Our labours would bring the rains that fed the grasses, and our eyes would spot the weak and the infirm. Our jaws would offer salvation from a slow death by hunger, and we in turn would feed the little scavengers and carrion birds. It was a fair legacy he offered us, a birthright strengthened by magical gifts.
- Changing Breed Book: Bastet, White Wolf Publishing
"Mebbe you heard the story of the Witch Siracca and Seb-at-Al the moonlight stranger, all Ajaba are told the story of our birth. What you may not know is that we were once a widespread tribe and that our brothers and sisters to the North had other Caliah about the first Ajaba. Once the hyena roamed from England to Asia, across Egypt and down to the Indian shores. The journey from Inaka mateda to Tanoak happened much earlier in these lands and by the time the Monkeys had built their empires, the Ajaba had been driven back to the Plains of Africa. The giant Hyena of Europe, the killers of bears, they are gone now, as are the Jungle walkers.
The Rainmakers of Egypt tell the tale of Am-Mit, eldest daughter of Siracca and Seb-at-Al. She was so strange that the peoples beside the Nile though she was made up of three different animals. That she was cat, none doubted, she was part Lion and her pride put all other families to shame. But she lacked the svelte grace of the children of Sekhmet, they though her powerful upper body was a gift of the Hippopotamus and they understood that to get between her and her children meant certain death. Most fearsome where the jaws that could crush all armour, jaws like a Crocodile. Am-Mit was the first Ajaba and her kind brought the devastating floods to the great white River. Am-Mit herself passed into the religion of the Egyptians where she stood beside the scales of justice waiting to devour the Heart of the unjust.
This was always our role, we are Inaka mateda - the rainmakers, those who devour the sinfull along with the weak. Our mighty jaws are the gateway to oblivion and those whose time has ended in the lands of life pass through them into the glorious afterlife. We are the favoured of Calash the Unmaker and we laugh as we kill, returning all life to the Ahu from wench it was born. We were the Choosers of the slain, the teeth of Calash, bringers of the grassland rains and the cullers of the flock. The rain that we bring into the lives of others is never welcome, but it is essential and it is a part of the natural order. Our shoulders are broad because we must bare the greatest load of any Bastet."
In the distant past, these shapeshifters were respected for their role as trash collectors. Weak and aged creatures, tribal exiles and outlaws were hunted down and eaten, and bad children were lifted from their beds and taken into the nights.
While the Garou slipped easily into the role of Genocidal monsters, they were not alone. The pride and conceit of the Bastet left them as open to the Wyrm as their canine cousins and the Ajaba suffered the worst of their corruption. As far as the Ajaba are concerned the War of Rage never ended.
The obvious fact that Gaia created the Ajaba for a purpose escaped their fellow Catkind and their sacred duty never received the respect it deserved. The Grondr, those Wereboars slain in the Wars of Rage, also acted as Gaia's trash collectors, removing the unclean from her body before it could harm Her and the Ratkin have shared the Ajaba's role as population controller. None of these breeds seem to be popular among the other Bete and perhaps there is something to be read from that. Those breeds who failed so miserably at the upkeep of Gaia's Impurgium, especially the Bastet and the Garou, seem to reserve a special hate for those to whom the duty has fallen.
What now of their duties in the face of near annihilation? Certainly the snatch and grab breeding tactics of the survivors can be seen as an extension of the Ajaba gift for selecting the weakest and least protected victims, but the rain that falls now comes from the tears of the Ajaba themselves. A legacy of treachery from the other Bastet may have eventual led to the greatest betrayal of all, if the Ajaba turn completely from the task Gaia set them then the Simba have won a great victory for the Wyrm and Asura.
Q) Are Hyenas cats?
A) Well yes and no. No they are not cats, but they are closer to cats than they are to Dogs. The Hyena evolved from the same creature as the true cats. The earliest carnivores, the Miacidae, appeared during Paleocene times (about 60,000,000 years ago). The group probably evolved from an insectivorous ancestor. By late Eocene times two distinct lines were apparent within the Carnivora; the Feloidea (which led to the cats, viverrids, and hyenas) and the Canoidea (dogs, mustelids, bears, and procyonids).
In the foreword to Breedbook: Bastet it states that the other Bastet believe that 'Neither Cat nor Wolf, the Hyena-folk carry bits of us both' which is crap. There’s nothing of the wolf or any canid at all in Hyena folk no matter what they look like to the casual observer. What’s more, given their access to the spiritual nature of the beast world, the Shapeshifters wouldn’t make this sort of mistake.
Q) Are the Ajaba a separate Breed of shape shifters or a tribe of the Bastet?
A) Well when this article was first published, this question was unanswered. However in the years since then, Werewolf: the Apocalypse revised came out which paints the Ajaba as a separate breed. The write up for the Ajaba in Breedbook: Bastet claims 'The Ajaba, never truly cat kind at all, were never well liked, but they served a purpose'. As this is not an 'in character' statement it’s unclear as to whether it's a way of telling us that while Hyena and Cats are closely related, the Bastet breed is for true cats only and the Ajaba are a separate Breed - just as the Gurahl are not members of the Garou nation. If this is true we might well wonder if the Ajaba have tribes in the same way as many other Bete?
Q)Are Ajaba suitable as player Characters?
A) From two comments made by Ethan Skemp I assume he feels that they are. "They aren't mentioned on the Character Creation Chart because theoretically, they're antagonists. However, that doesn't stop them from being my pets... " and "… for those who are interested in roleplaying the poor, oppressed, lovable werehyenas. And bravo to those of you who are. ". Kudos to Mr Skemp.
While the Wyrm tainted Ajaba should be no more or less open the players than the Wyrm tainted garou, they don’t make up the entirety of the breed. There are many Ajaba still loyal to Gaia (even if they are feeling a bit pissed off at their lot in life) available as meat for the grinder. If you can sympathise with the negative personality types of the Simba, the Get of Fenris, the Rokea and the Anastasi, you should have no trouble coming up with a playable Ajaba.
Lies and slander
Disir the Sneak answers some accusations:-
Their blood carries the taint of Asura in his purest form. More than any of us they embody the curse of the Darkness.
Thus the Bastet lump the Ajaba in with the Wyrm tainted, as though we were no different to the Garou. Cahlash is the Unmaker, the entropic force of nature, and Cats perhaps understand his need more than the monosyllabolec Garou, but Asura has no such saving grace. It is the force of corruption; of poison and the bigoted Simba have no evidence to link us to such actions. This statement, claiming that the father of darkness and Asura are one and the same thing, shows more than anything else how little the Bastet understand of their fall from grace.
They attacked our brothers and sisters, fouled the drinking holes, and practiced black magic with the Asura during the nights when the moon had gone missing.
Black tooth allied not only with the Bagheera, but also with vampires and used dark magic to slay the Ajaba at Kilimanjaro. This alliance with the Asura is deemed acceptable because the Simba are the victors, but the losers, the Ajaba, are painted black for such tactics. I would willingly bet my life that to unbiased ears this statement describes the facts of the Simba far more correctly than the actions of the Ajaba. While it would be amiss to claim that the Ajaba are saints, their tactics are far from worthy of sainthood, it is a war for survival they have been fighting. This again suddenly looses impact in light of the propaganda war. Unlike the Simba, unlike the rest of the Bastet, we have remained true to our task.
Our people have watched them sacrifice children of all species and dance with the snake-ridden dakat.
What the fuck? Seems to me that since the massacre some of us may have allied with the Dakat, but that's just rumour. When we were still proud and had our place in the world we were no less vigilant in the battle against Asura than the others and to claim otherwise is the tactic of a monster. We killed the Simba's cubs and they killed ours, I don't know who started it and I won't lower myself to their level by claiming otherwise. That being said, I will suggest you observe what Lions do to their own cubs. Not even starving Hyena butcher their own children, and I believe we wouldn't have thought up such tactics ourselves.
Occasional emissaries have been tortured, skinned alive to provide capes for the hyena kings, then crunched to bits by the Ajaba's huge teeth.
Yep, hands up, guilty as charged, it's a far cop. This practice is an expected reaction in a tit for tat battle, and only a heinous crime to the victim. It kinda depends on how many Ajaba emissaries survived the cultural exchanges and from all reports you could do the math on the fingers of an octopus hand.
The Simba tell a fairytale in which they play the sleeping beauty and the Ajaba play the wicked stepmother. In this Caliah the Ajaba murder some mythical Son of the first Simba tyrant who had been prophesised to unite catkind. Funny how he died then, not a very believable prophecy is it? If you ask me a Messiah who fails to deliver is hardly a messiah, they want to either stop bullshitting or get better seers don't ya think? Still, an interesting cultural myth, it does justify the murderous nature of the Simba child killers. Simba are supposedly still taking revenge for this act in prehistory, destroying the Ajaba's future as the Ajaba had slain the future of the Simba.