Nowbi Brain in a Jar

Playlist: War Machine - AC/DC

Makren Jirma, East of Cairo, Egypt, June 19th, 1940

The party returned to the surface, checking that the last of the native workers had indeed fled and that no visible hazards were to be seen. Making camp in a defensible location, they set guards and snatched some sleep, ever alert for an attack that never came.

On his shift, Marcus Brody spent some time studying the blasphemous Cultes des Goules, and could be seen muttering to himself as he did so.

Makren Jirma, East of Cairo, Egypt, 08:16 June 20th, 1940

The next morning, a cloud of dust heralded the arrival of a British Army lorry, with two French ladies in the front and ten squaddies in the back. Anné and Francoise had brought the reinforcements.

Lt David Lethbridge-Stewart

The platoon was led by a young lieutenant called David Lethbridge-Stewart, and on being introduced to Joe Vandeleur he saluted and began to talk tactics. Swiftly, five of the privates were assigned to guard the surface along with Francoise, while five more - Bert Smith, Cyril Mason, James Dawson, Fred Scott and Wilbur Taylor - were added to the group for the plunge into the ruins.

After a healthy breakfast, Cyril drove the lorry out of the trench and the team hauled the stone doors open.

Inside, the stonework was smooth, in better condition than most Ancient Egyptian structures and – most telling – had no writings or pictures on whatsoever. For an Egyptian tomb, that’s unheard of. There were no dust or loose fragments. Looking closely, Marcus realized that the surface was coated with some kind of clear, hard substance that sealed the surface of the stone.

On the wall facing the entry passage, a large thin sheet of unknown metal was fixed to the wall. Great columns of the same strange script from the Finds tent were inscribed on it.

The passage was illuminated with the same strange, dim, purplish lightglobes as the mines on the other side of the site.

After a little debate, the decision was made to turn left. Two passages joined the main corridor, one to the right and one to the left a little further on. The one to the right led down several hundred yards to a work-face, by the looks of it some kind of collapse, with simple native tools and more carry-baskets scattered around. Lethbridge-Stewart left Privates Dawson and Scott at the junction to this passage and the rest carried on. The left junction turned short passage opening into a room maybe 40' wide by 30'. Pte Taylor and the Lieutenant led the way, with Marcus and Cyril behind, followed by the others; Mason and Smith were left at the doorway.

As the Lieutenant and Pte Taylor crossed the threshold, a deafeningly loud amplified voice began to shriek and howl insanely from ahead of them in a language nobody recognized. Weapons were pointed in all directions but there was clearly no-one else in the room. The nerve-abrading shrieks and yells went on for some time, and gradually the listeners began to realize that a second voice was also speaking. This one was quieter, completely calm and coherent - and speaking cultured English as it greeted Marcus by name.

Douglas Mowell

Brain in a Jar

"Marcus, old chap! How very good to see you again. You remember me, Douglas Mowell? Do help me up, there's a good fellow; I seem to be slightly stuck." Marcus stared around wildly. He remembered Mowell well, a fellow 'bone-hunter' but for the life of him he couldn't see anyone.

Cautiously the party advanced, scanning the room they'd discovered. It looked more like a store-room than anything else, lined with rows of shelves carrying stacks of thin metal sheets inscribed with the script, odd-shaped metal objects, some Egyptian relics and two shining steel cylinders 1’ tall and 10” across. These last had strange connectors on the front to which were attached small devices of similar design to the alien machines they had seen elsewhere.

The sounds of speech were coming from some of these devices, one attached to each cylinder. Each also had a small unit with various lenses attached. Gradually, it dawned on Marcus with horror, pity and revulsion; his erstwhile acquaintance had been grotesquely shorn of his body and either his head or just his brain now lived blasphemously on, imprisoned in this container and apparently ignorant of the fact.

Mowell's last memory was of arriving at a hitherto unknown site outside Cairo in early 1932, and a flash of light - he was clearly unsettled to discover that it was now 1940. He repeated his demands to be 'helped up' from his fall, until Joe muttered to Cyril, "At some point we'll have to tell him he's just a brain in a jar," at which point Mowell began to become distressed.

Keeper Note: A critical roll for Psychology here, good thing, as without it Mowell would have gone over the edge immediately.

Glaring at Joe, Marcus kept him talking, soothing and reassuring him, assisted by Cyril, and distracting him by discussing some of the finds in the site. At one point, he held up one of the strips of script in front of the attached lenses, and Mowell said, "Ah, yes, let's see - Mi-Go Expedition Log, 432, describes the successful discovery of high quality Pitchblende (whatever that is) and progress on unearthing the Hall of Knowledge. Says something about a local conflict and reinforcements brought from Yuggoth. Was there something you didn't understand, old bean?" Marcus was astounded; Mowlem clearly could read the script of these ... what did he call them? Mi-Go?

"What's your friend over there saying?" asked Joe on a whim. Mowlem chuckled. "Him? He's raving mad. Keeps screaming for the Gods to save him, for Anubis to guide him to Duat for Osiris to judge him. Says he's a pharaoh, Kloretmanpa, though I've never heard of him myself. Plus he's raving about his ancestors again; Nakhrenhotari, Khatra, Tefaten, Sotepes - no Dynasty I've ever heard of."

Marcus busied himself rubbing some of the sheets and he and Cyril tried to use Mowell's translations to get a grasp of the language. It wasn't easy, but they were beginning to grasp faint rudiments. However, despite their best efforts, Mowell's mind was beginning to collapse under the horror of realizing his fate.

Suddenly, with no warning, the room was lit up bright as day by a bolt of lightning blasting down the corridor behind them, and a massive detonation shook the whole complex. Cowering back into the stub passage, Anné, Birapeer and Joe could see Privates Mason and Smith sprawled in the passage, their clothes smouldering slightly. Across and slightly right, Pte Dawson and Scott were peering out of their cover with frightened faces. Birapeer cautiously angled his mirror round the corner and looked down the passage in the direction they (and the bolt) had come; there was nothing there.

Joe readied himself, then lunged out and down, grabbing the ankle of Private Smith and dragging him towards cover. Instantly, another bolt of electricty lashed out, but it struck the wall where his head should have been, rather than where it was now he was bent over, and he hauled the casualty to safety with nothing worse than all his hair standing on end.

The soldier was alive, and as Marcus looked him over he realized that he had no significant injuries. His uniform, skin and hair were scorched in places, especially on the side that had been facing up the corridor; and every muscle was locked tight. This was normal for electric shock, but a shock large enough to maintain tetany for this length of time should be fatal. It looked as if he might pull through, though, so they made him as comfortable as possible and returned their attention to the theoretical enemy.

Voorish Sign

Thank Azathoth we finally found a workable reveal and I can stop calling them 'unknown alien fingies'!

Borrowing the mirror, Marcus angled it around the corner, then spoke some muttered words and made a peculiar hand gesture. For the others, nothing else happened, but for him, his perceptions altered subtly. He could see hints of threads of power here and there, and dark hints at unspeakable things - hints of things that made him quake with terror - lurking just out of sight. As he looked into the mirror, he could see a shimmering half-image down the corridor, between them and the exit - two more of the alien creatures, presumably the Mi-Go, lurking invisibly. One hefted a lightning gun.

With a clatter of boots, Birapeer suddenly sprang up and bolted out into the corridor, heading along towards the end 50' away where it opened into another room. Instantly, the armed Mi-Go lifted its' weapon and fired, but the speedy Sikh was just ahead of it and dived into cover before the bolt reached him. Using the distraction, Joe leaned sideways and brought up his Sten, firing blind and sending a full magazine of 9mm rounds howling down the corridor. Despite the deafening roar in the enclosed space, he was fairly sure he heard impacts, and Marcus could see bullets tearing through one of the Mi-Go. It dropped with a splatter as he ducked back into cover.

Meanwhile, Birapeer glanced around the room he was in. No moving or living being was visible; the long, low room held eight long half-cylinders of metal set into the floor, each the length of two men. On most, small panels similar to those on the Processing Machine winked and flickered. Leaning close, he could hear a faint humming. There seemed to be no threat, and no advantage to be siezed. He turned back to the main corridor, pulled out the "doubled" purple light globe, and rolled it down the hall. It reached roughly the location of the source of the lightning bolt and stopped suddenly with a "squish" noise. With a ripple, the corpse of the Mi-Go, horribly mashed, came into view; of the survivor or the lightning gun there was no sign.

The two Privates in the opposite corridor stared in horror at the corpse, and Pte James Dawson suddenly screamed in despair and terror and fled down the dead-end excavation corridor. Joe, Lt Lethbridge-Stewart and Birapeer advanced down the hall, while Cyril and Marcus returned to the store-room; Marcus to continue prying information on Mi-Go operations from the rapidly disintegrating personality of Douglas Mowell and Cyril to bag up the relics and stele from the shelves.

Good ol' classic hand grenade

Further down the hall and past the entrance turning, Birapeer and Joe paused to set up a hand grenade connected to a tripwire. It stretched right across the corridor, and they made sure to advise everyone where it was. Then they moved on to the T junction at the end and peered in each direction. To the left, the corridor receded into shadows and seemed to open into a room. To the right, it appeared to do the same - but a suggestion of movement caught their eyes. Birapeer turned back to shout back towards the others: "Incoming!"

A moment later, something heavy stomped out of the shadows at the end of the right-hand passage, and then another. For a few more ground-shaking steps they couldn't see them properly and then they passed into the pool of radiance of the next light-globe. For a moment, they wished that they hadn't.

Augmented Mi-Go. Sadly, the only picture I could find was of the official miniatures. Nice though!

It was obvious that these were Mi-Go, originally, but significant percentages of their bodies had been either blended with or replaced by machinery and devices of the same materials as the other Mi-Go machines. It had become apparent that Mi-Go in their natural form were distinctly vulnerable and not at all durable; these were clearly an answer to this. Heavily armoured, they had a lightning gun built into the end of one appendage and some other kind of weapon into the other.

Birapeer brought up his shotgun and unleashed a barrel at the approaching monstrosities. The stab of flame hurled dozens of pellets at the hideous creatures, but they glanced harmlessly away. Lethbridge-Stewart lifted his service revolver. "Don't bother!" snapped Birapeer, turning to withdraw. The officer fired his shot anyway, staring in disbelief as it glanced off the armoured Mi-Go with a spang! and a fat blue spark. All three turned and fled back around the corner, pelting headlong down the corridor and jumping carefully over the tripwire. The monsters appeared around the corner, already moving faster than the humans and rapidly accelerating. They walked straight into the trap, and the blast bounced one of them around quite violently.

Anné had had time to unsling her rifle, and drew a careful bead with l'Etranger. The big rifle barked, and a bullet cracked off one of the armoured creatures. Staring, she moved sideways and headed up the entrance corridor towards the surface, cranking the bolt action as she did. Birapeer jinked violently to avoid a lightning bolt, and a thin green beam not previously seen ripped past the Lieutenant's head. The three followed Anné onto the ramp heading up towards the exit, Joe hurling a grenade back at the advancing creatures and Birapeer slapping a fresh clip into his Italian SMG. The blast seemed to rattle them a bit, which was encouraging. Joe passed a second grenade to the Sikh and prepared a third himself.

Back in the store-room, Cyril was desperately trying to persuade the remaining Privates (Taylor, Mason and Smith) to stay back in their cover. They were preparing to ignore him, but Marcus weighed in and they agreed. As he finished speaking, a voice began to speak in everyone's heads. Buzzing and pausing, clearly the voice of the Mi-Go, it coaxed and wheedled, trying to offer them whatever they desired for their co-operation. As Cyril watched, momentarily frozen in disbelief, Marcus Brody pulled his pistol and quite calmly shot Private Taylor, wounding him slightly as the soldier twisted out of the way. A moment later, Private Bert Smith lifted his rifle and put a .303 round into Marcus, dropping him in his tracks. Finally reacting, Cyril lashed out with a boxer's punch and laid the defecting soldier out.

Cyril, Pte Taylor and Pte Mason stared at each other for a moment, until each was sure the other was still who he should be. Then they stepped cautiously over the sprawled forms of Marcus and Pte Smith and peered into the corridor, getting a glance at the Mi-Go before ducking back as Pte Scott, in cover across the hall, fired his rifle at them. Cyril armed a grenade and hurled it blind around the corner, aiming for the aliens, but it bounced into the other corridor and blew Pte Scott to fragments.

At the entrance ramp, Birapeer, Joe and Lethbridge-Stewart backed up the slope, following Anné who'd reached the top and was yelling a warning at the soldiers left at the surface. As the two armoured Mi-Go, now trailing smoke and leaking ichor, reached the foot of the ramp they fired again. This time the thin green beam connected, drilling through Lethbridge-Stewart's thigh with no resistance and leaving a cauterised hole. The officer collapsed. Birapeer and Joe threw their grenades, bringing the Mi-Go walkers to a halt and allowing them to finish them off with their SMGs.

Session Date: 24th April 2018