By Gregg Giles
The Zhodani Outreaches: The New Chronor Cluster
Although a physical star cluster of its own, the New Chronor (which is the Imperial spelling) cluster is a populated outgrowth of the older Shtievdriadr Cluster. New Chronor is the industrial base from which Prazar has been launched. The traditions and culture of this cluster are almost exactly like those of most Zhodani, but it does have a few variations.
The Shtievdriadr Cluster
The first major settlement established along the Sixth Rift (a lesser left). After the Sixth Expedition, the majority of the armada garrisoned itself in the worlds of this cluster and made Frost (J-0501) their capital. The close proximity of the worlds in the cluster made it an ideal base from which to launch the next expedition, Zhodanizar, and natural elements here were plentiful. The cluster also hosts many fertile worlds that produce a large quantity of foods for the colonists (the remainder is fabricated).
The Population Explosion
After Zhodanizar, a tremendous amount of colonists and supplies settled into the New Chronor cluster. Being only a few sectors away from the Shtievdriadr cluster, the two were able to establish regular contact (on average, once per two weeks at the time) and actually began to trade in materials that the other colony needed. Now, ships arrive daily. New Chronor supplied a great deal of materials and elements from its unexploited asteroid belts, and the established industry and agriculture in Shtievdriadr returned finished goods and some suggestions for beginning a new agriculture on unused worlds. The worlds between the two clusters have prospered enormously from this trade.
Though only a few arrive in the two clusters each year by way of the expedition corridor, most of the population is due to the raising of families by the Outreach colonists. Over the decades, the “Old Colonies” have become completely self-sufficient, and the population has surpassed the two billion mark after only 200 years of settlement.
The society of the Shtievdriadr and New Chronor clusters are so closely related that they are considered to be one in the same. Although it has by no means become an independent culture from the Consulate, it does share many differences from the Consular Zhodani. The major difference is the lack of social rigidity. The early explorations through the long corridor and beyond were very harsh on the crew and the passengers. Forcing the strict observance of military and social rank in the close-quarters of a ship was known to be counter-productive for morale. Although the nobility maintained its special privileges, they were often coaxed by vessel commanders to become less demanding of recognition. Even though this was only intended to be a temporary arrangement until off-ship, this camaraderie slowly become a part of their society, and it is today very evident to the outsider.
The further one travels from Zhdant, the more the traditions and cultures of the Outreaches change. Consular holidays are still observed, and the common Zhodani language is strictly maintained. Slang is considered to be a social blunder and is widely believed to cause the pollution of their common tongue.
Education is also very important to the Outreachers. The simple explanation is that all are decendants of scientists, researchers, explorers and military crews. Discipline is emphasized since childhood. In addition, the Outreachers also keep the idea of the Tavrchedl’, or Thought Police, as sacred. The same emphasis is placed on conformity as is in the Consulate.
Communications With The Consulate
The length of the expedition corridor is immense – nearly 5,200 parsecs. Although the Consulate could receive news from the first few expeditions with relative speed (within a few years), it now takes as long as 25 years to receive news from the furthest extents. It is common for the sender of a message to be old – or dead – when the message is received on Zhdant. Although the news may be old, all communiqués are recorded and stored in the vast expedition archives of the Qlomdlabr on Zhdant.
Even with the advent of the J-6 drive, once important news from the furthest reaches is often disregarded. For this reason, the further the settled areas are from the Consulate, more governing independence is encountered. Most (if not all) worlds settled by the Zhodani remain loyal and consider themselves full members.
The Supreme Council has felt that the development of the jump-7 drive is “vital to the survival of the Expeditions”, so the Tichshtebr project was commissioned in 1092, and has naturally been kept a state-secret. No evidence has ever surfaced that the project has produced favorable results.