OFFICIAL VEKN GANGREL ANTITRIBU NEWSLETTER VOLUME 8 NUMBER 8 August 2005 ******* In this better-late-than-never issue ? FICTION: The Legend of Fingask. Chapter 1: A Walk on the Downs [more d20 Call of Cthulhu-Inspired fiction from the denizens of Legbiter Hall]. DECK: When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Shopping [yet another Una abuses Freak Drive deck]. ******** FICTION: The Legend of Fingask. Chapter 1: A Walk on the Downs One glorious summer evening in the late 1920s a young woman was walking briskly along the crest of the South Downs. The sun was descending slowly into the Solent, and the pearly light reminded her of paintings by Turner. Red Admirals, Painted Ladies and Chalkhill Blues fluttered around the Hemp Agrimony. Life is good, thought Karlotta Dangerfeld as she paused to take in the stupendous view of Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight below. She tried to think back to her former existence in the Soviet Union, but how little she could now recall! maybe I should get a Blini and dip it into a cup of black tea, that seemed to work for Monsieur Proust. Tea! Actually that is a truly topping idea. Must be about 5, time I was back at the flat. As she turned to go down the hill she became aware of a faint scent, a scent that made every hair on her body stiffen. A slightly sour smell but not in itself unpleasant only its associations beetroot soup with dumplings. Questing for its source she saw a small man in a brown suit, a Homburg pulled low down on his head, coming up the path towards her. She noticed his neat little feet in their tight shoes, the way he hunched his shoulders, the way he began to reach ever so casually inside his jacket for something that seemed to stretch it, and she understood with complete certainty that this was a Cheka agent and that he had come for her. As the pistol came out she was already running, running for the life which was slipping away just when it had never seemed better. Sunlight gleamed on the black silencer as the assassin levelled his weapon. There was a faint thutt!! sound and Karlotta gasped and fell. I wonder when he is going to finish me off, she thought, gazing up at the sky. Ah, here he comes now. A shadow fell over her. "Are you alright?" "Of course I'm not alright, you just bloody well shot me." "No, I just shot our friend from the Bureau, who WAS going to shoot you. Come on, get up. Looks like we're going to have to find you ANOTHER new life." "ChaCharles?" "The same. Come along now. My car is up there by the road." In the car she felt much better, especially after having discreetly checked everywhere she might possibly have been shot, and found no holes. "So, erm, thanks for saving me and all that. Have you, er, been watching me long?" "It's my job. Don't worry, a female agent took over when you were bathing and stuff like that. We just couldn't believe the Cheka would let you go so easily, and we were right. Is this where you live?" "Yes, come on in and have a cup of black tea and a blini. You can have pickled herring, too." "Alright." Inside Karlotta's little flat the breakfast things were still unwashed and the mail lay on the doormat; one thick letter in a brown manila envelope, addressed to her in a strange spidery script. Instead of a stamp the words "By Hand" adorned the top right corner. Taking all this in at a glance, Charles Bailey swiftly plucked the letter from her grasp. "That's my letter!" "It could also be your funeral. Let me just do a few checks, then you can have it back." Some gingerly eyeballing, sniffing and palpating later Charles had to acknowledge that the letter seemed harmless, and he handed it back to Karlotta who opened it with a paperknife. Inside were several sheets of foolscap, some covered with spidery handwriting, others blank. And this is what Karlotta read as she prepared and ate tea. "Dear Karlotta, I was so very pleased to learn from Dear Colum that you managed to get out of Russia and are now living in England. Of course he was unable to give me your address but he kindly undertook to deliver this letter to you, and since you are reading it he must have succeeded. But I am running ahead of myself, you must be wondering who on earth would want to write to you apart from those wretched Cheka chaps and that Beastly Stalin fellow who, believe me, would certainly have dipped these sheets into concentrated Yigotinaloid, so that merely handling them would have meant you dropped dead shortly before reaching this full stop. Luckily for you I don't work for the Cheka. In fact I don't really work at all these days, nerves you know, had a bit of a nasty scare during the war. O, I dabble a bit, trying to tidy up some of the stuff that poor Mr McNab and my Late Husband were working on before they [here the writing was much scratched out for several lines and Karlotta could make nothing of it]. Anyway, to get back to the point. My name is Shona MacOnochie but before I was married it was Threipland, and I had a sister named Elspeth, who married a Baltic German named Dangerfeld - your father, my dear! So I am your long-lost Auntie! Isn't that grand? I knew that your poor parents were murdered during the revolution but I didn't know until Colum told me that YOU had survived, and now I would be ever so grateful and happy if you would come up to see me in Scotland. My house is called Fingask and we have a lovely view over the Tay towards Fife. I have ever so many books, numerous ornate bushes and a swimming pool, the temperature of which is quite tolerable for about two days in mid-summer, always provided one smears oneself liberally with bear-fat before taking a dip. Twice a day there is a bus to Perth where there are some absolutely terrific shoe shops and a dressmaker. Also one can bicycle down to Inverue or Pitdargo which are absolutely BURSTING with rosy-cheeked young farmers, no great brains perhaps but WONDERFUL bodies. In fact, if you come we could hold a dance here, used to do quite a bit of that during the war. Do come! It would be ever so jolly. Just in case, I enclose a ticket from Portsmouth to Perth. Telegraph me when you get to Edinburgh and I'll send the car to pick you up. Your Affectionate Aunt, Shona. PS Saturn is exceptionally bright at this time of the year. Do have a look." Karlotta folded the letter thoughtfully and passed it over to Charles. "Is this another Cheka trap?" Charles scanned down, and frowned. "Well, she mentions Colum. He should be here any minute, so we can ask." By the time Karlotta had finished brewing the coffee, Charles's prediction was vindicated, and the slightly wavery form of Colum O'Keeth was settling itself into the flat's least uncomfortable armchair. "Thanks, old girl! Sorry I'm late, Charles. Saw a Humming-Bird Hawkmoth just down the lane doncha know. Did you get Shona's letter?" "So it was genuine?" "Yes, Shona's alright. Daft as a brush, of course, but who could blame her? Any stuff about muscular farmers in her missive?" "Take a look." Colum read the letter, and raised an eyebrow. "Even for Shona this is a pretty mad document. What do you think these swirls in the margin are, here?" Karlotta looked. "O. My. God. It's Classic Hyperborean lemesee "Two squigs are better than a poke in the eye by a sharp maiden", nonono, it's "Hold the blank sheets up to Saturn's light." And so, as the last of the sun faded and Saturn crept over the Eastern horizon, the three companions were by the window, holding the letter up to the planet-light. The paper glowed with strange luminous symbols. And if you want to know what the symbols said, you will have to read the second part of the Legend of Fingask. ******* DECK: When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Shopping [yet another Una abuses Freak Drive deck]. Just as the Fulani of Northern Nigeria are the most beautiful humans in the world [Czech/Slovak women IMO running them a close second], the Finno-Ugrians are the most intelligent. Nowadays concentrated in Finland and Hungary, but with outlying populations all over Northern Russia, these extraordinary people regularly churn out innovative mathematicians, scientists, musicians, inventors and economists. Occasionally they turn their mighty brains towards Jyhad/VTES deck-building and here is a third-hand version of one such deck, which I built from a Finnish idea communicated to me by Rob Treasure. It's an abuse-Una-and-hunts-not-counting-for-NRA deck, so not totally unprecedented on this NG. My excuse for posting it is that it's a bit cheaper to build than most such decks, and it works OK as a shock-deck in our playgroup. DECK: When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Shopping BUILT BY: Legbiter, who has a friend in Pinsk, who has a friend in Minsk [etc] CONCEPT: Una can play Freak Drives for Free. She has simply SCADS of disciplines. Hunts no longer count under NRA, so you can cycle Hand-jamming freak drives. C'mon, you're bright guys and gals, you can work the rest of it out! CRYPT [12 Vampire cards] 5 x Una 7 x Frederick the Weak LIBRARY  MASTER  Blood Doll x 2 Direct Intervention Dreams of the Sphinx Gang Territory Pentex Subversion Waste management Operation MINION  ACTIONS  Ablative Skin Ambush Army of Rats Arson Blessing of Chaos Bum's Rush Carrion Coffin Covenant of Blood Eternal Vigilance Fire Dance Harass Shadow of the Beast War Party ACTION MODIFIERS  Beast Meld Freak Drive x 28 The Kiss of Ra COMBAT  Form of Mist COMBO  Rapid Change EQUIPMENT  Blood Tears of Kephran Desert Eagle IR Goggles Ivory Bow Leather Jacket Palatial Estate Sire's Index Finger RETAINERS  Homunculus Jackie Therman JS Simmons, Esq. Murder of Crows Owl Companion Raptor Raven Spy Tasha Morgan Mr Winthrop There's probably a case for a Twisted Forest, maybe even a Creepshow Casino in the masters. But this is an OK deck. ******* And that's it for August! September's offering will be following hot on its heels, unless I die of excitement during the final Ashes Test. See you all before long!