Thomas Gallo

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Everything posted by Thomas Gallo

  1. Bakkhos Champion??

    Expensive. Yes. Expensive is good. A smirk spread across his face. You know...that Barracuda would be a nice prize...for the winner. What do you think about that...bub? Tom know...everyone knew...that car was something he loved more than anything else...probably anyone else. If there was a way to cut was to mention that car. He stood up and put his glass behind the bar. Think about it. Could be fun. After all...I am the best in the world at what I do, but what I do isn't very nice. Then Tom clapped Matteo on the shoulder as he left. It as time to grab a few hours of sleep before tomorrow's calamities presented themselves.
  2. Bakkhos Champion??

    Maybe a little….. but ya gotta admit… be a vision in canary yella tights… Tom emitted a low growl...but his smirk betrayed it. Matteo often flirted with the boundary of provocation and jest. In many ways, Tom and Matteo were brothers. A vision...we can call it that. A dream, really. That's all that will ever be. Tom's smirk showed the joke, but his eyes allowed no room for debate. When Matteo explained the prize and asked if Tom planned on losing, Tom chuckled openly. This idea was terrible. Or it was genius. Knowing Gaspari, it was genius...however it still felt...dangerous. Matteo and he were on the same page regarding that, it seemed, however they'd do their best to make it work. No, I do not plan on losing. Tom finished his drink with one last pull and set the glass down. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he shook his head in resignation and added. Just don't insult me. Make the purse big.
  3. Nighttime is Playtime

    “This doesn’t mean you work for me, this means I work for you.” This wasn't the beginning of a new chapter, this was the start of a new book entirely. He didn't know much of any of the details of the Sheut, however he could tell that something tremendously powerful had just occurred. The gravity of such did not elude him. This was the dawning of a new era. “It’s my job to protect your organization, because it needs to exist in order for the world to come back to life. Your needs become my priority, and threats to your businesses are threats to me.” Tom nodded. This made sense. The shadows of logistics already forming themselves in Tom's brain as she spoke. This would be an interesting venture. This would have to be handled with care. The old men would seek to manipulate Eris in some fashion. That would not go well. Tom would have to take point on this, as Eris desired. He'd have to go nose to nose with Strollo, he suspected. Gaspari would be the only one who could cause a problem that Tom couldn't get in front of. He'd have to go to him directly soon. "You remind me of someone..." Tom smiled ever-so-slightly at that statement. She didn't glower or sneer or speak dismissively when she said this. She respected him. He knew that was currency she didn't trade often. "You remind me of someone as well." Him. She reminded him of himself. She looked better in a dress than he did, sure...but the fury contained within a cage of civility and self-control. The heart-felt desire to look after her charges...they were reflections of one another in a lot of ways. Then the mood shifted. "I hear you're a boxer." Tom actually smiled big and chuckled softly. Not at her...but at the sudden levity. "I used to. I recently started hitting the bag again. It serves to...calm me a bit." As he sat on the ledge, he threw up a soft boxing-guard and said, "You interested in a sparring partner?"
  4. Bakkhos Champion??

    Tom groaned and shook his head as Matteo made jokes about advertising and spandex. With elbow on the bar, Tom rested his head in his hand as he allowed a small, resigned smile. “You are enjoying this way more than you should be.” When Matteo put on a more serious tone, Tom rejoined him. “Good luck finding an opponent who is familiar with the family. I’m afraid that my…reputation may lead to some difficulty.” Tom wasn’t wrong. Everyone who has ever dealt with Tom has either loved him or been deathly afraid of him. Usually both. His enemies stay clear. His friends love him…but tread carefully. The only likely challenger would be someone who didn’t know any better…or who did and sought to challenge the strength or Tom and Bakkhos. Too many unknowns for Tom’s taste. A thought occurred to Tom. He was sure Matteo had thought of it already, but he wasn’t aware of the specifics, so he had to ask. “If a challenger steps up…what do they win?” Tom then smirked slightly. “What do I win?”
  5. Bakkhos Champion??

    We advertise the fuck outta ya….. banners on the side of the stadium with your ugly mug on them…. Big gold letters underneath spellin' out "CHAMPION"…. enough to in ya face push so that we push buttons… Tom grunted. He didn't like that aspect of it. He disliked being a exhibit. He supposed it was his price to pay for the outlet afforded him by the arena. Didn't mean he had to like it. He didn't. Still...the extra fame and notoriety could be leveraged for the business too. Yeah...that is probably best. I. Hate. It. But I get it. Not had a lot of luck getting strong recruits for the first fight…. sad thing is Gaspari is probably right in pickin' a Bakkhos to headline. People were waitin' to see what it would really be like… if it’s a hoax or not…. Tom nodded. Gaspari always seemed to have his finger on the pulse of the world. Sure this would help Tom with an outlet...but no decision ever served just a single purpose with him. Gaspari was always optimizing. We'll be sure to make it count. You realize this is goin' t' be a total blood sport right? The audience is going to be looking for gladiator games… not a little boxing match…. Tom's eyebrows furrowed as he glowered at no one in particular. He looked up to Matteo and nodded. I'm counting on it. I don't know that I could restrain myself to a simple boxing match.
  6. Bakkhos Champion??

    Tom nodded as Matteo confirmed what Tom had already knew. He was sure that Matteo had enough sense to not put two transformed weres in the cage. He hated to state the obvious...but it was one of those issues he couldn't leave to chance. He raised his glass in apology for having to say something so obvious. He was sure Matteo understood. When Matteo mentioned other Sheut within the family...Tom had figured out a few since he started working with Eris. It was never important to him, so he paid them no mind. It might be worth knowing exactly who at some point...but for now it was not important. When Eris asked him about Sheut Ka in the arena again...he'd be able to say that he heard it from the horse's mouth itself. When Matteo tapped on his glass for a refill, Tom looked the man in the face and quirked an eyebrow with a hint of a grin. You couldn't afford me as your bartender. Tom topped off his glass and slid the bottle over to Matteo. Well...if there is no getting around can we make the most of it? He was referring back to his new role as Champion. He was obviously not thrilled with the prospect, but there was no sense brooding over the unchangeable. Besides that...he almost looked forward to it.
  7. Nighttime is Playtime

    “Don’t look at me like that.” When Eris glided to a position opposite him, he was genuinely surprised. He had surmised that she was what she was proposing was a dangerous gambit...especially if he said 'no.' This though...there was something else there. He had hit on a nerve unintentionally. Had she thought he was laughing at her? He had laughed at the absurdity of her statement. Tom had never felt so in the dark than he had when Eris revealed the Sheut and everything else. Like a blind person gaining sight...her presumption that he thought himself in full control couldn't be farther from the truth. It was...laughable. Her sudden glide to a defensive posture was equally surprising. It probably shouldn't have been all that shocking...empirically he knew as much. He just had a healthy respect for the new world still. What was more interesting...terrifying...was that it appeared to be nearly instinctual. She was on the defensive. He had pricked a fight-or-flight response from her. She too was harboring a Beast within. Did the vampires struggle with a similar issue that all of his kind fought with? Or was she unique? Tom placed his hands on the ledge as if to scoot back down to his feet in case she lost control of her Beast and he had to defend himself. He was relieved when her demeanor softened and she gracefully strode back to the ledge to rejoin him. Relieved...and a bit disappointed. What was wrong with him?! “Asking you to be in a position in the Nation means I’m tired of being by myself. I need to spend time with someone that gets it. This… rage and refinement all compressed into one. Somebody that I choose, not those that I have to deal with by association. I’m being told I have to build alliances and relationships in my territory. I didn’t ask to be Viceroy. I was told, and because I have unwavering respect for the man that put me here I didn’t argue. Being forced… to build relationships with groups when I can’t even stand to be around people is torture.” So it wasn't merely an alliance of convenience. She wanted him to assume a position within her organization? Or a figurehead that ticks a box on their checklist? So many questions. He assumed he was going to get answers. That last bit explained a lot. What better defense against social anxiety than being a vicious killing machine? Scare enough people and you won't have to deal with them. Tom wasn't scared of her. He respected her and believed that if she intended to...she could probably kill him. But he believed he was an equal in that regard. Even the most socially-terrified people still crave companionship. He was likely one of a very few who could understand her. If he were being honest...he felt the same. “You’re not torture. You get it. That’s why I asked you.” Tom nodded in agreement with her. He got it. He understood. His face softened slightly. She had opened up and left herself to be truly vulnerable. He knew the gravity of this confession. She wasn't trying to play puppet master...not this time. She needed an ally. A true ally. A friend. He nodded once more and slowly, gently extended his had toward her. He remembered her typical disdain about doing so before, but this wasn't a handshake. The back of his hand rested on the surface of the ledge they shared and was held invitation to accept or reject however she chose. Wordlessly he looked into her eyes...deep brown portals of rage, pain, and understanding staring into the near-black depths of rage, pain, and understanding. They were kindred spirits in more ways than either of them knew. He had already agreed in his mind to join her in this new vision. He'd have to navigate his way through the details another time. But for now, with outstretched hand, he just stared into the now-transparent windows to her soul.
  8. Bakkhos Champion??

    Tom listened to Matteo's protests with a solemn nod. He didn't like this any more than he did. Logically speaking, anyhow. Tom's life was going to get more tense, more complicated, more...interesting? It ticked all the boxes of being stupid. Paint target on Tom's back? -- Check Be a perpetual target for those seeking to one-up Bakkhos? -- Check Out publicly that Tom was a werewolf? -- Check ...although he wasn't sure how much of a secret it truly was. Those he did business with knew that already...well most of them anyway. His temperament was hard to hide, and mouths are always open. There was a healthy level of pragmatism to Gaspari's words...and if anyone was mechanical and calculated about moves, it was Gaspari. Maybe this was an acceptable risk for the predicted rewards. He poured a drink for Matteo and slid it down to him. 'ey... I get that…. but this be like slappin' a neon "fuck with me" sign on ya back….you know that. Tom nodded as he took a sip from his bourbon glass. He growled softly at Matteo's profanity piercing into Tom's ears like daggers. He was not in Thyrsus, so he kept his mouth shut. He wasn't thrilled in the slightest with having to deal with more people than he had to lately...although his mind was already spinning with ways to turn this into an opportunity. A boon in the dark. One fear he had, though, was that people would begin to forget his mind and only see the beast. He had established Thyrsus to the gem of Bakkhos that it is due to his shrewd mind and efficient intellect. Those with whom he dealt respected this. Being a cage-fighting werewolf may work against that. Unless... Unless Gaspari orders it. The Beast will not enter the arena. Not under any circumstance. Tom looked Matteo dead in the face and the seas of fury and rage that burned behind Tom's eyes begged to leap forth. Tom didn't often make 'power-plays' or 'ultimatums' when avoidable. Those types of people were hard to work with. They didn't play nice with others when things didn't go their way. Tom was as flexible and amenable as would make financial sense. People knew when they were being dealt a generous hand when dealing with Tom. That made it easier for when Tom played hardball...they knew he wasn't budging. Always managing expectations. There was no question in Tom's eyes. Each sentence a statement. Tom believed that his beast would frighten even the most hardened veterans that have had to deal with weres. That could be another tool to leverage at a later date. The problem was, it could only be used once. He had to be careful with it. Best to keep the Beast locked away from the most eyes. The only living people, of whom Tom was aware, that have seen his Werewolf-form were Victor, Matteo, and Gaspari. He hoped he could keep it that way. Even his father knew of him...but since he changed like Tom...he never saw his son at his worst. Ya know I gotta advert ya as infected……cant let anyone signin' up for the first fight walk in without knowin'…. Tom nodded. He knew that, despite the audacity of it all, Satyr Stadium would be as fair as could be hoped. One thing Bakkhos had done right that no other mob family had done previously was that nearly everything appeared above board. There were no rigged games, thrown matches, or weighted dice. Even when the family has to pay out a lot of cash, the old saying remains true. The house always wins. So...even though Satyr Stadium was going to have more than its share of backlash upon opening, it would eventually be accepted and prove to be quite valuable. Yes. As would be expected. No one will pretend to be a werewolf who isn't. Zombies are non-applicable... Tom paused in thought a moment. He and Matteo had discussed this before...numerous times, with varying outcomes. Now was the time to press the issue one last time. ...speaking of the infected. Are you planning on advertising Sheut Ka in the arena? Eris was very specific about the kinds of violence she'd like to indulge in if we were to run with them as fighters. She said as much a year ago and hasn't budged by a single syllable since. Tom thought about that night often. It was a turning point in a lot of ways. Eris had opened Tom's eyes to a corner of the world that he had assumed existed but had no idea as to the breadth or scope. He still didn't quite see the point of the Sheut's insistence of hiding. On an individual level sure, but to attempt to obfuscate the entire existence of a type of infected seemed a stretch. In a world with dragons, werewolves, elves, and zombies...vampires are the only thing that didn't make the cut? No matter, it wasn't his problem to ensure the secret was kept. He only promised to keep his mouth shut as well as attempt to shut the mouths of some others.
  9. Nighttime is Playtime

    Eris was not used to being questioned. If she were a subordinate to a large machine like Bakkhos...or even larger, then she found a position where the order-taking was minimal. She was Viceroy...Capo of this part of North America? Yeah, she didn't like having superiors...or peers. It was evident that he was not going to bully his way to getting answers. He wasn't intending to, but it was worth knowing that that approach was not going to be valuable. When she turned to look at him with those innocent-looking big eyes, a small smile appeared on his face. The cutest baby vipers had the biggest eyes...and most potent venom. “You think you have it all figured out...Do you?" Tom's small smile broke into an abrupt, loud laugh. "Of course not! If I had it all figured out, I wouldn't be taking helicopter rides to your secret rooftops to have secret conversations with you in order to learn what is going on." Tom's perpetual rage-companion took a different direction...slightly. He didn't want to rip off her head. He could see the change of posture, however slight it was. She wanted to fight. She kept a caged beast beneath her facade as well. Tom wanted to see it. Something had been happening to Tom since the Event. Before, the fury inside was just that...some invisible force that had more control over him than he liked. It sought an outlet, an escape from the bondage of Tom's self-control and discipline. It had perverted...or perhaps evolved over the years. Instead of bursting out of control despite Tom's now sought more...creative ways to be sated. Tom didn't want to kill or to even hurt. He wanted to hunt. To fight. To fight her? His reason warred with is perception. She was little. She was a woman. She is a monster. She is another death dealer. Perhaps she needs it too. Could be mutually beneficial. How do you even bring that up? Why won't she answer my questions?! Tom's smile faded as he forcibly clamped down on his thoughts and resumed a stoic, rage-beneath-the-surface control. It was no time to indulge such fantasies. It would only serve as a distraction among others. Or maybe it would be an outlet for these internal distractions keeping him from thinking straight? Tom shook his head and hopped up to take a seat on the ledge himself with his face in his hands. He looked to Eris with a combination look of amused, frustrated, and anger. Always anger...but this time with no attempt at a poker face.
  10. Poison in the Well

    December 12, 2020 Fae Ice Age, New York NPC: "Boss, we got another one." The staff of Thyrsus had grown during the Ice Age, largely due to limited mobility. Jimmy, or Steve, or whatever his name was, Tom didn't care. He was one of Strollo's boys who typically helped out with the security work of the 'downstairs operations'. Due to the prohibitive nature of the weather outside, shipments of any kind had slowed dramatically. This is what has largely contributed to his current problem. Tom had noticed orders had been down. This was expected due to the big freeze. However, they slowed down much more than they should have. Rumors began of counterfeits being peddled to Thyrsus's customers. When reaching out to clients, they said that shipments came earlier than expected. Someone had provided their orders to the bottle. The only problem was, it hadn't been Tom. This was a tremendous problem on multiple levels. Someone had access to his purchase orders and was using that to the expense of the family. When Tom explained to his clients that this so-called discount was indeed false...and that the product that they purchased was bootlegged and terrible...they were upset. When their clientele started dying, they became Tom. "How could you let this happen?!" "What are you going to do about it?!" "You owe us...big time." Tom was furious. Luckily for those around Tom, the timing couldn't have been better. It had been nearly 2 weeks since the last full moon, and this was the time that its influence over him was minimized. Otherwise, Steve or Jimmy or whatever his name was wouldn't have dared to speak to him with bad news. That was often Roderick's burden. People were dying and their deaths were being laid at Tom's feet because he had failed at controlling distribution. He thought he had that controlled, however it was apparent he did not. There was a gap somewhere, and he intended to sniff it out. Tom looked at Strollo's goon holding a phone. He was good enough at his job, but Tom wouldn't have used him for anything more complicated than breaking fingers or stacking boxes. He'd have to do. Same thing? Tom knew the answer. Of course it was. Swelling of the eyes and tongue until they asphyxiated or pressure on the brain caused them to have a stroke. Every. Single. Time. Jim-Steve nodded as he was becoming accustomed to reading Tom's moods and decided that further speech was likely unwise. Smart. Perhaps he could find a use for him after all. People were dying. Always after leaving a bar or club. Always after drinking something from Tom's 'early deliveries'. Always dying in the same gruesome fashion. The only thing connecting these murders is Tom's booze. Or...a facsimile of it. This would, undoubtedly, lead to a conversation with some sort of law enforcement. He had to find that lead. Every second that ticked by without squashing it quietly was another second given to police/ARMA to come poking around again. Tom opened the front door and stepped outside into the winter hellscape. The cold stabbing right into his bones helped to melt away the mind-fogging frustration and helped him to regain focus. It was about time to see this matter resolved.
  11. Nighttime is Playtime

    “Bakkhos is useful to me. It’s powerful, it’s respected It keeps itself in check, and for the most part any upstarts that threaten its power are squashed. If you take care of our trespasser issue, I won’t have to, and you’ll re-cement your holdings and status in the city. I've no doubt you do this all the time.” Where was she going with this? Apparently, her organization was trying to figure out Bakkhos. What role did Mythos play in all of this? He agreed to see about these Bakkhos-pretenders skulking about her premises because it was mutually beneficial for the moment. If the Sheut were as large as she was proposing, then turf wars over the airport were something that should be avoided. “Bakkhos keeps me from having to worry about New York. The threats that surround us are vast, and inevitable, and you allow me to keep my attention on them so they don’t bleed here. They are serious, and they could end the life we've been able to put back together.” What were these threats that surrounded us? Did ‘us’ mean the Sheut or New York? She felt like she was explaining, but all her words did was provoke more questions. “My question is how far do you want your family’s reach to go? What would you be willing to do to keep it safe, and in power for as long as you wish it to be?” She was setting up a sales pitch…of a sort. Dangle the carrot before the big ask. Usually these sorts of negotiations take weeks and carefully-worded documents, lawyers, etc. This was different. She was acting on her own…in the interest of the Sheut, certainly…but on her own. The privacy, impromptu conversation…something didn’t smell right, and it wasn’t simply the vomit wafting up from the alley below. Someone was not having a good evening. “To keep my hands from having to bring down a hammer, you have to pull the vampires from Satyr. Make it a scandal that people were pretending to be vampires, I don’t care. Any press is good press. Vampires, the gauche vernacular, do not exist. Cannot exist in public knowledge.” There it was. The ask, the carrot, and the stick. Again, with Satyr. He knew Matteo was months away from trying to open it. Considering the poor luck he has had, it was probably closer to a year before that got underway. Eris was concerned about advertising vampires in the arena? Satyr Stadium was hardly on his radar at this point beyond projecting alcohol needs for the place once it opened. Again…that was far off. In this new world…planning more than a few months in advance was arrogant. Hiding vampires from advertisements didn’t seem like a big ask. Matteo might require some convincing, but Tom was fairly certain that he’d acquiesce to that request. “You do that and I can keep you off the Nation radar for the immediate moment. You don’t, and I will have to do it myself.” Fury. His eyebrows drew close and a growl escaped his lips before he could stop it. This threat must be crushed. Eris had no idea what she had awakened. “I don’t want to…I don't want you to be someone they tell me I have to damage or kill.” Like letting the air out of a balloon, her confession deflated the inferno trying to erupt from his chest. Eris was someone who found herself between a rock and a very hard place it seemed. She answered to higher powers and Tom wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she was none too pleased about it. So this issue with Satyr came from others then? Or was she predicting the likely outcome? War with an entity such as this was not likely to be in the interest of Bakkhos. He let out a deep breath as he calmed. “I'd rather have you as my first constable. They won’t be pleased you’re a Were but I don’t care what they think anyway…” Tom huffed derisively at that last statement. She certainly did, she just resented that fact. More important than her posturing, however; what did she mean by Constable? Where was this conversation going? “You’d still be whatever it is you do in Bakkhos, you would have knowledge of our moves and you can keep your people informed. You would also let me know what I need to keep an eye on. I understand if Gaspari needs to be in the loop. I would expect it.” Was he being hired? He was getting annoyed again. Goon for hire? Certainly not. Maybe she was just hoping that Bakkhos’ “peace-keeping operations” would include some upstarts she and her organization were dealing with? There was a lot to unpack. “But I don't want to deal with Gaspari. I want to deal with you. Only you. Because you’re interesting.” Tom grinned slightly at that last. She knew enough to know that he wouldn’t be flattered. He suspected that everyone was afraid of her and she had grown accustomed to that. That was understandable. He respected her. If he wanted him dead, he was pretty sure she would know how that. His relationship with the Strollos kept a lot of people from challenging him early on. However, as he earned his own reputation, he had to defend it from time to time. Rarely, but occasional reminders were necessary. He spotted her fangs. She appeared to go to great lengths to hide them. He understood why, especially if secrecy was important to them. They weren’t always out though…Tom wondered if she didn’t have full control over them. Tim to focus on more important things. “You wish to leverage Bakkhos’ initiatives in keeping peace and order around the city? Squash the bugs that you encounter since we’re ‘doing it anyway’ is that it?” Tom wasn’t angry or disrespectful…just getting to the point. “As far as Satyr goes, that is all Matteo. I can recommend your suggestion about keeping Sheut Ka out of the arena. I have as much authority of the happenings in Satyr as Matteo has in Thyrsus…which is almost none…but I can see what he says. For the moment, I’ll leave out your almost-veiled threat.” His demeanor was hard, but not angry. Succinct and to the point, Tom was going to address these points one at a time. “You need to tell me more about your organization and what its goals are. Vast and inevitable threats? Like what, exactly? Don’t try to tempt me with ambitiously reaching for power and all that. I may hold a powerful position in a powerful organization, but my thirst for power is not insatiable. If you are trying to dangle a carrot, that is the wrong one.” The hardness of his eyes and small grin on his face appeared to war with each other. He was trying to keep it light…but he was deadly serious. His role in the family gave him purpose. A goal. A reason. Since everything went sideways in his life just before the Resonance, he had been driven and he lived off of that drive. It kept him just this side of sane in some instances. “I suspect ‘constable’ has a specific meaning in your organization. Please tell me what that means. I have more questions, but I think you can address what I’ve asked first.” He moved over to the ledge no more than a foot from her and leaned against it with one elbow facing her. This evening had become even more interesting than he had anticipated. He still wasn’t sure how he felt about it. Getting this close allowed her scent to become more perceptive. The scent of her latest prey was fading. More of her own individual scent came through as he took a deep, calming breath. He looked into her…deep, damaged eyes and listened to what she had to say next.
  12. Welcome To Domus Mortuorum

    When Faye's smirk vanished, Tom's returned. She was a fierce protector, staring down a threat. Great. A threat. He was really hoping to avoid that. What's done is done. Time to make his point and get going. He moved to stand, smirk gone and froze. A thought had come to him and he sat back down. Her interest was purely in the protection of her people, employees, and patrons. She would certainly see his point. It was time to gamble. It is evident that protecting your people is paramount. Despite whatever preconceptions of Bakkhos are, know that I also protect my own. Those who work for me are loyal. Not out of fear, but trust. I see that same passion in you. Prick the protector spirit a bit and pause. He sniffed his drink and thought a moment. This bottle was good...but he was sure he could spot a hand full of fakes if he looked for them. If he found a dangerous one...then he might get somewhere. You are right about one thing. Cheap booze will get someone just as drunk as good booze. Bad booze will kill a man whereas quality-controlled booze will just keep them happy. There are dangerous distributors mixing stuff in their bottles. I'm in the process of squashing them, but they are like rats and find new holes to hide in. If you permit, I'd like to examine your stores of liquors you have here at your establishment. If I can ferret out some bad, fake, or dangerous bottles...perhaps we have more to discuss. If not, then I will leave you alone and compensate you for your time. It was half statement, half question. There was a concentration of...something here. Gaspari hadn't explicitly mentioned this place to him before, but he knew there was more to this hole in the wall than drugs and cheap booze. Based on the proprieter and her choice of bodyguard...something VERY interesting resided within these walls. Deal?
  13. Nighttime is Playtime

    Tom noted which building she had decided to place the chopper. Must be one of her holdings. It all seemed to make sense to him. She had substantial resources...but how much? He closed his eyes during the descent and took some long, slow, deep breaths. Now that her silver jewelry was no longer with them, he was able to detect the other scents. The scents of the soaps used, hair care products all wafted to him with a scent that was hers...and a little of something else. He surmised that it was someone else rather than something. He'd have to catch her after a few meals to solidify that hypothesis, but he was rather sure he was correct. He enjoyed the relative silence as they approached the helipad. He understood why she flew. It was calming and peaceful. He might see about regular flights when things get...frustrating. When they landed, Tom let a small chuckle slip when she gave him a curt "Out." He followed her to the edge of the rooftop. The sights, sounds, and scents of the city invading all of his senses. He glanced at Eris and he knew something serious was about to occur. Behind her unreadable expression was...something. She was stressed...nervous? He hadn't worked out how to identify the subtle shifts of scent that accompanied someone's moods. He wasn't even sure it was scent. Like smell + taste = flavor...the combination of sensory cues Tom was receiving from Eris painted an...uneasy demeanor with the diminutive woman. Even though she was well-schooled at masking her motives and disposition...for him to perceive this much was telling. “Thomas Gallo, I am the Viceroy of the East American Alliance of the Sheut Nation. I am responsible for any and all territorial actions under its purview, including determining whether or not you and Bakkhos, Bakkhos territorial skirmishes and the Satyr Stadium’s dealings are a threat the to the greater stability of our world interests.” There it was. Tom took a few moments to take in the new information. There was a lot of input being thrown at him currently. His stone-faced demeanor hardened further...somehow. It was often mistaken for the scowl of a demon. Those close to him, however, know that this is simply his 'thinking face.' When deep in thought, Roderick has said to him at least, that he has a 'resting death-face.' So the Sheut are as much of an organization as they are a virus-race like the lycanthropes. They are organized...globally. Eris is a high-ranking member of the East American subsection of this alliance. That means there is a Western one too at least. What are territorial actions? Just making sure that their holdings are not hindered by Bakkhos dealings? I guess this is why she was so interested in repairing Thyrsus after the Blood Moon. Territorial skirmishes? Those have all but died down. Bakkhos was slowly, and methodically squashing up smaller, less-safe criminal upstarts. It is one thing to do what is best for you and yours and ignoring laws to do so. It was an entirely different matter if that resorted in undue chaos and needless danger. Satyr Stadium? This was six months to a year out from being ready...what was their concern regarding that? What are their world interests? Who are they? These and dozens of other questions flooded his mind in the seconds he spent staring at Eris's now-softened expression. It appeared that those words were weighing heavily on her. Finally...being willing to deal plainly? This would be a welcome change from his usual day to day. Business was usually best when the dance was abandoned and a simple presentation of terms were laid out. He looked forward to dealings such as this. If the Sheut Nation was a large as he was beginning to believe they were...they could prove to be an invaluable ally in this new world. Then something changed. Eris perched herself up on the ledge of the building with the same deliberate grace any bird or cat would demonstrate. “Now that that’s out of the way I can tell you what I really want to say, if you want to hear it.” Tom quirked an eyebrow in question. Just when he thought Eris was going one way she went another. And when Tom thought he was on the same track, she changed directions again. He allowed himself a small grin as he took in her silhouette against the nighttime sky. Vampire...or Sheut...either matter what he was supposed to call her, she was still a woman. "Go on."
  14. Nighttime is Playtime

    Eris opening up about her turn was somewhat surprising, even though the intent of the conversation was to speak about the uncomfortable and guarded. It revealed a bit more about her that might seem obvious but provided confirmation. Her fighting spirit predates her altered self. She was a genuine warrior. She was not simply someone who had become emboldened by their newfound powers from the Resonance. Tom had suspected as much from their earlier dealings. It added a certain amount of genuineness to a person. The Event didn’t make the person…it simply augmented them, and their identity remained the same. Tom liked those people. He didn’t care for the others. Tom raised an eyebrow at Eris mentioning her mage powers. He had heard of other lycanthropes who had previously had powers that were lost to them forever. Perhaps the vampire virus worked the same way and she was a rare exception? The why was unimportant…to him anyway. It was just good to know that bit of information. When Eris spoke as if to begin to reveal some about the Sheut…Tom opened his mouth. Her demeanor changed completely. “I didn’t hear that.” Or…I wish I hadn’t. Damn. He knew that it was unique in some way…but this revelation meant more to Eris than a simple neat fact about himself. There was some gravity to that aspect of himself that made her visibly shaken. Was she scared of him…or for him? It seemed to be the latter when she asked who else knew about it. Tom took a moment to think before answering. He found himself trusting her for some reason. He couldn’t understand why. Well, he was pretty sure he knew why. Nothing about her guarded stance suggested deceit for the sake of it…but rather as protection. He understood that…she likely would as well. He had revealed a big secret about himself…perhaps bigger than he had known. What would she do if she knew about his father? He couldn’t shake the ‘zoo-exhibit’ feeling as she glanced at him. He was special…now the question was whether he was special like a unique individual or a novelty zoo creature? He looked over to Eris as she was commanding the chopper on its flight. His voice came across the comms even and sincere…maybe mistaken as grave and somber. “Only those closest to me and whom I trust.” Let her interpret that how she will. He was not in the mood for carefully crafting words. He knew that things were going to get very serious and that he had plunged head-first into a new situation in which he wasn’t sure what awaited in the future. Time to see what Eris had to say in this new adventure the two of them have embarked on. What had he gotten himself into?
  15. Nighttime is Playtime

    Tom listened to Eris share her Resonance Genesis keenly. Vampires were like the lycanthropes and zombies then. Viruses that transformed their host was the thing they held in common. The outcome...much different. She had been bitten. He secretly hoped that she had been transformed by the Event like he had. It would have been another shared bond. He already felt a kinship with anger that seems to be insatiable. A desire for one form or another. He had to assume that she had deduced as much about him from these exchanges as he had from her. Probably more, in all reality, as he was hardly an unknown outside of the family. Despite himself, he felt more at ease. He wasn't foolish enough to let his guard down completely. She was also an apex predator in her own right...protecting her territory...scouting for more. Despite all was refreshing to be with someone who understood...or seemed to at any rate. So, the Resonance turned you into a mage...only to immediately be turned into a Sheut Ka? Is that what a vampire is truly called? I suppose there is quite a bit about that portion of our new, wonderful world that I don't know about yet. He wanted to ask her more about her secret organization, dealings, movings, and all that other business stuff. He would. He found this...more personal conversation to be more engaging at the moment. She wanted to know his history? Assuming she didn't already know...he obliged. The night of the Resonance, I changed. When the world had gone to hell, so did I. The Event introduced me to the Beast and informed me that I had a new, permanent partner in all of my dealings. He looked at Eris and offered a sheepish smile at his words, but if she happened to glance at him, she'd know in an instant it was feigned and forced. His voice gave it away too. He didn't enjoy remembering these things. It was important to remember. One aspect of my condition that I don't reveal to many...I'll share with you. I was one of the first. I was never bitten. I don't know if there is some sort of scientific...or perhaps mystic differentiation between the bitten and the...awakened I'll call them. I have noticed, however, that other weres seem to have a much different experience from my own.
  16. Welcome To Domus Mortuorum

    Tom locked eyes with the confident club-owner. Her different colored-eyes would be off-putting to some, he was sure. She was one who liked to negotiate from a position of power. He respected that. He raised his glass briefly towards her before taking a drink. If you are completely satisfied with what you have set up here, then I likely have nothing to offer you. I respect you, Faye. What little I have learned about you speaks of great strength and resolve...a boon for those whom you look after. He paused a moment before continuing. He knew that she was going to find him a threat whether he wanted that image or not. He was always viewed as a threat. That damn beast projected an aura of 'dangerous monster' wherever he strode. It served him well in some instances. It was a huge handicap in others. She was not going to like what he said next. He had been ferreting out some of the other smaller suppliers and buying them up discreetly over the last year or so. Too many bootleg and counterfeit bottles have been making their way into the businesses across town. Some of them were quite dangerous. Tom was seeking to have a shadow-monopoly on supply and distribution, and whether other competitors knew it or not...70% or so of alcohol sales touched Bakkhos hands at some point along the way. Except here. Tom wasn't sure where she got her supplies. Faye had shed a little light on that subject. Trading status within the club for discounts on product. Status was cheaper to give out than money, that was certain. He wondered about the quality and legitimacy of some of her product. Like she said though, that was ancillary at best to the revenue of the place. I have made it my business to know from where and from whom booze enters the city. It started out as a small curiosity, but it turned into a mission over time. There are many counterfeiters and bootleggers out there taking advantage of this world's newfound chaos. I am slowly restoring order to this little portion of the world. I understand the booze trade is not high on your list of interests. Out of respect for you, I will tell you that, in all likelihood, alcohol that I have touched will be on your shelves sooner or later. He paused a moment. He had to remember to breathe. He was trying to navigate that narrow area between braggadocios, threatening, and matter-of-fact. He didn't want to be taken the wrong way. That happened far too often lately. We are not competitors in the strictest sense. We are not lions fighting over the same prey. You don't eat at the same restaurant every day, or wear the same shirt every time...why should I believe that any patron would come to the same club every time? Except for the fact that your club offers something different from Bakkhos. We are not competitors, really. You trading money with Bakkhos does nothing to hurt your little enterprise here.
  17. Nighttime is Playtime

    Her change in demeanor was palpable. It was clear that Eris was at home in the cockpit. He hated to ruin this change of atmosphere by peppering her with questions...but he had many. He might be forced to inject some artificial levity to his questions in order to avoid her parking the chopper wherever they happened to be and asking him to exit. Rapid-fire, since I'm sure you don't really want to talk about this bit, so let's get it out of the way. When did you change? What sort of folklore things are true and what is nonsense? Tom paused a moment to wink at her and offer a smile. These were serious questions, but he was wanting to take the gravity from them. Tom had to admit...there was a sense of peace in the air while flying through it. Looking out the window, he noticed one of his warehouses where there appeared to be a back-door bootleg deal taking place. He'd have to take care of that later. Turning back to Eris he studied her for a moment. He suspected he saw shades of her former self coming to the surface as she flew. Tranquility. Something he was likely to never know again.
  18. Bakkhos Champion??

    Gaspari:…. They don’t need it….. you do….. He was right. It made sense to him. Tom nearly lunged at Matteo for arguing with Gaspari. Tom's temperament was getting worse. It was becoming harder and harder to remain calm, no matter the help Roderick provided when he was around. Still, he should have brought Roderick. Matteo was correct. This was likely to inspire all sorts of additional conflict for Tom. The arena would be a good outlet. He always felt his best the day after transformations were over. He knew it had to do with still having that residual anger that abandons most lycanthropes after the change; however that exertion, that outlet cleared his head and he was usually at his best. Those feelings of clarity were short-lived. It never took long before the mundane took over an the daily struggle resumed. Was Gaspari intentionally setting Tom up for unsolicited provocations from which he would have to defend himself? A steady diet of violence to keep the beast in check? If that was his was either genius or insanity. Whether or not it works would prove to be the judge on that. It was an uncertain play...Tom didn't much like that. However, it was evident, Tom wouldn't be of any use to the family if current trends held. Change was necessary. With that change...certain risks were unavoidable. Matteo...I think I know what he's suggesting. You are correct. I don't like it much either...but I don't see another solution. I don't speak of it much, but since the Event...things have been harder for me than most others that share the same condition. I'm no fool...I know you have noticed. The others in the family don't react the same way that I do. Timing is different, severity is different...because I am different. Tom paused and walked over to pour himself a drink. Most in the family kept their demons to themselves, no matter how obvious it was what they were. A sign of pride or strength, or maybe just foolishness...Tom no longer had that luxury. I believe Gaspari is looking to feed these head-hunters to me to bleed out some of the violence that is bubbling at the surface. As much as I hate to admit long as I continue to live...violence is going to be my drug of choice. He raised his glass in a mock-toast to his new prison. He didn't like this change. Not one bit. He knew that didn't matter much, either. This was his life now...better to make the best of it.
  19. Welcome To Domus Mortuorum

    Faye's silent coordination with her subordinates was unsettling. This was the source of her certainty and control. She wasn't posturing to Tom while dictating the rules to him. She was just letting him know how things work here. Another puzzle piece was put in place in his mind. The whole picture was coming together. He had to trust she wasn't listening to his mind. He couldn't stop her. Perhaps this would count as a measure of good faith. "Down to business Mr. Gallo..." Music to his 'ears'. He wasn't in the mood for pleasantries. The moon was just a few days ago, but his ire waxed and waned WITH the while most lycanthropes were weak and nearly docile at this point...Tom was still rather angry. Thankfully, the change bleeds out a lot of the rage that builds in the days builds back up rather quickly. "Business then." He looked Faye in the eye. "Straight to the point? I want to forge a business relationship between Thyrsus and To Domus Mortuorum." His face is stoic and pure business. No hint of deception, malice, or ire. Just business. "I do not know where you get your supplies for your bar, however I'd like to recommend my store as your supplier." He paused a moment to let her consider that a moment. He then continued. "Bakkhos has no interest in coming in and stealing your club. The stereotypical 'goons' won't come and try to shake the place down. The law is a tool to be used, not always something to bind yourself to, certainly. However this isn't your grandfather's 'mob.' We only wish to prosper. Some of the old hats believe that has to come at the expense of others. I, however, know that this is not a zero-sum game. I believe we can prosper together."
  20. Welcome To Domus Mortuorum

    "You make me laugh little man, but you also make me angry. You need to talk to Mistress Faye you make an appointment. Little men cannot just walk in here and say that..." Tom looked up at the giant statue and smiled a pleased smile. He was impressed. If he had simply let him in, he’d question how strong this place truly was. Whether or not Alexi recognized him was unimportant. He was her protector. He opened his mouth to speak just as Faye stepped outside. Then he ‘heard’ her voice. A telepath. Great. They often misread his intent...rarely seeing past the rage inside. His experiences have been that his inner-beast scared the mind-snoopers. Another piece of the puzzle slid into place. Tom had no preconceptions of what this place was. This was as much a scouting mission as it was a business venture. Tom hated the unknown. He was removing some of those unknowns now. As Faye turned to lead him in, he first turned to face Alexi and nodded in approval. If no one in line recognized him, his presence and demeanor toward the giant statue muted any mocking bemusement they still had. He followed Faye in silence as she led him up the stairs to her office. The interior of the club was certainly not as upscale as Bakkhos was. He saw the allure of it though. No one thing was suited to everyone. This was competition for the Bakkhos Club only marginally. As she shared all the rules of her club with him, he was deciding if she was one who was in full control…or if she was insecure and these rules helped protect against that. If she wasn’t going to speak, then voice-tells were something he’d have to do without while trying to read her. He accepted the invitation to enter her office ahead of the other two and remained standing as they entered. Whether or not Alexi followed them in or posted guard outside, Tom locked eyes with Faye and in a friendly, respectful tone said out loud, “You have a good man there. Loyal. Fearless.” His eyes hardened somewhat, as he thought silently, intending her to ‘hear’ it. “Are you reading my thoughts, or just what I volunteer?” The question was pointed and deliberate. It was obvious how he felt about having his thoughts plundered through…Tom wanted to get to the point. If she were going to pick his brain with or without his consent, he’d just volunteer the whole reason he was here and skip with the niceties. No matter what he says, though, she’ll likely detect the furnace of fury that burns below the surface. His demeanor and attitude is genuinely nice…however it is clear that there is a rage inside of him that he is forcibly restraining.
  21. Welcome To Domus Mortuorum

    Tom pulled up to the House of the Dead and sat there in his car for a few moments taking it in. He had heard of this place from the occasional patron, but he had never been there himself. From what he had heard, it was not a place he would likely spend a lot of time, but he had heard that they have done a lot of business. That was what he was most curious about. Tom wasn't concerned about a competitor taking business away from Club Bakkhos. The family club raked in so much cash, any competitor was largely viewed as an overflow. No...Tom wasn't here to discourage their business, but rather to leverage it for his own. Tom was not simply the alcohol supplier for Bakkhos. Thyrsus was how Tom made money for the family, not from the family. Tom supplied high-end booze for most of the city. Domus Mortuorum was a place that appeared to be doing good business, but wasn't a customer of his. He intended to change that. Normally, Tom wouldn't make these sorts of calls himself. Roderick or someone else would come and make their pitch during normal daytime business hours. This was a two-fold mission for Tom. He wanted to be seen. The big fight at Satyr Stadium was coming soon, and he was a walking billboard for the event. Plus, he was aware of the effect he had on people. People would pay money to see a Bakkhos Capo being relegated to gladiator work, sure. But when he interacted with people, and they felt the uncomfortable feeling of being next to him...they'd change their plans to come see who would want to fight THAT guy! He watched a dozen or so people enter and exit the establishment. This place didn't market itself to the exclusive upscale crowd. Some were dressed to impress, but not everyone. All sorts were here. This was good to know. He stepped out and walked straight to the large rock-man bouncer guarding the front. He was imposing and was well-suited for his job. Tom's brows furrowed in contemplation. He'd like to know more about this...creature. But this isn't why he was here. Tom looked up to the thing's face and stated simply, "My name is Tom Gallo. I need to speak with Faye Johnson." He said this as if it were a foregone conclusion that she would be made available. Not bravado, not simply made sense. This is how it seemed in Tom's head. Some in line heard the man and shied away from him as if he were a grenade tossed in their vicinity. He hoped he didn't inadvertently provoke the rock-golem thing. That had been happening too much lately.
  22. WANTED

    In case you are feeling brave, here is a taste of what the challenger has waiting for them...
  23. Bakkhos Champion??

    He knew he should have brought Roderick. The full moon was in a week and Tom was seething more often than he wasn't this week. He didn't bother Roderick once he had received the summons. If Gaspari called, then it must be serious. Today had been a good day to this point. Shipments arrived when expected. Payments were received, orders came in...everything in the Thyrsus machine was running as smoothly as possible. This was good. Otherwise, Tom was afraid that he might have made some rash mistakes. Everything bothered him. The phone rang too loud. The lights were too bright. Nobody moved fast enough. The rational part of Tom's brain knew that this was absurd. Little by little, though...piece by piece...calm and cool Tom was being replaced by this beast that dwells within him. He had been getting ready for a jog. He had discovered that physical exercise was helping him cope with the beast a bit better. That, coupled with Roderick's help...the rage inside was forever a passenger...however rarely the driver. The poor timing of Gaspari's call tweaked the beast inside. Annoyances skipped straight ahead to become offenses these days. Tom took a long calm breath and reminded himself of who it was calling and the importance of keeping this beast contained...lest he lash out in violence against someone who didn't deserve it or look for it. When Tom was let in, a low growl was allowed to escape his mouth before he caught himself. The stench from the silver in the Bakkhos rings poked at the caged monster inside. He exhaled sharply. He should have brought Roderick. He listened to Gaspari's proposal of having Tom as a champion at Satyr Stadium with skeptical eyes. Tom was never known as one of the fighters amongst the capos. Matteo, if anyone, scrapped more than he likely ought to have. Matteo appeared to share some of the same thoughts as he protested. And what if he accidently kills the opponent? Then we are the bad guys… and if he loses on the openin' night??..... the "champion" o' Bakkhos defeated by a street fighter? Then what happens with our rep? Geez Boss… this is just a recipe for disaster. Tom took a long moment before replying. Matteo had good points, but Gaspari had something in mind. Tom wasn't chosen randomly. With Derrick, Matteo, and a few others...Tom was one of the ones least likely to fight unnecessarily. Tom wondered why Gaspari had picked him out. Was it because he knew that Tom would heal soon after and likely have no lasting damage? The idea of a capo going through a grueling melee one hour...and be cleaned up and smiling at a business meeting the next would create an aura of power around Tom...and by virtue of that, Bakkhos. Would this become a regular thing? Tom was not pleased with this prospect. Tom's life thrived on order, structure...everything in its place. Another part of Tom seemed excited by this. Maybe this could be his new outlet for venting out the beast! It was certainly worthy of experimentation. If people were signing up to be his punching bag, maybe it would be worth a shot. He still had some questions though. I am honored that you would think of me, but may I ask why? The Family has many competent warriors...many of whom fighting is simply what they do. What brought your attention to me?
  24. Nighttime is Playtime

    Tom was relieved to see Eris’s demeanor soften. In a lot of ways, it seemed that their moods mirrored off of each other’s. Seeing her chuckle and joke helped to soften the edge he had. That raging furnace of primal fury was still right there…but the door to that furnace was closed at the moment. The heat present, but the flames contained. As they drove in silence, he listened and sniffed for any sort of hidden cues. The silver, again, drowned out most anything he could hope to glean. It was too rude to ask her to lock that away somewhere in the bottom of the river. He’d have to deal. The furnace door began to vent a bit into his consciousness. “Straight into the hangar,” she said quietly. “You can park in there.” As he was guided to where to park, he had been correct…the strip was hard to miss. He was surprised at how well-kempt the place was. This was her castle. Her prize. “Welcome to my castle,” Tom’s lips quirked in a slight smile at her choosing the same words from his mind. He noted Toby as he descended. He remembered their initial encounter. Eris seemed to command the same sort of loyalty from her subordinates that Tom had from his. Despite her attitude toward them as free-spirits that happen to help her…there was certainly a pecking order here, and Eris, to this point, appeared to be at the head of it. Tom silently thanked Eris in his mind when she handed Toby the silver necklace. The constantly spraying skunk was now to leave…finally. The vent to the rage furnace began to slide closed again. Tom had no doubt about the safety of his vehicle in her hangar. In all fairness, he kept nothing of any true value within the vehicle. He’d certainly have the vehicle checked for any additional hardware after this visit by some of the mechanics in the family. Trust, but verify. He followed behind her as she ascended to the catwalk and eventually to the helipad. Her scents finally becoming noticeable. God he hated silver! It was evident she was in her element. She was more comfortable here than a badger in their den. He suspected that an unwanted encounter in either place would likely be similar. “Put the headset on and buckle up. Any last requests?” Tom smiled. A genuine warm smile. This felt nice. She could just as easily plunge this chopper into something and hope his durability was less than hers…but he doubted it. It was important to get to the bottom of this fake-Bakkhos thing and likely set up a friendly relationship with Eris and whatever organization she was a part of. Allies were usually better than enemies. Besides, if the alliance didn’t work, then enemies was an easy thing to transition into later. Besides all that, he had to admit…he just enjoyed the friendly company of someone who wasn’t afraid of him. “Never wear silver jewelry again. It stinks.” He winked at Eris as he smiled and put on the headset. Roderick would have had a heart attack if he had seen such an interaction.
  25. Nighttime is Playtime

    Tom's mood lightened a bit at Eris's apparent change of mood as well. He could certainly use a couple of hours beholden to no one. A quick flight seemed like the perfect way to clear his head. When she made the joke of having eaten, he allowed himself a smile at the joke. He was not as comfortable joking about death, however the openness was refreshing. "It makes little difference to me. Surprise me." Tom smirked as he strode toward the door leading back to the club. He knew that the last sentence was likely to elicit some sort of reaction. He stood in the doorway between the patio and the club and surveyed the room once more, scanning for anything that might require his immediate attention. The cop and other were seemed to be behaving. He pulled out his phone and sent off a quick text. Matteo. I'm heading out for the evening. Going to check out Eris's place. Will let you know what I discover. Turning back to Eris, he muttered a simple, "Follow me." He led Eris through the crowd as it parted around them. He had come to expect this phenomena, yet it still amazed him whenever it occurred. He couldn't tell rightly if it were supernatural or if the beast had given him some sort of instinctive presence. Either way, the path ahead was clear as a dance floor could get without a single bit of accidental contact. As they neared the back entrance, they walked past the bar that Ari was tending. The small, Asian woman looked first at Tom, then to Eris, and then back to Tom. With a simple hand to his chest and a nod, Ari returned her attention to the patrons. Were his hand to the chest have been a fist to the chest instead, Ari would have followed behind them for an uncomfortable discussion with Eris. The open hand indicated open passage. Bakkhos was always on guard. Once in the back, they descended to the garage where he parked the X5. He held the passenger door open for Eris to get in and, after closing the door behind her, climbed into the driver seat and started heading toward the air strip. "I know approximately where your airstrip is, but you'll have to navigate more specifically as we get closer." Tom then started the drive to the airstrip in what was likely to be another interesting venture.