The Zhekhlan Dominion


Located on the opposite side of the Commonwealth to the Arlosian Empire, the Zhekhlan Dominion has presented the Commonwealth with its most difficult diplomatic challenges.

The Zhekhlans are a bipedal reptilian species, most of whom are in excess of two metres in height. Differences in physical appearances between males and females are limited to red spots which are found on the necks of female Zhekhlans. Mean height, weight and strength are the same.

In addition to the red spots, male and female Zhekhlans may be distinguished by subtle differences in their odour. However, these distinctions are not discernible by humans.

Social Structure

The differences between the Commonwealth (and the other federations) and the Zhekhlans derive from the absence of the concept of family among Zhekhlans. Zhekhlans are unique among the space-faring races in that copulation is reserved solely for reproductive purposes and has no recreational or hedonostic function. The duration of any pairing that occurs for the purposes of mating is typically limited to the gestational and early neonatal periods where it serves solely to support and protect the pregnancy.

The cessation of the role of the male Zhekhlan shortly after the birth of the child does not impose the responsibility of child-rearing on the mother. In a form of nurturing that is not found in any other sentient species, Zhekhlan children are raised in creches by surrogate parents; other than in unusual circumstances, typically related to the absence of an available creche, the genetic parents have no further input.

Family bonds are deemed irrelevant in Zhekhlan society. It is normal for a Zhekhlan to have no idea as to the identity of his or her parents. However, loyalty to other members of the creche, to whom a Zhekhlan will refer by the term 'crechekin', is a cornerstone of Zhekhlan society.

Care of Zhekhlan children within a creche is undertaken by Zhekhlans who are of post-reproductive age. The fertile period in a Zhekhlan is relatively short, with both males and females usually becoming sterile by the age of forty years. A ratio of one adult to between ten to thirty children is found in the creches.

Other than selection of a creche, which often follows that of one parent, only one other aspect of a Zhekhlan child's upbringing is determined by the child's parents, that of the child's name. While a Zhekhlan may possess several given names, it is rare for them to be referred to in any way other than either by simply their first given name or their first given name associated with the name of the creche. For example, Stavhlag of the Zhanragan creche.

Zhekhlan society places a strong emphasis on the responsibility of the individual to contribute to the greater good of the species as a whole. Individuality is not suppressed but its expression is focused in this larger goal.

Confrontation and challenge are common among Zhekhlans. Escalation of challenges to physical violence is less frequent in modern Zhekhlan society than in their pre-computer and pre-industrial eras but any Zhekhlan must be prepared to engage in combat in order to maintain their position and respect. The issuing of threats is common between Zhekhlans and a considerable quantity of verbal interaction amounts to tests of worthiness.

Despite the importance of physical aggression, prowess as a fighter is no longer essential to advancement in many aspects of Zhekhlan life. Nevertheless, in the political and military spheres, potential leaders must be adept in personal combat.

The Zhekhlan Crisis

The Zhekhlan Crisis spanned 2265-2267 and was the closest the Commonwealth had come by that juncture to full-blown interstellar war.

The Crisis was triggered by the assassiation of by a senior member of the Zhekhlan government in Commonwealth space. That the assassination was committed by a dissident Zhekhlan faction was of little mitigation to the Zhekhlan Dominion. To the Zhekhlan mind, the Commonwealth owed a duty of protection to a valuable ally and by failing to discharge that duty had demonstrated itself to be weak. In the collison of this philosophy with that of the Commonwealth in the immediate aftermath of the assassination, misunderstandings escalated to a stand-off which required only a minor additional trigger to erupt into war.

Negotiations eventually resolved the Crisis, after a period of military build up on the Commonwealth-Dominion border, but left both sides mistrustful of the other. With little common ground in the organisation of their societies and approach to life, human-Zhekhlan relations remained cool and only very limited trade aggrements operated until 2295.