City of Lies (Possible GTA IV spoiler)
Posted 11 January 2011 - 09:43 AM
Posted 11 January 2011 - 11:53 AM
|QUOTE (Lightning Strike @ Jan 11 2011, 09:43)|
|Wow spent my afternoon reading this. Time damn well spent, one of the if the best GTA stories i've ever heard Hell this could be V's story. Epic man just epic have a celebration because this needs to be published.|
Thanks man. Feel free to vote for it if it gets nominated!
New chapters will be coming in the next week or two - got ALOT of work atm that needs to meet a deadline, so don't have the time yet - I'm aiming for the story to be finished by Easter at the latest.
Thanks for checking the story out
Posted 11 January 2011 - 07:17 PM
|QUOTE (Mokrie Dela @ Jan 11 2011, 11:53)|
Thanks man. Feel free to vote for it if it gets nominated!
New chapters will be coming in the next week or two - got ALOT of work atm that needs to meet a deadline, so don't have the time yet - I'm aiming for the story to be finished by Easter at the latest.
Thanks for checking the story out
Take your time, even if I cant wait for it
Posted 11 January 2011 - 11:55 PM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 12 January 2011 - 01:34 AM.
Thames is my priority atm, what little time i get outside of work, "having a life" etc is mainly going towards that.
Also any ideas anyone has for my next work is welcome - i have a few but it never hurts to hear some ideas
Edit: Newsflash - i have written the general structure and plotline for the "climax" which will be epic
Enjoy that little tease!
Posted 12 January 2011 - 01:44 AM
Chapter One - A Shared Sorrow
Niko stood, staring straight down. Rain tricked down his face, dropping off the tip of his nose with a slight tickle, but he ignored it. His clothes were soaked - the brown leather raincoat doing a poor job of keeping the precipitation out. He lifted a hand and wiped his face with his palm in a futile effort to dry it. Within seconds it was wet again.
He sighed, and lamented his cousin's absence. It was all his fault. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a bottle of Vodka - the same brand that the cousins had found in the smashed bar back in the old country.
Niko opened the bottle, throwing the lid on the floor, and took a mouthful. He swallowed hard, and poured some vodka onto the ground. Even in the pitter-patter of the rain, Niko could hear the trickle as the vodka reached the dirt. He took another sip and crouched down, emptying the bottle.
Then he stood and took a step back.
"Happy birthday cousin." He said, his voice broken. "I'm sorry I wasn't a better cousin." He held the bottle up in a toast, then turned away, heading to his car - the last of Roman's original cabs and the only thing of Roman's he had left, apart from the apartment. Mallorie inherited the business.
He sat in the car's driver's seat for a moment and took a few deep breaths. Then he drove home - to the apartment Roman had bought almost two years ago.
Niko didn't notice the gray Washington following him.
Life is sh*t, Johnny said to himself. He sat in his trailer in the damned trailer park, looking out the window at what his life had become. For a time it was good. He had the brotherhood, but that was taken from him. He had nothing left, so he left town. Now he was alone, working in a hellhole of a bar.
Jim's wife had met someone new, his weekly email told him. Angus was the only person from his old life that he still spoke to, and he kept Johnny up to date on the basics. Clay was hitting the bars and clubs, intent on 'sewing his goddamned seed,' and working in a bike repair shop in Bohan. Terry worked security in some strip club. As for Ashley - who gives a f*ck?
Johnny went outside, into the morning sun and stood there for a minute. Then he heard his phone ring. He sighed and went back inside.
It took him a minute to find the cell in amongst the mess that he lived in. He contemplated not answering - after all it's probably just Michael, wanting to give him another goddamned lecture about his life. Ever since he returned from the middle east he'd had this holier-than-thou attitude that reminded Johnny of Billy.
He cursed under his breath and answered the phone.
"Hello Johnny." The voice spoke softly.
"How's it going?"
"Five star hotels, sex drugs and rock 'n' f*cking roll."
"Same old Johnny."
Johnny frowned. There was something in his friend's voice. Firstly he rarely phoned, and second, he sounded worried.
"What's wrong brother?" He asked. "Has Ashley's habit finally killed her?"
"No." There was a pause. "It's your brother."
Johnny sat on his bed, which squeaked in protest.
"He's dead, Johnny."
"F*cking Iraqis..." He whispered.
"No Johnny. It was some pair of gangsters."
Johnny let out a pained sigh.
An hour later he stood at the storage garage several miles away. He opened the door and walked inside. He stood for a moment then pulled the gray material aside. His Hexer stood winking in the semi-dark.
- Payne likes this
Posted 12 January 2011 - 01:45 AM
Niko had had a few drinks on his own in the bar down the street, then stumbled back to his apartment, finally crashing on his bed.
He woke up with a start, a noise bringing him crashing to reality. A shadow crept across the wall, mirrored on the loft windows. Niko sighed, and began to sit up.
Suddenly a hand slapped down on his shoulder, pinning him on his bed. A huge man in a balaclava stood, his second ogre-like hand coming down on Niko's other shoulder.
Then a second, skinnier man appeared. His hand came up, a knife held in a gloved hand.
Niko threw his foot up, hitting the man's hand. The knife fell, cutting Niko's foot on its way down.
The ogre turned his head and whispered something in a harsh tone to his companion. Niko snaked his way from the man's grip, throwing a knee to his groin. The ogre stepped back, smashing into a canvas on the wall.
The skinny man reached for something and, a second later, Niko heard the click-whoosh as a bullet bore into the wall, just an inch from his ear.
Niko jumped off of the bed and bull-rushed the ogre, slamming him into the wall.
Skinny man fired again, missing. Niko dodged to his left, and ducked behind the wall behind his bed.
Ogre followed, pulling his own gun. Niko grabbed a bottle of wine from the rack and pinned himself against the wall. Ogre rushed round the corner, gun leading. Niko reached out, grabbing the man's wrist, and swung the wine bottle at the man's head.
Ogre went down, hard, and Niko picked up the gun. He peeked round the corner and saw the skinny man cautiously approaching.
Niko didn't waste a second. He stepped out, crouched and fired.
The skinny man anticipated Niko's move and dodged, disappearing into the lounge area.
Niko rushed forward, gun leading, chasing the gunman.
The gunman shouted something, but Niko couldn't figure out what. He jumped round the dividing wall and brought his gun up, seeking out the gunman. He saw the skinny man disappear through the loft's front door. A second later Ogre followed.
Niko stood there for a moment in shock. Then he regained his composure, got dressed then left his apartment, sneaking out of the back door into the alley and heading to the subway station. He took the train to Vauxite, then caught a cab to the internet cafe on Frankfurt. Niko then cut through the alley and, certain he hadn't been followed, entered the apartment, heading to the roof. He jumped across to the next building and entered his loft.
Niko spent ten minutes pacing his loft, trying to work out what the hell just happened.
Someone just tried to kill me, he thought. But who? And why?
He was about to leave and head to the office by Easton station, to see if that government guy could help when his phone rang.
"Hello Niko." An electronically distorted voice said.
"Who's this?" Niko asked.
"That's not important. What is important is that a contract has been taken out on you."
"I can't tell you who, or why, but someone's planning on killing you..."
"I know. They just tried."
"Sh*t." The voice sounded frustrated, even behind the electronic voice distortion. "They're quicker then i thought. Okay it's alright. Where are you now?"
"You think I'm going to tell you?"
Niko could almost hear an electronic chuckle. "Of course not. You'd disappoint me if you did. I hope you're not still at your place on Albany?"
"Good. Find a place to lay low, and don't let anyone know your location. Take lengths to keep it hidden." The voice spent a few minutes giving tips of what they called counter-surveillance.
"How do you know all this!?" Niko demanded. "What the hell is going on?"
"Not now Niko."
"How do you know me?"
"I can't say. Just trust me?"
"Because I am the only person who can keep you alive."
Niko kicked at a lamp by the window, muttering a Serbian obscenity. The voice suggested he calmed down.
"What the hell do you want?" He snapped.
"For you to do a few jobs for us."
"Why? Who are you?"
"We've been through that. A few jobs, and that's it. Midday tomorrow, head to Middle Park. Enter the men's toilets, and go to the stall on the far left. Look in the Cistern."
With that, the call ended. Niko threw the phone on the couch and swore.
Johnny's return to Liberty City was severely underwhelming. It had been raining - the roads where glossy, reflecting the lights like a greasy mirror, but Johnny had managed to dodge the showers. It was 9 PM, and he turned off of the freeway and found the cafe's parking lot. Terry and Clay were already there, standing by their bikes.
Johnny pulled up alongside them, and approached.
They shook hands.
"It's been a long time brother." Terry said soberly.
Johnny simply nodded.
"I'm sorry..." Clay consoled. Again Johnny nodded.
"So," Terry stepped forward. "It's been a long time coming."
"Yeah." Johnny said sharply. "But we will make these b*stards suffer before sending them to hell."
"Amen to that." Clay said.
"One more thing." Terry said, reaching into one of his bike's saddlebags. He came out with a brown paper package and handing it to Johnny.
Johnny unwrapped it, dropping the paper to the floor. Staring back at him was The Lost Motorcycle Club's crest, embroidered on all-too-familiar leather. Johnny looked up and offered a nod of thanks, unable to find any words to adequately capture the moment. He put on the Jacket.
A truck drove past, and the three men looked up, each one wearing their patches.
"Our president's back." Clay said with a smile."
Johnny looked up. "The Lost are back." He could almost smile. Only now did he realize what had been missing from his self-exiled life.
Johnny led the men to their old clubhouse, but was shocked to see the entire block had been renovated.
"City tore it down."
Johnny nodded. Typical.
"Our boys over in Broker have agreed to give us some of their men. Not all of them, but enough to kick some serious ass."
Johnny turned to Clay.
"What about the AOD deadbeats?"
Terry laughed, answering Johnny's question. "Same old, same old. Some of them, honoring the treaty we had, went their own way, forming a club called The Fallen with the remainder of the Lost. Say the word and they'll be Lost MC again."
"We can use their clubhouse - they use Alderney's old Casino."
Johnny nodded. "Let's go there then."
"Hammer down." Terry sung.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 01:47 AM
Niko reached into the toilet's tank, picking out a water-tight plastic wallet.
He opened it and pulled out the bubble wrap inside. He unraveled that to see an iFruit phone. He switched it on, to be greeted by a red circle with the number 1 by the Text Message symbol. He tapped the screen, unsure exactly how to use the device, and found a single text message, written in capitals.
CALL ME it said, followed by a number. Niko did. He got the electronic voice again.
"The phone's clean. Use it onlyfor talking to me. No one else. I've installed some apps on there - GPS, Poodle Earth... Grype's installed on there. It's got internet. Everything you'll need."
"Need for what?" Niko asked, feeling weary. "And who are you?"
"Stop asking." The voice replied with not even the faintest hint of emotion. "The GPS SatNav is set to a location. Go there. There's a silver Lokus parked in front of the Majestic. Keys are under the far left sink." The voice hung up.
Niko went to the sink and felt around for the keys - in a brown padded envelope stuck to the sink by double sided tape. He took the keys and headed for the car.
The iFruit phone led him to Bohan, He parked the car underneath Windmill Station and followed the GPS to an alley behind a building that he remembered well. He once had a shoot out for that annoying pr*ck Manny here.
The alley itself also held a memory - where that b*tch had stabbed him in the back. Michelle, or whatever her real name was. He stood next to the dumpster, looking around. This felt like a set up. He drew his Desert Eagle.
He stood for a minute then his iFruit rang. He answered.
"Inside the dumpster. Retrieve the case, then set your GPS to the following location." The voice gave him some coordinates then hung up.
Niko sighed and retrieved a metal case from the dumpster. The case was silver, with that bubbly texture to it. It was about three feet long, and only a foot or two wide. He shook his head and returned to his car.
He finally reached his destination - a building site not far from the airport. Niko remembered the area - a dirt track once stood here - where he chased down some biker kid for that Mafiya boss, Faustin. What was this, a trip down memory lane? Some guy's idea of a joke? Who the hell was he?
He sighed. Is this what his life was? He didn't want to be a monster - he certainly never asked for any of this. He'd successfully avoided crime since finally killing Dimitri on Happiness island, but now? Who the hell was this? And what were they doing? Why him? And what was in the case?
the phone buzzed again, and Niko answered it.
"No questions." The voice said sharply. "Who I am, and what's going on is not important at this time. Climb the crane, and when you're up there, open the case. Climb over to the counterweight and look towards the airport. You'll see a man in a white suit exit the terminal - don't worry there's a long range zoom. He will be flanked by two men - both heavy set with shaved heads, in leather coats. The target has white hair, and spectacles. He also has a fu manchu style beard. Eliminate him, and him, alone - ignore the bodyguards - then drive back to the Majestic. Leave the car there, with the rifle in the trunk and leave the area. Don't forget to use the plug."
Before Niko could reply, the caller hung up.
Who the hell are you? Niko wondered, toying with the idea to walk away.
He climbed the crane and followed the instructions. He unpacked what he realized now was obviously a high powered sniper rifle, complete with earplugs. He took a stable position by the counterweight, then brought the rifle up, looking through the sights. He zoomed in and, despite the airport terminal being half a mile away, got a close up of the terminal. He waited five minutes before he spotted the man.
The white suit was blinding. The man came out with two men - just as the voice said. Niko took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger gently. He expected to hear the rifle crack, but instead he heard what sounded like a tank firing. The recoil almost made him lose his balance, but he corrected for it.
Through the sights, Niko saw the man's suit instantly turn red, as his head literally exploded. The two body guards were covered in brain matter and blood, and people started running.
Niko hurriedly replaced the sniper in it's case, and returned to the car. He rushed off, turning onto the Broker/Dukes expressway and heading into the city.
He parked the car and made his way to the subway.
His phone rang.
"What the hell was that!?" Niko demanded, trying to keep his voice quiet.
"A Fifty Caliber Sniper Rifle." The voice replied. "The man was called Hector Rodriguez. Look him up on the LCPD Database if you want. He's an arms dealer, on his way to sell merchandise to a contact who wants to... lets say, bad things. You did a good thing. I'll be in contact soon. Keep your head down. The men who want to kill you are still out there." The signal began to degrade as he reached the platform.
"Niko, trust me. You will take them men out. Just not yet." The voice hung up again.
Niko swore and stepped onto a train.
Johnny couldn't sleep. He had too many questions running through his head. Who killed Michael? What was Michael doing back in Liberty City? Why did it hurt so much?
How was he going to find the a*sholes that killed him?
He found himself running through the names of his late brothers. Michael, Jim, Billy, Brian - their faces, along with a mental image of their needless deaths, playing in his mind like an old movie. How did things get so f*cked up? He wondered how many friends he had left. Sure, Terry Clay and Angus were true, loyal, but they could never refill the hole that Jim had left. Then there was Ashley, who he had loved with all of his being. But what about himself? What kind of a brother was he? The only words he'd shared with Michael were argumentative. How was he better then anyone else?
F*ck this sh*t. Johnny said to himself. I'm going for a ride.
And so Johnny took the one thing that had never let him down - through thick and thin, come rain or shine - and began cruising the streets. He found himself outside the bowling alley, where Jim loved to play air-hockey. A bunch of bikers playing air-hockey, how pathetic.
Johnny's face broke into a weak smile. "I could really do with you being around now Fitz." He said to himself, trying to reach out beyond the grave.
He carried on down Union Drive, eventually stopping outside the Libertonian.
That greaseball f*ck Ray. Johnny still felt the rage when he heard the piece of sh*t was dead - he should have ended that backstabber's life. But that snake got what was coming to him.
Johnny dismounted and walked up to a hot dog vendor. It wasn't even 5 AM, but these guys were up and doing business. The sun wasn't even up.
He took a bite of the sausage, a tasteless, rubbery piece of meat, and began to walk back to his bike.
Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw it. Nothing spectacular, just an awning over a door. A memory awoke in his head, and with it a name.
Johnny tossed the hot dog to the floor and crossed the road.
The gentlemen's club wasn't open for another hour.
Stubbs turned up at about ten. Johnny saw him from across the street, where he sat on a bench, his fourth cup of coffee in his hand. Buzzing with caffeine but drained, both physically and mentally, Johnny stood and stepped into the road.
A car horn screamed, throwing Johnny off balance. He fell back, his hand breaking his fall.
"Get out of the way bro!" A hispanic called leaning out of the window. He looked vaguely familiar, but Johnny couldn't place the face.
He didn't respond though, just stood and crossed the road.
Stubbs was sitting reading the paper. Johnny walked in, to be greeted by a man in a suit.
"I want to talk to Stubbs." Johnny said.
The man asked if he was expected, but Johnny was too sleep deprived to play along. He grabbed the man, pulling him toward him, knocking the clipboard off of the podium.
"Stay out of my way or die." Johnny barged past the Maître d' or whatever the hell this guy was and approached Stubbs
Congressman Thomas Stubbs III clocked him and stood. It took almost ten seconds but finally the old man's memory kicked in.
"Good you remember me."
"I heard you were dead!"
"That would be my brother."
"Ah." Stubbs set aside his paper, and approached. "I'm so sorry to hear that."
"Yeah." Johnny growled. "Death of a family member is always hard to swallow. I wasn't lucky enough to get an inheritance."
Stubbs' face dropped.
"So that's why you're here is it? Blackmail?"
Johnny shook his head. "I want your help."
Stubbs raised an eyebrow as a security guard appeared. He waved him down.
"Let's go somewhere quieter."
Johnny offered a sharp nod. "No saunas or massage parlors."
They ended up in a small salle. A rack of fencing swords stood at one end, a huge mirror at the other.
"What do you need?"
"To find out who killed him."
Stubbs nodded. "And how do you expect me to help?"
Johnny shrugged. "You gotta start somewhere."
Stubbs smiled and began to pace the room. "Do you fence-?" He caught himself mid sentence. "No of course you don't."
"He was killed in this city. I don't know why he was even here."
"And you want me to find out..."
"He was in the army. Why would he be back in the States?"
"Our boys overseas not allowed to come home now Johnny? Maybe he was visiting you, or applying for a position on the BAWSAQ... What do you want me to do?"
"Find out who killed him. That's all."
"Ah. So it's a simple case of revenge, is it? Well I'll try to find out what I can, but I'm thinking maybe you've got the wrong man for the job."
"I don't keep company with many cops or feds. A filthy lying polictian is the closest i can get."
Stubbs laughed. "I always liked you Johnny."
"Yeah," Johnny growled dismissively. "It was a couple of thugs I'm told. A friend told me."
"And you're thinking they're in Liberty City."
"They better be."
"Okay, Johnny. I'll see what I can do. But you'll have to do something for me."
Johnny sighed. "One thing, and one thing only - and no killing your family members."
"Oh heavens no. Nothing like that."
"Okay, but I'm not doing anything until you've come through."
Stubbs, seeing the steely look in Johnny's eye, nodded and handed Johnny his number, stating that it's 'a new one.' Johnny left, went back to the old casino, and finally slept.
He woke mid afternoon. He could hear muffled hard rock music and an out of place jingle. It took him a moment to realize his phone was going off.
Johnny, still in his clothes, fumbled around and grabbed his phone.
It was Stubbs.
"Someone up there must be smiling on you." He said. "I managed to find out about your brother. The LCPD had footage from a CCTV camera from the time your brother died. It shows him, followed by two men, go into an car park entrance. The men came back out in under a minute. They managed to identify the suspect, and are going to take him down in the morning. I'll send you a picture of him. Find him, and do whatever you have to do - if you can get hold of a police vehicle, you may be able to locate him through their database. I couldn't get his location. Just remember. You didn't get this from me. I'll recall the favor sometime soon old boy."
"Thanks, I guess."
"Don't mention it Johnny." Stubbs ended the call and a moment later Johnny received a text message. Then he got up, and headed outside.
Finding a cop car was a whole lot easier then you'd expect. Johnny found a pay phone and dialed 911, citing a domestic disturbance in an apartment.
Sure enough, the police turned up and disappeared into the building. Johnny stole the car.
He parked it a few blocks away, in a back street, and connected his phone to the Police computer. A minute later he had a match.
Johnny set his jaw and abandoned the car.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 01:48 AM
Niko had got another call. Whoever the hell it was on the other end, behind the distorted voice, told him where he could find the two men that had tried to kill him.
Niko wasted no time. He'd immediately phoned Jacob, and met him on charge island.
"Irie Niko." The Rastafarian said, taking his friends hand. "I got the guns. Yo' want backup on dis run?" His English had improved over the last year or so, as had Niko's.
"No, that's okay Jacob." Niko said, taking the stubby shotgun, an MP5, and a few grenades. "Thank you very much for the guns."
"No problem Niko. No problem. We got each other's backs covered, seen?" Niko nodded. "Yo' need any back up, gimme a bell. I'll be ready if yo' need help against he babylon."
Niko nodded again, and the two shook hands.
Soon, in a car stolen from the Airport's long term parking lot, Niko sat parked across the street from a liquor store. He watched the shop front - The Voice had told him it was a front for an illegal gambling den that his would-be assassins like to frequent. The irony was not lost on him.
He saw a gray Washington pull up and park in front of the store. Ogre stepped out and went inside. Niko, trusting The Voice's word, waited for the skinny runt to turn up. Sure enough, he did, riding a white Bati 1000 motorcycle. The guy even wore white motorcycle leathers. Niko waited until he went inside, then got out of the car and headed for the alley.
Johnny had written the address of Micheal's apparent murderer on the back of his hand. Stubbs had been unable to get a photo of both faces, but the face that Johnny had committed to his memory apparently belonged to a Lyle Greenhorn. He had a large head, his hair shaved, and sported an un-stylish goatee. He looked just like your typical thug - big beefy and ugly. Soon to be dead.
He'd parked his bike in a back street behind a dumpster, and walked the rest of the way. Terry had come through, showing that he was indeed a true brother. How could he have any doubts? He'd gotten a sawn-off shotgun and an automatic machine-pistol, along with a couple of pipe bombs. Johnny also wore some body armor under his jacket.
He found the place and checked the address. Everything checked out.
Johnny took a breath, allowed Micheal's face to flash through his mind's eye, then kicked the door open.
Niko had crept in through the back door, knocking a guy out with the butt of his gun, and moved through what looked like a kitchen. He risked a peek through one of two doorways, and saw a cluster of six men sitting at a card table.
He saw Ogre, sitting next to a miniature refrigerator, and the skinny guy next to him. He couldn't see any guns, but he knew these guys would be armed.
He withdrew for a moment, and contemplated throwing a grenade in the room. He decided against it. Perhaps he could find out who they worked for before he killed them...
Then there came a loud crash from another room. There was a shout, followed by a shotgun blast.
"LYLE!" Johnny shouted at the top of his voice. "WHERE ARE YOU LYLE?!" He stepped past the body in front of him, ignoring the almost black blood that rushed from the torso. He lifted his gun up to the door separating the shop from the backrooms and fired. Then he quickly reloaded.
Niko jumped out of cover, his MP5 immediately coming up for Ogre and Skinny. A shot to the leg, maybe the arm. Wound them, then find out what the hell-
Neither were there.
Niko caught a glimpse of white disappear through a doorway, but ignored it. He had three more men in the room. Two of which had seen him.
Niko brought the sub-machine gun up and fired three shots at the first man. Before the guy could even fire a single round, the bullets struck his chest and head. He fell.
Then Niko aimed at the other man who was now moving for cover. He fired, but missed. The man had reached his cover.
Johnny barged through the door, and saw someone disappear up some stairs. He followed.
He found himself in a small room with a single window that overlooked a room with a card table downstairs. He saw a man fall, shot, and another dive for cover.
There's another shooter here. Johnny thought. Immediately he thought of Stubbs.
The man he was chasing had ran into the only other room up here. Johnny followed but immediately regretted it. The man had picked up an assault Shotgun, the Street Sweeper. He grinned and pulled the trigger.
The sound of an angry jackhammer blasted through Johnny's ears, as he backpedaled. He reached the door and allowed himself to collapse behind the wall. The frenzy of shotgun shells drilled in the the floor, no more then an inch or two from his feet. He quickly pulled them behind cover.
"AWW! WHAT'S THE MATTER!" A gravely voice called. "MOMMY CALLED YOU BACK FOR DIN-DINS?"
Johnny grabbed his automatic pistol. He carefully slid it into the door way and fired, arching his hand so the bullets would span the entire room.
Then he lept up, machine pistol in his left hand, sawn-off shotgun in his right. He ran through the door, spraying the room with 9mm bullets. He spotted the gravely-voiced man, scrambling for cover behind an old bed, and brought the shotgun up.
The man's eyes went wide, and he dropped the gun.
The man was Lyle.
Johnny's jaw was set, his blood boiling.
"YOU KILLED MICHAEL!" He shouted, ignoring the gunfire from downstairs. He dropped his pistol and grabbed the man, throwing him onto the bed, helped by a solid swing of the sawn-off.
Johnny heard the wet crack as Lyle's nose broke. He heard the man cry out, his hands shooting to his face.
Johnny dropped his gun.
"YOU KILLED MY BROTHER!" He shouted again, sending a vertical punch straight down into the man's cheek.
Ignoring the pain in his fist - not even caring if his knuckles were broken, Johnny backed off and picked up the man's Auto shotgun.
"Did you kill him quick?" He asked, his voice on the verge of breaking.
"Yes!" The man replied from behind a torrent of nasal blood. "A clean job!"
Johnny took a breath. "Well in that case..." He began, ushering the man to stand.
"Don't expect the same courtesy from me!" Johnny fired at the man's leg. His knee disappeared, Lyle Greenhorn screamed in agony. Johnny fired at the other knee. Same result.
"F*CK YOU!" Johnny yelled, pulling hard on the trigger. He screamed as the automatic shotgun let out it's barrage of shells. Smoke and blood filled his vision, and the screaming stopped.
But he didn't release the trigger, not until the barrel needed reloading. Luckily, there was a spare by the bed. Johnny reloaded, then turned round to look at Lyle's body.
There was nothing left. He saw part of a face, torn and covered in blood, and a mangled carcass that may once have resembled a body. He looked down. His leather jacket was covered in blood.
Niko had cleared the card room. He rushed down into the cellar, coolly switching his MP5 for the shotgun. He was halfway down the steps when he heard the insanity from upstairs. Several loud booms, in quick succession.
He paid no mind, and moved into the basement.
A man in a tank top fired a pistol. He missed.
Niko fired the shotgun once. The man flew back. Niko turned.
Suddenly his world went black. He blinked to see the room on its side. A second later he moved his head, seeing the sideways view of the stairs - the skinny man running up them.
Niko pulled himself to his feet and dabbed his thumb on his face. It came back red. He pinched his nose and, despite the bleeding, decided it wasn't broken.
He moved up the stairs.
Johnny, now in a blind rage, came storming out of the room. There was a single man, holding a gun in Johnny's direction. The man's mouth was open, his eyes staring at the red figure coming toward him.
Johnny fired three times.
Then a shot plunged into his chest. He stumbled backwards, but the vest did it's job. Johnny turned and traced the shot to the card table downstairs. He looked through the window and saw a man firing a gun up at him. Johnny lifted the shotgun and took him down quickly. Then he saw movement from a doorway. He fired again.
Niko pressed himself against the wall and stole a glance round. A man was in the process of slumping over the card table when a shine of metal caught his eye. He looked up-
"SH*T!" Niko breathed, spinning himself away from the doorway. shotgun shells tore into the wall.
Niko blind-fired his shotgun through the door way.
The gunman upstairs momentarily ceased fire. Niko used that half second to steal another look.
Johnny saw the head poke out from cover. He fired again and the head disappeared. Did he get it? He paused firing for a second.
The head reappeared and Johnny swung the gun round, ready to fire, stumbling slighty.
Suddenly he felt a searing heat on the tip of his ear, accompanied by a blast of air. Then there came a second shot, hitting him in the Kevlar vest. He involuntarily dropped the gun.
Johnny dropped down, taking cover under the window and felt his ear. He winced as his finger touched the hot wound.
"J*sus Chr*st!" He breathed. The bullet had just missed him. Had he not stumbled, half of his brain would be on the wall. And despite the stumble, the shooter had corrected enough for a heart shot. Johnny gave a silent thanks to the body armor. That guy's dangerous. He told himself.
He grabbed a pipe bomb, feeling his heart pounding faster then ever before.
Two men, he heard Stubbs say. The other was around here somewhere.
Then there came a clatter from by the stairs. Johnny looked up and saw a grenade roll across the floor.
"HOLY S*IIIIT!" Johnny called out, dropping his weapons and running for the window in the bedroom.
Niko heard the grenade explode, then darted out from cover, his MP5 leading the way. Part of the floor collapsed, blocking the back door. Niko turned and ran out the front.
Johnny's fall out of the first story window landed him, of all places, on top of some trash cans. He groaned and stumbled to his feet. Everything hurt, there was blood trickling down his face and onto his shoulder, and he couldn't tell his from Lyle's.
You shouldn't have killed him. He told himself. He needed answers, not bodies.
He stumbled down the alley to his bike. Sirens sounded in the distance, slowly getting louder. He had to go. Now.
He managed to reach the road, seeing a car speed away, leaving a cloud of wheel-smoke in it's wake.
Who the hell was that? Had Stubbs set him up, or did whoever killed Michael want him dead too?
Johnny decided Stubbs was going to get a bloody visit - literally.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 01:49 AM
Johnny stood in the alleyway, Lyle's blood dripping onto the concrete floor. He watched as the car stopped and a door opened. Stubbs stepped out. Johnny tightened his grip on the gun.
Johnny waited until Stubbs got close enough, then he stepped from the shadows, gun up, and grabbed the man's shirt's immaculate collar.
"J*SUS CHR*ST!" Stubbs called out as Johnny slammed him against a wall. Then he realized who the man was. "Good Lord, Johnny!" He whispered breathlessly. "What the hell happened to you?"
"Face painting at the Firefly Island Carnival. It''s supposed to be Spiderman."
Stubbs stood there looking confused.
Johnny let the man go and took a step back.
"To be fair, he wasn't much of a painter. But how about we continue the festivities?"
"Uh... Okay..." Stubbs said, bewildered.
"Let's say truth or dare. You go first."
Stubbs stared for a minute until Johnny ushered him to continue.
"Er... Truth I guess."
Johnny flashed a mock smile. "Why did you set me up? I asked for some help, you agreed...."
"Greenhorn. You sent someone else there to take me down. Why?"
Stubbs' face dropped to somewhere between fear and confusion.
"Nice acting." Johnny said. Then he laid a hand on Stubbs' shoulder. "My turn. I'll go for truth."
Stubbs blinked then, after a minute: "Are you going to kill me?"
"I'm looking for a reason not to. I'm struggling to find one. Your turn again."
"Oh come now Johnny! It's obvious you think I've tried to kill you. If that was the case, do you really think I'd be here alone? Oh hell, do you really think I would have left Middle Park at all?"
Johnny sighed. "You make a good politician. You told me once that lying's what you're good at. Give me one reason why I shouldn't kill you right here?"
Stubbs sighed then looked up. "Michael." He said flatly.
Johnny clubbed Stubbs round the head.
"Don't you dare use him to spare your life."
Stubbs, now on the floor, looked up. "What the hell happened?"
Johnny looked down, suddenly feeling fatigued. He pointed the gun at Stubbs but couldn't fire. He believed him.
"You really have no idea." Johnny stated. Wisely, Stubbs didn't reply. "There was another guy there, shooting at me."
"What makes you think he wasn't one of Greenhorn's posse?"
Johnny turned and cocked his head. "Because he was shooting at them too. He almost had me too. If i hadn't tripped, I'd be in the back of some coroner's truck."
Stubbs raised an eyebrow and winced. He touched his forehead with his hand which came back with a spot of blood on it.
"It's only a little cut." Johnny mocked. He reached down and helped the congressman to his feet. He was still fuming, but he had no idea at who his anger should be directed.
Stubbs recommended they 'got off the street' and get the biker into some clean clothes. He just happened to have a tracksuit in his trunk.
Johnny had changed quickly while Stubbs waited in the car. He put his blood stained clothes in Stubbs' sports bag and phoned Clay to pick his bike up. Clay had agreed but wanted to know why. Johnny promised an explanation later.
"Something else troubling you, Jonathan?" Stubbs asked as the car pulled onto the road.
"You mean aside from my brother being dead, getting covered in his killer's blood then being ambushed and coming this close to being a corpse?" He held up his thumb and forefinger to signify an inch.
"Well since you put it like that...."
"No, what bothers me is that I've only once seen a shooter that good."
"Two years ago, while working for some mob guy."
Stubbs nodded then said: "So what now?"
"Greenhorn's friend was there. I didn't see his body so I'm thinking he got away."
"And you want me to track him down?"
Stubbs shook his head. "I don't think so, but I can put you in contact with someone who might."
"He was my room mate at college. He was in the Police then FIB until two years ago where he was forced to leave the Bureau. He's now a Private detective with a few good contacts."
"So I go see him then?"
"It's not that simple Johnny. You'll need money first. He demands half up front."
"How much does he cost?"
Stubbs told him and Johnny's face dropped.
"And before you ask, Johnny, no I cannot lend you it. You'll have to find it another way."
That's when Johnny decided to phone an old friend...
Niko had been waiting for The Voice to phone again. He had tried to place the call himself, but the number was apparently unavailable. Not busy, there was no message, just a pulsating beep. He decided he needed to unwind. He was so pent up following the shootout in Willis, he was ready to find this son-of-a-b*tch and give him something-
Niko's cell rang.
"Brucie's back baby!" Brucie had been abroad for a few months, on a business trip with his brother. "And tanned. The b*tches have been deprived for too long. What say we hit the clubs homie?"
What the hell, Niko thought. "Why not." He replied. "I'll get you-"
"No Nicky, we'll get you. Where are ya?"
Niko hesitated, then gave his location as the Tw@t cafe on Frankfurt. He then went and took a shower, changing into a pair of stonewashed jeans, his favorite shirt - a stripey one - and a pair of burgundy and white converses. Then he took a stroll to the cafe.
He went inside and got a coffee, then sat at a table, sipping at the beverage while waiting for Brucie to turn up, watching the traffic as it passed. He allowed his thoughts to drift, thinking about Roman, his mother and recent events. An Infernus drove past, reminding him of that whole Florian/Darko thing, a chapter he was glad to see the end of. A police car passed, followed by a Stretch E that stopped. The driver stepped out, dressed in a well fitting suit. He walked to the back of the vehicle and opened the door.
"Brucie?" Niko whispered. He stepped outside.
Niko nodded his greeting and followed Brucie inside.
"Thank's." Brucie said to the driver.
"Yeah," This voice came from Brucie's brother, who bore a stunning resemblance to Brucie. "Off to the club."
"So," Brucie said as the car pulled away. "How's things?"
Niko sighed and filled Brucie in on the recent events and how much he misses his cousin.
"I miss the big guy too." Brucie said. "Things just aren't the same without him around."
"Oh knock it off you pansies!" Brucie's brother mocked. "Turning emo now are you?"
"Shut up Mori." Brucie said, shooting his brother a hard stare.
"Make me." Mori chuckled, then turned to Niko. "Maybe Lou could help. Things are going well for him now, owning his own clubs. Damn Brucie, we should have gone into business with them. They got clubs and restaurants here, down in Vice, in Los Santos. It's a big pie they're tucked into."
"Give it a rest Mori. I know you're jealous but man. We got what we need here - we got the paper, the women, the cars..."
"...The Bling!" Mori chuckled. Then: "Ah f*ck the fa**ot!" The brothers laughed again. Then the Stretch E stopped. The driver appeared and escorted the men into the club where they met the club's owner who led them to a table in a private area.
"Whoa!" Brucie breathed. "This place has changed."
"Yeah." The owner said. "A whole renovation."
"Looks great Lou." Mori said. "Who did you get to do it? Gotta get them to do my place!"
"Some local decorators up in North Holland. Let me get you guys a drink, on the house." Niko watched as 'Lou' walked away. He turned to Brucie, then mentally changed gear. For once he was going to have fun....
Johnny pulled his bike into the parking lot of the strip club just off of walnut way. To him it was another change in the city - a face-lift that did little to hide the seedy underbelly that dwelled within. He could almost smell it.
He sh*t off the engine and went inside.
Immediately he got a few stares. He'd been in many biker bars, but this was the strangest. Most places were dirty, with men in leathers or MC-colors drinking, smoking or playing pool or cards. Obscenities were thrown around like a hooker's thong, and there was always that....ripe smell.
This one however was the opposite. Firstly, Johnny was struck by the contrast to the bars he had spent his life in. The place was ultra-modern and so.... clean. The walls were mirrored in strategic places, and had that glass-block build in others, separated by plain brick. The floor was laminate - no, real wood. There was a bar that stretched in a long arch from a recess on Johnny's left, right the way round to the far wall, bracketing the dance floor - which was lit from underneath. Dotted around were platforms with stripper poles, but only two were in use. There was a cluster of tables - all glass - and, behind them, shielded by the biggest fish tank Johnny had ever seen, was a set of stairs leading up to a catwalk that overlooked the entire ground floor.
The music was loud, and heavy wit the bass. With each pound of the R 'n B, Johnny could almost feel himself lifting off of the ground.
The other thing that struck Johnny was the fact that, with the exception of one dancer, and a couple of girlfriends, every person in here was black. And boy was there alott of them
"Who's this cracker?" He heard someone mumble.
"Damn white-boy's got a deathwish." Another muttered.
Johnny had barely reached the bar, having been in the club no more then fifteen seconds before a beefy black man approached him. The man wore a string vest under a shirt that in no way hid his over-the-top muscles. Johnny felt slightly intimidated.
"What'yo want fool?" The man growled, his face wondering why the bouncers outside - who, Johnny guessed, were armed - had let him in. Johnny told the man what he had told them, then watched as the man's face twisted. He turned and waved someone over.
"Take him up, but keep an eye on him. I don't trust this snowman."
The second man nodded and ushered Johnny towards the fish-tank. Even though this guy was half the size of the other, Johnny was still intimidated.
The man led him up the stairs behind the aquarium, and across the catwalk to a lounge area that overlooked the club through some darkened glass. The man knocked on the door and then, after being given the nod, waved Johnny in.
Inside Johnny saw the first two familiar faces of the night.
"Malc." Johnny nodded.
"Come sit down man." Malc waved for a busty girl to move. Johnny sat.
"I didn't believe it was you at first." He said. "Motherf*cker coming back from the dead. Damn."
"I'd love an emotional reunion, Malc, sit around, roast some S'mores, hold hand and sing Kumbay-f*cking-ah, but I'm trying to find someone."
"Yeah you said man, but come on. You can have one drink."
Johnny shrugged and was handed a Tequila.
"So yo' after some quick money." Malc stated.
Johnny nodded. "Yeah but let me ask you something. What the hell's all this sh*t?" Johnny waved an arm out to the club. "You President now?"
Malc laughed. "No, just a big player in this crew. The club is co-owned with the 'Riders and a businessman."
"Your clubhouse not good enough for you?"
Malc burst out laughing. "'Course it is! But it don't bring no money in!"
"Yeah." Johnny said dismissively. "But you said you could help me?"
Malc took a mouthful of drink and looked up, his face turning serious. "Sorry to hear about your brother."
"I got someone who can find the remaining killer, but I need the cash up front."
"Jewish guy is he?" Malc said, stirring a laugh with his companions.
"Ha-f*cking-ha." Johnny scowled. "You gonna help me or do your stand-up routine all night."
Malc laughed. "A little joke never hurt no one." He took another sip of drink then leaned over. "I got a couple of prospects on the horizon, maybe you want in? A deal or two will give you a few K."
"Whatever, man." Johnny said from behind his drink. "I just need the money quick."
Malc nodded then waved at DeSean. Both men got up, urging Johnny to follow them.
"...this smoking Swedish student in her gap year - double D's and everything - who do I see Baby B taking into his room? A teenaged boy!" Niko and Mori shared the laugh but Brucie objected.
"That's not true Mori! That's not true. It was a girl, a smoking hot girl-"
"B. I'm messing-"
"She had t*ts, nice t*ts. Okay they were small but-"
"Brucie!" Niko snapped. "He's just joking!"
Brucie looked up and laughed. "I know, Nicky." He paused while the two men stared at him. "I f*cking know! I was just messing!"
Mori shrugged and waved over the club's manager.
"Everything okay here gentlemen?"
"Oh everything's fine, but another bottle perhaps?" Mori held out a hundred dollar bill. The man took it and, with his latino brogue said, "Coming right up."
Niko paid no mind to the price but turned his attention to Mori.
"Brucie never told me he had a brother?"
Mori chuckled. "I don't blame him! I wouldn't tell anyone about me either. I'm a f*cking beast! Haha. I'd only put him to shame!"
"It doesn't look as though you two get on." Niko observed.
"Nah we do." Brucie smiled. "I mean we didn't use to but... things changed."
"This guy sucker-punched me, right in the face. Never in the face. He knew the rule, but I deserved it. I was an as*hole."
"But he was only trying to help me."
Mori smiled, revealing a set of very white teeth. "I gotta say tho, he's come a long way. Did you know what he looked like as a kid?" Mori cupped his mouth, hidding it from Brucie and mouthed the word 'fat'.
Niko laughed. "I'm aware of it!"
"But the last few trips we went on helped us bond."
"Yeah holding hands and everything. Mori laughed. Then the man returned with the next bottle of champagne.
Lou picked up the used bottle and nodded at Mori. "If you need anything else, talk to the assistant Manager Dessie," He pointed to a man who was at the bar shaking hands with some man in a suit.
Brucie looked up and asked: "Didn't he used to be the doorman?"
Lou laughed. "Got promoted bro'."
"You off then?" Mori asked.
"Yeah." Lou replied. "I'll catch you guy's later. Enjoy your night." The three men shook hands with the club owner and watched him leave.
"So." Mori turned to Niko. "You after work?"
Niko, now beginning to feel the effects of the alcohol, looked up. "I co-run Roman's cab company with his widow, but the extra money could help. I'm listening."
"Nothing major. Just a deal I got lined up."
"That I set up!" Brucie called out.
"That little B set up. Basically we're selling some merchandise to some guys from uptown. Should be pretty simple."
"Then why do you need me?"
"I didn't get to where I am today by leaping without looking! That is why Brucie here is stuck in the car trade..."
"I'm not stuck in the car trade bro, I'm number one in that sh*t!"
"Oh yeah." Mori said sarcastically. "Genetically Different!'"
Brucie lowered his voice slightly and said: "That's 'cause we are!"
Niko laughed. "So you want me there as back up. In case things go wrong?"
Mori nodded. "So you in Nick?"
Niko shrugged and said: "Why not?"
Posted 12 January 2011 - 01:51 AM
Niko had left the iFruit at his Bohan safehouse after crashing there following last night's drinks. He'd walked off the hangover and replenished his nutrients with a homemade sandwich, hydrating himself with an Electrolyte Sports drink.
Now he sat in Mori's Buffalo, watching the city pass in the window. The two brothers were bickering in the front - or joking, Niko couldn't tell the difference - and he found himself looking for reasons to leave this city. There was nothing left here anymore.
The car stopped.
"Nicky!" Brucie sung. "We're here homie!"
Niko stepped out of the car and followed the men to the back. Mori picked up a compact full-auto pistol, Brucie did the same. Niko grabbed the remaining gun - a P90. He weighed it in his hands for a moment before looking down the sights.
"Aint she a beaut?" Brucie laughed.
Mori nodded grimly. Down to business.
For some reason, Malc had insisted on a cage. Maybe they were picking up something heavy, Johnny wondered. Whatever, let's just get this over with.
Johnny hated cars. Coffins on wheels. Confined tombs. Claustrophobic. Cramped. Nothing could beat the wind in your hair - if he hadn't shaved his off - the open road at your feet...
Bohan was the location, Malc had told him, an old warehouse's forecourt in the Industrial district.
The smell of Gasoline hung in the air, and there was a damp mist coming in off of the bay. Traffic wasn't too heavy so the place was quiet. Desolate.
Johnny, AK slung over his shoulder followed Malc, DeSean, somone higher up in their gang and a lacky. They led him to the meeting place.
Niko rounded the corner and stood there while Mori shook hands with the customer. He looked around scanning for danger. There was the guy shaking hands, two men with him - no wait, a third hanging back and....
Johnny took a double take. He cocked his head and saw the man's gaze rest on him.
Niko watched the man, waiting for him to make the first move...
And Johnny did. He swung his AK up and aimed it at Niko.
Niko pulled the P90 out of his jacket. He dropped to a crouch and lined the sights up on Johnny's head.
The second Johnny saw the gun come out he dove for cover. No way was he leaving himself open again. This guy was dangerous, and he suddenly remembered who he was.
Mori had brought his gun out - no he had two - and began firing without hesitation. Brucie did too, but he was already retreating.
Niko fired at the crate where that biker guy was hiding, then took cover behind a concrete barrier.
Mori took cover too, but didn't look like he was going to stay there.
"Who sent you?" Niko shouted out, convinced that this biker guy had something to do with The Voice.
"What the f*ck are you talking about?" Johnny called back.
One of Mori's bullets hit one of the customers. The man fell.
"Did you kill Michael?" Johnny shouted.
Niko turned his head to Mori.
"Who the hell is Michael?" He rasped. Mori shrugged.
"Let's just get out of here." Mori replied.
Niko shook his head.
"Two people tried to kill me then some mysterious caller tells me to kill some guy and, when I finally go after the guys that tried to kill me, this guy pops up and also tries to kill me. That's one big f*cking coincidence."
"Okay." Mori yelled back. "Let's take these guys down quick and get out of here before the cops arrive."
Niko shook his head.
"Who the hell is this guy?" Malc asked Johnny, having joined him behind the crate.
"Two men killed my brother. When I went after them, this guy was there, shooting at me..."
Johnny nodded then shouted out. "Come get me as*hole! Fight me like a man!"
"F*ck off!" Niko shouted in response.
Johnny lost it and jumped up from cover. He lifted his AK and slammed the trigger down.
"OH YEAH!?" Johnny shouted as the bullets drilled into the concrete. One or two zipped past Niko's head, so close that he could feel the air rush.
"You should have picked some taller cover!" Mori called. Niko told him to shut up.
"Come on!" Johnny shouted again. "Come f*cking get me before I f*k you up!"
"Yeah?" Niko shot back. "And I'll rip your f*cking heart out!"
Sirens sounded in the distance, rapidly getting louder and louder. There also came the sound of engines, but Niko couldn't place them.
"I aint going to jail over this sh*t!" Mori yelled. "Brucie better have the car ready!" Mori scrambled backward and made a dash behind a wall, heading for the car. "Come on Nick!"
"F*ck this!" Johnny jumped to his feet and darted out of cover. He brought his gun up and saw the man running for the building. He fired, but missed then he turned to aim at the cover where that Slavic f*ck was hiding.
"Hide like a little girl!" Johnny shouted, rushing straight at the concrete.
Niko stood, his P90 in hand. He saw Johnny rushing up on him but, in the distance he saw something more worrying. There was about ten men on bikes, all of whom were dismounting and/or firing guns.
Johnny fired at Niko, but missed. He was moving too fast.
Niko took a quick aim at the biker. Shards of concrete impaired his vision as the biker's shots barely missed him. Niko fired.
Suddenly Johnny's AK-47 stopped firing. He looked down to see it clatter to the ground and could suddenly feel the hot searing pain in his shoulder.
Niko backpedaled and fired at the bikers in the distance. Then he saw that other guy - what was his name, Johnny? - painstakingly crouch for the AK. Niko fired again. Twice. Three times. Then he turned and ran, the police sirens now deafening. He could already see the flashing lights.
Johnny felt the punch hit him in the chest, just next to his shoulder. Then another. He stumbled backwards and a third hit him. He collapsed.
The gunfire and sirens faded as the world began to lose its saturation. Johnny moved his head to look at his shoulder but it hurt. He suddenly felt so weak.
Sorry Michael. He thought. He turned his head and saw Malc shouting something, but there was no sound. Police appeared in the distance, running in black and white.
Suddenly Johnny's eyes felt heavy. He was tired. So tired.
He saw that Slavic shooter's face in his mind.
He closed his eyes.
Johnny's world went dark.
Brucie was about to slam the accelerator down when he saw Niko running. He opened the driver's door and got out rushing into the back of the Buffalo.
"What the hell are you doing?!" Mori shouted.
"Let Nicky drive!" Brucie called back. "He's a good driver man!"
Niko jumped straight in the driver's seat and immediately accelerated. He didn't waste a second putting on his seatbelt or even shutting the door. The momentum of the car accelerating did that for him.
"J*sus!" Mori exclaimed.
Niko didn't reply, but he was angry. Of all the sh*t that had happened to him since the war, couldn't his life for once settle down?
He slammed the steering wheel to the right, allowing the car to fishtail. He then accelerated at an oncoming NOOSE cruiser, mounting the pavement at the last second.
Mori reached into the glove box and pulled out a chunky radio. He plugged it into the car's cigarette lighter and twisted a knob.
"...shootout in Industrial. Suspects driving a red Bravado Buffalo, heading north on Alcatraz. Dispatch units from..."
"We can listen to the po-po on here!" Mori said. "Help us lose them?"
Officer down! Dispatch air units to Bohan."
"Sh*t!" Brucie cried out. "We'll never lose the choppers!"
"Calm down Brucie!" Niko said as he spun the car onto Sing Sing Avenue."
"Oh yeah i forgot. You got that Red Army skills!"
Mori shot back a look at his brother that said one thing: Shut up.
Then there came the thundering on helicopter rotors.
"Holy sh*t!" Mori cried out.
"What?" Niko flashed a quick glance over.
"The cops just said 'terrorist'."
"They think we're terrorists!?" This came from Brucie.
Niko said, through gritted teeth. "Apparently so." He drove up the grass and cut back on the Northern Expressway.
"Sh*t Sh*t Sh*t!" Brucie yelled from the back seat, hyperventilating.
"I know how to loose these guy's!" Niko announced. He sped up the expressway until the passed the police station/hospital. Then he turned off of the road onto the grassy hill.
"Where the hell are you going!?" Mori cried out.
Niko let the car spin then controlled it until they faced east. Then he quickly fastened his seat belt and slammed his foot down.
"No way Nick!" Mori cried out. Brucie leaned forward to see where they were going and cursed.
"Hold on tight!" Niko advised.
Brucie and Mori both screamed as the car ploughed through the fence and into the air. They hung in the ether for a second before hitting the ground with a shuddering jolt.
Brucie was dazed but Niko was already reacting. He slammed the car into reverse and accelerated.
"We do not have a visual." The police scanner crackled. "Suspect car last seen on the Northern Expressway, Bohan, heading west..."
"What the hell?" Mori groaned, holding his head. There was a smear on the side window where he had, Niko guessed, hit his head.
Niko pulled a text book J-turn and accelerated into the tunnel, switched the headlights on.
"What the f*ck are you doing!?" Mori shouted, reaching over to grab the wheel. "You're going to kill us!"
Even Brucie looked horrified. Niko looked back and was about to calm him down when he pointed, his face white.
"T-T-Train!" Niko looked forward and surprised the brothers again. The expected him to swerve drastically, but he calmly gripped the steering wheel and threaded the car past the oncoming train.
There was a horrific rushing sound as the train zipped past, the turbulence rocking the car violently. Niko simply directed the Buffalo onto the right hand side track and sped up.
"Slow down!" Brucie shouted. "Didn't you see that train? Do you want to hit another?"
"Brucie!" Niko called. "The faster we go the better. We're on the other line. If there's a train behind us we need to go fast to out run it..."
Brucie shrunk back into his seat.
"Red Army." He whispered.
Niko followed the tunnel to the junction he knew was coming. He told the two to relax - that he had done this before. That did not settle them.
He stopped at the junction and turned round heading back the way they came, but on a different branch. A couple of minutes later they sped through Frankfurt High station, prompting more panicky shouts from the Kibbutz brothers. Then Niko swerved to the right, sending the car flying off of the track. They hit the ground with an even harder jolt then before. The car limped to the pay 'n' spray.
The Kibbutz brothers had calmed down after a drink while the car was being repaired.
"You're paying me for this right?" Niko said, more in statement then a question. Mori nodded.
"But after that stunt...."
"I lost them didn't I?" Niko flashed a rare smile. "Take the cost of the repair and spray out of my money."
Mori nodded and thanked Niko for his help. Offering him a left back home - Niko declined, saying he wanted a walk. He left the brothers at the pay 'n' spray and headed to his loft, checking for any tails like The Voice had adviced. He got in and had a large glass of vodka. Then he decided he'd better head back to Bohan and retrieve that phone.
It had seven missed calls...
Posted 12 January 2011 - 01:52 AM
Niko's conversation with the angry robot didn't go well. The Voice moaned at him for not answering the calls before telling him that they had missed an opportunity and hoped another one would arise.
Niko switched on the radio and grabbed another drink. Then something on the radio caught his attention.
"A shootout in Bohan, yesterday, believed to have been a deal gone wrong. A police officer, Harold Napier, was murdered at the scene while the perpetrators exchanged fire with the LCPD and NOOSE teams. Among the victims was a Tyrone Williams, a known member of the Uptown Riders and believed to be a major player in gang, Dwight Howard, another Uptown Riders member, and a Johnny Klebitz, president of American motorcycle club The Lost, who caused havoc two years ago in their war with the notorious Angels of Death..."
Niko stared at the radio. Did he hear that right?
Oh well, the b*stard had it coming.
Niko got himself another drink then stared into it. He remembered Johnny well from the two deals he did with him, and he had liked him, almost even trusted him. He shook his head. What a f*cked up world he lived in.
His cell rang.
"Yo, yo' wanna hang?"
Niko glanced at his drink and let out a sad chuckle. "You don't know how happy I am for you to say that."
"Wicked! Catch me up at my yard on Dillon."
"I'll see you soon!"
Despite his two strong Vodkas - neither of which he felt - Niko got in his Sabre GT and headed into Broker.
"I an’ I please to see yo' Niko!" Jacob said in his usual upbeat manor as he opened the door. "Come on in star."
Niko followed him up the stairs and into Jacob's living room. He offered him a drink. Niko eagerly accepted.
"I got an email from Badman today." Jacob said, pouring out some rum. He showed Niko a bottle of Vodka. "Got it just for you rasta."
"Anyway Niko, Badman. Jam-rock been doing him good. He no worry about sh*t ya know? He not so paranoid anymore."
"He still smoking that stuff?"
"'Cho! He on da herb still, but it pure out there. No chemicals in it, not be messing with his head so much."
"What about you?"
"Yo' know me Niko, I'll smoke till the day I die." He handed Niko his drink. "What 'bout you Niko? You find that bad-man?"
Niko nodded. "I found them, but one got away. Let me ask you something, Jacob. Do you believe in coincidences?"
"What yo' mean?"
"There was a guy shooting at me there - he had shot his way through and almost got me. We both escaped. You remember the diamonds?"
"That be a story there!" Jacob laughed. "Glad I an' I wasn't in that saga!"
"Remember the biker I told you about? The one who ripped off the mob guy?"
Jacob stared into space for a second. "Vaguely. Did you meet him through Elizebeta Torres?"
"That's the one."
"Tattoo on his neck?"
"Yeah I remember you sayin’. What 'bout him?"
"It was him at the liquor store in Willis. Then again yesterday during a deal I was making with someone."
"The deal didn't go too well?"
"Bumbaclot." Jacob took a sip of his drink. "That be a funny coincidence."
"I think he may have been after me too. I think he was working for someone - the same person those two men were... or are."
"Tsk. The world be full of snakes. It takes a wide eyed eagle to eat 'em."
"Well the biker guy's dead."
Niko nodded and emptied his glass. "I shot him and heard it on the radio today."
"Score one for Niko!" Jacob smiled.
"Then there's this weird voice that keeps calling me, getting me to do things. He knew about the men coming to kill me."
Jacob's eyes went wide.
"That some crazy sh*t."
"You're telling me. Worst thing is I don't know who it is so I can't track them down and end all this."
Jacob stood and got Niko another drink. "Truth be told Jacob, things haven’t been good since I got here."
"Liberty yo' home now tho."
"It doesn't feel that way. Everything just feels empty without Roman."
Jacob handed Niko his second - actually his forth - drink. "Roman was a righteous rasta. He was a good laugh an’ t’ing. But yo' got friends here?"
Niko sipped at the drink, still debating whether to get sh*t-faced or not. "Yeah…” He said, staring into his glass.”…I got you, Brucie, Packie… Dwayne, but none of them are Roman are they?"
"No and they never will be."
"Still. There's a hole Roman left, and nothing can fill it up."
"Find yo'self a lady, breda." Jacob offered a sly smile.
"I had. Packie's sister, but she turned her back on me when I needed her the most. I liked her but that's inexcusable. I have no one left. Not even myself."
"Don't be too hard on yo'self Niko. You a good man." Niko smiled weakly. "What about yo' nephew?"
"I see him sometimes - he's walking now.” Niko offered a pained smile. “Even getting the odd word out. But it's hard. He has Roman's face. I know he's going to grow up to look like him. That's going to be the hardest thing."
Jacob nodded and took a sip of his drink.
“Yo’ gotta forgive yo’self Niko.” Jacob said after a second.
Niko nodded. “It’s ironic. I keep thinking… Maybe if I had done what I should have – killed Dmitri when I had the chance – that Dmitri wouldn’t have sent his hit-man. But Roman, he would say about revenge not being good – that I have to let go… Forgive… I guess.. Forgiveness has it’s price.”
“I wish…” Niko said, setting his glass down. The drink was suddenly kicking in. “That I had kept my integrity. If only I could go back.”
Jacob stood and fetched Niko another drink. Niko accepted it and Jacob wisely changes subjects. They ended up watching some amateur comedy from Split Sides, finally crashing in Jacob’s front room.
The next morning, Niko woke up with a hangover. Again. He decided to walk it off.
His walk had taken him to outlook park, where he had bought a coffee and a bagel from a nearby shop. He stood against the fence of a gazebo and watched a group of women practicing Thai Chi.
Then came a familiar sound.
“What do you want now?” Niko said into his iFruit.
“Another job.” The electronic voice sounded.
“I’m getting sick of this.” Niko replied. “I don’t care who the hell you are anymore. I will not be your dog!”
“We can do this the easy way or the hard way.” Niko remarked on how calm this guy was. “I don’t want to play hard-ball, but if you’re going to continue being defiant we will be forced into taking more… aggressive means to ensure your compliance… I would rather not do that Niko…”
Niko sighed. It was obvious what that meant.
Niko sighed, and sat on a nearby bench.
“What do I have to do.”
“Firstly, we are not going to use you forever. I hope you can believe that.”
“Just tell me what you want done.”
There was a moment of silence, broken by the Voice.
“I need you to obtain a list.”
“Don’t get too cocky. The list is held inside City Hall. However, we can’t risk causing any alarms. Running in all guns blazing is out.”
“You want me to sneak in there?”
“Kind of. I can help you, but only if you understand what needs to be done. If I tell you to run, you run, don’t even question it.”
Niko sighed. “Do I have a choice?”
“I would like to say yes, but… No, you don’t. Get there for twelve.” The call ended.
Niko had driven his Comet and parked it a block from City Hall. Something told him he may need a fast car.
He was walking up Denver Avenue when his phone rang. He answered, but didn’t speak.
“Enter the plaza to your east. Under the bench by the fountain is a package containing false identification. Using that, Walk into City Hall and give your name as Clyde James. If anyone asks, you had the flu. Then head into the nearest male restroom and call the number you’re about to get in a text. Leave any weapons you have in the bag y the fountain.” The call ended and, almost immediately Niko received a text containing only a number. He pocketed the phone and headed into the park. Inside the bag he found a wallet, with an ID card, and some money and credit cards. He placed his pistol in the bag, hoping he’d get the chance to retrieve it. Still, he gave it a good wipe anyway.
Armed with this new cover identity, Niko walked into City Hall.
There was a security checkpoint inside the entrance. The ID held though, and Niko passed through. He allowed his eyes to dart around until he found the restroom then entered.
After entering the far cubical and locking the door, Niko placed the call.
“In the tank you’ll find a waterproof packet.” The Voice said with no delay. “Inside it is a set of clothes. Change into them and put your clothes in the packet. Replace the packet in the tank. Then, you will have received an update to your phone with a map. Memorize the route then follow it to the office. There you will find a filing cabinet. Search it for a document titled ‘Illegal Weapons Summit.” Use your phone to photograph each page. Then head back to the washroom, change clothes again and leave, taking the package with you.” Niko turned to the cistern and shook his head. “And Niko… Be careful.” The Voice ended the call.
Niko followed the instructions and changed into what turned out to be a blue security guard’s uniform, complete with cap. He replaced the package and began to study the map.
No one paid any attention to him as he exited the restroom and headed off down a hallway. Next left, he told himself. He turned the corner and saw two guards walking towards him. He drew a deep breath and carried on. The two guards approached and Niko felt the gaze of one of them wash over him. He focused on keeping his cool and allowed the men to pass. Then, as he was halfway through a sigh of relief, he heard one of them call him.
Niko turned. And saw the man looking at him.
The guard began to approach Niko. Niko could feel himself sweating. He stood there, frozen, like a deer in the headlights. The guard approached. Niko took a breath and readied himself for a fight. He imagined his route out of the building, pictured him running to the Comet, perhaps even retrieving his gun…
The guard was a foot from Niko who was about to adopt a combative stance when the man said something to him, his tone changing completely.
Niko, stepped aside, keeping his face as neutral as he could.
The guard strolled past Niko and grabbed the shoulder of a teenager who appeared to be part of a group. A school trip perhaps?
The two shared some words that Niko didn’t catch and a woman who he assumed was the teacher joined in. Niko used the distraction to slip past.
He reached the office without further incident and entered. Thankfully it was empty and, equally thankfully, there was only one door, no windows and the single pane of glass on the door was covered. Niko closed the door and turned to the filing cabinet.
It took him little under three minutes to find the file, and a further two to photograph the Document. Then he replaced the file in the cabinet and turned to leave. He strolled out and back down the corridor, acting as casually as he could.
Halfway there, he told himself. Now for the tricky part…
The teenager, teacher and security guard were still having their discussion, from what Niko could hear of it, the kid had kicked at something and broken it. He had a look to him too…
“Hey!” The guard called out. Niko instinctively turned and realized he was walking slightly too quickly.
“Can you give me a hand here buddy?”
Niko thought on his feet.
“Sorry man.” Niko said, using his best American accent. “I gotta rush to the…” Sh*t, what was the saying!? “…John.” Niko threw a quick uncomfortable face in and stood there, trying to turn away. He used the moment to read the man’s ID. Thom.
The guard threw up his hand. “Ok but get Jim up here as you pass him will you?” The guard pointed down the hall. Niko nodded and walked off.
“Hey Jim.” He said as he passed. “Tommy boy up there wants you. I gotta rush…” Jim nodded and headed up to assist his colleague.
Niko headed to the restroom, relieved that his little acting worked.
I’d like to thank the Academy…
Niko had put his own clothes on over the guard uniform and hid the hat in a pocket, along with the package. He then left the rest room as his cell rang.
“Mister James?” The caller asked.
“Yeah?” Niko replied, confused.
“I’m Doctor Darren McKenzie, Northwood Hospital. I’m hope I am not interrupting but – well I’ll be brief, your wife has gone into labor. Are you able to get here?”
“She’s giving birth? Now?”
“Yes. Can you get here?”
Niko, thinking he knew what this call was, nodded and said “Yes.” He hung up and headed to the exit.
“Everything okay there Mister James?” The security guard asked as he swiped the card.
Niko nodded and threw in a false laugh. “My wife’s having a baby… Like, now!”
The man’s eyebrows lifted. “Godspeed sir.” He smiled.
“Thank you.” Niko said completing his day’s acting.
I’d like to thank my family….
Niko headed to the park and retrieved the bag and his gun. Then, as he got in his Comet, he got a text.
Niko parked his Comet in the hospital’s parking area and climbed the countless of floors to the roof.
He walked around, hand on his gun in his pocket. After a minute he realized he was up here alone.
Then another text came through.
Turn on Bluetooth.
Niko did and, after a few seconds got a Bluetooth pairing request from: N.B. - Send the photos.
Niko sent the photos then, after a moment the iFruit rang.
“Thank you.” The Voice said. “And well done. I’m glad you didn’t get detected.”
“I wish I could believe that.”
“Me too Niko. Things will make sense soon, I promise you.”
“Doesn’t mean anything friend.” Niko replied.
“I’ll be in touch.”
Niko hung up, then said. “That guy’s an a*shole.”
Posted 12 January 2011 - 01:53 AM
The first thing he saw was the blurry room. The lights hurt his eyes. He blinked and tried to sit up.
A pain shot across his shoulder and chest, and he slumped back down. A man came up to him and said something. Was he drugged? What the hell… was…
He woke up again, not knowing how long he’d been asleep for. He lifted his head and looked around. His eyes were still sore; the lights still too bright and everything was a blur.
He was thirsty.
A woman appeared and said something to him. He stared at her alien language. She smiled and leaned in closer, talking into his ear. He still didn’t catch it. She picked up a glass of water and offered it to him. She even had to help him drink it.
He wasn’t sure if he fell asleep again, or just dozed but suddenly he saw the first familiar face.
“Angus.” He breathed.
“Glad you’re still alive, Johnny. Sh*t’s been a bit weird here.”
Johnny struggled to sit up. He reached for the drink. Angus passed it to him.
“Never thought I’d see the day where I’d be helping you fulfill basic motor functions brother.” Angus said with a cheeky grin.
Johnny managed a weak smile.
“Seriously though Johnny, I’m glad you’re still alive.”
“P*ssy!” Johnny laughed, causing him to wince slightly. “Jokes and pains aside, me to my brother.”
A doctor appeared and checked Johnny’s stats, then informed him that he wanted to keep him in for a few days for observation. Johnny was too tired to complain.
The next day, however, he wasn’t. He told the doctor he was going to discharge himself during the man’s rounds. The doctor wasn’t happy, and made several attempts to dissuade him, but Johnny was adamant. The doctor had then given him a prescription of painkillers and urged him to seek medical consultation if he felt any thing at all.
Terry had come to pick him up and offered him some new clothes – including a new jacket. Johnny dressed and followed Terry to the van.
“Got a welcome home party waiting for me?” Johnny joked as Terry pulled into traffic.
“Not really. Just glad to have you back.”
“I gotta get that pr*ck. He’s got to have something to do with Michael.”
“You know who shot you then?”
“Yeah. I worked with him a couple of years ago. Guy could shoot – I remember that well. The fact he’s popped up twice in my search for Michael’s killers tells me he’s involved.”
“What was his name?” Terry asked, turning onto a bigger road.
Johnny sat for a minute, thinking.
“Niko, or something like that. A Russian guy I think. Why?”
“Guys I know that can get some guns have a friend in the police. It’s how they move their stuff around unmolested I guess. I’m thinking maybe they can track him down.”
“Not that much – couple of hundred maybe.”
Johnny groaned. “Don’t think I’ll get the money from Malc after all.”
“On the contrary Johnny, Malc told me he’s got your cut and for you to go see him when you’re out. Also the brothers have put some dough in the pot for you.”
“Yeah. Brothers for life, remember.”
“I’d forgotten what that meant, with all the sh*t with Billy and Brian.”
“So had I. Can’t say I was too pleased about you upping sticks an’ all, but can’t say I blame you.”
“Was that selfish of me Terry?”
“Ah hell, I dunno Johnny. What else could you do? Losing two of your closest brothers, seeing your world destroy itself… Can’t say I’d want to stick around either.”
“Yeah I guess. It’s diabolical that it take my brother dying for me to realize where my home is.”
“Getting a bit emotional there Johnny. You want me to pass you a handkerchief?”
Terry laughed. “What is it, John-boy? Truth hurt?”
Johnny smiled and turned to look out the window.
“Will we ever be free from this Terry?”
“From what?” A horn blasted outside as a truck cut up a taxi. Terry smiled at the cab driver shouting something obscene.
“From this life of insanity. The war with the AOD, Billy, Brian, now this with Michael… When Billy went inside things finally settled down, then he comes out with his vengeance against the world. It feels like history repeating itself...”
“It gets worse brother.”
“The AOD still don’t like us. At least the hardliners don’t; Those who remember the fights. Don’t be surprised if they crop up again.”
“Those deadbeats are like cockroaches. They’re everywhere, and you kill one, another one turns up. But they’re nothing special. If I have to I’ll take every last one of them down.”
“I hear that, and the brothers are behind you, believe me. We’re gonna start riding in a posse again. No more getting yourself into a duel. I’d like to see this commie pr*ck take on a dozen of The Lost!”
Johnny sighed. “The scary thing is I don’t think it’d faze him. He’s a f*cking killing machine.”
“Then we best be careful.” Terry said as he pulled into the old casino’s access road.
“Welcome home, Johnny.”
Niko stood with Mallorie in the kitchen, a cup of tea in hand. He sipped at it. He didn’t much care for it, but it wasn’t too bad – once in a while.
Roman Jnr. sat on the floor in the lounge, playing with some toy car. Niko watched him constantly moving the plastic vehicle backwards and forwards.
“It’s hard seeing him.” Niko finally said to Mallorie.
“I know.” She said softly. “I still miss him. Every day.”
“Me too.” Niko sipped at his drink. “Do you think you could ever move on?”
“Re-marry?” She shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe date someone sometime, but I’m not looking. No one can ever replace Roman.”
“That is true.” Niko stared into the cup. “How have you managed to get over it?”
Mallorie settled her cup down and turned to Niko. “I haven’t. It still hurts to think about him for too long, but I still think about him every day. I would rather feel that pain then forget him.”
Niko nodded. “I’m struggling. The world just seems empty without him. It’s hard for me to find a reason to get out of bed in the mornings.”
“Why do you?”
“For Roman.” Niko gestured with his cup at the toddler on the floor. “I feel I owe it to his father to watch over him.”
Mallorie smiled. “I’m glad you think that, Niko. He’d want you to be there for him.”
“I just wonder: What sort of role model will I be? Do you think Roman wanted me to teach his son to kill people?”
Mallorie stared straight in Niko’s eyes. “But you left that behind… That was two years ago. You haven’t killed anyone since, have you?”
Niko hung his head.
“Someone tried to kill me, and now I’m being manipulated into being someone’s hit man. Two years I had left it all behind, until this.”
“I can’t say I’m happy about that, but we’ve all done bad things. I mean look at Vlad.”
“Still, there is no excuse is there?”
“Perhaps not. Can you not just walk away from this person?”
Niko shrugged. “I don’t know who it is, only they’ve got some connections. If they know who I am, they may know who you are. I don’t want to put you at risk.”
“I’m a big girl, Niko. I can handle myself. Besides if things get dicey, I can phone my cousin. Or you.”
Niko flashed a sad smile.
“Let me ask you something Niko. What have you done since the wedding?”
“What do you mean?”
“Have you gone out on the town? Partied? Been looking for a woman?”
Niko scoffed. “I don’t feel much like partying, Mallorie.”
“But you have to live. You asked me how I got over it. I didn’t but I learned to live life – Roman Junior forced me to do that. What about that girl you were going to bring to the wedding?”
“I haven’t spoken to her since. But that’s what Jacob said. I have to live life. I’ve even been tempted to smoke some of his marijuana.”
“If that’s what it takes, but don’t turn that into a habit, Niko. Find something to brighten your life up. You can’t live in the dark forever.”
Niko turned to the child and nodded. “Perhaps you’re right. I guess I’m afraid of the guilt – I don’t think I could handle any more.”
“If I move on, If I live my life and be happy and…. Forget Roman.”
“You won’t. Trust me.” Niko smiled and nodded. “And get Jacob round again, Roman loved him. He was giggling all night.”
Niko chuckled. “Roman once said to me that watching paint dry with Jacob would not be boring.”
“And he’s right. He’s a good friend, Niko. Cherish him.”
“That’s one thing Roman has taught me, Mallorie. Don’t take anyone for granted.” Niko put his empty cup on the side. “I better go. I’ll see you soon.”
Mallorie put her cup down and called out to her child. Niko said goodbye to the pair of them and walked to his Sabre GT. He drove home and considered putting the last of Roman’s Esperanto cabs in storage.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 01:54 AM
Terry’s contact had been unable to find Niko, but had dredged up some information on him. Apparently the man named Niko Bellic, and his cousin Roman had stirred up some bad debt with some Russian gangsters. Johnny thought back to the man he had kidnapped with Malc, his name was Roman wasn’t it? Coincidence?
Sitting at the computer in the old casino clubhouse, Johnny decided to run a search. He managed to find an archived story on Liberty Tree about a shooting at a wedding. There was a picture of a victim.
Johnny let out a sigh. So this is why this Niko was gunning for him, was it? Revenge over kidnapping his cousin?
He leant back in his chair and stared at the wall. The two times he’d worked with Niko – before the kidnapping – had been okay. He had liked the guy.
But what did Niko have to do with Michael?
Johnny reached for his phone and dialed.
“Stubbs.” He said when the call connected. “I want the number for your P.I. friend.”
Stubbs gave him the address, saying that this guy didn’t do business over the phone. He then told Johnny that he’d put in a kind word but was unsure whether it would make any difference.
Johnny then rounded up Terry, Clay and a few others to ride. He would never admit it to anyone, but he was slightly scared of this Serb.
“Where we goin’?” Clay called out as they set off, Johnny, of course, leading the pack.
“To see a man who may be able to find that Serbian.” Johnny called back.
“What’s the deal with him?” Clay asked.
“I think he may have something to do with Michael’s death. Two years ago I did something that might have p*ssed him off. I think maybe he’s out for revenge.”
“What the hell did you do to him man?” This came from Terry.
“I can’t say my brother, but I need to find him before he finds me.”
“Well we’ve got your back, Johnny, just promise us you’re not getting us up to our necks in anything.”
“I don’t think so… At least I hope not.”
“That makes me feel comfortable.” Clay said.
The guy’s office was above a shop on Frankfurt Avenue, opposite the internet café. Johnny left his fellow riders with the bikes under the El train and headed in.
The man was at the door before Johnny could enter the office – he’d had to press the buzzer and identify himself. There was also a camera, though Johnny hadn’t seen it. It was well hidden.
“Mister Klebitz.” The man said, offering his hand. “I’m Mister Locke.”
Johnny took the man’s hand. He had a firm grip and a serious look in his eye.
Johnny sat in front of the desk and waited as Mr. Locke sat on his seat – a tall-backed brown leather chair.
“What do you need?” Locke said bluntly.
“Help finding someone, and figuring something out.”
“Ok lets start with the first one.” Locke reached for a pen and a small notebook.
“Name’s Niko Bellic.” Johnny said. “Serbian I think.”
“Right…” Locke was taking notes. “Go on.”
“I think he’s trying to kill me and, he’s come close twice. I just got out of hospital yesterday.”
Locke raised an eyebrow. “Close call was it?”
“Something like that.”
“Why do you think he’s after you?”
“Is this going to be between you and me?”
“Of course. I wouldn’t want any of this getting out. I run a more… renegade operation here.”
Illegal, Johnny thought.
“So this man’s motive?”
Johnny sighed. “I kidnapped his late cousin two years ago.”
“You kill him?”
“No, he escaped, or was released. I don’t know. He was shot at his own wedding.”
“So you’re thinking revenge?”
Johnny nodded again. “We worked together twice and neither of those times did we have a problem with each other.”
“What were these jobs?”
Johnny shrugged. “Deals.”
“Deals.” Johnny repeated.
Locke nodded and wrote something down. “Can you describe him?” Johnny did.
“Sounds like half the men I track down.” Locke observed with an edge of humor. Johnny didn’t laugh. “And what was the other thing? Is it connected?”
“I think so. My brother was shot dead recently and I found one of the men that did it. It was there this Niko first came close to killing me. I’m trying to find the remaining killer. And this Niko.”
Locke, having rapidly written a page full of notes, scanned through them. He summarized back to Johnny then asked specifically what he wanted.
“Find Niko and find out who killed Michael Klebitz.”
Locke nodded. “If he’s operating in Liberty City – Broker, Dukes, Algonquin or Bohan – or Alderney, I’ll find him. I haven’t come across any ghosts yet. As for the murder – I’ll see what I can find out. Now, as for the price…”
Locke gave Johnny the figure, writing it on a piece of paper. How wonderfully clichéd, Johnny thought.
“I’ve only got a quarter of that.” Johnny said.
“If you can pay that up front, today, I will begin. You can pay the rest when I obtain the information.”
“That’s the thing…” Johnny sighed. “I won’t be able to get more then half. At all.”
Locke’s face changed. “You knew this and then wasted my time?” He sighed and shook his head. “You can give me half of what you have now and then you may leave. I cannot be of service if you cannot front the money.”
“You’re not having the money.” Johnny said, shaking his head. “Not if you’re not gonna help.”
“I don’t think you understand, Mister Klebitz.”
“No pal. You don’t understand. I have some of my boys outside. You want them to run in here, followed by the rest of us?”
Locke didn’t blink.
“Okay Johnny. I tell you what. You do something for me then I’ll begin my search. Then when I come through – which I will – you do me another favor. For this, i will allow you to pay half. I’ll still need what you got now though.”
Johnny stood and grabbed the envelope from his pocket. He felt bad turning his brothers’ money over to this… shark, but he had no choice. This was his only hope.
“What you want done?”
“A simple task really, but one beyond someone like myself – I have to be carful here to keep my hands clean. I have a client who is quite persistent at not paying me. He has an almost five K debt. That is not acceptable. Normally I will hire a bounty Thomas the Tank Engine, but, seeing as you owe me two favors – for free – I think you can do it.” Locke leant into a drawer and pulled out a file. He slid it over to Johnny. “Find this man – all information will be in the folder. He’s an avid gambler – likely why he is unwilling to pay me. There’s a back-room gambling club he frequents in Broker. See if he’s there. You may want to brush up on your poker too – they won’t let you in just for a gander.”
Johnny nodded and took the folder. “You’ll need at least a hundred dollars to play. See if you can clean him out. Then kill him – just him. Follow him, do whatever you need to. Then go to his apartment – the address is in there and he lives alone, and call this number.” Locke wrote a number on a scrap of paper and handed it to Johnny. “He will help you out with the rest. You can keep whatever you win.”
Johnny nodded passively and pocketed the file and scrap.
“Have that information ready.”
Locke stood and escorted Johnny to the door. “I will. It may take a few days, a week tops, but I will.”
Johnny pulled his bike over on Dillon Street and approached the hardware store. Inside stood a lone man behind a counter who watched Johnny like an eagle.
“Can I help you?” The man asked with a disdainful scowl.
“I was hoping there was a game on.” Johnny replied.
“Game of what?”
The man laughed. “This aint not casino man. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but this is a hardware store. You wanna buy a hammer?”
Johnny slapped a fifty on the counter.
“Got any spades?”
The man picked up the fifty and checked it. “That all you got?”
Johnny showed the man a wad of cash. “I’m good – let me through.”
The man pocketed the fifty then let Johnny into the back.
The room was dark, a single bare light bulb did a lazy job on illuminating the room and there were no windows. A green felt card-table sat in one corner, with mahogany chairs surrounding it.
One of the men turned and stared at Johnny.
“Who’s you?” He rapped. Johnny approached the table and produced the cash.
“A man with money.”
“Yo Barry!” The man called. The man from the shop appeared. “You let this fool in?”
Barry nodded. “He seems cool.”
“And how you know he’s not a cop?”
Barry looked at Johnny, his eyes tracing the biker's tattoos. “Does he look like a cop? He‘s one of those Lost boys – that biker gang.”
The sitting man chewed on his lip. “Ok man, you’re in. But no tricks or fancy stuff ok?”
Johnny nodded as he sat down. He put his money down and set his chips to his side.
“Let’s deal.” Johnny said.
“I’ll say when we deal.” The man said, picking up the cards. “Texas Hold ‘em.” He shuffled them and dealt each man.
With his initial bet in, Johnny picked up his two cards. Three of Diamonds and seven of hearts. He frowned at the hand.
“Some face you got there money.” The man said looking at Johnny. One of the other men checked. The next raised by five chips. Johnny threw five chips in. What the hell, he thought.
The dealer raised by another two, which everyone matched. Then the dealer placed the cards in the middle, face up. Johnny saw a three of spades show up, alongside a seven of – no, wait, that was a nine.
Someone raised but Johnny matched.
Another card was laid out – a seven of diamonds. Johnny resisted the urge to smile and raised three. It was matched.
The next card that came up was another nine. No one else raised and then it was time to show. Johnny saw the man next to him show a pair of fives. Next to him had a king-high card. The next player showed a full house – three nines and two fives.
Johnny’s two pair wasn’t good enough.
The game carried on, with Johnny trying his hardest not to bust. He’d identified Locke’s target and started paying special attention to his face, slowly picking up on his tells.
After a while one of the players busted out. He stood and left, muttering a profanity as he did so.
Johnny began to slowly build his chips up again – by blindly bluffing his way out of trouble and betting as unpredictable as he could afford. He kept his thoughts half turned to Michael, dwelling on his brother’s death. This kept his face solid and cold, a steely leer in his eyes.
Another man dropped out – deciding to take his chips and cash out.
“And then there were three.” The man who had coldly greeted Johnny chuckled. “You wanna go home mister biker man?”
“If you can’t stand the heat mister…” Johnny picked up the cards for his deal – his fourth one of the game.
With two cards each and the deck by his side, he picked up his cards and studied them.
The bets were placed and it came back round to Johnny. Check.
Johnny placed the cards in the middle and another round of betting proceeded. He placed another card in the middle.
Ace of Hearts, four of clubs, King of diamonds and Queen of Hearts.
Johnny looked at his hand again and mentally added his cards to the middle. Then he looked up and saw the target flash a quick smile.
Johnny dealt the final hand.
Jack of Hearts….
Johnny caught a glimpse on the target’s face who raised by ten.
Johnny raised another ten to that.
The slightly rude man folded, leaving Johnny and the target.
The man raised.
“You’re bluffing.” Johnny said.
“Try me.” The target said with a wink.
Again Johnny matched it.
The duo kept this up until both were all in.
The target revealed his hand – Ten of Clubs, Jack of Hearts, Queen of Hearts, King of Diamonds and Ace of Spades.
“Ace high straight.” The target said. “Beat that mother*cker.” The man laughed.
Johnny leant back in his chair.
“You’re one hell of a card player.” Johnny said.
“Haha! My luck is in today.”
Johnny shook his head. “’fraid not.”
The target’s face dropped as Johnny showed his hand.
Ten of hearts, Jack of hearts, Queen of hearts, King of hearts and Ace of hearts.
“Royal flush.” Johnny announced.
The man blinked.
Johnny collected his chips. And turned to the rude man. “Cash them.”
The man mumbled something but did so.
“You’re a lucky son of a b*tch.” The target said to Johnny. “I aint even got enough for the cab home.” He stood. “I guess I better walk.”
The rude man passed a wad of cash to Johnny. “If you can promise not to win too much you’re welcome back here sometime money.” Johnny nodded his thanks and the two exchanged numbers.
“Hey.” He said to the target, pulling a ten from the wad. “For your cab fare home.” He held it out.
The target shook his head. “Nah man its cool. You won that, it’s yours.”
“If you’re sure...” Johnny said, pocketing the money. “But at least let me give you a ride home.”
The man stood and stumbled. “I think I may have had a bit too much tipple. Okay man, take me home.”
Johnny laughed and escorted the man outside.
“See you soon.” He said to the host.
“Hey Dom.” The host said to the target. “Gimme a call and let me know you’re home ok will you?”
“Yeah…” Dom replied.
Outside, Johnny sat Dom on the Hexer and started the engine.
“Where you live?” Johnny asked.
“Right. Don’t fall asleep on my shoulder.”
Johnny accelerated down the road toward the Broker-Dukes Expressway and headed to the projects.
The target - Dom – fell flat on his face as soon as he got off the bike.
Johnny picked him up and helped him into the apartment block.
After getting the elevator to the tenth floor, Johnny helped the man into his apartment – a dark dreary and untidy place.
The man stumbled to the phone on the wall by the balcony. Johnny stepped to the open door and looked out.
“Some view you got here.” He said.
Dom ignored him and phoned the guy from the card game.
“All home good mother*ker….. Yeah he’s cool….. I know, gotta look after your best customers, hey?.... yeah ok. See you soon.” Dom hung up. “Thanks for the ride man.”
“No problem.” Johnny said. “I better be going but I tell you what, it’s some view you got up here.”
That worked. Dom stepped forward and leant on the guard rail. “Yeah it’s cool. Say I never got your name, what was it?”
Dom was just turning round when Johnny grabbed his feet and lifted, tipping him over the edge. Dom screamed as he fell, and Johnny was already out of the door, closing it quietly behind him. He took the elevator down and walked back to his bike. He rode off, quick to give the host a call.
“Dom’s home all safe and well.”
“I know money, he just called.”
“Ah. I thought he’d either forget or fall asleep in the elevevator. He seemed out of it when I dropped him off on the corner.”
“Yeah. ‘Sall cool. So long as he don’t fall down the stairs. He always drinks a lot when playing.”
“Yeah. See you soon.”
Johnny hung up then phoned Locke.
“It’s all done, and I won two hundred dollars.” He’d actually won three hundred and twenty.
“Exceptional work. Come see me tomorrow and we’ll see if I’ve got anything for you.”
Posted 12 January 2011 - 01:56 AM
Niko sat outside a Bean Machine, a coffee in hand. In his other hand, his iFruit held to his ear.
“How much longer is this going to go on?” He asked tiredly.
“As long as it needs.” The voice replied. “It won’t be forever, and eventually everything will be explained. But for now, I need you to do this.”
Niko sighed. Was this ever going to end?
“There’s a man coming in on a train from up north. Meet the train at Easton terminal and follow him. I’ll send you a picture of him. Follow him and tell me where he goes. Do not let him detect you and do not engage him. Do not lose him.”
The voice hung up.
Niko sighed and finished his drink before getting in his car. He’d stolen it from the airport long-term parking lot so he was confident no one would miss it.
Niko closed the door on the dark green Regina and keyed the ignition. Ten minutes later he was walking into Easton Station.
The first thing that struck Niko is that he’d never been in here before. He’d been past it countless times but not inside. He always drove to Mallories. He’d stopped trusting trains when he’d heard about someone stealing a subway car. He hadn’t believed it at first until he saw amateur camera footage on Weazel News, showing a huge helicopter carrying the carriage.
The second thing that struck Niko was the interior design in the station. The lobby was large, with marble floors that reflected everything. The walls were varying shades of brown and cream, with intricate designs carved into the pillars. A grand staircase stood at the far end, leading, no doubt, to a couple of platforms.
Niko looked at the information screen, finding the train the voice had mentioned.
Niko made his way to the platform and found he had ten minutes. He decided to visit the bathroom before sitting at a conveniently placed coffee bar. He ordered a decaf and a muffin.
Johnny sat in Locke’s office. He’d phoned saying he had some information.
Locke slid a photograph over the desk to Johnny.
“Marcus D’Amico. Don’t be fooled by the name, he’s not Italian. No mob links. He’s an amateur hit man – not a very good one. He apparently used to work for the government. Some sort of field agent. His partner was killed recently in a betting shop in Willis.”
Johnny laughed. “He was one of the men that killed my brother. He admitted to it to my face.”
“If he did in the last five years then D’Amico would have been involved.”
“I think I saw him at the store when I got Lyle. Where can I find him?”
“He owns an apartment on Franklin street in Alderney. But there was a problem.”
Johnny stared at the man.
“Getting the information was… tricky. There were a few blocks up and I know why. Both Greenhorn and D’Amico worked for the government.”
“Something like that. I struggled to find anything on the men in the last couple of years. To me that says one of two or things.”
“Well, one, the men are still employed by the government in some capacity – whether it’s directly, as in spooks, or as a contractor kind of thing, or some kind of retirement package giving them protection or something. The second is that they went underground – this is more likely. My money would be on them being freelance assassins or something.”
Johnny pondered that information for a moment.
“Franklin you say?”
“I think I’ll pay him a visit.” Johnny stood and turned to leave.
“Be careful.” Locke said. “I still got one favor from you – I want you to be able to do it.”
Johnny snarled. “Find out about my brother first.”
With that he left.
Niko had spotted the target, and was now tailing him, blending with the crowd where he could. He kept his distance and resisted the urge to rush when the target disappeared round a corner.
Niko rounded the corner, one of many men in suits. He’d chosen a brown-grey double-breasted jacket combo in the hope that he’d look more ordinary. Sure enough, the target was ahead of him.
He saw the target step into a car. Niko carried on walking though. He passed the car without even looking at the car. Ten yards ahead, behind a couple of other parked cars, Niko’s ‘borrowed’ Regina waited. He got in and switched on the engine. For good measure he picked up a map and unfolded it, resting it over the steering wheel. He opened the window too and looked out, playing the lost tourist.
Niko hit the indicator and went through the motions of waiting/looking to pull into traffic. The target’s car, a black Cognoscenti, indicated too and pulled straight out. Niko glanced at the map as the car crawled past. He felt the driver’s gaze and the car passed.
Niko let a couple of cars pass and pulled out.
The Cognoscenti turned onto Albany Avenue, heading south.
One eye fixed on the car, the other watching the road and traffic, Niko guided his car onto the same road, now three cars behind.
The Cognoscenti turned onto Gamet street, heading West.
Niko turned the steering wheel, threading his car into the traffic.
This is my life now, he thought. Being used by some mysterious d*ck.I’m bored of all this.
A taxi passed, drawing Niko’s eyes to the advert on the roof.
Vice City Air: Trips to Vice City from Liberty City. Only….
Niko allowed his mind to wander. Perhaps that was the answer.
Crime, he reminded himself. Vice is known for it’s crime, at least in years past. In the eighties, it was the country's hub for drug imports.
Who’d know if I just left? Niko asked himself. If I just turned this car right now and drove to Francis International. Would they be watching the airport? Are they watching me now?
Would they – whoever they are – be able to follow him there? Would it be worth it?
But what about Mallorie?
The Cognoscenti turned north on Union Drive. Niko followed, allowing himself to drop back slightly.
Who the hell was this? Niko asked himself? Another poor gullible chump? Perhaps one day he’d pick up a tail and not see it, then go home and sleep, never to wake again.
Perhaps, Niko thought, that was the only way out.
The Cognoscenti turned onto Kunzite, past the police station, bringing memories of Francis McReary to Niko’s weary mind. A left turn, then another, and the Cognoscenti cruised down into the tunnel.
Alderney. Niko thought. Who the hell was in Alderney that knew me? Pegorino was dead, and his syndicate long gone. Dimitri, who’d used the old Casino in Alderney when he was in with Jimmy was also dead – Niko had made sure of that – something he should have done when he had the chance. Who else was in Alderney? That Anceloti b*tch? Phil Bell? It had to be one of those…
Or, Niko’s mind reminded him, it could be someone who’s not based in Alderney at all…..
The Cognoscenti turned and headed north until it reached the large car park in Leftwood – or was it Westdyke?
Niko cautiously pulled his car in and parked on the second level. The Cognoscenti carried on going up. Niko stepped out of his car and ran to the ramp. He crouched by the wall and moved up. He reached the next level in time to see the Cognoscenti disappear up the next ramp.
Niko ascended the ramp closest to him, almost walking into an old red pickup. The driver – an old man with white hair – honked his horn and said something. Niko moved on.
The Cognoscenti was parked at the far end, and the passengers alighted, walking to the stairwell by their car.
Niko turned and back-tracked down his ramp, hurrying to the other stairwell. He rushed downstairs and leapt the railing outside to the sidewalk. There he walked quickly to the corner of the car park and turned the corner, slowing himself to blend with the sparsely distributed pedestrians. He passed the other door and turned the corner. He then turned and walked back.
No one came out of the door.
Niko, confused stared round the corner and glanced up at the car park.
Then a thought crossed his mind.
He ran round the corner until he was on the same side as the exit he had taken.
The door opened and the men stepped out.
Smooth,Niko thought to himself; the men had exited the stairwell and crossed the car-park on one of the lower levels, then exited from the other stairwell. Niko had almost lost them.
Johnny had parked his bike on Panhandle road, on the small, dead-end street under the Skyway ramp and walked round to Franklin Street. He had left his Lost MC jacket back at the Casino, and was wearing a simple turtle-necked jacket, with faded-to-gray stonewashed jeans, brown hiking boots and a beanie. He zipped his jacket up to hide his tattoo. He had considered wearing shades, but the sky was overcast.
Johnny sighed, wondering if this was going to be another wild goose chase.
Oh well, here goes nothing.
Johnny went inside, and found the appropriate apartment. He took a deep breath and pulled his sawn off from his jacket.
Johnny kicked the door open and moved inside.
Two men in suits were jumping to their feet, reaching for their side-arms. Johnny fired, hitting the first man in the chest.
The second had cleared his holster. Johnny darted to his left, firing as he moved.
The man fell.
Johnny moved into the room, as another door swung open.
A gun fired, and Johnny dove for cover – behind a counter that separated the kitchen from the lounge.
The bullets chipped away at the floor and wall as Johnny pressed himself against the counter. He reached over the top with his shotgun and blind-fired at the doorway.
Then, nothing. Johnny poked his head over the counter, to be greeted by a silenced gunshot burrowing into the worktop, sending shards of chipboard into Johnny’s face.
Johnny rapidly dropped back into cover. He slowly pushed his head up again, and another gunshot chipped away at the counter.
Suddenly, Johnny wondered if he’d bitten off more then he could chew.
Niko heard the gunshots from the bench across the street. He stood and dropped his bagel and coffee – a good cover he felt – into the bin and hurried across the street. To hell with this mystery man, he thought. He reached for his Desert Eagle.
Johnny had noticed a kettle steaming in front of him. He smiled, these f*ckers were waiting for their coffee or something. He reached for it and then sat back down, narrowly avoiding another two gunshots. These guys were good – and patient. They weren’t firing shots constantly, they were waiting to see the target, and they could – and would – wait all day.
Johnny threw the kettle at the men, and heard a restrained yelp – not the agonizing scream he had hoped for but enough. These guys were tough.
Johnny leapt over the counter and fired at the men. The shotgun’s spread had hit both men at the door but hadn’t killed either. One of them fired back, but missed.
Johnny rushed forward and thrust the shotgun into the man’s chest/stomach. He fired, and the man flew back into the other.
Johnny then thrust the shotgun’s butt into the other man’s face, breaking his nose.
Johnny picked up the man’s silenced pistol and buried a shot in it’s owners temple.
He then reloaded and darted into the next room.
A man sat on the bed, a gun aimed at Johnny. Johnny instinctively dropped his shoulder, into a roll, grateful that the room was large. The gunshot came and missed. Johnny felt the heat tear the air by his ear as he rolled. He leapt to his feet and thrust his shotgun-wielding fist into the man’s face. He then stole the man’s gun and dropped it to the floor.
“Michael Klebitz.” Johnny said, his voice dripping with venom. “Know the name?”
“No.” The man said calmly.
“Then I think I better introduce you to him.” Johnny cocked the gun.
The man’s face dropped. “I don’t care who you are but I can guarantee you, you’ll be bringing a world of pain to your door.”
“Let them come.” Johnny snarled. “I got a hundred brothers all wanting a fight.”
The man scoffed. “’Brothers’… You’re up against professionals here. You can’t stand against us.”
“You’re a little cocky aren’t you? You’ve never met a biker though. Most of them are ex-military. We all know how to shoot and fight. Believe me. Now why don’t you be a good boy and tell me who you work for. I might let you live then.”
The man sni**ered * . “Not going to happen big guy.”
Johnny hit out at the man again, hearing the wet squelch as his nose broke. The man growled through his teeth.
“Still not saying.” He breathed.
Johnny leant forward and grabbed the broken nose. He pushed, hard, and gave a little twist.
The man cried out and Johnny pushed him on the bed.
“F*CK YOU!” The man shouted.
Johnny grabbed the silenced pistol and shot the man in the leg – in the knee actually.
The man let of a pained yelp.
“Want to phone a friend?” Johnny asked. The man did not reply. Johnny jabbed the bullet wound with the suppressor and pushed hard.
The man screamed and, after what felt like eternity, slapped his hand on the bed.
“Okay…” He cried. “Okay.”
Johnny stepped back and aimed the gun at the man.
“There’s a guy… Secretive.” The man winced from the pain in his leg. “He hides behind a desk – no name just orders. He’s new, killed the older one or something.”
“Where can I find him?”
“I don’t know. His orders come through someone else.”
“I don’t know.”
"D'Amico?" Johnny waved the gun.
"Yes." The man breathed. "But he's not here.... At a meeting..."
The man stared defiantly.
Johnny shoved the suppressor into the wound again. The man screamed and wriggled in agony.
“Meeting a man named Carter… No Cartwright. Lives on Ivy Drive. He sees the man and gets our orders.”
“He your boss?”
“Yes.” The man grunted with pain.
“So who is he, the Mafia?”
“I don’t know. Someone who wants people dead… Dangerous people.”
“Yes. Former mercenaries. Loose ends. Enemies – I don’t know. I shoot who I’m told to…”
“Don’t move a f*cki`ng muscle.”
Johnny sighed at the familiar voice. He dropped his guns.
The man on the bed moved then, awkwardly but fast. His hand shot to his mouth. Johnny jerked towards him but then the voice – accented – shouted.
“I SAID DON’T f*ckING MOVE!”
Johnny stared at the man on the bed, realizing it was too late. He’d stopped moving and his head now hung off the mattress, foam leaking from his mouth.
“You.” He said.
“What the hell have you go to do with all this?” Niko asked through a grimace.
“Why did you kill my brother?” Johnny snarled.
Niko frowned. Brother? What Bro-
The gun dropped to the floor as the fist hit his face. Niko stumbled back but raised his fists. Johnny punched again, hard.
The biker had a weight advantage, and was probably a bit stronger but Niko didn’t care. He’d had enough of all this sh*t.
Johnny punched again, throwing all of his weight into the swing.
Niko tried to dodge but the punch hit his shoulder. Niko fell back.
Johnny followed up with a kick, but Niko rolled clear.
His arms out, Niko grabbed Johnny’s foot. He tried a twist but Johnny pushed forwards, stamping on Niko’s leg.
Niko threw his other leg up, barely missing Johnny’s crotch as the biker jumped backward. Niko scrambled to his feet and lunged at Johnny, pushing him against a glass book shelf.
The glass shattered as the two men collided with it. Niko punched at Johnny’s face, connecting solidly with his cheek.
Johnny pushed back, using his weight to throw Niko off of him.
Niko landed, back first, against a wardrobe and pushed himself back to his feet.
Johnny bull-charged at Niko, grappling him and plunging him into a pile of boxes in the corner.
Niko grabbed Johnny’s fist with both hands and pushed back. Johnny grabbed Niko’s arms with his other hand and threw in a quick headbutt.
Niko yelled out but plunged his knee upwards, hitting Johnny’s stomach. The biker recoiled slightly, giving Niko a chance to knock him off balance.
Johnny fell, landing on something hard. He looked down and saw his shotgun.
Niko grabbed the silenced pistol and spun round. Johnny was bringing his shotgun up.
The biker’s eyes flashed on the pistol and fired.
Niko ducked, anticipating the shot. Luckily the spread missed Niko, and obliterated a window behind him.
Niko stepped forward and, holding the gun in both hands like a club, hit Johnny’s gun loose.
Johnny didn’t drop his gun, though. He grabbed at Niko’s and pushed the hand at the broken window.
Niko felt his skin tear, and the warm trickle of blood cross his wrist. Johnny hit Niko’s hand against the window frame again, sending more shards of glass scraping across Niko’s skin.
His fingers weakened and the gun came loose.
Johnny hit out again, sending Niko’s gun flying out of the window. With his other hand, Niko hit out at Johnny. He let his elbow follow through, knocking the shotgun from the biker’s hand.
Johnny grabbed Niko, but the Serbian spun free. He picked up a discarded curtain rail from the floor and, gripping it with two hands, pushed it against Johnny’s neck.
The biker, struggling to breath, tried to push back.
“I did not k-” Nikos speech was cut short as Johnny pushed himself forward and grabbed the curtain rail. He pushed back at Niko, and the two found themselves in an inverted tug of war.
Niko, knowing he wasn’t going to win this battle of strength, ducked and released his grip. Johnny lurched forward and Niko stood, grabbing the man’s legs and tipping him over his shoulder.
Johnny managed to brute force his way free of Niko’s punches and grabbed the smaller man. He pushed forward with all his might, picking the man up and charging forward.
Niko threw his hands around Johnny’s torso as he tumbled through the shattered window. Both men toppled, in a shower of glass shards, and fell to the concrete alleyway below.
Johnny lay on the floor groaning. He tried to move but couldn’t.
Niko ignored the pain in his back – probably a cracked rib – and rolled over. His eyes saw Johnny, then a sparkle of light.
Michael’s face flashed before Johnny’s eyes. The biker gritted his teeth and growled, pulling himself to his feet. He looked down…
Niko saw the man he had once worked with stumble forward, reaching for the fallen pistol.
Johnny watched as Niko’s eyes landed on the pistol. Not a chance in hell, he thought. Today you die
Posted 12 January 2011 - 01:57 AM
Niko pushed himself to his feet and ran as fast as he could. Johnny brought the gun up, almost in slow motion. Niko jumped and dove, like a professional swimmer, and grabbed the sawn-off shotgun.
Niko rolled over and swung the gun round, pointing it at Johnny.
Johnny looked down at the man lying two foot from him, pointing his own damned gun at him. He ground his teeth but knew, if he pulled the trigger, Niko would too. Johnny only had his gun loosely pointed at Niko’s torso – the man had moved too quick for a more solid aim. Niko, however had his target well within range of the spread. If Johnny adjusted his aim, he would die.
Niko, out of breath, spoke.
“I did not kill your brother.” He said.
Johnny moved backwards half a step. What?
Niko lowered the weapon slightly. Not enough for Johnny’s liking, but it was a sign of intent.
“Greenhorn tried to kill me.” Niko said. “Then…. It gets complicated.”
Johnny, still breathing fast, his heart racing, tried to process this.
The biker shook his head but kept his gun aimed at Niko.
“You almost killed me.” Johnny growled. “You shot at me in the liquor store, and shot me up in Bohan. You tell me you’re not my enemy and expect me to believe it? Lower my guard, then take me out?!”
Niko sighed. Then he dropped the gun. He held his arms out, his palms open.
“I do not wish to kill you. I never did.”
Johnny lowered his gun.
Niko kicked the shotgun towards Johnny. “This is yours.” Johnny picked up the weapon and lowered his. He went through the motions of putting the pistol in the back of his pants but in reality, he was emptying the clip. “So what now?” Niko asked.
“I don’t know. How do I know I can believe you?”
“You know when we did that diamond sh*t, I didn’t think you’d ever turn on me.”
“I did not turn on you, Johnny. Were you the guy upstairs in the liquor store? You shot first. I was coming after that ogre-ish mercenary, not you. Same thing in Bohan. You shot first.”
Johnny’s breath left him then. Niko was right. Neither man could exactly stand up during those encounters, waving a white flag and shouting ‘I’m your friend!’
Johnny handed Niko the gun back. Niko took it, immediately realizing the gun was empty. He’d almost missed that, but the clip by Johnny’s foot had given the game up. Niko slid the gun back into his pocket, subtly coupling another clip as he did so. The biker didn’t even notice.
“I’ve worked for all sorts of people.” Niko said. “Russians, crooks, junkies, even the Mafia. When someone hires you and tells you to shoot, you do.
“But I left that behind. I tried to live a normal life. Someone rudely interrupted that. I thought all my enemies were gone. Dmitri, Ray…”
“Wait a minute… You killed Ray? Diamonds Ray?”
“He killed Jim.” Johnny said.
Jim… Why did that ring a bell, Niko wondered. “Ray killed a lot of people. But this isn’t about him.”
Johnny nodded. If Niko had killed Ray, then maybe he weren’t so bad after all.
“Prove to me you didn’t kill my brother.”
Niko held his hands out. “I didn’t even know you had a brother. But I think we’d better leave.” Niko nodded at the apartment above them. “Go our separate ways?”
Johnny shook his head. “I need answers.”
“Then how about we get out of here before we end up in jail together? I have a car round the corner.”
“My bike’s over there.” Johnny pointed. “We go there, then to your car. I follow you to…. The burger shot round the corner. We talk there.”
“Okay.” Niko nodded, ushering the biker toward the street.
Niko sat in Burger Shot, a bleeder burger meal in front of him – out of appearances rather then nutritional requirement. Johnny sat opposite, nursing some fries.
Niko began laying it out for the biker. “I woke up to two guys trying to kill me.” Niko said, prodding his half-eaten burger with a fry. “I managed to evade them, but it was obvious there was a contract out on me. They knew where I live. I haven’t been back since. Luckily I inherited a property from someone – and it’s registered under their name still, so I’ve been staying there.
“Also some mysterious voice calls me, tells me to pick up this package – it’s a phone that this guy’s been using to manipulate me into doing whatever he wants. He knew I was about to be killed. He’s got me to do some things, none of which make sense. It was this guy who sent me to Willis – the man you killed – I assume it was you – was one of the two that tried to kill me. I don’t know who the other was.”
“Coincidence. I was working for a friend. You appeared and fired the first shot. Both times I acted out of self-preservation, not malice. Today, I was doing my sheep impression; doing whatever I was told.” Niko shook his head.
Johnny stared at the person in front of him, and suddenly saw a weary broken man.
“I was told to follow someone, and report his location. Then I was told to wait and follow him to some meeting.”
“A man named Cartwright.” Johnny said. Niko looked up. “Two men killed my brother. I don’t know why, but I’ve got to find them. I got one, but I need to find out why.”
“So the people who tried to kill me, killed your brother.”
Johnny bit his lip at the revelation.
“Believe me now.”
Johnny slowly nodded.
Niko took a sip of his drink. “I’m guessing you managed to beat it out of one of the guys back there.”
Johnny nodded. “The meeting’s probably over, but he said the man lives on Ivy Drive.”
Niko suddenly seemed to spring to life. “Then we’ve got somewhere to start.”
Johnny blinked. “‘W’e’?”
Niko nodded. “We’re both after the same guy – unless you’ve killed him.”
“I haven’t. Yet”
Niko nodded. “I need to get to a internet café.”
After their ‘meal’ the two men headed down to Alderney’s Tw@t internet café.
Niko led Johnny to the back of the room, sitting at two computers around the farthest pillar. From his seat, Niko could see everyone in the room, and had a very good view of the front door. If anyone came in, Niko would see them first and, by the time they spotted him, he’d be out that back door.
Niko tapped on the keyboard and the screen flickered, displaying the LCPD website.
“Watch this.” Niko whispered to Johnny.
Niko dramatically hit Enter. The screen changed, bringing up the Police Database.
Niko began typing commands and, within seconds they were staring at a list of Cartwrights.
Seven names on the list resided near Ivy Drive. Four of them lived on Ivy itself.
Niko clicked on the first one.
A picture of an old woman appeared. No criminal record.
Niko shared a smile. Due to certain events two years ago – some of them Niko had a hand in – that were labeled as terrorist incidents, and the Jingoism Act, the police had received a present from the city – their databases were expanded and now encompassed every legal resident of Liberty City and nationally known criminals.
“I somehow doubt that’s her.” Johnny said. Then: “Who’s to say we’ll find him – or her? Could be using a fake name.”
“Oh, undoubtedly is.” Niko said. “But if the guy told you the right name, fake or not….”
Johnny frowned. What?
Niko waved a hand up and carried on his search. After almost half an hour, Johnny stood.
“I’m getting a coffee. You want one?”
Niko shook his head.
At the machine Johnny pondered this new alliance. Could he completely trust this guy? With a sip of his drink he realized he had to.
“Just keep your wits about you, Johnny.” He said to himself in a husky whisper. “Don’t let your guard down for a second.” With his free hand he fumbled the shotgun under his jacket.
“Couldn’t we do this somewhere more secluded?” Johnny asked, sitting back down, his eyes scanning the many customers.
“No.” Niko replied, without looking away from the screen. “If they trace this, they’ll trace it to an internet café, not my home. Dead end.”
“What if they trace it now?”
“If any police turn up, we leave. By the time they’ve isolated the terminal it’s from, we’d be six blocks away, and the computer’s history deleted.”
Then Niko froze.
“Johnny, the apartment we were at is owned by a Marcus D’Amico.” Johnny’s head shot up. “D’Amico was arrested last year for gun violence, but it never got to court. He was arrested with…. a Jackie Cartwright.”
“You found him?”
“Her, Niko said. Cartwright’s a woman.” Niko tapped a command and a picture came up on the screen. “That’s the guy that tried to kill me.” Niko whispered.
Niko nodded. “Cartwright lives at 529….”
“Ivy drive.” Johnny said. Niko nodded.
Then the familiar feel of his iFruit phone. He sighed. “This is the guy I was telling you about.” Niko answered the call.
“Get out of there. Now.” The voice hung up.
All color drained from Niko’s face. “Go to the car. Now.” He said to Johnny, simultaneously clearing the browsers history. He closed the browser then he set the computer to reboot – something you can’t normally do with public computers, but there were ways. Niko stood and strolled to the exit. He smiled at the attendant and walked out the door.
Niko was just pulling the car onto Kemeny Street when the convo of black Buffalos appeared in his rear view mirror.
“What was that about?” Johnny asked.
“That as*hole told me to leave. Right now the FIB are probably walking in through the door.” Niko turned for the Skyway.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 01:59 AM
Niko stood with his gun cradled across his chest – an old Russian stock assault rifle.
“They should be ahead.” The leader said in Serbian, gesturing ahead with his rifle. “Be ready, comrades.”
“What’s our plan?” One of them said, despite already knowing.
“Just as planned. We split up, move round and come at them from everywhere.”
An ambush, Niko thought. He knew what the men they were hunting did. They deserve what they’re going to get.
“Niko, Goran, take the small building on the left. Iosef, go with Brevic to the barn opposite. Mijo, Dragan, take the church behind Bellic and Goran. Alexander, go with Cravic, the wrecked apartment block. You two,” the man pointed, “Stay here, hide by the road. You three take the far end of the road. Marko, you’re with me. We’re going to get on the roof over there. Everyone watch us. When we take aim, move.” The men nodded. “Check your weapons.”
Goran nodded at Niko then to the gap behind the first building.
“We’ll move round the back, find a good place to shoot from.” The man said.
Niko nodded, suddenly aware of the weight of the gun in his hands. In the distance a plane’s engine Dopplered, fading as quickly as it came.
Then everything got quiet. The only sound were Niko’s footsteps. Goran led the man.
“Be sure to keep yourself hidden. Don’t walk round a corner. Have a look first.” The man peeked round the corner of the building. “Then again.” He looked again, a few seconds later. “Then move out slowly, gun first.” Goran did as he said, slowly bringing his gun round to point round the corner. Then he stepped out. “Always be ready to jump back. Know where you can cover."
Niko nodded. Goran may not have been the overall leader but he knew what he was doing. He had led men into battle and come out. Just recently he had killed a small group of ambushers.
Niko followed Goran, placing each foot carefully on the brittle ground. Goran headed straight to the next wall, then waiting for Niko. The two then moved slowly toward the road.
“Here.” Goran said quietly. He was a smart man – someone who should be in the army. Niko wondered why he was not.
Niko turned his head to what Goran was pointing at – a low wall.
“The perfect cover Bellic.” He ushered Niko in to the cover first, then crouched beside him, his rifle resting on the crumbling grey brick.
They waited for years. Millennia. Or seconds. Niko wasn’t sure, though he knew it was about twenty minutes. Time felt like it didn’t exist. His thoughts wondered to his mother, and his cousin, who was beginning his enterprise in America.
Then there was movement – something down the road. Niko saw the first man, then the next. The group of men walked down the road, within range that Niko could hear their voices, though he could not quite make out what the were saying.
A single gunshot came from the other side of the street. Then, a few seconds later one of the men shouted.
A noise came from behind him. Niko turned, as he saw the snipers on the roof make the signal to attack.
A man in a balaclava stood holding an old, single fire rifle. He fired and Goran cried out in pain. Niko brought his gun up and fired, drilling several bullets into the man. The man fell. Niko turned to Goran who was now lying on his side. He was already gone.
Niko turned back to the street, as the roof where the snipers were exploded. All of Niko’s fellow soldiers were running in, aiming for cover, their guns firing at the group.
A grenade called out its war cry from behind one of the buildings as the street erupted in chaos.
Niko was moving, not wanting to wait for another man to sneak up on him. He darted to the corner by the street and leaned out. He stole a quick look then thrust his gun out. He fired immediately at the group who were now, not only close, but dispersing quickly.
Shouts came from behind him, and Niko turned. The two that had stayed at that end of the road fell as two men appeared behind them. Over the gunfire an engine revved and faded.
Niko fired at the group again, but one of them brought a long tube-like thing to his shoulder. Niko frowned. What was th–
The tube screeched and hissed as a cloud of dirty grey/black smoke bellowed out of the front of it. Niko dropped his rifle and turned, running as fast as he could.
The ground shook, throwing Niko to the floor as the buildings rumbled. Debris flew everywhere, and for a moment, Niko was blinded. Pain shot up his right leg, across the left hand side of his chest and across his forehead. He stumbled to his feet, but the world was red. He blinked hard and brought his hand to his head. It came back bloody. He dabbed at his head again, finding the wound above his left eye. It didn’t seem too bad, and his chest bore a fabric hole where his clothes had been torn.
A man appeared at the corner and picked up Niko’s gun. He shook his head and aimed at Niko.
Then the man’s eyes went wide. He looked up in confusion.
Niko turned round to see Mijo leaning on the wall, his pistol aimed at the man.
There was a thump as the man fell. Mijo ran, with a limp, to Niko’s gun, retrieved it and helped Niko to his feet.
More shouts came from the street followed by another engine being fired up.
Niko heard someone shout ‘Come on!’ as another man appeared. Niko fumbled to bring his gun up.
“Niko Bellic?” The man said. Niko stared. “A gift from Dimitri Rascalov.” The man brought up his gun. Niko squeezed the trigger, but not before the man had thrown a grenade. There was another gunshot, from Mijo, and the man fired back. Niko turned to look at Mijo.
Roman stood, in the village’s ruins, his wedding suit perfectly neat and tidy. He smiled.
“I did it! I am married!”
Roman’s smile disappeared as he fell, disappearing in a blur. Then there was the loudest noise Niko had ever heard and the world went black.
Niko bolted upright, practically falling out of bed. He slapped on the light and brought his gun up.
There was no enemy, just the painted wall of his loft.
Niko sighed and sat, allowing his breathing to slow and his heart rate to return to normal. He had had the dream before, and it sometimes varied a little, but it was always pretty much the same. He knew what happened next, despite the confusion it had left him in, despite the mudded timelines. The grenade had not killed him. He had come to after the enemy had run, and crawled, stumbled and fell into the street. A truck turned up – the army had arrived. The bodies were collected, the dead recorded.
Only three had survived.
Niko stood, replaced his gun and looked at the clock. Not much point going back to sleep now.
He sighed. Seeing Roman in that dream scared him. Roman had fled, avoided the war. Niko had survived it, but at what cost?
Niko looked at the date. Tomorrow, a thousand years ago, his life had begun. He stood and waded to the bathroom, staring at himself in the mirror. He lamented the loss of himself. One day, a long time ago, everything was taken from him. Now here he was, a shell, an empty carcass.
Tomorrow would be his birthday, if he still celebrated such a thing. To Niko, it was another day. He had forgotten how old he was; there was no point in counting. How could he sit down, with a little party hat on, and blow candles out on a cake when so many of his brothers had fallen.
No, there were no birthdays for Niko. No marking of his age, no cataloguing of passing time. He had no concern about growing older, no want to get younger. His childhood, any ‘happy’ time, was now but a distant memory, hiding in the shadow of his late cousin.
Despite his complaining, Roman had made his life good after Darko and Dimitri. He could still hear their voices, rattling around in his head.
“Hello Niko.” Dimitri had said, in his whiney voice.
Darko’s pleas for death.
Niko stared at his face in the mirror. He touched his finger to the scar on his eyebrow, caressing the nightmare of war.
He had nothing. If he could have one wish, one magical wish, that would be for that bullet to hit him, not Roman.
To not have survived the Serbian ambush
He shook his head and stepped in the shower.
Johnny stood staring out of the window. There was no glass left in it, and the half of the wooden boards covering it were gone.
The rain was falling heavily and Johnny couldn’t sleep. The weather didn’t look appealing enough for a slow ride – that normally helped him sleep – so he just stood here watching the precipitation.
He wondered what Ashley was doing, whether she kicked the habit or not.
He smiled to himself, she was a lost cause. For a time his heart had belonged to her, but one day he saw how the drugs were killing them.
He sighed. One day, soon he feared, he’d get another call. Much like the one he’d got from Angus, only this time it would be Ashley’s death he’d hear about.
Johnny wondered how that would affect him. Would he feel a soul-piercing loss? A void that could never be filled? Or would he silently drink to her memory, reflecting on what a f*cking waste it all was.
There was a time, Johnny reminded himself, where things were good – he was happy. Before Billy’s war against the world, before the first war with the Angels of Death, before the drugs took hold. Back when their usage could be classed as ‘casual’, where they’d ride for days, crossing state lines, camping by the roadside, sharing S’mores by an open fire. He remembered the disposable barbeque kits they’d get, where they’d grill some burgers. He remembered the laughing.
In the distance the sky exploded with a weak flash of light, as if to wink at him behind a million tears. He could hear the heavy trickle of the rain on the concrete, wood and metal, and the rustle coming up from the sea.
A clap of thunder echoed from miles away.
Suddenly his brother’s face was in his mind.
Johnny sighed. Tomorrow he would join Niko were to pay his killer a visit. He glanced out one last time at the rain, noting the first specs of dawn on the horizon.
Best try to get some sleep.
Niko had called Brucie and joined him at the gym he frequented. While Brucie was still as much a steroid junkie as ever, Niko had never been into that kind of thing. He rarely worked out, past a few sets of push-ups and sit-ups, but today he needed to run, to lift, to do something
He’d started on the treadmills, had cranked that up high – to Brucie’s surprise – and ran. After a healthy sweat from that, and a quick break, he’d followed Brucie to the weights. Of course Brucie was quickly lifting about four times what Niko was, but then Niko was here because he’d wanted to do something. Brucie was a gym hound.
After they were done they’d gone for brunch. Niko was meeting Johnny in about an hour, and he’d already had something of a breakfast, but after working out he believed you were meant to eat something.
Niko mentally shrugged. What would he know, or, indeed, care?
“You should join me more often Nicky! Pump that sh*t. I tell you the ladies love the muscle. Especially the classy ones – the ones that work at it.”
Niko smiled. Sometimes hanging out with Brucie was hard – he reminded him of Roman.
“Perhaps someday I’ll join. If I find myself living a normal life.” He considered filling Brucie in on recent events, but decided against it.
“Too many parties N. B.?”
Niko chuckled. “Far from it. You know how it is.”
“Red Army sh*t?”
Niko cocked his head as if to say ‘I guess so’.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:00 AM
Johnny rode with Clay and Terry, giving a ride to two other LMC members whose names he couldn’t remember. They reached the rendezvous and waited. Terry would ride his Hexer back.
A car – a grey Buffalo – parked down the road. A man stepped out and walked off. Johnny thought it was Niko but wasn’t sure. The man walked in the opposite direction and disappeared down a side street.
Niko turned up a minute or two later. Johnny frowned. He was wearing the same color jacket as the man….
“Johnny.” Niko said with a curt nod. Johnny nodded back and they shook hands. Despite full explanations from both men, there was still a tiny bit of underlining tension.
“Are you ready?”
“Just wanna kill this b*stard.”
Niko nodded. “But first we need answers – who he’s working for.”
“Yeah. I’ll kill them all.” Niko stared at the biker for a minute before Johnny said, “Sorry.”
Niko shook his head, “When my cousin died that was all that was on my mind. I lost a dozen of my friends in the war – we were by ambushed by one of our own.”
Niko nodded. “Revenge is a cliché – something Hollywood puts in films, and people think it’s childish. But, Sometimes you have to.”
“Yeah. Exactly right.” Johnny took a breath and waved at Terry and Clay, “We’re cool. I’ll call you guys later.”
“You owe us a drink J. K.” Terry called as they rode off.
“Let’s do this.” Johnny said to Niko.
Niko pulled over on Ivy Drive.
“That’s it. In there somewhere.” Niko pointed at an apartment block. He appreciated the irony that it was just a block or two down from here that he had done this journey with Roman.
“What’s the plan?” Johnny said, echoing Niko’s recent nightmare.
“We cross over, then walk in through the door. Find the apartment and we go in. Get our answers…”
“Then kill him?”
Niko nodded. “If it comes to that.”
The two men stepped out of the car.
A couple of hundred meters away, perched on top of the building, the person lay, sniper rifle in hand. With a gloved hand the reached out and thumbed the safety, settling their hooded head down to look through the sights.
If anyone saw someone of such slender build staring down a rifle, they’d surely cause an alarm, beyond any surrealism the image provided. The sniper wasn’t worried though – no one would be coming on the roof anytime soon, and they were hidden from the other roofs.
The subjects stepped out of the car and begun to walk towards the apartment.
The sniper lined the crosshairs up and, with little effort, squeezed the trigger.
At first Niko and Johnny didn’t know what had happened. A tiny area of the concrete floor in front of them exploded in a burst of grey.
The two men stopped and stared at each other.
Johnny felt second shot miss his shoulder by nothing more then an inch.
Niko saw the bullet hole in the floor.
“Sniper.” They both breathed in unison.
The sniper adjusted their aim and fired again.
Niko and Johnny began to rush toward the door when the next shot smashed into the wooden doorframe.
The two men stopped and back pedaled, darting for their car as more bullets ate away at the ground beneath their feet.
The subjects scrambled into their car. The sniper fired one more shot at the windshield, missing the drivers seat by a few inches.
Niko ducked as the shot broke through the glass. Johnny was reaching for his gun. Niko told him not to, saying that they couldn’t see the shooter as he gunned the engine.
The car spun away and the sniper fired a couple more shots in to the rear window and the trunk. Then they set the rifle down and reached for their cell phone.
Niko’s iFruit rang. He reached for it.
“Cartwright’s off limits.” The Voice said. “Do not pursue them. They have protection in place. Next time they won’t be so lenient.”
“Who the hell are they?” Niko asked through a set jaw. “Who the hell are you?!”
Niko could almost hear The Voice Sigh.
“You will find out, when it’s time. And that’s not yet.”
“How about I turn round, kill that sniper and fight my way to Cartwright?”
There was a silence on the line. Finally, The Voice spoke again: “Please. Cartwright’s protected. Even someone of your skills wont stand a chance against them. The snipers could punch a hole in a nickel from five hundred yards and in the hands of an expert, could hit a cent coin from seven hundred.”
Niko frowned. In that case, why did they miss me.
Then he realized: a warning.
The Voice sighed. “Niko, the answers are coming. They truly are. But not yet. There are a couple more things left beforehand. For now, Cartwright is off limits.”
“What about D’Amico?”
“The same. If he sees you coming, everything ends.”
Niko sighed. “What is this, an episode of 72?! Either you tell me what’s going on, or I walk. You hunt me I’ll kill everyone. Maybe the Daily Globe and Liberty Tree will find this interesting.”
The electronic voice cackled. “Go on then. See how successful that’ll be.” There was a moment’s silence.
“Niko, Make your way to Vespucci Circus in North Holland. There’s a small lock-up there, holding a car. It’s protected by a digital lock. The code for which is the same as your iFruit’s serial number. I’ll call you again when you’re there.”
Niko frowned. “How will you know.”
“I gave you the phone remember?” The Voice hung up.
Johnny was staring at Niko as he pocketed the phone. “We’ve got a job to do.”
Johnny exhaled in frustration.
Niko nodded. “Cartwright’s out of bounds. That sniper was warning us. Apparently they can hit a coin from five hundred yards. We go back, we’re dead.”
“So what now?”
“D’Amico’s off too apparently. Too risky for him to see us.
“But didn’t this guy tell you to kill him before?”
Niko nodded. “I’m guessing the liquor store spooked him, maybe he’s on his guard. Or whatever the hell’s going on, he’s evidently involved, whoever this guy is doesn’t want to risk it.”
“We need answers.”
Niko nodded. “They’ve been promised to us…. Just not yet.”
“You believe him?”
Niko shook his head. “No, but we’ve got to play along, at least long enough to find out what’s going on.”
“We’ve got to go to a garage in North Holland.”
Niko unlocked the door and opened it. Inside stood a black Landstalker, with darkened windows. Niko’s suspicions, that he had not told Johnny, were starting to become more believable.
The two men got in the car – it was unlocked – and Niko’s iFruit rang.
“The keys are in the visor.” Niko found them. “In the trunk is a package. Do not open it, but I want you to put it somewhere.”
The voice rattled off an address. “But you’ll need to go there at night.”
The Voice had phoned back that evening and instructed Niko that it was time.
He’d parked the 4x4 in a cobblestoned alleyway and left Johnny in the car.
Niko walked down the alleyway, turned down another and reached the road. He turned to the door that he was told was there and opened it.
Inisde were a couple of doors. The one on the left. The Voice had said.
Niko unlocked it, using a key that The Voice had left in the 4x4, apparently taken from the homeowner’s place of work, by someone who had distracted him – sexually it was implied.
The apartment was small but well decorated. A TV and couch sat on the left, by the window, with a small table behind them. There was a small, open plan kitchen and a bedroom hidden by a curtain. Niko entered the latter and found what he was looking for. He picked up the set of keys and pocketed them. Then he left.
Johnny wasn’t happy. They were meant to have gotten answers today – but now they had to do something for that pr*ck on the phone. And worse, they couldn’t do it until tomorrow.
Niko got back in the car.
“I’ve got them.” He said, talking about a set of spare keys. Johnny nodded. Now they had to wait…
Niko and Johnny stood behind the building, now wearing masks and clothes left for them by The Voice. Their clothes were black, similar to SWAT uniforms, and they had balaclavas on. Niko looked at his watch, as did Johnny. The biker nodded back.
It was time.
Niko stepped forward and used the keys to open the door.
Despite being light outside – it was almost 8 AM – the building’s interior was dark. The men slipped in and shut the door behind them.
Niko had his gun up – a suppressed FNP9; The Voice had left two of the guns for the men with the outfits.
The gun had a flashlight strapped to it which lit enough of the room to navigate through.
They found their way to the circuit breakers that Niko was told about. Following The Voice’s instructions, Niko stepped forward and pulled the master breaker with his gloved hand.
He nodded at Johnny then followed him upstairs.
Johnny placed his first package in the office and Niko placed his behind the bar. Then Niko ventured to the DJ booth and found the mixer’s power cable. He reached behind and removed the kettle lead, replacing it with one The Voice had provided that had been tampered with. He made sure he left the wall outlet on, and flipped the mixer’s switch to ON. Then he pocketed the original lead and headed to the security office.
Johnny left his second package in the nightclub’s VIP area and ventured back downstairs. Niko returned from the security office, where he’d placed his second package.
“All done.” Johnny whispered.
Niko nodded and led Johnny back to the basement. Once there Niko flicked the circuit breaker back on, where it immediately tripped. The men smiled and headed out, locking the door as they went.
Once back in the 4x4 Niko’s iFruit rang again.
“So you’re back in the car. Everything done?”
“Yes.” Niko said.
“Good.” The voice said. “One more thing. You need to replace the keys. But not yet. We have to wait for the owner to arrive.
“Drive round the block. Park on Frankfort, then walk through the alleys, enter the apartment address that’s written on key on the same ring as the car keys.”
“I get it.” Niko said.
“Then watch the show. I can’t give you all the answers yet, but I will what I can. I’ll call afterwards.”
The Voice hung up and Niko frowned. He relayed the instruction to Johnny.
They had just finished their dinner – Chinese takeout – when the Tampa pulled into the car park across the street. A Hispanic man stepped out, wearing a fitted black suit. He walked to the front door of the club and went inside. Johnny checked the time; 5PM. It had been a long day.
Niko set aside his cardboard container and stared out the window with Johnny as four SUVs rapidly appeared. Men in suits jumped out and rushed into the club.
“FIB.” Johnny observed.
Niko frowned. “What the hell did we just do?” He breathed.
“I don’t know. None of this makes sense. Michael died to frame a club owner?”
Niko shrugged. His iFruit rang.
“What the hell is going on!” Niko demanded.
“Luis Fernando Lopez.” The Voice replied. “That’s who you’re about to see being ushered into one of the FIB Ranchers.”
“Why are we planting–?”
“Niko.” The Voice said, silencing the Serbian. “I said I can’t give you all the answers…. Just some.”
“What’s this guy got to do with anything?” Niko asked.
Niko blinked at that. Nothing.
“Niko, you’ve met this man before. Two years ago. The diamonds…”
“How do you know about that?” Niko whispered.
“The Mcreary’s aren’t too good at keeping quiet. Quite ironic they were a criminal enterprise, all while their brother was trying to become police chief. It doesn’t take a genius to realize what they’ve done – and just as easy to know you were involved. Bank of Liberty? The Kidnapping of the Ancelotti girl? You should pick your business partners more carefully, Niko.”
Niko felt the air escape from his lungs. What the hell is going on here.
“The diamonds belonged to the Mafia – and this guy, Lopez, worked for them.” Niko thought he remembered him now. “But that’s irrelevant. He has possession of something we need, and the ability to use it.”
“What?” Niko asked.
“I can’t say. Not yet.” The Voice said. “Pay him no mind. He’s not relevant to you… yet.”
“So what now then?”
“Return the keys to the apartment you got them from. I’ll contact you soon.”
“I’ve just about had enough of this. What the hell are we doing?”
“In time Niko.” The Voice hung up.
“You could just walk away.” Johnny offered.
Niko shook his head. “I don’t think I can. I think I know who this guy is.”
Johnny raised his eyebrows. “Who?”
Niko sat on a chair. “A couple of years ago I was working for some woman. Had to make a pick up. It was a huge trap – N.O.O.S.E was all over it. I escaped but turned out a b*tch I was dating had been watching me for the government, or something like that. I was blackmailed into working for this ‘company’, protecting the country or some sh*t like that. Eventually though, the guy came through and helped me. We went our separate ways – he let me go.”
“Never knew his name, or anything about him. He was a man who made me do things. That’s it.”
“You think it’s him on the phone?”
“Whoever it is, he has some resources. These guns, the clothes, the vehicles…”
“Smells like the government.”
“So this guy…”
“United Liberty Paper Company.”
Johnny chuckled. “A euphemism right there.”
Niko nodded. “It’s got to be him. No one else knows that much about me.”
“Anyway, we’ve got to take the keys back. Then wait for another call.”
“Happy f*cking days.” Johnny growled sarcastically.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:02 AM
“Luis Fernado Lopez.” The woman said as she entered the room. Lopez was being held at the police station near the Broker Bridge. The woman, accompanied by a neatly dressed, yet apparently muscular, man sat.
Lopez stared at the woman.
“This is Agent Callahan.” The man nodded as the woman spoke. “I’m Cartwright.”
Luis didn’t seem interested.
“What do you know about drugs, Mister Lopez?” Cartwright asked.
“They get high, f*ck you up.”Luis said nonchalantly.
“And earn you a tidy sum if you distribute them.”
“I guess.” Lopez said.
“What do you know about the drugs trade?” The man – Callahan – asked.
Lopez shrugged. “Not much bro. I run a nightclub. We sometimes get some dealers in but that’s it.”
“Really?” Callahan said. “Because your affiliation to Amando Torres and Henrique Bradas begs to differ.
“I don’t think you want to go to jail again do you?” Cartwright said.
“You got nothing on me.”
“What makes you so sure?” Cartwright asked.
“’Cause I haven’t touched that sh*t.”
Cartwright slammed a set of photographs on the table. “These packages were found trough out your club. With your history, and affiliations, who else are we going to look at.”
Luis held his hand out and shrugged. “Nothin’ to do with me.”
“Tell you what,” Cartwright said, “How about we discuss some form of deal…”
“Deal with what? You’ve got nothing on me.”
Cartwright tapped the photos.
“You planted that sh*t.”
“That’s a very serious allegation.” The woman said. “Can you back that up with evidence?” Luis hung his head and shook it. “It would just cement your guilt. You think that ploy ever works?”
Luis sighed. “What you got in mind?”
The woman sat back, subtly relishing her small victory….
The phone call was brief, and instructed Niko and Johnny to wait until the next day for another ‘assignment.’ Neither were happy about it but, at least for Johnny, they had to persevere for answers.
The call came at noon.
“They know about you.” The voice said. “And have dispatched an operative to deal with you.”
“Who?” Niko asked, no longer caring much about whether he lived or died.
The Voice sighed. “Soon, Niko. Soon.”
“Look, Niko, you need to deal with this guy. He’s meeting with his employer this evening – there he’ll be given a photo of you, along with any other information – place of residence et cetera.”
“He doesn’t know what I look like?”
“Not yet, but tonight he will and then… he’s good…”
“How do you know all this…”
“Go to the market down in Castle Garden City. He’ll likely turn up in a cab.”
“What’s he look like?” Niko asked.
“I’ll send you a picture momentarily. Bear in mind that he can change his appearance. He’s there to make a pick up – an envelope from a grocery stall. Follow him. If he collects the package you’ve got your man – eliminate him. Any questions?”
Niko sighed. “I guess not.”
“Good.” The Voice ended the call.
Niko picked up his cell phone and called Johnny’s number. He explained the situation and Johnny agreed to meet. Niko suggested Easton Station’s subway terminal.
The men met in the connecting tunnel – Johnny not wearing his biker clothes.
“Thought I might stand out.” He explained. Niko agreed.
“This is they man we’re after.” Niko said, holding the iFruit up for Johnny to see.
“Looks like a normal everyday pr*ck to me.” Johnny observed. “You say he’s arriving by cab?” Niko nodded.
“I think we should watch the market from across the road.” Niko said.
“And when we find him?”
“I have an idea for that.” Niko leant in and explained his plan.
Johnny shrugged. “Let’s do it.”
Several taxis pulled up beside the market and so far no one who resembled the man in the photo had alighted.
“We need to be sure.” Johnny said quietly. “How are we going to be sure we’re following the right guy?”
“He’ll pick up and envelope from a grocery stall.”
Niko nodded. “If it was me I’d head for the subway.” Niko pointed his nose towards the subway entrance – right next to the market.
“That where you want me?” Johnny asked. Niko nodded.
Another taxi pulled up, and a woman stepped out.
“Not her.” Johnny said. Niko didn’t laugh.
Out of the corner of his eye, Niko saw a flash of light. He shot his eyes in that direction, careful not to turn his head too quick – a professional would spot that a mile off.
Down the road, just behind a bus stop, a taxi had pulled over and a door had opened. The man stepped out onto the street and checked the traffic before walking behind the taxi as it pulled away.
“I think that’s out guy. Behind the bus stop.”
“You sure? Can’t see him too well.”
Niko nodded. “I only saw his face briefly. I’m following him.”
“Want me to wait here – in case you’re wrong?”
Niko nodded and rushed across the road.
The man, wearing a tan jacket and jeans strolled into the market. He slowed and began looking around. He looked like a regular market dweller, looking at the stalls and contemplating a purchase. Niko, though, knew that he was not looking at the stalls, but scanning his surroundings. Already Niko could see that this was a professional. The market – a perfect place to check for tails.
The man stopped and stared at a stall to his left. Then he began to walk and stopped again. He turned round.
Niko carried on walking, making no effort to look at the man or to look away. Instead Niko walked past a group of people, his shoulder leaning, and changed direction slightly, angling toward another stall. No one looking would have noticed.
The man walked to the stall – the one he’d stopped at. He approached the counter and bought something – Niko couldn’t see what. He wondered who this guy was –working for them. Who were they?
The man turned and walked towards the produce area. The market was relatively new – it was started a year ago, and Niko had to admit he liked coming down here on a Saturday morning. It reminded me of home – before the war – or what little he could remember of it.
The man stopped and bought some fruit. The market trader began packing the fruit into a brown paper bag.
Niko, still sauntering through the crowd, sighed. Perhaps this was the wrong man. He reached for his phone.
Before he even got to his pocket he saw something – in amongst the bag. A banana visible in the bag looked like it had been cut off halfway. Niko blinked and risked a closer look.
He was a few feet behind the man when he saw the envelope, hidden in the man’s fruit. Smooth, Niko thought to himself. He hadn’t even seen it.
The man turned and walked through the market, heading south. Niko followed through with getting his phone out – stopping may have caught the man’s attention. He dialed Johnny’s number.
“I think I your present.” Niko said.
“He pick it up?”
“I’m heading to the tunnel now. Still carrying on with the same plan?”
Niko hung up and followed the man.
Despite the man’s direction, he did head to the subway. Niko found himself admiring this man’s craft – he’d circled the market’s parameter once before cutting across and heading to the subway. Niko had to take a couple of turns to avoid getting caught in the ‘loop the loop’ trick. There was a name for that wasn’t there?
Niko shrugged the question away as the man descended into the subway.
Niko broke out into a sprint, dashing across the road and entering the far side. He turned into the tunnel and saw the man ahead, staring back at the entrance as he turned to enter the station. The man wouldn’t fully expect any tail to come in from this side and Niko’s act had apparently worked. If he’d followed blindly he would have been made.
Niko saw Johnny, phone to his ear, standing behind the gates. The man walked towards one on the right. Niko nodded Johnny to the left, away from the man. Johnny walked in that direction and paused by the steps, turning and reading a sign into his phone.
Niko smiled – Johnny’s fake phone call was effective, it almost had Niko fooled.
Nikos thinking was that this man would double back on himself again – Niko would pass through the gate and look up at a sign, frown then look around, see another sign and head for the far platform. To anyone watching he’d look like he’d gotten his tracks muddled up, and Niko would certainly be watching for anyone who took a similar route.
The man did just that. He passed through and walked to the steps. Then, at the top of the steps he turned round and shook his head, heading towards Johnny. Niko nodded at the stairs, telling Johnny to descend. The biker disappeared.
The train pulled into the station and the man got on, choosing a carriage’s end door. Niko was right behind him.
Johnny entered the train through the carriages middle door, amazed at how Niko seemed to know what this guy was going to do. He shrugged and stopped just inside the door, letting a pregnant woman pass.
The man sat down, with Niko right beside him. The man looked at Niko, and the Serbian felt the tension rise.
Niko smiled at the man. The man returned the hollow gesture, switching his bag into his other hand.
Clearing his gun hand. Niko thought, watching the man in the reflection on the dirty window opposite.
Niko leant his head back and closed his eyes – allowing the tiniest of slits to watch out of. He saw Johnny – a man he hoped was Johnny, appear.
The train began to move, and Niko felt the man’s gaze upon him.
The PA system hissed on, the automatic announcer calling out the next stop. Niko opened his eyes, knowing they were near. He’d rode the subway enough times to know how much time they had. He saw the look register on Johnny’s face and the man stumbled as the train rocked.
The man looked at Johnny. Johnny held his hand up, middle finger extended. No professional would do such a thing, but it had drawn the man’s attention.
With the man hidden from the commuters, Niko threw his arm up and back down behind the man’s head. The knife entered the back of the neck, in between his vertebrae. A silent kill spot, the man slouched backward, dead.
Niko pocketed the knife. People would notice quickly of course so as soon as the train began to slow, Niko stood, subtly grabbing the envelope from the man’s bag too.
The doors opened and Niko alighted. Johnny was two steps in front of him and both men headed out of the station.
They converged outside and called a cab.
They’d found a corner booth in the café on Kunzite street. Niko opened the folder.
Inside was his picture. Not Johnny’s. Just Niko’s.
“Looks like I wasn’t the target.” Johnny said.
Niko nodded. “I think it’s time for more answers.”
As if timed by God himself, niko’s iFruit rang.
“Destroy the package.” The voice said.
“You heard then.”
“Of course I heard. Wasn’t the most subtle of ways to do it.”
“No one saws us, I don’t think.”
“No, no one did. A man was found dead on the train as it pulled into Hermatite station. The 911 call said they thought the man had had a stroke or something. Apparently the man collapsed, dead as the train approached the station. Police have set up a parameter around the station. I hope you’re nowhere near.”
“Far enough I think.”
“Still. You got lucky. It should buy us some time.”
“Who was it?” Niko asked.
The Voice sighed. “The same person that tried to get you before.”
“Forget about him. It’s who hired him.”
“No one you know – I can’t risk telling you yet.”
“I’ll be in touch.” The call ended.
Niko and Johnny exchanged glances.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:03 AM
“Enough of this bullsh*t.” Johnny said as the waitress, having just left the check. “You say you know who this guy is?”
“I think I do.”
“You know where he is?”
“I think so, yes. Unless he’s moved.”
Johnny stood, throwing his half of the money on the table. “Lets go get this as*hole.”
Niko looked up. He sighed and pulled out his money. He stood. “Yeah.”
The two men walked onto Frankfort Avenue where Niko broke into a car. The men got in.
“We’ll need some guns.” Johnny said. “My brother Terry would have been able to get some but the last of his batch we used… F*ck two years ago. Our MC don’t have what we used to.”
Niko pulled out his phone. He dialed a number. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Whaddup Niko.” Jacob’s voice sounded after a few rings.
“I need some tools, Jacob.” Niko said. “Big ones.”
“Serious sh*t? I can do that. Yo’ come meet me?”
“Can you get to Algonquin?”
“Chinatown will do.”
“Y’alright Niko? You sound seriously vexed.”
“You could say that. I can’t explain at the moment.”
“Alright. I see yo’ soon.”
Johnny was staring at Niko. “Let’s go get some guns.” Niko said, stating the engine.
Following the bank robbery two years ago, Niko had set up a few bank accounts and put the laundered money in them. He visited an ATM and made a transaction. He then did the same process, drawing out as much money as allowed.
“There he is.” Jacob sang as Niko stepped out of the car. Johnny was right behind him.
“Jacob.” Niko nodded. “You got it?”
“I got it, Niko.” Jacob led the men to his car and opened the trunk.
“Whoa.” Johnny breathed. Inside was a rack with a couple of M4s, an MP5, stubby shotgun, grenades, satchel charges, and an array of other guns.
“You want the biggest baddest boom?” Jacob asked.
“The biggest.” Johnny said.
Jacob reached into the car. “Almost killed me getting these yo’ know.” Jacob said. “Got lucky through some guy I know.”
Johnny weighed the gun in his hands. “Auto shotgun.”
Jacob nodded and produced a box of ammo.
Johnny’s eyebrows soared. “Explosive shells?!”
“This be a bad, angry beast.” Jacob said.
Niko picked up the largest gun in the car.
“That be a mean gun.” Jacob said. “M249 machine gun.”
“And that.” Niko pointed at an FN P90.
“You mean business don’t yo’?”
“Anything else Rasta?”
Ammo and money was exchanged. Niko and Johnny headed back to their car.
Niko took a deep breath. “Let’s do this.”
Niko was driving across the Algonquin Bridge when his iFruit rang. Niko ignored it, but it rang again.
“It’s too late.” Niko said.
“I know but please listen to me.”
“Because if you don’t, Niko, you’ll probably get killed.”
“Is that a threat?”
“No Niko, it’s a warning. I know where you’re going, and let me tell you, there’re waiting for you.”
“SWAT, NOOSE and a PMC. Whatever firepower you’ve got isn’t going to be enough. Niko, you’re near the end, don’t throw it all away now. And tell Mister Klebitz that getting killed isn’t going to get him any answers.”
“How do you know?”
“That you’re coming for me?”
“We had Jacob under surveillance. We suspected that eventually you’d do this and that you’d visit Jacob for some guns first.”
“Then you should know we’re armed to the teeth.”
“It won’t do you any good, Niko.”
“Niko. Please, don’t do this.”
There was a silence.
“Ok. Come meet me at the underground car park off of Topaz Street.”
Niko sighed. “Ok.”
Niko and Johnny stepped out of the car.
“Where is he then?” Johnny asked. Niko shrugged.
A set of headlights flashed on at the far end of the car park and a car door opened. A lone figure stepped into the light, wearing a long trench coat and what looked like a fedora hat.
“Don’t approach.” The Voice said, sounding as though talking through a mechanical larynx.
“Why disguise your voice?” Niko called out. “I know who you are.”
“Do you?” The Voice replied. “Perhaps others don’t, and I’m trying to keep my identity secret from those people. Whose to say they can’t hear us now?”
“What the f*ck is going on?” Niko called out. “I am getting sick of running around like your damned dog!”
“It’s necessary.” The Voice said. “There’s more going on here then you think. Everyone’s in danger…”
“Including you if you don’t tell me what’s going on. Who tried to kill me? Was it you? Why? Was I a loose end, you use me to ‘save the country’, do your dirty work, and then – despite staying quiet for two years – decide I’d got to go?”
“No.” The voice said.
“Well what was it then? TELL ME!”
“You’re the only one. The men that came after you, they were supposed to kill you in your sleep. The last one gone.”
“The last one?”
“They always use people like us. You, Me, we’re all the same. Manipulated into working for them. Sure some of us last longer then others. But then…”
“If it wasn’t you, who was it?”
“I am not a good guy, Niko. You of all people know that. But I work for the good guys. We do what we have to do. No specifics, the orders are given and carried out. Not everyone get’s ‘out’ like you did.
“We are not meant to meet yet. There’s still things to be done….”
“Targets to be killed?” Niko shouted. “Like today? What was he, a terrorist? Or was he another one of your victims?”
“No he was one of them.”
“Them? What the hell is this, some lost treasure of Atlantis movie? You send me all round the city, killing people, stealing helicopters, killing more people. Then you give me Darko, let me go – okay I can take that. I was thankful, and then you come back two years later, decide you’re not done with me? You’re forgetting, I may not know your name, but I know who you are…”
“You’re right Niko.” The voice said. “You do know who I am….”
The car headlights fade and a lone figure stepped out of the shadow, a hand reaching up for the hat.
Niko’s eyes grew wide.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:05 AM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 23 January 2011 - 12:24 AM.
(Spoiler tag is used to prevent accidental ahead-reading).
Niko stared at the person in front of him. His face a mixture of shock, disbelief and disgust.
Of all the people in the world, of all the random people who work for agencys and companies, criminal organsiations and posses…
Niko’s jaw flexed.
“Who the hell is this?” Johnny asked, watching Niko’s reaction.
The words came out of Niko’s mouth like an acidic breath, dripping contempt.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:07 AM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 01 February 2011 - 12:15 PM.
There was a silence and, for a minute, the world had disappeared. Niko was too tired to feel angry. The disdain he felt was gone and replaced by fatigue.
“What the hell is going on?” Johnny asked.
“More then you think, Niko.”
Niko shook his head.
“Who is this?” Johnny asked. Michelle – Karen – held her hand up.
“Niko, I’m sorry but I had to do it. You were the only one who could help. Like I said, You’re the last one.”
“The last one of what!?”
“People who worked for us.”
“Mister mysterious paper guy?”
“He’s dead, Niko. They killed him.”
“They? Again, who’s ‘they’?”
“The people we’ve been working against. My new bosses.”
“There’s a war going on Niko. The mayor and all of city hall are in danger.”
“What do you mean?” This came from Johnny.
“Who would take control of Liberty City if the current administration were all killed in, let’s say, a terrorist incident?”
Niko frowned and thought for a minute. He looked up at Karen.
She nodded. “Exactly. That’s what they’re planning – level city hall and the citadel, eliminate the current administration and, in the midst of a city in crisis, step in and help the city rebuild. They’ll be seen as heroes, rebuilding the city, taking the place of those who’ve fallen, for the good of the city…”
“…My God.” Johnny whispered.
“Who are these people? And what have we got to do with it?”
“These people are, basically the entirety of the opposition. For the last few years – possibly as much as ten – they have been assembling themselves into one single political group – all working in the same party in Liberty City – something that’s taken a lot of planning, manipulation and bribes.”
“So they’ve bought their office.”
“Yes, Niko. But they have their own politics. Ochoa became very unpopular after the Kapowitz Diamonds case. A lot of powerful criminals decided he had to go and following a few death threats he announced he would not be running for the next term. Then this new guy came in and has lifted Ochoa’s gun policies. Apparently my bosses do not want an Ammu-Nation on every street corner, selling guns to every Joe.”
“But that’s a good thing, isn’t it?” Johnny asked.
Karen turned to Johnny. “Perhaps, but that’s just one of their goals. It’s also got to do with the Jingoism Act, narcotic control and controlling the police force. Those are just some of them…”
“Jingoism? That’s down to the president isn’t it?”
“Yes, but imagine these people – who are going to kill hundreds of innocent people to get in office – with the ability to watch your every move. Liberty has grown a lot since the turn of the century, but these guys will undo all that – making it as bad as Carcer.”
“Sh*t.” Johnny breathed. Karen nodded.
“So where do we fit in?”
“You’re the only people who can stop it. LCPD, NOOSE, FIB, they all have moles in them. We can’t take legal action because there’s no proof. That leaves…”
“…Mercenaries.” Niko said.
Karen nodded. “Like Greenhorn, and D’Amico. I found out and did what I had to do – the only thing I could.”
Niko nodded. “I understand why you did it, even if I don’t agree with how you went about it.”
“Would you have even listened if you knew it was me?”
Niko shook his head in resignation.
“Only thing I don’t understand is what this had to do with my brother.”
“Captain Michael Klebitz.” Karen said. “It took me a while to figure out what you had to do with things – to be honest you’ve been a huge spanner in the works, especially at the liquor store, and in Alderney. I couldn’t work out why you were involved – I assumed you were an acquaintance of D’Amico’s.
“Your brother was part of a squad that came across something in the middle east. I’m not sure what exactly, but it had something to do with my boss. Something he’d want kept hidden. He’d swung things to get a sympathizer in command of your brother’s unit. This guy sent them on a suicide mission. Luckily, Michael was one of the survivors. The NSA and DIA got wind of this so they tried to get the unit stateside, and debrief them. Your brother had decided, according to a DIA agent, to pay you a visit. He never got that far though – Greenhorn and D’Amico got to him first, as well as most of the rest of the team.”
Johnny blinked, the wind taken from him. “Who’s responsible then? Who do I have to kill?”
Karen shook her head. “Not yet. There’s more to be done first – we can’t show our hand just yet.”
“Also who’s Carter?”
Karen frowned. “Carter?”
“Cartwright.” Niko corrected, staring intently at Karen. “I know who she is. Just another ghost.”
“So my brother got killed because he found something in the middle east, something that would get in the way of this plan your boss has got to kill everyone at city hall and take the city for himself?”
“Not just him, several people, but basically, yes.”
“How many of them?” Niko asked.
“Several. We have to be careful here – if we make too much noise too soon… well I dread to think what might happen.”
“How are they going to do it?” Niko asked.
“That I’m unsure of. I haven’t been able to find everything out. But from what I, and my contact, have found out, they may try one of several things. From the subway under city hall it is possible to access some of the maintenance tunnels – or at least plausible – that provide power to City Hall. They may place bombs in there. Or they may try planes – I doubt that though, and so does my contact. It’s been done and is harder to stage.
“Niko – I sent you to get the staff list of City Hall so we know who to watch, who to check. We’re developing a list of people that will become targets soon.”
“And who was that guy at the airport?”
“An Arms dealer – they want guns to come into Liberty through their channels – he would arrange that.”
“And they don’t suspect? All of a sudden he gets killed?”
“No, Niko. That’s the brilliant thing. He has had a colorful history with Kenny Petrovic.”
“I know that name.”
“You should, you killed his son. Basically, Petrovic had said to this guy, if he ever stepped foot in Liberty City, he’d kill him. In fact, he added, that it would be safer to stay outside of the entire country. The best thing is that this was in the news – it was documented, before this arms dealer’s true identity was revealed, by a journalist who got a bullet in the head for their trouble.”
“A good scapegoat.” Johnny added.
“And they’d never move on Petrovic – he’s too big.”
“Indeed, though I don’t know if he’s sympathetic to my boss’s cause.”
“Right, I get it.” Niko sighed. “But why do this? Why not just walk away, go back to the Midwest – if you’re really from there – and somewhere safe? Why risk your life?”
“I’ve done some bad things in my life Niko. A stupid mistake, and you pay for it for years. Despite the way he went about business, my boss was a good man… kind of. He always liked me, I guess. Then one day he said he’d let me out, if I watch one guy – you.
“He kept his word, said I could leave.”
“But you didn’t?”
Karen shook her head. “No. Why bother? I’m tired of moving, starting again. All for what? Waiting tables? I stayed and one day I get a message from him – saying he thinks something’s going on. He gave me the first bit of information and before I could talk to him again, he was dead. Then I found out what was happening - after following his instructions, I’d bugged the place.
“Could you walk away from what’s going to happen?”
Niko shook his head. “That’s why I came here looking for Darko – because I had signed up to fight for what I thought was right. I couldn’t let go.”
“So what’s next?” Johnny asked.
“More jobs, I’m afraid. Things to set up, targets to be taken out. All targets need to be taken down in a strict timeframe – too much time and they will go to ground. My contact can take a couple – the ones harder to get to – but some will have to be taken simultaneously.”
“How long do we have?” Niko asked. Johnny looked over and nodded.
Karen hesitated. “What is next month?”
Niko took a moment to think about it.
“Oh sh*t.” Johnny said suddenly.
Niko looked at Johnny and in his Serbian accent said:
“The mayoral election.”
Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:08 AM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 10 February 2011 - 02:26 PM.
Chapter Eighteen – Three’s the magic number..
The Voice – Karen, Niko reminded himself – had rung again. Niko understood why she was still using the voice modulator, and she’d seemed to have at least dropped the cryptic talking. Niko sat, patiently listening, staring out of the window at the rooftops or Northwood.
“There’s a convoy – two cars escorting a truck full of weapons. It will be leaving a storage warehouse on its way to Tudor. At the same time a car will be leaving the same warehouse, heading for one at an undisclosed location. I need you to tail the car – do not be detected. We need to find out where the second warehouse is, but for them to still think it’s safe.
“The convoy will simultaneously need taking out. But also the first warehouse needs hitting – these people need to believe the Russians are after them.”
Niko nodded and, after a few questions from both parties, the call ended. Niko got his things together and left his apartment to find a pay phone.
He met Johnny outside Middle Park, who’d come in civilian clothes, and via a cab.
“Three, like you said.”
Niko nodded and extended his hand. “You ready?”
Johnny nodded. “I know why Michael was killed, I know who did it. I’m ready to take him down but… I have a favor to ask.”
“Let me be the one who pulls the trigger.”
Niko looked the biker in the eye. Then, after a second he nodded. “Okay, I have no problem with that.”
Johnny nodded his thanks.
“So who is this guy?” Johnny asked in the car – a grey Feroci.
“We’ve met him before – I’ve done ‘business’ with him.”
Johnny stared inquisitively.
Niko shifted gear. “Do you remember the diamond deal? At the museum?”
“Remember the gunman in the window?”
Johnny stared for a second. “I think so… Wait a minute, he work for a queer?”
“I think so, at least he did.”
“Yeah I think I know who you mean. I kind of stole the diamonds from them in the first place.”
Niko stifled a thin smile. “Later on I came across those diamonds again. This guy was trading them for… something we had.”
“They ended up in the dump didn’t they?”
“Some homeless guy found them, sold them and moved south. There was a big court case about it – Karen mentioned it yesterday.”
Johnny nodded. “I’m still having trouble with how Michael was killed – or rather what he was killed for.”
Niko shook his head. “Politics. Those guys would do anything to get elected or something.”
“That doesn’t surprise me. I worked with a congressman a while ago. Dude got me to kill his own uncle or something.”
Niko nodded. Johnny was surprised at the lack or emotion – or reaction – on Niko’s face.
“So that’s the guy we’re meeting?”
“What’s he got to do with anything?”
“I did some research last night.” Niko said, turning the car at a junction. “Remember that club we snuck in to?”
“It’s owned by a Tony Prince, who’s known as ‘Gay’ Tony, and one Luis Lopez.”
“I thought he was Hispanic.”
“Dominican actually – I checked him out on the police database. He’s a mover – like us. A criminal…”
“But he’s at least on our side?”
Niko nodded. “After the diamond deal, the news said he escaped in a golden helicopter.”
“What the f*ck?”
“Co-owns and runs a club. Gold helicopter. This guy’s got some resources.”
“Or some good contacts.”
Then they were there.
Niko clocked the man the second he stepped out of the Feroci. He was wearing a pair of pale blue distressed jeans – the kind that cost about as much as a TV – and a brown leather jacket.
“You got the time?” He asked the man.
“Sure bro, you aint got a watch?”
“Sure, but it’s made out of diamonds; it don’t work too well.”
The man nodded. “She’s creative aint she bro?”
Niko half cocked his head. “She is that…”
“Luis.” He said, extending his hand.
“I know.” Niko took it. “Niko. That’s Johnny in the car.”
“Look, I’m sorry – she said I’d know you but… I bet you don’t remember me.”
Niko smiled coyly. “I do, but it does not matter. Had she told you what’s going on?”
Luis nodded. “She said she should have done the same with the other guy – I guess that’s you.”
“I must admit bro, I never was into politics.”
“The world won’t turn without them.”
“Maybe.” Luis said, taking a look around. “Shall we do this?”
Niko nodded at the car.
Inside Luis and Johnny shared glances. Neither really recognized the other, but Johnny felt he had the upper hand as they introduced themselves – thanks to Niko, he knew more about Luis then Luis did about him.
Knowledge is power.
“So are you armed?” Niko asked.
Luis, leaning, arms spread on the back seat, nodded. “I got a couple of things on me.”
“You both clear on what we’re going to do?”
“Hit a convoy.” Johnny said.
“Pretty much.” Niko checked the mirror to see Luis nod. “Firstly we need to wait for the target to leave, and I’ll tail him – we need to find the second warehouse.”
“When you do, I hit the first warehouse.”
“And I hit the convoy.” Luis said from the back. “I got some satchel charges, and I can shoot while on the move.”
“All sounds simple enough.”Johnny said.
Niko nodded. “Remember though – no survivors; this needs to appear like a Russian hit, and if there’s anything those guys aren’t, and that’s merciful.”
“Da comrade.” Johnny growled. “I can play ball.”
Luis nodded. “I’m gonna be on a bike – blackened helmet on. They won’t indentify me.”
“Do you have gloves?”
“She’s providing them.”
Niko nodded and directed the car across the river.
Somewhere in Alderney City, Niko pulled the car over and turned off the ignition. He turned to Luis and Johnny.
“Let’s do this.”
Niko nodded out the window. “That’s the warehouse over there. We’ve got…” He looked at his watch. “… five minutes until the target’s going to leave. According to our...’handler’, that’s the target’s car over there.”
“The dark green Vincent?” Johnny asked.
“Well, I supposed I better get in position.”
“You going to use your guys?”
Johnny looked at Niko and nodded. “Yeah. I’ll make sure they don’t talk and leave their bikes at home. I’m sure they could steal a nice car.”
“And I’ll go wait for the convoy.”
Luis and Johnny stepped out of the car.
Johnny watched as Terry and Clay arrived, driving a dark blue Sentinel.
“Boys.” Johnny greeted.
“So John-boy, Russians?”
“Yeah, can you pull that off?”
Clay waved at his clothes – a tracksuit. “We’re here aren’t we?”
“Yeah, but we can’t run in there, all American, shouting. We’ll need these too.” Johnny hands each man a balaclava. Then he put on a Russian accent. “We must fight for the motherland.”
Terry snickers, trying his own accent. “Let us try, comrade.”
Clay shook his head. “I’m no good at accents, man.”
“We’ll kill them all anyway, but at least, if anyone hears or anything, it won’t come back to the Lost.”
Clay sighed then reached for his gun.
Niko watched as the car pulled up, and the two men stood and spoke to Johnny. A minute later they donned their balaclavas and were unrecognizable. Niko smiled his approval.
He watched the Vincent, and his thoughts wondered back to his arrival in Liberty City. No one thought he was more then a petty thug. But, he reminded himself, he had grown during his time in Liberty City. Now he felt he was better then when he arrived – the habits he’d developed hadn’t faded.
Movement by the Vincent brought him back to the present. He keyed the ignition.
Johnny, like Niko and Luis, was wearing a headset. Niko had provided them – Johnny didn’t know if it was the Serb’s idea or Karen’s – with disposable cell phones, with a couple of hours worth of credit. He tapped a stored number.
“He’s on the move, I’m off. Move in when you’re ready.”
Niko then looked out the window at Luis, half a block away on his bike. Niko nodded and Luis, who’d seen the guy leave the building, returned the nod.
Johnny led Terry and Clay in through a side door. Immediately they were seen.
“Let loose!” Johnny yelled in his best Russian accent, trying to imitate Niko.
All three bikers drew their guns – Johnny a Street-sweeper shotgun, with Terry and Clay holding AK-47s.
Johnny aimed at the nearest man and fired. Terry and Clay also opened up, taking down three between them before any of the other men returned fire.
Johnny sought his next target and fired. The victim flew back a few feet and Johnny leapt out of cover and darted across the room.
Now everyone was shooting. Terry and Clay were told to make sure no one used a phone or anything to get word out. This had to be quick and very, very hard.
Johnny fired at two more men, then he stopped. He looked around and that’s when it hit him.
He took cover and touched his phone.
“There’s no convoy here. No vehicles, nothing.”
“Mierda. What we do?”
“I’ll speak to Niko. Maybe that woman will know.”
Luis sighed. “Alright, let me know bro.”
Johnny ended the call with Niko and drew Terry’s attention. “Find the boss/leader!” He yelled in his Russian accent.
“DA!” Clay called back. Terry merely nodded.
A man appeared next to Johnny, pistol aimed at his head.
Johnny dropped to one knee and spun, shooting the man in the head. His face disappeared in a cloud of red.
“The office!” Terry called out. Johnny nodded and headed that way.
The AK-47 fire exploded across the warehouse again as the trio moved across the floor. In a minute Johnny had reached the office. He burst in, gun leading and dodged gunfire. He ducked and darted toward the lone man, and clubbed him in the face with his gun. The man fell, and Johnny kicked the gun away.
“How do you like living?” He asked.
Johnny called back. The shooting had stopped, Luis could hear, and Johnny said something to someone.
“Johnny?” Luis asked.
“Yeah sorry. The convoy left a minute or two before we got here.”
“Yeah but we don’t know where it’s headed…”
Johnny chuckled. “Tudor.”
“Right. But they’ll be almost there by now. How do we know what way they’ll go?”
“The Skyway. If you were driving a convoy would you go down streets with lots of ambush points, or on one direct road that’d be quicker?”
“I’m on it bro.”
Luis revved the engine.
Down in Actor Industrial, Niko watched the car ahead as it turned into a forecourt. Niko drove on, careful not to turn his head in the direction of the warehouse. He turned down the next street and parked. He turned to see the man disappear into the warehouse and reached for his phone.
“Yes?” Karen’s electronic voice asked.
Niko gave her the address.
“Good. Take a photo will you?”
“One moment.” He held the phone up and snapped a couple of photos.
“Excellent.” Karen said a minute later. “They didn’t spot you?”
“I don’t believe they did.”
“Good. See if you can catch the convoy, maybe Luis will need some help. Johnny thinks it’ll be on the Skyway, heading to some place in Tudor.”
“Sure.” Niko ended the call. It certainly felt better to know who he was working for – and with – but Michelle’s betrayal kept rattling around in the back of his head.
If she did it once before…
Can leopards change their spots?
Niko shook his head. Lightning can strike twice.
Luis had the throttle wide open as he zipped in between a bus and a pick-up truck. He leaned slightly to his left and straightened up, speeding past a rather frightened girl on a pink moped.
He hoped Johnny’s theory was right – that the convoy had gone for the direct route, not the surface street option. The way he saw it they both had their downfalls; if the skyway became blocked, or they got trouble on there, there would be no escaping. Bad for them, but good for him.
The surface streets, while allowing alternative routes, held more potential danger – hidden spots for ambushes, raised buildings for shooters.
No, Luis decided, they’d go for the skyway – a threat can only come from two places and they’d feel more secure with that.
The bike reached the elevated roadway and, so far Luis couldn’t see a convoy.
A truck in between two cars Luis said to himself, his eyes bouncing through the traffic. Could be anywhere, and if they were good they may have a car in between them. Would they? he wondered. Would blending with the traffic be safe?
Ordinarily he’d shrug but on a motorcycle that could cause problems. He guided the bike between two cars and kept his eyes peeled.
Full cars. His mind suddenly told him. If they were escorting goods, wouldn’t they have full cars?
Ahead was a box-truck. Behind it a black 4x4. In front of it a black 4x4.
Luis slowed to pull level with the nearest 4x4 – an oriental couple sat inside, the driver – the male – smoking a cigarette. He glanced out the open window at Luis.
Not this one.
The truck had one man in it – they would have two he was sure.
The 4x4 in front also had a lone driver – a rather attractive blonde. She also noticed him.
Luis held up a hand and waved. If only I wasn’t working…
Niko headed east on the skyway. He was pretty sure the convoy would be heading the other way, but he stuck to the leftmost lane in case he had to turn around.
So far he hadn’t seen the convoy – he was sure he’d spot it however; the truck’s cab would have two men in it, one of which would be looking behind them. The escorts would likely be directly in front and behind – having a vehicle in between was a risk. Also these vehicles would likely have two, three or four men on board.
A truck appeared ahead. Niko looked at it and checked the car in front.
The car in front was a black Landstalker. Tinted windows. He couldn’t see inside.
The rear passenger window opened and a hand appeared, throwing a cigarette out.
Niko also saw the flash of steel – a gun.
The truck behind was a plain grey Yankee.
Behind that was another car – a sedan. The windows were also tinted.
Gotta be it.
Niko reached for his phone.
“Got ya bro.”
Luis – using voice control on his phone – ended the call. Niko had apparently turned round and was now playing catch up with the convoy. He said he’d turn on his hazard lights when he saw Luis, so Luis knew he was close. Luis would then slow down and Niko would either nod and point at the convoy or shake his head, meaning keep going.
Niko saw the bike appear in his rearview mirror. He drifted in toward the center of the road slightly, as if about to change lanes, and turned on his hazard lights.
He saw Luis flash his lights.
Luis pulled level with Niko’s car as his phone went.
He gave to command to answer.
“Follow the road round.” Niko said, his voice raised over the noise of the traffic. “Just past the ramp is a grey Yankee. You see it?”
Luis looked to his right – where the skyway curved. He saw a grey van and in front of it a 4x4 – similar to what the oriental couple was driving.
“With the 4x4 in front of it?” Luis called back.
“Yes. A sedan behind it – both with blacked out windows.”
“Yeah you said bro. That the target?”
“I think so. Lead car is definitely armed. Backseat gunner, likely a full house.”
“You think if I throw one of these babies on the side the other two will react?”
“Definitely. Be quick though – linger for too long and you’re a sitting duck, especially on a bike.”
“Don’t worry bro – I got this.”
“Stay on the line.”
Luis nodded and gunned the engine.
Niko watched as the bike zipped ahead and followed the road round, disappearing and reappearing behind the traffic.
Luis darted past the central on-ramp, barely missing a car that suddenly appeared from below. His bike wobbled slightly and threatened to tumble, but he powered out of it, shooting over to the right and almost hitting the railing.
Recovered, he punched through the traffic and saw the convoy ahead.
“I see it ahead. The car’s a Presidente I think.”
“Yes I think that sounds right.”
“Yeah bro, definitely a Presidente.”
“Go for the 4x4 in front first – they’re definitely armed.”
“Got ya bro.”
Luis squeezed a little more out of the bike – he’d slowed down slightly while he spoke – and overtook the Sedan. He couldn’t see inside, but there was a shadow behind the driver window.
Luis slowed and pulled level with the Landstalker. The rear passenger window was closed, so Luis didn’t see the gun Niko had.
Still, that guy had said he’d seen one so…
Luis grabbed one of his satchel charges.
Niko, now approaching the central on-ramp, saw the flashes on the road to the northwest. Luis was taking fire.
Niko put his foot down, questioning why he’d hung back so much.
The satchel charge was on the side of the Landstalker, but the rear window was now gone – smashed by the butt of the smoker’s gun. It was a P90, and the bullets missed Luis by millimeters.
Luis reacted instinctively, touching the brakes and pulling back slightly. He realized this was a mistake when he saw the gun come out of the Yankee’s cab.
He also noticed a gap in the median too.
He leant to his left and let the convoy get ahead slightly. Then he ducked back through, now directly behind the convoy, save for two or three cars in between. They were still shooting, but Luis was in their blind spot. Every now and then he would head a bullet hit the road, but none were that close.
Luis reached for his .44.
Niko saw more flashes ahead – he was now behind the convoy somewhere, trying to get through the traffic. He saw Luis’s bike move to the right and then a flash or two. He sounded his horn.
Let me through.
Luis fired at the Presidente and hit glass. He thought he’d got one of them but he couldn’t be sure.
Then he heard a horn behind him.
“It’s Niko!” A voice in his ear said.
“Where you been bro?”
“Car’s not as fast as your bike.”
“Can you shoot from in there?”
“Cos I have an idea. Try to draw their attention, let me get ahead.”
Niko accelerated until he was close to the convoy. He drew his Desert Eagle – something that would be certain to make them withdraw for a moment.
“Go!” He called to Luis.
Luis opened the throttle as the BOOM! sounded from behind him. The bike shuddered as it accelerated the throttle fully open. He darted past the convoy, narrowly missing fire from the Yankee.
“The truck!” He called to Niko. Niko began firing at the truck.
Ahead, on the Landstalker, the smoker was leaning out of the window, trying to dislodge the satchel charge. It was out of reach so he was using his rifle to pry it off.
Luis rode past and the man looked up.
Luis fired his gun once.
The man went limp and followed his gun onto the road. Luis reached for his detonator.
Niko watched as the Landstalker exploded, with Luis disappearing behind the flames. The Yankee ploughed right on through, batting the flaming 4x4 aside. Niko had to swerve to avoid it himself.
Luis was pretty sure the convoy would be turning off and Niko agreed with him. He hoped that Luis was right and also that he was quick enough. If he wasn’t, Niko would stay on them.
A minute later the convoy did indeed move to turn off – driving as fast as the Yankee would go. Niko kept firing but wondered how long until the police arrived.
I’m surprised they’re not here already, he said to himself.
Luis took a deep breath.
“Can’t believe I’m about to do this.” He said to quietly. “Niko, ease off…”
Niko allowed his car to sit back into traffic. He kept visual contact though, but was far enough back that the shooting had stopped.
“F*cking ruskies, it’s gotta be.” The driver said.
“What was that anyway, a grenade?”
“Yeah a sticky I think. Who else has those kind of resources?”
“Maybe the Italians?”
“Yeah but we know the Russians–” The driver’s head flung back as a dark red splotch appeared on his forehead. The window was cracked.
Luis, his bike going fast the wrong way down the skyway, fired one shot at the Yankee. He saw the window crack and immediately the truck swerved toward the median. He reached for a satchel charge.
Inside the Yankee, the passenger was too busy trying to grab the wheel to notice Luis pass, at a combined speed of over almost two-hundred miles per hour. He also wouldn’t have seen Luis toss a satchel charge on the front of the truck.
Niko saw Luis appear and the satchel charge land on the rear quarter of the sedan. Luis flashed past Niko’s car as a breakneck speed. Niko slowed.
The Yankee and the Pesidente both exploded in unison – the latter actually flipping over the barrier and falling to the streets below.
“Bang Bang!” He heard Luis shout.
Niko, not wanting to get caught in the traffic that would ensue, strained hard to see the remains of the Yankee. Then he accelerated into the gap.
He looked in his rear view mirror to see the wrecked truck slide to a stop across both lanes, now on its side.
“You still with me?” He said into his headset.
Luis was having problems slowing down, but he was prepared for that. He darted across the road, through a gap in the median and onto the right side of the road. He was also losing control of the bike – focusing on throwing the satchel charges had compromised his balance, and the speed meant that braking would cause the bike to topple.
But f*ck the bike – it wasn’t his and he guessed that the woman who he had met as Cartwright would have covered her ass on that. If she hadn’t, that was her problem. He was more worried about his ass.
He was aware that a fall at this speed would kill him, no question.
But his balance was gone.
The last thing he saw was a traffic cone. Then, nothing.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:09 AM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 16 February 2011 - 12:14 PM.
It was like swimming. For a second, Luis was floating, like he was on top of the world. The hundred miler per hour speed at which he was traveling when he dove off the bike didn’t exist. There was no gravity. The traffic was gone. The road gone.
He was in a pool without water. He daren’t close his eyes either. He waiting until the world was no longer upside down, then he pulled it.
“Luis!?” Niko called out, from farther up the skyway, now nearing the Barcham exit. He shook his head, he knew it was risky, but Luis would have gotten shredded coming from behind again. He sighed.
Niko flinched. What the hell!?
There was a thud and then a moments silence. Then an out of breath Luis: “I’m here bro!”
“What the hell?”
“Sorry bro, I lost balance I figured if I hit the road at that speed I’m a goner.”
“What you land on the back of an open top truck carrying mattresses or something?”
“Better then that. You know those patches of broken railings they’re always fixing up there?”
Niko knew them. “Yes.”
“Jumped through one of those bro!”
“On a bike? I’m surprised you didn’t break your legs.”
“Nah the bike’s totaled. Must have bounced off the road ‘cause I saw it fall. I think it blew up.”
“How…?” Niko whispered.
“You not see my backpack bro?”
Niko vaguely remembered seeing it.
“Always carry protection, bro. Anyway, can you pick me up?”
Niko nodded. “Yeah see you soon.”
Niko found Luis with a mass of fabric in his hand. It took him a moment before he realized what it was.
“Who packs a parachute to blow up a convoy?” Niko asked.
“Me…” Luis smiled. “I had a police chase couple years back. It ended with me driving off of the half built bridge in Bohan? Didn’t quite make the jump, ended up swimming in the bay. Was also on a bike – that smashed into the dock wall.” Luis shook his head. “A ‘chute would have saved me a ten minute swim in that dirty-ass water.”
Niko chuckled. “Well you’re not dead, so I guess it paid off. You’re alive. Insane, but alive.”
Luis chuckled. “The only way to live bro.”
“Let’s go get Johnny. I’m sure he’ll love this.”
Niko was right. Johnny laughed at the story and mumbled something about Luis being crazy.
“Still.” Niko said. “The convoy’s destroyed, I have the location of their other warehouse – which is already under surveillance, I’m told – and you cleaned the warehouse out.”
“Yeah…” Johnny growled.
Niko grabbed his Fruit phone. “Best let her know.”
“Yes?” Electro-Karen answered.
“I heard about the convoy. You found it okay then?”
“I was worried it might get away.”
“It did not.”
“Good. I’m proud of you three.” Niko passed on the message.
“Now what?” He asked Karen.
“No rest for the wicked I’m afraid. Now it’s time to hit the Russians.”
Niko frowned. “Why?”
“To piss them off.”
“Well ‘They’ think the Russians hit them. If they move on the Russians, there’s a chance that Petrovic may arrange a sit down and then they’ll find out that he’s not involved. If we piss them off though, they’ll suspect them.”
“How do we do that?”
“Petrovic knows of part of their plan. He also doesn’t want the ban on guns lifted.”
“So they’re allies?”
“No. Petrovic doesn’t want any of it. He doesn’t know what the plan is of course, but he simply doesn’t trust them. “
“So how will he know it’s ‘Them’?”
“Simple. You attack his men, and have them chase you. Lead them to a place he knows is connected to ‘Them’, then you disappear. He assumes the obvious and the two become enemies.”
“Alright. When and where.”
“I’ll give you the particulars tomorrow. Get some rest. And again, well done.”
Karen hung up.
There was something between the Serbian and the woman, Luis said to himself from behind the wheel of the Sultan. Apparently she’d phoned him this morning and asked him how he felt. Luis laughed aloud when she told him that – did she care?
“I am still human.” She’d countered. Luis had shrugged – he’d been accused of being cold himself, so he could identify. He saw it as hardened, but at the end of the day, did it matter? Tough, cold, hardened, emotionally numb, insensitive… none of those words meant anything to him. Ironic? Perhaps.
So she’d offered to give Niko the day off – if that term applies. Niko had, evidently, declined, for he sat next to Luis now. He had allowed Luis to drive, and he just sat there, inanimate.
He was weary – Luis could see that in his eyes. Here was a man with eyes, as the cliché went, that had seen too much. His jaw told him that he and pain were good acquaintances. Luis could imagine this guy playing hold ‘em with Death himself.
The drive was quiet. The radio was on – WKTT or something, neither man was listening to it. Luis found himself wondering about everything. Niko had suggested they don’t change the station away from the talk show – saying that he never has the radio on while ‘working.’ Luis had asked why, and Niko had said it was in case anyone heard the radio – playing your favorite song could be small enough to come back to you somehow.
A little excessive, Luis had thought, but the woman – Cartwright to him, ‘Karen’ to Niko – had already mentioned Niko’s professionalism. He was, apparently, very good.
But also human, Luis had told himself, using the woman’s words. He cast an eye over to the Serbian now.
He bleeds like any other man.
Niko was the shooter, Luis the driver. He was fine with that – he worked better moving anyway. Niko was, apparently, a good shot. Luis pictured a string of headshots; an outlaw dead-eye in the wild-west. John Wayne and Judd Parker rolled into one.
Niko looked over and loaded the P90. Luis nodded and gripped the wheel.
“Let’s do it, bro.” Luis pulled on a balaclava
Niko nodded and did the same.
The Russians were outside – moving from a building to their cars. Niko gripped the gun – Too tight and hand fatigue would set in, too lose and the aim would suffer. A lot of people didn’t realize that.
One of the Russians clocked the car, and Niko opened fire.
One of the Russians fell – then another. The remaining Russians broke for cover and returned fire.
“Now.” Niko said, slapping the car door. Luis floored it.
A moment later the Russians had jumped in their cars and were in pursuit.
“They’re behind us.” Niko said. “Good. You know what to do.”
It was a few minutes before the Russians started shooting. Niko leant out of the window and aimed at the car, careful to avoid the wheels, engine and windows.
Luis spins the wheel and the car drifts round a corner. The first Russian car overshoots the junction, but the second swings round and resumes chasing. The first car attempts to play catch-up.
Niko reloads and watches the Russian cars catch up. This time they don’t shoot – just follow.
“They probably want to see where we’re going.” Luis noted.
Niko nods. “That’s the plan…”
They’d driven the route a couple of times – enough for Luis to know where he was going. The risk was crossing the Humboldt – it’d be a straight run, with plenty of time for the Russians to catch up or run them off the road.
“Ignore the cars behind us.” Niko said, reloading his gun. “Focus on driving, and try not to hit a police car.”
Luis smiled, half from humor, but half from discomfort. Don’t tell me what to do.
Luis had dealt with enough clients at the club to know when to smile and nod, and this was definitely the time to keep his mouth shut.
Luis turned onto the Algonquin Bridge and accelerated over the river. The Russians followed. Niko silently thanked the determination and relentlessness that was present in most Russian mobsters. He just hoped that the ones following them were not expert sharpshooters.
Luis put his foot down and Niko felt the car surge forward slightly. The Russians were still behind, and still not shooting.
They were now probably past the surprise stage, and more curious then anything else.
They crossed the bridge without any shooting, but as they neared the Columbus Avenue junction, a police cruiser began to cross. Luis spun the wheel left hard, then right, pulling the emergency-brake. The car spun round, the front bumper kissing the rear quarter of the police car. Luis countered the spin and straightened out, accelerating north on Columbus. Unfortunately, the police car was already facing north, and gave pursuit. One of the Russians hung back, but the closer one apexed past and hung behind Niko and Luis.
Niko leant out of the window and fired a few shots, aiming between the police and Russians.
“Head to the place.” Niko said. He checked the time. “We haven’t got long.”
Luis nodded. And turned left. The Russians followed, and a couple extra police cruisers joined in the chase.
Luis turned again, heading south, through Star Junction. The police and Russians were still hot on their tail. Niko kept firing sporadically until they reached Garnet Street. Luis turned, and then headed north on Albany. The Russians followed, and the police screamed round the corner in pursuit, perhaps unsure on who the perp(s) were. The building was ahead – a fairly new development, erected over a year ago. Luis spun the car around and pulled over. Niko jumped out and slid over the trunk, following Luis down the alley.
By the time the Russians had entered the alley, Luis and Niko had run round the corner, out of sight. Niko ran up to the gate and picked the lock. The two men ran inside and descended the dark steps. Within seconds they were running along the subway tracks.
“We’ll exit onto the platform at Easton and walk through to Star Junction.” Niko said. Luis nodded and looked behind him.
“You think it worked?”
“I hope so.”
“Well they aint behind us, bro.”
“So they’ll assume we went in the building. I just hope they know what the building is.”
“The woman said the Russians would know didn’t she?”
Niko nodded. “Yes. I’m sure they’ll put two and two together.”
“And make five.”
Niko nodded again.
“But what if it don’t work bro?”
Niko shrugs as a train tears past. Luis watches it disappear round a bend.
“If it doesn’t work,” Niko said as they began walking again, “I guess Karen will have some other plan figured out.” His voice had a touch of spite in it.
“Sounds like you two got some issues, bro.”
Niko sighed. “We have history.” Luis just stared. “We dated for a while.”
“Ah, that explains it all.”
“You’d think so. Turns out she was an undercover agent, watching me.”
“Sh*t bro, that’s cold.”
Niko nodded. “Even now I wonder how much we can really trust her.”
It was Luis who now nodded. “Yeah I get you bro. I think she planted some sh*t in my club. Certainly had f*ck-all to do with me. What the f*ck have I got to do with anything?”
“She can’t trust anyone else apparently. She told me the people she usually uses are all dead – killed by her new boss, who’s…”
“…trying to blow up the city.”
Niko breathed an airy chuckle.
“But why me? There must be dozens of gunmen in the city. Have they all been killed?”
Niko shrugged. “Control, I guess. With the drugs she can control you. He former employer did the same to me…” Niko scoffed at the irony. “Also over drugs.”
“It’s a bad market, bro.”
“Tell me about it.” Niko nodded as his Fruit Phone rang.
“You got a signal down here?”
Niko looked at the screen. “It appears so.” He answered.
“Well done.” Karen’s electro-voice said. “I just intercepted a call between Petrovic and one of his lieutenants. Everything’s going to plan.”
Niko looked at Luis. “Perhaps, but I think our Dominican friend wants some answers.”
Karen sighed. “Fine. Quick. Meet me… Meet me where we first met, Niko.” The call ended.
Niko nodded at Luis. “You want to know why you? Let’s find out.”
Ahead was the station. The two men climbed up to the platform and then Niko stood.
“Not much.” Niko said, still standing.
“Come on, what you waiting for?”
Niko turned his head. “A train.”
Luis looked around. “F*ck that, bro. Those things are dirty.” He smiled. “Let’s go in style.”
Karen watched as the gold convertible pulled up. She cursed quietly to herself. Niko was alright, but Lopez didn’t seem to get that they shouldn’t be drawing attention to themselves. She shook her head and withdrew back into the crowd. A minute later she was in her car in the car park behind the station. She texted Niko from her encrypted cell.
Karen stepped out of her car and nodded at the men. She waved them inside.
“You can’t be too careful on the phone.” She said, more for Luis’s benefit then Nikos. She put the car in gear and reversed out of the car park, telling the men they were going somewhere more secure.
It turned out to be the car park at the airport. They parked on the second to top floor, in a corner facing the ramps. They’d see if anyone came up – on foot or in vehicle.
“Go on then.” She said, turning round to the men in the back.
“Oh, come on. It’s risky meeting like this. I only agreed because there isn’t the time to argue, and I simply don’t have the energy, or patience.”
Luis nodded. “Alright. Why you using me? Of all the guys in the city, why me? How do you know me, or that you can trust me?”
Karen didn’t flinch. “Why you? Because you’re boss got in debt to the wrong people. They had you running around, stealing cars, shooting people, blowing up half of the city. I assume you remember Rocco Pelosi? What about Mori Kibbutz?”
“Mori?” Niko breathed.
“Or how about old man Ancelotti? I know Niko remembers certain members of that family well.”
Niko’s jaw muscles flexed.
“Or how about the guys Prince was thinking about selling to, Yusuf Amir or Rodislav Bulgarin.”
Niko’s eyes were wide now. Bulgarin?
“Yeah I remember them.”
“I thought you would. I know about your exploits. The shootout with the Chinese, at Bahama Mama’s, the museum – which both of you must remember. You’ve done a lot for the clubs and for Tony. Most notably, however were the museum deal-breaking, the shootout at the club, and your killing of Bulgarin.”
“You killed Bulgarin?” Niko asked, shocked.
“Yeah.” Luis nodded. “Why?”
“He… ” Niko sighed. “Now’s not the time. At least someone did.”
Karen nodded. “Basically, you’re good. Half the criminals in this city couldn’t hit their own feet with a gun, even if they were sitting down. We need good people for this and, after the culling of our usual people, you’re all that’s left.”
Luis nodded. “But how do you know me?”
“Through Niko.” Karen said. “You met three times – that I know of. First, during the bank robbery.”
“You were there?” Luis turned to Niko.
Niko shrugged. “Cashing a cheque.” Luis’s eyes flickered. He knew. He subtly nodded. Why should he care?
“Then the museum – all three of you on that one. Rather ironic that you’re now working together.”
“When was the third?”
“Gracie.” Niko said.
Luis raised an eyebrow. “Sh*t bro…” A pause. “I s’pose I really should knock you out or something but… To be honest bro I don’t care. She’s alright, really but she was a… dolor. In the end I had to knock that perra out. She wouldn’t shut up.”
Niko chuckled. “Tell me about it. Hurt my arm.”
Luis laughed. “She’s alright now though – I think it was the company she kept.”
Karen cleared her throat. “Does that answer your questions?”
“What’s next?” Niko asked.
“You’re eager aren’t you?”
Niko regarded Karen for a minute then sighed, slumping his head back on the seat.
“Yeah…” Karen whispered. “It’s time to start taking down targets, but we have to be careful. At the moment the Russians will work as scapegoats but eventually that will wear off. We can’t rely on that at least.” Karen took a moment, as if coming to a decision. “Luis, there was another reason I chose you. These people know Niko – they tried to kill him. I have to assume that they know Johnny too – his brother was involved.
“I need someone who can get close to one of the targets.”
“What you thinking of?” Luis asked, momentarily turning to look out of the window.
“A driving job. The target is hiring a driver. To take him from his estate in the sticks to a hotel in Liberty. We do not know which hotel, and I can’t watch them all.”
“So you want me to pick him up and remember where he’s staying?”
“Pretty much. But you’d have to keep up the charade – you’ll become his driver for the next few days; until it’s time to take him out. You’ll be in place, ready.”
Luis inhaled and stared out at the car park below.
“Being a driver’s easy. I’ve picked up so many VIPs with the club, I know how to handle them.”
“Not as easy as you think. Are you a good judge of people?”
Luis shrugged. “Sometimes, I guess. Haven’t managed to befriend a bunch of terrorists yet so I guess so.”
“Good. You’ll have been sent by one of the other targets; they’re playing their cards close to their chests, now that their big day is nearing. The driver they’re sending will not be known to the target, or anyone else. It’s a flaw we’re going to exploit. By compartmentalizing everything they’re making it easier for us to take them out, cell by cell. All you need to do is intercept the driver – that will be difficult because he’s bound to be a pro. Then you make the pick-up and then the target becomes your boss.” Karen handed Luis an envelope. “Destroy it when you’ve read it – burn it.”
“Niko, have you and Johnny meet me where we had that date – our first one.”
Niko nodded. Then Karen waved them off.
Outside, as they walked back to Luis’s golden car, the Dominican spoke.
“There’s definitely some tension between you too, bro.”
Niko shakes his head. “I don’t want to be doing this any more then you, least of all with her…”
“Then why are you man?”
“If I don’t, apart from these men taking over the city – which sounds like something out of a bad movie – I will be living looking over my shoulder. I do not want that life, and it would not be right to bring that life on those I know.”
Luis nodded. “I get ya bro. I don’t want this either, but she’s kinda got me over a barrel, y’know?”
Niko exhaled sharply. “Don’t I know that.”
“So what you gonna do after all this?”
Niko shrugged. “Perhaps go home. There’s not much left here for me anyway. I don’t know.”
Luis walked to the door of the car.
“You go – I’m going to go for a walk. I’ll make my own way home.”
“You sure bro? It’s no problem.”
Luis drove off, leaving Niko on the street corner. He looked up.
Looks like rain..
He turned and entered the Hove Beach El station.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:11 AM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 17 February 2011 - 01:05 PM.
Luis, wearing jeans and a hooded top, lay on the grass. That woman – Karen was it? – had given him a description of the target car – an immaculate black Cognoscenti. It looked brand new, and, Luis guessed, was one of the latest models, looking noticeably sleeker then its predecessor. Karen had also told him it had improved performance.
Luis watched it coming down the road. The driver appeared patient, staying under the speed limit. He looked through the scope of the silenced-rifle Karen had provided and confirmed the car’s license plate. He lined the crosshair’s up with one of the car’s wheels and squeezed off a single shot.
A moment later the Cognoscenti slowed and pulled over on the shoulder. The driver stepped out and approached the tire. He shook his head and walked to the trunk.
Luis let the man replace the wheel, then, as soon as he shut the trunk, placed a single shot in the middle of the man’s forehead.
As per Karen’s instructions, Luis wrapped the man in a thick tarp and put the body in the trunk. He took the man’s gun, wallet and even a ring on the man’s left hand. Thankfully it fit ok. A little loose, but it wasn’t going to fall off too easily. Then he checked the car for any blood splatter or any other signs of a struggle. There were none.
He hurriedly drove ahead several miles and turned off, traveling down a side track until he was hidden from the road. There he quickly stripped and buried the deceased man. The clothes he put in a groceries bag. Then he quickly changed into his own suit – he had these carefully rolled in his back-pack. The rifle he kept in the trunk, along with his backpack containing his own clothes.
Satisfied that he’d followed Karen’s instructions adequately, he got back in the car and drove onward. The clothes would be burnt later.
The driver had a sat-nav set up, and the destination was programmed into it. A thin smile crept across Luis’s face. Karen had provided him with his own of course, as well as telling him the address and the Zip code.
Luis switched on the radio for the rest of the drive. He turned it off when he approached his destination.
He pulled up, and stayed in the car – another of Karen’s instructions. She had apparently listened in on the call that arranged the driver – and she had told him anything he’d need to know.
A man approached and knocked on the glass. Luis looked at the man, who waved for him to follow.
Luis unbuckled the seatbelt and stepped out of the car. He closed the door – without slamming it – and followed who he assumed was a bodyguard.
The target was walking out of the front door. He clocked Luis and nodded.
“Mr Veron.” Luis said, extending his gloved hand. Veron took it.
“Ah, a nice firm handshake.” The man had a hint of an accent. Spanish perhaps? Maybe one of the south Americas? “A sign of a real man.”
“I hope I have not disappointed you?” Luis said. “Were you expecting a… mujer?”
Veron chuckled. “I was not aware you’d be a Spaniard.”
“Will that be a problem? Shall I send for a replacement?” Luis kept his voice respectful and his face deadpan.
Veron laughed. “Have you been briefed?” Luis nodded. “So you know where we’re going?”
“Of course. It’s necessary; I have planned out several routes – two direct, one taking highways and major roads, another being a scenic route.” Another tidbit of information. Each route was programmed into the sat-nav.
“Are you armed?”
“Is there a problem, Mr Veron?”
Veron sighed. “No. I simply find it difficult to trust people.”
Luis shrugged. “You arranged my assignment today with my employer. If you’re not happy with it, I am afraid that is none of my concern. I will still receive payment either way. But if you’re not comfortable, might I suggest driving yourself? But for what it’s worth,” Luis leaned in and lowered his voice. “I’m the same.”
Veron stared at Luis. “You’re not scared of me, are you?” He said, more of a statement then a question, his voice low and even.
Luis pursed his lips and shook his head. Then Veron smiled.
“Most people are.”
“I’m a driver. You don’t make a habit of harming your drivers do you?”
“Then I have no reason to regard you in any way. I shall not deviate from my job.”
Veron chuckled. “You’ve convinced me. Let’s go.”
“Will it just be you in the car?” Luis asked.
Veron frowned. “Why?”
“Weight and fuel. The more people in the car, the more it drains fuel, and effects handling.”
Veron smiled. “I see. It’s just me, unless my revolver affects weight and fuel?” Veron pulled a .357 S&W Magnum from his cream-colored suit.
Luis chuckled. “That will be fine.” He walked to the rear door and opened the door for Veron.
“Thank you.” Veron said, getting in the car.
Luis walked round and got in the driver’s seat.
Without a word he started the engine and pulled out of the drive.
“How long is it to the City?”
Luis replied without taking his eyes off the road. “About an hour.”
Veron unfolded a newspaper. “Very well.”
Niko didn’t know how many targets were left. Part of him didn’t care. He wondered if he’d ever be free from this. He was also well aware that his disdain for Michelle – Karen – had been put on the back burner. It was, however, still there.
“I don’t get why we need both of us to follow a car.” Johnny said, snapping Niko from his thoughts.
Niko shrugged. “To be honest, Johnny, I’m glad of the company.”
Johnny chuckled. “A bit lonely are we?”
Niko shook his head. “We’re here.”
Niko pulled over down the road from the warehouse.
“This the other warehouse from the other day?”
Niko nodded as an Admiral pulled out.
“Here we go.” Niko said, putting the car in gear.
“I’ve never been one for tailing people.” Johnny said.
“Can’t beat the open road?”
“Something like that. You ride?”
“I can handle a bike. I prefer a car though. More stable, better cover.”
“The faster you ride the more stable it gets.”
There was a moment of silence, and Niko followed the Admiral round a corner, allowing a car to sit in between them.
“Do you think he suffered?” Johnny asked.
Niko shot his passenger in a confused glance.
“My brother.” Johnny clarified. “Do you think he suffered?”
Niko shook his head. “No. These men are expert shooters. He probably didn’t know what hit him.”
Johnny nodded. “You’d think that’d help.”
“Yeah… I thought that when Roman – my cousin – died. It wasn’t stretched out over several days, with him being in pain. He died in seconds. Doesn’t make it easier. Dead is dead.”
Johnny sighed. “Everything’s been f*cked up since Billy got released.”
“An old friend. I don’t know whether it was drugs or what, but he lost it. He was more interested in waging war, and giving everyone the finger then anything else. He went away and I ended up running things. We were making money, paying his bills mainly, but we were doing ok. Then he gets released and within weeks our chapter fell apart – a civil war broke out.”
“What happened to him?”
“I had to kill him.” Johnny said. “As well as a few others. Brothers for Life, Lost for ever. He seemed to forget that. How can old friends turn?”
Niko shrugged. “I’ve been betrayed before. I know what you mean.”
“What about this woman – Karen, or whatever her name is? Didn’t you say she stabbed you in the back?”
“Worried she’ll do it again?”
“I wonder that of everyone. Perhaps even more so of myself.”
“Roman died because of me. I remember a long time ago, a man got me to kill another. It turned out the target was the son of another powerful man, and the two factions went to war.
“I had to kill my employer then. I remember what he said to me. ‘Dmitri turned on me, not the other way round. America made him greedy. He hill turn on you too, you shall discover this.’ I didn’t know he was right.
“The man he warned me about did turn on me. I escaped but I ended up with the choice to work with him again. That or kill him and end it all.
“I sold out. And once again, true to form, he turned on me, sending a hit man to my cousin’s wedding. I should have died that day, not Roman.”
Johnny stared at Niko. “Sh*t man, that’s heavy.”
Niko nodded. “Ten years I searched for a man, to get revenge for something that happened in the war. Ten years, and I let him go.”
“Don’t think I could have done that.”
“I wanted to. But it had to end somewhere. At some point I had to stop killing people.” Niko shook his head. “It turns out that trying to be good has it’s price.”
“Nice guys always finish last.”
“That’s something I’ve seen throughout my entire life. Nobody changes. Everything stays the same. I’m still fighting a war, even thought the real one ended over a decade ago. There are still casualties.”
After a moment Johnny nodded toward car ahead of them, changing the subject. “Any idea where we’re going?”
Niko shook his head.
Veron had mostly remained quiet. He’d made or taken a couple of calls and intermittently set his paper down to watch the countryside go by.
“Too few people can appreciate the countryside as they travel.” He’d said to the man who he believed to be his driver. “I always try to travel by train where I can. It’s so much more interesting then flying.”
“Takes longer though.” Luis said.
“That it does. But that can’t be helped. People are always too much in a rush these days.”
Luis simply nodded, and Veron went back to his paper.
The scenery slowly turned from trees to cityscape, with the Algonquin skyline appearing in the distance.
“Not far now.” Luis said.
The Admiral pulled into a loading bay behind a building. Niko had pulled over across the street from the access road and watched as the man walked in through a loading bay door.
“Looks like this is it.” Johnny said.
Niko nodded and reached for his Fruit phone. He gave Karen the address and, a moment later she came back with some information about it.
“We’re two blocks from city hall.” Niko repeated for Johnny. Then he sat and listened for a minute. Then the call ended.
“It’s a meeting.” Niko said to Johnny. “We’ve got to sit here until it’s over. Then you’ve got to follow out friend in the Admiral, I will follow the other guy who’s on foot apparently.”
“On foot? Isn’t that a bit risky for him?”
“Perhaps, but he’ll probably take a cab.”
“Ok so I follow him, then what?”
“We wait for the ‘go’. Be careful though – don’t get too close…”
“I think I can manage, Niko.”
Niko nodded then turned back to the alley.
Luis pulled the Cognoscenti onto the curved driveway of the hotel. He stopped the car directly outside the door, as a doorman stepped outside.
Luis got out and opened the door for his passenger – target, he reminded himself.
“Thanks.” Veron said. “You never told me your name.”
Luis smiled politely. “Indeed I did not. No names.”
Veron smiled. “Well, thank you anyway.”
“Will you be requiring me any further?”
Veron chuckled. “Hoping for a day off are we?”
Luis smiled. “It’s always nice, but work first.”
Veron nodded. “Then yes. Do you have a contact number?”
“I do.” Luis pulled out the phone that Karen had supplied him – another disposable one, apparently. He gave Veron the number. The men then shook hands and Luis got back in the car and drove off, parking it in a garage off Vespucci Circus – also arranged by that woman.
She’s got some resources , he said to himself.
Niko was walking behind the man – a group of teenage girls giggling and screeching in between them. His target walked round a corner and Niko followed. He saw the man eying up the road, looking for a taxi. Niko turned to the road and whistled for a cab.
He kept his gaze on the road as a taxi pulled over. In his peripheral vision he saw his target look over. As Niko approached the cab, his target waved for one. Niko allowed his eyes to flick toward his quarry for a second, and stepped in the cab.
“Follow the cab in front of us.” Niko said, handing over a hundred dollars with a smile on his face. He always wanted to say that. “Don’t let him see us though. There’s another hundred in it for you.”
The cab driver couldn’t believe his luck. “No problem man.” He said putting the car in gear. The target’s cab pulled into traffic, and Niko’s followed. “So you a cop or something?” The cabbie asked. From the sound of it, this wasn’t the first time he’d had such a request.
Niko smiled. What the hell. “F.I.B, actually.”
The cabbie muttered something and chuckled. A story for his drinking buddies, Niko thought.
The drive itself was uneventful. The target didn’t change cabs or anything and within twenty minutes they had arrived at the destination. Niko silently thanked the myriad of cabs on the roads and handed the cabbie a hundred dollar bill, and a twenty. He thanked him and walked off, keeping his pace slow and steady. The target was now in East Hook, walking toward a warehouse. Niko made sure to hang back, then got himself in a position where he could see three sides of the warehouse. He slowly circled it, making sure the target wasn’t walking straight out the back to a boat. There were no boats, thankfully, and after ten minutes, Niko was sure this was the place. He hoped Johnny had been as successful.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:12 AM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 22 February 2011 - 11:55 AM.
A few of days had passed, which saw Luis doing a few driving jobs for Veron – one of them chauffeuring someone else around. Now Luis stood in Middle Park, looking at the hotel across the road, considering his options.
Veron had let slip about the hotel’s security. Luis wasn’t going to get up to any of the floors without leaving some sort of trail. He could either rent a room – but at several thousand a night, that was out of the question. Alternatively, he could try to enter from the roof, but he didn’t want anyone else knowing what’s going on, and he certainly wasn’t about to allow a helicopter to crash. That left a brute force attack – charging in will probably get him shot, or arrested.
But Luis did have one idea. He crossed the street, wearing his suit, and walked in to the hotel’s foyer. He walked straight towards the elevators and paused a few feet from them. He fished into his jacket and pulled out his cell. He feigned a phone call and began talking. A moment later the elevator doors opened and Luis stepped inside as a woman stepped out. The trick here, Luis thought to himself, was to look like he belonged. No one would stop him unless he was skulking around, or looking around suspiciously.
The elevator doors closed and Luis felt the surge as the mechanics worked against gravity. He adjusted the gun in his jacket and took a breath.
Niko had been given the warehouse. It was slightly reminiscent of the ambush Dmitri had set up two years ago, and Niko had armed himself well. He wore body armor under his suit, which felt heavy and tight and restricted movement, and had two MP5s under his jacket, along with his Desert Eagle. He also had a few grenades, and a stubby shotgun attached to a homemade sling that hung on his back, also under his jacket.
He wasn’t afraid – he’d been doing this long enough to not fear death, or pain – but he was at least apprehensive. Most of all, though, he was concerned his target may escape out the back. He’d set up a little trap there first – a fine wire connected to a couple of Flash bangs. Anyone who fled out the back door would get a nasty surprise.
It was the front door that Niko now stood by, his body pressed against the wall. He held his two MP5s and took a breath. He kicked open the door.
Luis was walking down the hallway, having successfully chatted up a maid to get past the security door. He had plenty of time, so he’d allowed himself a little… entertainment with her. Now she limped back to work, and Luis strolled down the hallway towards the target room.
There were bodyguards, of course, and they had clocked him the second he’d come into view. One of the men turned his head to watch Luis, the other either using his eyes, or looking in the opposite direction. Likely the latter, Luis thought, in case this was a distraction.
He’d taken a security card from the maid’s pocket, while her clothes were on the floor. He used that to open the door next to the target’s room, allowing himself to look at the guards. He offered a nod as he entered the room. The guard did not return it.
The second the door shut, Luis’s gun was out. He cleared the room, thankful to find it empty. He’d half expected to see a bodyguard or two in here, but he was lucky.
The idea had come to him as he stared up at the building from the park. Most of the rooms facing the park had balconies – at least the ones above the fourth or fifth floor did.
Happy that no one was in the room, Luis stepped out to the balcony. He looked out at the park, acting like a tourist taking in the sights, in case anyone saw him. He looked around, and saw that he was alone.
He turned to face the neighboring balcony and climbed onto the railings. He took a breath and jumped awkwardly to the next balcony. He drew his gun and pinned himself up against the wall, in case anyone heard him.
Somebody did hear him, and a lone man stepped out. He turned and walked towards Luis. As soon as he was out of view of the windows, Luis grabbed him, plunging the gun to the man’s head. He also pushed the man against the railings, leaving the top half of the man’s body hanging in midair. There was no way this man could struggle and take Luis’s gun, at least without falling to his death.
“How many?” Luis whispered. “And I’ll warn you, don’t try to lie. My employer has files on all of you, and know who you all are. If I die here today, or you lie to me, your entire family will be killed. We are not the good guys, so don’t doubt us.”
Luis had to give credit to the man. He was not scared – at least not noticeably so. He seemed more irritated, but he gave the information up.
Three more, plus Veron.
Luis nodded and broke the man’s neck. Then he approached the French windows.
Niko burst through the door, both guns up seeking targets. He fired one burst with one gun, then thrust the other one out and fired. Then he rushed for cover.
As expected, the entire warehouse erupted in gunfire. Men shouted and others replied with equal volume.
Many would feel out of depth in this situation – a dozen, perhaps more, military-trained men shooting at them – but Niko remained calm. Sure there was the adrenaline, enough to keep his vision sharp and his reactions warm, but he was calm, his breathing steady. He hadn’t felt panic since the war.
He reached over his cover with his right hand, and fired the MP5 blindly. Then he popped his head up, took a quick look around and settled back down.
He checked his guns.
Niko jumped up, using his cover to lean on, and fired. One man fell, then another. Bullets hacked away at the floor and his cover, but none hit him. He fired again, to his left. To his right. Up on a catwalk. He then ran, sidestepping like a soccer player during warm-up, gun’s seeking targets, and firing. He reached a pillar and took cover behind it before darting to the next. His prey would be upstairs, in the small office. He had to get there before his prey made a run for it…
Part of the wall next to him exploded, showing Niko with chards of concrete. He felt the skin on his face tear as a tremendous crack echoed throughout the warehouse.
“Sniper.” He snarled. He risked a look round the pillar and spotted the man – in the office, rifle hanging out a broken window.
He withdrew his head a millisecond before the next shot came.
Niko was gauging the distance to the sniper when something hit him in the chest. Hard.
He looked up and saw the shooter, fired off a quick burst then looked at his chest.
No blood. The pain was only impact injury – nothing to worry about.
Niko risked another glance, a quick bounding nod. The sniper fired again, and this time Niko felt the air fracture as the bullet whizzed past his head. Niko dropped the gun from his right hand.
Then Niko made his move. In an eerie lull of gunfire, the sound of the metal ring hitting the floor seemed loud.
More gunfire came at him, but none could reach.
Niko took a deep breath.
Niko caught movement out of the corner of his eye. Someone had flanked him, their gun coming up.
Niko broke from cover, throwing the grenade toward the sniper. At the same time he dove to his right as the flanking man fired.
Niko landed in a roll as the bullets embedded themselves in the floor. The grenade exploded as he pressed himself against the next pillar, sending debris out across the warehouse.
Niko heard some screams – from whoever was hit by the debris, or perhaps the grenade’s blast itself. He stepped from cover, gun up, and fired.
There was a loud explosion from the back of the warehouse. Someone had tried to run and encountered his trap. He turned his gun towards them, and quickly took them down, not even breaking his stride.
As he reached the stairs, the gun clicked empty, Niko heard that, but his right hand was already coming out with his shotgun. The MP5 clattered against the floor as Niko’s foot touched the first step.
There were only a few men left upstairs. The target, Niko could see, was still in the office. It looked like he had run back in there after the Flash Bangs had gone off.
Niko fired the shotgun once at the first man who challenged him, firing wildly and missing.
He fell against the railings, dead.
The next guy came at him with a knife. Foolish, Niko thought. He shot him, and the man fell off the catwalk.
That left two, including the target.
Niko fired again, and the victim slumped against the half-open door to the office.
Niko dropped the shotgun and pulled his Desert Eagle out. He aimed it through the door at the target who dropped his gun. Niko bent down and pulled the slumped body from the doorway, throwing it single-handedly over the railing.
Niko stepped into the office.
In Johnny’s eyes, he had the easiest target. He was hitting him in transit.
The man was a fool, Johnny though. Sticking to cabs, traveling alone.
But also, Karen had insisted, he was not rock up to him in full convoy with his brothers. She didn’t want Star Junction to turn into a war zone.
The target was also lazy – or perhaps complacent was the better word. He took the same route as he had done every time Johnny and Niko had tailed him.
Straight down Galveston Avenue.
Johnny stood on the abandoned elevated train tracks, trying to remember when they were ever used, or where they went. Oh well, they were being torn down next week, so who cares?
Johnny used a pair of binoculars to spot the car as it turned off of Kunzite Street. He saw his target in the back.
He pocketed the binoculars and lifted the weight onto his shoulder, stretching his neck as he stood waiting.
The taxi neared.
When it was near enough, Johnny lined the sights and pulled the heavy-set trigger.
The whoosh was deafening, and hot. The smoke clouded his vision, but he could see the rocket-propelled grenade fly towards its target.
Two seconds later the taxi exploded fantastically.
Johnny growled and jumped on his bike – a Sanchez, one he knew no brother rode.
Luis fired at the first guard and grabbed the second. The remaining guard didn’t return fire though, but his gun was drawn. Luis shot him before he changed his mind. Then he snapped his shield’s neck, turning the gun on Veron.
“You never were my driver were you?” Veron asked. For some reason, he didn’t have his gun drawn.
“Sorry.” Luis said. “But no.”
“You’re not any of Petrovic’s men, unless he’s outsourcing now.”
“That leaves…” Veron sighed. “Why would he turn on me? I mean I expected it eventually, but only after everything’s done.”
“Listen, I don’t care…”
“I got to give you credit though. I didn’t suspect a thing. You were very cool. You’ve got to be one of his.”
Luis nodded sideways.
“You’re very calm for a man who’s about to die.” He said after a moment.
Veron laughed. “Who said I’m about to die?”
Immediately, Luis thought of the guard on the balcony. He lied!
Luis turned round, his eyes checking the bathroom.
Luis turned back to see Veron’s gun pointed straight at him.
Luis dove as Veron fired. The gun was loud! His ears ringing,Luise landed in a roll, came up and lunged at Veron, knocking the gun free. He then scrambled toward Veron himself, pulling him into position as a human shield as the door burst open.
The guards, MP5s up stood by the door.
“Let him go.” One demanded. He sounded bored.
“Say please.” Luis replied.
The man sighed. “Listen son, I’m a former SEAL, this guy ex-Delta. We can shoot these guns and hit a dime on that wall all day long. Let him go, we won’t kill you.”
“Sh*t. Ok man, you got me.” Luis went to release Veron, but threw him against a desk beside him. “Ah, sh*t. My bad man, I’m clumsy.” Luis picked Veron up, then shoved him toward the guards.
Neither fired – one didn’t have a clear line of sight, the other was being knocked over by Veron.
Luis fired, taking down the stumbling guard.
“Oh f*ck.” Luis said. “I shot your friend. You know I never was a good shot.” Luis then shot the other guard, hitting him right between the eyes. “Oh. Maybe I am. How about that.” Luis bent down and picked up Veron.
“Now you are about to die. Still feel calm?”
“F*ck you!” Veron spat. “My acquaintances will kill you, but not quick.”
“Your acquaintances? Oh you mean the good fellows you’ve been meeting with?” Luis checked the time. “I’m afraid they’ve moved on.” Veron blinked. “Don’t worry bro, you’ll see them soon.”
Luis shot the man in the head.
Niko had to give the guy credit. Neither he, nor his bodyguard – armed with a street-sweeper shotgun - showed any fear. The target didn’t scream, he just fired, without hesitation, hitting Niko in the chest.
Niko stumbled back and fell to his knees, holding his chest. He looked up and let a little air escape. His gun hung beside him then fell to the floor.
The man lowered his gun and approached Niko.
“Don’t mess with pros.” He laughed.
Niko whispered. “I don’t mess with pros…” He then looked up, his head remaining still, his eyes shooting upwards, in that cinematic way. “I kill them.”
Niko swung his hand up and grabbed the man’s gun, directing it away from him. The man backpedaled, and Niko used the man’s retreat to help him to his feet. He threw a knee to the man’s stomach, yanking the gun from the man’s hand. Niko fired three shots into the man’s stomach/chest, cradling him as he did so. He then stood and, from behind the man, shot the bodyguard.
Both men fell to the floor.
Niko checked the target, and put another shot in his head to be sure.
He sighed, and shook his head. Then he left.
Luis ran out of the hotel’s rear service bay into the alley, cursing as he did so. Out side of Veron’s room was another two guards. Luis had no idea where they’d come from, only that he should have backtracked across the balconies.
Worse was the fact that they had fired, and neither of their guns was suppressed. By the time Luis reached the ground floor, armed police were approaching the main entrance.
So Luis had run through the hotel’s restaurant and kitchen, eventually coming out via the service area.
The police weren’t too far behind.
Luis bounded down the alley, zigzagging past garbage cans and dumpsters. He headed south, hoping to lose the cops in the alleys.
He changed direction, turning toward Bismarck Avenue, pulling down a roll-cage trolley full of discarded packaging as he went. It might slow the police down a little, he thought, though it wouldn’t stop them.
Luis ran out onto the street, vaulted and slid over a parked car’s hood. A taxi blasted its horn and slammed on the brakes. Luis jumped, letting one foot touch the cab’s hood, pushing off with it and leaping into the air.
Luis landed in a roll, having jumped over a passing, and rather startled, motorcyclist. He glanced behind him as he ran into another alley, seeing a couple of policemen climbing over the packaging.
Luis broke into a full blown sprint and headed south again. In a few minutes, with the police still behind him, albeit far behind, he reached Pyrite Street.
He ran toward the road and leapt up onto a pile of newspapers.
“Hey! F*ck off you crazy a*shole!” The paper delivery guy called out, but Luis had already jumped into – or onto traffic. He jumped across, onto a Cavalcade, and leapt straight ahead, tucking his arms and head in as he did so.
The glass shattered as Luis smashed through. He landed, immediately falling down, like a goalkeeper. It took him a second to scramble to his feet, and he could hear the police shouting.
He ran up the stairs.
The police took a moment to realize that Luis had dove through the window. One of the officers carefully climbed through the shattered glass, gun in hand. Another got set to follow as the rest approached the main door.
There was a terrific growl that got the cops confused for a second. Then it registered what it was.
An engine revving.
The window above the entrance exploded, as a Turismo leapt through it, like a Tiger leaping for freedom. The cops turned and saw the underside of the car sail over their heads. It hit the floor with a jolt, sparks flying as the gearbox scrapped across the asphalt.
Luis fought to control the car then powered his way out of it, accelerating eastward along Pyrite Street toward, of all places, the Libertonian.
He drifted round the corner, turning south and accelerated but, unfortunately, more cops were now on his tail. Luis cursed, he was sure there were none on this road when he turned onto it. What, had they come out of nowhere?
The chase stretched past the Majestic and down through Star Junction. Luis kept heading south, unsure of where he was actually going. He ended up by the church on Liberty Lane, with four cruisers on his tail now.
Damn, what the hell was Veron, a cop?
Out of the corner of his eye, Luis saw the closed road that led through the Woodworld Building.
Luis spun the wheel and turned onto Diamond street, dodging an oncoming Minivan.
The police followed, but slower and forced into one lane to get past the traffic.
Luis floored it and hunkered down. The Turismo tore through the traffic, losing a wing-mirror to a pick-up truck, and sped across Denver Avenue.
The police stopped, not willing to follow as the sports car hit the make-shift ramp and flew through the Woodworld arch. Tourists stopped and looked up in shock and awe. One Japanese tourist even snapped a photo as the car flew over her head.
Luis’s vision shook as the car hit the ground. He eased on the brakes, but ended up skidding to a stop in the middle of the Columbus/Diamond intersection. As soon as he could, he straightened out and eased the car down Diamond Street, amidst the oncoming traffic. He then turned down the side street – Amsterdam Lane, and pulled over. He stepped out of the car and ran down an alleyway.
Three minutes later he sat in a cab, turning onto Union Drive East. He kept looking out of the windows for police until they reached the CC bypass. There were none.
He didn’t relax until he got home.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:14 AM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 23 February 2011 - 12:07 PM.
Almost a week had passed, with only a few ‘jobs’ in between. Niko and Luis had tailed some guy and witnessed a meeting. Then the two parties split up. Luis followed one, Niko the other.
One of them, the one Luis had followed, turned out to be an attorney.
The other simply went home.
Also, in the week gone, Johnny had planted two bombs, one on the back of a car belonging to one of the ‘bad guys’, which was to be detonated during a meeting, and the other at one of Petrovic’s clubs.
The staged war between the two parties was progressing nicely.
But now the three met with Karen, with the election just weeks away.
Time was running out.
“What’s next?” Niko asked.
“Two things. One, I need someone to meet with a guy I have in their ranks. He’s feeding me information and if it checks out, I use it. So far he hasn’t let me down. The other is to gather some files that one of these guys is collecting.”
“Why would they be keeping files?” Johnny asked.
“Insurance.” Niko said.
Karen nodded. “Basically so no one can turn round and f*ck him over. He’s got evidence on what they’re planning, likely copies of it with some attorney, to be released in the event of his death.”
“And he keeps these files in his desk at home?” Johnny asked cynically.
“No, of course not. I need someone to go to the attorney’s office and collect them.”
“So we know who the attorney is?” Niko asked.
“Yes. It’s the man Luis followed.”
“I don’t mind looking into his office.” Luis said. “Makes sense seeing as I followed him. What will I be looking for?”
“A sealed package, likely a large envelope or something. In it will be documents, including bank statements and photos of meetings. Perhaps a recording if we’re lucky. While we’re at it let’s hope for profiles of the targets.”
“Will this be enough to involve the authorities?” Niko asked.
“Possibly. We won’t have any clue until we see them.”
“Right. So that leaves me and Niko to pick up our friend.”
Karen nodded. “We need him to disappear and for it to look like he was killed.”
“How we do that then?” Johnny asked.
“First you pick him up. Then, as soon as he’s safe, you torch his apartment.”
“But first, I need you guys to steal something.”
“What?” Niko asked the question on everybody’s lips.
“Remember the warehouse in Alderney?”
Niko nodded. “The one we left alone.”
“There. Hit it tonight – quick and hard. Steal the guns and take them to the port Tudor. I’ve arranged some boats to take them further.”
“Who’s taking the boats?”
Karen smiled. “Russians.”
“Petrovik?” Johnny asked, incorrectly pronouncing the name.
“No, someone else.” Karen looked around at the frowns. “His name is Iosef. He’s on our side on this one – I can’t explain how other then through a mutual and sympathetic contact. He operates from England normally, but he has interests over here – one of his lieutenants runs a small Bratva that are allied with Petrovic. He will hide them and supply us with what we need.”
“And the rest?” Luis asked.
“He’ll sell or take back across the sea. Sorry you can’t keep any as bonuses.”
After dark the trio had set out – wearing clothes similar to Petrovic’s men, and driving a Russian gang car – to the warehouse in Actor Industrial.
They approached the warehouse, hitting it from three sides. Johnny took the front, Luis the east side and Niko climbed up and entered through the back, on the upper floor. He had a rifle, and would snipe people as the other two men caused chaos downstairs.
The three men – all wearing balaclavas – had set up a distraction on the west side – a timed C4 charge on a gas tank.
The C4 exploded, rocking the warehouse. Men shouted and began running around.
That’s when Luis opened up with his M249. Johnny charged in with his AK-47. He wanted to use the grenade launcher, but couldn’t risk damaging the cache.
Niko was at the other end of the scale. He found a good spot and began shooting people with the scoped weapon. At first everyone was focusing on the explosion. Niko took two down before Johnny had begun shooting. Then everyone was split; no one knew where to go.
The shooting lasted less then two minutes. The warehouse fell eerily quiet after that. Gun smoke swam around the air, making the place look even darker.
The three rendezvoused at the cache and began loading the truck – an open topped flatbed. It reminded Johnny of the time he and Jim had stolen bikes from the A.O.D.
A sobering thought.
On Niko’s instructions, Luis placed his M249 on top of a couple of crates. He stood there watching the door while Johnny loaded the first crate into the truck – where Niko stood to pile them in the container. Five minutes later they had company.
Two men ran in through the door, and Luis fired, taking them down. More men appeared and, from cover, fired. Luis kept firing sporadically, keeping them at bay. Johnny slid his AK-47 over toward the Dominican too.
“In case you run low!” He called.
Ten minutes later the truck was full.
“Luis!” Niko shouted as he climbed on top of the truck. “You’re back here with me.”
Luis bent down to pick up his M249, despite the ammo being low. Johnny collected his AK-47.
“Don’t bother.” Niko called to the Dominican. “Look.”
Luis turned to see Niko patting something. What is that?
Luis jumped up onto the truck to see a minigun set up. Niko crouched beside it holding a futuristic looking assault rifle – it kind of looked like the P90, but bigger.
“Courtesy of our friends.” Niko said, nodding at the crates behind him.
Luis grinned and climbed behind the minigun. Niko called out to Johnny who started the engine.
The truck didn’t exactly speed out of the warehouse, but it was gaining speed. Luis opened fire on the vehicles and men outside, devastating them all.
Johnny pulled out onto the road and, within a minute, an SUV was chasing, full of shooting men.
The SUV didn’t last long. A few bikers appeared and Niko took them out.
If the possible destruction of half the city, and their deaths, wasn’t in the back of Luis’s mind, he’d probably be having fun. It wasn’t every day you got to shoot a gun as big as this…
Whoever it was they were working against had sent a lot of men to reclaim – or destroy – the cache. By the time they’d reached the docks, Luis and Niko had taken down a dozen cars and five or six bikes.
At the docks they met some Russians. Not just some Russians, Niko said to himself, but some heavily armed Russians.
The boats – three of them – had two mounted mini guns on, one on the port side, one of the starboard. They looked like they had a 180-degree turn arch, meaning they could shoot forward, backward or out to the side.
Near the front of the boat, mounted on the roof of the cabin, was another gun, only this thing looked like a cannon. It took Niko a minute to realise it was a cannon. Either a grenade launcher or a mini-rocket launcher.
“Yes, they’re Rockets.” A man said.
The man nodded. Niko noticed a cigarette boat docked too – a mounted .50 CAL sniper rifle on the front and a minigun on the back.
There were also five or six men per boat and four – including Iosef – on the cigarette boat.
These guys were serious, Niko noted.
They dumped the flatbed in the river and stole a Cavalcade FXT to drive back into Liberty City. No one spoke during the drive. Johnny was intimidated by the sheer firepower on show, Luis was simply impressed.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:15 AM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 25 February 2011 - 11:57 AM.
Over the last week or so, Niko had noticed ads on TV, the radio, even on the sides of taxis, busses and in the subway. Debates were arranged, and public conferences and forums were to be broadcasted on most channels. Almost everyone was talking about the election.
They had done a few more jobs too – a couple of low-level hits, some surveillance...
“So what’s going to happen? I haven’t a clue what the f*ck’s going on.”
Niko glanced across to his passenger – Johnny.
“Well, from what we’ve seen and what she’s said, They’re staging some kind of attack, likely bombs. A terrorist attack that will level City hall, killing most of the politicians. The only survivors will be members of this mystery man’s unit.”
“What if there’s any strays? Anyone who somehow survives, or perhaps is late, or goes home sick?”
“They’ll probably slip in the shower, or drive their car off a bridge, or simply disappear.”
“Sh*t. And us?”
“Karen’s got that mole – the guy working with them, feeding her information.”
“Yeah but do you really trust him?”
Niko shrugged. “Everything’s checked out so far.”
“So he’s going to tell us where all the bombs are?”
“If they use them, yes… I think.”
“What if he f*cks up and they kill him?”
“I’m not the person to ask that to.” Niko said.
Johnny shook his head. “Bombs… Sounds like a damned video game, or a spy cartoon.”
“They could even be chemical.” Niko added.
Then, Johnny swore under his breath. He looked at Niko with fear in his eyes.
“What if they use nukes?”
Niko laughed. “They won’t use nukes. They want to run this town, not take control of an inhabitable crater.”
“Oh yeah… This still feels like an episode of 72.”
“Look, Johnny, we meet this guy and get the information. Then we see what’s next. We move in, disarm the bombs, then get in position to take down the targets.”
“It’s not that simple though, is it? Are we going to shoot politicians in City Hall? You think the cops will shake our hands?”
“No. But then we will not charge in like a wild-west cowboy.”
Johnny laughed at that. “Probably not too smart.”
Niko returned the laugh. “No.”
Luis entered the building through the back door. He wasn’t too good with lock picks – he’d rather kick the door down – but these were electronic. You put them in, wriggle them around and the door opens, right?
The door did open, and Luis slipped inside. He found the office and picked that lock too.
He personally found it strange that any of these bad guys would keep any form of records. But there it was. What was it Karen had called it?
Oh yes, ‘insurance’.
Luis shook his head. The only insurance he cared about was under his jacket right now.
He sat at the desk and looked around the office. On the computer or in the filing cabinet?
He stood and walked to the filing cabinet.
It was locked but, once again, his lock picks worked wonders. Inside, amongst the myriad of documents – some legitimate, others less so – waited the bank statement he was after.
“Take away their funding, and that’ll put a serious kink in their operations.” Karen’s voice echoed in his memory.
He flicked through files and sheets until he found something. He opened it and sighed. No, that wasn’t it at all.
He closed the file but paused.
Wait a minute…
Luis opened the file again and read.
…named Niko Bellic. No living relatives in the country. Possible person of interest: Mallorie Bardas-Bellic, husband of Roman Bellic (deceased), cousin of…
Luis read on.
…murder of Billy Grey during an outside raid on Alderney State Correctional Facility….
Luis’s jaw dropped. These weren’t the charts of accounts, but something much, much more.
He grabbed his cell.
Karen had demanded they met – at the Monoglobe. Luis sat on the bench and she sat next to him.
“Show me.” She said. No greeting, just straight to business.
He handed the file over.
A moment late she sighed. “They know about Niko and Johnny. It says here they made the connection via Michael – Johnny’s brother. He stumbled on this in the middle-east and they killed him for it.” She read on then her face went pale.
“What is it?”
“They know about my mole.”
“The one Niko and Johnny are meeting now.”
“Right, so they… Mierda!”
Karen cursed. “I’ve got them killed.” She grabbed her cell and dialed Niko’s number. “Sh*t. I think he’s blocked the number."
"No... The bad guy, Luis. He must have figured it all out. That mean’s I’m compromised. Just now, as I left to meet you, he was on the phone, arranging his men. It sounded like they were gathering to take down a target. I thought he was on about Petrovic...”
“Mierda. So what do we do?”
Karen stared at her feet. “I have no idea.”
Luis sighed and looked up and looked out at the Monoglobe. A child sat on the side of the fountain while his mother spoke with another. He was playing with a toy car – it resembled an Infernus or a Bullet – and a WWII tank. The child make little explosion noises and vroom-vrooms.
Luis stood. “Where’s Johnny and Niko?”
“The multi-storey car park by Golden Pier, why?”
“I know it.” Luis turned to leave.
“Lopez.” Karen called out. She stammered. “Where are you going?”
“What are you going to do? Fight an army by yourself?”
“Wouldn’t be the first time.”
Karen blinked. Then, her voice full of worry, she whispered. “God Speed.”
Luis nodded and pulled out his phone as he walked off. He scrolled to Yusuf’s number.
Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:17 AM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 01 March 2011 - 11:57 PM.
As the sun began to set, Niko and Johnny had checked the car park out. No one sat waiting in cars watching. No one was lurking around the car park.
Content, the two entered the car park and waited at the appropriate place – at the back by some scaffolding. The mole turned up after a moment.
Niko smiled and nodded at the man, they way one might to a total stranger.
The man approached “You seen a Cheetah lying around here?”
Niko nodded. “Some gangbanger and a dark haired guy stole it.”
The mole laughed. “Oh well wasn’t mine anyway. Stole it off some Mafioso type.”
Niko nodded and extended his hand. It was a weird code-phrase interchange, but that was the point. Now they exchanged false names. “Tommy.” Niko said. “This is Carl.”
The man took the hand. “Claude. Are we going to talk further here?”
“No. Cat’s got a place lined up.” Johnny – ‘Carl’ – said. Cat was Karen’s pseudonym. Johnny didn’t fully get why all this cloak and dagger bullsh*t was necessary, but Niko did.
“Our car’s just over–”
Suddenly ‘Claude’ fell backward hard. His head hit the concrete violently. Niko saw the wound on his forehead.
“Get to cover!” Niko shouted to Johnny.
There was a low rumbling, and the echo of car engines filled the car park.
Niko took a glance toward the exit to see five black Sultans screech to a stop. Men, armed with Carbine rifles stepped out. Then the rumbling got louder. Niko looked back to see Johnny take cover. “Sniper.” He warned.
“Holy f*cking sh*t.” Johnny breathed. Niko frowned then followed Johnny’s gaze.
Rolling into the car park was a large black vehicle.
“What the f*ck!?” Niko exclaimed, staring at the APC. Then another appeared.
The two men exchanged glances and drew their guns. All they had were pistols.
The sound of a helicopter – no, two helicopters – was distinct. Niko could tell that the rotors didn’t belong to any civilian choppers.
He didn’t need to glance to his right to see the Annihilator approaching.
Johnny also noticed the gunships – one coming from the north, one from the south.
Johnny stared at Niko. “Shall we surrender?”
Niko’s answer was drowned out by the barrage of bullets drilling into the parked cars in front of them.
“I don’t think they’ll let us!” He shouted.
What the f*ck? Johnny’s gaze said. “We fight!?”
Niko nodded, closing his eyes as he did so. Both men knew what this’d mean. Niko reached for his phone. Perhaps Karen could help.
The phone was dead. Completely locked down.
Niko dropped the phone on the ground and hung his head.
Karen had given them up.
In that moment, Niko felt closer to Roman. He took a glance out at the approaching gunship, then to Johnny.
“See you soon, Cousin.” He whispered.
Niko cocked the gun and stared at Johnny.
Johnny stared back. “Let’s not die cowards.” He mouthed. He was going to take as many of these guys down as possible.
Suddenly the grinding sound of the Annihilators’ miniguns started, immediately yielding to the sound of hundreds of bullets as they began to come at them from all directions.
Niko fired, shooting at any man he saw. He hoped no late night shoppers were coming for their cars but then, he was close to not caring.
Time seemed to slow. A bullet hit Johnny in the shoulder, knocking him backward.
Niko jumped away from the car as it caught fire.
There were at least twenty men at one end of the car park, plus two APC’s and the two helicopters. There were also a couple of boats outside.
Niko brought the gun up as bullets whizzed past him. He fired, getting a headshot, but the victim got back up.
Niko’s hopes fell as the realization dawned on him.
They were wearing heavy armour.
Then Niko’s gun clicked empty.
Niko dropped the gun and stood there. He looked down and closed his eyes...
Johnny had also run out of ammo. He threw the gun hopelessly at the APC/tank. F*ck this, he was going to run. Jump off the car park, take his chances in the river. Take cover in the subway tunnels…
The APC exploded, sending six attackers flying.
Johnny blinked. What the hell!?
Niko opened his eyes at the sound of the explosion.
An APC was dead!
Niko had no idea how, but he suddenly came back to life. He dove for cover.
Johnny ran for the edge of the car park but a steady stream of .50 CAL ammunition stopped him. He took cover.
Niko suddenly remembered the mole. Surely he must be armed!
The carbine-soldiers approached, as the APCs fired in the background. For a moment, they almost looked like they were shooting at each other.
Niko ran, sprinted and dove at ‘Claude’s’ body. He reached into the man’s pocket.
Inside was an MP5. Niko grabbed it.
The soldiers sped up as Niko dove behind the car. Then, a second later he appeared again.
He aimed the MP5, using the rudimentary sights to help his targeting.
Body shots were a no go – they wouldn’t even faze the attackers. Headshots were also out – their helmets were armored.
“Open fire!” The hit squad commander shouted as Niko fired his gun like a target-shooter on speed.
No one fired.
“Open fire dammit!” The commanded pulled his trigger but the gun jammed. Bullet shrapnel tore out of the weapon and cut into his hand.
Someone got two shots off, but they missed.
“Johnny!” Niko shouted. The biker looked out from cover then disappeared.
Johnny reappeared with a metal pole, three/four feet long, an inch thick.
Niko ran at the soldiers with Johnny just behind him. Another two explosions rocked the vehicles, but Niko ignored them. He fired at one man, then another.
The commander stared as his men began screaming. How the hell could this man be penetrating their armor? It could stop FMJs for Christ sake!
One of his men grabbed at his hand, blood dripping.
Niko had been ready for it all to end, but now he was fighting hard. He was shooting better then he ever had in his life, hitting every soldier’s hand or weapon. Why – or how – he didn’t know, nor did it matter.
Johnny was right there now, swinging the metal bar at the men’s heads. He dislodged one man’s armored helmet.
Niko clubbed him in the face, knocking him out.
A minute later, with dozens more explosions, that one team was down. The APCs appeared to be moving to the top level.
Niko put the bullet through the commander’s eye.
Maybe the LCPD had turned up to help. Not a good thing, Niko told himself.
There was a terrifically loud explosion behind them. Niko and Johnny turned to see an Annihilator fall out of the sky, flames roaring out of the side.
“What the f*ck is going on?!” Johnny called. The men rushed for the stair well as another explosion tore apart another six-man hit team who had assembled on the access ramp.
An APC was driving around the top level, firing at the remaining helicopter.
“Whoa.” Johnny blinked at the sight.
After trashing a Sultan, the APC approached the two men. Niko pulled his gun up and the APC stopped.
“What the hell?” Niko breathed.
Luis jumped out of the armored vehicle, an automatic shotgun in his hands.
“Need a lift, guys?” He called.
“You don’t have to tell me twice.”
Niko followed Johnny into the vehicle.
Escaping was going to be tough. Luis hadn’t thought of that. A helicopter appeared ahead, hovering over Union Drive as Luis exited the car park.
“Buzzard!” Luis observed. Niko looked up at the black bubble-shaped helicopter.
“That tiny thing?” Johnny remarked.
“Don’t underestimate it bro. I’ve flown one, they’re evil.”
Niko bit his lip and reached for the gun turret control. “I’ll shoot it down.”
“What about the other one?” Johnny asked. Niko looked up to see another approached.
“This is a joke, right?”
“’fraid not bro.”
Niko stared at Luis.
“Shoot, you tonto!”
Niko squeezed the trigger.
The APC wasn’t very fast, but the turret had a kick. The Buzzard was behind them, and Luis wondered if the cannon would help them accelerate.
The Buzzard was, of course, firing back. Luis was relived though that they hadn’t–”
The whoosh of the missile was unmistakable.
Luis cursed under his breath and threw the APC into a tight turn, heading for Star Junction. Perhaps this guy would be cautious of flying past skyscrapers.
He was not. Another missile fired, but missed the APC. The blast did, however, lift the APC onto two wheels, causing it to level out with a violent jolt.
Luis turned down an alley.
The Buzzard slowed and hovered. Bullets clanged into the APC’s armor, but thankfully, no rockets came.
Well, one was fired but it hit a building halfway up. Debris fell behind the APC as Luis pushed forward.
“I don’t think we’ll lose anyone in this. It’s kind of hard to miss.” Johnny said.
“Well I aint getting in no car with that f*ck after us.”
“What happened to the other one?” Johnny asked.
Luis brought the APC to an abrupt stop. Ahead, hovering mere feet of the ground, was the other Buzzard.
There was a flash of light from the hovering helicopter.
“Guys.” Johnny said, looking behind them. “Incoming missile.”
“Get out!” Niko and Luis shouted simultaneously.
The three scrambled out of the APC as the missiles neared. They ran toward a thin alley as the missiles hit.
Niko dove for cover whereas Luis merely went to ground. The APC exploded as Johnny flew over the two men.
The biker hit the wall, winding him, and landed on some garbage cans. The alley filled with smoke, hiding the Buzzards.
They could hear the machine guns though. Another missile was also fired.
“Follow me!” Niko called, his voice coarse. He half ran, half stumbled down the tiny alleyway.
The trio reached the subway entrance unseen, and another explosion sounded from between the buildings.
They rushed to the platform and boarded a train.
Johnny, slumped over two seats, asked, breathlessly. “Where the f*ck do we go now?”
“Far away, bro.”
Niko shook his head. He looked at Luis, arms out, expectantly.
“They know about you, and they knew about the mole.
Luis shook his head. “No. It wasn’t her. She seemed cut up about it.”
“I’m guessing they don’t know about you.” Johnny said, his breath slowly coming back. “F*ck I think I cracked a rib.”
“I hope they don’t bro. This sh*t’s getting loco.”
Niko went for his phone. Then he remembered he left it at the car park.
“Lost something?” Johnny asked.
“Which won’t work. He, whoever he is, disabled wirelessly it apparently.”
“Can they do that?” Johnny asked.
Luis shrugged. “I guess so.”
“Do you have yours?” Niko asked Luis. Luis nodded. “Call her. We need to talk with her I think.”
Luis grabbed his phone and phoned her.
The call didn’t connect.
“No such number.” Luis said.
“What the hell happened back there?” Johnny asked Niko. “You just stopped.”
Niko sighed. “I ran out of steam. I was very tired. No ammo, against super-soldiers…. To be honest, part of me welcomed it. At last, after twelve years. I was ready.”
“Why couldn’t you shoot like that to begin with? That was the best shooting I’ve ever seen.”
Niko chuckled. “Me too. But I couldn’t have hit everyone with the pistol – I could have at least stopped an unarmored man, but it was too far away. The sub had better sights. A more stable shot.”
Then Luis’s phone chirped.
Go where you all had her best friend. En seguida.
Luis frowned and showed the two men the message.
“Who’s best friend?” Johnny asked.
“Mallorie?” Niko whispered. Then he shook his head. “Where we all had her?”
“Don’t say we gotta list all the women we’ve had.” Johnny growled.
“That’ll take a while.” Luis muttered.
Niko shook his head and sat.
A minute later the train pulled into a station. Luis looked out of the doors and saw an advertisement.
An executive car took up most of the picture, but the text was hidden by the train door.
He shook his head.
“Maybe ‘her’ is referring to a car.” Luis offered.
Johnny said: “Or a bike.”
The doors closed and the train accelerated. Luis noticed the again, and some text caught his eye.
Luis shook his head and stared at his phone.
“What?” Niko asked as Luis looked up, staring back at the doors. Niko had a look but his gaze reverted to Luis.
“Diamonds.” Luis said.
“What about them?” Johnny asked.
“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Man’s best friend is a dog. Her best friend is diamonds.”
“The Libertonian.” Niko added. “She’s telling us to go there.”
“Alright, but where or who the hell is en seguida?” Johnny asked.
“It’s Spanish.” Luis said. “It means right the f*ck now.”
Posted 12 January 2011 - 02:18 AM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 04 March 2011 - 12:09 PM.
The Museum was closed. Inside, it was eerily empty. They’d used the northern door to get inside, Luis using the picks Karen had given him.
Niko had also visited a backstreet gun shop and gotten some guns. Each man now had a pistol; Niko a Desert Eagle, Luis a .44 and Johnny an automatic, and a sub machine gun. Niko had, under his jacket, an MP5, Johnny had an Uzi.
Niko led the two men through the museum. Johnny had speculated that Karen would probably be where their deal had gone wrong over two years ago and, although the museum had changed somewhat, the layout was pretty much the same.
Karen waited in the shadows. When the men arrived, and she was sure they were alone, she stepped out.
“I’m glad you’re still alive.” She said to Johnny and Niko. She smiled weakly. “My boss wasn’t too happy once he found out what had happened and that there were no bodies by the APC.”
“How did he find out?” Niko asked, his eyes asking the question obvious to him.
Karen shook her head. “I don’t know. Perhaps the mole was a double.”
“Maybe he figured it out, with all the people we’ve been killing.”
Karen shrugged. “It doesn’t matter either way.”
Niko scoffed. “How do you figure that one out? We just got attacked by some PMC at something you set up, and you’re saying it doesn’t matter?”
“No, I mean… We got it all wrong, Niko. He wasn’t waiting for the election, or the final, huge debate.”
“Now. It’s D-Day. The main debate/forum is today. In an hour… It’s already begun.”
“So what do we do now?”
“Try to stop it...” Karen began, but there was something left unsaid.
“Or walk away.”
“Right,” Niko said, “Give me that option now I have a private army after me.”
“I am not trained for this.” Karen snapped. “I am not supposed to be running counterterrorist operations. I’m supposed to have a nice job, with a nice man, living in a nice house. I am trying here, Niko, to do something good. A fine job I’ve made of it so far.”
Niko sighed and ran his hand over his head.
“You want us to leave you alone for half an hour?” Luis asked. “Maybe some angry make up sex?”
“This is not the time for jokes.” Niko said.
“No, you’re right bro. But you two need to kiss and make up, or something. We’re up to our eyes in sh*t here, and you’re arguing like a couple of school girls.”
Karen closed her eyes and bowed her head slightly, cradling her forehead between her thumb and forefinger.
“Luis is right.” Johnny said. “We have less then an hour before the debate starts. What the f*ck do we do?”
Karen lit up a cigarette. “Look, this is what we know. They’re setting up bombs around city hall – they’re probably already there. They’ll detonate them, killing most, if not all, of the politicians – and civilians – inside. Then they’ll blame it on middle-eastern terrorists or something. Then they – being the only remaining politicians – will step in and clean things up, perhaps after some charade of appearing to decline the positions. Then they’ll begin changing their policies, setting things up for their own goals. By the time the next elections come around they’ll either have skipped country, or covered their tracks well enough to ‘retire’. Or they may play dirty again.”
“So we find the bombs?”
“That was the plan, even though I had misjudged it. Except the only person who can tell us where they are is dead. That’s why you were meeting him so late on in the game – if he disappeared any earlier, they might move the bombs.”
“How do we find them then?”
“My contact has made a list of potential sights where they could be planted. They could be timed, or remotely detonated or both. But we don’t even know how many there are.”
“I know you don’t want to reveal too much at the moment, but I think they’ve forced your hand.”
Karen looked at Niko. “What do I do?”
Luis shrugged. “You gotta evacuate city hall.”
Karen’s breathing became shallow.
“Call in the army or something.” Johnny suggested.
“If I evacuate, he’ll just blow them. You guys have got to do something…”
Luis nodded. “Yeah. I think I got an idea too.”
Ten minutes later, Armando and Henrique, along with one of one of their cousins, arrived on three bikes. Luis, standing with Niko and Johnny across from the Libertonian, stepped out from the archway.
“Thanks, bro. I’ll explain all this soon.”
“No problem L.”
“Do me one more favor too will you.”
“Oh come on man. You ask too much.”
“No, I’m serious.” Luis then switched to Spanish. “Go to Mami’s and take her out of the city.”
Armando’s eyes went wide. “Why?”
“’Mando, just do it please.”
Armando nodded. “Sure.”
Luis stepped over to Henrique. “Don’t come back to the city until I tell you it’s safe.”
“And if you get your ass killed?”
Luis inhaled. “Then take Mami and go somewhere else. Vice City perhaps. She’d like it there. Look after her, mis hermanos.”
“You better come back, L.” Henrique said, back in English now. They embraced.
“Follow me.” Luis said to Niko and Johnny as he put on his crash-helmet. He gunned the Hakuchou Custom’s engine. Niko and Luis, also on Hakuchou Customs, also opened their throttles.
Luis led them to Frankfurt, by the entrance to the Booth Tunnel. He backed his bike down an alley opposite the river crossing and stopped, aiming the front toward the river crossing.
He nodded at Niko and Johnny and revved the engine.
The bikes leapt out of the alley, one after the other. Luis darted toward some road works and hit a small wooden sheet, which acted as a ramp. Niko followed. Then Johnny.
The three bikes flew through the air, their sheer speed pushing them high and far enough to reach the subway tracks.
This was the tricky bit – which Luis had warned Johnny and Niko of. They had to hit the track and slow, or else they’d hit the side and fall to what would likely be their deaths.
Luis landed, pulled a stoppie and spun the bike round. Niko landed on both wheels and skidded into the side. He didn’t fall off, and one of the supports prevented him for carrying on. Johnny stopped just behind Niko, but managed to accelerate before him.
Luis led them into the subway tunnel.
The three men tore through the station, causing shrieks and profanities from the waiting passengers. A little down the tunnel they passed an oncoming train. The speed of which the train passed was incredible – most of it was the combined speed of the train and, mainly, the bikes.
Later on down the tracks there was another train, heading in the same direction as they were. Luis swung wide to overtake, but immediately pulled back toward the train: another train was coming the other way.
“Oh Sh*iiiiit!” Johnny shouted as he followed, both train’s turbulences cancelling each other out. Niko gritted his teeth and went for it.
They passed the train and carried on going until Luis tapped at the brake. A minute later they’d all stopped.
“Here we are.” Luis said, discarding his crash helmet. Above them was an access hatch.
There was a little yellow and black striped sign on it that read Emergency Exit. Somehow Karen’s ‘contact’ had found out about that.
Luis climbed up, using foot-holes in the wall, and opened the hatch. Niko and Johnny followed.
Luis’s phone rang.
“There’s a surveillance team.” A much more composed Karen said. “They’re watching City Hall, likely looking for anyone leaving. If they see anyone flee…”
“…Boom.” Luis said.
“In a word.”
“What’s our next step?” Luis looked up and saw feet pass. He realized they were directly underneath one of those metal grates that were all over the city. He thought they were just air vents for the subway, but he supposed they could double as access points.
“Niko’s the best shot. He needs to get up there and take them down, quickly and quietly.” Luis nodded and relayed the message to Niko.
Niko pulled out the silenced pistol and cocked it. He’d donned a pair of fingerless gloves for this, figuring the extra grip may come in handy – and it already had on the bike and in the service hatch.
“And Johnny?” Luis asked.
“He goes with you, into City Hall. You’re looking for both the bombs and the mayor – you have to warn him.”
“How do we make him believe us?”
“Tell him; ‘Greg’s dead, and his daughter’s the last one left.’ You got that? He’ll know what you mean.”
“After that, Rendezvous at the place I mentioned. I’ve spoken to mister Amir, and he’s done his part.”
Luis nodded, his throat suddenly dry.
“Good luck, Luis. Pass the same on to Niko and Johnny.”
“Oh and Luis? Tell Niko, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”
Luis relayed the message and Niko shook his head.
Karen ended the call.
Luis turned to Niko and Johnny.
Johnny let loose a melancholy laugh. “Not really.”
Niko however was focused.
Niko saw the men on the roof – just about, they were well hidden. He entered an adjacent building and climbed up.
A man stood in the stairwell, blocking access to the roof. Niko saw him and nodded. The man glared at him.
Niko turned and acted as if he was about to enter an office, but he dropped something on the floor – his phone.
Niko bent down to pick his phone up, but suddenly sprung up, grabbing the man, spinning him round.
Niko put his arm round the man’s neck and tightened the sleeper hold. The man struggled to breath, or shout, or even move and, within a few seconds, he was unconscious. Niko then pulled upwards on the neck and twisted. That was the secret – moving on two planes. The man’s neck snapped. Niko dragged the man a little way up the stairwell and hid him behind the door.
At the top, he peeked out of the door to see the four men watching City Hall.
He stepped out and, gun up, approached them.
One of the men saw him, but it was too late. Niko was on him, grabbing him in a sleeper hold, squeezing as he fired a shot at one of the other men.
The third went for his gun and actually got two shots off, but Niko’s human shield ate the bullets. Niko shot that man, dropped the body and shot the last man in the back of the head. He shot the strangled man too.
Niko then took up position, grabbing the men’s suppressed Advanced Sniper Rifle. He looked down at the street and realized why they had to get here unseen. There must have been twenty police and N.O.O.S.E cruisers, a dozen N.O.O.S.E Patriots and several private security vehicles, including two limos. There was also a N.O.O.S.E tank – an APC armed with what could be an LTL cannon or a grenade launcher on the roof – parked behind City Hall itself.
The roads were shut off, and there must have been close to a hundred officers walking around plus whatever private security and feds were inside. Karen had said that there had been a terrorist threat. Niko wondered if the warning to the police came from her or whether it was part of ‘his’ plan. Either way, rather reminiscent of Ochoa two years ago, the bridges to and from Algonquin had had checkpoints set up on them.
A helicopter hovered overhead – a news helicopter and a police helicopter were doing the rounds. Niko was glad for the grey tent-like structure the men had erected, hiding the little nest from the skies.
Definitely professionals, he thought.
He scanned the rooftops and windows, looking for any more snipers. He found one more – on a building next to the WTF Center.
He aimed at the man’s head and fired.
There was some recoil, but not too much, and the shot was next to silent. Niko could hear the gun’s mechanism more then the actually shot.
Niko searched for more targets.
Luis and Johnny were inside City Hall – having broken into a maintenance door from the service tunnel and entering through the basement. They watched out of a window and saw Niko take the men down.
“We’re clear.” Luis noted. “I’ll find the mayor. You look for the bombs.”
“Oh sure, give me the sh*tty one.”
Luis shook his head, but he wore a thin smile. “I’m used to dealing with rich people, VIPs and such. I can get to the mayor better.”
Johnny nodded, unsure if there was an insult in there. Luis’s face didn’t look disrespectful so he said: “Yeah, ok. See you on the river.”
Niko took two more snipers down. One was on a rooftop in Little Italy, another to the south. He wondered if they had ‘fleeing’ orders, to get out of there when the sh*t hit the fan, or whether they too were to be sacrificed.
Probably the former, he thought to himself. Leaving behind four snipers, dead or alive, or just the guns, was not too smart.
Luis made his way into the main corridor behind the scenes. He strolled down the hallway as if he owned the place – look like you belong, and people more often-than-not didn’t notice you. Skulk around however and you may as well be in a bright clown suit.
He found a door labeled Mayor. He opened it, barging in to what appeared to be a changing room, but it was empty.
“Sh*t.” he breathed. “Mierda.”
“Can I help you?”
Luis turned to see a petit woman wearing a well fitted suit. A very well fitted suit.
“Yeah.” Luis said, nodding. He pulled the woman in and shut the door.
He started on her neck, fondling her ears. She let out a sigh of pleasure and dropped whatever papers she was carrying. She wrapped an arm around Luis’s neck.
A minute later Luis had his hand on her hip.
“I need a favor.” He whispered in a husky tone.
“What?” She breathed, her eyes still staring at the inside of her own head.
“I need to see the mayor.”
“He’ll be in the main room in a minute.” She grabbed Luis and pushed him onto a sofa. “But who cares about that old crone.” She put a hand under his shirt. “Oh, my.”
Luis didn’t have time to go all the way, as much as that pained him. He didn’t want to explode at the same time as the bombs.
Luis whispered in her ear. “It’s important.”
The woman stepped back but before she could react insulted, Luis grabbed her and kissed her. “Do this one favor for me, and I’ll take you to the most glamorous restaurant in town. I work at Maisonette, by the way. I’ll give you a month’s free VIP access, for you and your friends.”
Luis pulled a business card from his pocket. “Trust me, fiera.” He tucked the business card down her bra, carefully sliding it over her nipple.
She inhaled with pleasure and he stared at her eyes.
“Ok!” She said after a moment. “But if you don’t call, expect to hear from the cops…. Or maybe the FIB.”
“Fair enough. You are un tigre aren’t you.” Luis smiled.
The woman managed to get Luis to the mayor who had one foot in the threshold to the debate stage.
“Who the hell’s this? Christ’s sake Diane, did you get him past security.”
“Greg’s dead.” Luis blurted out. The mayor stopped and stared.
“His daughter said to tell you – she’s the only one left.”
The mayor shook his head then Luis saw the recognition in his eyes. “Sh*t.” The mayor turned and walked away from the stage.
“Thank you.” Luis whispered to the woman. She held out a card. Luis took it with his teeth, then pocketed it with a wink.
“Greg’s dead. You’re sure?”
Luis nodded. “And his killer is working with your opposition. They’ve got bombs planted around here and they’re going to blow this place up… today.”
The mayor’s eyes went wide. Then came the rushing of feet. Evidently his bodyguard had heard it and immediately he leant in.
“Is this credible?” The bodyguard asked.
“Sir.” Someone said to the bodyguard. “We’ve found a man downstairs with what looks like a bomb. Looked like he’d just set it up.”
“What did he look like?” Luis asked.
The man frowned.
“Tattoo on his neck?” Luis slapped the left side of his neck.
“Yes.” The man replied.
Luis nodded. “I know it sounds crazy but he’s with me. He’s trying to disarm them.”
“Does he know how?”
“He’s been told how yes. Unless the intelligence was wrong.” Was that the word they used, Luis wondered? Intelligence?
“Who are you? FIB? Marshals?”
“A nightclub owner.” Luis said.
“Either way. There’s a bomb in this building. Sir, we’ve got to get you out.” The body guard grabbed the mayor.
“Follow me.” Luis said
The bodyguard screwed his face up. Luis could read his mind. F*ck off.
“There’s three of us. The bad guys had set up surveillance. If they see you leave, they’ll blow this place up. My other man has disabled one of the surveillance teams. You want to live? Follow me – and do not call for a car or anything.”
“My staff – they have to come too.” The mayor glowed.
Luis shook his head. “You leave now. You guy here will agree with me – you have to get out of here.” The mayor shook his head. “I’ll come back and get your staff out. You need to go now.”
The bodyguard nodded. “He’s right sir.”
The mayor sighed. “Ok, dammit.”
Niko tensed as the door opened. It had hit home that there were bombs here and they could go off at any time.
Luis stepped out and nodded at Niko. Niko began searching for possible assassins.
The mayor was ushered into a police vehicle – a riot Blockade, as it happened – and taken away like a prisoner. It was the safest option, Niko realized. Hidden and protected.
In the crowd Luis had heard rumors of the army in Liberty City. That escalated conversation and speculation to terrorist activity.
You’ve no idea how right you are, Luis thought.
“So if we evacuate, they detonate.”
“Well we found one, so we’ll believe you.”
“Try to get key members out that same door.” The security chief said. “Usher them into the building opposite. The media trucks will block any view from the front and the roadblock will hide them from the north. Get them straight out of the back. An armored prison bus will wait to take them to safety.”
“Don’t let word spread.” Luis warned. “We’ve no idea if there are any snitches in here.”
“Don’t worry. We’ll get our guys out first – one by one and individually – then we’ll get the public out. Find those bombs.”
Johnny had found three in the basement. Two potential sites were empty and a third appeared to be – the third bomb was well hidden.
Johnny’s cell rang. He quickly silenced it and answered. It was Karen.
“I’ve got one of the main players – the man who will become deputy mayor. I’m following him.”
“Just got here. He’s outside but, he’s leaving.”
“F*ck.” Johnny slurred his whisper.
“Luis is doing well but I’ve got two targets. I can’t take them both.”
“Yeah. Where is he?”
“Heading up Liberty Lane. Probably going to the subway. Follow him. I’m texting you a picture. I’ll let Luis know.”
Johnny nodded and hung up. A second later the photo came through.
Luis wasn’t happy – Johnny had been pulled out to follow one of the bad guys. A big player, apparently so that meant there weren’t many left.
Or she’s clutching at straws.
More worryingly for Luis, however, was that it meant they were out of time.
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