The Sha'kurians are an ancient race of amphibious humanoids whose territorial holdings occupy the rim of the Beta Quadrant opposite the Beta/Alpha border. The true size of their holdings is unknown due to their tight security controls and territorial xenophobia. We know little of their culture and history but are striving to learn more. What little we know is synopsized here.
The Sha'kurians are not originally from the Beta Quadrant. Intelligence indicates that they had some sort of interstellar feudal empire located in the Delta Quadrant near the Delta?Beta border. This empire was founded shortly after their acquisition of warp drive technology. Known Sha'kurian history states they discovered this on their own, but certain newly acquired documents indicate they may have acquired the technology from another race. Their empire lasted for hundreds of years but was torn apart due to internal strife following the assassination of their Imperial Family by a group known only as the "Nameless Ones". We can only surmise they did not have a strong enough government to rule their holdings in light of the power vacuum created. Civil war and decay was the only logical outcome.
Their empire contracted to a mere fraction of its original size, with many of the feudal houses destroyed or absorbed into various conflicts of the time known as "the Collapse" in Sha'kurian lore. Several of the remaining feudal families fled the area to escape the fighting, eventually settling in their current territory. They failed to escape the decline and the fighting continued until the number of ruling families was reduced to twelve.
The heads of these Royal Families, known as Dukes, met and devised their current form of government in an effort to maintain the status quo and their familial power. The Dukes all belong to the House of Lords, which is much like our own High Council with the exception that there is no central leader. All decisions are handled by vote.
This lack of strong central leadership must not be confused with weakness. The Sha'kurians have an excellent understanding of many of our virtues and fighting is in their blood as it is ours. Their House of Lords serves as much as an impartial arbiter as it does a conventional political body. It presides over internal conflicts with strict Rules of War. These Rules of War allow the Sha'kurians to continue fighting amongst themselves, but ensure that none of the Royal Families will ever be destroyed. This has led to some rather unusual customs of warfare among the Sha'Kurians, including seasonal warfare and mandatory capturing of prisoners. While primitively bizarre to say the least, their customs serve the ultimate purpose of cultivating skilled and fearsome warriors.
When elements of the Klingon Defense Forces first encountered the Sha'kurians in 1630 IR, it was discovered that even when war is raging between the Duchies their Rules of War demand that internal hostilities be completely suspended until all external threats are neutralized. This was indeed surprising to the commander of the Klingon forces involved in that initial contact. The commander decided to take advantage of the situation and claim a few worlds rich in natural resources for the Empire. He was rapidly forced to withdraw due to the swiftly mobilized and unified response. It is now common knowledge that when encountered in their own territory, Sha'kurians always react with intense hostility.
After the acquisition of the cloaking device in 1643, another detachment was sent to probe Sha'kurian space to gather intelligence data. It was soon discovered that Sha'kurians are unusually effective at detecting and hunting down cloaked vessels (it was later learned that the Romulans encountered this same "problem", but had conveniently neglected to inform their Klingon allies).
A curious practice of the Sha'kurians is their fielding of mercenary fleets. To supplement the income of a Royal Family and gain their younger warriors valuable experience a Sha'kurian Duke will often assemble squadrons of less experienced fighters and hire them out to external patrons as mercenaries. It is in this capacity that most of our encounters with Sha'kurians occur, but the fact that they are not seasoned fighters does not make them any less of a threat. They are still worthy opponents and not to be underestimated.
Sha'kurians are a technologically advanced civilization, possessing certain standard technologies such as warp drive, impulse drive, and transporters, but not others such as photon torpedoes. One item of technology that the Sha'kurians have surpassed all others in is sensor technology. Sha'kurian sensors are far more powerful than Klingon, Romulan, or Federation sensors. This fact in combination with an intricate battle communications network, allows the Sha'kurians to do highly accurate coordinated attacks and other maneuvers. This is also the source of their tremendous ability to detect cloaked ships.
Sha'kurian capital vessels are much weaker than their counterparts in other imperial navies, and it is difficult for them to survive in close combat with other capital ships. To compensate for this lack of durability, Sha'kurian vessels have sacrificed armor for speed. The Sha'kurian capital ship uses this speed advantage to maintain its distance from enemy vessels while launching fast-attack fighters and fighter bombers to project their of firepower at long ranges.
These fighters are where the Sha'kurian carrier's true power lies and they make these capital vessels quite effective in combat. Sha'kurian technology reflects their peculiar style of combat, and is focused on different priorities than other civilizations have.
Sha'kurian shield technology developed to a rudimentary level, and thus provides limited shield protection in comparison to the Klingons or the Federation. The main weapons systems of Sha'kurian vessels are phaser-like beam weapons as primary batteries, and missiles known as impulse velocity projectiles. The beam weapons are short ranged in comparison to the primary batteries of other nations, but are extremely rapid firing. The impulse velocity projectiles, however, come in many varieties and are used in various ways.
The most basic type of impulse velocity projectile is a high velocity non-seeking variant, carried aboard Sha'kurian fighters. The projectile is aimed at the target and fired, traveling in a ballistic trajectory until it runs out of fuel or impacts an object and detonates. Carried by the bombers is a more advanced type of guided projectile with a sizeable warhead. Carrier vessels carry two different types of projectiles. The first carrier-based projectile is the long ranged Active Terminal Guidance projectile which homes in on the enemy in a fashion similar to the Romulan plasma torpedoes. The other type of carrier-based projectile is the Multiwarhead projectile. These large projectiles carry multiple smaller projectiles onboard. Once the Multiwarhead projectile is within striking distance of the target it releases its smaller projectiles which attack the target from many angles simultaneously.
One additional note about Sha'kurian weapons technology, is their relatively recent acquisition of the Graviton Density Distortion Sphere Generator or GDDS. The Gorn originally developed the GDDS during one of their many wars with the Romulan Empire. During that war, Romulan troops captured a ship equipped with one of these devices for study. The Romulans towed the vessel to a research facility far from the Gorn border in what was then one of the farthest frontiers of their empire. Not long after research began on the enigmatic Gorn device, the Romulans made a regrettable first-contact with the Sha'kurians. Romulan expansionist dogma clashed violently with Sha'kurian territoriality causing a second front to open for the Romulans. During the fighting, a Sha'kurian raiding force captured the research station and the GDDS as well. The Sha'kurians adapted the Gorn device to fit within their combat tactics and have been fielding them ever since, utilizing the defensive capabilities of the GDDS to a far greater extent than the Gorn and thus greatly increasing the survivability of their carrier forces.