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The Tambini Take Down - Part One Started by: Isabella-Luciano on Feb 10, '19 01:21

"Welcome to Race Street Pier."  Tara Byrne said proudly as she offered her hand to Bella for the very first time.

 

The lithe form of a Sicilian woman in her late thirties stood still as death itself, framed by a two-story-high window with a view of Race Street and the waters beyond.  This place had once been home before the view out of this, once her living room window, had been consumed in blood and fire. 

Now, it was one of several secret war-rooms around Philadelphia to be used in case of emergencies such as this.

 

She hit the gas.

The sound of flesh and bone impacting steel at high rates of speed was sickening, but the images in her mind of her friends dead, were far worse.  How long had she left them there now?  A half hour?  Could they still be alive?  She could hear gunfire behind her, one of them must have survived, but she didn't care.  She had to get to Race Street.  She had to get back to Tara and Will!

The car fishtailed furiously as she went down the hill towards Race Street and as she finally connected with the road that had been a symbol for the world and home to so many - the legacy of Jack Mezzo cried out one final time before it began to fall into the sea.

Bella slammed on her breaks just short of the entrance to the pier staring in horror.  Flames and black icy waters was claiming it all.  She got out of the car, black ash rained down upon her as she walked towards the sinking inferno, aghast.  

"Tara!"  Bella cried out. 

"Will?!?" But only the sounds of fire, the howling wind, and debris hitting the water answered back. 

 

Bella shuddered at the memories.  She could still taste the ashes on her tongue, feel the unrelenting heat on her skin warring with the frigid air coming off the water.  She'd been in wars before, killed so many men she couldn't recall each of their faces any longer... but this had been different.  This event had turned a symbol of the best this thing of theirs had to offer into a bitter memento mori.  

Behind her people were filing into the room.  Family.  Allies.  People for whom the loss of Race Street Pier had been much more than just the loss of wood, steel, and glass.  People for whom the cost of it wasn't measured in dollars and cents, but in blood and tears.
 

"The Godfather's car just pulled up."  

"Escort him up, Linval."  Bella replied to the Jamaican born bodyguard who came up to whisper in her ear. 
 

She hadn't dared to hope for vengeance upon those who had taken something so dear from her.  Vendetta was not the same in America as it was in the Old Country and holding grudges past the conflict's end was a rare thing.  The seven cities had shuffled hands so many times now that many people's bloodlines had held one or more of the great cities multiple times.  To think she'd ever get a chance to thank Tambini properly for what he'd done, seemed out of the realm of all possibility until Rayne Martini and Giovanni Ferrari had brought her that name.  

The doors to the elevator opened.  Acting Godfather of South Philly, and grandson of the man who had started it all, Louis Mezzo entered.  Bella finally turned to look around the room, at the faces of the people who had come to join them in the quest for Vendetta.  Young and experienced Mafiosi alike filled the massive open space. 

In the middle of the room, a large custom made table was covered in maps of the city and intelligence memos from her eyes and ears network across the city.  Homeless people were everywhere, these made up the bulk of her contacts... but she also had cops reporting, newspaper reporters, ambulance chasing lawyers, newspaper and shoe-shine boys, mothers in the laundromat and old men who sat around the park playing checkers. 

While she'd never gained the lofty title that her father and step-mother reached, Bella prided herself on the fact that they all reported to her.  It was to her that men like Mezzo looked when they needed help and in this way, she was very much still an important part of the Family's operations even if she'd largely pulled out of her traditional enforcer role.

Bella had spent the last few hours pulling information an contacting the people of South Philadelphia to let them know: Godfather Mezzo needs you now!  And those who were willing or able to be here had filled the loft waiting for the arrival of Godfather Mezzo and some kind of explanation & instructions.  

Dressed in waist-high black slacks, suspenders over a white button down shirt and her shoulder holsters sporting two pearl-handled M1911s, Bella crossed the room to Louis and his entourage.  

Louis shook Bella's hand and then cut past all the formalities. 

 

"Mrs. B. sit-rep for those who might be late to the party, if you please."

 

Bella smiled at the request for a sit-rep.  It had been Tara's short-hand way of asking for a situation report while she served as the former Godfather's right-hand.  Apparently, wasn't the only one feeling nostalgic.

Bella projected her voice to make sure she could reach every corner of the room. 

 

"After inquiries by the FBN into the deaths of four of our regular coke customers... I sent Rayne Martini and Giovanni Ferrari out to track down the identity of the drug manufacturer was attempting to muscle into our turf.  The result of that investigation was the name of a known associate of one, Mr. Tambini.  Tambini isn't the head of a major family, but after recent successful hits on cities like South Philadelphia, he's been given a lot more assistance by groups like the Durden operation out of Delaware City."

Bella could see the looks on the faces of people around the room, there was a feeling of anger and confusion.

"Yes.  The people who killed Jack Mezzo, William Bowden and so many others ... they're back in town.  And now they're attempting to use Federal Agents and local police to finish what they didn't have guns and manpower to end on their own."

She nodded to Louis, "Acting Godfather Mezzo ordered me to pull all of you together here an provide you with the information necessary for us to begin verifying their numbers, locations, and then... once we know what we're up against, bring down hellfire and brimstone on our enemies once and for all."

Bella pulled out a sheet of paper and put it out where anyone could walk up and see it.

"This is a list of the places and operations we think may have connections to Tambini and or their allies, the Durdens.  What we need each of you to do is take one or more of these locations and investigate."

"DO NOT engage!"  Bella stressed.

"At this time we do not want them to know we're on to them.  We need the element of surprise if we're going put a final nail in this.  If you're seen... clean it up.  Leave NO ONE to tell them we're onto them."

She stepped back and looked at the younger gangsters in the room.

"I can not stress to you how dangerous hitting these guys alone might be.  We have no way of knowing how much help Durden has given Tambini.  We don't know shit about what we're up against here and I don't want to lose so much as a shoe-shine boy to these fuckers.  They've already spilled enough of our blood to last two lifetimes.  This is not the time for heroics or stunts to get noticed.  Save that for when we go to finish this.  Today is recon ONLY."

Bella looked to Mezzo, "Godfather Mezzo and I will be picking up and talking to the one person who might be able to give us some further insight into this mess... once we're done we'll return to this location.  Each of you should do so as well.  When you get back you can let us know what you found out."

Bella stepped back to let everyone look over the list and pick the places they meant to investigate.

 

POSSIBLE TAMBINI / DURDEN OPERATIONS

  • Clean as a Whistle Laundry - 5th & Main ... allegedly a speak easy?
  • Family Drug - 500 w. Oak Street  ... allegedly peddling hooch?
  • Storage Facilities at the end of 6th Street.  Activity at all hours.  What's going on?
  • Mr. Wu's Fresh Fish (Second floor allegedly has illegal gambling - not a Race Street operation!)
  • Blue Heaven Roadside Motel - Strange activities happening here.  Possible prostitution not run by us.
  • Westside Middle School (rumor has it a science teacher here might be making drugs???)
  • Avalon Kennels - 1605 w. Maple Street.  Caution!  Edge of town.  Location in open field approach with care.  Possible dog fighting ring.
  • Old Textile Factory on Elmer Ave.  Street urchins claim that lights and noises can be heard there at night.  Possible fight club.

 

Bella turned to Louis, picking up her coat.  "Shall we go pay Mr. Charlie Hayes a visit and get our questions answered?"  

Report Post Tips: 3 / Total: $60,000 Tip

Rayne was in the process of gathering a couple of her items at the Labor Union when she got the call. It was Bella on the other line, well actually Mrs. Byrne. She would never call her Bella to her face, seemed way too informal for her liking. Though she was quick to reference her as Bella when she wasn’t around, when she was talking to others. Face to face with her it was also something along the lines of: yes Mrs. Byrne, of course Mrs. Byrne etc... you get the point. 

The location and the time was given, it was some sort of meeting. She wouldn’t say over the phone, you never know who is listening, it was easier to keep things hushed until everyone was together. The conversation itself was rather quick as Rayne looked at the clock once the phone was placed back down. She didn’t have much time, the rest of her packing would have to wait. 

Dropping what she was doing she quickly made her way over to the Sewing Factory Lofts, it was the first time she ever stepped foot in the lofts and they did not disappoint. The place was swarming with guards, she herself even caught a slight pat down and a weapon check before she was allowed upstairs. It made sense to her though, she was still just trying to make a name for herself, still much of an unknown entity in the underground world. It was something she was desperately trying to change and hoped this was the first step towards that. 

Once upstairs and after greeting a few people Rayne found a place just off to the side, next to Giovanni. The room was all chatters until Bella stood up and began speaking, instantly the room got quiet and all eyes directed onto hers. Rayne perked up, intently listening to each word she said. Then when the list was posted was the first one to glance over it. 

She ran her finger from the top to the bottom and then back up stopping on Mr. Wu’s Fresh Fish, it was actually a place she had visited before. The sushi there was amazing but she never paid any mind to the second floor. She glanced over at Giovanni giving him a nudge then a head nod to the name her finger was pointing at. 

You and me, Mr. Wu’s? Do some scouting, grab some sushi.”

She could feel the glare of eyes looking at her the moment she said sushi.

”Mainly scouting of course, the sushi is part of the going undercover. Anyways we got Mr. Wu’s.”

Report Post Tips: 5 / Total: $100,000 Tip

Somewhere in the depths of Connie's innermost contemplation she had positioned herself as a potential assistant of sorts. To Miss Ezmerelda, maybe, though she was often always wrapped up in other business matters. Mrs. Byrne was the next suitable candidate except she was already well established in South Philadelphia and she anticipated had long since formulated her affairs into a robust and organized manner, or the position was filled by someone much more applicable.

The room was heavily populated by persons she had little knowledge of. There was satisfaction that the bundle of the young and inexperienced was where she wanted to be. An opportunity to get acquainted with individuals at the same level of standing as herself she anticipated was an efficacious approach. Connie located a seat, a plethora of information followed. Her ability to process and establish a firm understanding of the situation secured her confidence that she could effectively prepare for the coming campaign. Her common sense however explicitly cautioned her that she was out of her depth.

An allowance to glance around the room opened itself up. Her eyes widened as they lay upon one of the young men whose window she broke at the university. Her head snapped back to attention. Hair drifting in response.

No, this was not her scene. It would be best to remain silent and disassociate herself following conclusion of the meeting.

Her hand shot up.

Don't do it.

Her eyes flicked to the first name on the list.

STOP.

"Connie Cassaro, I will conduct thorough surveillance of the Laundry on 5th and Main."

What are you doing??

She rested easy, maintaining an undetectable pretense that she was completely and absolutely fit for this endeavor. Her outburst was recognized by a nod from the front of the room. Her eyes flickered across the faces, indifferent to her presence.

Breathe.

Report Post Tips: 4 / Total: $80,000 Tip

Nearly a month had passed since Kenzi had come to Philadelphia and become an associate of Bella Byrne. In that time, she'd learned a good bit about what this family did and how they made their money. Up to this point, however, Bella had encouraged Kenzi to take her time in getting settled and acquainted with the area and the people within the Railroad Company. So, Kenzi had been doing exactly what she did best- watching and listening. 

The three kilos of coke that she'd smuggled away from Angelo Falucci had netted her almost $30k; an amount of money that Kenzi could hardly fathom, but was plenty to put her squarely on her feet in a new town. She was able to secure herself a one-bedroom apartment at the Sewing Factory Lofts, which kept her close to Bella and in a central location to learn the lay of the land. Decidedly, Kenzi was in a whole new world than she had come from. Little by little, the fear had begun to melt away. She looked much healthier with regular meals and good sleep; but more importantly, Kenzi now had a purpose. She was determined to show Bella her appreciation by being a help to the family she'd been so kindly taken into, though she wasn't yet sure how.

When the message arrived from Bella, Kenzi started to walk down to the front desk to have Lucy- the receptionist- help her read it; but as she made out the first few lines, she stopped.  Perhaps this wasn't one that Lucy needed to be privy to. Instead, Kenzi sat down on her bed and worked her way through it by herself. When she came to the end, a small smile formed in the corners of her lips.  Finally, she had an opportunity to show her thanks to Bella for pulling her out of poverty and giving her a new life. It was time for Kenzi to earn her keep.

----------

When the appointed time arrived, Kenzi put on her best looking dress and braided her hair back. She knew she'd be a young one in a group of important, older people, and she needed to look just as serious as they did. With a deep breath, she slipped into the room just as Bella began to speak. Kenzi listened carefully, observing everyone and everything quietly. When the objectives were laid out, Kenzi read them slowly. One in particular caught her eye. With a nod, Kenzi approached Bella.

"I'm ready to help, Bella. I'll take the Textile Factory. I'm pretty good at sneaking around big places unnoticed. I'll get there early and hide out till dark. From there, I should be able to find a good vantage point."

Report Post Tips: 3 / Total: $60,000 Tip

"So Connie has the laundry.  Rayne and Giovanni are headed to the Fish place.  Kenzi has the textile place covered.  That leaves the kennels, the roadside motel, storage facilities, and drug store." 

Bella waited to see who else would step up and take those off the list.  There was a lot of talent in this room, she knew they'd have all the places handed out in no time!

Report Post Tips: 2 / Total: $40,000 Tip

Report on Clean as a Whistle Laundry

The premises has light security at the main entrance. This consists of a scruffy individual and an aged female desk clerk, though I would not eliminate the potential that she may have firearms at her disposal.

The interior of the launderette is an enclosed room. The wall running parallel to the entrance has a concealed entrance to the cellar. This is accessible by agitating the leftmost wall sconce. 

Down a short spiral stairwell there is a single room. It is from this location the main enforcers aligned to this particular wing of the Tambini organisation appear to congregate. The room is only accessible through the concealed entrance as the cellar door is padlocked from the alley to the right of the building. This entrance is constructed into the floor within the alley.

The outfit is operated by a man who designates himself 'Ruggio Russo'. His primary bodyguard or if I was to speculate, right hand, is referred to as 'Nico'. Russo wears an armored vest underneath his clothing.

I was also able to secure $500,000 to contribute to the success of the operation from within the Laundry. This will be sent on a separate wire.

-Connie

Report Post Tips: 3 / Total: $60,000 Tip

The room started to clear and the chattering and hubbub dropped leaving just Louis and Bella standing alone in the room.  From the time he had walked through the doors of Race Street, it was Bella that offered a friendly face and counsel.  It was to Bella that he had first voiced an ambition to get to this level and it was fittingly poignant that it was Bella who stood with him, as they tried to hold Race Street together.

“You’ve got to hope this is the end of it don’t you.” Louis commented as they walked out of the office and outside towards the car. Bella’s car had been fixed and sprayed in the time since the events at the Pier but it took nothing to be flung back to that time; dashing through the snow, unsure who and what would remain at the end.  Louis climbed in to the passenger seat out of habit rather than presumption; he was sure he could hear a barely audible sigh from Bella.  She was invaluable and brilliant but was equally happy knowing how far she could push Louis in jest.

Bella drove with a purpose.  The benefits of having her little network of eyes and ears meant it wouldn’t be too long until Charlie Hayes was bundled into the back.

The car screeched to a halt outside a bar and Bella leapt out to follow a scrawny figure inside.  She re-emerged not ten seconds later dragging the guy by the scruff of the neck and pushing him into the back seat.

“This is One Eyed Wally.  He’s a bit slow at times but knows where Hayes is. Isn’t that right Wally?”

Louis looked at the wretch in the back; eye patch, thin as a rake but with the look of someone who has leant further into the abyss than most others would care to dare.

“Yes Captain Byrne.  He’ll be down the docks at this time of evening.  You know.  On account of the shifts changing and that”

Louis turned around as he felt the car accelerate towards the docks.

“No time to lose eh Bella?”

Report Post Tips: 1 / Total: $20,000 Tip

"I suppose now is as good a time as any to let you know that we won't have to worry about Durden while we're taking care of Tambini."  Bella's knuckles gripped the wheel tight enough they'd gone white.  She had told herself she wasn't going to allow this to be personal, but she knew she was failing.  Where family was concerned, it was always personal.

"Gavin saw right through me when I told him it was a normal day at the office.  She admitted. 

"We had quite a row."  For a while Bella was silent, remembering the harsh things she'd said to Gavin and the looks he'd given to her that cut as deep as any knife.  

"Needless to say we have a new understanding on the terms of his retirement; namely that these sort of problems are exempt from his 'no jobs' request.  He doesn't want to be left out of major conflicts... wars... that sort of thing.  I didn't want to tell the rest of the room, but Gavin is out hunting Durden personally.  He knows it's unlikely he'll get close enough to put a bullet in the slippery bastard, but he's going to make sure the fucker stays too busy to be of any help or warning to Tambini here in Philly.  So... Gavin is out of contact for the time being."

She glanced briefly towards Louis who was quiet at this news.  She then looked back to the road.

"The last time I went down this alleyway," She said turning towards the reconstruction of Race Street Pier.  "I watched it all end.  Now, look at this place!  The new structures seem all wrong.  This place had a character in its day, she was an old broad but she had class.  This is just window dressing, an overly pretty imitation of something that was real, visceral, the heart and soul of this city."

She sighed.

"It'll never be that way again."

Her voice trailed off as she pulled to the curb outside the docks.  Men milled about everywhere.  Blue collar workers coming on and off from their shifts.  If the pier had been the heart and soul of the city - these men were its blood.  Places like the docks were the veins and men like the one they hunted were a poison.  She & Louis, they were the cure.

Bella handed Wally a small fist of bills.  

"Good work, Soldier."  She said to him.  "You're on shore leave for the next week.  Make yourself scarce.  Grab some food, drinks and some skirts.  You've earned it."

The homeless man saluted Bella and happily took the cash, exiting the car.

Bella looked to Louis, "Alright Boss, how do you want to play this?  He's probably down there making sales right now.  He might have some muscle with him after having been confronted by Giovanni and Rayne.  We going for quiet extraction ... or 'no one fucks with us' statement?  Cause, I don't want to tip off Tambini, but I seriously wouldn't mind taking his goons out execution-style right in the shadow of Race Street then throwing their boss in our boot to take for questioning.  It's your call, I'm following your lead."

Report Post Tips: 1 / Total: $20,000 Tip

Billy sat quietly in the corner. He felt naked for having no weapons on him, but an old friend had asked for help. He watched as Bella spoke, and kept his mouth shut. This was their affair, he was only here to help. To Billy, that meant picking up the slack for what other's didn't want to do. So when Bella and the acting Godfather...

He paused in his thought a moment. For the first time he realized that Bella hadn't asked for a favor for her directly. He was actually working for Mister Mezzo right now. Not that he would mind a great deal, but if things went well, maybe he would get to rub elbows with someone real important like. That would be a fun bar story one day.

He made his way to the table. He was not a quiet man, and a few people who peripherally knew he was there shifted as his full frame came up ti where everyone was gathered. He knew he was a big guy, all six foot two inches of him and his bulky frame mad it difficult to hide well, so he never did. He made his presence known instead, and it seemed to work out just as well.

"I'll take the Kennels. Everyone knows I'm a gambler, if there really is dog fighting going on, that's my cover."

He nodded and felt his pocket. He had enough to gamble with, though he always liked to have a bit more, but he would make due. With that he made his way back out the door and collected his trusty blackjack.

Report Post Tips: 1 / Total: $20,000 Tip

Louis didn’t hesitate.

“We send a message.  I don’t care with these dumb fucks are alerted or not.  In fact, I’d almost be happy taking out a full page add in the Enquirer that the Tambinis are done.”

Louis watched the public come and go and turned to watch Wally stumble over the road.

“Your little friend is quite the character…” Louis chuckled, “some skirts…I pity the poor wench who ends up with that scrawny bag of bones!”

He sat in silence for a minute or two, calmly playing one or two scenarios through his head and turned to Bella.

“Is it showboating or putting our guys in danger too much to take any guys there and dump the bodies in front of some of their lesser known places.  We give them something to weigh on their minds and have them scurrying around?”

Report Post Tips: 1 / Total: $20,000 Tip

Bella smiled as Louis mentioned Wally and how bad he felt for the dame who he ended up in bed with tonight.  The irony was, as Bella well knew, Wally never slept with the women he paid with her cash and maybe that's why she always suggested he go pick up a girl.  He was well known for wanting companionship and the warmth of a safe bed. 

He was protective of women, in a way that men these days seemed less inclined to be.  Wally was a relic from another age... it made her sad to think of how his country let him down after the Great War.  She'd already put aside the cash to make sure he got a proper burial when the time came, but little consolation that was to the man now in his living years.

Bella cracked her neck listening to Louis' strange 'small talk' as they waited for their target and his goons to appear.  In her head, she was playing out the actions she'd take in the minutes ahead, her aggression from earlier finally having a proper outlet.  

"Nah." 

She shook her head, eyeing the large hooks used to pull crates up off the ships.  Silently she contemplated exactly what a man might look like attached to the end of them.  She wondered what sort of picture they might use in the papers the following day to go with the inevitable headline of 'Gruesome Mob Killings' or something similar.  It was shameless what reporters would put in ink today.

"I've seen worse.  My father is fond of showboating.  They call me the dragon, but Salvatore is the Devil," her voice was distant and dispassionate as she spoke of her father.

"He is a God-Damned artist with blood.  His masterpieces marked the cops who found them, a few retired after finding someone who he was properly pissed at.  The bodies were... not right sometimes."  Her voice trailed off, her eyes still fixed vacantly ahead.  "The aftermath was a thing of nightmares but the performance artistry... that was something else.  The way he could make a man scream without sound.  Beg with his eyes.  And just how much he really, really, loves it - that's the part you don't forget.  It's not just the screams of the dying... it's his voice.  The joy."

She paused, contemplating for a moment her own life.

"And I wanted to be just like him."

She turned to Louis, "There they are."

Bella got out of the car without another word and began taking long confident strides across the pavement.  Her open coat & stray bits of raven-colored locks flying out around her in the wind whipping up off the frigid the river.  

Two large men, as tall as Gavin and as wide as William had been protected the scrawny bastard who matched the description of their target.  The second he put eyes on Louis, it was clear they were made and all plans Bella had hoped for went out the window as the drug dealer screamed, turning tail to run for safety. 

The goons reached for their irons. 

Operating on years of inground behavior, Bella recklessly stepped in front of her Godfather prepared to take the hail of lead that might come if she wasn't fast enough on the draw.  In a single smooth motion, the dragon pulled the pearl-handled M1911s from their holsters, not needing to hesitate as the goons did because she'd already popped the snaps. 

Dock workers screamed and ran as the deafening roar of gunfire shattered the peace of the icy night.

Bella wasn't a crack shot with both hands, not like her husband, but at this range, she didn't need perfection.  Like a bloody game of horseshoes, close was close enough. 

The first bullet hit its mark.  The sound of a bullet ripping through flesh was distinct and even if she hadn't seen the man's face disappear in a mess of blood and brain matter, she would have known he was done for.  Not realizing he was dead already, the bodyguard pulled the trigger as he fell.  Having no real focus on what he shot at, Bella tried not to think about the screams around them.  She had no time or pity to spare for the innocent bystanders who might have caught a bullet meant for Louis.

The second shredded through the muscle and sinew of the other bodyguard's shoulder in a brilliant blossom of crimson on the dirty snow all around their feet.  His aim affected by the bullet which had gone clean through him, the man missed Bella and Louis.  Out of the corner of her eye, Bella watched the Godfather break into a run out from behind her.  He was chasing down their target before he could get too far away.  Bella, in the meantime, was left to finish off the second bodyguard. 

The guard finished crossing the space between them & entered a proper melee with her.  Anticipating what she might do to this son of a bitch for all the pain his people put Race Street through, the Dragon smiled wickedly.  Inwardly, however, she was bracing herself for the inevitable beating she was about to endure before she got to the fun part.  This man was near to twice her height and much more than that in weight.  Remembering everything she ever learned from Elias and William about fighting, Bella leaned heavily on her small size and speed to dodge the first massive blow.   

Report Post Tips: 1 / Total: $20,000 Tip

Ellie cannot say she had any memories of her own of the Race Street Pier destruction...  But there was pain in the small ferret for the people it had affected.  She loved the people of Philly.  Oh she loved them so dearly both those that were currently of the city and those that had come before.  She missed many of them greater than she'd be willing to say out loud.  Well...  In writing.  So perhaps that's why when Bella's call came in for those that were close to this cause to join her in the Sewing Lofts, the young ferret did not even hesitate to board the next metal bird she could manage.  She would all but run to the rendezvous point just as fast as her tiny paws could carry her until she came to the designated meeting place.  Quivering all over as the little Acting Godmother of Chicago made her way up into the upper room that was set aside for this current purpose.  She quickly composed herself before walking in.  

Her stance and her steps all but commanded respect.  Her little head held high with the same dignity and strength that a Mafioso of her status should have.  She seated herself, those beady little eyes locked upon her dear Bella.  Her heart ached for her just as it did for the rest of Philly and the losses it suffered.  She turned her gaze upon the list of places.  Recon.  She could do that.  She was good at being sneaky.  Honestly no one ever suspected a ferret...  That was no one outside their circles.  It was hard for her to hide in this thing of theirs with where she had reached.  

She nodded and moved up to the sheet of paper to peruse it before looking up to her beloved friend and pointing to the Kennels with a paw.  She quickly pulled out her paper and tiny pencil before scrawling a quick note to Isabella.

My dear Hotrod.  I'll join Mr. Mastrosimone in his endeavors at the Kennel.  We'll get these guys for what they did to William and Jack and all the others...  

The usually sweet ferret hissed in agitation but then looked over as Billy was already on his way out.  Without a second thought, she tore out of there like the hounds were already on her tail.  She knew they were supposed to only look but she wanted a piece of these guys so dang badly.  

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Charlie Hayes made a break for it fearing that he would be next and ducked in between two crates on the quayside.  Louis took off after him, glancing back to see Bella about to go toe to toe.  It had been several years since he had sprinted off like this, the words of his father ringing in his ears…”Dons never ever run.”  Louis didn’t think he had actually meant never ever, certainly he imagined Artie chasing down the likes of Hayes if they had been putting the family in jeopardy.

As he chased after Hayes, Louis pulled a revolver out of his pocket and tried to shoot after him on the run.  It did not go well.  Louis was sure it added to the notion of why he shouldn’t be running.  Hayes was not a young man but was obviously built for ducking, diving and putting as much distance between himself and danger as possible but Louis kept as close as he could manage.  

What seemed like an eternity had passed, Louis’ jacket had long gone and it dawned on him that there couldn’t be much more of the docks left to go.  Hayes would have to make a decision to stand and fight or try to swim across to the far away docks…he did not look like the swimming type at least Louis hoped to god he wasn’t going swimming today.  The pair slowed down as Hayes also realised his options were narrowing every step further he took.

“Stop it Charlie.  You can’t run for ever, you’re cornered now,”

Louis shouted as he aimed his revolver at Hayes.  Pulling the trigger was possibly going to be the one thing he shouldn’t do at this point but the anger starting to build in him was clouding his judgement.  

“Charlie!  Fucking stop!  This is not going to end well for you either way but it’ll be more merciful for you to help now rather than if you don’t help.  Simple as that.”

“Fuck off Mezzo.  You get me, another one will spring up in my place.  You don’t know what you’ve unleashed.  This never ends.”  

Hayes edged closer towards the edge of the quay.

“C’mon Charlie; you, the Tambinis, the Tamburellos, the Pier.  You think we’re stupid over here?  You think we came down in the last shower or something?  We.  Know.  Everything!”.

Louis took a shot at Charlie’s leg to bring him down, watching him crumple to the floor screaming.  Louis walked over to him and smacked him over the head with the butt of the revolver.

“Get up you stupid prick.”

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One gun was almost a full five feet away, having skittered across the ice when she dropped it in the first barrage of fists.  The other wasn't immediately in her sight.

Bella's world spun.  She struggled to suck in a breath, her feet lifting from the ground.  Her lip was bleeding.  This was NOT going well.  It was the opposite of that actually.  Bella was losing a fight to an enforcer who only had good arm.  

Bone-jarring impact with the icy payment, her hands sliding across jagged bits of debris, splitting her flesh open like overly ripe melon as she tried to stop her body from moving any further.  The goon was on her, flipping her violently onto her back.  Her skull cracking on the pavement as he straddled her and grabbed her throat like a vice.  She began pulling at his hands, trying to thrash her body side to side, but to no avail.

"Stupid ... fucking... cunt!"  He growled in her face, spittle coming down his lip, breath reeking of stale cigarettes and what she supposed might have once been coffee.  "I'm going to squeeze you until your pretty little face pops!"

Bella's eyes went to the extreme left and right, searching for what she knew had to be close, but she couldn't see anything but stars.  White patches that were blocking out bits of her sight.  Someone was approaching.  She could make out the feet.  Gavin?  No... not Gavin, he wasn't here.  Louis come back?  

Bella was growing increasingly panicked, she was dying, DEAR GOD SHE WAS DYING and she couldn't stop it!  Tears leaked from her eyes and then she could see him running towards her and her heart leaped.  She reached for him, desperate for air, and equally desperate to be safe in the arms of the man she still loved.

William!

A collasel haymaker, the sort only Bowden could throw, connected with the face of the bastard choking the life out of Bella.  Bella rolled away the second he came off her.  Holding her throat, gasping for air, bent over coughing violently as she heard the fight play out behind her.  The single shot of a gun, that familiar bullet rending flesh noise and the fight ended.

She felt his hands on her shoulders and she turned towards the warm and comfort they offered, burying her face into William's chest.  

"Are you are alright?"  Aurelio asked.

The sound of Will's voice not being right, she looked up to his face, her vision still returning to her ... for a moment it was still Will, and then, it wasn't.  It was young @Aurelio, his son.

Bella opened her mouth to speak but the sound of a gunshot, further away, silenced her.

"It's Louis!"  she said hoarsely, gathering herself and her guns up off the ground.  Aurelio and she ran towards the sound, she just a bit behind young Bowden - still struggling to catch her breath.

Rounding the corner they came upon him and his captive.  Aurelio fresh from a fight with bloody knuckles, Bella with a busted lip and bruises forming on her throat.  Bella sighed with relief seeing it was Louis in control of the situation and not the other way around.

"Aurelio..."  She tossed her keys to her associate.  "Bring the car."

Aurelio nodded and ran back to get the vehicle for @LouisMezzo to put the prick into.  Bella, in the meantime, took a moment to steady herself - both from the ass kicking and insane delusion that William Bowden was alive.

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The sound of gunfire made Louis speed the walk up as he half-dragged and half walked Charlie back through the docks.  Every stumble brought another pull on the collar of Charlie’s shirt as he stumbled to his feet, the blood from his leg wound glistening against the dimming daylight.  Louis grumbled beneath his breath at the hassle this prick was putting him through and as he recovered his jacket, he kicked Charlie’s injured leg causing him to scream in pain.

“This is nothing compared to what is in store for you…you sack of shit.”

Before he rounded the corner he clicked the safety off the revolver and steadied himself for what might be round the corner.  He looked up to see @Aurelio and @Isabella-Luciano coming towards him and he breathed a sigh of relief to himself, glancing at the bodies of the goons lying on the floor.

“We can take this cu…” Louis held his tongue a little, “…fuck out now and just string him up there on those hooks or…”

The look on Bella’s face was enough to tell him the alternative was what was happening.  She did not look as if she was in the mood for letting Hayes off lightly following the beating she had taken.

As Aurelio ran off to get the car, Louis trained the gun on Hayes again.  She looked in pain and discomfort.

“Fuck sake, are you ok Bella?”

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Bella swallowed painfully and nodded 'yes' to Louis' question, then she spoke with a hoarse voice.  "I'll survive... thanks to Wi... Aurelio." 

She shook her head.

"For a moment... I swore he was his father."

The car pulled up then and Bella helped Louis throw the useless piece of shit into the trunk.  Rubbing her throat still, she got into the car's backseat allowing Louis the passenger's spot.  With that, the car pulled out of the parking lot before they even heard the first sirens and Louis was giving direction to Aurelio as to where they were going to question Charlie.

Bella stared out the window, silent and contemplating how near to joining Will in hell.  She couldn't deny that she was shaken, but she damn well was going to do her best to hide it from Louis and Aurelio choosing instead to focus on how angry she was as much as possible.  Anger would keep her from dwelling on the fear... and the sadness.  Anger, in this case, would keep her strong.

Aurelio pulled the car off the street and into an open garage - a chopshop Race Street had on the books for many years now.  Louis' people were already waiting.  Aurelio got out quickly and opened Bella's door for her.  Louis' men opened his door and they moved quickly on the trunk.  It was going to be bloody in there, luckily Bella had a great detailer who could get out blood like it was never there at all.

Bella let herself look at Aurelio again while the boy was watching Charlie be dragged out screaming belligerently, contemplating how she could have mistaken him for his father.  He barely looked like Will!  It had to have been as she told Louis, a lack of air to her brain.  A momentary lapse of sanity.  Maybe stupid amounts of fear regarding her own mortality?

Louis men strapped Charlie to the chair and Louis was already taking off his jacket to roll up his sleeves.  Bella had brought her tools with her, but it was clear that Louis wasn't going to need them here.  This sort of facility had all sorts of natural implements at the ready.  Louis chose the pliers first and Bella found herself nodding.  It really was a classic - though she a small bit surprised to find he had the stomach for it.  But Louis didn't hesitate, didn't even ask a question or threaten the bastard as an opener.  He just braced his foot on the seat and his men pulled open the bastard's mouth so that Louis could rip out his eye tooth.

Only once the tooth clattered to the cement floor did Louis look him in the eyes and say a single word.  "Talk."  It was an order.  A demand made with a silent promise that he wouldn't hesitate to repeat the process as many times as it took to break him.  The asshole knew what Louis wanted... how many men Tambini had, where they were at, what the plan was... at least as much of it as this son of a bitch knew.

Bella barely noticed Aurelio come up beside her until his arm brushed hers.

"Are you okay?"  He asked quietly, nearly drowned out by Charlie's crying.

"Thanks to you,"  Bella admitted in a near whisper, trying not to strain her voice.  "Some left hook you got on you."

Aurelio chuckled.

"I owe you one."  She said softly.

Aurelio shook his head 'no' and simply said, "You're family."  

Bella wasn't sure if he meant that in the regards of Race Street... or if he meant it in the way she felt it, but she wanted to think the later and so for the moment that's how she chose to take it. 

The two remained standing side by side, silently watching the Godfather work.  

"Tambini."  Bella finally said to the boy.  "You should know, if you don't already... the family we're hunting, this Tambini family... they're the ones who are responsible for the deaths of your parents."

Bella watched Aurelio to gauge his reaction.

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The drive back from Mr. Wu's was a short one, short but quiet. Rayne could tell Giovanni was still furious from the events that just went down at Mr. Wu's Fresh Fish place. Perhaps it was the death grip he had on the steering wheel or maybe it was the occasional grumbling under his breath. Either way she got the him, she knew he was pissed and decided the silence was the best way to deal with right now.

They pulled up to the Sewing Factory lofts, Giovanni found a spot right up front. He tossed the car in park and turned his head to look at Rayne. He didn't even have to say anything, he wasn't going inside not at this time. Rayne opened the car door, swinging her legs to the right to get out. Once out of the car she leaned back in.

"Don't worry, I'll go report what we found. I'll catch up with you later, ok?"

With nothing more then a nod, Giovanni put his car into reverse and waited until Rayne closed the door before backing out and taking off down the road.

Once he was out of sight Rayne made her way past the single guard and up to the loft they had all met before. She had all the information fresh in her head and was ready to divulge everything she had seen during their recon mission. There was only one thing, upon opening the door and glancing around the room Bella and Louis weren't there.

"Shit!" She mumbled under her breath.

She had no clue where they were nor how long they were going to be, so she decided to wait a bit. Five minutes turned into ten, ten to twenty before she knew it she had been there about an hour. Not able to sit there and wait any longer, Rayne sprung up from her chair and made her way over to the table where the list of locations was still laying. She was planning on writing down what she saw, that was until she glanced over the list.

There were still locations on the sheet that hadn't been crossed off. She thought about it for a moment it decided to take another location. She went back and fourth a couple times on two of the locations, the motel and the storage facility. Figuring it would be easier to do alone she decided on the storage facility. Hopefully by the time she was done with this place Bella and Louis would be back.

With a bit of pep in her step Rayne made her way down the stairs and out the front door of the Sewing Factory lofts. Taking one step out she came face to face with Billy Mastrosimone.

"Billy! Fancy seeing you here. If you are going up there to look for Bella and Louis, they aren't there. I've been here over an hour now and well nothing."

She paused for a quick moment, a light bulb went off in her head.

"Hey! I'm headed to the storage facilities down on 6th street. Care to join me?"

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Billy nodded a slow nod.

"I could go with you, but I'm gonna be a little slow on my feet."

He pulled back his coat to reveal his blood-soaked abdomen.

"Had a little run-in on the way back from the kennels. Place was fine. Leaving that place? Not so much." He shrugged and looked up toward the loft.

"But it's probably better for me to be anywhere other than where Bella can reach me right now. A few friends were with me and took care of burying three bodies in our wake."

He held up his hands in defense.

"They started it, and tried to take my money. Not right."

He grumbled and then extended a hand out toward the street.

"You know the city better than I do, lead the way Miss Martini."

And with that, they were off again to gather more intel. Hopefully with less damage done. Billy wasn't sure he could sustain much more than he had already taken today.

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It took everything in him not to squeeze his eyes shut and turn away from the slow motion disassembly of the man in front of him. A tooth at a time was a hell of a way to start opening the door on your way out of this life and it was the sort of thing that Aurelio had always been vaguely aware of happening in this business, but it was something he'd done well to avoid.

Not today though. Today he needed to force himself through it. He'd made a promise to himself and to the woman next to him that he'd be taking this life head on like any other man in the outfit. If he turned away from this then how could he hold his head high and convince himself that he deserved his place?

It helped the process that he could distract himself with his concern for the person who'd been going out of their way to show him the way of things. She'd also been the person to first sit down and give him a part of the story he'd come here to find. She even seemed to be a kindred spirit in the chaos that life had become when a person got attached to the name Bowden. So it was that when she spoke of owing him that he'd simply said 'You're family.' He hadn't thought about the words, they'd just flowed out as naturally as 'Hello' or 'How are the kids?' and that took him aback.

He hadn't had any family outside of the work since his mother was killed. It would have been easy to pass the words off as a professional statement, but it wouldn't have been truly honest. He knew that there were others in the organization who he wouldn't think twice about calling in a favor from, but somehow it just didn't feel right here. He still wasn't sure if he saw her in the same light she'd seemed to look at him with or if it was simply a consequence of all that he felt he owed her for what she'd done for him, but either way the words had been more than business.

Her next words made him tense up. He'd been afraid of this talk for most of the day.

"When I heard about what was going on, I did a little checking around. Much more subtle than in the past, I promise you. I..."

He paused. What would she think of him for what he'd been doing when he stumbled into her situation? Would she think him a coward? Disloyal? Weak?

How much worse would it be if he didn't tell her?

He continued on quietly, letting the sounds of a man's gruesome torment shield his words from any ears but those they were intended for.

"...found out about them. What happened. I was so mad I could barely think straight and I just wanted to go out and shoot someone. The problem is that I wasn't sure who."

His eyes lowered and found a spot on the floor to focus on, a ragged sort of shame tinging his words with each breath.

"I hated the Tambini family for pulling the trigger on my mother, but deep down I still blamed...someone else." He couldn't bring himself to say the name, not with all he knew now about the past, but he was sure Mrs. Byrne would know what he meant. "I wasn't sure if going after these sick fucks would be any different than going after the gun instead of the one who walked her in front of it. If I've learned anything here though its that a man who fights distracted and conflicted is a man who's going to catch a bullet."

He took a deep breath and shook his head before he forced his eyes back to the business at hand.

"So I decided to go to where it happened and think it through. See if I might find a sign to tell me what to do. Or at least feel something about him that would let me settle my mind on the matter. Instead what do I find but a gorilla with a hole in him holding you down. From there it got a whole lot simpler."

The moans and popping sounds of Mr. Mezzo's work held a grim sort of satisfaction even through the queasiness it inspired. Aurelio stood quietly and soaked it in, both the horrific nature of the business and the sense of retribution that it represented and realized how very much it resembled a tiny snapshot of the business he now found himself deeply entangled in.

"Now I'm ready to see these bastards planted for what they've done to my folks. All of them."

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"My father is alive."  She said quietly, for Aurelio's ears alone. 

"If you'd asked me a few years ago what I would do if I saw him again... I'm sure I'd tell you I'd have put a slug into his skull for leaving Aurora an orphan, throwing the world into chaos, and letting me down my whole fucking life.  But... when I saw him and I had my chance, I couldn't squeeze the trigger."

She drew a breath and exhaled it purposefully.

"Believe me when I say that I understand your conflict.  I think you're wrong to blame William... but I admit I'm biased and you can't know what you'd do if he was standing here now.  Family fucks with your head in a way nothing else can.  It's why it's a good thing you get to choose your family now.  The people you know won't let you down... and keep them close to you."

Charlie was screaming out names and locations now, as another tooth came free.  Finally, they were getting somewhere.

"You got a good head on your shoulders... not acting on your rage or impulses.  Your father and I could both have learned a thing or two from you."  She turned to look at Aurelio and smiled at him.

"Your mother would be proud of you."  She added, knowing that she could at least speak to that and have it be something heartfelt for the boy.  She looked back to the Godfather at work.

"We're over the hump.  Charlie will keep singing now... Louis is better at this than I expected he'd be."  She chuckled dryly.  "Look at us... you, Mezzo, me... the children of men the world feared, trying to avenge them, and their legacies to some small degree... or escape them.  Maybe both."  She shook her head and kept watching Mezzo, wondering if escaping her own legacy would be possible for William and Aurora one day.

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