Mighty and wise are the Xinu, guardians of the cold and wall-bound land of Moh. Grey and huge as the Hama of Hroch, horned are they, and armour-skinned.
Hideous and beneficent is Moh, the Iron Crab whose colour is rust and whose virtue is Love. For Moh loves all as he, or it, scuttles sidewise and gigantic over Yggsrathaals waste-pack; a terrible, weird discomforting love.
Honest are the Xiunu, sometimes brutally direct. Altruistic are they, but cold, mathematical and precise. In some ways outside the spirit of the great Zoiterran meta-civilisation, though still better than Qua, for though they are strange, they follow Mohs high Virtue of Love
Love, by its nature, must be given freely to all, for love that knows partiality or prejudice, is not truly Love, but mere transaction. Partiality, preference, distinction, these things guarantee that love cannot be unconditionally bestowed. They are sins against Moh. Therefore there must be equality between all, and that equality must be ABSOLUTE.
Absolute equality requires absolute authority to ensure its survival, else it would be swept away, though that authority can be wielded by no particular party or group, but only by all, for the good of all.
Science And Pacifism
The Xinu, alone of all Zoiterran cultures (except perhaps the insanely Fascist Krote of Tan-Te), make systemic and focused use of that most un-Zoiterran philosophy - Experimental Natural Science. Nowhere in Zoiterra is technology more advanced, and nowhere are science and mathematics more widely understood.
Due to their large hands and stubby fingers, the Xinu have become expert at building and wielding fine manipulation devices which allow them to work at the smallest scale. With these, they often wear magnifying lenses. Xinu close-work glasses are more like mad face telescopes than anything else, these goggly apparatus use the horn as a bracing point and extend down the length of the snout like a projection of tears frozen in time.
The Xinu "Universal Schools" produce experts in mathematics, metalwork, engineering and logistics. They have discovered steel, have produced engines driven by steam and coal and have even experimented with electrical power. The Xinu's central city; "One", is lit at night by flickering irregular amber lights produced by the transmission of an invisible energy.
But resources are lacking. Zoiterra is not rich in metal, or coal, and the Xinu are loath to systemically harvest the shell of Moh, who is sacred to them.
If metal, or an outcropping suggesting it, is sighted out in the Waste-Pack, then the Xinu are the first to respond, and in greatest force. They surge out from Moh in Waste-Engines - huge black iron castles, smoking battleship tank-arks that journey over the Waste like icebreakers or fortified sleds. There they dive upon any potential metal ores, blasting away any Orc or Monkeyman attacks with jezzails, pneumatic machineguns and rapid-fire artillery, mining and harvesting what they can with the aid of clockwork mono-purpose golems, before racing back to Moh with their spoil, hopefully before the Great Race of Beasts leaves them behind.
These are the only occasions when the Xinu will essay forth from Moh, en-masse, with aggressive intent, and they regret them deeply.
For theXinu are culturally non-aggressive. Not quite Pacifists, for the majority are willing to use force to defend the innocent. But defence only. The Xinu will assist any culture suffering an unprovoked attack, but they aim to never attack themselves.
In the past, Xinu Legions have turned around and changed sides mid-fight on receipt of new historical information about the origins of a conflict. (To them it very much does matter "who started it"). Only to change sides again once an even deeper analysis of the conflicts history is presented.
The Xinu are masters of siege craft, fortification and artillery. The injection of Xinu siege masters into a defensive force can massively increase the time and effort it takes to defeat them, and the arrival of an entire Xinu 'Peace Legion', backed up by (non-lethal) logistical golems, Waste-Engines and spotter birds, can potentially stop any attacking force dead-on.
This makes the price of an aggressive war far too steep for most Zoiterran cultures to manage, which is exactly what the Xinu intend.
The Environment Of Moh
The Iron Commonwealth is not a verdant land. A huge arching plain speckled with low, rolling hills, pine, temperate forests and the jags of tiny mountains capped with rust red where the ferrous shell of Moh bursts through. Around the rim of Moh runs the Great Waste Wall, the largest single structure in Zoiterra.
The Great Waste Wall is constructed from pieces of the Waste Pack itself. Though the Nation Beasts can crash through it like Ice, to beings of normal scale, it may as well be stone. Over generations, the Xinu have hauled up fragments of it, cut them down and worked them into place, sometimes using mortar produced with ultrafluid from the chaos sea itself.
Within the wall are great untenanted areas. But no area is unmarked. Mapping pillars of stone and iron are driven into the earth in a regular grid, the logic of an abstract map built into the land itself. Roads and keep-towns on Moh are built map co-ordinates and navigation happens by number.
A land of forms more than shapes, Moh is cold, covered by winds and freezing fast-flowing streams. Rust hills, dark moors, grey-white keep-cities, right-angled roads, the parralax of marker-stones, the distant sounds of thundering mills or synchronised chants. The iron mountains of the crab are cut with shallow valleys sliced into carefully maintained stepped sides.
Moh is one of few nations where it can be guaranteed that there are no wild hordes of Monkeymen or other Waste incursions hiding somewhere in the interior, and no bandits, monsters or rogue states. The only danger a traveller on Moh must face is cold and Xinu society itself.
Nothing more perfectly encapsulates the nature of Xinu society than the always repeated shape and layout of their fortress-towns.
Every settlement, of whatever size, is a star-fort, walled and barred, a defensive fall-back in case anything should penetrate the Great Wall. Within their star-shaped layout, Xinu settlements are based around large, single-storied terraced homes on radial gridwork streets, all equally sized. Towards the centre are factories, manufactories and allotments, and in the middle are queues, clacking, ticking, the rattle of lottery balls, bins of ticket stubs, pigeon shit, pigeon coops, bells, the tapping of flashing signal lights, the murmuring of vote-counters, huge shuffling feet waiting with discipline and the three cornerstones of Xinu civilisation, the Keep, the Universal School and the Lottery Hall.
Every citizen of Moh is a conscript in the Great Defensive Army of Moh and must perform compulsory service, after which point they maintain a rank as either a reservist or a full-time member of the military.
The Keep is the tallest and most fortified building of any Xinu settlement. Usually built of waste-pack stone fortified with iron bolts, and topped with clacking semaphore hands and a signal tower in contact with a relay station somewhere within view, the keep is the central organising node of the settlements defence, its point of final fall-back and the nexus of its military communications with the rest of Moh.
The Universal School
To most Zoiterrans a Xinu Universal School would seem like a staggeringly vast complex with secure areas resembling a prison, higher areas like an institute of theoretical research crossed with a very refined rabbinical study group and in-between, places that seemed like a university or primary school.
At the peak of the Universal School are always the Bells which ring out continually to remind all its scholars of the passing of various periods and events.
The reason the Xinu schools seem partially like prisons is because for the Xinu, no-one is ever "in prison", they are simply being educated, or re-educated. Though unfortunately, some people have to be re-educated so much they become unresponsive and in fact die.
Every Xinu is in the process of education until they become a full citizen. After that, they often continue into further education in some specialism, or end up being re-educated, should they fail Mohs virtue in some significant way. There is no "punishment" in Xinu culture, only differing intensities of required re-education. Likewise, there is no hierarchy in Xinu culture, everyone is simply a citizen of exactly the same rank as everyone else, doing the best they can for Moh with whatever abilities they have.
But there is a darker, invisible and inverse anti-hierarchy which counts the number of times an individual has had to be re-educated to the point of citizenship. Obviously, the lower the number the better, unless the number is too low for your age, which is considered a little "too" perfect.
Those who systemically fail to be re-educated face voluntary emigration to the Claws, or even expulsion.
Educating The Other
In compliance with Mohs virtue, Xinu citizenship is open to absolutely any sophont capable of communication presenting itself at the Waste Wall Portals or the embassy in Claw City.
A very small number of other Zoiterran peoples do apply for citizenship and pass, and are accepted on Moh exactly as if they were Xinu. Moh even has educated, citizen monkeymen, something impossible and mind-boggling to the rest of Zoiterra, and one of the largest concentrations of "free krote" outside Tan-Te.
The exchange is perhaps a fair one. The silent, but crushing and unending high standard of behaviour required for everyone is paid back with full and unquestioned equality, regardless of shape or form. All that matters is how you behave.
The Lottery Hall
This is a huge chamber, like a sacred bingo hall, full of queues, voting booth, ticket stubs, calm scratching and counting. Referenda are always taking place so the queues in the Lottery Hall are truly eternal, changing only in what they are queuing for. If the purpose of a Queue changes while a Xinu is still in it, they will usually keep waiting and instead vote on whichever issue is presented to them at the end.
The Civil Service performs almost all administrative functions and is elected by random lottery from among citizens for fixed terms.
There is no Xinu Senate or Parliament, that might lead to parties. Instead there are the Referenda, which are continual. Laws say there can be no more than one referenda per-day and have limited the complexity of the question matrix after centuries of inflation lead to the vote sheets being many pages long with branching path decision structures and preferred choice hierarchies.
Anything than can be dealt with by the Civil Service, is. Anything requiring a higher authority is tabled for a referendum. For those rare and difficult times when a complex decision is required, at high-speed, and the hierarchies of Military or Universal School are not sufficient, the Xinu will submit to the shameful stop-gap of a Temporary Executive Committee.
This committee is chosen by rapid hand-lottery from among the immediately available members of the civil service and makes whatever decisions are required. Later, its choices are retroactively cleared or condemned by polling the whole civil service, or by a referendum. Everyone who has ever served on a Temporary Executive Committee is deeply ashamed of doing so - as its existence presents and unjustifiable concentration of power and possible secrecy
While all upon the Shell of Moh, and within the Great Waste Wall, exists under Xinu rule and Xinu Law, there are some parts which are of-Moh, but not within the Law.
This claw is the site of the embassies from other Nation-Beasts, inter-beast traders and other relatively-civilised, or at least not maniacal, organisations.
Here is 'Claw City' a precarious largely tent-based semi-city where there is at least some 'claw law' created by agreements between the various agencies.
The place is not hugely populated and houses many escaped, expatriate, expelled or un-educatable Xinu. These can vary a great deal in nature, from relatively normal to the most dangerous, piratical, brilliant, aggressive, criminal and opportunistic creatures in Zoiterra.
Known as the "Lawless Claw", there are no large-scale permanent settlements known here, but many ruins. So far as anyone knows, anything goes on the Lawless Claw.
Any being at all is allowed to attempt to make a living there, and can even climb Mohs limb and appeal for entry at the (highly fortified) gate-town. The Lawless Claw is known all over Zoiterra as a hive of scum and villainy, where even the darkest criminals and conspirators can hide without fear of detection, worse even than the piratical Ptak Tail States of Boe.
Not really worthy of the name "states", these largely vertical provinces are nothing more than wilderness areas given over to whatever crawls up them. Defended against by the Great Waste Wall and occasionally purged by the military and kept open as routes of strategic opportunity, the Xinu are happy to let the legs be cleansed by occasionally dipping into the Chaos Sea.