Warp capable, externally dependent
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The Pak'Leth were once one of the foremost technological races in Galactic South. According to the scant records which exist, the Pak'Leth's advancement had brought them to the very brink of transwarp capability before a horrendous civil war tore across the planet. This would not have been a problem for the Pak'Leth were it not for the fact that their development of weaponry had advanced to a similar level as their space travel. Unlike many enlightened races since, the discovery of warp flight had not unified the people of the planet and had served to drive them even further apart.
The exact year is unknown but at some point (thought to have been in the late 22nd Century) the situation on Paak quite literally went nuclear. The Followers of Critchton, who were against the advancement of technology managed to detonate a number of warheads, causing a catastrophic chain reaction which ripped apart a large amount of the planet's surface. This unexpected result wiped out around 80% of the Pak'Leth population.
Over the next century, the survivors managed to emerge from their sealed bunkers and live on the surface of the planet. However, their new unification soon resulted in arguments and disputes over the limited food and liquids available to the survivors. Short of starting a new civil war, the survivors soon agreed that they would need to move into space once again in search of supplies.
The skills of the engineers that had created such incredible feats were now lost to the annals of history and there was no-one remaining to teach the younger generation how to use the equipment they were given. It is suggested in the records that the Pak'Leth were able to construct one small, shuttle-like craft and laid in a course for the Ritorian Confederacy, one of the few powers which remained on their star charts.
Unusually for the Ritorians, they didn't see the need to annex Paak but agreed to assist the Pak'Leth in becoming space-capable again in exchange for opening up exclusive trade rights with them. Over time, this was renegotiated as the Pak'Leth became more competent in space. They are, as of the time of writing, permitted by the Ritorians to trade with the Federation & the Ferengi Alliance. Many security analysts have seen this as an attempt by the Ritorians to use the Pak'Leth as spies.
Their technology is, in a word, non-existant. Everything that the Pak'Leth have has been traded or bartered and they lack the skills to repair or maintain any of their ships or technology. Any repairs or maintenance that they do have carried out are by Mercenary Engineers. However, the Ritorians have methods of keeping them reliant on their technology.
Reports from Starfleet Intelligence & Corps of Engineers suggest that their technology is compromised from the moment they get it. Further reports seem to believe that the vessels are manufactured by one of the incorporated worlds in the Ritorian Confederacy.