Story and Art by Tacoma.
Eight years ago, a then young adult Blacktalon first came to Nimbaterra. Biaggio (also known as Big) is a towering, muscular gryphon male with silvery-black plumage. Judgmental and sharp-tongued, he had a way of sorting folks out. Tacoma was pleased with his seemingly cool demeanor and no-nonsense attitude. After observing him for a month or two, she offered to hire him as a guard. He accepted gracefully and, for a couple 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.
Big's charisma was hard to beat. In no time at all, he'd amassed his own fan club. But, for all his boasting about keeping out undesirables, Big invited just as many to celebrate with him 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 construct new areas, plan events and manage finances, but patrons only saw Big, and Big ultimately received all of the praise.
With just as many enemies as friends, he knew how to get exactly what he wanted from both parties. Big earned a respectable sum of gold and used it to open a gambling ring on the Isles. While the gambling ring helped attract even more visitors to Cloud Nine, fights were quick to break out over accusations of cheating. Big started keeping a shit list with the names of everyone who'd ever crossed him or his crew.
Eventually, two wealthy patrons who had dealings with Big's clan went missing and suspicions arose throughout Nimbaterra. The patrons were never found, but their families hired an investigation on the Isles. This event further tarnished the resort's reputation as guests directed their hostility towards Cloud Nine Management. 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, 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 the Cartel, Big never ordered any violent acts against her. Threats were usually enough to keep her from retaliating. Fearing for her life and those dear to her, Tacoma chose to turn a blind eye to Big and the Cartel. She was deemed cowardly for not attempting to dismantle the Cartel, 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, sending her machines on a warpath through the Isles and Blacktalon's lackeys ensuring 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 mechanical Zengre and prioritizes dispatching as many as possible. Cassandra harbors a deep hatred of Blacktalon and makes sure any Cartel members who get too close to her factory or creations are promptly destroyed. These battles often give Tacoma time to escape or mount her own attacks.Lunati wrote her own take on the time Blacktalon was found and recruited. You can read it here.