|Cluros, Qul'urosz, Qolaarosh|
Era of the First Thakolarivaj
|END OF BRIEFING|
At a Glance
Cluros, or Qolaarosh is a Kolari Thakolarivaj social mechanism that gradually became a pan-Orion philosophy by the year 126,000 BCE. Today it is still practiced by many Orions, though not all. Cluros is analogous to Klingon Honor and Vulcan T'plana Hath- a philosophical, construct to bring social order to a passionate, often violent species. Unlike Logic or Honor, the Orions don't ostracize those that don't follow it- merely the ones that claim to and then defy it. Those who “play the game” are required to play by the rules, as the notoriously contract-oriented, Libertarian Orions view Cluros as an opt-in social contract. Following Cluros is similar to the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition: Cluros is a guide to success and a successful follower of Cluros is a successful Orion.
Though it originated on Kolar as an acceptable, formal social conduct for the Kolari Qaj-Courts and was probably born out of Courtesan culture, adaptations, revisions and omissions across the Orion Colonies have personalized Cluros. Like the Orion people, Cluros itself can have a high degree of individualism and interpretation. There are a few tenets to the philosophy which the vast majority of Orions adhere to (save for the Xo'a Kulkaadi who reject Cluros).
Regarded as the most important part of Cluros, is loyalty or "Tzim". To Orions, betrayal truly is the one unforgivable sin. It is the one indiscretion that, no matter how much one tries to get back into good graces, someone who is a betrayer of their Caju especially will someday find themselves on the pointy end of a dagger. Orions do not tolerate betrayal. Betrayal is the cause of almost eighty percent of Kobol Qanli in Orion society. Orions, as pre-pubescents, pledge themselves to their Caju and their Tahedrin and are given their first armbands to signify that they are of the Caju. They wear it proudly. A member of the Caju in good standing can expect to be treated very well by his Tahedrin, his Kaheedi, and his Caju at large. He or she are members of a brethren and the normally glib, mercurial Orions take this one thing as nearly sacred.
In fact, Loyalty is so vital to the Caju and Orions at large that, should an Orion be asked or told to die for it, they are expected to; most do so willingly. The Caju bore them life and sustained them so when the Caju says it's time to die, then it's time to die. This is so ingrained into the Orion spirit that there are rituals that Orions will do to prove their loyalty to a Tahedrin, a "boss" or even a ship Captain: they take their dagger and declare, "My life is yours," and shove the dagger straight through their hand.
Xo-I (Sho-Ai) is "Security" and is considered one of the marks of the most successful, most secure Orion. Xo-I is also "providing for" which means one has reached such a state that your solvency and acumen can support many others, not just oneself and one's immediate family. With such acumen, an Orion is expected to take on a greater role within the Caj. Xo-I comes in two parts: permanent and temporary. Temporary Xo-I, security, is akin to offering guests and business partners sanctuary. They may sleep in one's home and eat one's food without fear of any ulterior motive or plotting. In theory, temporary Xo-I is supposed to be free of "the pressures of Cluros" where one can simply be oneself, but that is not always the case. Xo-I like this is an invitation to leaves rivalries and Ka'shaadu at the door. It also acts as curb for revenge- neither guest or host can engage in revenge and save face under Xo-I.
Temporary Xo-I is for a specifically stated time and only includes the public parts of an Orion's sanctum. Short-term Xo-I is "respite" or a "truce," a promise that the host will not harm their guest. However, clever Orions will carefully state which parts of their sanctum offer Xo-I- particularly if strangers or rivals are within. Despite this offer of respite with Xo-I, Vodazee (reciprocity) remains in place: nothing is truly free, even sanctuary. A guest under the protection of Xo-I is expected to show proper deference and respect to the host. If a guest is insulting, engages in un-guest-like behavior, engages in Ka-shaadu, or commits violence, Xo-I is broken. The host is obliged to immediately have the violating guest removed from the areas that provide Xo-I. The act is ritualistic. With Xo-I broken, no area is safe if the guest returns (unless Xo-I is reissued, which is unlikely).
Permanent Xo-I, or at least longterm Xo-I, is the contractual extension of "safety" to the realm of "protection" or "care." Permanent Xo-I has similar concepts to adoption or swearing an oath of brotherhood. This level of Xo-I is granted to Orions who are initiated into the Caju by their Tahedrin, done by Captains for their crews and sometimes done for orphans who have lost their parents. However- Vodazee is still in place! Orions do not believe anything is for free. The extension of Xo-I to this level comes with social requirements and boils down to a concept of, "I will save your life, but your life is mine." Orion slavery as a phenomenon is tied to Xo-I. That does not mean that free Orions are slaves to the one extending the Xo-I to them; by accepting it, an Orion is accepting that in return for protection, they now serve that Orion as a vassal.
Slavery: the Dark Side of Xo-I
Slavery as Indoctrination and Cultural Protectionism
Orions are ethnocentric to varying degrees. They do not embrace alien ideas and concepts easily. On home turf, Orions are Orions, and non-Orions- if they want success- need to know how to behave like Orions. More than that, Orions brought up on one world may need to learn to behave in a different Orion culture's way. To the Kolari, for example, Botchoki practices are painfully backwater while the Vondemi are... are they truly Orions, anyway? To indoctrinate non-Orions (or alien Orions) into society, a Tahedrin or Qaheedi may "enslave" that person into Xo-I, as a subordinate member of the Qaju. There, while servicing the Qaj (as nothing is free), the "slave" or servant is taught the ways and means of Orion culture, and they are introduced to future useful contracts. This extended "slavery" is not permanent: they may be given the chance to be Tzimvandi. Tzimvandi pledge themselves to the Caj, to the Tahedrin and the Qaheedi. They become "loyal aliens" to the Caj.
Xo-I in this manner is usually voluntary. An alien (or alien Orion) sign their rights and bodies away for a contracted period of time in order to learn. Involuntary Xo-I in this manner is given to slaves that their Orion masters may see "potential" in.
Orions don't like their culture being diluted or changed by alien ideas. Traduus Vand and the presence of the Federation has irrevocably changed the Orions' static culture and has probably helped it from stagnating any further. Today, their culture again changes as Orions deal with aliens. But Orions mitigate the spread of these ideas and rebrand them over time to be less alien, incorporating them into their own world views and concepts- always with an Orion twist.
Vodazee (Solvency, Credibility, Reciprocity)
Vodazee is personal reputation, economic and financial shrewdness and the concept that nothing is for free- even security. The concept of "credit" and "debt" is a stain on an Orion, a mark of one living beyond their means. Remaining solvent and debt-free is the mark of a true Orion. Tied to Vodazee is a kharmic-like concept that one lives a life trying to balance favors one owes and favors owed to oneself. It is bad luck for an Orion to "owe someone" without reciprocity.
Vodazee is one of the tenets taught to most children regardless of if they will embrace Cluros later. Mothers will offer children treats and instruct them that they must either haggle, show affection or give kisses for the treat. Orions do not accept the idea that anything is "for free." Offers of free wares, free services, even free information immediately casts suspicion on the person who makes the offer, or questions the reliability of the product or service. Orions, even the open-minded Vondemi, struggle with the post-scarcity "free-ness" of Federation society. Most Orions, at the offer of something free, will react with a combination of offense (as if one is about to be cheated) and will attempt to learn its "true price." Orions love to haggle.
Perhaps the most easily adopted and adapted aspect of Cluros is coolness or Basa. Coolness has become almost synonymous with Cluros itself to aliens. Basa is not "popularity" but detached, amused calm. The most well-known aspect of Basa is the "Cluros Smile" or the "Basa Smile." A follower of Cluros crafts a personal mask or façade to hide their negative feelings and motivations. In personally determined quantities, a Basa Smile is part bemusement, arrogance or confidence, detachment, irreverence, and calm. Every Cluros demeanor is different as Basa is a personal philosophy. But someone who follows Basa is always presenting this face in public, especially to strangers and opponents.
Breaking another Orion's Cluros Smile and forcing them to show anger- usually through Ka'shaadu- is considered a social checkmate like besting an online Troll. For the Orion who allowed their Basa to fall, it is a social faux pas and they are, at least temporarily, defeated. Lowering one's Basa, or Cluros Smile, is only acceptable in two circumstances- in one's personal domicile (with or without guests), or when a host has granted his guests Xo-I (Security), the guests may relax their masks.
Traduus Vand (Openness)
The least-often adopted tenet- sometimes not officially accepted as part of Cluros- is Traduus Vand. Almost exclusively a Vondemi idea, Traduus Vand means, "Open to the Alien." The Vondemi, whose entire praxis of colonization of Orion III lay in being open to alien cultures, alien technology, and alien markets, proposed it. Traduus Vand was a deliberate attempt by the more liberal-minded, ancient Vondemi to combat Orion ethnocentricity. Even today it is widely mocked as a "hopelessly Vondemi idea," and treated as quaint and naive. The sad reality is, the Kolari of the Thakolarivaj laughed the idea out of the courts and barred further discussion of it in court. During the sole "Bountiful Empire of Greater Vondem," the Vondemi did codify Traduus Vand and added it to the tenets of Cluros officially. But it has still failed to take on zeal.
Traduus Vand is often misinterpreted by non-Orions equally. The stereotype of the hedonistic Orion falls squarely within a misunderstanding of Traduus Vand. Sex and intimacy with non-Orions, especially sex as a tool of exploitation or advantage, is incorrectly applied here. Thus, a tenet that was really attempting to stave off cultural and historical stagnation of the Orion species, is misunderstood as a weapon. Previous eras used Traduus Vand to violate interstellar copyright law, were seen as justification for cultural appropriation and were used for technological espionage.
Orions have a reputation for being lascivious and overly concerned with sexual interests. What outsiders (i.e. non-Orions) miss is that such displays are part of Junim, and are often a business tactic to lull a client into comfort in order to garner a better deal. Orions do have libertarian attitudes towards sex and consent: an Orion's body is theirs (and the Qaj's) to do with as they please. Orions are far more diverse and varying in their xenophilia (or lack thereof). Business minded Orions know that Orion bodies are alluring, and they use that. Politically minded Orions are, likewise, the types to use any arrow in their quiver. The average Orion, through the right lens, are no more or less sexual or xenophilic than any other species.
Orions are decadent. Orions are capitalistic. Orions are strongly libertarian. Orions enjoy vices. But Orions are also ethnocentric and believe their culture, history and methods are superior to most other species. Orions view themselves as a culturally, politically and economically mature species that have given up on silly novelties and broken systems. They are not natural explorers- and thus, xenophilia is not as common as outsiders would like to believe. The Vondemi tend to be the most open-minded to interspecies relations, and the Kolari and Velodi the least.
Kurosawa, Film Noir and Spaghetti Western Films
The 20th century Earth's film industry is a cultural aspect that stirred the normally Ennui-ridden Orion soul- and ingratiated Humans to some Orion groups. The themes of the tragically flawed law man, detective or hopelessly doomed to failure Samurai amuse Orions. The stereotypes in Film Noir, as well as the bleak atmosphere, are a novelty, while Kurosawa's failing but noble servants work an interesting angle into the Orion Caju system. Independent lawmen and criminals alternately appeal to pirates and libertarian justice.
Meridor and Tholian Silk
Ferengi Rules of Acquisition
Junim is open to any Orion following Cluros, but is a tenet that Tahedrin and Qaheedi focus on with a special intensity. Junim is creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere: it is a luxuriant display of wealth, influence and prestige all for the benefit of an Orion's guests. It is meant to relax and intimidate a guest, to throw them into a dissonance of feelings. It is better to be a follower of Junim's friend than enemy- just look at the results of their success. While most Orions like to create a welcoming space and display some of their wealth, on the Qaj-level, it can be ostentatious and even gaudy by Human standards. Orion culture is antithetical to the more austere races of the galaxy, save perhaps the Ferengi who would feel right at home. Orion Caju weave subtleties into what might be seen as garish as well- reminders of past indiscretions, betrayals, successes, trophies, memories. All of it is an intricate stage where the guest and the host will interact.
Xo-I in Junim and Junim in Xo-I are not mutually guaranteed! Having a comfortable meeting space doesn't guarantee respite and a declaration of respite can be bereft of the pleasures of Junim. And, again, in Orion culture nothing is free. Enjoying Junim always comes with a price, be it material gain (as in paying for service- i.e. tipping), or a social or political boon or favor offered to the host.
Junim also includes the biological element on the Qaj level- beautiful (or powerful) women and handsome (or, again, powerful) men seemingly posing and moving like living art- sometimes erotic art.
Music and Art
Food and Drink
Qajubon (Testimony / Oaths of the Qaj)
Qajubon is a later addition to Cluros, added by the Qaju of the Tha'vaju B'choq (The Benevolent Incorporate of Botchok). It is not commonly followed on either Velod or Kolar outside of the Qaju Courts or military, but some Botchoki follow the practice. Qajubon is a restraint on willful deception or lying when Xo-I has been offered. To mitigate deception, a person under Xo-I (or offering Xo-I) could demand Qajubon- swearing truth on the reputation of their Tahedrin and Kaheedi. An Orion, so restrained, had to either speak truth or else remain silent. Lying under Qajubon not only disgraces oneself, but one's Caju, Tahedrin and Kaheedi. Qajubon lives on, most commonly, as a tool to gain sworn testimony in the Qaju Courts.
Qajubon may have been preceded by (and possibly took inspiration from) an Orion Syndicate practice of swearing oaths and giving testimony at the point of their Tahedrin's blade. If the Orion spoke falsely, they were impaled on the weapon.
Shaadu or "The Love-Bite" is an Orion euphemism for calm, cultured, and oblique insults towards one's opponent. The ideal Shaadu upholds the previous statement of the target but absolves direct blame from the speaker. It promotes the idea that one is loyal to the Caj and that, through the target's actions, the target has possibly failed Xo-I and appears either ignorant or incompetent. It's intended to put the target into a state of imbalance: was I insulted, or was I complimented? It must be so subtly put that the target would be breaching Cluros if they descended into Ka'shaadu.
Shaadu is considered a high-art form descended from the Thakolarivaj, where Courtesans were unable to directly insult the Imperial Caju, the Thatahedri or the Caju's servants. Orions who practice Shaadu may take lifetimes to perfect it. Its practice is less common on Klingon-occupied Orion worlds, and quite rare on Vondem. Shaadu is still widely practiced on Kolar and Velod, as well as within the Orion Syndicate and Kolari Qajaal.
A step beyond Shaadu, Ka'shaadu is "Taunting." Like Shaadu, Ka'shaadu has an element of sport to it, though the result is often closed by the drawing of blood in a duel. Ka'shaadu is done between opponents who have squared off. Here, the insults are no longer oblique but done purposefully to try to get an opponent so angry or upset that they lose their Basa mask and attack foolishly. It is a favorite tactic to use against Klingons and Nausicaans, though Kolari Orions view that as relatively entry-level. Getting a Vulcan to react would be master-level.
Ka'shaadu is an element found within Orion dueling culture. Using Ka'Shaadu in the Kolar and Velodi Caju is tantamount to declaring an individual intends to duel their opponent. Using Ka'Shaadu in a place of Xo-I is considered very bad form and will see the user of Ka'Shaadu removed from the "safe list." But Xo-I trumps Ka'Shaadu- an Orion is under no obligation to accept a duel under Xo-I, regardless of the use of Ka'Shaadu. Like Orion Dueling Culture, Ka'Shaadu is somewhat in decline but also sees wider practice among Orions not of Kolar or Velodi descent. Ka'Shaadu is recognized as az common cause of Qobol Qanli.
As a highly libertarian people, Orions are used to minimal government styles- and minimal government justice. Justice often falls to the Caju-level with the local government only playing an arbitrary role as neutral observers. Orions, as passionate people, like to take justice for themselves. Unfortunately, as a passionate race, their justice is seldom restorative or simple compensation. Built into the Orion code is Qobol/Kobol or "Revenge" which stems from Vodazee- the need to repay debts.
If you ask an Orion what makes a successful Orion, somewhere near the top they are likely to say, "An Orion who gets even with their enemies." Vengeance is ingrained in the culture and Orions love watching an ally get their vengeance the same way that Humans enjoy watching a friend win a sports competition. A good Orion holds a grudge- for decades. A good Orion plays a long game of getting that revenge, seeming to be unthreatening even reconciliatory, or helpful to their target until they unleash their true purpose. However, revenge doesn't always mean death, and an Orion who wants death as revenge payment is tempting an exacerbation into Qobol Qanli- a "Blood Feud."
Revenge to an Orion, especially an Orion businessperson, is just as easily sated by such actions as drawing their blood, wounding them visibly, inconveniencing them at a critical juncture to cause failure, causing social and political ruination, leaving them isolated, leaving them exiled, and even leaving them destitute. Orion vengeance can be cruel and bloody, but Qobol in itself is seldom lethal.
Qobol Qanli (Blood Feud)
Qobol Je'Shaat (Jihad)
The most extreme form of Qobol is similar to Human "Jihad," known as Je'Shaat. This is tantamount to an act of total war! Je'Shaat is very rare among Orions. The most easily shown example of Qobol Je'Shaat is the on-again, off-again war between the Qolaadi and Partreidi Qajus- which has exacerbated into a war between Kolar and Velod. Even when the war is not "hot", this particular Je'Shaat sees assassination, sabotage, acts of marque and reprisal, and travel bans. The Kolari-Velodi War is the longest modern act of Je'Shaat known.
Qobol Je'Shaat is a somber event and one not taken up easily by Orions. For all their passions and aggression, large-scale warfare is not a common occurrence. There is nothing glorious about war to Orions. They, in their libertarian leanings, prefer individuals and small groups resolve their own issues. To involve an entire Caju, multiple allied Caju, and even the resources of an entire planet is a kind of Qobol that seems out of control to a sane Orion. History is replete with Cajus declaring Je'Shaat against one another only to see those Cajus become literally so torn by dissension and debate that they dissolve as a group. Other examples of Je'Shaat abruptly ending include the Caju members- despite being under the Xo-I of their leaders- assassinating or exiling their own Tahedrin. Yet, in Orion history, millions if not billions of Orions have died calling for the death of their enemies in a bloody haze of Je'Shaat. Je'Shaat is usually brutal, pragmatic, merciless- but thankfully short.
Ending a Duel
The least lethal and second-most common acceptable outcome of Qobol is Qobis- forcing submission. This is usually done through a Tatharoc-based wrestling match, or else using the Vizha, a leather strap sling that is traditionally used to restrain around the wrists, or else around the neck under the threat of asphyxiation. Qobis is the only allowed method of dueling for children and adolescents. Indeed, children and teenage Orions are allowed to duel to settle their grudges as parents and peers teach them of the importance of Qajubon, Xo-I and Vodazee. Indeed, Qobis between children and teenagers is a spectator sport for proud Tahedrin or Kaheedi.
Qobis is less common among adults- but it enjoys a popular following, particularly among those that use Tatharoqi Bulls as their dueling proxies. A Tatharoqi Bull is an expensive commodity for the Qaju and it is a reasonable way to settle relatively minor grudges and loss of face without long-term harm. Like juvenile Qobis, Qobis between adults has an aspect of spectator sport to it.
Drolja'a (First Blood)
Drolja'a is the most common parameter for adult Orions to settle a duel by. This form of dueling is done armed with Chuuyari- or occasionally with Chukaree. Either way, bladed weapons are brought to bear. "First Blood" is defined as a wound that draws blood sufficiently so as to see the loser's blood stain the floor. Because Drolja'a uses blades, the small nicks and cuts common to parries and near misses does not apply. Though anywhere on the front or side of the body is an acceptable target for Drolja'a, the most common targets are the arms and legs. Drolja'a is not meant to be lethal and an opponent in a Drolja'a using unusually lethal tactics risks causing a Blood Feud, or the judge calling the match against them before a blow can be struck.
Literally meaning, "Deep Blood." Draalshir is a gray area that easily slips into a duel to the death. It as notoriously can be the rupture that leads to blood feuds or Jihad. By its very nature, Draalshir is deadly: only modern medicine has truly allowed for a significant difference to be drawn between Draalshir and Ji'Thaad. Impalement as a duel result is meant for such serious grievances that the participants are willing to risk their mortal lives for resolution. Draalshir is replete with poetry about the impaled (or the impaler) coming to an epiphany in the wake of their own mortality. Equally dramatized is that to accomplish Draalshir, one must "look an opponent in the eye and be close enough to smell them."
Draalshir is only carried out by the official weapon of the Caju and a mark of being in a Caj- the Chukaree. Most Orions carry one. Like Ji'Thaad, a request for Draalshir must be formally made to the participants' Kaheedi. It is her role to accept or reject a request for Draalshir by her Caj vassals. Most Kaheedi will accept it automatically (unlike with Ji'Thaad). In Draalshir, an opponent must be clearly impaled and then "brought to the earth that spawned them." They must be brought down to a prone position, still impaled. In the finest acts of Draalshir, the impaler will be restraining or otherwise straddling their prone and defeated enemy, forced to contend up close with their need for revenge in this way.
Unlike Drolja'a and Qobis, Draalshir is a troubling and tumultuous event that is hardly worthy of mass spectators. It is usually a much more intimate affair, sometimes only done by the participants, their proxies, a judge, and a pair of witnesses for each side.
Ji'Thaad means death; it is often written with the same characters that indicate madness. That is because declaring Ji'Thaad is akin to losing all control, losing all "Coolness" or "Basa" and descending into something more primitive. Ji'Thaad is disturbing- even to Orions. It's not usually something to exalt but to look upon as tragic. It is pyrrhic. True, some Orion duelists love Ji'Thaad. Roving proxies sell their skills as Ji'Thaad champions. But revenge on this scale is either a final act of the most gruesome and necessary, heart-wrenching justice- or an insane waste of resources and lives.
So viewed, Ji'Thaad is as illegal as committing murder on Vondem and Orion. It is illegal but treated with mitigating circumstances when Caj-sanctioned on Kolar, Uryeis and Velod, which keep alive aspects of dueling cultures. Botchok sees Ji'Thaad as a legal practice not out of Orion desire, but because of Klingon law- but it must be Caj-sanctioned. Verex III offers respite to all Orions, thus demanding Ji'Thaad is a break of Xo-I. Orions so propositioned can decline a Ji'Thaad duel with no loss of face. Anyone who demands Ji'Thaad is escorted off of Verex III and may not return for an Orion year. Rastacine and Valaqis allow it due to its acceptance under Klingon law and see its sanctioning or "informal consent" as more common than on other Orion planets. The Xo-a Kulkaadi allow Ji'Thaad as an individual's right. The Orion Syndicate does not tolerate these kinds of duels.