NK69 – Seraph Protocol

NK69 is a series of linked missions set in the futuristic mega-city of New Hong Kong in 2069. I’ll be learning/adapting the excellent Pulp Alley rules to game out the intrigue and vicious covert battles in this cyberpunk setting.

A bit of fiction to start

SERAPH PROTOCOL

The flatscreen showed a VTOL pad, an oval cleft on a corporate black-glass cliff, a sharp little Lear sub-orbital poised for take-off.
Omar Pateck didn’t bother with the text in the pop-up: the building’s sleek lines screamed New Kong as loud as Cantonese holo-porn or a salary-man’s nanite grafts. He’d verify specifics in a minute. The four men were the priority.

One man, actually. The Suit in the middle.

He walked with the nonchalance of someone accustomed to being the center. The other three moved in sharp jabs, chunked by body armor, bristling with stubby automatic weapons. Guard dogs.

Omar tapped a button and his drone’s camera zoomed in on the suit. He read the pop-up this time, then heaved away from the screen with a sigh. “Why are we still on Van Dorn? I thought Algion Limited was the better lead.”

McNevin leaned over from the adjacent station. “Upstairs is convinced his Macau lab is cooking more than antibiotics.”

“The increased air traffic was put down to the viral-strike in Bogota. Twenty-thousand infected, Columbia’s emergency services were screaming bloody murder. Which it was.”

“The Red Queen hacked Macau’s Procurements and found orders for Oxiprenyx.”

“So?”

“Thirty-seven orders over the last six months, from multiple sources. None of them individually worth flagging, but added up, we’re talking liters.”

Pateck whistled.

“Right?” McNevin agreed. “So either their drinking the stuff, or…”

“They’re still trying to develop Cerebreflex.”

“Exactly.” McNevin pointed to the screen. “Which is why you’re babysitting Domenic Van Dorn and his goon squad tonight.”

On screen, the Lear arced into the sky, thrusters flaring. Pateck ordered his drone to follow. “Lucky me.”

“Lucky you.”

Another flurry of buttons. “Hey,” Pateck called over his shoulder. “That was Pacific Centuries they just left.”

“I know,” McNevin said smugly. “Another reason to watch him.”

Omar Patek fired off a new set of commands to the drone. “That I can do.”

His UAV was an older Raytheon Shrike. Big compared to the latest surveillance models, but he’d opted to keep it. He’d had good luck with it, it was reliable, had a decent stealth package. Hell, it was even armed. Little five millimeter automatic, but it could sting up close. Certainly enough machine to shadow Monsieur Van Dorn around the hemisphere tonight.

Omar settled into his chair and what he hoped would be an uneventful shift.

Twenty-seven seconds later, the Lear’s port engine blew. The image wobbled as the transport shuddered into an emergency descent.

“Qù nǐ mā de!”

“The feck just happened?”McNevin demanded.

“Explosion in the jet.”

“Bad?”

“Mid-air explosions are always bad, right?” Omar’s fingers blurred on his keypad, the onscreen image lurched to huge. The Van Dorn Pharmaceuticals logo glinted large on the tail fin. Flames licked the jet’s underside, inky black smoke leaking from a rent in the engine cowling. “It’s still flying. But not for long.” He turned to McNevin. “I take it that wasn’t us, then?”

His supervisor shook his head. “I’m calling upstairs.” He flinched at a painful thought. “Van Dorn still alive?”

Omar shook his head impatiently. “Hell if I know. You didn’t get me a splice on his Chip. The Lear should automatically notify China Air Traffic. I’ll tap the On-Boards.” He waved up a second screen at his workstation.

“Can you at least tell me where he’s going to land?”

“Land? No. Hit dirt – probably. Gimme a second.”

McNevin turned away, muttering urgently into his headset while Omar and his computer best-guessed where the Lear would end up.

If the explosion hadn’t effected the pilot A.I. If the jet didn’t lose pieces mid-air. If there wasn’t another explosion. If, if, if…

McNevin was loud now. “Best estimate puts him in…” He paused, covered his throat mike and looked at Omar expectantly.

“West side of Guangzhou HIZ.” He swiped new data over to his supervisor’s station.

“Guangzhou High-tech Industrial Zone.” Another pause as McNevin scanned his screens. “No Ma’am, damage is severe but confined to one engine. All passengers are reported safe and secure. I’ll alert Emergency Services just in case.” McNevin blinked. “Yes Ma’am, I’m on it.”

The call cut and McNevin turned back to Omar. “Van Dorn just jumped to the head to the queue. Seraph protocol, but no direct intervention unless he’s in imminent danger.”

Omar stared at his screen. The Shrike was trailing the jet by a kilometer now. It was falling fast but stabilized. “So this was no accident…”

“Hell no. You know the redundancies on those things.”

“Failed hit?”

“The Lear’s diagnostics show a mechanical failure in one engine. You want dead, blow the whole thing. Go big or go home. Someone sending a warning?” McNevin suggested.

Omar brought the drone’s stealth suite to full power, then concentrated on closing with the jet. He’d need eyes on Van Dorn the moment the plane touched dirt. “Plenty of other ways to send that message. Even photos of his family are more subtle. Less traceable.”

“Good point,” McNevin ceded. “Forced landing?”

Omar glanced over. “If Macau really is working on Cerebreflex …”

“Guangzhou is isolated. Huge sections are automated. So not a lot of people – especially this time of day.”

“Sounds like a lovely spot to snatch an exec,” Omar noted.

McNevin frowned, waved up his comms screen. “I’ll call HKPD Special Branch. Dispatch a team.”

Omar raised an eyebrow. “We have someone there?”

“Hal Nakada leads a Rapid Response unit. Suliya Kova’s the team Razor.”

“Well, day-um. There’s a pair not to feck with.”

“Exactly.”

Nakada picked up on the second ping.

“We have a problem,” McNevin said.

***

TABLE SET UP.
Plot points marked with green glass stones.

Another angle.
Another angle.
Pic of the table
Pic of the table

HKPD Special Branch

Hal Nakada, Suliya Kova, and four members of HKPD SB
Hal Nakada, Suliya Kova, and four members of HKPD SB

Mr. Van Dorn with his security detail

Mr. Van Dorn and his security detail hiding on the roof of the garage.
Mr. Van Dorn and his security detail hiding on the roof of the garage.

Skinny Jack and Tiny, backed up by four members of the VuDu8 Crew.
Skinny Jack and Tiny, backed up by four members of the VuDu8 Crew.
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