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|“||Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter. We appreciate your interest in our cause. America is a tune. It must be sung together.||„|
|~ 50 Blessings' newsletter.|
|“||Failure is not an option. We'll be watching you.||„|
|~ 50 Blessings.|
50 Blessings is an ultranationalist terrorist organization which serves as the main antagonistic faction of the indie top-down shooter videogame series Hotline Miami, being directly responsible for many of the events in the series.
Named after the fifty states of America, 50 Blessings is a ruthlessly jingoistic organization bent on ridding the United States of Russian "oppression" during the late 1980s. Publicly establishing itself as a peaceful non-profit organization as a cover up, the organization leaves cryptic messages on people's answering machines instructing them to assault operations run by the Russian Mafia and will take action against those who do not comply, either through death threats, vandalism or even presumably murder.
With the Cold War further escalating, military conflict is initiated between the United States and the Soviet Union within Hawaii during 1985. Among the American forces is a proud US Army Colonel who commands an elite special forces unit known as the Ghost Wolves, in which the members of the squad include Nicke, Barnes, Daniels and Jacket. During each mission, the Ghost Wolves communicate to each other through walkie-talkies by never directly giving away their names or locations in order to hide their transmissions from the Russian forces, which is a protocol given to them by the Colonel.
As the war goes on, with America losing the war and missions becoming more suicidal, the Colonel becomes more cynical and bitter. On October 25th 1985 before the Ghost Wolves' next mission, Nicke finds the Colonel drinking heavily and miserably announces that he is being promoted to Lieutenant General before sending the Ghost Wolves to take on a hotel held by the Soviets.
By October 30th, the General cracks from the stress during the war. He finds a panther and kills it by skinning its face off and uses its blood to draw a circle over a United States flag carpet. Within the circle, he draws three lines across three of the red stripes on the carpet, creating the logo for 50 Blessings. The General then carves the same symbol into the panther-skin's forehead and wears the skin as a mask. In a mad drunken rave, he walks into the Ghost Wolves' tent and declares himself to be an animal being sent out to slaughter or be slaughtered. The General rambles on, stating that deep down, everyone loves violence in destruction and revel in it because it is simply part of their nature. Nicke asks the General if he is feeling alright, causing the General to snap out of it as the panther skin slides off his face, telling his men that he feels as though he has drank to much and is heading to bed.
Afterwards, the Ghost Wolves carry out their last mission, with only seemingly Nicke and a badly wounded Jacket making it out alive. The two men are sent home back to San Francisco and Miami respectively. However, as one final act of retaliation against America in 1986, the Soviet Union drops a nuclear bomb San Francisco, killing everyone there, including Nicke. Thanks to the Hawaiian Conflict against the Soviet Union, the General harbored a strong grudge against Russians, which is further driven by Russians becoming more prominent within America after a Russo-American Coalition was put in place to prevent anymore catastrophic events from happening again.
With the Russian Mafia growing in power within Miami, 50 Blessings is founded to combat the Russians within America. They begin their operations by setting up phone networks within Miami, with the assistance of their business partners, PhoneHom. With the phone lines set up, two technicians working for the organization known as the Janitors, are made responsible for screening phone calls in Miami. The phone calls send out cryptic instructions to several people in Miami, ordering them to send other cryptic messages to different people, paint 50 Blessings' logo at specific locations and more prominently, to kill members of the Russian Mafia. If the people who receive the calls don't cooperate with their instructions, 50 Blessings will start sending thinly veiled death threats within the calls. Further disobedience results in vandalizing the property of those who they call to send a warning or may end up eliminating them altogether.
Those who comply with 50 Blessings' orders are given animal masks to hide their identity during each of their killings, to which many hitmen are recruited by 50 Blessings through the phone calls. Many of which directly sign up for the organization itself, which publicly claims itself to be a "peaceful organization", and those who do signup receive the phone calls as they are supposedly "willing to die" for America. Among the more notable masked killers are Richter Berg, Biker, Jake, and the only surviving member of the Ghost Wolves, Jacket. As time goes on, Jacket in particular becomes a very prominent member of 50 Blessings, having taken on many operations owned by the Russian Mafia unscathed, while operatives like Biker are more eager to reject jobs. Among one of these hits is an attack on Hotel Blue, where a meeting between representatives of the Russo-American Coalition and Russian mobsters take place, which is taken on by Jacket. The Janitors directly oversee the massacre occur at the hotel. The job was initially given to Biker, who had rejected it in order to quit 50 Blessings, as he had only joined the organization to kill people for fun rather than for political reasons, and has since gotten bored of it.
On May 23rd, Biker heads over to PhoneHom's headquarters after receiving answers from a technician of their involvement with 50 Blessings. Biker kills all of the employees in the building, including PhoneHom's manager so he can directly trace the source of the calls within Miami from the manager's computer. With 50 Blessings' position threatened by Biker, the Janitors then send a phone call to Jacket why he is in the middle of a job ordering him to kill Biker, giving him the address to PhoneHom's headquarters. Once Jacket finds Biker, the two engage in a fight where neither one of them are victorious, but both seemingly perceive the fight occurring differently.
The next day after Jacket had supposedly failed to kill Biker, Biker receives a threatening phone call saying that he will be killed before the week end if he keeps disobeying 50 Blessings. However, Biker instead heads to the address he traced from PhoneHom's computer and confronts the Janitors in their hideout. If Biker hacks into the Janitors' computer after the player had found all of the hidden puzzle pieces throughout Hotline Miami, he discovers 50 Blessings' plans to destroy the RAC through their threatening phone calls. The Janitors explain to him further that they are setting up phone operations all over the country and have very powerful people on their side. Since Biker has no political interests and feels as though his time has been wasted, he leaves the hideout and flees Miami.
As it is now clear to 50 Blessings that Jacket had failed to kill Biker, they see that he is not as effective as they had first thought and begin to send him on more dangerous missions in an effort to get him killed for his failure. Towards the end of the month, Jacket is sent to take on both a guarded night club where an operative, Carl, had been killed just inside, and a building housing a cocaine operation which is soon raided by a SWAT team. However, despite how dangerous these jobs were, Jacket manages to finish each of the two jobs unharmed.
On June 3rd, 50 Blessings encounters yet another problem which could destroy the organization as a whole. Jake, a highly patriotic masked killer, visits the 50 Blessings headquarters itself. Initially unaware that 50 Blessings are the ones behind the calls, Jake eventually figures out that they are through questioning the building's manager directly. With Jake knowing of their operations, the manager decides that he must be dealt with as soon as possible.
During Jake's next job, he invades a meth operation owned by the Russian Mafia, but luckily for 50 Blessings, is wounded by the Russian gangsters and taken to a large bath house, where he is interrogated by Petrov. It is apparent that many of the masked killers who had failed during their hits were tortured in order for the Russian Mafia to find out who they are working for. Jake gives the Russians no information at all, prompting Petrov to kill Jake by shooting him in the head. With Jake out of the picture, 50 Blessings then decides to send Jacket to attack the heavily guarded bath house in another effort to kill him. However, Jacket once again finishes the job unscathed.
On June 8th, 50 Blessings gives Jacket another difficult task, where he is to invade an office complex guarded by Russian gangsters. The Russian Mafia anticipates this attack and once Jacket tries to leave, a group of mobsters crash into the building in a black van and try to kill him. However, Jacket manages to fight them off and kill them all. With Jacket completing each job without getting killed, 50 Blessings finally decides to have Jacket assassinated. Richter receives a call ordering him to head over to Jacket's apartment to kill him. Richter arrives at Jacket's apartment before he gets back, and kills his girlfriend after breaking in. He waits for Jacket to arrive, and once he does, Richter shoots him before being apprehended by the police for his murders. Although 50 Blessings no longer worried about Jacket, he survived Richter's attempt on his life and had since been put in a coma.
During their phone call operations, 50 Blessings manages to frame the Russian Mafia itself as the source of the phone calls, for which they are traced by the police to a club known as the "Golden Truckstop" after they had questioned Richter while he was in police custody. Jacket, who had woken up from his coma and set out to get revenge on Richter assaults the police station and confronts Richter. Richter tells Jacket that he is receiving the same phone calls as him, and informs him that the police know of the situation more than he does. Jacket ends up leaving Richter at the police station after getting some answers and steals one of the police files on the case.
He finds information of the calls being traced to the Golden Truckstop, along with the club's address. Although 50 Blessings has tricked not only the police but now Jacket into thinking the sources of the calls are from the Golden Truckstop, Jacket decides to set out and kill the people he feels are responsible for the calls. Jacket invades the Golden Truckstop and kills all of the Russian gangsters inside, including the club's manager after he had given the address to the Mafia's headquarters. Through successful manipulation by framing the Russian Mafia itself, Jacket ends up destroying the Russian Mafia altogether by killing the Mafia's underboss, The Father, and Ivan Lebedev, the elderly patriarch of the Mafia. Afterwards, Jacket is arrested by the police.
A year later, with the Russian Mafia effectively destroyed for the time being, 50 Blessings begins to cease the phone call operations altogether after dealing such a heavy blow to the Mafia and the RAC altogether. During this time, 50 Blessings locates the prison where Jacket and Richter are both being held. To tie up loose ends, they conspire to have Richter killed by manipulating the guards into forcing Richter to fight an imprisoned 50 Blessings operative to the death, while orchestrating a large prison riot. The attempt on Richter's life fails however, as he kills the imprisoned operative in self defense and fights his way out of prison after disguising himself as a security guard before fleeing the country. Meanwhile, Jacket remained in prison and decided not to escape during the riot.
As of 1991, the phone calls have stopped altogether with zero traces of 50 Blessings still being active within Miami. 50 Blessings had, however, left behind a destructive legacy that has raised Anti-Russian sentiments even further due to RAC representatives being linked to the Russian Mob. While a conference is to take place between the American and Russian presidents in America by late December, the protests become more intense and hate crimes towards Russians are more prominent.
The killings orchestrated by 50 Blessings caught strong media attention, including the creation of a slasher horror film known as "Midnight Animal" based on Jacket's murders to be produced. The film was controversial due both the death of the lead actor Martin Brown, who was shot on set with live rounds, and the topics the film was loosely based on.
In addition, a group of friends known as "The Fans" try to recreate the conditions of Jacket's massacres and have decided to adopt 50 Blessings' logo, despite not seemingly being aware of the political motives behind the killings. In tribute to the killings caused by 50 Blessings, they launch raids on various condos owned by low level criminals who have since moved into former Mafia territories or have become more prominent in the criminal underworld. In addition, the Fans have also stolen a PhoneHom van kept in police custody, turning it into their own personal "Attack Van" by decorating it with 50 Blessings graffiti and painting a line across the "PhoneHom" logo on the side of it. After the Russian Mafia briefly rises back to power due to winning in a gang war against the Colombians, the Fans assault their headquarters, which results in all of them being killed by the Son, and resulting in the destruction of the Russian Mafia once again.
Although 50 Blessings remained inactive throughout 1991, Evan Wright, a freelance writer, tries to investigate the case and find the truth behind the killings for his book. Through his investigating, he discovers how several members of the Russian Mafia such as Petrov tried to interrogate masked killers they had caught, as well as organizing an interview with Richter himself, where he finds out extensive information about the phone calls' threatening nature and Richter's encounter with Jacket, the Mask Maniac himself. Among these investigations is the possibility of Evan finding 50 Blessings' now abandoned HQ. Should the player successfully complete "Withdrawal" as Jake back in 1989, the manager of 50 Blessings will personally take him to a safe house. There, Jake steals a floppy disk at the safe house before being killed by the manager for his knowledge of 50 Blessings. In the present, Evan asks his friend Manny Pardo, a corrupt police officer, if he could look through the evidence locker containing Jake's belongings as a favor. Manny tells him that the disk contains several addresses linked to the masked murderers and reluctantly allows Evan to borrow it to get even with him.
After having the addresses extracted from the disk at Copy Flash, Evan heads over to the address of the abandoned 50 Blessings HQ. Interestingly enough, the building has reinforced metal walls, a vault door as the entrance and deep within it is a room with a large amount of bunk beds inside as well as a gymnasium and water reclaimer, indicating that the building was constructed as a makeshift bunker. The building is also covered in litter, among the litter being many pink 50 Blessings newsletters and animal masks. As Evan heads deeper inside, he finds a large amount of graffiti on the floor spelling out numbers counting all the way up to fifty and also finds a large banner depicting an American flag with "Blessings" imprinted on the front of it.
At the end of the building however, Evan finds a large group of homeless people all wearing animal masks, surrounding a painting of the 50 Blessings symbol on the floor with candles circling it. One of the masked hobos wearing a rooster mask tells Evan that he is not supposed to be here and that they had a deal. While Evan is confused by what he means, another hobo wearing a horse mask tells him that the deal they had was that they were to stay in the building after dark and are to be left be. A third hobo wearing a giraffe mask angrily demands for Evan to leave, to which the rooster mask-wearing hobo threatens to hurt him if he doesn't. Evan indeed leaves, but is forced to fight himself out of the building after it fills up with a gang of armed hoodlums.
At the end of the year, in time for the RAC conference between the American and Russian presidents, 50 Blessings carries out their ultimate plan. During the conference, a group of armed men burst in and gun down both the American president and the Russian president as part of a coup d'état. An emergency broadcast not only confirms this, but also confirms that the one leading the assassins is a US Army General. With the General himself confirmed to have been part of the attack, 50 Blessings has now taken control of the American government and now stands against the Soviet Union itself. As both presidents have been killed, the Soviet Union perceives this terrorist attack as an act of war and the series ends with Russia dropping nukes on both Miami and Hawaii as America spirals into war with Russia.
- The General: The founder of 50 Blessings. After losing his sanity during the Hawaiian Conflict of 1985, he conceives the organization's motives and ideas once America loses the war against Russia, resulting in Russian prominence within the country. It is assumed that the General passes down his radio protocol and idea of wearing a skinned panther's face as a mask to the organization in the form of both the phone calls and animal mask motif respectively.
- The Manager: A high-ranking executive and representative of the 50 Blessings organization. Once Jake discovers the truth behind the organization, the Manager takes the issue into his own hands by personally killing Jake to silence him.
- The Janitors: A pair of mysterious men wearing janitorial uniforms and the ones responsible for running 50 Blessings' phone call operations within Miami with the assistance of PhoneHom. The Janitors manipulate many of the events in the first game, having been responsible for putting Jacket in a coma, threatening Richter into cooperation, driving Biker's urges to find who is screening the calls and for framing the source of the calls on the Russian Mafia itself, resulting in its destruction.
- Jacket: The most infamous of the agents "recruited" into 50 Blessings. A former special forces operative, Jacket's experience in military combat made him a dangerously effective asset to 50 Blessings. As a result, he singlehandedly destroyed the Russian Mafia and heavily contributed to 50 Blessings' mysterious legacy in 1991. He collects a wide variety of animal masks throughout the first game.
- Biker: A young man who was introduced to the phone calls by a bartender named Aubrey, and joined for the sake of killing people for fun. However, he turns against 50 Blessings after becoming bored of the killings and actively tries to find out who is making the phone calls. He ends up crossing paths with Jacket as a result. Biker does not wear an animal mask, and instead wears his own motorcycle helmet during hits.
- Richter Berg: An unemployed man looking after his mother, Rosa, whose health is declining. Initially reluctant to work for 50 Blessings, he is forced to do so after the phone calls threaten Rosa's life. After taking on several jobs, he is then given orders to eliminate Jacket, which effectively ended his work with the organization due to being arrested after attempting to kill Jacket. He wears a rat mask during his missions.
- Jake: An ill-tempered neo-confederate with a strong distate for Russians who is passionately loyal to 50 Blessings' cause. However, his loyalty towards the cause ends up leading to his downfall after he learns the truth of 50 Blessings. He is killed by either Petrov or the Manager depending on how well the player does on his last mission. He predominantly wears a cobra mask, but can also wear a viper mask and a black mamba mask.
- Jones: A man who owns a crocodile mask. After completing one of his jobs, Jacket finds Jones bleeding out in the sewers. He tells Jacket that he thinks everything that has happened is a dream before dying of blood loss.
- Aubrey: A bartender who owns a pig mask. He introduces Biker to the organization and once Biker grows tired of the killings, he interrogates the man, who tells him the location of a technician who helped 50 Blessings set up the calls. It is implied that he may have been killed for releasing secret information concerning the organization.
- Carl: A man who owns a locust mask. He was killed on the dance floor of a Mafia-occupied night club after being shot in the crotch.
- Bomb Guy: A man wearing a tiger mask who had been caught by the Russian Mafia. The Russian gangsters interrogate the man after tying him to a chair, wrapping a bomb vest around him and rigging the explosives to nearby doors to prevent him from escaping. The man is eventually killed by Jacket after he blasts one of the doors open with a shotgun, causing the room to explode.
- Dennis: A man wearing a wolf mask who is seen at Nicke's convenience store in Jacket's dream. He is surrounded by a group of Russian mobsters who assault him and leave his bloodied body behind.
- Earl: A man wearing a walrus mask. Jacket finds his corpse tied to a chair, showing that Earl had apparently been brutally tortured to death by the Russian Mafia.
- Prison Boss: A muscular inmate held in Miami's federal correctional institution who possesses 50 Blessings tattoos, implying that he may have been an operative or at least supportive of their cause before his imprisonment. He tries to kill Richter in a fight to the death in the prison's basketball court after presumably being hired by the Janitors to do so. However, a cheering inmate throws a large pipe into the court. Richter grabs the pipe and bludgeons the prison boss to death.
- Technician: A man who helped set up 50 Blessings' phone network at PhoneHom. He was frightened by the organization's political motives and went into hiding at a Chinese restaurant, hiring a small group of Russian gangsters to protect him.
- PhoneHom Manager: The lead executive of PhoneHom, a phone company which has helped screen the phone calls for 50 Blessings. Along with the rest of his employees, he is murdered by Biker.
- While thinking of the design for 50 Blessings' logo, the developers Jonatan Soderstrom and Dennis Wedin had considered a square or triangle for the shape of the logo, but dropped both of them since the square one was "too boring", while the triangular one was "too Illuminati".
- Due to 50 Blessings' headquarters resembling that of a bunker, it may be possible that the organization had anticipated another nuclear bomb to drop on America and that the masked hobos living in the abandoned building in 1991 may be waiting for it to happen.
- In addition, all of the masked hobos found in the bunker all wear the different masks found in the first game.
- The 50 Blessings logo makes many appearances throughout the first game. According to Richter, he received instructions to mark several locations with the logo, implying that it may have been Richter who painted many of the logos found throughout Hotline Miami.