Reflecting the Pillar of Gold
One of the more interesting sections to write with Handbook: House Kurita was that of the Pillar of Gold, or the Government arm of the Dragon. It encompasses the politics, policy, nobility, court, and of course, the ever-present Combine bureaucracy. It’s a lot of seemingly disparate parts that form the whole of the Great House’s leadership. An archaic blend of old rituals and new ideologies, the Kuritan government prides itself on the steel grasp of the past while warily looking to the future.
Divorcing myself from the events of the Jihad, at which we were wrapping up at the time of writing this chapter, was a little difficult, as I knew what was already in store for this venerable House. But it was also a playground chapter to lay several ‘seeds’ for the Jihad arc, and possibly putting a little spin on what was already known to readers of that Era.
The most challenging, however, was including the Combine’s rather interesting relationship with Clan Nova Cat. What foundations were put in place here would have ripples and ramifications far past the Jihad Era and stretch well towards the Dark Age. Even though the sections dealing with the Clan are small, I put a lot of research under my belt before writing it. I saw the relationship between the two powers as something very similar to my own ancestral history, so it proved especially poignant to write. To see a people and culture penned into place, pressed on all sides to assimilate and conform, yet nobly refusing despite the intolerance arrayed against them, was somewhat of a challenge to do without getting emotionally attached. I will say that after reading these parts, some scattered in other relevant sections, the death of the Nova Cats later in the fictional history of this universe makes a much more emotional statement.
And to think, this is but one of the many complex facets that make up this glorious, yet sadly troubled, Great House. I hope I have done it justice.
From the Pillar of Gold section:
The Nova Cat Penned
It has been less than a decade since my people have been placed within these “reservation zones.” I am not like my fellow Clansmen: I do not believe we share a spiritual heritage with these Kuritans or that they have any desire to embrace us as kinsmen. We are, at best, tolerated by our wardens—and a sop when the Ghost Bears come raging across the border again.
Our enclaves feel more like prison barracks than refugee enclaves. In most cases, we were thrust into harsh terrain among the open areas of worlds within our Irece Prefecture. In some instances, such as ready-made industrial zones, Kuritan civilians were removed and as such despise us for taking their homes. View a Nova Cat enclave alongside a Kuritan city and the differences are obvious. Armed security watches our every move. Suspicious eyes avoid our gaze. Kuritan police and ISF bureaucrats demanding to see identification at any time. All this, despite the claim by the Combine that the Clan has nearly autonomous control over the prefecture.
While the Combine’s society is very similar to our own, it is not compatible. With so much of our lower castes ravaged from our flight, we are heavily dependent on the Kuritan civilian to provide us with infrastructure, support, labor, and a multitude of other services that we, as Clansmen, have taken for granted. Our situation has laid bare our predicament and possibly sown the seeds for our destruction.
The warriors do not see the plight of their lower castes.
Those who were Clansmen were transported to these enclaves and distributed among the systems of Irece Prefecture. Many, many more of our “caste” were suborned Combine citizens, most of whom were happy to remove the yoke of “Clan oppression” from their shoulders. Because so few of our people escaped from the Homeworlds, citizens of the Combine surround our Clan. Citizens who well remember the oppression and abuse of the Clans not so long ago. To them, it does not matter who their captors were. Nova Cat, Smoke Jaguar, Ghost Bear—we are all still “the Clans” to them. And as such, worthy only of their scorn, hatred, and derision.
Indeed, the only Combine citizens who seem genuinely happy we are here are the nobles. Why not? Clan governance is different from the harsher extremes of the Combine. To them, we are downright lenient in our dispensation, which is an advantageous situation to them.
Our warriors ignore this. They do not see the difficulties placed upon our lower caste brothers and sisters. High prices for common goods. “Missing” shipments. Outright refusal of service. Mockery. Even if the Dragon’s citizenry is polite, you can simply look into their eyes and see their mistrust, their anger, their disgust.
Therefore, we stay within our designated zones, among our own people. We avoid the confusion, the culture clashes, the misunderstandings that might lead to beatings or incarceration. We find protection behind the shield of being Clan. It saddens me that these downtrodden citizens cannot see beyond their xenophobia and paranoia to all the good the Clan brings to their lives. Better technology. Higher standard of living. An open and honorable way of governance not dissimilar to their own. And most importantly, we respect and observe the rule of the Coordinator, to whom we owe our very existence.
As I understand it, this is not what the Coordinator wanted when he first proposed this arrangement with our exalted khans. However, it has become our reality. With corporate agents, ministry officials, and military officers carrying out the “will of the Coordinator,” using and abusing us for our technology and treating us worse than the Combine’s own Unproductives, we have no reason to believe the Coordinator has our best interest in mind. It is as if the Dragon did not wish to waste further resources on destroying another Clan, opting instead to let us wither on the vine. The addition of the Coordinator’s freeborn son into our ranks is an insult to the Way of the Clan. Our warriors may think it is an honor, but we of the lower castes know the truth: he is simply another weapon to kill our culture.
Our situation deteriorates. Only our Clan’s honor props us up. And I fear our warriors will soon kick that prop out from under us. We will wither and die, ground under the heavy bulk of the Dragon’s scales until we are but dust.
—Personal Notations, 041667; Technician Factor Jarvis Novacat
Until next time,
Ben H. Rome
Assistant Line Developer