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The Devil's Due: The Mongolian Horde

Discussion in 'Choose Your Own Adventure Land' started by Major_Blackhart, Jul 9, 2013.

  1. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

    Major_Blackhart
    Joined:
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    Location:
    Jersey for now
    Year 1937
    Location The reformed Mongolian Empire

    If you want to know the timeline for this alternative universe LP, see the following thread:
    http://www.rpgcodex.net/forums/index.php?threads/dieselpunk.84294/

    You don't have to read the thread before commenting on this one and making choices, but it certainly helps.

    Mood music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gt3J1Uip3jc


    The wind blew harshly, fiercely, and were the men under Sukhbataar not of the Mongolian Empire, they would have turned their heads away from the biting cold. Instead, defiantly they stared into the wind, eyes tearing, lips curled back into sneers, revealing yellowed teeth and dark gums. Sukhbataar stood silently, soaking in the moment of personal triumph. He had made it his mission since arriving from Afghanistan to hunt down every traitorous Chinese who bowed to the goddamned KMT rather than the Khagan Tomor Khan.

    Fresh from butchering the treacherous children of Mohammed, terrorizing them with, of all things, pigs, slaughtering them wholesale and hacking pigs to death with his saber, and burying the remains all into one great pit for all to see, Sukhbataar was bloodthirsty to say the least. The half-Cossack Mongol had a divine hatred of all things that were to be defiant to their Khagan, to their Khan of all Khans. And he considered the Chinese yellow bastards to be among the most devious of creatures, even more so than the slaves to Allah.

    Thirty men of Sichuan province knelt before him, all Chinamen, all gutless yellow cowards that swore loyalty, unswerving, first to Roman Khan, then to Tomor Khan. Thirty men, all traitors. Were it his own decision to make, Sukhbataar would punish the whole of Sichuan for their treason, butcher all that he saw, every living yellow bastard over the age of ten. But it wasn't. From the city of Chengdu, north of where they were, the Noyan had commanded, and his command was to limit reprisals against civilians. The Ordu, in their wisdom, agreed with the Noyan wholeheartedly, and so Sukhbataar obeyed. But he had a reputation within the Empire, one that he wished to uphold.

    And so instead of butchering the populace as he felt they so richly deserved, he had instead taken only those thirty traitors. The men of his Zuut were gathered behind him, all standing at attention, rifles at their side, horses nearby, pistols holstered and sabers sheathed. Their uniforms, heavy dark blue leather greatcoats with fur lining the collars and cuffs with black metal buttons lining each side, heavy riding boots topped with fur, heels lined with spurs, it all spoke of a terrifying uniformity amongst the horde.

    The border, a few miles south, to lands of China controlled by the KMT, was heavily fortified. Despite that, spies still managed to sneak over the battle lines, past the outposts, and into Mongol lands. It didn't matter. Soon, they would take the rest of China, and burn the KMT from existence, as Roman Khan had raved so many times publicly. But until then, it was Sukhbataar's duty to ensure that the spies were to a minimum, and any traitors they inspired were swiftly dealt with.
    And so, now we come to this, these thirty men.

    Sukhbataar had caught their commander personally, trampling him with his own horse, though not killing him. No, Sukhbataar had instead trampled his legs, crushing a knee, breaking a shin, causing agonizing pain for the dumb, stupid, yellow bastard. He'd laughed at the man's screams as he dropped the pistol and rolled around hopelessly. A few twists of the leg and he had given up everything he knew about the spies, about the bomb they attempted to plant in the nearby arms cache, as if that would even put a dent in their supply train. He'd taken the bastard's head as a trophy, and his horse nearby still held it, a leather thong looped through where eyes had once been, the mouth twisted in a silent scream.

    "Who among you yellow dogs would face me?" Sukhbataar bellowed angrily, his voice roaring over the wind, deep and gravelly. His moustache was long and thick, thanks to his Cossack heritage, but his eyes were Mongol, as was his skin. "Who among your cowardly, piss soaked kin would draw against me? Whomever shall do so, and kill me, he will free himself and his brethren. It was a boldfaced lie, one he had told many times before. He could feel the vicious grins of his men behind him, many of them veterans like he of the Korean wars and Afghanistan. Still, the Zuut waited for an answer.

    He glanced up and down the line of men, and was not disappointed when one of the Chinamen dared to make eye contact, stare back defiantly, unlike his peers. The others had been reminded of their subservient nature once their little band had been broken up, and he gained much pleasure from forcing each one of them to Kowtow to him again and again until their foreheads bled. He made them beg, reminding them of their lowly nature, and then he made them kneel in a straight line, reminding them that, because they were such poorly made creatures, death was all they were good for. He wondered to himself time and again since returning to China how such a low people could possibly hold such a land, and that it was no wonder it was being divvied up by every other major world power.

    "We have a challenger!" Sukhbataar roared, pointing at the young man who stared at him with a hateful glare. Sukhbataar only smiled back, hiding behind his dark eyes the contempt he held for the entire race of yellow Chinese. One of his men, his lieutenant Ganzorig, rushed from the front of the rows of assembled Mongols and dragged the short man from his place. He, like the others, was malnourished, short, and poorly built. Sukhbataar, with his broad shoulders and thick chest, towered over the challenger and all the other Chinese, as did his men. Ganzorig forced the youth to his feet and cut away his bindings. He took from his own belt an American made M1917 revolver, and loaded only a single bullet into it, sticking it into the young man's belt. He backed away from the youth, who looked to Sukhbataar.

    "You shoot me before I shoot you," Sukhbataar said loudly, over the whipping wind. He tapped the butts of the twin M1911's he wore crossways in his own gun belt for emphasis. "On his signal," he continued, motioning to Ganzorig with his head, "you kill me. If you can before I kill you, you and yours may leave." The youth shook, dressed in poor clothes as the cold western winds whipped around them.

    It happened quickly, almost immediately after, and if a man had blinked he would have missed it. Ganzorig shouted, and as the youth moved to grab his revolver, Sukhbataar reached across to his left hip and drew his heavy colt. Before the youth could even clear leather, he was knocked back with incredible force as a bullet ripped through the center of his chest. The wound caused horrific trauma as the body crumpled into the dry grass and hard, cold ground.

    "Not nearly fast enough, boy," he laughed, turning his pistol to the nearest kneeling prisoner. One after another, he executed, a single shot to the head, their brains and bits of skull splattering on the ground behind them as their bodies fell unceremoniously. The slide locked back, the clip empty. He turned to his men, and one of them tossed him a Thompson submachine gun. As the other prisoners cried and railed against their fate, begging him in all manner of monkey dialects he never deigned to learn, he cocked the heavy metal and wood weapon and took aim. The loud rattatatt of the gun seemed to echo along the hills as the bodies fell to lifeless heaps, blood soaking the earth and making a red mud, and Sukhbataar laughed almost joyously at the carnage such a weapon could cause. When they had all fallen, he drew another bead on the twitching corpses and opened fire once more upon them, showering them with lead. Satisfied with his work, he handed the weapon back to one of his soldiers, who gave a knowing smile and a nod.

    He walked towards his horse quickly, his spurs clinging loudly in the grass with each step. Mounting his beast, he turned towards his lieutenant, Ganzorig, who had also mounted his own horse. He sighed as the smile faded away from his lips, the rush of violence gone. The adrenaline left his veins quickly and his heart returned to a normal beat unfortunately very quickly, as he had long since gotten used to violence.

    "Ganzorig," Sukhbataar began, "remind me of the situation at hand, if you would be so kind to do so. There are spies afoot in this country, but we must also make our rounds to the next few villages and then report with the Mingghan. Before we caught up to this rabble, he'd radioed that he wanted a face to face meeting immediately. I've no idea why, but it is a fact that he doesn't trust the airwaves."
    "Yes, it's a known fact that none of the commanders do," Ganzorig began, his scarred features twisting into a smile, "I often wonder why we make use of them if none of our commanders ever want to speak over it."
    "Good enough for a battle I suppose, and for work further inland. No matter, am I correct in that assessment of the situation?"
    "You are, Zuut," Ganzorig nodded in affirmation, referring to Sukhbataar by his rank. "The men who guard the supply cache that we saved also apparently wish to thank you."
    "Pheh," Sukhbataar spat angrily, "they let themselves get caught off guard by the Chinese dogs. They are not worthy of our attentions. "
    "Normally I would agree. However, they could resupply our men with ammunition. While we are not at risk of running low, we are not set to resupply for another week at least. A lot can happen in that time."
    "Yes, war can be declared, and not a goddamned moment too soon! I agree with you on the principle, though I am loathe to be in the presence of such fucking imbeciles."

    Sukhbataar has the following choices he must make. The fortress is eight days away from his current location.
    1. When Sukhbataar tortured the enemy commander, the man wept and blubbered, letting slip valuable information regarding spies that motivated them to take up arms against their conquering Mongol lords. The weak fool let it be known that the spies who gave him information made it known that there were others in the region as well. Perhaps there is something to this. Should he:
    A.) Immediately pursue the dogs. According to the enemy commander, they are hiding in a nearby village, three of them. He gave up names and descriptions. They should be easily captured, dragged throughout the town, beaten and tortured for more information, then executed in a fashion that is most pleasing to Sukhbataar, making their deaths a grand spectacle. Perhaps there is something to the ramblings of the idiot when he was blubbering about more spies in the region. This will most certainly put us back a day.
    B.) Pursue the dogs, but don't drag it out. A simple bullet to the head will do. They're not worth the effort, and we have to return to the Mingghan for further debriefing. We can give him that information and await further orders. We've already wasted enough time by chasing these fucking sacks of yellow diseased filth about. This will most certainly put us back a half day.
    C.) Immediately return to the Mingghan, ignoring the spies. Debrief the Mingghan and await orders on how to handle this.
    D.) Pursue the dogs, torture them, and take them prisoner. Moving with prisoners will slow us down overall by a day and a half.

    2. On the way back, returning to the barracks and fortress, there is a supply cache that Sukhbataar and his Zuut helped save. The commander of the supply cache, some lowly drunken lout, wishes to thank the honorable Zuut and his men for their work, as they were outnumbered five to one, and would have surely been slaughtered had Sukhbataar not arrived when he did. Should he:
    A.) Go to meet with the fool, as its on the way back. The fortress is eight days away anyway. Approach him as a brother, and spend the evening telling tales of battle in Afghanistan and how you humiliated the Muslim dogs.
    B.) Go to meet with the fool, as its on the way back. The fortress is eight days away anyway. Approach him as a superior, and spend the remainder of the day reprimanding him and browbeating him and his men, making them feel ashamed entirely. Hopefully when you leave the next day, they will be much better prepared to defend themselves.
    C.) We don't have time for this. If our orders take us back in this direction, we can meet up with them then, but really we don't give a fuck what these bastards have to say. They let a bunch of foul little men catch them by surprise and almost lost a supply cache filled with supplies and most importantly fresh horses.

    3. Despite the fact that the Mingghan had ordered an immediate return to the fortress, some eight days away on horseback, Sukhbataar still has orders from the Noyan of the province, and that is to patrol through the local villages, ensuring that things are quiet and no trouble is brewing. What should be done?
    A.) We cannot shirk our duties to the Noyan. We must still make our rounds and continue about our routine as quickly as possible. We will arrive in ten days rather than eight if we do this, and while it is certain the Mingghan will not be pleased, we will have done our duty.
    B.) The Mingghan is a military commander. The fucking Noyan is more of a bureaucrat, and he's safe in his city, not on the front lines where we are. If the Mingghan tells us to return immediately, something MUST be up. If something's afoot, we absolutely must know about it. While we will certainly be shirking our duties by ignoring the local villages, we will arrive in eight days. However, if the Noyan discovers this, we will most certainly be reprimanded at the very least.
     
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  2. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

    ERYFKRAD
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    Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    B on all three.
    Also, :salute:.
     
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  3. Gondolin Arcane

    Gondolin
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    A black-hearted LP. :salute: :obviously:
     
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  4. Baltika9 Arcane

    Baltika9
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  5. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    Codex 2012
    ABB
     
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  6. Commissar Draco Codexia Comrade Colonel Commissar Patron

    Commissar Draco
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    Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Divinity: Original Sin 2
    BBB too :thumbsup:
     
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  7. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

    Major_Blackhart
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    Choice 1 B- 3, A-1
    Choice 2 B-3, A-1
    Choice 3 B-4

    I need some more votes before continuing. I guess I'll go on until I get around six or so votes total. Have 4 right now.
     
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  8. The Brazilian Slaughter Arcane

    The Brazilian Slaughter
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    AAB

    I don't think being outnumbered five-to-one and almost losing makes once a incompentent, also they at least demonstrate gratitute, a proper attitude to his superiors.

    Once we take care of spies the Noyan can go suck our dick. I say let's have fun and fix a problem at the same time!
     
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  9. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

    Major_Blackhart
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    Ahhh, interesting. It might get a tie, and if that's the case, we'd need more votes, or a tie-breaker by me.
    Can anyone guess how I'll vote if I have to break the tie?
     
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  10. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

    ERYFKRAD
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    Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Flipping to BAB.
     
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  11. Erebus Arcane

    Erebus
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    Hopefully, I'm not too late !

    AAB
     
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  12. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

    Major_Blackhart
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    Alright, here's the current tally:
    Choice 1 - B 3, A 3
    Choice 2 - B 2, A 4
    Choice 3 - B 6

    Well, for choice 1, it looks like I'll be the deciding factor.
    I choose A, just so it is made a bit interesting. I want people to be able to witness the cruelties that Sukhbataar is fully capable of.

    Edit: That choice will stay unless someone else votes.
    I'll update it all tomorrow.
     
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  13. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    Yeah, we want him to indulge his sick pleasures. He wouldn't be a proper mongol if not. :smug:
     
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  14. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

    Major_Blackhart
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    Will update later tonight then!
     
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  15. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

    Major_Blackhart
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    Mood music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEeU9g6Or48&list=PL416BCDFD26257AEF

    The wind cut deep, blowing in hard from the western mountains. They led to the Tibetan Plateau, a place of religion, learning, and study. The monks of those lands were devoted men, and in a way, Sukhbataar felt a kinship with them. Not from their faith, but from their devotion to their duty. He was a Buddhist, but not like those monks. His only object of worship was the God of War, and Roman Khan had been his avatar made manifest in flesh. Sukhbataar and all other Mongols awaited with anxious trepidation, remembering him in their morning prayers to the four winds, for the time when that grand avatar would be reborn. As he thought on these musings, the wind blew in a great gust, the cold mountain air tinged with a sweetness that only comes from the icy peaks. In a way, it reminded him of the steppes of his own lands to the far north, and a gentle longing filled him.

    That changed the moment the stink of sheep and goat struck him, burning into his nostrils. His eyes watered and he sneered in anger, turning back towards the village. The people of Sichuan were mostly of Tibetan nature, though some, the most treacherous, were Han. They had once been great fighters, masters of combat, like the Mongols, thanks in part to a semi-nomadic lifestyle of following the herds. Sukhbataar knew their history though, and as the centuries passed, they moved from their mountains, from their plateaus, and from their vast grasslands and settled, becoming sedentary. A thought screamed into his brain at this, that this sedentary lifestyle was what had laid these people low. Not the Mongols, nor the KMT. Rather, they were destroyed from within, by their own contentment. A secret prayer was kissed from his lips into the wind, that the Mongols would always have a war to fight, that they would always follow the herds, so that they would never become soft, so they could never become conquered by complacency.

    "Bring him!" Sukhbataar shouted to his men, "Bring that bastard into the center of the village, and call these goat fuckers out from their goddamned huts!" He pointed to the small mud and grass hut where his men were beating the three spies. Ganzorig appeared, sweating despite the cold, his knuckles and boots bloody. He was dragging behind him a man in shoddy clothes. The village had turned on the spies the moment they saw the Zuut riding towards their village, over the rolling green hills. They were presented, tied and gagged, as if a present, to the Zuut, as if that would spare them.

    The man sputtered as Ganzorig pulled the gag from his mouth, blood seeping from the wounds where his teeth once were. Sukhbataar glared at the man silently for a moment. The yellow bastard, his hair cut short in that military style the KMT were so fond of, stared back defiantly. Without needing a word, Ganzorig sunk the toe of his boot into the man's ribs, cracking them and making him cry out in pain. Both men allowed him to roll around on the ground like a pig rutting in the mud, humiliating himself further, debasing himself. When he finally stopped, Sukhbataar stood over him.

    "Do you know why I am doing this?" He asked sternly, though he did not expect an answer. He did not get even a grunt from the prisoner. "You will all die, you and your men. I will not lie to you and pretend that you can save yourselves. But how you die," he paused, pointing at the man, the blackened eyes, red with crimson, stared at the finger angrily. "how you die depends on how you answer the questions that I ask, whether it is quick by a bullet none of your kind deserve, or slow and with great agony. Now, normally it would not matter how I were answered, but were I not pressed for time as urgently as I am, I would simply kill you in a way I find quite enjoyable regardless. You may speak now."

    "Fuck you!!!" The spy screamed with all his might, jumping to his knees in an act of defiance. "Fuck you and your Khagan, you goddamned Imperialist scum!" He fell back to the hard, cold earth, crying in pain from the effort.

    "A noble effort, which I do commend," Sukhbataar nodded with almost genuine respect, a cruel smile plastered on his lips, "But you must be of a similar mindset to myself, eh? You wish for me and my men to be entertained? Well, on behalf of my men, I thank you for that kindness. But I have this to say to you: I will let you go last, and watch the others suffer first. There would be questions that I would speak of to you, but let's both be honest about this whole thing. The questions don't matter, nor do the answers. All that matters is that we are strong and that you are not. All that matters is the will of the Khagan being made manifest, and it is his will that spies be butchered wholesale like the cowardly fucking dogs that they are. I can proclaim to you only one honest truth among all truths if nothing else, and that is if you and yours are the best your Kuomintang has to offer us, you will be better off conquered." His men roared in approval at his speech, though he did not turn away from the prisoner to acknowledge their applause. Still, it pleased him to know that they were of his mindset.

    "You bastard," the spy sputtered out weakly, gasping for breath behind broke ribs and teeth, a nose that spurted blood at the bridge, and an eye that would never see again. "You are nothing but an old crow that pecks at the hair of old women!"

    "I tire of your words," Sukhbataar sighed with resignation. "I think I shall remove your tongue first. You men," he turned to the Mongols behind Ganzorig, nearest to him, "get the coals and embers of the fire pit burning hot. Take my knife, and bring it back to me when it glows red. I wish to show this village the price of harboring the enemies of the Khagan!" He turned back to the villagers, who stood amongst his Zuut now, fear in their eyes. "I want them all to feel the shame of their entire misbegotten race of yellow gutless worms! Bring the other two out! I want this one to watch their suffering. The entire village must be made to witness the purity of the Khagan's justice, and that all will be held accountable for the misgivings of a few weak brothers! I proclaim here on this spot that every man, woman, and child up to my waist to be made fully accountable for what a few have wrought! This village's punishment is the loss of the right ear for a generation, so that the next one will know their shame, and learn from it!"

    His men proceeded to take knives from the nearby fire pit, grabbing the children from their mothers first. The babes screamed as the ears were lopped off expertly. The Zuut under Sukhbataar had done this many times before, and now they were well practiced. The ears were left where they fell, to wallow in the bloody dirt. The knives, burning hot, cauterized the wounds, leaving only red, raw stumps with lines of black charred flesh that would harden into scar tissue. The children screamed, and to he and his men, it was as if music had suddenly filled the air. They then moved onto the women, and then the men. The men especially did not fight, none left in them. They knew that to turn away from their fate now, to fight the Zuut's proclamation, was to invite the darkness of oblivion.

    Sukhbataar shouted at them now to watch his judgment put to action, and watch they did, with great fear, as his men produced oil canisters used for lamps. The contents were spilled over the two followers of the third spy, the black tar-like fuel made thick with resin, sticking to their skin. Tied, they squirmed with all their might, the gags holding back begging screams. Their leader decided their fate, as any commander would his men. A torch was produced and handed to Sukhbataar, who gently placed it upon their skin. It spread quickly on both men, and though they rolled around, the resin-kerosene stuck to them and the flames would not extinguish. The gags burned away, and for a moment, before they finally passed, they screamed horribly, unintelligibly, begging in some undulating gibberish that could only be conveyed with raw emotion for an end to their suffering. They stopped screaming, stopped moving, all at once, like a candle had just been blown out. The wind carried their smell throughout the town, across the countryside, through the hills, and Sukhbataar breathed deeply.

    "And now, it is time for your sentence to be carried out," Sukhbataar said, turning to the third man. His eyes were dead, accepting his fate. One of his men handed him his great knife, a broad bladed weapon with a clipped tip and an edge the length of his forearm. It glowed with vicious heat, the edges actually dancing with flame.

    Sukhbataar began with the legs first, carving small pieces out of the prisoner, as though he were flaying a goat for a meal. The spy screamed in bloodcurdling agony, and Ganzorig held him still as he struggled with all his might, no longer feeling the pain of his teeth or his ribs or his eye, no longer feeling anything but the white hot fire, the wrath of God, peeling back his flesh, burning it, exposing the bone of his thigh to the air. The Zuut moved with a grace that belied his size, as though he were an expert butcher. Some of his men wondered openly that perhaps he had been one in another life, and this was his reward for such proficiency. With a single movement, Sukhbataar had removed the man's tongue next, tossing it to the side as if it were a table scrap not fit for dogs. The stump in the mouth never spurted blood, the flesh singed the moment the single metal tooth bit into it. The ears were next, but they were easy. Then, Sukhbataar cut into the toes on his right foot, lopping them off one after another with as much care as he would show a wart. Finished, he stuck the still burning knife into the cold earth, and watched as the trampled grass, dry from the lack of rain, caught flame. The steel of Mongolia always made his chest swell with pride.

    Standing now, he quickly walked to his horse, always kept within ten paces from him. He retrieved from one of the saddle loops his Remington Model 11 shotgun, a weapon he'd taken as a trophy during the Korean War from a Japanese officer, a self-described samurai. It had been modified with an extended undertube, a heat shield, a bayonet lug, and an ejection bolt for clearing bad shells. He held the wood stock in one hand, his finger gently caressing the trigger as he would a young lover. He pointed the twelve gauge barrel at the prisoner's collarbone just below the neck and fired.

    The resulting explosion sent the prisoner's head catapulting to the opposite shoulder, still attached by a few scraps of tendon and bone. The neck, what remained of it, had been battered to a red pulp, and the body twitched violently from spasms, as if it were still trying to obey the brain it could no longer hear. With a deliberate slowness, he walked back to his horse, looped the shotgun and tied it down with leather straps. Satisfied it was secure, he mounted the animal slowly, one boot in the stirrup, then swinging the other over. With a single motion of his arm, he had given the order for his men to follow his lead. He did not bother with a trophy, as there was no conflict.

    *****

    Mood Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEeU9g6Or48&list=PL416BCDFD26257AEF

    The Zuut took the long route back to the barracks and fortress, towards that small supply cache, a place where Mongols were made to resupply. One hundred men on horseback, guns at the ready, moving with a singular purpose. When they arrived, the supply station commander, a short man of obvious Chinese heritage stepped forward from behind the stockade wall, his face smiles. Sukhbataar did not return the smile. Instead, he dismounted his horse and walked straight up to the commander and slapped him hard across his face.

    "Zuut!" The commander began, clutching his cheek, "What have I done to deserve such humilation?"

    "What have you done," Sukhbataar began, asking again, "What have you done? I will explain it to your, since you are so blind you cannot see it plainly for yourself. You have almost let a disorganized gang of thirty men take this supply cache!"

    "But we are only five, and were outnumbered," he retorted weakly.

    "CHINGIS WAS OUTNUMBERED!!! SUBOTAI WAS OUTNUMBERED!!!" Sukhbataar bellowed with fury and rage at the commander. "YOU ARE MONGOL! ACT LIKE IT!" His eyes were fireballs of hate as the man simpered at first. The commander's eyes moved from Sukhbataar's to Ganzorig's beside him, and though the Zuut did not know what was exchanged with that glance, the commander's eyes hardened quickly.

    "I shall, Zuut!" He retorted back, shouting loudly for all to hear. "Those weak traitors had only gained an upper hand against us, as temporary as it was, because we were armed with our rifles!"

    "You have machine guns here! You have rockets, grenades, grenade launchers! Use them, damn you!"

    "Those are supplies to be given to Zuuts such as this grand force before me, Sukhbataar Zuut! We do not have permission to wield such weapons in battle!"

    "It is better that you use them against the enemy than they fall into the hands of the very people we wish to conquer and destroy! From now on, when such an action occurs against you, strike back against your enemy with such force that there will be nothing left!"

    "Yes Zuut, we shall never allow such an insult to happen again!"

    Satisfied at the response, as ceremonial as it was, Sukhbataar sighed, relaxing noticeably. It was a relief to him that these men understood now the precariousness of their situation, and that they would now never hesitate again. He understood it, the hesitation. It was the mark of a man untested, and it was why he and his men never hesitated, never held back. It was why they never lost, and never left an enemy that would forget them.

    The sun was setting, and so Sukhbataar and his Zuut camped outside the supply cache. It was not a night made merry with drink or pleasantries, but it was one that would go undisturbed, as the commander and his men would never allow themselves to become as the Tibetans, complacent.

    The night was cold, but the fires kept the men and horse warm as tents were hastily erected. There was little chatter besides talk of what the Mingghan would want with them, what was so urgent that they should return so quickly to the fortress. No matter. The men soon slept and dreamt, dreaming dreams of battle and carnage, and of home, of the wide open steppes, the wind in their hair, the cry of the falcon echoing throughout the sky.

    They arose before dawn, and after glancing at the map and charting the stars, made a beeline for the fortress, for the Mingghan.

    *****

    Mood Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMCVU1XGCQk&list=PL416BCDFD26257AEF

    The structure was imposing, great wood walls made of logs, wide gates for huge numbers of horse to pass through, tents all around the surrounding lands, dotting where hundreds of men lay their heads. It was more than imposing though. The fortress, the tents, all of it, was a constant reminder of the Mongol way of life, that nomadic existence that hardens all men, and makes the tribes of the Mongol into iron. It was a reminder of the freedom in the hearts of every Mongol, that yearning for the wide open steppes and the winds, to feel the wind over one's skin as the falcon does.

    As they passed through the southern gate, Sukhbataar confessed to Ganzorig that gnawing feeling, that scratching guilt that made his skin itch all over. Disobeying the Noyan, though necessary, may could back to haunt him, and he fears more than that, it may lead to the punishment of the Zuut for his own decisions. Ganzorig looked at him hard, and affirmed those feelings, but assured his old friend all the same that they had done the right thing and that, should push come to shove, the Mingghan and the Sichuan Ordu would certainly come to their defense. "Perhaps, perhaps not," Sukhbataar had replied to this, "But we shall cross that gorge when we arrive at its mouth."

    *****

    The Mingghan was a powerfully built man of Tatar origins, decades of battle worn on his face, victories with every scar, tracing a grand spider's web across his cheeks and brow. He wore them with pride, and Sukhbataar could not help but admire him for them, as they were testament to his right to lead. The Mingghan's office was filled with smoke from his pipe, and the stench seemed to cover everything, seep into everything, from the drawers and papers on his desk to Sukhbataar's clothes and skin from the moment he walked into the room. He quickly explained his lateness of a single day to the Mingghan, not bothering to tell his superior of the supply cache commander's own failings. He had learned from his mistakes, Sukhbataar reasoned to himself, no reason to add more pilings to his shame. The Mingghan nodded and approved of his actions overall, satisfied.

    " Reports from the Afghan Ordu tell me your Zuut was particularly effective in quelling the local muslims. I understand that they referred to you as Shatan Keh Swara. What does that mean?" The Mingghan leaned in from behind his desk, puffing his pipe curiously, his long, thin moustache hanging over his lips.

    "The Devil Who Rides."

    "Well deserved I take it?"

    " The Afghan scum have a tendency towards the dramatic," Sukhbataar began, the venom in his voice strong beyond words, " and they are as treacherous as the Chinese, though they have the gall to hide behind their religion, claiming that their faith says that they must be lying, treasonous, cowardly shit-stains." At this, the Mingghan laughed, nodding in agreement. " To say that I broke them is a personal triumph, putting it mildly, and one that I immensely enjoyed. They are a superstitious and backwards people overall, intolerant of Mongol culture and our ways, and I found that those that followed the faith of Islam were the most resistant to change."

    "Yes, yes, yes," the Mingghan replied happily as he shuffled papers, "the reports about you said that you made excellent use of pigs. Explain to me what you did. Perhaps we can do the same with this population."

    "When I discovered that in Islam, a man who eats a pig commits a sin not easily forgiven, it was easy enough to enforce the will of the Khagan. I would simply round up entire groups, perhaps twenty or forty at a time, in front of the entire village, and then bring out the hogs. I would tell them exactly what I was going to do to them. Then, I would kill the hogs and let them watch as my men would hack the beasts to pieces. From there, we would execute the captured men, usually leaving one to survive if there were no witnesses. We would bury the men in a pit with the hacked up hogs. The bastards actually believed that, by being buried with pigs, they would be condemned to hell for all eternity."

    He stopped to laugh heartily at this, and the Mingghan joined in, slapping the table with a heavy, open hand, calloused from years of wielding a sword in it. The Mingghan's heavy Luger, chambered in .45 ACP, rattled noisily on his cheap wooden desk, the eight inch barrel a reminder of proper use being from the back of a horse.

    " Would that be the case," he continued, " I think I would certainly have enjoyed the work much more than I did. Eventually, word of our cruelties spread, and rebellions stopped in the region. No more rebellions, no more acts of violence against our men, no more clerics demanding our ouster from their sacred dustbin villages."

    "Well, unfortunately, it appears that the Chinese are just as deceitful as the Afghans. Again, unfortunately, we cannot exploit any backwards religious belief or idea. Rather, all we can exploit is the Chinaman's natural weakness and subservience."

    " As I have done before. If there were a weakness to these people that could instantly break them, I would have found it by now, believe me. They kowtow, beg, cry, say what we wish to hear. But I know that their hearts are treacherous, all the same, and I have never been fooled by the silver tongue of the yellow man."

    " I am glad to hear. I am going to be blunt now. Your Zuut is easily the most experienced in the entire province, both in dealing with an unruly population and in combat. I have ten Zuuts in total under my command, and I am going to give yours the most leeway in getting things done. However, I still expect my orders to be followed."

    "I understand, Mingghan. My concerns are those of the Noyan. I mean no disrespect to you, but he is THE Noyan."

    " And I take no disrespect from the question. The Noyan's orders are expected to be followed to the best of your abilities, but I operate on a timetable of necessities, and often, I've learned that my own orders are more necessary than that of the Noyan's. The orders of the Noyan can be followed through by those not in our location, especially with the dangers lurking across the border."

    "There have been many rumors about the dangers across our map-drawn lines, but so far I have seen no proof of these ramblings, Mingghan."

    The Mingghan sighed for a moment, as if he were about to deliver terrible news. " The KMT has been rumored to have received airships from their military suppliers in Japan and the United States." He stared at Sukhbataar, waiting for the Zuut to digest this knowledge. He did, though not in the way the Mingghan expected.

    " Airships?" Sukhbataar asked incredulously, "Those giant oblong balloons that float through the air? I would think that this poses no danger to us. We fought them in Korea and sent them down to the earth in flames." He motioned with his hands for emphasis, and the Mingghan nodded in agreement.

    "I fought in Korea, and I do remember. When I first read the reports, that was my very reaction. But this is different. These new airships are not like those, supposedly faster, a bit sturdier, and larger. However, our reports are indicative that the KMT does not yet trust these vehicles entirely, and so have only purchased a half-dozen of them. The latest report I have received on my desk is that there are two of these monstrosities right across the border. Their capability to drop bombs does not concern me, nor the Ordu. Rather, their capability to quickly move great numbers of troops hundreds of miles without the use of rails does."

    "I understand your concern, and apologize for my outburst," Sukhbataar said, respectfully bowing his head.

    "As I said, it was my own reaction initially. Now, this where my leniency towards you works to your advantage. We know the location of the airships, and we have a heavy rocket team ready to move into position to strike at them. However, they have no escort. I would rather use your Zuut to escort them, as one of your men, with the combat experience they have, easily is worth two or three of the rest of the Mingghan. I would otherwise need two full Zuuts to escort the rocket team over the border, and that would stretch our capabilities even further. If you were to volunteer to this task, I would certainly look favorably upon you and your Zuut. The other tasks are also important, though my instinct tells me that they pale in comparison to this task at hand. are reports that a small force is building up across the border on the southern most section of our province. They have made a few raids already over the border, and hit several villages and a supply depot, stealing weapons and horses. You would be tasked with riding out across the border and reminding them that Mongols are not to be trifled with. I would expect you to make of them an example, to bring them to heel."

    "Their actions speak volumes. Obviously they are not KMT regulars. Are they associated with the KMT?"

    " I do not believe so. I have heard that the KMT has problems with another group, one backed by the Turks, of all people. They call themselves the People's Army, whatever that garbage means. More trash really. They are a constant aggravator to the KMT, and I believe this small army is part of them. While I am loathe to aid an enemy by quashing an annoyance, we cannot allow these transgressions against the Khagan to go unpunished."

    " I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment, Mingghan. I wonder if they are even associated with any group, or rather simply raiders and looters looking to take advantage."

    "If that is the case", the Mingghan shook his head almost sadly, "it would certainly mean that the other side of the border is becoming more lawless by the day. It's almost as if they are begging for us to invade."

    "My position on that subject is well documented, I am sure. When that order comes, we will lead the vanguard with pride."

    "I know you will, Sukhbataar. There are many things proven to this old cynic, but I know beyond faith that your will, like mine, like all true Mongols, is stronger than any iron forged here or the heavens. The third task is one the Noyan would certainly thank you for, I can assure you, though it is no easy task. In the western mountains, nearest the Tibetan Plateau, several villages have rebelled, of course led by KMT spies and sympathizers. They've been holed up in the mountain for some weeks, and have not attacked. Rather, they work on reinforcing their position further. To make matters worse, there was a medium sized cache of rockets nearby. We have not heard from the outpost guards since the rebellion, so I must assume they are either dead or have joined this rebellion to save themselves. Either way we are better off without them. Still, the Noyan is concerned this rebellious mentality could spread to other regions, more villages falling under the sway of this dangerous line of thought, and he wishes these fools made a rather barbarous example of, post haste. In all honesty, we will have to take care of the situation eventually, and the sooner we do, the easier it will be to dislodge the ticks from the Mongol hide. Still, they are only holed up in the region, and our outposts nearby have picked up no radio chatter, meaning they're not even calling for help or communicating with to organize further rebellions, as far as we know anyway. Well, there you have it. Three choices, none of them easy, though I'm sure you have your preferences." The Mingghan clapped his hands as if his performance were at an end and looked to Sukhbataar expectantly.

    What should he do? Should he:
    A.) Escort the heavy rocket team across the border and into enemy territory. This will surely get us action at the front, earn us favor with the Mingghan, as well as honor. However, we are certain to lose men, and we will be cut off from reinforcements. Still, the chance to dissuade the KMT from buying more airships, by simply explaining how easily they explode is an excellent opportunity.

    B.) Take hell to the raiders across the border. Make them fear the name Sukhbataar. Remind them of the terror the Mongols once two continents quake with. Bring the fury, and let the few that survive spread the word so that the legend of Sukhbataar will grow!

    C.) Take your men and another Zuut with you and attack the rebels! These bastards have defied the Khagan, and they will be utterly wiped out. No more merciful beheadings! Scale the rocky cliff side or charge up the reinforced pathways. However which way it is done, let the entire province know the words of the Noyan are that of the Khagan, and the Khagan is not to be denied! If we choose this, we are certain to allay whatever anger the Noyan may hold towards us and the Zuut. While he is a politician and an administrator, he was appointed by the Khagan, and he has the ear of the Ordu and the Grand Boyans of Tibet.
     
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  16. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

    Major_Blackhart
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    It took me two hours to write that, after notes! So be happy and multiply!
     
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  17. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

    Major_Blackhart
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    Baltika9 What, you wanna brofist but not post a choice?
    Pfff.
    Fucking Ass Effectard.
     
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  18. Baltika9 Arcane

    Baltika9
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    After some consideration, A. Hostile air superiority is bad. Friendly rockets are good.
     
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  19. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

    Major_Blackhart
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    Who said they weren't?
     
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  20. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    Codex 2012
    Yup, those airships sound like a thing we want gone.

    A
     
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  21. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

    Major_Blackhart
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    So, is this blackhearted enough for the codex?
     
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  22. Gondolin Arcane

    Gondolin
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    It is.

    A.
     
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  23. Commissar Draco Codexia Comrade Colonel Commissar Patron

    Commissar Draco
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    Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Divinity: Original Sin 2
    B ITZ better to nib the Commies into bud before they can take over China and become far more formidable opponent than KMT.
     
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  24. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

    ERYFKRAD
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    Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    C, I say, clean out rebel scum first.
     
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  25. Stygian Lurker Scholar

    Stygian Lurker
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