Gdhari Trade Tongue, Gorn Approximate (for non-Gorn speakers)
Gorn Hegemony Credit (Szeket), Gold-pressed Latinum
Clan-based Feudal Hegemony
Gorn Space Command
The Gorn Hegemony is an interstellar government operated by the Gorn from the planet Gornar. Little is known about the Gorn, except that matters of territory seem to be very important since the hegemony reacts very forcefully to any incursion. The Hegemony lies at the Federation's "galactic south," at a position both rimward and spinward from the United Federation of Planets. They share borders with both the Federation and the Klingon Empire.
The origins of the Gorn Hegemony remain unknown to the Federation. Examination of historic records suggests they have been warp capable roughly as long as humanity, but expanded more quickly from aggressive expansionism and what is suspected to be a high birth rate. Reports of hostile encounters from various powers imply the Gorn have always been territorial and uncommunicative on the galactic stage; many species have likely encountered Hegemony forces but never had the chance to identify their attackers - if they lived to tell the tale.
First contact between the Hegemony and the Federation occurred in 2267, when the Gorn attacked the Federation colony and outpost on Cestus III. It transpired that due to ancient territorial traditions, they regarded the Cestus system as part of their territory. While this engagement was resolved ultimately in favour of the Federation, it affected relations between the two powers for decades to come. The Federation had expanded through this rimward region previously with impunity, but now knew they were not too far from territorial and aggressive neighbours.
A Century of Diplomacy
Diplomatic overtures followed as the Federation slowed their colonising. Progress was slow, as it became apparent the Hegemony viewed large swathes of territory beyond their borders or sphere of influence as 'theirs', but the Federation had demonstrated their strength, which held the Gorn's military in check for a time. Further colonies and outposts were only settled and built after notifying the Hegemony, whose responses were often varied. Sometimes they objected but clearly would not mobilise, sometimes they demanded compensation. In the latter cases, Federation diplomats cunningly used this as an opportunity for trade agreements, giving the Gorn agreeable terms as 'recompense' on the basis that commerce would keep diplomatic channels open, and make the Gorn reluctant to economically compromise themselves with war.
There have been outbreaks of violence over the past century and a half. Starfleet policy has been to respond with force and for the diplomats to resolve the issues once over, able to negotiate from a position of strength if the Hegemony have been defeated. The Hegemony periodically objects to Federation settlements near their borders, some of which have been colonised for decades without comment, and sometimes including Cestus III. Diplomatic experts suspect these protestations coincide with civic unrest or new leadership in the Hegemony, diverting the populace or winning loyalty by populist sabre-rattling, and are best resolved by giving the Gorn some sense of achievement that allows them to save face.
This diplomatic footing allowed the Federation to secure Gorn assistance during the Dominion War, keen negotiators encouraging the Hegemony to view the Alpha Quadrant as territory under threat. While the devoted forces were not significant, it was considered a great breakthrough in Gorn-Federation relations. The Diplomatic Service hoped to capitalise on this after the Dominion War, but these in-roads were abandoned after the Attack on Mars and the Federation's subsequent, insular policies.
These policies have led to a more fraught fifteen years for Gorn-Federation relations. While there has been no further colonising to antagonise the Hegemony, the border has been left less-defended despite repeated protests by local Starfleet officers. Worse, there has been widespread condemnation of past diplomatic policy with the Gorn, calling it 'capitulation' and 'blackmail', at a time when the Federation has prioritised resource allocation to member, usually core, worlds. Paying the Gorn to keep them diplomatically engaged is no longer a satisfying price for the Federation. While there have been no formal conflicts or mobilisation from the Hegemony, there are more military forces spotted on the border, and skirmishes with opportunistic Gorn ships are not uncommon.
While the Gorn government does not seem to have any participatory system that is recognisable to outsiders, diplomats have insisted that the Hegemony is not simply an authoritarian dictatorship. What is known of Gorn civilisation suggests there to be a complex hierarchy in place based on age, fertility, physical prowess, and intelligence, and that while the most powerful may rule by decree, they are also subject to a myriad concerns, constraints, and expectations to keep their authority. The head of the Hegemony is known as the Arhigos, which roughly translates as 'leader' or 'chief'. The Federation has only known there to be female Arhigos, usually in a later stage of life and respected as wise elders.
The Gorn maintain a clan structure, with different clans responsible for different swathes of territory. Due to their position on the trailing border of the Hegemony, the Federation has most often dealt with the Black Crest Clan. It is not known how many Gorn clans exist, but clan leaders are known to answer to, advise, and perhaps keep in-check the Arhigos.
The Gorn view many neighbouring sectors as 'their' territory, though they will not necessarily act on this perspective. It is possible they take a long-term view, assuming all will eventually fall under the Hegemony's rule. There has been little expansion of the Hegemony in recent decades, and their complete uninterest in exploration has seen them rarely extend their interest beyond their region of the Quadrant.
The Gorn are cold-blooded reptilian creatures. Gorn male adults average 2.2 meters in height, and can weigh upwards of 120 kilos. Females tend to be taller, but slimmer, averaging 2.35 meters in height, and weighing 110 kilos. Gorn skin tones can range from greyish to green to light brown or tan colors. They have globular silvery eyes, as a result of high chromium content present on their corneas. Astrobiologists have speculated that the Gorn are used to living underground, and that the chromium composition serves to reflect more light into their eyes, allowing them to see better in the dark, though this remains unconfirmed speculation.
The Gorn are an oviparous species. The females can lay six to ten eggs once every eighteen months. The eggs can hatch after an incubation period of 100 to 120 days, depending on environmental conditions, with warmer conditions favoring a shorter incubation period. Gorn younglings mature quickly, and can be weened from their parents after three
On the surface, the Gorn are territorial, blunt, and prepared to use violence to get their way. They are prone to expressing their needs openly and appearing resistant to compromise. They clearly have a strong commitment to their culture and their species, and most Gorn encountered are committed to the interests of the Hegemony. They are highly community-minded, valuing strength among their citizens and in their enemies. While this is most commonly martial prowess, many have made headway demonstrating personal cunning, or keen diplomatic insight, or a dogged commitment to one's beliefs or goals.
Despite the Arhgios often being female, experts warn against describing the Hegemony as matriarchal. Lesser leaders have been of varying gender, age, or size, and while diplomats suspect there to be some order other than merit to which Gorn will assume which societal role, it is clearly complex and perhaps changes over time and circumstances. The Federation's Ambassador M'yur said, after trade negotiations in 2294, that he was told by his Gorn counterpart, "the females concern themselves with territory. The males concern themselves with action." M'yur admitted that context and obstacles of language hardly make this snippet illuminating, but said his female colleagues made better progress establishing principles and drawing lines in the early stages of trade negotiation, while he found the Gorn more responsive to him when it came to nuance, detail, and compromise.
Trade with the Gorn has been complex, as their needs seem to change over time. While they often maintain conventional economic interests, hungry for material resources which can uphold their military and expansionist industries, this is not all they value. M'yur himself secured his landmark 2294 negotiation after his Gorn counterpart expressed interest in the necklace he had worn throughout the meetings, a religious symbol he had often touched when needing spiritual strength or grounding. The Gorn ambassador conceded on a wholly intractable point after M'yur gave him the necklace. This was assumed to be nothing but a trophy, until negotiations a decade later secured the unopposed settlement of a new colony with a trade agreement that included an array of cultural and artistic items from an array of Federation worlds. The Gorn showed no interest in databases of writings or abstract knowledge; they valued items. It is suspected these may hold some value as status symbols, and Federation diplomats have been encouraged to keep an open mind on what the Gorn will value in negotiations.
The recent withdrawal of the Federation from negotiations and commerce with the Hegemony has been criticised by the diplomatic service, who uphold the opinion of the late Ambassador M'yur: "I've been told all I've done is appease the Gorn, like giving the bully in the playground my lunch so he leaves me alone. But if that were so, surely they would only trade for dilithium, materials, wealth? Why come to the table every time for a new agreement? I don't think we're forcing a warlike race to talk so we don't have to fight them. I think the Federation has come closer than anyone else to treating the Gorn like they treat each other."
Dubbed by outsiders the "Gorn Space Command", the Gorn's stellar navy is not large, estimated to be less than a fifth of the size of the Federation fleet, but Hegemony vessels are a match for most alien designs in the Quadrant. Like most galacto-political powers, the Gorn deploy scouts, frigates and cruisers throughout their space, as well as special envoy ships and colony vessels. Their vessels are generally smaller than Federation vessels - the largest cruiser in the Gorn catalog is only marginally larger than the Klingon Vor'cha class.
Gorn military technology remains surprisingly sophisticated and the drive for these reptilian beings to keep up with Federation and Klingon technology is poorly understood. Gorn vessels, even in 2399, are the equal of Federation technology. The power output and the robustness of Gorn reactor cores suggests they can maintain maximum warp for longer periods than equivalent Federation designs.
Gorn weapons and shield technology are a match for Federation armaments and they possess a superior ablative armor analog. Once described as, "like phasers but worse," by one Human, Gorn energy weapons are similar to disruptors, yet are obviously of their own design. Their ships have more primitive sensors and communications systems, and their transporters are unusually rudimentary, and their computers are basic compared to Federation systems.
The Gorn Navy is deployed throughout its space in what appears to be a preventative measure - they are constantly scouting their perimeters and reinforcing their listening outposts. When an interloper has been identified - especially when it is a large force - the Gorn react with massive numbers. But the Navy has also been seen engaging in frequent battle simulations with itself - even on a fleet-sized scale. This suggests that they are keenly aware of keeping their combat skills sharp, and their captains show all the hallmarks of a tactical mind at work, demonstrating that the Gorn are immensely clever. They further demonstrate a collective spirit that victory is more important than the individual.
All Gorn males are expected to serve in the Gorn military. Advancement in Gorn military ranks is rare, and dependent on exceptional achievement and prowess in physical combat. As a result, Gorn males are aggressive, easy to provoke and physically very strong.
- Tensions with the Gorn are higher than they have been since first contact. Their territorialism has led them to acts of aggression even beyond their border, though for now these have been limited to displays of strength against military targets; the Gorn have no interest in raiding or attacking settlements. They most often strike listening stations or small defensive outposts, and have even directly attacked Starfleet ships or targeted military supply lines. At present, these appear to be the acts of opportunistic, individual captains or task groups.
- Gorn very bluntly present what they want, and act as if they will be violent if they receive it. This is not mere posturing, so much as a cultural stance. While a misstep will likely result in violence, offering them a respectful alternative can be hugely successful. The Federation Diplomatic Service advise Starfleet captains to engage any Gorn they can in negotiation. The wants of the Gorn are highly complex, but most lone captains wish to leave a confrontation with Starfleet with some demonstration of their own strength and status.
- The Gorn respect strength, but this is not only martial prowess. Success with the Gorn requires force of conviction and keenness of mind. They will likely grow aggressive if they detect weakness, but an insightful compromise is seen as cunning, not capitulation. The most successful negotiators with the Gorn are respectful, determined, and highly adaptive.
- Gorn are highly community-minded. This is reflected in their military tactics; they are at their boldest with allies, even against daunting odds. They are not brutes, but sophisticated strategists who prize victory over any personal glory or malicious violence.
- Above all, the Gorn are poorly-understood by the Federation. Responding to force with force may drive off the Gorn, or inspire them to further aggression. What was successful in a negotiation with one Gorn may not be in negotiation with another, or at another time. They are not erratic or bloodthirsty - but they may sometimes seem like it. Equally, they can sometimes seem reasonable, even curious about other species, and prepared to negotiate to reach common cause. This inconsistency makes them particularly dangerous with tensions so high, and their aggression on the rise.