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> Clan Nova Cat, as penned by Bertram Habeas
post Dec 21 2005, 01:21 PM
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Touring the Stars with Bertram Habeas

We began on Terra, millions of years ago. Today, mankind stretches out among the stars of the Milky Way, touching thousands of worlds, as far from our home as Clan space, more than 2,000 light-years distant. Yet who are we, really? What have we become in our relentless push outward and onward? I’m Bertram Habeas, and tonight, let’s find the answers to these and many other fascinating questions together, as we tour the stars!

Volume XXXIX: Visions of Honor—Origins of Clan Nova Cat

They exist among the population of the Draconis Combine. No nation of their own, yet free to claim self-governance and to practice their beliefs. They are a culture unto themselves, which struggled for centuries against their own kind, only to find salvation in the bosom of the Inner Sphere. But what does the rest of the Inner Sphere really understand about the enigma that is Clan Nova Cat? How did they survive three centuries after Nicholas Kerensky forged his utilitarian Clans, guided by visions and faith more than dreams of martial glory?

The Nova Cats’ origin is unique among those of Nicholas Kerensky’s Clans, but not solely for their mysticism. Indeed, their faith had yet to crystallize when Kerensky forged his new warrior-societies on Strana Mechty. What truly separated the Cats at first was purely political, the fact that their first Khan was, in fact, once counted among the enemies of the Star League. Yes, Phillip Drummond, first Khan of the Nova Cat Clan, once served in the armed forces of Stefan Amaris the Usurper himself. Together with Anna Rosse, a woman who saw the horrors of the Amaris crisis from an entirely different angle as a survivor and resistance fighter on Terra, Drummond would bring about the unique nature of the Cats not by himself, but through his offspring.

Trauma. Shock. Horror. All these factors and more have been attributed to Nicholas Kerensky’s desire to mold a new society, where warfare would be controlled, structured, yielding peace and prosperity without politics and pettiness. He’d seen the horrors of Amaris’ occupation on Terra, where friends and countrymen died—often in unimaginable ways—on the whims of a bloodthirsty despot. Then again, in the Pentagon, the scene repeated, bloodier than ever, as the old hatreds and loyalties returned. All that psychological damage might have killed another, but Kerensky prevailed.

But what about those who followed him? Surely, they had seen the same horrors of war and greed, hadn’t they? Enough to feel the same deep, burning desire to right such wrongs? Certainly! And in no such case was this more evident than in the cases of Phillip Drummond and Anna Rosse. For Drummond, destroying his inner demons meant swearing himself wholeheartedly to the cause of his personal champion, Aleksandr (and later Nicholas) Kerensky.

Rosse was another matter. Orphaned by Amaris’ war, rescued, trained, and raised to fight a covert war by spiritual women, only to see the Star League falling again, she fled with Kerensky’s exodus, and knew still more trauma when her husband, Peter Karpov, was among those who rebelled first against Kerensky. Even Kerensky’s legendary inspiration did not ease her loss at his justice, which involved the execution of her husband, and arrival in the Pentagon Cluster offered only a brief glimpse of normalcy before the eruption of the Pentagon Riots.

The spiritualism she used to heal her old wounds became her crutch, her means of getting through the chaos and the formation of the Clans. Though she would never herself become a warrior, through her beliefs, imparted to her and Drummond’s daughter, Sandra, she would show a Clan how to heal and guide itself through the troubled years to come.

Perhaps, as the saying goes, that which does not kill one truly does make one grow stronger, for among the founders of all Clans, the best have always been those who survived the worst traumas, lived through the worst shocks, and overcame the worst horrors imaginable.
—Dr. Lorenzo Torres, Professor of History, University of Thorin.

It was Sandra Rosse, not Phillip Drummond, who would turn the Nova Cats into the spiritual force they have become today. Her father, Phillip, led the Clan to victory in the campaign to retake Circe, while her mother, drawing on her experiences as a logistical wizard in the Terran resistance, would serve as the chief of the Clan’s merchant caste. Raised by her mother, yet every bit as much her father’s daughter, Sandra came of age fully entrenched in the same strong, mystical faith as her mother, with her father’s ability to fight, lead, and inspire. Both of these traits would lead her to become a warrior and, inevitably, the Clan’s next Khan, when her father confided in her the nature of the degenerative disease that would strip him of command. After three days of fasting and meditation, it is said, Sandra emerged from her sanctuary, determined to unseat Phillip Drummond and claim the Khanship for herself, which she did in a bloodless Trial. Though challengers quickly emerged, she defeated each one in Trials of Refusal, validating her claim to lead the Clan.

Rosse’s first acts as Khan were key to the Clan’s evolution. She instituted the office of the Oathmaster, a position that—in the Nova Cat Clan, at least—confers the responsibility for managing the Clan’s spiritual needs to a single warrior. She wrote the Ways of Seeing, a collection of her and her mother’s mystic experiences, and guide for other Nova Cats to pursue their own spiritualism. Much of Sandra Rosse’s guidance can still be felt today, with rituals from the Ways of Seeing still practiced throughout the Clan’s holdings. Whether for personal or communal reasons, most Nova Cats continue to seek their destiny or resolve difficult decisions by seeking visions of the future. Though not always accurate or immediately clear, many of the most famous vision quests have had profound impact on the lives of the Nova Cat people.

Ironically, it would be Rosse’s own visions that would have a lasting impact in the Nova Cats’ destiny, when she found herself enamored with the saKhan of the Smoke Jaguar Clan, Liam Ismiril. Despite the differences in their Clans’ philosophies—greatest of which, perhaps, was a much more lax attitude toward the lesser castes among the Cats, compared to the Jaguars’ unquestioned warrior-supremacy—the two allegedly became lovers, until a vision convinced Rosse to break the relationship off. The tale goes that the Jaguar saKhan reacted to the unexpected jilting with hatred. A ranking Nova Cat warrior was soon killed by apparent accident, and a dead nova cat animal was found in one of the Nova Cat Clan’s iron wombs. The message was all too clear: thenceforth, the Nova Cats and the Smoke Jaguars would be enemies. Three centuries of simmering hostility and relentless challenges and counterchallenges would follow, and all because of a simple vision.

A fact that few people point out these days is how [Sandra] Rosse’s leadership was succeeded by, of all people, her own father. Despite a growing Clan bias against aging warriors, Phillip Drummond’s return was undeniable after he passed all his Trials and even made an impassioned speech before the Nova Cat council. That he was cured of his medical condition by Clan science was undoubted, but how he found the strength to return and lead again has been at the core of much debate. Some say that he, too, saw a vision demanding his return, but that merely raises the interesting fact that Drummond was never quite as mystical as his daughter or her mother.

What then, led Drummond to return and strengthen the sense of spirituality his daughter had instilled in his Clan? What possessed him to reclaim the Khanship and remain there until the amazing age of 112? Perhaps we will never know, but to the Nova Cats, it was like the natural closing of a circle of life, a positive omen for the future of the Clan.
—Iridashi Hitomo, Signs and Portents: A Look at the Nova Cat, Luthien Press, 3109

Guided by visions, yet driven by Clan pragmatism. Led by the spirit and heart of a strong warrior caste, yet embracing a level of trust in its lower castes almost unheard of. Thus did the Nova Cat Clan grow and prosper during the Golden Century. Together with the Sea Fox Clan, they would colonize several worlds in the Kerensky Cluster, while their warriors would defend the Clan’s expanding holdings from Trials, mostly fought against the Smoke Jaguars. The Cats’ desire for growth would eventually push the Clan into the Crusader camp when the Great Debate about an invasion of the Inner Sphere began, yet the Cats would wait over half a decade before that vision of glory could be realized.

In part two of this four-part series on Clan Nova Cat, we’ll get a glimpse of the ways of the Nova Cats, the visions and the traditions that bind them despite their seven-decade divorce from their fellow children of Kerensky. Join us as we continue our tour of the stars! I’m Bertram Habeas.
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