Sunday, 10 February 2019

High Seas Booty - SuperYachts (Night's Black Agents)

By now you've probably seen the silly season news piece about Picassos getting dinged by champagne corks. In case you haven't, here's the article.

Briefly, people with more money than sense own very large luxury craft. Those ships are bespoke and fitted with pretty much anything you can imagine and more besides. Among the pretty shinies put on board to make everything seem less of a waste of money, time and art, is art. Except the kind of people who buy these things are not the kind best suited to take care of them, and end result is a lot of collateral damage caused by hyperactive kids, flying champagne corks and the like.

God alone knows what living in a salt-impregnated waterborne environment will do to the poor artwork, but that's just by-the-bye.

I've discussed super yachts before, but to repeat:

Though luxury yachts have been around since the 19th Century, the number of super yachts has spiked since the 1990s and the rise of the mega rich. There’s no set rule for what is or is not a super yacht, but generally they have to be more than 45 meters long. That's for your ordinary rich person. The 100-meter gigayachts tend to be the exclusive preserve of Russian oligarchs and Gulf royalty.

They always have a permanent crew and luxurious accommodation capable of handling many guests. They can accommodate as many as they like while in port, but at sea  they're limited to 12 passengers unless they have specific permits saying otherwise. They have at least four decks above the waterline and two below. They are built to commission, which means no two superyachts are alike.  This one might have a gym, pool and sauna, and that one might have a working medical lab, a movie theatre, or massage parlor. It all depends on what the owner wants.
The industry is very gendered. As a general rule the deck crew will be exclusively male, and below decks crew exclusively female. This also means there is a strict age limit for female crew - "late 30s, and you're off," says one yacht captain
The biggest risk – and least recognized, at least by their owners – is cybercrime. The yacht’s Wi-Fi network is typically designed to be very strong; the owners like to be permanently connected. This means a super yacht’s network extends over a very large area, which lets people in the ship moored next door, or on shore, infiltrate it. Since most of the ship’s systems are interconnected a good hack team can get everything from the security camera feed to control over the navigation systems. Those with Data Analysis or using Digital Intrusion as an investigative ability know this as a 0-point clue. It bears repeating - the weakest link is always the internet of things. If you can crack any one device on that yacht, odds are it's connected to every other thing. It doesn't matter whether it's a projector, a fish tank, or the toilet. Once you're in, you're in.

For a Night's Black Agents Director, no setting is more appropriate than a super yacht, not even a high-end casino - unless it's Casino de Monte-Carlo. Introduce high-end art into the mix and you have the perfect ingredients for a caper. The art in question can be anything; what's art to one man is trash to another. This fellow might collect Picassos, but his neighbor the director of Hong Kong horror film gorefests keeps peculiar medical texts, and the Saudi princeling has a thing for 19th century anthropodermic bibliopegy - books bound in human skin. That's before you consider what an actual vampire might decide to collect.

With that in mind:

Breaching the Mingyun.

The Chinese e-commerce billionaire Jack Wei recently purchased, at private auction, a McGuffin. The precise nature of the McGuffin is up to the Director. A Dracula Dossier McGuffin, for example, might be Le Dragon Noir or the Portrait of Dracula. In a game with Perfectus Petri, it might be an alien stone. Whatever it is, it's of incredible significance and potency - and it's just sitting out there on his yacht, the Mingyun. Most of the time the yacht's on the move, but for a few days in July it will definitely be in Hong Kong, as Jack's current paramour, Jian Yan, a prominent actress, will be attending HKIFF, the Hong Kong International Film Festival.

The agents' task is to locate, infiltrate, and retrieve the McGuffin before the Mingyun leaves port.

Variant 1: It's all a bluff. 'Jack Wei' is actually a vampire hunter, bent on revenge. He's borrowed the real Jack Wei's identity and put about the McGuffin story to lure a bloodsucker to him, and capture it for interrogation. However the vampires are a little more cunning than the hunter gives them credit for. The Conspiracy hired the agents through a cut-out, intending to send them in first as sacrificial lambs. The agents' real purpose is to trip all the booby traps, exhaust the opposition, and then the vampires will move in and exterminate whatever survives. Possible OPFOR: Soldiers (mercs hired by Jack Wei), bodyguards (ditto), Jack Wei (vampire hunter, treat as improved soldier or special forces, Chow Yun Fat type), boat crew (civilians), young paralegal working for the real Jack Wei's lawyers sent to serve a cease and desist, and boy did she pick the wrong night to do it (civilian), vampires (eek!).

Variant 2: Jack Wei is a vampire enthusiast, who collects all things to do with vampire legends and lore. The vast majority of his collection is worthless tchotchke but for once he's got something genuine, and he wants to know just exactly what it is. His yacht's laboratory is equipped with the finest scientific gear money can buy, and he's in Hong Kong on a secret mission to bring aboard an expert in Vampirology to test the item. Unluckily for him his expert has been Renfielded, and the expert's job is to retrieve the artefact without undue fuss. The expert's been given a reasonably accurate forged copy to switch with the real thing, and has a small but well-funded hit team on shore to help him escape, if things go south. Neither the Renfield nor Jack Wei are expecting the agents to show up … Possible OPFOR:  Soldiers (very well equipped mercs hired by the Renfield, including expert drivers/snipers equipped with speedy cars, or jetskis, to make the getaway), bodyguards (Jack Wei's people), Jack Wei (civilian with occult interests), boat crew (civilians), Renfield Expert.

Variant 3: Jack Wei is enthralled by a Vampire, possibly a Jin Gui, who lives on the yacht full-time. The McGuffin is the creature's present, which Jack Wei hopes is sufficiently enthralling that the Vampire forgets all about Jack Wei's new born child, Jian Yan's daughter. The Vampire recently expressed a desire for something new on the menu, and the child is it. Jian Yan vehemently disagrees, and has been keeping her daughter's birth a secret; all through the pregnancy the Vampire insisted on keeping the actress aboard, feeding Jian Yan special diets, tailored aromatherapy and the like, all to make the little dumpling that much sweeter. Jian Yan's desperately pretending she hasn't given birth yet, though only last night the dumpling arrived - and is currently hidden on Jack Wei's yacht, because Jian Yan couldn't think of a way to smuggle her daughter ashore. It was Jian Yan who hired the agents through a cut-out; she's hoping they'll solve her problem, with extreme violence. Possible OPFOR: Bodyguards (notionally Jack Wei's people, actually Renfields under the Vampire's control), Jack Wei (terrified civilian under the bootheel), Jian Yan (civilian trying to get out alive with her daughter), boat crew (civilians). Plus Vampire (eek!).


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