The United Islands of Nordker
Born of Pirates
The archipelagic nation of Nordker is now known for its great education system, its vast scientific research centers, and as the world’s leading nation in space exploration, but that has not always been the case. Knowing Nordker now, one would be shocked that it is a nation born out of piracy.
Since ancient times, the archipelago of Nordker had been a haven for pirates. Although no one truly knows who built the first settlement, the first notable town was the port town of Malam. From this town, pirates from all over the world came to repair and restock before going out at sea again. Soon more and more pirates’ towns came into being which in turn attracted even more pirates to the area. As you can expect, this lead to vast problems with other nations and some of the greatest sea battles in history were fought in the ice cold waters of Nordker.
The big change came during the period of Nordker history called “The Agreement”.
As trading ships became better armed, the pirates faced more and more problems with raiding. This in turn harmed the financial health of the pirate towns in Nordker. In short, piracy became too unstable to be used as an effective economic policy and the towns had to find another way to survive. The various pirate towns decided that they had to work together.
The various towns decided to spilt resources among themselves and would secretly trade with each other without taxing each other trading ships. As some towns in more fertile islands would concentrate with farming and fishing, other towns would concentrate on trading with other nations, while others would continue to be a haven for long-time customers, the pirates. Amazingly it worked.
The geography of the island made it possible for the trading towns to say that they had nothing to do with the piracy towns, while the piracy towns made an agreement with the pirates that the towns within the archipelago of Nordker were off limits to their raids. All the time, the farming towns made sure all the towns weren’t lacking in resources. Money made was then disbursed fairly among the towns within the agreement.
Things changed again when piracy became a loss some nations refused to accept. Fleets of battleships were sent out to Nordker to crush the pirates. The great sea battles of history were fought during this time and the pirates’ fleets fought fiercely to maintain their grip on the area. Most notable were the battles the pirates had with the navy from the trading nation of Trisban; these battles are still considered to be the most brutal sea battles in history.
The other towns couldn’t help the pirate towns directly and soon the pirates were beaten off Nordker. Malam itself was burned to the ground. As years had passed already, the other towns had prospered and not wanting to share in the fate of the pirate towns, they decided pirates would no longer welcome in Nordker.
Thus began The United Islands of Nordker.
Nordker still maintain the system the founding towns put in place during the original agreement. The various islands within the archipelago are spilt into 72 sectors. Each sector consists of 1 to 5 islands and each sector is charge with one main factor of business. There are farming sectors, business sectors, research sectors etc. Elections are held in each sector once every 4 years.
2 positions need to be filled in the elections. One will be the ‘Overseer’ who will be in charge of the day-to-day running of the sector while the other elected member will be the ‘Sector’ who will represent the sector in the ‘Horn Chamber’, the parliament of Nordker.
Bills in the Horn Chamber are passed with a two-thirds majority. This usually leads to a series of coalition governments as few political parties are capable of securing two-thirds of the chamber by themselves. The Nordian men prefer it this way as they feel this gives balance to the government and it can also prevent the sitting government from taking their power from granted. The leader of the ruling coalition is named Prime Minister and is the head of the nation.
Only men are allowed to vote and only men are allowed to stand for elections.
The Social Framework
Nordker is a society that runs on a mentoring system. The biggest factor for respect in the country is experience. Throughout their life, Nordians are taught to respect the people with the most experience. Fathers teach their sons, mothers teach their daughters, seniors teach their juniors etc. Usually, organisations in Nordker have several apprenticeships schemes in place for almost every job on their payroll where the seniors in the group would impart their knowledge to their juniors.
This national trait has leaded some to complain that seniority is more valued than talent in the archipelago but the people feel that this is the fairest system to have in place. As they are fond of saying, “Even if you don’t have talent, experience is something you can pass on. Besides, the truly talented ones will always shine through in the end.”
This national trait is also credited by some for the stable society that is Nordker. As an archipelago, the differences betweens the various islands can be huge (in fact, the nation has a huge gap between the rich and the poor) but the mentoring system helped to left the poor. Various government and business organisations usually hold free seminars for business success and people from all walks of life are always welcome to attend. Although the gap between the rich and poor is wide, it is also highly fluid and it’s no surprise for men in the islands to go from rich to poor and finally back to rich.
Men and women have very different roles in society and are thus treated accordingly. In simple terms, men are in charge of everything in the country. Whether it is in business, science, finance or even housework, men are the one who are doing in. The concept of gender equality is foreign to the people and most Nordian men treat any attempt at gender equality as an attack on the Nordker culture.
Women are only respect (or tolerated, depending on who you ask) for their one contribution to society; their ability to give birth. The Nordian family believed that children is a must for a complete and go to huge lengths to ensure this happen. From the day they were born, women in Nordker are locked in chains and are not allowed to do anything remotely dangerous. Most houses in the country have a woman room where all the females in the family are locked. What the women fell about this does not matter as in Nordker, women do not matter.
Women in Nordker Society
From the day they are born, female babies in Nordker will undergo what they call a naming ritual. The father (or guardian) of the baby will named the baby and at the same time, he will put a light chain around the baby’s hands; a symbolic gesture showing the locking of her body. Girls are basically treated the same as boys, they go to school, they play along with the boys, with only one difference. The girl’s hands are always chained together. Usually, this will be a light breakable chain as to prevent accidents from happening and the chain is more symbolic than anything else. However it does remain the girl even from a young age what her role in Nordker society will be.
The next change for the girls is the coming-of-age ceremony. On their tenth birthday, the girls light chain will be replaced by the standard shackles of a grown woman. A belt will be worn around the waist of the woman and both hands will be locked to the belt. This prevents the woman from using their hands for any purpose. A chain will also lock their feet together, giving them limited leg movement. A black hood will also be put on the woman. This hood has no eyeholes and is usually padded as to prevent the woman from hearing any ‘unnecessary’ noise. A ball-gag will then be secured around the mouth to prevent them from speaking. Blinded, gagged and senseless, the woman would then be locked in the woman’s room of the house. If there is a need for an outside trip, the woman will be covered by a ‘sack burqa’. A burqa with no eyeholes or grills, the woman needed to be guided by a man whenever they are outside. Usually a collar would be place around the neck of the woman and the men would guide the woman using the leash attached to the collar.
For 1 hour per day, the woman would be freed from their bondage. This is widely called the shower hour, though some do call it the rest hour. After a quick shower, most Nordian women will do what women do. They will talk. Gagged for the rest of the time, Nordian women speak in a very fast matter during the limited time they are allowed to do so and this sometimes result in culture shock for women from other countries. As one Vipponese woman sarcastically commented, talking to a Nordian woman is like standing in front of a bullet train. They will stop for nothing.
At least till the hour is up and the gag has to go back on.
Marriage is the big stage of a woman’s life. Again, marriage is the men’s decision. Usually men who has daughters of marriageable age (age 18 and above) would inform family and friend (or in this modern age, put advertisements in the papers and internet) and wait to see if there are any interested parties. If there is, both side will release details like family history, personal medical reports, financial details (only for the men), even their family tree. It is considered accepted practice to hire private investigators to ensure that all details provided are accurate and honest.
If both families can come out to an agreement, they will then discuss a ‘sale price’. Called a dowry by most other cultures, the ‘sale price’ will then be paid to the girl’s father and the girl will be taken away by her new family. Although not a must, a girl’s virginity does affect the sale price and as such most families also check on the girl’s virginity before agreeing on the sale price. Like in all matters of her life, the woman has no say in this. In Nordker, women believe that being a good wife and mother is the highest aspiration a woman can have and most look forward to the day of their ‘sale’. All of them have been taught by their mothers the submissive demeanour Nordian men have come to expect from their women and the last thing on their mind is to object to a decision made by their father.
A woman’s worth in Nordker is based on how many sons she can give birth to and this is a source of pride for them and their families. This is without doubt the first priority for a Nordker woman and women has come out with all sort of superstitions and folklore to ensure a male birth. Having said that, woman also played an important role as a teacher to their daughters. As stated earlier, mothers are expected to teach their daughters everything about marriage, sex and men. As such, daughters are usually very close to their mothers and tearful farewells are the norm during a daughter’s sale.
At their new home, the women are still hooded and gagged. This continued till the woman reached the age of 50. This age is traditionally accepted as the age when woman can no longer have children. Though science has changed that, Nordian men are loathed to change such an accepted practice. At this age, women are no longer hooded and when they leave the house, the burqa has the grill which allows limit sight for the old women. Outside those small changes however, everything remained the same as they are still gagged and chained like a normal woman.
Names are of vital importance to a Nordian woman. Like the men, Nordian woman is only known by a single name but women are not allowed any family name behind. Their names are also to be kept secret to be known only to members of the family. Even if they are life-long friends, Nordian men would never release their wife’s or daughter’s name to each other. Outside a record put with the government, only family members will know the name of a woman.
Despite all these restrictions (or because of it), Nordian law is heavily on the side of the woman. Men must send their women for a through medical health check once every 6 months. These checks are to ensure the well-being of the women and heavy fines are regularly issued even for the most minor infractions. An injury could cost a fine of a few hundred dollars for the men, even if it’s through no fault of their. If the injury is due to a fault of the men, the fines could reach thousands of dollars and a heavy jail term is not out of the question. Due to this reason, the health of their women is of vital importance to Nordian men. However most men leave the day-to-day care of their woman to their sons as it is felt this is a good way for the young boys (usually teenagers) to learn responsibly from a young age.
The Nordker Economy
Education & Science
For decades Nordker has tried to be a self-subsisted country, but all the science in the world can’t make up for the icy cold conditions of the islands. Much like their ancestors, Nordker has to import a lot amount of food to feed its’ growing population and that usually take a good part of the annual budget. However whereas their horned-helmet ancestors raided and stole, modern Nordians trade.
The Nordker economy is based almost entirely on science. The country has a very robust research sector and they are at the very edge of research in almost all areas of science. Secret research facilities are located all over the archipelago and Nordker pride itself on being at the forefront of research and knowledge. The government give various grants for research in return for a percentage of the profits generated by the results of the research. They also hold a good number of copyright and patents rights and this generate good annual income as well.
However various Nordker governments know that it policy will only work as long as Nordker keep their lead in the science sector. To make sure their research centres has a ready supply of young eager researchers, Nordker also has one of the world’s best (and most heavily funded) education system. Most of these are directed in the science sector and it’s not surprising to see a great number of foreign students studying in Nordker universities. Everything from physics to sports science is covered by at least one of the universities in Nordker.
Some countries have bitterly complained about Nordker only accepting men in their universities and have petition against the ‘unfair’ practices. However this is a policy that is unlikely to change as the last time a Nordker government tried to change it, it got voted out of power in a landslide.
The Space Island
Just like their ancestors who travelled far and wide on the waves of the sea, Nordker men still has a reputation for wanderlust. Since every part of the world has been discovered already, the men of Nordker now look to the star to satiate their wanderlust. Taking full advantage of their lead in science, Nordker has turned Whitebeard Island into the world’s only space port.
There are other space launch areas in the world, but only Whitebeard can call itself a space port. Everything in Whitebeard City has something to do with space and its exploration. Outside the launch centre, training facilities are also in the city. The training grounds even extend to the whole of Whitebeard Island and some of the world’s biggest conferences on space and its exploration are held on Whitebeard. This has lead people to call Whitebeard the Space Island, a name most locals are quite proud of.
Nordker is also the primary financial backer to the newly built space station on the moon. The Moon Station was a joint venture by several countries but the primary financing comes from Nordker. This has gained Nordker the admiration of many people and greatly enhanced the status of the country in many places. Although some in Nordker still balked at the money spent in the building of the Moon Station, the ‘soft power’ gained by the country has kept the grumbles to a minimum.
Nordker: Culture & Customs
Shackles and the Sack Burqa
In times past, people grew fearful when they sighted the ships of the Nordker pirates. Men fear for their lives, and women fear for their freedom. When raiding, the pirates often considered women to be part of the spoils and thus treat them accordingly. To this day, Nordian men still consider women to be property and nothing more. Captured women are chained and shackled to prevent them from escaping or from attacking their abductors and the practice has also been maintained to the modern days.
The blinding and sack burqa practices are harder to explain. Nordker men can’t really explained when the practice first came into being but most believed it’s due to fact that pirates were away from Nordker for long periods and thus tried to find ways to ensure the ‘safety’ of their possessions. The burqa and preventing their women from ever being seen in public were good ways to stop people from having designs on their women when they were away on voyages.
The typical Nordker ‘uniform’ for a woman consists around the shackles and hood. A belt is worn by the women and both her hands would be locked to the belt. A short chain will lock their feet and a black hood will be place on the woman. This hood has no eyeholes and is usually padded as to limit the woman’s hearing. A ball-gag (usually red) will then be secured around the mouth to prevent them from speaking.
Outside these, men are allowed to dress their women in any way they wish. The current fashion is a one piece bodysuit designed to keep the women warm in Nordker cold climate, but practices do varied from island to island. Some islands have their women naked while other islands dressed their women from gothic dresses to T-shirts and jeans. It’s all up to the men to decide and few women in Nordker have any say in how they are dressed.
Consequences of the Burqa
One of the main results of the ‘unseen and unheard’ treatment of women in Nordker is that men do considered women to be lower beings than men. Men (and women) in Nordker feels that there nothing wrong with this view and more than one Nordian scientist has tried to convince the world through this by their work. However, this also leads to Nordian men underestimating women, especially women from other countries. Nordian men are also usually surprised at how much freedom a woman has when they are overseas and more than a little amused by the concept of a henpeck husband.
The introduction of the hood in Nordker has also seen to the rise of a match-making business in Nordker. As most men are unable to see the face of women, their family usually turn to these match-making agencies for a good match for their sons. Usually they will look at the women’s health records, as well as their family history. If there is one which they like, the family would inform the agency who will approach the woman’s family and come to an arrangement. If both parties are happy, then the ‘sale’ will take place. Husband and wife (or owner and property, depending on who you ask) do not meet face to face till the day of the ceremony.
The Nordker Marriage
Relations between husbands and wives in Nordker are a very simple affair because women are expected to do whatever their men wants them to do. A good wife is one who can follow instructions to the T and accept whatever is done to them by their husband without question or complaints. If there is more than one woman in the marriage, the newer wife is expected to follow the instructions of the more experienced wife even if the newer wife is older. Age does not matter as she is expected to obey the wife who has been married longer to the husband. Nordian families believe that this keep order in the family and women accept this without question.
Men are allowed considerable freedom in their treatment of their wives. A husband can punish or train his wife in anyway he deem fit as long as the woman does not suffer any long term injuries. The full extent of control that a man has can be very scary for a woman unused to Nordker culture and more than one foreign woman has been scared off by the marriage culture of the archipelago.
In the case of the death of the husband, the wife is automatically ‘transferred’ to the next of kin. Usually this will be the closest male member of the husband’s family, but if there are no male family member in the husband’s family, the wife will then be ‘transferred’ back to her family. If there is still no male family member available, the Nordker state government will put them up in a shelter.
Education of the Young
Boys and girls are allowed to mingle and play with each other till the age of 10. Once they reached that age, boys and girls are separated with the girls kept in the house to undergo training for their marriage. Boys are sent to school for education.
However anyone who thinks the boys has it good is sorely mistaken. The status of most men in Nordker is linked to their education levels and as such competition to get into the best school is intense. The scramble for the limited places available in universities place incredible pressures on the boys and unsurprisingly, Nordker has one of the highest suicide rates for young men in the world. There have been talks for years about lowering the pressure for the young men but nothing has been done thus far as the Nordker government worry about losing their scientific edge on the rest of the world.
Women are not educated beyond their tenth year.
Religion in Nordker
To call Nordker a secular society is a total understatement. As a country built on modern science, most Nordian has a less than impressive view on religion. Most Nordian men consider themselves free-thinkers. Having said that (or because of that), the people are very tolerant of religion. The Nordker government allowed the building of temples, mosques and churches due to the amount of foreigners in the country but outside that takes a very hand-off approach to the issue of religion.