Katyusha City Comissary (Sven’s Hole)
12 November 3000
Leaving one’s Clan was never easy, ilKhan Nadia Winson reflected. She was in a position to know, having now left two Clans. The first had been Clan Wolf, whose Khan was now her chief rival for power. As a junior Star Colonel, she had been captured in action against Clan Ghost Bear. Made bondsman, and eventually adopted into the Warrior Caste, the abtakha Wolf had worked her way up the ranks and finally been accepted by her peers to the point of being made a Khan.
It had been a long, hard road. She had had to learn the ways of her new Clan, and unlearn the ways of the old. A Wolf played her cards close to her chest, never letting others see the nature of her soul. A Wolf played games of dominance. She always fought, and she always won. Or she died.
A Ghost Bear was a different creature altogether. Though she hid from her prey, she was open with her family. For over a decade, she had seen her fellow-Clansmen as brothers and sisters, and then she had been a mother to them. She had even begun a Great Work, a miniature diorama showing the entirety of the Great Father’s Regular Army at its height assembled as if for a parade through the streets of Old Washington. She had never finished it, and doubted she ever would.
And now it was time to set all that aside. She had been elected by her peers– by the Khans of Kerensky– to lead them into war. The coming war would be the greatest challenge the Clans had ever faced, and it was up to her to make sure they overcame it. She wondered how she would compare to the example of the ilKhans that had come so long before. Would she be hailed as another Jerome Winson? Or despised as another Tobias Khatib? Could she ever hope to live up to the example of the Founder himself?
Only time would tell, and her time among the Ghost Bears had taught her the right attitude to apply to the situation. She would be patient. She would wait and see. She would take what came when it came, even as the Ghost Bear did. But it was the Wolf she still remembered who would deal best with the other Khans. Especially Kerlin.
And there he sat, in the corner with his Warden cronies, doubtless plotting her downfall even as he “celebrated” her rise on her work-credits. So be it. The best of the Khans sat at her table as the Grand Council’s newest member entertained them all with his rendition of a 25th-Century rock ballad.
She thought she would never understand Karaoke, but Thaddeus Jorgensson was actually quite good…