The Shattered Ring
Zvitter Consortium, Worlds of the
Zvitter is controlled by a sprawling commercial organisation, the Zvitter Consortium, or ZC as it is known locally. The corporation has many sub-divisions which then compete with each other for contracts.
The inhabitants are not physically aggressive as a people and they have no official military. Instead each corporation will maintain a private security force. However, the ZC is highly aggressive economically and will go to great lengths to legally disadvantage its competitors in preparation for takeover and assimilation.
The true citizens of the ZC have a long tradition of extensive cybernetic enhancement. It is a rare individual that is not visibly altered in some way; sensory arrays, comms antennae and additional robotic limbs being the most common, all professionally presented in smart business attire. Their employees, not actually ZC citizens, make up the bulk of the workforce and are recruited from all over the cluster. In fact, labour is the Zwitter Consortiums most major import and the Consortium would crumble without a regular influx of recruits.
For the longest time the inhabitants of Unreinhafen, the only habitable planet in the Sternehaus system, have known through folklore and oral tradition that they once came from the stars and are destined to one day return to them.
The inhabitants of Unreinhafen have always had a problem with fertility. Traditionally only 25% of couples were able to bear children after a year of trying. Every child born was cause for celebration and fertility rites featured heavily in their religions. Settlements were often small and isolated from one another due to their low numbers. However, their culture developed much more quickly than one would have expected as they were all driven to success by a sense of racial injustice.
Conflicts about how to approach the problem of their races subfertility came to crisis point at around the same time as they discovered spaceflight. The two main camps were those that sought to rely on biotechnology and those who thought that cybertechnology offered the best chance. The biotechs saw genetic enhancement as a means to increase the fertility rate, whereas the cybertechs wanted to increase their lifespans by replacing parts of their bodies.
Costly wars were fought between the religious biotech’s and the industrious cyberstech’s. Eventually the cybertech’s lost and were banished into space. They were forced into agreeing to the Endlosen Himmel Pakt, which obligated them to protect the homeworld and provide resources for the biotech’s. As time went on, contact between the two divergent societies dwindled as the biotech’s gave up their technology for a simple, pious life. This cybertech’s realised that their obligation was all but forgotten about by the surfacers, and in turn left them alone.
Lichtschranke: the Cybertech’s
After the schism, the Lichtschranke rapidly colonised the solar system, establishing once again their tradition of small isolated communities. Industry was what drove their society, with robots performing most of the labour under human overseer/bureaucrats. The Sternehaus system has now had its natural resources nearly depleted, and rare earth metals are especially in high demand to maintain their tech-dependant society.
The Zwitter Consortium is often mistaken as the name of the society, but it is actually just their governing body, or Umbrella Company, that sets industry standards. The society refers to itself as the Lichtschranke. They were instrumental in developing the cluster-wide economy, including introduction of universal currency, communications networks and interstellar law.
The whole society verges on a shifting into a plutocracy. They cope with its subfertility by technologically extending the lives of its members. Its oldest members have managed to potentially quadruple their normal lifespans by replacing failing organs with cybernetics, but it is only the richest of the elite that can afford the Unvergänglich; a process to completely replace all of their bodies’ organics with robotics. These Unvergänglichen have a limited immortality, are given supreme difference and often hold the highest of positions within companies.
The ZC invests heavily in the two main areas that they believe will secure their monopoly over the cluster: scientific research and territory acquisition. Xenoarchaeology is of particular interest as a source of advancement.
Whilst marriage is accepted by law, it is not a common practice. Instead many couples enter reproductive contracts to produce a certain number of healthy children that are earmarked for employment in the company mediating the contract. Whilst legally any company can offer this service, the majority of children are officially employees of companies that specialise in conduting the contracts and rearing the children. This means the ZC officially has a zero unemployment rate. The conception itself is entirely in vitro and artificially mediated to maximise the chance of success.
Wachstum: the Biotech’s
The present day state of Wachstum society is something of an open secret: everyone knows that there is something odd down on Unreinhafen’s surface but none of the ZC officials will confirm or deny it. Transport to or surveillance of Unreinhafen in any way is strictly forbidden by law. Trespassers are never seen of again and ZC citizens are always curiously embarrassed by questions concerning their homeworld. When asked they often reply with ‘I am not at liberty to discuss that information’.
Because of the lack of contact practically nothing is known about the surface. Its inhabitants, their customs, technology level or even what they look like are known only by the ZC elite. Still, that does not stop wild rumours about experiments gone wrong and illegal research facilities…
- The ZC sees the mass cloning of Pariah as a crude solution to a problem; they themselves evaluated and rejected the idea of cloning to solve their own subfertility centuries ago. However, never one to turn down an advantage, the ZC is now very keen to make trade contracts with Pariah for cheap and expendable labour.
- The ZC and Heorot do not see eye-to-eye on practically everything, and conflicts are on-going.
- Go where the profit is
- Tech Reliant
- Bureaucratic Elite
- Imported Labour
- Filthy Rich