The Beggars are the independent military arm of the Realm. This force has two primary areas of jurisdiction. The first is the enforcement of the Edicts. The second is the collection of the Beggar’s Due from each House. While they are not within the chain of command of any other Realm agency or organization, they can be petitioned by the Sovereign, Senate or the Collective, though it is at their discretion whether to accept the request. The Beggars are unusual in other ways as well when compared to House forces or the Omega Group. Unlike those augment forces, the Beggars are not augments in the conventional sense. They did not model themselves from the original augments of the Proto War, nor do they recruit from existing augment militaries as Omega Group does. They retain a fully independent recruitment and force disposition which are closely kept secrets within their ranks.
While the Realm is unaware of the process of how individuals are selected to join their program, some information has become widely known. For example, the Beggars select teenage recruits, never younger than twelve nor older then eighteen standard years of age. These people are offered an opportunity to join and are taken off world for the process. They are gone for upwards of two years. The ones who choose to join do so knowing it is a lifelong commitment. Those who decline are returned, and what little they are willing to share of the experience are generalities: something akin to a sort of boot camp combined with intense academic study and unrelenting psychological analysis.
Recruits, referred to as novices, are allowed to quit at any time, for any reason. They are compensated for the time they spend under consideration, which sometimes amounts to a very generous sum. None who have ever quit or failed some element of the testing have ever shared their reasons with the public. Whether the process is too painful or if they are simply being paid for their silence is unclear, but regardless of the reason it has remained effective. When a novice is accepted, they return to their place of origin for a short time to inform their friends and family of their decision, and it is likely that even this kindness is also a test of the novice’s commitment.
The Beggars are not usually encountered by the Realm’s citizenry. There is a small contingent on every Realm perimeter station, though they only appear if the station itself is under dire threat. If they show up to a particular place it is almost always because of an Edict violation or because the Beggar’s Due was not paid, neither of which will end in positive outcomes for those responsible. Another peculiar aspect is that very little footage exists of the Beggars themselves. All pictures and video of them which does exist was captured by mechanical devices using chemical film to record them. Cameras and sensors fail to capture data on them. Data of their arrival and departures are scrubbed from logs, and aside from eyewitness accounts they do not leave behind much electronic evidence.
However, one sure way to know the Beggars were at a particular place is from the aftermath they leave behind. They are quite effective in warfare and leave behind only the dead. The injured and captured are taken with them, and those unfortunate souls are not seen or heard from again. They prefer to operate in small teams performing surgical strikes rather than any kind of conventional engagement. No person has ever reported seeing more than two dozen Beggars in any given place at a time, and even that was a monumental occurrence which left the capital city of the world of Khayyam burning after it was discovered that they had attempted to institute a form of indentured servitude which was effectively impossible to be released from.
The description of the Beggars is of almost normal looking people. Always wearing a stripped-down version of the powered armor used by augment forces and usually wearing a faceless helmet which wholly obscures their identity. Accounts have reported that they have superhuman reaction times and reflexes. They are trained in their own martial arts style which seems to combine elements of judo, jiu-jitsu, and krav maga. They are incredibly strong, for example, multiple eyewitnesses on Zharkov Station reported seeing a Beggar lift a cargo sled off of a worker who had become partially crushed by it when its gravitic plates had failed. It is unknown how they accomplished this as the mass and weight of such a large object should have torn their arms out of their sockets supposing that they had the strength to lift a multi-ton object at all.
An augment specialist named Fredrick Calloway who was guarding prisoners at a transfer station on the third moon of Babbage has gone on the record as to having engaged a Beggar in hand-to-hand combat. The Beggar was there to collect a prisoner whom they said was accused of an Edicts breach, but the specialists’ orders were in conflict and so there was an altercation. The augment, who had two awards for CQC training and over two decades of experience, was overcome in under twenty seconds. The Beggar was faster, stronger and used a set of retractable, whip-like appendages as a weapon which pinned the augment while he was being disarmed. Fredrick’s weapons were rendered unusable and then he was released, with multiple contusions and bone fractures while the Beggar completed their duty. The prisoner was retrieved and never seen again.
The Beggars have their own fleet of ships, which do not follow any conventional Realm based design, nor is it known where these ships are assembled, though it is fairly evident that their total fleet size is rather limited. Combining House intelligence reports, it becomes clear that at most they possess an active fleet roughly comparable in size to any one of the major Houses except for House Sidana, which has an unusually large fleet for its size. They have not been seen engaging alien forces, nor do they seem to have any particular interest in any matter which does not affect the Realm directly.
During the very few times where Beggar forces have been present at the same time as augment forces during a battle against non-Realm military units, they have always been outside of the general operations plan. The Realm commanders at those incidents have said that they outperform the augments, but their lack of experience against alien forces and small numbers prevent them from having an outstanding impact in those conflicts. They appear to be as hampered by the Batra cloaking technology, Hexagota regeneration, and Niphal entropic fields as any other Realm force. It is clear that they prefer to engage only human military organizations whenever possible.
The other duty where they are most visible is while defending the Palace of the Sovereign during the Race. While the Race is happening, they become an omnipresent force in the Palatium system with the heaviest emphasis on the capital world itself. It is there that their ships and ground forces can be seen and remarked upon by the public. The culmination of every Race is always the same, with a Braided taking their seat upon the Platinum Throne and becoming the new Sovereign. While this does represent a failure of the Beggars to fulfill their duty, they have learned from each instance with every subsequent Race becoming progressively harder to win. It is not clear what will occur if the Race ever becomes impossible to win, but so far that aspect of the Realm’s governance has not been tested.
The Palace itself always has contingents of Beggar guardians providing security, though interestingly not in protection of the Sovereign or their staff. The Sovereign provides their own security, usually House augment forces. Instead, the Beggars purpose seems to be the protection of the institutions and their vast collections of art and relics, rather than the people who work there. The Beggar who oversees the Palace is called the Master of Keys. The most recent is named Aldor Gregovich who was once quoted as saying “If you are powerful enough to be here, you are powerful enough to tend to your own protection. We just keep the walls from coming down,” which while pragmatic seems to be in line with the organization’s zeal for focusing on their duties to the exclusion of almost all else.