Hebron

The village of Zayta is tied into the same time paradox as Ahmed Yassin, Al-Nazeb and the characters. The ghosts are echoes in time from key events relating to the village's place in the paradox.

When Ahmed Yassin saw the news story about ghosts appearing after the shooting star he instinctively knew the village was connected to the outer dark. After travelling to it on foot he witnessed the ghosts and saw himself being pulled from the ghost well. Ahmed did not understand why but he knew that he had to go into the well to fulfil his destiny. He spent a couple of nights watching the ghosts and making preparations but then the TV crew from AraTel arrived. He hid in the orchard and while the TV crew were exploring the buildings he placed outer dark symbols on their van. The poor crew were transmogrified into or-karpi while sitting in the van waiting for the ghosts to appear.

Background Research

Recent events in the village had attracted international interest, particularly from parts of the internet frequented by Forteans, ufologists and believers in the paranormal. Unsurprisingly most of the reporting of the events has been factually inaccurate and made worse by the travel restriction in the West Bank and the ongoing security situation. A lot of the information available to the characters prior to arrival is misleading or simply wrong.

Automatic
The villagers of Zayta abandoned their homes after seeing ghosts. A TV crew from the local station spent the night in the village. They have not been seen since and the entire village has been arrested.
Easy
The ghosts started appearing the night after the shooting star but it wasn't until the 22nd October that the TV crew visited the village. When the crew did not return the police were notified and they searched Zayta. Only the TV crew's van was found and the police arrested the entire village on suspicion of kidnapping and murder.
Moderate
The missing news crew are from a local TV station called AraTel.
Hard
The three missing people are Anis Sayigh (Presenter, aged 32, male), Amal Murkus (Camera operator, aged 24, female) and Rana Raslan (Producer / Sound Engineer, aged 26, female).

AraTel:

Automatic
AraTel, a small private TV station operating out of Hebron.
Easy
The station has only a very basic presence on the internet but clips can be found on YouTube. The channel mostly runs cheap, locally made news and community programs.
Moderate
The station's head and owner is Naji al-Ali, a local politician who has strong support among poor Palestinians. He regularly speaks out about corruption in the Palestinian Authority and violence by Israelis and Arabs alike.
Hard
A brief clip of AraTel's news programme on YouTube mentions Yousef al-Masri. It criticises Yousef for financially supporting West Bank politicians when he lives in New York.

Research will turn up nothing remarkable about Zayta or the surrounding area.

Automatic
The village of Zayta is a tiny hamlet of six houses in some of the roughest terrain in the West Bank. It is situated 20 miles east of Hebron and with its orchard of olive trees is a small oasis of green in a very dry area.
Easy
The village has a deep well which is the source of its water.
Moderate
The village is very old, going at least back to biblical times, but was too small to feature in historical documents.
Hard
The only historical reference to the village is a document from the 9th century CE. This refers to an earlier account in a now lost chronicle. It describes how a local ruler tried to establish a trade route to Petra though the area of Zayta by creating a qanat so traders would be able to water their animals.

Arrival

The characters will be based in Hebron and staying at the Telenova Hotel, another featureless bland international corporate chain. The short journey to the hotel from Ramallah will involve numerous checkpoints and take around an hour. Farouk Hosny has no specific plan for the episode and the characters may choose their own path of investigation.

Being Followed

The Harbingers of Revolutionary Jihad are continuing to follow the team but they will lose them on the journey from Ramallah. However, the convoy of three Mystery! Science! TV vehicles is hard to hide and there are only a few good-quality hotels in the city. The terrorists will pick up the team's trail within a few hours of their arrival in Hebron.

AraTel TV

AraTel operates from a run-down warehouse on the edge of the city with a large transmitter on its roof. The building, transmitter and everything about the operation appears (and is) ramshackle. Naji al-Ali put the station together by raising money from ordinary people, promising them a genuinely independent TV station. He delivered on his promise and has run the station for three years. The channel takes a strong line against corruption and this has angered some powerful politicians. Now businesses who advertise on AraTel find their water supply cut off and subject to similar harassment.

There is a small, close-knit team working at the station and many are volunteers. The three missing people were friends as well as colleagues and it is an emotive subject for the staff. When the team contacts AraTel about the case they will be quickly passed on to Naji al-Ali who will be wary of the characters' motives. Naji knows all about Mystery! Science! TV and will suspect this is an attempt by Yousef al-Masri to discredit AraTel as part of some byzantine political scheme. Naji al-Ali is a little bit paranoid but as there are people genuinely trying to destroy his TV station and political career this is understandable.

Game Leaders should make the players work to gain access to Naji al-Ali and the AraTel TV station. The characters must convince him their motives are genuine and that they will not discredit his missing (presumed dead) staff. This may take several conversations and Naji will demand to see a rough version of Episode One before agreeing to finally talk in depth to the characters. Once they succeed in winning Naji over, he is the characters' most reliable source of information on events in the village.

Automatic
The villagers came to the TV station on the 18th October because the police and authorities would not help them. They had abandoned their village out of fear and needed help finding a new home, but the authorities just laughed at them. The villagers were desperate and hoped AraTel would provide publicity for their plight. They had some mobile phone footage of glowing shapes but it was very hard to discern what the images actually showed. Naji thought it would be a good story, regardless of what the ghosts were. A crew of three went to the village one evening and never came back.
Easy
No villagers have been arrested as none of them were in the village at the time. Naji tried to persuade a few of them to go with the news crew but they refused, even when offered some money. Because of the publicity about the missing news crew, the villagers have been placed in a refugee camp a few miles from the city.
Moderate
The police returned the station's van and equipment. They are in the back of the warehouse and have not been touched since their return.
Hard
Naji al-Ali suspects the news crew disturbed some militants or smugglers using the abandoned village and were killed by them.

The news crew's van is parked in one corner of the warehouse / TV station. It has been covered by a tarpaulin sheet but otherwise untouched since the police returned it. No one at the station wishes to use it or the equipment.

Automatic
The unremarkable white van contains basic video editing equipment, cameras, sound recording gear, spare batteries, leads and other audio/visual equipment.
Easy
The equipment and the insides of the van are dirty with dust and sand. The cameras do contain footage of the village taken on the 22nd October but only daytime shots of the presenter looking around deserted buildings.
Moderate
The van has a bench seat of black plastic for the driver and two passengers. Drawn onto the seat in black marker pen, making it almost invisible, is a series of symbols.
Hard
In the news crew's footage, clearly taken while they were still setting up, a human is briefly visible in the background. The figure is Ahmed Yassin but image quality is too poor for the characters to identify him. It is clear from the footage that the camera operator was distracted by something the presenter was saying and did not notice the figure.

The symbols in the van reveal (or at least heavily hint at) the fate of the AraTel news crews:

Automatic
Or-KarpiSoul EaterStar StoneTongue.
Easy
The magic uses Star Stone [Power] with Or-Karpi [Change] and Eye of the Storm [Focus] to transform something into Tongue [Sand].
Moderate
The or-karpi symbol is the agent of the change but is also linked to the Tongue as the outcome of the change.
Hard
All four symbols have a resonance with each other beyond just this set of symbols. It is as if they are closely related or connected.

Refugee Camp / Villagers

The forty-seven adults and children who were living in the village of Zayta can be found in a refugee camp east of Hebron. Their spokesman is Musa Alami though the characters can talk to any of them. The villagers are very poor and have little education.

Automatic
The night after the shooting star (23rd September) ghostly buildings and people appeared. There was also a ghostly shooting star. Each night the ghosts would reappear and the same shooting star would pass overhead. After three nights all the villagers abandoned their homes.
Easy
The ghosts are described as translucent and glowing.
Moderate
One of the ghosts walked through a villager who almost died from the shock of its icy cold touch.
Hard
Some of the villagers have had their minds deeply affected by the ghosts and now suffer from hallucinations and constant shivering.

Palestinian Civil Police Force

Getting reliable information from the police is difficult but Farouk Hosny will be able to use Yousef al-Masri's name to arrange an on-camera interview with a senior officer. This will be the only chance the characters have to ask questions directly of the police.

Commander Mohammed Dahlan is in charge of the area where the news crew went missing. The police's failure to find the news crew and lack of any idea of what happened to them is an embarrassment for the Commander. He is also suspects the team want to make him out as an idiot in their TV program and is conscious of the political backdrop to the missing news crew. Consequently he is defensive and difficult to interview.

Automatic
The villagers of Zayta left their homes of their own free will several weeks ago. The three members of the TV crew went to the abandoned village on the 22nd October. The next day they were reported missing and police found their vehicle in the village. Over fifty police officers searched the area but there was no trace of the missing people.
Easy
The villagers were rehoused in a refugee camp. They are not under arrest and are not connected to the disappearance. Doctors have told the police that the sightings of ghosts are a form of mass hysteria.
Moderate
There were signs that at least one person was living in the village when the news crew went missing.
Hard
No one from the police has stayed overnight in the village.
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open/oneshots/petra/act2.txt · Last modified: 2014/08/13 11:39 by darth_tigger
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