“The Stream” is the first chapter in Mundus Novit: Dark Horizons. This is a serialized story set in the Mundus Novit universe. This will provide you with an idea of at least some of the potential and background of the setting. Black ops, secret government programs, and ESPers are all important aspects of Mundus Novit.
This serialized story also introduces a new organization into Mundus Novit: TANGIBLE STREAM. What it is and why its contractors were operating in Kathmandu will be revealed in the story. By the end, you will have another clandestine actor to use in Mundus Novit or any comparable modern campaign.
You can expect the next chapter in two weeks time.
One: The Stream
White’s hand slip inside her jacket. Her eyes narrowed only slightly, her nostrils flared minutely. Boyle noticed all this. He knew White well enough to know what it meant even before he heard her voice in his head.
We’ve got company.
White was one of the the STREAM’s paranormals. She was a parapsyche–psychic, ESPer, telepath, call it what you like. Boyle didn’t have any of that. He had the tradecraft. She might be spooky but he was the spook. He was what TANGIBLE STREAM euphemistically called a ghost. White was a variable, a paranormal asset.
The two STREAM contractors sat at a round table with four chairs on the patio in front of a small coffee shop. The street out front had little traffic except for pedestrians. Signs poked out from shabby walls beckoning travellers into ill-lit buildings as the sun sank. No one gave two foreigners in the Thamel a second glance.
Some people joked about intuition, about gut feelings. Boyle didn’t. He was having one. Even without White’s special gifts, Boyle could feel the change. Something was about to happen. Something nasty. He had to make a decision: the Sig SAUER P226 on his hip or the HK53 in his canvas book bag. The Sig was closer, but the HK53 hit harder and farther.
Three men approaching your six. White spoke in his head. All locals.
Locals. Did she mean Nepalese? Government? Were they local to Kathmandu? Boyle’s training kicked in, and he masked his thoughts behind white noise, envisioning his will as a solid barrier. White didn’t need to hear his internal musings. The “locals” certainly didn’t.
All have psyche-shields. Though White spoke in his head, the smile was on her face, in the “real” world. She had a “key” to his surface thoughts–the image of the man in red from Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” and the word ‘ronin’–a filter for the first barrier of many. Not as good as yours, but formidable. I can’t get too deep, but they work for the Chinese.
Unless that’s a plant. Boyle had the image of a faded rose fixed in his mind, over top of which he visualized the word ‘patron.’
Unless that’s a plant. White’s voice echoed his sentiment. I don’t think they want to kill us.
Boyle frowned. He set his book bag on the table, within easy reach. Kill, capture, intimidate, it’s all the same to me.
The one calling himself Dolme has broadcasted that he just wants to talk. White emphasized ‘broadcasted.’ At least one of them was an ESPer. Her hand came away from her jacket, away from her Beretta 96.
“May I sit?” The man’s English was impeccable.
White gestured to an empty chair. The man appeared at Boyle’s right, and took the proffered seat. Boyle made him at about 40, fit, cold eyes. This one did dirty deeds for a living. He looked like a hard man. Boyle had met harder. He heard two other men come to halt about a metre behind him.
Boyle held Dolme with a dead-eyed glare–the glare that told Dolme his life meant nothing to Boyle. Boyle spoke in a harsh whisper. “Get them in front of me.”
Dolme raised an eyebrow, considered Boyle, then nodded. He gestured, and the two men moved to stand at his back. Dolme met Boyle’s eyes. “Your defences are exceptional.”
“Ain’t the only thing,” Boyle said.
“American, then.” A slight grin barely touched Dolme’s lips.
Dolme was wrong, but no need to tell him that. “You wanted to talk.”
Dolme leaned close. “Narcissus has no business interfering in Tibet.”
Narcissus. These guys tagged White and Boyle as Americans and as CIA. Wrong on both counts. Boyle sneered for effect. “You implying I like staring at myself or something?”
“I am not joking,” Dolme said.
“That’s unfortunate.” Boyle took a sip of his beer. He put disdain in his eyes. “I am. You have an issue with this Narcissus guy, that’s your deal. Don’t work with him, don’t work for him, don’t know him.”
“Do not play games.” Dolme’s face had flushed.
“That’s the difference here.” Boyle rose, shouldering his book bag. “I don’t.” Boyle had got to him, unless that blush was forced. That’d be a heck of a trick. No, Boyle tagged this guy as a hard man, and maybe he was, but he was no professional. White had said local. Someone drafted on short notice? Too many brushfires, not enough water–Boyle knew that feeling.
White followed Boyle to the counter to pay for their drinks. “He thinks we’re Narcissus.”
“So it seems,” Boyle said. He watched Dolme and his crew from the counter. They hadn’t moved. They eyed Boyle and White with unconcealed hostility. “It makes me wonder if Narcissus is here, somewhere. Could the CIA actually be operating here? Working with cells in Tibet?”
“Is that a bad thing?” White asked.
Boyle let out a grim chuckle. “The US using paranormals to interfere in the internal matters of another nation, one that can credibly claim the title of superpower?” He held up his hand to forestall the retort he saw coming. “I don’t like the idea of Tibet being occupied by China anymore than you do, but right now, it’s part of the UN recognized borders. That’s all that matters.”
Dolme and friends finally left. Boyle glanced at White. “Taggert in place?”
After a moment’s concentration, White smiled. “She is. She gave the all clear.”
While Boyle wanted to ask what had amused White, he ignored it. He might not want to know. “Right. Back to the perch.”
The two left the café. Boyle knew Taggert provided overwatch from some rooftop, but he couldn’t look, couldn’t play the game of trying to find her. The two contractors–arm’s length, deniable operators for TANGIBLE STREAM–moved through the sparse crowd with caution. Pickpockets were common and they made obvious targets. Wallets weren’t the worry. Other hardware was.
Without warning, White fell into Boyle, grabbing at him, all weight. Boyle supported her, shuffling into an alley. He could only see the whites of her eyes. Still holding her, he fumbled with his earplug transceiver. He leaned White against the wall, slid the earpiece into place, activated it.
Boyle scanned the crowd quickly, looking for possible assailants–someone watching White, someone concentrating. Nothing. “Willow, this is Untold.”
“Willow here.” Taggert didn’t suppress the surprise in her voice.
“Cascade’s offline.” Boyle watched White as he spoke. Her eyes rolled up, her mouth working, she looked like she was fighting something. Or someone. He got her back on his shoulder, started moving deeper into the alley. “Do you have eyes on target?”
“Roger.” Taggert spoke with detachment. No surprise, no concern in that word, only business.
“Target the broadcaster and shut him down.” Boyle knew a parapsyche needed some kind of contact to make a mental assault. He couldn’t find another possible assailant. Even if it wasn’t Dolme, Boyle wouldn’t mourn his passing.
“Temporary?” Taggert would have Dolme in her sights, finger hovering over the trigger guard, waiting to engage.
“Temporary will do.” Another thing Boyle appreciated about Taggert–she provided options. She spoke her mind without questioning every order. Professional. Boyle had met too many contractors who weren’t.
On the street, the screaming started almost immediately. The sight of a gunshot victim, with or without the sound of a weapon, tended to trigger that.
White didn’t recover.
“No joy.” Boyle scanned the crowd at the mouth of the alley, seething back from where Taggert had dropped the target. If not Dolme, who? “Put down the rest of them. Temporary if you can.”
No answer, at least not immediately. Taggert would be busy. Arm around White, Boyle got his Sig in hand, under his coat. He half-dragged, half-led White further down the alley, eyes on its mouth. White stiffened, then her weight eased.
“The whole party’s cancelled.” Taggert said. “Hurting, but survivable. Packing up. Permission to rabbit.”
Rabbit. Definitely a necessity, but whoever tagged White might watch them. They couldn’t risk being tracked.
“Hold position.” Boyle glanced at White. She was pale but standing under her own power. She braced herself with one hand against the wall.
“Dolme had a friend,” she said. “Must have jumped me.” A weak smile followed that. “Metaphorically.”
“Cascade is back online,” Boyle said.
Online, but shaky. White’s voice in Boyle’s head sounded anything but shaky. All three of the Chinese agents were parapsyches. None of them are active now.
If they were Chinese. Boyle holstered his Sig. Everyone rabbit. Rendezvous in one hour. Be careful. We are in the shit. He considered White, who stood straight now. Other than a lack of colour in her cheeks, she gave no indication she had just been ambushed. “You’re sure they’re Chinese?”
White cleared her throat. Boyle didn’t know if broadcasting was easier for her than talking, but too much of it gave him a headache. Taggert had admitted the same. White let out a slow breath. “They thought they were. When Taggert took them out, their defences went down for a moment. I didn’t get much, but their handlers were definitely People’s Army.”
Boyle held up one finger. “Or they wanted you to think their defences went down.” Then he held up a second. “Or the handlers wanted our goons to think they were People’s Army.” Third finger. “Or the handlers are being handled. Something really stinks. Bad.” He handed White a flask.
“Is that really a good idea?” White took it but didn’t drink. She sniffed at its mouth.
“It’s water.” For a moment, Boyle forgot the tension of the moment. “You think I’m that far along?” He glanced sidelong at her. “Would you take me for a scotch or vodka man?”
After taking a long pull at the flask, White wiped her mouth. “Vodka. James Bond style.”
“Yeah, I like that.” Boyle put the flask back in his jacket. “James Bond style. That’s definitely nice.”
Mundus Novit: Dark Horizons will continue with “the Vault.”