Poll

Which entry best captures the spirit of its setting and/or the contest theme?

Steerpike's Sarkomandi
5 (38.5%)
Newb Again's The Amazing Mackin Carnival Extraordinaire and Co
2 (15.4%)
Khyron1144's Ghouls of Afghanistan
6 (46.2%)

Total Members Voted: 0

Voting closed: December 10, 2012, 07:13:20 AM

Author Topic: [Monthly Contest Vote] Nomadic November  (Read 1623 times)

Nomadic

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[Monthly Contest Vote] Nomadic November
« on: December 03, 2012, 07:13:20 AM »
Voting runs through the next seven days. Let us know who you think best captured the theme of the setting and/or of the contest in general.

IC: Steerpike's Sarkomandi
Setting(s): Superbright's Black Chamber and/or Kindling's War on Horror

REPORT 42: Sunday, November 4th, 2007

CLASSIFED TOP SECRET CASE CHARNEL REVERIE, Department of Defense, November 4th, 2007
CLASSIFED TOP SECRET CASE PENUMBRAL MUSTELID, Department of Defense, November 4th, 2007

BACKGROUND:

This report concerns an encounter with the Sarkomandi people reputed to inhabit parts of Nimruz, Helmand, Farah, Ghor, Herat, and other regions of western Afghanistan, as well as parts of northern Pakistan.  To those unfamiliar with the Sarkomandi a brief background is here included.

The origins of the Sarkomandi nomads are unclear.  Quasi-mythic accounts hold that they originally inhabited the Plateau of Tsang in the legendary steppe-region of Leng, suggesting kinship with the infamous Tcho-Tcho tribes of Southeast Asia or even the “Men of Leng,” the supposedly satyr-like prehistoric indigenes of Leng that most paleoanthropologists now believe were probably a tribe of ancient hominids, likely relatives of the Denisova hominins of Siberia (see attached addendum subsection ii).  Alhazred makes cryptic references to "Sarkamond" as the "gate of the abyss," a ruinous city of "black broken pillars."  What caused this devastation the Al Azif leaves unmentioned.

Other theories and legends abound.  Ethnologists have posited links with the Baloch, Kuchis, and Dom people, with some arguing that the Sarkomandi are the modern-day descendents of the Indo-European Yuezhi or Tocharians who migrated south into Bactria just before the beginning of the Common Era.  More outlandish accounts suggest that the Sarkomandi are actually one of the ten "Lost Tribes" of Israel, a theory that has also been formulated with respect to the Pashtuns of Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Still others contend that the Sarkomandi are the descendents of the Biblical Lilith or are the offspring of [DATA EXPUNGED].  The highly insular nature of the Sarkomandi, and their extremely low numbers, has complicated further research.  Sarkomandi display a broad array of phenotypes, though most are notably thinner and paler than members of other ethnic groups in the region.

Even less is known about Sarkomandi cultural or religious practices than about their origins.  They do not appear to adhere to any familiar version of Islam; other local tribes and nomadic bands claim that the Sarkomandi practice sihr – that is, "magic" or sorcery.  Previous encounters and reports suggest they practice a form of shamanism with elements of Indo-Iranian polytheistic Vedic religion and [DATA EXPUNGED], but this is mostly speculation.  Though evidence up to this point has been scarce, rumors of Sarkomandi ritual cannibalism are widespread.  A fierce warrior people, the Sarkomandi sometimes find employment as mercenaries and bandits, though most seem to make their living as goatherds and shepherds.  Historical evidence indicates they may have preyed on caravans plying the Silk Road.  During the civil war in Afghanistan following Soviet withdrawal scattered reports indicate that the Sarkomandi fought alongside the guerilla forces of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and may have been employed as expert torturers.  Apart from being extremely skilled marksmen and ferocious in close-quarter fighting the Sarkomandi have a reputation for near-preternatural stealth and cunning.

Most Sarkomandi speak Dari, Pashto, or both, but reports suggest that they have their own language as well, a form of "hissing" or "chittering" speech with no known linguistic cognates.  The Sarkomandi have always possessed an unwholesome reputation, having been labeled "ghilan" (that is, "ghouls" – though no solid connection to MANHATTAN CANINE has been established), "vetala," or "upyr."  They are known to extensively modify their bodies, filing their teeth, ritually scarring their skin, branding their bodies to indicate rank, and tattooing their faces and arms.

REPORT:

On November 4th, 2007 a joint patrol of Afghan National Army troops and members of the United States 4th Infantry Division stationed at Forward Operating Base Whiskey in the Ghor Province found themselves beset by a severe snowstorm in the foothills of the Hindu Kush, █ miles from Chaghcharan at coordinates [DATA EXPUNGED].  Cpt. █████, a Black Chamber Field Operative (code-name: PENUMBRAL MUSTELID), was attached to the patrol, though the other members of the squad were unaware of her status, mission, or abilities (see report ref. 472/56).  Meteorological analysis indicates winds over 45 mph and a sudden drop in temperature, plunging to 10º F, with little to no warning (see attached addendum subsection vii for a full weather report).  The squad lost all radio contact, and all other communications methods proved equally unfeasible.  Extremely heavy snowfall of approximately 3-5 ft./hour made the terrain increasingly difficult for vehicular navigation: the patrol attempted to return to FOB Whiskey in their M1114 up-Armored HMMWV and BRDM-2 Armoured Personnel Carrier but without treads both vehicles quickly became stuck in the snow.  Shortly after the vehicles became disabled Cpl. █████ claimed to have spotted "a figure" watching the patrol from a nearby hill, though line of sight was quickly lost in the snow.  Cpl. █████ then bolted without warning in the direction of the hills, ignoring the protests of his squad-mates.

Leaving several men to guard the vehicles the patrol followed Cpl. █████, but thick snowfall made locating the Cpl. problematic.  Presently members of the patrol pursuing Cpl. █████ came upon an unknown valley which suddenly "appeared out of the snow," with boot-prints leading inside (note: this valley has not been located on any map or satellite photograph).  As they made their way into the valley they discovered several unusual statues of winged, leonine figures resembling the Mesopotamian mythological beings known as a lamassu (see attached photographs a-d), as well as what appeared to be the eroded remnants of stairs carved into the ground and traces of unfamiliar writing on the walls which resemble Karosthi letters (see attached photographs e-h), though the language is unknown.  Boot-prints continued through the thinning snow.  As the patrol passed the statues one of the Afghan National Army soldiers, Askar █████, began compulsively reciting Quranic verses and refused to go any further, even when given a direct order.  Askar █████ was escorted back to the vehicles while the rest of the patrol continued deeper into the valley and discovered a cave entrance near the back of the valley with two more statues flanking it, similar to the ones near the valley's entrance.  PENUMBRAL MUSTELID ordered the patrol inside to investigate the cave, still hoping to locate the missing Cpl. █████.

Once inside the tunnels several members of the patrol began reporting feelings of drowsiness, fatigue, impaired cognition, and adventitious synaesthesia (see attached medical report subsection iii).  Pvt. ██████████ described the darkness inside the cave as "nightmare-coloured" and the stone walls as being "the colour of groans."  Several squad-members noted sensations of being observed.  Investigation of the caverns quickly revealed a labyrinthine warren of tunnels, some of them natural, others obviously man-made, roofs supported by wood.  Though there were no obvious signs of al-Qaeda or Taliban presence the obvious utility of such a network as an insurgency hideout was remarked by several members of the patrol, with comparisons drawn to the "hidden fortress" of Tora Bora and similar Taliban redoubts (for further reading see attached annotated bibliography by Robert Lee Hadden, "Adits, Caves, Karizi-Qanats, and Tunnels in Afghanistan").  An "animal smell" was discernible throughout the tunnels and other evidence of occupation was discovered, such as wagons, stacks of crates, and other supplies.  Several members of the patrol reported intensification of previously described symptoms and began suffering from microsleeps, hypnogogic jerks, phosphenes, and [DATA EXPUNGED] (see attached medical report subsection iv).

At this point an echo could be heard in the tunnels, various described as "sobbing" or "whimpering," followed by an unmistakable scream and frantic pleading distinctly in the voice of Cpl. █████.  The patrol hastened through the caves in an attempt to locate their beleaguered comrade only to run directly into an indeterminate number of Sarkomandi nomads armed with a mix of AK-47 assault rifles, TOZ-194 12 Gauge shotguns, TT-30 and Makarov semiautomatic pistols, shamshir sabres and pulwar blades, and pesh-kabz fighting daggers, amongst other armaments.  The Sarkomandi nomads were garbed in shalwar-kameez and had filed teeth "like fangs" and long fingernails.  More of the nomads quickly appeared from behind the patrol, cutting off escape.  A brief firefight ensued in which LCpl. ████████ suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen while Askar ████████ was stabbed repeatedly in the chest and suffered sudden cardiac death (see attached medical report subsection v).  The Sarkomandi seemed to possess a keen advantage in the darkness and quickly subdued the remaining members of the patrol, who were all suffering from acute fatigue.  PENUMBRAL MUSTELID attempted to use her abilities but was hit over the head with a rifle butt and temporarily lost consciousness.

Members of the joint patrol were conveyed through a series of tunnels to a large cavern described as a "subterranean shrine" dedicated to a stone idol resembling an "eyeless giant" or a "worm-thing" with a huge, many-fanged mouth, described by Pvt. ██████████ as "a fucking sarlacc!"  This description is consistent with the ENE CHARNEL REVERIE.  While numerous Sarkomandi nomads entered the chamber the patrol's captors injected the now bound and gagged hostages with an unknown chemical substance producing muscle atonia.  Descriptions suggest an experience similar to post dormital sleep paralysis, including feelings of panic, terror, vulnerability, and difficulty breathing (see attached medical report subsection vi and chemical analysis A1).  While several aged Sarkomandi, presumably clan elders, began hissing rhythmically in a ritualistic fashion the wounded LCpl. ████████ was brought before the idol resembling CHARNEL REVERIE and rapidly vivisected by several Sarkomandi using serrated knives.  Other drugged members of the squad report that even after being cut into a dozen pieces LCpl. ████████ continued screaming, while his heart continued pumping even after removed.  If this was a hallucination it was shared by all soldiers present.  The eviscerated organs and limbs were then distributed to the gathered Sarkomandi nomads for ingestion.

At this point Black Chamber Field Operative PENUMBRAL MUSTELID regained her full faculties and used her abilities to shift herself and surviving allies to [DATA EXPUNGED], enabling members of the patrol to escape the cavern-complex, though while in-phase with [DATA EXPUNGED] PENUMBRAL MUSTELID detected "a looming, chittering presence" moving towards her, possibly the inchoate shade of CHARNEL REVERIE itself or some other ENE, possibly a lingering side-effect of whatever psychoactive substance she had been injected with.  Shifting back into standard Minkowski spacetime once outside of the caverns, PENUMBRAL MUSTELID sent out an emergency request for Black Chamber assistance using her Class 6 Quantum Pseudo-Telepathy Implant, invoking Protocol 33C.  An HH-60M Black Hawk was despatched from [REDACTED] and remaining patrol members were evacuated to FOB Whiskey.  Those personnel who remained with the vehicles were never found, and both the M1114 up-Armored HMMWV and the BRDM-2 Armoured Personnel Carrier remain unaccounted for.

RECCOMENDATION: As the report seems to suggest a possible link between CHARNEL REVERIE and the Sarkomandi tribesmen, any Sarkomandi nomads discovered by Black Chamber Operatives should be detained for interrogation.  Extreme caution in dealings with Sarkomandi highly recommended.  Field Operatives expecting to deal with Sarkomandi nomads should be issued willow dreamcatchers and temporary tattoos of the Elder Sign, should be given instruction in lucid dreaming techniques, and should be dosed with potent psychostimulants (pref. α-methylphenethylamine or equivalent).

IC: Newb Again's The Amazing Mackin Carnival Extraordinaire and Co.
Setting: All Aboard!

The tale before you is not a happy one... Although it is interesting so I guess that's all that matters.

The Ring Show Narcarsi was a sideshow attraction that went all across Anolon! Come one come all! Come for the food, come for the talent! Come for the chance to see people much prettier than you splat to the ground!

The circus was run by a tyrant of a ringmaster named Jac Narcarsi, who was infatuated with the Head trapeezee's wife. In a classic tale of envy and greed, the ringmaster rigged the head trapeezee to his grim demise.

What happened next though no one can quite explain... Narcarsi, off to try to persuade the widow of his victim got ran over by the locomotive that carried their circus train. No one can explain why... The engineer had a rock solid alibi in that he was off partying with all of the other circus employees. But to be honest, everyone would've bought him a drink if he did do it. Nobody looked into it, and Narcarsi went on unmissed.

Still the circus did fall apart after that, and it came time to break up the company. The widowed trapeezee only wanted the locomotive. No one objected, as that meant more money for them, and the cars and everything else went to the highest bidders.

But on a happy note, the Widow who's name is Yel Mackin, went on to found a travelling carnival that goes all around Anolon. And unlike the last time Yel is actually quite good to her employees! Dental would be nice though...

but the whole picture is actually quite... Fascinating...

Yel took up three roles when she founded her carnival: She took up Ringmaster, Head Trapeezee, and as the trains locomotive engineer... She had no formal training in the ways of magical machine usage, but she dedicated herself to learning. Why the dedication? Well you see.... The locomotive is her.. husband....



Arcanists have not figured out how possession works, and honestly they probably should never figure out how... But theories abound. Maybe the need to finish unfinished business reinforces a strong bond to something, maybe love compels them to protect loved ones after the next life.. Maybe some people just won't leave no matter how badly you want them to, but they hate you enough to annoy you for the rest of your miserable existence...

The head trapeezee's name has been lost to time, and honestly that's how his "wife" want's it. It's not even known if "Mackin" is Yel's maiden name, the surname of her husband, or a name she made up. Still she must love him to still keep around  him even though he quite literally gained a ton of weight..

The rest of the Company do know that somethings going on, but if anybody knows the particulars, they aren't talking. Maybe it's because she treats everyone so well, or maybe they're just scared of her cause they think she fell off the train, if you know what I mean.......

IC: Khyron1144's Ghouls of Afghanistan
Setting: War on Horror

Day 1
The drones didn't spot them.  The sentries didn't see them until they were on top of us.  When someone did get a shot off, yeah one of them dropped, but the rest kept coming.

They tore apart Corporal ---- and Sergeant ----  right there on the spot and started eating.  Us, we were not so fortunate.  They took us alive and carried us off.  Me and Lieutenant ---- .

They look kinda human.  I mean they stand upright and have hand-like hands rather than paws.  They also have muzzle with sharp teeth, irregularly placed patches of fur, and claw-like fingernails.  They can't be human, right?

They take us underground into a tunnel.  That must be how they got here undetected.

After being marched forever in that tunnel, they take us up to the surface, where there's an encampment.  Me and the L.T. are thrown into a cage that looks like it's mostly made of bones lashed together with some kind of sinew.  I don't want to know whose bones or what kind of sinew.

Day 2
They give us some horrible fetid water and let us out of the cage.  Then they strike camp.  They don't have pack animals.  Everyone is carrying something strapped to their back.  They even load down me and the LT.

They force us to march across the desert sands.  Once in a while, they give us more horrible water.

At night, they set up camp, and it's back into the cage.

Day 3
They throw some raw meat into the cage.  Me and the LT fight over it.  I get the lion's share.

Pack up and march again.

Day 6, I think

They haven't fed us since at least three days ago.  The LT is starting to lag behind.  Our captors poke at him, pinch him, and occasionally give him a small bite to encourage him to move.

Day 7

The LT collapses.  

I'm starving.

I bite into the LT's shoulder.  He doesn't resist.  Blood seeps into the meat I tear away.  I swallow it eagerly.

Day 8

I look down at my hands and see the claw-like fingernails I have now.

My brothers are proud of me.  

We'll raid a Taliban camp for fresh meat tomorrow.

khyron1144

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Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] Nomadic November
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2012, 09:17:37 PM »
Does this mean I won?
What's a Minmei and what are its ballistic capabilities?

According to the Unitarian Jihad I'm Brother Nail Gun of Quiet Reflection


My campaign is Terra
Please post in the discussion thread.

LoA

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Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] Nomadic November
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2012, 09:47:15 PM »
Quote from: khyron1144
Does this mean I won?

If it did, then congratulations! I was rooting for you.

LD

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Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] Nomadic November
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2012, 11:10:29 PM »
Yes; congratulations!

Nomadic

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Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] Nomadic November
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2012, 06:20:40 PM »
Ah yes sorry, I got sidetracked there. Congrats khyron

Magnus Pym

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Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] Nomadic November
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2012, 06:51:12 PM »
Congratulations man

khyron1144

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Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] Nomadic November
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2012, 07:15:30 PM »
I'd like to thank the Academy, Elvis, The Gods, and my momma...


Seriously, though, thanks.
What's a Minmei and what are its ballistic capabilities?

According to the Unitarian Jihad I'm Brother Nail Gun of Quiet Reflection


My campaign is Terra
Please post in the discussion thread.