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Lost in the Sauce: Trump, Cruz, and Gohmert team up to incite election-related violence
Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater… or a global health crisis. Housekeeping:
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I put the latest info on Trump's phone call to Raffensperger in this comment.
According to experts, Trump’s conduct has potential criminal exposure:
A federal statute makes it a crime when one “knowingly and willfully … attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process, by … the procurement, casting, or tabulation of ballots that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held.” A Georgia statute similarly provides that a “person commits the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree when, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony under this article, he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct.” …The hard part for prosecutors would be proving Trump’s state of mind, because the statutes require proof of knowledge and intent. Prosecutors would have to show that Trump knew that Biden fairly won the election, and Trump was asking for Georgia officials to commit election fraud. And it’s not clear prosecutors could make that case.
At least 12 Republican senators plan to challenge Biden’s Electoral College win on Jan. 6, when Congress is set to officially count the votes. The effort is being led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and includes Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), as well as new Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.). Separately, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) is pursuing a similar plan.
"Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states. Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed," the senators said in a joint statement. “Accordingly, we intend to vote on Jan. 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed."
Their plan is not going to succeed in preventing Biden from taking office, as majorities in both the House and the Senate would need to support a challenge against a state’s electoral votes. For an objection to be made, at least one member of both the House and Senate would need to submit it in writing. Then, the House and Senate separately convene to consider the issue. Debate is limited to two hours for each objection. After debate concludes, the House and Senate vote to uphold the objection and throw out the state’s votes. If the majority of the House AND the majority of the Senate does not uphold the objection, the state’s electoral votes are counted as cast.
Vice President Mike Pence’s role is simply to preside over the joint session, opening and presenting the certifications from each state. In his absence, the Senate pro-tempore Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) will lead the session. At the end of the process, the presiding officer announces who has won the majority of votes for president and vice president.
The most immediate danger from Trump and Cruz’s doomed election gambit is rightwing terrorism and general violence: Trump, in particular, is inciting his supporters to swarm D.C. on Jan. 6. “JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!” Trump tweeted last week. Four rightwing rallies are scheduled, including one headlined by George Papadopoulos and Roger Stone. The Proud Boys and other extremists are planning to attend the rallies and may set up an “armed encampment” on the National Mall, according to the Washington Post. On social media platform Parler, the leader of the Proud Boys said that members will be there “incognito” and may “dress in all black” to impersonate leftwing protestors.
Enrique Tarrio: "The ProudBoys will turn out in record numbers on Jan 6th but this time with a twist...We will not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow. We will be incognito and we will spread across downtown DC in smaller teams."
Rep. Louie Gohmert has more explicitly tried to incite violence, saying the failure of his legal challenge to the election means “you gotta go the streets and be as violent as Antifa and BLM.” (clip)
At the same time, pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood suggested that Pence could “face execution by firing squad” for “treason” if he doesn’t go along with the attempt to subvert the election.
Obstructing the transition
Biden’s transition director has accused the Office of Management and Budget of stonewalling the incoming administration’s team. OMB Director Russ Vought is not allowing key staff to meet with the transition team to help prepare the president-elect’s first annual spending plan, a move that could delay major proposals. Vought pushed back on the charges, saying that his agency needs to focus on finalizing the Trump administration’s regulations before the president leaves office.
“OMB leadership’s refusal to fully cooperate impairs our ability to identify opportunities to maximize the relief going out to Americans during the pandemic, and it leaves us in the dark as it relates to Covid-related expenditures and critical gaps,” [Biden transition Exec. Dir. Yohannes] Abraham said.
Earlier last week, Biden himself said Trump officials are not cooperating with his team, singling out the Defense Department for obstructing information on crucial national security issues. “Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility,” Biden said. The Defense Dept. finally scheduled meetings with the incoming team this week, after not briefing the transition for weeks.
The timing of the resumption in meetings is notable because it comes after the one year anniversary of the U.S. assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3. NATO officials are reportedly worried about the lack of coordination from the Trump administration: "We need the incoming Biden administration to be fully briefed and ready to deal with these very dangerous issues facing NATO's security."
Sabotaging the Biden Administration
U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack is taking steps to keep control of Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia during the Biden administration. As chairman of the boards of Radio Free Europe and Asia, Pack and his fellow members have added binding contractual agreements that will make it impossible to remove him or other pro-Trump allies from the board in the next two years.
In other words, although President-elect Joe Biden has already signaled he intends to replace Pack as CEO of the parent agency soon after taking office in January, Pack would maintain a significant degree of control over the networks.
The State Department is likely to designate Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism “as an 11th hour effort to create hurdles for the incoming Biden administration.” The label, which requires the approval of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, would undo a major accomplishment of the Obama administration. To take Cuba back off the list, the Biden team would need to conduct a formal review, a process that might take several months.
Such a designation would impose restrictions on US foreign assistance, a ban on defense exports and sales, certain controls over exports and various financial restrictions. It would also result in penalization against any persons and countries engaging in certain trade activities with Cuba.
The Trump administration has been rushing to finalize a myriad of rules before Biden’s inauguration. Since Election Day, the Trump administration has issued about three to four times as many new regulations as it did during other periods of Trump’s presidency. Rules that haven’t been finalized or taken effect can be suspended by an incoming president, which Biden has said he intends to do. By contrast, rules that are finalized can take months, or even years, to undo.
“As a general rule, it takes at least as much process to undo or modify a rule as it does to put the rule in place,” said Jonathan H. Adler, a professor and an administrative law expert at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. “The Trump administration is magnifying that challenge for the Biden administration.”
Trump loyalists are urging the president to stymie Biden’s efforts to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal. Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham are working to get the agreements submitted to the Senate for ratification, requiring a two-thirds vote, with the goal of failure. While such an outcome wouldn’t prevent Biden from rejoining the accords, Cruz and Graham hope it would make their resurrection more problematic.
A vote against them would signal GOP opposition to the world and, they hope, undermine any unilateral action by Biden to rejoin the agreements. One senior congressional aide told RCP that sending them to die in the Senate “would be the final nail in the coffin.”
Further reading: “Biden To Be Saddled With Trump’s Payroll Tax Deferral Mess,” Forbes. Further reading: Biden will inherit a backlog of tens of thousands of visa requests from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and a bureaucratic tangle that refugee advocates say President Trump ignored or made worse.
Trump money and properties
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is employing forensic accounting specialists to examine Trump’s finances and business operations. Vance is looking “for anomalies among a variety of property deals” and trying to determine “whether the president’s company manipulated the value of certain assets to obtain favorable interest rates and tax breaks”.
The analysts hired by Vance probably have already reviewed various bank and mortgage records obtained from Trump’s company as part of the ongoing grand jury investigation, and they could be called on to testify about their findings should the district attorney eventually bring criminal charges
In yet another shady business deal connected to Trump, the United States sold the ambassador’s residence in Israel for more than $67 million. The person who bought the residence is none other than Trump mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. The property only became available due to Trump's controversial decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem. Furthermore, State Dept. representatives reportedly lied to Congress about the sale, perhaps to hide that Adelson purposefully overbid.
For now, there is no alternative residence for the ambassador, David Friedman, Trump’s former lawyer, who currently uses a suite at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel or rooms at the former Jerusalem Consulate General when he spends nights in Jerusalem… As a result, the United States appears likely to end up leasing the residence it has owned since 1964 from the GOP-affiliated casino mogul. “It is very strange that we are now paying Sheldon Adelson,” a congressional aide told The Daily Beast. “It is not above board. We have a number of questions. Did they get two independent appraisals? Was it a sweetheart deal? Was Adelson the highest donor? Was there a reason to sell it now?”
Trump’s businesses have taken in $10.5 million of donor money over the course of his presidency. $8.5 million came from the Trump campaign and related entities that Trump controls directly; $2 million came from other Republican candidates and committees. The biggest beneficiary was Trump’s NYC hotel, taking in $3,039,979 over the four years of his presidency, with $891,003 of that in just the final four months of the campaign. Trump’s DC hotel is ramping up room prices and requiring a two-night minimum stay for two key events this month, as the president tries to squeeze more profit out of his office. On Jan. 6, when Congress is set to formally count the votes cast by the Electoral College, room rates are listed at over eight times the price of surrounding dates. Trump is encouraging his supporters to attend a protest of Biden’s win on the 6th. A room during the inauguration costs five times the normal rate, at $2,225 per night. Trump’s Turnberry Resort in Scotland posted a £2.3 million ($3.1 million) loss in 2019, marking the sixth year in a row it has failed to turn a profit under his ownership. Since Trump took over the historic property in 2014, its losses now total nearly £45 million ($61.5 million).
The fact Turnberry remains in the red comes in spite of significant tranches of payments it has received from the US government during Mr Trump’s single term in office… the US Secret Service spent nearly £25,000 to accommodate its agents at the resort during business trips by Mr Trump’s son, Eric, an executive vice-president of the family firm. Since Mr Trump’s election, the property has received close to £300,000 from the Secret Service, US State Department, and US Defence Department
A Florida state lawmaker is calling for Mar-a-Lago to be penalized - and possibly shut down - for flouting coronavirus restrictions during a New Years Eve party. While Trump and the first lady did not attend, son Don Jr., attorney Rudy Giuliani, Rep. Matt Gaetz, and Fox News personality Jeanine Piro were captured on video among the maskless crowd. Guests paid as much as $1,000 for access to the ballroom to be entertained by Vanilla Ice.
State Rep. Omari Hardy: “My constituents are not snowbirds like @DonaldJTrumpJr & @kimguilfoyle. My constituents live here. This is their home, and they're going to have to deal w/ the consequences of a potential super-spreader party at Mar-a-Lago long after Junior & wife leave here on their private jet.”
Are you ready for a Donald J. Trump Airport? According to the Daily Beast, Trump has been asking aides about the process of naming airports after former U.S. presidents. Further reading: “Jared Kushner’s family real estate business wants to raise at least $100 million in capital through Israel’s bond market… Kushner has helped spearhead a series of moves that have been applauded by the conservative pro-Israel community, including moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and recognizing Israeli sovereignty in disputed areas such as the Golan Heights. Kushner also has close ties to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.”
The Census Bureau missed it’s end-of-year deadline to produce numbers that determine representation in Congress and the Electoral College for the next decade. The agency is working toward Jan. 9 as an internal target date for completing the current stage of processing records. "If we miss Jan. 9, it's hard to envision that we would get apportionment done before inauguration," a Census employee told NPR.
The final timing of the 2020 census results' release could undermine President Trump's efforts to make an unprecedented change to who is counted in key census numbers before leaving office… If the first census results are not ready until after Trump's term ends on Jan. 20, it would be President-elect Joe Biden, not Trump, who would get control of the numbers, which are ultimately handed off to Congress for certification.
Stokes's Bristol Nightclub incident in detail (From: The Comeback Summer by Geoff Lemon)
IF YOU’RE LOOKING for a place where misadventure could begin, you can’t go past Mbargo. The nightclub’s streetfront is painted a purple so bright you’ll see it in your dreams. Strings of giant sequins shimmer in the breeze. Its phonically inventive name is spelt in silver letters that climb its three-storey terrace facade. Inside are strips of burning neon, a few booths, floorboards so marinated in drink that they have an ingredients list. Bristol is a student city on England’s south coast crowded with music and nightlife and street art. This is Banksy’s home town, and the tourism board suggests in rather strong terms that ‘you would be a fool not to see his amazing work firsthand’. The same organisation describes Mbargo as ‘intimate’, which is fair for a place where you can catch an STI standing up. Students cram into its modest dimensions while people with names like DJ Klaud battle for billing with £1.50 drink deals over seven sloppy nights a week. To get a sense of the story about to come, consider that it’s the kind of place open until two o’clock on a Monday morning, and that at two o’clock on a Monday morning, Ben Stokes still thought it had closed too early. The Ashes of 2017–18 had disciplinary bookends. It was after that series that Australia’s two leaders went off the rails in South Africa. It was a few weeks before that Ashes tour that England’s biggest star windmilled his way into his own disaster. In the early hours of 25 September 2017, Stokes and teammate Alex Hales were barred from re-entering Mbargo after a night out on the piss. A Sunday thrashing of an abject West Indies in an ignored series at the fag-end of the season apparently required ample celebration. After arguing with the bouncer and hanging about at the door for a while, they wandered off to find a casino in the hope of more drinking. They’d barely made it around the corner before getting in the middle of a conflict between four locals. As is said on the internet, it escalated quickly. The 26 September reporting was bloodless. Withholding names, police stated that a man ‘was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm’ while another went to hospital with facial injuries. England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss separately confirmed that Stokes was the arrestee, adding that he had been released without charge and that Hales had gamely offered to ‘help police with their enquiries’. Administrators had a good chance of hiding behind that investigation, and the next day Stokes was named in the upcoming Ashes squad as expected. But that night the video emerged. Bristol student Max Wilson had shot it on his phone, then offered it to The Sun. What he thought was playing hardball was actually lowball: his opening price of £3000 was snapped up by a tabloid that would have paid ten times that. The Sun went on to make a mint by syndicating the rights worldwide. From a window above the fray, the vision showed six men on the street below performing the muddled choreography of a melee. One was right at the centre of it. One was waving a bottle, one dipped in and out, one tried to calm it. Two others floated around the edges. The central figure was unmistakable: red hair burning even in the streetlight as he launched into a series of blows against two of the men, falling to grapple with them on the ground, then following both across the street, swinging punches the whole way. Hales trailed behind, repeatedly and impotently shouting ‘Stokes! Stop! Stokes! Enough!’ The ECB could fudge issues that existed only in thickets of legalese, but not those captured in moving colour. Stokes was stood down from the next West Indies match, then suspended indefinitely. It emerged that he had broken his hand during the fight, something he’d done twice before while punching objects in dressing rooms. The response in Australia was fierce: Stokes was a thug, a lowlife, a selection that would disgrace England. It was not entirely coincidental that a ban for England’s best player would be handy for the Aussie team, but there was also a cultural split. In England, plenty of people still minimise pub fights as lads letting off steam. In Australia, heavy media coverage as a succession of young men were killed had inverted that tolerance. The discourse now saw any punch as potentially deadly and accordingly reckless. This was more poignant in a cricket context given that David Hookes, the dashing Test batsman and state coach, was killed in 2004 by a pub bouncer’s fist. The PR situation was bad for Stokes as details emerged of the injuries to the men he’d hit, and that one was a young war veteran and father. Stokes wasn’t officially removed from the Ashes squad through October but stayed behind when his teammates left, hoping for police to dismiss the matter in time for a late dash to Australia. His annual contract was renewed on the due date in case that came to pass. Then 29 October brought a twist in the tale. ‘Ben Stokes praised by gay couple after defending them from homophobic thugs,’ ran the headline. Kai Barry and Billy O’Connell had emerged. Not entirely out of nowhere: while Stokes had made no public comment, this story in his defence had initially been leaked to TV host Piers Morgan after the fight, as soon as the video appeared. Police body-camera footage played in court would later show that Stokes had given the same story to the arresting officer on the night. But no-one knew the identities of the fifth and sixth men in the video, and police appeals had turned up nothing. It was The Sun again with the breakthrough. Kai and Billy were perfect for a readership not keen on nuance. ‘We couldn’t believe it when we found out they were famous cricketers. I just thought Ben and Alex were quite hot, fit guys,’ said Kai, who was memorably described as a ‘former House of Fraser sales assistant’. The paper had the pair do a full photo shoot: layering the fake tan, showing off chest waxes, mixing Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton into a range of outfits. Their best shot had them standing back to back, heads turned to the camera, in a mirror-image Zoolander moment. Suddenly The Sun was the England team’s best friend. ‘Their claims could lead to the all-rounder being cleared over the punch-up and freed to play in the First Test in Australia next month,’ it gushed, then gave a tasting platter of quotes: ‘We were so grateful to Ben for stepping in to help. He was a real hero.’ ‘If Ben hadn’t intervened it could have been a lot worse for us.’ ‘We could’ve been in real trouble. Ben was a real gentleman.’ Would it be known forever as Kai and Billy’s Ashes? No. While the Bristol boys provided spin for Stokes’ reputation they didn’t influence the police. With charges still pending there was little choice – not given Strauss had previously sacked Kevin Pietersen for being annoying. Stokes remained suspended through the Ashes and a one-day series in Australia, and lost the vice-captaincy. It was January 2018 before the Crown Prosecution Service laid a charge. That charge surprisingly came in as affray, a crime that can carry prison time but is classified as ‘a breach of the peace as a result of disorderly conduct’. The men he had punched, Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, faced the same count, charged as equal participants in a fight rather than Stokes being charged with assaulting them. Alex Hales was not charged, despite being seen in the video to aim several kicks when Ryan Ali was lying on the ground. Given the underwhelming standing of the offence, Stokes was cleared by the ECB to tour New Zealand, and kept playing until his trial in August 2018, which he missed a Test to attend. None of the three defendants would be convicted. The reasoning behind the charges was never released and was attributed vaguely to ‘CPS lawyers’. The service gave the case to Alison Morgan, a prosecutor of a class known as Treasury Counsel who usually handle serious criminal matters. Morgan had a scheduling clash and never ended up court for the case, but in 2018 and 2019 she would go on to win damages and admissions of libel from The Daily Mail, The Times and The Daily Telegraph variously for incorrectly reporting that she had been responsible for the inadequate and inconsistent charging decisions. Morgan’s successor on the case was Nicholas Corsellis QC, who on the first day of trial was permitted by the CPS to request two assault charges be added against Stokes. ‘Upon further review,’ claimed a CPS statement, ‘we considered that additional assault charges would also be appropriate.’ This was patent nonsense from the service that eight months earlier had chosen the lesser charge. Any lawyer knows that no judge will allow new charges once a trial has begun, because the defence hasn’t had time to prepare. But such a request could deflect criticism of the prosecution service by technically making the judge the one who disallows the charge. Working through the story from the trial and the tape is complicated. You had a Ryan and a Ryan, a Hale and a Hales, a Billy and a Barry and a Ben. You had several versions of events as to who knew whom, who was drinking with whom, who had insulted whom and who had merely engaged in ‘banter’, a word that in modern Britain has to do an unconscionable amount of lifting. The reporting had constantly mixed up the Ryans as to who had which injury, who was in hospital, who had played which part in the fight, and whose mum had which stern words to say about it. Let’s agree that from now Ryan Ali is Ryan One, the firefighter who ended up with a fractured eye socket and a cracked tooth. Ryan Two can be Ryan Hale, the soldier who scored concussion and facial lacerations. Mr Barry and Mr O’Connell are best known per The Sun as Kai and Billy. In scorecard parlance we’ll leave the cricketers as Stokes and Hales. Amid the confusion, Stokes and his lawyers built his case in a straightforward way. The UK legal definition of affray is ‘if a person threatens or uses unlawful violence or force towards another person, which causes another person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their safety’. That means it doesn’t account for violence that harms a target, but violence that might frighten a theoretical bystander. The wiggle room for Stokes was with ‘unlawful’, because the charge excuses violence in defending oneself or others. This interpretation hinged on the beginning of the video, where Ryan One waves a beer bottle about and takes a swing at Kai. The version from Stokes was that he was minding his own business walking down the street when he heard homophobic abuse. He intervened verbally and was threatened verbally by Ryan One – something that Ryan One denied but that couldn’t be proved or disproved. In fear for his safety Stokes had to nullify that threat by bashing Ryan One before it went the other way. He registered Ryan Two in his peripheral vision as another possible threat, and again had only one recourse. Stokes also had to convince the jury to disregard testimony from Mbargo’s bouncer that he had been looking for a fight. A solid lump of a man, Andrew Cunningham had not enjoyed his patron’s attempts to get back into the club after the bouncer declined an offer of a bribe. ‘He got a bit verbally abusive towards myself. He mentioned my gold teeth and he said I looked like a cunt and I replied, “Thank you very much.” He just looked at me and told me my tattoos were shit and to look at my job.’ Cunningham described these words as coming in ‘a spiteful tone, quite an angry tone’, and said that Stokes still seemed angry as he walked away. These were details the doorman had nothing to gain by inventing, but each of them Stokes denied. By his own accounting he had drunk a beer at the game and three pints at his hotel, then ‘potentially had some Jägerbombs’ along with half a dozen vodkas at the club. He insisted that after all of this he was not drunk. If I may take a moment here to call upon the wisdom of experience – a person who cannot definitively say whether they have had any Jägerbombs has definitely had some Jägerbombs. A Jägerbomb is an experience that does not pass one by. Further to that, a person who says they have ‘potentially’ done something has definitely done that thing and doesn’t want to admit it. A person who has had between 15 and 24 standard drinks in one evening is shitfaced. A person who tries to bribe a bouncer £300 – three hundred quid! – to get into Mbargo – Mbargo! – is beyond shitfaced. If Stokes admitted that he was drunk then the prosecution could say he was out of control. He claimed clear recall of assessing a threat, feeling fear and deciding to protect himself with force. He confidently denied details from the bouncer’s testimony, like using the word ‘cunt’ or mentioning gold teeth. Yet on other details he claimed a ‘significant memory blackout’. He didn’t remember the punch that saw Ryan One taken away by ambulance. He didn’t remember what the Ryans had said to Kai and Billy, only that those words were homophobic. With no head injury, as one of the few people who hadn’t been hit, he had supposedly suffered this memory loss despite being sober. The version from Kai and Billy was compatible but vague: they had been walking along, they ‘heard … shouts’ of abuse from an unspecified source, then Stokes ‘stepped in’ and thus they avoided possible harm. They claimed to have been bought a drink by Stokes at Mbargo, although CCTV showed them meeting outside. The overall implication from both accounts was that the cricketers had been pals with Kai and Billy, while the Ryans as per The Sun’s headline were a roving band of thugs. The reality though is that the Ryans were the ones hanging out with Kai and Billy at Mbargo. Police discussed CCTV from inside the club in questioning and at trial. On that footage the four Bristolians bought drinks for one another, danced together, and Kai was noted to have variously touched Ryan Two’s crotch and Ryan One’s buttock. Ryan One told police that all of this was taken lightheartedly and wasn’t a problem. Indeed, when the Ryans called it a night the other two left with them. This much is clear from footage out the front of Mbargo, which shows Kai and Billy exit the club and start talking with a subdued Hales and a demonstrative Stokes, who are stuck outside. The vision was played in court to determine whether Stokes was antagonistic towards Kai and Billy, as he appears to impersonate them and to throw a lit cigarette their way. More interesting is that after a few minutes the Ryans emerge, and all six actors in the fight video briefly form a prequel in the one frame. Ryan Two pats Billy on the chest in friendly fashion with his right hand before clapping him on the back with his left. He moves past and does the same to Kai before leaving the shot. Ryan One stops to speak to Kai. They lean in for a moment, talking, then Kai turns and they walk out of frame together. Billy hangs around for a few seconds at the door and then looks after them and races to catch up. Stokes and Hales remain outside the club to remonstrate further with the bouncers. Whatever discord develops around the corner is between four men who left amicably together minutes earlier. There’s no way to know what caused that friction. If Ryan One did use homophobic slurs, he might have been drunkenly obnoxious for no reason. He might have had an insecure macho response to some extra flirtation. He might have thought unkindness was funny – ‘banter’ once again. Or he might have said something that was misunderstood, as both Ryans insisted in court that they had not used nor had the impulse to use any abusive language. What clearly didn’t happen was an attack by bigots on random passers-by. This kind of crime is regular enough that an audience understands the horror of it, and this is what was evoked by the public accounts of Stokes, Billy and Kai. All we know is that there was some verbal dispute among the Bristol locals, and that Stokes came along behind them and put himself in the middle of it. Ryan One responded to the interference aggressively and away they went. There are plenty of reasons to look sideways at the idea that Stokes was a saviour. Foremost, neither Kai nor Billy was called upon as witnesses in court. You’d think it would be ideal to have Stokes’ story backed up by those who benefited from his selflessness. But his defence team had developed the impression that the pair had shown a changeable recall of events amid a hard-partying lifestyle, and would be dismantled by the prosecution on the stand. That raises the question of whether The Sun coached their quotes for the 2017 interview. Despite missing court, Kai and Billy clearly enjoyed the attention. In 2018 after the trial they did a follow-up spread in the same paper about how poor Ben had been mistreated. They got a television spot on Good Morning Britain and glowed about his heroism. In 2019 The Sun wheeled them out once more to say that Stokes should get a knighthood. In 2017 they had ‘never watched cricket’ but by 2019 were supposedly volunteering sentences like, ‘He saved us, now he’s saved the Ashes.’ Whether they were paid for these appearances is not known, but the chance to be famous for a day can be lure enough. If you find this cynical, consider that on the night in question, the Bristol boys were so deeply moved and thankful for Ben’s intervention that they left him to be arrested and never attempted to find out who he was. Seconds after the video ended, an off-duty policeman reached the scene. You might think that someone grateful to a saviour would speak on his behalf. Instead, said Kai, ‘it all got a bit scary so we walked off. It was too much for me and we went to Quigley’s takeaway for chicken burgers and cheesy chips.’ They didn’t give their hero a thought for over a month while police issued multiple appeals for witnesses. As for Stokes, he told his arresting officer that ‘his friends’ had been attacked. After three minutes of chat outside a nightclub, these friends were so dear to him that he has never contacted them again: not after the newspaper piece, not after the verdict. He didn’t want to see how they were or thank them for their support. He didn’t mention them by name in his solicitor’s statement after the trial. The Stokes defence rested on Ryan One’s bottle, which he had carried out of Mbargo to finish a beer, not to use in a Sharks versus Jets amateur production. But once he turned it over to hold it by the neck it became a weapon. Intent and interpretation can change the material nature of things. Part of Stokes’ justification in court was that the bottle implied that the two Ryans might have ‘other weapons’ hidden away. You can understand how a jury could decide that created doubt. Not being convicted, though, doesn’t give the contents of the video a big green tick. It does not, as his lawyer claimed, vindicate Stokes. Looking in detail, Ryan One is belligerent but his movements telegraph a bluff. Hales is the person he’s gesturing at, but they’re several metres apart when Ryan One cocks his arm ostentatiously, showing off the bottle rather than bracing to swing. He skips forward but Hales skips back and Ryan One doesn’t follow. Kai stretches out an arm to impede Ryan One, who has a drunken stumble, nearly eats pavement, then staggers towards Kai and hits him in the back. That hand is still holding the bottle, but his strike is a side-arm cuff on a soft part of the body. It’s all pretty tame. This is where Stokes gets involved. Having moved across to protect Hales, he now takes three large steps to run around Kai and booms his first punch at Ryan One. They fall to the ground and the bottle clinks away. Stokes gets to his feet to punch down at the fallen man, while Hales arrives to kick him ineffectively then runs off across the street for some unknown reason. Ice-cream van? Stokes is soon back in the grapple having his shirt pulled up to show off his Durham tan. Ryan Two steps in for the first time to pull Stokes away, prompting a couple more random punches at this new target, then Stokes trips backwards over Ryan One and sprawls in the street. Hales chooses this moment to return and aim some solid kicks at the head of the man on the ground. Nothing so far is a triumph of moral philosophy or the pugilistic arts. But if it all stopped here, perhaps you could say it was somewhere approaching fair. Ryan One has behaved like a turnip and it’s not an entirely unjust world that would give him a whack across the chops. The antagonists have disentangled, Stokes has some distance, it’s time to dust off and go home. Ryan Two steps forward for this purpose with his palm raised in conciliatory style and says, ‘Settle down, stop.’ So Stokes punches him. It’s roughly his fifth punch overall, and he really winds up into this one. He misses so hard that he stumbles away into the shadows of the shop awnings along the road. Hales starts shouting for him to stop. Ryan Two backs into the street, still holding his palm up. Stokes closes on him from about five metres away, six large steps, to where Ryan Two is standing on his own. Stokes pushes him a couple of times, as Ryan Two keeps trying to placate him and saying ‘Stop.’ Stokes throws his sixth punch, largely missing as his target ducks. Ryan Two keeps pulling away and reversing, into the middle of the street now. Stokes follows him, grabbing his sleeve to drag him back. By this point Ryan One has found his feet and walked around behind his friend. Both of them are in the same line of sight for Stokes, and both are backing away. Stokes aims his seventh and his eighth punches, which Ryan Two tries to deflect, as Hales walks up behind Stokes to grab him. Stokes yanks away from his friend and switches to Ryan One instead, taking seven paces to grab him before throwing his ninth punch of the night. He grabs again; Ryan One blocks that arm and pushes himself back away from Stokes. Ryan Two again intercedes, putting himself between the two with his palms up and his arm extended. Stokes throws his tenth punch, a right-hander at the face of Ryan Two, then shoves him backwards. Ryan Two backs away once more, four paces. Stokes follows, steadies, lines up, then launches his strongest punch yet, his eleventh, a proper right hook from a solid base, one that cracks across the man’s head and gives him concussion. Ryan Two ends up flat on his back in the middle of the street, his hands still outstretched for a moment in useless protest until they twitch and drop to the blacktop. Stokes isn’t done. He once more shoves away the restraining Hales and follows Ryan One, who keeps backing away saying, ‘Alright, alright, alright.’ Five more paces from Stokes before another blow at the man’s head. Kai and Billy are now standing over the poleaxed Ryan Two. The video ends, but seconds later Stokes will punch Ryan One hard enough to knock him out too, before off-duty cop Andrew Spure arrives on the scene to bring down the curtain. When the body-camera footage kicks in some minutes later, Stokes is in handcuffs but Ryan One is still laid out in the street. Ryan Two has regained consciousness, folded his shirt under his friend’s head and is asking police for an ambulance. ‘At this point, I felt vulnerable and frightened. I was concerned for myself and others.’ This was how Stokes described that sequence to the court. An elite athlete with years of gym work and training to snap a bat through the line of a ball with astounding power and precision, swinging fists as hard as he can at men with none of those advantages. Punching so hard that he breaks his hand, and repeatedly shoving away a friend so he can punch some more. Frightened and threatened by two targets shouting ‘Get back!’ and ‘Stop!’ The off-duty officer testified that Stokes ‘seemed to be the main aggressor or was progressing forward trying to get to’ Ryan One, who was ‘trying to back away or get away from the situation’. The student who filmed the video can be heard on the tape at one stage exclaiming ‘Fuck!’ and testified that it was because ‘I felt a little bit sorry about the lad that had been punched and it looked like he had his hands up’. That tallied with the prosecutor’s depiction of ‘a sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked at what was taking place’. The defendant stuck to his strategy. ‘No, my sole focus was to protect myself.’ All up, in the 33 seconds of footage after he falls over, Stokes takes 35 steps forward to keep hitting two men who keep trying to get away. Not once is he hit back. After the verdict, Stokes’ solicitor positioned him as the victim. It had been ‘an eleven-month ordeal for Ben … The jury’s decision fairly reflects the truth of what happened that night … He was minding his own business … It was only when others came under threat that Ben became physically engaged. The steps that he took were solely aimed at ensuring the safety of himself and the others present …’ The statement was impossibly self-righteous and self-absorbed. If there was anyone to feel sorry for it was Ryan Hale, the second of our two Ryans. He’s the one who emerged from the club with a friendly arm around the shoulder for Kai and Billy. He’s the one who interposed himself to end the fight, then kept putting himself back in the firing line, trying to calm an intimidating stranger while dodging blows. For his show of restraint he got laid out regardless, concussed in the street, then was issued a criminal charge equal to that of the man who hit him, and described in national media as a violent bigot in an untested story to support that man’s defence. Lawyers for Ryan Two made a more convincing post-trial statement, noting that Kai and Billy, ‘neither of whom were relied upon by the prosecution or the defence team for Mr Stokes, have taken the opportunity to speak with various media outlets about the alleged homophobic abuse that they received in the early hours of September 25. Mr Hale has passionately denied this allegation throughout the course of this case,’ it continued. ‘It is upsetting to Mr Hale that although he was acquitted, the accusation that he was the author of such abuse remains. Both Mr Hale and Mr Ali were knocked unconscious by Mr Stokes, and although Mr Stokes has been acquitted of an affray, Mr Hale struggles with the reasons why the Crown Prosecution Service did not treat him as a victim of an unlawful assault.’Good question. Avon and Somerset police were the investigating force, and they were frustrated by the decision. Ryan Two was filmed clearly not hurting anyone, but police were instructed by the CPS to proceed with a charge. Hales (the cricketer) was filmed fighting but ‘a decision was made at a senior level of the CPS’ not to proceed. Police expected Stokes to be charged with assault but the CPS declined. It doesn’t take a wild cynic to think that placing the same lukewarm charge on three men for vastly divergent behaviour might ensure that none would be convicted, even as the trial would maintain the pretence that a defendant of influential standing had not been given a free pass. A couple of years down the line, the original interview with Kai and Billy has disappeared. All traces have been scrubbed from The Sun website, its social media history, and even from the Wayback Machine internet archive. Given its headline of ‘homophobic thugs’ and text that names Ryan Two but not Ryan One, the libel liability isn’t hard to spot. Later interviews with Kai and Billy take the passive voice – they ‘suffered homophobic slurs outside a Bristol nightclub’. The article that was once claimed to exonerate brave Ben Stokes now links only to a missing content page, with a picture of a dropped ice-cream cone and the phrase ‘legal removal’ inserted into the web URL. In terms of consequences, Stokes missed one tour. When he resumed his career in January 2018, the Australians hadn’t yet ruined theirs. Their year-long bans looked much more stringent. But the Stokes case dragged on in other ways. With no criminal liability, the Australians confessed promptly enough for the sporting world to give them the full length of the lash. Their situation was ugly but there was closure. Stokes got stuck in legal stasis, unable to be fully backed or condemned. Instead his issue was always present, a browser full of open tabs that the ECB swore they would read any day now. Through 2018 Stokes was back but he wasn’t back, in the sunglasses and finger-guns sense. In his return one-day series he nearly cost England a match with 39 from 73 balls in Wellington. His first Test hit was a duck as England got rolled in Auckland for 58. At Trent Bridge while Stokes was injured, England posted a world record 481 against Australia. With Stokes three weeks later at the same ground they made 268. He crawled to 50 from 103, the second-slowest any Englishman had reached that milestone in 20 years. That span covered Alastair Cook’s whole career. It was apologetic batting, acting out responsibility via the scorecard. Stokes was creeping back into the team like he’d been kicked out in a blazing row and was hoping to tip-toe to the sofa. It was December 2018 before the ECB disciplinary committee ruled on him and Hales. In a ‘remarkable coincidence’, wrote Simon Heffer in The Telegraph, ‘the punishment both players faced in terms of bans from playing at international level was covered by the amount of games they had already missed when dropped by England’s selectors, in the furore that followed the incident’. The verdict compounded the omissions around the case by not addressing the violence at its heart. Nor did Stokes, apologising only ‘to my team-mates, coaches and support staff’, and then ‘to England supporters and to the public for bringing the game into disrepute’. The implicit next step was to rebuild that reputation. It might have been easier had his court defence not meant that he wasn’t game to admit any fault at all. It might have been easier if he or his advisers had been willing to change tack once the trial was done. Imagine a world where Stokes had stood outside court and apologised for overreacting, for the injuries he’d caused, and for the time and energy he had sucked out of other people’s lives. That would have been a show of responsibility beyond a scorecard. When the time came around to assess forgiveness, it might have meant forgiveness was deserved.
I was asked to make a post about some stories within the Casino grounds so I thought I'd share. I have many so I'll do my best to pick the better ones. Some back information: I've been a Casino Dealer for 11 years, I've been a supervisor for five years, and I've been a Surveillance Operator for one year. I've worked at three properties, none of which are connected or owned by the same company. I've worked on : Government/Private/Native American owned casinos.
From Hero to Zero.
At my first Casino, I was one of the first group of people who were trained to deal Roulette . After 4 weeks of working 6PM-3AM then doing roulette training from 3AM-8AM (Not paid) , I actually really enjoyed the game and after about six months I became extremely quick at the number game and the pace of the action was steady with very low margin of errors. Young man walks in, cashes in for $500. He buys in for $2 chips and just loads the board. After a few spins and pretty decent hits, he then changes his chips from $2 to 5$ then to $10 and racks his winnings up to $10,000. It was then, five spins in a row, he loaded the board with some pretty gross bets, and every spin I would hit the ONE number with either NO CHIPS on it, or maybe 1 chip , He lost all $10,000 in a matter of minutes. He leaves , and I go on break. After my break I was going back to the same table and wouldn't you know it, the same young man walks in and cashes in another $500. He tells me he just sold his car outside and this is all that he had left. So we do the same deal, buys in for $2 chips, then slowly starts betting $5 chips, $10, $25...and he makes $10,000 AGAIN. Within the next 25 minutes it was straight agony. Every spin, same thing, he would bet $2500 in chips, and win only $250, $400, and after about a half hour he lost it all . Never saw the guy again. 2) Man down At this property, we are 24 hours for table games. It's currently 5AM , and I'm dealing some $25 Blackjack to this guy. He's probably early thirties , heavy guy. He's sober as can be, but right away I can tell he's been losing. We know how much you've bought in for, how much your down, or up, and I could see he was down $2000+. After about twenty minutes of pure losing, his temper starts to flare.At this point I now have two other guests at my table. Drinking coffee, not saying a word, just losing their money. After losing hand, after hand, this guy looks me straight in the eye, seized up, starts shaking, he can't move. He tries to punch towards me and smashes his stack of chips all over the place and falls backwards to the floor. I call for security, we cannot touch him due to liability . I can't move from my table because, well, liability / casino cash property, all I can do is try to talk to him. As I'm doing so, these other two woman who are sitting at my table just look at me and one says "OK, dealer, cmon lets go " as she taps the table telling me to start dealing and forget about the guy having a stroke on the floor. As security takes him to the ambulance out front, I had to stay behind for a couple minutes and give a statement. I go on break. I come back, and 45 minutes later, he comes right back in with a oxygen tank and keeps gambling for the remainder of the morning. 3) You get a dildo, and YOU get a dildo! On a late summer Saturday night, we had a large event for these massive muscle guys/strongman competition type thing. After their show, I'm at the roulette table , and five of these boys come over to play. They were absolutely hilarious. They were feeling pretty good, cashed in somewhat large amounts and I could tell this was going to be a fun time. After about a hour of dealing to these guys, it's almost midnight, everybody is pretty hammered , I spin the ball, and all five of these guys take out these god damn (what I can only tell was) two feet purple dildos from inside their pants, and wiping them around in the air. The ladies were just loving it, one of the dildos landed in the roulette wheel and we had to shut the table down to re-calibrate the wheel to make sure nothing had been changed. I just remember that night was so much damn fun, I couldn't believe what I was seeing and I would never forget it. 4) Full Moon On this day, I was actually training dealers / supervising them on small games like Three Card poker. We opened the table at 10AM, and this older man came and sat down . He played all day. The jackpot was $21,000 and that was pretty high for this table. He played, and played and played. He's one of the players where you know he's wearing a diaper because he's been drinking coffee/pop all day and hasn't moved in eight hours. As the day went on, this man never moved from his chair. Getting closer to midnight, he was aggravated and said "I need to go have a smoke, I'm getting killed in here". He left, and the very next hand, the lady beside him was dealt the jackpot . He didn't say much, but you could just tell he just hated life at that very moment because had he not gotten up, it would of been his hand. The man calmly took his cane , his hat, jacket, coffee, and left. The next morning I found out when he did leave he drove his car straight through his bank and was arrested. 5) Slick Robber I actually give props to people who can actually pull this off. This story may confuse you so I'll try and explain things as best as possible. A lot of casinos have machines as soon as you walk through the front doors. A man walks up to one of these machines and sticks in HIS $100 bill. He doesn't gamble it, instead he hits the cash out button and gets a $100 TITO ticket where he then takes the ticket to the ATM machine to get his $100. Now remember, his Original $100 is in the slot machine. He then takes the $100 from the ATM and goes back to the same machine, and repeats this process over a hundred times. Essentially he's taking money from the ATM, and loading up the Slot Machine . Now he knows he can't do it too much because if the slot machine gets full of money, the machine will shut down and the slow attendant will have to take all the cash out. So he deposits over $10,000 , then has a small crowbar, he cracks the machine open and makes a run out the front door. To my knowledge he was never caught . But damn, that was pretty smart . EDIT: 6) Mental Health is a thing. 10PM man walks in to play some high limit BlackJack. This guy knows the game and played well. Dressed nice, drank juice/tea , a little bit of a attitude, cashed in over $10,000. When this man was half way down his buy in, he said something a long the lines of "If I don't win here tonight, I'm going to go set myself on fire." I wasn't sure if he was serious because when people are down, they tend to say a lot of nonsense. I actually left early that night, and from a third party was told he did exactly that in the parking lot. The next day it was clear something terrible had gone wrong in the parking lot . EDIT: 7) Nothing good happens after midnight After a busy Saturday night, I was dealing a mix of games, and during this story I was in the middle of Blackjack. I had one young kid (probably 19) sitting in the middle, one older male probably in his later 40's sitting beside him on his right, and I had a really nice couple in their 20's sitting together at the other side. This young kid wasn't playing just sort of watching, and ever time the old man won he would give this young guy some of his winnings. The older man, was a wine drinker, and he had black between all of his teeth, I'll never forget. He's a little drunk but nothing terrible. As the night goes on, the older man goes and uses the washroom, at which point the couple asked the young guy "Oh was that your dad?" and the young guy says "Hah, no I wish!". The couple and I just looked at each other. This old guy, was in complete control over this kid. Absolutely disgusting. The night ends, and I find out the couple called a few of their friends, and they all waited outside by this old mans truck and beat the living hell out of him. 40 years old, sleeping with a 19 year old, completely brain washed . Very weird. 8) That one co-worker where you just wish they would quit. One of our co-workers, nice guy but had a very big ego and we as employees just sorta left him alone. One day he had enough of the atmosphere and quit. Now usually when you quit, you cannot come back until you paperwork is finalized. How ever, HR was in that day, and he was given the paperwork the very next day. He came in, cashed in $1000, and made $50,000 in about a hour at the Baccarat table. My manager, was extremely annoyed, because now this guy is just mocking the casino and having the time of his life (Thanks for the big tip by the way :) ) and so he decides to call it quits. He wants to ban himself and he wants $50,000 in cash. The casino says Nope, we are going to give you a cheque. Now here's the thing, most business people will take the cheque, how ever you CANT CASH the cheque until the following monday because it's on that day where the funds are available. The casino on the other hand will cash their own check in anytime , because they want you to play. So this guy pretty much said go to hell I want my cash, and he called the police. Police show up, and management promptly gave him the cash.I though it was absolutely hilarious . 9) No good deed goes un punished I was dealing Three Card Poker, and the jackpot was around $17,000. This old man (a regular) was sitting there all day grinding it out. Super nice guy, always a pleasure to deal to. Well, after hours of playing, he stands up and says "Hey john!, can you come here for a minute?" so his buddy John comes over. He says to John "I need to go take a piss real quick, can you play my card until I get back?" John agrees . John takes the chips and I stop him and explain he can't play his friends chips, he needs to cash in and play his own. And he does. Welp, second hand out and bam, doesn't he win it. The old man comes back and is so happy, he can't believe it. John, took his $17,000, didn't say a word to his "buddy" and walked away. I never felt so much hatred in all my life. Didn't give him a dollar, not a thank you, nothing. The old man sits back down again, the progressive resets to $2500, and he sat there grinding away again. 10) The Top Knot I had this player , young guy, who was born into a fortune. One of his relatives passed away and left him a pretty big sizable amount of money, so he played poker every single day for the rest of his days. I will add, he IS a good player. I did not enjoy his company just because of the "Know-it-All" attitude, but he was good. We'll call him John. John is 5'10, and well build, with muscle. John also decided today was the day to show off his Top Knot. (google top knot if you're not sure what I mean) So he sits down, and he's absolutely KILLING the table. Every hand, after hand, after hand. And because he's in such a good mood, he's playing any two cards, calling any $500 bet, and he's just dominating. This one guy at the table decided he had enough. He got up, without saying a word and left. A moment later, he comes back in, walks behind John, and takes a pair of scissors , and cuts off his Top Knot. I for one couldn't believe it, dying laughing inside, and it just turned into one big brawl. That was a good day. 11) That one bad seed One of my best friends who I haven't seen in YEARS ended up being part of the crew. Was kind of nice to catch up. We never really got along as we grew up because he has a very high picture of himself . He wanted that 10/10 woman. A mansion, and a new Corvette. So every month or so we would all go up to the other casino to play. I myself would bring no more than $500, but I couldn't understand how this guy (we'll call him Kyle) was spending THOUSANDS of dollars at the tables. So this wen on for a few months. Well, one day, as we're closing the casino, he and I are in the High Limit room and we're getting ready to close the tables. We are told to take the chips out, count them, put them back, sign this piece of paper and that's it. Well as the supervisor was locking the tray, the piece of paper fell to the floor, so she asked Kyle to grab the piece of paper. As he bends over, a great big $500 chip falls right out of his sock. Kyle was fired immediately , but it all made sense. They offered Kyle a deal where if he replaced all the stolen chips they would not make it public. Not sure how that turned out. 12) If I ever decide to write a book, this will be the last chapter: <3 After working at my first Casino for five years, I met a Indian woman who was visiting from another part of the country. During this time I was explaining a game to her, which honestly I don't think she even cared. She explained she was visiting and sight seeing , and that was that.Well, two years later I ended up moving to the other side of the country and transferred casinos, and low and behold she worked there as a Dealer. We got married , and it's been 5 years. 13) The Tip One of our tables that we've had for a couple years had a progressive jackpot that had reached $100,000. The dealer at the table was sitting pretty lonely. Nobody really played the game because people knew it was extremely difficult to win the jackpot. My memory is a tad foggy, but you somehow needed to flop the royal flush. This young guy sits down and says to the dealer, we'll call him John. "John, if you pay me that jackpot, I will tip you $10,000" Well John started dealing, and about a half hour into his shift, he F*cking did it. He dealt him the royal. And you know something?This young lad, kept his word, and he made sure there was a audience, and he tipped exactly $10,000. That was a moment right there. That pay cheque was real nice. I think we all got about $500 more than usual. The moment that jackpot was awarded they got rid of the table because the money it was making was not near what the casino wanted. I'm sure there have been bigger tips at other casinos, but that was something special . 14) The Lawsuit Now this story I'm going to have to beat around the bush a bit due to the nature of what happened. I can't won't answer any questions that you may have on this topic other than what I have to say because it had a lot of publicity . The waitresses at this casino had to wear very thin sexy clothes. Not borderline legal, but it was noticed. One day they called all the waitresses to come in and explained they were changing their outfit to something even more sexier. Now these new dresses were very very borderline legal . The staff said No way. We're not wearing that.So , friday night comes, and the staff work their whole shift, then at the end of their shift were called into a meeting and were all fired. Welp, one of those ladies father was a pretty big time lawyer. Brough the casino to court and won. They won big. Good for them. We had no waitresses for a couple days haha. Thanks for reading along, I have many more I can add as the day goes on, those were just some off the top of my head. Feel free to ask any questions of the Casino industry. I don't really have many stories about the surveillance department because that's the one area where I can't really say a whole lot due to its privacy and contracts I was and still am under.
This chapter was a labour of love, heists are hard. Big thanks to u/eruwenn for helping tidy up this bag of snakes. First / Prev / Next
“Ranjaz K’Lua, you thieving scumbag!” the Kah’Ree in the purple suit exclaimed loudly as he spotted them across the busy room. “As I live and skral, I never thought you would have the Jolos show your face here again!” Two J’Rami in suits detached themselves from the lobby wall, walking towards the Kittran and his friends. “Alfor, my old friend!” Ranjaz smiled broadly. “No need for the welcoming party, I’ve got your credits” —he gestured to Cygna— “and a sweetener, for all the trouble I caused last time.” Alfor paused, lecherous eyes assessing the Fae’Dan. “You know I have a thing for purple.” He chuckled at his own joke and waved the guards back to their posts. “How about we have a drink, and discuss your forgiveness.” He pointed to Thor and Eruwenn. “Brought your own security, or are these Gal. Fed. goons? Everyone knows about your probation.” The Kittran gave a broad grin. “I got a Tulseria-damned pardon, a new ship and a very lucrative opportunity.” The Kah’Ree smiled. “How’d a thieving cat like you get a pardon?” He gave Ranjaz an appraising look up and down. “Oh? Now, let me guess, you need something from me and my brother?” Ranjaz fired his finger guns. “You were always the smart one Alfor, that’s why you run the casino floor.” The Kittran stepped in close. “The item, do you still have it?” Alfor tilted his head back and away from Ranjaz. “Your little guarantee?” He looked back down at Ranjaz. “We have it somewhere safe. Had some unusual people come by after you got caught. Asked a lot of questions. Made a lot of threats.” His face contorted in anger. “We got audited thanks to you.” The Kittran smiled. “If only they knew you better, they could have simply paid you for the information.” “We give nothing for free.” The Kah’Ree gave a sinister smile. “House rule.” Ranjaz walked forward to put his his arm on Alfor’s back. “Let’s go see your brother. Have a few drinks, maybe gamble a little, and discuss our future riches.”
Ripley stood in the shadows of the staff shuttle bay, watching as the numerous employees of assorted races came and went. Loud laughter caught her attention, and a very strangely dressed Niham broke away from a small group and walked towards her. Ripley tried to maintain her low profile as the scantily clad female strutted towards her in long black boots with pointed heels that clacked loudly with every step. Deliberately avoiding eye contact the Awakened tried to will herself into the wall but it was too late and a voice called out to her. “Hey Darling! You must be the one I’m looking for.” Ripley shook her head. The Kittran had said the contact was an Ashi pirate captain, a master gambler and expert in procuring the unusual. “I don’t-” “Listen cutie,” she interrupted, “you’re the one lurking in dark corners drawing attention to yourself. I’ve got your security card. You tell that fluffy little stud he owes me. And more than a bottle of Fae’Dan wine and a good time, if you know what I mean.” She held up the card between her fingers, just a little out of Ripley’s reach. The Awakened considered the phrase ‘fluffy little stud’ and decided that, despite her hopes, this was probably her contact. “You’re Captain Whiplash?” The Ashi laughed genuinely, the jiggling of tightly squeezed breasts bursting at shiny black restraints making Ripley nervous. “Oh, Darling! Only my little pets call me that! You may call me Sho’Na.” Ripley was momentarily confused. “So, you aren’t a pirate captain?” “I’m anything they pay me to be.” She smiled at the silver-haired woman's naivety. “You really are new to this.” Ripley, caught off guard, simply nodded, then replied, “I’m a quick learner.” “Good for you, Darling.” Sho’Na handed over the card. “Just make sure you get paid up front, and don’t use your real name with clients. Ruins the mystique.” Ripley was unsure of what was being said. Turning the card over in her hands she saw that the holo-image on the front was of a male Arkellian. “This isn’t me?” “Honey, I was given half a cycle to get you a level three security card. Just be glad it’s a biped.” Sho’Na looked Ripley up and down. “Our mutual acquaintance told me you were some sort of master of disguise who could even trick Selva Blaster.” Ripley paused, then smiled. Her appearance had become such an integral part of her identity she had forgotten that it was entirely optional. “It won’t be a problem.” She looked at the card again. “Unless the owner comes looking for it.” Sho’Na gave another bosom-trembling laugh that threatened to spill out at any moment. “Oh, don’t worry, he’s tied up at the moment.” The Awakened considered the risk. “Hmmm, but for how long?” The few strips of shiny black material that comprised Sho’Na’s revealing outfit strained under her amusement. “Don’t you worry, Darling. He paid for the whole night.”
Eruwenn had reassessed her opinion of Ranjaz many times since meeting him. The criminal. The loyal friend. The lazy trouble-maker. All were true, but now she was seeing something new. He sat opposite Toran, the brother of Alfor, in a game of dalcho she wished she could have taken part in, but was equally glad she did not. At first she had thought the Kittran was outmatched, a few reckless mistakes costing him dearly as the Kah’Ree deftly selected his tiles. Toran was clearly a seasoned gambler, using a blend of the Remee Le’Bow Gambit and the Kowals’Kee Analysis she hadn’t seen before. It seemed to be dismantling Ranjaz’s tiles before he could even prepare his cards. A few fortunate dice rolls and he had taken a strong lead from the outset. The Kittran appeared desperate, playing any tile available to try and slow the defeat. It had all been a ruse, she saw it; Ranjaz had saved his best tiles and carefully thrown hands to manipulate the cards. In just a few rounds he would be able to dominate the board and raise the stakes, recouping his losses and changing the course of the game entirely. She had encountered few players who could manipulate the game so deftly, using memory and layers of strategy to corner their opponent. It was magnificent. Eruwenn couldn’t tear her eyes from the board as she stood beside Thor. The Awakened had shown no interest in the game, studiously watching the opposite door as Toran’s staff came in and out. When a waiter entered and began preparing drinks at the small private bar in the executive gambling room, Thor coughed. It was a strange thing for an Awakened to do, and Eruwenn finally looked up from the table. “Are you ok?” Thor nodded. By the time he had looked towards her, she had returned her attention completely to the game. “You don’t seem concerned about your friend?” he asked. The Anatidae watched as Ranjaz used a blind double feint, and the sheer audacity of such a move made her swallow hard. She didn’t look back to Thor, but mumbled a response. “I’m very confident in her abilities.” The waiter was methodically placing drinks by each of the players, but when they stood behind Ranjaz the Kittran surged to his feet, shouting, “Hey! No cheating Toran! Getting your waiter to look over my shoulder? That’s a dirty move I’d expect from your brother!” Thor had reacted faster than Eruwenn, pinning the arms of the Arkellian waiter in a vice-like bear hug. Toran slowly stood. He was big, heavily muscled, and the veins on his neck bulged as his anger rose. “Don’t accuse me in my own place.” He cracked his knuckles and glowered down at Ranjaz. “I run a straight game.” Fearlessly the Kittran walked right up to the Kah’Ree and stared up into his face from waist height. “Don’t try and intimidate me, you son of a Vogel.” Ranjaz puffed out his chest and began pushing the burly casino owner. “Nobody cheats me!” The blow caught Ranjaz across the cheek and sent him sprawling across the room. Eruwenn winced at the impact, but maintained her composure. Toran laughed. “Watch your tongue or I’ll add it to my collection.” He walked round the table and kicked Ranjaz in the stomach, glaring at Thor and Eruwenn, daring them to act. “Know your place trash. You’re at this table because you put credits up front. You are a dishonest thief, begging for scraps, and cosying up to me any my brother to get your little trinket back.” He returned to his seat. “Why would I need to cheat against the likes of you?” Ranjaz stood, brushing himself off. “Fine, fine.” He waved a hand and Thor dropped the Arkellian. Ranjaz tapped him on the chest. “My mistake.” He sat down and picked up his cards once more. “You’re right Toran, you run a clean game. I’m just a sore loser.” He shuffled the order of the tiles that were still face down on the table. “To show my sincerity, how about we double the buy for the rest of the game?” Toran snorted. “Double?” He looked at the Kittran, scrutinising his opponent. The game was already over; he had control of the board and his tiles occupied the three prime positions. Was the thief trying to buy his favour, he wondered? How much was the trinket he wanted truly worth? He decided it was worth testing. “Triple, and I’ll forget you dared touch me.” The Kittran swallowed hard, his ears flat to his head. Toran momentarily worried he’d pushed for too much but a decision seemed to be reached. “Fine. Triple.” The look of defeat was delicious to the Kah’Ree.
Cygna had done her part and lured Alfor to a private room away from his security. She had danced, skipped and side-stepped his groping hands so far, maintaining a playfulness that ensured he complied. This sort of thing was not new to her; she had spent time undercover in the past. Fortunately, there had been little call for it since she had joined forces with Eruwenn. Alfor’s eyes scanned her body once more. “The Kittran has very good taste.” He licked his lips, a small amount of drool escaping and running down his chin. He wiped it on his sleeve. “Now, I brought you somewhere quiet. How about you show me how sweet you can be?” The Fae’Dan smiled coyly and continued her dancing just out of reach, glancing to the doorway where Alfor’s two guards stood watching her. “With an audience?” She raised her eyebrows expectantly. With a sly grin he waved the guards out of the room. “Now come here and let me satisfy you like only a Kah’Ree can.” His eyes wandered over her body once more. Cygna smiled, her own eyes moving from the Kah’Ree’s hands to his shoulders, then up towards his neck. An interesting fact about the Kah’Ree was the thick blood vessels on the side of their neck. They often bulged when a Kah’Ree was angry or excited, like Alfor’s were as he leered at her. She danced closer. Another interesting fact was that their brains were not as efficient as those of other species, hence the requirement for additional blood flow; more oxygen per limited thought. He leaned forward, his eyes locked to her swaying hips. Cygna turned slowly, and his head tilted to appreciate her assets. The third, lesser known, fact about the Kah’Ree was that an interruption to the blood flow while they were in this excited state caused them to lose consciousness rapidly as their brain burned through the available oxygen. “My eyes are up here.” She smiled as he looked up at her with his head still tilted. He sneered. “Who ca-” The Fae’Dan struck the side of his neck with the edge of her hand, targeting the throbbing blood vessel with a powerful blow. The interruption to his brain's oxygen supply worked perfectly and he fell face forward onto the ground at her feet. She let out a sigh of relief and looked down at his unconscious body. “Thank you, that was particularly satisfying.” She walked over to the door and peeked out, finding the guards standing either side. “He said to order us some drinks.” One of the guards nodded and immediately put his hand to his lapel communicator. Back inside the room, Cygna used her foot to roll Alfor to his back and began searching his pockets. She came up empty. Her eyes caught a glimmer from his collar and she found a heavy gold chain, at the end of which was his security key. She removed it just as a knock came at the door. A deep voice from the other side called out. “Your drinks, boss.” The Fae’Dan quickly messed up her hair. Using the back of her hand she smeared her lipstick sideways, and then pulled the strap of her dress down off her shoulder. She opened the door and, to her surprise, was faced with an Arkellian waiter. The bodyguards noted her dishevelled appearance and shared a smirk, and she said, “Oh, I wasn’t expec-” The waiter pushed the trolley into the room. “Don’t keep the boss waiting, lady.” Before Cygna could reply they were inside and the door closed. “Relax, it’s me.” Ripley’s voice sounded bizarre coming from the male Arkellian form, and Cygna’s eyes went wide in shock. Her sharp mind quickly adjusted to this new information. Of course the Awakened could change their physical appearance; she had just never seen it. They all seemed quite attached to their chosen human forms. “Neat trick.” She held out Alfor’s key. “Did you get the other one?” Ripley nodded. “The Kittran played his part well. I didn’t see him take it, and didn’t feel it when he placed it in my pocket. Now that was a neat trick.” The Fae’Dan smiled. “I think I’ll pass on that dalcho game.” The Arkellian Ripley smiled. “Probably wise.” Turning, she slipped the key into her pocket and headed back out of the door.
Ripley entered the elevator to the owner's private offices on the top floor. Thanks to the distractions downstairs, the two large desks in the centre of the room were empty. She walked straight past them to the large leokas painting on the wall and swung it forward. Behind it was a Fae’Dan safe; she took out the two keys and a small homemade device the Kittran had given her. Attaching the device to the bio-lock and standing before the safe, she elongated her arms to reach both key positions at once. There was more than one reason she was the one chosen for this task. The device beeped twice and small lights above each lock lit up. She simultaneously turned both keys, and there was a satisfying clunk. She raised an eyebrow. The device had worked. The heavy safe door swung open and she began her search. Ranjaz had been very specific: while there was one item she had to get, she was to grab as much as possible to obscure their true target. Quickly grabbing as much as she could she retrieved the keys and ran back across the room towards the elevator.
Cygna hauled Alfor back onto the seat, putting him in a more natural position and messing up his hair. She looked away as she began unbuttoning his clothes, pulling his trousers around his ankles and opening his shirt up to bare his chest. From a secret pocket inside her dress she pulled out a lace thong, setting it on his head like a bandana. She also had a small box which she opened, inside of which was a replica mouth with lipstick that matched her own. Cygna carefully applied kiss marks all over his exposed skin before popping the fake lips back into the secret pocket. She took the Fae’Dan wine and partially filled two glasses, making sure to take a long drink from one and leave more lipstick marks. The rest of the wine was poured into the ice bucket. She heard the sound of voices outside the door. The guards were arguing with someone, refusing them entry, but when the name Toran was mentioned it was Ripley who entered, still in uniform but now looking much like her usual self. She smirked at the Kah’Ree in his derobed state. “I can see you had fun.” The Fae’Dan chuckled. “That’s the idea.” She looked at the Awakened in her true form. “You look… better.” Ripley cocked her head. “It would be strange if the waiter came back to deliver a message.” She tossed the necklace key to Cygna, who replaced it on Alfor’s neck. Reclining on the sofa and picking up her glass, Cygna took another long drink. “Get the other one back to Ranjaz quickly. This one won’t be napping much longer.” The Awakened gave an almost Ranjaz-like grin. “You could always hit him again.” Before the Fae’Dan could reply she had ducked back out of the door. She caught the eye of one of the bodyguards and gave a head tilt back towards the room. “The boss is really enjoying himself!” As the suited pair chuckled, the larger of the two got a message in his ear piece. “Hey, silver hair.” He grunted. “Boss has an important guest. Meet them in the foyer and bring them to the dalcho room.” Ripley was relieved – she needed a reason to get into that room. “On my way.”
Toran was seething as he watched as the Kittran flipped his final tile. Why would he have waited so long to play the Wings of Tulseria tile? His stomach sank, and he couldn’t hold back his anger any longer. “Damn you!” Ranjaz gave a full-fanged grin. “Looks like my luck turned at just the right moment.” “Luck!” Toran’s tile snapped between his fingers. Why had he let the damned cat goad him into constantly increasing their bet? The cycle had started with him owing the brothers a million credits plus interest, and now the infuritating Kittran had won nearly forty times that. “Nobody is that lucky.” “Woah!” Ranjaz held up his hands. “I would never cheat, well... certainly not a second time. After you caught me, I’d be a fool to try.” “Hmm.” Toran looked at the two behind the Kittran. The big one would be a problem, but the Anatidae looked to be nothing special. “How about I give you back your little trinket and we call it even?” “My trinket?” Ranjaz shook his head. “I had to convince you it was worth the million I owed. Why would you think I’d trade it for thirty eight million credits? I’ll pay what I owe, take my trinket and my winnings and leave.” Toran folded his arms and looked across the dalcho board at Ranjaz. “And why would I let you do that?” The atmosphere in the room changed as the two security guards changed their stance. “Transfer the credits back to the house.” Ranjaz dropped the grin, replacing it with a defiant glare. “What happened to you running a straight game?” “The game was straight. You won, didn’t you?” He leaned forward, his eyes cold and hard. “You’re just in no position to collect.” The Kittran was about to argue when the door behind Toran opened. He looked up as Ripley entered, and his eyes widened in shock. She wasn’t alone. “Toran, you bastard! You sold me out!” “For ten million credits.” Toran stared hard at Ranjaz. “Care to make a better offer?” Eruwenn’s eyes blazed with anger as the grey-suited Niham pulled up a seat and sat down beside Toran. “Now, now, you lied to me about having the item before. Don’t double cross me.” Sentinel Krast placed his hands together on the table, interlacing his fingers. “I’m not somebody who forgives easily.” He looked directly at Eruwenn. “Isn’t that right, former Councillor? A little far from your new Ambassador position, aren’t you?” Ripley stood back against the wall. She had no idea who the newcomer was, but this most definitely was not the plan. The golden green Anatidae walked forward to stand behind Ranjaz. “Oh, I had a little vacation time saved up, and decided to spend it with my good friend here.” She placed a hand on the Kittrans shoulder. “And what brings a Sentinel here?” Krast’s lips curled in what might approximate a smile. “I’m also acquainted with Mr K’Lua. In fact, we go back a very long way.” He turned to look directly at Ranjaz. “Now, return what is mine.” Toran looked from Ranjaz to Krast. “Yours? You don’t look like the tiara wearing type.” The Sentinel didn’t turn his head. “Ah, so you hid the data chip inside some shiny bauble. As inventive as ever, Mr K’Lua.” The Niham finally acknowledged Toran by looking at him. “Bring. It. Here.” The Kah’Ree sucked air through his teeth. “Well, seems like we have something mighty important, and two very interested parties.” He stood and walked to his two security officers, who drew their weapons in unison. “Now then, I believe you” —he nodded to Krast— “offered ten million. How about it Ranjaz, old friend? What’s your counter offer?” The Kittran had been sitting, silently seething at his double cross being double crossed. He looked at Krast. “Were you the one?” Toran was surprised at being ignored, but before he could reply Krast answered, “The one?” Ranjaz’s eyes narrowed, his ears alert, his tail swishing aggressively. “The one who took my friend!” he snarled as he felt Eruwenn’s hand holding him back gently. Krast’s eyes glittered as he saw the impotent rage in his opponent’s eyes. “Ah, the poor deceased human?” He smiled his mannequin-esque smile. “And if I was?” Toran snatched a pistol from one of his men and fired a blast at the ceiling. “Your quarrel can wait. Let’s settle our business first and you can kill each other after I’m paid.” He paused, then added, “but, not in my casino. Body disposal costs extra.” Eruwenn’s hand gripped Ranjaz’s shoulder harder, and he braced himself. In one smooth move she both threw him backwards and to the right, and kicked the dalcho table up and forward into Krast's face. The Sentinel fell backwards as a blast from Toran struck the table, but Eruwenn was already on the move, sidestepping left and ducking forward into a cartwheel. Toran's gun had been following Ranjaz, but as her leg swept down it knocked the weapon from his grip. Once she stabilized, her fist, already primed with momentum from the cartwheel, struck Toran below the ribs and knocked the wind from him. The guard, whose gun the Kah'Ree had been holding, lunged forward to grab Eruwenn but she simply deflected his hand, pairing his forward momentum with her rising elbow to swiftly render him unconscious. The second guard had just begun to raise his weapon when a huge fist struck him in his chest, sending him careening backwards into the wall. Thor loomed over him, shaking his head as he retrieved the energy pistol. “Too slow.” Ripley helped Ranjaz to his feet as Krast pushed the table off his chest. Toran was coughing and struggling to breathe as Ranjaz pressed the retrieved energy pistol to his forehead. “Double cross me?” He dragged the Kah’Ree forward. “I want to see the item, then I’ll pay what I owe.” The two of them awkwardly made their way back towards Krast, so Ranjaz could point the gun in his face. “Then we can talk about your body disposal fee.” Krast stood, and his phony smile was gone. “You can’t kill me. The Sentinels will tear this place apart, hunt you down and kill you. You think I came alone? My ship is in orbit and waiting for my orders!” Ranjaz grabbed him by the jacket, pulling him down to his level, and struck him in the face with the butt of the pistol. Thor cooly kept his stolen pistol pointed at Toran and the one conscious guard. By the third blow Krast’s face was bloody, his nose broken and he began to struggle against Ranjaz’s assault. A muted boom caused everyone present to stop in their tracks. Alarms began to sound and Toran swore loudly. He pulled out his communicator, ignoring Thor’s pistol. “What the hell was that!” He held the device close as he listened. “My office?” He patted his pocket. Finding his key in place, he looked to Ranjaz and then Krast. “Seal the casino! And where is my brother?” Ripley suddenly understood why the Kittran had told her to leave his device on the safe door. After a brief further moment of shock, which she kept from showing on her face, she realized that she had been carrying an explosive without being told. If they survived, Ranjaz was going to need to explain himself. Thoroughly. Eruwenn, Thor and Ranjaz had backed away to the opposite side of the room, standing by the door. Krast stood alone, holding his profusely bleeding nose. The opposite door soon opened to reveal scrambling casino security, with Toran and his guard standing nearby. The unconscious guard was carried out without comment, and the Kah’Ree turned to Ripley. “Why are you still here?” She nodded and slipped out of the door, leaving one less concern for the remaining three. “Alright, which one of your skrolg-licking bastards broke into my private safe?” Krast spat blood onto the floor, pointing at Ranjaz. “He’s the thief. You and I had a deal.” The Kittran smirked. “I’m a better thief than blowing up a Tulseria-damned safe. If I wanted to steal it, I would have done just that. I would not have announced my arrival and sat down to a game of dalcho.” Toran looked between the two of them. “He’s got a point.” One of his men handed him a pistol, and he continued to talk a little distractedly into his communicator. “Well, check everywhere!” Ranjaz stirred the pot. “He’s the bastard who double crossed me, why would he honour your deal?” Eruwenn nodded. “A government agent can’t be seen working with criminals.” Krast's face contorted in rage. “Don’t be a damned fool, Toran!” He pointed at Ranjaz. “This is clearly some convoluted distraction.” Toran shook his head. “They had the upper hand. You were the one getting your face ruined.”
Cygna watched nervously as Alfor began to stir. Things were taking a lot longer than expected. Finally, her signal came; it was not as subtle as she had been led to believe. As soon as the explosion went off the two bodyguards quickly came into the room, glancing from Alfor’s sleeping body to her. She staggered forward, wine bottle in hand. “We need more drinkshh!” The guard ignored her as he saw the condition of his boss. “Not again,” he groaned. “Toran will kill us for letting him get like this.” The second guard stepped out into the corridor. “I’m not dressing him! Last time he tried to kiss me!” Cygna paused, not having expected it to go this way. The first bodyguard walked out as well. “He pissed on my new shoes the time before that. I’m not moving him.” Their communicators went off and their faces became more serious. Bodyguard two spoke first. “Damn it. Toran wants him.” The first turned to look at the increasingly bewildered Cygna. “You!” He smiled. “You got him undressed. You can dress him.” Cygna spotted Ripley running down the corridor towards them, causing her confusion to grow further. The Awakened shouted one word. “Sentinels!” The Fae’Dan’s mind raced. The plan was clearly blown, and they had to get out. Fast. As the guards were now facing Ripley, she took the opportunity to kick one in the back of the knee. He fell forward, and as the second turned he was met with the upward swing of a wine bottle. The first guard discovered first-hand the shocking truth of how hard the knee of an Awakened could be, and both were unconscious by the time they hit the ground. Cygna smiled at Ripley. "Thanks." The Awakened gave a swift nod of acknowledgement. “A Sentinel turned up, so Ranjaz set off the diversion he promised. The other brother is busy trying to figure out whether it’s us or the Sentinels robbing him.” Cygna took on board the new information quickly, knowing she needed to help the others. “I have an idea. Lie over there and look dead.” She ran back into the room, where Alfor was groaning and starting to move. She slipped the chain from his neck and dropped it into the ice bucket, where it sank out of sight below the dark Fae’Dan wine. She began to slowly shake him. “Huh,” he grumbled, and slowly opened his eyes. “Wha.. what happened?” Cygna clung to him tightly. “Oh thank goodness! I thought they killed you!” “Killed?” Alfor’s head was pounding, his memory blurry. “Who-” He caught sight of his downed guards in the open doorway. “What the hell happened?” He began pulling at his clothes, and swiftly checked that his trousers were dry. “While we were.. You know…” He nodded; he was buttoning up his clothes. He didn’t remember, but he knew. “Some scary men burst into the room and shot you! I was so scared.” She hugged him tight, pressing herself against him. He put his arm around her. “What men? Be brave, and tell me what happened.” She looked up at him, trying to make her eyes as big as possible, adding a lip tremble to really sell it. “I don’t know! They wore grey suits. And one of them took your necklace!” “My necklace.” He clutched at his chest where it should have been. “Damn Sentinels! I told Toran we couldn't trust them!” He stepped into the corridor, where Ripley lay on the ground with a terrible energy weapon burn on the side of her face. He pulled out his communicator. “Toran.” He instantly got hold of his brother. “I didn’t answer because I was knocked out. Damn Sentinels took my key, killed some of our guys.” He looked around. “Nobody important, just some waiter.” He finally pulled the underwear from his head. “I’ll go to the security room and look at the video.” He ended the call and turned back to Cygna. “You stay here.” She smiled. “Sorry, we can’t let you check the security footage.” “Wha-” Ripley struck him from behind and he crumpled to the ground, her fake burn melting from her face. The Awakened looked around, rechecking that all was clear. “I think that’s all we can do; we should get out of here. Come with me, my shuttle is in the staff bay.”
Toran closed his communicator and motioned to a guard. “Search him.” Eruwenn wished she had some way to capture the look on Krast’s face when the remote detonator was pulled from his pocket. She'd have to hug the light-fingered Kittran later. The Sentinel grit his teeth. “That’s not mine.” “Sure, sure,” Toran agreed, while simultaneously shaking his head at the Sentinel. “Looks like you really didn’t come alone.” Krast was furious, yelling, “I’m telling you-” He broke off when Ranjaz shot him in the leg, falling to the floor. The Kah’Ree pointed his pistol at the Kittran. “Can’t let you kill a Sentinel in my casino, even if they did just rob me.” Ranjaz was surprised the Kah’Ree had believed them so easily. “What about us?” Toran sighed, lowering his weapon. “Take your winnings and get out. If you stole the thing once, I’m sure you can steal it again.” Eruwenn and Thor both made to leave. Ranjaz paused, knowing he might not get another chance. “And him?” The Kah’Ree looked at the Sentinel holding his wounded leg. “We’ll send him back to his ship. As much as I hate it, the Sentinels are untouchable.” Ranjaz raised his pistol. “He took my friend.” “And we’ll get him back,” Eruwenn said softly. “Then we’ll all deal with him, and the rest of the Sentinels.” Krast sneered and spat blood once more. “Your human is dead.” Ranjaz fired. Krast screamed and grabbed his other leg. “You bastard!” Toran and his men raised their weapons as the Kah’Ree yelled, “Get the hell out of here!” Ranjaz turned and followed the others out of the door, but just as it was about to close he poked his head back in. “Oh, one last thing.” Toran could be seen looking up just as the Kittran fired again, but he ducked out of sight before the true outcome of his shot could be seen. The shrieks of agony, however, followed the trio down the corridor as they broke into a run. Eruwenn spared a glance down at Ranjaz during their retreat. “What did you do?” The full-fanged grin had never been larger. “Made sure we’ll see him again.” On the floor of the dalcho room Krast was screaming in agony. He turned over to stare at the closed door. “I’ll kill you! I will hunt you down and kill every last one of you!” Toran spoke into his communicator. “Tell the Sentinel ship to come get their man. And, bring a doctor. A really good doctor.” He nudged one of his guards and finally let out a chuckle. After all, the Sentinels had just robbed him. “You double-crossing scum always get what you deserve.” The J’Rami guard raised an eyebrow. “Not sure anyone deserves getting shot in the balls.”
Note: The particularly important details and music artist names are in bold text. Licensed music track names are in italics. The year is 1973, five years after the events of the Mafia III, and 22 years since Vito Scaletta’s seen or heard from his old friend Joe Barbaro. The canon ending of Mafia III with this Mafia IV story is Vito taking over the city after Lincoln skipped town, however Cassandra and Burke are left alive and loyal to both Vito and Lincoln still. Burke was able to survive his liver cancer by getting a black market liver transplant in Mexico, like he did in his ending, except with Vito running the city. On Vito and Lincoln’s behalf, Burke and Cassandra agree to stay behind in New Bordeaux and keep the city locked down, incase Leo Galante and the Commission try anything. The beginning cutscene is Vito answering his telephone after getting up in the morning in his new penthouse, on the top floor of the New Bordeaux casino he finished that was once Sal Marcano's, and grabbing a cup of coffee. It's Alma with some urgent news. Lincoln Clay came down to the cigar warehouse to visit her after 5 years of silence, and he has big news. Joe is alive in Empire Bay and has been this entire time. However, as punishment for his actions, he's become Leo Galante's personal driver against his will and is forbidden from contacting Vito ever again, or else him and Vito will be killed. Alma then tells Vito to meet Lincoln at the airport to learn more, as he's already there awaiting Vito's arrival. When they're away from anyone who could listen in on their conversation, Lincoln tells Vito he has a friend named John Donovan he's going to introduce him to, hiding in the outskirts of Empire Bay, ready to help Vito and Lincoln with their new mission Vito gets dressed in one of his signature trench coats with a suit and tie, ready to rain down hell on the Vinci crime family and their allies, and finally be reunited with his lifelong friend he previously thought was dead, Joe Barbaro. Here is my idea for the kill list, all related to the Commission in Empire Bay and their allies.
Leo Galante - Top target on the list, Vinci family consigliere who's in with the Commission and the man you thought put Joe in the ground for the past 22 years. Bury this wrinkly old cocksucker.
Johnny Galante - Vinci family capo and younger relative of Leo's mentioned in Cassandra's ending, possibly Leo's cousin even. John Donovan knows that the two are close, and that Johnny's a valuable asset to Leo's organization. Kill him both to hurt Leo's earn and influence, and to hit him straight in the heart by taking away his family and everyone he loves
Michele Galante Jr. - Another Vinci family capo, and Leo Galante’s youngest brother. Killing Leo’s little brother will both take away one of his most reliable allies, and leave him stricken with grief and enraged, and more prone to making mistakes.
Nunzio Galante - Leo’s seasoned older brother by 3 years, and yet another Vinci family capo. He knows enough about smuggling that he worked out an ingenious plan for smuggling military grade weapons into the city. He pays off corrupt officials at Empire Bay International Airport, to allow guns to be loaded inside the walls and floors of planes, unknown to everyone onboard save for the palms the Galantes and Frank Vinci have greased to cooperate and keep quiet. The time has come to put this crafty old bastard in the ground.
Don Frank Vinci - Frank Vinci is the boss of the Vinci crime family, the family Leo's been a consigliere of for decades, and a lifelong friend of his. Kill Frank, and Leo loses more ground than he could ever imagine, and will be forced to deal with both the loss of his boss, and the loss of his lifelong childhood friend.
Don Ennio Salieri - Longtime close friend of both Frank Vinci and Leo Galante, Don of the Salieri crime family, and a third party Frank and Leo call in to crush Vito's uprising, when it becomes too big of an issue for Vinci alone to handle. Salieri was eventually able to grease enough palms while behind bars to have his life sentence overturned, and he got released from prison on good behavior in 1953, after he served 15 years of his sentence. He’s since relocated to his main operations to Empire Bay, having already had connections and men present there while he was in prison, backed by the Commission and the Vinci crime family. He's seasoned, but he’s nothing Mr. Scaletta can't handle. Give this tired old fuck the gangland ending he's had coming.
Isaac - Isaac is the personal assistant to an influential loan shark named Bruno Levine, who handles the money of the Commission, including the Vinci crime family and the Salieri crime family. He does anything from serve his boss coffee, to count incoming and outgoing money for Bruno. Because of his duties, he's aware of Bruno's location at all times. You’ll need to get to Isaac to get information on his boss out of him, and dispose of him afterwards if you want to get to Bruno.
Bruno Levine - Bruno is a Jewish-American loan shark who kicks up all of his earn to both Frank Vinci and Ennio Salieri, and the Commission in Empire Bay. Killing him kills a lot of earn for the Commission, and they loses a valuable asset. In addition to getting rid of him being practical, to add insult to injury, he gave your father that loan. It's about time to put this asshole out of business.
Mr. Chu & Mr. Chu Jr. - This old man has been leading the Empire Bay Triads with an iron fist since before you were even born. The bastard has a son too, who eventually went on to become his underboss. The Empire Bay Triads became a close ally of the Vinci crime family, the Salieri crime family, and the Commission shortly after Vito killed Don Carlo Falcone in 1951, forming a lucrative partnership with the Commission. Mr. Chu and his eldest son are valuable assets for Leo Galante who give him extra reach. Melt their iron fists and show these two pricks just who they fucked with.
Eddie Scarpa - This cocksucker used to be Carlo Falcone's underboss for as long as you could remember. After you whacked Falcone in the fall of 1951, he decided to throw in with Vinci to save his own skin. He took over the smuggling and dock union extortion that fat fuck Derek Pappalardo used to run. You know all too well how to deal with this sorry fuckin' rat.
I'm thinking Vito and Joe work with Lincoln Clay and John Donovan to split up Empire Bay and distribute territory to three other factions not unlike what Lincoln did with New Bordeaux. This time though, this is a much larger city in a much, much different part of the United States. The empire building mechanics would be a lot smoother, more robust, and streamlined compared to Mafia III. They would work similarly a more modernized version of how the game Scarface: The WorldIs Yours handled it's empire building and management mechanics, minus the whole switching to other characters lower on the ladder to do your bidding. This would be ideal for a story rich organized crime game in my opinion. Here are my ideas for those factions, all close allies of the up and coming Scaletta crime family. The Cuban mob led by Alma Diaz. Vito goes way back with Alma, and she does not hesitate to answer him and Lincoln's calls to save Joe's life and royally fuck both Leo Galante and the Vinci family. Conti crime family, led by Enzo Conti. This Conti crime family formed sometime in late 1968, months after Lincoln helped Enzo flee New Bordeaux and drop off of Sal Marcano's radar. It turns out he fled north to Empire Bay and finally formed his own family, having more than enough years of experience in the underworld to handle the job. Lincoln's tight with him and manages to recruit him to Vito and Joe's cause. The Yakuza, based out of Empire Bay's Japantown. Longtime sworn enemies of the Empire Bay Triads, with bad blood going back decades. They would greatly enjoy seeing Mr. Chu and his son's heads mounted on pikes, along with whacking everyone who's ever supported their organization. You don't know them well, and they're known to be very unpredictable and ruthless. Use these traits to your advantage when taking on the Commission of Empire Bay and their friends. I should mention as expected, this entire 1973 section where you play as Vito is much shorter than Mafia III. Vito's takeover is shown much more quickly over time than Lincoln's, and there's time skips during it, to keep it short and sweet, and to show onscreen only what's important. There is also no option for your underbosses to betray you, as to reduce confusion and keep the story consistently the same each playthrough, like the first two Mafia games. However, unlike Mafia III, after all of these tasks are completed and every single assassination target on Vito’s kill list is dealt with, the game does not end. In fact, it's not even anywhere near close to being over yet. Vito's 1973 section was merely the beginning act. It was really a lead up to an entirely new Mafia story, centering around a newcomer to the American mob. Fast forward two years following Vito’s rampage that led to him taking over Empire Bay and the Commission, in the year 1975 him and Joe now rule Empire Bay, with Vito as the Don of the Scaletta Crime Family, and Joe working as his loyal underboss. You play the rest of the game as a young up and coming soldato named Louis in his 20’s, who’s a rising star in Vito’s organization. Do right by Mr. Scaletta and Mr. Barbaro, understand kid? My basic idea for the character and his backstory is that he's a young Italian-Canadian mobster from Toronto, Ontario, or whatever Mafia's equivalent of it could be called. Let's call him Louis DeAngelo. (No relation to Tommy Angelo) His family hails from Tuscany in Italy and moved to Toronto, Ontario in 1939, shortly after World War II broke out in Europe. Louis DeAngelo was born in July 1952 in Toronto, and was raised in Toronto's Little Italy. Louis fled south to Empire Bay when the feds started cracking down on his old family and put his boss in prison, and he ended up finding a new home with the Scaletta crime family. The first few missions playing as Louis DeAngelo involve shooting your away out of an arrest by a Toronto Police Service SWAT team in Toronto in December 1974, seeing the rest of the members of your old crime family either get arrested or shot in front of you as you make your escape. You spend the next two missions fleeing Ontario through Quebec and upstate New York, before finally arriving in Empire Bay in early 1975, late January to be exact. Winter is in full force with snow everywhere, Louis' arrival to Empire Bay for the first time in his life mirroring Vito's return to Empire Bay in 1945 30 years earlier, except under far different much more dire circumstances. Louis' older brother and his father, both capos in his old crime family in Toronto, are shown to be arrested by the TPS SWAT team in his first mission, the same one that attempted to gun him down when he resisted arrested. Louis knows someone had to have ratted out his old crime family, and he wants to find out who someday. The thing is though, he doesn't just want to kill them. He wants to get out of them why they did it before he kills them. More than anything else, he just wants to find out why his crime family was betrayed and served up to the feds on a silver platter, having most of his biological family sent to prison in the process. He’s out to uncover the mystery of why his family fell apart, and he’s more than willing to help people like Don Vito Scaletta and his underboss Joe Barbaro to eventually get the answers he seeks. I came up with the idea for this character because I figured that playing as a fugitive from the law made sense for the mob life, and I'm surprised we haven't had a fugitive protagonist in the Mafia series yet. In the 1975 chapters while playing as Louis, the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon’s resignation, and the official end to the Vietnam War are both discussed on the in-game radio during news segments. In the last 1979 chapter, the beginning of the Soviet-Afghan War is also the subject of a news segment on the radio. The story eventually transitions into the 1980's as years pass, with the scenery, cars, and music changing accordingly, and historical events of the time discussed in the game. By the time the game ends, it's 1992, and significant historical events from the past few years at the time that are covered on the radio in-game include anything from the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Gulf War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, to the 1992 L.A. riots. The rise of the internet and home computers are briefly touched upon during news segments on the in-game radio during the early 1990's section of the story, but not greatly delved into given their relative infancy in that time period. During this entire 1975-1992 stretch of the story, Vito is no longer playable, and Don Scaletta takes a backseat in the story as a main supporting character, similar to Don Salieri throughout Mafia: Definitive Edition. You now play as the Italian-Canadian Scaletta family soldato Louis DeAngelo, who is later promoted to being a capo in 1985. However, unlike Don Salieri, Don Scaletta has much more integrity, and has more genuine loyalty for his men and his associates. If you've beaten Mafia 1 or Mafia: Definitive Edition, you'll know this is something Salieri lacked in the end. The game will include a number of hit music from the 70’s that played on the radio back then, such as Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street and Tony Christie’s (Is This the Way to) Amarillo, The Grateful Dead's Casey Jones and at least a few songs by the then new American rock band Cheap Trick, as well as popular songs from the 1960’s people still listened to at the time, such as Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs’ Wooly Bully, King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man,Zager and Evans' In the Year 2525, The Zombies' Time of the Season, and Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made for Walkin'. When you progress through the game, especially after you switch to playing as Louis DeAngelo for the rest of the story, years change, and the music changes. Different songs start playing on the radio, such as Sylvester's You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),Randy Crawford's Street Life, and The Village People's Y.M.C.A., Cheryl Lynn's Got to Be Real, Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive, and the Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive start playing in the 1979 portion of the game. After you've completed the 1975 section of the game, Foghat's Slow Ride starts playing on the radio. Starting in the 1977 section of the game, Cheap Trick's I Want You to Want Me and Heart's Barracuda start playing on the radio. In the 1980's portion of the game, Thomas Dolby's songs Hyperactive! and She Blinded Me with Science, in addition to Night Ranger's Sister Christian also start playing on the radio. If Hangar 13 can afford the licenses, I also think a few Michael Jackson and Madonna songs should definitely be on the radio during the 1980's portion of the story, given the immense popularity and regular radio airtime those two had in that decade. If this ended up being possible, I imagine that Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal, Beat It, Bad, and Billie Jean being on the radio in the 80's sections would be a must, Smooth Criminal especially because of how well it suits the series. Madonna's Lucky Star, Burning Up, Like a Virgin, and Borderline would also be perfect for the 80's portion of the game to me. Also mentioned by NPCs and civilians in the game are topical events of the time period, such as the release of the groundbreaking 1973 horror film The Exorcist at the end of Vito's playable portion of the game. Other music of the 1980's segment when playing as Louis DeAngelo for the remainder of the game includes hits of the era such as Joe Jackson's Steppin' Out, The Buggles' Video Killed The Radio Star, Corey Hart's Sunglasses at Night,Laura Branigan's Self Control and Gloria, The Weather Girls' It's Raining Men, A-ha’s Take On Me, Men at Work's Down Under, Kim Wilde's Kids in America, The Gap Band's You Dropped a Bomb on Me, Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon, Twisted Sister's I Wanna Rock and We're Not Gonna Take It, Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead or Alive and Bad Medicine, Loverboy's Working for the Weekend, Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) and That's the Way (I Like It), Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now, Daryl Hall & John Oates' Maneater, Aneka's Japanese Boy, Mötley Crüe's Dr. Feelgood, Girls, Girls, Girls and Kickstart My Heart, Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire, Huey Lewis And The News' Hip To Be Square, Bill Medley's (I've Had) The Time of My Life, The Police's Every Breath You Take, Whodini's Magic's Wand, Tears For Fears' Everybody Wants To Rule The World, Rockwell's Somebody's Watching Me, Regina's Baby Love, Nena's 99 Red Balloons, Earth, Wind, and Fire's Let's Groove and September, Billy Idol's Eyes Without a Face and White Wedding, Rick James’ Give It To Me Baby, Wham!'s Everything She Wants, George Michael's Careless Whisper, Toto's Hold the Line and Africa, Blondie's Heart of Glass and Atomic, and Mai Tai's History. Note that not every single year and moment of the 17 year 1975-1992 section playing as Louis DeAngelo is playable or chronicled. My idea is it would be handled similarly to how the time skips in Mafia 1/Mafia: Definitive Edition were handled. Time skips of two or more years, or in this case, even longer such as 4 years sometimes, the game skipping from 1979 to 1983. This is to keep the game and story length ideal, and not risk it getting boring or repetitive, or going on for too long. Repetition was a big problem in Mafia III even if I still thought it was a superb game, so I think it'd be best to learn from that for the next big entry. The games story will skip ahead and show onscreen only what's significant, similar to the first Mafia game and it's remake, as well as certain aspects of Mafia II. Louis starts his section as a 22 year old fugitive soldato who got picked up by another crew south of the Canadian border, and in the epilogue of the game in 1992, is promoted to the consigliere of the Scaletta crime family at the age of 40, being set to take over the family once Vito and Joe become too old to run the day to day on a regular basis. The years chronicled in the main gameplay segments are as follows: 1973 1975 1977 1979 1983 1985 1986 1987 1989 1990 1991 1992 Much more of the rural areas and countryside outside of Empire Bay are included than what was available in Mafia II. The way rural environments are handled for this hypothetical Mafia IV is akin to how Mafia: Definitive Edition and Mafia III handled their rural environments outside the main cities, except much larger in scale, given the increased power of the current new consoles such as the PS5 and Xbox Series X. This region is based off of upstate New York and the surrounding areas across multiple states in the Northeastern US, and includes forests, fields, mountains, rivers, lakes, beaches, and small towns. Also included are other cities and towns, based off of other large cities in New York like Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester, where other story missions, business activities, and side missions take place, along with smaller notable places like Ithaca, Binghamton, and Utica. The entire states of New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Delaware, Maryland, and Ohio are also included, including places based off of all of their major cities and most of their notable towns in between. Large portions of Pennsylvania are included as well, including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Scranton. Large portions of the eastern half of the Canadian province of Ontario are included as well, including cities based off of Toronto, Ottawa, and Niagara Falls. There's even a small portion of Quebec included, including Montreal and the surrounding countryside of the province outside that city, including a few small towns in southern Quebec. The player must pass a quick border patrol check when crossing the US-Canada border in a car or other ground vehicle. Wildlife is present in the game, mostly to add to the background, scenery, and immersion in rural environments on the map. These are all animals native to the Northeastern US, ranging from white tailed deer, coyotes, bobcats, Canada lynxes, rabbits, hares, groundhogs, gophers, beavers, raccoons, opossums, bats, chipmunks, red and gray squirrels, mice, and rats to more formidable and potentially dangerous animals that may sometimes attack the player, such as grey wolves, black bears, mountain lions, and moose. These last four animals are known to spawn in the mountainous regions, especially in New York, Ohio, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Ontario, including the rural regions based off of the Catskills and the Adirondack mountains. Dogs are present in the cities, towns, and settlements where humans live and keep them as pets, being walked and sometimes found in people's yards. Some are used as guard dogs by enemies and are aggressive towards the player on sight. Domestic cats are also present in the background of residential areas, and both Louis and Vito own them as pets throughout the game in their safe houses, as well as other onscreen characters we see the homes of throughout the game. Aircraft make their first usable appearance in the Mafia series too, from airplanes to helicopters. Vito cannot use planes or helicopters in his playable 1973 portion of the game, as he does not know how to pilot, being a paratrooper in World War II who never actually flew any of the planes himself. Aircraft are unlocked to use when Louis DeAngelo gets his pilot’s certificate offscreen in 1977, and at the end of a chapter set that year, Louis has to fly Vito in a helicopter to a penthouse in Downtown Empire Bay acting as a family safe house, equipped with a helipad. Louis frequently serves as a personal driver and pilot for both Vito and Joe afterwards, having done a lot in his time serving the family to earn their trust and respect. Melee weapons also make a return from Mafia: Definitive Edition, with even more variety this time. In their respective sections of the game, Vito and Louis may use anything from baseball bats, pipes, shovels, brass knuckles, golf clubs, police batons, switchblades, kitchen knives, bowie knives, ice picks, 2x4s, claw hammers, crowbars, tire irons, chain links, machetes, meat cleavers, pickaxes, hatchets, sledgehammers, to fire axes. This amount of melee weapons is so no matter what environment the player finds themselves in during a mission or any other game activity, there is usually a weapon of some sort nearby. If the player has obtained piano wire, you may also strangle an enemy to death with it from behind as a stealth kill, this being a classic assassination method infamous for being used by the Italian Mafia. Rope can also be found and used for similar strangulation stealth kills, appearing in the gameplay environments where piano wire can’t be found. There is a wide variety of new guns and explosives to use in this concept for Mafia IV, going with the new weapons of the time the game takes place that criminals quickly got their hands on. This includes the SPAS-12 combat shotgun, the Beretta 92 pistol, the AK-74 assault rifle, the mini uzi, the MAC-10 submachine gun, both suppressed and unsuppressed variants, the Beretta 92 pistol, the Taurus raging bull revolver, Glock handguns, the TEC-9 machine pistol, illegally modified to be full auto, the Ruger Mini-14 full auto variant, and even Vietnam war era flamethrowers, which I think is only natural given that as of Mafia III, we already have RPGs and grenade launchers. Late in the game from the 1989 section and onwards, the Benelli M3 combat shotgun becomes available. The Milkor MGL grenade launcher becomes available beginning in the 1983 portion of the game. Attached grenade launchers are also available for the AK-47, AK-74, and M16 assault rifles. Free ride makes a return in Mafia IV, with the player having the options to change the weather, time period, and an option to play as Louis, Vito, Joe, or Lincoln. Naturally, a multitude of new free ride missions are available as well. I previously posted a much earlier and less detailed draft of this on the old Mafia3 subreddit 3 years ago back in 2017 as an idea for a hypothetical Mafia 3 expansion where you play as Vito, but have since updated and revamped it to a possible Mafia IV plot, and fixed any plot holes I noticed and made it much more fleshed out and in depth, and focus on more than just Vito in the end. You may view my original here if you so desire, to compare. https://www.reddit.com/Mafia3/comments/6sldhp/spoiler_mafia_iii_vito_dlc_basic_plot_idea/ Feel free to give me constructive criticism on this, as I encourage this discourse and believe it is integral to growing and improving, to build upon or improve these ideas I've come up with, or say whether or not you think something like this should happen in the future. Thank you for reading!
What would you do if 2020 became a Groundhogs Day loop
Someone else brought up this hypothetical on collapse and figured it was so good needed to be here too. So imagine on new years Eve and the clock strikes midnight and it's now 1/1/2020. How are you reliving this timeloop. Not knowing if it will ever stop repeating unless you do the right thing. How are you living in this timeloop? Here's my story I posted on collapse. Please share yours! Well this is fucked. We're never getting out of this timeloop. Well let's see here. My first year on the timeloop will go something like this: January 1st as I spend the night as I began 2020 quarantined with the flu (or maybe covid who knows) watching the ball drop at midnight I am shocked to see Ryan Secreast wish everyone a Happy 2020. I'm like wtf I'm not that drunk. Checks the time on my phone. 2020 again fuuuuuck another year of listening to the msm bitch about Trump! Ah yeah and covids coming soon better make a TP, N95 mask and hand sanitizer run and buy that bidet I've been wanting now. Oh yeah and stock up on ammo that's gonna be expensive in a few months. Alright now time to buy up Stock in Tesla, Disney, Netflix, Amazon and watch them go to the moon before I sell them around the time people start running out of unemployment then cash out and donate it to people in need. Now that that's taken care of proceed to bet on LSU crushing Clemson in the championship by exact scores. Then fly out to Vegas and party like it's 2019 off my winnings before SHTF. While I'm there might as well put in a bet on a world pandemic happening in 2020 and also that all the casinos in Vegas will close. They'll give me 10,000:1 odds. I'll make an easy 20million off of it come April..... literally betting against Vegas and winning. I'll come back home mid January and while I wait on my big payday I'll put a bet on the Superbowl while I'm at it. Okay so we're up to early February now. Chiefs just won the Superbowl. Got some more funny money in the pocket to play with. Gonna buy an ebike and dress like a Cyberpunk character so I can roam the empty downtown streets in another month when the lockdowns hit and it's a true ghost town. The virus news is starting to go mainstream but no one's really taking it seriously yet. Wuhan is in lockdown. Vegas chuckles slightly worried....hehe. I decide make a bet with a friend $50 that Trump will name it China Flu and call it a democratic hoax. Plan to buy a 100 piece chicken nuggie platter with the winnings and eat them with my dog just cause we can. March hits. The chicken nuggies are all gone. Time to start doomer posting about the lockdowns coming and businesses closing and historic unemployment levels about to come. Nothing I didn't already do. Also start a campaign about the coming explosion in Beirut and hopefully it goes somewhere to prevent that shit from happening. Ok so April rolls around. I'm calling Vegas and they sound like their whole family died in a car wreck when I call to collect my $20 million. Tell them I'm a time traveler from the future and hang up. He'll spend the rest of the year thinking I was. I'll quit my job soon as the check clears and buy an RV and travel the US. I wanna go through Oregon and Cali before they burn. I'll post murals of George Floyd along the route with a BLM sticker on it. Also I'll post Proud Boi posters in every town I visit with a pic of two guys banging. While I'm at it I'll buy up billboard ads in every state that reads "Fish was right". I'll finish my end of the world tour in early May as the lockdowns have ended and settle on nice ranch I bought with my winnings. Start a doomer cult of the most worthy Doomers of collapse. We will make sour bough bread and donate it to the food banks. We'll preach the gospels of the 350k deaths to come this year of Covid and the Presidential Coup. Come June my cult will gain even more followers after the George Floyd events unfold and the months of riots begin. All of the murals I posted of Floyd will have lead them to the doomer cult website I made that was posted at the bottom of every mural. Also Rudy Giuliani will get millions of dick pics and gaping asshole pics sent to his email....his email account will be listed below all of the Proud Boi posters. As for "Fish was right". It will be linked to collapse. The sub gets flooded with new followers. We hit 10million within a week. The mods are so desperate for help they hire Satan to help filter out all the spam. He ends up just sending all the shit posters to hell. The subreddit loses 5 million followers within a month. Satan is just happy to have all the souls. July roles around and it's hot as hell. Satan confirms. Spend the month on the ranch building a giant wooden fish. We're planning the largest doomer gathering that didn't end in mass suicide. We all just do drugs and have orgy's for the month. Of course we keep it safe with 2 covid tests and a week of quarantine before they enter. Everyone shows up with their newly bought camping gear because everyone will become campers now. u/DJdickjob smuggles in the drugs up from Florida. I made him get rid of the heroin crack and meth though. Only the good drugs. The mass gathering was only supposed to last for a month but turns into 3. Summer of love is over. We all sober up mid October just in time to vote. I remember before the election to copyright the term "270" so I don't have to hear this buzzword a million times post election. We all vote for Bernie Sanders. Realized that we forgot he was screwed again and it was actually the dementia dude running for the ruling elite. That dude wins anyways. The Election has been unofficially called for Dementia. The doomer cult disperses to put up posters of Rudy Guliana with black goo running down his face. We put a link below that looks like it's a website to donate to Trump's election fraud battle. All the Trumpers donate. They get scammed. All the money goes to black families that need rent and food assistance during the pandemic. Somehow Gulianis email gets flooded again with dickpicks and assgaping. His email wasn't even included this time. 3 weeks later Gulianis head starts to ooze the black goo. We get more donations because of this. They think it's apart of the prophecy for Trump to win. More money goes to help black families. Over $1billion donated by Trumpers. I guess Black Lives really do matter to them after all. December roles around and Gulianis in a new scandal. Pictures of his gaping ass make it to the front page of cnn. Turns out he ended up emailing a few of the guys back and sending them pictures of his gaping ass with a nazi flag sticking out of it. Trump followers twist it as a sign that he's telling them that the Deep State made the Nazis look bad. That it was all propaganda and that they were actually the good guys. They excuse the gay image as him doing it for the cause and that the thigh highs, nipple clamps and dick cage were symbolic signs of how the deep state has made us weak and submissive. Trumper Q Anons start wearing nazi flags sticking out of their ass in unity to protest against mask wearing. Half of them decide that they like the flags so much that they need bigger flags. Ironically they chose black flags because they're bigger right. Now the Nazi flag Trumpers think that the Black Flag Trumpers are Antifa. They start fighting each other pathetically in the streets until they both Realize that Black Flags do matter and reunite the right. At this point I call it a year and go chill out until Christmas......oh shit I forgot about Nashv.....oh well too late gotta get ready for the last doomer gathering of the year. We're lighting the giant wooden Fish at midnight to see what happens. Will Fish get us out of the loop?
Here’s a quiz that me and my siblings have come up with, we’ve seen the series an unhealthy amount of times and we wanted to make a tough quiz (with the exception of a couple east ones). Let us know what you think!
What is Robert California’s real name?
Which employees go to Gettysburg?
Which three characters dress up as the Joker on the same Halloween?
Name the transfers from Stamford
What is Robert California’s wife’s first name
What is the one kind of pie pam doesn’t like?
What is the name of dwights neighborhood watch?
What is princess unicorns catchphrase?
What is the name of the party that kelly throws over the summer that Jim and Dwight do not attend?
Which branch do Holly and Michael announce is closing at the company picnic?
What is David Wallace’s sons name?
What are Dwights code names for Jan and Carol in Casino Night?
What show does Michael make the office watch the same episode of six times?
Where is Andy and Erins first kiss?
What brand of chips do Karen and Jim spend the day looking for?
What is the name of the orientation video that Michael showed to Jim on his first day?
Where does Jans sister live?
Who is the first warehouse worker to make a sale?
“Secret secrets are no fun; secret secrets hurt someone” who says it?
What does C.R.I.M.E A.I.D stand for?
What episode do Pam and Roy get back together?
Jo and ___ have slept with three of the same men.
What is the name of Michaels nephew
How did Andy get the nickname “boner champ”?
How much money did Michael pay for a caprese salad?
Summary of AEW Angles and Storylines leading into Full Gear, with links to Video
Here is a relatively quick summary of the major angles leading into Full Gear. Links to AEW's Youtube, Twitter and Instagram with highlights and clips of what is going on. I'm including other angles that I feel might end up being relevant to Full Gear, but am not attempting to summarize everything. The Buy In: Serena Deeb (NWA Women’s Champion) vs Allisyn Kay Summary: Serena Deeb is a wrestling veteran, very skilled in the ring, who has just become the NWA champion, in addition to being an AEW wrestler. Allisyn Kay, a former NWA Champion, wants her old title belt back.
John Silver vs. Orange Cassidy Summary: Orange Cassidy is a lazy wrestler who can go toe to toe with the best, if he bothers to try. John Silver, a member of the Dark Order, is a little bundle of hyperactive aggression. Orange Cassidy took on the leader of the Dark Order, Mr. Brodie Lee for the TNT championship. While Mr. Brodie Lee won, the Dark Order, and John Silver in particular, want to punish Cassidy for even trying in the first place. This will be a pretty comedic match, by two people who are genuinely good in the ring.
TNT Title: Cody Rhodes (TNT Champion) vs. Darby Allin Summary: Cody is the son of legendary wrestler Dusty Rhodes, a charming talker and face of the company. He is the TNT Champion. Darby Allin is a reckless daredevil. They have faced off often over the past year, with Cody barely managing to win every time. Will Darby finally win over Cody?
World Tag Team Titles: FTR (AEW Tag Team Champions) vs. The Young Bucks Stipulation: If the Bucks lose, they can never challenge for the Tag Team belts again. Summary: FTR are arrogant brawlers who say they're the best tag team in the world, and they have the AEW Tag Team titles to prove it. The Young Bucks are arrogant high-fliers who say they're the best tag team in the world. They've both been arguing over who is the best for years, and now finally get to prove it. Previously, FTR messed with the Young Bucks by manipulating Hangman Adam Page, taking the Bucks out of the last title match, and the Bucks are still upset about it.
10/28 - FTR and The Young Bucks are interviewed. FTR leave when they think the Young Bucks are getting preferential treatment. The Bucks announce that if they lose this match, they’ll never challenge for the tag titles again.
Women's World Title: Hikaru Shida (c) vs. Nyla Rose Summary: Hikaru Shida is the AEW Women's champion, who had been doing an open challenge for her title. Nyla Rose is a bruiser of a beast, loving to slam women through tables. She's recently gotten Vickie Guererro as her manager. Nyla lost her world title to Shida earlier this year, and has been waiting for a rematch.
World Title Eliminator Tournament Final: Kenny Omega vs. Hangman Page Summary: Kenny Omega and Hangman Adam Page until recently were tag team champions. Hangman's bad decisions lead to their defeat at the hands of FTR. Now Kenny wants to go back to being a singles star, and Adam Page feels abandoned and hurt. Can the sad drunken cowboy beat his former partner, one of the best wrestlers on the planet? Winner of this match gets a shot at the World Championship. The saga of Kenny Omega and Hangman Adam Page is one of the best storylines in wrestling to date. The first chunk of it is summarized here, and the second chunk was summarized by me here. I am not including the Being The Elite segments here too, even though Hangman has been doing some REALLY good work there, because they are really tied up with other plots and hard to summarize briefly.
Chris Jericho vs. MJF Stipulation: If MJF wins, he can join The Inner Circle. Summary: Chris Jericho is a raging egotistical rock star, and leads the villainous Inner Circle. MJF is a spoiled egotistical rich guy, with a massive bodyguard in Wardlow. MJF wants to join the Inner Circle, but has to beat Chris Jericho to prove he has what it takes.
9/9 - MJF and Jericho meet and compliment each other, but each secretly call the other a loser.
Elite Deletion: Matt Hardy vs. Sammy Guevara Summary: Matt Hardy, a legend in the ring, has been trying to get Sammy Guevara to reach his full potential by leaving Chris Jericho's side. Sammy doesn't want an old man telling him what to do. They've been feuding for months now, with both of them getting injured along the way. It really needs to end. This will be a cinematic match, filmed at the Hardy Compound.
9/5 - Matt Hardy is legitimately injured during his match against Sammy at All Out, but finishes the match anyways, despite that being a really really dumb idea, beating Sammy Guevara. Probably AEW's worst decision to date.
11/4 - While Matt Hardy is coaching Private Party before their match, Sammy Guevara attacks him from behind.
AEW World Title "I Quit" Match: Jon Moxley (AEW Champion) vs. Eddie Kingston Summary: Jon Moxley is a tough bastard, who spent years in the WWE, and beat Chris Jericho to become the AEW World Champion earlier this year. Eddie Kingston has been an indie wrestler for years, struggling to make ends meet before recently joining AEW. Eddie thinks Moxley is a sell out. Moxley thinks Eddie has become bitter and jealous. Once friends, now they're going to practically murder each other in the ring. NOTE: The promos that both Moxley and Kingston are giving are PHENOMENAL.
Casino Themed Party Dress. Ladies, if you’re wondering what to wear to casino night, read on. You can make a casino theme dress easily with items from your wardrobe. Grab your little black dress. If you have one with gold or silver embellishments, even better. If you want a little more glam, go for a floor-length dress or skirt. Otherwise, one that skims the knees is great. You don’t have ... Jul 13, 2020 - Explore Carol Behrens's board "casino party ideas", followed by 461 people on Pinterest. See more ideas about casino party, casino, party. Casino Dress Up We have several different Casino theme hats including the Casino Night Hi-Hat and the White Hi-Hat with gold band to make you look like a high roller. We have a Red Barbershop Quartet Vest and skimmer hat that will make your outfit complete. However you want to dress up for your Casino party, we have what you need including ... Give your guests the opportunity to enter in style by setting up a mini red carpet. No casino theme party would be complete without one! All you need is a small piece of red carpet and some velvet ... When it comes to Black Tie Optional dress codes, it basically means that you should dress as formal as you can, all the way up to Black Tie level. If you don’t own a suit, it’s acceptable to do a button-down shirt with a tie, trousers, and formal leather shoes. In the descriptions for this dress code, we’ll just discuss the things that set Black Tie Optional apart from Black Tie. A night at the casino is a perfect opportunity to dress up and have a great time with your loved ones! It’s a fun, classy way to spend a night out, but make sure you’re dressed properly for the occasion. Knowing what to expect and how to find the perfect outfit will make your night even better! A Casino Royale casino theme party lets you recreate James Bond’s famous casino scenes. This is a party with class! Your guests are all dressed to the nines, chandeliers light up the room, and a bartender mixes drinks behind an old oak bar. Waiters make rounds of the room to offer champagne and canapes. Maybe you’ve even invited your frenemies for some 007-style scandal and intrigue! A night at the casino is a great excuse to get your glad rags on and we all like to dress up for a special occasion. But, if you’re not a regular at the roulette wheel, the casino fashion code ... Halloween Dress Up 8 am - Midnight. All players that dress up in Halloween costumes will receive $10 in free play after earning 5 points! Players must visit the Star Club in their costume to receive the free play. Players may only claim this one time. Music - 9 PM Costume Contest. Register between 7pm - 8pm in the Event Center. Guests can dress up using masks, allowing for some interesting party games, and even a little role-play. Cirque de Soleil: A famous circus troop that tours the world and attracts millions of fans, this theme is truly unique, and makes for a more colourful event, allowing guests to dress up in something a little more strange, and giving you the chance to enjoy some more interesting games during ...
Wife dressed up in sexy shiny satin black cocktail dress ...
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