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Will China's PLAN survive contact with the enemy?
The best laid PLANs of mice and men often go awry. Welcome back to another effortpost by me generally on the developing arms race in East Asia, this time covering the People's Liberation Army Navy, hereafter referred to as the "PLAN", and its massive growth... and... mostly, well, its massive growth. What that means is mostly covered in other posts about how other countries are responding to it. The why is a bit difficult because, well, China is not well known for open debate, or open anything, really, which will turn up repeatedly.
First And Last Stand Of The Tin Can Navies [ASEAN + Australia and the smaller adversaries China may contend with]
Boned: Problems in the US Air [and space!] Force
--Unnamed-- effortpost on Japanese military matters, mostly about how weird the JSDF status is
--Unnamed--effortpost on Indian military matters, and why they can't focus on China or buy anything that works
--Unnamed--effortpost on the rest of the PLA, mostly the air force though
--Unnamed--effortpost on the rest of the US Armed Forces, mostly talking about how the marines are changing and the Army's new love affair with INF-busting weapons
Glossary: PLA = People's Liberation Army = the armed forces of the People's Republic of China, or China PLAN = People's Liberation Army Navy = the naval forces of the PLA PLANAF = People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force = the air force of the navy of the PLA Ashm = Anti-ship missile, cruise missile unless specifically described as otherwise--there's only one anti-ship ballistic missile in existence and its efficacy and whether or not it functions is questionable CIWS = close-in weapons system, like the Phalanx gun or Goalkeeper VLS = vertical launch system for missiles AEGIS = Aegis Combat System if described specifically in that context, a US naval warfare system, but we'll usually be talking about "Chinese AEGIS", which is a nomiker used by the Chinese media in particular comparing the Type 346 radar to the AN-SPY family, with which it shares numerous technical characteristics--but how comparable the "Chinese AEGIS" system is to what the US uses is a complete unknown. SAM = Surface-to-air missile, in this case usually a S-300 derivative First Island Chain = The islands, stretching from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan, which keep China inside its littoral seas much as the GIUK [Greenland-Iceland-UK] gap has kept various continental powers out of the Atlantic. Some PLAN equipment you might see described--the nomenclature is confusing and a relic of the cultural revolution, and as a result China now has more Types than the British. Type 003 = China's new conventionally powered supercarriers, currently under construction Type 002 = China's first truly "operational" carrier Type 001 = China's first carrier, built on a Soviet hull purchased from Ukraine ostensibly to make a floating casino Type 055 = Guided-missile cruiser, though generally called a destroyer it's probably more descriptively labeled a cruiser Type 052D = Guided-missile destroyer using "Chinese AEGIS" Type 052/051B/052B/052C = the gradual progression of evolving Chinese naval tech, largely built as practice/demo ships like the Type 001. Some of the earlier ones are steam-powered but by the Type 052C you have something almost as advanced as the Type 052D, albeit with turbine problems Type 054A = the standard modern frigate of the PLAN Type 053[anything] = old PLAN frigates Type 096 = China's newest SSBN class, under construction Type 094 = China's first functional SSBN class, very noisy Type 092 = China's first "SSBN", believed to have never left port with an actual nuke on board Type 095 = China's newest SSN class, under construction Type 093 = China's current SSN class, noisy Type 091 = China's first SSN class, dumb dumb dumb and is at a 1950s tech level Type 039[A] = China's new SSK class Kilo = China's older SSK class, imported from Russia Sovremenny = China's first capable anti-air destroyers, imported from Russia
1. The Last Time A Rising Navy Challenged A Dominant Foe
The last time we've seen something like this was in the late 19th century. After the First World War shipbuilding was restricted by the landmark Washington Naval Treaty, one of the first great arms control treaties, and during the Cold War the Soviet Union never really had any hopes of surpassing American naval power. China, however, seems intent on replacing the US as the world's dominant naval power, or at least building a force that can stop the US Navy, even combined with the forces of Japan and other regional allies. The nations in question, of course, in the last naval arms race, were the United Kingdom and a newly-unified Germany. Germany never reached the level of the UK, but seriously threatened it. Previously the UK had maintained a policy of having more ships than the next two largest fleets combined, but this was no longer possible, and the UK legitimately was fearful for its naval supremacy. It didn't last too long in the end--under a decade--and a resumption was foiled by first a world war and then the Washington Naval Treaty. The impact of the arms race, though, was massive. It set Germany and the UK at odds with each other, it resulted in a general buildup of warships pretty much everywhere [South America was, believe it or not, one of the biggest offenders there], established Germany for a time as the world's second naval power, having eclipsed both France and Russia and turning a small coastal defense navy into something that was able to defeat the Royal Navy itself, though never comprehensively enough to change the course of the first world war. China dwells in a much different situation than Germany did at the turn of the last century, so we can only extend the analogy so far--substituting in Japan for the UK, India for Russia, and so on is possible but not, in my view, educational. However, we can see many of the same elements playing in here. China seems intent on replacing the US as a dominant power, or at least as regional hegemon--the ancient tributary system seems to lie fairly heavily on Chinese minds--and in order to do that, it must be able to have some degree of power projection and the capability to deny the US Navy access to areas within the first island chain. It remains to be seen, however, how successful that quest will be. Much as with the dreadnought battleships, I wouldn't be surprised if we never actually do find out if most of the shiny naval toys people have built actually work. But their mere existence shows the mutual hostility developing in the region and demonstrates the size of the Chinese threat. Another lesson learned here is that China, like Germany, may not develop a naval force capable of defeating the US comprehensively, but only partially, and that one of the powers--in this case, China--might be pressured to strike first before the US Navy can close the gap. That ~2030 gap I talked about in my last post is, I think, an especially vulnerable point, because China may look at a degraded, but rejuvenating US Navy, then at their own capable forces, and decide to strike then in Taiwan and the South China Sea, only to back down when the US Navy again eclipses them. Whether or not that will happen, we will see--but I find it a very dangerous and perhaps likely possibility.
2. What the PLAN looked like 20 years ago
The PLAN has undergone an absolutely stunning evolution in the past two decades. In the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis the US could intimidate China with a pair of aircraft carrier strike groups and China could do pretty much nothing about it. Now the US is afraid of sending anything more than a destroyer through the strait. Twenty years ago, the PLAN was a bit of a joke. Even Taiwan figured it could hold the seas against the PLAN. It consisted of a few tens of outdated coastal-defense frigates, some Soviet-era diesel-electric subs, and a large number of unsophisticated missile craft. The pride of the Chinese fleet were a handful of destroyers assembled using cobbled-together Western technology--copied French missiles, American gas turbines, the lot. According to American accounts at the time, the instructions for the equipment hadn't even been translated. The most advanced ship in the fleet used steampower. There were nuclear submarines, but of 1950s quality. Of particular note was the fact that the Chinese fleet had no area air defense capabilities--their premier surface-to-air-missile was an unlicensed knockoff of the French Crotale, and couldn't shoot anything outside of visual range, at high altitudes, or really doing anything more sophisticated than trying to kill their ships with low-altitude dumb bombing runs. In the past twenty years, however, the PLAN has, much like the German Navy towards the end of the 19th century, gone from an afterthought to the world's second most powerful force. It began, as modern China's military capabilities almost all began, with the looting of the former Soviet Union for naval technology. While Soviet naval tech was generally lacking, it was much better than anything else China could get its hands on after the arms embargo placed on it in the 1990s by the US and Europe in response to Tienanmen and the end of the Cold War. China bought Soviet diesel submarines, Soviet air-defense destroyers, and Soviet aircraft carriers, which it promptly left lying around [and turned one of them into a theme park]. This was combined with copies of various pieces of Western, mostly European, technology for everything from sonars to surface-to-air missiles. China then began developing its first modern indigenous surface combatants, the Type 052C, but there were still problems. The engines were Ukrainian and had reliability trouble, the gun jammed, there was no VLS. It is really in the last ten years that things have begun to move extremely quickly, and even only in the latter portion of the decade. In 2012 the Type 001 Liaoning entered service, and although it remains more of a training ship than an operational vessel, and is held back by a poor carrier aircraft, the mere fact that China "built" a carrier was a surprise to many. In 2014 the first Type 052D destroyer came online. It had learned the lessons from the Type 052C, and in just the last six years at least ten have entered service, with a class size of about 23 expected. This rapid expansion is what has frightened competing navies the most--in a little over a decade, the PLAN is constructing more destroyers than the British, French, and Australian navies have in service combined. It is also building the Type 055, which has generally been called a "destroyer" despite being more aptly described as a cruiser in line with the Ticonderoga-class. China has also built 30 modern frigates in the past decade, which has also swelled its numbers, along with numerous smaller corvettes, submarines, and so on. This is why the PLAN has become such an object of concern. While it cannot challenge the US Navy yet, at least outside its littoral zones, the decline of the USN and rapid expansion of the PLAN means that it is a serious threat. And the speed at which it has developed has made many fearful. As recently as 2010, the idea of China operating an aircraft carrier or modern destroyers seemed distant, possibly preposterous. Now China speaks openly of having a six-carrier fleet in the 2030s, although, as with many of China's plans to operate full US-replicated tech and doctrine, these may have somewhat caved to realism. China is mighty, but it has already done the easy part--the last part is much harder, in economics and in military matters. Building the software, the institutional knowledge, the hardware to compete with the US Navy will prove difficult.
3. What the PLAN looks like now--submarines
Submarines are one of the PLAN's weak spots, particularly nuclear submarines. China is, however, making some fairly rapid advances in this area. Their nuclear submarine program has been considered a bit of a joke for some time. In the late 1950s when all the cool kids great powers were getting nuclear submarines, China decided [or at least Mao did] that China needed nuclear submarines too. About 16 years later, the product of this effort finally emerged as the Type 091 submarine. Based on 1950s technology, with poor radiation shielding and basically nothing done in the name of noise reduction, and not even a teardrop hull, the Type 091 was probably more of a threat to the sailors who were on it than anyone else, except maybe the two Tench-class submarines that Taiwan operates, which use 1940s technology and are the world's longest-serving submarines, though they're mostly used for training nowadays. Even then, my money would be on the Tench despite the upgrades the PLAN has made to the Type 091. There's only so much you can do to put lipstick on a pig. China also produced an SSBN, the Type 092, which was probably the only submarine more useless than the Type 091. About the only useful thing it did for the PLAN was that it served as a test platform for SLBM launches. Reports suggest that the Type 092 is the noisiest SSBN ever made, and is thought to have only ever undertaken a single patrol. It stayed at port for so long that it was thought to have sunk in an accident. And the experience turned the PLAN off from building SSBNs for over twenty years, until the Type 094 came online in 2007. More recent submarines are growing in capability, though. The Type 094 is not the noisiest SSBN ever made, and may not even be the noisiest in current service--that honor going to the Delta III operated by the Russian Navy, which uses 1970s technology, and, which, according to the US Office of Naval Intelligence, is about as noisy as the Type 094. The Type 093 is also moderately capable--it actually functions and can fire anti-ship missiles. However, the Type 093 is still considered only comparable to the Soviet Victor III class, again using 1970s technology. Future submarines have not yet been seen, but expectations are that China will make another step forward to late 1980s or early 1990s tech levels, producing something on par with the Los Angeles or Akula for the first time. China also operates a fairly capable fleet of coastal diesel-electric submarines. While some are quite old--the Type 035--most are pretty average for the global submarine force, a mix of Kilos and domestic AIP designs. The large number of boats in operation and their anti-ship missile capability means that these should be considered a real threat, at least in the littoral waters near to China, but they aren't decisive by any means, especially since China is facing off against such threats as Japan's Soryu class, probably the most advanced diesel-electric sub in existence. In conclusion, the PLAN is still pretty weak on the submarine front--weaker here than on anything but its carrier force, but its capabilities are advancing rapidly and should not be underestimated.
4. What the PLAN looks like now--surface combatants
The surface fleet is definitely the most impressive and capable portion of the PLAN, no questions about it. China once had a fleet consisting mostly of coastal frigates and missile boats. As recently as 2000, its fleet had no real area-air-defense destroyers, and no SAMs that could operate outside visual range. Now, though, the PLAN operates tens of advanced guided-missile destroyers, advanced frigates, and still retains a large number of small, stealthy missile boats. The major focus of Chinese warships appears to be on anti-air, with anti-surface being a somewhat secondary concern for all but the smallest vessels. This makes sense when you realize that the primary focus is, at least for the moment, on using land-based aircraft to strike against hostile fleet formations using long-range anti-ship missiles, in a very Soviet sort of way--"Backfire raids" using long-range land-based aircraft with anti-ship missiles were one of the US Navy's major concerns during the Cold War, and the very reason for the F-14's existence along with the AIM-54 Phoenix it carried. However, China has been developing anti-surface capabilities as well using ashms and land-attack cruise missiles [generally the same thing, actually]. Since China has finally developed a VLS system that allows it to use the same launcher for multiple missiles, its most recent ships have become more versatile in that role. How effective these ships are at that task is, however, a relatively open question. Their radars at least seem to quite sophisticated, using flat-panel AESA, and have been dubbed "Chinese AEGIS" by the highly reliable Chinese domestic media. The basic platform their surface-to-air missiles are based on also seems to be fairly capable--the HQ-9 is an S-300 derivative, a respectable SAM system though, again, how capable it is against opponents in an active electronic warfare environment is questionable, and it has basically no capabilities against stealth aircraft like the F-35 as far as anyone knows. The efficacy of their CIWS, again, is open to question. Really this is true of everything about the modern PLAN, and PLA in general. The PLA is secretive, has not exported most of its hardware, and has developed largely independently of foreign militaries, though it is definitely influenced by them. Now that the PLAN has moved away from simply copying foreign hardware and patching it together, its capabilities are much harder to discern. However, they should be taken as a very real threat, and not written off. My guess would be that their warships are about as capable as most of their non-American counterparts, save those equipped with AEGIS, but that's all my guess is---a guess.
5. What the PLAN looks like now--carriers
The PLAN currently has two carriers in service, and two more known to be under construction, and most suspect that it will build several more. However, at the moment, the PLAN's carrier force is largely a paper tiger, designed around training. The first carrier, the Type 001, basically was a "how do you build a carrier" kit bought from Russia, possibly by accident--the "fully functional" Minsk ended up as a theme park, believe it or not. The hull was purchased from Ukraine and then completed in China years later. It is also believed that the PLAN may have learned some things about aircraft carriers from the HMAS Melbourne, which was sold to a Chinese firm for scrapping--rumor has it the PLAN had no clue this had happened and then had a field day looking at all the stuff that hadn't been taken out. This was back in the old days when nobody could imagine that China would have an aircraft carrier. The Type 002, however, is built from scratch, but isn't particularly capable especially as it's a ski-jump carrier, leaving the Type 003 the first carrier which will prove actually useful. The main thing holding China's carrier fleet back, though, is a lack of a suitable aircraft. Originally China was considering purchasing Su-33s from Russia, hardly a good carrier-based aircraft but functional, but after Russia discovered that China had been mucking about building a Su-27 derivative without asking the deal fell through [China tells a different story, saying that Russia demanded exorbitant amounts to reopen production which it was unwilling to pay for a nearly obsolete aircraft]. As a result China operates the J-15 as its naval fighter, with... less than stellar results. It's extremely heavy, and, if it takes off from the carrier, has minimal range if carrying anything at all--it can't take more than two short range air to air missiles into the sky to fight enemy aircraft. However, the J-15 isn't really intended for combat service--it's intended to teach China how to run carriers, and it seems to work well enough for that task, aside from the multiple fatal crashes. There is, however, thought to be a new carrier fighter in the pipeline--most say the J-31/FC-31, which has reduced RCS and a number of carrier-unique features, is being pitched as a carrier-based aircraft and will serve as China's carrier fighter in the future. China also lacks any fixed wing carrier-based airborne early warning, which could prove troublesome--a lack of AEW means that its view is limited by the horizon--and has no resupply aircraft like the C-2 Greyhound. As a result, for the moment at least, China lacks an effective carrier force, but it is likely to continue developing rapidly in the next decade and become a fairly substantial threat. Remember that as recently as 2010, a Chinese aircraft carrier seemed preposterous to many people, and now they have two.
6. Some attention to land-based aircraft
Land-based aircraft as a naval weapon are not generally used by the US, which has never had a reason to develop them as a doctrinal focus. Sure, you could potentially envision them as being used, and there even were situations where they were utilized, but it just wasn't generally a priority or how things were done. For China, though, taking influence from the Soviets, and lying on littoral seas with hostile powers in the First Island Chain, land-based aircraft and missiles are a key part of doctrine. Although this is often viewed as a new thing, called A2/AD [anti access/area denial], it's really the result of a long historical evolution of naval power, probably most refined by the Soviet Union. As a result, land-based naval aviation plays an important role, firing anti-ship missiles at standoff distances at enemy vessels, and shore-based launchers of anti-ship missiles are also an important weapon. The combination of these systems means that venturing within China's littoral seas is a dangerous proposition during war, and some waters, like those of the Taiwan Strait, are effectively considered closed at this point in the event of hostilities breaking out. For this reason air superiority is also important in this sort of naval warfare, as if either side gains air superiority it can pummel its opponents with air-launched anti-ship missiles. China's capabilities in this area are sophisticated and should not be underestimated, but they are unlikely to go through a rapid period of growth like the PLAN's fleet. And a brief note dedicated entirely to the DF-21D "Carrier killer" that the PLA likes to show off. It's a pretty impressive capability, on paper, using a ballistic missile to hit a carrier. The CEP [circular error probable] means that it could even happen, presuming that an aircraft carrier was good enough to sit in one place, not moving, long enough to be detected by China. Aircraft carriers look big, but the seas are huge, and they're surprisingly hard to find. They also move quite fast, in excess of of 35mph/55kph, and thus by the time the ballistic missile has launched it might well be out of range given the fact that ballistic missiles are not particularly known for their maneuverability in terminal stages, at least not in the realm of miles. The DF-21D is not a particular threat to the modern aircraft carrier. It could potentially be one if it evolves into a hypersonic boost-glide vehicle, but that's a whole additional can of worms, that I might address a different day.
7. The PLAN's plans for the future--what will it look like in 2030?
Unfortunately the PLAN is not exactly the most open of navies, as I've repeatedly mentioned. There are no public debates over acquisitions programs, no big fleet shape plans, relatively little detail. However, a few things are fairly sure bets or publicly announced. China has repeatedly announced plans to build a six-carrier force, including the Type 001 and Type 002, but also a pair of Type 003 [already under construction] conventionally powered supercarriers and a pair of Type 004 nuclear powered supercarriers. However, it seems that the Type 004 is currently on hold. Why, exactly, is unclear, but it seems to be technical difficulties, which are not particularly surprising given that China's experience with nuclear maritime propulsion seem to be rather limited and have had poor results in their submarine fleet. The costs were also expected to be too high--China does not have an unlimited quantity of money, despite what it may flaunt, and nuclear carriers are expensive to develop especially given that China has not built a nuclear-powered surface ship before. A new carrier-based fighter is almost certainly in the cards because the J-15 is pretty much useless. The FC-31 seems by far the most likely candidate but it could be another aircraft we haven't seen yet. The addition of this aircraft will greatly improve the PLAN's capabilities. China also has two Type 075 amphibious assault ships/LHDs under construction, and I would expect this class to be much more prolific. These ships are much more affordable than the full carriers, and focus on areas in which China is particularly concerned--amphibious assaults, say, on islands in the South China Sea or on Taiwan, and anti-submarine warfare, which is of particular importance given that submarines cannot be easily halted with land-based anti-ship missiles and air-launched cruise missiles provided for in their area denial doctrine--submarines are one of the few things that can slip through that net. The surface combatant fleet is likely to continue growing, but I am not sure if it will swell much beyond the ~23 Type 052D ships planned and the 8 Type 055s. We're likely to see the retirement of the classes preceding the Type 052C destroyer and the Type 054 frigate, and they may be offloaded to Bangladesh, Myanmar, or Pakistan--there is substantial precedent here, and it seems that China is interested in expanding the naval capabilities of its partners around India. The submarine fleet is likely to see rapid expansion if the PLAN is satisfied with the Type 095 and Type 096 classes, and we're likely to see more diesel-electric subs built as well. Submarines are generally quite good at fighting submarines and conducting area-denial missions, and the large and capable subsurface forces of Japan, Korea, and the United States means that this has to be an area the PLAN invests more in--and the fact that several Southeast Asian nations are also looking at acquiring submarines makes the issue more pressing.
China has in the past decade gone from a third-rate navy to perhaps the greatest threat the US Navy has faced since the Second World War. This has significant geopolitical implications, and has resulted in neighbors scrambling to overhaul their naval forces. The growth of the PLAN means that the US can no longer easily defend Taiwan or the South China Sea, or any of China's littoral waters. This, more than anything else, is what has everyone scrambling in the US talking about "great-power competition" because denying access to the US Navy and working on power projection, an inherently naval thing, is essentially a clear sign that China is looking to directly compete with the United States. Underestimate the PLAN at your own peril. I hope to have more detail and citations in future posts, but unfortunately the PLAN is very secretive [yes, I've said that fifty times already] and this is a pretty big topic to discuss without going into details about all sorts of naval tidbits. Thanks for reading the fourth post in what I hope will be a fairly substantial series, probably around ~12 posts.
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Over the years, the program has expanded to include a greater variety of rewards, including restaurants and sporting goods. https://www.scene.ca --------------------------------------------- FOOD & BEVERAGES Cineplex has an Outtakes (French: Restoplex) restaurant in 94 theatres, some which replace previous restaurant partners (Burger King, KFC and New York Fries) and others which introduce restaurants at locations which did not previously feature one. VIP Cinemas and some Xscape locations feature a licensed lounge with more premium offerings compared to Outtakes. Poptopia is a flavoured popcorn restaurant offered in a full-service format at 22 locations. Other Cineplex theatres may feature Poptopia at the concession stand, but only in the caramel corn and/or kettle corn flavours. Ice cream at Cineplex locations debuted with Baskin-Robbins and TCBY. Beginning in December 2007, Yogen Früz became the preferred partner. On January 1, 2014, Cineplex acquired a 50% stake in Yoyo's Yogurt Café. As of January 2017, 77 Cineplex theatres feature Yoyo's restaurants, while Yogen Fruz is still available in 23 Cineplex theatres while TCBY is available in 16 locations. Cineplex also manages Melt Sweet Creations, an in-house dessert bouqtiue brand targeted at women ages 19-35 debuted in December 2017 at Cineplex Cinemas Queensway and VIP. Melt is available at 13 locations. Beverages are available in both cold and hot formats. Cold beverages include the Coca-Cola lineup, which replaced the Pepsi lineup used at locations formerly owned by Famous Players. 12 locations feature Coca-Cola Freestyle. Hot beverages include Starbucks as the incumbent provider with 105 locations, all which offer Pike Place Roast coffee (regular or decaf) and Tazo tea. Select locations also offer premium drinks such as caffè mocha or caramel macchiato. Tim Hortons is available as a full-service restaurant in five locations, with Brossard being the only location to offer both Tim Hortons and Starbucks. In most theatres, Cineplex offers sale of alcohol to 19+ guests in Ontario (18+ in Alberta) similar to the VIP theatres albeit from a selection of beer or cider beverages. If Aurora Cannabis (ACB) & Cineplex (CGX) partnered up to offer CBD & THC infused Cannabis 2.0 edibles in movie theaters, especially the IMAX & 3D ones, it should do very well. Canadian Cannabis Industry stocks should also do well as I posted earlier Cannabis Stocks Opportunity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cineplex_Entertainment ---------------------------------------------
Why Amazon’s Rumored Buyout of AMC Entertainment Makes Sense (May 12, 2020): If Amazon can buy AMC, they can most certainly by CGX & dominate & control most of North America's movie theaters. Amazon would then control Hollywood! Why stop there, they should buy Cineworld too. https://investorplace.com/2020/05/why-amazons-rumored-buyout-of-amc-entertainment-makes-sense --------------------------------------------- AMC Entertainment Surges 56% on Report of Talks With Amazon (May 11, 2020): https://finance.yahoo.com/news/amc-entertainment-surges-56-report-133822697.html --------------------------------------------- Alert: Cineplex (TSX:CGX) Could Be Acquired by This Incredibly Unlikely Source (May 12, 2020): Despite Cineworld maintaining its commitment to buy Cineplex, the market has a different opinion. Remember, Cineplex agreed to be acquired at $34 per share. As I type this, the stock trades at $14.44. There’s no way the spread would be that wide, unless investors were writing off the acquisition completely. Fortunately for beleaguered Cineplex shareholders, a new suitor could very well come along — one virtually nobody sees coming. Although I think there’s potential for a private equity group or some other deep-pocketed investor taking a run at Cineplex’s cheap assets, there’s a much more interesting suitor on the horizon. That acquirer is Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN). https://www.fool.ca/2020/05/12/alert-cineplex-tsxcgx-could-be-acquired-by-this-incredibly-unlikely-source --------------------------------------------- AMC says it will no longer play Universal Studios films (Apr 28, 2020): “AMC believes that with this proposed action to go to the home and theaters simultaneously, Universal is breaking the business model and dealings between our two companies,” AMC Chief Executive Officer Adam Aron said in a letter addressed to Universal Studios Chairman Donna Langley. Universal added that the company looked forward to having “additional private conversations” with AMC but was “disappointed by this seemingly coordinated attempt ... to confuse our position and our actions.” https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/28/amc-says-it-will-no-longer-play-universal-studios-films.html --------------------------------------------- Cineworld joins AMC in banning films from Universal Studios (April 29, 2020): Cineworld, the world’s second largest cinema chain, has followed its rival AMC in banning Universal Studios films from its cinemas when they reopen, after the Hollywood film-maker released Trolls On Tour direct to streaming platforms. “There is a certain system of windows which are a custom in the market and this sets the time difference between the theatrical market and other ancillary markets, among them streaming. Any movie that will not respect this window will not be shown in Cineworld group,” Mooky Greidinger, Cineworld’s chief executive, said on Wednesday. https://www.ft.com/content/3cc70161-e157-4ff1-bfbd-a886dd6d9af5 --------------------------------------------- Odeon bans all Universal Pictures films as studio skips cinema releases (Apr 29, 2020): https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/ap29/odeon-bans-all-universal-pictures-films-as-studio-skips-cinema-releases --------------------------------------------- AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. AMC Theatres (originally an abbreviation for American Multi-Cinema; often referred to simply as AMC and known in some countries as AMC Cinemas or AMC Multi-Cinemas) is an American movie theater chain headquartered in Leawood, Kansas, and is the largest movie theater chain in the world. Founded in 1920, AMC has the largest share of the U.S. theater market ahead of Cineworld and Cinemark Theatres. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMC_Theatres --------------------------------------------- Cineworld Group PLC Cineworld is the world’s second largest cinema chain, with 9,518 screens across 790 sites in 11 countries: the UK, the US, Canada, Ireland, Poland, Romania, Israel, Hungary, Czechia, Bulgaria and Slovakia. The group’s primary brands are Regal (in the US), Cineworld and Picturehouse (in the UK & Ireland), Cinema City (throughout Europe) and Yes Planet (in Israel). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cineworld --------------------------------------------- And Action! All the Movies We Can't Wait to See in Summer 2020 and Beyond (May 22, 2020): Fingers crossed that it’ll be safe to step into a theater this summer. If they open, there will be plenty to watch. “Summer hits are the popcorn movies,” says film historian, author and podcast host Leonard Maltin. “They can be the biggest box-office hits of the whole year.” Rest of 2020:
To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar - VIP (Jun 1)
Unhinged (Jul 1)
Tenet (Jul 17)
Mulan (Jul 24)
Summerland (Jul 31)
Random Acts Of Violence (Jul 31)
The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run (Aug 7)
Sound of Metal (Aug 14)
Wonder Woman 1984 (Aug 14)
Fatima (Aug 14)
The One And Only Ivan (Aug 14)
The New Mutants (Aug 20)
Bill & Ted Face the Music (Aug 21)
Antebellum (Aug 21)
Monster Hunter (Sep 4)
A Quiet Place Part II (Sep 4)
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (Sep 11)
The King's Man (Sep 18)
Candyman (Sep 25)
Tom Clancy's Without Remorse (Oct 2)
BIOS (Oct 2)
Death On The Nile (Oct 9)
The Witches (Oct 9)
The French Dispatch (Oct 16)
Halloween Kills (Oct 16)
Snake Eyes (Oct 23)
Lord And Miller Connected (Oct 23)
Everybody's Talking About Jamie (Oct 23)
Come Play (Oct 30)
Black Widow (Nov 6)
Clifford The Big Red Dog (Nov 13)
Deep Water (Nov 13)
Godzilla Vs. Kong (Nov 20)
Soul (Nov 20)
Happiest Season (Nov 20)
James Bond ‘No Time To Die’ (Nov 25)
Free Guy (Dec 11)
Dune (Dec 18)
Untitled Coming To America Sequel (Dec 18)
West Side Story (Dec 18)
Top Gun: Maverick (Dec 23)
Untitled Tom & Jerry Film (Dec 23)
The Croods 2 (Dec 23)
News Of The World (Dec 25)
Escape Room 2 (Dec 30)
Mortal Kombat (Jan 15)
Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (Jan 15)
355 (Jan 15)
Chaos Walking: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Jan 22)
Rumble (Jan 29)
Cinderella (Feb 5)
Nobody (Feb 26)
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Mar 5)
Raya And The Last Dragon (Mar 12)
Sony/Marvel Morbius (Mar 19)
The Boss Baby 2 (Mar 26)
Reminiscence (Apr 16)
Ron's Gone Wrong (Apr 23)
Shang Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings (May 7)
Spiral: From The Book Of Saw (May 21)
Cruella (May 28)
F9 Fast & Furious (Apr 2)
Bob's Burgers (Apr 9)
Infinite (May 28)
Space Jam 2 (Jul 16)
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (Jul 16)
In the Heights (Jun 18)
Minions: The Rise Of Gru (Jul 2)
All This Victory (Aug 7)
The Woman in the Window (TBD 2021)
Blithe Spirit (TBD 2021)
The Personal History of David Copperfield (TBD 2021)
I'm sick of the congested internet & buffering of online movies & services during Covid19. They need to upgrade the internet infrastructure to 5G & Fiber Optics before it can really grow in my opinion -- especially buffering 4K & 8K movies & future tech that will only require more bandwidth going forward. Younger people are not afraid of Covid19 like the older crowd. When theaters open, they will rush in to see their favourite movies. Betting that people won't want to go to movie theaters when they re-open, is like betting the same against live sporting events or music concerts. No home movie theater can match a real movie theater, even the smaller discount ones, unless you're Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos etc. With Cineplex's Canadian Monopoly & diversification into other entertainment arenas like eSports & Virtual Reality, as long as they don't go bankrupt & social distancing restrictions are loosened, the stock should increase 2 to 3 times by end of 2021 in my opinion -- especially if the Cineworld Buyout goes as planned or another company like Amazon buys them out for a strong presence & control in Canada. If a Coronavirus Vaccine is discovered sooner than later, then this stock will rebound accordingly & rapidly -- especially if they don't cancel or even if they do, resume Dividend payments in the future. At current prices, Dividend yield is about 13% per year. --------------------------------------------- Social distance cinema: drive-in theatres boom – in pictures (May 5, 2020): We are all social creatures & want to go to movie theater as a social activity, to see & be seen; otherwise, why would Drive In Movie theaters boom during Covid19? If no one goes out to be seen anymore, then all the Vanity Goods & Services will go under too & we will all dress in sweat pants & T-Shirt -- no need for designer suits & dresses working & staying at home. LOL ;p https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2020/may/05/social-distance-cinema-drive-in-theatres-boom-coronavirus-in-pictures --------------------------------------------- Internet Bandwidth Requirements: Online streaming remains the biggest source of 4K content, led by Netflix and Amazon’s growing selection of original series. But many consumer broadband connections aren’t fast enough to allow reliable 4K streaming. Home Theater Movie Resolutions:
4K (UHD): 3,840 x 2,160 pixels
1080p (Full HD): 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
720p (HD): 1,280 x 720 pixels
480p (SD): 640 x 480 pixels
8K: 7,680 x 4,320 pixels
For comparison purposes, 70mm film - still considered by many to be the gold standard - is roughly equivalent to a 12K resolution in digital terms, so digital's still got some catching up to do on that score.
The rest of the series can be found here *** Sasha Blake lounged near a Starsprinter, a small fast “courier class” Terran freighter. She tried to at least look calm. A Terran Intelligence operative just standing here with her tits hanging out with the fucking Feds on the way? Not smart. She took a long slow hit on a vape pen taking in a lungful of bliss, a mild relaxant and euphoric, something she would normally never do on a mission but her nerves were shot. They had slaughtered over a hundred Fed agents not that long ago. Hell, she had pulled the trigger on a few of them herself. They had to be dying for payback. Helen had better fucking know what she was doing. A nondescript pale gray cargo van pulled up and a very nervous looking pol-ka got out. Sasha winced. He was so fucking obvious… and scared. He actually looked worse than she did. It was the opposite of reassuring. There were way too many raw nerves and itchy trigger fingers in one spot for her comfort. The pol-ka, his crest fully deflated and looking around constantly, spotted her. She raised her hand and brushed her hair over her left ear, the signal. He walked up. “Excuse me, is this ship the Green Greyhound?” he asked. “No, it’s the Silver Slipper,” she replied. “I see,” he replied swallowing back a mouthful of nervous mucus. “I am very sorry for your loss, ma’am.” “Eh, I never really did like the miserable fuck. Good riddance to bad rubbish,” she replied completing the passphrase. The pol-ka nodded and returned to the van. He opened the back and guided a floating coffin over to where Sasha was standing. “Sign here, please,” he said producing a tablet. She scrawled a couple of nonsense words. “So, is this as strange for you as it is for me?” he asked with a little smile. “Stranger,” she replied returning his smile. “I was half expecting a stun bolt and a neural inductor.” “And I,” he said still looking about, “am expecting to be gifted with an extra orifice any second. Let’s hope things go back to normal soon. I am much more comfortable stabbing your kind in the shadows.” “Likewise,” she laughed. “Nice meeting you, peckerhead.” “Have a good trip, Terran animal,” he replied finally relaxing a little. He, trying not to trot, quickly walked to the van and drove off. Sasha just shook her head as he drove off. “Can’t believe I’m fucking doing this...” she muttered as she guided the floating coffin into her ship. *** Jaxona was standing in Jon’s office swinging back and forth anxiously in her globe while Jon drank a cup of coffee and reviewed some reports. “Great!” Jaxona said with a happy little swirl. “Just got word that the, um… package… has been delivered!” “Good,” Jon replied with a smile, “Glad that’s over with. Thanks for not shooting our agent.” “Oh we would never do that!” Jaxona exclaimed. “We had a deal and everything!” “Yeah,” Jon chuckled, “And you actually kept it. We have have some scientists just dying to tear into the little present you just gave us.” “Super!” Jaxona exclaimed. “I hope you guys have better luck than we did cause we didn’t find out a darn thing!” “No promises,” Jon replied. “We’ve been going over some pretty detailed scans for a little while now. I have to hand it to her. The vampire has really done it this time. I know you have your hopes up because of our reputation but what she has achieved… fuck. It’s years ahead of its time.” “Vampire?” “A Terran monster legend from the days of old, a quite fitting title for our mutual friend.” Jon smiled. “Oh neat! I will read up on them!” Jaxona exclaimed bouncing up and down happily. “Well, I should probably scoot! Bye!” Jaxona said as she started backing out of his office. “Bye!… Bye!...” “Bye!” Jon replied smiling despite himself. He liked the little fish. He was, however, disinclined to buy her whole “nice fish” act. You don’t get to be a Kalent Forum anything by being all sweetness and light especially at her age and she was “innocently” wheeling and dealing corpses like it was everyday business. He really wished he could bring Republic Intelligence to bear on that little eel, find out what her deal actually was. Still, despite more than a few suspicions, he liked her. Didn’t trust her any further than he could throw her bot but he liked her. *** Mark Black sat at the yacht club with his wife Shelly. “You’re staring again,” she said with a smile on her face. “I can’t help it, you’re beautiful,” he replied. She was. She was just as beautiful as the day he bought her. He was just a young raider back then. Not only did she cost everything he had he had to kill two other people just to keep her. On the bright side, the killings catapulted him into a leadership position among the Long Shanks. Over the years during both the Sol Wars and the years that followed he built upon that, clawing, biting, and killing his way up the ranks until he finally sat on Grant Shanks right side. After Mr. Shanks’ untimely demise he was the one who wound up on top. Now, with the fall of the Red Teeth they were poised to become the single most powerful human organization, both legal and illegal, in the Federation. And he owed it all to her, his muse, his princess. The fight to obtain her and to keep her was what put him where he was today. He took a sip of wine and smiled at her again. She was just too beautiful. Shelly smiled back at him fondly. He wasn’t exactly what one would call ravishingly handsome but he certainly wasn’t ugly and what lurked between his ears was rare, a combination of intelligence, ruthlessness, and yet at the same time warmth and love… well for her anyway. And after all isn’t that what matters? He took her from a slave pen, starvation, and rape to a safe warm cabin. After she met him she was never hungry (well starving anyway) or afraid again. After the wars, their prospects steadily rose higher and higher as they climbed a blood soaked stairway all the way to the top. What he couldn’t outsmart he simply crushed beneath his feet. He was the perfect man, warm and caring to his family and utterly ruthless to everyone else. Back in the day she ruled the station. Few dared challenge her when all she had to do was snap her fingers and Mark would kill. She looked down at her hands, the hands of a young woman! This was unbelievable, truly miraculous. She frowned. She just wished that they didn’t have to make a deal with the literal devil to get it. “What’s wrong?” Mark asked, “Did they screw up your steak again? If they did...” “No, it’s fine,” she replied slicing it and holding up a piece for inspection. “Look. Perfect medium-rare.” She took a sip of some truly excellent wine and tried to smile. He wouldn’t buy it. He always saw through her fake smiles. “Then what is it?” “I just wish we weren’t in bed with that monster.” Mark sighed. They have had this conversation before, several times. “Grant wasn’t much better, darling,” he replied as he sipped some more wine. “Dark days require dark deals, remember?” “But are they?” Shelly asked. “Are they dark days? We have everything we ever wanted. We’re even legitimate now… mostly…” “Slowly dying of old age make for some pretty dark days in my book,” Mark chuckled. “It’s nice not hurting every goddamn morning and being able to properly make love to you without throwing out my back is worth another dance with the devil or two. You have to admit it’s nice.” “Yes, dear, but at what cost?” Shelly asked scratching her arm uncomfortably. “It’s still itching?” Mark asked with concern. “A little,” she replied. “The doctor says that it’s a normal reaction to the treatment. According to him it will pass.” “Great!” Mark replied. “And as far as dealing with her is concerned, she may be evil incarnate but she respects strength. It will work out just fine. You’ll see! We will have everything we ever dreamed of!” “We already did,” Shelly said in a less than happy voice. *** Late that evening Jon was laying awake in bed at the embassy. Skippy had gone back to her home system to handle council business. Christ, he missed her. It was only for a few days but it felt like forever. He chuckled. He was pining away like some lovesick kid. He pulled out the latest message from her and played the little video she attached for what was probably the hundredth time. It was just her walking through some very normal looking woods doing some foraging and identifying various plants and strange looking animals for him. Nothing tawdry but he just loved watching it. Her toothy grin just lit up the whole room. It sucked when she was gone but he did enjoy going to the noodle shop without her. The owner was much freer with the disapproving glances when she was gone. He decided that he was going to try to learn their language. There was no way in hell that he could ever speak it but he would just love to know what that ratty hare was muttering under his breath when nobody else was around. He bet it was funny as hell. As he was drifting off to sleep the communicator he kept under his pillow issued a series of tones in a particular sequence. It was their code for “incoming”. He reached into a pocket that he had next to his mattress and pulled out his sidearm. Just as he got himself properly positioned and the pistol properly concealed the door to his room silently opened and a slender figure entered completely without a sound. “Easy, there,” a familiar voice purred. “I just came to chat.” Oh shit, Jon thought, Crimson. He was more than a little concerned. He had read her file. She was bad news. If she made a move he wasn’t entirely sure he could stop her. Red-tips only work if you actually hit the target. “Ok, so talk,” Jon replied standing up no longer bothering to hide his sidearm. His people were on the way. He didn’t have to stall her for long. “Just wanted a few minutes with the man who denied the queen bitch herself,” Crimson said with a smile as she plopped onto a couch intentionally putting herself in a vulnerable position. “You’re the only one who has, in case you didn’t know.” “She send you here to give it another try?” Jon asked with a smirk. “Hang on,” he said pulling out his communicator. “Stand down,” he said into it. “Sir?” Toby’s voice replied. “We’re good here,” Jon said. “Just hold position for now.” “Yes, sir.” Crimson smiled. “Thanks for calling off the death squad.” “Didn’t feel like getting my bedroom shot to hell for no reason,” Jon replied. “Returning to our conversation, she didn’t send me,” Crimson replied, “And while I would love to have a taste of what she couldn’t get I’m pretty sure you won’t let me get close enough to try.” she chuckled. “Besides, your heart belongs to another doesn’t it?” “What?” Jon asked as nonchalantly as he could. He could hear his heart beating in his chest. If they know... “It’s the only logical conclusion,” Crimson chuckled. “When Patricia visited you the night before you absolutely humiliated her,” she said her eyes gleaming with delight, “she dosed you with a pretty nasty poison.” “Did she now?” Jon replied calmly. “Before she entered the room she bit into one of these,” Crimson said putting a small capsule on the coffee table. “The vapors trigger an avalanche of hormones and neurotransmitters in the victim. It causes something akin to the combination of love at first sight, your wedding day, and seeing your newborn child all at the same time but several times more powerful. When she hit you with that and then did something to imprint herself in your mind it should have locked her in as the sole object of your… well your everything. It’s pretty nasty stuff.” Jon nodded silently. That explained a lot. “There are only three ways that you could have shaken it,” Crimson said. “The first is that you just happened to have an antidote and even we don’t have a good one. We can only treat the effects. The second way is that you simply have the will of a god.” she chuckled. “Even then it would still be eating you up inside. Unless you are the actor of the century that doesn’t seem to be the case.” “I did take theater in high school,” Jon snickered. “The third and only way that I consider remotely possible,” Crimson smiled, “Is that you already had someone you already were bonded to. For a normal person, it wouldn’t be enough. That bond would be overwritten by that snake. However, if the victim has a strong enough will and their feelings for their mate were deep enough it is possible that the poison would drive them into their arms instead of the clutches of our favorite bitch. You have someone we don’t know about, don’t you?” “That sounds like the plot of a really bad romance novel,” Jon said dismissively as he planned the shot he was about two seconds from taking. “You left the embassy not long after she dosed you and were gone the entire night,” Crimson said, “We couldn’t follow you because we were being hunted but we do know when you left and when you returned… in a much better mood.” Jon frowned. That meant they had eyes in the front of the house. “Ralph Jessup,” Crimson said with a grin. “You are wondering who told us, he’s one of ours now.” Jon didn’t reply. He just snarled. He had known Jessup for years. She could be lying but he knew deep down she wasn’t. Crimson pulled out a slip of paper. “Here is a list of everyone we have turned here in the embassy,” she said as she dropped it on the coffee table alongside the capsule. “Awfully nice of you,” Jon said narrowing his eyes at Crimson. “Why the gift? I’m pretty sure the vampire wouldn’t be too happy with you if she found out.” “Short answer,” Crimson replied, “I hate her.” “And the long answer?” “I assume you have a file on me?” Crimson asked. “What did it say about how I joined her merry little band of psychopaths?” “It said that you were a member of a raider gang they hit and that your final stand was so impressive that she recruited you.” “Heh,” Crimson chuckled darkly, “That’s one way of putting it. Do you know why my last stand was so ‘heroic’?” “That wasn’t in the file.” “My epic last stand was in a corridor. There were… people behind me… people very important to me.” “Oh,” Jon said grimly. “Yeah, out of ammo, using one of their swords… I was holding my own… Until she walked up. She… toyed with me… I was nothing but a joke to her, Jon. It was like fighting… nothing… a shadow. She just laughed and knocked me down… again and again and again… taunting me… Each time she knocked me down she just laughed and reminded me who was behind me… Told me what they were going to do to them… Over and over and over till I couldn’t get up anymore… Then she… she… just kicked me to the side and walked past me with her men and they… they… I could hear them… the begging… the screams…” “Christ...” Jon muttered. Crimson trailed off into silence for a little while. “Then they came for me. I thought I would be next but no. I was brought in front of her. They had a… a table laid out… She told me that I had proven my worth and that I had a choice. I could sit at the table and live or I could join my friends and family on it… alive… I… I should have spit in her face… or attacked her… but… I wanted to live, Jon. There was nobody left to defend, no lives to protect anymore except my own so I… I ate. I ate my own… God… I just wanted to live, Jon. I should have… well it doesn’t matter now does it?” “Crimson… I’m sorry...” “Don’t be. I don’t deserve it. I was a coward… am a coward… Anyway, I had just done the absolute worst thing I could have ever done… it broke me. For a long time I didn’t care anymore. I was a horrible person running with horrible people and doing what I needed to in order to survive. I was in hell and if I was in hell I might as well become one of her demons. She was… is… very good to those who please her so that’s exactly what I did. No matter what she asked, no matter how fucked up, how evil, I did it without hesitation. Wasn’t long before I died inside and it became easy and I was just another of her lieutenants, and later a Bloodlord.” “So you are saying that you didn’t have a choice?” “No. I had a choice and I made it,” Crimson replied calmly. “I chose to do whatever I had to to survive and prosper. And it paid off. After the wars we became a business and political organization and I had wealth and power and all the nice things that came with it. For most of the last hundred and fifty years I’ve handled paperwork and less than above board deals. I was a businesswoman, mostly. Aside from the sacrament we were just like any other mega-corporation.” “The sacrament?” Jon asked dubiously. “Yeah, her ladyship likes to ‘remind us of our roots’ by having the upper echelon engage in ritual cannibalism on a regular basis. Well, that and she enjoys it.” “Christ...” “It’s mostly porkies,” Crimson said dismissively. “Well that and people who cross her. Your little mouse hasn’t been brought to the table yet, by the way, but she will. Her ladyship has her sights on that poor little rodent.” “Dawn?” Jon asked in alarm. “Yeah, poor kid,” Crimson replied. “She has no idea what she is about to get into. Soon, very soon, she will be given the same option we all had. Sit at the table or be on it.” Jon took a deep breath and with a little effort kept his composure. “If anything happens to her...” “You have much bigger worries than the mouse, my friend,” Crimson replied. “Right now her ladyship has bigger concerns but once the next phase of her plans are underway she will be coming for you and your sweet little girlfriend. She had dreams of adding you to our fold but those dreams have been dashed and you are now a threat not to mention the fact that you humiliated her in front of her men. Too many of us know exactly what happened. We don’t dare speak of it but we know she was defeated. She can’t let that stand. She is also a petty vindictive bitch. You need to be ready and if there is someone that you love here in the capital you need to get them the fuck away, far away.” “Since you are in a talkative mood,” Jon said sitting down on the edge of his bed, “feel like letting me know what her plans are?” “Sure,” Crimson said with a smile. “Her endgame goal is complete control of the Republic and to remake it into her vision of what humanity should be. It might come as a surprise that her vision of humanity doesn’t have a lot of humanity in it. She is going to tear the whole Republic down, plunge it into anarchy, just like the good old days.” “Fuck me,” Jon said quietly. “Yeah, she wants to bring the Sol Wars back and this time she is planning on winning. Patricia Hu will be the Zeus Corp of the thirty-second century and the Republic will be just a memory if she pulls it off.” “Easier said than done.” “True, that’s why she has been planning this for decades, putting the right people in the right positions, stockpiling materials, supplies, food, and weapons, funding research, development, exploration… you name it. Looking back, I believe she has been thinking of this ever since the Sol Wars ended.” “As much as I want to say this would be impossible I have studied history,” Jon said grimly. “How is she planning on doing this?” “War,” Crimson replied. “She is going to cause total war with the Federation. Originally it was supposed to be a war with the Empire but after the Great War she altered her plans. After our last little dance the Federation isn’t going to fuck around. They will mass their entire fleet and their entire army and they will won’t be trying to ‘liberate’ or subdue us. They will be coming to destroy us. Their fear of us will turn them into exactly the tool that she wants them to be.” “Even then,” Jon said, “even if they send their entire fleet it will just be one big shooting gallery. Our system defenses and our navy-” “Will be compromised,” Crimson said. “She has people everywhere. Our defense stations and our ships will be sabotaged. Ideally it will be civilians and just enough military left to put up a valiant, doomed, resistance.” “How?” Jon asked his blood running cold. At any other time he would laugh something this ridiculous off but considering the source it sounded entirely too possible. “I’m not involved in that part of the planning,” Crimson replied. “From what I’ve gathered it is going to be a combination of good old fashioned bombs, even the Retribution can’t survive if one of it’s nukes goes off inside, and malware that will knock out the controls of the numerous smaller craft like the shrikes or cause a premature detonation of ordinance. Pretty much the entire navy will go down. Then, it will just be the civilians and whatever few naval vessels that can slip the noose. It will still be one hell of a fight but we will tragically and heroically lose that first decisive battle. It will then be revealed that ‘traitors’ inside the Republic’s own government were responsible and a coup under the guise of eliminating those ‘traitors’ will take place. The coup will be intentionally very messy and result in the engineered collapse of the entire Republic. From the fires, death, and chaos a new leader will rise. People will be afraid, enraged, grief-stricken… hungry… They will be screaming for revenge and who better than the Horde Mother of old to offer them exactly what they will want, fire, blood, and death. She never trusted peace. She never trusted the Republic. She never trusted any other race except Republic humans, just like anyone with any sense should. She will have supplies, ships, weapons, medicine, everything the Terrans will need. She will be their salvation.” “But what about the Federation?” Jon asked. “Even if they win and win big at first do you honestly think they can hold Terran space? If the Juon Empire at its worst couldn’t take Sol what chance does the Federation have? New forces will be raised and new ships built at the Grand Shipyards all under the ‘immortals’ that have taken power in the chaos. They will then put her in charge and under her leadership the Federation will be driven off. Then, with the Terrans bloodied and screaming for payback the war will be taken to the Federation and it won’t stop. The more bloody and costly the better, at least at first.” “She can’t possibly think she can destroy the entire Federation,” Jon said quietly. “Never underestimate the Terran people, Jon,” Crimson said with a grim smile. “With the Grand Shipyards untouched, the rapidly recovering economy completely mobilized, and the entire remaining population as potential warriors we can field an amazing force in a very short time and we can keep pumping out the next generations of cannon fodder as we go. If raised to fight from birth you can field a warrior at a very young age especially if they are flying a fighter or crewing a warship. Child soldiers are unthinkable now but when the survival of the ‘real’ human race is a stake? Of course that also involves indoctrination from birth doesn’t it? In a few short decades mankind as you know it will no longer exist, replaced by a species where their very humanity has been replaced by ‘resolve’. The genocidal rise of the Terran Empire will begin. She has a flag and everything.” “She’s insane.” “You just figuring that out?,” Crimson laughed. “She's bugshit crazy but it doesn’t mean it won’t work. The details are chilling.” She reached into a pocket and pulled out a data crystal and set it on the coffee table next to the slip of paper and capsule of love poison. “I wrote down everything I know about it on there including lists of all known conspirators.” She smiled sadly. “Unfortunately I don’t have a complete list of those in the Republic. Aside from her ladyship only Monarch and Marrow knows all of them. I do, however, have a complete list of those in the Federation and that will be very important very soon.” “I’m afraid to ask.” “To answer that we have to ask another question,” Crimson said with a grim smile. “You’ve never asked how she is so sure that her people will do exactly what she tells them to do and will hand over power to her without any issues.” “I was wondering about that.” “There is an old saying, ‘If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.’ Her fountain of youth is a perfect example,” Crimson said with a dark chuckle. “Let’s just say that if I had an option I wouldn’t have taken advantage of it.” “Oh?” “It isn’t a cure for old age, it’s a treatment,” Crimson said with a smile. “And once you start that treatment you really really don’t want to stop. You stop the treatment, you die… badly. Your cells start to mutate and die and you go from young and beautiful to necrotic and cancerous. They don’t realize it yet but every single person who has taken her up on her wonderful generous gift is now completely dependent upon her for the rest of their lives. She is, of course, in complete control of the formula. She isn’t happy with you, you get cut off and die. She dies or becomes imprisoned, everyone dies. Of course she also offered the treatments to their spouses and other family members as well.” “How did she manage to pull that off?” “The formula is in several parts all of which are encrypted. Only she has the codes. Each of her labs has no idea what they are making and someone as fanatical as Marrow himself is present during the entire synthesis. The doctors know how to assemble the retroviruses and other components and administer the treatment but they are just following a recipe and scanning is not the best idea because once again, one of her mindless zealots is standing right there. The actual researchers are sequestered at a very secure site and sorry, I don’t know where it is. From what I understand it’s quite lovely but they are never leaving. You would have to ask Marrow or maybe Monarch but I don’t think they will be very forthcoming. Besides, the researchers are still very very busy for a very good reason.” “Do tell.” “It may not surprise you but we are very big on innovation but not quite so big on ethics,” Crimson said with a wry smile. “Shocker,” Jon replied calmly as he tried to process everything he was hearing. “You know all those pesky regulations when it comes to human trials? Yeah, we skipped those,” Crimson chuckled. “Funny thing about all of those guidelines and regulations. They do slow you down, a lot, but they also enforce good research, good science. They keep you from cutting corners.” Crimson grinned with genuine pleasure. “In this case, maybe cutting all those corners wasn’t the best idea.” “Are you saying what I think you are saying?” “Yep, this wonderful magical fountain of youth?” Crimson laughed, “It’s flawed. We’re all dying... slowly... but dying just the same.” “No shit?” Jon asked happily. “No shit,” Crimson chuckled. “The treatments still work but we are having to slowly but surely increase the frequency of them to prevent degradation. What was supposed to be a yearly treatment became every ten months, then eight… It’s still a little less than eight months but we are doing them twice a year now. The increased frequency seems to slow down the underlying issue but it’s not stopping it. We are young and pretty but our lifespans definitely have not gone up, quite the contrary actually. We probably only have a few years to fix this, if it can be fixed, and our research team has, despite very strong encouragement, not made much progress.” “And she’s still planning on this whole Terran Empire bullshit?” “Not until she fixes the treatment,” Crimson smiled grimly. “That’s where the porkies come in.” “What do the porkies have to do with this?” “Do you honestly think Patricia fucking Hu would ever work with the porkies?” Crimson laughed. “She hates them more than any person that I know. Seriously, take the worst hate-monger you have ever heard and multiply it by a hundred. I think it’s why we were so fucked up back in the day. She just hated them that bad. And speaking of fucked up, what she has done to them this time is one of the worst things she has ever done to our little curly-tailed friends.” “I take it that their ‘treatments’ have a little less treat in them?” Jon asked dreading the answer. “You got it. Our favorite psychopath decided that what this little problem required was a larger sample size. The treatment that they have received is rapidly degrading, designed to last just long enough to look good before it turns to shit.” “That’s a lot of trouble to go to for just a few more lab rats,” Jon replied. “Not just a few more lab rats,” Crimson said grimly. “There is another difference between our treatment and theirs. Our treatment relies heavily on retroviruses. Their treatment, however, has a true viral stage.” “Oh fuck me...” “Yep. It is becoming very very contagious, like bio-weapon contagious. It will spread like wildfire targeting the people in closest proximity first, namely the other movers and shakers. In one fell swoop she will start to wipe out the porkies from the top down. From country clubs to boardrooms they will all start to sicken and die horribly as the effects of end stage degradation sets in immediately. Both the rapid spread and the status of the first victims will immediately have researchers across the Federation, both human and non human on the case within days. Fearing its spread the Republic and the Empire will undoubtedly follow suit. Instead of one research team working on her little problem she will have the entire galaxy. Think of it as enforced crowdsourcing. We may even get lucky and someone will wind up to be immune to the effects.” “If she wants a war that will do it,” Jon said grimly. “Way ahead of you,” Crimson chuckled. “A manifesto from an as yet unknown porkie terrorist group is about to be released calling it retribution for the rich corrupt “porkie slime” starting the war that destroyed their homes and killed their loved ones. They will of course be found only to discover all of them dead from the same killer virus. Their research logs will indicate that the virus was not intended to be easily transmittable. Quite the contrary in fact. It will look like they screwed up big time and that the porkies unleashed the plague on themselves,” Crimson said with a dark laugh. “We can’t have civilization ending just yet. We need them to fix our fuck up first. When they come up with a cure for the bio-weapon we will be able to use that to either completely fix or at least treat our degradation problem. At the very least we get centuries of extra man hours worth of research. As a plus she gets to kill a shitload of porkies.” “I would shoot her myself but I have to figure out a way to fix this,” Jon muttered. “You don’t think it hasn’t been tried?” Crimson laughed. “She’s… inhuman. It’s like she can smell the bullets and now that this ball is in play she is going to be well protected by some very good people.” “You mean people like you?” “No.” “No?” “You think I’m walking back there after this little visit?” Crimson laughed. “I’m walking right out the front door and then I’m going to run and never look back. The degradation can claim me. I deserve it. I’m done with this, all of this. I… I just can’t… not anymore… Not again… I can’t… I won’t.” “Why?” Jon asked, “Why now?” “Because you have given me hope,” Crimson replied. “When you overcame the poison, overcame her, it showed that you are stronger than she ever will be. I’ve never seen that before. Nobody has ever been stronger than she is. I didn’t think anyone could stop her, ever, but you… You just might. I have long thought that I was only ever going to get one shot at bringing her down. I’ve just taken it.” Crimson pointed her finger towards the back of the embassy and said, “Bang.” Jon looked into her exhausted eyes and nodded. “I will stop her,” Jon said evenly, “Nobody fucks with my Republic, nobody. Hey, instead of turning tail and running how about actually standing up to that bitch? We could use you. You know more about her organization than anyone. While you are waiting to die why not take a few more shots at them?” “You would actually trust me?” Crimson asked hopefully. “Fuck no!” Jon laughed. “I’m envisioning a safe house with a nice heavy locking door and some really nice Terrans who are very skilled at getting the truth out of people.” Crimson just laughed… then cried… and then just nodded. “Right,” Jon said, “Keep your ass right on that couch.” He picked up his communicator. “Toby.” “Sir.” “I need the security van and an armed escort team, our people. Tell them to be ready to play.” “Yes, sir.” *** Once the hallways had been cleared and secured and Crimson handcuffed and led away Jon walked to his office with all of the items Crimson left behind. He brewed himself a cup of coffee and paged through the contents of the data crystal that Crimson gave him. This could work. God help us. This could actually work, he thought in horror then after a moment he smiled wickedly. All he had to do was fuck things up. He was good at fucking things up. Speaking of fucking things up… Command decision time! He picked up his communicator and dialed a number. “Wha?… ” a very sleepy kalent voice answered. “Having a good evening?” Jon asked. “I… I...” Jaxona said really groggily. “Well wake up, I’m about to ruin it. We need to meet. Now.” “It had better be fucking important, cockbite.” she growled in a very odd yet strangely familiar tone of voice. “What the fuck?!?!” “Wha?… Sorry… still waking up… Sorry! Forgive me! I didn’t mean it! I was just...” “No problem,” Jon said as a grin slowly started to spread across is face. “Are you awake, now?” “Yeah! Sorry! What do you need? Sorry!” Jaxona exclaimed in a nervous squeaky voice. “I need to meet with you, both of you, right fucking now!”
SMG4: SMG2012 - Chapter 1: Midnight in Mushroom City
prologue (audio recording, continued from prologue) "This civilization, known as Aracaia, was actually a race of highly developed and intelligent aliens who came onto - and were later stranded on - Earth some time before Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt came into the mix. They also said they were superior to all lifeforms on the planet, according to ancient records. Their city; however, was buried under the sands during a massive sandstorm in the Rub-al-Khali desert around the time of Jesus; lost to the sand dunes of time and space." Location: 622 Folsom Avenue, Apartment 7B, Mushroom City, NSWC, New Australia Date: 24 October 2020, 23:00 The party was over. Mario and Luigi were the only ones left in the apartment. Mario: So Luigi...where's my spaghetti? Luigi: Mario, go to bed. You'll get it in the morning. Mario: Screw it. I'm going to 7-Eleven to get spaghetti. He put on his coat and opened the door. Luigi: I'll come with you. Don't want you getting lost now. Luigi put on his coat and walked out with Mario. Location: 1 kilometer east of Mushroom City on the M19 highway, NSWC, New Australia Date: 25 October 2020, 00:30 [music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWaNW-aYhVY] We see a couple Greyhound buses traveling down the M19 highway. Inside are the ancient people we mentioned earlier. Bus driver: So where ya headed? I gotta head to Bathurst after this; so make it quick. "Leader": Mushroom City. Bus driver: Where in MC? Woolworth? Folsom? Pennington? Oppenheimer Village? New Inkopolis? "Leader": Anywhere. Bus driver: Alright, chill man. I'll take you to the Parliamentary Row Metro station. From there you can go wherever you need to. The buses pulled into the city. A rusted pre-WWIII sign with distances to Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane welcomed the buses into Mushroom City. The buses then reached the Parliamentary Row Metro station. Bus driver: Okay: two buses from Old Sydney to Mushroom City, which is about 150 kilos; one-hundred-and-twenty people between the two buses; one way fare comes to about $12,000 New Australian for the lot of ya. Will that be cash, credit, Apple Pay, Android Pay, hentai or your Pornhub account details? "Leader": I shall pay with this. He placed four stone disks on the dashboard. Bus driver: What am I supposed to do with these? These don't even look like a dollar to me. The leader pulled out his hand. A strange light emanated from it onto the disks. Afterwards, it transformed into a pile of cash. "Leader": Keep the change. The ancient people got off the bus. Bus driver: Hey! How the hell did you do that?! "Leader": Magic. Bus driver. Doesn't exist. Unless you're David Blaine or Harry Houdini, I'm not falling for this bulls***! The two buses then left the area to head towards Bathurst. When the leader was sure they were out of the city, he said a weird chant in the unknown language. A little bit later on the M19, the buses were talking to each other. [music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX9WkLJIJMA&t=64s] (imagine it's on the radio) Bus driver 1: Have you caught up on Stranger Things yet? Bus driver 2: No. Got too many things going on at home. My wife's pregnant with our second child. Bus driver 1: Good for you. I've got three little rascals at home. You smell something? Bus driver 2: Probably just bad petrol from the car ahead of us. Bus driver 1: No, it smells like gunpowder. Bus driver 2: Was it those disks that leader guy gave you? Bus driver 1: I don't know; this has never happened befo- Suddenly, the buses exploded; killing their drivers and leaving two spouses without a husband. [music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRsmQIxE9rI] Back in the city, the large group of ancients went to the Mushroom City Homeless Shelter and requested a room. "Sorry sir, you have to have official residency in the city in order to stay here. Otherwise, we have emergency cots set up in the old Ollinger Elementary School on Folsom." "I guess that will do." The group of ancients then walked their way to the old school building, but as they entered; one person thought it would be beneficial to escape. They ran down Folsom Avenue as fast as they could. "Leader": Stop them! The guards followed suit. Location: Folsom Avenue, Mushroom City Date: 25 October 2020, 00:45 [music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6T0y9gN-kQ] Mario and Luigi are walking down the avenue. Mario is holding a bag filled to the brim with ramen. Luigi: Mario, you didn't have to trash the 7-Eleven. Mario: But Luigi! They didn't have any spaghetti! Luigi: 7-Eleven is not Meijer's or Woolworth's, Mario. Mario: It should be. All 7-Eleven had was ramen! Luigi: But Mario! You like ramen! Remember Little Tokyo and how you- Mario: Yeah, yeah. I know. I'll just settle for ramen with spaghetti sauce on it. Luigi: Mamma mia. Let's just head home so we can go to sleep. They continued walking down the street. Suddenly, a figure ran past Mario and Luigi. "Sorry!" Luigi: Who was that? Mario: No idea, but they almost knocked over my ram- Suddenly, two more people bumped into Mario, knocking over his ramen. Since the ramen was pre-packaged, it didn't spill everywhere, but it may have broken in the packaging. Mario was furious about this happening. Mario: YOU KILLED-A MY RAMEN!!! YOU SONS OF-A BITCHES!!! He chased the two people. Luigi: MARIO!!! [music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uABri40TrGc] Luigi began to chase Mario. Eventually, all of the figures ended up in an alleyway. Mario: Hey, f***ers! The two people, who looked like the guards from Oblivion, looked at Mario. Mario: You don't. F***. With-a Mario. And then Mario stripped in front of them. Guard 1: MY EYES!!! Guard 2: JESUS CHRIST IT BURNS!!! The two guards exploded. Mario: Son of a bitch, they disappeared! Luigi: Mario, that's because you made them explode with your flab. Mario: Hey! My flab is sexy! Luigi: Let's just head home... [music continues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6T0y9gN-kQ] Mario and Luigi started to head home. The person in the alley followed them. Mario: Hey Luigi, you have the feeling that we're being followed? Luigi: Mario, it's quarter to one. It's probably a crackhead. Mario: No, it's that person that was being confronted in the alleyway by those two guards. Luigi: Mario, what Mushrooms have you been eating? There's no one- Luigi looked behind himself. Luigi: -beeehinnnd ussss... Mario: Luigi, you're hallucinating. Oh wait, never mind, someone is behind us. The person waved at them. Mario: *pulls out cross* OUTTA THIS HOUSE! OUTTA THIS HOUSE! GET THE F*** OUT OF HERE!!! ???: I don't want to hurt you! Mario: Jeebus, is that you? The figure emerged from the shadows. It was the same person we've been following since the city rose in Saudi Arabia; the young woman who was classified as a prisoner who escaped from custody. "Hi!" Mario: Begone, THO- Luigi: Mario, stop. She's probably lost or something. ???: Actually, I'm on the run from this ancient civilization I was part of who wants to cause the apocalypse right here in Australia- Luigi: You mean New Australia? ???: What happened? Luigi: World War III went nuclear in the 1960's. Khrushchev decided to launch nukes at Miami from Cuba and it all devolved from there; Kennedy declares war and the world is engulfed in nuclear fire; including several cities here in Australia. It wasn't until the 1990's that New Australia was formed as a freely associating ally of the American Federation. ???: Okay...that makes no sense at all...by the way, my name is Claudia. Can I stay with you the night? Mario: Hell no, bitch. Luigi: We have plenty of room! Mario can sleep on the couch. Mario: What?! Location: 622 Folsom Avenue, Apartment 7B, Mushroom City Date: 25 October 2020, 09:00 [music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEI8pR4PFFM] "Two Greyhound buses that departed from Mushroom City in the early morning today mysteriously exploded on M19. The police are not sure what caused the explosion. The Islamic State has stated that they did not cause the attack. New South Wales Governor John Portman said today 'We will find whoever did this and make them pay.' The two people who died have been identified as Logan Nowell, 41; and Maxton Friedman, 47. For ABC News, I'm-" Mario turned off the radio. Mario: LUIGIIIIIIIII! Where's my spaghetti? Luigi: We'll have it for lunch. I'm making breakfast wraps for breakfast. Remember, we have a new guest at our home. They probably don't like spaghetti. Also, you have two months of ramen in the cupboard! Mario: BULLS***! I'll make my own spaghetti- Luigi: MARIOOO! Remember last time you tried to make spaghetti?! YOU BURNED DOWN OUR HOUSE! Mario: I know how to cook, Luigi! Scene then switches to the "Where's the Lamb Sauce" scene from Hell's Kitchen but with Mario's face overlaid over the chef making the lamb sauce. Luigi: Mamma mia...we need to talk to SMG4 about this...I'll call everyone, tell them to meet at SMG4's place. 45 minutes later... Location: 1052 Remington Avenue, Apartment 5C, Mushroom City Date: 25 October 2020, 09:45 [music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQNLYrbadDg] SMG4: What the bloody hell is the idea here?! You're trespassing in my house- Bob: SMG4, Luigi told all of us to come here. Speaking of, he's not here yet. Meggy: Why did Luigi tell us to come here? I was in the middle of making breakfast... Hideo Kojima: Why am I here? I'm not a central part of this story. Everyone looked at Hideo Kojima, who then summoned a box and went under it. Tari: Umm...okay. Is Luigi here yet? [music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwnoqFlelaw] The scene then changes to the McDonalds on the corner of 127th and Greenbrier; just a few blocks from the Mario Bros. apartment and between it and Remington Avenue. Luigi: Mario, did you have to order all that food? We needed to be at SMG4's fifteen minutes ago! Mario: Hey! You never finished those breakfast wraps! Also, where the hell is my spaghetti?! Luigi: I told you, lunch! Mario: BULLS***! I want it now, or I will turn this car around and drive it into the Tasman Sea! Luigi: Mario, we're not even close to an ocean! We're in the middle of the f***ing desert in a city on the Darling River. Now shut your trap! Mario: Fight me, bitch. McDonalds employee: Here's your order sirs and ma'am. Two number nines; a number nine large; a number six with extra dip; a number 7; two number 45s, one with cheese; a number one with no meat; a number two with double meat and three large drinks: a Diet Coke, a regular Coke and a water. That will be $126.68 please. Luigi: *groans* Luigi hands the employee his credit card. The employee scanned it and gave it back to him. Employee: Take care. The Mario Bros. and their new friend drove off to SMG4's. A few minutes later, they were there. [music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gm_-vcOEFmM] SMG4: If Luigi told you guys to come here, why the hell is he not here?! Suddenly, Luigi came through the door. Luigi: Sorry we're late...Mario wanted to go through the drive-thru at McDonalds, and then proceeded to blow it up by firing a rocket launcher at the cashier's face for not putting in the extra dip with the number six. Saiko: So why are we all here? Are we punching Boopkins again? Boopkins: What?! Bob: Oh hell yeah I'm up for Boopkins punc- Luigi: GUYS JUST SHUT THE F*** UP!!! Everyone became silent. Luigi: Mario! Mario was out in the hall, finishing off his number 45 with cheese. Meanwhile, their new friend Claudia was looking at her sandwich apprehensively, like it was about to attack her. Mario: What is it? I'm eating here! Luigi: We need you two to come in. Mario: Can it wait? I'm finishing my foo- Luigi: No. Luigi proceeded to push the two stragglers into the apartment. Bob: Is this what you wanted to show us? Mario becoming more of a fatass? Mario: Bob, you can suck my pingas! My flab is sexy! Tari: No, I think it's the other person Luigi pushed in. SMG4: So what you're telling us is you picked up a homeless person again. Alright, pack it up, everyone out- Claudia: Wait! I can explain everything! Everyone looked at her. She began to explain everything. a few minutes later... [music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2RQ9teO4YQ] SMG4: Okay, let me get this straight. You're from an ancient civilization with magical powers hell bent on causing the apocalypse from New Australia. Claudia: Yes. SMG4: We've already had Papa John come in and destroy Garrysville (a neighborhood of Mushroom City), so what's the deal with these people? Claudia: They say it's their "destiny" to rule over the world because they're "superior". SMG4: Oh no. The Meme Bible states directly in Snoop Dogg 4:20 that "The end of days will arrive with a dormant civilization that has a superiority complex and wields the powers of magic. They shall arrive by unmarked aeroplane into a major Southern Hemisphere city. No one will be safe from this apocalypse, not even Greenland." We have the ancient people, the superiority complex, the unmarked airplane and the Southern Hemisphere city all present in this scenario. The only thing missing is the magic. What if the Meme Bible is true? Bob: Oh please, the Meme Bible is garbage. I prefer the Holy Boble. SMG4: THE F*** YOU SAY ABOUT THE MEME BIBLE?! He started attacking Bob. SMG4: I'LL HAVE YOU KNOW I GRADUATED AT THE TOP OF MY CLASS AT THE MEME ACADEMY, EXECUTED NUMEROUS RAIDS ON INSTAGRAM AND REDDIT IN SEARCH OF MEMES, AND- Bob: It's just a prank, bro! SMG4: NO! YOU WANNA KNOW WHAT'S A PRANK?! YOUR DAD STAYING WITH YOU AS A CHILD! THAT'S WHA- Suddenly, SMG4 and Bob flew away from each other. SMG4 hit the ceiling; Bob hit the kitchen counter and broke it into hundreds of tiny pieces. Mario (with a bowl of popcorn): Hey, that's-a pretty good greenscreening! SMG4: That wasn't greenscreening... Everyone looked at Claudia. Claudia: Well, I had to do something, so I pulled them apart using my magic. SMG4: Did you say magic? Mario: She did, dips***. SMG4: Oh s***. This is very bad. The apocalypse is coming, whether we want it or not. The date: 23 November 2020. Saiko: What's so important about that date anyway? Bob: The Monday of Thanksgiving week? SMG4: The Meme Bible- Bob: Not this again. The Holy Boble is bet- Mario: Bob! SHUT THE F*** UP!!! SMG4: The Meme Bible also states in Snoop Dogg 4:20 that "The end of the world will come on the first odd-numbered weekday of Thanksgiving week." For us, that's...November 23. Once again: The apocalypse is coming, whether we want it or not. We'll need to stop it. At all costs. Even if it means we die trying. To be continued...
A new weekend is upon us and as always, this is the best time of the week for those who bet on horse races to play some lucrative wagers. There are plenty of races scheduled and all major bookmakers are running special promotions dedicated to them, therefore punters have plenty of options.Bet365 is one of the places where betting on these events can trigger boosted profits and those televised live by Channel are truly special. Each weekend, the bookmaker will offer free bets to those who wager on the games are broadcasted here, with the only requirement being that punters back a single winner at odds of 4/1 or above. The races take place on Saturday and those who are eligible for the free bets will have them credited to their account the next day. This should make it possible to bet on the next live Channel 4 race without investing a dime out-of-pocket. It is never too early to wager on horse racing and even though the odds sometimes drop or rise when kickoff draws near, Bet365 punters don't need to worry. The bookie will pay out at the bigger odds and this offer includes both horse racing and Greyhound races. To get a better idea about what awaits you this weekend, check out these eight races that will be broadcasted live by Channel 4: 1.50 Doncaster2.05 Wincanton2.25 Doncaster2.40 Wincanton3.00 Doncaster3.15 Wincanton3.35 Doncaster Those who prefer to wager on UK jumps races are not going to be disappointed, because this autumn there are plenty of events scheduled. Some of them are televised, others can be watched live in browser by those who have a real money account or pending bets. These events enjoy ample coverage with several bookmakers and Coral makes a tempting proposition for those who bet on UK jumps racing. Losing wagers will be refunded up to a total of €25, in the form of a free bet. Cashing in on the money back promotions is the safety net that helps horse racing fans avoid downswings, but this is actually the worst-case scenario. What all punters hope to happen is to place winning wagers and once again Coral meet them half way by offering free bets to those who bet on winners at odds of 3/1 or greater. from via Casinoreviews
From under my blindfold I could detect the flickering of lights as I was led to the basement floor. Echoes of dripping water splattered against something metallic. My nose filled with the stench of mildew and something rotten. A man pushed hard into my back to make sure I wouldn’t try escaping. Like that was an option. He removed my blindfold once the door to the basement was shut and led me into a small room with no windows. Once inside, I was met by four other men and one female. Each of them had a captor of their own. I had just enough time to see all of their faces before being thrown into a chair. “What’s going on?” I asked, my voice shaken. “I dunno,” the man in front me said. His arms were as large as my head and were covered in tattoos. He wore a white bandana that had splotches of blood on it. I’m assuming his trip to the basement hadn’t gone without protest. “You’re here to play a game,” a man walked into the room holding a revolver on a black cloth. The woman to my right started sobbing. “I’m sure you are all familiar with Russian Roulette,” the man said. Each of us seated at the table exchanged glances. “We play the game a bit differently here,” he said, putting the gun at the center of the table. “There are five shots in this gun instead of one. I’ll spin the gun and whoever it points at will pick it up.” A short black man to my left began struggling in his seat. “Fuck that, man!” The man behind him pulled a pipe of some kind from behind his back and swung it to the side of the man’s head. The impact made an awful sound that rang out in the basement like sneakers on a basketball court. “You’ll play or we’ll play for you,” the man behind him said. “And trust me, you don’t want us to play for you.” “I have a wife and kids at home,” the man who sat between the tattooed guy and the black guy was tall with glasses. He looked like the smart scientist from the Ghostbusters movies. “Me too,” the guy sitting next to the girl said. He had long black hair and wore a hemp necklace. I couldn’t be sure in the lighting but it looked like he may have been wearing eye liner. “Good, I’m glad we have something at stake,” the man walked away from the table. “My name, eh, my name doesn’t matter. I’m the Game Master.” What a stupid name, I thought to myself. I guess it didn’t matter if his name was dumb or not. He had us all hostage and we were his players whether we liked the idea or not. “Now back to the rules,” the Game Master said. “When you pick up the gun you will choose who to shoot. That’s what makes our game so much more fun than the boring ol’ Russian Roulette. We give you the choice.” I looked at each of the other “contestants” and could feel them all doing the same to me. I would have to kill them to survive. Or, at the least, get them to like me enough to not kill me immediately. “I’m not killing anybody,” the man with the glasses said. “That’s fine,” the Game Master said. “After two minutes we will make your selection for you if you won’t. And I promise that you will not like our decision.” I wasn’t sure what that meant but I was positive I didn’t want to find out. “Let’s see who is first, shall we?” The Game Master put his hand on the gun and spun it on the table like a top of death. The flickering light flashed off the weapon as it rotated in slow-motion. The faces of the people sitting around me became blurred together as I watched the gun’s momentum slow to a halt. Its position pointed to the tattooed man, then to the man with long hair and finally stopped on the lady next to me. Her eyes were swollen and tears fell from her chin, splashing on to the table. “Two minutes,” the Game Master said without even batting an eye. The woman’s blond hair stuck to her face from the sweat and tears. Her hand trembled as she reached for the gun at the center of the table. The gun looked massive in her small hands and from the looks of it she had never held a weapon before. Sensing her confusion the Game Master stepped in, spun the barrel and placed it back in her hands. “Ninety seconds.” She looked at me, her eyes wide, a string of saliva hung from her mouth. She pointed the gun at me and then to the black man next to me. “Oh, kill the black man,” the black guy said. Her aim moved to the man with glasses. “My name’s Ron,” he said. “My wife’s name is Lisa, I have a five-year old daughter—“ “—shut the fuck up!” the tattooed man said as the gun stopped at him. “No one wants to hear that shit.” “Thirty seconds.” The gun pointed at the long haired man. He kept his head down, avoiding eye contact. “Just pick someone,” he said. “Fifteen seconds.” I closed my eyes. The woman’s trembling leg shook my chair. And in a few seconds my ears were ringing. I opened my eyes and vomited on myself. The tattooed man across from me was staring at the man with glasses. Well, the man who had glasses a minute ago. His glasses were shattered and were lying on the table in a pool of blood. She had made her choice. I watched the gun drop on the table but I didn’t hear it. Two men approached the table and grabbed the dead player. They drug him away from the table. His head sagging with blood pouring to the floor. She shot him through the eye. Lucky shot for a beginner. The Game Master picked up the gun and placed another bullet in the chamber. He then placed it back on the table and spun it once more. This time it pointed to the black man. I could see the moisture build around his eyes as he placed the gun in his hand. He looked at the tattooed man and then to the man with long hair. “Please,” the woman said, although it was hard for me to hear. My ears were still ringing from the gunshot. The Game Master said something that sounded like forty-fix seconds. The man with the gun pointed it at the long haired man and I closed my eyes when I saw the flash from the barrel. I opened my eyes because I heard a gurgling sound. I looked at the man with long hair and felt sick to my stomach again. The man had both hands to his throat in an attempt to stop the blood. The bullet had gone through his neck and the wound was spraying thick red liquid with each heartbeat. The right side of the woman’s face was speckled with dots of the man’s blood. Two men grabbed him and tried pulling him from the table. I didn’t know a person really bled that much. I thought that was just for the movies. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever hear again but the Game Master made sure our hearing was present before continuing. I guess he assumed hearing each other’s pleas to be spared would be more entertaining than watching people die in silence. When my hearing came back I had already given up on living. There were four of us left. My chances were better than they had been but still not great. I planned everything out in my head. I figured the woman would be the last to be killed by a group of men. Her chances were the best. I wanted to avoid stereotypes but I assumed the tattooed man would take care of the black guy for me too if given the opportunity. That would probably go the other way just as easily. That left me with the idea that my best bet would be to kill the woman. She was the only one without a predator in my mind. If I killed the black guy or the tattooed guy I’d be the only option for whoever I left and only a fifty-fifty for the woman if she got another turn. The gun spun on the table and the tattooed man picked it up. And pointed it at the black guy. Go figure. “I knew you’d be a racist fuck,” the black guy said. “Don’t play the race card, nigger,” the tattooed man said. “This isn’t about race, it’s about survival.” I could see his finger tightening on the trigger. I closed my eyes in preparation of the blast. I heard the woman gasp before the sound rang out once more. I opened my eyes and looked at the black man. He was staring at me with his mouth wide and his eyes larger than eggs. Huh? The tattooed man was looking at the woman. I quickly turned to her. Her chair had flipped backward and she was lying on the floor with her feet propped on the seat. An entrance wound on her forehead. I looked at the tattooed man and understood the decision. It’s exactly what I had planned on doing. Just the three of us now. The weapon on the table danced and wobbled to a stop. The barrel faced the black man again and I felt my chest warming. Crazy, right? Here I was in a basement playing a game of murder and I was genuinely happy at the thought of another man dying. It’s shocking what your survival instincts will do to you. “Nigger, right?” the black man pointed the gun. “That’s what you said?” The man smiled, “What the fuck’s it matter?” He had a point. When I went over the possibilities and outcomes I hadn’t come up with a winning strategy either. I would have refrained from the racial slur but honestly it wouldn’t have increased his chances. The black man squeezed the trigger. I closed my eyes and waited. Nothing happened. I heard a hearty laugh coming from across the table. I opened my eyes and saw the tattooed man in tears laughing. It took me a moment to realize what happened. I turned to the black man. He was staring at the ground, tears in his eyes. There was a one-in-six chance of the gun not being fired. Luck had shined down on the man with tattoos. The opposite had happened to the black man. The Game Master sent the gun spinning again and I watched as the barrel landed on me. The two men stared at me. Thoughts raced around in my mind like greyhounds chasing a rabbit. The choice didn’t matter. That’s a tough realization to come to. Neither choice was a better one. Chances were that both of them could die anyway in this game. I could live. Deciding which life of theirs was more important was a pointless argument to have. I could base it on the racial slur and say the tattooed man deserved to die. I could play God. Or, I could choose the black man just the same. I pointed the gun at the black man. “Great, two fuckin’ racists,” he said. You know, I had had every intention of killing the man with tattoos. I really did. But if there was one thing I hated from people more than ignorant racism it was blaming everything on race. It’s something my parents had pounded into my head as long as I could remember. “Racism is a fact of life, son,” my father would say. “But it doesn’t mean everything has to be about race. That’s just as dangerous.” I’d never fired a gun before and the power I felt as the flash exploded from the barrel gave me chills. The rush was intoxicating. The man’s black head shot back and I could see the spot under his right eye where my shot had connected. I didn’t feel guilt. I didn’t feel pain. I felt power. The Game Master approached the table as the black man’s crumpled body was removed from the room. “Excellent,” he said. “Now, the two of you get to play by the normal rules. Three bullets, to keep your fifty-fifty odds, and alternating turns. You’ll use the gun on yourself now. Since you took the last shot, you’ll take the second in this round.” The Game Master slid the gun over to the tattooed man. The man picked up the gun, spun the chamber, and placed the gun in his mouth. I watched his face turn red as he trembled. His grip on the gun tightened and he screamed as he pulled the trigger. I kept my eyes open. The man threw the gun on the table and it slid to me. His breath was short and rapid. I picked up the gun and felt the hair on my arms standing. My foot tapped on the floor and echoed through the basement. I bit down on the barrel and once again felt the power. Once again I felt like God himself. I didn’t have to use this gun on myself. I could just as easy point it at the man across from me. I could point it at the Game Master. I was in control. It was my choice. I was the Game Master. I had a strange feeling. I felt liberated with the gun resting on my tongue. It wasn’t fear. It was anticipation. I pressed the trigger tightly. I kept my eyes open. I wondered if I would be able to hear the blast before the bullet ended my life. Nothing. The man across from me grabbed the gun and stuck it in his mouth again. Without any hesitation he pulled the trigger. I won. The Game Master walked up to me and smiled. “How’s it feel to cheat death?” he asked. A blindfold was placed over my eyes and two men grabbed me. I felt a prick on my neck and then they carried me away from the room and up the stairs. My parents told me I was covered in blood when the police found me outside of the middle school. The teachers called my parents after recess when they realized I hadn’t come back to class. The teacher that was in charge of watching us had a male visitor that day and was occupied. Or so I was told. It cost her, her job. It almost cost me my life. Some of the kids said they saw me enter a van across the street from the playground. I have no memory of that happening. The psychologist said that I was most likely suppressing the memory. He also said that it is odd that I would block that out and still remember the basement scene so vividly. It’s not that strange to me though. I was ten-years old when all of that took place. I guess it makes more sense to me now as a young adult why I stayed alive so easily. No one kills women and children. That was seven years ago. My family and I moved after the school year to a place in Ohio that I don’t want to name. I got to start over. We made sure that no one knew of my past. They weren’t questions my parents wanted me to deal with. The feeling I had in that basement never went away though. My friend’s father lets us shoot cans in the backyard and I have paid close attention to where he keeps the gun. Before I headed home I snuck into the closet where it was stashed and grabbed it along with a box of ammunition and a second gun. My parents are going out of town this weekend and I’ve invited a few friends over to party. Six friends to be exact. I told them we are going to drink, smoke and play some poker. I also told them I had a game they’ve never played that I want them all to try. They all told me how excited they are for the weekend to get here. Won’t they be surprised?
Greyhound betting was one of the first forms of online betting to be legalized in the United States. This dates back to 2006, when horse and dog racing were specifically exempted from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA). Individual states retained the authority to opt-out of racing betting, however. Understanding Greyhound Racing Betting Odds. We show Greyhound Racing betting odds on the Exchange in decimals. Greyhound Racing decimal odds are easy to understand, because they represent the payout you'll get if you win – e.g. 1.9 means you'll receive 19 for every £10 you bet, including your stake, if the bet wins. Sites that offer greyhound racing odds do not limit their betting opportunities to who will win the race. There are other types of greyhound bets that can be both entertaining to follow and profitable. These include betting on which trap will have the most winners during a selected greyhound meeting enhanced odds on an outsider being placed. Greyhound racing betting odds, with all UK and Irish dog meetings over the next 48 hours listed on the page. Find best odds on the next greyhound race off. ... US election prediction: Bookies give Trump lowest chance of winning in 2020. Greyhound Racing Betting Odds Greyhound racing is still legal and happens in some US states and in other countries, like South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and the UK. Going online and using bookmakers or greyhound betting sites are the best ways to bet on greyhound races these days.
In This Series I'm Going Try Different Horse Racing Bets This is a brief demonstration of just one of the greyhound betting strategies from my new book Greyhound Betting Systems That Win. More information can be fo... In this video, we present an in-depth look at how to bet on greyhound racing. Help me reach 100,000 subscribers! Click here to subscribe! http://bit.ly/2KgujT9 GTA 5 Greyhound Racing Mod (GTA 5 Mods) ===== Follow My Social Media =====... Greyhounds betting odds ... How To Win Consistently at Greyhound Racing ... 3:42. Language: English Location: United States Restricted Mode: Off History Help About ...