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Jokers' Deck is an exclusive gambling circle for the galaxy's billionaires and trillionaires. Members of Joker's Deck are guaranteed complete anonymity by the group's secretive organisers, and high-stakes events are held at a different location and hosted by a different senior member each time. Billions of credits, entire corporations, and even continents are regularly wagered in Jokers' Deck games, which include deadlock poker, Giant Verrix racing, and roue mortelle. Members are required to sign legal waivers before participating, and are held to a strict code of honour to ensure that they pay their debts.

An undercover investigation by Francesca Wolfe of the Wallglass Investigations Agency in September and October 3307 exposed several Jokers' Deck members. Wolfe also related details of the theft of Jokers' Deck's most prized treasure, a centuries-old Joker playing card that belonged to the circle's founder, by the Winking Cat thief. The billionaire Lexi October, who had ceremonial possession of the card when it was stolen, then offered to hire Wolfe and her partner Erik Gunnarson to find the Winking Cat and recover the card. In December 3307, the thief returned the card to Gunnarson and Wolfe, who found the relic had been stamped with a clue to a two-part treasure hunt that had been prepared for the galactic community.

Members

Timeline

23 DEC 3307

  • *Pilots' Federation ALERT*
    Erik Gunnarson of the Wallglass Investigations Agency provides an overview of the Winking Cat's latest escapade. "The meaning of the message scrawled on the back of the Jokers' Deck ceremonial playing card has become clear. This time, the galaxy's most infamous larcenist is actually giving away treasure rather than stealing it. Three mysterious riddles were somehow inserted into the GalNet feed over the last week. Commanders have reported that clues within these riddles led them to three concealed caches, each in a different system. According to the dates specified by the Winking Cat, these three caches will only be operational for a two-week period, ending on the 30th of December. We can then deduce that caches four, five and six will activate today, and likewise remain available for the next two weeks. This is not the first philanthropic gesture from the Winking Cat. The long-lost painting Penance Street reappeared in 3305 alongside the thief's signature graphic of a cheeky feline face, but this is a more generous giveaway. Some even see it as a redistribution of wealth, noting that the Winking Cat only ever targets corporations, governments or super-rich individuals."[1]

16 DEC 3307

  • *Pilots' Federation ALERT*
    Detective Erik Gunnarson has claimed that the Winking Cat thief has something planned for the weeks ahead. "After our investigation into the Jokers' Deck gambling circle, Wolfe and I were hired to track down their stolen ceremonial playing card. The good news is that we now have the card in our possession. We can hardly claim credit, however: it was posted to us by the one who stole it! The ancient joker card arrived via a courier service, with no data as to its point of origin. But the playing card now has text stamped on the back, which I'm convinced is intended to be a public message. It simply reads 'The hunt is on!' and is followed by two sets of numbers:
    '1, 2, 3: 16th to 30th'
    '4, 5, 6: 23rd to 6th'.
    At the bottom is a drawing of – you guessed it – a smirking, winking cat's face. It's speculation, of course, but some of these numbers must be dates. Perhaps this 'hunt' is scheduled to happen over the next three weeks. Are we being invited to hunt the Winking Cat, or will something else be the prize? The feline thief has been busy of late, purloining everything from prized artwork to prototype robots. Entertainment mogul Oscar Goldsun recently reported that his private collection of rarities had been hit, and there are rumours that WorldCraft corporation's vaults were somehow broken into. How that crime spree connects to this message is a mystery that we've yet to crack."[2]

19 OCT 3307

  • Francesca Wolfe of the Wallglass Investigations Agency has sent a final report from her infiltration of the secretive gambling circle. "The bad news is that Jokers' Deck security caught up with me as I was trying to sneak onboard a ship to get off-planet. The good news is that they didn't gun me down, or even threaten to press charges. Instead, they offered me a job! Lexi October, the current host, was surprisingly gracious. Turns out she's a fan of the Galactic Mysteries pieces that Gunnarson and I run, but more importantly, she believes we could give her what she really wants – the Winking Cat. "She explained that the Joker playing card that was stolen is hugely symbolic to the group, having belonged to its original founder. She also assured me that Jokers' Deck is extremely private but not criminal. Its members sign legal waivers, and there is a strict honour code to ensure all bets are paid. So, Lexi October wants to hire us to track down the infamous Winking Cat thief and retrieve the ceremonial playing card. This may also be a way for her to save face with her fellow super-rich gamblers, who are understandably unhappy about the exposure." Erik Gunnarson, Wolfe's detective partner, added: "It's a huge relief that Wolfe is safe, but what has she got us into now? Will we really be able to catch the Winking Cat? I wouldn't bet on it."[3]

12 OCT 3307

  • The secretive gambling circle of the super-rich has been raided by the notorious criminal known only as the Winking Cat. The information was revealed by Francesca Wolfe of the Wallglass Investigations Agency, who infiltrated the event. Her report, which was relayed from an unidentified location, has been published by her fellow detective Erik Gunnarson. "I'm not sure this will reach Gunnarson, but I must try. After the security alert the staff started getting their IDs checked, which might have revealed mine to be fake. I managed to slip out of the warehouse and into an abandoned industrial district. I still don't know what planet I'm on, but I've found an old comms transmitter to send this message. Before I escaped, I learned what had caused the alert. There was a VIP ceremony involving the group's most precious possession: an ancient Joker playing card. Apparently this has been passed between senior members of Jokers' Deck for centuries, always held by the current host. But when Lexi October publicly unveiled the card, she found it had been replaced by one showing a different graphic – a winking cat. It's two years since we’ve heard from the galaxy's greatest larcenist, but there's no doubt that only the Winking Cat's legendary skills could have circumvented their security systems. I'm fascinated that a battered scrap of card has greater value than any of the billion-credit items being wagered here. Guards are searching for the thief now. I hope I can get off-world before they find me instead. They're armed to the teeth and not in the mood to talk..."[4]

05 OCT 3307

  • Francesca Wolfe of the Wallglass Investigations Agency provides an inside view of the Jokers' Deck gambling circle. "Gunnarson's intel was correct. The latest host is multi-billionaire investor Lexi October, the lady who rescued Supratech from bankruptcy. We're in one of October Consortium's disused warehouse complexes, which looks derelict on the outside but is a fabulous glittering palace within. I don't actually know what planet I'm on, since all the servants – including me with my fake ID – were transported here in total secrecy. Jokers' Deck is exactly what you'd expect of a luxury casino for the super-rich. Exquisite food, sumptuous clothes, and dozens of games from deadlock poker to Giant Verrix racing. Wagers are made using billion-credit chips, precious gemstones and even land deeds to an entire continent. And that's not counting the VIP rooms that I can't get into. I've served exotic drinks to several famous faces, such as Duchess Rouncival and Scorpio DeVorrow. I've seen Senator Leatrix talking earnestly to Ambassador Rochester about a princess they both know. Arch-Corsairs Trask and Volantyne from the Kumo Council are here, taking on Zachary Rackham at the roue mortelle tables. And there's no mistaking the voice of Alliance megastar Xiona whenever she wins big. Oh, and who should walk in just now but... wait, I can hear an alarm. Looks like a security alert. Damn it, have they detected me? I should – " The message was published by Erik Gunnarson, who added this coda: "I've heard nothing more from Wolfe since receiving this, and she didn't check in at a scheduled rendezvous point. I've decided to share her report as a warning to Jokers' Deck. If anything happens to her, just remember we know who you are."[5]

29 SEP 3307

  • Erik Gunnarson of the Wallglass Investigations Agency discusses the secretive gambling circle attended by the galaxy's wealthiest players. "Casinos and gaming hubs have always been popular, tempting people to risk their credits for the chance to score a lucrative win. But where do the billionaires and trillionaires go to enjoy that buzz? Jokers' Deck is a highly exclusive gambling event attended only by the rich and powerful. Nobody knows who runs it, only that it's held in a different location each time. Its attendees are guaranteed – and can afford – total anonymity. There was one exception. In 3305, Wallglass was hired to find the heiress Lady Talitha Ambrose, after she vanished along with her family's fortune. I was part of the team that discovered she had gambled away 300 billion credits at Jokers' Deck in a high-stakes game of deadlock poker. Their security was so tight that we never learned much more. This year I've been tracking several rumours, such as Jokers' Deck being present at the Galactic Summit and inviting political leaders to settle their differences at the roue mortelle table. But thanks to some costly bribes – which hopefully I can claim back as expenses – I've finally got a solid lead. My partner, Francesca Wolfe, and I should have more to reveal soon. With a little luck we will gain a unique insight into this most privileged of gambling dens. Assuming we play our cards right..."[6]

09 MAR 3305

  • The former heiress to the Ambrose Foundation has confessed that she lost her family's entire fortune through excessive gambling. Lady Talitha – now ordinary Talitha Ambrose – provided this statement to Vox Galactica: "Everything you’ve read is true. I attended a lavish event hosted by Jokers' Deck, staked the entire Ambrose estate and lost it all. But I don't regret a thing. The gambling problem I've suffered with for years has finally been cured. I believe my addiction was fuelled by having far more wealth than any individual should. I now plan to use my connections to raise funds for addiction support charities. I don't blame Jokers' Deck for my situation, since I knew the risks when I joined. And frankly, it could have been worse – I've seen corporations won and lost over a hand of deadlock poker."[7]

02 MAR 3305

  • It has been revealed that Lady Talitha Ambrose's 300 billion credit fortune vanished as a result of her participation in a powerful gambling ring. Confirmation came when Baroness Oksana Ambrose shared a report from the Wallglass Investigations Agency: "Multiple sources verify that Lady Talitha has been a member of Jokers' Deck for years. At the group's most recent event, she bet the entire Ambrose Foundation during an epic game of high-stakes deadlock poker, and eventually lost. Lady Talitha was apparently devastated, fleeing the venue soon after. Some attendees believe that the game was rigged by one or more other players, who aimed to exploit Lady Talitha's well-known gambling addiction. The organisers of Jokers' Deck remain anonymous and untraceable, so retrieving the family's assets is unlikely." An Ambrose Foundation spokesperson later stated that Baroness Oksana has officially revoked Lady Talitha's title, vowing never to speak to her daughter again.[8]

23 FEB 3305

  • Lady Talitha Ambrose, the missing Ambrose Foundation heiress, has been alleged to have a history of gambling that may explain the sudden loss of her family's entire fortune. Independent journalist Flint 'Firemaker' Lafosse commented on the Rewired news feed: "Baroness Oksana has convinced everyone that her daughter was kidnapped and forced to surrender her vast inheritance. What the baroness failed to mention is that Lady Talitha's name has long been associated with an exclusive gambling circle named Jokers' Deck. Some of the wealthiest individuals in the galaxy are believed to be associated with the group, including corporate CEOs, senior politicians, minor royals, pirate lords and cartel kingpins. Several famous names are rumoured to be in Jokers' Deck, including at least one member of the Rochester family. Is it possible that Lady Talitha wasn't kidnapped but is instead hiding in shame, having gambled away the entire Ambrose Foundation?"[9]

References

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