by Max Barry

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The ✵ Dɪᴠɪɴᴇ Sᴜᴘʀᴇᴍᴀᴄʏ ✵ of
Psychotic Dictatorship

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Cultural Overview (WIP)

Dossier on Culture
Compiled by the Central Information Repository of the Divine Supremacy of Khoronzon

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Khoronzon is a young nation, and its culture is equally so. Born from within the ruins left by the First Plague War, moulded out of the anachronistic intersection between the animalistic savagery of the early Plagueborn and the rational, industrial society they were forced to hide in and adapt to, what came to emerge from the nascent civilisation in Siberia was a culture unlike any to have previously existed on Earth - its heritage almost entirely its own, its practices and appearances markedly alien to the humans of old. Indeed, many refused, and still refuse to this day, to call it a culture at all - seen by outsiders as little more than a hive of inhuman monsters, it remains to this day a pariah among pariahs, an absolute Other, anathema to nature and civilisation alike. From its founding under Prahroxhathor to the reign of Evehxhas, the mutually reinforced barrier between the "human world" and the "Khoronzonite world" ensured that this perception would remain unchanged - and, as befitting its rejection of those it deems less evolved, Khoronzon embraces this image, taking pride in its unique standing and longing for the day it finally displaces the old world.

I. Language

The national language of Khoronzon is Khoryahsh, a relatively recent language built heavily off of 22nd-century Russian, with considerable influences from Vulyahsh, a rarely-used secondary language with no known historical roots. Both Khoryahsh and Vulyahsh emerged alongside the state of Khoronzon, which itself is a Vulyahsh word roughly translating to "the New/Reborn Ones"; the first recorded instances of rudimentary Vulyahsh usage date back to the First Plague War in the late 21st century, while the main language of Khoryahsh was formed over the course of the Khoronzonite state's early establishment as a planned homogenisation of the various languages and dialects in the territory under its control. Both languages are mainly written using a native, modified form of Cyrillic script, with a considerably larger alphabet that reflects their phonetic diversity.

Khoronzon is, for the most part, a monolingual state under the Khoryahsh language, with very little internal linguistic variation. While Vulyahsh is officially recognised, very few use it on any regular basis, while most foreign languages are seen as useless and belonging to inferior, dying cultures. This relation is mirrored among foreign populations, with fluency in Khoryahsh being extremely rare - and Vulyahsh even more so - owing to the language's own complexity and elements alien from other languages, the severe lack of learning material finding its way into foreign hands, and social, political, and religious taboos against engaging with Khoronzonite culture. Although Vulyahsh is rare in Khoronzonite day-to-day life, it is employed semi-extensively by the Shrouded Ones and their close associates - as an example, Shrouded initiates are typically given a new Vulyahsh name to replace their birth name, indicating their special status. In addition, the Shrouded are the primary users of Vulyahsh's unique, non-Cyrillic-derived script, which is very rarely employed by anyone outside of their ranks.

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"Khoryahsh Alphabet" in handwriting
Hatchery SX017 Primary School, Salyakh

II. Diet

Vegetable growing room
Agricultural Centre KT019, Zhiraysk

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Despite its rather large territory, Khoronzon possesses a relative dearth of arable land, and its climate is ill-suited for the cultivation of crops and livestock - while, centuries ago, its land may have supported substantial agriculture, such conditions had been worn away even prior to its inception through worldwide environmental decline, which had since been locally exacerbated through the devastation wrought by the First and Second Plague Wars. As such, with a population numbering multiple billions and no food imports, compact, sheltered, and advanced farming measures are necessary to feed so many mouths, particularly given that Khoronzonites are notably more nutritionally demanding than baseline humans. Consequently, the entirety of Khoronzon's agricultural production is based in indoor vertical farms, making extensive use of hydroponics, aquaculture, and cellular agriculture to supply large quantities of food within its highly populated cities while taking up minimal space and resources.

The species repertoire used by Khoronzonite agriculture is wholly made up of organisms that have been genetically engineered to varying degrees for the sake of maximising nutritional value and agricultural efficiency, carefully chosen and bred to thrive in the requisite environment and meet the nutritional needs of the demanding populace. Fish, shellfish, rice, and algae make up the staples of Khoronzonite food, while items less compatible with the Supremacy's agricultural methods such as red meat and arboreal fruits are either grown from stem cells, transplanted into organisms more suited to farming conditions, or simply excluded from food production.

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III. Upbringing

Being born in industrial spawning facilities from aggregate genetic material, Khoronzonites place little relevance on the concept of family as it is generally known, instead being raised from birth to adolescence in boarding schools connected to the Hatcheries they were born in. During infancy, they are organised into groups known as "creches", each one overseen by a small group of attendants charged with their early development. The size of a creche is based on the class of neonate within it, numbering at twelve for V-classes, twenty-four for S-classes, and forty-eight for O-classes. During this stage, they typically do not yet have names - instead, they are referred to by a shortened form of their state-assigned identification code, which later serves as a "surname" once they are given first names shortly before entering primary education. As a result of this naming system, the concept of a distinct "first-name basis" does not exist in Khoronzonite society; first names are almost invariably used by default regardless of setting, and it is widely considered rude to unnecessarily refer to people by their identity numbers.

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Tertiary graduates entering conscription
Military Academy NR004, Noryich

IV. Sociality

V-class secondary students at leisure time
Hatchery XU010 Secondary School, Xura

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As a result of the family unit's replacement with the creche and the classroom, along with the lack of distinction between "school life" and "home life", Khoronzonites tend towards much more communal lifestyles from an early age than most other cultures, though this tendency is not entirely uniform across the population. While O- and S-classes generally share similar social behaviours, V-classes, despite being the most closely related to the almost hive-minded Plagueborn, have stronger inclinations towards smaller groups and even solitude - an adaptation that is in part by design due to their role in society, and in part a byproduct of their relatively high susceptibility to mental disorders, making it more difficult for them to associate with others and especially with members of lower castes.

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V. Religion

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Artistic depiction of Ahxh
Saret YYK01, S-class, Zoryasha

VI. Architecture

Administrative office blocks
District V06, Krukhyast

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VII. Fashion

Physical appearance is valued highly among the Khoronzonite populace, and choices in attire and personal grooming are seen as key components of self-expression. Fashion design, like the broader artistic scene, is open to collective contribution by the population at large, albeit with a not-insignificant degree of curation prior to large-scale production by cultural-institutional oversight; both style and distribution are carefully tailored at this stage to fit the surrounding architecture and ambience of a locale, and vice versa, so that citizens and cities aesthetically complement each other to elevate the whole. Variations in attire between individual citizens tend to be less valued than collective aesthetic synchronicity as a result both of the aforementioned curation process and of general social expectations, and are subsequently less prominent than in more "individualistic" societies.

However, while the "baseline" of Khoronzonite clothing tends towards conformity and unison, fashion remains a prominent means of individual expression in Khoronzonite society through the widespread use of complementary ornamentation. Ranging from simple eyeliner and ear piercings to multicoloured hair dye and luminescent facial tattoos, makeup, jewelry, and other accessories constitute an important aspect of Khoronzonite personal adornment. Extravagance and permanence in such decorations tend to be indicators of status, with lower-ranked citizens bearing more modest and interchangeable additions to a relatively "standardised" framework, while those of the upper crust rarely shy away from body modification and deliberate ostentation. In addition, with base clothing seldom using any vivid colouration, favouring black, grey, or dim shades of red, blue, or purple, personalised ornamentation is typically where brighter and more colourful elements enter the nation's fashion sphere.

In line with the loose-to-nonexistent gender norms of contemporary Khoronzonite culture, Khoronzonite fashion as a whole has no definite gendered rules or expectations. Any style of dress or general personal appearance is considered unisex, with beauty standards being universalised rather than gender-specific. [...]

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Mrakhskiel citizens in autumn dress
District I02, Mrakhskiel

16, S-class, Student, Noryich

19, S-class, Musician, Xura

27, O-class, Police, Krukhyast

23, V-class, Acolyte, Zoryasha

21, O-class, Nurse, Zhiraysk

24, S-class, Police, Vohzhrost

16, V-class, Student, Vyelast

31, S-class, Author, Salyakh


Audiovisual display at a concert stage
Hall of Qzvhet, Vohzhrost

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