiny nubs of tails, and males had no horns. They reached full biological maturity after roughly twenty-five standard years.
Society and culture
Despite their apparently sedentary builds and strictly herbivorous diets, the Umdals had a deeply warlike culture and seemed naturally inclined toward conflict, though they were able to band together when it served the interest of all concerned parties. By contrast, family units were generally close. Umdal law allowed for polygamy, given relatively low birth rates; biological half-siblings were raised to treat one another no differently than full siblings.
Though aggressive, Umdal soldiers preferred to strike from a position of overwhelming strength, and were not generally seen as risk-takers in war. They preferred to heavily fortify their holdings rather than risk failure by continued conquests with less than perfect defenses at their backs. On the other hand, they were regarded by other species as defensive experts, and Umdal engineers and military strategists were often called upon to design base, shipyard, and planetary defenses.
For millennia, vast tracts of land were needed to provide sufficient food for Umdal citizens. Even after various technologies were conceived to limit the space needed for production of foodstuffs, Umdals had a reverence for nature and growing things.
The Umdals evolved from four-legged pack herbivores. Xenobiologists came up with many theories as to how a species of herbivores became one of the most warlike of those in the Tetrarchy and later the Golden Empire. None were fully accepted, but the most widely believed was that the Umdals had faced threats from numerous predator species, and had had to defend their herds fiercely to survive. As the theory went, this extreme and violent defensiveness eventually expanded into protection of not only physical person, but also territory. The theory gained traction as it addressed not only the inclination of Umdals toward violence, but also their psychological predisposition to defense-heavy warfare.
As Umdals began to build cities, they chose easily defensible locations, preferring high ground whenever possible. Since there were fewer locations with sufficient elevation than there were Umdal herds in need of cities, they began to develop various barrier and antisiege defenses. Early Umdal city-states were concentrated around living and government buildings and small tracts of farmland within city walls, with many square kilometers of additional farmland outside the walls. Successful cities built up vast stores of supplies to outlast siege attempts.
Desire to defend their home territories and resultant distrust of outsiders made the growth of trade somewhat stunted, but as trade economics developed among the stronger Umdal cities, lesser villages also recognized the necessity to either expand or be consumed. Both peaceful trade and warfare spread military concepts, and several arms races erupted in Umdal history, with nations attempting to develop defenses against enemy siege weapons while also conceiving weapons to break their enemies' own defenses. Engineering became a prized career among Umdals, as highly reputed as military service. The only universally accepted principle of war was that the intentional destruction of farmland or forests was a serious crime, to be condemned by all nations.
By six centuries before the Battle of Yavin, Ommol was divided among a few major superpowers and several lesser, dependent countries in a state of mutually assured destruction. Around that time, Mezzel explorers from Mezlagob arrived, bringing with them the secrets of hyperspace travel and a dream of forging an empire. The leaders of the Umdal states came together for a worldwide conference, and after weeks of debate finally agreed to forge a single, worldwide nation. The newly unified Umdals joined Mezlagob and Hudrel in their governmental creation; with the addition of Telacia shortly after, the four worlds formed the Tetrarchy of Mezlagob.
The Umdals prospered under the Tetrarchy, and an Umdal was always one of the four Tetrarchs. Umdal military and defensive strategists were sought by all the member worlds of the Tetrarchy, and Ommol's military institutes received an influx of alien students seeking to study Umdal defensive science. For both these reasons, technical proficiency and governmental control, Ommol became a rich world and the Umdals enjoyed strong standing in the Tetrarchy. However, their staunch support of the government and acceptance (and even advocacy) of its mostly violently repressive policies toward vassal worlds made many other species in the Tetrarchs' grip loathe their Umdal overlords. The fact that it was the Umdals who produced the shock tank only added to this hatred.
When the Great Liberation erupted, the overwhelming majority of Umdals remained staunchly loyal to the Tetrarchy. Morale suffered when Tariun Sakaros led a raid and destroyed the shock tank factory complex under the Umdals' noses. The Umdal Tetrarch, Lahek Gril, fell out with his three co-rulers over the issue, and later committed suicide rather than surrender to Rin Sakaros. Even when Rin conquered Mezlagob, the leaders of Ommol refused to surrender, necessitating a costly and devastating battle.
Under the rule of the Golden Empire, the reputation of the Umdals suffered. Though Rin and her military prevented overt reprisals by formerly repressed species, many former vassal worlds of the Tetrarchy went out of their way not to trade with Ommol, leading to economic stagnation. Knowing the populace remained disloyal, Rin installed a garrison of the Royal Army on Ommol, one of only a handful of worlds to have a standing military presence, which served as further humiliation for the Umdals.
Decades after the Great Liberation ended, while many species still bore grudges against Ommol and the Umdals, many of the Umdals themselves had reconciled themselves to Rin's rule and taken positions in government and the military. Though Rin ostensibly carried no grudge herself, by 144 ABY Ommol still had not had a native Consul, and Umdals rising to high positions in the government were very rare, with one glaring exception.
In the galaxy
During the reign of the Tetrarchy of Mezlagob, Umdals were well-known and widely despised for their fanatic support of the government. From the inception of the Tetrarchy to its fall, one of the four Tetrarchs was always an Umdal.
Despite the lingering negative view of the Umdals in the Golden Empire, the Centurion and Legate (and eventually Prime Legate) Sorrik did much to heal public perception of his species, through both his intelligent and courageous defense of the Empire in various campaigns and the obvious trust Rin Sakaros placed in him.