|“||So what if I'd spare him? In my mind, it's the certainty in myself that I possess which allows me to have that kind of mercy or compassion. There's no wavering on that point. It's fixed like the stars. The fact is, I'm never gonna be killed! So remember this: Mercy and compassion are virtues that only the strong are privileged to possess. And I...am strong.||”|
Felix Walken (フェリックス・ウォーケン Ferikkusu Wōken), also known as Rail Tracer (レールトレーサー Rērutorēsā), introduced as Young Conductor and born Claire Stanfield (クレア・スタンフィールド Kurea Sutanfīrudo) is the legendary freelance assassin Vino (ヴィーノ Vīno), and considered to be one of the best in his profession.
He will be referred to as Claire throughout the article, since that is how he is most commonly known.
Claire is a handsome man with blood-red hair and a lean build. Aboard the Flying Pussyfoot, he wears a custom-white conductor's uniform that later ends up coated in the blood of his victims. He is often seen wearing a long black coat over a black suit for his civilian wear.
Claire is a solipsist. He believes that the world is a dream of his own creation, and all the people are figments of his own imagination. He cannot picture the world without him in it, and so in his mind he "can never be killed." If he does die, he'll simply 'wake up' from his dream. His solipsism has led him to eschew the idea of immortality, as "it can do nothing for him". He considers himself the centre of the world and takes pride in this.
Claire immensely dislikes it when people attribute his skill to God or natural talent. He emphasizes that he worked extremely hard to improve himself, and he wishes people would acknowledge the effort he put in rather than dismissively calling him a prodigy.
As The President of the Daily Days puts it, Claire operates outside the law through his own warped sense of justice. Claire is considerate of those he deems innocent, going out of his way to ensure the safety of people who are not his targets and/or pose no danger. He takes pride in his work, and takes his responsibilities seriously. As a train conductor, his job is to protect the passengers and he does so with zeal, adopting the Rail Tracer persona in order to protect them. It can be argued that he can take his responsibilities too seriously at times; for instance, when he encounters a stowaway on board the train he briefly considers dealing with her despite the fact that he is in the middle of a bloodbath.
Claire has stated that only the strong, like himself, are capable of possessing mercy or compassion.
He is not above putting down his fellow assassins after he defeats them, and on at least one occasion has directly asked people to praise him for his good work. This probably stems from the fact that he is a rather insensitive person (as noted by Rachel), though he doesn't really seem to be aware of how tactless and blunt he can be.
Claire admits he does not know where he should release his emotions and so piles it all up inside himself therefore, turning all the bloodlust born of tragedies and hypocrisies towards himself. He has no common sense when it comes to other people's hearts.
When it comes to love, Claire is very much a romantic.
Claire is born in slum Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, raised by his parents in the same tenement building as Firo Prochainezo and the Gandor brothers. He befriends Firo and the Gandors at an early age, and the Gandors take him in when his parents die.
(As featured in Baccano! Manga Chapter 002)
Claire, as he is often wont to do, runs off to play without telling anyone where he is going. Firo and the Gandor brothers' consequent search for him leads them to a derelict building; at the sound of them calling his name, Claire pops his head through a hole in the roof and calls out to them in turn. Luck Gandor recoils and asks how Claire climbed all the way up there, to which Claire replies, "I tried real hard, and it worked." He adds that if one believes one can do something, one can do anything.
So saying, he flips off the roof beams – despite Berga Gandor protesting the danger – and lands safely on the ground. Luck remarks that Claire gets less human every time Luck sees him, but Claire grins and counters that not even he can use magic: no matter how hard he tries, he will never be Peter Pan. Firo wonders if Claire is implying that he can do everything except magic, and Claire, rather than deny it, indirectly suggests that he can as long as he works hard.
Berga warns them that they should hurry home, as the Gandors' father strictly enforces curfew before dark. Claire and Firo agree in unison that "Old Man Gandor" is frightening when he is angry, a true mafioso who does not show even them mercy. To that, Berga replies that of course he does not: Firo and Claire are like family, which means they receive no special treatment. All five boys head back to the tenement.
After the death of the Gandor patriarch some time in or near 1920, Claire runs away and joins the circus, where he meets Gregoire the cook and is impressed by his raw strength, Parrot the animal trainer, a self-proclaimed vampire magician by the name of Doubs whose illusions Claire finds incredible, and a 'pretty girl' in boxing gloves who audience members can challenge for a dollar a pop. The audience member stands to win a hundred bucks from a victory, but most of the time nobody can land a hit on her. At some point during his circus years, Claire challenges her and 'wins' by stopping just of punching her, after which he promises to give the hundred dollars back if she goes on date with him. She punches him in the jaw.
In the winter of 1920, the circus' resident bear has grown so ferocious that he has tried to attack his own trainers. Claire announces that he will make the bear be quiet, and enters the bear's cage after making a bet with the circus' ringmaster and boss (a young man whose right eye socket is covered by a large scar; a red crystal where his eye should be). The specifics of the bet are unknown, but it can be inferred that if Claire 'loses' the circus will rid itself of the bear.
Claire, having doused his arm in hot sauce, declares that the bear's name will henceforth be Cookie. The bear sinks his teeth into Claire's arm in response. In the next moment, he releases Claire's arm and rolls on the ground, flailing his paws at the heat.
A masked clown asks what is going on, and Claire admits to the hot sauce trick. When a girl wearing a spiderweb-patterned leotard remarks that the bear had bit Claire as hard as it could, Claire smiles and assures her that his arm will heal quickly. That said, Cookie would surely have broken the bone had he bit any harder.
The ringmaster agrees that Claire has won the bet, and, after Claire reminds him of his promise not to get rid of Cookie, orders him to fetch some cooking wine from Gregoire later to protect the wound against infection. Claire's circus mates cheer, and through the hubbub one of them praises Claire for being a genius. Claire rejects the praise, insisting that his efforts were the result of hard work rather than prodigal talent. However, the ringmaster interjects: "But your hard work has never been in vain, Claire, and I think that's a pretty legitimate talent."
Claire spends the next several years training and performing as an acrobat, putting immense work into honing his athletic skills and agility. His circus career comes to an end sometime around 1925 when the troupe has a run-in with a large gang, causing most of his fellow performers and laborers to scatter in fear for their lives. Claire and the ringmaster join forces; by the time they take the gang down, there is "almost no one left."
The ringmaster is confident that the circus will reform once the scene 'cools down', so Claire turns to freelance assassination as a new career in the meantime. He swiftly makes a name for himself in the underworld as Vino, famous for his excessively brutal killing methods.
Through the aid and advice of Gregoire, Claire secures work as a railroad conductor and is mentored by Tony in the profession. While his new job is at first merely a free, swift means for him to carry out kill contracts across the country, he soon takes his duties as a conductor just as seriously.
During his time as a conductor, he invents and spreads the legend of the Rail Tracer, the 'one who follows the shadow of the rails'. According to the ghost story, the Rail Tracer is a monster that chases trains under the cover of moonless nights, merging with the darkness to take on all sorts of likenesses (such as a wolf, or mist, or even an identical train to the one it is chasing). There is no way of knowing when it initially catches up with the train; rather, one can only know that it has caught up with the train after one realizes that something is amiss. By then, it is too late to stop the phenomenon: a caught train's occupants will have already started to vanish, one by one, until there is no one left. The train, now empty, fades out of existence.
Telling the story of the Rail Tracer while on a train is tantamount to summoning it, as the Rail Tracer will target the storyteller's train next. However, there is one way to prevent the Rail Tracer's arrival: one must believe in the legend. If the Rail Tracer has already come, one must do whatever they can to avoid it until sunrise, at which point it will vanish with the morning light.
In September 1927, Claire enters a New York eatery under Gandor influence in anticipation for a long-awaited reunion with Firo and the Gandors. When he easily catches a waitress' dropped dishes, Firo smirks at him from a nearby table and remarks that he is as "awesome as ever," though he does not look any different. The two converse, and fondly attribute any good qualities of theirs to Old Man Gandor.
Firo soon enquires into Claire's time in the circus, and Claire cheerfully recalls that the circus was full of 'party animals' who ran a 'normal guy' like him ragged. Berga, having just arrived with Luck and Keith, immediately calls Claire a liar - there "ain't anybody" less normal than he. Claire is happy to see the three brothers, and the Gandors soon take their place at the table. When Claire learns that Firo joined the Martillo Family instead of the Gandors, he wonders if they will have to kill each other should the Families fight. Berga thinks that they should drag Firo back to the Gandors, but Luck ends the conversation; they had promised to avoid talking about Firo's situation.
Anxious to dispel the awkard mood, Firo asks if Claire is going to the Feast of San Gennaro the next day; At Claire's confusion, Luck fills Claire in on both the festival and the Miracle of San Gennaro itself. The talk of San Gennaro's miracle segues into the tabloid headliner "The Phantom Father," a supposed local serial killer who, according to rumor, miraculously does not die if he is stabbed. Claire observes that Keith Gandor does not seem interested in the festival, and Luck smiles and says that Keith prefers silent movies to festivals. Especially not as of late, as he seems to have taken a shine to a certain lady pianist (an accompanist for silent films).
Their conversation is interrupted when two diners break out into a drunken brawl, to which Berga puts a quick and violent end. Luck intimidates the brawlers by reminding them who owns the establishment; Berga apologizes to Claire as the men flee, but Claire does not mind and suggests that they go somewhere else. The group exits the eatery, and Luck and Firo's conversation is cut off when Claire throws his arm around Luck's shoulders and drags him away, demanding that Luck show him where the festival is being set up. He drags Luck down the street with Berga following, leaving Keith and Firo to talk alone.
The next day, Luck telephones Claire with bad news: Keith's bloody jacket and a smashed lollipop were found in an alleyway, but Keith himself is nowhere to be found. Luck formally requests Claire to search for Keith in a professional capacity despite it being his day off, so Claire heads to the festival to conduct his search. Little Italy's streets are crowded, as expected, but he manages to spot Firo rushing his way through the crowd and calls out to him.
He remarks that he has been looking for Firo as they turn into an empty alleyway and asks if Firo has seen Keith, filling him in on Luck's call. When he mentioned the smashed lollipop, Firo pulls a lollipop from one of his jacket pockets and says a priest named Donatello gave him the candy yesterday.
Claire stretches and mutters that finding a priest in a [religious] festival will be difficult, and decides to look for Donatello 'up top' (much to Firo's confusion). He uses the fire escape to reach the rooftops in nimble fashion, where he shouts to Firo that he must not push himself – not when he has his own Camorra position to worry about.
Now alone, Claire proceeds to traverse the rooftops of Little Italy in his search for Donatello. His search leads him to an area on the outskirts of the festival, where he finds Firo mid-confrontation with Donatello – the latter of whom has promised to give Firo 'three stakes' as punishment for bad behavior. He bears down upon Firo with a stake in his left hand, but Claire has reached the ground in time to snatch the offending wrist. With Donatello stopped in his tracks, Claire coldly informs him that he will give him a pile driver before slamming his knee into Donatello's arm, which he follows with a punch that sends Donatello to the ground.
Claire says that he feels bad about hitting a priest, but that there was no helping it since Donatello had tried to mess with Claire's family. Firo thanks Claire but suggests he 'dial it back' - something that Claire disagrees with, since they can get Keith's location from Donatello at any time as long as he remains alive. Furthermore, Claire is taking this on as an official job.
Having noticed that Donatello has gotten to his knees, Claire remarks that the priest is tougher than he gave him credit for. Firo counters that something feels off as he stares at Donatello's face - it is completely unmarred. Donatello divulges that he is under divine protection: just like San Gennaro was unscathed by fire, "The righteous will revive again and again."
As he charges at Claire with a stake, Donatello explains that this is why he continues to administer judgment to unpunished crimes. Claire kicks the stake out of Donatello's hand, grabs it, and stabs it through Donatello's right wrist.
Donatello leers at Claire, and shoves him away. Claire skids back but immediately rebounds with a blow that Donatello blocks. He compliments Donatello on his fighting moves before punching him in the face, and Firo observes in astonishment that the priest's wounds are healing. He asks if Donatello really is the 'Phantom Father', while Claire brightly exclaims that [the healing] must be a magic trick.
Donatello spreads his arms and declares that everything is a part of God's plan, which includes how the 'depraved' city of New York will be reborn after the festival, when the mafia will be given a warning. Claire, his arms akimbo, assumes that Donatello must be referring to Keith. Donatello insists that he is being kind - he was advised to start out with weak mafia and thus chose the Gandors, although he could have chosen the Martillo mafia instead.
At Firo's indignation over the misnomer, Claire waves his hand and says that he understands why Firo is mad, but points out that the priest is right: they are with the mob. Donatello rushes Claire again (to reawaken his sense of guilt) and Claire drives his leg into Donatello's stomach, crashing him into a wall. The two take their fight to the roof, where Claire mercilessly inflicts more and more damage unto Donatello - two stakes through his right thigh and a hard blow to the jaw for starters. Through bloody lips, Donatello asks what on earth Claire is. Claire's reply is blasé: "It's hard to sum me up in a word, but...well, I'm just a hitman. Don't worry about it."
With that, Claire delivers an uppercut to Donatello's jaw. Firo joins them on the rooftop a second later, and Donatello uses the opportunity to make a break for it by heading for the opposite direction of Little Italy. Claire is surprised, and then alarmed when he realizes Firo is chasing after the priest. He calls out, "Firo, don't!" but he is too late; Firo grabs the priest around his torso and uses his momentum to drive them both over the rooftop edge.
Donatello's fall is aborted when a flagpole impales him through his torso, while Firo lands safely in a pile of bags and boxes. Claire reaches the ground and asks if Firo is all right. At Firo's disgruntled reply, Claire is pleased that he is all right after all, and helps Firo to his feet. With utter sincerity, he refers to Firo a genius – and silently contemplates Firo's nature as Firo nurses his bruised jaw. His musings are interrupted when Firo realizes that the priest is gone - which is odd, because he was definitely dead a minute ago.
Claire climbs up the fire escape to inspect the flagpole. It is devoid of blood. As Firo curses down on the street (how will they learn Keith's location now?) Claire shouts at him to calm down; Keith is not passive, and most certainly able to take care of himself. Once he leaps off the fire escape to rejoin Firo on the ground, he adds that Firo's actions have given him some idea of where the priest is headed so Firo can leave Keith and the rest to him.
Through gritted teeth, Firo asks if Claire is implying that he will not be of any help. Claire gently bumps Firo's chest with his fist, and replies that he is worried about him (referring to Firo's position as camorra associate). He says that Firo has done what he needed to do, and that he should trust his family to do the rest.
Soon after parting ways with Firo, Claire comes across a church that has been set ablaze. Keith emerges unscathed from the fiery interior, much to his delight, and he waves at Keith and praises him for having 'pulled out all the stops' once again. Then he apologizes; Luck had hired him to find Keith, but he ended up letting the perpetrator escape. He promises to kill Donatello the next time they cross path with such malicious intent as to leave a pool of blood.
The two return to Coraggioso, a jazz hall and the Gandors' base of operations. They descend the basement stairs, and are immediately greeted by a relieved Luck and Berga. Keith reveals that he let himself be caught on purpose. Luck and Berga are horrified - what if Keith had been killed? (Keith succinctly replies: "We still had two.") As Luck clutches his head in frustration, Claire reminds him to thank Firo as well. Without Firo's efforts, Keith would have had a tougher time moving around. Berga asks if Firo is all right, and Claire grins and says that Firo is fine.
In the same year as the San Gennaro incident, Firo asks Claire why he became a conductor – leading Claire to reminisce about the circus and the women he has encountered over the years. When Firo marvels at Claire's confidence with women, Claire reminds him that the people he meets are only characters in 'his world'. He knows that he will run into them again if he needs to; if he does not, it means they were not all that important to him in the first place. He is hardly lonely as it is, and adds that he never felt lonely even when the circus broke up; he is sure he will meet his troupe members again someday, from his boss to Cookie and the rest.
Firo wonders what he means by Cookie, and Claire recounts how he 'tamed' Cookie back in the winter of 1920.
In December, Claire learns of the Gandors' ongoing turf war with the Runorata Family from Luck over the telephone, and promises to take a train over to New York at the end of the month to help them out. In the ensuing weeks, he secures a spot as one of the conductors on the New York-bound transcontinental luxury express Flying Pussyfoot - one of the fasted trains available. He also contacts the railroad company to inform them that he will be taking leave once the Flying Pussyfoot arrives at its destination. At some point on December 29, Claire tries out the Rail Tracer story on the Flying Pussyfoot's bartender Jon Panel. Jon dismisses it as hogwash.
On the evening of December 30, Claire and an older conductor prepare for the departure of the Flying Pussyfoot from Chicago's Union Station, dressed in the Flying Pussyfoot's custom white uniforms. Claire is disappointed to learn that Tony - soon to retire - will not be working alongside him, but duly sees him off and focuses on checking boarding passengers against his passenger list. When he stops a lone young boy and asks for his name, the boy introduces himself as Czeslaw Meyer. Later, when most of the passengers have boarded, he notices a young woman standing alone on the platform. Concerned, he warns her of their imminent departure and asks if she dropped something; she shakes her head, and boards the train.
Claire says to himself that with someone as pretty as that woman on board, he is suddenly much more eager to get to work. Stretching, he boards the last car and enters the conductor's compartment. Not long after, they depart for New York's Pennsylvania Station.
Several hours into the journey, the middle-aged conductor speaks to Claire for the first time, prompting Claire to really look at him for the first time since the journey began. The older conductor comments on the loneliness and fear that the receding landscapes and tunnels often inflict on those in their profession, and Claire emphatically agrees, confiding that he has heard so many scary stories from other conductors while on the job that it can be hard for him to fall asleep. No matter how many times he tells their colleagues that he is no good with scary stories, they just keep telling them all the same.
Despite Claire's claim that he is 'no good' with such stories, his eyes shine brightly as he talks. What is more, he eagerly launches into a retelling of the Rail Tracer legend when he realizes that the older conductor has never heard of it. Right before he can reveal the one way to prevent the Rail Tracer from coming, the older conductor stops him so that he can perform the period check-in with the engineers. Claire tries to resume his story once the conductor switches on-and-off the exterior lamps, but gamely agrees to listen to the story that the older conductor wants to tell first.
The older conductor's story involves a group of 'ghosts' called Lemures, whose leader was locked up by the United States' federal government. Outraged, the Lemures planned to take over a hundred people hostages - including a Senator's family - and privately negotiate an exchange with the government, forcing them to make a decision before 'the train' reached New York.
Claire takes a step back, asking his superior if he means Senator Manfred Beriam and the Flying Pussyfoot. The conductor - revealing himself to be a Lemur - announces that the Lemures' plan on using the hostages as a shield once they reach New York while they make their escape. Claire retreats further, bumping into the wall, and when he asks who the Lemures' leader is, the older conductor refers to one Master Huey who is due to be interviewed by the US Department of Justice in one day - the same day the Flying Pussyfoot is due to arrive in New York.
When Claire asks why the Lemur is telling him all this, the Lemur explains that he is emulating Huey's mercy by informing Claire of the reason for his death. He pulls a handgun out of his coat and aims it at Claire's head - revealing that unlike Claire's story, his has no way for anyone to be spared. With that, he fires.
The instant the Lemur pulls the trigger, Claire kicks the gun out of his hand and catches it, immediately aiming it at the man's head. He rejects the Lemur's statement, pointing out that a person can easily be spared if they kill their would-be murderers first, and then rejects the Lemur's plea for him to stop. Right before he kills the Lemur, he reveals that the only way to prevent the Rail Tracer from coming is to believe the story - and if the Rail Tracer is already present, to avoid it until sunrise. In a cold, dispassionate voice, he tells the Lemur that his death will awaken the Rail Tracer, and that the Rail Tracer will go after the Lemures.
Claire shoots his superior through the forehead. Blood splatters against the walls right as the compartment door opens, in walking a man dressed in the special white conductor's uniform. Claire points the gun at him and demands he identify himself, but the man is surprisingly nonchalant about both the gun and his disguise failing so quickly. Observing how calm the fake conductor is despite the clear threat to his life, Claire tosses the gun to the floor and decides he will just have to torture him instead.
While the fake conductor laughs at the idea, Claire unlocks the door leading to the outside and crawls under the train, hooking his legs around metal fittings. The fake conductor follows after him, and he immediately reaches up and grabs the man's trousers, pulling him under the train and hooking his arms under the imposter's shoulders in a full nelson. Claire proceeds to torture the imposter by grinding his hand against the fast-moving ground - and then more and more of his arm when he refuses to talk.
By the time the fake conductor's arm is gone up to the shoulder, he has confessed almost everything about himself: his name is Dune, he belongs to the Russo Family, and that he and the rest of a Russo-expelled faction led by Ladd Russo plan to hijack the Flying Pussyfoot - the details of which he shares in turn. Claire has one final question: he wants to know where Dune got such an exclusive uniform. Snickering and pain-addled, Dune reveals that he killed a conductor named Tony in Chicago and stole his attire.
Dune immediately realizes his mistake and tries to pass what he just said off as a lie, but his backpedaling comes far too late. Enraged, Claire presses his right hand to the back of Dune's head and pushes it toward the ground incrementally, giving Dune enough time to shout, "What the hell are you?" Claire gives Dune his full name and his alias 'Vino', and holds his face against the moving rails.
Once Dune is dead, Claire climbs back into the conductor's compartment and flings Dune's corpse down onto the floor. Coated in Dune's blood, he uses his finger to draw two bloody red stripes below his eyes and takes on the persona of the Rail Tracer.
Claire resolves to honor his two duties as a conductor and the Gandors' sworn brother: to deal with both the Lemures and Ladd Russo's White Suits while protecting the passengers, and to ensure that the train never stops or slows during transit and thus make him late to meet the Gandors. He achieves the latter by repeatedly returning to the conductor's compartment to perform the scheduled light checks in-between killings throughout the journey. He mostly moves via the train's exterior rather the interior, picking off Lemures and White Suits by pulling them through open windows.
One of his first kills is done in this fashion: he pulls a Lemur called George through the open window of a freight car, killing him. He does the same to his horrified companion. Clinging to the side of the freight car, with one arm hooked around the Lemur's broken neck, Claire reflects on his upbringing with the Gandors and his promise to do his duty by them in New York. He reaffirms that he cannot afford to let the hijackers stop the train, only to realize that somewhere along the way he'd put the Gandors to the side in favor of the passengers, whom he is genuinely worried about.
He smiles bashfully at the thought that he has honestly liked his work as a conductor, and disposes of the Lemur's corpse. A problem quickly makes itself apparent: a third Lemur had witnessed him dispatch the second Lemur guarding the freight car and gone to contact his comrades via a transmitter in the freight room. Knowing that the room's lock is broken, Claire climbs inside the train and seizes the Lemur, hauls him through the window and under the train, and holds him against the ground like he had Dune. In the process, he notices an unfamiliar woman poking her head out from underneath the fittings. Distracted at the thought that she might be a Lemur or a White Suit, Claire accidentally lets the Lemur's legs get caught in the wheels, causing his lower half to separate from his body.
Not entirely sure if the Lemur is dead or alive, Claire flings the body back into the car; his excessive force causes the torso to hit the ceiling before falling to the floor. Returning his attention to the woman, Claire decides that her clothes rule her out as one of the hijackers, and that she is most likely a stowaway since he does not recognize her face. His murderous intent briefly superseded by his role as a conductor, he asks her if he can see her ticket.
The woman screams and crawls away from him as fast as she can. Angered, Claire considers either tossing her off the train or publicly shaming her at the station before remembering that he is supposed to be a monster, not a conductor. He returns to the freight room and collects a few ropes, tying a long one around his waist and pocketing a thin, short rope inside his coat before returning to the hunt, passing the wireless transmitter on his way out.
Later on, Claire kills two White Suits in a third-class compartment and tosses their corpses out the window, followed by three Lemur corpses which are also inside the room. From there, he prepares to return to the rear car for the periodic check-in - only to spot Czes and three White Suits heading inside a freight room. He climbs out of the train and enters the freight room through a trapdoor in its floor, where he proceeds to eavesdrop on the conversation behind several crates.
Czes reveals his true colors to the group's leader Ladd, proposing that in exchange for the White Suits killing all the passengers in the dining car, he will reward them with the profits he plans on earning off his smuggled explosives. Claire also learns that Czes intends to sell the explosives to the Runoratas - a move that would surely doom the Gandors.
Negotiations fall through, and Ladd blows Czes' head off with his shotgun. Claire is surprised that he completely failed to pick up on Czes' dark personality on the platform, no longer thinking of him as a child. At the sound of two passengers talking outside the freight room, Claire retreats through the trapdoor to the underside of the car, positive that Czes has been killed. Reasoning that Czes' death is a good thing, he decides to head to second class in search of the White Suits...only to remember that he still has to make the scheduled signal.
He resumes course for the rear car, checking for Lemures along the way. For some reason a 'weird gunman' is hanging around the car, but a tattooed young man and a giant lead him away in time for Claire to make the signal. Afterwards, Claire crawls under the train back toward the second-class carriages, and upon peeking into one of their windows is perplexed to see two third-class passengers where he should have seen White Suits. One of them is Doctor Fred, who is currently attempting to treat the wounds of the other third-class passenger Jack.
The door opens and in walk two White Suits who were present when Czes died. While Fred and the male White Suit exchange words, the female White Suit makes eye contact with Claire and regards him quietly. Thinking her a little weird for her lack of reaction, Claire decides to leave the room be for the time being - only to hear two sets of footsteps pounding against the roof. He hoists himself upward to see a woman chasing after a man in white.
Claire descends under the car and returns to the connecting platform outside the third class carriage. Peeking into the third-class car, he frowns at the sight of Czes walking down the corridor - Czes, whom he saw die only a few minutes back - and enters the car, following the boy into the compartment he had entered. He is inordinately pleased when Czes identifies him as the Rail Tracer, and promptly announces his intention to kill the false child.
Panicked, Czes shoves his sleeve up and takes out a sharp, scalpel-like blade, which he slashes at Claire's throat. Claire grabs the offending arm with his right hand, and uses his left to tear out a chunk of Czes' throat. Taking the scalpel, he kicks Czes' small body to the wall and prepares to leave, thinking that Czes is dead for certain this time around. The sensation of Czes' blood shivering on his hand makes him stop, and he watches the blood return to Czes' body.
As soon as Czes' throat wound closes, he cheerfully remarks that he'd expected something far worse from the Rail Tracer, and with a giggle reveals that he is immortal. Claire cuts off and rejects his next question, correctly predicting that Czes was going to ask him to kill the dining car passengers, and with a well-practiced throw buries the scalpel into Czes' forehead. Once Czes regenerates, he sneers that there isn't anything Claire can do to him that he hasn't experienced already, having been tortured in the past.
Claire dismisses Czes' past experiences as 'hobbyist stuff', rattling off a list of counter-examples he has learned for the sake of his profession. He snatches the scalpel with his teeth when Czes tries to stab him with it along with the fingers that grip it, and bites Czes' fingers cleanly off. Spitting out the flesh and scalpel, Claire correctly deduces that Czes fears the unknown - that there is some unknown level of pain that he has yet to experience. Wiping away Czes' tears, he promises to inflict that unknown pain upon Czes until he forgets to come back to life.
Claire proceeds to torture Czes until he cannot take the pain anymore and tries to jump out the window. Though Claire manages to grab him just in time, he ends up falling out the window too - but he catches the piping between the train's wheels with his legs before he can hit the ground. Curious at what grinding off body parts would do to an immortal, he whittles off Czes' legs and right arm against the ground and is about to do the same to his remaining limb when he spots the stowaway woman from earlier. He calls out to her, causing her to scream and flee under the train at a speed that impresses even him.
The woman's presence reminds him of the main problem of the Lemures and White Suits; irritated at himself for getting distracted, Claire uses the thin rope to tie Czes into the space between the wheels and leaves him there. Figuring that he owes the woman for getting him back on track, he decides to let her live and turn her over to the cops as thanks. However, he fully intends to return to punishing Czes to the point of insanity once things are resolved.
Reaching the dining car, Claire peeks through a window and finds two Lemures standing guard on opposite ends. Crawling under the car to turn off its electric generator, Claire climbs back up and pulls one Lemur out a window, and then runs along the ornamentation attached to the car's exterior wall to the other end, where he pulls out the second Lemur. Before he kills the man, he asks him to applaud him achieving such a feat on the first try.
After switching the generator back on, Claire peeks into the dining car again and is disconcerted to see more Lemures. He dispatches one on the coupling in view of the second Lemur, who flees for First Class. Claire decides to let him go and heads for the rear car to make another light signal. There are two passengers inside the conductors' compartment when he enters it - one a smiling blond, and the other a wounded man in a black suit.
Claire asks them not to enter the conductors' compartment without his permission, at which the blond apologizes and assures him they plan on leaving. Claire observes the second man's injury and wonders who he is, only for a knife to pierce through the wall and nick his ear before he can receive an answer. He excuses himself and climbs onto the roof of the rear car, where he finds Ladd Russo and the young woman who'd chased Ladd on the roof earlier - the same young woman he talked to on the platform - in a face-off.
Through Ladd's recounting of information he gleaned from a now dead Lemur, Claire learns that the young woman's name is Chané and that she is the daughter of Huey. What is more, he learns that Huey did not order the hijacking and that Chané was against the plan from the start.
Chané draws her knives back in anticipation of an attack, but Claire pinches both blades between his fingers in a move that announces his presence to the two of them. He chastises her for poking a hole in the compartment - pointing out his nicked ear - and demands that she apologize. When she indicates that she is mute, he apologizes for being in the wrong. Walking past Ladd, he tells them to resume fighting, adding that he will kill whomever survives.
Ladd demands that Claire explain himself, tossing a knife at him once he blows him off. Claire neatly catches the knife and proceeds to dodge every punch Ladd throws at him, landing a hit of his own in the process, and asks Chané if everything Ladd said was through. When she nods, he offers to help her out in the fight. Furious, Ladd points out that Claire has been killing off both his people and the Lemures – so him helping out Chané makes no sense. Claire counters that after listening to Ladd earlier, Chané seems to be one of the good guys.
Increasingly upset, Ladd launches a tirade of character put-downs and accusations at Claire, accusing him of hypocrisy, of being the sort of guy who would save children shooting at him on a battlefield if he felt sorry for them. Claire agrees that he would do exactly that, because he is strong to the point where he never has to worry about the possibility that he might be killed. In accordance with solipsist philosophy, he explains that the world is his and that it revolves around him: as long as he believes he can do something, he can do it.
Soon pushed to the brink, Ladd attacks Claire again and again without success and is soon humiliated when Claire whips out his pistol and shoots Ladd's ear. Training the smoking muzzle on Ladd's forehead, he proclaims that he had not used the pistol until now because bare hands were enough for a 'nobody'. He tells Ladd to die wallowing in humiliation, in order to make amends for Tony. With a laugh, Ladd asks how Claire plans to 'slaughter' him.
Brooding, Claire looks toward the direction of the coupling and spots Lua Klein - the female White Suit - climbing up onto the roof. Grinning, he asks Ladd if the lady in the white dress from earlier is his gal, and Ladd confirms that she is his fiancée. With a vicious, cheerful smile, Claire predicts that Ladd will voluntarily jump off the train. Ladd turns, following Claire's gaze straight to Lua - and breaks out into a cold sweat. At the protective horror in Ladd's expression, Claire takes out a special rope looped at both ends from his pocket and reminds Ladd of his prediction.
Ladd rushes over to Lua while Claire unwinds the rope, but even with his head start he does not reach her in time; Claire flings one end of the rope and lassos Lua's neck, and then throws the other end and lassos a passing post with a hook on it. Just as he predicted, Ladd leaps toward Lua and wraps his arm around her, using his right hand to grab hold of the rope. The two of them are whisked off the train.
Claire watches Ladd punch the post and crumple to the ground along with Lua, and remarks to Chané that while Lua appears to be alive he cannot make a judgment call on Ladd. Since he said earlier that he would kill whomever survived, he is not sure what to do. Upon confirming that Huey is Chané's father, he asks her if she would rather fight him to the death or hire him to kill Huey's attackers.Chané's expression indicates that she is worried Claire might try to steal Huey's immortality, and he guesses that she feels like only she can truly protect her father as family - and since Claire is not family, she cannot trust him. Along with the options 'hire' and 'fight', Claire suggests a new option: marriage. If she and Claire marry, then they will be able to protect Huey together as a family. He promises to sincerely love her (though if she prefers he supposes Huey could alternatively adopt him), and insists that he is serious: he will not sell her out, and he has no interest in becoming immortal.
A gunshot rings out, and Chané takes a bullet to her shoulder courtesy of her comrade Spike the sniper. After making sure that her wound is not life-threatening, Claire advises her to jump into the upcoming river to avoid arrest after carving her response into the roof for him. Noting that Chané's eyes are similar to his, he points out that Chané left proof of her existence on him by nicking his ear, something he finds significant even if it was by accident. Inviting her to throw a knife at him, he takes off in the direction of Spike, dodging every bullet the sniper shoots at him.
After taking care of Spike and throwing him off the train, Claire heads straight for the locomotive to check on the situation, arriving there right as several explosions go off inside some of the first class cars. The train's elderly engineers ask him if they should bring the train to a halt and he emphatically tells them to do the exact opposite, lying that a posse of train robbers of horseback are currently following the train and shooting at it. His lie works, and the brothers vow to run the engine at full speed.
Claire departs with the excuse that he needs to prepare to evacuate the passengers, thanking the engineers when they warn him to be careful. What he really wants to say is thank you for all you've done for me up till now, but he cannot under the circumstances. He reflects that even though the world revolves around him there are a lot of people he is indebted to, and frets that he will not be able to look the Gandors in the face ever again should the train be late.
Claire heads back to the rear car via the train's exterior, pausing briefly to check on the dining car passengers along the way. He moves on once he confirms they are in the process of tying up several Lemures and White Suits, and comes across a passenger called Turner aiming a rifle at the stowaway he encountered before. Becoming increasingly angry with Turner as he watches the confrontation, he finally decides to help out the stowaway by dropping Turner off the train. When the stowaway pleads with Claire to kill her before Turner can, Claire slips behind Turner and dislocates his shoulders.
Before he can dump Turner off the train, the stowaway picks up the rifle and pleads with him to spare Turner's life - his, and all the rest, offering her own life up in place of the others. Taken aback, Claire asks her why she would go so far. She explains that she inherited a love for trains from her father – a railroad technician – and cannot bear to watch Claire sully the railroad's pride with all the blood he has spilled. Without hesitation, she acknowledges that she is just as guilty of sullying its pride as he is.
Delighted and entertained by such logic, Claire notes that she has once again reminded him that he is conductor before pulling out a bloody, torn ticket from his pocket. He offers it to the stowaway – Rachel – on the condition that she keep quiet about his conductor gig. As he walks into the third-class carriage, he remarks that the stowaway is 'pretty amazing' and that he might have fallen for her had he not met Chané - though he muses it is not unlikely that they will meet again. He also adds that he has only killed Lemures and White Suits so far, at which Rachel invokes Czes and calls him a liar.
Czes vaguely suggests that she ask Czes about himself, pulling upon the door to the compartment where he'd tortured Czes earlier. There, he finds a woman in a bright dress leaning more than halfway out the window, crying out for her companion Isaac. In an ensuing series of events, Miria, Isaac, and Czes fall off the train, leading Isaac to try and lasso something - anything - only to fall short. Rachel grabs hold of his rope, but her injured leg cannot hold the weight and the lasso is torn from her grip.
Claire catches the lasso just in time and passes it onto to Donny, the giant currently dumping the smuggled cargo from the freight room into the river. He is surprised when Donny unexpectedly identifies him as the Rail Tracer; he also decides to turn a blind eye to him and his companions stealing the smuggled cargo for the sake of the Gandor Family.
With Isaac, Miria, and Czes taken care of, Claire arrives at the roof of the rear car and considers the tattooed youth Jacuzzi Splot and his girlfriend Nice Holystone before him. Recognizing Jacuzzi to be the leader of the robber gang, and that Jacuzzi intends to slay him-the-Rail Tracer, Claire waxes lyrical over Jacuzzi's eyes as the sun rises and decides to let Jacuzzi defeat him in accordance with the Rail Tracer's legend.
Jacuzzi charges forward and tackles Claire off the train, pulling the pin on a grenade as they fall. Claire halts their descent by hooking his legs between the wheels and urges Jacuzzi to throw away the grenade if he does not want to injure his girlfriend; Jacuzzi tosses it just in time. Claire enters the conductors' compartment through the window and sets Jacuzzi on his feet, muttering that only idiots think about going out in a blaze of glory before they start fighting.
He tells Jacuzzi to go see doctor Fred in Second Class' Room Three, and sends him off with the advice to not keep women waiting. Once alone, he empties the contents of the intact grenade he had claimed from Jacuzzi over Dune's faceless corpse, and then shoots at it with the Lemur conductor's pistol in order to ensure that the corpse will be mistaken for 'Claire Stanfield' by the police.
Claire returns to the roof and discovers Chané's message carved into a portion of it. The message pleads for him to find her in Manhattan. Though he is a little put out by how challenging it will be to find her – and that she did not directly answer his question – he is keen to consider her message his first love letter and removes it from the roof as a souvenir.Either before he finds her messag or after – at the very least, the moment the train passes over the bridge – Claire is moving along the side of the train when he spots Cookie the bear next to Jacuzzi's retrieval team by the river bank. He has no idea why Cookie of all bears is by the river, and is hit by a wave of nostalgia for his circus days; after briefly wondering if "coincidences like this" really do happen, he reaffirms that seeing Cookie is proof that the world truly belongs to him.
The Rail Tracer vanishes with December 31's morning light.
Once Claire arrives at Pennsylvania Station around 2:00 PM, he gives one of the station's staff a letter to the Gandors that instructs them to meet him in an alley near the building. Claire wastes no time in getting down to business when they reunite, wanting to get to killing as soon as possible since he is in need of some 'real' exercise. That, and he has to go search for someone who might marry him.
When Luck refers to Claire as 'Claire', he responds by saying that Claire is officially dead, as far as the records are concerned. Luck points out that legally dead people cannot get married, and a dismayed Claire immediately wonders how much it costs to buy a new name before suggesting that his brothers call him Vino or Rail Tracer for now. Berga finds this unspeakably lame, and the two start brawling in the alleyway while Luck and Keith look on.
The fight eventually comes to an end; impressed, Claire remarks that Berga must have gotten tougher considering that he emerged from the fight unscathed. He follows the brothers back to Coraggioso, where everyone else is absent except for Tick Jefferson, and once again asks who the brothers want dead. He warns them that he will have to psyche himself up if they want Don Bartolo Runorata murdered - since Bartolo once hired him for a few jobs - but adds that he can kill capo Gustavo Bagetta with no problems.
Luck requests that Claire not do anything, and clarifies that all he wants Claire to do for now is walk around town as a deterrent.
On January 01, 1932, Claire and Tick buy Tick a new set of scissors and return to Coraggioso's basement, where they spread the scissors out on the table between them. When Coraggioso waitress Edith enters the basement, Tick greets her from his chair while Claire takes one of the scissors and jabs its tips into the spaces between his five fingers, faster and faster, opening and closing the blades every time he strikes. Tick admiringly calls such a feat 'cool', and expresses an interest in attempting it himself. Claire advises him not to, warning him that it is extremely painful if one accidentally cuts oneself. Convinced, Tick compromises by deciding to try it out on his next torture victim instead.
Tick then calls to the Gandors in the next room and informs them of Edith's presence. Edith confesses to the brothers that she has betrayed them, and Claire occupies himself by juggling five of Tick's scissors while the brothers huddle and try to figure out how they are supposed to punish a woman. Growing bored, Claire whispers something in Tick's ear that leads Tick to ask Luck if he can cut Edith's hair. The brothers settle on this as suitable punishment, which only further solidifies Claire's belief that they are not suited for the mafia life after all. Tick cuts Edith's hair right then and their, while Claire in the meantime attempts to juggle twenty scissors at once.
After the haircut, Edith confides to the brothers that she is looking for a hitman named Vino. Claire stops juggling the scissors and says, "You rang?"
Edith explains that an information broker called Henry offered her a deal: he would sell her information on her missing boyfriend Roy Maddock if she could scrounge up info on Vino and his connection to the Flying Pussyfoot. Claire follows her to The Daily Days, where he promptly kidnaps Henry and takes him for a joyride aboard a night train. Henry is forced to ask Claire his questions while Claire dangles him off the rear platform, just like Claire had done with Dune.
Claire eventually hauls Henry up to the train's roof, where he proceeds to ask Henry two questions of his own: one involves the whereabouts of Chané; and the other involves information on how to buy a new name - Henry tells Claire all about a legendary assassin who has been selling his name – Felix Walken – to interested buyers (who in turn have sold the name to others).Claire later seeks out one of the so-called Felix Walkens to negotiate buying the name, which he eventually buys from a thirty-something year old woman.
On the morning of January 02, Claire dons extremely thick glasses, a fake mustache, and a fake beard. Thus disguised, he heads to Gustavo's meeting place (a Wall Street hotel) and enters the pertinent room, where Gustavo and his subordinates are meeting along with the hitmen Maria Barcelito, Alkins, and Raz Smith. Claire announces that while he is flattered they went to the trouble of calling him (believing him to be the legendary Felix), he already has a previous job that takes precedence (he does not believe in double-booking). Gustavo tries to appeal to him with the promise that he will have the opportunity to fight 'Vino', and when that fails decides to hire him to kidnap Roy and Eve Genoard instead. Claire agrees, and the two talk rates.
Gustavo gives Claire Roy's and Eve's location, which turns out to be the home of Keith and his wife Kate. Claire shows up at Keith's house, busts the door down to the room Roy and Eve are in, and asks if they are whom he believes they are. Roy demands to know what Claire did to Kate, but Claire responds by punching Roy's solar plexus. Roy passes out, and Eve runs to him in fright.
Claire tells Eve that he is impressed she ran to him instead of away from, and, jabbing his revolver into Roy's back, assures her that he did not hurt Kate as she is currently out and about. He has Eve stand; hoisting Roy over his shoulder, he mutters that they have to hurry so he can deliver them to the Daily Days. Roy comes to during the trek, and Claire marches them both to the Daily Days' back door at gunpoint. He finds Smith and a Runorata subordinate talking outside the entrance, and Smith remarks to Claire that hitmen like himself and Claire are guaranteed to have a 'few screws loose' in their love for their job. Claire warns him that all his talk of sanity and craziness makes him sound 'incredibly lame', and forces Roy and Eve through the doorway.The three head up to a third floor storeroom, where Luck, Berga, and Keith are in the middle of confronting Gustavo, Maria, and various Runorata subordinates. Claire leads Roy and Eve inside the room, casually apologizing for interrupting. Gustavo thanks him, and proposes a new job for the famous handyman Felix Walken: that he tie up the Gandors so tight that they cannot move. Claire replies that such a job would require a fee of 'thirty quadrillion dollars' before shooing Roy and Eve out of the room with the warning, "Hide, go hide."
Disgusted, Berga wonders what Claire is doing in such a 'getup' while Maria asks Luck where Vino is. Claire raises his hand: "You rang?". The Runoratas freeze, and Claire takes off the glasses and fake bead; wincing, he introduces himself as Felix Walken (aka Vino, or the Rail Tracer), and recounts his meeting with Old Felix. He interrupts himself to whip out a small pistol and fires it at Alkins, just as another gunshot goes off. Alkins crumples to the floor, holding a smoking gun, and his bullet buries itself into the wall behind Claire. Grinning, Claire attempts to look cool by quoting the movie The Jazz Singer: "You ain't heard nothin' yet!"
Maria is the first to break the ensuing silence, excited at the thought of being able to kill both the legendary Vino and Felix Walken in one swoop. Perplexed, Claire asks the Gandors whom he is supposed to kill anyway, to which Luck reminds him that he still wants the situation to be resolved peacefully - much to Claire's chagrin. Claire finally mentions that he thinks Roy and Eve were Kate's guests, so maybe Luck should try to keep them safe.
Luck instantly heads for the door to find the two, immensely irritated that Claire failed to tell him sooner. Claire notices that Keith frowned at the mention of Kate's name, but before he can comment on it Gustavo bolts for the door on the opposite side of the room. He tries to aim his gun at Gustavo's back, but Maria uses one of her katanas to knock the gun out of Claire's hand, giving Gustavo the chance to escape. Maria whistles at that, since she had been aiming for Claire's wrist.
Claire asks her to knock it off, since he is not exactly keen on killing women. Mad that he is making fun of her for her gender, Maria slashes her katana down at him - only for Claire to whip out one of the scissors he had nabbed off Tick earlier and use them to block the blade. As he catches the katana between the blades of Tick's scissors, he corrects Maria that he is not making fun of her because she is a woman; he is making fun of her because she is weak.
Maria draws her other katana and tries to stab Claire' abdomen with it, but Claire takes out another pair of Tick's scissors and uses it to block that katana too - still holding off the other one. As the two hold their own against each other, Smith off to the side takes out his guns and prepares to open fire on both of them - only for Berga to step in and pummel him before he can shoot Claire.
The duel continues, culminating in Claire pressing the tips of Tick's scissors against Maria's throat. His upper hand assured, he looks over to the Runorata subordinates and asks what they plan on doing now. Several of them turn to Keith, click their heels together, and announce that they will be leaving. Keith nods, and they exit the room. Claire and Maria are visibly dumbfounded, and Berga explains that half of the men were moles who helped secure an agreement between the Gandors and Bartolo.
Their exchange is interrupted when Claire leaps to the side, hurling the scissors in his right hand toward the opposite side of the room. A gunshot rings out, and a bullet grazes Maria's hair and buries itself into the wall; at the same time, the scissors bury themselves into the shoulder of the out-cold Smith, whose body Alkins is using as a shield. Smoke curls upward from Alkins' gun.
Claire drops Tick's other pair of scissors and engages in a gun battle with Alkins, dodging every bullet the other assassin shoots. He exclaims that he had thought Alkins looked like the strongest of the three assassins back at the hotel, and Alkins mutters that he is relieved the rumors about Vino do not seem to be faked. Claire points out that Alkins' hirer Gustavo seems to be all washed up, and wonders why Alkins is still carrying out his job orders. Alkins says that he has a personal interest in "Vino's head," and adds that he cannot simply up and betray his client even if he is gone.
Claire is mystified by this, considering that it only makes sense for someone 'weak' like the other assassins (compared to him, who is 'strong') to give up or run, then outright laughs when Alkins brings up the 'pride of a hitman'. Laughing and laughing, he argues that there is no pride in their profession - the second you kill somebody, you are scum to society. Nobody trusts a hitman.
Keith presses the muzzle of his handgun to the back of Claire's head, cutting his rant short with an order to not scoff at how others live. Claire attempts to counter with the point that Keith and his brother are different from the three assassins, but Keith denies this: he says that they are the same. Claire finally turns around, meets Keith's gaze, and apologizes - he had forgotten that Keith is a "stickler for that dumb pride stuff" too.
Murder blazes to life in Keith's eyes, and he slips past Claire to kick Alkins to the floor before he can carry out another attack.In the aftermath of the Runorata raid, Claire grumbles about how he had gotten more exercise on the Flying Pussyfoot before wandering off to track down Chané.
About a week and a few days after the Flying Pussyfoot arrives in New York, Claire visits Alveare in search of Firo, only to learn that Firo is currently showing a couple of his friends (Isaac and Miria) around his casino. Feeling that it would be rude to join their outing, Claire exits into an alleyway and prepares to head home – and discovers Rachel and Czes conversing outside.
He greets the two with amicable ease, and wonders out loud since when they were so friendly with one another. As neither recognize him without all the bloodstains, they ask who he is; still smiling, Claire indirectly identifies himself as the Rail Tracer by assuring Czes and Rachel that he plans to let the two of them off for their misdemeanors on board the train.
Rachel's old fear from the train wells up in her heart, while Czes screams and flees into the alleyway like a child possessed. Now alone with the Young Conductor, Rachel looks him up and down and finds that he looks altogether pleasant and ordinary for a bloodlust-filled predator. With another smile, Claire suggests that the two of them take lunch at the Alveare – as it happens, he is in need of a lady's advice.The two of them enter the speakeasy to mild interest from the Martillos and patrons, who soon return to their own business. Once they claim a table and place their orders, Claire says that she should call him by his new name 'Felix Walken' rather than his old name 'Claire Stanfield'. A little perplexed but not brave enough to ask him why, she instead simply gives her name as Rachel and asks him what advice she needed.
Claire explains that he is in love with a certain woman – not Rachel, he insists – and asks how he should confess his love. Despite his lack of sensitivity, and Rachel's own lack of 'normalcy', Rachel decides to help him as carefully and cautiously as possible. They proceed to converse over his romantic chances with Chané, Claire's past failed romantic proposals, how Claire feels about Chané, and how Chané could potentially feel about him.
Once Claire affirms that he already asked an information broker where Chané lives, Rachel suggests that he buy Chané a gift and see how she reacts: if Chané really is trying to kill him, she will probably react differently than if she were in love with him. Claire starts mulling over knives and military uniforms, but seriously takes into consideration Rachel's suggestion of 'everyday clothes' instead.
He thanks Rachel for everything and calls on waitress Lia Lin-Shan to put their lunch on Firo's tab – giving his name as Felix Walken, rather than Claire Stanfield – and leaves the speakeasy.
During the next several days, Claire acquires an elegant white dress with lots of inner straps for knives and sends the dress to the Genoard Family manor on Millionaires' Row. Attached to the dress is a simple message: [From: the Rail Tracer].
On the day the dress arrives, Claire loiters on the streets outside the Genoard manor in hopes of spotting Chané. When she exits the manor, followed at a distance by a few delinquents, she is wearing the dress he sent her. Not long afterwards, an automobile trundles down the street and comes to a stop several meters in front of Chané and the others. From the automobile emerges Graham Specter, a blond mechanic who knocks down the delinquents with a large wrench and spirits Chané away via the automobile.
As the delinquents sprint back toward the manor, Claire – who witnessed the events leading up to the kidnapping - murmurs that he did not expect Chané to wear the clothes he sent her so soon, but that he is happy that she is. He wonders who the blond in blue was, whether or not he should go after the automobile, and why Chané went along with the blond so willingly.
Claire eventually decides to go after the automobile and traces it to an abandoned factory, blending in with a large number of Jacuzzi's gang by the time they have blown a hole in the factory wall. Jacuzzi, from where he has interrupted Graham and Chané's fight inside the factory, is surprised to see his friends; Graham, meanwhile, points out that the kidnapping note he left behind specifically asked Jacuzzi to come alone. When all of the gang members individually respond that they came to the factory 'on their own', Claire does the same.Graham accepts this logic, much to the exasperation of his lieutenant Shaft, but Jacuzzi muses that one of the "me too's" sounded unfamiliar. He, Nice, and the rest of the gang members turn to look at Claire, and Chané takes the opportunity to lunge at him - only, her knife hesitates before it reaches his neck.
Claire assures her that it is all right if she still wants to kill him, confesses that he does truly love her, and then asks for her hand in marriage. The look in her eyes is enough to imply that she is frightened, and he promises her that he will not destroy her world but expand it, if she can only put her faith in him.
Impatient over being thoroughly excluded from the conversation, Graham asks if they could kindly return to the topic at hand. Claire condescendingly gives him 'permission' to do so, although he declares that he will 'step in' should Graham still intend to confront Chané and her friends. Graham ignores Claire's opening to let him retreat and demands to know who he is, to which Claire responds that he is Felix Walken.
Claire soon reveals that he is the one who 'dropped' Ladd from the Flying Pussyfoot, and Graham immediately attacks him. The two's ensuing fight is relatively one-sided, with Claire effortlessly evading Graham's variety of tools and combat tactics. Even so, Claire compliments Graham on exceeding his expectations, and even suggests that Graham is stronger than his idol Ladd. When Graham later demands that Claire apologize to the laws of physics and the power of a swung wrench, Claire credits his various fights against Cookie as what trained him to withstand such impacts.
It takes several minutes of fighting before Graham realizes that Claire has not actually executed a single counterattack against him, after which he concedes the fight and admits he cannot lay a finger on him. He announces that Claire is Ladd's enemy to fight, and offers Jacuzzi and his gang open access to the abandoned factory before taking his leave.
With Graham's gang finally out of the picture, Claire takes Chané's hands and tells her – emphasizing only her – the name of his soul, an act he compares to taking a vow. He finally gives her his true name – Claire Stanfield – and though he is already a little embarrassed at how long it took for him to introduce himself, he decides to embarrass himself further: he says that they can start off as friends if that is what Chané wants, but asks if she thinks she might be able to fall in love with him someday. She looks away, but the light pink flush of her cheeks is all the answer he needs.
In September, the delinquents send Jack to fetch Claire and ask for his help. Jack and Claire meet in a gloomy room, where Jack brings Claire up to speed on what has just happened to the gang: the delinquents were paid a visit by negotiators from the Gandors and the Martillo Family's chiamatore terrifying Ronny Schiatto, both factions confronting Jacuzzi's gang over them operating on Martillo turf without permission. Jack says that the gang is hiding in the abandoned factory for now, and pleads with Claire to join them so that they can negotiate with Ronny on equal terms.
Claire points out that he has no particular obligation to Jacuzzi's gang, but agrees to come if only for the sake of his "precious fiancée." He asks how Chané is doing, and is on alert as soon as Jack says that some weirdos scratched up Chané's face. Jack assures him that Chané is fine, but the assurance does not mollify Claire for long; Claire declares that he cannot allow these 'enemies' to get away with hurting Chané, let alone anyone who hurts a woman's face. When Jack informs him that the one responsible was also a woman, Claire pauses and then says that he firmly believes in gender equality.
Once Claire is finished changing clothes, he declares that the 'show' is about to begin – a show where he is the lead actor, and Chané the heroine – and once again quotes, "You ain't seen nothing yet."
Jack and Claire head to the abandoned factory, where they find Dallas Genoard busy talking up Jacuzzi and the rest of the delinquents, with Chané among them. Claire embraces her from behind, and as she relaxes into his arms, assures that everything will be all right now that he has arrived. Still hugging her, he turns the full weight of his gaze onto Dallas, who is instantly intimidated. Jacuzzi timidly interjects by calling Claire's true name, which Claire chastises him for before checking in with Chané once more. He says that he will make sure the gang comes to no harm, that he will deal with Luck, Ronny, and Huey, and that he will make whomever scratched Chané's face pay.
Once his attention returns to Dallas, he warns Dallas that anyone who wants to use him as a pawn had better know what they are doing when they do. He confirms that he overhead Dallas' speech to the gang, and lays out how he has interpreted the situation: Dallas is trying to use the gang as his pawns against the Larva group, the weirdos that Jack mentioned. Waving away everyone's surprise, he tells Dallas that he can go right ahead and use him and the gang, because he and the rest of them will use Dallas right back.
As Dallas breaks out into a cold sweat, Claire asks if he is hiding something else. Dallas is, though he is not sure to which specific secret Claire is referring.
Eventually agreements are reached and Dallas and Jacuzzi's gang leave the factory for the Larva's SoHo hideout, leaving Chané and Claire behind. Some time after, Tick and Maria arrive at the factory, with Maria intimidating Eve and Fang Lin-Shan via the threat of her katanas. Upon finding the factory seemingly empty, Maria draws one of her katanas and holds Fang at swordpoint – and Chané immediately throws a knife at Maria from where she stands in the shadows. As the two women face off, Tick spots Claire – also hidden in the shadows – and Claire, realizing that he has been found out, steps forward and asks if Tick is the Gandor negotiator.
Tick says that he is is happy to see Claire, as it has been a while since they last met, and Claire asks why the 'amigo-woman' is with him and why the Gandors would send their torture specialist to negotiate versus someone else. Tick explains that the Martillos have already seized control of the main talks, but the Gandors had to send someone – and so they sent Tick because he was free at the time.
Claire tells Chané that everyone is fine, since Tick is his friend and the 'amigo-woman' is weak. When Maria shivers, he remarks on the 'overreaction' and asks if perhaps she lost to someone recently. Her reaction is as good of an admission as any, and he assures her that 99.9% of the world is weak compared to him anyway, so she should not feel too upset.
He soon turns his attention to Eve, whom he remembers as a friend of Kate and Luck; however, Eve does not remember him as he was in disguise at the time. He asks what she is doing here, at which Fang hastily exclaims that she is the one loaning the gang the use of her house. Claire, admitting to being genuinely surprised for once, exclaims that he had not expected Dallas' little sister to be such a genial young lady.
At Dallas' name, Eve anxiously asks if he knows her brother. Her desperation is palpable, so Claire truthfully replies that Dallas is going to carry out an infiltration job with Jacuzzi's people. Right then, Jack returns to the factory and reports to Claire that everything is going to plan on the gang's end, and that it looks like they will be attacking Nebula's Mist Wall with Dallas the following day.
The next day, Claire, Chané, Tick, Maria, Fang, and Eve travel together to the Mist Wall and gather outside its entrance, the glass doors of which Maria peers through and reports that all the employees appear to be knocked out. Claires hedges that they are likely just asleep via sleeping gas rather than dead, but Fang is cautious enough to suggest to Eve that the two of them wait outside. Claire supports Fang's suggestion, and reassures Eve that he will at minimum guarantee Dallas' life.
Chané and Claire approach the front doors and examine the locks; when Maria and Tick join them, Claire plucks a hairpin out from Maria's hair and starts picking the lock. Moments before the lock is due to open, Ennis arrives, violently kicks the adjacent door off its hinges, and races inside. She stops just fo a moment to take in the sight of all the bodies, and then disappears inside the elevator.
As the party of four watch Ennis go, the lock clicks underneath Claire's fingers, and the door swings open. He concedes that Ennis "showed him up" with her total destruction of the other door, and then – despite the door being a type that opens outward – pushes against it. With a great creaking, the door bends inward. Claire vows that he will not let Ennis "get away" with it, muttering something about lodging a complaint with "the broad," and when Maria accuses him of immaturity retorts that there is no such thing as 'immature'; the line between adults and children is practically nonexistent.
Whatever Chané 'interjects' leads him to become quite bashful, and he warns that he may blush if she carries on. Tick exclaims that the two of them are all "lovey-dovey" causing Claire to actually blush and amicably thump Tick's back. The four of them proceed to enter the lobby and take the elevator up to the Babel Restaurant on the top floor.
The elevator reaches the top floor with no ado, only for someone to fling three knives at it in the seconds leading up to the doors opening. However, Claire catches all three knives with no fuss and even briefly juggles them as he exits onto the restaurant floor, followed by his three companions. Firo, one of several people in Babel, calls out Claire's real name in shock; Claire, who had not expected to see Firo either, greets him and remarks that he is still as baby-faced as ever.
Realizing that it has been a while since they last saw each other, Claire informs Firo that his current name is Felix Walken. Christopher Shaldred – the homunculus who threw the knives – demands to know who Claire is and how he entered the building, but Claire dismissively tells him to be quiet. Upon surveying the restaurant, he turns to Jacuzzi and remarks that things appear to have gone awry, although all the people 'napping' in the lobby seem to indicate that the knockout gas maneuver worked.
Christopher shares a glance with Adele at the word 'napping', and then laughs that Claire must be a comedian – no one could have seen all that blood and seriously thought the employees were asleep. However, his words are drowned out by cheering from Isaac and Miria from the kitchen, where they are crouched on either side of the prone body of the restaurant manager.
The corpse of the manager sits up, astounding everyone while perplexing Claire's group – none of whom know that Christopher had shot the manager dead. From the emergency stairwell, Hong Chi-Mei shouts a warning for Christopher to retreat posthaste: every single Nebula employee in the building is an immortal. Chi's revelation sends chills down the spines of several of the people in the restaurant, though it fails to leave much of an impression on Claire, Tick, and Maria.
Christopher is disinclined to leave, but his suggestion that Firo and Ennis can simply devour all the immortals does not go over well with Firo. Firo tells Ennis that they should leave, but Christopher needles Ennis by bringing up the likelihood that either she or Firo know how to create a near-perfect homunculus. As Firo leads Ennis toward the elevator, Adele – at Christopher's signal – charges toward them and thrusts her spear at Firo's head.
Claire intervenes in the second before the metal can pierce Firo's skull, catching the spearhead between his fingers. He coldly admonishes Adele for attacking his friend, and Firo advises the homunculi against antagonizing "the strongest human around." Still holding the spearhead, Claire observes that it is cross-shaped – and deduces that Adele must be the perpetrator behind Chané's facial cut.
Since he utters this realization out loud, Chris reacts by thrice firing at him with his knife-gun. Claire deflects all three bullets with the spearhead, deliberately angling the ricochet of one so that it grazes Adele's cheek, leaving behind the same sort of horizontal wound she had given Chané. Christopher asks if that was on purpose, and smiles a smile that Claire does not understand.
Tim enters the restaurant via the emergency stairwell and shouts at Christopher and the others to retreat, but Christopher – his gun and attention still trained on Claire – initially refuses. He changes his mind once Tim rephrases the request as an order, very deliberately points out that this means he now has 'free time', and immediately charges at Claire. Though Claire is surprised, he counters by striking forth his foot. Christopher, having predicted the move, jumps into the air; by stepping on Claire's outstretched thigh, he is able to slam a full-force knee-kick into Claire's jaw.
The impact sends Claire reeling backward, but he recovers in time to grab Chris' wrists before he can impale his throat with the knife-guns. He admits that he was honestly startled, and the two briefly tussle before Claire puts some distance between them and compliments Christopher on being the 'third-strongest' person Claire has met. The second is the Former Felix, and the first is himself.
Once they both affirm that they want to continue the fight, Claire smashes one of the restaurant windows and suggests that they take the fight onto the pyramid roof so as to remove the risk of collateral damage (namely, injury to Jacuzzi and the rest). The two of them head into the pouring rain and onto the slanted roof, which is already slick with water. Chané and Chi follow, despite the protests of Jacuzzi and Tim.
About halfway up the pyramid, Claire and Christopher have another ferocious exchange of bare hands versus knife-guns. One of Christopher's bullets ricochets off the building and accidentally strikes Claire square in the shoulder, creating a natural lull in the fight during which time they converse with equally matched composure.
It is only after Christopher talks about all the people he has killed over the course of five decades that Claire deigns to observe that he is out of bullets. Christopher does not bother to deny it, as it is clear he was stalling for time. When the subject of friends is broached, a silver chakram whizzes from an unknown location toward the back of Claire's head – and Chané catches it on the blade of her knife mid-air.
Christopher and Claire resume fighting, while Chané busies herself with deflecting the various silver chakrams thrown both at her and at Claire. Eventually, the chakram thrower – Hilton, calling herself Leeza – speaks to Chané with a disembodied voice. Her question as to what Chané would do if Huey asked her to kill Claire agitates Chané, giving her the opportunity to hurl five chakrams Chané's way.
Chané deflects the first four but does not see the fifth, so Claire catches it between his fingers before it can tear out her throat. He then takes it upon himself to answer Leeza's question: Chané can carry out Huey's orders and choose him at the same time. She can continue trying to kill him, he can keep defending, and they can love each other throughout it all.
Once Chané smiles, Claire flings the chakram at Christopher and proclaims that he must be the source of the 'mystery voice'. Christopher dodges it, objecting to the absurd claim, and asks how Claire was going to explain the chakrams; Claire claims that they 'flew' their way by 'accident'. As he tries to climb to a higher terrace, he realizes that they have reached the very top of the Mist Wall.
The two men continue their fight until an inexplicable break in the clouds occurs above them, at which point Christopher revels in the sunshine even as the rain continues to pour. Just then, a sizable explosion from the restaurant causes the roof to shake underneath their feet. Claire looks down at the flames and inwardly recognizes them as the work of the same explosives smuggled aboard the Flying Pussyfoot; after a long moment, he asks Chané to head back and check on the status of those inside Babel.
Once Chané is gone, Claire performs some light warm-up exercises and proclaims that it is time to 'get serious'. Leeza throws six chakrams at his back, but he sees their reflection in Christopher's eyes, catches them without turning around, and flings them at Christopher. Christopher dodges, but but Claire predicts where he move and puts his hand around Christopher's throat. He admits that he had been holding back all this time because he enjoyed fighting alongside Chané, snatches another chakram out of the air, and divulges the trick with the reflections when Christopher asks.
Christopher concedes that Claire is "humanity's strongest," and as such, God may actually love him. Claire harshly rejects the implication that his skill is God-given rather than the result of his own work, and asks if Christopher is ready to admit that he lost. When Christopher attempts to stab him, he slams Christopher's head into Mist Wall. As Christopher's consciousness fades, Claire quietly assures him that he is far closer to nature than Claire is.
After Christopher blacks out, Chi darts into the sunshower and sternly declares that Claire has 'done enough'. Claire observes that Chi did not come to Christopher's aid in the fight, to which Chi responds that he would have had this been official business – though he will do so now should Claire still intend to finish Christopher off. Claire agrees that he would have killed Christopher, had this been official business, but at present he is unwilling to kill those who work for Chané's father so haphazardly.
Chané rejoins the two of them a moment later, and the look in her eyes is all Claire needs to be reassured of Firo and Jacuzzi's group's safety. He hauls Christopher up and chucks him at Chi, who slings Christopher over his shoulder and makes his way down to the restaurant.
With the fight more or less concluded, Claire waits until Chi is out of sight and then turns to Chané to make a confession: had Christopher used a decent weapon, Claire just might have "broken out into a cold sweat." For someone like Claire, this is the highest possible compliment he will afford an opponent.
When Claire and Chané re-enter the scorched restaurant, they find Chi, Christopher, Adele, and Dallas missing. Claire idly asks Tick where Dallas went, and Tick simply replies that Dallas left first.
As the restaurant situation has also concluded, everyone takes the elevator down to the ground floor in turns. Claire and Chané are the second group to leave; as the elevator descends, Claire mulls over the involvement of Huey, Nebula, and Christopher's group in the Mist Wall affair and how little he understood it. To be so out of the loop is something that frustrates him immensely, and he resolves to visit Huey in Alcatraz the next time 'something' happens. Then, puzzled for once, he remarks that he feels like he is forgetting something important.
In the aftermath of the Mist Wall incident, Claire calls Luck and requests that the Gandors treat Jacuzzi's gang well.
On a certain day in December, Claire and Chané arrange to meet at Madison Square Park. Claire is looking forward to the meeting so much that he arrives at least half-an-hour early, only to find Chané already there. He finds the sight of her sunlit and lost in thought so beautiful that he cannot bring himself to disturb her, instead content to observe her from afar.
As such, he is present when Chané is approached by the Former Felix and Spike, though he fails to recognize the latter. He remains stationary when the Former Felix stops Chané from attacking Spike, but when close to ten black-clad men enter the park and head in Spike's direction, takes it upon himself to join their numbers. Spike grins when they arrive, only to then frown at the sound of one pair of footsteps too many.
Claire has already reached Chané's side by the time everyone's attention is on him, and he loops an arm around her shoulders and explains how he had been watching them from the start. He proceeds to have a one-sided conversation with Chané until Spike irritably interjects, at which point he introduces himself as Felix Walken, Chané's fiancé before berating Spike for making Chané 'cry'.
Spike asks the Former Felix if he really sold his name to a 'wacko' like Claire, and then wonders whether that means Claire is an assassin. It is at this point that Claire finally remembers Spike as the 'sniper from the train', and remarks that "even in [his] business" it is an uncommon thing to see someone survive being dropped face-first off a train.
Abruptly, clearly panicked, Spike shouts at his men to retreat and bolts. His men follow, and Claire starts after them – only for the former Felix to grab his legs and whip his body back. While upside-down, Claire puts his index finger to the Former Felix's lips and then twists mid-air, breaking free of the man's grasp to land on his feet.
After Claire compliments the Former Felix's skill as "not bad," the Former Felix asks him where he obtained his new name. At Claire's admission that he bought it from a "really awesome dame, somewhere in her thirties," the Former Felix muses that he did not expect so many 'more generations' in such a short period of time. He tells Claire that they will soon meet again as he leaves to join Spike's group; Claire outthrusts his arm, calling for the Former Felix to halt, but Chané grabs the outstretched limb to stop him.
Claire is initially concerned that Spike's group has injured her, but at her urgent look, realizes that she is worried about Jacuzzi and his friends. He pulls her into a hug, and loudly requests that the Former Felix tell his boss to choose his fights more wisely. The Former Felix agrees, and then stops when Claire asks a final question: to whom did he sell his name? After a moment, the Former Felix says that he sold it to multiple people, including an Asian man, a black man, and a white man.
1935 to be added.
By 2002, Claire is in his nineties and the great-grandfather of Charon and Claudia Walken. In August 2002, Charon says that Claire and Chané are on vacation in the Caribbean, where Claire is apparently scuba-diving for treasure to find a pirate's sword for Chané.
(To be rewritten)
Claire's professional name "Vino" is well feared in the criminal underworld, as exemplified by Gustavo Bagetta – who was so terrified at the prospect of having to face the legendary killer that he hired freelance assassins left and right just to stop him. Many powerful assassins would like nothing more than to defeat Vino in combat, since such a feat would prove their own strength.
His speed, strength and dexterity are far beyond the boundaries of an ordinary human, first showcased on the Flying Pussyfoot where he was considered enough of a threat to be considered an entire third faction of his own against several homicidal hitmen from the Russo Family and the Lemures; after all, he managed to take down and severely traumatize both parties. He also defeated the highly dangerous and well feared hitman Ladd Russo, known for his ruthlessness and killing capability, and even a homunculus by the name of Christopher Shaldred.
Att a young age, he showed such promise that he caught the attention of Huey Laforet.
Claire's time in the circus allowed him to pick up and hone acrobatic abilities that would later serve him well aboard the Flying Pussyfoot, where he was able to move effortlessly atop the roof and below the cars despite how fast the train was moving.
His solipsistic persona also gives him somewhat controversial, but ultimately effective and surprising ideas in the midst of battle. For example, Claire noticed that Leeza had thrown chakrams at him from behind by spotting the chakrams' reflection in Christopher's eyes.
Chané Laforet - Claire is completely and utterly in love with Chané. He proposes to her minutes after meeting her for the first time – though it should be noted that he proposed to every girl he took a liking too. However, Claire does not move on when Chané initially rejects him (like he has done with all the other girls). Instead, Claire pursues her in Manhattan and goes so far as to seek Rachel's advice on how to confess his love for her.
When Chané struggles with her feelings towards him, he informs her that he will be happy to start out just as friends, so long as he can be by her side. It is unlikely that he would have done this with his other old flames - Chané is the first person who has 'engraved proof of her existence onto his world', referring to when she nicks his ear on board the train. Very few people have managed to lay a blow or cut on Claire, which is likely why he fixated on her rather than giving up.
Claudia Walken - Claudia has practically inherited her great-grandfather's personality - like Claire, she is a solipsist and extraordinarily confident in her own self.
Charon Walken - Claire's great-grandson. While Claudia takes after Claire in personality, Charon has followed in his athletic footsteps and works as a child stuntsman.
Huey Laforet - Huey is Claire's father-in-law, and he and Claire meet for the first time in 1935-B: Dr. Feelgreed. Claire initially thinks that Huey must be Chané's brother; when Claire learns that Huey is her father he is extremely excited and thanks Huey for bringing Chané into his world. Claire is clearly grateful to Huey for Chané.
Firo Prochainezo - Claire and Firo are childhood friends, and their interactions reflect that closeness. Claire cares about Firo and has saved him on at least one occasion (e.g. from Donatello in 1927).
Keith, Berga, and Luck Gandor - Claire cares for his foster brothers, and in fact initially offered to work for them for free (though they would go on to refuse him; he works at a discount instead) when he became an assassin. The brothers freely tease Claire and are generally relaxed around him, and Claire and Berga continue to have friendly sparring matches like they used to when they roughhoused as young boys. Perhaps most notable is that Claire holds a great deal of respect for Keith; Keith might be the only man who has ever gotten Claire Stanfield to sincerely apologize, and that in itself is awe-worthy.
Renee Parmedes Branvillier - Renee is Claire's mother-in-law, and the two meet when Claire catches Renee attempting to break into the Runorata manor. Noticing that she resembles Chané somehow, he first thinks that Renee and Chané are sisters. He is soon corrected, and has promised to do something for Renee in relation to Ra's Lance.
Rachel - Claire is initially a tad antagonistic towards Rachel on the train, given that she was a stowaway. However, he warms to her when she begs Claire to stop killing people on the Flying Pussyfoot, tearfully revealing her passion for the railroad. 'Warms' is an understatement - he falls a little in love with her and says that if he had not already proposed to Chané he might have proposed to Rachel instead. In 1932, Claire invites her out to lunch in order to ask her advice on the matter of love. The two have an amicable conversation, indicating that they are on friendly terms.
- Claire is deliberately not named in the opening of the 2007 anime, purposefully misleading viewers as to his importance and his real identity. He cameos in the opening as the young conductor.
- He is the franchise's most popular character. However, Ryohgo Narita has no intention about writing a story with him as the main character; he feels that such a story would "move too fast without any plot or action."
- Narita has described him as a "Baccano!'s number one problem child".
- Claire Stanfield has many aliases throughout the franchise: Claire Stanfield; The Young Conductor; Felix Walken; Vino; The Rail Tracer; Red Shadow.
- In the ending credits, he is credited with Jerry Jewell as his voice for the Rail Tracer in Funimation's English dub, but only actually speaks once as the Rail Tracer before his identity is revealed. Furthermore, he is the only character who has a two word name cited in Baccano!'s ending (both when he is credited as the Young Conductor and Rail Tracer).
- The red hue of his hair differs between adaptations. In the light novels his hair is blood-red, in the anime his hair is lighter in the first few episodes. Some official artwork depicts his hair with a rustier hue.
- His nickname 'Vino' is derived from the way he mutilates his targets, leaving them covered in blood as if they were soaked in wine.
- The 'vampire magician' Claire admiringly remembers in 1931 ~ Winter: The Time of the Oasis is Doubs Hewley - a character from the Naritaverse series Vamp!.
- As a child, Claire's role model was Peter Pan. The narrative also draws parallels between Peter and Claire, who has been described at least once as an "adult who had never grown up."
- Huey Laforet and Chané Laforet travelled to Manhattan by September 1925 in order to seek out Claire and potentially recruit him, having heard of his skills. By that time, he had already joined the circus.