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Oriflamme (and several outposts in the stellar system) is divided in fiefdoms ruled by several hundreds of Technarchs (also called Lords), integrated into a complex hierarchy with the Council of Lords on top. The 32-members Council (also called Council of Dukes or Council of High Technarchs) elects a Chairperson among its members. The Chairperson is elected for five years and can never be Chairperson again.
In most domains, the Technarch is content to manage the production activities of his or her serfs and to distribute the benefits, while still allowing much private initiative and personal property (an exception is high technology, always owned by the Technarchs or close retainers). Some few Lords' rule is more rigid, individuals owning nothing (basically, one uses whatever property is on loan from the Lord) and stay attached to the Lord's family for all his or her life.
The hierarchy of noble Lords follows the old Imperial tradition, with Dukes at the top, then Counts, Marquis and Barons. Knights very rarely own land, but act as special enforcers and aides to higher nobles. They are often portrayed as "the hand of the Duke/Count", personally hunting down dangerous criminals with great courage and advanced technology and hearing the poor people's grievances, but they are as often administrators, engineers or courtiers.
Count Iqbal Haji
The Haji family is the black sheep in the Technarch's well-mannered flock. The current Count is no exception. Only Count not to swear fealty to any Duke, this young man (24 in NE 1) is avidly cultivating his family's reputation for excentricities.
Sculptor, painter and singer in a post-neoapocalyptic band, Iqbal Haji is welcomed by the artistic community and the fans of a certain musical trend. Fencer, competition sniper and all-terrain vehicule racer, the sportsmen and women see him as one of their own. Impertinent, crafty with both the insult and compliment, his domain is a haven for many writers and political groups that attracted the wrath of a Lord.
Iqbal Haji has been Count for three years now (NE 1) and will soon have to let go of the title. One of the familiy's tradition is that when a member of the family reaches the age of 20, he takes the title from his older sibling. Everyone has a chance at being boss (and twins make interesting sucessions). As a consequence, the Count or Countess of Haji is never very old and wears the title for only a few years at best, especially since it has become a rather large family (Amina Haji has been Countess only two months, but boasts that her children accumulated fourteen years of power between them).
The Haji family members are bolder than ever and regularly incur the wrath of Dukes and generals alike. Still, no one seems to be willing to harm them. Lords either recognize the importance of having a fool in the court, or they fear the Hajis' special talent for information gathering. They seem to know everything on everyone on Oriflamme. Those who try to bring them serious harm soon see their secrets revealed, their business partners moving away from them and their status deteriorating. No one is quite sure how they do it, but it gives the Hajis impunity of a sort.
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