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May, 2010... Fantasy became reality. Worlds overlay for the briefest moment. Outworlders became stranded on earth as more than half the human populace vanished. Our World, our universe, was transformed.

Fiction is now reality. Humans and those now bound to this world will either learn to coexist, or battle for supremecy.




Thomas Gallo

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140 One of Our All Stars

About Thomas Gallo

  • Rank
    Nicely Seasoned


    Jean Dujardin
  • AGE
  • RACE
  • JOB
    Caporegime; Runs Thyrsus Liquor Store.
  • 'SHIP:
    New York, NY

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  • Typist's Role Play History
    AD&D 2e until present. Played on another PbP forum-driven site off and on for the last 20 years.
  • Role Play Sample
    “I’ll be back on Tuesday,” Tom growled at Roderick, the manager of the upstairs portion of Thyrsus.

    “But Boss,” Roderick began to retort hesitantly, “4th of July weekend is gonna be huge ‘round here. You are gonna be missed. What am I supposed to say?”

    Tom resisted the urge to round on the man and grab his throat. He was, after all, just doing his job. It was 4th of July Weekend in New York. All the Bakkhos clubs and establishments were looking to do record business. This should be a time where Tom was all business and making sure everything ran smoothly. Unfortunately, it was also the three days in the month where he was a savage, blood-thirsty beast at night. It was best that he leaves.

    “They will know why I left, but they may be none too pleased about it.” Tom’s jaw clenched and he slowly released the balled fist he had made. “Tell them that I trust you to manage while I’m away.”

    Tom forced a smile. He knew the effect he had on people around this time. He didn’t like scaring those who worked for him. A small dose of fear is healthy, but Roderick and some of the others knew of Tom’s sometimes over-the-top temper near the full moon and were outright terrified if Tom didn’t keep himself in check.

    Keeping the smile on his face, he clapped Roderick on the shoulder. “While I’m gone, you speak for me. I trust you to handle business.” He walked toward the exit, and before he exited, he added, “And if you don’t, remember…I’ll be back on Tuesday.” This time the smile was a nearly feral grin. Roderick was somewhat accustomed to this…he’d been working for Tom for a while now. It was, however, impossible to become comfortable.

    Tom jumped into his car and drove north. He had 10 hours until the sun set and he wanted to be as far into the norther wilderness as he could manage before the turn. He knew that he should lock himself in the cellar that had been built for him. It would keep him around during the day to have some face time, but he couldn’t. He rationalized it that it would be too dangerous. Too many people would be around in case he got trapped in public before the sun set. I mean, who leaves on the 4th of July weekend BEFORE the fireworks? It was bad optics. It was too dangerous.

    These are all true, but it wasn’t the truth. Tom could not go in the box. Not this time. He had to run. He had to hunt. No. He could not go in the box. He knew it was dangerous and perhaps a bit reckless, but he had to run. He had to hunt. He had to sate the beast. He was not going in the box.
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  1. Thomas Gallo

    To FInger Lakes

    October 29th, 2022 Finger Lakes Winery Winding through the quiet roads outside Finger Lakes Winery, Tom rolled down the windows and enjoyed the crisp autumn air flooding inside his black BMW SUV. Tom smiled briefly as he remembered Matteo’s apprehension about having to speak to Victor. No one liked dealing with Victor if they didn’t have to. Victor wasn’t…as personable as many others. If there were an antithesis to Matteo’s oily charm, it was Victor’s rough, no-nonsense, curmudgeony bluntness. Tom often thought Victor saw Matteo the same way an octogenarian saw teenagers. Tom chuckled softly as that comparison came to his mind. It was fitting. Tom rather enjoyed Victor’s company, however. Of the other caporegimes, Victor and Tom understood each other better than the others. There was no doubt that their shared lycanthrope condition played a role in their relatability to one another. It went deeper than that, however. In both of their previous, smaller, families...they were often regarded as the cold tacticians. They were both valued for their ability to see past the drama of “who was disrespected” etc. Not that respect wasn’t important, it was very important. However…delayed “justice” could wind up paying off better than immediate justice. Tom had, as well as Victor, been the few voices that saw that wisdom and had the power to convince others of that path as well. The two of them were alike in more ways than one. Although, they weren’t totally the same. Their struggles with the Nevus were different. They were both ‘touched’ as Eris had put it. Changed without having been bitten. To the best of Tom’s knowledge, only he, Victor, and Tom’s father were ‘touched’. He knew there had to be others, however he hadn’t devoted any attention to locating them. He suspected there was value in knowing who those were. There may be a way to undo the virus effects if they could locate the others like them. The shocked look on Eris’s face while in the chopper came to his memory as he thought of that. No. The fear/awe on her face haunted Tom’s memory. There would be others looking to do collect them as well. It was best to keep that knowledge of himself, Victor, and his father to himself. He had no intention of becoming a lab rat. Victor’s burdens of the change were different from Tom’s in some respect. He didn’t have the same ‘hyper-were’ traits that Tom did. The typical ‘were-qualities’ were stronger in Tom. He was stronger than many, healed faster, senses were stronger, etc. He also had a stronger allergy to silver. The rage within Tom from the were-nature was unequaled by any other lycanthrope he had encountered. It seemed to Tom that he just received a double-helping of all were-creature traits. The lunar cycle timings also appeared to be unique to he and his father. He hadn’t encountered any others like the two of them where they weren’t utterly worthless the day after the full moon. Victor, however, was much more typical…as typical as weres can be. His strength would crescendo with the full moon, and then plummet the night after. Slowly, as the next full moon approached, it would build and build until it was full again. It was often because of this, that Tom chose to schedule his visits to Victor around the New Moon. While Tom wasn’t sure who was physically stronger in their beast forms…he suspected that his wolf might have the edge if it ever came to blows. Tom suspected Victor knew this. This meant that visiting Victor when Tom was at his weakest while Victor was approaching his strongest would set up the better, instinctive, power dynamic. It was never acknowledged openly, but Victor recognized this calculation. It was smart for a subordinate to not have anything that could be viewed as a challenge to his superior. Tom was a smart kid. Victor had also been better able to control his ‘beast.’ Tom wasn’t sure if all other weres had internally personified the rage inside like he had. But from what Tom could see, Victor was able to keep a lid on his rage. Like a snarling hound on a leash, Victor’s beast was neatly put into the cellar for three nights each month, and then he proceeded with business as usual. Tom envied that level of control. Tom’s knuckles turned white as Tom was squeezing the steering wheel while he drove. The thought of Victor’s cage for the turn summoned something akin to a fight or flight response…even now. Tom didn’t even like having his office door closed closer to the moon. That confined space…no. Just no. Tom wondered idly as he drove if Eris would actually come to the Masquerade. He suspected it would be an instinctive ‘no.’ Those events were certainly not her thing. Nor were they Tom’s, honestly. However, an event this important must be attended. The fact that Halloween fell near a New Moon this year was fortunate. He’d be at his calmest then. He would also be at his physical weakest. Tom had a clearer head during those times, though, and it was then that people remembered that Tom was dangerous long before he howled at the moon. He smiled slightly as he considered whether or not Victor would attend. He would likely come up with a reason not to. But maybe not this time. Tom pulled his vehicle to a stop at the gate where a couple of guards strode out to either side of Tom’s car. Each of them was dressed in khakis and polo shirts with the winery’s logo on the chest. To the untrained eye, they were simple security guards checking IDs and the like. Tom knew them, however. One was Strollo’s great nephew who also had a very comfortable hand on the handle of a 9mm hanging on his hip. The other was Cavalli’s nephew. He too had a confident look on his face. As he got closer, Tom could see that the young Cavalli was more cocky than confident. The exaggerated swagger and smug look on his face betrayed his arrogance. Gaspari had integrated the families together deliberately to prevent sects from forming. This young Cavalli seemed to think better of himself than he ought to. As he approached Tom’s driver-side window, he greeted Tom with a sneering, “Who are you? Winery is closed to the public.” Tom looked at the kid with a confused face. Was this kid serious? Tom never got hung up on status, but did this kid really not know who Tom Gallo was? He clearly had been living off the Cavalli name and hadn’t bothered to take his jobs seriously. Also, how did the young Strollo not know? Once quick glance in the other kid’s direction gave him his answer. A barely suppressed smirk was on young-Strollo’s face as he saw Cavalli’s arrogance present itself. Clearly, he did not care for him and was hoping to get some entertainment at young Cavalli’s expense. None of this was acceptable, and if Victor had seen it, these two would have some serious repercussions coming. A wicked grin played out across Tom’s face as he feigned scratching his face with the hand where he wore his ring denoting him as a Capo. When the Cavalli kid saw the ring, his jaw dropped as he mentally replayed every word that had come from his mouth. Tom looked the kid in the eye and inhaled as if to say something…but then shook his head in disgust and drove forward without another look at the kids. Victor had some teaching to tend to it seemed. Tom pulled up to the large building that had once been a public restaurant when the winery was open…and now it was where Victor took up residence and conducted business. Before Tom stepped out of the vehicle, multiple people streamed out of the building to see to it that Tom’s needs were taken care of. Apparently, the guards had radioed ahead with the news of the botched introduction. Wordlessly, Tom handed his keys to one of them, and held his jacket open to denote no weapons. None of those workers dared touch him at this point, however Tom still followed the rules. As he strode through the doors, Victor was emerging from behind his desk in greeting. “Tom, good to see you. Come and sit.” Victor greeted him while motioning to a restaurant style table that already had glasses of wine poured. Tom grasped the man’s hand in greeting, placing a friendly hand on his shoulder. “Good to see you as well, friend.” Tom sat down at the table as Victor sat opposite him. “The Cavalli kid needs to be doing something else. He didn’t recognize me until he saw the ring. The Strollo kid with him let the arrogant kid walk right into the trap. You may wish to separate them unless you want them to hurt each other.” Tom loved that he didn’t have to navigate through minutes of pleasantries when dealing with Victor. They could talk about what they wanted to talk about without having to tend to each other’s sensibilities. Victor glowered briefly at Tom’s remark and shook his head. “I’m running out of suitable jobs for the Cavalli kid. Kid has nothing resembling humility within him. Maybe the Strollo kid will help him learn to fake humility eventually. They’ll either kill each other or make each other better. I’m fine with either.” Tom nodded. Victor wasn’t joking. He never joked, really. It was a shame that some people could only learn sense through violence. Some could only learn that way it seemed. “I brought you something.” Tom said as he slid a bottle of near-ancient scotch across the table at Victor. Tom had been tracking that bottle down for some time now. “Hope you find this to your liking.” Victor opened the bottle and took a long whiff. Tom could smell it from where he sat. It was what Victor had wanted. Victor smiled a small smile of thanks. “You get that issue with your supply chain sorted?” It was Tom’s turn to glower. This was where Tom had to be less honest than he would like. Tom trusted Victor with more than he even trusted Matteo with…at least he was more willing to be vulnerable here at the winery than he was at club Bakkhos. “We have control of nearly everything again. There have been no reports of tainted shipments in months. Those responsible appear to have either abandoned this tactic, or are laying low to try again later.” Tom left out all the Sheut information, of course. Eris’s superior was trying to sabotage Thyrsus because he was not convinced that Eris was doing a good enough job of making a puppet out of Tom or anyone else within Bakkhos. Tom wasn’t sure if Victor knew of the Sheut, and if so, how much he knew of them. Tom was reasonably sure that Victor had encountered Mythos at one point or another…but he didn’t know if Victor understood his nature or not. Victor nodded, accepting Tom’s explanation before moving on to other business matters. Wine shipments: quantity, location, timing of deliveries, etc. As they were discussing some final details concerning which Cabernet would be introduced to Thyrsus next, Tom’s phone buzzed several times for multiple back to back calls. Tom looked up at Victor, and Victor nodded his assent and Tom opened his phone. Two missed calls. Tom’s brow quirked upwards in alarm. One from Eris and the other from Ahanu. Tom dialed his voice mail to listen to the two messages. First was from Eris. “I appreciate the Bakkhos invitation, but I will unfortunately have to decline. I wish you the best with your event.” Tom shrugged slightly. He had expected as much. Something was off. It was a bit too…polite. It was as if she were politely declining an invitation to attend an event for someone she didn’t know. His brow furrowed slightly, despite himself, as he moved on to the next message. “Mr. Gallo. Ms. London is honored to accept your invitation. Be sure to pick her up at the hangar at precisely 8pm. I will be unable to accompany her, as you know, I am attending with Roderick and will have to trust that you are grown up enough to not be late.” Tom smiled slightly as he shook his head. Clearly the two of them were not on the same page and were actively working against each other. Ahanu was an emotional mirror for Eris. If you were clever enough to observe Ahanu, you’d be able to deduce what Eris thought about a particular topic. Top hung up his phone and put it back in his pocket. “The same person has both accepted and rejected the invitation to the Masquerade.” Tom offered in explanation. “Ms. London, is that right?” Victor asked, knowingly. Darn it. Victor knew more than he let on and it was time for Tom to come clean. This was a test. Tom gave Victor a twenty-minute summary of the happenings from the Blood Moon to now. He tried to gloss over the interpersonal interactions between he and Eris, but it was clear to anyone who was listening that something was there. “Tom, you must be careful. I’ve been keeping an eye on you’re the last year or so, more than what was obvious. You are clearly deserving of your position. Your discretion and careful planning has made you an invaluable asset that even I’m not fully sure I know the entirety of. A woman such as Eris London can make your normally shrewd decision making become…less so. Do you follow?” Tom nodded. He had seen this face on Victor before. He was not looking for a verbal answer from Tom. Victor was not yet done speaking. “Based on the care with which you chose your words, you clearly know about the Sheut and Sheut-Ka.” Victor paused to allow Tom a moment to digest that Victor was on the same page. Tom was thankful for that pause. He hated playing catch-up with someone in the midst of a conversation. But this was more of a lecture than a conversation though… “The closeness with which you and Eris have worked makes it clear that you know that she is Sheut-Ka. She is also a powerful player in their organization.” Victor paused to gauge Tom’s reaction. All of this Tom knew. Victor now knew that Tom knew this as well and continued. “They seek to be puppeteers of the world, I’m told. Little fuckin’ blood suckers trying to control the world from the shadows.” There was a growl in his voice as he spit out those words. He clearly didn’t like that notion. “Most of Bakkhos doesn’t know of the Sheut, as I’m sure you are aware. But you must know that myself and the other bosses do. I would be curious to see if you knew more than me about them, but that is a conversation for another time.” Victor sipped from his wine as he watched Tom process this information. It should be more shocking, honestly to Tom. After all the secrecy and information withholding that Eris stressed, it was odd that the bosses already appeared to know as much or more than Tom did. But…it didn’t strike him as all that odd, honestly. In fact, it was oddly comforting. “Should this relationship you have with her become more personal in nature,” Victor began, “then you had best be careful.” Tom was suddenly feeling really uncomfortable about this conversation. Some mix of ‘the talk’ a boy had with their fathers about feelings and hair in weird places…and the discomfort that came from warnings of danger. “You must be prepared to defend every action you take. Cavalli and Strollo are going to be particularly interested in your activities for quite some time…especially if they start to vary from what they have come to expect from you already. Me too. I know you better than any of the other bosses. If something doesn’t smell right, I’m not going to let it go.” Tom nodded uncomfortably. He understood. Of course…Family First. Always. Then Victor’s features softened. This was less of the ‘scolding father’ from before and more of the nurturing ‘coaching father’ that Tom was one of the few to ever have the pleasure of experiencing. “If this becomes something more than professional, know this…Jacqueline would want you to be happy. You need not feel guilty about something such as that.” If that had been any other man. Any at all, Tom would have leapt over the table to enact terrible terrible violence on the man. But it was Victor. Victor knew. Victor understood. Only Victor could say these things to Tom. Tom’s chest rose and then sank as he exhaled one long breath that was nearly a roar of fury, but was instead a sigh of acceptance. Jacqueline was gone and wasn’t coming back. She would want him to be strong. Happy. Strong. Victor, sensing Tom’s demeanor, paused a moment before continuing. “You have done much to honor her memory. She didn’t need a champion as yourself to protect her image anyway. Your honor of her has only strengthened the love we all had for her.” Victor then raised a glass in salute to Tom’s late wife. “Trust me when I say that, if something comes from this, it would undoubtedly have Jacqueline’s blessing if she were able to communicate it.” Tom stared at the table for a long while. Many conflicting emotions playing out in his mind at the same time. Victor was right, of course. Jacqueline would likely chastise him for the amount of time Tom forced seclusion upon himself out of respect for her and her family. She’d tell him to quit being a baby and go out there and live the life that he still had. A small smile came to his face as he pictured her lecturing him about squandering a life she no longer had and that she’d rap him in the head with his pistol if he continued to waste opportunities to make himself, and the Family stronger. “You are right, Victor. Jacqueline would not abide me being timid about anything. But I will be cautious. You have my word.” Victor smiled over his wine glass at Tom and added, “I’m sure you will. If your relationship with Eris amounts to anything resembling the one you had with Jacqueline…the Sheut and Bakkhos would be nearly unstoppable you realize.” Tom raised an eyebrow at Victor. He was objectively correct, that was certain. But Tom didn’t like the feeling of being a chess-piece either. “I trust you will leave all of those decisions to me, Victor. Stop me if you think I’m about to do something to damage the family…but stay out of the way if it is simply ‘sacrificing potential strength’ for the family.” This wasn’t a question. It was just on this side of a request rather than an order. Tom still knew where he was. Victor locked eyes with Gallo and simply nodded. “I am not going to the costume party. Make sure you tell Gaspari, please. Tell Carducci that I haven’t decided yet.” Tom laughed out loud. Apparently they also shared the same joy out of making Matteo uncomfortable when able.
  2. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    “I won’t be asking questions, if I can help it." Tom doubted that. Despite Eris’s façade of ‘I know what is happening all the time…’ Tom knew she had questions. She had better info than Tom, certainly, but she didn’t know everything. There was only one scenario where she did know everything…and that would be bloody. Tom didn’t suspect her of trying to manipulate him. Or…if she was trying…Tom was confident that she had given up on that by now. No doubt that Eris had come across equally strong adversaries before…passionately fighting against her. Tom doubted that there were many in her life as strong as she was…who simply didn’t budge. Didn’t push back, but didn’t budge either. Tom was a levy wall to her flood of fury. A small smile crept across Tom’s face at the thought. Tom almost chuckled at Eris’s derisive snort as she glanced at the movement of their teams. Tom spared a glance out towards the work their teams were doing. Roderick directing traffic from the middle, issuing direction to someone on the phone as well as several others scattered about the warehouse. Tom noticed a change in their collective behavior. They were moving with their normal efficiency that Tom had grown accustomed to. The introduction of Eris’s team out in the open with Tom’s changed the demeanor…momentarily. Seeing Tom and Eris face to face put the teams at ease with one another and business continued as normal. Everything was weird in this post-Resonance world…which meant nothing was. When Tom and Eris stepped aside to speak ‘privately’ while remaining in full view of the teams shuffling about…something changed. Tom smelled apprehension, tension, fear. It wasn’t exactly smell…like how flavor isn’t just taste or smell…but a combination of senses that communicated what Tom was perceiving. Nervous glances cast in their direction by the workers…their quickened pace of work…and like a tide receding with the moon…calm returned to them, and they began working ‘normally.’ “I say as much as I can. For now.” Tom heard her words, but he was distracted by this phenomenon. He had only seen such wide scale mood shifts in the other direction. Whipping a mostly quiet group into a frenzied mob was something that took skill, granted, but could be done without too much difficulty. This was the opposite. The beast within Tom’s mind-prison was pounding at the door again at the…flavor of fear from so many nearby. Even the beast seemed confused by the sudden recession of nervousness that was replaced by calm. An artificial calm that Tom was keenly familiar with. Tom studied Roderick more closely this time. He held a clipboard in one hand, but didn’t look at it. He had a phone in his ear and was talking, but not consistently. Clever man. He had never known Roderick to affect more than two or three people at once. He was broadcasting an aura of calmness. Tom was proud. He would have to do something special for him soon. But for now…other matters required his attention. “We can arrange a more lengthy, private conversation soon. If this joint-venture of ours is to be successful, then transparency is required. I understand that there are ‘need to know’ aspects of the Sheut that I’ll never need to know. The issues that impact me and my Family must be an exception.” Tom said in a low, steady voice. This was not an issue of passion…his statement wasn’t anyway. It was simple truth. Tom had no ambition to leverage his connection to Eris to get a leg up on the Sheut. Tom was a fierce protector, not a tyrannical conqueror. “Whatever information you are keeping from me, I have no choice but to trust your discretion for the moment. Once we have less of an audience, and less pressing matters to attend to, we will have a VERY long conversation.” “That isn’t a name to be spoken lightly. The Nation isn’t all vampire, but he just happens to be one and we have weaknesses. If he’s involved, you have to be prepared to exploit it to defend your family. You’re the strongest.” Tom looked down towards the diminutive viper. She was behaving differently. Distrustful defense wavering somewhat. Maybe Tom was getting through to her. What did she mean by him being the strongest? Tom had no doubt that Gaspari would captain Bakkhos unchallenged for a long time yet. “That’s why I picked you,” Tom’s eyes hardened, as he listened. He knew this was getting very serious. He allowed some mirth into his voice when he replied, “If you wished an audience with me, you could have done without throwing a car through my walls. Telephones still work most of the time.” “Adrian is a powerful telepath, he will provoke you, make you see and feel things that aren’t there. Roderick can’t stop him. Betrayal isn’t taken lightly, and if someone bests his efforts to screw with you he’ll retaliate.” Tom nodded as Eris spoke. For Eris to speak of someone this way meant they must be quite powerful indeed. Adrian was a telepath, was he? That was inconvenient. Tom could not risk coming face to face with him unexpectedly. Tom was afraid of encountering someone who could deliberately cause him to lose control. When Tom had heard about the Blood Moon, he was never more relieved in his life. The idea of losing control of himself is what he hated most about the Beast within. If Adrian could summon the beast from him…then Tom was in trouble. Sound advice from Eris. “If I’m compromised, you trust one person. The main building of New York ER has an employee named Maree. Find her, tell her you need my brother. He’ll find you and he'll protect you.” Tom studied her for a moment. He understood her better, finally. She was relaying as much information as she could as safely as she could. Seemingly. He wanted to press her about her ‘brother’ and Maree…but that would have to wait. If worse came to worse, he’d know who to look for and where at least. Tom wondered how little she knew of Bakkhos capabilities, or how little Tom know about Sheut’s. She made it seem like it was a David and Goliath type situation. Tom wasn’t so sure he believed her. But he couldn’t quite doubt her either. Tom nodded solemnly in agreement with her direction. “Wager accepted. If you can get anything out of him at all… which you won't...” Tom allowed a solemn grin. There was serious work ahead, but he could allow himself to take the simple joys while they were about it. He began striding out toward where his car was parked, after gesturing for Eris to move that way. “Let’s get to it then. How many fingers do mages need to do their magic? All of them? Or can the hope of saving ‘just enough’ fingers be persuasive?” Tom laughed out loud now, in full view of both of their teams. This was genuine, but deliberate. Everything was chaotic and nearly out of control. But Tom…Tom Gallo…was guffawing out in the open with Eris London. It was too late to keep their relationship clandestine. The ripples in the rumor-sea would be amusing to observe in the coming weeks. But for now, they had a conversation to get to.
  3. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    Tom watched Eris as she was settling…suppressing her frustration. Her anger. Her rage. The quickening heartrate…the increased intensity in her eyes…Eris was livid. Good. Then maybe she’d understand him better and cooperate instead of dangling tiny morsels of information when it was convenient. The stakes were getting higher. He needed a partner, not a benefactor. “She’s yours.” She didn’t mean it. Not in the purest form anyhow. Ahanu would be an agent. A resource who would fulfill the job Tom needed, but only just. Her primary mission would be intel for Eris. Tom could not afford to have her split her attention when dealing with Jerry. He needed her focused entirely on containing the magus. Nothing else. Tom and Eris shared the same disdain for uncertainty. “Great. She can focus on keeping him from doing anything unwise while you and I speak with him.” If Eris was in the room too, then there was no need for Ahanu to take notes. Tom could see how much she hated conceding anything to Tom without having her hand in it and was settling for a proxy with Ahanu. So why not invite her as well? Although Tom’s tone made it seem more like a foregone conclusion rather than an invitation. “I have my questions, but I’m sure you have your own. I have learned that me killing him may invite more trouble from the Sheut than I’m willing to deal with at present…at least now. You are uniquely qualified to ask the right questions along those lines.” It was simple truth and most of Tom’s motivation was based purely on that logic. He and Eris understood each other enough by now that any breath spent trying to spin it as ‘reciprocal courtesy’ or other nonsense would be wasted. They both had the same, or at least adjacent, interests regarding this. No sense wasting time. “But he came at me directly. That is why I am controlling his containment.” This wasn’t a bold proclamation of a braggart. Tom was simply cluing Eris in to the contents of the script. It was inevitable, it just hadn’t happened yet. "Fraction of information keeps you alive." Tom glowered openly at this point. The beast was seething from within its containment. This was not the time to play nice. Tom knew that Eris could see past his anger and not react emotionally. Tom was trusting this. It was important they understood each other fully. “You know more than you say. That is given. But you don’t say as much as you should. If you haven’t figured it out yet, you will learn soon enough. I will not betray you and your confidence. I will keep the Sheut a secret. I will keep the Sheut-Ka a secret. You have provided information which I have found useful. I appreciate it. But if you are holding back based on distrust or seeking to maintain some sort of leverage…then we have a new problem to discuss.” Tom was meant every word. He was tired of filtering information flowing out of him based on who he was speaking to. There was no peer. Sure, the other capos were family, however Bakkhos was so compartmentalized that he doubted more than 2 other capos knew what was happening with Thyrsus. Tom needed an equal with whom to speak with. "Bakkhos had no chance to remain autonomous until I stepped in. When I found out Mythos was working in your organization I was certain the Nation had already injected itself into it. Our standing orders are to infiltrate Bakkhos and puppet it from within. My work in the DEA gave me first hand experience with the effect a powerful family organization has on the wealth and lifeblood of a community, even if its methods are not always innocent. Bakkhos' survival is crucial to the recovery of the eastern seaboard. It's my territory, and I demanded the Nation leave you alone. My superior, Adrian, demanded I put people in place and run Bakkhos from the inside. As of right now his superior, the Chancellor, sides with me." This didn’t make sense. She had orders to infiltrate and puppet Bakkhos…from one, however the superior to that order-issuer decided against it? Did this make Adrian rogue or Eris? The Sheut had some not-so-subtle intentions for Bakkhos. This was more dire than someone trying to hurt Thyrsus. The long term ramifications were yet to be felt, he suspected. Tom silently cursed his promise of secrecy. As Eris continued to share suspicions about who was behind this and their potential motivations, Tom nodded along. The gaps were filling. The puzzle pieces sliding together. He just needed some confirmation from Jerry. A wicked grin crept onto his face unbeknownst to Tom. A part of him was going to enjoy getting those answers. "Anything else you're dying to know? I'm a Taurus, I hate long walks on the beach and I'm fourty three years old... not hundreds." Tom’s wicked grin slid into an amused one. “I’ll wager a case of whatever you like against a plane ride at my whim that I can get more info out of Jerry than you can.” Tom looked at Eris, smirking a challenge. “I’ll have him betray…Adrian was it? By the time I get to the second knuckle of the second finger.” Tom didn’t think Eris susceptible to goading…but he thought this would be a good enough method of reinforcing that she was to come with him to speak to Jerry.
  4. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    "You have a business to save, go save your business Thomas." Tom studied Eris a moment. Every logical explanation to her behavior seemed to go against what his gut…his instincts were telling him. Many would see her as impulsive, controlling, and reckless…Had Eris been anyone else, that is exactly how he would have perceived her actions. Tom knew better. She was too controlling to be impulsive. Too cunning to think she could control everything. Too careful to be considered reckless. This behavior of hers tonight was motivated by something. Something dire. Something that would make this sort of behavior an intelligent, calculated risk. Tom believed Ahanu had clued him in to this. It was time to rip off the band-aid and get down to the heart of this. Tom took a step toward Eris and pivoted so that they were both looking at the movements of their respective teams going to work fulfilling both of their desires. Tom motioned toward Roderick, who had a cellphone to his ear, speaking to someone, while pointing and waving and speaking out orders to the various workers in the warehouse. Tom allowed himself a small smile of approval. He was proud of Roderick. “My business is in good hands. Trevor is in one of the Conversation Rooms. Jerry will be taken to another. Unless I get another mage to help with Jerry…I may need to borrow Ahanu when it is time to chat with him.” Tom studied Eris as he said that. He knew that, no matter how good of a relationship the two of them may develop, Eris would never like that. Nevertheless, the need was real. His face took on a grim countenance as he looked at Eris. Time to make things uncomfortable. “How long have you been running interference against the rest of Sheut for me? How much trouble are we…” clearly referring to Eris and himself, “…in? It is time that we have a long…detailed conversation where I am informed and can assist in some decision making.” Tom glowered openly at Eris this time. It wasn’t an attempt at intimidation, nor was it intended to be manipulative. His frustration in being deliberately kept in the dark was coming to the surface. Tom believed it important that Eris knew exactly how he felt about it. Honest for honest. He was not pleased with her, the Sheut, any of it. “I’m tired of acting with only a fraction of the information that SHOULD be available to me.”
  5. Thomas Gallo

    Double..double.. toil and trouble... fire burn and cauldron bubble...

    Great help you are… Tom smirked at the Senior Capo. He had to admit he enjoyed this slightly more than he should. Gonna need to loop in Vick….I suggest we back down the high end wines heading for Satyr and keep those for the Bakkhos party…. my crowds more the liquor and beer types anyhows… Tom nodded. Tom often was the one who spoke with Victor when Matteo could get away with it. Tom couldn't be certain if this was because they were both in the alcohol business or if they were both weres...either way, Matteo dodged Victor whenever he could get away with it, and Tom understood. Not only was Victor hard to deal with by many...he also served as a mentor to Tom in helping deal with balancing the monthly changes along with managing Bakkhos duties. Tom and he had a shared bond. Not only were they both lycanthropes serving in the 'mob'...they were also never bitten after the Nevus Event. Victor, Tom's father, and Tom were never bitten. And to the best of his knowledge, neither of them had bitten anyone either. Tom winced briefly at that last thought. That last thought didn't ring true in his mind. He couldn't put his finger on it...but the idea of 'Tom has bitten no one' didn't ring with the same absolute truth that other thoughts had. Weird. Shaking his head, Tom replied. "I'll go talk to him. I found a bottle of scotch he'd been looking for for quite a while now. I'll take it to him and bring this up too." "Wait… Masquerade..? You don’t mean we gotta dress for this thing do we?" A smile returned to Tom's face...although it didn't quite make it to his eyes. That nagging thought wasn't setting well with him. Shaking his head, he pushed that thought down. No time to analyze that properly at the moment anyhow. That'd have to wait...assuming it was actually relevant. "Maybe we can have you dress as one of your lady-friends." Tom chuckled. "I think we could find a cocktail dress about your size."
  6. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    *npc* “Ms. London has her suspicions that this is not just random, that one of our own is making a play for Bakkhos.” Of course. Simple enemies was too much to ask for. Why not have a clandestine faction point their guns at Bakkhos? *npc* “She is trying to protect you and yours. Be aware that it might not just be a magus that is coming. It may also be more Sheut Ka. This hesek may have been a rogue, but those who may be coming next most likely will not be, and killing them has a higher cost.” He felt bad for Ahanu and Eris. They were balancing conflicting loyalties at this point, potentially. He did not envy them this. Tom had loyalties that were sometimes at odds with one another. Hard decisions had to be made then. It wasn’t unique to them. Still…Tom didn’t have to like it. Tom was less concerned about the politics of fighting vampires. That Hesek was quick. If multiple came in at once…his concern was more mortal in nature. *npc* “I know her, and she’s going to try to get here before Jerry. If Jerry is coming to fight and brings Nation and we kill them, we will be held responsible and the Viceroy would never allow that. She’ll take the lashes for us. Don’t let it happen.” Of course, she was. Tom knew many people like Eris in this way. Unaware of their limitations and recklessly flirting with those boundaries. He was less concerned with the repercussions of killing Sheut and angrier with having to account for a weakened Eris coming back into an unpredictable battlefield. “Our punishments are worse than death. He’d rather us kill him in a fight than go back and face Nation consequences. She let you take the hesek, which alone she’ll have to answer for if they find out. You kill Jerry and he’s attached to the Nation? She’ll answer for that too. Don’t get my boss killed.” A low growl came from Tom before he realized it. How many ways can one accidentally get executed? Tom and Eris have needed to have a VERY long talk for some time now. Perhaps, once this was over, they could discuss this at length. Until then, he’d have to work with what he had and try to accommodate as best he could. Were it not for the fact that every time a word of profanity entered Tom’s mind, so too did his late wife’s face…he’d have unleashed a steady stream of them then. Everyone began taking their places and Tom went over the logistics in his head again and again. He had accounted for everything he could conceive of. Removed as much chance from the equation as was feasible given the circumstance. He heard some shouting coming from the front. Eris. As she walked in he saw her dragging a body along with her. Based on the picture he had seen before, this must be Jerry. Well, Tom had accounted for nearly all outcomes. Eris showing up and delivering the enemy was not one of them. This changed things a bit. “His escort of three are. No idea how long he’ll be out. If he’s a Meta or Empowered, we’ve got a real problem. A Magus, find his athames, bind his hands and tape his mouth shut so he can't cast. Then lock his ass down already. Figure out if you can disrupt his power and search him, his dead friends, and his truck for communication." There was something different in her barking of orders to her subordinates. Just as curt and direct as ever. There was just…less substance behind it. Even the glare she spared for Tom was…lacking. She was weak. Whatever she pulled off to take down Jerry must have been swift and brutal. Had she miscalculated; she’d likely be dead. Yes. They were going to have an unpleasant conversation in the future. He didn’t look forward to it. Tom nodded to Roderick as the others went to see to Eris’s orders. Roderick would deploy others to follow Mouse and Ahanu as additional backup in case something went awry…and to gather their own intel on the vehicle and its contents. Roderick himself wound up following Ahanu himself after delegating tasks. He was to observe how Ahanu subdued a mage. This would be valuable information later. Tom trusted that Ahanu wouldn’t leave anything to chance with Jerry. With those things settled, he marched after Eris. She was weak. Had endangered herself, in Tom’s opinion, unnecessarily. He couldn’t argue with the results though. It worked. This time. “Eris. We need to talk.” Tom’s tone was not hostile, but it would be clear to Eris that he had no intention of being brushed off. Eris was about to learn how stubborn Tom Gallo could be…if she wasn’t intent on speaking at the moment.
  7. Thomas Gallo

    Double..double.. toil and trouble... fire burn and cauldron bubble...

    Tom smirked at Matteo's exasperation. Matteo was always rubbing people the wrong way, it made Tom smile to see Gaspari doing the same to him. It was a small, private, joy that Tom took in these meetings. The idea of a Masquerade Ball seemed like a good idea. Halloween wasn't a full moon this year either. Tom would finally be able to attend a Bakkhos event. Too many of these were scheduled during inconvenient times for Tom. He looked forward to it. There were still some unanswered questions regarding the poisoned booze earlier this year. Tom, with Eris's help, had managed to shut down the contra-operation, however the mastermind behind it was still in the wind. He was still looking into who it could have been, but the trail was getting cold. This would be a welcome distraction. "I think they are getting tired of fighting me, anyway." Tom laughed. "It would be good to be seen in public outside of the arena." Tom agreed with the logistic challenges they faced. However, agreeing with Gaspari to make Matteo squirm was worth the extra work he'd have to engage in.
  8. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    Tom didn’t like asking questions that revealed his ignorance. When it came to mages…Tom was out of his depth. Ahanu’s quirked eyebrow and neutral expression reinforced this feeling in Tom. If the legend of Tom Gallo was to be shattered…Tom knew it would come at the hands of a mage, or at least in their presence. This made his inevitable rendezvous with Jerry even more unsettling. Tom was gambling in a realm where he didn’t have the answers. He recruited the right people to help with that…so that part was hedged at least. It didn’t mean he felt any better about it though. Ahanu’s quick dismissal of his original idea reinforced his ignorance. This exhaled what amounted to a soft chuckle. Ahanu had spent considerable time with Eris…he could see her influence in Ahanu’s mannerisms. *npc* “Mana can sense mana too. If he’s true telekinetic, he’d push the walls out before I could do it.” Interesting. It made sense that mages could sense one another. Tom could pick out other weres based on scent a long time before he ever set eyes on them. Why not have a magicky way for mages to do the same? *npc* “But, I can move air so he can’t take a breath and objects so he couldn’t get hold of one. Think, small tornado,” she smiled lightly. “He might control an object, but I control the flow of air around it and could send it right back at him or rip it out of his control. Get him in here to chat, and I could. Distract him while I do it, and it’s an even better chance. Shoot at him or something,” she said plainly. “Knocking you out isn’t an option.” Tom rubbed his chin as he was thinking. So, she could move air specifically the same way that Jerry could move objects? Specialized, limited…but more potent maybe? He paused a moment when she mentioned that knocking Tom out wasn’t an option. A standing order perhaps? He and Eris needed to have a long talk once this night was over. Tom had a lot to do though…and less than a week to complete it before he had to go Upstate again. The moon was rarely convenient. *npc* “The bigger problem is none of Jerry’s goons were magus. He’s going to sniff me out in a second.” This seemed to agree with what she had said earlier. A lot hinged on how Jerry responded to surprise. Was he an arrogant blowhard who knew he was walking into a trap and simply believed it would never work against him? Was he the oblivious type who wouldn’t see it coming? Was he a flighty ghost of a person who fled at the first sign of trouble in order to preserve himself? This was a gamble. Tom only had one shot at making this work before it became much more messy. *npc* “He’ll definitely know both of us are here. Mouse can potentially disrupt the man’s telekinetic signal. Can’t stop him, just can make it so he can’t control it.” The light flickering cause him to glance up in the rafters to where the lights should be. Mouse. The reason this gathering of people was together today. Had she dived into any of the neighboring buildings during the night of the Blood Moon, Eris and Tom would have never met. Tom supposed he owed her something…not sure what yet. But something. Based on what Ahanu was telling Tom, it seemed as if Jerry’s powers could be dealt with if they worked together. If he were busy contesting with mages, maybe he wouldn’t see the blunt end of an axe coming to meet the side of his head. Tom nodded thoughtfully as Mouse’s talents were brought to light. *npc* “I can try to knead out his curiosity and confidence when he first gets here too.” Roderick offered. “If he’s half as dangerous as Ahanu claims, then keeping him from getting erratic would be recommended.” Roderick paused a moment, “You know that means…” Tom nodded, cutting Roderick off. “…that I’m on my own.” Roderick would not be able to influence the moods of Jerry and Tom at the same time. Controlling Jerry was more important than controlling Tom at this particular moment. It was another risk. If Jerry deliberately tried to provoke Tom…it was likely to work. The moon was rarely convenient. A plan was forming in his mind. He couldn’t hide the mages, Ahanu made that clear. So they had to be advertised. Ahanu up front with the outer guards when Jerry rolls up. Tom wanted to set an ambush…but the more he thought about it, the more dangerous it seemed it would be…to his crew. If Jerry was powerful enough, a lot of people could die that didn’t need to. If, however, Jerry rolled up to a warehouse and a pair of guards were out front with Ahanu close by…she could protect them from any surprise assault…Mouse could be inside. Tom wasn’t sure he’d be able to convince her to operate out in the open. The thoughts and details were filling themselves in his mind even as he spoke. “The perimeter guards and scouts can stay where they are. They will switch from sentries to containment once Jerry gets to the front door. At the front I want two guards plus Ahanu.” Tom looked Ahanu in the eyes and just as he could see the quiet determination behind her eyes, she too would see the steely resolve and furnace burning behind his. “Ahanu, since I can’t hide you, we might as well present you. That will be the most shocking surprise that he is most likely to react violently to. Once the shock of his warehouse being compromised wears off, you can invite him, and whomever he wishes to bring with him into the warehouse. Allowing him to bring his goons will increase his confidence and sense of security…lowering his guard somewhat. Roderick, this is where you come in.” Tom switched his gaze to Roderick. “He undoubtedly knows who you are. So, meeting you here will hardly seem surprising after he realizes his warehouse is mine now.” Tom paused. Thinking. Yes, this seemed like the best tactic. “Once you have eyes on him, you can assess if he needs soothed or not. Once you are satisfied, you can bring him to me here.” Tom had waved toward the office he had been standing in earlier. Tom had entertained a few different paths forward with this introduction. Until now, Jerry and whomever he worked for believed they had the upper hand on Tom. Truth be told, they did. Tom had briefly considered letting Jerry believe that longer and use his ego to reveal truths that would otherwise be hidden. Tom dismissed that idea quickly after he heard his voice come out the other end of the phone when Butch called him. No. Tom made a read of the man then. Tom was banking on that reading being correct. If Tom miscalculated, this could go very poorly. He had to be right. “Jerry’s confidence comes from his perceived control. His hot-headed anger at the first hint of things not going to plan revealed that about him. He’s coming expecting a fight. We need to communicate to him, once inside, that he has already lost.” Tom’s face softened slightly as he looked at Roderick. Roderick’s face sank noticeably. He knew what he had to do, and didn’t like it. He always felt a bit of the emotions he was trying to make others feel. This lead to good times when he was trying to sweeten a person’s mood…the opposite is true the other way as well. Tom was asking him to bring despair to Jerry. It would take a toll on Roderick. Roderick looked down and took a deep, steadying breath. He looked up at Tom’s face with steely determination and nodded solemnly. He knew what had to be done and accepted it. Tom knew in his heart that he was the only person Roderick would do this for. He would never be able to repay him enough for this. Tom hated himself for it. Growling slightly, he held up a hand to stop Roderick. He no doubt felt what Tom was feeling and instinctively moved to dampen it. He had to save his strength. Tom would be fine. This would have been much easier two weeks ago. The moon was rarely convenient. “Mouse, wherever she is now, will need to reveal herself. I can’t have Jerry spooked because he counts one less mage than he can see. I would have her sit in the office with me, but will not force that upon her if she so chooses.” Tom paused and looked sternly at Ahanu. “But, as you said, she’ll be noticed. If she can’t be seen, then she can’t be present. I’ll leave that decision to you. Either she is here and visible, or she is out.” Nothing about that last sentence was a question, suggestion, or anything other than a command. Tom knew Ahanu was not his to command, but if she was to remain, then she had to cooperate. This was the Tom Gallo that rumors spoke of. The reputation he had earned painted this picture of him. Authoritative strategist who was ruthless in operation. Tom expected Ahanu would have an objection, but his countenance communicated plainly that the objection was unwelcome. Only the decision of the choices offered by Tom. Anything else was unacceptable. “Inside the office will be myself, Jerry, a single person he might choose to bring in with him, and either Mouse, Ahanu, or no one.” Tom continued. “He won’t step willingly into a trap where he doesn’t have at least the illusion of parity. Even if he knows he is likely done. His pride won’t allow it. So, either I operate at a deficit or at perceived equity.” All of that setup was to paint the picture that Jerry’s operation was over. Tom sitting comfortably in an office that was believed to be Jerry’s less than an hour ago would deal a crushing blow to his confidence about the operation. If this was shut down so totally, what about the rest? This was the ambush he had to set. Worst case, only the small number of people in the office would get hurt before the rest of the troops outside contained the danger. If Tom was one of them, so be it. “From here we will learn how smart Jerry is. If he has a head on his shoulders, he’ll realize he is done. Finished.” Unless there is something that Tom hadn’t planned for. This was possible…but he didn’t have time to think through all possibilities. “He’ll either submit in an attempt to save his own skin…or lash out in a desperate attempt to escape.” Tom glanced briefly at Roderick before continuing, “If we all do our jobs, that shouldn’t happen. Either way, Jerry doesn’t leave here on his own terms.” That last sentence was delivered in a tone as cold as the grave. Not even the least-trusting person would suggest he was bluffing now. The most skilled manipulator would know that changing his mind was impossible now. This ended now.
  9. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    Tom could clearly hear the string of profanity spewing from the phone after Butch performed. Tom smiled slightly as he listened. Butch did well. Roderick helped him along with some minute emotional tweaking, but he was confident that Jerry would have bought it regardless. Based on the stream of profanity coming over the phone, it appeared that he was emotional…irrational. Tom could use this. Tom was all too familiar with the war of emotions vs. reason; however Tom deliberately waged that war on behalf of reason against the emotional beast. Jerry, Tom suspected, did not. Jerry hung up the phone before Butch could respond. He must be on his way then. It was time to go. Most of the crew that cleaned up had left by now. Tom kept about ten men or so back for when Jerry arrived with…whoever else may come. Tom turned to Tex and said, “It’s time to get Butch out of here.” Tex nodded and said, “Come on, kid. Let’s get you somewhere safe.” Wordlessly, Butch followed with a thankful nod towards Tom as he left. Tom was still a bit apprehensive…he couldn’t shake it…but maybe he was just being overly pessimistic. It was easy to do these days. Ahanu suddenly had a phone in her ear saying, “Got it.” And hung up. Looking to Tom she was all business. “Jerry will be here in twenty. Shipments were supposed to be held until morning. There are three other sites. Eris suspects they are testing to see if you are on to them.” Ahanu hesitated slightly, perhaps in apprehension about how Tom would react to the next bit. “She thinks their endgame is you.” Tom kept his face neutral. Inside, his head was roiling with conflicting emotions, feelings, thoughts. He suspected that this was a feeling out of some sort. It still wasn’t clear how ambitious the goal was. Did Bakkhos finally have a rival willing to contest them openly? If they could take down the Prize Fighter Figurehead…what next? Tom was trying to keep this problem isolated under his purview for the moment…but maybe he’d have to bring in the other Capos to demonstrate that Bakkhos, while compartmented, is not a union of separate enterprises. No. Bakkhos was a family…in every sense of the word. This was a unique challenge. His authority had been challenged before by would-be usurpers. Tom always came out on top. This felt different. This was different. Tom sat silently for a minute, thinking. Planning. Then Ahanu answered her phone again. Tom tuned in to the words coming out of the phone this time. A telekinetic? He’d heard of them. Horror stories of beating beaten up by invisible hands. Action without the equal and opposite reaction. Tom growled again. Either Jerry was the top of this…or someone was able to employ telekinetic lieutenants. Absently spinning the ring on his finger, a plan began to form. It was a gamble, everything was lately, but it might just work. He had to know more first. Now. After Ahanu had called Mouse to come to the warehouse, Tom asked, “You said you are an Air Magus. How much air can you move, and how quickly?” Tom started to stroll toward a small office off to one side and motioned the others to follow. It was a windowless room to the exterior. There was one big window facing the interior of the warehouse and one on the door. There was a fairly nondescript desk with a pair of generic chairs on one side and a higher-end office chair on the other side. This room should work, assuming Ahanu could do what he hoped. “Could you turn that room into a vacuum? If two men entered, could you suck the air out of the room fast enough that they could pass out?” Tom knew he couldn’t exchange blows with Jerry. Jerry would never let him get that close. That was the mistake the blaster made in Satyr Stadium a while back. He let the brute touch him. Jerry wouldn’t allow that to occur. If Tom was the target, specifically Tom and not Thyrsus, then Jerry was chosen specifically for that reason. Tom had to get Jerry to let his guard down. If Jerry was indeed subordinate to someone…then Jerry was likely kept on a short leash…especially where his powers were concerned. Killing Tom Gallo in some obscure warehouse was not the headline-grabbing shock to the system this cabal was after. It was Gallo’s reputation they were after, not necessarily his blood. Regardless, Jerry would protect himself from attack. So it was up to Tom to make sure Jerry believed he wouldn’t be attacked. If he could lure Jerry into the room to chat, Tom could get him talking. Not with any hope of learning intel…that would come later. Instead, he just needed Jerry and himself in the room with the door closed. Ahanu would do the rest…sucking the air out of the room until both Tom and Jerry collapsed. It wasn’t a guarantee…and Tom was reasonably certain that Jerry wouldn’t even enter the room. Tom was banking on his reputation as a businessman and Capo to outweigh his reputation as a prize-fighter. It really was a toss-up. Tom strolled into the room and nodded as he noticed that this office was nothing special. A small-time office with folders, paperwork, a file cabinet, and other sundry office items. It shouldn’t appear threatening to anyone. Especially since Tom would offer his back to the man by entering the room first. Tom was sure he could withstand an assault of some kind…but only for so long. This had to work.
  10. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    “You'll make the right choice.” He hoped so. He didn’t like to throw lives away needlessly. He honestly felt for the man. However, he had one performance to complete before he left in the careful hands of some of Tom’s men. When she placed his hand atop his, Tom smiled a small smile. He cared for her. In exactly which capacity…he wasn’t entirely sure. He just knew that he wanted her mission to go well. Go safely. Obviously he did, as his operation depended on that, but also…he wanted to see her again. When she nodded, he nodded once and left her to whatever she had to do to get into character. Tom spotted Roderick supervising one of the crews loading the tainted goods with a sandwich in his hand. Where did he get that? Roderick was infinitely resourceful. He must have had one of the guys bring him one on the way in. Eating seemed to bring some vigor back to his step…some sharpness to his eyes. He was recovering from the mental strain of earlier. Roderick knew that Tom would need his help with their new friend. The phone call had to be convincing. Some people were good actors, others needed to truly feel the emotions they needed to express. That’s where Roderick came in. Just as the last pallet was loaded and was being moved, Tom surveyed the warehouse. It was truly as if no one had been here. Even the axe had been replaced in a new break-away glass container. Tom was sad to see the axe go. That thought bothered him, but it was true. His idle, savage, thoughts were becoming more common. The beast within seemed to be mostly contained in the vault Tom shoved it into…but it was as if it had found a way to ooze through the cervices and seep into his being. It was like stepping out of the water on a humid day, and no matter what, you never felt dry. So too was the ferocity within Tom. It could no longer be contained…separated. Simply reduced…or indulged in order to be sated…for a time. Tom wandered back to where the prisoner had been sitting with some of Tom’s men. He appeared to be more at ease. When he noticed Tom approach, his eye lit up with excitement, or was it relief? Hope. The man, as far as Tom could tell, had tossed the dice and put all his chips on siding with Tom. Quick glances to the man he left in charge, and the others with him seemed to indicate that none of them suspected anything nefarious to come from him. Good. Tom could even grow to like the man. But for now, he had a job to do. Tom snapped his fingers loudly, drawing Roderick’s attention, to which he waved a hand to acknowledge Tom and turned to another near him, apparently leaving him with final instructions before joining Tom. Tom took a chair and sat across from the prisoner and leaned back slightly with a warm smile. Tom may very well be this man’s savior, but he still had to believe that Tom held his life in his hands. “How are you feeling? You look much better. Have you been fed?” Tom could smell the remnants of ham and turkey coming from the lot of them. Roddy was always thinking ahead. He sometimes thought further out than Tom…he’d be loathe to admit that, but he has been having to admit his limitations a lot lately. His eyes hardened as Tom glowered briefly while those thoughts threatened to distract him. He smelled fear come from the man as he nodded his affirmation at Tom’s inquiry. Tom had to be careful. “Sorry, it has been quite the day…” Tom suddenly realized he didn’t know the man’s name. He had been so focused on getting the names of those further up the chain that he had neglected to ask the man his own name. Tom growled at his sloppiness before catching himself and resuming his friendly demeanor. “I apologize. I don’t believe I have even caught your name to this point. Please forgive my rudeness.” Tom meant it. Those last sentences were genuine. Tom had always prided himself in his demeanor and politeness. He was always careful to not be perceived as ingenuine as well. Polite, when ingenuine, was worse than brash rudeness in his mind. Tom had ‘educated’ the occasional subordinate in the value of speaking their mind if they disagreed with Tom rather than blindly toeing the line. The other capos thought Tom was crazy, inviting mutiny with such free-speech. Tom’s methods proved to be effective, however. His operations ran smoothly. People were willing to live and die for him because they not only feared him, they respected him. They loved him. This poison in the well has been the only real hiccup in his operations that didn’t come as a result of some other sort of external disaster. It was a hell of a hiccup though. Tom wanted desperately to believe that the ability of his shipments to be mixed with this tainted swill existed purely from the outside. He strongly believed that someone within the Family itself had to be helping, though. Only time spent following this lead would reveal that truth. “Butch,” the man stammered briefly before recovering. Tom wasn’t sure if Roderick was helping or if Tom had outwardly regained control of the frustration just waiting to be released. It was like pinching the end of an inflated balloon. One slip… “Sometimes they call me Spike, though.” The man nodded to a long, pointy knife lying on another table several feet away indicating that it was his. As the man spoke, his voice went from timid to eager. He was anxious to prove himself, perhaps with that dagger. Tom noticed that, as he was speaking…but more so when he wasn’t, the man constantly fidgeted with his fingers. He habitually, repeatedly, and deftly touched each fingertip to his thumb. When Tom didn’t respond right away, the drumming on his thumbs changed to quick tapping on the table. That ended abruptly as he shot a worried glance at one of the men Tom had tasked with guarding him. Apparently, this behavior had been discouraged. This elicited a soft smile from Tom. He was reading the men around him. He was learning to adapt to those around him. It was natural on an instinctive level, but there was that brief moment of realization before he stopped. The man whom he feared had not even reacted to this episode of finger-drumming, but Butch remembered. Based on their earlier conversation, Tom suspected Butch never forgot. Anything. “Butch, I’ll call you Butch for now. We’ll see if the future holds an opportunity for me to call you Spike.” Tom’s smile was more impish this time. Implying a future was another genuine, but calculated wording to ease the man’s tension and earn more of his trust. He was going to ask him to do something potentially dangerous. Butch returned the smile, tentatively. “Butch, I’m going to ask you to do something for me. But I need your candid feedback and input on this.” Tom was going to show him some of what it was like to work for Tom. Glancing at the man leading the group guarding Butch, Tom nodded to him. The man rolled up his sleeve above his elbow to show the surgical scars from a surgically-repaired elbow. His name was Stanley Rodgers, although everyone in Bakkhos called him Tex, due to his accent. When Tex was new to the Family, Tom had laid out a plan with a tragically obvious flaw. Tex, due to his military and tactical background, should have seen this plainly. When Tom asked for feedback from the team, no one spoke up. He was willing to forgive the others, having been goons and shakedown fodder for the most part. But Tex remaining silent was a sin that had to be punished. Tom hyper-extended his elbow across the edge of the table until it broke. While Tex screamed in pain, he managed to yell out in between groans of pain what the flaw in Tom’s plan was. Tom had punished dishonesty in several different ways prior to and since then. The example he set with Tex was that Tom’s pride was not to be protected at the expense of the Family. Tom was a capo, but he wasn’t the entire Family. Family first. Was that still Tom’s motivation with this investigation? Of course, it was. Not petty vengeance. Protecting the Family. Definitely. “Listen to ‘em kid,” Tex drawled to Butch. “Lyin’ is worse than failin’. I’ve failed a time or two for Mr. Gallo before. Never did I pay for that like I did lyin’ to ‘im.” Butch’s eyes widened in horror briefly at the scars on the arm. Butch began to realize that the ball was entirely in his court now. He nodded without even thinking, still staring at the scars on Tex’s arm. Butch was likely remembering Tom’s casual brutality with Trevor earlier and blending that information with the story from Tex. “A-a-anything, Mr. Gallo. What do you want me to do?” Tom spared a glance at Roderick who simply shook his head. He hadn’t done anything to alter the man’s mood as yet. Good. The less Roderick had to do, the more genuine it would sound. Tom held out his hand toward Tex and said, “I need your phone.” When Tex handed Tom the phone, Tom set it on the table between he and Butch. He tapped it a couple times and looked into Butch’s eyes, face set in determination. “I need you to call Jerry. You are going to tell him, in whatever words you believe will be most convincing, that Trevor and the others are gone along with the containers you were supposed to be watching, and you have no idea where they went. You left briefly, and when you returned, everyone and everything were gone.” Tom paused to let this imaginary scenario settle in Butch’s mind. Allow him to come up with logical connections that make the known information of Jerry align with the created reality Tom created. “Bottom line, I need you to get him here. As soon as possible.” Tom paused a second more to, once again, allow the information to settle in Butch’s mind. “Now, what I want from you, is feedback. Why won’t this work? What needs to be changed in order for it to work? What vital piece of information do you know that I don’t that will make or break this attempt?” It did no good to hold back now. Butch was already in too deep. He was either going to prove useful, or die. That last part hurt Tom a bit. He derived no joy from killing or injuring. It was simply a means to an end. A disciplinary tool, nothing more. But this was different. He either served his purpose or would be discarded. Butch thought for a few moments. Tom could smell his fear increase. Pheromones, detectable on an unconscious level, were like identifying flowers by smell to Tom by now. Tom looked at Roderick and nodded briefly. Just a gentle nudge, to pull him back from fear and back to calm, where analysis could occur more efficiently. “Jerry will be suspicious from the start. Trevor is an ass, and Jerry knows this…but I don’t know that he’ll take my word for it that Trevor betrayed him. Me being confused about what happened will make me seem incompetent rather than deceptive…” Wow. Butch was dangerously shrewd. “…I don’t know that this will be enough to bring him here. He’ll immediately ring Trevor’s phone. When he doesn’t answer though…” It was clear that Butch was thinking out loud now. “…Jerry is a control-freak and will want to get eyes on it himself. And he won’t come alone.” Butch looked as if he were about to continue speaking before Tom raised his hand to quiet him for a moment. Eris had had Trevor’s phone. Did she still or had she left it someplace? Tom silently cursed himself for not grabbing that. It was almost certainly in Bakkhos hands, if not Eris’s. Tom just wasn’t certain where. “How much is he likely to say to you instead of Trevor? Does he view you as a mindless drone to do his bidding, or does he count on you thinking at all?” Butch’s shake of his head was all Tom needed. Jerry was a control freak. Butch was just a body. Trevor only slightly more than that. The pieces were falling into place in Tom’s mind. He knew how to get Jerry here. “Play the fool then. It is understandable to be scared of disappointing the boss.” Tom paused a second to emphasize the double-meaning of his statement. If being afraid of Tom helped Butch appear to be afraid of Jerry, all the better. “You are the good simpleton trying to figure out what to do next.” Butch nodded along with Tom’s words. It appeared that he was forming a plan in his mind as Tom spoke. If Butch played his role well, then Jerry would be here soon enough. “Is there anything else I’m missing?” Butch shook his head. Good. Now for the hard questions. “Do you have family, friends, or loved ones of which Jerry is aware? Is he the type to seek to harm them to punish you?” Butch’s solemn nod and sad eyes was all Tom needed to see. “Then give Tex their names and addresses and phone numbers. We will look after them while all of this is happening.” Tom leaned forward and rested a powerful hand on Butch’s shoulder. “Believe me when I say that I want this to be the first of many more collaborations between you and I. We will keep you and yours safe while we deal with this.” Butch smiled warmly and looked at Tom the way a puppy stares at their master. Butch was Tom’s. Totally and completely. “He is a magus. Have you ever seen him use his powers?” Butch shook his head. Well, so much for that. That bit of information Tom was afraid he’d have to learn first-hand. Tom turned his chin up and to the side, cracking the vertebrae in his neck as he did so. “You ready?” Butch nodded and reached for the phone. Tom and Roderick exchanged brief glances before Roddy shifted his focus to Butch. Only Tom and Ahanu, presumably, in the warehouse truly knew what Roderick could do. That secret was the closest thing to silver as a paramount weakness of Tom. If the wrong people knew how heavily he leaned on Roderick, Tom would have a much different problem to contend with. Butch picked up the phone and deftly dialed a series of numbers. Tom memorized Jerry’s phone number but wanted to see if Butch knew it...and if he’d dial it. Another test, but one Tom already knew the answer to. The tell-tale tones of the numbers being pressed matched the numbers Tom had in mind. His preternatural hearing serving an unusually subtle purpose this time. As the phone was ringing, Butch’s finger hovered over the speaker phone button as he looked at Tom. Tom shook his head. This would be seen as a sign of trust, but Tom would be able to hear the conversation as clearly as if he had the phone to his ear as well. Finally, someone picked up. “J-j-jerry? S-something weird is going on here! Where is everyone?! D-d-id…” Butch gulped, barely able to get the words out. This was partially Roderick’s influence, but Butch did have a genuine fear of Jerry. “…did I miss something? T-t-revor and the others are gone! The boxes are too! I’m so sorry! Where am I supposed to be?!”
  11. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    “Promises, promises…” Tom knew it was in humor, but the levity was fading as the time for action was growing nearer. Tom’s demeanor evened out too. Even before the Event, Tom was often told that he ‘looked angry’ when he was deep in thought. Jacqueline called it his ‘resting war face.’ Now that Tom had a stowaway in his head at all times…his ‘war face’ was not ‘resting’ as much as it used to be. “Stake him, take all his… loose parts. Don’t wake him until you speak to me again, I’ll let you wake him up this time. It’s fun. Kind of like wrestling a Were.” Tom grunted. It was meant to be a chuckle…he appreciated the levity. But his mood wouldn’t allow it. The time for jokes would have to wait. He was focused. Planning. Plans, contingencies, additional contingencies… Plans A through Q were finding places in his mind, sorting themselves out in a likely if-then cascade. He didn’t let it get out of hand though. He still had to factor in the variable of the mage. Tom had to deal with him in some form. Tonight. Eris had forced his hand in this matter. After she did what she did…Tom couldn’t risk Jerry finding out he was being counter-attacked. Not until Tom had eyes on the man. For the first time, it felt like Tom had some sort of initiative. Best not to mess this up. “Strollo’s room has a slab we can strap him to. I was strapped to it once.” Tom growled a bit in remembrance of that night. How much tranquilizer did they use on him to get him there? The full moon was that night. Tom, despite it being his idea, violently opposed being constrained. It took all the willpower he possessed to enter the room in the first place. It took…several shots from tranq-guns to put him down so they could bind him. It was a valiant attempt. Tom’s wolf stayed in the room the entire night…but Tom woke up the next morning with a portion of a table strapped to one of his arms. Since then, Strollo had upgraded his room. What was once a table was now a stone slap in the middle of the room. Tom had refused to enter that room ever again since then. Tom was confident that Trevor would not be able to break the bindings that would hold him there. “Strollo’s upgraded the room since my visit.” A hint of a satisfied smirk played on the corner of his mouth. “I’m sure it will hold him until we’re ready to speak with him.” “I’m not leaving you here alone with Roderick and an unknown variable with Jerry. I have a small team that patrols my hangar at your disposal in five minutes. They will stay outside and monitor. You say shoot, they will without hesitation. Don’t get too attached to them. You can’t keep them, they’re my toys.” Tom nodded. It made sense. If Roderick wasn’t totally exhausted, he had already sent for backup. The Magus was hard to account for…but Ahanu seemed to be the one to hedge against that. Good. Things, once again appeared to be trending in Tom’s favor. He opened up his phone and dialed. After one ring, the other line picked up without saying a word. “Allies in play. Assume all friendly until I say otherwise.” Tom hung up the phone and nodded his thanks to Eris. He knew what it meant for he to trust Ahanu in his care. A lot could go wrong and she couldn’t control it. A lot would be learned about one another this night. “That man is loyal to you for life. He would take a bullet for you, don’t let him regret that choice.” Tom regarded the man who was either accepting death, or believed he’d escaped it. Either way, relief was plain on his face. He would regard Tom as his savior after this was done. Tom might find a place for him somewhere. One thing was certain, however. Unless he died, he was effectively a prisoner until this situation was resolved. This man would remain under Bakkhos eyes every minute until this issue was finished. Tom couldn’t risk it. Eris had dropped all pretense at a façade by this point. Seeing her vulnerabilities made Tom silently question his motives. He was prepared to be as brutal as required to ensure that this problem ceased to exist…as quickly as possible. Hearing Eris challenge Tom to reward this man’s semi-coerced cooperation pierced him to his heart. Silently he cursed Eris for that. Emotion complicated decision-making. He thanked her silently at the same time. ‘Why’ is as important as ‘how.’ It was good to remember that. “Hope he doesn’t have to. He has more risks to take yet.” Tom was going to have to put him on the phone with Jerry. He wasn’t 100% confident how well the man would perform. It was a gambit that had to be taken. Tom had a plan. Before Tom was shooed out, he placed a hand on Eris’s shoulder. Gripping it strongly, comfortingly, he didn’t care about her typical tactile-aversion. With this level of exposure to one another, niceties were irrelevant. If she was revealing her true side, so should he. “I’ll take care of yours. Get in touch when you can.” Stepping out of the room, Tom saw Roderick on the phone speaking quickly to whoever was on the other line while Tom’s new best friend was pointing to the boxes he was tasked with watching for the evening. Soon, based on the number of crates being pointed out, a single truck would come. The back would be loaded with a dozen or so men and a forklift. The boxes would be loaded into the truck to be taken somewhere Tom knew was secure. The men would be cleaning up the mess they had made to make the scene as if no one had been there. Assuming they weren’t busy cleaning up a higher priority mess, the crew that was coming would be in and out in less than an hour. Other than the faint smell of cleaning chemicals, no one would ever know someone had been there. By the time Tom had reached Roderick, the tell-tale beeping of a cargo truck could be heard backing up to the loading dock. Damn. Roderick gets it. Making eye contact with Roderick, Tom held up three fingers with a raised eyebrow. Roderick shook his head and held up four. Interesting. Either Roderick misjudged, not likely, or Matteo called an audible, sending an additional squad. Tom had been keeping Matteo apprised of the progress of tracking down the poisoner. Calling for squads would catch Matteo’s attention. Adding a fourth meant he suspected the need. Tom nodded at Roderick. He’d have to reach out to Matteo after this and update him. Tom was sure that a ‘bonus fight’ at Satyr was in his future. Tom draped an arm around the man’s shoulder and started to lead him off to one of the side doors. As he did, he caught a glimpse of Eris/Jerry slipping out to begin her part of the plan. Tom motioned toward a table and chair, silently imploring him to sit. As the man sat down, the side door opened and a half-dozen Bakkhos men strode in. They were not as disciplined as trained soldiers, not this group anyway, but they were capable of following orders and making good decisions when given some autonomy. “This is my friend. I’d like two of you to keep him company while I attend to some other matters. See to it that he remains safe and unharmed. Any wounds of his will be matched by one of yours.” Tom growled out that last line. It wasn’t likely that they were going to rough the man up, but it occasionally happened…and Tom would have none of it. It was also important that he hear Tom say this. If Eris was right, then this would reinforce that perception. Tom then turned to his new friend and knelt down to be eye to eye with him. “I know you’ve gone through a lot in a short amount of time. You have handled this well. You are strong.” Tom smiled warmly at the man, the way a father would to a son, or a coach to one of his team. “I’m going to need that strength soon. Take a moment and gather yourself.” Tom then recognized one of the crew that he has seen come in and out of Thyrsus a few times. He clapped the man on the shoulder and stared the man in his eyes and held the gaze for a few moments. He then nodded, grimly, and was mirrored by the man. He was to be the bodyguard for Tom’s new friend. And executioner if need be. Tom hated it, but it was necessary. Tom then walked away to supervise the cleanup operation. He took a moment to inspect the occasional crate being loaded into the truck to make sure that the tainted booze was within. To the man’s credit, every check yielded that same putrid stench. Eris was right. This man was proving to be quite loyal. He then approached Ahanu, who had found her way by Roderick. Tom should have expected as much. “Ahanu. I’m loathe to admit it, but I’m leaning heavily on you when dealing with our new magus friend. Anything that you’d like to share with me before this begins that would be good to know would be appreciated.” Tom didn’t know what to expect from her. He was hoping she’d share what she was capable of, or her limitations, or anything that could help Tom keep her alive. His request was more like an order than a plea…but Tom knew she was not his to command. So he’d have to make do.
  12. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    “I worked in the DEA before the Event. In the field. That means I can help you figure out your poison too." This was good. Tom would need outside help. Bakkhos, while quite robust, didn’t have a stranglehold in the apothecary business. He wondered if Cassandra made any headway on the mage-part of the poison. He’d have to give her a call soon. He needed to maintain a balance between duty to his clients, business, and Family…with keeping his agreement with ARMA intact. Tom understood that if Cassandra perceived Tom to be crossing lines, he’d be fighting a battle on two fronts. Additional chaos. That thought urged the beast to pound on the door Tom had it trapped in. Eris saved him with her quip. “Well there goes my night. You’re a good study.” Tom grunted a chuckle at that. Even though he wasn’t as blatantly clinical as Eris, he was keeping detailed mental notes of Eris as well. She was ruthless, brutal, and deadly. She also seemed to have a fierce protector-vibe to her that spoke of unbreakable loyalty and a disdain for manipulative subversion. She’d been betrayed. Victimized. She’d thrown a car through his walls to save one of her own during the Blood Moon. It was rare that this sort of loyalty came naturally. It was almost always a product of experienced loss. Tom knew that, if he earned her trust, it would be unbreakable. If he betrayed her, he’d likely die. He grinned slightly despite himself. He liked it. As Eris described the junk-vehicle market, Tom nodded as she spoke. He knew a little of this. Even Bakkhos’ resources were constrained by the lack of supply on the market. He had to admit that they were partially responsible for that. When the world went to hell, Gaspari and the capos were smart enough to secure what Tom liked to call the ‘practical practices.’ Nearly all vehicles that have been serviced since the Event have had Bakkhos hands on them. He was far enough removed from the operations to know how strong of a hand they had in aviation. Maybe he’d be able to help Eris in that regard, if need be. He’d have to check. A fortunate side-effect of the Bakkhos quasi-monopoly on transport was that the few people operating outside of their circle had their own signatures on their work. Tom would reach out to someone to make calls to the shops to check whether or not these vehicles had been serviced in their shops. Tom doubted it. Everyone was sloppy sometimes though. Maybe he’d get a lead. “…did you seriously just ask me that?” “I had little doubt.” A small smile came to Tom. “This relationship is dangerous. One of these days I might ask you to take over the world with me.” Tom’s smile broadened. He could see the mirth in her eyes. The relief. Eris was alone. Eris had Toby, Ahanu, and Mouse…but they were her charges. Not her subordinates, not only that anyway, but her family. Her children. They were not her peers. From what Tom could tell, she didn’t have any peers. Until now. When you are the one everyone seeks comfort from, who do you seek when you need it? Tom thought that Eris saw that in him. This wasn’t the time to say so. But she was right. Tom nodded toward the battered and beaten Hesek whose breathing appeared to be leveling out. “When we work together against a common enemy…yes…dangerous is a good word.” He smiled, “But I’m afraid the world will have to wait,” he paused and with feigned ominousness, “…for now.” “I need Ahanu, that’s part of the risk. You’ll be on your own. Toby will stay to help with the rogue, then he’ll have to follow me when your people arrive. Ahanu will have to tail us from the start. When this is done, I'll need their help. Nobody is all powerful Thomas, not even me.” That left Trevor with Tom. He'd have to be a bit more specific about who came for cleanup and transport. Just in case. Eris’s laughter pulled his mind from its tunnel-vision focus. He smiled too, genuinely. Tom had worked side by side with plenty of men who would become his enemy the moment their common goal was achieved. It was refreshing to see that some genuine people still existed. Eris had a hard surface, yes. She was a ruthless enemy, yes. She was also as vulnerable and delicate as anyone else once that shell was penetrated. Her willingness to peel back the layers and expose this to Tom spoke volumes to her level of trust. “I’m trusting you not to hurt my people. I will not be able to protect them, from you, after I do this.” Tom nodded. He understood completely. Tom made that same leap when he summoned Roderick into the room earlier. He knew that if Eris and Toby decided that Tom and Roderick had to go…they’d probably be gone. Their families were one now. Whether Tom or Eris realized it or not…their fates had become intertwined. “When he brings in our first friend and I close this door, I won’t be able to talk to you again until this is over. When I’m good, I’ll call Ahanu to leave the two outside and come in. When you see her come in, I’m going to cut them loose outside for the 'getaway' and see where they take me. Once I get all the info I think I’ll get, I’ll take care of the two friends outside. Let’s get this done.” “I’ll make sure our cooperative friend isn’t anywhere to see ‘Jerry’ leave. I’ll plan to take Trevor to one of Strollo’s ‘Conversation Rooms.’ I’ve…stayed a few nights in one of them in a pinch. It will keep him there.” The implication was clear. Tom was unable to get upstate one month, and he was…unexpectedly delayed getting to where he would normally wait out the change. Strollo had designed one of his rooms to hold stronger folks he desired to ‘converse’ with. It did the job of keeping the wolf contained, albeit with some minor damage. It would keep Trevor contained as long as needed. “How long do you think he’ll stay unconscious? Do you think he needs another kick in the skull to keep him down for another hour or so?” Tom was all business, but was there a hint of eagerness in his voice? “I’ll have our new friend call Jerry to get him out here. He and I will have a discussion about how we proceed from here.” Tom’s demeanor was still pleasant…leftover from the mirth a few moments ago. But his eyes. They betrayed his true intent. Tom’s chat with Jerry was not likely to be pleasant. In fact, Tom was already prepared for it to be disappointing and dangerous. It was time to toss the dice.
  13. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    Something changed with Eris’s demeanor. He couldn’t pinpoint the exact tells, but she seemed…pleased? Amused? Whatever it was, her countenance had certainly changed. Some sort of wicked mirth betrayed itself. They would work well together…so long as their agendas were aligned. “It’s not an airfield, it’s an old heliport. I looked at it several years ago as a dock. It’s really only good for warehouse needs and small freight docking. The fuel tanks are sludge so it’s useless to me. For old trucks, it’s passable but it will destroy the engines… it’s their fuc…It’s their screw-up. Could land a helicopter there, but I don’t know of any pilots that service there. Helicopters that accurate are not common either. I have an idea who could do it. I’ll make some calls.” Tom had caught her hesitation in speech. He made no secret about his disdain for foul language. As to why it was so passionate to him...it was clear to those who knew him and his late wife. Jacqueline was beloved by all in Bakkhos. Even before Gaspari joined the families together, Jacqueline was well-liked by all of the families. Her penchant for correcting crude language in her presence was seen as cute at first, but over time, it was clear that she was not kidding. Her ‘quiet strength’ commanded the respect…if not outright obedience of those in her presence. When she and Tom were married, they presented a powerful front. Jacqueline’s ‘preferences’ became Gallo’s law. Cursing in Thyrsus was near the top of the list of ‘things not to do in front of Gallo.’ Tom had enough sense not to enforce the Thyrsus rules outside of it. Others in Bakkhos respected Tom, and the memory of Jacqueline enough to censor themselves when he was around more times than not, but Tom respected other people’s boundaries…heseks poisoning his supplies notwithstanding. One thing that tickled at Tom’s mind was, how Eris picked up on it? He had been very disciplined about being polite and professional with her. She had earned his respect the moment she entered Thyrsus, through the front door. Either she did her homework, or she was very astute at picking up cues from people. From what he had seen of Eris…it was likely both. Tom knew that her censoring herself right then took considerable effort. Yes. She was worthy of his respect. Tom smiled, warmly this time --- not amusedly, “Thank you.” Tom could tell this was uncharacteristic of Eris. Either her façade was slipping…or she was deliberately letting her guard down. Trusting him. He had taken a chance in the helicopter, revealing how he became the way he was. It seemed like it was a worthy gambit. This was a relationship that would last. One worth having. “Warehouses and small freight…seems to fit.” Tom mused. “Does the proximity to the water make up for the poor fuel quality? Seems short-sighted.” Why would they set up an operation doomed to fail? Desperation? No. Whoever was behind this had more intelligent plans. This helipad setup was intended to be temporary. What’s a few trucks cost to destroy one of your powerful enemies? Whoever was responsible intended for this helipad setup not to last. It was an expendable asset. What Tom and Eris did next was going to be very important. Tom knew that, whatever they came up with, would be observed. “This operation is intended to be disposable. A kamikaze attack.” Tom explained. “If what you say is true, then that tiny, barely useable helipad with terrible fuel can’t be expected to be a long-term setup. Either they are desperate, or they are testing us.” Tom’s eyes went vacant as he was in deep thought, words coming as he spared time to speak them. “We need to be careful how we proceed. I don’t enjoy being studied.” His eyes returned, hard, scowling. Tom’s scowl faded from his face as he noticed Eris staring at him. The fury in his eyes died and was replaced with empathy. She was uncomfortable, nervous. As she was sharing about nearly dying, Tom smiled warmly at her. This was as torturous to her as the machines in one of Strollo’s ‘Conversation Rooms’. He nearly reached to put a comforting hand on her shoulder, but decided against it…she seemed averse to unnecessary touch. She had quite the story. The sudden switch to a mischievous look was unexpected. This woman was complex. “I can be Jerry…” This proved to be an interesting revelation. As she explained her powers worked, Tom listened intently. Her plan was not without merit. “Are you suggesting speaking to the two with Ahanu as Jerry?” Tom asked. That could work. Tom smirked, “You’d have to be angry, think you can handle that?” This could get them to take Eris…somewhere. She’d have to bluff, leaning on the memories of the drivers. He was sure she was capable of pulling that off. They’d have to die though. Tom couldn’t risk real-Jerry knowing about fake-Jerry. Tom had an idea. “While you do that, I’ll have a crew come in, clean up, and collect our new friend and escort him somewhere safe where he can be looked after.” Tom’s stone-face didn’t imply any double-meaning behind that last bit…but someone as astute as Eris got his meaning. “We get the Hesek and the man out of here. Clean up the mess we made, and let Jerry find the warehouse. Without his crew. Without his cargo.” Tom smirked at Eris now, erasing whatever tension remained. Thoughtful, methodical planning seemed to soothe the beast. Because…in the planning stage, everything went smoothly, perfectly. He’d have to manage the beast when it inevitably went south and he had to adapt. Until then, Tom was as close to calm as he could get this close to the full moon. Putting on the most exaggerated Italian accent he could, he waved his hands in front of his face, mocking Strollo in particular, “Then maybe Jerry meets a friend of his he didn’t know before.” Chuckling briefly, Tom continued. “I’d like to welcome him to my new warehouse, personally” Tom said as he gestured. “It would be important to know what sort of mage he is first. Think our boy out there knows?”
  14. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    *npc* “The old airfield, just… a bit from here.” Tom smiled warmly at the man. He truly appeared to be trying to remember whatever he could earnestly. The stick had been implemented; the carrot offered…now the honey to encourage further compliance. The only airfield he knew of nearby was Eris’s. That didn’t sound right. It was certainly likely that there was another one that was abandoned in this part of town. His knowledge of geography of the city suddenly being revealed to him as lacking pricked at his mind. He’d have some studying to do. Perhaps Eris had an answer for him. She had better. *npc* “They gas up there, sometimes deliveries come in on a boat.” One thing Tom did know…no boats could dock near Eris’s space. There had to be another area. Still, he would be surprised…even disappointed if she didn’t know the space this man was referring to. Regardless, Tom was beginning to believe that this operation against him was growing larger and larger. Requiring water and air shipments? Either this was really big, or these were dead ends. He wouldn’t know until he sniffed them out. *npc* “Couple of times… ummm… there’s just two I know of. I just get a call from Trevor and he tells me which one to go to… We never know where until they call. Been here a few times this month, another place on the upper west side most often. I only see Jerry here.” Jerry is only involved with shipments to this warehouse? So, there’s another Jerry to supervise the upper west side one then. If this were true, then there is at least one more layer of leadership to discover. If there is distribution taking place involving a port and old airfield…then there is likely more layers of this to discover. Tom suppressed a scowl. He was not looking forward to doing this. *npc* “Yah, that’s him.” Tom looked in the direction the man was and spotted the phone in Eris’s hand. He saw the picture and now had a face in mind of Jerry. Tom caught Eris’s smirk. She knew something. Tom was ready to be done here. He had too much to do. A thought occurred to him, and a slight smirk touched his face as he thought it. The wolf inside wanted to gather the pack and deploy them in different directions in order to corner their prey. Eris was not a wolf. She was a viper. She had found her prey and wanted to destroy them. “Can we speak?” Read my mind, he thought. Could she do that? He doubted it. Who knew these days? Either way, it was time for a sidebar away from prying eyes. “Yes.” Tom said thoughtfully. He then rose and strode over to Roderick. Tom placed a firm hand on Roderick’s shoulder and said, “Please ensure that our guest is cared for.” Roderick and Tom had worked together for so long that his meaning was clear. The words were almost unnecessary. Roderick would converse with the man, get to know him. Find out personal details about him. If the man thought that Tom was good to him, Roderick would appear to be an angel. Toby being there in his malevolent silence only aided the illusion. Tom had likely gotten all the direct information he could hope to from the man, but Roderick was likely to get much more ancillary information. Later, Roderick would share with him what the two of them spoke of and see if any of it proved useful. It always did. Tom was sure that Eris would debrief Toby about what happened during their absence. If Eris wished to study how Tom worked, she’d be provided a clinic. With a glance back at Eris…was she suppressing a smile? Tom motioned with his head toward one of the side doors and began walking in that direction.
  15. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    *npc* “I know where they gas up the trucks… I… I’ve seen Jerry there once or twice.” This was useful. Sounded like this occurred in only one place. Bingo. Tom had found a choke point. Depending on how tight they kept the organization…it wouldn’t take more than a couple weeks to get some of his guys into those trucks. The prisoner was a good source of information so far…but his guys would be better. Knowing that there was a centralized fuel depot for this operation simplified things a bit. Tom twisted the capo-ring on his finger as he listened. Sitting down was a relief. This felt more like his office. Quiet, organized, and controlled. Some of the tension in his shoulders loosened as he leaned back in his chair. His eyes bored into the man’s as he continued speaking. *npc* “No… no, he’s a magus.” A low growl escaped Tom’s lips. Mages were hard to predict. Lycanthropes, despite their inherent chaos, had a limited purview of problems they could cause. The moon provided an order of its own for them. Mages were all over the place. Some were aggressive, others extremely passive. Some would attack you with fire, others with the earth itself…while others could defeat you without you ever knowing what happened. A mage actively working against Tom was a problem that must be dealt with with extreme prejudice. This could explain the ‘mana-component’ that Cassandra had shared with him before. She’d have to be roped into this in some fashion probably. Tom knew that she had to be keeping some kind of tabs on him. Tom ran a hand through his hair as the man got settled on the chair. Tom listened to the man open up. He couldn’t be sure if Roderick was responsible any longer, or if the man had finally settled somewhat. This was good. The man was allowed to relax. Comfort lowered your guard. Gave your mind flexibility. Allowed you to think more freely. As the man rested, it was proving to be true. *npc* “That’s all I know. I’m just a babysitter for the crates.” It was time to nudge him to dig deeper. As the stress fades, memories return. Tom waited. He had more questions he was sure this man knew the answers to. But he was willing to wait a moment. See what fruit fell from the tree without needing to be picked. *npc* “He’s… a pilot? Maybe? He mentioned landing somewhere… in a twin engine?” Tom didn’t know much about aircraft…but Tom knew that a twin-engine plane pilots weren’t all that common. That would be an easy lead to track down. Although Tom felt like he got more important information already. The gas depot. If every truck was deliberately fueled in a central location, then something more important went on behind the scenes at the gas station. Jerry being seen there on multiple occasions seemed to confirm this. Likely…this entire operation…or at least a segment of it was organized and led from that very location. It was beginning to look like this was to be Tom’s next target. He suspected plenty of answers were to be found there. A pleased smile slowly spread across Tom’s face. Things were finally seeming to go his way. Still…more questions to be answered. “Where do the trucks get gassed up? Where else have you been ordered to watch crates?” As brash and direct as Tom’s actions can be…Tom still knew how to use subtle word play to influence conversations. As long as he was in his right mind, that was. By using the word ‘ordered’ rather than ‘asked’ or ‘requested’ it communicated an entire paragraph of understanding of the man’s situation. Tom’s prisoner was not doing Jerry a favor by watching boxes. He had not been petitioned by someone who needed something from him. No. He was subservient. He took orders. Watching these crates was not his decision, but Jerry’s. It was Jerry’s fault that he was held captive between two vampires and a werewolf. It was Jerry’s fault that he was sitting in a steel folding chair in a cold warehouse in the middle of the night rather than being home with his family. Shifting the focus from being afraid of Tom to instead being angry with Jerry might motivate him to find some other lingering memories hidden behind fear. “Have you ever been commanded to watch the same place more than once? How often are you made to do this sort of thing?” Again, Tom was subtly stressing the compulsory words in the sentences. Tom was reasonably confident he had found their base of operations. Now it was time to get a feel for the size of the operation. Were they targeting more than just him? Was this an operation of 3 warehouses? Eight? Thirty? There were still many questions that need answered.


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