Undivided federation without internal political subdivisions. Presided over by a governor and executive council and a bicameral legislature.
Monoceros (the Solomani Latin equivalent to the Greek "Unicorn") encompasses the all of the Imperial Culture worlds of Jewell and Regina Subsectors plus the coreward Spinward Main worlds of Lanth Subsector, seven worlds in Cronor subsector: Ninjar, Rasatt, Stave, Narval, Plaven, Quar, and Frond; and two worlds in Aramis subsector: Dhian and Paya. The Zhodani culture worlds of Jewell are part of the High Zhdant Federation.
Mainly a mixture of Imperial or mixed Imperial/Zhodani humans with significant Zhodani and Vargr minorities. Two minor alien races are found in the Federation: the Obeyery of Stave (Spinward Marches 0710) and the Ursty of Yurst (Spinward Marches 2309).
The Third Imperium settled the worlds of the Spinward Main with incredible celerity. Two hundred years separated the opening of the previously unclaimed Spinward Marches and the settlement of Regina subsector at the far end of the coreward tributary of the Main. A lack of opposing political cultures, the ease of transit up the Main by short range traders, and the relative habitability of its worlds in this direction accounted for its quick assimilation into the Imperium. Regina was settled as early as IY 120, making it one of the oldest coreward communities in the sector.
The region's proximity with the Zhodani Consulate made it a flashpoint during the long periods of conflict between them and the Imperium. Jewell was so hotly contested that it became known as the "Battle Subsector" in reference to the numerous sieges mounted by Consulate forces in all five Frontier Wars and the Crucible War. Despite these assaults, during the Imperial era the Zhodani made little headway in taking these worlds because of the massive fortifications that they accumulated over six centuries of conflict. On numerous occasions they besieged Regina and Jewell, only to be held up and forced to shift their forces to other subsectors in an effort to win a decisive victory. Only during the Crucible War did the Zhodani finally manage to overcome most of the regions defenses, and even then it took a massive assault force on many worlds accompanied by heavy casualties, and several worlds such as Efate and Jewell were never pacified by the occupying troops.
These wars made the region very conservative in politics prior to the Collapse. The heroism of its inhabitants was amply rewarded by the Crown, and its strategic ramparts were assigned to the brightest lights of the Imperial nobility and the cream of the military. After the Collapse the shift of defenses to trailing caused its inhabitants to relent a little in permitting psionics and accepting detente with the Consulate, but they were never fully reconciled to Norris's policies, despite widespread acclaim for their native son, and remained suspicious of their longtime enemies and their motives. When the Zhodani Exodus ruptured the carefully maintained Quarantine and flooded border worlds with unwanted refugees, the region suffered an upsurge in reactionary politics towards the newcomers that soon extended to the Regency and its leadership. Long a bastion of the most extreme anti-Virus terrorists and other reactionaries, a large minority of the local population began to talk of "purifying the Regency of all infectious elements". These self-styled Purifiers eventually formed a vocal minority to Caranda and reformist political parties that effectively blocked further progress on transforming the Regency into a more liberal and democratic nation. In Regina and Jewell the Purifiers were at their strongest in the grassroots, supported by extremist organizations like the New Naval League and the Iridium Sword Brotherhood.
The assassination of Caranda brought Lemat Arthurian into the "regent's regency" for Caranda's daughter Reyna. The new regent had ambitions above his station, and brought Purifier sympathizers from around the Regency into his government to cement his hard-line position regarding the Zhodani. He stocked the Admiralty with officers from border subsectors to create the Supreme Naval Directorate, which was derided by less politically connected officers as the "Mummies" because of their fetishistic attraction to the Imperium and outmoded naval doctrines. The mummies convinced Arthurian that an old fashioned set piece navy heavily oriented towards metal-on-metal battles was possible in the modern day, and received the funding and political support from the Regent and his cronies in the Regency Senate to put these delusions into effect. Those officers that objected with scorn to these doctrines ("better suited for parades than for battle"), were disaffected by the cabal and its other policies, or increasingly disenchanted with Arthurian and his government in general, found themselves squeezed out of the loop, and a surprising number were "reassigned" to Corridor Sector.
This foolish affectation got the Regency Navy as far as Tienspevnekr Sector in NE 33. There, far from home, the fleet's attempts to engage the Zhodani in general actions almost always failed. The disparate Zho factions fled the heavier naval units of their enemies, only to reemerge to hit vulnerable rear echelon squadrons. Collapsing logistics and morale caused the offensive to quickly crumble, and the fleet lost a great deal of its strength and numbers retreating through Ziafrplians back to the Regency. The amount of damage done was so great that the "loyal" Purifier bastions along the border had to be abandoned to their fates in favor for a contracted salient anchored between Mora and Aramis. Bereft of reinforcements, most of the border worlds fell after bloody sieges. Only Jewell and Efate were able to hold out, mainly due to heavy guerrilla activity in the major cities. The slaughter of Zhodani troops on Efate created tragedy of its own, when the survivors were shifted to Lunion subsector and slaughtered resisting civilians.
After the Zhodani were halted at the Line Salient, their forces were worn down by Regency commerce raiding and ambushes of their own. After the Liberators reinforced them, the new Commonwealth Navy smashed the siege lines around Rhylanor and Mora, and crippled the overstretched and fractious Zhos at Lunion and Strouden. In a mirror image of the original offensive, the Zhodani abandoned their untenable positions coreward and retreated to a new defense line centered around Jewell and Vilis. This line was shattered by pinpoint naval attacks upon their command and control network, and many of their forces were isolated into pockets and overrun or forced to surrender. After liberation, the triumphant Commonwealth forces deposed or liquidated the last remaining Purifiers, assisted by the local populations in an exorcistical frenzy. After a decade of rebuilding under the Cronor and Rhylanor military districts, the region was admitted into the Commonwealth, as a unit, as the Monoceros Federation in NE 54.
The peoples of Jewell and Regina have always had the reputation of being bombastic and egocentric. The Imperium afforded them a great deal of importance because of their precarious perch near the Consulate, and this tended to rub off on them in both the worst and best ways. Outsiders found them to be pompous and rude, but they also produced most of the Spinward Marches best leadership, as championed by the Archduke and later Regent Norris Aledon. This gigantic nature of Norris's accomplishments made them, particularly persons from Regina (the world), virtually insufferable during the Regency period. The other regions of the Regency paid back this arrogance with derision: referring to the inhabitants of these largely underdeveloped subsectors as "Ploughboys". Amazingly, this arrogance hasn't disappeared, or at least subsided, in the last thirty years. Despite their heavy complicity with the Black Regent and his lunacies, Monocerans are not publicly apologetic about themselves. If anything they've gotten much worse.
The difference is that increasingly they keep their overly generous opinion of themselves to themselves. Their Federation has become the most culturally remote of any member state or territory in the Commonwealth. Outsiders and neighbors liken travelling in the Federation to climbing an active volcano. There is a great clamor at the summit, of fire and smoke and falling ash, but its all very far away and something of a blustery nuisance to the quieter surrounds. But people who actually climb the mountain and brave its dangers will find a society that takes great pains in patterning itself as a kind of Shangri-La, an abode of vast fortresses filled with eccentric and strange people.
The Monocerans are obsessed with the notion of unearthly power. With their heads so full of flaming egomania, they yearn to slake their Romanesque ambitions upon a panoramic stage. But given the Commonwealth's current peaceful circumstances, the attention of its leaders focused upon the immediate future, and the clashes that would inevitably erupt between them and more earthly focused Federations, no such stage exists outside of their own minds. So they have balkanized to some extent, withdrawing into fortified retreats that hover just outside of the mainstream. Here in the heated confines of these erstwhile palaces, they ponder and clash and blow steam in preparation for the day that they may be needed to ride down the mountain to save the day. While such persons are regarded as being quixotic and more than a little pretentious and superficial, the Monocerans do the Commonwealth a great favor by reminding the outside majority that no community, no matter how expansive or powerful, can lay claim to the great useless world beyond. The parameters of society are ironclad norms and internal rules that draw a borderline around us, but the great periphery often serves up disasters that exceed these parameters. In that case the Commonwealth has a major reserve of persons that live to some extent upon the borders, and are so composed to take the heroic role, no matter how far-fetched it sometimes seems, or ridiculous it appears. The unspoken aggreement communicated from the Commonwealth to the Monocerans is a "don't call us, we'll call you" accompanied by significant eye-rolling.
Despite the stereotype of a flaming hero wannabe, most of Monoceran culture and society is little different from the mainstream. They basically follow the same rules, have the same kinds of technology, and live in cities that seem on the outside to be little different from cities elsewhere. Where they differ is in the scale of their imagination, and the extent of their emotions. Their ruling philosophies are always somewhere on the horizontal scale beyond the norm, and indulge in extreme and arcane areas of contemplation. Emotionally this is a society of drama queens, though more so at the communal level than the individual. This usually takes the form of panoramic celebrations that strongly resemble pagan harvest and carnival celebrations. The carnival on Rethe/Regina (SM 2408) is the oldest and most famous of these, but other worlds have evolved their own celebrations that complement it, and some of these take weeks. They all play out rituals that denote the enormity and proximity of the basics, as spelled out in old Terran poetry: "Birth and copulation and death/Those are the facts in brass tacks/Birth and copulation and death"-T.S. Eliot
Because of the vast domain of their imaginations, Monocerans make for the canniest politicians, actors and psychologists (and lunatics). They are shrewd and ruthless competitors, and have an keen eye for dissecting personal foibles, human and otherwise. They are often in high demand for academic consulting by outsiders, but rather prefer that others come to them. Because of their unusually arcane travels in and out of the periphery, they have access to knowledge on subjects that the majority of are usually in low demand to the mainstream, but are needed when things hit the fan. Their medics and psychologists are especially good in those areas of medicine and the psyche that are "gateways": principally dealing with children and death. Psionics is a popular field of investigation, though local psions tend to be "explorers" intent upon expanding the extent and efficacy of their powers rather than dealing with more practical applications.
Unlike the Midwaymen, who depend upon educational competition to sharpen their virtuoso talents, the Monoceran's exude a more relaxed environment, preferring to coddle their best and brightest with aristocratic languor. Their educational institutes identify talented and ambitious individuals at a young age, and carefully cultivate their talents. And they travel extensively in youth as a means of broadening their minds and experiences as far as they can, though these aren't the usual tourist junkets, or even the usual off-the-beaten-path TAS tours. As they mature, they usually find employment at home that keeps them from travelling, though they often cultivate large circles of contacts and contract employees to keep them appraised of the wider universe. The best of these are eventually elected to positions as "Speaker" of a particular community or profession, i.e. someone who speaks for and to the consensus with great authority and knowledge. This pattern cuts across the Federation, though it manifests in multiple forms: clan leaders on Efate, military-industrial barons on Jewell, and academic "philosopher-kings" on Regina.
Worlds of Monceros Federation
Of all the Federations, the worlds of Monoceros exhibit the greatest variety from each other within the same political body. This difference is mainly a matter of outward physical form, for the cultural patterns are identical and little different from mainstream Commonwealth worlds. For the most part their communities resemble alpine villages and cities on Old Terra: compact, tidy and neat. Their architecture is mainly rectilinear: multiple story dwellings surrounding enclosed or sealed courtyards comprising gardens and pools of water. Their personal dwellings are extravagant by the standards of other Federations, with even poor persons allocated very large apartments. Most buildings are constructed around large rooms well illuminated by natural or artificial light. And internal horticulture, particularly aromatic plants, is practiced even on the poorest worlds, and the external surroundings (if breathable) are usually flooded with pleasantly odoriferous plants or animals.
Where their worlds differ is mainly in the division of power and responsibility. No two Monoceran world is alike in terms of political institutions and urban organization. On some worlds power is divided among cartels dominated by a handful of families or powerful individuals. On some worlds byzantine bureaucracies dominate. On yet others professional guilds or organizations have veto power over individuals. And these tend to run to extremes: the most dogmatic or literalist of priests, the most fiery of politicians, the most conceited or opinionated of professionals. Democracies are fiercely participatory and local, contrasting with the most centralized and insular of bureaucratic institutions in the larger cities or more heavily populated worlds. All cities and communities give prominent attention to the symbols of power and shared consensus regardless of the type of government: prominent but functional monuments like gardens and well anointed cemeteries being the most popular.
Travellers who do journey here will discover the best hospitality in the Commonwealth. Hotels are sumptuous, entertainment cheap and abundant, and very willing to please staff. Laws here tend to follow the "fewer the much better" model, whereby the quantity is less important than the quality of enforcement. That means fewer restrictions, but very stringent and punitive punishment for those restrictions that do exist. Travel beyond the major cities and startowns requires some patience, however. The denizens of smaller communities prefer that travellers pay significant respect for their communities through token obeisances, usually in the form of paying visits to local elders and Speakers, or a token of gift giving or monetary charity; though these are purely voluntary it does make the journey much easier and people more friendly.