Silver Age Beyond
The Al Fashir Caliphate
The Al Fashir Caliphate is a barbarian nation of stark contrast. It is one where opulent richness and plenty rubs shoulders with abject poverty and starvation. To the citizens of the Galactic Imperium, Al Fashirri Space is a lawless and unintelligible barbarous region, devoid of any guidance from the Prolimetri Houses or inspiration from the Universal Sectus of the All-Maker, a place where even the Shoqëri Guilds hesitates to trade. To the people of the Caliphate, however, Al Fashirri society is the most perfect of all cultures, the last bastion of enlightenment in a chaotic universe, whilst the Galactic Imperium is seen as an unruly region of power grabbing elitists and downtrodden unfortunates, of mindlessness and wild ambition.
A History of the Al Fashir Caliphate
Historians and diplomats have reconstructed the following tale since contact was established between the Al Fashir Caliphate and the Galactic Imperium in GD 4987, and many have questioned its authenticity, at least in parts.
Al Fashirri history and culture began with a single man, just as the current Al Fashirri society revolves around the Caliph. That man was Bjorn Egon, whose lifetime straddles the end of the Diaspora and the start of the Second Republic. Ambassadors and scholars of the Galactic Imperium have so far been unable to shed much light on this character, for in Al Fashirri society he has taken the form of a mythical hero while actual historic information is fragmentary. It seems that early historians considered Egon one of the founding fathers of the Second Republic while the late Republican historians depict him as a merciless tyrant, embodying all the power, wealth and privilege now commonly attributed to the nobility.
What few records there are, combined with Al Fashirri folk legends, indicate that at some point early in the 36th century Egon acquired the Ingress Keys to two previously unknown worlds (Al Fashir and Al Khali), both were mineral rich planets in an undeveloped pocket of space. What may have begun as a business venture is now remembered in Al Fashirri folklore as a secret exodus to a paradise beyond the reach of the bureaucrats of the Second Republic. By keeping false records and bribing officials to look the other way, Egon managed to develop his own private Empire that remained hidden for generations, before the Second Republic discovered the truth in the 38th century GD. Republic authorities discovered the secret jump web and moved in to liberate the captive population, only to find the population resisting reintegration into the Republic.
Thought the Second Republic did liberate the Al Fashirri worlds, the Al Fashir Culture and religion held strong. Eventually recognized by the Republic as a area of cultural and ethnic diversity it was accorded certain protections in the late 40th century GD largely due to the manipulations of the Sata Natura (GD 3940-unknown), who utilized her exotic beauty, social graces and shrewd business acumen to advance the cause for Al Fashirri Rights. Sata Natura is today immortalized in folk legend as both a temptress and as a mighty leader. It was she who discovered the existence of a Philosopher’s Stone that exerted a powerful influence upon the Garhira jump gate, and when the Atzlánti made their coup against the House Hanuman, Sata Natura lead a force of “Al Fashirri” separatists to seized the artifact and shut down the jump route between Garhira and Timor (GD 3997), and later between Garhira and Kavicenna (4000 GD).
With Al Fashir worlds again cut off from the Second Republic that Fall came swiftly to the Al Fashirri worlds as the republic infrastructures could not hold without support from the center. Tiny isolated kingdoms rose and toppled, warred, allied or were subsumed into nascent empires all over the “Al Fashirri” worlds. In this time the nomadic clans descending from Egon’s original population grew stronger and bolder. Tribes raided weaker kingdoms when resources were scarce, and banded together to overrun larger empires which they perceived as a threat. Some settled to enjoy the fruits of their conquest, and some even took the stars as spacefarers whose wanderlust could not be contained within a single planet.
In the 44th century GD Al Fashirri Space and the worlds trapped behind closed jump gates around it were scattered and unruly, uncivilized, and into this mix burst the Aesir Star Nations. The Aesir raided the Al Fashirri worlds and settled on some of them. Juhangiz Furhan (4434-4506 GD), an ascetic mystic, renounced his hermitage, and waged for a decade he waged a one-man guerilla war against the enslavers, sometimes enlisting the support of outlaw bands and rebel tribes, but with only sporadic success. Juhangiz realized that he would need more powerful allies, and soon took his cause to the stars.
Juhangiz roamed all over “Al Fashirri” space, visiting planet after planet, drumming up support for his cause fight the Aesir invaders – this effort was later dubbed the First Pilgrimage and serving as a model for others to follow. On Al Fashir he recovered Sata Natura’s Philosopher’s Stone and in 4467 GD Juhangiz used this device to reopen the jump gate to Garhira. He reunited the scattered tribes and the Aesir colonies on the planet of Al Fashir fell to him. Next Juhangiz pushed on to Al Khali, leaving his forces behind to recapture that world while he himself pushed onwards to Erem.
There the Aesir captured him, and for two years he endured the manacles and whips, all the while organizing covert resistance and fermenting rebellion among the slaves. When his “Al Fashirri” forces reached Erem the Aesir soon found themselves battling both an off-world attack and an uprising from within. In a matter of days the Aesir kingdom of Erem was toppled and the invaders were pushed back.
Juhangiz emerged as hero and legend, becoming a guiding light and inspirational prophet to all free “Al Fashirris”. He was eventually proclaimed a living prophet, and toward the end of his life his status was elevated to Caliph of Zeth. The liberation of Erem in GD 4473 marked the foundation of the Al Fashir Caliphate and is considered Year 1 of the Al Fashir calendar.
In the centuries since successive Caliphs have come and gone, some have sought to prosecute jihad against the Galactic Imperium, while others have sought isolation. The Al Fashir Caliphate remained of little concern to the Galactic Imperium until the Al Fashirri Jihad poured through the Timor jump gate in 4801 GD. It was Caliph Bayazid Iskandur who had restarted the Jihad, using Sata Natura’s Philosopher’s Stone, as the first act of his reign. This time the Jihad took the form of hit-and-run raids with the Timor jump road opening and closing on an almost routine basis to let Al Fashirri raiders in and out of the system. Despite this tactic the Atzlánti forces managed to penetrate into Garhira space, in trickles at first and then in streams and floods, until warfare had moved primarily from Timor space and into Garhira space.
By the end of the 49th century GD the Caliphate had squandered much of its wealth on the Jihad, loosing sole sovereignty of Garhira in the process. In GD 4899 Caliph Juhangiz XVII, a direct descendant of the first Caliph, ordered the Timor jump road closed, and the Galactic Imperium again knew a prolonged period of peace from the Al Fashir Caliphate.
In 4987 GD the Garhira-Timor jump road spontaneously reopened again, and the present Caliph Hulagulu took it as a sign to renew the Jihad. For almost a decade the Caliphate fleet enjoyed unprecedented success in battle with the Atzlánti, as the Timor system remained scarcely defended due to the Atzlánti’s involvement in the Primacy Wars. When the Primacy Wars finally ended in 4995 the Atzlánti gave the Al Fashirri front its complete attention, and the Al Fashirri advance was soon routed and the Atzlánti descended upon Garhira in full force. By this time Caliph Hulagulu had died (4992 GD) and in GD 4993 a new descendant of the first Caliph had ascended the throne – Juhangiz XXIV. Caliph Juhangiz XXIV found that Sata Natura’s Philosopher’s Stone had been lost, and that the Al Fashir Caliphate had lost its ability to fall upon the Galactic Imperium at will.
The war between the Atzlánti and the Al Fashir Caliphate has become a conflict of two parts. The Atzlánti dominate the ground war for Garhira and have made massive advances over the last decade. Garhira space is however the domain of the Caliphate and under the control of the Al Fashirri Armada effectively cutting off the Atzlánti supply lines and propagate raids against Timor.
Al Fashirri Culture
The values of Al Fashirri culture are those of the nomad, reflecting an ever-shifting balance between personal independence and responsibility to one’s community. Five centuries of increasing urbanization under Caliphal rule has pushed each ideal to its extreme, extending the notion of community beyond just the tribe or neighborhood to include the geographical region, the inhabited world, and ultimately the entire Al Fashir Caliphate, resulting in a view that is at once provincial and cosmopolitan.
While all strangers are met with courtesy and hospitality, all relationships are in Al Fashirri culture marked by an assessment of personal merit. The primary virtue is to know one’s job and do it well; this is in stark contrast to the hereditary social positions of the Galactic Imperium. Still, the practical reality is that since most youths get their training and resources from their family and clan, they also tend to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Although some jobs are regarded as more desirable than others, there is no philosophical discrimination or prioritizing of work in the Al Fashirri society; a horse tamer is as respected as a merchant and a farmer as respected as a warrior – as long as the job is performed with conviction and skill.
Gender seldom becomes an issue in Al Fashirri society, where sexual roles have been carefully defined in law and custom for centuries. Men and women are accorded equal access to status, property, wealth, inheritance, and rights under law, but practice their professions separately, mixing only when necessary and having no close contact with the opposite sex outside their own clan. Each gender has its own customs, myths, mysteries and rites of passage, which must not be revealed to the other, and those who associate too closely with the opposite sex in public may become objects of scorn and scandal.
The Al Fashirri Society
The Al Fashir Caliphate is a society organized in a strong caste system, with each cast or “Ordu” (derives from the First Earth word “horde”) dictating a person’s profession and rights. Most Al Fashirris choose to join and marry into the same social cast as their parents; it is possible of a young adult to seek entry to another ordu and provided they pass the tests they will be accepted.
Once initiated into an ordu it becomes that Al Fashirri’s home for life and not even the Caliph has the power to order an individual to leave his ordu and join another one. In all likelihood he will marry within the ordu and his children will also follow his path. This leads to some level of local inbreeding with particular body types becoming common identifiers for those of that social cast.
Ordu’l-Diin – “The Faithful Horde”: Although not a separate cast, the Ordu’l-Diin is used to designate those of Al Fashirri descent, or more specifically anyone who acknowledges and submits to the spiritual and temporal authority of the Caliph. Those who share the Faith (“El-Diin”) are free to live where and however they will, so long as they fulfill communal responsibilities (work, paying taxes, obeying local laws), return to the Caliphate any goods or service they can spare, and give alms to those less fortunate. A Faithful One may, once during her life, declare herself a hajji, or pilgrim.
Ordu Bagatur – “The Valiant Horde”: These are professional soldiers of the Caliph, also including police, personal security and raiding forces. The ordu is sworn to protect anyone on a pilgrimage. They are permitted by law to carry weapons of war (otherwise forbidden in most Al Fashirri communities), thought this is often restricted to low tech weapons. In times of war these warriors can be called to fight for the Caliph and may be authorized to use high tech weaponry. Most members of the Ordu Bagatur are physically larger than their fellow citizens, both taller and more muscular.
Ordu Kibituk – “Wide Wagons”: The merchant class of Al Fashirri society, and includes any who trade, from the humblest shopkeeper to the most powerful magnate. The Caliphs law does not prohibit the accumulation of wealth but all merchants are required to give a portion of their profits away as alms for the poor above and beyond that of other Al Fashirri. In times of war or crisis the Caliph may redistribute wealth as he sees fit. Amongst the Ordu Kibituk obesity is considered a symbol of success, much more so than the amount of coin a merchant actually holds.
Ordu Kankali – “High Carts”: The entertainer class of Al Fashirri society. Artists and entertainers of all types are held in high regard for their talents. Though the Caliph may at times censor certain themes in Kankali works, the entertainers pay fewer taxes and are free to travel as they wish. They are also exempt from local traditions regarding social decorum and dress. Amongst the Ordu Kankali most are of athletic and slender body shapes.
Ordu Bachinghai – “Nimble Fingers”: The crafter class of Al Fashirri society. Craftsmen of all types are represented by this ordu. These people are taxed based upon their volume of business and may be ordered to relocate to an area in need of their particular talents by the Caliph. Members of the Ordu Bachinghai compose a wide variety of body types, although most are strong and nimble.
Ordu Fellahin – “Broad Backs”: The laborer class of Al Fashirri society. These unskilled workers are the backbone of Al Fashirri society performing all manner of tasks from farming, to construction and portage of goods. Like the Ordu Bachinghai they may be ordered to relocate to where they are most needed, and many indeed live quite nomadic lives as they trek from assignment to assignment. They pay a flat tax based on their wages. Amongst the Ordu Fellahin most are of large well-developed bodies with gigantism being relatively common.
Ordu Asmurdlegh – “The Stinking Ones”: An unclean class within Al Fashirri society. This is a special class reserved for those who practice certain professions (slaughterers, tanners, undertakers, sewage workers, etc) and who as a result may be considered unclean or may exude an unpleasant odor. They are required by tradition to live apart, and to wear heavily perfumed robes when amongst others. This is actually not seen as a slur but as a compliant and a privilege to be accorded special treatment, and the Asmurdlegh have full legal rights and standing.
Ordu Hekelezai – “The Touched”: A class of the divinely inspired within Al Fashirri society. They are not priests as would be recognized in the Galactic Imperium, but they are considered to have wisdom and revelation even if some are unable to communicate it clearly. They may be ascetic hermits, scholastic mystics, fakirs, tribal medicine men, or simply the village idiot who hears voices in his head. This ordu is expected to exist on community charity. The Caliph has been known to consult with wise members of this ordu on matters of importance, and the Hekelezai are the only social class with the right to criticize the Caliph publically.
Ordu Sechemin – “The Wise”: The teacher, scholar, and scientist class of Al Fashirri society, the Sechemin is the most policed of all the casts. They often lead cloistered or monastic lives dedicated to one specific area of knowledge. Although the Caliphate has no true priestly cast, the Ordu Sechenim fulfill much the same function, being scholars of morality and keepers of arcane knowledge. They do not officiate at religious ceremonies more than any other Ordu however. This ordu is further sub-divided into different Ikhwan (schools): Ikhwan-i-Hakimum (healers), Ikhwan-i-Waziri (advisors), Ikhwan-i-Qadiyum (judges), Ikhwan-i-Takhiyun (artificers), Ikhwan-i-Ghamizi (astronomers), and the Ikhwan-i-Sihr (spies).
Ordu Kafiri – “Unbelievers”: The unbelievers’ class of Al Fashirri society, encompassing anyone who submits to the Caliphs political power without recognizing his religious authority. These include pagan groups, ambassadors from non-Al Fashirri worlds, and converts to the Universal Sectus of the All-Maker. Those who follow other faiths are forbidden to speak of their beliefs in public and the Kafiri are required to signal their status with tattoos. In Al Fashirri religion one cannot be excommunicated (cut of from salvation and sacraments) in the same way as in the Universal Sectus faith, however, one can be declared kafir (“infidel”) by a legal court or by ones superiors. This has social implications only, as one is cast out of ones ordu and regarded as one of the Kafiri, which places restrictions on things like marriage and access to political and martial positions in the society. Being “demoted” from a proper Al Fashirri ordu to Ordu Kafiri carries the same penalties as excommunication form the Universal Faith.
The ruler of the Al Fashirri is the Caliph, a Prophet-King who’s acts are an example to all his people with every Al Fashirri aspiring to be the caliph of her own life. The position of Caliph is for life although it is not hereditary; instead each Caliph nominates his own successor. Above all else, the Caliph is a religious figure, a living prophet, who occupies the intersection where posthuman (i.e. Al Fashirri) society reflects the divine hierarchy. Indeed, the majority of past Caliphs were holy hermits and local saints before being named to succeed the reigning Caliph. The Caliph, possessed of insight into both the visible and invisible worlds, has the final word on all matters, and only those who agree to submit to his or her word are allowed to exist in Al Fashirri space. While outsiders recognize the utter tyranny of the Caliphate, the Al Fashirri people see it as the most ennobling aspect of its culture.
The high court of the Caliphate is the Kuriltai, composed of its highest-ranking and wisest members of the Ordus, retired Khans, trusted advisors and close friends of the Caliph. The Kuriltai function as an extension of the Caliph, being to some extent empowered to speak and act on the Caliph’s behalf. Tradition holds that only a true Caliph can recognize the next in the line of Prophetic Succession, but sometimes a Caliph may die before naming a successor, and then it is the Kuriltai who is charged with the duty of discovering the new prophet.
Rulers within the Caliphate are collectively known as the Khanate; unlike the Galactic Imperium, heredity is not a prerequisite, and the divine right to rule is reserved for the Caliph alone. These are divided according to rank, from the lowest to highest, thus: Shaykh (leader of a group, clan, or village); Khan (rules a larger tribe, group of villages, small province, or a city district); Ilkhan (governs larger provinces and small cities); Khaghan (rules tribal nations, provincial territories and large cities); Sultan (planetary overlord).
The position of shaykh is largely heritable. While candidates for khan and ilkhan are usually chosen from among the local shaykhs, their position must be acknowledge by a higher authority (usually the planet’s sultan), and a Sultan must be confirmed by the Caliph personally. An appointment to the Khanate comes with a predetermined duration, although those who can govern effectively, maintaining stability and generating the greatest benefit to the populace, may have their term of office extended for life – sometimes against their wishes.
The Caliph alone possesses the wisdom to grasp the long-term effects of various technologies, and employs the Ikhwan-i-Takhiyun artificers to strictly regulate its use. By Caliphal decree alone may a cybernetic device be installed into the broken flesh of a servant, an advanced computer (“djinn-box”) assigned to an enlightened user, or a powerful weapon be lent to a Bagatur on a mission that requires it. Each ordu, however, has a dispensation for the tools of its trade, with the most advanced devices used only by the khans and under severe penalties for abuse and misuse. Certain types of vehicles are often forbidden for environmental reasons, although the Caliph has lifted ancient taboos to allow more progressive and convenient technologies. The ban on golems was lifted early in Caliph Juhangiz XXIV’s reign, and has recently been extend to grant golems formal acceptance as citizens of the Ordu Kafiri. Likewise, paraposthumans are accepted and tolerated in the Caliphate, and are openly accepted within all ordus.
Most types of intoxicants known can be found in the Caliphate, and the majority of them are legal in most regions, for most ordus. Hedonism aside, most Al Fashirris feel that for every social occasion, every dreaded chore or pleasant pastime, the Star-Maker has provided a substance to ease bodily discomfort or enhance necessary mental qualities, if one but understands their proper use. Ikhwan-i-Hakimum healers frequently prescribe all sorts of drugs for various conditions and ailments, but just as frequently prohibit their patients from further use of their favorite inebriants. Consequently, addiction is common among Al Fashirris but without being identified as a problem due to the social context in which it occurs. Most Al Fashirris smoke tubaq, an addictive weed with mild depressant effects, grown in massive quantities on Onyomi, while some prefer the stronger effects of chewing qoqa leafs or beans, or drinking the thick black qoqa tea, or smoking hasheesh made from the qunab flower.
El-Diin – Al Fashirri Religion
The Al Fashirris call their religion El-Diin, meaning “the (perfect) way of life” or “justified conduct”. It is not simply a system of belief, nor is it a simple set of religious commandments, for El-Diin encompass these concepts as well as many others. It might perhaps be best understood as an overreaching philosophy for, and approach to living, which also include secular ethics, myth and spiritual speculation, magic, wisdom traditions, practical advice for everyday business such as agriculture, husbandry, posthuman relations, and much more. El-Diin is therefore an elusive concept hard to define and quantify, which has left some scholars to compare it to the Reikaw philosophical principle of Kelanti.
Like the Universal Faith the El-Diin venerates Zeth, known to the Al Fashirri’s as Zaibolu, the prophet of the All-Maker. Al Fashirri belief holds that their worlds had already been settled during the early Diaspora, and that Zaibolu and Palu (Saint Paulus) made the first pilgrimage by traversing the jump roads between Garhira and Erem. Along the way, Zaibolu befriended holy hermits, local saints and religious leaders, and eventually named one of them as his successor to tend the spiritual needs of the peoples of the sacred jump route. It became the custom of each caliph to travel in the steps of Zaibolu, and soon the tradition of pilgrimage was born.
El-Diin has no priests as such, recognizing no intercessor between posthumanity and divinity other than the personage of the Caliph. Although some ordus specialize in studying sacred literature and meditate on metaphysics, no single profession is considered more enlightened than another for every role in life is sacred. The gathering of knowledge can certainly help one to know El-Ilum (“The Father-God”), but so can dance, commerce and soldiering if practiced with the same piety and devotion. Every ordu has its own saints, martyrs and holy men, who not only serve as role models for those who follow their path but also exemplify the virtues of their ordu to others.
The ceremonial requirements of El-Diin are relatively few and brief. Each day is punctuated at seven intervals by short prayers that mark time for meals, work, leisure and family similar to the Universal Sectus Day Cycle. Prayers are customarily made facing the raising sun or a local shrine or pilgrimage center, while in space prayers usually face the nearest or brightest sun. Local culture and personal piety sometimes compels individual Al Fashirris or communities to more elaborate ceremonies, meditations and preaching, but such is not required. There is no scriptural equivalent to the All-Maker Gospels in El-Diin, although historic documents, legal writings, folkloric tales and oral traditions of past heroes (like Zaibolu, former Caliphs, holy men and local saints) are recounted as inspiration, education and as guides to living.
El-Diin numbers the years of its calendar starting at the liberation of Erem from Aesir occupation in 4473 GD; thus the Universal Sectus year 5010 would be 537 according to the Caliphal calendar, and the Day of Revelation and Reckoning, the Al Fashirri version of the Eskaton, is prophesied to occur in the one-thousandth year of the Caliphate, or 5473 in the Universal Sectus calendar.
The cosmology of El-Diin recognizes the Mongke Yildiz (“Everlasting Star”) as the source and master of all things. The similarities to the All-Maker is so compelling that many Sectus theologians regards the El-Diin as heretical rather than a separate religion altogether. Contrary to the Universal Faith however, El-Diin identifies Mongke Yildiz as an actual position in real interstellar space, the light of which can be seen from the systems of Garhira and Erem, while at the same time viewing it as a trans-dimensional space or heaven. The El-Diin equivalent of the All-Maker is never named directly but only referred to by titles, such as “Maker of Stars”, “Light Eternal”, “Source of Bounty”, “Wonder of Wonders”, “All-Maker”, or “the Father-God” (El-Ilum), none of which are regarded as surnames for the deity but rather functions of its being and majesty. Any attempt to personify or anthropomorphize El-Ilum is deemed blasphemous, but despite this certain mystic sects practice occultism and mysticism in where naming and self-identification with the deity is a form of piety.
El-Diin teaches that serving El-Ilum is a group of beings known as bogdo, beings of light that resembles closely the empyrean angels of the Universal Faith, who live in the “Land of Light”, Nuristan. Depicted as rays of light emanating from the Mongke Yildiz, the bogdo are identified with the immutable laws of the physical universe and are believed to be the intermediaries between El-Ilum and mankind. Another category of spirit beings are the kelet (singular: kele), elemental beings that inhabit features of the landscape such as mountains, rivers, trees, wadis (desert valleys), or simply disembodied intelligences. Kelet can enter the minds of receptive mortals and teach secrets of power, wisdom and truth. Some mystics seek communion with the kelet, although exposure usually leads to madness in one form or another. Kelet who honor Mongke Yildiz, respect the authority of the Caliph and act relatively benign are called djinn, as opposed to the lawless and violent afrit who feed on fear, rage and lust. Postposthumans may also be possessed by sulde, the shades of the deceased who have neither returned to the Mongke Yildiz nor been lost to the outer darkness.
Interstellar space, the outer darkness between the stars, is the ultimate abode of evil in El-Diin. Known as Kanun Khudan, “the Land of Dark Gods”, it is ruled by the cunning and twisted Erlik Khan and encircled by his mount, the endless serpent Mughai whose coils loop around every star except the Mongke Yildiz. The writhing of Mughai generates the Purga Burna, or Black Freezing Wind, which can cool the stars and dim their light, and causes the hearts of the wicked and faithless to shrivel and harden until the rays of the Mongke Yildiz can no longer penetrate. Erlik Khan can assume a variety of forms and walk among the world spreading fear, doubt, grief and anger until he is recognized and his form is destroyed by the wise and righteous.
Hajj: Pilgrimage of the Consecrated jump web
The pilgrimage is the life-blood of Al Fashirri society, both in an economic as well as a spiritual sense. Since the 38th century GD, the Hajj has strengthened the communal bond among Al Fashirris from widely different worlds, backgrounds and traditions. To claim the title of hajji – one who has completed the pilgrimage – is a great social distinction, and a virtual prerequisite for appointment to the khanate and other local positions. To falsely claim the title is a tongue-plucking offense.
The Hajj embodies a mystical belief nearly identical to the Doctrine of Stellar Consecration held by the Universal Sectus, which states that the Prophet’s death in a jump gate accident was a sacrifice that blessed the jump web and made space travel safer for posthumanity. The Al Fashirri version focuses on Zaibolu’s act of naming a successor charged with keeping the Garhira-Erem jump route open so the double light of the Mongke Yildiz reaching these two worlds could be shone via the jump web to the rest of posthuman space.
Ideally the Hajj begins on Garhira and ends at Erem, but war with the Atzlánti has made the Garhira leg of the pilgrimage extremely dangerous. In recent years, the title of hajj has been awarded to any who have journeyed to holy sites on Erem and one or more worlds other than their own; a special title – mahajji – is awarded to those few who actually complete the entire circuit between Garhira and Erem.
The climax of the Hajj comes the moment the pilgrims ship exits the jump gate in the Erem system, filling over a quarter of the sky around Erem is the Sahab-i-Simurgh Nebula. Many pilgrims faint or break down and weep at this point in their journey, as the sight of this interstellar panorama seen “up close” and is sometimes accompanied by mystical insights. The nebula is composed of billows of vibrantly colored gases forming the wings and tail of the Simurgh lion-bird hybrid that is a central image of Al Fashir, with a curl of dark dust forming the silhouette of the head and neck. It is illuminated from within by a protostar believed to be the Mongke Yildiz, with its light rays fans out into a distinct peacock-tail array.
Occultism in the Al Fashir Caliphate
Overall Al Fashirris have a higher tolerance and respect for occult powers than the citizens of the Galactic Imperium. The Ordu’l-Diin makes no distinction between psychic powers and theurgy, judging only the intent with which occult powers are used not their source. The Shir (spies) and Ghamizi (astronomers) Ikhawans understand the difference somewhat, and make an effort to recruit, study and train gifted psychics. Ordu elders sometimes arrange marriages between gifted members with the result that some ordus have an above average number of certain types of psychics than others; for instance, amongst the Bagatur and Fellahin certain families show aptitude for Telekinesis and Dream Telepathy. Theurgy rites can be found amongst the members of all ordus but most often within the Ordu Hekelezai (“The Touched”) the most powerful rites are often taught by the Ordu Sechenim (“The Wise”).
Current Relations with the Galactic Imperium
The Al Fashir Caliphate represents a military, political, and ideological threat to the Galactic Imperium. Despite this danger both the Emperor and the Patriarch are reluctant to directly confront the forces of the Caliph. Instead the threat has been largely ignored and left to the Atzlánti to stave off. Some suggest that this is a deliberate strategy designed to keep the Atzlánti occupied, while others observe the spiraling costs of the war and ask how much longer the Atzlánti can continue to finance it.
The Mōnstrum have made massive profits supplying troops for the Al Fashirri front and the Atzlánti have gifted much captured territory to retired soldiers or sold of tracts of land to minor houses (including Shelit, Hanuman and others). Such a strategy ensures both an income from the spoils of war and a willingness on the part of the new owner to defend his claim with troops and resources of their own.
The Al Fashirri military strategy was initially poorly coordinated and resulted in large Atzlánti territorial gains on the world. Only the seemingly erratic nature of the Garhira jumpgate prevented a full-scale invasion in centuries past.
When the Garhira jump gate reactivated during the Primacy Wars (4987 GD) the Atzlánti became hard pressed on two fronts, leaving the Al Fashirris free to raid Atzlánti space with little fear of retribution. When the Primacy Wars ended (4995 GD), the Atzlánti were able to gather their full strength and press their advantage. The Al Fashirri response was disorganized and poorly equipped and lead to a quagmire of guerrilla fighting and resistance to the advancing Atzlánti. While the Atzlánti focused on fighting and making gains in the land war the Al Fashirris were forced to step back and reevaluate the situation, leaving much of the resistance to the native Garhirans who have cause to resist both parties.
Unable to achieve victory in a series of poorly planned ground offensives, the Al Fashirri leadership conceived an alternative strategy, one that involved understanding how their enemy organizes and plans. Intelligence gathering has become an ever more important tool for the Al Fashirris and over the years they have worked to build an efficient network of spies and informants within the Atzlánti worlds and beyond into the greater Galactic Imperium.
Spies have sent back valuable intelligence on the disposition of Atzlánti forces and more crucially the political ties and relationships between the Atzlánti and the rest of the Imperium. A display of overwhelming threat too early would only serve to unify the Imperium and justify Atzlánti calls for crusade. Only when the Atzlánti are on their knees, buckling under the crippling financial burden of their campaign will the Caliph be able to force them to the negotiating table or press them with overwhelming military force.
The Al Fashirri Armada has now been deployed to the Garhira system effectively blockading the Atzlánti resupply effort. Smaller raiding fleets have advanced bases in the Timor system and making sporadic attacks against shipping in that system. The Atzlánti have so far managed to conceal the full extent of the Al Fashirri counter offensive afraid that they might appear weak and invite an attack from one or other of the other Prolimetri Houses. The truth is that neither than Caliphate nor the Atzlánti can afford to continue with the current level of offensive for much longer before something has to give. The Atzlánti are close to bankruptcy, while the Caliph is on the verge of loosing control of his own worlds as his military strength is massed in the Garhira system.
The third Caliph, Ogadai the Fat, standardized the monetary system throughout the Caliphate. Before then, each world retained a confusing array of local coinage, including Second Republic credits. The standard unit is now a dinar, roughly equivalent to a Falcon. Then there is the sheql, 10 of which make a dinar, and the dirham, 10 of which make a sheql. As of yet, there is no standard acceptable exchange rate for Falcons to dinars.
Domain of the Caliphate
The Al Fashir Caliphate dominates an area of the jumpweb beyond the territories of the Atzlánti, and has been involved in a war with that house for possession of Garhira. Until recently Al Fashirri raiders had not ventured past Garhira, which led the Atzlánti to be complacent about their security. However a number of forward raiding groups have now established bases of operation in the asteroid belt in the Timor system and has been hitting Atzlánti conveys of the past year.
Al-Fashir Caliphate Scorpion Fleet
|Ship Class||Awkward Size||Vitality||Passengers||Crew||Jumps||Range in AU||Supplies||Cargo||Manuver|
|Attakhan-class Fighter||1||25%||1||1||0||1-100||50 kgs per wk||500 kgs||+2|
|Khangard Martyr-class Fighter||1||25%||1||1||0||1-100||50 kgs per wk||500 kgs||+2|
|Bogatyr-class Multi-Role Fighter||2||50%||5||2||2||400||100 kgs per wk||1 ton||+1|
|Mujahidin-class Raider||3||50%||10||4||4||800||500 kgs per wk||5 tons||+1|
|Ship Class||Awkward Size||Vitality||Passengers||Crew||Jumps||Range in AU||Supplies||Cargo||Manuver|
|Qawwas-class Frigate||5||50%||100||15||10||2,000||5 tons per wk||100 tons||-1|
|Sheerkhur-class Galliot||6||50%||500||30||15||3,000||10 tons per wk||1000 tons||-2|
|Khabir Light Carrier||6||50%||500||30||15||3,000||10 tons per wk||1000 tons||-2|
|Yildugh Destroyer||6||50%||500||30||15||3,000||10 tons per wk||1000 tons||-2|
|Ship Class||Awkward Size||Vitality||Passengers||Crew||Jumps||Range in AU||Supplies||Cargo||Manuver|
|Juhangiz-class Cruiser||7||75%||1000||60||20||4,000||100 tons per wk||10K tons||-3|
|Arigaba-class Carrier||7||75%||1000||60||20||4,000||100 tons per wk||10K tons||-3|
|Kublai-class Dreadnought||8||75%||10,000||125||20||4,000||1,000 tons per wk||100K tons||-4|