When Thomas Andre had founded the Scavenger Guild, he had absolutely no experience with guild management but forged ahead anyway despite his lack of qualifications. After Re-Awakening as one of the strongest existences on Earth, he staunchly refused to work under some irrelevant pencil pusher, so he became his own boss instead. He read a stack of books and articles of the ‘how to run a guild for dummies’ variety and learnt the rest through trial and error while on the job.
Legends say that a child rearing book somehow slipped into his reading material by accident. When he realised it wasn’t on the topic of business management, he shrugged and read it anyway. He skipped through most of the book but there was one important takeaway from it that would shape his life and his guild for years to come: being exposed to bright colours was beneficial to a child’s mental development.
He took one look at his guild and feared that the bunch of morons would one day trip over their own feet and die, so he went and found the brightest clothing possible in an attempt to save them from their own stupidity. Over the years he’d cycled through tie-dye rainbow t-shirts, animal print tops and various bedazzled and sequinned concoctions in migraine-inducing neon colours. At the moment, he was in the middle of a Hawaiian shirt phase and was pleased that it was working. At least his guild members had stopped doing stupid things like screaming and crying whenever he pushed them off the side of a building to test their reflexes.
Every time someone made a foolish mistake on a raid, Thomas Andre inched ever closer to dying his hair neon pink. So far, the force of Laura’s disapproval had been a sufficient deterrent but one day, he knew that not even she would be able to stop him.
He would go to any lengths to protect the people he considered his.
Once upon a time, Thomas Andre and Christopher Reid made a bet. Christopher Reid lost which was why he was cursed to only to wear crocs from that day onwards. No one ever learnt what exactly what the bet was, because whenever anyone brought it up, Thomas Andre would laugh so hard that he started crying and then Christopher Reid would punch him in the face. After that, well, everyone was too busy evacuating the premises and running for their lives after the two started brawling to get a clear answer.
Now that the man was dead, Thomas Andre’s mood plummeted whenever he so much as saw a pair of crocs. And when he was in a bad mood, he had an unfortunate penchant for punching things, so in order to avoid the destruction of the country, his guild did their best to hide all crocs from their boss’ sight. It went without saying that no one was suicidal enough to ask him about it directly.
Thomas Andre had built an empire on top of a bloody battlefield. He had made his name in the Kamish dungeon break and had proved himself countless times over in battles since that historic day. Thomas Andre was no stranger to the grief of having his allies die around him, or the high of crushing the life out of his enemies with his bare hands. He was a person closely acquainted with death.
Finding out about the death of Christopher Reid had been an unwelcome surprise, because this was the one person he had never thought that he would have to mourn. After all, that guy had survived Kamish so he had thought that meant that he would be tough enough to survive Thomas Andre as well. But then that fucker just had to go die. And for the record, Thomas Andre was sweating from the eyes because he had allergies. He wasn’t crying. And any fuckers who suggested otherwise would be beaten up.
Given how much time Thomas Andre spent shirtless, his tattoos were as renowned as his face. They had even inspired countless replicas on his fans and admirers.
‘They’re inscribed in the monster tongue’, people whispered. ‘He stole Kamish’s secrets and inked them onto his own skin as proof of his victory.’
‘They’re magical runes that amplify his power’, others murmured. ‘With them he’s invincible.’
Despite the myriad tales floating around, nobody ever dared to ask Thomas Andre to confirm what his tattoos represented because everyone had heard the rumours about that one poor soul who did. The Goliath had not taken the question well and the other man had soon collapsed in a dead faint in fear. The man’s nerves had never recovered, and he retired early and spent the rest of his days recuperating in the countryside.
The truth of Thomas Andre’s tattoos was that a long time ago, before he had awakened as a Hunter, he had just thought that they looked really cool. However, to admit that when everyone had assumed some profound meaning—well—Thomas Andre did not feel shame and he did not feel embarrassment, but he was a proud man and there was no way in hell he would be admitting that.
Thomas Andre had always respected Sung Jin-Woo, right from the very start. Even when the idiots in his guild were betting on how quickly the new S-Rank would fall against the giants in Japan, Thomas Andre had unshakeable faith that the Korean Hunter would emerge victorious. There was something about the younger man that reminded Thomas of himself.
When the two of them finally met, Thomas Andre’s initial respect had been smothered by a wave of rage and he had intended to crush this arrogant little brat for daring to lift a finger against him and those under his protection. He had never considered the possibility that he would lose, that it would be his resolve that would waver, his spirit that would yield.
Perhaps he had spent so much time fighting monsters that there was a part of him that had become monstrous. He had forgotten that there was a concept called mercy. And he only relearnt it when Sung Jin-Woo showed him mercy and only broke his arm instead of taking his life and the lives of all his guild members when he could so easily have done so.
And he respected Sung Jin-Woo even more after that.
So, he had sent Laura to make sure that the younger man knew that the Leader of the Scavenger Guild owed him a favour. He had already been a poor host, letting Sung Jin-Woo’s buddy get beaten up by his own subordinate and then attacking the younger man himself, even though the other man had been a guest in his territory. He refused to be a petty loser and ungrateful sod too on top of that.
It had always been a mystery to Thomas Andre that people would look at him and only see a mindless brute force beast and looked at Laura to be his voice of reason, his common sense, his guiding light. They weren’t wrong about Laura, but it was a little upsetting that they could be so wrong about everything else. He had done just fine before he met Laura. In fact, he became the leader of the most powerful guild in the world before he had even met her, and he didn’t stumble into that position just because he could punch things really hard. He had a brain for business and strategy and a natural talent for recruitment, but nobody appreciated that. Was it because he was blond? Was he being stereotyped and objectified? Did people just assume that he was a dumb blond himbo?
The world was an unfair place he mused sadly. He was more than just a hot body and a pretty face. He might not look like it, but he had brains too!
No one had ever believed Thomas Andre when he told them that between him and Laura, she was the crazy one. The fact that no one else has caught on was a testament to how well she had hidden it under the perfect veneer of polite manners and placid smiles.
That time he slapped a hurricane back out to sea? Laura’s idea. That time he ate 300 chicken nuggets in one sitting and then swam from Florida to Cuba immediately afterwards? Laura dared him. That time he kicked a football into the sky so hard it knocked out a secret military satellite and almost initiated World War 3 before the misunderstanding was cleared up? Entirely Laura’s fault.
He even had a pet alligator that she gave him for his birthday. The creature was a cross between a bad-tempered guard dog and a grouchy cat and he loved it so much, even though it tried to bite his hands off whenever he petted it.
There was one memorable time when had been forced to meet some irritating government lackey about renewing a government contract. At the end of the meeting, the other man had slipped out of the meeting room and had stopped two corridors away to make a phone call which Thomas Andre could hear perfectly with his superhuman hearing and it made him chuckle.
‘Good afternoon, this is the Head of the American Hunters Bureau. How can I help—’
‘Sir it’s me. Listen if you ever make me talk to Thomas Andre again I swear I’m going to quit my job. Oh my god I thought I was going to die. He was clutching a 4m long alligator on his lap like some sort of monster lapdog and it was just gnawing on his arm. A normal human would have had their arm ripped clean off, but he just sat there like it barely tickled. Sir, please don’t make me go back he was staring at me like he wanted to strangle me the whole time. I have a wife and kids I don’t want to die I still have a lot to live for.’
There was no shortage of stories about Thomas Andre, not when he was one of the most notorious Hunters in existence. There was one particular story that had been circulated by his guild members and had attained almost legendary status within the Hunter community. It was a tale that spoke of the noble, caring nature of the leader of the Scavenger Guild.
The story went like this. The Scavenger Guild were deep within the bowels of a treacherous A-Rank Dungeon when one of the rookie Hunters made a life-threatening mistake and was half an inch from being decapitated by a vicious monster. Death had seemed imminent since everyone else was struggling with their own battles and unable to assist. But Thomas Andre had grabbed the monster by its open maw and ripped its lower jaw straight off its head, at the cost of letting his opponent sink its teeth deep into his unprotected flesh. A moment later he had turned around and pummelled it into dust, but the damage had already been done. That he was willing make such sacrifices for his teammates spoken volumes of his character.
Reality was very different, but since Thomas Andre received good publicity from that event he had never corrected the narrative. He would take this secret to his grave, but he hadn’t even noticed that the rookie was in danger. He only saw a nearby monster with countless rows of shiny teeth and ripped its jaw off to inspect its fangs because he had been thinking of commissioning a nice set of toothpicks out of them. The monster he had supposedly been facing at the time was so weak he hadn’t even registered its presence and when it tried to latch onto his arm he had flicked it away with a simple flap of his hand.
Thomas Andre was a living legend, but he never gave too much thought to his miraculously good PR.
(Standing behind him, Laura smiled.)
At the end of each year, it had become a tradition for Laura to compile a list of the stupidest damages that the guild had to pay for that year because of Thomas Andre. She would then hang up a framed copy in his office as her Christmas present to him. Thomas Andre thought that this might be her passive aggressive way of telling him to do better and to stop breaking door handles off of doors and pulling doors out of walls. The joke was on her though because he found her lists hilarious and enjoyed reading through them whenever paperwork became too mind-numbingly boring.
A selection of the most entertaining entries from the most recent list:
- Company car replacement
Thomas Andre may have ripped the door clean off the car, but in his defence, the rest of the car was mostly intact. The frame was only slightly warped and the engine still kind of worked! For some reason Laura hadn’t been too impressed by his explanations. He felt so unappreciated and wondered why he kept Laura around when she was so mean to him. Then he remembered what the guild had been like before she had joined and made a mental note to double her salary.
- Structural repairs to the ceiling of the 3rd Floor Meeting Room C in the Scavenger Guild Headquarters
Thomas Andre had once patted someone on the back so hard that he sent them crashing into the floor. And then through the floor. Down onto the level below. Now this might have sounded awful but was it truly that bad? The person he had accidentally punted through the building had been another S-Rank Hunter, so the fall hadn’t seriously hurt them.
- Structural repairs to the wall and doorways in the American Hunters Bureau Headquarters
Thomas Andre had been invited to the Bureau Headquarters for a meeting. He had been gesturing heatedly while talking as he walked down a corridor and accidentally clipped the wall with his hand. He didn’t know what kind of cheap weak ass cardboard crap they were using to build walls, but it most certainly wasn’t his fault that a chunk of the wall was smacked off by the impact.
The Scavenger Guild building had specially enlarged entrances to accommodate for Thomas Andre’s size so in other places he would sometimes forget to duck when crossing a doorway. Obviously his head was tougher than steel and concrete, so he would end up taking a chunk out of the top of the doorframe. He destroyed three doorframes in that one trip to the Bureau. The first time was genuinely by accident, but the next two times were in a fit of petty pique because the Bureau gofers had been particularly infuriating.
- Window replacement
Thomas Andre once glared at someone so harshly that they lost their nerve and jumped out a window to get away from him. Pfft as if they could have escaped from him if he had actually wanted to catch them.
- Bridge reconstruction
Laura had highlighted this one and even drew an understated little smiley face next to it to show how pissed off she had been about it, which fair enough, rebuilding an entire bridge hadn’t been cheap (at least there hadn’t been any casualties when he had accidentally destroyed the bridge though).
Thomas Andre had been leaning against a bridge pillar when a spider ran across his foot, which had been unexpected and he had flailed in panic (he hadn’t been scared okay) and knocked out the bridge pillar, which caused the rest of the bridge to tumble down like dominoes. He maintains that it had been a shit bridge and probably would have fallen down soon enough even without him.
Above all else, Thomas Andre was a Hunter. And as a Hunter, his first instinct was to protect his territory. Other natural predators, like bears or wolves, guarded their territories by scent-marking, or in a layman’s terms, by pissing on it. Thomas Andre may not have been a wild animal, but he was a Hunter at heart and the law of the jungle was completely reasonable to him.
(Absolutely no one else thought it was reasonable, but there was also no one who wanted to be the person to tell America’s strongest National Rank hunter that he couldn’t pee on a few trees in the woods.)
However, to Thomas Andre’s infinite frustration, nobody seemed to notice his territory markers and day after day, he could smell the stench of strangers waltzing all over his territory. He had been about to descend into a furious rampage when he remembered that most humans were weak and ignorant creatures with shit senses and painfully oblivious to anything that didn’t practically hit them directly in the face. So he did the only logical thing and upped the ante instead.
Thomas Andre smirked, eyeing the satisfyingly smooth pile he had just laid down at the bottom of a tree.
No one would be missing that.