Episode 514: Casino Caper

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Air Date: 26 Apr 2011
Present: Andy, Bobby, Kim, Maer, and Terri

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Special Features

Wednesday, 01 Jul 2522
Earhart Ranch, Boros
Georgia (Huang Long) system
Can’t find our watches … morning, maybe

After two days of busting our chops on our monthly maintenance and unwinding a day or two in Vandenburg, we hie off in Lagniappe to Nala’s ranch and relax a little further. It isn’t long before we get back to work, however, itching for something to do. Arden is the most workaholic amongst us, having started his rounds with the orphanage and free clinics of Vandenberg before we even left it. Over our previous stays he’s developed contacts for this sort of thing and he gets back in touch with them. So, Arden’s out and about the morning of the 1st when Joshua and Kiera investigate one of the names on the JJB list.

First stop: Larsen City

When they arrive and investigate, they discover something the locals call “The Secret of Larsen City”. Larsen City was under the control of the Jing Jing Bei and they forced the town to vote which child would be taken. Boros was on the Independent side of the war so … one can guess how feelings went during the voting. A young teenager from a Loyalist family, Dandelion Morris, was chosen. It is not something that the townspeople are proud of doing, hence the secrecy, but with some discreet and persuasive prying, we manage to get the information out of them. The people who were involved with the whole business are older now and still won’t talk about it to strangers but their kids, having heard the story from their parents, are more open.

When they get back to the ranch with the news, Nika is flat-out appalled … but she understands how the feelings of the time ran. She herself was caught in the divide between Independents and Loyalists during the war, falling on the Independent side while her relatives fell on the other. Nothing like what happened in Larsen City happened to her family, but still … she’s appalled. As are the rest of us, and rightfully so.

Joshua investigates the next name for Boros off the list: Cody—Beatrice.

Arriving in Cody and asking around we find out that the girl’s last name is Buntz and her family still lives here. They verify that yes, she was taken from them during Jing Jing Bei’s reign on the Rim. Unlike Larsen City, which they ran, the only thing the JJB extorted out of Cody was fuel … and Beatrice. Her parents have made inquiries of their own as to her welfare and have stocked aged-up photos of their daughter to give to people. They give us one and tell us that they’re fairly certain their daughter is not on Boros, but was taken elsewhere. Given what we know of JJBs methods so far, we’re inclined to agree. We promise to send them word when we find Beatrice and they give us one of the photos to help us in our search. Like Marisa’s folks on Verbena and Ambery’s on New Melbourne, we aren’t able to give the families anything more than the promise we will look for their missing children. Our recent successes with the girls off Verbena and finding June Barrett on New Melbourne, however, give us hope that we will find Beatrice and Dandelion.

We push on to Mechanicsburg to look into another name: Rose. We find her in Mechanicsburg’s brothel, which wasn’t hard to spot. She’s working as the top/alpha working girl. It’s a high class house—it’s not the sort of place where a gal gets thrown against the wall or has to turn tricks on dirty mattresses. She’s billing herself as a Companion and this far out from the Core, people aren’t apparently going to quibble as to authenticity so long as they think they’re getting their money’s worth. Rose is willing to talk to us and tells us, yes, she was taken by Jing Jing Bei, was originally born as Rosaline Nesmith, from Salem on New Canaan. Life in Salem was hard, as her family was from the fairly undeveloped section of the settlement and she has no inclination to return to Blue Sun. Her life here is actually better than anything she could hope for there. She’s happy with her situation here, likes herself and her job, and has already been able to get in touch with her folks on New Canaan. Joshua assures her we’re not here to rip people away from their lives if they’re happy, we’re just looking into the names on the list to offer assistance if needed.

We leave Mechanicsburg and cross Rose/Rosaline off our list. We’ve investigated a dozen names of the 37 and have found nearly half alive and only one dead. The others are still missing but still, it’s progress. Three names covered in a week—not too shabby.

We return to Vandenburg and the ranch to find that Arden has made some progress on his own—he’s found who he believes is Gigi—Vandenburg, Boros, a girl left behind by Jing Jing Bei. He tells us about it over Nala’s kitchen table that night after supper.

Arden: There’s actually someone in Vandenberg who goes by the name Gigi. I really couldn’t talk to her much. Or, well, I could but I had to engage her services to do so.

There’s something in his look that tells us that when he did engage her services, talking wasn’t all that went on...

Kiera: I guess it’s ‘I paid for it, I might as well enjoy it’. Huh.
Arden: But anyway, once I got her alone she admitted to being Giselle Clemenceau from Beaumonde and that she was 13 when she was taken by the Jing Jing Bei. Her story is she was sold to Ira Jakes here on Boros and she repeatedly tried to escape. Each time she failed. The last time she escaped, she was caught and returned by the Marshalls. She was then shown a dead man in her room and accused of killing that man.
Joshua: Nice.
Arden: Jakes made a deal with the Marshalls to let her stay in his custody. She never fully understood exactly what was going on but he tells her if she escapes, the Marshalls will have no choice but to arrest her and hang her for murder.
Joshua: Oh, excellent.
Kiera: Hm.
Rina: Blackmailing bastard.
Arden: And he says she’s safe only so long as he continues to pay off the law.
Rina: Oh, so no killin’ him, huh?
Arden: I’m just saying what she told me.
Rina: Um-hm.
Arden: She does have a plan, though, to escape.
Rina: Mm-hm.
Arden: Not necessarily a plan to stay escaped, but to escape. She needs someone to get the alarm behind the cashiers desk off, and when the guards come looking for it, she’ll escape out the back. She works as a showgirl and a prostitute at the Lucky Strike Casino.

The Lucky Strike is in the Blackout Zone, Vandenberg being large enough to have a BOZ.

Kiera: I like blackout regions.
Rina: We haven’t been to a BOZ since …

That sting we pulled on Londinium against that pedophile politician. That was … what? almost two years ago? Conditions in the BOZ are: No surveillance cameras linked to law enforcement. There are not scanners. Credits don’t work, since a communications link is required to make the electronic banking transfers and that sort of thing is blocked in the BOZ. It’s cash on the barrelhead if you’re doing business. Platinum is what people use.

There is a caveat: on Allied worlds, there is a fifty credit limit to making a currency exchange—for the lifetime of the account. Once you cash in your fifty credits for the going rate in platinum, that’s it, you’re done, unless you can justify conversions for other reasons, like collections accounts for worlds that don’t accept credits. After all, the point of being an Allied world is to have the convenience of using the Alliance’s perks—and one of them is e-cash and saying goodbye to heavy coin. All Alliance credits are electronically tagged and traceable, making it a way to track every single monetary transaction ever made between two people—right down to petty purchases at the corner store. The fifty credit limit on platinum conversion is meant to keep a lid on untraceable transactions. Or so the ship’s resident twitch believes, anyway.

Of course, there are banks that look the other way on this matter and there are other ways to convert credits illegally. Places like casinos and BOZs are perfect for that sort of thing. Hence their popularity in certain circles.

Arden: She seems on the up and up. She seems to need help. And she is one of the girls on the list. I seem to remember a Gigi on the list.
Joshua: Yes, there is a Gigi on the list.
Arden: That’s her stage name, by the way. Gigi.
Joshua: Mm-hm. What’s her ex-name?
Arden: Giselle.
Joshua: Thank you.
Kiera: The other girls that—the one girl who admitted that she was okay. Did she know any of the other girls on the list at all or know their whereabouts …?

No. The JJB never dropped off two of their victims in the same place. That doesn’t mean the girls didn’t see each other while aboard our ship, though.

Kiera: The boy’s an ass. I say we shoot him and let’s go.
Arden: From my notes—Lucky Strike in Vandenberg. Gigi. Ira Jakes, dangerous customer, tight control on the girls.
Joshua: That sounds about right. So what does she need? She needs the security system … removed?
Arden: Her idea is someone could set off the security system in the front by pushing the security button or whatever. That should cause enough of a distraction so she’ll be able to slip out the back.
Joshua: How big is this casino?

It’s fairly small, by most standards. One decent sized floor with slots and tables, leading to another room with stage. Upstairs, there are private gambling rooms.

Joshua: So the plan is to rush forward, break open a slot machine and run?
Nika: Actually I was thinking a brawl. (sweet grin) A brawl would suit me just fine.

Arden explains that while Jakes is very protective of his girls, he actually cares more for his money. Making a grab for his money will focus all his attention on the cash, and not the woman escaping out the back.

Joshua: So it sounds like we’re—
Nika: We’re gonna go to be bank robbers, yo.
Joshua: Captain, never say that again. Like, in that way.

Nika busts out laughing. Kiera joins in and for a minute or two it devolves into a lot of laughter and gangsta talk about busting caps and all, yo. The rest of the crew sit it out for a bit. Then:

Joshua: Stop. Stop now. You’re hurting me, Kiera. You’re really hurting me.
Arden: Oh, c’mon and get down with your bad self.

More laughter from Kiera and Nika.

Joshua: (to Arden) See what you’ve done?

Nala rolls her eyes and her meaning is clear: oh Lord. Rina just sits back with her chair tipped back and waits for the silliness to run its course. Even so, it’s nice that we’re relaxed enough to joke and cut up a bit. Things had been a bit too grim lately. Joshua starts reining it all in.

Joshua: All right. I’m going to write off Gigi as a possible, here. Beggar, please help?
Beglan: This doesn’t seem like we need to have a gigantic plan. If all she needs—if perhaps we don’t need to actually rob the place just to—
Arden: We just got to get funky.
Joshua: (to Arden) Stop. Stop. What were you saying, Beggar?

And with that, the hilarity pipes down a little.

Beglan: I was just sayin’ any distraction can do. I don’t think it would require necessarily a whole lot of violence.
Joshua: I know.
Kiera: We could always run off with just a pile of chips if he’s more concerned with the money than he is with the girls.
Nika: You’re such a party pooper, Joshua. You mean I can’t have fun when I’m at home? With my twin you can hardly tell us apart from anymore? Except the way we wear our hair?
Rina: (to Nika) You been sneaking Brimstone again?
Nika: Maybe. (giggles)
Rina: Oh, bozhe moi.
Joshua: My inclination is … (off Nika’s look) … Never mind.
Nika: What?
Arden: (to Joshua) I’m sure you have a super cool plan. Lay it on us, Big Daddy.
Kiera: He’s gonna walk in and he’s gonna ask politely that she be let go. Cuz that’s the way he works. That’s the way he rolls.
Joshua: Stop. Before I have to strangle all of you.
Rina: I’m not doing anything.
Kiera: I’m not afraid. You’re non-violent.
Joshua: Look, if we don’t want to just rush in and try to break open one of the slot machines, the other thing to do that would draw their attention would—I think—is they’re looking for cheaters, right?
Nika: Can you count cards?
Joshua: Actually, I probably can.
Arden: One, two, three—
Nika: Not that kinda countin’ cards, darlin’.
Joshua: The thing about it is, we don’t even really need to count cards. We just need to look like we’re counting cards. Which is a different situation altogether.
Nika: This is true.
Kiera: Joshua, we can do a pair off. I can gamble and all we gotta do is look like you and I are working together at the table.
Arden: You’re making it way more complicated than it needs to be.
Joshua: Fine.
Arden: One night, somebody goes in, checks out where this button is, finds it, makes a note of it. The next night, three of us go in, two of us cause a distraction, and one of us pushes the button.
Rina: What happens if we just cut the power to the entire place?
Arden: The alarm doesn’t go off.
Kiera: And the back-up generators kick in.
Joshua: We need a distraction.

And cutting the power isn’t a distraction? Besides, you can’t shoot—or capture—what you can’t see. Still, that idea gets voted down. Arden tells us a little more about what he’d seen during his initial trip to the casino.

There are six guards operating on the floor. There are three more working the back entrances and the monitors. We would want to get as many of them away from the back doors and the monitors as possible. So we don’t want to be too subtle in getting their attention.

Rina: Turning the power off isn’t subtle.
Beglan: Turning the power off wouldn’t necessarily send them to the middle of the building.
Rina: I was thinking after we set the alarm off and they come to the middle of the building and they start looking for us, then we can cut the power off. They can’t see us.
Arden: They’re not looking for us. We’re just creating a distraction so that she can slip out the back.
Rina: Okay.
Kiera: It might be helpful if we had somebody go get her so she’s not running around—.
Arden: I can go meet her in the alleyway out back.
Nika: And it would be you because she already knows you.
Kiera: And I’m good at distractions. We could make a scene—Nika, you’re rolling your eyes, you already know the scene we can make.
Rina: Both of you together?

The tall bombshell blonde and the drop-dead gorgeous redhead—oh, yes, they could make quite the distracting scene.

Kiera: All three of us.
Rina: (eyeroll) You could pants me and I could wear my butt floss. That should be good for something.
Nika: Oh, really? We gotta go there again?
Joshua: All right, stop.
Rina: I meant it facetiously, Captain. Of course, I’m going to be wearing butt floss at a casino. God, give me a break.

It probably won’t work—we’d be competing with showgirls after all for that sort of thing.

Joshua: How many people are we going to need to pull this off? We should send somebody to get into position and help her get out.
Arden: You’d only need one person in back.
Joshua: That’s fine, only one person in back. So that leaves five others.
Arden: I think you’d only need three. Two to start the distraction and one to touch the button.
Kiera: Well, one of us to wait outside and run in when the alarms start going off—.
Arden: You can be the car man. What do they call it? Bag man?
Rina: Getaway driver.
Beglan: Bag man holds the bag.

So when do we have the girl slip out the back. While she’s entertaining Arden as a john or … ? Arden suggests doing it while her stage show is going on—she’d be perfectly placed near the back stage door and he’d be in place in the audience, everything perfectly innocuous. Kiera points out that she won’t know any of the rest of us are there to help her escape—heck, she won’t know that night is the night to run for it. Unless, Arden points out, he goes back and asks her in advance which night would work best. As for the distraction, Arden turns to Rina with a suggestion.

Arden: And you could make small incendiary bombs we can put in the trashcans. Fires in trash cans are always good for a distraction.
Rina: (frowning) Are you trying to tempt me?
Arden: No, I’m giving you a suggestion of what you can do.
Nika: You’re giving her an excuse to make cherry bombs and she’s ducking it? What is wrong with Rina? Take her temperature.
Arden: (to Rina) Maybe if you use a grenade. (off her look) She’s hesitating.
Rina: I have a question … (breaks off)
Joshua: Rina.
Rina: Okay. If she’s slipping out the backstage door, shouldn’t we disable the alarm on it?
Arden: The alarm will already have gone off.

No, no, no. The alarm on the exit door will show up on the monitors as being open—it’s a separate alarm from the general alarm we’d be setting off. If we haven’t drawn all the guards to the front of the house, why tell the guards just where to look for us at the back of the house?

Rina: Any door that will have an alarm, you don’t want her going out of those. Unless you can trigger them all at once.

We’re going to need a big distraction. Panicky people are a good distraction. What’s the busiest time for the casino? Around payday or any day with peak business, we’re looking at about 300 people. Peak business is during a show and while people are gambling. Joshua remarks if we can set something going that has money flying, all those people are going to scramble to take it—which would be a pretty big distraction on its own without having to set any alarms off. If nothing else, it would certainly help.

It’s an interesting idea, given what we know of human nature and we sit at Nala’s table and work up one plan after another as to how to maximize on it. In the end, it’s decided:

  1. We send Arden to the casino to warn Gigi when we’re going to pull the caper.
  2. We have Rina and Beglan make up some electronic devices that will cause some of the slot machines to go haywire and empty their coin banks. We will have to plant the devices on or very near the targeted slot machines, so they will have to be small and concealable.
  3. We will have Kiera and Nika show up as country deputies on liberty in Vandenberg, seeing the sights. When the slots go off, they will march right over to the cashier area of the casino and volunteer to guard the money. One of them will endeavor to trip the button then if the opportunity exists. If it doesn’t, no problem. Just by going over there, they can draw off the guards from our real objective—sneaking Gigi out back.
  4. Joshua and Rina will pose as a gambling couple and when the mayhem starts, they’ll look suspiciously guilty of having done or are about to do something, and draw off the guards as well.
  5. When the mayhem starts, Arden will go backstage to collect Gigi and escort her through the alley where Beglan will be waiting with the getaway car.

Important thing to note: Neither Nika and Kiera, or Joshua and Rina will actually have done anything wrong, per se. If they are apprehended by the guards and questioned, there won’t be anything they can keep them on. Mind, a casino traditionally can hold anyone they want on whatever pretext they care to devise, justified on the fact that keeping the money safe trumps all. Therefore we will need airtight stories.

To that end, we make some very convincing fake law enforcement IDs for Kiera and Nika to carry. We backstop the IDs by making them issued by the town of Cody—and then we call the people we met in that town to support our story when the IDs are checked out by the casino security staff. Luckily for us, the people of Cody are more than willing to do this for us, since they know we’re trying to recover Beatrice, taken by Jing Jing Bei, and that Gigi was another woman JJB had harmed.

Saturday, 04 Jul 2522
Lucky Strike Casino, Blackout Zone
1800hrs, local time

It takes about three days to set everything up: casing the casino’s floor plan and personnel, warning Gigi of our timetable, making the slot machine scramblers, ginning up the fake IDs. Nika and Kiera scrounge up clothing suitable for backwater deputies come to town. Joshua and Rina devise their fake-out with the guards.

In the event the op is a disaster, we make everything ready for a hasty departure—retrieving our effects and our shuttle from the ranch, stowing everything and locking it down.

The night arrives. We go in. The caper begins.

Rina and Joshua go in first and hit the slot machines. Rina plants the devices and when she’s done, going to first one and then another, she and Joshua settle at one of the craps tables to the rear of the floor. From there they can watch the front doors opposite them, watch the side door that leads to the administrative offices and the cashier’s office to one side, and the restrooms and the corridor to the food service areas on the other side. Behind them are the double doors to the showroom, where the stage show will be going on. Arden goes in to take a seat in the audience and watches the show. Beglan parks our flatbed near the alley, somewhere where it won’t attract attention. Nika and Kiera arrive last. Nika is dressed in jeans and other countrified gear. Kiera marches along beside her as the very serious and into-her-job sidekick.

In the audience of the show room, Arden puts on a pretty convincing performance as a man moonstruck in love with Gigi. He’s laid the groundwork for it—he’s been here several times during the past week and he’s always asked for her. He’s even brought flowers tonight to give to Gigi after the show and has managed to convince the stage guard to let him deliver them to her backstage. The guard is a big scary dark guy, armed, and could probably snap Arden in two like a twig.

At the craps tables, Joshua and Rina play the role of an amorous couple quite convincingly. He makes lascivious eyes at her and despite all the shiny machines in the room screaming for her attention, she is completely gone on her fiancé and she makes eyes right back. Looks progress to little nudges, finger play and footsie. They need to have the guards know they are there, but they have to pace themselves, drawing it out until the scramblers on the slot machines go off.

Kiera and Nika are likewise really getting into their roles as deputies. They’re walking the floor, checking out the sights, nodding at passersby, thumbs in their beltloops and just loping along the floor. The show in the back room ends and people are just coming through the auditorium doors when from the slots, Kiera and Nika hear a high pitched whine! pierce the air. Immediately afterward there’s the crash and slither of thousands of coins as the three slot machines Rina sabotaged empty themselves to the floor.

The reaction is quite dramatic. There’s a collective squeal and shout from the patrons on the floor and people run for the money, holding chip buckets, emptied drinks glasses, clutch purses, hats—pretty much anything they can scoop the coin into.

Kiera: (pointing and yelling) Day-am!

Joshua gives Rina a lusty look.

The guards start pointing at the commotion and moving to the slots.

Arden moves for the back stage.

We observe the obvious floor guards telling people scrimmaging for the coin to cease and desist, step away from the malfunction, please. We also see several guards take up position at the front doors out, to prevent anyone from absconding with the coin. We’re going to have to move fairly quickly—the guards are moving into positions that will make it hard for us to leave.

As Joshua gives Rina another smoking hot come-hither look, he also makes the action looks suspicious. All according to plan. If he can make himself and Rina look like the couple to follow off the floor, it would draw the guards off and spread the remaining floor security thin. Thin enough for the rest of the team to get out of here before the casino goes into full lock-down. He slides off his chair and nods toward the food service corridor, his meaning clear: let’s go. Rina telegraphs their destination with an avid look and then she slips her arm around her man and they start crossing the floor, very much a couple who can’t keep their hands off each other and are looking for a quiet corner to do some serious nooky.

Kiera elbows Nika in the side and jerks her head toward the cashier cage. The two women mosey on over to the door marked Employees Only. Nika makes eye contact with the cashiers through the window—how-do, ladies—and walks right on through the door as if she’s got every business doing so. Kiera follows right behind her, arms crossed, serious and earnest, a lawman on duty.

Arden reaches the back stage area in time to see the guard put a finger to his earbud, listen, and reach for where his gun might be. Arden comes right up, flowers in hand.

Arden: What’s going on?
Guard: Don’t worry about it.
Arden: You sure? I could watch the door if you need. (smiles) Trust me.

The man’s not leaving and Arden isn’t either. Neither is the alarm going off like we’d planned. So … now what? Distract him and hope for an opening. Arden pesters the guard with a lot of silly questions—just deluging the guy with them—and when the guard tries to wave Arden off, he flicks a flower out of Arden’s bouquet.

Guard: Oops, I’m sorr—

WHAM! Arden sucker punches him. The guard hits the floor, completely KO’d.


Arden takes the guard’s gun, shoves it into his rear waistband, pulls his shirt over it and hustles backstage to get Gigi.

Out at the front of the house, Joshua and Rina make it to the food service corridor and check to see if they’ve captured any of the guards’ attention. Nope. The corridor is lined with doors and Joshua goes up to each one in turn, opening them up and sticking his head in. He catches a quizzical look from the chef in the kitchen. He finds a broom closet. He cuts a look at Rina: are the guards on to us yet? She checks: No. Is there a fire alarm they could pull? Hard to pass off as an accident, even during some wild sex against the wall. And it would attract attention from the outside—fire and police department. That’s the kind of attention we’re trying to avoid. Joshua and Rina will have to come up with a different ploy to draw off the guards. Joshua goes to the head of the corridor as if he’s nervous about being followed … as if he’s a little more nervous about snogging right here in the hallway and Rina’s the more adventurous of the two. Or perhaps he and she are hoping to get caught in the act. He catches the eye of one of the guards and quickly ducks back into the hallway. That should do it.

Nika and Kiera, meanwhile, are in the admin hallway and they split up, each taking one side of the corridor and checking the knob on every door. Locked? Yes? The next one? Yes. All the doors are actually key-locked. The corridor ends at an elevator and Kiera and Nika work their way toward it, looking around and basically playing like two deputies assisting in a security lockdown. They take up a post to either side of the elevator, guarding the access to what is likely the safe.

A security guard open the door to the corridor, sees the two women, ducks back—and when the bullets don’t fly, sticks his head back in. Taking in their stance and expressions, the guard walks all the way in and approaches. He keys his earpiece and whispers a message. Kiera takes a deep breath and says loudly, her accent broad and her manner earnest.

Kiera: It’s okay. We’re law, too!

She’s pretty damned convincing and this confuses the approaching guard a bit. He pulls a puzzled monkey face and halts. A door opens behind him and another man steps out with a gun. He looks like middle management—even though he’s armed—and Kiera keeps her mien pleasant and helpful.

Kiera: We’re Cody’s finest.
Manager: This is a restricted area for employees only. Did you not see the sign?
Kiera: We’re tryin’ to guard the casino. It’s an obvious robbery, sir.

She’s all wide-eyed and puppy-eager to do her job. Just bursting all over with helpful.

Manager: Who are you? Exactly?
Kiera: (to Nika) You’re my superior. You better talk.
Nika: Hanson. Deputy Hanson. (nods, then points chin at Kiera) Moore.
Manager: Let me see those IDs.

They hand them over. He inspects them. They look pretty convincing to him.

Manager: Hm. Yeah. I think we got this in—what were you plannin’ on doing if something were to happen here? You aren’t armed, right?
Kiera: Naww. Not in a casino.
Nika: We figured if they got this far, it would be a problem anyway.
Manager: Okay … maybe you could go to the entrance of this and watch so no one gets back here.
Kiera: (nodding) Anything to help.

Kiera and Nika pass the man for the employees-only door. As they pass, the Manager leans over and whispers something to the other guard, then when the way is clear, the Manager walks over to the elevator.

Outside on the floor, Joshua thinks he’s finally managed to get the guards’ attention and he and Rina hustle to the nearest restroom. Men’s or Women’s—doesn’t matter, whatever’s closest. Once inside, they get busy with each other. As a ploy to drag in the guards, it’s doable. As an activity it’s damned enjoyable. Rina’s on the counter, legs wrapped around Joshua, hands going everywhere, clothes askew, all the pertinent parts falling into place.

There’s just one problem: the guards are taking too long to catch them. Every few seconds, Rina and Joshua are convinced they’ll be walking through that door, meaning their cover story has to be in place as they get caught in the act. Only … the door stays closed and things are quickly getting awkward.

Joshua: (muttering) When are they going to get here?

Outside, across the way, Nika and Kiera eye the corridor Rina and Joshua slunk into and after a moment of nothing happening, Nika mutters to Kiera:

Nika: Do you think they’re actually doin’ it in there?
Kiera: Yeah. Probably. Wouldn’t you?

Back in the bathroom, Mother Nature has taken over and neither Rina nor Joshua actually catch the instant the door opens and the guards halt and stare, gobsmacked, at the scene before them. It takes a few minutes. Joshua notices first and backs out.

Joshua: Oh.
Rina: Eeep!
Joshua: (to guard) That’s an awfully big gun.
Rina: Don’t you worry, honey. Not as big as yours.

The guards blink and recover.

Guard#1: Why don’t you … uh … pull your clothes back on.
Joshua: But we’re not done.
Guard#1: (No.) You’re done.
Joshua: You sure you don’t want to join in?

The guards and Rina stare at him. Then the guards crack a smile and the other one says:

Guard#2: Get your clothes on.

Joshua and Rina make a production of it. Rina sputters at the interruption—not entirely an act—and Joshua hauls up his trousers. He leans over to her and murmurs they’ll come back and do more later, and it’s not entirely clear if he’s sincere or just carrying through with the cover story, painting them as a randy couple with an exhibitionist tinge. For their part, the guards watch impassively. It’s not the first time they’ve caught frisky patrons in flagrante delicto. This is a casino in the BOZ, after all. Joshua looks around at the room as he fastens and zips, wonders aloud at how the guards found them.

Joshua: (turned on) You mean … there might be cameras in here somewhere?

Backstage, things are progressing a bit more smoothly. Arden’s tied up the KO’d guard and has taken the man’s earcomm to better listen in on the security detail outside, even as he moves further backstage. He hears the comm chatter say:

I don’t know what’s going on. We got some law from some ho-dunk town from somewhere here.

… and …

We just have some people doin’ it in the bathroom.

… and …

All right. Let’s lock down the vault. Close down the cashiers thing. Put three guards on the front door.

… and …

Slate. Make sure the back door’s locked.

Slate. The guy who Arden’s knocked out and tied up.

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