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Pahtra

The catlike pahtras are natives of a lush world. Their home planet’s relatively low gravity and fast predatory species resulted in the pahtras evolving into a lean race with elongated humanoid bodies and limbs. Pahtras’ fur ranges in color from tawny brown to shades of black and gray, while their eyes can be virtually any color of the visible spectrum.

According to ancient traditions, a pahtra’s unique facial pattern indicates her character and potential for achievement. Some pahtra societies still assign adolescent pahtras to a specific social role after a reading of her face patterns by a pahtra mystic. However, the most recent generations of pahtras have begun to resist this often-superficial classification.

While the tradition of assigning status based on facial fur patterns is fading, similarly ancient rites requiring all pahtras, regardless of status, to participate in a dangerous, weeks-long competition in their 15th year are still very common. Such competitions involve dividing the adolescents into groups of a dozen each and sending them into the jungle. There, they face both natural threats and their peers in survival challenges and war games that result in more than a few casualties each year.

The performance of a pahtra in this rite often dictates the trajectory of their social standing thereafter.

Most pahtras are asexual, and a relatively small number of breeding couples bolster the population with litters of six to eight kits at a time. While pahtras frequently form lifelong, loving relationships with a single partner or small set of partners, they cherish individualism above all else. From their first steps, they strive to distinguish themselves from their siblings by developing and perfecting a unique ability. This inclination also makes pahtras highly suspicious of conformism—including that demanded by their vesk overseers—and while they can be deeply distrustful of strangers, they are also very protective of those they consider friends.

Pahtra culture sees music and battle as the two greatest possible career paths, defining all other activities by how they relate to these callings. They also see strong synergies in the two pursuits, using music not just for artistic expression but also to coordinate battles and intimidate their enemies. Pahtras have perfect pitch and are natural musicians, and their music plays a central role in their society. They use arias, ballads, and elaborate musicals to tell the stories of their most legendary warriors, and they play bass- and percussion-heavy music to bolster their morale on the battlefield.

When the first wave of vesk forces arrived, pahtras were much less advanced technologically, and though their many nations had significant similarities in culture, they were in no way united or uniform. They were ultimately unable to resist the vesk’s advanced weapons, starships, and interplanetary empire, but their warrior traditions, knowledge of local terrain, and willingness to fight for their homelands ensured the vesk conquest was neither swift nor easy.