The Melnorme from Star Control II are a race of traveling traders in information and technology. They appear as several orange globs piled on top of each other, with a large smile and a single eye.
The Melnorme's basic culture revolves around exchanges of items, information, and commodities. They believe that giving without receiving is barbaric. While their culture abandoned currency long ago, the Melnorme economy is based entirely on the exchange of items of "intrinsic value", quantified via Interstar Credits. The Melnorme are particularly interested in obtaining new information about alien life-forms and the strange Precursor Rainbow Worlds, without specifying how they use the data, though it is probably safe to assume that they simply sell it to someone else. They claim that they have "a thousand secret sources in space and time" and that their charge for revealing even one of them would indebt the whole Human species for centuries.
Melnorme are highly sensitive to a broad spectrum of colors; their single eye, while incapable of perceiving depth, contains numerous wavelength-sensitive cone cells. Their bridge has a colorful background that changes to fit their mood or activities. Red is for travel, purple is generally assumed to be for trade (if one pays enough credits the Melnorme offer to sell the information about it turning purple2). A blue bridge signifies a response to an unexpected threat and emotional distress, and also has the effect of permitting the Melnorme Trade Master to see the weapon consoles more clearly.
The Melnorme possess a large amount of knowledge and unique technology, including a device called the MetaChron that can predict its own destruction. They also claim that they can predict The Captain's arrival using the vibrations of Tzo crystals.
The similarity in name between "Melnorme" and "Mael-Num", combined with the fact that the Mael-Num are described as one-eyed creatures by the Kohr-Ah, may lead to the suspicion that there is a connection between the two races. This suspicion has been confirmed by reliable sources.3 Presumably, the Melnorme would be willing to sell this information along with their full history, psychology, mental powers, their unique physiology, the exact location of homeworlds, and their "potentially ominous" long-term plans.
The Melnorme are never found in HyperSpace (unless The Captain calls them or they come offering to rescue him if he runs out of fuel), but they are present at supergiant star systems like Alpha Centauri or Zeeman. A Melnorme Trader is always located in every supergiant star system though one may have to investigate the planets individually to find it.
The first Melnorme Trade Master to contact The Captain is known as Trade Master Greenish, captain of the Trader vessel Inevitably Successful In All Circumstances.
While not designed as a warship, the Melnorme Trader is still capable of defending itself, possessing a weapon system which Greenish claims he had bought from the Keel-Verezy just one month before his first meeting with The Captain. Its variable power blaster is known as the one thing that can actually absorb an Ur-Quan Fusion Blast and the Confusion Ray is capable of temporarily scrambling a ship's navigation and crippling its special systems.
The Melnorme have an aversion for the Druuge, seeing their prices as "unreasonably low" (though, curiously, they do not mention anything about Druuge slave trading or piracy except alluding to "hidden costs" and "secret tariffs"). The Druuge likewise detest the Melnorme, arguing instead that their prices are high, that they "charge fees for common knowledge" and that their rescue service is piracy.
The Melnorme Trader is a large and somewhat cumbersome ship. It is designed for long range travel and high volume storage to facilitate trade. The Trader is not intended for war. Despite that, it is still quite capable of defending itself due to recently acquired Keel-Verezy weapon technology. The Trader is not a very agile craft, but neither is it ponderously slow. Its top speed is usually enough to maintain a comfortable distance between itself and its opposition. The low turn rate of this ship could be considered a weakness. The primary weapon mounted on a Trader is a chargeable, long-range blaster weapon. The Melnorme Captain can prepare the projectile without releasing it. Doing so moves the weapon through several distinct (and colorful) stages. When it is finally released the projectile travels extremely fast, and will do considerably more damage the longer it has been charging. It has a very long range, and at full power it can do as much damage as a Shofixti glory device at point-blank range. It is also able to absorb a Dreadnought's fusion blast and other projectiles when at full power (red), with a notable exception being the Kohr-Ah Marauder's F.R.I.E.D. The order of the main weapon's colors as it charges is green, blue, purple, then red. These colors correspond to the amount of damage that the weapon can inflict; the corresponding damages are two, four, eight and sixteen, respectively. The ship's secondary weapon is a confusion ray — an elecromagnetic cannon that disrupts the enemy ship's control systems.1 A stunned enemy cannot activate their secondary weapon systems or control their attitude jets, but they are able to operate their primary weapon and thrusters normally. An enemy under the effect of the elecromagnetic confusion ray will spin helplessly, and become easy prey for the Trader. If this weapon is employed near the planet, then its effects can be quite perilous. While charging the primary weapon, all energy generation systems are diverted into the containment field. This means that Trader pilots should watch their fuel gauges closely, and not begin charging the weapon until they have enough energy left over for a Confusion Ray, or successive non-charged shots. A Trader pilot can also hold a fully charged blast for a limited form of protection against frontal assaults as the red charge will absorb the brunt of an incoming attack. The Confusion Ray, a Trader's secondary weapon, is especially handy against ships that rely heavily on their secondary weapon system. However, the energy cost for a single shot of this weapon means that it should only be in moderation. Because of the main weapon's long range and the ship's powerful thrusters, a Trader can usually maintain a comfortable distance away from the enemy while still being able to inflict serious damage. The main tactical disadvantages of the Trader are its slow turning rate, which allows quick ships to easily out-flank the Trader, and its slow energy systems, which lead to extended down time while the energy batteries regenerate and while a blast is charging up to full power.