Deceive, Inveigle, Obfuscate: the life mission, the goal, the very heartless of the Tarkherk Corps. It wasn't always that way. When the group was first founded to (not) fight in the Conflict That Is Not Happening back on -63/3/6 EC, they were as mundane and unassuming as possible - the palindromic date of said formulation was their only claim to recognition. Dregs with no purpose but to serve their country, they (didn't) fight bravely, as all
soldiers citizens were (not) expected.
Everything changed at the Battle of Umbo Moor. On the 2nd of Gomin -58 EC, Mox Elder, the Mildly Impressive Commandant of the troops stationed there saw, as he described, "a beautiful white lady, shimmering just up on the hill." When nudged from his reverie by an incredible crackle and flash of light (now attributed as one of the earliest field tests of what would eventually become Ball Lightning Liqueur), he recalled her "mandibles began moving soundlessly but urgently, and she beckoned me to follow." After his court-martial in -56 EC, Mox Elder had no qualms about speaking publicly, claiming the woman saved him and "reinvigorated his belief in the sanctity of life." Suffice it to say, no woman was ever found that matched his description.
Because of Mox Elder's well-promoted talks about peace and his "life-altering moment on the battlefield", his story entirely overshadowed the perfectly innocuous palindromic herald of the Tarkherk Corps, and rumors started persisting and evolving regardless of the established facts. Instead of merely Mox Elder having seen the lady, all members of the troop did. Instead of the lady being a lady, she was a Pinky Person, sent to deliver good, bad, or nefarious tidings. Instead of the lady beckoning, she gathered all the combatants and spirited them away to Pinky, then delivered them back to us "changed" for some as-yet-unknown purpose. Those mandibles "moving soundlessly"? Telepathic of course, and ever after she grew more psionic by the day.
Besieged on all sides by parties with crazy ideas, the higher-ups of the Tarkherk Corps were at a loss. Public and stringent denial were met with cries of "Conspiracy!" and "Corrupt!" Painting Mox Elder as a loon didn't work because, well, sure, the experiments of the Pinky People kinda mess with your head. Admitting that the early tests of the Ball Lightning Liqueur were faulty, laced with mind-control chemicals, or designed to look like electrical Ghyllians as a "deterrent tactic" also failed, because the explanations were too simple, too much of a let-down.
Years passed, and every tactic employed by the Tarkherk Corps failed. In -52 EC, the decision was made: if you can't beat them, join them. Instead of denying or accepting the rumors, the higher-ups suddenly became silent. "No comment", "We have nothing to say at this time", "What is your clearance, citizen?" were far more "telling" than any statement previously issued. Documents such as Heavenly were "leaked", and within were the new orders for the Corps: DECEIVE. INVEIGLE. OBFUSCATE. The "Men of Twill" had arrived and they became a furtively whispered example of impunity.
Since that time, the Tarkherk Corps have been recognizably responsible for a number of a deceptions - they are the g-man of folklore, the boogeyman of pulp fiction, and the Bump of the Night. Most everyone knows about the relatively recent Bethany Mboya coverup, and there have been conspiratorial theories here and there concerning Winelust Syrup and its addictive properties. Mind control? Pinky People spirits? Stool softener? All of the above, yes!
All this newly enforced deception, bootlicking, and fast-talk caused incredible damage to the previously established team spirit (ha!) and morale. As rumors thrive to be based in truth, some argue that the original words of the Heavenly document were not DECEIVE, INVEIGLE, OBFUSCATE, but rather DEATH IN OBSCURITY, an equally plausible explanation for their future fate (assuming you accept precognition, a skill all Tarkherkkers are purported to have.) Thankfully, the Houvers provide sanctuary for retired and debriefed Tarkherk veterans and, quite frankly, they seem to fit right in.
--Morbus Iff 16:45, 11 Mar 2005 (EST)