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Bioshock: Infinite - Prologue (Part 3)

Tied to a chair, with a burlap bag over his head, Alonzo slowly drifted back to consciousness. Although he couldn't see clearly, he could see faint outlines, hear the rustle of footsteps, and knew he wasn't alone.

"I see youre awake, Mr. Rossi," a soft female voice said. "So glad you could join us from your little nap."

"I don't know who you are, or what you want," he blustered,"but youre making a big mistake." He tugged at his bonds, but found them perfectly tied.

"People who make big mistakes, Alonzo, get tied to chairs with bags over their head. It seems that you're the one who's made a big mistake. One so big, it could even cost a man his life."

Silence. Alonzo continued to tug his arms and legs to get free, but he was held securely.

The female voice laughed heartily. "Keep struggling. If you want to tie a knot, get a dockworker to do it for you."

"So kill me already, like you did with Tony. Or don't you have the balls."

"No, I guess I don't have the...balls." The unmistakable sound of a gun cocking, was the only sound in the room. "But I do have the will. The will to kill you, stuff you in a barrel of concrete, and then drop you off a pier never to be heard from again."

"Talk is cheap, and dead is dead. You can stick my body in a cannon and shoot me to the moon if you want."

"I'll tell you what I might do, instead, " the female voice said coolly. "After you're at the bottom of the river, I might just start spreading rumors about how you went rat, and dimed out every lowlife you ever met, all the way up to your precious Don. I wonder what he would do to your brother Franics, if he thought that happened? Francis Rossi, your brother who lives on 1337 Fulton St."

He'd be dead. Dead in under a week, Alonzo knew. The family could take a lot of things, but a rat was not one of them.

"Do I have your full attention now, Mr. Rossi? Or do I need to kill you to earn it?"

Alonzo had been threatened by a lot of people over the years, but all of them were men. The ones that shouted or were loud never amounted to anything; it was always chest puffing or posturing. When the person saying it delivered the threat like they were discussing the weather or the baseball scores...you ignored it at your own risk.

"You have my attention," he said, sullen.

"Good. Here's what I propose. If you do this thing for me, this one job, then I'm willing to forget about your shakedown operation here in Brooklyn. I'm willing to forget about your brother Francis. I'm willing to forget that I would love nothing more than to pull this trigger right now and fill that bag with your brains. So tell me, Alonzo Rossi. Do I have my man?"

Whoever this woman was, this silver-tongued devil, she had left Alonzo with no choice unless he wanted to set fire to his world, and his brother's as well. What was worse, is that he couldn't even count on Don Meggadino's help without putting his own life in danger. What was he going to tell him, that he fell asleep in a cab, got kidnapped and threatened by a woman who belonged to that same secret society him and his capos thought was nothing but a hilarious joke?

"A job? Couldn't you get one of your hired goons to do it?" Alonzo challenged.

"If I needed someone tied to a chair and beaten, I could have them do it. I need someone able to persuade. Shake someone down, so to speak. Yes or no, Mr. Rossi. Give me your answer. Now."

He was itching and sweating under the makeshift hood, but he could make out a faint outline of the woman speaking to him in front of him. She was standing rock still, and he guessed she was holding a gun. He was right.

"Si, si. I'll do it. What do you need?"

"There is a man in this city. A brutal man, like yourself, but very important to us. I need you speak to him, make him a deal, and he must accept it."

"Thats it? That's what you need me to do?"

"This man owes us a great deal."

"This is about money? Are you kidding me?"

The metal of the pistol, was unforgiving as it struck the back of Alonzos head hard. It hurt like hell, and he couldnt do a thing about it.

"Does it sound like I'm kidding?"

"Ah, jeez. Fine, fine. If he doesn't pay up , do you want me to throw him off the Brooklyn Bridge too?"

"We dont want him to pay up. We want him to accept an alternative offer. An offer that if he doesn't accept, Mr. Rossi, you might want to consider throwing yourself off the Brooklyn Bridge first."

"But wha..."

Just as he was beginning to speak, Daisy grabbed the back of his head with one hand and jammed the barrel of the pistol into his mouth, the taste of burlap and gun oil dominating his senses.

"No harm will come to this man, Mr. Rossi. He has a considerable debt with us, a considerable debt that can be repaid only by doing this for us. Unless you want me to blow your head off, you had better make him understand that. Do you understand? Shake your head yes if you do."

Alonzo shook his head slowly in the affirmative.

"There is a girl that is very important to us, being held against her will. This man, Booker DeWitt, using whatever methods he deems necessary, will go and set her free. We have two contacts waiting for him at Grand Trunk Station, in Portland, Maine, that he will rendezvous with. They will take him to the drop-off point and provide him with the necessary equipment. Here," she said, shoving something into his jacket pocket, "is the train ticket in Mr. DeWitts name. If he agrees to those terms, and boards that train, all is forgiven and you live. If not," she pressed the gun slightly deeper into his mouth and said nothing more.

Just as quickly, the pressure on his head was released, and the gun removed from his mouth.

"Do you have any questions?"

"He didnt. One day he'd find out who was doing this to him, and have his revenge. But for as long as he could remember he'd been taking orders, and right now the smart move was to do what he was told.

""Where can I find this Booker DeWitt?

"His office is at 212 West 2nd Street, 3rd floor. He runs a private detective agency. If I were you, I'd visit him as soon as possible. Good day, Mr. Rossi."

Which was the last thing Alonzo heard, before being knocked unconscious.

 

The sounds of the surf gently lapping against the sand, and seagulls crying out to each other, woke Alonzo up from his sleep. It was not a pleasant transition.

Lying on the beach, his suit covered in sand, his head felt like it had been hit by a baseball bat. For all he knew it was. Sitting up, he patted himself down. He still had his billfold, but his pistol was gone. Standing up, he looked around to get his bearings, and the boardwalk quickly let him know where he was. Coney Island. He even knew why they dumped him here. De Witts office was only a few blocks away.

DeWitts building was very easy for Alonzo to find. He'd spent the past few blocks shaking sand off of his suit, and although he still looked a bedraggled mess, he had improved his appearance considerably. The building was a four-story job, brick, with a few scraggly bushes and some flowers planted out front. A wooden sign hanging by the door read, 'Booker Dewitt Investigations Into Matters Both Public & Private - 3rd floor'. Bingo.

Rossi entered, and made his way slowly up the stairs. His head still throbbed, and his neck was sore from sleeping on the sand, but other than that he was fine. The sound of his expensive shoes on the stairs, seemed to be the only sound in the building. Finally he reached the third floor, and walked into the building's main hallway.

It was well lit, with a tile floor and plaster walls that made every sound he made echo. At the end of the hallway, was a wooden door, with a frosted glass panel with a stencil that read exactly the same as the wooden sign on the buildings front: Booker Dewitt Investigations Into Matters Both Public & Private. He went over to the door, and turned the knob. It was open.

"Hello, Mr. DeWitt?" Alonzo peered his head inside.

A brown-haired man was face down at his desk, surrounded by bottles and glasses.

"Oh no, you gotta be kidding me," Rossi exclaimed as he ran over to the desk to check on him. Please don't let DeWitt be dead.

"Whuzzah, who," DeWitt mumbled, much to Alonzo's relief. Bookers eyes opened wild and wide, as he pulled a revolver seemingly out of nowhere and shoved it in Rossi's face. "What do you want!" he exclaimed.

This was starting to become a really annoying habit, Alonzo thought.

"Easy, fellah. I mean you no harm," he said, hands raised. "The name's Rossi."

"I dont know any Rossis" said Booker, unsteadily.

"Well you do now. My name is Alonzo Rossi. Can you please lower the gun, I'm here about a job."

In that instant, the look on DeWitts face changed, as if he suddenly remembered who he was and what he did for a living.

"Sorry, friend. I just...forget about it. My apologies." Booker opened up a desk drawer and put the gun inside the desk. "Let me make it up to you, can I get you a drink?" he asked, as he grabbed the nearest non-empty bottle and poured a generous glass of whiskey for himself. Booker looked at Rossi's suit and remarked,"You look like you had a rough night."

"You too, Mr. DeWitt, and no thank you. My head is pounding enough already. Please just let me do what I gotta do, and then we can both be on our way."

This interested Booker. "Speak, then."

"Ive been hired," Alonzo said, choosing his words carefully,"to contract you for a special job. A recovery."

"Recovery of what?"

"Recovery of who. It's a person."

"Yeah, see, I don't do those anymore. Those are too tricky Mr. Rossi."

"Why is that, Mr. DeWitt? It's a paying job."

"I'm sure. See, the tricky thing about recovering people, is that they can walk where they like. And unless I handcuff them, or tie them up, they tend to walk right back to where I found them in the first place."

"Its a dame."

"I'd be more surprised if it wasn't. I'm afraid I can't help you, sir. Might I suggest your employer move on, and fall in love with a different girl."

"If you do this," Rossi countered, placing the train ticket on the desk in front of Booker. "If you do this, my employer is willing to wash away your debts. Which I understand are considerable."

DeWitts face shifted imperceptibly, as he looked the man up and down.

"Does your employer routinely hire gangsters to deliver his threats?"

"To be honest, I have no idea who he or she hires, Mr. DeWitt. What I do know is that the people I work for, are dangerous people. I dont know how much you got yourself into them for, but if I were you, I'd take this job. This is quite literally," he said nodding at the paper on the desk,"your ticket out of this."

Booker examined the destination on the ticket.

"Portland, Maine?" he mused out loud, gulping down the shot of whiskey in one smooth motion.

"Once you arrive, you will meet with my employers contacts, and anything else is none of my business. They'll fill you in on all the details...I'm just the messenger."

"Doesn't your employer believe in Western Union?" DeWitt noted, pouring himself another shot.

"I will tell you what my employer does believe in," Rossi said, turning his back so Booker could see the back of his head. The matted blood from where he was struck, still visible in Rossis hair. "If you still got half a brain in that whiskey filled head of yours, youd be smart to be on the first train to Maine."

The two men stared at each other. DeWitt was the first to break the silence asking, "All of it? Every cent of what I owe will be cleared?"

"That's what they told me: Wipe away the debt. Listen Mr. DeWitt, when I'm not getting kidnapped by whoever you owe money to, I spend my own time collecting debts for another group of people. Vicious, cold people. Let me assure you, Booker, that the people I normally work for would rather cut off your fingers before forgiving one red cent of what you owed them. Because once you owe somebody, that somebody owns you and they can do with you whatever they want. I was sent here to give you a way out of this, unless you want to get killed, that is."

Rossi could see Bookers jaw firmly set, but something in that speech reached him. What it was, he would probably never know.

"So what are you getting out of this?" asked Booker.

"If I get you to board that train, then I get to live too. So please do me a solid favor, and lets not get you, me and possibly this broad in Maine killed, and just do whatever the hell they're asking of you."

Booker picked up the ticket, and slumped back in his chair to inspect it.

"At least it's First Class."

"Only the best. Can I take it you're interested?"

"I'm interested. You can tell them that."

"Thank you, Mr. DeWitt. With a little luck, maybe we can both live to be old men."

"With a little luck," DeWitt said without enthusiasm.

Rossi half-smiled, nodded, and started to leave the room, when he turned to Booker one last time,"I am asking you to get on that train, DeWitt. But if you dont get on that train, then I'm as good as dead, but not before I find a way to take you with me. Nothing personal, its just business."

Booker toasted his glass in the direction of Alonzo Rossi, and pounded his shot.

"To business."

 

BOOM-BOOM-BOOM

The brownstone door opened partway, the only part of Daisy visible was her face. Carl tipped his cap to her, and said in a low voice,"Rossi visited Mr. DeWitt this morning."

Daisy took a second to consider it. "Keep an eye on Booker. If he doesnt get on that train by tomorrow afternoon, I want you to pay him a visit."

Carl nodded. "What about Rossi?"

"Hes a loose end. Tie it up."

I thought he was forgiven?

"Nothing inspires revenge, quite like forgiveness, Carl." Her eyebrows furrowed and her expression hardened, "Now get it done, comrade, and let me know when DeWitt boards that train."

And with that, Daisy slammed shut the door.

Bioshock: Infinite Prologue - Part 2

Alonzo walked down the street, stopping at the front steps of Dizzy's Pub. Cigarette dangling from the side of his mouth, he looked up and down the street for anything unusual or amiss. Sensing nothing out of the ordinary, he tossed the cigarette onto the sidewalk, ground it with his foot, and went inside.

In contrast to the concrete impersonal streets of New York, Dizzy's was charming, inviting, and friendly. The tables were all covered in red checker tablecloths, the brass fixtures all freshly polished, and dapper looking couples dined, laughed and enjoyed one anothers company.

Sitting at a semi-circular table in the back of the room, were a half-dozen well dressed men. At first blush, it looked no different from any other table. If you were keen and observant, however, you would notice that nobody looked directly at them, or if they did, it was a quick, furtive glance. Also, the service at Dizzy's wasnt exactly the greatest in the world, but for this particular table it seemed every waiter in the joint pitched in to keep the food and drink coming nonstop, and the table clear as soon as it was gone.

Alonzo's arrival caught the attention of a thick necked man in a white suit and red tie seated in the center of that table, and the man beckoned Alonzo to come over. He obliged.

"Don Meggadino, its good to see you," Alonzo said, respectfully. "How're the meatballs tonight?"

"Good, Alonzo, real good. If my wife could cook half as well as Dizzy, I'd probably be as big as Sal over here," he joked, pointing his thumb at the largest man sitting on the end of the booth.

"Don," Sal smirked. "Meatballs aren't going to make you as big as me where it counts!"

The entire table of men erupted in laughter, and although Alonzo politely laughed along, his face quickly shifted back to a more serious expression.

"Alonzo," Don said, "that mug you're wearing tells me you're here about more than meatballs. Speak your mind."

"Don Meggadino, I apologize for interrupting your dinner to talk business. I know you heard about what happened to Tony yesterday."

"I did hear. A good kid too. A real earner. We're going to find the son-of-a-bitch rat bastard that did this to him, and make him regret he was ever born. Rocco?"

A large man stuffed into a suit, with slicked back hair and large bulbous features sitting next to Don Meggadino, raised an eyebrow in acknowledgement.

"Rocco, I want you to make sure that everything is taken care of regarding arrangements for Tony. Swing by his family, let them know that our famiglia, is their famiglia," Don said, using the old world term for it.

Rocco nodded thoughtfully. "Consider it done, Don."

"Alonzo, you know we always take care of our own. See, you got nothing to worry about. They're already taken care of."

"Thank you Don, thats very generous of you," and he truly meant it. "But before Tony died, he came to my apartment to tell me that someone trashed his place and was coming after him. After him, and me."

"Who, Alonzo?" the Don asked, his face becoming as expressive as granite. "Do you know who did this?"

"Don Meggadino, I know this is going to sound pazzo, but Tony said some group named Vox Populi was seeking revenge for shaking down that warehouse out on Lombard last week. From what he said, they're like a secret society or cult or something."

The men at the table all stopped eating, stopped drinking, and drilled their eyes into Alonzo with unreadable expressions. The seconds felt like hours, the only sounds in Alonzo's ears were the clinking of glasses, the shouting of waiters, and the steady buzz of conversation.

Then they all started laughing. Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was the absurdness of the claim, but they all started laughing as if this was the funniest thing they ever heard.

"Alonzo, I'm sorry about what happened to Tony. I really am, but there ain't no secret society or cult trying to bump us off. Believe me, I can name for you four not-so-secret societies, trying to do the same thing. That warehouse you're talking about? It used to be run by the Gambinos, for crying out loud. Zo, I promise you were going to make them pay but c'mon. Secret societies? Dont be a pagliaccio. Come, sit down, have a drink or two."

Although Alonzos face and body language gave off the impression that nothing was wrong, inside his mind he was beyond furious. Pagliaccio? He wanted nothing more than to whip out his pistol, slap it across that smug man's face, and show him whos a clown. To do that, however, would be like committing suicide not only for him, but maybe even that of his older brother, Francis.

Francis...the respectable shopkeeper who wanted nothing to do with his lowlife, criminal of a little brother, would end up floating in the East River because of Alonzo's short temper. No, he couldn't let that happen to family, no matter how much of an uptight prick he was. He forced a smile and a laughed.

"Don, I'm just telling you what I heard. They shot him on the street like a dog, I couldnt imagine anyone with a shred of honor doing that."

"Zo, zo, zo. Those Gambinos wouldn't know honor if it fell out of the sky and landed in their Ziti." More laughter. "Trust me, well find them."

"Thank you, Don. I mean no disrespect, but I gotta be going. Please give my regards to your family." Alonzo shook the Don's hand, gave a nod of acknowledgment to the rest of the men at the table, and left the restaurant, wounded and raging, his soul on fire.

Standing on the sidewalk outside Dizzys, Alonzo was in no mood to walk, talk or be civilized. How dare they laugh at him like he's some kind of joke? A horse-drawn cab was slowly headed down the street in front of him, and Alonzo gave a wave of his hand to flag it down. He hated riding in the back of these things, but right now, he needed to get to Fulton Street quickly and get access to that warehouse.

The big horse and buggy came to a halt in front of Alonzo. The cab driver, a large mustached gentleman dressed in a grey suit with black bowler, hopped down from his seat at the back of the carriage, and opened the door for him.

"Right this way, sir," the cabbie boomed. "And where might we be headed this evening?"

"Lombard Street," Tony growled, as he settled into the plush seat of the coach.

"Right away, sir!" he barked, as the whip in his hand thwacked against the hind quarters of the horse, propelling the carriage briskly down the street.

The whole ride, Alonzo kept thinking about what Tony had told him before he died. Vox populi. Voice of the people. There was something about the name that was bothering him. People. Why the people? It was literally the exact opposite of the way the families of New York were set up.

As long as hed been an associate, he'd always reported to someone, who reported to someone else, on up the line. There was always a boss, to keep order, to provide direction, to keep things running smoothly. If there wasnt a boss, the whole system would turn into chaos, murder or even anarchy. He may not like the boss, but they needed him. Or did they?

At the end of the day, the operations were run by the people. From the legit business owners who gave them their tributes, to the people on the street who would witness a murder in broad daylight and tell the cops nothing. We needed those people more than they needed us. Ordinary everyday people. All the crime families, like the Morellos, Gambinos did, was find a way to harness the power in the ordinary citizen...but only if you had enough of them.

The glue holding it together was fear and respect, and if there was some other group out there that could inspire more of one or the other...then the Don was a fool to ignore it. If there was a group that was organizing people, then that could put an end to the way things worked and the way things worked was good for Alonzo.

Exhausted by the events of the day, he rested his head back against the velvet headrest of the cab, and closed his eyes as the carriage plodded forward towards Lombard Street. Half awake, half asleep, he could feel each bump in the pavement along the way. He drifted off at some point, and only came out of it as the cab came to a halt at its destination.

As he blinked open his tired, weary eyes, the big cabbie was standing over him, handkerchief in hand.

"How much do I owe you?" Alonzo asked sleepily.

"Nothing at all," the man said, as he put the foul-smelling handkerchief over Alonzo's mouth and nose.

Bioshock: Infinite - Prologue (Part One)



Bioshock Infinite: Prologue

by Ryan W. Carlin

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In the pre-dawn light, even a place like Brooklyn seemed serene and peaceful. The soft purple sky heralded the arrival of the morning, the solitary sound of hooves clapping on pavement echoed through the streets, and without all the people hustling and bustling about their daily lives, the brownstones, buildings and lamp posts were deathly still, like the calm before the storm.

BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM

The loud, heavy knocks at his front door roused Alonzo Rossi from a dreamless sleep. Dazed but alert, he instinctively reached a hand under his pillow and felt the familiar heavy metal of his Browning 1903 pistol. In one swift catlike motion, he slid out of bed, his bare feet making no sound on the cold wooden floor. He positioned himself with his back to the wall, just to the left of the door jamb, pistol in ready position.

Looking down at the dim light spilling under the bottom of the door, he could see two shadows, one for each leg. At least he was only dealing with one person. His mind raced to who could it be? The police? He quickly dismissed that notion. If it was the police, they would have busted right in, yanked him out of bed, and hauled him down to the station. Coppers might be a lot of things, but polite was not one of them.

Maybe it was someone from the Genovese family, come to do him up? Alonzo let that idea pass, because button men dont knock, either. After awhile, his landlord would have found him sleeping in bed with an icepick jammed into his skull, the only calling card of men whose trade is murder for hire. Who could it be?

His finger gently, slowly, agonizingly pulled back the hammer of the gun, as he challenged the presence at the door,"Who's there?"

"Alonzo, it's me, Tony. Zo, you gotta open up."

Alonzo made a sign of the cross with his gun still in hand, while exhaling a sigh of relief. Mio dio, he muttered to himself, as he opened up the door and Tony burst into his living room.

"Tony, what time is it? Did Gina throw you out again? What the hell's the matter that it couldn't wait til morning?"

"No, Gina and I are fine. Alonzo, I'm sorry, you know I'd never wake you like this, but I think we're in danger. Real danger."

Tony, all six-foot four of him, went over to the solitary window in the room, and peered up and down the street. He was a good looking man, with a scar running down his right cheek that he was self-conscious about. In his suit and coat, he looked like he just got back from a night out with the boys. Satisfied by what he saw, or by what he didnt see, Tony closed the curtains and turned to face Alonzo.

"Tell me something I dont know already," said Alonzo, adrenaline wearing off, sleepily rubbing his eyes. "We're a couple of soldati working for Boss Magaddino, in a city filled with robbers, thieves and even worse, honest cops. Were always in grave danger, paisano. Why are you so worked up tonight?"

"Zo, I was staying over at Ginas tonight. I love her, but her bed is hard as a rock, and it kills my back, so I got up and left her place about an hour ago. I get back to my place, walk in and the place is trashed. Torn to shreds, like a lion or a bear went through there."

"Jeez, Tony, Im really sorry about your place," Alonzo said, patting Tony on the shoulder. "But we live in New York, so unless there was a breakout at the Bronx Zoo, there aren't any bears or lions loose. My guess, its a couple of neighborhood kids, showing off. We'll ask around tomorrow, and find out who did it. A thing like that, someone's always got a big mouth."

"No, you dont understand," Tony pleaded. "I was going to tell you when I knew more about it, but we're in way over our heads. His hands were visibly shaking as he spoke, and with each passing second it made Alonzo more and more uneasy. "Do you remember that garment warehouse we shook down last week? The one where we had that accident with that guy?"

"The one out on Lombard, under our protection now? I ain't that old, that my memory is going to pieces. And if that stupid Polack foreman had just sat down and shaddap when we asked him too, there wouldnt have been any accidents that day. Another deadbeat lowlife that likes to play the numbers, and not pay whats due. Whats the big deal here?"

"Well before it was under our protection, it was under someone else's protection. Someone...something big."

"Who? LoMonte? Morello? So help me if it's that son of a bitch, Toto..."

"No, no, its none of the other families. They ain't like us. Everyone is too scared to talk, so all I've got is just bits and pieces"

"Who?" Alonzo barked, waving his gun in his hand for emphasis. "Maybe everyone else is too scared of them, but I ain't everyone. Tell me, so we can go pay them a visit tomorrow for redecorating your place."

Tony stood there, eyes wide and unblinking, and whispered, "They call themselves the Vox Populi."

"Voxa who? Never heard of em."

"Vox Populi. It's Latin, it means, Voice of the People. Zo, theyre real pissed about what we did, and they've been asking around about us. You and me. I couldn't find out any more than that."

"Latin, Greek, it could be Chinese for all I care. You listen to me, Antony Calvetti. We're in with one of the most powerful families that runs New York, which means we work for one of the most powerful families in the world. Unless we step outta line, we're untouchable in this city. We've got whole neighborhoods that would tear a man to pieces, if they so much as said a disrespectful word about your mother, God rest her soul. You packing?"

"Of course, but..."

"But nothing," Alonzo said, opening up his front door. "Go back home, clean up your place, and get some rest. I'll talk to some of the guys tomorrow, and we'll get this taken care of. If this Voce del Popolo wants a vendetta, you and me, we'll teach em the true meaning of the word."

Tony nodded his head in reluctant agreement, and walked out into the front hallway. Turning back to Alonzo, he warned,"Just keep an eye out for something, anything, that dont look right to you. I heard they aint got no honor or rules.

Without honor or rules, Alonzo said, shaking his head in disbelief, how powerful could they be?

Alonzo closed the door behind Tony, and waited until the click-clack of his footsteps had faded down the stairwell to lock the door. Just in case, he flipped the deadbolt shut too. There may be nothing to what Tony had to say, but there was also nothing to taking a little added precaution. If there was one piece of advice he picked up from the old timers in the family, is that they didnt get to be old timers by being careless or overconfident.

Exhausted, Alonzo plopped back down on the Murphy bed, staring straight up at the ceiling. Tony was a real tough guy, not easily intimidated. Down at P.J. Hanleys, out by the docks, he'd once seen Tony take on three longshoreman at once without breaking a sweat. One of them even pulled a knife, and so help me God, Tony just laughed at him. That and he broke the guys arm in three places.

If something had spooked Tony, then it had to be more serious than he was letting on. Alonzo could tell there was something he wasn't saying, something he was holding back about that Vox Populi outfit. Hed be sure to ask him about it that evening, at a more gentlemanly hour over dinner. Maybe if he...

The sound of gunfire erupting on the street below, shattered Alonzo's next thought completely.

 

Located next to the river, the long wooden warehouse looked no different than any of the others. Three stories tall, with a gently curved roof, men carried boxes from boats, back and forth through oversized doors, loading up horse-drawn wagons lined up at the side. It stunk to high heaven, but then again, everything that went on by the East River reeked in one way or another.

On the side facing the docks, at the top of the warehouse, was the foreman's office. Visible from the window was the Brooklyn Bridge, its rust-red spans a tribute to the engineering prowess and ingenuity of the American people. Seated quietly at a table with a stack of folders was a petite, yet tough looking black woman, idly flipping through a small pile of folders directly in front of her.

Daisy could hear Carl and his heavy boots, thumping up the metal stairs leading to her office. Before he had a chance to knock, she shouted through the closed door,"Come on in, Carl. Wipe your feet before you do."

Carl , a middle-aged mountain of man dressed in worn slacks, a brown vest, and white button-up with the sleeves rolled, looked genuinely surprised that Daisy anticipated his arrival. He drug his heavy boots on the mat outside the door, before taking the cap off his head, and entering. He looked around the room, as if to make sure they were alone, before speaking.

"Its done," he said matter-of-factly, in a heavy Polish accent. "We took care of the one named Tony. He went straight to the other one before we could get to him. He may already know we're coming."

A regretful smile played across Daisy's face for an instant. A look that read: so this is the world we live in.

"It was supposed to look like a hit from a rival family, so we wouldn't have to fight a war on two fronts," she exclaimed, pounding her hand on the desk. "Dammit, comrade, you've put us in a real bind. We can't afford to turn our attention away from the girl. One wrong move, and she slips through our fingers and all the work we've done here is lost." She gently massaged her temples before turning her gaze back on Carl, who seemed to have physically shrunk a few inches during her tirade.

"You know, maybe your failure can be good for the cause," she mused, Carl wincing at the word 'failure'. "Maybe we can use this Alonzo Rossi to get what we need out of our agent. What do we know about this Rossi, other than he likes to shake down honest laborers? Where is he from, does he have any family?"

Carl looked relieved for any way out as he promised Daisy,"We know very little, but by tomorrow, I will know the soul of this man, Rossi. I swear it."

"Good. We need someone with something to lose. And Carl?"

"Yes, Miss Fitzroy."

"If this man truly has nothing left to lose..." the silence hung heavy in the air, the fire in her eyes conveying everything unspoken.

"Yes, Miss Fitzroy. I understand, Miss Fitzroy," Carl said, bowing slightly as he backed out of the room and hurried down the steps.

Daisy was furious when she found out one of the businesses that supported to cause was being shaken down by common criminals. Here she was, trying to change, no, trying to fix the world, and these neighborhood thugs were busy fighting like dogs for scraps at their masters table. If she was to have any chance, however slim, of removing that snake Comstock from power, she was going to need all of the resources at her command. Not a portion, the rest siphoned off by these Sicilian leeches.

Besides, no matter what she seemed to do, that blasted Prophet was always one step ahead of her. Every single attempt made to infiltrate Columbia was thwarted before it got off the ground. Maybe this Rossi fellow is what she needed, a wild card they can use right under the so-called Prophets nose. Maybe. Then again, maybe not. Back to work.

She reopened the manila folder on her desk, resuming her study of the contents inside, photographs, telegraphs, and some handwritten letters. In typewriter script, on the filing tab, was the name: DeWitt, B.