Half found, half built, abandoned more than once, reclaimed more than once, and now occupied by the Neo-Soviet branch of the Glassenheim Foundation
The Legend of Greater Tartary
In the mid-Petroleum Era, the Russian Federation started to embrace the legacy of Greater Tartary, claiming that there was an ancient, highly advanced civilization that spanned the Eurasian continent. The reason that there was nothing left of this unknown culture was due to the excessive time that had passed since its fall, and its downfall due to massive floods of mud. At the time, is bandied about like a Slavic/Russian version of Manifest Destiny and a pretense to reclaim for Soviet republics, as much of Greater Tartary overlapped with most of the 'istan nations.
The Glassenheim Foundation was chartered not long after this, following the relics discovered in Mare Imbrium on the moon, and Russia was one of the founding members of this organization. With those revelations kept secret, the Foundation started investigations on Earth related to any and all pre-modern mythological civilizations, because those could have been the Imbrian hold-outs from the fall of their Solar System spanning empire. Records had already confirmed that Atlantis had indeed existed, and its concentric ring design was a sign of Imbrian architecture and engineering. Greater Tartary was given some attention, and most parsed it with phenomena such as the Mothman, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Kingdom of Prester John.
It was something of a surprise when a survey corps team found something in the highlands between Afghanistan and Tajikistan, a completely unknown and undiscovered subterranean city. While these were certainly rare, sites like Derenkiyu had long since been discovered, making them not unknown. What was remarkable was that the new site found was a series of concentric tunnels, moving underground, and having a central cavern large enough to house a Federation fleet anchorage, under an artificial roof. the 'lid' of the site was built in a previously unknown and unseen style of architecture and had been in place so long that its surface had been buried under loose debris, sand, and then trees and shrubs, leaving locals to think it a mountain. A deception that was successful for over nine thousand years.
The Legacy of the Tartaria Site is relatively simple. Following the calamity that ended the Imbrian Dynasty, the surviving Imbrians were forced to flee to the Death World of Earth, a place crawling with diseases, parasites, predators, and other horrors. This was to be done with the Empire gone, the armies slaughtered, the great heroes slain, and a few true horrors left crawling this prison world. They built Atlantis, a great city in a verdant and green valley. It's at the bottom of the Mediterranean now. As global climate shifted, the ice melted and the continental glaciers retreated. Lacking space capability, or geoengineering ability, by the time the waters breached the mouth of the Mediterranean Valley, the Atlanteans had no time to mount more than a scream and run exodus from the city.
It is commonly believed that this is the origin of the global mythology of the Great Flood.
Tartaria was a distant outpost, set in the far East from Atlantis, and was something of a place of exile for Atlanteans who were opposed to whatever was going on in there politically. The fortress made use of an existing crater, with hints that the crater was created by some sort of Imbrian weapon used to kill some sort of Imbrian horror.
The city-state of Tartaria was built in the crater, it had an armored dome, and rather than a surface city, it was tunneled deep into the Earth. The Tartarian factions of Atlantis died out/bred out into the local surface populations of humans, and the city went from a place of veneration to a tomb and holy place, to a mountain that was forgotten.
The Russian Federation and Tartaria
The Russians attempted to exploit the secrets of Tartaria and in short, failed. Part of this was the fact that Tartaria was abandoned not overnight, but over several generations. The vast majority of the site was empty, save for refuse and graves.
The Russian Legacy was to reseal Tartaria and remove references to it from all of their records. The place is haunted, and there are ghosts that dwell in those dark places. They are memories of a different time, when gods walked the Earth, and humans commanded technology that didn't border on magical, it shamed the sheer concept of magic. Scientists and engineers lost their sanity, many had to be committed, suicide was common, and when they did manage to cook off an experiment, it was horror. Things like the Russian Sleep Deprivation study occurred in the silent depths of the tomb city.
A Russian general attempted to smuggle a nuclear warhead into Tartaria to detonate it and bury the ghosts, but he was stopped and arrested.
The Long Night
The Resource Wars and the following four centuries saw Tartaria forgotten.
The New Dawn
Following the Second Renaissance, and the flourishing of Arcanotechnology, the newly formed Eurasian Alliance (Neo-Soviet Union) found the records of Tartaria and decided to reclaim the site. a major effort was made, and several divisions of engineers and construction workers were sent to dig it out, get the power back on, and add this ancient fortress to the grandeur of the new Union.
To their credit, they did.
Mechograd Tartaria was online in less than three years. Almost fifteen thousand people inhabited the fortress, and extensive work was done, allowing the place to house a cutting-edge dimensional reactor, multiple military and industrial polyforge factories, and housing for up to half a million citizens, and more if they decided to build on the surface. The lid of the vault city could hold the weight of a massive city without incident. A surface city was started, as well as a spaceport and aerodrome to support economic activity. There was serious consideration to make Tartaria a sister city to New Augustgrad.
Then Tartaria started up with its spooky shit again.
Arcanotech systems were unreliable. Computers seemed to become schizophrenic. Vehicles with AI systems developed divergent personalities and instead of speaking Russian, they chattered in strange incomprehensible languages. Some war machines would enter weeping fits, while others would rave in their alien tongue and the technicians would have to kill the power supplies before a bogatyr went hostile and started shooting things in the hanger.
The reports from Mechgrad Tartaria don't cover the real reason the Neo-Soviets abandoned the site. There was an unprecedented number of suicides among workers. Many of the cloned workers who were sent into the depths of the fortress vanished, and many who didn't began to show signs of extreme physical mutation. Their skin became waxy and gray, they started shedding fingers and toes, then arms and legs, until they were little more than three-meter-long writhing maggot-like creatures. When approached by other staff, these once clones turned corpse maggots, would become aggressive and attack. While a man had a fifty-fifty chance of fighting one of these horrors off, his chances quickly fell to zero if there were more than two. Flamer teams attempted to scourge the place clean, but it seemed that the maggot men were breeding in the dark, in the walls.
Hundreds died in the dark trying to fight them.
There was, most unfortunately, a queen.
This queen was formed from the biomass of the female clones. All of the female corpse maggot things descended into the deepest part of the fortress and consumed each other until there was only one left. This abomination was thirty feet long and as thick as a railroad car. It started laying swarms of eggs, which hatched into new corpse maggot things, these being slightly larger, and having more dermal armor than the transmutes.
Lacking the ability to reach this horrific birthing chamber, the high command ordered it sealed. Chemical weapons were used to stun the horrors while teams moved in and welded plates over the doors, and closed the ventilation system in a likewise fashion. The records were purged, the resident dossiers were sanitized, and a vast amount of material and equipment were reburied in the Afghani highlands and great effort was made to make the place forgotten again.
The Brotherhood, and their backers in the House of Desecration waited a decade or two and moved in. They knew something the Neo-Soviets didn't. Tartaria was a necropolis and should have been treated as such. The Brotherhood's Tech-Exorcists were sent in, supported by psionic commandos, flamethrower teams, and Tech-Priests, to clear out the infestation. The aphasic ghosts of long-dead parapsychic Imbrians who died in horrific fashion were exorcised, and the various pieces of unnoticed arcanotech that had anchored them were sanctified.
Tartaria was reborn into a Holy city, and the Brotherhood moved in, in force. Most of the war material and equipment were clandestinely relocated to other Brotherhood facilities, and they would make great use of the polyforges and weaponry recovered. Tartaria itself was changed to a research and training facility, where arcanotech was treated with religious reverence, and the spirits of the Imbrians would be honored. This isn't a function of devout and honest faith. The Noddites worship the tech for what it is, not out of a greater religious understanding of the world, or the general notions that religion generally support, such as a stable civilization, cultural cohesion, or ethnic identity.
The Noddite worships Holy Arcanotech because it is god machinery.
Angels and demons are abominations and horrors.
Such things are to be venerated.
The Black Secrets
Tartaria isn't empty. There are three terrible secrets lurking under it.
The creatures the Neo-Soviets encountered and sealed in still exist. The Noddites have since purged most of them, but keep a good number in stasis, or are working on them in biomancy labs. They want to know the secrets of such an extreme metamorphosis and why clones were vulnerable to it. Why were natural-born humans immune to this transformation? Why were the children of humans and clones always slain mid-metamorphosis? They have not just the maggots, they have the greater 'warrior' maggots, and they have the queen. The Noddites have the queen in a containment rig, and her egg laying is restrained by the fact that her cloaca disgorges its eggs into a furnace. The eggs only survive if the scientists want one.
They've also discovered the second secret of Tartaria.
The entire installation has the ability to rise from the Earth. Why it can do this, how it can, and for what purpose, they have no idea. They are fairly certain that this is a one time thing, and after it launches, there is no putting it back in the ground. There is also a good chance that a large amount of the geofront that has been built would shed off the central core and fall to earth like the worst fucking rain ever.
The Final Secret
There is a Seraphim under Mechograd Tartaria. The Horror is held in stasis by Imbrian engineering and passive systems. It was once an Imbrian hero, fused with a greater strain of cosmozoan, and rather than degenerating into a youma, it hyper-evolved. The beast is dormant, dreaming. The psychic noise it creates causes insanity and mental illness to humans around it. It also created, by accident, the corpse maggot beasts, and they evolved on their own. The genetic engineering of the typical clone makes their DNA more plastic and they have a lesser genetic sense of self, allowing the Dreams of Asmodean to corrupt them and break them down at the level of amino acids.
The Neo-Soviets didn't know this.
The Noddites figured it out by reverse engineering what texts they found. Tartaria was a bunker city in the East and was used as a military base to hunt down and slay horrors. They fought the entity Asmodean, though they obviously did not call it by that name. Unable to slaughter the seraphim they brought it back to Tartaria, expanded the fortress, and turned it into a tomb for the nigh immortal horror. Should it awake, and the passive systems fail to contain it, a last-ditch system will cause Tartaria to fling itself into space, hopefully on an intercept course with the Sun.
Like Shin-Ra and JENOVA, the Noddites have a dormant Seraphim and they are keeping it in hibernation, but also sticking needles in it, drawing blood and tissue samples, and they're trying to tap into its dreams to find out what they can from the brain of a ten-thousand-year-old abomination that has the side effect of turning people into cannibalistic maggots, fomenting suicidal ideation, and perversion.
Technically Mechograd Tartaria is just another buried secret Brotherhood installation, another place for them to make parapsychic soldiers, arcanotech Frankenstein weaponry and life shaped monsters, and the rest. It sits in possibly the most remote corner of Afghanistan, in a place of supreme unimportance, and of no interest. It is a fantastic place to put something really important that you don't wany anyone to find. It is also a great place for a dimensional fatigue event to kick off a swarm of man-eating mega maggots, and unleash a rampaging alien demigod on a group of PCs.
I've wanted to do something inspired by Idar Flamme, from Shadow Hearts 2: Covenant. This PS2 game was quirky, weird, historical, and at times disturbing. Idar Flamme was a spaceship-like underground dungeon that was full of horrible worms and an elder god trapped in the basement, in Imperial Russia. The game tied Rasputin to the dungeon, and to Asmodeus, but I didn't feel like Mechograd Tartaria needed any connection to the Romanovs. Instead, the 'conspiracy theory' of Greater Tartary seemed more interesting, and the road less traveled.
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