Sunday, 1 July 2018

The Kill Team (NBA)

Last year I wrote about the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, and his alleged killers' trials proceed apace. The prosecutors say the two women who claim to have played a prank on the North Korean dictator's half-brother were working as part of a trained kill team, and the prank was just cover for the kill. The women are sticking to their story, and say that when they sprayed Kim Jong-nam with the nerve agent they thought they were taking part in a comedy reality show.

In Night's Black Agents the central conceit is that the agents used to be the vampires' puppets, but they broke free and are now on the run. I don't know of many games that actually play it that way, possibly because while that works for one agent's backstory it begins to look shaky when four or more agents are in play. One escapee is unfortunate, two looks like carelessness, and more than two makes the vampires look less like an all-encompassing threat and more like the Elmer Fudd Conspiracy.

However there is a way to work it that could be very interesting:

The Kill Team

You come to, tired and with an awful thirst. You're in a nondescript hotel room in one of the cheaper hotels in Macau. You're dirty and haven't bathed or shaved in days, but you've no idea why nor any clear memory of the last … how long? It can't have been that long, surely, but according to the news it's been [months, years, whichever the Director prefers]. You don't have any equipment but you do have a suitcase full of cash, mostly Macanese Pataca with a mix of Chinese renminbi, Hong Kong Dollars, Maylay Ringgit and a small amount of US$.

When you switch on the television you're horrified to see your own face looking back at you, as part of a news item about an assassination. [High profile victim] was killed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and according to the media you, and a handful of other people you've never seen before, are part of the kill team. At least one of the assassins died at the airport, preferring to swallow poison rather than get caught.

While you'd swear you've never met any of these people, you know them professionally - highly trained, reliable, and as far as you know they have nothing to do with murder, whether political or otherwise. Which is why you're even more shocked to discover that each surviving member of the alleged kill team is staying at this hotel, on the same floor - the same corridor, even.  

You each have a suitcase, a pill bottle containing God alone knows what, and whatever else a Difficulty 5 Preparedness might get you.

What do you do next?

Director's Notes

The agents start with Heat 4 or 5 depending on the importance of the High Profile Victim. This will go up by 2 if they attempt to spend any of that money, since it's counterfeit. In fact until a few days ago it was the property of the Royal Malaysian Police CID, and it has told Interpol about the theft of the funny money.

The pill bottles contain ordinary aspirin.

There is a Conspiracy agent at the hotel. She arranged for the agents' accommodation and oversaw their arrival. She is the only vampire-influenced person at the hotel, (Renfield? Maybe) but she has ordinary civilians and criminal goons on the payroll.

The scheme was supposed to be simple: get the agents to kill the target in a way guaranteed to attract attention. Have them flee to Macau, and then have them arrested by the Chinese. There was to be a flashy gun battle, and few if any of the agents were supposed to survive. Their lives weren't important. The idea was to make everyone think the Victim was killed by [whichever agency the agents used to work for] thus spreading chaos and furthering the Conspiracy's schemes.

It went wrong because the agents took one day longer than anticipated to get to Macau. They only had enough [compound X, presumably vampire blood but it could be something else] to last a certain amount of time. Once it wore off, their conditioning would break. That extra 24 hours gave the agents time to recover their wits, and it also meant that the agent at the hotel had to make new arrangements with her friend at Public Security. The raid they'd planned couldn't go off at the time they wanted, and now the higher-ups are asking questions, making the operation more delicate. However the plan is still the same: raid the hotel on the pretext of cracking down on pro-democracy dissidents, guns go off, everybody dies.

Unless the agents move quickly that's exactly what will happen.

Possible Avenues of Attack:

The hotel provides cell phones to all its guests, and these phones are linked to the hotel network. A little Digital Intrusion jury-rigging, possibly with some Wire Rat expertise, allows an agent to get into the hotel's email server which lets them see the communications between the vampire front desk agent and her handler.

Human Terrain or Military Science spots the military build-up outside the hotel. They're trying to be as inconspicuous as it is possible to be, bearing in mind they're People's Liberation Army heavy squad. Blowing two points Military Science allows an agent to identify someone on the team that they've worked with before (former colleague, cooperated in a police raid, something else) who they might be able to work with, if they can get to that person without being spotted and blown away. This person only joined the squad today, and was appointed because the higher-ups want someone on the ground they can trust implicitly - further complicating the Conspiracy's plans. The Chinese higher-ups don't think this is about pro-democracy dissidents; they think the PLA agent organizing the raid has been corrupted by Triads and is abusing his authority to carry out Triad reprisals. This does not mean that they'll welcome the agents with open arms; if the Chinese get hold of them they'll likely vanish into some forgotten prison, never to be seen again.

Human Terrain also notices the conspicuous lack of hotel service on the agents' floor. The hotel staff who do show up, if the agents press the issue, clearly aren't trained members of the service industry; they look and behave more like Triad thugs in fancy dress. They're freelancing gangsters paid off by the Conspiracy front desk agent, who are supposed to make sure the agents stay precisely where they are. They are armed, if it comes to a fight.

Incidentally Streetwise knows that these Triads aren't with the gangs who run this particular hotel chain. The Kung Lok have this hotel sewn up, and will not be pleased to learn some rival nobodies are trespassing. A Network spend or clever use of Urban Survival or Streetwise points get the Kung Lok involved, to the detriment of the Conspiracy's goons.

Getting out of Macau is challenging. That's the whole point of dumping the agents there in the first place. Unless they want to cross the border into China - not recommended - they can fly out via the International Airport or take a ferry to Hong Kong. The airport and land border are heavily screened, and with all that Heat the agents will find those routes impossible unless they have Network contacts who can help them. The ferry terminal is probably the least scrutinized exit, but it does leave them on a boat for some time - and who knows what might happen then?

One option for the brave is the Hong Kong-Zuhai-Macau Bridge which was scheduled to open July 1 2018. It's 58 km long with six dual lanes and an undersea tunnel about 6.7 km long. In other words, it's a lengthy, exposed, monitored and flashy way to exit Macau that, depending on when you set the scenario, might not be officially open yet.

One other possible solution would be to steal a boat and sail out discreetly. Again, the best and closest option is Hong Kong, but they might try to strike further afield. Here's hoping they don't end up in North Korea by accident, and style points if they steal a traditional junk rather than some modern sailboat.

Thrilling Options:

Discreet foot chase involving Surveillance, Athletics or similar. Possibly involving both the Triads and the PLA.

Steal a taxi and race across the crowded streets of Macau. Style points if the agents steal a three-wheel pedicab, but if they do that they'll likely be caught. On the other hand, it's what Roger Moore would do.

Gun battle inside the hotel. The PLA have the agents severely outmatched, so they'll need to make it a running gun battle with some escape objective in mind - out the kitchens, via the roof, something else?

Macau's a gambler's paradise, so if the agents want to discreetly switch out their dodgy cash for clean currency one way to do that would be to hit the tables. Of course, they'll need to think of a way to dodge their PLA and Triad shadows first.


The agents really did kill that High Profile Victim so their Heat is about as bad as it can get. Their old agencies won't trust them and criminal fraternities will be very cautious in their dealings with them - they don't want the trouble that getting involved in assassinations will bring down on them.

The first order of business - survival.

The second order - how did they get involved in this, and can their names be cleared?


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