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by Lewis Roberts

Syrim was a rarity, a high population planet with little if any laws. It was helped by its high technological level, which allowed each citizen to exert control over their own lives without impinging on the rights of others. Syrim's culture has always stressed conformity and going along with the flow. Dissidents and free-thinkers were never appreciated. The residents were fairly conservative and did not like change.

Syrim had huge numbers of bulk carriers to transport goods to and from the planet. Many of these ships were low jump ships, which travelled to and from the many high population planets in the subsector.

When the Solomani invaded the planet's Imperial Naval station was destroyed in a short battle. After that the planet held a plebiscite to determine their response. The citizens voted to join the Confederation in return for several guarantees to maintain their existing form of government. The Confederation agreed and only installed a small Solomani Naval and SolSec monitoring station.

Sadly this system of government was unable to deal with the chaos of the Collapse. When the very technology that supported their government turned against them, the people turned against each other. The planet slowly disintegrated into warring bands. After two decades of constant warfare, most of the populace was exhausted of the violence and death. No one could see a workable solution. All parties would like to go back to a monolithic government, but they were unwilling to release power to another group, as they would be perceived to have lost. It wasn't until Peri O'Sullivan suggested that the government be turned over to a neutral party. She suggested the Minotaurs take over the government. They had stayed out of the past conflicts and they were so strange that no one had been able to form friendships with them that would sway their judgment. They were a perfectly impartial adjudicator.

A delegation was sent to the Minotaur's complex and after several weeks of discussion, much of it consumed with communication difficulties, the Minotaurs agreed to adjudicate between the warring parties. They were given the power to impose new laws and regulations on the planet. They were able to successfully bring the peace to the warring parties and to slowly integrate the planet into one society. The Minotaurs eventually evolved into a small but effective bureaucracy, one that is fairly isolated from the general populace. The Minotaurs are just too strange for many close ties to develop between them and standard humaniti. Most regulations are decided upon by the Minotaurs after internal debate, the general populace is then informed. In general everyone is happy with the government. The Minotaurs take over most of the dull work of government, allowing the populace to engage in more meaningful vocations. The rules that are imposed are well thought out and free from political bias, at least as far as the general populace can see. The Minotaurs have their own forms of political infighting, but these are kept hidden from the rest of the planet. While the government is isolated from the public, it is also small. For extremely important discussion, such as whether the planet should join an interstellar alliance such as the Reformation Coalition or the Hiver Federation, a referendum would be held. So far nothing this important has come up.

Syrim, or Renj as the planet was renamed, is covered by a fairly shallow sea. Under this sea there are the standard geological formations that you expect on land. There are mountains, valleys, broad plains and deep canyons. Much of the sea is less than four hundred meters deep. This is where the majority of the people live. They have built massive arcologies that rise from the sea floor to hundreds of feet above the water. These arcologies have grav ports on their roofs and underwater docking ports below the surface. Most transportation is done through grav transport. The underwater docking ports are used for craft that must go to those dwellings entirely underwater. These are deep sea mining facilities, a few arcologies in deeper water, or for exploration. There are only two types of surface vessels, massive bulk cargo carriers and small pleasure craft. There are separate harbors for each type of vehicle.

The people's love of conformity and agreement is still part of the culture. In an effort to maintain the status quo and to remove the dissatisfied, in 1186 the government created the Colonization and Emigration Act. The government provides funds and assistance to groups wanting to start colonies. This has two benefits, most of the colonies are available to support the J-1 ships that are so common on Renj and it also removes the dissatisfied and the restless. If these people stayed on planet, they would cause change, which is not desired.

Renj has many relic ships still in mothballs. These are a combination of military and civilian ships. It has reactivated many of its bulk cargo carriers. These have been outfitted with weapons and newly built small craft and fighters. These ships travel between the worlds of the Sitah. They are armed enough to fight off corsairs and small Vampires, but the large Vampires are left to the Hivers to deal with. The government technically owns all the ships, both in and out of storage, but they lease the ships to any Renj citizen able to put up the required deposit. The deposit is usually a few percent of the original purchase price. Monthly payments are also required, if these are missed, the government will take back the ship. The renter is then allowed to modify the ship and use it for their own projects. The government makes annual inspections to make sure the ship is being properly cared for. Surprise inspections are also occasionally made. This way the government does not have to pay for the refurbishment of ships, and those people willing to take the risks are allowed to reap the benefit. Also Renj has never had a significant military, its not in the culture for the government to want to amass a large military force. Currently the government only has a few ships, which are used for inspections and customs duty. A few large monitors (100,000) provide defense against raiders and vampire ships.

The Hivers are intrigued by the Minotaurs. After millennia of studying and manipulating humans, these humans do not follow the same rules. They hardly ever do what is expected of them. Several manipulations have been attempted against the Minotaurs, but none have worked successfully. A few times the attempted manipulation has produced totally unexpected results. Often the Minotaurs recognize that a manipulation is in place and simply ignore it, continuing with their behavior. A few other times they have reversed the manipulation and begun to manipulate the Hivers. This has worried the Hivers, but they continue to study the Minotaurs.

The Minotaurs appear to be identical to the standard Solomani genotype, and physically they are. The genetic tinkering took place not in the body, but in the brain. Psychologically they are totally different. They were designed to think non-linear, the ultimate "thinking outside of the box". Where standard humans go from one logical step to another, Minotaurs make sudden intuitive leaps to the answer. They look at a problem, and come up with radical solutions that appear to make little sense, but strangely solve the problem. At least the most successful Minotaurs do so; autism runs in about 5% of the population and there are many idiot savants. Other psychological disorders such as schizophrenia, paranoia are fairly common. Many of these disorders are treatable by drugs, but they are more resistant to treatment than those in normal humans. The project was incomplete at the time of the collapse, and for most part the project has been on hold. Recently the Minotaurs have started to try to finish the problem. They are somewhat hampered by the lower technological level of Renj, compared to the Confederation. It will be interesting to see where they take the project and how far it deviates from the original concept.

Minotaurs share many of the same goals and ambitions of standard humans, they just go about accomplishing those goals in a different fashion. They love, hate and scheme for power, just like the rest of the humaniti. They are fully fertile with normal humaniti, but there have been extremely few cases of inbreeding. Minotaurs and standard humans find it too difficult to relate well enough to start a friendship, let alone a full relationship. The few crossbreeds tend to characterized as psychologically disturbed standard humans.

Character Generation: Minotaurs are generated in the same manner as normal humans.

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