The Dviti people are a genetically engineered race of purple-skinned, slightly potbellied humanoids with heightened intelligence and an average height of 5.5 feet--roughly the same for males and females. The first specimens were created in 2604 under the guidance of a local godmind at Look Out Base near Verona Rupes on Uranus' moon Mimas. If any reason for the existence of this race was ever provided to humans and other First Toposophic beings, this reason is lost to history. After the onset of the War of Darkness in 2640, they were abandoned by their creators as known space plunged into chaos. The distant and elusive Oort Peoples took the fledgling race under their wing, narrowly saving them from extinction and integrating them into their own comet-based society.
The Oortian Dviti thrived and expanded exponentially over the centuries, spreading from star system to star system up to over 100 light years from Sol. However, a faction of them yearned for solid ground, as they were not engineered for life in microgravity. In the Lost Era, as the clamor of war finally ground to a halt, they got their chance. On over a hundred worlds left abandoned by the wars, the Dviti led resettlement efforts, starting with Gliese 422 b--41 light years from Sol--in 2873 and continuing through to around 3100.
By the 32nd century, the surviving Godminds were hard at work building wormhole communication lines to new star systems. This had the effect of allowing disparate Dviti tribes to come into contact with one another. Though this was not the intended purpose of the new network, they--and thousands upon thousands of other races in known space--were swift to capitalize upon it. There were approximately 60 systems centered around Gliese 422 where the Dviti and other locals were granted relatively unfettered access to wormhole links, and it is through these links that a new, unified Dviti identity was forged. Memetic engineering by posthuman Dviti transcended to the Second Toposophic--certainly underlain by subtler memetic engineering from even higher up--caused the unified culture to be one that greatly valued and sought out diversity of thought, cosmopolitanism, and commerce. A merchant civilization essentially.
However, not every star system was so friendly to Dviti. In some, they faced persecution, genocide, and memetic attacks from the powers that be. News gets out, even with censorship, and by the 3150s, the Dviti knew. In 3164, a great Dviti folk hero, Blargah-Andah the Merchant General as he is known, abandoned his merchant's stall in the central market of Gorumon and set about raising an army to liberate his people. With the backing of a series of high ais with political interests in the region, he sallied forth with a vast armada to set the Dviti free and carve out a new territory for his race to shelter them from the chaos of the stars. Thus was born the Dviti Empire.
This empire expanded most rapidly in its first decades, conquering system after system. For the time, Terran authorities were too fragmented and far away to stop them, and no baseline-dominated world could put up a credible defense against the Dviti hordes. By 3254, the the beginning of the Reconstruction and the consolidation of power among the godminds in the inner worlds, Dviti expansion slowed, but it was not until 3393 that they finally reached their peak, with a sphere of influence spanning a spectacular 5,400 star systems ranging from 37 to 219 light years from Sol, with their capital in the megacity Gorumon on Gliese 422 b. This may sound vast, but at the time, it was less than 2% of human-inhabited star systems. It was the largest polity biologically administered (at least nominally) polity, surpassing other titans of the time, like the Elonic Empire and the Suri Empire. Make no mistake, all these empires were subject to influence by high ais and posthumans, but they styled themselves as guides and advisors, not gods and kings.
In the 35th century, it became clear that the Dviti Empire was overstretched, forced to spend vast amounts of money dealing with separatists in star system after star system. To compound matters, the expanding Ai Kingdom began to eat away at the Dviti Empire, both culturally and territoriality. Great business deals were made, handing tens of worlds over to the Ai God-Kings in exchange for a little more autonomy. It did not work forever. By the 36th century, the Dviti Empire was in serious decline, losing 10-20 star systems per year. The death knell for the empire was the Sack of Gorumon in 3620 by Kingdom-sponsored raiders. The Ai Kingdom's tumultuous transition from the First Dynasty to the Second bought them a little more time, but the once-great Dviti Empire finally balkanized in 3674.
However, this picture is from the heyday of the Dviti Empire, not its decline. In 3410, the Dviti Empire boasted a GDP only surpassed by the Ai Kingdom. Its markets were legendary across known space as the centerpiece of Dviti culture. Their civilization revolved around these markets, and every Dviti city and space hab was home to one or more. Gorumon, naturally, was the greatest of all Dviti cities, with nine million sophonts, no fewer than two hundred grand markets, and a space elevator of its own. Sophonts came from many light decades away to purchase rare and unique goods, and well over 250 languages could be heard on the streets of Gorumon. This was no accident--it was Dviti policy across the empire to foster such diversity, believing it would better their markets.
Although foreigners and various memetic engineers have stereotyped the Dviti as a hyper-cosmopolitan "Proud Merchant Race" who do nothing but barter at bazaars all day, the merchant culture is the center of their society, not the entirety of it. Just as in every other race, there are Dviti scientists and soldiers, philosophers and politicians, engineers and entertainers, criminals and artists, and so on. The Dviti, naturally, are diverse themselves.
Indeed, in this picture, a group of seven Dviti scientists are conducting an experiment on a high-toposophic Godmind in the form of a mysterious translucent orb, attempting to understand some of his/her/its properties, having developed a device that seems to reliably attract its attention, although being lower toposophic beings, they don't understand why. The Godmind, hovering overhead with the aid of a reactionless Woodward drive, is willing to indulge them for its own reasons, but answering their questions in baseline-friendly terms is a difficult task indeed. The scientists, for their part, home to learn about new computational materials that are not too advanced to be maintained by their people, and also discover high-toposophic thoughts to sell on the thought market. Such is life in the Dviti Empire.
Image credit Mike Winkelmann