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Menorb (AP-01312)

RICE Paper: Menorb

Menorb (Regina: Spinward Marches/1803)
C652998-8   Hi Po    310  Re   M5II
C7D-6 A10-9YA0-38 Re3
g=.72, day=1d 5:06:00.51, year = 174,506d 9:10:07.38/143,922d 2:07:37.37
atmo= .66, natural weather
temp= +31 (5/lat +45 to -4) (season +11 to -44, 79 deg lat)
daily temp range 53.5
Agricultual, Radioactives, Compounds; Agroproducts, Non-Metals; Consumables, Record, Documents
Conservative/Enterprising, Competitive/Neutral, Discordant/Aloof
Legal 8-A8CA8    Tech  86-876A8-8674-D8-E

Approaching Menorb is simplicity itself. Most of the traffic consists of regular, 5000 dTon cargo ships, coming in for Menorb’s agroproducts, mild Vargr alcoholic beverages, and Vargr entertainment products. Only during the 30-day festive season of Kengrogarz (a Vargr religious occasion, celebrated every six years) does traffic become impossible, and many starships are forced to conduct operations in close orbit, instead of loading up on the starport.

Despite the low tech level, the port itself is well equipped (to TL D standards) and well-run. Trade law is “8”—expect to get most of your lots past customs, but don’t expect it to happen quickly. The local customs officals are well-trained Regency Vargr, and have a master’s understanding of smuggling pratices. If you are here strictly as a stopover, there is a nice TL D hotel attached directly to the starport, with all the amenities. Because of high demand, though, lodgers may only stay for a week. If you can get in, though, the price is quite reasonable.

If you judge only by the population at New Menorb Starport, you’d think that Menorb is a Vargr world. And you’d be wrong: only about 22% of the population is Vargr, the rest is human [typically local-born, and vaguely Solomani-looking (Indonesian? East Indian?)]. However, the Vargr tends to be the progressive element on Menorb: they dominate local business interests, and are the main reason why Menorb’s tech level has risen from TL 6 (back in 1050) to TL 7 (1116) to TL 8 (from 1180 to today).

There are several items to be checked off before you leave Startown (locals use the Vargr term of Anosarr):

  1. Stow all weapons away.
  2. Be sure to obtain a Murk vaccine shot.
  3. Obtain a “Visitors ID Card”; looking like a TL 8 credit card, it will make dealing with the authorities much easier.
  4. Change your Regency currency to local Verba Script (“Verba Currency” is a form of money used by the Verba Trading Block of Menorb, Yres, Pixie, and Boughene): local merchants cannot use Regency credits.

Monorail lines can bring you swiftly to most important cities on Menorb; hiring a driver (taxis or chauffeurs) is not recommended in the cities (too expensive), but vital in the countryside. Buses are the only alternative in the cities, but are usually crammed and—depending on the line—can be the site of thieves and hotheads.

In the countryside, trains (electric or steam) and helicopters (for those with money) are favoured. In the Rough, transportation is by foot, jeep, or by animals (typically, the tri-ped Bro-Ckok, capable of carrying one or two people, is favoured as a riding beast. Not very fast, but capable of enduring without water for three weeks.)

A large, influencial minority of the Vargr are followers of Runetha, an Odysseus-like figure of widespread fame among Regina, Uthe, and Dirgir Vargr. (Uthe and Firgr subsectors are located Coreward of the Spinward Marches [subsectors O and P of Gvurrdon]).  Runetha Saetedz (817 - 866) was a legendary Vargr adventurer/pirate/scout whose exploits are betime reading for young Regina Vargr. Dying from old internal wounds, he managed to lead his band to a heroic victory on Menorb, but died soon after.

Soon after his death, his followers founded the Runetha Society, to keep alive his memory and his philosophy. As his fame grew, they built the Greater Thatho Temple in the Dro-Zhemm Hills, and spread his philosophy throughout the region.

The Temple is the central site of the Runetha religion, now run by the High Runetha Federation of Holy Adventurers. The temple itself is a circular building, of about 25 m diameter, 5 m in height, with a concave roof. Of strong interest is what’s above the temple: a large, floating, glowing yellow ball, of about 30 m diameter. It’s quite bright (you cannot look at it directly within 50 meters of the ball), and can easily be mistaken for a second sun.

While there is a constant flow of about 500,000 visitors per year, the Kengrogarz (which occurs every six years) leads to an influx of 10-20 million pilgrims from Regina, Uthe, and Firgr subsectors. Once here, they go through various rituals (including a rigourous Hunt in the countryside), leading up to a mass meeting and blood sacrifices of various animals at the temple.

The religion itself is strongly focused on heroic endeavors, felt to be the way of a True Life here and a glorious afterlife. Study of Runetha’s History—and the history of other heros, Vargr and Humaniti—is a required tenet of the religion, as is the Aiding of all True Heroes, the pursuit of at least one Quest in your life, and the support of the Runetha Brotherhood above all worldly loves.

In contrast, the local humans—who mainly work in Vargr plantations, or in isolated, independent communities—tend toward two religious traditions. The larger religion revolves in a form of nature-worship, with a stress on the ‘interconnectedness’ of Menorbianti life, and the divinely-ordained place of humans in it.

Most of the workers follow this faith, and tend to mix wise ecological pratices with the purest superstitution (the most prevelant being in the Evil Eye and Forbidden Phases). While there is no house of worship or formal prayers, there are many “holy days” and “feast days”, which are strongly agricultural in nature. There is also the tradition of the “Holy Fool”, usually an insane man who supposedly is “closer” to Menorb’s WorldSpirit than normal mortals.

The isolated “Freeholder” communities—almost all desert tribes—prefer their household and tribal idols. Most of these idols are weapons of one kind or another, i.e., the “Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch” or “The First Machinegun of Aezo”. Fusion guns are especially popular.

The top industries on Menorb are agribusiness (Menorb fruits and grains, marketed for Vargr tastes) and entertainment (Vargr recordings). Both are centred on Llil Suet, a city of 200 million set in the 2 km-deep Prince Martin Valley. Like most Menorbianti, the locals prefer to dress in simple togas and light, garish robes. They speak both Rark Vargr and Anglic fluently: A few of the humans can even speak French!  They tend to view visitors as “Funny folk”, but can be easily coaxed into aiding the traveller, once their intital shyness is overcome.

Again, the city is dominated by Vargr. They tend to take a romantic view of live, believing that “Life is to be Lived to the Fullest.” Almost every Vargr has his own small clique, with similar social, policical, ecomomic, and spiritual interests. These cliques are set in a continual struggle for power, but they fight their battles using legal and bureaucratic methods, rather than fighting Vargr to Vargr. To get anything done—say, to obtain housing in a valued neighbourhood—takes weeks of political maneuver and in-fighting. Connections with the government bureaucracy, lawyers, and political figures are highly valued, and dictate the amount of “pull” you have available (Money also helps… but in several situations, your personal Charisma counts for more, especially if what you ask for entails major risks to get.)

City architecture is typically Vargr. Enormous sizes, bizzare and whimisical forms, and hard-to-find enterances mark the typical Vargr corporate building. While Solomani build to flaunt technical expertise, and Vilani build to last, the Vargr designers want “to express themselves”… in a riot of color. The streets are a maze of avenues, alleys, and large “asphalt football fields” that apparently exist for no reason at all. Those humans who take “the laws of the road” as a personal challange will delight in Menorbianti traffic.

Personal buildings are generally built of pre-fab concrete slabs, of questionable stability. Of course, they are painted and garished to the owner’s taste. Strangely enough, they can look very beautiful in the deep red twilight of ol’ Red Eye when he's setting. But don’t stay out at night long: even though (at 35° latitude) the days are quite hot (at about 20°C in spring/fall), the nighttime temperatures can fall to -44°C easily.