Thomas (Tom) Gallo

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Everything posted by Thomas (Tom) Gallo

  1. Nighttime is Playtime

    Tom smiled slightly. Often Matteo would tease him about being uptight, but now it was evident that he was feeling the pressure of making things go right. Tom was a little on edge with the moon coming soon, but he couldn't pass up the opportunity to see Matteo stress a bit. Besides, even Tom knew that some R and R was due. This was likely to be a fun night. More importantly, unless booze ran out, his head wasn't on the block for anything. You betcha. I'll be here.
  2. Nighttime is Playtime

    Wonder if that’s all she recognizin'…. Tom chuckled. Matteo had specific motivations. Ladies were one of them. Eris was an intriguing woman...but he didn't have time to think about things like that. What time do things start tonight?
  3. Tee minus 2 days and counting........

    Your call t' stay… but you try 'n bite me and gonna put a bullet in yer ass… Hope that works...He sounded glum...but the hint of a smile in his face shown that he wasn't taking it seriously. Tom tuned his ears to the call as Matteo took it. He only made out about half of what was on the other end, but put it together in his mind. Gonna hold ya to that promise for Thyrsus to keep us openin' right. Looks like word got out finally. We at double expected attendance. Gonna need to double that original order. Shouldn't be a problem. I'll have what you need here in time. Like all business talk...very mechanical. I swear ya sound more like Lucky every day… This time, guttural laughter escaped Tom's lips. Thanks, I think. I'm not THAT old! Tom shook his head as he smiled. …will owe her a pound of flesh later am sure. By the way... turns out Gaspari be in for the openin' so gonna need extra of the good stuff stocked in the VIP suite. Tom smiled big now at mention of Angel. Oh, she'll collect. Don't you worry. I'll make sure everything is in order for the fights...only wish you'd schedule these things for when I'm not a liability. Tom clapped Matteo on the shoulder...perhaps a bit harder than comfortable. It was, after all, nearly moon-time.
  4. Heading Upstate

    February 8th, 2020 12:30pm Thyrsus Irritated. This was the best mood that anyone could hope from Tom today. Tonight, the beast came out and the next and the next. During this time, most knew to stay out of his way. He had seen to some last-minute preparations for the weekend and was going over a final checklist with Roderick before he departed Upstate. “Shipment arrives this afternoon. I’ll return Tuesday.” Tom spat the words out angrily…like it was offensive for him to have to say these things. He wasn’t trying to be rude, and Roderick knew it. Tom was so grateful to have someone like Roderick to run things while he was gone. He was unable to demonstrate his gratitude properly now, but Roderick understood. Without another word, Tom stepped into his car and started driving north. He was driving toward a cabin in the woods he had that was about 4 hours or so due-north of New York City. A few of the Bakkhos knew that Tom had a place, but none knew where it was precisely. They were content with letting Tom do his monthly thing and come back to business. Any time that he was required to stay in the city rarely went well. Stepping into the cell was a very hard thing for him to do…and it was getting more and more difficult to do so each time. He avoided it whenever possible. Tom pulled up to the cabin. It was a non-descript plain cabin in the woods. It was slightly more modern with drywall and some other typical house-appropriate furnishings. Other than that, it was a bare-minimum shelter. There was no running water. The electricity was provided by a generator that was only ran to keep the refrigerator running. There were two cots set up in opposite corners of the single room. One looked barely used…this was his, as he only slept here a few nights a month. The other cot was much more worn. This cot belonged to his father, Frank Gallo. The Nevus event awakened the dormant lycanthrope virus in both Frank and Tom…to much different results. While the virus manifested in Tom in extreme potency in all respects…the physical strengths, weaknesses, rage…in Frank it manifested a bit differently. He was a wolf as well, however his mind was ill-equipped to cope with the change. It sent him to the edge of insanity and left him there. Frank is lucid and relatively normal…so long as he doesn’t interact with anyone other than Tom. Anytime he encounters another human, his fight-or-flight response is triggered and he panics and runs away…or panics and attacks with a feral-ferocity. Tom created this residence for Frank to be able to stay remote and hidden, but close enough to keep an eye on. Frank tried to visit him one other time a month besides the change, however his duties often precluded him from doing so. This cabin was Frank’s prison and refuge. He could never return to the city. His anthropophobia prevented even the most casual of human interaction with those that weren’t Tom. “Good to see you, son.” Frank had walked in the back door, with an arm load of wood. He looked grizzled and barely sane. He set the wood down and walked over to hug Tom. Tom could feel the anguish in this hug. His poor father was lonely…but he was alive. And the next three nights he would be the most alive he’d be for the next month. Hunting together as wolves, ironically enough, was just enough to keep him on this side of sane. For now, at least.
  5. Building a Mystery

    "The very notion of fear is a lie, Thomas. I used the word because it's what people know. It's a common understanding catch all term to deflect the reality of extreme emotion people don't want to admit exists within them." This was getting nowhere. Semantics…oh how he hated getting tied up with semantics. He knew what she meant…he just had to believe that she knew what he did too. If not…what did it truly matter? "I admit freely that you absolutely intrigue me, far beyond what is probably wise. I want to know more about you. That translates in the vernacular to fearless. I know now you obviously understand far beyond the term, so you can understand I don't 'fear' you. I just have the patience and personal knowledge of my limits to learn more about you. I feel like you don't fear hurting others, you know you can and care too much not to keep them safe." Thom nodded thoughtfully at what she said. Yep. She got it. That simplified things. But she was back to her research-mode…at least he hoped that was what it was…mostly. Was she a scientist having discovered a new species of creature to be catalogued, categorized, and studied…or were her desires more…primal? He wasn’t certain…one was slightly offensive, the other…he wasn’t quite sure how to feel about that. Regardless, she certainly was not shy about it. He did notice a chink in her armor though. He knew the effect he had on people. Most cowered or fled unless he went out of his way to be inviting, friendly and otherwise harmless. He deliberately let his force of personality display…except he tempered it with the emotional control he retained during this time of the month. The staring at the glass coupled with the deliberate stare into his eyes…she may as well have told him that he freaked her out and she wasn’t ok with that and to knock it off. A slight grin crept onto his face despite himself. He admired her grit. Determined not to let her demeanor portray her as a weak, pretty girl that her appearance would suggest to some. Eris was a warrior, this was certain. “I’m not one you have to worry about...There are no people like me.” No. Certainly not. “My ‘truly curious’ stems from the courtesy not to shoot on sight…Reliable overheard street chatter spoke of Bakkhos. I will speak with Mr. Carducci first. If they’re Bakkhos, out of respect they’re safe until then, unless they wander in.” Thom chuckled out loud this time. Not dismissively or offensively…but rather at the imagined scenario playing out. No doubt Lucky was getting overly zealous…and this one was more than likely to express her displeasure at such action. “No need to get violent, I’m sure. I imagine the right words haven’t found the proper ears just yet. Give it some time, or speak to Matteo. I’m sure it will work out.” “And the interest would be my planes. I have aircraft nobody does. It's a commodity people want to take from me. Forcibly as of late." Now that was interesting. Who were the other players that would try to muscle in on an air strip? There were sure to be several. “Any idea who?” The question was simple, but the implication was more than that. If Tom took the time to think about it, he had grown fond of her with this little exchange. Maybe a phone call or visit to some folks could accomplish a few things. His mind could easily go down the path of how to calculatingly execute many plans to facilitate a given goal. For now, information would suffice. "If you need transportation for business, that’s my direct cell. I fly anywhere, even England. If you don’t have any business and just want to fly, give me a call. There’s a silence up there that no longer exists down here…a controlled chaos. Going up later if you’re interested, just because.” Now that was interesting on a number of levels. Mainly for Bakkhos-Eris relations. Is she gunning for favor to elicit favors? She was clever enough to do something like that, he thought. Was this all a quid pro quo type of proposition? I’ll fly for you if you protect me? Tom had to admit it was a little disappointing if this was all it was. On the other hand…there was that odd…scientific study of him that she was up to as well. Did she want to see what he was like off the ground? Something else? Numbers and books are much simpler. Why couldn’t some other moon-beast have been the one that tore Thyrsus down? It’d cost more, but it’d be easier. Ah well. There could be some real possibilities with her proposition. “Thank you for the invitation, but I’m afraid I have responsibilities to attend to this evening.” This was true enough. Plus...Tom was never one to be spontaneous. Well, when he could help it. He picked up the card and glanced it over quickly before putting it into his jacket pocket. “I will certainly take you up on your offer sometime. I’ve received word of a few Macallans floating around Western Ireland I’d like to get in the shop. Maybe you and I can take a trip sometime.” He smiled as he stood with her. Roderick had silently slipped back behind the bar as if on cue. Thomas accompanied Eris and her shadow to the door as they left. “I enjoyed your visit. Please, return whenever you like.” He cupped one of her hands in both of his. He was pretty sure she wouldn’t be comfortable with that…but that was sort of the point. If she wanted him to be so interesting…”Only next time, like this visit, please just use the front door instead of making your own.” He smiled again as he released her hand and watched them depart.
  6. Nighttime is Playtime

    "Hmmm..." Thom muttered at Mythos's passionless response. Thom didn't know about the vamps. He had heard of them, sure, but after the Event...all sorts of reports of every monster ever imagined surfaced. It wasn't impossible, but he didn't know for sure. Must be the old strip on the north side. We'd seen lot of activity last six months or so. Didn't think much of it but you know Lucky… convinced someone was musclin' in. Had some of his guys pokin' around till Gaspari told him to back off. Gaspari be pissed if Lucky still got 'em goin' out there. "Yeah...she didn't seem too pleased about it either. She did give me her card, though. Offered to pilot for business or pleasure." He shook his head slightly at that last bit. He didn't like the fact that she courted the beast within him. Partly insulted...partly terrified for didn't sit well with him. He suspected that she wouldn't be easily dismissed. "If our boys are sniffing around there, they should stop...especially if Gaspari has already spoken to it. Sounds like she is trying to broker a friendly relationship with Bakkhos. Even someone as bold as she recognizes when someone makes a better ally than enemy." How much longer ya got on the repairs? "They are nearly complete. Should be anytime now."
  7. Tee minus 2 days and counting........

    Tom nodded in agreement with Matteo's analysis. "I agree. I think I might stay in town anyway though. I'll be ok as long as the sun is up...especially with Roderick around to keep me this side of sane. I'll do all that I can with Thyrsus to keep Satyr's opening going as smoothly as possible." Matteo knew that Roderick was also affected by the Nevus event. He knew that Roderick was able to nudge people's emotions in the right ability that has become an asset at Thyrsus as the moon approaches while working with Tom. Suppose could see 'bout Angel takin' him on. Though she more a three than two… poor slob get his ass kicked by her. Tom chuckled, "Yeah, but ending the night with a Bakkhos squash might inspire the right sort of feelings in others inspire them to send their best next time instead of holding out. As long as the action doesn't spill out into the audience...I believe that'd be the perfect way to end the night."
  8. Brandon and possible Affiliations

    Right, I just recall that when reading one, it reminded me of another, ha ha
  9. Need Some Healing?

    Oh OH OH!! She could work w/ Bakkhos at Satyr stadium to heal the combatants after fights...that way it isn't always so fatal.
  10. Brandon and possible Affiliations

    I had a thought. I noticed that his Dimensional Shift ability could closely resemble Gaspari's molecular shift ability. If word got out that someone else in town was doing something similar to what Gaspari can wouldn't be far-fetched for Brandon to receive an invitation to the Club one night.
  11. Nighttime is Playtime

    Ya realize you crackin' like you older than Carmine… Tom chuckled. He was indeed in full old-man mode. Construction was nearing completion…and he was impatient to get on with it. Seeing Matteo chuckle at the same thing, Tom smiled genuinely. It was good to crawl out form the dungeon that was his office from time to time. 'ey you talked to that woman yerself? Why you think she ponyin' up? Whatsin it for her? Tom shook his head at mention of Eris. “Yeah, I have. She’s...something.” Tom poured a drink for himself and sat down. “On the surface, it seemed like she was paying up to earn some good will because her next question was rather abrupt. Apparently, she owns an air strip and some of our boys were sniffin’ around there. I told her to ask you about it if she were concerned. Which reminds me…she ever get ahold of you?” He chuckled, “I don’t know how to feel about this one just yet. Part of me thinks she’d be a worthwhile ally…or a real pain in the—” He stopped mid-sentence, turning his gaze over to Mythos. He suspected as much when he met her, but being near him now confirmed it. Whatever she was, it was the same as Mythos. “Mythos. Do you know an Eris London? I think the two of you have quite a bit in common.” His face wasn’t angered…but there was no mistaking he was deadly serious.
  12. Building a Mystery

    What is with this woman? Tom thought to himself. Tom had met similar people…those who never ‘feel truly alive’ unless they were in some kind of perceived danger. Eris appeared to be one of those. Wonderful… Tom’s reputation among the Bakkhos was two-fold. On one hand, he is regarded as a genuine, sincere, and fiercely loyal member of the family. On the other, he is feared as an immutable force of nature should someone find themselves on his bad side. Because of this, Tom had become accustomed to people either running to him with good cheer…or steering clear of him when they knew he was displeased with them. He was particularly fond of that, but it was a useful tool, and one he kept at the ready. Eris, however, didn’t seem to be operating with the same playbook. She courted danger. She wanted the thrill of uncertainty. Why? “I pet vipers and swim with sharks Thomas. I rather like it. You might too.” Part of him did. In Tom’s conversations with Victor, Victor never mentioned an increasing desire to or anticipation for the change. Tom almost looked forward to it now. It was dreadfully inconvenient, and going into that box…Victor must be a man possessed of stronger personal discipline to routinely go into his box each month. Or else he was a champion of hiding his disdain. When Tom went upstate for the change…it was always…refreshing. He had always viewed that as a compromise. He allowed the beast an outlet so that he was in more control during the day to day. That was what he was hoping for at least. He wasn’t so sure these days. “I kill things I should fear. Being fearless is accepting the fact that you can’t control anything. Control is an illusion we tell ourselves so we can ignore the fact we’re monsters.” Tom chuckled softly. This was a philosophical point that they were likely to always disagree upon. “People kill spiders because they fear them. Tyrants kill groups of people because they fear them. Being willing to conquer your fears doesn’t always dismiss them. It, in fact, proves fear’s presence.” Tom took another drink from his glass, noting that she too truly believed what she said. “Oh, we are monsters. Control is not an illusion so much as an unattainable goal…but we try. I know what the consequences are if I forego control and just sit pleasantly in Club Bakkhos when the full moon rises.” His expression turned grim. “I am not willing to do that.” “I’m the thing that won’t run, that appreciates what you are at face value, that the vipers and sharks don't have to be afraid of hurting." He walked from behind the bar to take a seat closer to Eris. Resting his elbow on the wood his face darkened…voice a soft, deep whisper. “Because people like you won’t run…I must. Vipers, sharks…wolves…they aren’t afraid of hurting. Predators are pragmatic. Simple. They see prey and threats. From what I’ve seen…they both meet the same fate.” Her timing couldn’t have been better to be so bold. Had this conversation happened two weeks ago, or later…it’d have likely gone sideways much earlier. “That’s all you’re going to get I’m afraid. Maybe we can meet again over dinner in a few weeks… and you can see the rest for yourself.” Never mind. She was courting danger. She wanted to see Tom on the brink of a frenzied, blood-thirsty rage. Foolishness. “My turn. Why would Bakkhos be interested in casing the blocks around my airstrip? Sent several on their way a few days ago. Perhaps you could point me in the direction of who I should talk to about that. Last time I checked, there were no Bakkhos in my compound for someone to come in and save." The timing of this conversation worked out for him too. Had this question been posed two weeks ago…yeah. Good thing it didn’t. Switching back to business was a welcome change. So that's who owned that airstrip. He could use this. He sat up straighter and appeared to visibly relax. His voice, lighter than earlier. “I am not entirely sure who has interests over there off the top of my head. I would suggest speaking to Matteo if you are truly curious.” The snap back to the practical was welcome. Control, while not always easy…or even attainable…was no illusion. He must not let himself believe that.
  13. Tee minus 2 days and counting........

    Matteo was fixated on the fight. The other stuff...long term stuff was secondary to the younger boss. It was understandable. "Yes, I change day before and after. Moon LOVES me." Tom said that last bit with all the acid he felt about it. Well... About the box. "Who is the fighter you have booked already?" Tom was curious. He wanted to feel out what the other combatant was like. He didn't like the idea that was creeping into his mind, but it was there. "No, haven't asked. This is a big deal and I thought Gaspari would want a show of force." Tom took the bottle and poured himself another glass. "What do you think?"
  14. Tee minus 2 days and counting........

    Tom took the glass graciously. When Matteo acknowledged the insincerity of his smile, he dropped it and the default grimace this time in the month returned. He extended the glass in a silent cheers before a more sardonic smirk played on his face. "Sounds... fantastic. I could try to get the crew that fixed up Thyrsus to come down here. Once I weeded out the skimmers and lazy ones, they did quick work." He took another drink as he appeared to be mulling something over in his mind...shaking his head slightly as if having a silent debate with himself. "Don't suppose Gaspari will let me go upstate for opening, no?"
  15. Tee minus 2 days and counting........

    Tom was in his office going over reports and numbers. The Thyrsus repairs had been completed. It had taken a while to squeeze out the leeches, lazy workers, and outright crooks among the construction crews. Once that was done, things moved quickly and efficiently. Thyrsus was every bit the miniature fortress it was before the Blood Moon…plus a bit. That wasn’t all that was on his desk. Satyr Stadium was reopening…probably…real soon and he was getting together the liquor order for the stadium. After running the tallies, it was going to take a small moving truck to get the inventory there. Pressing the button on his desk he spoke; “Roderick, Matteo is expecting the shipment by 5pm. Are you going to make that deadline?” “Yeah, boss. It should be there right around then or perhaps a few minutes before.” “Sounds good. I’ll be heading that way soon myself.” He growled in spite of himself as he thought on his next inquiry. “I suspect that Angelo will desire to keep me from going upstate this month and I’ll be relegated to ...the box,” he spit out those last two words with as much venom as a man could, “...during the Satyr Stadium opening. Can you check it out tonight or tomorrow to ensure it is ready for my stay?” Tom hated that damn box. But he didn’t see a way around it this time. Unless…no. From what he had heard, Matteo had been having problems keeping the containment of the arena appropriately. They wouldn’t let Tom’s beast out in front of people if the integrity of the structure was in question. Each time he had to force himself back into his small, steel-reinforced hell, it was more difficult. He didn’t know quite what that meant, but he knew that sometime, it was going to go poorly. Tom, now too agitated to look at the numbers with anything resembling organized thinking, got up from his desk and hopped in his X5 and drove over to Satyr Stadium. The drive helped to calm him down a bit. We were less than a week out from the full moon…so these drives alone were more valuable to him now than at any other time during the month. Once he arrived at the Stadium, he took in the improvements and nodded in approval. Looks like they were making progress after all. Catching a whiff of Joey milling about somewhere, he knew Matteo couldn’t be far. He made his way up to the sky box at the very top where he overheard Matteo speaking to Joey and walked into the room. “Matteo, how are things coming along up here?” He had on as genuine of a smile as he could manage, but Matteo likely knew it was forced. “Or more like…what are today’s setbacks?”
  16. Building a Mystery

    Eris’s whole demeanor was interesting to behold. When he poured the glass, it was as if she were an addict with her first view of her addiction in years. Then she stopped…as if suddenly repulsed by it. Finally, she hesitantly grabbed at it and sipped and enjoyed. Did she think he intended to poison her? Maybe she was an addict? But then she appeared to reign in whatever chaos was going on in her head and regained her calm demeanor. There was a whole lot of crazy in there. He knew a bit about that… When Toby came in and out, he caught his scent too…more of the same. Yes. He would have to speak to Mythos next time he was in town…whenever that was. She seemed to ignore his findings regarding the money. Just as well…some with ample resources didn’t take care to see how much was flowing in and out as long as it was there. This report was a courtesy to her, after all. She could take it and do with it as she pleased. Does the full moon frighten you, Thomas? Well…that’s one less talking point to be careful about. Either she knew ahead of time, or…as his wife was fond of saying when she sniffed out a new deodorant or cologne…’her nose knows’. He stared at her a long moment, noting how she was taking him in like he was a work of art…or a zoo animal. Nevertheless, this encounter was going to be far more complicated and intricate than a simple business dealing. This far away from the full moon, Tom was at his most calm. He was more able to think, pivot and calculate a response. In a couple weeks, he’d be more prone to simply react…and damage control later. Tom grinned slightly. Might as well get this conversation out of the way now. “The sun has always controlled life on Earth. In light of the events of the past few years…the moon gets to play with me too.” He finished his drink and began to pour another for them both. She wanted to cut right to the chase it seemed. He wasn’t sure if she was scouting for some purpose, or just learning about what has become a new part of her life recently. After Eris mentioned Mouse, Tom silently raised a glass in honor of her bravery. She had accidentally wandered into one of the safest traps in the city. The steel walls and doors were intended to keep unwanted people out. However, as will all walls and most doors…it works the other way too. He did not share her desire to feel every emotion that you could. A good portion of his effort is in keeping the emotions he does feel in check. He felt that he didn’t have the luxury to open himself up to new ones while being constantly on guard for the familiar ones. “Most people would have taken advantage of the Blood Moon chaos for a free pass to escape the wrath of Bakkhos because they fear you.” “I fear nothing, let alone taking responsibility for my actions.” Posturing again. It felt like it at least. She was right, most people had the sense to not anger the Bakkhos if it were avoidable. Those that did, were reminded why they shouldn’t. Eris was making a show of demonstrating that she wasn’t. Why? It is clear that she certainly possessed more than enough pride to make such a statement…however she was too clever to do something that as well. Did she think the family had it out for her already and this was her way to make amends? He’d have to ask some questions. “Fear and prudence are often mistaken for one another.” Tom began. “You don’t pet a viper, nor swim with sharks…not because of fear. You avoid these things because it would not be prudent to do so.” Subtle, verbal posturing was not above him either. It appeared that she was testing. Is Tom a doormat? Is Tom an idiot? Is Tom reasonable? Is Tom a monster? Maybe an answer to one or two of these questions was in order. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Partly in an effort to see if there were other scents he could catch that might not have been made known to him as yet. Tom hated surprises. He was also giving the illusion of a meditative breath. No doubt, she expected barely contained wrath. Truth was…this was as calm as he got during the month. Some wolves crescendo at the full moon and dramatically rescind back into a weak, calmer human state and begin the slow buildup to the next moon. Tom’s ‘were-seasons’ mimicked the moon phase. Immediately after a full moon, Tom was still very agitated and very close to full on monster-wolf. His innate rage would wax and wane with the moon. He finished his second drink, perhaps a bit too quickly and half smile, half glower looked her in her eyes. “Everyone is afraid of something. That is a lie you tell yourself. Not letting fear control you doesn’t dismiss the presence of that fear.” This was simple truth. A person without fear wasn’t a person. They weren’t real. Eris was a brave woman, no doubt. A lot of pain… “Thank you for not taking advantage of my responsibilities, that cash will take care of all your concerns. The other annoyances are your purview. It’s your money, not mine. It ceased being mine the moment I chose to destroy your property,” warm rum rich hum of her voice was still below conversational level. “But you’re too kind, I hope not for the sake of offending me. I don't get offended. If they displease you, fire them.” “You showed such integrity to disclose how the building became damaged. You earned my respect.” He nodded slightly, indicating sincerity. He was sincere. Too many in the family and others in positions of power feel the need to bend the will of those around them…or crush them under their thumb. Those who serve under Tom weren’t subjected to that type of ‘leadership.’ Discretion is key, however it was rarely a mystery how Tom felt about something. Tom wasn’t a sleazy, scheming, conniving, leach of a person. His being Bakkhos wasn’t a statement of his character because he’s technically a criminal. His morals and sense of right and wrong don’t always align with the current laws on the books. “I now know I can trust you. I could learn to like you. You're interesting when so few people are.” There was that art exhibit or zoo animal feeling again. Did she have such disdain for so many people that finding a civilized werewolf is the only kind of thrill she can find with people anymore? No matter. It was time to see how comfortable she was at being truly introspective. Senses on alert, he placed the half-empty bottle of rum between them, a silent question of whether she wanted another glass. Leaning forward with his hands resting on the polished teak bar-top, he said, “What about you allows you to rip steel doors from their hinges and saunter into a Bakkhos stronghold proclaiming from within the walls that ‘You fear nothing’?” It was evident that he didn’t believe her bravado was genuine. Not all of it at least.
  17. Building a Mystery

    Tom’s eyebrows furrowed slightly for a moment as he caught her scent. Something was…off. Based on the accounts of her ripping the doors off their hinges, she wasn’t simply human. It reminded him of Mythos a little bit. He’d have to ask him about her later. There was a long pause as the two sized each other up. She was beautiful. There was no question about it. If pride had a scent, you wouldn’t need to be a wolf to smell it. It radiated from her like light from the sun. She could be a real problem. She could also be a powerful ally. No doubt, she was conducting a similar analysis. This would be an interesting encounter. "Truly well dressed men are rare these days." She was immaculately dressed as well. No doubt that she was a person who always looked their best. He understood completely. “Indeed.” He recognized the compliment. She didn’t seem to be one overly concerned with formalities. This was refreshing…sometimes the ‘family’ became stodgy and overly-formal without ever saying anything. Nowhere near as bad as pre-Resonance corporate elites, but still… “I don’t need to check up on anyone’s progress, least of all yours. I'm not anyone's mother.” Tom reached into his jacket and pulled some folded papers and handed them to Eris. “Perhaps you should.” He walked behind the counter that served as a bar as well. He produced two glasses and an open bottle of Ron Zacapa XO and poured two drinks. He nudged one in her direction as he took a sip from his own. Roderick had seemingly disappeared. “You are overpaying your crew by about 30%. The foreman for the masons is skimming about 10% to put into his own pockets. Friday afternoons appear to be holidays for the welders. Also, apparently, they only need two out of every three workers, as the rest appear to be idle at any given time.” Tom was revealing a part of himself with that report. He was an efficient, nearly mechanical man when it came to business. Inefficiencies were personal offenses to him. Especially when they were so easily corrected. “I came to ask you personally if you needed anything else to make the inconvenience of this rebuild more palatable.” If he didn’t know better, he would have interpreted this as an attempt to appease the Bakkhos out of fear. However, this was obviously not the case. She wouldn’t have sauntered in here like this if she was afraid. Which led to the next obvious question…why was she here? Why was she doing this? During the chaos of the Blood Moon, no one would have known it was her. What did she want from the family for her cooperation? This was a question he would have to get answered…although a direct approach was not likely to be fruitful. He’d have to be careful. “Despite the inefficiencies and thievery, construction appears to be going quite well, if a bit slower than I had hoped.” He took another sip from his drink. He too enjoyed this brand of rum. He looked into Eris’s eyes and raised his glass slightly toward her in a gesture of salute. “Now that we have finally met, I’d like to thank you personally for contributing to the rebuild. Many would have taken advantage of the chaos of the Blood Moon and vanished into the night.” He left the unspoken question of “Why?” hanging in the air. He studied her closely now. His eyes were still friendly, but calculating. He was looking for any sort of tell. No. He was no incompetent beast. He was no thuggish brute. The Capo ring on his hand was not given to him in recognition of his strength or blind obedience…but rather his mind and loyalty. The Beast and all the physical gifts that came with it were add-ons…supplementing what made Tom truly dangerous…his mind.
  18. Building a Mystery

    Roderick could sense that he was on the edge of danger. His good looks and charm can keep hostiles at bay, most of the time. This woman, however, was different. He silently applauded himself for hitting the button almost immediately. Roderick was the gatekeeper of sorts for Thyrsus…the sentry on duty. His poise and charisma was often all that was required for most patrons. Not this one. However, until Tom got in here, the show must go on. “Ron Zacapa XO…yes, the rum is over here.” He gestured to one of the corners of the room. He glided over to the corner with nearly silent feet…as if his feet never did quite make contact with the ground. He gestured towards a shelf about four feet off the ground. There were two rows of Ron Zacapa XO, each about three bottles deep. “Any particular bottle catch your fancy, Ms. London?” Just as the question was asked, the elevator door slid open and out walked Tom. His solid frame was draped in a Brunello Cucinelli charcoal suit. Unlike Roderick, the sound of his Fratelli Borgioli shoes striking the floor echoed across the room like small claps of thunder. He approached Eris and Roderick as he was asking Ms. London which particular bottle she might prefer. Roderick was a good find. A trusted lieutenant that didn’t need much guidance, and knew where permission was required. Loyal to a fault, he was. Tom was lucky. “Ms. London,” Tom’s rich, baritone voice spoke. “I take it you have come to check on the reconstruction progress?” The sentence may have been a question, but his tone was not. Tom is generally a friendly man, however he doubted that Eris came by for a social call. Tom was making no attempt to be intimidating, that came naturally…just by being alive in the same room…however his look, demeanor, and tone said without words, ‘I am in control here. You are welcome here because I allow it.’
  19. Building a Mystery

    Roderick’s brows quirked up slightly at hearing her name. Eris appeared to be everything that Ahanu had eluded to. Hints of mirth showed in his eyes as he finally put a face to the name. Ever the professional, Roderick did not let that look linger, lest he upset the ‘petite, volcanic, vixen’ as Ahanu had lovingly referred to her. Roderick subtly pushed a button under the counter while speaking to Eris. This would alert Tom that something important was going on. Not an alarm, but rather, something worthy of his personal attention. “I appreciate her endorsement. I hope I manage to live up to it.” Humility oozed from Roderick. It was sincere; however, Eris could see plain as day that Roderick was no simple crony. “I let him know that you are here. Can I offer you a drink in the mean time?”
  20. Building a Mystery

    The construction crew had gone for the night. The work being done was coming along rather quickly. Roderick was cleaning up the incidental dust and debris that would find its way into the store proper. It did no good to have sawdust marring the mahogany walls. Having done all the “hard work” for the day, Roderick was looking forward to a relaxing evening tending the counter and socializing with the patrons. When the petite woman entered the store, he smiled bright. Maybe tonight was going to be pleasant after all. “Your big boss please. If you bring me Roderick I’ll send you back for his boss. I’ll wait.” His smile faded for a brief instant. Perhaps not. Then the smile returned, not the cheesy smile of a salesman, but the pleasant smile of someone who is genuinely…pleasant. This woman was all business, whoever she was. Best not to upset her, especially if Tom was expecting her. Putting a hand on his chest, he replies, “I am Roderick. Mr. Gallo is downstairs…who should I say is asking for him?”
  21. Nighttime is Playtime

    Tom smiled despite himself. Matteo was always with the smooth easy-going demeanor. This made him more dangerous than most in the family as people often mistake friendliness for weakness. Matteo was not weak. With the right motivation, he was almost as dangerous as Tom’s ‘beast.’ Almost. Regardless, Matteo’s mirth was not missed on Tom. Thanks for the top off… likely gonna need it if early reservations are any indication of the crowd. “Yeah, Roderick should bring another load by this evening. He’s supervising construction currently.” He glowered for a moment as he remembered that one idle construction worker he saw just before coming here. How's the store comin'? That chick payin' for yer reconstruction? “It’s comin’ along ok, I guess. They are like kids though. If you aren’t watchin’ them, they aren’t workin’ as hard as they ought to.” He shakes his head in irritation, not unlike an elderly man just disgusted with ‘kids these days.’ “Yeah, she is payin’ for all of it. I understand why she did what she did and don’t blame her. Had I been around during that time, we know how that would have gone down.” Tom chuckled darkly. After he had heard reports of what went down in the city, he felt guild, initially, that he wasn’t here to help. He knew; however, he was much more help not being there. His eyebrows quirked up as he remembered something he was going to say to Matteo. “I will not be around next weekend. I will be upstate.” Matteo knew what that meant. Full moon was around the corner and Tom usually left during those times. He never really said more than “upstate”. There were the occasional times where Angelo would require his presence during the daylight for those times…in which case, Tom would head to the bunker. That blasted, terrible, horrible box. He did not want to go in the box. Not now. Not ever…as long as he could avoid it. “I will be sure to be around tonight for the opening, of course.”
  22. Nighttime is Playtime

    Tom, clipboard in hand, was reviewing the inventory that was being sent to the club. One by one he ticked the items off the sheet. This was the big reopening, and the club needed extra supply on hand. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Roderick to do this part of the job. Far from it. The more important something became, the more hands on he was. Tom is not a control freak…except maybe he is a bit. The sleeves of his white dress-shirt were rolled up over his forearms. Despite the cool winter air outside, he was warm. It was almost a week until the next full moon. This was when his attention to detail regarding his appearance started to wane a bit. Tom will look like a million bucks tonight. Until then, he had work to do. He needed something to occupy his mind. Otherwise, everything would bother him. Ticking off the last box, he nodded in approval. “Get this in the car. I’ll take it over myself.” A week ago, Roderick would have insisted that he or one of the boys could take it over. He had worked with Tom long enough, however, to know that Tom was going to deliver and that arguing this time was a waste of time and likely a bad idea. Tom rebuttoned the sleeves on his shirt and headed to his car. The black, BMW SUV was loaded by some of the boys who were overseeing the construction crew hired to repair damage done to the store. Tom scanned their work and put a hand on Roderick’s shoulder. “See that guy over there, not doing anything? Make sure he has something to do. If the crew doesn’t need him, I don’t want to pay for him.” With that he hopped in the SUV and drove over to Bakkhos. When he arrived, he grabbed the first load and put it in the elevator. The second load he did the same with and rode the elevator up to the club. As the doors opened he could smell the people there. Matteo was there, of course. Another lycanthrope had been by earlier, likely Joey. And as always, the faint stench of silver. Seeing Mythos was a bit of a surprise, but he always seemed to come and go with the wind. “Hey fellas,” he greeted the pair with an arm load of booze. “Good to see you again, Mythos.” Tom said to the man in a genuine…if strained attempt at a ‘friendly’ tone. Turning to Matteo, the social grace drops and what the family had come to know as his ‘business voice’ he asks, “How are things coming for tonight?”
  23. State of welfare in New York?

    Banana distribution was pretty well established in the early to mid 1900s. Sea monsters and zombies would slow things down, certainly, but the technology is still there. Bananas, for example are a big export for India and Central America and Caribbean. Indian bananas would be a near impossibility for North America, due to how quickly they spoil. Caribbean ones, however, would be a great cash-cow for central and South America. Tropical is a new luxury food for colder-climates, now maybe?