Story and Art by Tacoma.
Biaggio (also known as Big) is a towering, muscular gryphon male with silvery-black plumage. Judgmental and sharp-tongued, he's always had a way of sorting folks out. Eight years ago, a then young adult Blacktalon first came to Nimbaterra. Tacoma was pleased with his seemingly cool demeanor and refusal to take crap from anyone. After observing him closely for a few months, she offered to hire him as a guard. He accepted gracefully and, for the next few years years, Big was the best damn guard on the Isles. He went on to train the bulk of bouncers who worked the bar and stage areas of the Cloud Nine resort.
The charismatic Big was admired and respected by many and, in no time at all, had amassed his own fan club. But for all his boasting about keeping out undesirables, Big invited just as many from his own crew. Big's acquaintances were frequently loud, belligerent and troublesome. Gradually, the atmosphere in Cloud Nine changed from one of relaxation to pure pandemonium. Despite the ever increasing chaos, attendance exploded at Cloud Nine. Anything good that happened during Big's time as a bouncer was credited to him, including work he took no part in. Tacoma and Lunati slaved tirelessly behind the scenes to add new areas, plan events and manage finances, but patrons only saw Big, and ultimately it was Big who received all of the praise.
With just as many enemies as friends, Big knew how to get exactly what he wanted from both parties. The respectable sum of gold he'd earned as a bouncer was used to open a gambling ring on the Isles. While it helped attract even more visitors to Cloud Nine, fights were quick to break out over accusations of cheating. Big kept a private list with the names of everyone who'd ever crossed him or his crew. In the beginning, Big used extortion and threats of violence to get his way. Whoever screwed him over would be forced to pay up, come hell or high water.
Eventually, two wealthy patrons who had dealings with Big's clan went missing and suspicions arose throughout Nimbaterra. Despite a long and drawn-out investigation on the Isles, the patrons were never seen again. This event further tarnished the resort's reputation as guests directed their hostility towards the Management of Cloud Nine. Tacoma and Lunati were finally receiving credit for something, and it wasn't good.
Tacoma was driven mad with stress over the ordeal and, after a long hearing from patrons and workers alike, the Counsil of Nimbaterra came to the decision to revoke Big's Guardian title. Big was understandably upset but receeded from public sight to continue his gambling ring and assemble what would eventually become the Cirrus Cartel. Tacoma hired her own investigators to make dealings with the Cartel and hopefully gain insight into their affairs. Many more patrons went missing after the discovery of large drug quantities being smuggled out of Cloud Nine. Foul play was clearly afoot.
A high ranking Cartel member soon caught on to Tacoma's spies and threatened her. Aware that the death of owners or any high ranking officials would spell disaster for Big's organization, no violent acts were ordered against her. Threats were usually all it took to prevent retaliation. Fearing for her life and those dear to her, Tacoma chose to turn a blind eye to the Cirrus Cartel. Attempting to dismantle it would have surely resulted in many more deaths, and this was not an acceptable outcome for Tacoma. She was deemed cowardly by many, but, to protect those she cared for, there was no other option.
This internal conflict has caused a great political divide on the Isles of Nimbaterra. A surprising many side with Big and the Cartel for personal gains, and others out of fear. Tacoma's presence at Cloud Nine these days is scant. She continues to plan and build new areas with Lunati and their workers, but has become sheltered and alone in her anxiety.
Meanwhile, in the heat of this conflict, Cassandra Chaotica waged her own war against Tacoma and what remained of her allies. Cassandra sends her mechanical Zengre to terrorize the Isles while Blacktalon's lackeys ensure Tacoma keeps her nose out of Cartel business. While both groups share a common foe, they direct all of their attacks to each other when their forces intersect. The Cirrus Cartel hates the cold, chaotic violence wrought by Zengre and prioritizes dispatching as many as possible. Cassandra harbors a deep hatred of Blacktalon's men and makes sure any Cartel members who get too close to her factory or creations are promptly destroyed. Thankfully, these battles often give Tacoma time to mount her own attacks or escape.Lunati wrote her own take on the time Blacktalon was found and recruited. You can read it here.