by Tim Bancroft and Rick Priestley
We know of Karg 12-40-9, Fartok 12-40-13 and even Nurk 27, and Shaltok 12-41-9 has been seen in the fiction and is coming along in the next supplement. But what do all those numbers mean? What’s the difference between 12-40-9 and 12-41-9 and why Nurk 27 rather than just Nurk?
Those are all questions which crop up from time to to time and, the simplest answer is, they are a tighter way of identifying a single Ghar clone, indicating from what brood and hatchery they come, together with their expected role and task.
But let’s look at the details.
Behind the Numbers
The identification for every single Ghar is, formally:
SequenceNo, HH, BB and Type are all numeric and Name is actually a four-letter code (Ghar don’t use our 26-letter alphabet, btw: ‘Sh’ is a specific letter, for example).
HH is the hatchery number – the facility where Ghar are grown. There aren’t too many hatcheries and most are on Gharon. Hatchery 12 is a dedicated Commander hatchery from which all High Commanders are spawned and from amongst which the Supreme Commander is eventually chosen. It also grows other senior commanders, but always in relatively low numbers as ‘specials’, ‘bespoke’ or ‘coach-built’ rather than the mass produced clones from the other vats. Other hatcheries (such as 01) produce vast numbers of identical Ghar, all meant to do the same job.
BB is the batch number from within a hatchery. So 12-40 means ‘batch 40 in hatchery 12’. Each batch has a widely varying number of individuals, depending on the job role and mix of nutrients required. The loyalty genes and traits, for example, are adjusted as appropriate, and skillsets being boosted or suppressed as required.
Batch 40 from Hatchery 12 is infamous: a number experimental additives and treatments were tried in attempts to build better High Commanders. Two of the surviving members are Fartok, who is now Outcast and the leader of the Outcast Ghar Rebel movement, and another who is the Supreme Commander’s favourite, Karg 12-40-9. Many of the others have died in battle or have been found to be wanting by the treacherous Karg.
Shaltok 12-41-9 and others in the 12-41 batch come from the Force Commander batch following that of Karg and Shaltok. It seems that many in the 12-41 batch are erratic, frequently ask questions, and are almost certainly contaminated by the chemicals still left in the pipes from the 12-40 batch.
‘Type’ is the specific job or approximate intended role of the individual Ghar within the batch. So Karg is type ‘9’ from batch 12-40 and Fartok type ’13’. Often there are many Ghar produced of the same type, with hatchery 12 and batch 40 being something of an exception as the individual type numbers being virtually unique.
Name is a four-letter character code identifying the specific subtype that is vocalised as an understandable word, almost an abbreviated name. There are, for example, many 05-76-12’s for example, each of which has a unique four-letter-code ‘Name’. In effect, it makes them unique within the specific variant, hence Karg (KRRG), Fartok (FRTK), Shaltok (ShLTK), Foornyn (FRNN). These could be pronounced differently for individuals, so that KRRG could be ‘Krug’, FRTK as ‘FroTak’ or NRRK as ‘Norrik’, depending on the individual, just like we have a variety of ways of saying our own names.
But where does ‘SequenceNo’ come into it?
SequenceNo is a number given to individuals from the mass hatcheries who produce many clones at the same time with the same, four-letter name.
In the hatcheries producing very small numbers in each batch, such as 12-40, the individual name is enough to identify each Ghar as their sequence number is ’01’. For example, Karg’s full identification is actual “KRRG-01 12-40-9”, the commander hatchery 12 producing very low numbers of each type (perhaps only one of a 9 and that being KRRG). As a result, Karg 12-40-9 is enough to identify him.
In the case of the infamous batch 12-40, KRRG or 12-40-9 is probably enough on its own to send shivers down everyone’s spine!
The Mass Hatcheries
In contrast to the bespoke batches and hatcheries, the mass hatcheries such as 01 produce a great many servile Ghar to do the same job, in exactly the same way. Such jobs are those we might consider unskilled or semi-skilled, but which cannot be left to slaves. In such an instance there may be hundreds of model NRRK, each of which needs to be identified in some way, hence the sequence number.
An example of such an individual is Nurk 27, the lesser Ghar who features in The Chryseis Shard. Nurk comes from one of these mass hatcheries and is given the unique sequence designation Nurk-27. Amongst his mates from 01-24-08, he is known as ‘Nurk 27’ or even just ‘Nurk’ whilst others from the same batch and type might be known as ‘Norrik’, ‘Norrk’, ‘Nurrik’ or something similar. All, though, would be otherwise identical to Nurk-27, even though their serial number is NRRK-28, NRRK-29, and so on.
Sequence numbers are also used to differentiate new Ghar from those with similar numbers that still survive but which were produced over a century ago. This means that each hatchery could produce thousands, even millions of Ghar in a single batch and still make sure they are all identified correctly. Such mass-production is necessary to keep the wheels of the Ghar Empire ticking over.
Of course, once a Ghar is Outcast, many Ghar consider there is often no need to retain the numbering system to uniquely identify them unless they are pressed into specific roles (as in the case of Nurk): the individual is Outcast and so disgraced – who would want to remember them? Many Outcasts retain their name, however, especially amongst the Rebels, as a way of ensuring their identity is never lost.
Pride in a Ghar? No wonder they are Outcast…