In the south-eastern region of the galaxy there is a solar system whose planets lack any water — in fact, most of them are variations of the same sandy, desert-like wasteland. Even there, life arose in the form of two races. One was a race of giant snakes, long-lived and vicious; the other was a race of small, stocky humanoids, covered in moss with which they had a symbiotic relationship. Both were sentient, and they inevitably warred with each other, as the humanoids — who called themselves the Zehir before long — were the snakes' favourite food and the snakes were the Zehir's equivalent of mammoths — large, dangerous animals that could nonetheless be hunted.
The wars raged for ages and ages; the Zehir society became incredibly militaristic as a result, but did not lose its simple nature. Only after the Zehir developed sufficient technology (late industrial age-equiv. tech.) the stalemate broke, with the Zehir exterminating their foes; only a few escaped deep underground. The Zehir achieved space travel about a decade later (circa 2000 CE) and immediately set on colonising the rest of their solar system. As time passed they found out that most other life-forms didn't like the same environments as them, so they happily expanded their Nation to a wedge-shaped section of space where the planets were mostly of the rocky, airless ones. About eighty years after they achieved FTL, Hakim II abdicated the throne in order to become a monk-poet. His successor, Hakim III, was crowned the same year.
Thirteen years later the New Frontiers, the first Sandsplitter-class dreadnought, suffered catastrophic engine fault and was lost with all hands, including the Sheikh of the Far Traveller clan. Having mostly kept to themselves, they nonetheless sent a few explorer craft out of their sphere of influence. In 2673, a few of their explorers mistakenly destroyed the Snalian Grand Temple. The Zehiri government misinterpreted Snalian demands for compensation and the United Stars banned Zehiri ships from their territory as a result. The explorers ignored this and war broke out, for the first time in seven hundred years in Zehir history, after the Snalians shot down three Zehiri Flitterer-class explorer ships. Shortly before the onset of the Dark Ages, the Zehir won the war and completely annihilate the Snalian armed forces. However, Hakim III mysteriously disappeared, and the Captain of the Guard, Grand Marshal Attallah, declared a regency and closed the Nation's borders. The Zehir shot down any ship that passed through their territory in the Dark Ages.
Hakim IV, Hakim III's successor, came of age in 2974, but the Grand Marshal refused to surrender his power; he was promptly assassinated by a fanatic from the Royal Guard. Hakim IV was crowned later that year. Since then, the Nation has mostly kept to itself, and it joined the GN shortly after the Confederate Principalities did.
The Zehir Nation is a hereditary monarchy ruled by a God-King. Advising him is the Council of Sheikhs, which includes the heads of all of the Zehiri clans. The current God-King, Hakim IV, is rather amiable toward foreign powers, even more so than his successors (which mostly viewed foreigners as curious).
There is no such thing as a civilian Zehir. Due to their eternal war with the snakes, every single person is drafted at roughly 90 years of age (equivalent to a human 18) and serves in the military for fifteen years, after which they serve as reservists for the rest of their lives — still under military jurisdiction but not actively serving except in emergencies.
The Zehiri Army is the planet-side branch. Their specialisation is automation and robotics; most units field a high number of autonomous robots and slaved vehicles mounting plasma weaponry — experience showed that the snakes' scales were no match for superheated gas. As expected, the Zehiri Army is specialised in desert warfare. It also excels in the coordination of multiple mobile units, including belowground burrowers — again, because one snake was the equivalent of hundreds of Zehir.
The Star Corps is the space-bound branch. It tends to use swarms of fighter- and corvette-size spaceships instead of larger ship classes; like their planet-side counterpart, they are highly coordinated and automated.
Since all Zehiri are still soldiers, their life is governed by a harsh military code of justice. That said, the current God-King modified the system in order to make it less cumbersome and more adaptive. Foreigners are usually warned after a first crime and banished from Zehiri space after the second.
Everything is state-controlled, but only nominally so. Zehiri economy runs like a standard capitalist economy, except for a few areas in which the government retains control: basic needs, weaponry and high-cost hightech (such as starship manufacturing, weapon R&D, etc).
Because the atmospheric conditions at their home planet make radio communication impractical, Zehiri telecom tech is based on extremely low-frequency sound.
Most Zehiri ground vehicles resemble boats, since wheeled or tracked vehicles are impractical in sandy environments. They have some walkers, but the technology is highly experimental. Air transportation is almost unheard of due to adverse atmospheric conditions; the Zehiri space programme had to overcome some rather frustrating engineering challenges in order to launch things into orbit.
The Zehir like nature. Most of their cultural activity involves nature in a way — sports are all descended from emulations of nature, the arts' most common subject is nature and the crafts all imitate their home planet's harsh environs. Painting is a national pastime, as is poetry.
Zehiri are blunt and to the point. They lack a concept of politeness, often expressing confusion when encountering it in other races. It is, however, extremely unwise to insinuate that a Zehiri is a coward — it's a national offense. Zehir have a tendency to space out when bored. Due to the aforementioned lack of politeness, they see no problems with this and are puzzled by annoyed reactions to this kind of behaviour.
Zehiri venerate their God-King, said to descend from the sun itself. They still hold this belief despite science showing otherwise, but it does not affect people's daily life overmuch and is rather tolerant.
The Zehiri control fourteen star systems; all of them contain planets that can support their type of life. As a result, most races tend to ignore their territory due to biological incompatibility. Their population clocks at about nine billion.