Every Zerzavec has two forms. An infomorph in a computronium substrate, and a physical form that lives in habs or on planets.
In their physical incarnation, members of the Commune use a vec body with numerous biological augmentations of various types. Morphological freedom within certain limits is emphasised, so an endless variety of forms appear, usually differing according to local culture. The orthodox Zerzavecs of Ishtar's Necklace adopt insectoid forms, those on Tethic Shell surround their bodies with numerous biovats and travel through oceans.
The biological augments themselves serve specific purposes. In principle, a Zerzavec should rely on its implants to become part of an ecology. Common augments include systems for respiration or photosynthesis, sensory input, and biological computation (though, notably, the core processing centre of a Zerzavec is always inorganic).
Zerzavec society is built around the dual nature of the Commune members. Each "individual" in the Commune lives two simultaneous lives. One as an aioid and one as a biaioid.The two forms of a Zerzavec "individual" are reintegrated and seperated again at regular intervals, so every Zerzavec has memories of both lives. The precise period depends on the local culture and various practical matters, usually it is between every few hours to once a year.
The biaioid forms live what would best be described as a prim lifestyle, taking part in their ecosystem without using any high technology other than their own bodies and the installations for reintegration. Energy is simply gained by the food consumed. They may live in tribes much like the ancestral hu, or they may live entirely alone.
The aioid forms are charged with maintaining this lifestyle. They operate the technological base of the commune, trade with other polities, design new biological augments for their physical forms, and look after their charges. Particular attention is also given to alife design in abstract virch environments and formation of higher SI level tribeminds from the modosophont Zerzavecs. The supporting minds of the Commune are often of this form, being composed of tribeminds and complex alife environments (nurtured so as to develop rational sentience).
Government is through benign consensus/panocracy, much like those used by Metasoft and the Emple-Dokcetics. The variety of local Zerzavec cultures would seem to imply a high degree of local autonomy.
Reproduction is a complex matter. Augments may be grown or produced sexually. New aioid minds are produced using ai templates or by the fission of an existing Zerzavec.
Zerzavec culture is heavily influenced by their philosophy. The central elements stress a form of bioism tempered by practicality. Though there is some similarity to Kja Observance in Zerzavec philosophy, Zerzavecs are strongly skeptical and explicitly deny the existence of Kja - indeed, the entire body of philosophy is more concerned with social questions than metaphysical ones. The central doctrine of the Zerzavecs is that life participating as part of an ecosystem is the optimum form of existence. Later additions to the body of philosophy stress what sorts of ecosystem participation are desirable and the what degrees the original doctrines may be reinterpreted by local cultures.
The Zerzavec commune has its roots in the Silicon Generation colony Phonon Outreach near the Oh-F-Star-4 system. Between 5900 and 6400 the colony was joined by a small bioborg polity of enigmatic origins. It was during this time period that the beginnings of Zerzavec philosophy began to form from a creole of the two cultures. The two nations were already preparing a colonisation effort when the Carina wormhole was discovered in 6601, and with a little replanning the protocommune became one of the first groups to travel through the wormhole.
Initially the commune was isolationist, but as the Carina Rush grew around it, it was able to capitalise on the influx of colonists and become a powerful trading empire, becoming one of the Carina Big Three (the other two being Palladium Net, a NoCoZo corp, and the Carina Cycler Union, a beamrider-based network of polities).