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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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130 One of Our All Stars

About Thomas Gallo

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    Nicely Seasoned


    Jean Dujardin
  • AGE
  • RACE
  • JOB
    Caporegime; Runs Thyrsus Liquor Store.
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    New York, NY
    Tom is nearly six feet in height and solidly built. His short, well-kept black hair is starting to show some light signs of gray. His face is kept clean-shaven or sometimes has a close-trimmed salt and pepper beard. Deep brown eyes reveal a lot about the man. First is intelligence. His eyes appear to slice through whatever obfuscation is presented before him. Second is pain. Tom is not a miserable person; however, joy is never fully reflected in his eyes.

    Tom is usually dressed formally and professionally. If he is not wearing a suit, he is not conducting business. Since he is married to his work, this isn’t often. He wears the silver twin rings encircled by a grapevine that all Capos wear. The only other jewelry he wears is a necklace that has a large diamond-encrusted ring made from his and his late-wife’s wedding bands.
    Tom is typically calm, calculating and reserved. Before the world went to hell…he was like that all the time. Now he finds that demeanor to be harder to hold on to with certain phases of the moon. His subordinates and peers have learned to predict when his mood will shift and Tom often isolates himself during those times for that reason. When close to the full moon, he is very easily agitated and has been asked to excuse himself by Victor and Angelo more than once due to this.

    When not under the influence of the moon, he is quite pleasant. While he is never truly jovial, he appears to generally be content and unoffending. When conducting business, he is no-nonsense and wants to get to the point right away.

    Tom radiates a personal aura that tends to make those around him uneasy and at times fearful. Not unlike the effect lycanthropes can have on animals, but the austere presence seems to affect people and lycan alike. It isn’t so much a fear as it is a sort of ‘passive-alpha-steer clear’ vibe that can often make people think twice about crossing him.

    No matter when it is in the lunar cycle, Tom has very little tolerance for swearing. As a tribute to his late wife, he never swears and will correct those who do so around him when appropriate. He’d never correct Gaspari, nor would he correct another Capo within their respective domains. However, all but Gaspari have been corrected and told to watch themselves within Thyrsus. When close to the full moon, he has even physically struck those who spoke out of turn.
    Owner of Thyrsus Liquor Store

    Sig Sauer P220 handgun

    Tom wears the signature twin-vined ring of a Capo. A keen jeweler might notice that it is not silver. He also wears a necklace around his neck with the fused wedding bands of his late wife's and his own.

    Tom owns a property just outside of the city that has an underground bunker to lock himself within during the change.

    Tom owns a black BMW X5 SUV. Sometimes he drives himself, other times he conscripts a driver. Either way, it is recognizable within the family just whose vehicle it is.


    Human Form
    Lunar Patterns: All the factors that influence behavior/mood/power of a lycanthrope based on phase of moon are tied to proximity to the full moon. Rather than crescendo at the full moon and drop suddenly afterwards, Tom’s were-nature waxes and wanes with the lunar cycle itself. Some lycanthropes are at their weakest the day after the full moon. Tom is at his weakest during the New Moon.

    Enhanced physical attributes: Tom has the increased strength and fortitude typical of lycanthropes in human form.

    Enhanced Senses: Tom’s sense of smell and hearing, and to a lesser extent, vision, are enhanced. The enhanced smell has proven beneficial when checking the quality of the high-end liquor being sold at the Thyrsus.

    Werewolf Form
    Tom’s werewolf form is larger than most. He stands at closer to 8 feet in height and nearly 800 pounds. Simply bigger/stronger/faster than most of his peers, Tom’s were-form is something best avoided.

    Silver: Tom has very low tolerance for silver at all. If he detects the metallic scent of the metal, it is enough to offend him not unlike a man with poor hygiene or a skunk spraying outside. Touching the metal is akin to grasping a rose bush. Silver weapons don’t simply work on Tom. They work exceptionally well.

    Rage: Tom appears to be exceptionally affected by the rage that most lycanthropes feel. While every lycanthrope has the fury inside…Tom’s ferocity is an unruly tenant that seeks to come out whenever possible. Tom believes that his inability to process his grief for his wife’s passing and the latent anger that remained within him because of it during the Resonance Event contributed to this. Whether he is right or not, Tom has a stronger well of rage within him than most other people. It is a constant battle to keep his temper in check and remain in charge of his behavior.
    Business Acumen: Tom has an uncanny ability to conduct business and almost always seems to make the “right decision at the right time”. Equal parts spontaneous insight and relentless study, Tom ensures that whatever business he is focused on becomes the best at what it does.

    Social engineering: Tom had become a master at leveraging the right person to do the right thing at the right time to further his agenda. While not a sly and silver-tongued person, he has a gift at discerning people’s motivations and a tactical mind to leverage that when useful. Whether it is deciding between the carrot or the stick with his subordinates, or knowing what ‘sacrifices’ are required from him in order for the other party to act in good faith, Tom has a keen eye for detecting what will work best.

    Tom is not an expert fighter, but he has had a modicum of training in kickboxing and wrestling. If a physical altercation were to present itself, he finds that he prefers to go hand to hand, even if appropriate weapons are available.
    Thomas Gallo grew up in New York with his father Frank. Tom’s mom died when he was a young kid. Frank did his best to raise him, and did a fine job, but a single father in New York was not an easy task to have. Despite this, Tom never grew up lacking. His father always seemed to have enough to provide for all needs and most wants. He would spend some summers in California with his great uncle Julio at the Gallo Wineries. This helped foster his curiosity for business. His summers at the vineyard studying with his extended family gave him insight into the business that would come to help him in the future.

    When Tom was 13, it was impossible for his father to hide his connections. Tom was a quick study and realized that their lifestyle didn’t equate to his father’s wages. It was then that tom learned that Frank was “connected.” Frank gave up trying to hide the connection from his son and educated him about the families. Frank was always careful to keep his son sheltered from the darker aspects of “family-dealings.” He knew he couldn’t keep Tom in the dark any longer, but he could keep him sheltered from the darker aspects. For a time, anyway.

    Tom attended NYU and studied Finance and Business Administration. Frank insisted that he pay for his college, but Tom was savvy enough to know that he was attending on a “family scholarship”. He was an ace student and after graduation, quickly found his way to trading on the commodities market. Tom seemed to have an uncanny insight into the markets and was quickly regarded as a “wizard” of the market. This led to him becoming “connected” of his own accord. His father was not exactly opposed to this, but he wasn’t overly proud either. Having lost his wife, he was afraid of losing his son as well.

    Frank’s anxiety would simultaneously abate and grow with Tom’s betrothal. Tom had asked Jacqueline Strollo to become his bride. By this time, Tom was deeply connected. He didn’t have an exclusive relationship with the Strollos, as his father had taught him to not put his eggs all in one basket. Jacqueline changed all this. She was everything to him. On the day of their wedding, not only was Tom the happiest man on earth, he had also become the newest member of the Strollo family.

    Jacqueline’s impact on Tom cannot be overstated. She was a force of nature. Having “grown up in the mob” Jacqueline was not some delicate flower. She had a strong personality and one would be hesitant to cross her…even without her family connections. Anyone who had a clue knew that her strength did not come from her family, but from within. That is why when she chose her husband, it was met with little resistance, as “Ol’ Jackie can take care of herself.” One thing she did not tolerate in her presence was cursing. This was an odd thing to pick to be sensitive to, especially in a crime family, but she brooks no foul language in her company. Even Carmine tried to respect this…even though he was not at all compelled to behave this way. Jacqueline was not so foolish as to try to insist on this behavior from those who were obviously higher than her in terms of station, however she was often given a great deal of respect over and above her “rank” in the family.

    She wound up correcting some of the unpleasant habits that Tom still had. His foul language was the first and quickest to change. “No man who speaks that way has anything intelligent to say and shouldn’t be taken seriously. If you wish to speak to me, then you shall do so properly, as a man. Not as a school boy thug!” As all wives do, she began coaching him in his appearance, mannerisms, and all the things that most men find unimportant but women find vital. He was already a competent professional, but now he was better. She made him better. She made him his best.

    When Jacqueline died, Tom was devastated. She had hidden her sickness from him as long as she could. Eventually, it was impossible to obfuscate any longer. She had developed pancreatic cancer and had known that her time was limited. As selfless as she was strong, she had learned of this diagnosis while Tom was in the midst of his best performance. She knew she was terminal and had resigned herself to this fate, however Tom was making more money than he ever had before. She didn’t want to derail this current success to worry about something that could not be fixed. Just as Jacqueline feared, when Tom learned the news, he immediately stopped trading. He could not accept that there was no hope for his wife. He liquidated everything he had to gather as much capital as possible to find a cure for his beloved. She died mere days later.

    Her last words to him were simply, “Remember me. In all that you do, remember me, my love. I love you.”

    He did just that. He had taken his wedding band and her ring and had one of the city’s finest jewelers forge them into a single ring that he wears hanging on a necklace. By this point, Tom had established himself as a loyal and valuable member of the family. His entire passion and drive now had a singular focus. He was a driven and relentless machine for the family. Two weeks later, the Resonance Event occurred. The world had changed.

    Rage. Tom had never dealt with his grief over Jacqueline’s death in a healthy way. He buried himself in his work and channeled his grief and anger into his work. It was a temporary fix…like a deer being chased by a wolf. Running buys some time…but it all ends eventually. It wasn’t immediately evident to Tom what was happening to him. He had gone home for the day when the event occurred. That day had been a particularly frustrating one, as nothing appeared to be going right. Shipments were missed, payments not collected…it was ‘one of those days.’ He had poured himself a drink as he sat on his couch, looking at his wife’s portrait hanging above the mantle.

    A sudden grief had overtaken him. As with a lot of men, grief and sadness quickly turned to anger. This anger was different. It was a torrent of rage the likes he had never felt before. He threw his glass across the room and roared with fury. He started tossing glasses, books, chairs, and even couches and tables. As the event occurred, he had succumbed to the most blinding rage anyone could imagine. His form grew large and hairy. Claws sprouted from his fingertips. Fur grew all over his body. Snout extended with finger-length fangs in his maw. He WAS rage. Howling in fury, Tom’s last memory of that night was pain. Pain and rage.

    Tom woke up somewhere in what was left of Manhattan. Naked, blood-soaked, and afraid…and angry. As quickly as he could, he made his way back to the Strollo house to make sense of what had occurred. Apparently, it wasn’t just him that experienced something new. The world had changed in an instant. The family would have to change along with it.

    Tom made his way back to his home and, miraculously, his security footage remained intact. He viewed the footage from the event and was mortified. He watched as he transformed into this massive wolf-like monstrosity and destroy anything nearby before he left the house. Was he a werewolf? It was the only thing that came to mind…but those were children’s stories. Right? To be safe he fled the city before nightfall. The idea of hurting more people made him terrified…which in this present state, made him angry. He headed as far upstate and got to a place as remote as he could before nightfall and waiting. He suspected that another night of chaos and bloodshed awaited. He was right. This time, however, it appeared to be limited to wildlife. Once the moon-cycle had passed, he felt it was likely safe to return to the city. There was work to do. It began now.

    The chaos that came post-Resonance created a lot of loss and opportunity for the families of New York. When Tom had cashed out of the markets to fund his wife’s recovery, it became an accidental boon for the post-Resonance world. When Gaspari had united the families, even he didn’t know the size of the cash-cow that was quietly coming in the form of Tom Gallo.

    When Gaspari reorganized the families into one, united family, Tom had been placed under Victor’s wing for a while. Tom’s past history in working with the Gallo vineyards in California had given him a reason to be paired with Victor. Gaspari had integrated the families together in the various “sectors of business”. That way any sort of “tribal loyalty” held by the original smaller families could never grow. This is why the wine and booze market was controlled by Nuzios and Strollos together. Also, Victor had been similarly affected by the Resonance…forming yet another bond with which he can relate with someone. Once Thyrsus had been established, Tom found himself being named Capo, supervising the ins and outs of everything within the walls of this establishment…legit or otherwise.

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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

    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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?!”
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?”
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    As Tom was listening to the human blurt out words as fast as he could in a desperate attempt to save his life, Tom heard the jingle of keys Eris had lifted from Trevor’s pocket. Turning his head toward the sound, he saw Eris holding out the phone. Jerry’s contact information plastered on the screen. There were so many ways to play this…too many. He had to narrow his focus. However, that rampaging beast that Tom had just shoved back into the vault was stirring again…waiting for its next escape. Tom met Eris’s eyes for a moment as she held out the phone. Studious. Even now, Tom was being scrutinized like this was a job interview. He supposed it was, to a point. However, the tenseness in her trigger arm, slight clench to her jaw…all this betrayed that this wasn’t simply the study of a potential Constable…but also the study of a dangerous monster that might need to be put down if his behavior violated the boundaries of what she considered safety. Tom knew he was dangerous. He had more control than most weres when it came to managing the fury. That was not the same as total control. Eris was right to be cautious. Now was the tricky part. It was time to move up the chain. They needed to get to Jerry. This was difficult. One false move and Tom could spook the entire operation into hiding. The operation had to appear to operate as normal…this invasion notwithstanding. Too many unanswered questions. Too many ways for this to go wrong. Too many players. Too many people dying. He couldn’t mess this up. He couldn’t take too long. Tom’s gaze slid across all those present. The beast snarled from inside the vault. Did Tom snarl out loud? He couldn’t be sure. He shot a quick glance at Roderick. Roderick shook his head slightly. He was nearly tapped out keeping the human at bay. Tom was on his own. He closed his eyes for a moment. Perhaps he could tackle this on a macro-level. Depending on the number of warehouses used, he could establish a pattern. Shared ownership? Perhaps the different drop-locations had a pattern when viewed from above…centered around a particular dock? Specific days of the week when these drops occur? Where do they go after this? Tom’s entire distribution system was compromised. Could he be so lucky as to have found the one lynch-pin? Or was this, most likely, a web of complexity that would take too long to unravel strand by strand? Maybe he could get a few more answers from this goon before preparing to question Trevor. He had plans for a long conversation with Trevor when he came to. “You mentioned that you could take us there. Where were you offering to take us?” Tom was assuming he could take them to the other warehouses or drop locations. Unlikely, but maybe he could take him to where Jerry or some others in the operation were stationed. Tom could use a break…but he knew better than to hope for that. “Tell me about Jerry. I know Trevor takes his orders from him…but tell me what else you know about him. Is he like them?” Tom gestured toward Trevor, Toby, and Eris. Tom knew he was getting to the end of this man’s usefulness. It was time to squeeze that last bit of information out of him. Tom pulled a couple chairs over to where Toby held the man. Setting them opposite one another, about 10 feet apart, Tom sat in one and gestured to the other one for the man to sit. Tom looked at Toby with a nod. He expected Toby to get his acceptance from Eris first, but didn’t expect there to be a problem. Once the man was sitting, he was seen to visibly relax a bit…testing out the movement in his knees and shrugging his shoulders. Making a man comfortable before you put the fear of God in them often had powerful results. Tom gave him a few moments to settle in, studying him as he did so. This man’s confidence was shattered. There didn’t appear to be even the hint of spirit left in him. Tom really wanted to use that axe again though. Perhaps in time…if his prisoners were stupid enough… Once settled, Tom locked eyes with him. In a voice colder than ice, harder than stone…Tom spoke what he was almost certain were going to be his last words to him. “Please be as detailed as you can.” Tom gestured in Trevor’s direction as he lie on the floor…shallow breathing beginning to get deeper. Healing was occurring. “But don’t take too long. Once Trevor wakes up, we’re done here.”
  10. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    *npcTrevor* “I’m talking to you, you stupid bitch.” Roderick winced. This would not be good. He didn’t even attempt to dampen Tom. Certain triggers set Tom off beyond Roderick’s abilities. Unconsciously, he took a step back. Dry cleaning was expensive these days. Tom stood suddenly from his crouching position in front of the seemingly compliant human. In Tom’s mind’s eye, he unlocked the furnace door. The beast came charging out. All the bottled up rage, aggression, and malice flooded into Tom’s psyche all at once. Tom had one last fleeting thought of lucidity before all was lost. ‘Why did he have to say that?!’ The human in front of Tom who had appeared to be calming tried his hardest to escape Toby’s vice-like grip in an attempt to flee from Tom. Tom was the new face of fear for this man. Roderick focused his attention on the man again, although even now it was an uphill battle. Trevor had made a mistake. *npcTrevor* "You want information, I have it!" Just as the last syllable left his mouth, the blunt end of the axe made contact with the back of Trevor’s head. Had he used the blade end; his head would have come clean off. As it was, Trevor fell over in a heap, unconscious…but Tom couldn’t be sure for how long. Tom wasn’t done. First the left elbow, then the right. Followed by the right knee, and then the left. Each joint had been shattered, rendered useless. He nearly severed them like Trevor’s feet before, however Tom had regained a modicum of control…just enough to prefer he feel pain than suffer blood loss. If Eris or anyone said anything to him while he worked, he didn’t hear a word of it. Images of his late wife flashing in his mind as the hesek uttered the profanity which would have made Mrs. Gallo very upset. Anything that upset her, upset Tom. Tom was not pleased. He had essentially blacked out for a moment. Only regaining true coherence moments after smashing Trevor’s skull with a force that should have killed him, had he not been infected. This was unfortunate. Trevor was unconscious…not likely to answer questions. He wasn’t sure how long it would take him to regain lucidity after a head-shot like that. That momentary outburst had vented enough fury for Tom to regain his wits, however it was clear that the next provocation would send him back to the same place unless more time passed. Closing his eyes, he took two, very long, deep breaths. Upon opening his eyes, he returned them to the human who looked as if he had just seen the face of death, and forgot how to be scared of it. It seemed that if Roderick forced the manipulation too long, it caused a confusion between triggers and physiological responses. This man looked like someone who knew they should be afraid, but didn’t know how to. “I’m sorry you had to see that.” Tom growled…slowly regaining composure. “I would encourage you to be polite and helpful, yes?” The man nodded his head in quiet agreement. Tom looked at Eris and at Trevor. She would know roughly how much time they’d have before Trevor became a problem again. Tom would have to speak to him last. Tom knew of a nice, narrow, east-facing window in one of the Bakkhos facilities. The forecast claimed it would be sunny in the morning… “So, friend…as I’m sure you’ve gathered, my name is Tom Gallo.” Casting a glance at Eris, Tom looked back at the man. “You are right to be afraid of her. Why did you not think it wise to also fear me?” Tom's look at the man was almost akin to the disappointment a parent would display when they caught their kid doing something they new better not to do. Tom had to assume that this man had at least heard of Satyr Stadium. He had to know of Tom’s notorious, and likely exaggerated, aggression and brutality. Perhaps this man and the people seeking to damage him thought him a rube who would be perplexed by complicated offenses against him. They clearly had no idea. “You mentioned some things earlier when you were shouting over Trevor, here. Please elaborate.”
  11. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    Wow. Vampires are fast. Tom knew that with their previous altercation…but this served as a reminder. This tactic wasn’t working. Tom was out of his element somewhat. He’d shaken down powerful people before, but they always had that same weakness of fear of death and losing of status. This…Trevor…had neither. Tom nodded slightly in recognition of this. He’d have to give some serious thought to this. This situation was, admittedly improvised…but he did not want to be as unprepared next time. Sadly, he knew there would be a next time. “Don’t try that again, or any promise he makes won’t matter for either of you.” Well…it was time to pivot. Whatever façade of command Tom initially tried to portray; Trevor clearly saw through it. This was turning into a Sheut-matter more and more as the conversation went on. Tom knew he was pushing the edge of Eris's patience. She was a sprinter, and Tom a marathoner. She was the type to plan special operations missions to get in and out quickly. Tom was the type to plan large-scale offensives and direct war machines. Complimentary skills...but with incompatible tactics. This was her domain. As the situation unfolded into a more macro-level, Tom's expertise would shine. For now...time to defer to the expert. *npcVampire* “You need to check your distribution centers... Doesn't matter if Bakkhos forgives me, you'll hunt me down.” Distribution centers. Tom knew this and he had been working his way there. Yes. He would have to be handled however Sheut handled things. He just had to trust that Eris would keep his interest in mind while she went after hers. Even if she didn’t, he suspected the answers he provided her would still be useful to him in some capacity. This encounter would either strengthen or destroy the…relationship? Partnership?...that Tom and Eris had. *npcHuman* “I can’t tell you anymore because I don’t know! But I can take you there… if you… protect me from him. Jerry… and Trevor.” Interesting. In Bakkhos operations, things were kept on a need to know basis. For situations much like this. However, even though goons rarely knew why they were going somewhere, the clever ones remembered where and were able to surmise enough to be dangerous. Perhaps this person was one of those. Trevor may have resigned himself to death, but this man hasn’t. Neither did his friends, he suspected. *Trevor* “I'll tell you everything, but I want to speak with Calloway.” Who was Calloway? Tom and Eris really did need to have a chat about what he should know. Well…Trevor was firmly in Eris’s hands now, as Tom sensed he would no longer be useful to him alone. Time to divide and conquer. Tom focused his attention on Trevor and shook his head. The beast slamming at the furnace door begging to be unleashed on the hesek. Blood…it wanted blood. “I tried to keep her from you as long as I could. You and Eris are going to have a…more private conversation.” Tom pulled the axe from the crate and let it rest over his shoulder. “I trust you’ll find that I was…much more kind than she will be. But I’m guessing you knew that. Good luck.” Turning to the human, who was hyperventilating for a moment before Roderick calmed him down again, Tom knelt down to face the man. “You and I are going to have our own conversation. Then I am going to speak to your friends. If I like what I hear, I think we can find something for you that you will find acceptable. If you and your friends tell me something that doesn’t ring true…then I’ll give you and your friends…and Trevor…some time together to get your stories straight.” The threat was real. Tom knew that, given the chance, Trevor would destroy them in the blink of an eye. Tom didn’t smile. He didn’t glower. Not even a hint of a growl escaped from his lips. The words he spoke may as well have been written on a page for all the emotion behind them. It wasn’t an idle threat. It wasn’t a deception. Just as sure as the sun rises in the east, this man and his friends would be Trevor’s last meal if they didn’t deliver.
  12. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    The back and forth between the human and the vampire was going as planned. Better than he anticipated. One quick sniff in the human’s direction helped him to understand. The adrenaline and out and out fear smell from him was almost as potent as the poison in the bottles. His heart was about to explode. Maybe it was time to slow it down…to keep this game going, lest it end unexpectedly. Tom closed his eyes and took one long, slow, deep breath through his nose. To all observers, it appeared to be a therapeutic and calming breath. Anyone who knew Tom personally or by reputation would easily believe this was the case. This was partially true. The furious beast within the sealed furnace door of rage was pounding on the door endlessly. Relentlessly. Inevitably. But it served another purpose. Closing his eyes blocked out the visual sensory inputs. He had learned to instinctively block out sound distractions in his human days when focus was necessary. He was focused purely on smell. Sifting through all the scents in the area took a second. What seemed like minutes in Tom’s mind only took seconds in reality. Sifting past that poison that still clogged his nostrils was like removing a curtain from a window and seeing the rest of the world. Human’s fear smell was the next obvious obstacle to ‘see’ past. The blood on the floor was another. Odd, any adrenaline-based fear scent was gone from the Hesek. He appeared resigned at this point. That would require pushing the ‘hope’ button for him to further comply. Removing the hands would serve no purpose there. He was then counting people. Toby, check. Eris, check. Two obvious prisoners, check. Then there was one hanging behind one of the crates in the room. Roderick. Tom smiled slightly. He had anticipated this. Expected it really. It was good to have soldiers who followed orders. It was better to have those who knew when not to. Roderick always acted in what he thought was Tom’s best interest…even against Tom’s wishes. When he was wrong, he was reprimanded. When he was correct, he was praised. While not quite the family-level relationship Eris appeared to have with her crew, it was still closer than many capos had with their subordinates. Tom’s eyes opened and he called out, “Come, Roderick.” Roderick stepped out from behind one of the crates and had a glint in his eye, that quickly faded when putting his eyes on the carnage on the floor before him. He locked eyes with Tom for a moment and when Tom nodded, Roderick did the same. Looking at the Hesek he concentrated for a moment and shook his head. Something prohibited him from altering the mood of the vampire, and it bothered him. He quickly shifted his blue eyes toward the human and smiled warmly and crossed his hands in front of his waist. The human prisoner’s heart rate slowed. His breathing returned to normal. The grip on his neck from Toby relaxed a bit. The prisoner’s whole countenance went from terror to nervousness. Good. This gave Tom the leeway to dial it back up again. Tom may have to give Roderick the keys to his car after this. Tom’s face looked grave as he nodded to Roderick. Time for round two. Pointing the blade of the axe at the human, he said, “You gave me Venom.” Shifting the blade to point at the Hesek, Tom said, “You gave me that Jerry was in town.” Tom then buried the axe head deep into the wood of the crate, all but shattering the wood underneath. “Round one is a draw. Everyone gets to keep their hands. Round two…” Tom swung his gaze at the human. Fear would still work on this one. Roderick was there to make sure his heart didn’t give out or trigger Toby’s beast to pop off his head. The beasts within weres and vampires were more similar than Tom cared to admit. He’d have to be mindful of more than his tonight. “Venom. Is this the name of the poison being used?” Based on Eris saying the same thing, he knew this to be true. He was easing the human in with an easy to answer question. “Work backwards. Tell me everything you know from the bottle to the production of the poison. Take your time, get your thoughts in order. I have all night.” Before the prisoner could begin answering the question, Tom rounded on the vampire. He had to inspire hope in him somehow. This man was just defeated. He had nothing to lose. This was not going to inspire cooperation. He had to offer something. This Hesek was resigned to dying. Tom had to try a different track. “You need to tell me all about Jerry. While you’re at it, I want to know every detail about the operation that lives within your memory. Who is Jerry? Where is Jerry? Who does he take orders from? How much of the logistics of this operation do you know? It is very important to you that you speak the truth.” Tom came close. Dangerously close to the Hesek. The vampire could reach out and strike Tom if he so chose. Tom squatted down and placed a gentle, as gentle as a stone could be, hand on the vampire’s shoulder. “I know others like you. There are some within my organization who have sought shelter from those who would wish them harm. Angelo Gaspari owes me a favor. If you can prove yourself to be valuable and trustworthy, I can find a way for him to forgive you of your transgressions against not just myself, but of Bakkhos itself.” This was true to a point. Gaspari owed him nothing…that was a lie. Tom did believe, though, that he’d be willing to show some leniency toward someone who made repentant gestures. Tom’s gambit was that the hope of being shielded from the Sheut by the Bakkhos would be enough hope to inspire cooperation. He suspected Eris might bristle at the proposed promise. She was smart enough to assume it was a bluff. He wasn't lying about the presence of Bakkhos refugees. The Hesek appeared to know of the relationship between Eris and Toby. More than Tom even. He was unsure if he knew of Tom’s relationship with Eris. He’d find out with this bluff. Tightening his grip on the Hesek’s shoulder, iron hands threatening to pop the vampire’s shoulder out of his socket, Tom said softly. “Take your time, get your thoughts in order. But don’t take too long. I have all day.” Tom stressed that last word to remind the Hesek that there was only one potential way out of this alive.
  13. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    The glance up from Eris was all he needed. She sensed the poison too. Good. There was progress being made. Perhaps today would go in the ‘good’ column for once. *npc* “They’ll kill me if I snitch. If I talk, you gonna protect me too? Adopt me like your little Hesek stepchild over there?” Never mind. When was the last time Tom had a clean win? How long had it been since he set out to accomplish a task, and he was able to complete it with only the expected obstacles? The Hesek was trying to provoke Eris, it was clear. What did he mean by ‘Hesek stepchild’? Didn’t matter at the moment. This vampire knew he was going to die. Any information he could squeeze from them would be considered a bonus at this point. He knew Eris had a beast that was not unlike his beneath her calm façade. He didn’t want to have to stop her from killing him…he was afraid he might have to. “Answer Mr. Gallo’s question.” Tom could hear the same dreadful inevitability in her voice. Tom knew that if he simply stepped aside and gestured toward the vampire, he’d be dead before Tom ever opened his mouth. He had to act fast. The sudden adjustment in the vampire’s countenance was a welcome change. He must know of Eris’s deadly reputation as well. Good. Sometimes, compliance required pushing more than just one button. *npc* “I don’t know,” he answered quickly. “I just watch the warehouses, my boss said just watch the warehouse and the crates.” Warehouses. More than one. This wasn’t a simple act of sabotage. This was a coordinated attack against Thyrsus and Bakkhos itself! This might warrant a conversation with Matteo. Although, his arrangement with Eris might complicate this. Additional complication did little to improve his temperament. A low growl began to escape his mouth before the shining nugget was found whilst panning through the filth of the day. *npc* "Jerry! His name's Jerry!" Jerry. Tom quickly thought of anyone he knew named Jerry that might be causing this much trouble. While he came up with a few that might have potential to be problematic…none of which tripped his radar as being above nuisance-level. Tom turned his back to the prisoners and peered into the crate, looking at the bottles of death that were waiting to be dealt out to the city with the name ‘Bakkhos’ written on the death certificate. With Thyrsus’s name. With Tom’s. Tom began to seethe. The beast begging to be let out of its cage. Not yet. Soon. Tom wheeled back and locked eyes with the Hesek, and then the human. “Tell me about Jerry. The one of you that pleases me the most with your answer gets to keep their feet.” Tom then, very deliberately slid his eyes down to the stumps of the vampire’s legs where the feet once were. Tom reached for the axe, still stained from the Hesek’s blood from earlier. With a cold, cruel smirk, Tom held up his other hand to silence any reaction. “Wait. My apologies. I had forgotten. Winner keeps their hands.” Tom slowly walked past Toby and the human, slowly dragging the blunt end of the axe blade across the length of the human’s arm as he said those last words. The Hesek may have already resigned himself to death. The human though, Tom was not quite so certain of that.
  14. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    The rage never leaves. It is a constant, like the spinning of the earth or the rising of the sun. The only change is the thickness of the furnace door that Tom places on it. Tom’s will was strong, and with the right motivation, he could wall off that torrent of fury and death for a long time. However, venting it from time to time had its uses. Tom observed the glances the Hesek made towards Eris and Toby. He clearly knew who they were. Tom filed that away for later use. There were still plenty of unanswered Sheut questions that Tom felt he should know by now, but it was not the time to ask those questions. He moved toward the crate he had dragged over and placed his hand on the lid. Venting a portion of the rage inside, he ripped the nailed-down lid of the crate with a roar. No doubt, anyone looking at Tom’s face saw the cool, calmness evaporate from his face for the slightest of moments. The destruction of the bonds holding the lid to the crate…splinters flying, metal scraping against wood…had a very satisfying feeling. For a moment. Tom looked inside and saw what he had feared. Inside the crate were several boxes of what appears to be the booze that he would ship to clients. Tom had never been to this warehouse before today. He knew this was not in his distribution chain. He had finally caught a break. Now to be sure. He removed one of the bottles. Macallan Fine Oak scotch. What a waste. He began to open the bottle, and just as the seal had been broken, the familiar stench of the poison he kept locked away in his safe flooded his nostrils. Immediately he sealed the bottle again before the stench overpowered him and he risked dropping it. He had a smoking gun. Now to find the shooter. It was clearly not this fool. However, he must know who. “Do you know what happens when someone drinks this? Surely you must. It is gruesome. Painful. Slowly…fatal.” Tom turned his back to the Hesek and walked close to Eris. He had to know if she could detect it same as him without blatantly asking in front of the other. He was in control in this illusion, and he needed to maintain it. He knelt in as if to whisper, holding the bottle close to his chest. He cracked the seal, and as soon as it hit his nostrils, he closed it again quickly…all while studying her face for the slightest hint that she could smell it. If she couldn’t, Tom had a particularly brutal course of action planned ahead. If she recoiled as much as Tom did, then he’d have to opt for Plan B. No one would want Plan B. Tom focused his attention on the newly arrived human who Toby had brought back. Tom walked over to the shaking person…fear and dread had totally taken over this poor, misguided man. Tom knelt down to be face to face with Toby’s prisoner and offered a warm…if insincere smile and placed a hand on his cheek. “Fear not, little one. I only ask for your help. I am going to ask your friend here,” he gestured toward the Hesek under Eris’s watchful aim, “some questions. If he lies, I want to you to say so. Help me, and I will take great care of you. Not simply survival. Prove yourself to me tonight, and I will make sure you and those you care for are taken care of properly. Fail me…” Tom’s grip tightened as his fingers began digging into the terrified man’s skull. Tom then visibly relaxed as a warm smile…tinged with malevolence returned to his face, “…just don’t fail me.” Tom turned his attention back to the Hesek. Tom’s false warmth completely gone from his visage. It was all business now. “Who asked you to guard this?” Tom was holding up the bottle as he asked. It was a simple question. Not exactly profound, but it was a place to start. He suspected it would be a long night.
  15. Thomas Gallo

    Sheut Happens

    "He's in charge... I would cooperate." Tom knew this wasn’t true with the vampire. If he wanted to do something with him that Eris didn’t agree with…it wasn’t going to happen. He knew this. Did the rogue? A malevolent grin spread across his face. She was feeding the fear that Tom had wanted to see in the rogue. If Roderick couldn’t tweak his emotions, Eris was apt at influencing the direction they should go. The axe wounds were starting to close. There was no danger of him walking away anytime soon…without there being feet and all…but he didn’t want to take any unnecessary chances. Tom hadn’t …worked… with vampires in quite this way before. Tom turned his head toward Eris. “Bring one of the others.” Tom was referring to one of the other humans that were escorted away by Ahanu and Roderick earler. Tom was playing off of the pseudo-authority permitted by Eris in the moment. He still didn’t have his head quite wrapped around Sheut politics, but if one of the two vampires jumped when he said ‘frog’…what would that do the rogue? Tom had a brief thought that Eris would make him pay for this in some fashion…but if she was on the same page as Tom and cooperated, then it would be worth it. “While they get your friend, let’s chat.” Tom crouched down just outside of reach of the vampire on the ground. Feral rage all but gone…replaced with doom…dread. Inevitability. Tom’s posture, demeanor, and glower made one thing certain. Tom was in control, and any decision the rogue made would simply be a calculation designed to maximize survival. He would not win; he could only hope to survive. “Let’s get something straight right away. You know what I am. I know what you are. You are like my associates here.” He gestured towards Eris and Toby. He pointed a knowing finger at the vampire. A jackal-like grin spread across his face. “But you aren’t quite like them are you, Hesek?” The rogue knew what Tom could do with his hands. It was time to batter and tear him apart in his mind. What emotions, fears, and questions would bounce around inside the skull of a man who saw a were barking out orders to other Khered? If Eris was paying attention at all, it was clear Tom was in full control of this. The hesek’s eyes widened slightly while still trying to maintain some semblance of control. To his eyes, Tom was pulling back the curtain and revealing the Wizard…destroying all semblance of reality that the rogue knew. Of course, Tom was hanging his own curtain; obscuring the Wizard even more. The hesek nodded his head slightly at Tom’s question. Tom knew he wouldn’t get any straight answers just yet. He was going to let him stew in his own fear for a moment while one of the other humans was fetched. He kept a watchful eye on the hesek’s healing, prepared to re-aggravate wounds if need be to keep him grounded. He understood that Toby and Eris were under a time-constraint, but Tom had all day.


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