The Reclaimers

A particularly aggressive sub-clan under the banner of Clan Du’Chan, these fanatical warriors have devoted themselves to a singular cause. They choose to focus solely on regaining territories which have been lost to alien expansion. Elder orators and warsingers will spend months travelling between colonies, spreading tales and singing fiery songs of war to work their audiences into a frenzy. Those who are moved by their message will join them, and once they have a sufficient sized force, they conduct a huge ceremony. It is during this where the decision of where to strike is made.

The rituals performed in the ceremony predate the major clans themselves. With names like Casting of Stones or the Sweeping Sands, the participants believe that these will guide them to the right choice of target. Though the initial list of potential targets is chosen by Reclaimer elders, they have no explicit say on the exact choice. Letting the wind decide is a Batran expression, and the Reclaimers take comfort in integrating this way of thinking into their clan culture.

Once the target has been ordained, a more conventional approach to battle begins. Warrior clutches will spend weeks training and preparing themselves for what will always be a challenging conflict. Because they only go to territory which has been lost, they know that from the moment they choose to strike the battle will be intense and difficult. These invasions vary wildly in size, some have wound up as massive war fleets which make short work of the interlopers, while others are much more modest, and may spend decades in extended, grueling warfare to secure victory. The most vocal supporters of the Reclaimers say that the clan’s commitment to the primal ways and always choosing the most challenging battles is a testament to their strength and purity of purpose.

More pragmatic Batra might remark that while it is true that they have many victories to add to the clans’ songs of conquest, they always keep what they have reclaimed for themselves. They do not return the recaptured territory to the clan which originally held it. Though many clans have petitioned for this very thing, the Reclaimers believe it is theirs to hold by right of seizure, and on many occasions, they have made former friends into enemies by withholding these spoils from their former owners.

Orator Fra’ll’ozz once nearly incited a riot during a meeting of sub-clans by telling the Warmaster of Clan Kroll’ilo that he could have his lost world back if he was willing to take it from the Reclaimers. Fra’ll’ozz was condemned publicly for this comment, and the Reclaimers returned several transports worth of salvage to Claim Kroll’ilo as an apology. But the damage was done, and the two clans have not shared a song gathering or attended the same temple holidays since.

The Reclaimers have strong political capital and get away with much more than other sub-clans of their size. Clan Du’Chan Elders have been known to willfully ignore some of their behaviors when it comes to hoarding resources or claiming priority for important shared property even though it was not their turn to use it. This is because Clan Du’Chan gets to use the regained territory and the goodwill it generates with the Batra as a whole to fuel their own political needs. So, the Reclaimers take advantage of their special treatment, much to the chagrin of other sub-clans. There have even been rumors of clans hiding defeats from the Reclaimers, in order to give their own clan time to deal with a situation before the intelligence network of the Reclaimers learns of it and adds it to their list of eligible targets.

Some of the larger clans have complained about these issues, but for now their pleas fall on deaf ears. Clan Du’Chan is the most aggressive and most dangerous, from a raw military power standpoint, than any other major clan. However, there are other means for clans to attempt to upset the status quo aside from asking the clan elders. For example, Sub-clan Tress’o’lizk once challenged the Reclaimers to a special form of honor duel called a Blooding Night. It was promptly accepted, and Huntmasters from both sides were chosen to work out the details of how it would take place.

This challenge is quite rarely issued, partially because it is one of the dueling types which can result in serious injury or death for its participants. But more importantly, the loser of the duel swears loyalty to the clan which defeated it for a full century. This time is spent in humiliation and the defeated will not find this time of servitude a pleasurable one. It is possible to refuse a duel in Batra society, but the loss of prestige of doing so can exact a heavy toll on such a long-lived people. The thought of living with shame, and being reminded of it by others for centuries, is a powerful motivator to accept a challenge.

A Blooding Night duel is quite particular. One hundred warriors from each clan are chosen and then sent off-world to a location where they can carry out the duel free of interruption. It only ends when one side is completely defeated. The rules are simple: using only ancient Batra weapons and technology, these warriors must hunt and disable or kill all members of the opposing clan, with the added complications of battle only allowed to occur at night, and no Batran can leave the designated zone. Usually, the chosen territory is a diverse biome on a Golden World, forming a circle roughly a hundred kilometers in diameter.

If a warrior is caught engaging in battle during the day, they are cast out of the duel. The same for any Batran which leaves the territory. It is in this way that the Batran warriors are forced to fight in intense nightly skirmishes, then break off at the first light of dawn. In the past, impartial observers would ensure that the rules were met, but these days all participants are observed via drone line or satellite telemetry.

Every warrior in the duel is allowed a spear, a blow dart set or a sling, and a knife. They are dropped off alone and naked in a random location and left to their own skills and prowess after that. Sometimes the biomes which are chosen possess harsh conditions, such as arid deserts, and often in these duels more warriors are lost due to survival considerations rather than battle. When these biomes are chosen it is usually done by a clan which favors certain conditions and believes that they can turn them into an advantage. It can also lead to a duel resolving faster than it otherwise would.

But when a swamp or temperate biome is chosen, the duel’s resolution can take years. One Blooding Night duel took two decades to resolve, with the final victor decided when one of the warriors was killed by a local apex predator. The fallen warrior, after sustaining cumulative smaller injuries over the days before, was too weak to best the indigenous creature which had wandered into the dueling zone. The winner of that duel hunted down and slayed the beast and gave its body as a trophy to the clutchmates of their fallen adversary. So powerful was the gesture that the two clans chose to become one, completely bypassing the period of servitude. Their mutual respect at each other’s strength had grown over the decades, cementing a new bond between former enemies. However, that was an outlier, and most duels are resolved within the first few months.

Sub-clan Tress’o’lizk won the bid for choosing the location for the duel against the Reclaimers and wanted it resolved quickly. Their clan was known for their outposts in very frigid climates, so they chose a continent on a world which was almost in its winter season. The Reclaimers took this complication seemingly in stride and selected their warriors accordingly. When the duel took place, it was as short lived as the loyalists of Tress’o’lizk had hoped, but not with the outcome they wanted. In the first two days, the Reclaimers had seized a series of hot springs within the zone.

 Using its clay-like mud as an insulator, they had advantages which were impossible to overcome. Aside from the natural camouflage of the mud, it kept them warm and reduced their need to hunt and process prey for food. They burned significantly less calories than their adversaries which struggled to find sufficient prey animals to hunt for their furs, which had been their plan to overcome the cold. Unbeknownst to them since their last survey of the world, a blight had overtaken the local population of ungulates, significantly diminishing their numbers. Only a few were able to fashion sufficient protective garments which would allow them to battle during the evenings.

Further bad fortune befell the Tress’o’lizk warriors when a cold snap came early, and many of them died of exposure during an unseasonably frigid night. The Reclaimers formed small hunting groups to find the shelters of the Tress’o’lizk and built a more permanent structure around the springs to protect it. After a month, the last of the Tress’o’lizk survivors had made their way out of the circle, unwilling to die in the cold of the night or hide in makeshift shelters waiting to be discovered and killed. They were defeated, and the Reclaimers folded their clan into their ranks where it remains to this day.

As more and more territories are lost, the Reclaimers’ message grows more alluring to those Batran who have lost homes or loved ones to the realities of war. Their star is in ascension with the political influence and military might growing by the day. With attacks by alien forces only increasing in frequency, it is unlikely that this upstart clan will be disappearing from the state of Batra life any time soon.