|“||Tick... You can take the rest of the day off. This bastard here's gonna have to deal with me. [...] I might not be a torture specialist like you, but if he's not going to die no matter what I do to him... I might as well have a ball. Let off some stress.||”|
Nicola "Nico" Cassetti (ニコラ・「ニコ」・カセッティ Nikora "Niko" Kasetti) is a capo of the Gandor Family who is renowned for his unmatched fighting skills. He runs a betting parlor under Gandor influence.
Nicola is a short-haired brunet, and sports a beard. A scar is etched across his nose and left cheek. His appearance was revealed with his illustrated debut in the 2015 BACCANO! Manga.
When working, Nicola talks and acts with professional sobriety and is upfront with his personal transgressions, admitting to his own superiors when his personal feelings and temper have gotten the better of him. When his personal feelings get the better of him, this usually means he ends up dealing with them by inflicting physical violence on the wrongdoer who is to blame.
Nicola has shown nothing but stalwart loyalty to the Gandor brothers, and cold rejection of traitors to the Family. He does have a softer, friendlier side to him: he is seen smiling and laughing with the brothers in Chapter 010 of the manga, and he and Lisha Darken were mutually romantically interested in each other prior to her death. The first time he and Graham Specter fought, he elected to let Graham go on the grounds that Graham 'was a kid' rather than kill him. One might also say that there is a certain wryness to Nicola's sense of humor.
It is likely that Nicola shares the same unfavorable view towards drugs that the Gandors have.
Although it is uncertain as to when Nicola joined the Family, it is known that he was already a member of the Family when the previous Gandor don passed away. Nicola and a few other Gandor men met in the days following the don's death to discuss the future of the family. They all are concerned that the Family is done for, and one of them is already making plans to sell the territory to anothe rmafia outfit. Nicola especially thinks that they shouldn't drag the don's sons into the business, but the conversation is interrupted when two of the sons - Berga Gandor and Luck Gandor - step into the room. Luck says that it is the eldest son (Keith Gandor) enters through the doorway. He is covered in blood, and dragging two corpses behind him. Luck declares that he and his brothers will take over the Family.
In 1927, the Gandor Family is thrown into an uproar when they find Keith's bloody jacket (and a smashed lollipop) in an alleyway. With the don kidnapped, the two remaining brothers attempt to mount a search with as many as few people (including their men) in the know as possible. Nicola is one of the select few who are aware of Keith's kidnapping, and he contacts the gambling den and the bookie's to see if Keith has stopped by them at all. Keith has not. In light of this news, Luck orders Nicola to continue investigating other places without letting his subordinates notice.
Keith is eventually found to be safe on the first day of the San Gennaro festival.
At some point in the years leading up to 1932, Nicola engages in a physical fight with Graham Specter. He easily defeats Graham, but decides to treat him as a child and let him live (as opposed to sending him to the bottom of the Hudson). Graham seeks Nicola out multiple times afterwards to enact revenge, but Nicola nearly always always emerges the victor. By the summer of 1932, Nicola has six wins to one loss against Graham.
In November 1930, Nicola and several other Gandor members gather around a table in which the three Gandor brothers are playing poker in anticipation of an upcoming confrontation between the brothers and Jorgi, the Family's master of finances. When Jorgi eventually enters the room, the Gandors invite him to play cards with them. Nicola witnesses the game switch to Russian Roulette (they are all aware that Jorgi has been embezzling money from the Gandors) and Jorgi's attempt to shoot Keith with the roulette pistol. Jorgi's attempt fails (the bullets are actually blanks), and a few Gandor men stuff Jorgi into a gunnysack and take him away upstairs. It is implied that they drive Jorgi to the sea and drown him.
In December 1931, Nicola's betting parlor is ambushed by a group of Runoratas sporting tommy guns. Nicola suffers a serious gunshot wound during the ensuing fight, but he and men successfully fend off their attackers and capture one alive. They escort the Runorata captive to the Coraggioso in the aftermath, where Nicola reports the ambush to the Gandors. WIth a stoic demeanor that reflects none of the pain he must be in he apologizes for not being able to leave more Runoratas alive and blames himself for the outcome.
Keith asks for a damage assessment, and Nicola reports with a grin that not only were no customers injured, his men had already secured the profit the Gandors made off the latest race. He bows respectfully when Keith thanks him, and with his report finished someone finally sits him down for first aid treatment. As his colleague tries to stop his wound from bleeding, other Gandor men run into the room to report that three other places under Gandor influence have come under attack.
The captive Runorata stirs, and Luck identifies him as one of the men involved in slitting his throat from an earlier incident. He calls for Tick to 'take care' of their prisoner; when Tick remarks that his scissors are unclean and would make the torture even painful, Luck thinks for a bit and asks Nicola if he knows who shot him. NIcola, wrapping bandages over his wound, identifies the prisoner as the man responsible. He admits that he was a 'little' harsh on the captive's colleagues as a consequence, and apologizes for letting his personal feelings get in the way of his work.
By the summer of 1932, Nicola has convalesced enough to be able to resume work. He has also begun courting Lisha Darken, a prostitute whose drug habit eventually leads him to give her an ultimatum: no matter his feelings for her, he will never see her again if she continues taking drugs. Lisha tries her best to forgo her drug habit, but is killed by serial killer Ice Pick Thompson the same summer. When Nicola learns of her murder, he is sincerely upset.
In August, Nicola arrives at the Coraggioso to meet with Lester, a newspaper reporter and one of the Gandors' reliable information sources. He apologizes for making Lester wait, remarking that he always gives the Gandors the "best info" in town, and that he hopes that their business deal will be a lasting one.
With pleasantries out of the way, the discussion finally turns to Ice Pick Thompson – the reason for the meeting. Nicola reports that the Gandors have been keeping an eye on the police's investigation, and that the irregular stab wound entry of the "fifth victim" (Lisha) may indicate that her murderer was someone else altogether. Though his delivery is emotionless, his eyes narrow in anger.
Lester is unsurprised; apparently, he has known all along that 'Ice Pick Thompson' must be more than one person. He claims that the main culprit is an assassin-for-hire named Raz Smith, and that Smith has been hiring street delinquents to murder people connected to the Gandors. Nicola asks him what grudge the assassin would have against the Gandor Family, but he fails to provide an answer.
Maria Barcelito exclaims that she knows an assassin by that name, recalling how the assassin was punched by Berga and later wound up in the hospital. Nicola stands, and assures an anxious subordinate that he does not plan on making trouble while his bosses are out; for now, he intends to seek Smith out and simply converse with him. Maria - oblivious to his grave demeanor - offers herself as extra manpower, but he only mumbles that she can do what she wants in response.
Before Nicola exits the room, he suggests that Tick refrain from cleaning his scissors as he is in the mood for a little screaming. With Maria tagging along, he and several subordinates head for the old factory that Graham's gang is known to regularly inhabit. Upon finding the factory empty, he telephones the Coraggioso and asks a subordinate to consult Lester over the gang's possible whereabouts; after a little while, the subordinate returns and tells him to try looking in a certain condemned building near Grand Central Station.
The condemned building is empty as well when they arrive, and they retreat into its recesses to await Smith's return. Maria erupts out of hiding once he does, and the two clash until Nicola signals for his men to take aim at Smith – who had failed to realize they were there all along. When Maria complains, Nicola sternly reminds her that he cannot allow a Family member to be injured while their bosses are absent.
Once again wiping any emotion from his face, he identifies Smith as "Raz Smith" and derisively comments on the ridiculousness of Smith genuinely attempting to swordfight with his guns. He introduces himself as a member of the Gandor Family, and when he asks if Smith can even comprehend his dire situation, Smith counters that he cannot comprehend why the Gandor bosses seem frightened of a single assassin. Nicola's eyes narrow at what he perceives to be Smith playing ignorant, and he proceeds to accuse Smith of being Ice Pick Thompson.
Smith is struck speechless at the accusation, and Nicola, taking his silence as proof of guilt, orders his men to take Smith away. At Smith's belated protests, he dismissively says that anything else he has to say will be heard through Tick – only to turn and come face-to-face with Graham, who cries out that 'this sad story' should just 'end' and demands to know what the Gandors are trying to do with 'Boss Smith'.
Smith is the first to react by calling Graham an idiot, as he had told Graham earlier to do 'whatever he felt like'. Graham retorts that he felt like coming to the building, and again demands to be given context. Frowning, Nicola grouses that Graham causes the Gandors trouble every time the two of them reunite before asking him what he is down at the building; when Graham's answer proves less than helpful, he switches tactics and asks how he knows Smith.
Maria reminds Nicola that Lester had said Graham was either the killer or one of his friends, but Nicola rejects the very thought. Graham may be Graham, but he is no murderer. Oblivious, Graham asks Smith why he is fighting the Gandors in the first place – and Nicola sighs; Graham, it seems, genuinely had no idea that Smith was and is Ice Pick Thompson. The claim is immediately laughed off by Graham, who explains that Smith is an assassin who has never actually killed anyone. All eyes go to Smith, who flatly states: "...It's true I'm Ice Pick Thompson."
Nicola asks if this is an admission of guilt, and Smith claims that he has definitely killed four men up until now – but the fifth one is still 'out there'. He adds that the murders were done for the sake of vengeance rather than money, giving a lengthy rundown of 'his' motivations behind each murder (ending with 'his' desire to kill the murderer of Paula Wilmans). He asks if they want to know anything else, and Nicola mentions that Carl Digness had told them the connection between the victims – that they may have approached the Gandor Family with ulterior motives. He reminds Smith that he is ultimately still responsible for killing Gandor men, and that it will be up to Tick to see if Smith has told them the truth.
(Privately, Nicola has been considering the possibility that Smith might be lying - Smith claimed that Paula was like a sister to him, but Nicola felt no affection or sadness from Smith when he was telling his story).
Before Nicola can signal his men to disarm Smith, Graham hurls his wrench through the space separating him and Smith so that it lodges itself deep into the wall. Annoyed, Nicola asks Graham if he could try to at least behave himself; Graham apologizes, but says that he cannot allow Smith to be taken away without a fight. Nicola questions this; is Graham seriously going to help Smith even when Smith is Ice Pick Thompson?
Graham reminds Nicola that he keeps company with a "freaking awesome homicidal lunatic", someone who kills people just for the hell of it. The Gandor men move to aim their guns at Graham, but Nico orders them to stand down. When they object, he point out that the gunshots from Smith's fight with Maria have almost certainly caught the attention of nearby police officers. The last thing he wants is for more gunshots to draw them closer.
Maria darts over and asks if that means it's her turn to have a little fun, but Nicola wryly grins and shakes his head before stepping forward – a clear indication that he intends to handle the matter personally. Smith looks over to Graham yanking his wrench out of the wall and asks just how strong Nicola is; Graham cheerfully admits that he has one victory to six losses against the Gandor capo, though he quips that Nicola is no good at fighting off tommy guns - the Runoratas had nearly killed him 'the last time'. Smith muses that Nicola might be some sort of monster for having survived machine gun fire.
Despite Nicola's obvious intentions, Maria ignores them and prepares to draw her katanas anyway. Meanwhile, Graham wants to know what Elmer C. Albatross had whispered to Smith earlier that day – but Smith will only answer him provided he emerges from this situation alive. As tensions rise, Nicola twitches with the realization that something has changed on the street outside and mutters an order of retreat to his subordinates that has Maria questioning his sudden change in heart.
When Nicola relaxes fully, his underlings follow his gaze to see Shaft heaving for breath in the doorway, leaning against the frame in his fatigue. Behind him stand a crowd of about twenty street delinquents. Following a few gasped complaints Graham's way, he reports that he has contacted their friends at Millionaires' Row, and that they ought to show up any minute now. Surprised, Graham asks Shaft if he is planning to wage war with humanity.
Maria pouts over Nicola's determination to avoid a fight, and as he heads for the entrance, he retorts that the Gandors going up against a mob of this size would mean all out war. She argues that she and Nicola could take them on alone, but he is adamant: the bosses have not given him permission to let any of his subordinates get hurt, nor permission to "annihilate these brats."
At the entranceway, Nicola turns to Smith and says: "Lemme ask you one last thing. Even if you're lying about being Ice Pick Thompson...you're not the one who killed Lisha... am I right?" Smith swears that this, at the very least, is true. When Nicola asks who really killed her, Smith readily replies that her murderer is his "last target" - Lester.
Armed with this newfound knowledge, Nicola, Maria, and company return to the Coraggioso. Upon descending into the basement, they find their colleagues have encircled two individuals: a smiling blond man (Elmer); and a boy holding a bloody ice pick. Nicola sighs at the sight of Lester groaning in agony on the floor, and then asks the boy if he is Mark Wilmans. At Mark's surprise, Nicola explains that Lisha never stopped talking about Mark - that there was a child who looked after her instead of the other way around.
He asks again if the boy is Mark, and Mark slowly replies that 'Mark Wilmans' was recently killed by an assassin. Avoiding Nicola's gaze, he adds, "I'm just a serial killer. Ice Pick Thomp–" Nicola cuts him off there, and announces that he has just come back from talking to Ice Pick Thompson in the flesh. As he shoulders his way into the eye of the storm, one of his subordinates catches him up to speed on what has happened – including how Lester is now immortal.
Nicola looks down at Lester – who lies stricken with grievous stab wounds – and crushes Lester's left hand with his right foot. Lester screams; as Lester's fingers rapidly regain their original shape, Nicola calls over to Tick and informs him he may take the rest of the day off. With a look of pure ice (trying as he might to suppress his emotions with every ounce of self-control he has), he declares that 'this bastard' will have to deal with him. Though he is no torture specialist, he may as well take out his stress on a body that will never die.
Sighing, Elmer crouches down by Lester's side and whispers in his ear. It is unknown if Nicola hears the offer he makes, but Lester's refusal results in him remaining in the Gandors' possession.
In Dr. Feelgreed, Luck is confronted with the reality that the Gandors need to strengthen their forces. He muses that Nicola is their best combatant among the capos, but Nicola is apparently still "recovering from getting shot to hell the year before last" so they cannot push him too hard.
It is unknown to what incident Luck is alluding. Nicola's only known brush with death is his encounter with the Runoratas in December 1931, but he was clearly already back on his feet by August 1932 (however, being able to physically move is not synonymous with 'being able to fight'). No other possible conflicts are known at present.