Data File Updated: Monday, October 15, 2018
The place of origin of the Loroi species is unknown; the Loroi are one of three known starfaring species collectively referred to as the Soia-Liron, whose biochemistries are very similar, and whose technological civilizations predate the fall of the ancient Soia Empire, which at its height controlled much of the Orion arm of our galaxy. Following the collapse of that empire several hundred thousand years ago, the Loroi, like nearly all the races of the local region at that time, suffered a complete breakdown of their starfaring civilization, and endured an extended dark age in which their technological sophistication regressed to pre-industrial levels. Scattered across the three Sister Worlds of Deinar, Taben and Perrein (also known as the Splinter Colonies), Loroi enclaves independently rebuilt their civilizations over the millennia, slowly regaining lost knowledge with the help of the artifacts that littered the Soia ruins. After the rediscovery of starflight in 850 CE, the Loroi followed in the footsteps of their Soia ancestors, expanding their sphere of influence and building an empire through both alliance and conquest.
Today, the Loroi Union spans several hundred inhabited star systems in seven sectors in the direction of Taurus, and incorporates 9 sentient species. Nominally, the Union is a coalition of independent nations, but in practice it is a military protectorate dominated by the Loroi.
The Loroi are remarkably humanlike in appearance,
though with blue skin and pointed ears, and unusual range of hair and eye
color. They are slightly smaller and more slender
than humans; the average female stands 170 cm (5'7") tall,
and males rarely more than 150 cm (5'). Nearly 90% of Loroi
births are female. Most Loroi are left-handed. Loroi
possess a unique form of telepathic communication known as sanzai
("sending"). A small percentage of Loroi also possess
psychokinetic abilities. Despite
their outward similarity, Loroi and humans are very different
biochemically and genetically. Loroi blood is blue, based on the
same transport mechanism (most likely an exotic form of hemocyanin)
as the other known Soia-Liron species. Loroi internal body
temperature is lower than humans', about 27ºC (80ºF), and
Loroi metabolism is highly efficient; adult Loroi normally eat only once
per day. Young Loroi mature
rapidly, reaching physical adulthood in 8 years, but age slowly,
potentially living for 400 years or more. Loroi do not show
significant signs of aging until shortly before they die. There
is a small amount of growth in bone and cartilage throughout a Loroi's life, so an older Loroi is likely to be taller, and have
longer ears and nose than a younger Loroi. Older Loroi often
grow their hair longer, as well. Would
the Loroi home world have very low UV? After all, if you can see
the color of their veins through their skin (just like people
from really far north), then they'd sunburn real easy. In humans,
our white skin is given pinkish color from our blood, and tan or
brown color from melanin (the UV protective pigment). In Loroi,
their skin is also white, tinted blue by blood. Loroi also have
an anti-UV pigment, which gives the skin a slightly
grayish-brown tint, which can be seen in the darker-hued Loroi
(Fireblade being the notable example). Shipboard Loroi do tend
to be pale, as they don't get much sunlight.
The Loroi are remarkably humanlike in appearance, though with blue skin and pointed ears, and unusual range of hair and eye color. They are slightly smaller and more slender than humans; the average female stands 170 cm (5'7") tall, and males rarely more than 150 cm (5'). Nearly 90% of Loroi births are female. Most Loroi are left-handed. Loroi possess a unique form of telepathic communication known as sanzai ("sending"). A small percentage of Loroi also possess psychokinetic abilities.
Despite their outward similarity, Loroi and humans are very different biochemically and genetically. Loroi blood is blue, based on the same transport mechanism (most likely an exotic form of hemocyanin) as the other known Soia-Liron species. Loroi internal body temperature is lower than humans', about 27ºC (80ºF), and Loroi metabolism is highly efficient; adult Loroi normally eat only once per day. Young Loroi mature rapidly, reaching physical adulthood in 8 years, but age slowly, potentially living for 400 years or more. Loroi do not show significant signs of aging until shortly before they die. There is a small amount of growth in bone and cartilage throughout a Loroi's life, so an older Loroi is likely to be taller, and have longer ears and nose than a younger Loroi. Older Loroi often grow their hair longer, as well.
the Loroi home world have very low UV? After all, if you can see
the color of their veins through their skin (just like people
from really far north), then they'd sunburn real easy.
In humans, our white skin is given pinkish color from our blood, and tan or brown color from melanin (the UV protective pigment). In Loroi, their skin is also white, tinted blue by blood. Loroi also have an anti-UV pigment, which gives the skin a slightly grayish-brown tint, which can be seen in the darker-hued Loroi (Fireblade being the notable example). Shipboard Loroi do tend to be pale, as they don't get much sunlight.
10-to-1 split between female & male? That's pretty skewed.
Don't most higher animals with two sexes pretty much split it
right down the middle?
the Loroi sort of like bees, with a high percentage of sterile
"female" drones in the population?
No, all the females are fertile. This combined with the large percentage of females and rapid maturation of offspring is potentially explosive from a population growth point of view; however, the social structure of the Loroi normally puts tight restrictions on the access of females to the males. The Loroi view this as an important adaptation for a warrior species, as they have the flexibility to rapidly increase their population growth (or stagnate it) as the situation demands through social controls.
a male Loroi has a "sexual career" somewhat equal to a
human (call it 40 years - yes I'm an optimist), then he has the
potential to see six generations go by before he
"retires." That'd be his great-great-great-great grand
Loroi can be reproductively active for hundreds of years, and
generations can be very short; Loroi are physically adult
and reproductively viable by age 8 or 9. Other than injury or health problems, Loroi
don't age much outwardly until shortly before they die, and are
physically and sexually active throughout most of their lifespans,
though their fertility may decline as they age (especially for
females). It can be hard to tell a 30 year old Loroi from a 150 year
old Loroi, so they don't have the same age-gap sex taboos that we do.
So yes, a Loroi male could potentially father many thousands of
children in his lifetime. Female Loroi can also potentially give
birth to many children during a long lifetime, but female
fertility declines markedly with age.
Are Humans and Loroi sexually compatible? Could they produce hybrid offspring?
Humans and Loroi are outwardly very similar, their
biochemistries are quite different and incompatible. It
doesn't take much to be physically sexually compatible (after
all, even human men can have sex with other men), and Loroi and Humans
could certainly engage in the physical act of sex, but such
unions could not possibly produce viable offspring.
females have monthly or yearly reproductive cycles? I'd bet
yearly, since with the scarcity of males there's likely to be a
lot of "lost opportunities" otherwise.
Loroi females don't actually begin their
reproductive cycles until after they are fertilized, so they don't have
monthly "periods." The Loroi female's body must be able to
preserve the male gametes until her reproductive system can get
up to speed (which would probably take several weeks). There is
ample precedent for this in terrestrial organisms -- for
example, an ant queen is fertilized only once, and can preserve
the sperm for her entire lifespan of several decades. The reason behind this feature is that
for Loroi females, opportunities for copulation with a male are infrequent and
often unscheduled; having regular menstruations to stay ready for
the possibility of fertilization would be wasteful
and debilitating, especially since females are the warrior
class. By being able to store the male gametes and begin the
reproductive cycle after insemination, Loroi
females can be constantly prepared for the possibility of fertilization, without
the costly monthly "curse."
Which is a good thing for the galaxy, if you think about it.
Which is a good thing for the galaxy, if you think about it.
Since Alex has no breathing apparatus aboard the Loroi ship, why isn't he a) choking on a poisonous atmosphere, or b) dying of infection from alien microbes?
Luckily, this is the sort of convenient space opera universe where most of the species breathe the same basic nitrogen-oxygen mixture. I think this is not all that unreasonable an assumption, given the chemistry of oxygen and carbon dioxide on a planet with photosynthetic plants, which is a good place to start for any alien biome. As for naughty Loroi microbes, I must assume that the Loroi had sufficient medical technology and concern for Alex's health to have considered these issues before they cracked him out of his suit.
very possible that Earth and Deinar were 'seeded' by the same
thing; there is evidence that a Mars-rock carried over the
original RNA to the earth. Of course, that would just mean that
the base-pairs (right usage of term?) are the same (except
Seeded DNA might account for similar genetic structures or biochemistry, but it wouldn't result in such similarity of external form. Evolution doesn't work that way; all creatures on Earth evolved from the same primordial DNA, but that doesn't make humans and cuttlefish look anything alike. The Loroi didn't originally evolve on Deinar anyway; it's not known where the Loroi originated from.
As a warrior culture, Loroi society is heavily stratified, and its institutions and customs can be very rigid. Details of specific traditions and rituals can be diverse, having progressed in parallel on three separate splinter colonies, and having since spread to dozens of additional worlds. There are, for example, many diverging dialects of the Trade Language that the Loroi jointly inherited from their Soia predecessors. Most of the core features of Loroi society are, however, common to most of the sub-cultures, and in almost all cases, society revolves around the warrior class. Loroi society is sharply partitioned into three segments: the females of the warrior class, the civilian females, and the males. The warrior class, accounting for roughly half of the population, fill nearly all military and governmental functions, and are themselves subdivided into numerous specialized castes that are similar (in division of duty) to our armed services. The civilian population is considered to be inferior in rank and importance to the military, but they are organized by profession in a similar way into groups that resemble trade guilds. Civilian institutions exist almost solely to support the military. The males, roughly one tenth of the population, exist mostly outside the normal structure of class, family and caste. Excluded from many professions and under pressure from the practical demands of reproduction, males nevertheless form an important element of the Loroi social machine.
Prior to reunification, many Loroi nations were ruled by matrilineal oligarchies based on clan relations. At the conclusion of the Loroi civil war in 1402, when the new Imperial government replaced provincial feudal authorities, many of the traditional clan names were abolished -- a Loroi warrior's spoken name is now preceded by her caste name in place of the traditional clan name. Many regional institutions that were dominated by single families (including some starships) were forcibly "diversified." Despite these measures to increase central authority, extended family affiliation continues to be a strong social force.
does the caste system work? Can the Loroi choose what they want
to do for a living, or are they assigned to their castes at
As the name implies, the castes are mostly hereditary -- the daughter of a member of a warrior caste is normally expected to follow in her mother's footsteps. For the military castes, some movement is allowed, but it is very limited. A female child is formally assigned by her family to a caste at about age six; normally this is the same caste as her mother (see the article on Warrior Rites). Some of the warrior castes have very specific genetic or psionic traits as requirements, so often being qualified means being the child of a caste member, but it sometimes means that a qualified individual in a sought-after specialty might be admitted regardless of her heritage. In time of war, the government may preempt family choice to fill needed roles. Membership in a warrior caste is considered a sought-after privilege; those who refuse or are unable to complete warrior training are "demoted" to civilian life. A warrior may have the option to switch specialties after completing the warrior training of a different caste, subject to the approval of the caste bureaucracy.
The rules for civilian guilds are less restrictive, as they do not depend on passing warrior trials at a young age, and there is more movement between specialties. However, civilians are not normally eligible to join the warrior castes, even in time of war.
Males make up only a small percentage of the Loroi population, and are considered to be technically outside the caste and class system, and are excluded from all military and most civilian careers, but their role in Loroi society can be influential. In addition to the direct influence of the male philosopher orders like the Nedatan, the indirect influence of males in connecting the bloodlines of otherwise disparate clan groups can be significant. Mating between a male and female usually consists of a number of encounters spread across several days, but matches are temporary, and after that it's very unlikely that they will ever meet again, even if the female becomes pregnant and bears offspring. Most Loroi subcultures have no concept of marriage. Thus, the Loroi concept of family is a broad one encompassing a female Loroi's sisters, cousins, aunts and other close relatives.
Do the Loroi have a specialized sex industry?
All sexual access to males is restricted by law and must be arranged through various kinds of formal matchmaking; a male and female can't just meet at the mall and decide to have a date. So in that sense, all of the males are part of a sex industry. But in most cases a female can't just show up at a location and pay for sex; access to a male usually has to be earned through status and rank.
All Loroi males are wards of the state as regards sexual access; administration of this access (matchmaking) is delegated to various entities, including local governments, some caste bureaucracies, some civilian guilds and orders, and in rare cases individual Loroi. Usually, sexual access is administrated by whatever guild or order to which the male belongs, as many professions for males are directly or indirectly tied to their sexual function. For example, males who are philosophers or spiritual advisors or psychologists or physical therapists or telepathic therapists usually provide these services to the female "clients" they're matched with as a supplement to the actual sex. Lower-ranking males without advanced training or skills might spend more time on the sex part, and I suppose these would be the closest thing the Loroi would have to our idea of a sex worker.
In some cases, a very influential private group or individual may be able to secure long-term access to the rights to a male. One example of this would be very high-ranking military officers who sometimes receive such access along with the military title. However, this is not used solely by the officer to secure sexual rights to a male for herself, but often instead to control who gets access to a very high-status male. Sometimes high-ranking females secure access to their own male relatives, so that they can be matched with political allies. This is one of the few situations in which males may function as part of a female "family."
There will certainly be an industry around the "red light districts" in which the mating encounters happen. Though I think the emphasis will usually be on an upscale experience, since everything is very official and sanctioned, and most of the clients will be of high social status. I imagine something like the Japanese hanamachi districts in which the courtesans were quartered: very ornate and expensive, and surrounded with much ceremony. It's possible that some mating rituals might involve the females bringing ritual gifts, but since neither party chooses his or her partner, I doubt such gifting has reached the industrial levels it has in Western society.
How does this matchmaking work and what kind of attributes are influencing the matchmaking, except status, mental and physical health? Caste membership?
There are certain career milestones that will provide almost everyone with "encounter time", such as graduation from warrior trials or the civilian training equivalent. Beyond that, it's a question of male availability and female priority/status. Warriors have priority over civilians, and rank/social status increases priority. Priority determines not just how much time, but which males are allocated; high-status males like Nedatan (philosopher) order members with a pedigreed parentage are a lot harder to get time with than a more common stud-farm male with few additional skills -- in addition to a nicer experience, the goal here is pregnancy, so pedigree will matter.
Males that are administrated by castes/guilds/orders will often be allocated to members or clients of that organization. Males administered by small groups or individuals can be allocated to anyone they choose (usually friends, cronies and prospective allies).
Are there different forms of matchmaking for each Loroi culture and what kind of differences are there?
I don't imagine too much variation because the core problems will be essentially the same, and because everyone will have to conform to some basic standards set by the central government (as these rules are used for global population control). Some subcultures might ritualize the matchmaking process more than others. Some might be more lax in easing restrictions, such as in colonial areas where population growth was encouraged even in peacetime. Some might make a lottery out of it. If there was anywhere that a female could actually go and buy sex, it would probably be in the Maia system.
Can a male refuse sex?
Yes, certainly. Sexual rights to a male can be transferred, and he generally has no say in who he is matched with, but males are not slaves, and sex must always be consensual; he always has the right to refuse sex if he doesn't approve of the partner. A male who is not interested in sex at all (for whatever reason) can refuse to be matched at all. As you might expect, it's difficult for a female to force herself on a male in any meaningful way beyond pure physical abuse. However, such a refusal would be pretty rare; Loroi males are very good sports (and most Loroi warrior females are healthy, fit, good-looking people).
If the males are not part of these female "families", do they have some kind of similar "family" connection between them? Like father, son and grandson?
Parent-child relationships are often not very strong in Loroi of either gender, because the parent usually takes very little direct role in raising the child, and so your mother is usually not very distinct from the numerous aunts and cousins and other adult women you grew up around. Parents who take a particular interest in their children may develop strong friendships with them, but there is usually not that automatic bond between mother and child that we are accustomed to. This relationship is probably even less common between fathers and sons, as fathers will rarely meet any of their offspring, unless perhaps the son joins the same local caste/order and they become acquainted that way.
Given the low male birth rates, brothers will be very rare. Most Loroi brothers are probably twins, who would have a special relationship above and beyond family. But again, this would be rare.
What are the Loroi concepts of love? For a species in which pair bonding is likely nonexistent, I can't see them having a concept of romantic love. That could change, though, depending on Loroi attitudes towards homosexuality. As the Loroi do have family units and warrior crèches, I can see them having concepts of familial and platonic love.
Love is permitted and even encouraged, but attachment is not. Loroi females enjoy the mating encounters, and not just the physical aspect of them, and can develop strong affection for the male mating partner and remember the interaction fondly for many years thereafter, during the long periods in which she will be expected to go without having sex. However, because the males must be shared with other females, there are taboos against infatuation and jealousy. While healthy rivalry is encouraged between warrior females in nearly all matters, jealously over a male is considered a repugnant trait on par with dishonesty. Even just requesting a second encounter with the same male would be seen as a warning sign of potential attachment.
However, rules are made to be broken, and a female with sufficient power and privilege can, if she wishes, see a particular male more than once, or even have him allocated exclusively to herself. There are cases where male and female form permanent emotional attachments, but these are subjects of the kinds of tales that don't end well, resulting in high body counts and fallen kingdoms. When a female becomes obsessed with and refuses to share a male, this is viewed as a signal to her friends (and to her enemies) that she's about to go off the rails. So, if the female is still sensible, such things must be handled quietly, behind closed doors.
For their part, Loroi males are very emotional and feel very intensely, but they are often fickle and changeable, with short attention spans. Which I suppose is not that different from many human males. I'm reminded of a sequence from Finnian's Rainbow in which a Leprechaun is gradually becoming human: "Oh Sharon, you're the only one! Wait, you're not Sharon at all; you're Susan. Yet I feel the same frenzy for you! Is this what it's like to be mortal? Is every girl the only girl? I'm beginning to like it!"
Because attachment to a male is discouraged, the most important emotional attachments for a female Loroi are to her female friends and relatives. Sisterly affection can be very intense (as it is among humans), and this intimacy is increased by telepathic contact, especially when physically touching. This kind of contact is how most females satisfy their need for intimacy and emotional fulfillment. It is this telepathic stimulation (not sex) that is the primary glue that binds Loroi social groups together. This can be difficult for humans to appreciate, because of our tendency to think of intimacy exclusively in sexual terms.
Because telepathic contact satisfies this need for intimacy, homosexual activity is relatively rare, though in any biological system there will always be deviation. The idea of a "homosexual relationship" wouldn't make much sense to the Loroi, since they don't really have heterosexual "relationships" and they are not inherently monogamous. Instead, a homosexual female might have a "normal" intimate friendship with one or more females, to which a sexual element was added. A homosexual male Loroi would be in a very difficult position, as he would have very little opportunity for intimacy with other males.
What? Don't males live in monasteries separate from the females? You would think that the place that homosexual activity would occur is in a monastery separate from the other gender.
Males are constantly surrounded by females, even in the "monastic" orders. Male children are raised separately from the female children, but the caregivers are mostly female.
How often do they have sex (males with their caretakers)? Is it even allowed ?
It happens -- if one of the lecherous little buggers grabs you, you're not supposed to say no -- but there are rules. If a female caretaker monopolizes too much of her charge's time and energy, or gets pregnant, this is usually grounds for dismissal. Some orders require that the caretakers be sterilized (which, at this tech level, is reversible). The caretakers tend to be older, well-disciplined Loroi who already have adult children.
What is the attitude of Loroi society toward homosexuality?
I think the view of society will vary depending on subculture. On the one hand, Loroi traditions can be very rigid, and deviation from the norm is usually very unwelcome. On the other hand, such activity would be viewed by the Loroi as just a private behavior, whereas in our culture it is usually viewed as choosing a completely alternate lifestyle. And for the Loroi, sex is almost exclusively a private subject; public displays of sexuality (of any kind) would be very unusual and unwelcome. I think that in warrior culture, homosexuality might be considered a problem, not necessarily because there is anything "wrong" with such activity, but because in the military it's important to feel that the warrior next to you has your back, and is not going to either a) give preferential treatment to her sexual partners, or b) confront you at inopportune moments with unwanted sexual advances. And because the nature of telepathy makes it difficult to keep such things secret.
Do they have a taboo on sex between relatives (incest)?
Loroi males are separated from the females at birth and are usually raised completely separately, so often a male may have very limited contact with his mother, and may never meet any siblings he has. When he fathers children, he will rarely meet them either. So there's no social sense of "taboo" against sex with blood relatives, because they don't really know each other and there's usually no sense of "family" between males and females. However, I suspect that having offspring with close relatives is not ideal from a genetic point of view, so this practice is probably discouraged. Whoever is doing the matchmaking between males and females will presumably keep this in mind.
Do the Loroi make use of artificial insemination/cloning ??...seems like a fairly natural development given their need for rapid reproduction and limited number of men to go around.
There aren't enough males to supply all the females with sex every day, but sex (though pleasurable) is not for recreation, but for the purpose of impregnation, and once a female is impregnated, she doesn't need to have sex again for at least the duration of the pregnancy (which will be the better part of a year). Each male would only have to impregnate 10 different females per year in order to keep the entire population constantly pregnant, so that's really not the long pole in the tent (if you will pardon a crude pun). I think the bottleneck in replacing losses will be not fertilization or even pregnancy term, but rather the time and infrastructure it takes to raise and train a warrior to adulthood. The Loroi child care and schooling systems are probably completely saturated at this point in the war.
female Loroi believe/think that Loroi males are inferior/lower
Not in general; on the contrary, males enjoy relatively high status in Loroi society. Males are smaller and physically weaker than females, but since physical strength is not a Loroi strongpoint, this is not especially relevant -- in terms of valued telepathic and psychokinetic powers, a male is as likely to be powerful as a female. Males have different roles than females and their behavior is proscripted by custom and biology, but they are rare and the females have a biological imperative to protect them. It's similar in some ways to how human adults treat children: we're programmed to be fiercely protective of them, and we often treat them in a patronizing manner, but we don't expect adult behavior from children, and so when they act silly or need help, there is rarely a value judgment attached to that.
Another analogue to consider is the status of a European gentlewoman of the 18th century; women had rigidly defined roles and very little power or personal freedom, but courtly manners required men to defer to women, at least socially, to a large degree. Men had a patronizing attitude toward women, perhaps, but not necessarily a negative one.
The Loroi are a charter member of the Interspecies Union (also called the "Loroi Union"), which is an international treaty organization that includes nine member species. The Union was created in 1557 CE at the conclusion of the Third Loroi-Mannadi War. Member nations contribute delegates to the Union Assembly, which is a multiple-house legislative body that handles a variety of interstellar affairs. The assembly is led by an executive consisting of two consuls, either of whom can veto any measure passed by the assembly. Each consul is elected by a vote of full assembly, but by tradition one consul is always Loroi (and appointed by the Loroi Azerein), and one is always non-Loroi. Each member nation retains its own government, which may operate as it sees fit as long as it abides by the laws and policies set forth by the Union government. The Assembly meets at the planet Moro, which a Pipolsid world with a large multi-species population.
The Loroi required a number of special provisions as a condition of their participation in the Union: the first was the permanent consulship. The second was that Loroi military would have the sole responsibility for protecting all Union territory; other national militaries would be reduced to the status of local police, militia and patrol organizations. The third was that no foreign courts would have any jurisdiction over Loroi citizens; all cases against Loroi nationals must be tried in Loroi courts.
Supreme executive authority over the Loroi themselves is held by a Loroi Azerein (Emperor) who is commander in chief of the military; she is selected by the Diadem Council (the council of elders of the Torrai leadership caste, which functions like a cabinet or an Admiralty Board) and rules for life, or until she is removed from office. Given the long lifespan of Loroi, it is not unusual for an Azerein to be in power for more than a hundred years. In the more than 750 years since the inception of the office, there have been only four Loroi to hold the title, and only the first one (Loremark) died of old age. The second (Swiftsure) was removed from office by a vote of the Diadem, but this was a formality following her defeat in a civil war. The third (Eighth Dawn) was killed in combat against the Umiak, and the fourth (Greywind) is still in office.
The Imperial capital is located on the cool, arid world of Deinar. In time of war, the Emperor and much of her government conduct their business from aboard flagships of the Imperial Fleet rather than the traditional palaces at Toridas on Deinar.
Individual Loroi worlds
are mostly run by oligarchic governments in which the
legislative body is a council of elders consisting of
high-ranking military officers, with a twin-consul executive,
one elected by the council, and the other who is the Imperial
governor appointed by the Azerein.
Individual Loroi worlds are mostly run by oligarchic governments in which the legislative body is a council of elders consisting of high-ranking military officers, with a twin-consul executive, one elected by the council, and the other who is the Imperial governor appointed by the Azerein.
Isn't the female ruler of an empire called an Empress, not an Emperor?
I'm using "Emperor" because in our culture, an Empress is the wife of a ruler of an empire, and rarely a ruler herself. Using a feminine form also implies that there may be a corresponding male counterpart, which isn't the case for the Loroi. I don't view "Emperor" as any more exclusively masculine than "Senator" or "Governor" or other such titles that we routinely now apply to females.
The Loroi economy has some free market elements, but it is heavily managed by the military government. Business is considered a civilian pursuit (warriors are prohibited from engaging in commerce or owning businesses), and so profiteering is viewed with suspicion by the ruling warrior class. After the formation of the Union, the Loroi economy opened up somewhat, following more capitalistic models provided by the Neridi and Barsam and other aliens that allowed for faster growth. But many businesses were nationalized under the martial law instituted by Greywind in 2140, so there are still a lot of restrictions on the economy.
How is war production handled for the Loroi? Are ships and such made by civilians or are they in-house projects by the state?
Manufacturing firms are civilian (or alien) companies, though many are heavily managed or outright owned by the state, especially those that are key to the war effort. Defense industries are still civilian, though with military officers heavily involved in design and specifications (as they are with our own civilian military-industrial complex). A significant percentage of Loroi military hardware is produced by alien companies.
The Loroi have an official currency called the talent, worth several thousand dollars; it originated in ancient times on Deinar as a representation of the value of one year of unskilled labor. It is used mainly for high-level transactions between businesses and government entities. Most individual Loroi are members of a caste (either a warrior caste or a civilian guild), which often provides housing and other services as part of the compensation for "employment." Most caste and guild members are not paid a salary; rather, they are allocated a sort of "allowance" that is usually in a local currency or company/military scrip. Most of these currencies have some sort of tradable token that represents cash, but most transactions are virtual (as you would expect at this technology level).
The various alien members of the Union also have their own currencies (or multiple currencies). Alien companies and individuals are treated as civilians under Loroi law, and so are able to engage in commerce. In some ways, alien businesses are viewed by Loroi society with more favor than Loroi civilian businesses, because they do not have the social "taint" of being failed warriors that goes along with the Loroi civilian class. As such, much of the banking and financial business in Loroi territory is handled by Neridi and Barsam firms.
How are Loroi paid? If only the civilians can own businesses, why would warriors stay in the military, and how can the military afford to compete with the private sector in salaries?
In the Loroi system, the military is paramount, and the civilian economy exists almost solely to support the military. The warrior class is the “upper” class, and civilians are considered inferior and usually have a lower standard of living. Most Loroi workers are not free agents; they receive a basic education from the state, but then become apprenticed to a guild upon reaching adulthood to complete their education. Low-ranking Loroi (both warrior and civilian) are a bit like interns; most are not paid a salary, but are trained and housed and fed by their employers. As a Loroi worker rises in position, she gains additional benefits and compensation (sometimes monetary, sometimes not). Guilds are often local monopolies (and the military is also a monopoly), so you can switch jobs, but it’s hard to find higher pay at the same job somewhere else. A civilian Loroi with the proper resources and business acumen (and luck) can start her own business and even potentially form her own guild, which is something that a warrior may never do. However, civilians are excluded from military (and therefore government) service and therefore have little or no say in government. Civilians are also very low in priority when it comes to mating privileges.
Once a Loroi has completed warrior trials, she is part of the society’s elite, and enjoys a comparatively high standard of living, even if she never rises above the lowest rank. Unless she is dishonorably discharged for some reason, she will never "retire" into civilian life. As a warrior, she may sometimes have to dig latrines and her life may frequently be in danger, but that is considered part of a warrior’s duty. If she doesn’t like it, she can choose to suffer the ignominy of demotion to the civilian class. Loroi culture is a warrior culture, instilled with warrior values from birth. Every billet on a starship is much coveted by a large number of available candidates.
Loroi warrior education does have different levels; many technical disciplines require a 4-year education similar to a college degree, and some less-technical disciplines (such as infantry) only require 2 years of training. For example, some of the Soroin you’ve seen in the comic who are wearing jumpsuits instead of armor (such as Cloud the “shoe-girl”) are 2-year-educated “Novice” Soroin, who perform mostly menial tasks. (When considering the length of Loroi secondary education, keep in mind that it begins at age 8, and so includes elements of what we would consider high school.) I haven’t classified these as “enlisted” ranks because the Loroi don’t share our concept of the class division between enlisted and officer; there is no barrier to promotion for a 2-year-educated Soroin to the same higher rank that a 4-year-educated Soroin would have, provided that she puts in the time and work and shows the appropriate aptitude. But if she does not, then like the midshipmen of the age of sail, she may stay a Novice for a very long time. (There are also specialties that require training equivalent to a postgraduate degree, but this is usually attained on the job.)
Do the Loroi have anything resembling retirement??
Unless they have specific health problems or injuries, most Loroi are capable of work until shortly before they die, and so "retirement" is usually a short period of failing health. If a Loroi warrior becomes mentally incompetent or infirm, then she is placed into the military health care system, where either she will be restored to health and active status, or else she will be cared for until she dies. Many of the larger civilian guilds have similar health care systems.