Chapter 1: The Monster Of Naples
Naples, a city at the mercy of the mob.
With crime rates as high as they've ever been. The people here need a miracle to keep them safe.
But i'm not that miracle, i'm just your average investigative journalist, trying to figure out what's really going on in this city.
The world was hit pretty hard when the omnics rose against the humans, but Naples was hit harder than most. The images i saw on the news as a child showed only the broken husk of a town, with refugees spilling over each other in search of sanctuary.
But despite all of that, they rebuilt, what was once a thriving metropolis had reemerged from the ashes as a corrupt dystopian monster set on swallowing anything that came near.
Most of the gloomy streets lay in shadow of massive skyscrapers, stark contrasts in class were very clearly visible. In Naples, either you had it all, or you had nothing.
My main target was Carraro Enterprises, rumor has it that they were involved in many cases of illegal arms dealing, and production of high tech weaponry and vehicles in secret facilities. Most people were suspicious about their ties to organized crime. Especially Of Leonardo Carraro, owner of Carraro enterprises, who most felt made his money by working for the mob.
But all investigations into Carraro were ordered to be dropped and any cases against them had been thrown out of court. Carraro have money, and that means they can get away with anything. Every day i try to get an interview with representatives at Carraro, but they somehow manage to reschedule week after week due to 'unforeseen circumstances'.
They thought I would get bored and leave if they stalled long enough. Fat chance.
I had only spent a month in naples before the incident.
I was on my way home late in the evening through the narrow streets of the suburban district, which is a nicer way of saying 'the crappy district', when i saw them.
An expensive hovercar driving down the dark streets. Most folks who lived here couldn't afford a bike let alone a hovercar. My curiosity got the better of me so i decided to try and follow them. It wasn't too difficult because the streets were very narrow and winding, not the best place to drive a hovercar at full throttle.
Eventually the car stopped at a relatively less filthy looking house and two massive men stepped carrying a baton, the other a knuckleduster, as they stepped up to the house, I hid behind a nearby fence and pulled out my camera.
They knocked on the door and a small middle aged man answered. "Is this about what i owe the syndicate?" he asked, terrified by the sight of the thugs "I told you, now is not a good time, money is tight, please give me another month!".
Italian isn't my first language but i knew enough to be able to understand what was happening, a classic story of criminals taking advantage of the desperate and less fortunate. Baton thug said "the syndicate has been far too lenient with you, we were sent here to set an example for what will happen to those who fail to meet deadlines" they grabbed the man by his shoulders and threw him onto the pavement. "please! I have a family!" the poor man yelled.
"should have thought of that before you pissed off the syndicate" said knuckledusters, right before pounding the man in the side of the face. The two of them landed blow after blow, the man yelling with pain as his assailants mercilessly beat him.
I couldn't bear to stand by and take pictures anymore, no one deserves this. Something came over me, and i stepped out from behind the fences. "HEY, YOU" I yelled trying to draw them away from the man, they both stopped and looked at me. "there's someone there!" yelled baton,"get them!".
Suddenly two more thugs stepped out of the car, carrying automatic rifles. Well, now i had their attention, but there wasn't much else to do at that point. I had been stupid, irrational, blind. And now i would pay for it.
The machine gunmen grabbed me and kicked me to the curb next to the now black and bruised middle aged man. 'This is it' i thought, this is how it ends. Baton thug whacked me in the back of the head so hard i started seeing things.
Just like in the old cartoons I watched as a kid, stars seemed to spin around my head. I lay on my side and watched them continue pounding the other guy until blood started to seep from his wounds.
I was just about to pass out from my concussion, before I saw it.
I thought the monster of Naples was just an urban legend, a bogeyman. I just assumed that 'il Gatto' was just a story to scare children who wouldn't behave. But there i saw it. Perched on the rooftop above us, a humanoid figure watching with its piercing golden eyes. the thugs saw it too, but far too late.
The terrifying thing descended on its horrified victims at the speed of light. Swooping straight into knuckleduster rendering him knocked out on first contact.
As soon as the monster touched the ground it lashed out at baton thug's leg with its talons, leaving him screaming on the ground clutching his knee, now with massive gashes in it. The machine gun thugs fired liberally, but it was pointless.
The beast never stood still long enough to be able to see it, let alone hit it. It somehow fired a tendril from one of its arms that wrapped around the legs of the gunners and tripped them.
The creature walked up to them and kicked both of them in the head leaving them motionless.
The only one left stirring was baton thug who tried in vain to crawl away. The creature walked up to him and put its foot on the thugs wounded knee.
Baton thug screamed in pain. The beast moved down to face him at eye level. Its feline eyes changed from warm gold to piercing red, and it said, in a distorted and alien sounding voice "WHO SENT YOU?".
"if I tell you they will kill me" baton whimpered. "ANSWER ME!" the monster bellowed as it stepped harder on baton's knee. After a lot of screaming and crying, baton said something to the beast under his breath.
After which it nodded and punched him in the face, knocking him out. Then tied him up, along with the other thugs. It briefly kneeled over the middle aged man but stood up and let out what sounded like a sigh. Then it turned its focus to me, and just as I was about to say something, I passed out.
I couldn't tell how long I was out, but I awoke to the feeling of pain, it felt like there was a fire in the back of my head.
I opened my eyes and found myself in a small pristine white room, just big enough for a cot and a small cabinet filled with what looked like medical supplies. There were digital interfaces along the walls. And a faint humming sound coming from all around. I sat up in the cot and held my hand to my head, someone had wrapped a bandage around it.
That's when it dawned on me. In my frightened and disoriented state, i thought i was seeing a monster, however, the monster of Naples was no monster at all, but a man.
Someone who may have just saved my life. There had been claimed sightings of vigilantism in Naples before but there was no real proof, until now.
Il Gatto, the guardian on the streets of Naples. This was the story of a lifetime. The world has had its fair share of heroes, ever since overwatch, sure, but this would be the first anyone has seen since the petras act.
I looked for my camera but i didn't have it on me. I decided to venture from my little room. It was time to face the man behind the beast.
As soon as i stood up from the bed I could feel there was something off about the place I was in. The floor was smooth and grippy, like the floor of a bus. I stepped out into a curved corridor with doors that probably led into various other rooms. I walked down the corridor until it eventually led into what seemed like a domed indoor courtyard.
The room had a shallow domed ceiling made of glass, which was letting through the rays of the morning sun. From what i could see there were no clouds in the sky, which was odd since I remembered it being fairly cloudy last time i saw it.
As for the room itself there was an assortment of strange equipment all over the place. All around there were computer screens displaying all sorts of information, holograms depicting different parts of the city, weapon racks loaded with knives, sabers and a bunch of other weapons I couldn't recognize, armour stands with many variations of the armour i had seen the night before and much much more.
But the main attraction had to be the man sitting in the very center of the room at what looked like a control panel of sorts. He was facing away from me and didn't see me come in.
"Hello?" I ventured "who are you? Where are w-"
he exclaimed as he turned to face me, startled. "why the hell are you awake?" he said "the tranquilizer normally takes at least 4 hours to wear off" he slapped himself on the forehead "shit. You weren't supposed to see my face".
I looked at him, shocked, and realized that I recognized him, it was none other than Leonardo Carraro, CEO and owner of Carraro Enterprises.
"well, this isn't how i expected this introduction to happen, but… oh well… ahem… Hi! Im Leo, also known as Il Gatto."
He came up to me and held out his hand, I shook it slowly, still trying to comprehend my situation. I was beaten up by hired thugs, rescued by a scary monster vigilante, and then i woke up in some sort of fortress and was now talking to the a billionaire in the middle of a room full of dangerous weapons. Neat?
I decided to introduce myself "Hi, my name is-"
"oh i know exactly who you are, i ran you through my fingerprint and facial recognition software and I found your… lets say.. interesting history." said Leo.
"What history?" i asked. "oh you know, I read about how you were constantly trying to expose mafia operations in New York City, and your boss was forced to transfer you to Italy because you were getting a reputation for pissing off powerful people."
he said "I also know that you're a good person, back there you stood up for that guy even though you didn't know who he was and you were severely outnumbered.".
Suddenly I realized "wait, what happened to him? The guy they were beating up?" a grim look came across Leo's face "he didn't make it". Leo sat down in a nearby couch, sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. "I wasn't fast enough" he said, disappointed.
I sat next to him "i've never seen anyone move as fast as you, there was nothing you could have done". It didn't seem like I reassured him.
"wait a minute, you're a vigilante, why did you bring me to your base? Why risk being caught?". He sighed "you had a serious concussion, I had already lost one innocent life, I wasn't going to lose another." he looked me in the eyes "but that's not the only reason I brought you here".
"what do you mean?" I asked. "Normally I would have just patched you up and left you at a hospital" he said "but after looking through your files I realized I need someone like you".
"someone like me?" I said. Leo replied "yes, I need someone who I can trust, someone who knows right from wrong, who can help me put an end to organized crime.". I was not expectimg this, "Mr Carraro, i'm sorry but I don't know if I could do what you do" I said "I'm a journalist not a hero".
"the world could always use more journalists" said Leo with a sly smirk.
"That's why I need you, I'm tracking down a specific organization in Naples that call themselves 'the syndicate' i suspect they may have ties to international terrorist groups."
He said "I need someone to gather intel and help me locate key individuals, and there are very few trustable investigators in this city, if we worked together we could take down the syndicate".
"you really trust me with all this?" I asked. "i'm not wearing my mask am I?" he said. I looked at him, a man who was wealthy enough to buy or do whatever he could ever possibly want, and yet he cares only about the safety of the citizens of Naples.
This explained so much about arraro Enterprises, all the weapons, armour and vehicle manufacturing was in fact to provide equipment for Leo's nightly activities. The dodgy investigations and court cases were necessary for him to keep his vigilante life a secret. And here he was, asking me, a virtual stranger to help him save the city.
"yes" I said "let's do it".
"thank you" he said "be in touch as soon as your head gets better". "how?" I asked. "with this" he gave me some sort of compact satellite phone. "all you have to do is call".
I was just about to search for an exit when Leo guided me to a strange section of the wall that had handrails on it. "hang on to this" he said. He ran down to the central control panel and said "commence landing procedure".
I suddenly realized where we were, Il Gattos base of operations was in fact a large aircraft, the humming sound from earlier was the sound of the ion engines. "this is incredible" i said. "Impressive huh? I call her: the dark cloud, never in the same place for too long" said Leo.
We descended to the top of a building in the richer part of town and Leo dropped me off on the roof. "this is just the beginning" he told me as he was about to leave "the syndicate will not go down without a fight".
Out of curiosity I asked "how are you so sure I'm going to keep your secret?". He smiled and said "because we both want the same thing" he waved turned around and walked back into his flying fortress.
As it flew up into the horizons I noticed how the aircraft was completely invisible from underneath. Naples has an invisible guardian silently watching over it. The monster of naples, Il Gatto, whatever you wanted to call him, he's out there, and he will do what it takes to defend his city. He is the miracle that the people of naples have prayed for. The miracle that will keep them safe.
Naples may be a city at the mercy of the mob.
But the mob, is at the mercy of The Gat.