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Three Worlds

Recommended Posts


Three Worlds


*note: I might do a proper logo for the story later. For now, enjoy the golden text.*


Welcome to read my first story on GTAForums! This is going to be a large project, and I certainly hope that it will acquire a decent bit of readers. Who knows, maybe it could serve to create some activity in the Writers' discussion. This place would certainly earn that. :^:


About the Author


Well, what can I say? I'm 23 as of June '18 (god, has time gone by fast - the original description said 20) and relatively experienced in the writing field, although all I've produced is GTA fanfiction really. I started doing it at age 12 in 2006, probably being a bit too young back then to create anything too spectacular, although that doesn't make the memory of those days any less pleasant. Around 2007 my work began to get more serious, although none of the old stuff really satisfies me like it used to. I just made a lot of hasty decisions with the plot, wasn't too big on foreshadowing, stuff like that. That project stalled in 2013 after several years of growingly sparse activity, and the stalling ended up being permanent as the old community died out a year later, and any former interest in story writing over there was long gone. However, perhaps things will be different on GTAF. Slowly but surely, this section marches on. I got the idea of rebooting my old writings around early 2014, so here we go. I've not written in English before, but I suppose the games have, ironically, advanced my vocabulary to the point where it's doable.


Story Description


So it's really a complete coincidence, but ever since the 2016 Ratchet & Clank game came out, and the developers insisted on calling it a "re-imagining" of the original one, so I'll just hijack the term there, because this is just about the same. A re-imagining of the events of the 3D Universe, all neatly packed into the same year allowing the characters to eventually meet while at their prime - assuming they actually survive that far.


Consider this a package of new adventures for (almost?) all your favorite protagonists from that era and a wishful nostalgia trip for me as I still refuse to let go of the damned memories of writing stories about these games. It's mostly episodic, but with a bigger plot running on the background basically. For now though, you can consider the three strands separate stories that are expected to intertwine at some point. Maybe.


No shippings. Or at least, no unusual ones.


Some of my original characters actually carried over from the old writings, not that anyone here is likely to recognize them, but it's a fun fact I thought I'd bring up. Assuming someone here does speak Finnish and wants to see those old drabbles, they do exist on Internet Archive, but I'm not linking. Sorry, but there is still some embarrassment I feel when I read through them. 😛


There's a bit of everything for adventurous readers who felt like something was missing from the games. A more elaborate tale of Tommy's rise to the top of Vice City's criminal underworld? Check. More interaction with a larger amount of named mobsters and gang members in Liberty City and Los Santos respectively? Check. Vic Vance having more insults than an awfully basic "f*ck you" at his disposal when talking to Martinez? Sure, check.


Also remember, if an event from the official canon is nowhere to be mentioned, it didn't happen over here.


Chapter List


(Note: It may well take some time before this looks the way I want it. Too bad the forum "up"date f*cked all of these up, and no one's interested in fixing it.)




Carl Johnson


Toni Cipriani







Another Day in the Office

[url=https://gtaforums.com/topic/745450-three-worlds/?do=findComment&comment=1068649011]Precision Strike[/url]



Gun Control

Family is the Worst

Fallen Soldier



Show Your Worth – Part 1

The Third Wheel

Target Practice



Show Your Worth – Part 2

Clean Sweep

Partners in Crime



[url=https://gtaforums.com/topic/745450-three-worlds/?do=findComment&comment=1067947570]It Takes a Petty Thief[/url]

[url=https://gtaforums.com/topic/745450-three-worlds/?do=findComment&comment=1070527504]Fresh Talent[/url]

Trailer Trash Trials



[url=https://gtaforums.com/topic/745450-three-worlds/?do=findComment&comment=1068049074]Spin the Ten Green Bottles[/url]







Running Man







Cereal Killers







[url=https://gtaforums.com/topic/745450-three-worlds/?do=findComment&comment=1068167965]The Barber of Seville Blvrd.[/url]







Strike Two







Death of Angels







Low Ryder







The Sounds of Santos







[url=https://gtaforums.com/topic/745450-three-worlds/?do=findComment&comment=1068516860]How Fast Was That? – Part 1[/url]







[url=https://gtaforums.com/topic/745450-three-worlds/?do=findComment&comment=1068558885]How Fast Was That? – Part 2[/url]







[url=https://gtaforums.com/topic/745450-three-worlds/?do=findComment&comment=1068585755]How Fast Was That? – Part 3[/url]







Cracking Down – Part 1







Cracking Down – Part 2







The Hills Have Ears – Part 1







The Hills Have Ears – Part 2







Rural Rivalry







All’s Fair in Law and War







Montgomery Burns – Part 1







Montgomery Burns – Part 2






Act 1: Families For Life (San Andreas)


SA0: Prologue



That was what he had had in mind ever since his mother was murdered in a cowardly drive-by shooting, in front of her own house.

The shooters were allegedly aiming at her oldest son instead, though – and it made sense, considering he was the leader of the third largest gang in the city, and still a well-known figure in the criminal underworld despite the gang’s recent shortcomings. This did not change anything though – the shooters had left a permanent dent on his family.

What a frightening coincidence it was, that he had only just returned home after a five-year absence, when the shooting happened. He was immediately thrust in the middle of a vicious turf war, in which the various sets started developing hostilities, many of his old friends had perished over the years, and the surviving ones did not seem to take kindly to how he had left his gang behind for those five years. In the past few weeks, he had done what he could to clear up his image in the eyes of his comrades. And it had worked, although the gang still found it difficult to regain their lost territory or even settle their civil war.

But now he was taking a day off – something he had got used to back in Liberty City, but which seemed like an unknown concept in these hoods. There was always something to do, whether it was big or small, and there was the added risk of the enemy gangs attempting to launch an assault at any time.

He was sitting in his bedroom, on the second floor of a two-story house, staring at the photos in the walls, and reminiscing the old days, when the gang wars were no less violent, but he actually could enjoy himself better, with the large family and tons of friends around. Admittedly, not much was left of those days, and that thought could have made even a grown man shed a tear – including him.

His name was Carl Johnson, but his brother and other friends simply referred to him as CJ.

He was not a particularly large or intimidating man by any means – rather, he had lost a lot of weight during his time in Liberty City, and was now quite thin and unmuscular. His build didn’t tell the whole story though, as he was also a rather experienced gunman and could handle himself in sticky situations.

Ever since he heard that his mother, Beverly, had been shot from a green Sabre, Carl had made it his primary quest to hunt down that car and make everyone involved in the gruesome act suffer the consequences.

However, there was one problem. Not only was the Sabre bright green, but that was also the very color worn by Carl’s own gang, the Grove Street Families.

He did not want to even think about the potential scenario that some of his own gang – most likely from the Temple Drive or Seville Boulevard Families – did it in order to deal a serious blow for Grove Street.

But he also kept himself calm by often reminding himself that it could have very likely been a false flag attack – that their biggest rivals, the Ballas, who kept areas such as East Los Santos and Idlewood under their strict control – might have done it to further severe the bonds between the Families, and eventually cause them to wipe each other out in violent revenge attacks.

Carl had asked several people he knew, including Cesar Vialpando, the leader of the Mexican gang known as the Varrio Los Aztecas, who was also dating Carl’s younger sister Kendl, to look around the streets and search for that Sabre. Thus far, though, the car had not appeared again since the drive-by attack.

It was, of course, completely possible that the Ballas, or whoever arranged the shooting, had got the car resprayed or demolished to cover their tracks. But on the other hand, Carl knew that a strong gang like the Ballas did not fear him or Sweet at all, and would not bother hiding evidence from them.

Carl sighed loudly. He took one last glance at the picture of a white cat his family used to have when he was still a teenager, and stepped out of the bedroom. Now that he was the only person living in the house, one would have imagined that his everyday life would be lonely and depressing. But luckily, even during these difficult times, his friends still formed a strong community, and often paid a visit to his mother’s house when they had nothing to do. As Carl was coming down the stairs, he heard what he had wanted to hear: three firm knocks on the door, which sounded just like his brother.

“Come in!” Carl exclaimed at the door as he stepped down into the living room.

The man who came in was indeed his brother, named Sean Johnson. He went by the nickname “Sweet”, which did not sound particularly fitting, due to his expression often being angry, and him being a ruthless and tough leader. He had a thick black mustache that made him look even more intimidating, and as expected, he represented his gang by wearing a green cap and green shirt. Carl was, however, again wearing his white tank top and blue jeans that he had on when he initially arrived – seeing these clothes did not make Sweet particularly happy.

The brothers exchanged their usual greetings, including a hug which, in Carl’s opinion, felt somewhat forced, though he was aware that Sweet had not yet fully accepted him back. The fact Carl had done so well in recent times had potentially made Sweet’s opinion of him even worse, because now he felt that by having Carl around for those five lost years, the Families would never have sunk this deep.

“Good to see you again, bro. Want a coffee or something?” Carl asked and pointed Sweet towards a chair, in which he sat down.

“No, no, I’m just here for a short while. Gonna leave for Santa Maria Beach in a moment, keep up relations with those guys over there. Can’t have a four way civil war now, huh?” Sweet told, and both laughed a little, though once again it felt forced.

“We sure can’t. So umm, how are Ryder and Smoke doing these days? I ain’t been running into them for a while.” Carl inquired and sat down as well.

“Smoke’s got the usual sh*t, and I recall Ryder being busy with something new. Don’t know the details, but it’s supposed to be something bigger than anything he’s done before. Oh, and he’s been enjoying the company of that LB cat for a while. Ya know him? The one with that garage in the Seville Boulevard. Practically the only dude from those parts we still get along with decently...” Sweet explained.

“LB? Yeah, he’s straight. Or at least I remember it that way. Can’t say the same about that B Dup bastard though...” Carl said.

“Bro, don’t even get me started with B Dup. That f*cker’s a lost cause, I tell ya. Best to leave him alone, he can get pretty dangerous when you screw with him.” Sweet warned.

“I would, but then there’s Bear...” Carl reminded.

“Sh*t, I’m sorry, but I don’t think there’s no way Bear’s gonna get back to what he once used to be. Ya know how that crack f*cks people up...” Sweet told, with a combination of anger and sadness in his voice.

“That’s why we’re keeping it off our streets, bro.” Carl said, which made Sweet somewhat happier.

“Ya know, I’m glad at least you thinks like that. Smoke, he believes we’ve already lost if we don’t seek other opportunities. F*ck his other opportunities if they come with these consequences.” Sweet said, and was ready to hit his fist against the table, but was able to control himself.

Carl fell silent for a while. His gaze once again switched to the pictures, which had also been laid on the walls downstairs, and Sweet noticed this.

“We’ve lost a lotta good guys to this war. But that doesn’t mean it’s over.” Sweet said in a firm tone.

“It’s not over for as long as we’re standing, that’s fo’ sure.” Carl replied.

“That’s what I wanna hear! Now, look, I must probably run, don’t wanna be late from that meeting. Ya know, I might have found an opportunity to really screw with those Ballas. Can’t believe I forgot to tell until now. If we play it right, we got plenty to gain from them. Switching power to us and all that sh*t.” Sweet told hastily after looking at the clock and realizing time had gone by faster than he expected.

“OK, man, sounds cool. Now ya know, I know what you think, but I think I’m for once using my free time properly. Gonna pay Emmet a visit, strengthen the bonds and stuff. I feel a bit worried about how guy’s holding up in Balla territory.” Carl said.

“Huh, whatever, bro. I know his guns are crap these days, but they’re all we got, so we better appreciate it... for now. But umm, here’s a tip. Probably you won’t need this or anything, but... don’t lose focus now that you’re back.” Sweet told as he and Carl exited the house and walked down the few stairs outside, stepping onto the cul-de-sac known as Grove Street. It was unusually empty, with only few people walking around, none of them gang members.

Carl laughed briefly. “Lose focus, huh? What, you think I’m gonna end up like cousin Aldrin or something?” he asked, but Sweet looked more serious.

“I mean it. When I was the only family member running things for these last five years, it seriously felt like crap. Now that there’s at least one more Johnson bangin’ with the gang, I can finally see some light at the end of this goddamn long tunnel.” Sweet replied at a serious tone, and entered his light blue Greenwood parked outside his own house.

Carl waved Sweet goodbye as he sped off. As Sweet slowly disappeared in the midst of the misty weather, he wondered if he should have said something more to his brother – anything to further cheer him up and give them hope of a better future.

Now it was too late though, and after briefly forgetting about what he was meant to do, Carl walked towards his own garage to find a black Savanna that he had earlier used in a lowrider meeting, and had decided to keep afterwards. He stepped inside the car, turned the engine on and reversed out of the garage. He could hear a woman compliment the car’s looks somewhere behind him, but he did not give her much thought at all, as his thoughts were with the gang and its struggles, which had certainly not magically ceased even after his comeback. After remotely closing the garage door, Carl drove away from the cul-de-sac and towards Emmet’s place.

The place in question was a small yard in Willowfield, with plenty of crates, wrecked cars and dumpsters, which did not contain trash though, but were used as makeshift weapon containers, strewn around. Carl parked his car on the side of the street to the south of the yard and walked up to Emmet, who this time saw him arriving well in advance and fortunately did not need to point his gun at Carl this time.

“Well, look who it is! CJ’s back! You here for more target practice, or maybe grab some extra hardware?” Emmet asked in a friendly tone, which made Carl feel a little bad – on behalf of his fellow gang members – about ceasing business with him years ago, as he certainly knew to treat his customers well, even if his stock had not been up to date for years.

“None of that this time, man. I just came in to check that everything’s fine. It’s not too safe to sell guns to us from a rival gang territory, ya know?” Carl asked, and leaned against a wall.

“Well... technically, you obviously didn’t get these from me.” Emmet reminded.

“Right. But umm, you didn’t answer my question...” Carl said impatiently.

“If there were problems, I’d have reported about them, bud. But now that you showed up, I’ll tell you something... no, it’s not that I’ve been robbed or anything, but the Seville boys feel like they’re getting more aggressive every minute.” Emmet explained, sounding worried. “I think it’s because of how they’ve got no friends left now that they burned those bridges with you and everything, and they’re cramped up in a small space with the Vagos pressuring from the north...” he continued. Carl could understand the Seville Boulevard’s distress, because the Vagos – who were the city’s second largest gang after the Ballas – were extremely ruthless and had access to surprisingly powerful weapons. However, he did not feel much sympathy to the Seville boys, who he thought were responsible for the civil war in the first place.

“When you say aggressive, do you mean they threatened you or something?” Carl asked and took a seat on a crate, which looked like it would support his weight.

“Pretty much, yeah. One day they came in and demanded plenty of sh*t so they could defend themselves. I told them I don’t have that much, I’m running a small-time business after all. They got pretty mad... told me that when they return, I better have as much as they need. It’s kinda crazy.” Emmet said.

“They give you trouble, they better start worrying about me and the boys too.” Carl told, but this only made Emmet laugh.

“Boy, thanks for the help, but I can still hold my own just fine too.” he said and showed Carl an old, rusty shotgun, which in all honesty looked like it could explode in his face anytime. However, Carl did not say anything, and instead turned to look at a bottle sitting on top of a dumpster on the other side of the yard.

“Ten bucks you can’t hit that from this far.” Emmet said after noticing what Carl had been looking at.

“Deal.” Carl said and pulled a pistol out of his pocket. He took careful aim at the bottle, and Emmet alternated between looking at Carl’s aiming and the bottle, which was about ten meters away and looked awfully small from that distance.

Carl had done target practice before, so he knew what he was doing. His hands were only slightly shaking, but he believed that with the right timing, he could still land a clear hit and grab the reward.

However, before he was able to pull the trigger, he suddenly heard Emmet shouting. “STOP! THAT’S MY STASH, YOU LITTLE SH*T!”

Carl turned towards the sound and noticed a small boy, probably not even in his twenties, running away from the yard while carrying a bag. The boy was wearing trashy clothes, which were full of holes, suggesting he was one of the poorer residents of the town, ready to do anything just for some spare change. Carl saw him slightly differently though – to him, this kid was nothing more than a meaningless crook, who needed to be taught a lesson. Without hesitation, Carl sprinted after the boy, and yelled at Emmet: “I’ll get it back before you know it!”.

The boy was quick, but this didn’t come at a surprise, as he was probably used to running from the police or other criminals. After he left the yard, he made a beeline towards the industrial area nearby, hoping to lose Carl there. They passed a couple of bystanders on the way, and Carl yelled at them to help stop the boy, but they merely looked scared after seeing he had a gun, and backed out.

When there were no more other people in sight, Carl aimed his gun at the kid while still running. “Stop right there, or I’ll f*cking shoot!” he screamed, but it had no effect. “OK... he’s used to being threatened, I guess.” he thought. The boy ran behind a corner of a building, but shortly after doing this, his footsteps could no longer be heard. Carl realized something may have been fishy, and did not approach the corner directly, but instead kept his distance while side-stepping far enough so that he could see any traps well in advance.

Just as he expected, there was a pile of cardboard boxes on the other side, and the boy pushed them over as soon as he caught a glimpse of Carl – but thanks to Carl’s strategic advantage, none of the boxes came anywhere near hitting him. “Damn it, leave me alone already!” the boy exclaimed and once again made a run for it, while Carl leaped across the fallen boxes. He still hesitated to shoot, though, but swore to himself that if the boy attempted to use another trap against him, he would not care if he got some blood on his hands.

Soon enough, the boy ran into a dead end, at which point Carl figured he did not know the area as well as expected. There was a chainlink fence at the edge of the area, leading to a larger industrial compound, and the boy attempted to quickly cross over it. However, Carl was close enough to intercept him, and successfully grabbed his foot as he was just about to make it to the other side.

“Let GO OF ME!” the boy screamed and tried to kick Carl as hard as he could. Carl stepped to the side to avoid it, and then pulled the foot towards himself, causing the boy to stumble off and fall stomach first onto the concrete.

“If you broke any of my f*cking bones, you’re gonna pay the bills!” the boy cried from the ground as he tried to climb up, but Carl held him down by placing his foot onto his back.

“Where’d you learn such foul words, kid? And did no one ever tell you stealing from gangsters is pretty bad?” Carl asked as he picked up the bag, and looked inside to make sure the contents were OK. It was only halfway full, so Carl dug into the boy’s pockets, only to find nothing except some cigarettes.

“Did you take anything for yourself, bastard?” Carl asked and pulled the kid up to his knees. He flinched slightly due to the pain, but eventually looked Carl straight in the eyes. “How would I have had time to do that?” he asked back. Now that Carl got a good look at his face, he noticed that the kid was not only trashy, but also covered in bruises.

“Those from the others you tried to rob, asshole?” Carl inquired, but this time the boy did not say anything. Carl let go of him and pushed him back a little. A while later, the boy climbed back up to his feet on his own, and Carl again pointed his gun at him.

“Listen carefully. This is the final time you ever try crossing paths with the Grove Street Families. We might not be on top of the food chain, but we certainly don’t treat sh*theads like you any better than those other gangs. I’ll only let you live ‘cause I can see it’s a bigger punishment for you than f*cking death.” Carl spoke, and the boy kept looking at him with a rebellious face for the entire speech. “Do you understand?!” Carl finished, and the boy stayed silent for a few more seconds. “Whatever, n*gga.” he said and started to limp away from the area, when Carl grabbed him again from the throat. “What was that?” he asked, not in a particularly angry voice, as he was almost enjoying the situation, making a small-time crook pay for all of his mistakes at once.

“Whatever, dark-skinned guy.” the boy said and forcibly pushed Carl’s hand off.

“Acceptable. Now get the f*ck outta here.” Carl told him, and he complied, going back the way he came, holding his chest and still limping with his left foot.

Despite recovering Emmet’s stash, Carl was feeling disappointed. This incident made him realize that the Families had fallen so badly that they were obviously a very attractive target for all the little scumbags like this most recent one. As he was walking back towards Emmet’s place, he couldn’t help but wonder whether leaving the kid alive was a good call or not, as he seemed to be the kind of person who wouldn’t give up until achieving his goals.

Carl also felt just a little bit of guilt after reminding himself of the various bruises. The boy looked like he might have abusive parents making his life hell at his own home, which was supposed to be a safe haven for anyone, now matter how crooked or otherwise messed up they were. Carl also wondered if he would get beaten up even worse now that he failed to complete his task.

“Man, I gotta focus. It’s not like I’m gonna run into him again. Besides, if Sweet’s suggestion is to be trusted, this gang might end up having a bright week for a change.” Carl thought to himself afterwards. For the rest of the walk, he started to think about various other things, such as Ryder’s most recent plans, OG Loc’s “musical” career, and the success of Cesar’s gang. Before he even knew it, he forgot about the boy, and dismissed him as nothing more than a slight dent in an otherwise clean day.

Nothing more than a dent, which the Families would no longer need to worry about if they got back on their feet.

Edited by Carbonox
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Okay, two-way critique and I'll start with the story:


I can see what you're going for with the whole re-imagined story of San Andreas and others. But from reading it, it just feels a bit tedious, like we're stepping over the same ground in a different way. The only question have for this story is, is it worth it? When writing something like this, you want to bring a fresh perspective, but I feel like spinning this thing on its head and altering certain events isn't going to do much. I'd much rather see a story set in the III universe that doesn't revolve around the main characters. We've seen what possibilities there are with CJ, Claude, Niko, and others. This reimagining of things doesn't seem very appealing mainly because nobody's going to want to read a different take of the story.


Structure-wise, the dialog between CJ and Sweet didn't seem like things they'd say.


For example:


"Where’d you learn such foul words, kid? And did no one ever tell you stealing from gangsters is pretty bad?”



This doesn't sound like something CJ would say, and it's written too articulate for a gang-banger. Something more along the lines of phonetic speech would work:


"Watch your f*ckin' mouth, punk--nobody ever teach you jackin' OGs a f*ckin' deathwish?"


I'm sorry I don't have more to say, but I just don't see how this is any different from any other GTA Fanfiction, albeit the events that are happening are a little different. I'd love to see some original work from you, or even a fanfiction that doesn't involve gang-banging with GTA San Andreas characters. I know I sound like an asshole, but you have the potential to create your own stories without the aid of GTA, and if you still feel like you want to write fanfiction, try separating yourself a little bit and create your own characters/stories in that atmosphere.

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Okay, two-way critique and I'll start with the story:


I can see what you're going for with the whole re-imagined story of San Andreas and others. But from reading it, it just feels a bit tedious, like we're stepping over the same ground in a different way. The only question have for this story is, is it worth it? When writing something like this, you want to bring a fresh perspective, but I feel like spinning this thing on its head and altering certain events isn't going to do much. I'd much rather see a story set in the III universe that doesn't revolve around the main characters. We've seen what possibilities there are with CJ, Claude, Niko, and others. This reimagining of things doesn't seem very appealing mainly because nobody's going to want to read a different take of the story.


Structure-wise, the dialog between CJ and Sweet didn't seem like things they'd say.


For example:


"Where’d you learn such foul words, kid? And did no one ever tell you stealing from gangsters is pretty bad?”



This doesn't sound like something CJ would say, and it's written too articulate for a gang-banger. Something more along the lines of phonetic speech would work:


"Watch your f*ckin' mouth, punk--nobody ever teach you jackin' OGs a f*ckin' deathwish?"


I'm sorry I don't have more to say, but I just don't see how this is any different from any other GTA Fanfiction, albeit the events that are happening are a little different. I'd love to see some original work from you, or even a fanfiction that doesn't involve gang-banging with GTA San Andreas characters. I know I sound like an asshole, but you have the potential to create your own stories without the aid of GTA, and if you still feel like you want to write fanfiction, try separating yourself a little bit and create your own characters/stories in that atmosphere.

First of all, about the bolded part, don't even think about it. :p I've dealt with some real assholes in the past, the kind that have absolutely no constructive word to say for any piece.


As for the story structure, yes I realize it tackles on a lot of the same kinda stuff as the main game(s) but the storyline is basically meant to undergo more and more changes the further it goes, eventually turning into a completely different adventure from the original. I thought it was a good idea because at least no one called it remarkably bad when I mentioned it in the Writers' Room. :D


And as for the dialogue, I'm probably going to have to re-pick up San Andreas. I can hear the "gangsta slang" in my head all right, but for some reason, writing it properly is a whole different story. On another note, I sometimes do try to keep the slang down on a level where the characters' speech is still understandable. :p


By the way, why did that post not show up as a notification? I did click the "watch this thread" button, and thought a notification would pop up (they did for other threads I subscribed to ages ago) but it didn't. EDIT: Problem solved... I think.

Edited by Carbonox

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I have decided to continue my story after all. With this chapter, I feel like I suffered from "empty paper syndrome" somewhat, as I spent the last two months without managing to write a row, but now completed this in merely two days. Enjoy.


SA1: Gun Control



For most of the citizens of Los Santos, that Wednesday was just one workday among others.

But for those who had bigger things in their lives than work, it was going to be special.

Those people were the Grove Street Families, and four of their leading members, all of whom were very familiar to the local police department, had – for a change – gathered in Carl and Sean Johnson’s mother’s house. It was actually the first time all of them were inside that nostalgic building since 1987, and just like last time, they weren’t just hanging out, but finishing their plans for something big.

Both Carl and Sean were present, along with two of the most trusted gang members not named Johnson. Their names were Melvin Harris and Lance Wilson, but practically nobody ever called them with their real names. To the Families, they were Big Smoke and Ryder.

The former was distinguishable by his overweight appearance, black hat, large glasses and strong voice. It was as if he was born to be something great in the future. As he often admitted himself, though, his main weakness was his love for fast food, which inevitably resulted in poor physical fitness, a significant disadvantage on the battlefield. Not only that, but Smoke also clashed with Sean numerous times when they contemplated on whether or not the Families should begin dealing drugs to boost their income. Smoke saw no problem with it, even though the effects of drugs on people, Big Bear in particular, were clearly visible.

The other man was someone Carl more or less openly disliked. Ryder used to be a cool guy before Carl had left to Liberty City, but afterwards, he had become extremely bitter, and had said practically no nice words to Carl at all since then. He usually wore a black cap and sunglasses, and did drugs a lot, also sometimes making some by himself, to conveniently save money. Fortunately for Carl, Ryder usually knew how to act like an adult when Sweet was around. Clearly Ryder still had some obedience in him, even though he was somewhat troublesome on the battlefield, often allowing his arrogance to get the better of him and lead not just him, but others as well, into dangerous situations.

In any case, the four of them had gathered up because they were about to make a move against the Ballas at last. It would be the first time they’d done so in a bit – they had decided to take some time to find out more about their operations and attempt to break those rather than resort to random drive-by shootings that may have decreased the Ballas’ morale, but would not stop them from continuing to make money from their various side businesses. Sweet and Smoke had located a warehouse in Willowfield – not too far from Emmet’s place, in fact – that had been thought to be abandoned for some time, but was in reality used by the Ballas to stash their guns out of the authorities’ sight. Sweet and Smoke’s viewpoints had yet again clashed, as Sweet had thought it would be best to destroy the warehouse along with its contents to send the Ballas a message, but Smoke insisted they should get their hands on as many guns as possible.

Even though Carl was aware the Families would receive a ton of respect for blowing the guns sky high, he had to agree with Smoke here. At times like this, the Families would need to make as many strategically profitable moves as possible. Carl had also heard the “staying loyal to Emmet” argument from Sweet, which he especially did not agree with. Of course buying crappy guns from Emmet boosted his own business, but it didn’t particularly help the Families’ cause. They absolutely needed to grab this big, high-quality stash now that it was readily available for them. The best part was that the Ballas were completely unaware of the Families’ knowledge – Sweet’s spies had managed to remain unsuspicious, and one had even got on the good side of a Balla, who nicely told lots of useful things while they smoked weed at the gangster’s home.

“I can’t believe we’re not using my grand entrance plan, Sweet.” Smoke spoke up after Sweet had gone through the plan one more time.

“Smoke, I can barely tolerate leaving that f*cking place standing, but seriously, you’re going too far sometimes.” Sweet angrily responded, as the two of them looked each other in the eyes without blinking at all. “Wearing Balla clothes to get in without suspicion? Nothing I’ve ever heard before has been as disrespectful to the Families, nigga. Man, I’m wondering if you even understand anymore what it means to be part of us!” Sweet continued, his tone becoming angrier and angrier as he spoke.

“Man, your obsession with respect ain’t healthy.” Smoke commented after it became clear Sweet was not going to continue his lecture. “I get that we’re supposed to be proud and sh*t, wear green even in enemy territory, but this is different, nigga. We’re jumpin’ them at their little stash, we gotta realize we can’t beat them without a strategic advantage!” he explained, not as angrily as Sweet, but doing his best to maintain composure and not turn it into a shouting match.

“Well, you’ve obviously lost yo’ pride somewhere, Smoke, ‘cause that’s just plain insane. To hell with your ‘strategy’, if it’s my time to go, then I’m goin’ down a happy man wearing Grove colors, never gonna touch any f*cking purple clothing with anything than my fist, fool. If we ain’t representin’, we might as well quit all this f*cking gang business, leave the ‘hood up fo’ grabs an’ hope the Ballas don’t hold anythin’ against us so they don’t still come after us once we’ve upped and left to whatever sh*tty 9 to 5 jobs and cheap apartments we can find!” Sweet exclaimed, going somewhat over the top in Carl’s opinion as well.

“Eh, that’s just a narrow worldview, fool. You really think we’re ever gonna accomplish anything if we stick to ridiculous unwritten rules about how street gangstas are always supposed to be representin’? We’ve already fallen about as low as we can get, do you really wanna be known for leadin’ your crew into their untimely destruction?” Smoke wondered, being more open than ever before about questioning Sweet’s leadership.

“Enough!” Sweet exclaimed, making Ryder, who wasn’t fully concentrating at that point, flinch on his seat. “I’m the leader here, and that is not going to change without a goddamn revolution. Is that what ya want?!” he shouted at Smoke, who just continued to stare at him, still not blinking, but appearing to be tired of the whole argument.

“Whatever, man. We don’t have time fo’ this sh*t...” Smoke admitted. Sweet was still angered, but at least when he spoke up again, he sounded a bit more relaxed.

“Right now, everyone better focus. We’ll be going in 30 mins, wearing green, because we want the Ballas to be fully aware of who kicks their ass to the ground. That includes you, CJ, so you better get changed. We’ll drive my Greenwood up to the warehouse, guns blazin’, get the car in a safe location, step out and finish anyone dumb enough to still try to stop us.” Sweet explained.

“And once inside, what then? I kinda like the idea of nabbin’ those guns... LB’s business could do with some extra sh*t, just sayin’.” Ryder commented from his spot.

“We’ll take whatever we can carry, but we better still destroy the place so they won’t gain any advantage from it once we return. That a good enough compromise, Smoke?” Sweet asked.

“Eh, fine by me, but we better plan our escape damn well too. I’m sure ya all know who are gonna be alerted the moment things start gettin’ ugly.” Smoke reminded, having once again taken a lazy position on his chair now that there was no more tension in the conversation.

“I think we can handle a little chase with the pigs.” Carl said after being silent for some time.

“That’s my brotha! I think I’ll task you with the driving again, CJ, if you don’t mind.” Sweet announced. Carl just shrugged, looking like he accepted the offer. He didn’t have anything against driving in all honesty, but sometimes he felt as if he was burdened with it all the time, even though there was nothing particularly wrong with how, for instance, Sweet or Smoke handled things behind the wheel. One thing he was particularly relieved about, though, was the fact Ryder didn’t actually bother to complain about the choice. Carl assumed the only reason for this was because he was too high to pay attention, but at closer glance, it appeared Ryder was actually writing down something. That was certainly unusual for two reasons – first off, despite his attitude, he usually still put full focus on gang-related activities, and listened to plans carefully.

Second, Carl didn’t know Ryder was able to read, let alone write.

30 minutes later...

The crew was all ready, and on their way towards the warehouse, driving Sweet’s Greenwood as they usually did, with Carl driving, Smoke next to him, and Ryder and Sweet on the backseats. The drive was mostly silent, with only Radio Los Santos playing on the background. Both Smoke and Carl were still unsure about the plan, but Carl made sure not to show it in any way. He admitted in his mind that he was being a bit emotional about this, but honestly he felt like he was in no position to question Sweet’s leadership, due to the fact the Families had had to go through lots of crap without Carl around, and whether he liked it or not, he was still feeling guilty about it. It may have been naïve and irrational of him to give Sweet a free pass like that, but deep down, he felt it might be the right choice.

As they arrived, Carl pulled up to the side of the road opposite the entrance to the warehouse grounds. Normally it would be gated off, but possibly the Ballas were just show-offs who were so confident they believed no one would dare enter the premises just because of the threatening “No Trespassing” signs and the presence of menacing gang members. That maybe worked on the civilians, but the Grove Street Families were a different story.

“You know the plan, CJ. We all got guns at the ready, so we go whenever you want.” Sweet commented from the backseat. Both him and Ryder had Tec9’s out, while Smoke was using a somewhat inaccurate, but quick and nimble Micro-Uzi. Carl himself had his trustworthy M1911A1 pistol in his pocket, which he was only going to start using once he’d be out of the car, as he fully needed to focus on driving at the first part of the raid in order to stay alive.

Carl glanced one last time towards the warehouse, where some Ballas were casually going on about their business, guarding the area and carrying crates. He then floored it.

It took some time for the Ballas to realize what was going on, and when they did, it was already too late for some of their comrades as the Grove Street Families opened fire at everything they could see within the premises. Carl did a good job at keeping the car somewhat steady, only making slight turning moves to steer around a few of the crates placed outside. He also contributed to the combat somewhat by successfully running over one Balla, who had been trying to aim at him, with the hopes of taking out the driver and immobilizing the whole threat. Now, that guy’s limp body flew right over the speeding Greenwood and landed face first back on the concrete, as the car drove around to the side of the warehouse. A few more Ballas were seen there, but some accurate shooting, courtesy of Sweet and Ryder, either forced them to dive out of the way, or ended their lives on the spot.

There was a nice amount of space around the warehouse, which made it possible for the Greenwood to do a full circuit without issue. By now, the exterior was cleared for the most part, as those who survived had made a break for it to the inside – little did they know it was going to be their tomb, at least if the Families’ plan were to be a success. Just to ensure a safe exit from the car, Carl parked in a bit of a secluded position, behind a large container. The four gangsters were quick to get out, with their guns readily pointed forward. For a moment, they even looked like a professional squad of soldiers moving in on their target.

The apparent professionalism waned quickly as the four of them made their way to a smallish side door, which Sweet proceeded to kick open without consideration. At least this time the crew got lucky – there was no one on the other side to get cheap shots at the intruders as they rushed inside, with Sweet and Smoke pushing forward, Ryder in the middle exchanging his attention between the front and back, and Carl fully focusing on covering their back. After entering, they were in a short, relatively clean hallway, which was followed by another door, most likely leading into the main warehouse area. This time Sweet had a little more awareness in him and stopped on his tracks, although the crew was rather clumsy to react to this, with Smoke jogging into the back of Sweet, Ryder hitting Smoke, and Carl, who was still facing backwards, crashing into Ryder. Luckily no one was knocked over, but nonetheless Sweet was looking rather angry at the others. Smoke silently apologized and Sweet accepted it, then motioned everyone to stay back while he slowly opened the door.

Immediately when the tip of Sweet’s gun became visible on the other side of the door, shooting ensued. Sweet slammed the door open in an instant and dived to the side, successfully avoiding getting hit as some bullets went flying through the door. He had caught a glimpse of at least two Ballas, who had probably heard the ruckus and were waiting for the intruders to come through the second door, almost succeeding in their ambush plan.

“Eh, guys, I spotted another way in through the other side when we were driving. Maybe we can flank ‘em from there.” Ryder suggested as the bullet spray through the door was still going on.

“You and CJ go and do it then! We’ll wait here for you to clean up.” Sweet ordered in a silent voice, which the Ballas hopefully didn’t hear, as he and Smoke stayed next to the door. As the two went off, Sweet quickly pushed the door wide open after no shots had been fired for a while, exposing the two Ballas. Smoke shot a few times in their direction before the door slowly closed again, creating at least a little bit of pressure.

“’Ey, CJ, hold up. I got something for ya.” Ryder noted as he and Carl were outside, moving towards the other entrance.

“We’re kinda in the middle of a battle here, so it better be important.” Carl said, feeling a little pressured by the situation by now.

“It’s just, Sweet and Smoke are always bein’ real busy, and LB can only do so much fo’ me. But you, homie, you could help me out with something once we’ve got the hell outta here. It’s gonna get us one step closer to dominating the city, man!” Ryder said, with quite a bit of excitement in his voice as they found the other entrance, and Carl slowly inched the door open, thankfully finding no one on the other end.

“IF we make it out of here. I’ll consider it, Ryder, but please, can we just get this done first?” inquired Carl as he snuck forward, looking out for any movement and keeping his voice down.

“Whatever you say...” Ryder replied, sounding slightly disappointed. Carl approved of his friend’s calm response, but didn’t say anything to it as he moved forward, past some large stacks of crates. Behind a corner, there were several open crates which contained some nicer-looking guns than what the Families had been using for their entire time. Ryder walked straight up to one of the crates and picked up a pump shotgun, with the expression on his face looking like Christmas had just come ahead of time for him.

“Like what you see, huh?” Carl asked in a happy tone as he found a basic assault rifle in one crate and a sniper rifle in another. He was slightly bummered as he couldn’t carry both at once, and the sniper’s effectiveness was reduced in such close quarters as this one, so he settled with the assault rifle and placed his pistol back in the pocket. After reloading the rifle and finding out it was in a much better condition than anything Emmet had in his stockpile, he felt some satisfaction as well. Now Ryder led the way, shotgun at the ready.

Soon enough, they reached a spot where they were directly behind the two Ballas holding up Sweet and Smoke’s process. It was somewhat odd that they encountered no prior resistance, but on the other hand, it could’ve been a sign of them just having successfully cleared out most of the enemies on the initial charge. Carl took aim with his newly acquired rifle, hoped that Sweet and Smoke wouldn’t suddenly pop up in front of his line of sight, and fired.

There was still a considerable amount of recoil, but not so much that it would bother him much as the rifle made mincemeat of the two Ballas, neither of whom stood a chance against a threat coming from behind. After Carl had used up his clip and both Ballas lay on the floor in bloody puddles, he and Ryder moved forward, and Ryder – noticing one of the gangsters was still faintly moving – decided to be a nice guy and put him out of his misery, with a not-so-subtle “shotgun to the upper body area, including parts of the head” method. Smoke, being reckless as always, peeked out through the partially open door, and upon noticing his victorious friends, he quickly notified Sweet and the two of them emerged into sight.

“There’s a sniper up for grabs that way if one of you’s interested.” Carl told them, and Sweet nodded, heading towards where Carl was pointing. Ryder decided to go along in order to watch his leader’s back, and Carl and Smoke headed the other way. “We’ll catch up later,” Sweet remarked, urging the other two to push forward, towards the main office.

As they turned another corner in the maze of crates, they ran into a solitary Balla, who was crouching in a corner, clearly looking paranoid. The Balla spotted Carl and Smoke, and was just about to shout at them and aim his pistol, when Smoke opened fire mercilessly, and dispatched the enemy without much effort, even though only about one in five bullets even made contact with the target – so much was his gun plagued by inaccuracy.

They turned a few more corners before coming up on what seemed to be the main office. It was located above their position, and had a large glass window overlooking their position. A man was standing at the window – and what really caught their attention was that he didn’t appear to wear any Balla clothes, but rather looked like just about any civilian. He wore a clean, all-white suit, coupled with a tie, which at farther glance appeared to have some sort of a logo on it, possibly of a clothing company. He wore sunglasses, which made him look considerably more threatening than he might have been without them. Carl quickly aimed at the window, but the man didn’t appear intimidated at all – instead, he quickly backed off, and just seemed to have disappeared from sight. Without thinking, Carl sprinted towards the stairs, but was suddenly attacked by a Balla, hiding behind the stack of crates right next to the stairs. He didn’t even realize this until he felt a blunt object strike him in the back of the head, and his running just came to an abrupt end as he fell stomach first on the ground.

Above him, the Balla placed his foot on Carl’s back and held a gun aimed at his head, but unfortunately for the Balla, he didn’t realize Smoke was also there, and wasn’t particularly happy about the situation. With the Balla focusing solely on Carl, Smoke was able to spray him with another set of rounds, which caused him to flinch backwards, dangerously firing his gun a few times, but thankfully all shots just landed near his feet. The Balla stumbled onto the stairs and finally fell over, with Smoke shooting him a few more times just to make sure he was dead.

Carl was still feeling dizzy, so Smoke pushed the Balla’s body away and moved up the stairs to the office, only to find a mostly empty setting, although the pure white walls seemed to just cause the illusion of a featureless room. In reality, there was still a well-maintained desk and a closet next to it, presumably used to store all sorts of files. However, aside from the usual office equipment, something else ended up catching Smoke’s eye. It was a small, blinking device next to the (mandatory?) office plant in the corner of the room. Smoke didn’t even consider the fact the strange man had long ago escaped through the back door, apparently leading straight outside – not only was Smoke’s physical condition too bad to give chase, but he also had a bad feeling about the device.

Sure enough, it couldn’t have been just a harmless clock – it was clearly a bomb, with several wires attached to it. As much as Smoke would have wanted to disarm it in order to preserve all the weapons in the warehouse, he hadn’t done that kind of stuff in ages, and feared there was a high possibility of failure. Soon enough, he heard more footsteps coming upstairs, and in came Sweet, followed by Ryder, who had helped Carl on his feet and up the steps.

“It’s a bomb, homies! The white guy running this place clearly doesn’t want us benefitting from this little attack too much, does he?” Smoke questioned as Sweet, now carrying the newly acquired sniper rifle on his back, came to inspect.

“Oh sh*t. Ain’t no time to waste! Everyone, get out, NOW!” Sweet commanded after noticing there was only a minute or so left on the timer, and the others didn’t need to be told twice as they made a break for it through the rear door. It had been locked, but Ryder’s shotgun once again came in handy as he shot the door out of the way. Carl did his best to stay on the move without slowing the others down too much, and did a fine job at it, moving even more effectively than Smoke, whose obesity particularly bothered him as they rushed down the stairs outside and ran towards Sweet’s Greenwood, with some time still left. At this point, everyone was just praying the bomb wouldn’t be too devastating.

Due to Carl’s difficulties, Sweet was the driver, as he knew his car better than the other potential candidates. He made some maneouvers before finally facing the right way – directly out of the warehouse grounds – and floored it. Right as they exited the area, driving across the street and into the water canal opposite it, a massive explosion rocked the neighborhood as the upper part of the warehouse was destroyed, and collapsed on top of the lower part, effectively ensuring there wouldn’t be much to scavenge from the debris. All possible authorities were likely to show up on the scene any minute, so the four of them rapidly drove away from the scene and emerged onto the city streets only after they were a reasonable distance away. No one said a word until after they had reached Grove Street, for the adrenaline was really flowing through their veins right now.

“Man... that’s the sh*t I’m talkin’ about!” Ryder exclaimed.
“I think that’s enough close calls for today... poor heart of mine can’t take much more.” Smoke commented.
“It could if you f*cking did something about your fitness. But hey, job well done.” Sweet said, sounding genuinely happy for the first time.
“I just wonder, who was that guy overlooking the operation?” Smoke wondered.
“Whoever he is, he’s probably running right back into his rabbit hole right now, telling all his friends the f*cking Grove Street Families are back.” Carl said with a victorious smile on his face.
“Damn right, my nigga! This could start a great chain of events. Anyone up for a beer?” Sweet asked, glancing at the backseats.
“I can never say no to that.” Smoke said immediately.
“I’ve got my own stuff, so another time, but CJ, man, come on, walk with me over to my house, I’m gonna tell you about that – thing of mine.” Ryder reminded. Carl was all exhausted at this point, but felt he had nothing to lose if he acted like a good friend to Ryder for a change. They all got out of the Greenwood and separated into groups of two.

“So, what is it, homie? I hope you ain’t getting’ into any of the Tenpenny sh*t no more.” Carl mentioned right away, feeling as though it was always good to bring it up.
“No losers from the cops’ camp involved in this one. Thing is, homie, we’ve been getting back on track, but there’s something missing. The big, grand payout. You down?” Ryder asked.
“Down for what? Come on, I need more explaining than that.” Carl said.
“Sure, sure... not here though, too many ears.” Ryder said, looking nervously around him.
“You paranoid, homie?” Carl asked, trying to sound polite.
“It ain’t paranoia when you just gotta keep a secret from the public. Anyway, I’m not gonna go to names yet, but there’s this guy. Really rich guy. Comes from somewhere in... Europe. Yeah, that’s the one. Anyway, this fool, I’m bein’ serious about this, he actually wants me to run a little errand for him.” Ryder explained in an excited voice.
“Rich guy? Why do I get the feeling he can’t be trusted?” Carl wondered.
“Because now you’re the paranoid one, nigga. Now come on! The guy’s offering some big cash if the three of us move some cargo for him.” Ryder said.
“Three? Who’s the third?” Carl immediately asked.
“’Who’s the third, who’s the third?’, LB of course! Without him, I’d probably never have had this deal, fool. He’s got some real connections. Gonna help me make it big.” Ryder told, finding it difficult to hide the excitement yet again.
“Since when have you felt like making it big?” Carl commented.
“Ever since I learned the Families can do a lot better than this! Now, we all know, we ain’t got too much spare cash on our hands. Without cash, we’ve lost. This guy, he’s gonna get it to us! I’d say that’s a damn good deal, nigga.” Ryder explained.
“Well, his favor sounds pretty dangerous to be honest, and you didn't tell me about the pay, but I’ll think about it. And now, I probably need some rest...” Carl impatiently said, pointing at his mother’s house on the background.
“Sure, sure, just think fast, homie. The gig’s supposed to be tomorrow.” Ryder reminded.

Carl promised one more time he’d consider the proposal, and then went on his merry way. As soon as he got inside his house, he locked the door as he wanted no one bothering him, and threw himself on the couch to rest and heal his still somewhat painful head injury. He was hoping to catch some sleep, but there were so many questions regarding the previous and potentially future events on his mind that he found it difficult. Who on earth was the person in the warehouse, and why did Carl occasionally feel like the figure was distantly familiar? What was Ryder’s apparent new employer going to be like, and could he bring some hope for the Grove Street Families with his supposedly large payments? Carl eventually re-assured himself that answers would soon most likely present themselves, and certainly wouldn’t while he was lying down on a couch in his own living room. With a bit more of a peaceful mind, he finally fell asleep.


The End.

Edited by Carbonox
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Note: F*ck yeah, I'm alive! And now that this is done, you can expect the next chapter to come somewhere around Christmas. Just kidding, hehe. I feel like I'm finally in the flow.


SA2: Show Your Worth – Part 1



For being as ambitious as he was, Carl slept surprisingly well through the night after the Families’ little warehouse gig. In fact, as he was now preparing his favorite breakfast – Coc-O-Pops cereals – in the kitchen of the Johnson household, he felt he was scarily quickly getting used to the over-the-top crazy lifestyle in the hood. Compared to what he had experienced in Los Santos already, helping out Joey Leone back in Liberty City felt like a nice, friendly visit to an amusement park by now.

As he was enjoying the cereals, he felt the unpleasant feeling of depression practically sneaking up on him as he glanced at the living room and realized that he was indeed the last remaining resident of the house that had previously been so full of life. He tried to drive the depression away by forcing himself to openly wonder what Ryder was up to, but it seemed that obsolete memories of the days when the family was still fully intact were constantly filling his head over and over again. One particular moment he recalled was when he was sitting in front of the TV and fighting for the remote with Sweet, when they were still merely little kids, and their frustrated parents were trying to calm them down. Actually, it was the first of many petty fights he knew of. The brothers still always considered themselves to be inseparable, but as it so often happened, this sort of thinking seemed to fade away by the time they reached adulthood – especially with a broken family and a gang in deep trouble...

“Ah, sh*t, can’t dwell on this crap forever.” Carl thought as he ate the rest of the cereals at unusually quick speed, hastily washed the bowl and exited the house to taste a bit of the typical Los Santos fresh air again. A few fellow gang members had already gotten up, even though usually it seemed that Grove Street Families spent all night doing drugs and drinking, followed by sleeping through the entire morning and midday as well. Carl didn’t mind the change in routine at all as he waved at his comrades and walked over to Ryder’s house, knocking on the door a few times.

It was a surprise to Carl that the guys outside weren’t the only early birds of the morning, as soon after the knock, Ryder’s quick footsteps were heard from the other side as he pushed the door open, almost into Carl’s face. The first impression Carl had was that Ryder was definitely more excited than he thought he could possibly be, and didn’t even smell of drugs like he usually did. The most unexpected change was that Ryder actually spontanously gave him a hug.

“What happened, did a little magic fairy in your dream turn you into a good guy?” Carl joked as Ryder pointed him to go on inside, and shut the door behind them.
“Nah, all I dreamt of was that motherf*cking colonel from East Beach. Chased me around his house with a freakin’ shotgun.” Ryder commented with a vivid voice.
“You seem to be dodging the question.” Carl noted. Both of them sat down on the old, dusty couch.
“Man, I just felt like – you know what, let’s cut the crap, nigga. ‘Cause Sweet and Smoke never quit fighting over that stupid drug issue, I figured, why not make myself useful an’ save the day? We found this one guy. Really rich, European motherf*cka, barks orders at his mooks from up in those Vinewood hills. Simple as pie. We run errands for him, we get paid. With money comes guns, and with guns, comes our old territory back, an’ then some.” Ryder explained.
“You already told me last evening, man. But honestly? Rich European? Why do I get the feeling this is gonna be some self-righteous fool who just looks for a way to screw us over eventually?” Carl instinctively asked.
“Man, are you a busta again? Look, you’re, like, giving in to stereotypes right now! Not a good sign, homie! I mean, think of it, if this fool was at all like you, would he even have given us this fine opportunity?” Ryder asked back, spreading his arms.
“I’m actually surprised he didn’t think all us niggas were lazy-ass druggies when he met you.” Carl replied.
“Ha-ha. Real funny, motherf*cka. Shoulda known you’d never pass up on the chance to make a cheap jab at the old buddy. But, uhh, anyway, I better hurry with the facts ‘cause the first act of our dream job is just hours away.” Ryder told hastily and went to take a sip from his coffee mug, standing on a nearby table. Carl crossed his arms and patiently waited as Ryder took a seat again.

“Right. Our man’s called Felix Schrader.” Ryder started.
“What? The multibillionaire who’s invested tons in movies?” Carl asked after recognizing the name from television.
“Probably? I dunno, I really don’t give a sh*t about that Vinewood stuff, nigga.” Ryder responded, rather casually shrugging off the whole detail.
“I’m just sayin’, it’s a bit odd a big name like him would be in the crime scheme.”
“Nah, homie, guy’s had a shady past, it’s just that no one’s got evidence on him.”
“Makes sense, I guess... so what’s the deal then?”
“F*ck if I know all the details when he’s being so secretive. LB knows better, but, uhh, we’re supposed to be drivin’ a truck for him.” Ryder said, in an oddly casual tone. Carl could somehow sense it wasn’t going to be that simple.

“I doubt it’s a new hot tub he wants delivered, sounds more like some illegal cargo.” Carl noted.
“Yeah! It fits our style too, homie. We’ve done this sh*t for ages, we’re like specialists!” Ryder exclaimed excitedly.
“I hope we get a specialist’s pay then. How much?” Carl asked.
“15 grand! Now imagine for a moment all them improvements we can make...” Ryder said, looking like he already had dollar signs in his eyes.
“Not really what I was expecting.” Carl told him in a bit of a disappointed voice.
“Man, obviously we gotta walk before we can run, nigga!”
“Got anythin’ else? I wouldn’t mind going right away to get it done.”

Ryder thought of it for a moment, as he stood up again and drank the rest of his coffee in one go. There was awkward silence in the house for a moment, and he hesitated for a moment before finally speaking up.

“Not really, we can go now if you want, but one thing. Did you ever meet that boyfriend of your sister’s?” he asked, surprising Carl a bit.
“Yes, I did. What about him? You wanna get introduced too? Or just act like Sweet and look fo’ him so you can punch him in the face?” Carl questioned. He got up from his seat, which turned out to be a little sticky. He decided not to talk about that for now, but he did subtly lean against the wall and wipe his behind on it. That didn’t help much, but made him a little more comfortable.

“Nah, man. See, that’s what I was goin’ at. No offence to your family or anything, but you noticed how Sweet judges people real quick at first sight? Or without even meeting ‘em?” Ryder asked. After washing his mug, he led Carl outside, as they walked towards his brown Picador that they were going to use as transport.
“I guess he does, but ain’t we all guilty of that?” Carl responded.
“You drive, man, by the way.” Ryder noted, and with that, he walked to the passenger side.
“Thought you always said I drive like sh*t?”
“You still do, but I gotta do all the brainwork!”
“Oh, you still the smart guy of the team, huh?”
“Not smart! Genius!”
“So what about Sweet anyway?” Carl changed the subject. He started up the car, with Radio Los Santos immediately blasting all over his ears at full volume. He toned it down in order to hear what Ryder had to say, even if part of him preferred the song over his ramblings.
“He’s too bigoted! I mean, what if he was in charge of findin’ us an employer? He’d just have hated dear old Schrader from the start. Sometimes I think he’d rather let us sink than have a rich mo’f*cker telling him what to do. He’s bein’ controlled by his crazy principles! Oh and by the way, get us to the Unity Station while you’re at it.”
“The cargo arrived by train then? Thought the cops’d be all over it.” Carl said surprisedly.
“Our guy’s got it covered. Cut some deal with shady railroad workers. Ain’t there no mo’f*cking cops crashin’ this party. Now he should’ve a few guys guardin’ the load too, so it’s all safe from idiots who think they can take whatever they want.” Ryder stated smugly.

Carl was beginning to like Schrader more every minute, considering how well he was prepared for even these smaller missions. In addition, thinking of the pay, while $15,000 was a rather small amount for a gang scraping to get by, it was still quite a lot of cash for a short starting mission, and made him feel more motivated to work than whenever he was rolling with the Families, who typically didn’t monetarily reward him. He’d ask Sweet for a little more than ‘beer money’ for the jobs, but just didn’t have the heart for it for some reason.

For the remainder of the trip Carl and Ryder stayed mostly silent and enjoyed the music. Ryder directed Carl to drive to the open lot where Cesar and others had earlier held the low-rider challenge. Sure enough, a large unmarked Yankee truck was sitting right there in the open, with two intimidating men in gray uniforms watching over it. One pointed at the Picador as it turned into the lot and parked to the side, facing the station platform that was currently empty. Ryder got out of the car first and waved at the men, who just kept staring at them as Ryder urged Carl to follow him to the Yankee. He walked right up to the guards in cheerful manner, while they continued to look at him blankly.

“Got a license?” one guard asked with a rough accent.
“Long as I get it back too, homies. Hehe.” Ryder told as he handed over his dusty driver’s license.
“We’re not your ‘homies’, but pleased to see you’re willing to help the organization.” the other guard told him. The first nodded approvingly and gave back the driver’s license.
“We can trust this other guy too, right?” he asked while inspecting Carl.
“Sure you can! He, uhh, ain’t the same guy I spoke of last time, but give him some of yo’ solid equipment and he’ll kick ass just like ma other homies.” Ryder praised.

During this time, Carl had time to look at the guards more closely. They wore mostly light gray suits, similar to the Russians that sometimes occupied these areas, but had distinguishable dark blue shirts under the suits, possibly representing their gang colors. For the most part they looked alike, but the guard with the accent was somewhat distinguishable by a tattoo in his neck. They mostly appeared calm and collected, but would probably be quick to rip apart anyone trying to mess with them, which reminded him of mobsters. Carl hoped that whatever happened in the future, Ryder wouldn’t lead him into betraying this bunch.

“Well, welcome to your initiation. Your job is to first get this truck to a lockup in Willowfield, where a courier of ours dropped off more stuff. Your other friend, LD, is going to...” the first guard began describing.
“Uh, it’s LB.” Ryder instinctively corrected. The guard frowned, but continued on with the description as normal.
“Your friend, LB, guards the load over there. So you drive there, help him place that stuff on board as well, then drive with the full load to this address in Blueberry. We originally wanted this to be brought to Vinewood so we could access it better when needed, but – let’s just say that some recent events have made us appreciate the privacy of this operation more than usual.” he explained and handed Ryder a note containing the address. He and Carl quickly read it, and concluded that Carl knew far better where to go, as Ryder had never sufficiently explored the countryside to know those areas very well. Carl put the note in his pocket.

“Uhh, excuse me. I know this might be stupid an’ all, but what exactly are you guys gonna do when we drive around tryin’ not to look conspicuous?” Carl asked after raising a hand.
“This is an initiation mission, you’re meant to do all of it to show us your abilities.” the second guard, who had a faint lisp, told him sternly.
“Yeah, nigga, what you were thinkin’? ‘Course this gig is for us only!” Ryder yelled.
“Calm the f*ck down, not like I knew what exactly was comin’ up ‘cause of your inaccurate explanation!” Carl lashed out at Ryder, who for a moment had turned back into his annoying old self. He should’ve seen that coming though – obviously Ryder would only pretend to be friendly to attract him into the scheme.
“Whoa, don’t trashtalk me in front of our superiors, nigga!” Ryder replied.
“I hope you won’t let infighting get in the way of this mission.” the guard with the accent said. Carl thought he sounded German.
“I can handle him.” Carl said trying to sound confident.
“We better get going then, fool, can’t keep Mr. Schrader waiting, can we?” Ryder asked, now ignoring the previous incident completely.
“Didn’t you listen to the instructions earlier, idiot?” the German-sounding guard said annoyedly.
“You’re not supposed to mention him in public like that, the last thing he needs is to get compromised. Cops are already all over him, like vultures.” the other followed up.
“We got it. We’ll just call him... ‘boss’, eh, Ryder?” Carl suggested. Ryder nodded, which he took as a ‘yes’.
“Did we ask for your name yet?” one guard asked, pointing at Carl.
“Huh, good point. Uhh, it’s Carl Johnson, but everyone calls me CJ. Well, for the most part anyway.” Carl said. The guards looked at each other, then both shook hands with him.
“Welcome to the team then, unofficially at least. You know, I think we already got a CJ in the organization.” the German guard said.
“Hope you ain’t got a one Steve limit then.” Carl said. The guard without a tattoo chuckled, and Carl did the same before Ryder interrupted him with a cough.

“Shouldn’t we be goin’ soon?” he inquired.
“Relax, that truck’s waiting patiently. You wanna drive, or what?” Carl asked.
“Absolutely! Don’t want your useless ass wreckin’ this thing, nigga.” Ryder said.
“I don’t see a dent on your car even though I drove it all the way here.”
“Yeah, but it’s easy to drive anyway. This big baby requires proper concentration.”
“Suit yourself, but don’t come cryin’ to me if you screw up.”
“Ain’t got much of a choice. Don’t wanna anger LB when I start cryin’ like a baby.”
“Knock it off, crackhead.”

As Ryder climbed with lots of effort into the truck cab, the tattoo-less guard, who appeared to be the friendlier of the two, tapped Carl’s shoulder and handed him another note before he climbed to the passenger’s seat.

“Call that phone number when you’ve delivered it, OK? Also, while you’re making the detour, we’ll deliver your car to the lock-up on the right of where you’ll park the truck. That way, you’ll get back to the city with ease.” he said.
“That’s real convenient. Appreciate it.” Carl said, and placed the note with the phone number in his pocket as well.
“Yeah, yeah, we appreciate all the sh*t this town has to throw at us, blah blah. Can we go now? Also why are the pedals so far back there? I hate bein’ short.” Ryder ranted as he tried to get acquainted with a vehicle that he had practically never driven since he completed his driver’s test.

“Change your mind yet about who drives this thing?” Carl asked snarkily.
“You’d never let me hear the end of it, busta. So forget it and tell me where that damn warehouse is.” Ryder told as he was still in the process of adjusting his seat.
“Uhh, sure... goddamn, they didn’t tell us the exact location. We only got that phone number and final destination address.” Carl said after going through the notes. He was considering getting out and asking for that information, but promptly the guards had already entered the Picador and drove out of the lot before their eyes.
“F*cking incompetent bustas. I'm callin’ LB.” Ryder said.
“You do that, I’ll be back in a moment.” Carl said quickly, pointing to the 24/7 store on the other side of the street, a bit further to the north. Ryder just shrugged at him while he was waiting for LB to pick up the call. Carl crossed the street (almost getting run over by an Oceanic that suddenly sped past him) dug into his back pocket for spare change, and placed the coin into a vending machine at the front of the store. A green can of juicy Sprunk came out – just what he needed, his favorite drink. He waited until he got back into the truck to open it. Ryder had already finished his call, and turned on the ignition after Carl was back in.

“Warehouse 22, LB said, wherever that is. And are you kiddin’ me, busta? You actually gonna drink that sh*t?” Ryder commented after he saw what Carl was carrying.
“We all know what you think of everythin’ I happen to like. Deal with it.” Carl told him calmly as he took his first sip. It sure felt refreshing, as he had been feeling thirsty for a moment, and the warm weather sure didn’t help that.
“For this deal’s sake, them goons better not screw up my car on the way there.” Ryder said, with genuine worry in his voice.
“Nah, it was a piece of sh*t anyway, they can’t possibly make it any worse even if they tried.” Carl snapped back.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

At first, the trip was somewhat calm, if not a bit clumsy as Ryder still struggled to master the controls of a heavy truck. He turned over to El Corona and quickly crossed the train tracks.

“Cesar lives in this neighborhood by the way, if you wanna get acquainted.” Carl said in reference to an earlier conversation.
“Yeah, yeah, nigga, I dunno... those Mexican eses can get pretty weird sometimes.”
“You not creeped out by them or anything?”
“What?! I didn’t say that, homie! Now lemme focus on drivin’ this bitch.”

Silence ensued again. Since Ryder was starting to get the handle of things, Carl no longer needed to spend all his time worrying if he was going to crash the truck, and had time to look around and inspect the neighborhood they were going through. In the parking lot of one large building, a group of Mexican gangsters had gathered around a Broadway, whose driver was showing off the hydraulics of the car. At the end of the road, a Packer had stopped in front of the airport gates, nearly blocking the road, with its driver apparently arguing heatedly with the security guard. Ryder was going to turn left to get to Willowfield, and waited for a car, a white and yellow Oceanic, that was coming from the right. Instead, the Oceanic stopped, even though it had the right of way. Ryder stayed in place for a second or so before declaring “f*ck it, nigga” and turning in front of the Oceanic. As they drove into the district mainly comprising of industrial areas, Carl noticed from the rearview mirror that the car had now decided to move again. It also looked sort of familiar – just like the one he saw before he and Ryder got moving at the start. He tried to look at the windshield to see if the driver was some morbidly old senior who was unfamiliar with traffic laws, but instead noticed something different.

It was a Vago gangster. Yup – that yellow scarf was a dead giveaway. On the passenger side was another person with an identical scarf, only confirming Carl’s suspicions.

“Can you take a detour to the destination?” Carl asked.
“Why, so you can finish the sh*tty drink and force poor LB to wait fo’ your sorry ass?”
“No, it may have somethin’ to do with us havin’ a tailwind.”
“What’d I say about those damn Mexicans, fool? Can’t even drive through that bitch-ass ‘hood without gettin’ some loser snooping around.”
“Well, these guys are Mexican, but not who you’d think. It’s the Vagos.”
“Oh, f*ck, of course. Can’t go one week without those bustas juicin’ up the day.”
“Can you shake ‘em?”
“Can you shoot ‘em, mo’f*cker?”
“No thanks, I’d rather not attract the Five-O.”
“Man, surely a pair o’ Grove Street OG’s can take on Tenpenny’s sh*tty department!”
“I’m thinkin’ more about the job. Don’t think a certain boss of ours would appreciate us gettin' too crazy with the law while transporting his cargo.”
“You ever tried to shake some tricked up gang ride in a snail of a truck like this?”
“LB would hate it too if we brought unwanted guests.”
“Damn, got me there.”

Ryder turned towards the highway while driving at regular speed as he pretended to be oblivious to the Vagos’ presence. Sure enough, the Oceanic stayed behind them and closely followed when they took a left turn onto the highway. They had to wait for quite a long time for a gap in traffic to make the turn, and the Oceanic almost didn’t make it, as a speeding van nearly plowed into the side of it.

“Quite a shame, a traffic accident coulda removed them from our tail nicely.” Carl said.
“See if we can stage another one. Hold on to yer seat, homie!” Ryder yelled and pushed the throttle as hard as he could. The initial acceleration was again slow, but the Yankee steadily picked up the pace as they went forward. The Vagos began to realize their target was getting away, and also sped up behind them. Ryder swerved onto the right lane even though there was barely a large enough gap in traffic, and managed to leave the Oceanic trapped behind a slower cement truck on the left. As the two drove past the cement truck, they noticed it was in fact being held up by a taxi, for understandable reasons as there was an incredibly old, vulture-looking grandma in the rear. Carl commented that she looked like she might’ve died on her seat with the cabbie having no idea, and got a chuckle out of Ryder, who swerved back onto the left lane in front of the cab, while the right side was beginning to fill up with traffic, including the Vagos that also forced its way into a tiny gap. They were driving past Playa del Seville now.

“Eh, homie, take this left turn here before the arena, don’t wanna stumble into their turf. Plus, they’re nicely stuck on the right.” Carl noted, observing them from the rearview mirror.
“On it, nigga! Wanna drive through ol’ Seville Boulevard for the kicks?” Ryder asked as they turned left. The Vagos car attempted to make a daring maneouver in front of the incredibly slow cab so they could also turn, but clearly ran out of space, and rammed the cab from the rear right slightly before returning to their own lane. The grandma passenger sure sprung to life when the cab got knocked around a little.

Having gotten through the neighborhood that had sadly decayed now that the local set had distanced themselves from the rest of the Families, Ryder reached Willowfield again and stumbled around for a while before locating the correct warehouse. Carl wondered if it was just a coincidence that it was the same place where he had confronted the young thief earlier. Ryder drove the truck into the mostly empty concrete yard outside.

“Go check out ‘em lockups, one of them gotta house my boy LB.” Ryder told Carl, who finished his Sprunk and tossed the can towards a distant dumpster after exiting the truck. He somewhat undershot it, as the can hit the ground, but at least it bounced and hit the side of the dumpster as well. Carl gave himself half a point for trying.

There were three garage doors on this side of the warehouse. Carl knocked on the first one and received no response, but at the second one, a faint voice came out from the other end.

“Ryder, is that you?”
“Uhh, it’s CJ. You know, Sweet’s bro? Ryder’s drivin’ our truck.”
“Oh, CJ, huh? The ‘busta’ Ryder keeps yappin’ about?”
“If you knew the whole truth, you wouldn’t use that word at every chance. Now open up so we can grab whatever you got.” Carl said, a bit impatiently.

LB opened the garage door, showing himself as well. Carl hadn’t actually seen him in person that often – maybe just a few times before he left town. LB was somewhat small in stature, similarly to Carl and Ryder, but still managed to look intimidating as his face resembled that of a heavyweight boxer’s, and he did appear to have decent-sized muscles, making him a strong fighter if needed. He had a green and gray cap similar to Sweet’s, as well as a green T-shirt with a Sprunk livery that wasn’t exactly designed with representing the Families in mind, but Carl approved of any shade of green as long as there was no purple or yellow involved. LB’s pants were also green and a few sizes too large, and his shoes were black low-tops, similar to Carl’s. He waved at Ryder and pointed towards the now open warehouse garage, which Ryder slowly backed up into. It almost looked like the Yankee wouldn’t fit, but luckily the roof of the cargo compartment was just inches low enough to allow it inside. LB closed the door after everyone was inside, and pointed towards some unmarked boxes that they were apparently going to load into the truck.

“Got any problems along the way, homies?” LB asked after Ryder opened the compartment of the Yankee, allowing the trio to load boxes inside. They were too heavy to be carried by a single person, so they carried one box at a time with the strength of all three combined. Carl noticed that Ryder was clearly the weakest of them, which showed as he struggled the most and got tired and sweaty the quickest. Out of politeness, he decided not to mention anything, especially as with his luck, Ryder and LB would just team up to talk sh*t about him in return.

“Better pack these too.” LB said and grabbed another box from the side after the heavy lifting was over. This one was clearly a lot lighter.
“What’s that?” Carl naturally asked, as curiosity got the better of him.
“Some spare stickers. If we get chased down, which I hope won’t happen, we can hide somewhere and put these on. Voilá, we now drive a company truck, and no one bothers us for the rest of the way.” LB explained.
“Genius plan, I gotta admit.” Carl said.
“’Course it’s genius, ‘cuz it’s LB! Bet you’d never come up with that, busta.” Ryder said.
“Here we go again...” Carl said tiredly. As LB placed the box of stickers in the back of the truck, there was suddenly another knock on the garage.

“Huh? Did ya invite more people for this job?” LB asked in confusion.
“God no! This was supposed to be a secret! You didn’t snitch or anythin’, right, busta?” Ryder inquired.
“What the f*ck, man? I was with you all the time, how could I snitch even if I wanted?” Carl responded angrily.
“Enough with the fighting.” LB said quietly to them, before focusing on the garage door. “Who’s there?” he yelled, and prepared to get his gun out if anyone tried opening it from the outside.

“Oh, surely you puke-green pendejos aren’t hiding anything of value in there?” a voice called at them. It was a Hispanic person, and neither Ryder nor Carl had difficulty deciphering who it was.
“F*ck you! You’re a long way from home, Vagos bustas!” Ryder called back.
“Sometimes we gotta step outta our comfort zone to get all the good stuff. Now, you little n*ggers just open that door, put your hands up, and don’t try anything funny back there, got it?” the Vago gangster responded, sounding like he was serious.
“Goddamn this...” LB cursed out.
“Is there another way out?” Carl asked.
“The back door, sure, but we ain’t takin’ it, this is Schrader’s cargo right here. If we leave it to those Mexican sh*theads, we’re losin’ more than just our deal.” LB said.
“Got that back door blocked then? Don’t wanna get surprised from f*cking behind.” Carl said, now appearing openly worried.
“Yeah, I – put some crate on the way to ensure no one bothers me. By the way, did you lead these assholes here?” LB asked.
“I guess we did. Got rid of one car, but shoulda known they don’t quit there.” Carl replied in frustration.
“I recall we wanted you to open up! Don’t want us testing if these assault rifle bullets can pierce that door you got there...” another Mexican gangster spoke up.

LB simply clutched on to the remote that was used to open and close the garage. Ryder had already run for cover behind the truck and reloaded his pistol. The trio could hear some Vagos reloading their heavy guns outside as well, which sent shivers down their necks. Carl knew they had to act fast, and there was really only one way to keep the cargo for themselves without needing to engage in a shootout at their crowded location against an enemy that was clearly going to overpower them in firepower, and probably numbers too. But maybe at a time like this, big risks needed to be taken to get out of the mess...

To Be Continued.

Edited by Carbonox
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SA3: Show Your Worth – Part 2



The Vagos had arrived, and Carl, Ryder and LB were pretty much trapped in a warehouse. They could just take the easy way out around the back, but they had an important cargo to take care of, and losing it – to a rival gang especially – would most certainly have unpleasant implications.

“CJ, you sure this idea is worth rollin’ with?” LB asked worriedly.
“And you really want me to drive again?” Ryder followed up.
“You wanna sit tight an’ wait here ‘til one of you has a better idea?” Carl came back at them. “Besides, thought you didn’t trust my driving skills enough, eh Ryder? Thought I’d make myself useful in the back then.” he continued.
“As if the cargo’s not exposed enough, but you puttin’ yourself in harm’s way too, homie.” LB said, still with the same worry in his tone.

Carl’s plan was simple, at least on paper. Ryder in the driver’s seat did what he could to turn the truck around in the cramped garage space, so the back was facing the garage door now. Carl’s reasoning was that Ryder would simply get riddled by the Vagos’ bullets while waiting for the door to open at its painfully slow speed. Carl himself crawled into the rear compartment after Ryder raised the shutter all the way up, and with the help of LB, Carl constructed some makeshift cover from the boxes, which they tried to keep from moving around by glueing them on the floor. The glue appeared to be of low quality though, and Carl could imagine one sturdy push was enough to tear them right off the glue and most likely fall off the back. It was a risk that had to be taken though.

LB used a crowbar to open both of the big crates and see what they were housing – it just now crossed his mind that there could’ve been explosives, which would ruin the whole idea. Luckily, and to the delight of all of them, the crates instead housed weapons, ones that appeared to be far more advanced than even the Ballas’ arsenal. Maybe even military equipment, Carl wasn’t sure. He picked up two guns he considered the most useful for the upcoming shootout: a submachine gun with various modifications that just felt like it’d be far more accurate than the Families’ Tec9’s, as well as a sturdy assault rifle that was going to pack a punch with every bullet.

“OK, you all set up there? I’ll be takin’ up the passenger seat, ‘cause Ryder needs someone to show him where to go. I’ll, uhh, help with the shootin’ if I can.” LB asked as the Vagos were doing loud burnouts and revving their engines, probably to intimidate the trio.
“Sure thing. I’m sure our guy won’t mind too much if I test these out on real targets.” Carl chuckled as he clutched on to the SMG and pointed it towards the garage door.
“I’m gonna remotely open that thing. It’ll be slow, an’ Ryder won’t be able to get out ‘til it’s all the way up. So you just shoot ‘em up and don’t let them get too far inside. Good luck, homie.” LB explained, still wondering how this was going to turn out. Carl gave him a confident thumbs up.

Carl didn’t hear LB pressing the switch, but saw the garage door eventually move, at a painfully slow speed. Some Vagos began yelling in Spanish as they noticed it, and a few daring ones immediately ran towards the door so they could crouch-walk underneath it. Before Carl even became visible, he opened fire at the group. Just as he expected, the SMG’s bullets found their target very effectively and shredded through the skin of the first two attackers. At this point the Vagos took notice of the dangerousness of the situation, and ran to the sides for cover as the door fully opened up, revealing a number of parked Vago vehicles sitting in the yard. LB told Ryder to back up and he gladly complied, making a hard left turn as soon as he was fully out of the garage, which resulted in one unlucky gangster being crushed right underneath the truck. The rest were quick to open fire in response, and both Ryder and LB crouched in the cab to avoid the worst of the crossfire. Before any Vagos could attempt to yank them out, Ryder floored it out of the area, giving Carl a clear shot at the enemy crowd for a while. He used the opportunity to shoot another Vago in the stomach several times, before Ryder turned the corner and the enemies were left behind, out of their sight. In order not to look suspicious, and to keep the cargo safe, he closed the back shutter again.

“Take a left at Ganton, no reason fo’ us to go through the turf of those f*ckface Vagos.” LB said. Carl could faintly hear the conversation despite the vehicle’s noise.
“But then we’ll have the Ballas all over our ass!” Ryder protested.
“The Ballas, who – as far as we know – have no f*cking idea what we’re doin’.” LB said.
“Whatever. What’s the fastest way outta town?” Ryder asked, and nervously turned the truck towards Idlewood.
“I say take the highway. I can’t navigate those Western streets fo’ sh*t.”
“Amen to that.”

Ryder still struggled a bit with the truck’s handling, especially on the somewhat crowded Idlewood area. By now, LB had caught on that Carl definitely had made him drive just to get back at him, after Ryder constantly insulted his driving. LB felt that it definitely compromised the mission, but didn’t feel like saying a word because he wanted to create no additional tension.

“So, this beats rollin’ with Sweet all the time, huh?” Ryder spoke up eventually, after the song he was listening to ended.
“I wouldn’t know, I just supply you guys with sh*t.” LB said.
“I was talkin’ to CJ. Ya can hear me, right, busta?”
“I wish I didn’t, but whatever. This all seems like the same sh*t in a fancier package if ya ask me. We still got them old gangs all over our ass an’ everything.” Carl said from the rear.
“It’s bound to change, nigga. We gonna establish all these connections an' expand to San Fierro or somethin’! About time we had some variety.” Ryder said, again in that excited tone Carl was borderline tired of.
“Let’s just focus on one thing at a time, eh dog?” LB asked.
“You the boss. Hey, uhh, how them Seville boys?” Ryder wondered.
“They paranoid. They don’t appreciate it how I still roll wit’ ya. They think our set’s out to get ‘em.” LB said depressingly.
“That ain’t the way to roll! Y’know, Emmet spoke of ‘em too. Heard they got issues with Vagos too. Someone needs to act before things get ugly.” Carl’s voice echoed to the cab.
“Hey, that’s Sweet’s problem.” Ryder pointed out quickly.
“So it’s somehow his fault too?” Carl asked, becoming angrier.
“He’s aggressive, y’know that. Might as well have burned his bridges wit’ ‘em. Or maybe they got tired of him screwing up the finances.” Ryder mumbled.
“That’s uncalled for. It’s yo’ whole set who’s screwin’ up. You’d have plenty enough cash to do what you want if your goons didn’t burn it away all the time so they could get wasted.” LB said.
“Well, it’s still up to Sweet to straighten ‘em up... whoa, f*ck!” Ryder yelled in the middle of his response as the truck was suddenly rammed from behind. Carl fell flat on his back from the completely unexpected impact and struggled to get up in the pitch dark, especially with Ryder making a quick swerve to pass some slower traffic and get to safety. As LB checked his mirror, he surely enough saw more Vagos in a light brown Hermes tailing them.

“They don’t let up, huh?” he asked when Ryder barged through more traffic up ahead and blared the horn like his life depended on it. Another Vagos car, this time an Oceanic, appeared from a side road when Ryder reached the western edge of Idlewood and turned to the north, passing the Alhambra nightclub on his way to the nearest highway entrance. All this time, Carl was shouting and knocking to get him to raise the shutter again, but Ryder only realized that once LB notified him as well. While the rear compartment slowly opened up to reveal Carl with his military-grade firearms, Ryder was startled once again when a Vagos car pulled up alongside him and rammed the truck from the side with full force to stop him from making the turn onto the highway. He instead floored it to avoid the enemies, some of whom were already shooting from the cars and making people all around them run away in panic. The truck was now headed for Glen Park.

“We missed the f*ckin’ exit!” LB shouted and fired a couple of shots back at the Vagos through his open window.
“I know, right? Got an idea though. Let’s see how the Ballas like these guys gunnin’ through their turf. They should provide us a distraction.” Ryder suggested, making his way through Glen Park.
“Or, they might get interested in us!” Carl pointed out as the shutter fully opened and he let loose with the SMG again.
“Less talkin’, more shootin’, homie!” Ryder said.
“We takin’ the Mulholland Intersection now?” LB asked.
“You read ma thoughts.”

Ryder took the street south of the park itself, while the pursuing cars – Carl counted three of them – took a variety of routes, apparently anticipating where he was going to move. The one directly behind the truck, the same Hermes that initially attacked, got several SMG bullets into the hood, but Carl found it difficult to land any clear shots on the windshield, let alone the driver. Everyone knew that this battle on the road was bound to attract the attention of someone sooner or later, but it didn’t bother them much, even if getting caught was going to mean being on the receiving side of police brutality.

Unfortunately, Ryder was caught out by the Vagos’ tactics due to him only paying attention to the road and not the chasers. As he turned north, still on the outskirts of the park, one of the Vagos’ Tornadoes turned in from a side road and charged right towards the truck, somewhat suicidally. Nonetheless, Ryder did the sensible thing and dodged out of the way, driving on grass for quite some time. The truck bounced around some, and Carl held on to the glued box for dear life while Ryder somehow kept the vehicle pointed in the right direction on their brief offroad trip. The Tornado had still tried to intentionally crash at them, but missed by a wide margin and went roaring into the pond, from where it was not going to get back up.

After Ryder got back on concrete again, Carl regained his balance and fired several shots towards the same old Hermes as before, until realizing he had used up all the ammo he had at his disposal. Both the car’s occupants were being particularly aggressive, with the driver ramming the truck to try and throw Carl off balance even more, and the gunner shooting mindlessly with his SMG, though luckily most shots flew far off target, and few even landed in the rear area of the truck despite it being a large target. Carl tossed the machine gun aside, not having time for digging more cartridges out of the box, and switched to the assault rifle. It definitely felt more pleasant than the AK-47’s he had experience with in earlier gang wars, and came with a laser pointer to make aiming easier. Carl waited until the Hermes had backed off a bit to prepare for a new ram, then popped up out of cover and unloaded a whole clip at it. There was even less spread than with the SMG, and to his delight, the passenger side of the windshield became full of bullet holes as the gunner fell down dead on his seat.

As a response, the Hermes moved up alongside the Yankee while Carl reloaded the gun. Ryder was able to somewhat control the situation as he braked hard near the Jefferson Motel and made a narrow turn onto a road leading to the Mulholland Intersection. The Hermes barged right past him and took quite some time to turn around itself, but caught up relatively quickly, thanks to the Yankee’s painfully slow cornering speed, along with the fact the truck only barely had enough power to climb up the steep hill. The crew was driving through some Vagos territory, and sure enough, a couple of bypassing gang cars joined the hunt after realizing their comrades were involved in a chase, and obviously didn’t want to miss out on the fun.

“Ryder, how you gonna lose all these... losers?” LB asked while they approached the freeway.
“Hey, that’s CJ’s problem, not mine! Not like I can do a damn thing in this lazy f*ck!” Ryder reminded as the Hermes led the charge again and hit the truck from behind with even more speed than before. The hit was so bad that it forced Ryder to swerve hard to the right, onto the grass, to stay pointed forward. The terrain outside town was far bumpier and less grippy than in the park, and Ryder bounced all over the place trying to slow down, and Carl was, as usual, experiencing the worst effects in the rear, where he clung on to whatever he could grab a hold of.

“We need to turn around!” LB yelled.
“F*ck that sh*t, I’m taking a shortcut if those bustas want it so bad.” Ryder said.

That’s precisely what he did. After he made the truck stop wobbling and gained full control for himself, he floored it again as some, but not all of, the chasers also drove up onto the grassy hills. The highway was already on sight in the distance, but reaching it would have required a too steep drop, so Ryder proceeded forward and looked for a spot where he could merge in. He jumped off a grass ramp that he would have avoided, but it blended in with the surroundings so well he couldn’t notice it until it was too late. The truck hit a sandy patch upon landing, scattering dust all over the place – including the compartment, where Carl was quick to shield his eyes while cursing Ryder’s driving antics.

Some Vagos found an alternate route along a footpath, and were able to catch up quickly due to Ryder struggling to get back up to speed. Carl didn’t hesitate – he pointed the assault rifle at the closest car, and held the trigger down.

Except not a single bullet came out.

He was confused. He quickly crouched back down, and tried to see if the gun was properly loaded. No problem there, he still had a full clip after reloading at Jefferson. However, something clearly didn’t work.

Then it dawned on him.

The goddamn gun had jammed because of all the dust.

“If those troops are ever goin’ back into the Middle East, better not bring pieces of sh*t like this along.” Carl thought angrily. He also picked the SMG back up, but could see it was practically filled with dust as well. As a result of not having enough time – especially with the random bumps that felt like they were killing him – he merely occasionally peeked out of cover to check on the Vagos’ progress. The only one shooting back at them now was LB, who was not getting much done due to the bad angle and weak gun.

When Ryder turned onto another path that was supposedly going to finally lead them to the highway, they hit another heavy bump. One of the boxes that was farthest away from Carl bounced right towards him, and he dodged out of the way before diving behind it as the Vagos tried to take advantage, and at least two of them fired simultaneously. With nothing to lose really, Carl pried the box open even though the limited amount of safe space was hindering him.

“Let’s see what you have in store for me...” he said, removing the stuffings out of the way. What he found beneath them was something he didn’t expect to see, even in a load like this.
“Holy crap!” Carl exclaimed with so much volume that LB and Ryder could hear it too.
“What is it? Oh and brace yourself, we hittin’ the highway!” LB yelled.
“Good, good! Ryder, if ya can hear me, keep this thing pointed straight when you get there! I got a surprise for those bitches, but I need a clear shot!”
“We’ll see what the traffic thinks of that!” was Ryder’s response. As he merged a bit clumsily onto the highway from the dirt path, Carl felt a lot better as the constant shaking on uneven terrain had started to get on his nerves. A lot of beeping horns were heard as Ryder maneouvered his way through said traffic with some difficulty to get some clear road in front of him. The Vagos drove on the edge of the road, which might have been illegal, but gave them an advantage as the truck couldn’t fit over there. Carl grinned at the chasers who had absolutely no idea what was coming up for them.

“Clear road comin’ up! Or not yet... outta the way, redneck f*cker!” Ryder sounded the horn at a slow-moving tractor up ahead, that really had no business being amongst such fast-moving traffic.
“Line this thing up with the gangstas!” Carl told him, as he witnessed the tractor driver panicking at the sound of gunfire from the pursuing cars. Ryder could barely hear the order, but did get in position somewhat properly.

The persistent Vagos were under the belief they’d catch up eventually to grab the worthy-looking load and massacre some Families while at it, but their confidence faded quickly when Carl showed himself again, equipped with a rocket launcher. He had truly hit the jackpot with that random crate he opened. Carl took careful aim for a couple of seconds, and to his delight, the leading Vagos car – yet again that good old Hermes – slammed on its brakes, but without warning the comrades well enough. He fired the rocket and it hit the car right on the bumper, exploding in a fireball just as other cars crashed into the back of the leader. The Hermes pretty much vanished in a cloud of smoke, and any others that saw the incident probably realized it was no longer worth it, and turned away from the action, almost causing a pile-up as traffic caught up.

“Whoa, that solves problems right there! Do it again!” Ryder said excitedly after witnessing the event from the rearview mirror. They finally seemed to be getting away cleanly.
“Not so fast, homie. New trouble approaching...” LB said. New trouble in this case meant the county cops, who had been coming from the opposite direction, and had a perfect view of the explosive takedown. They turned around to go after the truck, sirens on.
“F*ck it. Just shoot ‘em, nigga, can’t have ‘em tailin’ us to Blueberry.” Ryder said somewhat casually. Rural cops weren’t exactly a big threat in his mind compared to greedy gangsters.
“Only had that one rocket, and besides, I’m not gonna escalate this sh*t no further.” Carl snapped. “In other words, you’re on your own.”
“Then so be it.” Ryder casually told him, and upon reaching the Montgomery Intersection, he turned right, now driving eastward.

“Wait, ain’t this the wrong way?” LB wondered immediately.
“Ain’t there no other way! ‘Xcept for Venturas, and while it’s fancy an’ all, we really got no business there.”
“We gonna do somethin’ about the cops?” LB asked. The sirens were getting louder as they closed in on the much slower truck.
“What you think I’m tryin’? Wonder if these pigs take bribes.”
“I hear the chief in these areas is pretty corrupt. But then again that ain’t newsworthy, huh?”
“Not in these parts, nope.”

Ryder drove erratically again to evade arrest. At LB’s request, he also shut the rear compartment again to prevent Carl from falling off, as he showed no interest in fighting this time, as did LB. The cops were trying to pull up alongside and perform their usual PIT maneuvers, which just may have had the potential to work due to them using large SUV’s. Ryder saw this coming and swerved from side to side to prevent them from getting into position as they swarmed in from both of the sides. As a particularly big traffic jam came up, he drove onto the center median to bypass it. One SUV was definitely starting to get irritated with his antics and drove into the back of the Yankee at particularly high speed. Carl staggered badly, but Ryder was beginning to master the controls and wasn’t affected as badly as Carl would have feared.

More cops appeared from Palomino Creek, where Ryder initially contemplated on turning, but managed to miss the entry ramp because he was unable to get off the median with all the traffic blocking his way. He blared his horn again and pounded on the wheel as he was getting angry with the situation that quickly grew hopeless with the cops probably calling for constant reinforcements as the pursuit kept going. LB politely asked him to keep calm, but Ryder was having none of that.

As one of the Rangers came alongside again, this time from the left, Ryder slowed down just a bit to mess up its rhythm and side-slammed it fiercely, causing it to fly across the opposite lanes and bounce off a guardrail. It remained in pursuit (after dodging a few oncoming cars) but appeared to be damaged, and fell off the pace. This only fueled more anger at the police camp, and now two of the SUV’s tried to surround them. Ryder’s eyes briefly met with the driver of the one on the right, and while the officer appeared to be simply yelling for them to pull over, Ryder again tried a vicious slam. This officer was quite a bit smarter though, and slowed down, avoiding taking a hit just barely while Ryder struggled to stay on the road as the failed move had him heading into a fence. LB braced himself for the impact, which turned out a lot lighter than he expected, and before they knew it, the truck was pointing in the right direction again.

For some reason, the pursuers let off a bit after the collision, and the next 5 minutes or so were uneventful. Ryder was hoping to lead the cops into Vagos territory to give them something else to think about, but plans changed as he turned a blind corner past a hill. A roadblock of about 4 cars had formed, effectively cutting off the entire freeway. Countryside cops may have had a lazy reputation, but they sure were quick to seek help from city cops when necessary. Someone in the roadblock was yelling with a megaphone, but no one could figure out what the officer was saying – most likely the usual clichéd orders to surrender, though. Not having many choices, Ryder braked as hard as he could and planned for a U-turn, but then the same Ranger that had dodged his aggressive move earlier planted a successful PIT directly on his right side.

The truck went soaring off the road to the right. It was the worst bouncing they had endured thus far – even worse than the unexpected grass trip from the Vagos’ bump. The Yankee smashed right through foliage as it traveled downhill at unpleasantly high speeds and barely even stayed upright. LB would have commented on Ryder’s recklessness that led to this situation if he wasn’t busy clutching on to his seat so he wouldn’t hit his head on the ceiling if any of the bumps turned out too nasty. Ryder himself was so busy screaming he barely remembered to turn the wheel. At least he finally found the brake pedal, after about 10 seconds of crazy uncontrolled madness. Slowly but surely, the truck came to a stop when the downhill section ended. They were somewhere so far out in the woods, the sun was barely visible from behind all the tall trees.

“Well... that was f*cked up.” Ryder said, breaking the silence after they had been stopped for a decent while.
“Didn’t know you were takin’ us to an amusement park...” Carl said, sounding like he was only barely holding back his vomit.
“Best stay on the move, dog, get a bit further so the cops won’t find us.” LB told, and Ryder slowly drove through the forest, where there were no beaten paths to be found, but at least he could fit through most of the obstacles in the way. He took care to keep away from treetrunks, however.

After a casual, slow ride through the tranquil woods, they reached what looked like the edge of it. Ryder came to a stop and nodded to LB, who hopped out and waited for the rear shutter to open again so he would get inside. Carl and the boxes looked intact enough for him.

“Quick, let’s put these stickers on. Knew my plan would come in handy.” he told after finding the correct box.
“Uhh, tell Ryder to do it. I may need to – stay put for a moment.” Carl said, still with a bit of dizziness in his voice. LB thought it was best not to ask about the greenish spot on the floor that wasn’t there when they were loading the truck.

After slapping brand new Munky Juice stickers on the sides, they got out of the woods before any police patrols were sent to the area, and unconspicuously got back on the roads. The rest of the journey to Blueberry was mainly uneventful, save for Ryder forgetting to read the road signs properly and ending up in Dillimore twice. On the second time, he even had the audacity to claim to the bitter end that he was on the right, until LB was able to point him out to the town’s entrance sign.

In Blueberry, they drove to the north part of the small town, where the lockups were found, just as Schrader’s men promised earlier. A man was standing outside, looking like he was on the watch. He had another one of those light gray uniforms, and looked particularly menacing, possibly due to his thick eyebrows and slightly angryish basic expression. He glared at the Families’ truck for a long time, and his expression appeared not to change even after LB waved at him. Ryder shrugged, and LB got out of the truck entirely.

“’Xcuse me, you the one who asked for this load?” he asked nervously.
“Depends on what you want with your bacon sandwich.” the man said sternly.
“Uhh, mustard.” LB answered, scratching his head.
“Very well. You guys are late.” the man continued with the slightly unnerving voice as Carl dismounted as well. He pressed a switch that opened one of the lockups, and motioned Ryder to drive inside. Some other men were waiting, and pretty much immediately began to offload the cargo. After parking, Ryder quickly joined the little gathering as well.

“Weren’t we supposed to call some number?” Carl asked, recalling the orders from earlier on.
“My number indeed. When I didn’t get any call, I came here myself to see if everything was fine. I was about five minutes away from reporting the mission as a failure.”
“What can I say, lots of others wanted this sh*t too.” LB said.
“Understandable. I trust most of it is in prime condition?”
“As long as the stuffing kept ‘em covered.” Carl replied.

The man smiled a bit, though it was barely noticable. “My name is Andreas. If you decide to take the offer to continue working for the organization, we will meet again later on. Keep my number with you by all means...”, he said to Carl who was offering him the sheet back, “...I’ll personally keep in touch when more possibilities come up.”
“Very well. So by the sounds of things, we passed the initiation?” Carl asked, allowing curiosity to take over.
“I suppose so. Take the money and leave before anyone gets suspicious. A news report told of a truck being chased by cops on the highways...” Andreas said, pretending to look thoughtful.
“We totally ain’t got nothin’ to do with that.” Ryder commented with the same dose of sarcasm as Andreas handed each of them a little bag. Perhaps an unconventional way to store big cash, but Carl at least took it gladly. He didn’t know yet how he was going to spend his $5,000 slice, and it wasn’t one of his priorities at the moment. He just felt glad he seemed to have accomplished something big for the first time since his return, just as he had hoped.

Andreas opened the lockup next door to reveal, sure enough, Ryder’s Picador, which seemed to be in otherwise pristine state, but when Carl (to whom Ryder assigned the driving duty due to “exhaustion”) entered it and started it up, he couldn’t help but notice that only one headlight worked. LB was again on the passenger’s seat, and Ryder got to enjoy fresh air by sitting on the back.

“Nothin’ like a little romantic drive back to Santos now that the sun’s setting, eh?” Carl jokingly asked as the evening sky was turning red again. Unlike Ryder, he knew precisely where he was going, and handled the car with care as well. LB had no particular response to that, and just looked at the scenery to pass the time, while probably secretly dreaming of whatever he was going to get with the cash. Carl was about to enter Dillimore, when his phone rang.

Driving while talking on the phone is generally a bad idea, but Carl made an exception as he figured every call would potentially be important. However, that notion was quickly disproven when he heard who was on the other side.

“Hello, Carl. Have you been a good boy recently?”
“Officer f*cking Tenpenny! Don’t you have better things to do than stalk my progress?!”
“I trust you’ve had a bad day. Hopefully it hasn’t involved any overly hectic... chase scenes.” Tenpenny said, hinting towards exactly what Carl had feared.
“Got no f*cking idea what that might be.”
“Reports state a truck drove very erroneously on the Red County roads. In addition, a black person, according to eyewitnesses, shot a rocket launcher out of the rear into other cars on the road.”
“So every black dude’s now me? Dunno what you gettin' at here.”
“I just hope you haven’t broken our little agreement of not leaving town while we watch over you to pre-emptively stop any other murders of fine officers.” Tenpenny responded, again purposefully trying to piss him off.
“And I hope the reason you an’ your C.R.A.S.H. got so much time fo’ me is because Santos is bein’ really clean right now.” Carl snarled.
“Ooo, shots fired. Don’t you worry about how we manage our spare time. You just think how you’re gonna explain Mr. Pendelbury’s death to the judge if you don’t keep your nose clean back there...” Tenpenny told him threateningly before hanging up right there, to stop Carl from having the last word.

“Those cops, man. They everywhere, huh? Monitoring your every move.” LB mentioned soon afterwards to prevent that awkward silence from forming again.
“Dunno why they gotta pick on me outta all people, y’know? Just ‘cause I outsmarted ‘em in the past doesn’t mean they gotta make it larger than life.”
“Sounds like you got a story you might wanna share.”
“Maybe later... all I need now is some decent sleep after an honest day’s work. And maybe a talk with Sweet, or somethin’ like that.”
“Sure, sure, gotta get that leadership to its feet and everythin’... Oh, wait, now I recalled somethin’ important. Gotta give the homie a call... what was his number again?” LB asked. He suddenly sounded like he was in a rush. Carl handed the sheet to him, and he made the call, looking anxious. Carl felt uneasy about it, as he wanted no trouble with Schrader's minions, especially right after a job well done. LB waited for a good while before the call was at last answered.

“Uhh, hi, it’s LB again. You know, the codeword guy? I know this is just a minor detail, not really worth mentionin’ probably, but... I forgot to say we superglued that one box onto the truck. So it might not, err, budge very well...”
“...I noticed.” a cold voice stated on the other end.

The End.

Edited by Carbonox

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SA4: It Takes a Petty Thief



After the recent dangerous job, Carl got to enjoy some of the most laid back days he had ever had since his return to Los Santos. He had already almost forgotten what it was like to just chill with his best friends without having to worry about gang warfare, so playing board games and drinking with Sweet, Ryder and Smoke for an entire day felt better than ever. Well, at least until the fifth guy, the obnoxious OG Loc, joined in sometime after midnight and noticing Carl’s house still had the lights on, and made a huge mess out of everything. Carl swore he and most of the friends were drunk in a perfectly civilized manner, but Loc clearly took one glass too many, and now Carl needed to invest in a new TV remote as well as clean up a piss stain from his carpet. A few of their Domino pieces went missing as well, and were probably lost forever. In the morning, Smoke had complained about odd pain in his butt, but Carl didn’t believe there was a connection.

Carl had, after excessive pondering, decided to tell Sweet about the job. He managed to convince his brother that the person employing him and Ryder wished for his identity to remain a secret, and told a light version of the story that didn’t involve rocket-propelled grenades or police pursuits. Sweet had understandably expressed concern that his most trusted men were running around doing favors for someone else, and warned Carl to stay cautious around his employers. It was easily noticable though that he secretly wanted to get involved as well in future missions.

Exactly a week after the gun running mission (he had counted days as he was hopeful of hearing from Andreas soon) Carl was checking his mailbox when he noticed none other than Smoke calling out to him from just outside Sweet’s house.
“In a moment, homie!” he chanted and quickly went through the mail, only to get disappointed. “Never anything but these f*cking bills...” he uttered and shoved the whole pile back into the box before heading to see Smoke, with whom he hadn’t really had a 1-on-1 moment for quite some time.

“Hey, man, how you...” Carl started the formalities.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, everything’s fine, as I’m expected to say. Listen up, homie, some stranger just talked me up the other day. It was about you.”
“What about me? What’d he look like?”
“Gray suit, dark blue tie, obvious European accent, seemed kinda official to me.”
Carl felt satisfied, immediately knowing what it was about. “Sounds familiar.”
“Mo’f*cker said he’s been tryin’ to reach ya. That you an’ him should later meet up somewhere private. I dunno what the f*ck that was ‘bout, but I ain’t rattin’ out my homies.” Smoke said in his usual aggressive tone.
“Relax, guy’s a friendly. No, really, ya should ask Ryder for confirmation.”
“That ain’t much of a consolation, fool.”
“Sh*t, I hear ya. Point is, I’ve been makin’ some contacts outside the box.”
“But if he’s on yo’ side, why you been avoidin’ him?”
“F*ck it, I musta switched my phone off after Loc started callin’ every minute while drunk and singin’ like sh*t.”
“He a good guy, dog, but he sure can’t sing fo’ sh*t.” Smoke agreed. Carl considered this a good reason to pump fists. With nothing else to specifically discuss (Carl avoided the topic of Sweet’s wavering leadership) he headed back inside and reluctantly took the tiresome bills with him as well before whipping out the phone. Sure enough, he had ten missed calls within the span of a day, all from the same number. Recognizing it quickly, he called it back.

“Carl Johnson?” the voice asked after the person on the other end finally picked up.
“Yo, it’s me. Uhh, sorry about...” Carl began to explain.
“Prove it first. You received some money last time, how was it stored?”
“In a little leather bag? Dude, I thought you knew me by my voice already.”
“One can never be too careful. Normally I’d doubt the Ballas are intelligent enough to try and trace your calls, but it appears their tactical prowess has massively increased recently. Now, I want to stress that if you want to continue working for us, you need to be more easily accessible.” Andreas said in his trademark cold, emotionless tone.
“Yeah, I get it.” Carl said quickly, wanting to move into the next part already.
“My boss is known in the underworld for recognizing talent when he sees it. He thinks that for someone he has never heard of before, you did a good job at holding your ground, even if your methods were sometimes a little – uhh – reckless.”
Carl smirked a bit. “So I suppose this means more of the big missions?”
“Not so fast. Boss also says you’re still a bit of a wild card, and wants to see you prove yourself once more. Then you’ll be officially in.”
“Want me to get Ryder again?”
“No. This is a solo mission, specifically designed to see how you fare out under pressure. I can’t give you the details over the phone, but there’s someone you’ll meet at TransFender in Temple who will elaborate on the objective. Now personally, I’m not really sure if this suits you, as your short friend remarked to us that your driving skills are terrible...” Andreas said.
“I think I’ll be happy to prove him wrong. If I was that bad, I wouldn’t have gotten away with stealin’ cars back in LC for five years.” Carl retorted optimistically.
“Heh, you better hope nobody heard that. I’ll call the person in question and he’ll get back to the tuning shop. As you may expect, he’s not entirely happy that you sort of ditched us two days ago, so be really nice to him and maybe you’ll get on his good side again, eh?” Without a further word, Andreas hung up all of a sudden, leaving Carl dumbfounded. He silently cursed and muttered to himself that at least in the ‘hood people had enough respect for one another not to do something like that.

Carl quickly visited the toilet, drank a mouthful of Sprunk from his fridge and picked up his trusty old pistol from the gun locker before leaving the house and heading for his garage. Inside was his Savanna, which he had adopted as his personal vehicle of choice ever since using it in that lowrider competition. That reminded him, he hadn’t hung out with Cesar for a while. He thought of giving his sister’s boyfriend a call sometime, just to make sure their friendship wouldn’t drift apart. Having the leader of one of the city’s main gangs in his social circle was also, after all, a good investment for the future, not that he originally befriended the man for that specific reason. Carl just wished Cesar would sometimes shut up about cars for a change... and that reminded him, his second and hopefully final initiation mission would apparently involve driving. He wasn’t sure if he was ready for it already, but sure was not going to back out now that Andreas had already stated he was arranging a meeting.

On the way to the rendezvous point, no further important thoughts came across Carl’s mind, but one notable thing he did was switch to Radio X for the trip. At the company of his homies, listening to Radio Los Santos was somewhat of a social norm, and it was only at times like this that he was able to enjoy other stations for a change without anyone complaining on the passenger’s seat.

Upon reaching TransFender, Carl wasn’t particularly sure how he was meant to approach his assigned contact, but he eventually decided to just do as he usually would and drive the car into the garage after it automatically opened for him and he saw it was empty. The bright lights inside went on as the door closed behind the car, and a bulky person walked up to the car from the side. One thing Carl noticed was that he definitely did not look like a mechanic – rather, he wore another one of those light gray uniforms that looked identical to what Andreas had. Knowing that this was probably it, Carl nervously got out of the car to have a chat with the man, who on first glance appeared more interested in his car.

While still checking out the bodywork with a slightly impressed expression, the man spoke up with a heavy accent that slightly startled Carl. “Should’ve picked a different ride. Driving around with that, it’s conspicuous as hell.”
“Eh, I’d say a mod shop’s a perfectly reasonable destination for a car like this.”
“Sure, sure... apart from the fact this ain’t the local mechanic’s specialty. As you probably know, the guy in the South-East is the one dealing with lowriders.” the man answered and finally turned to look Carl in the eye. He had a bit of a more rugged look than Andreas did, mostly owing to his dark eyes and beaten-up-looking face. He looked like the kind of person Carl would expect to initiate a fight at any time if not for his attire.

“What’s the mission here?” Carl asked after a bit of an awkward silence.
“Security questions come first. Who are the two cops that keep harassing you?”
“There’s three, and it’s Tenpenny, Pulaski and Hernandez. Those f*cking bitches.”
“That was a successful test if I ever saw one. Clearly you’re the real deal. Don’t know if Andreas introduced me yet, but my name is Amadeus Heffner, and I am Mr. Schrader’s left-hand man.” the man announced proudly.
“So I assume Andreas is the right hand then.”
“The two of us will look after you and your friends, get you properly acquainted with our vast organization.” Amadeus stated without really answering the question. Carl found this habit annoying, but bit his lip and responded as politely as he could.

“I understand. I’m here for a mission though.”
“I like the attitude right there, mein Freund. Andreas didn’t even promise you a cash reward, and you’re still in it 100%. I’d think this is a good reason to raise your wage to something like - $10,000, maybe? The boss shouldn’t mind.” Amadeus stated. In his thoughts, Carl was already celebrating, but he made sure not to show it to the outside. If a humble attitude was going to get him paid more, he was definitely going to go with that in the future too.
“You certain you know how to drive?” Amadeus continued, now a little worriedly.
“Better than Ryder...” Carl said, again becoming slightly annoyed.
“I see that at least you got no dents on the way here from home. But have you got experience driving a really fast car, away from a threat?”
“I stole an Infernus once at LC. Needed to run from the cops all the way to the upstate countryside and back ‘til the heat died down.” Carl recalled one of his many stories with Joey Leone.
“I’m going to have to believe that. Now, just recently my boss found out about the existence of an incredibly rare car within Los Santos. It’s one of those types that attracts a ton of immature kids who’d do anything to get their hands on it just so they can strut it around town pretending to look cool. Normally we wouldn’t bother stealing sh*t, as boss could just buy anything he needs.”
“But the owner ain’t sellin’?” Carl assumed.

“Hehe... you may be right. After all, he’s a smug little piece of sh*t living on his daddy’s hard-earned money, throwing parties for the ‘elite’, you know the type. We never bothered to ask him, but yes, he strikes me as someone who wouldn’t sell.” Amadeus said, with a faint smile.
“Yeah, guess I won’t feel too sorry for the bastard either.” Carl said.
“Boss actually said something along the lines of... wanting the car not just because it’s a sweet ride, but because in its current state, it’s an abomination on the eyes.” Amadeus explained and handed Carl a picture from his pocket. It showed one of those wild, but unwelcoming parties outside a Mulholland mansion, with the sleek, modern-looking supercar standing out on the foreground.
“Chrome gold? Who the f*ck would use this for a body color?” Carl asked, indeed a bit disgusted. The choice of color made the otherwise sweet car seem so... fake.
“Yeah, thought you’d catch on quick. Now, the tough part is that the ride will obviously stick out like a sore thumb when you’re escaping from the mansion grounds, so I’d advice taking it here so we can slap a new paintjob on it. The local mechanic’s effectively in our pocket, so he won’t mind the little issue that you’re not the lawful owner.” Amadeus continued explaining.
“What model is this anyway? Never seen it before.”
“It hasn’t been mass produced, not yet anyway. Maybe in a decade or two, if the makers addressed the performance issues. Currently, it’s not exactly fit for street traffic, you see. The ride is called the Truffade Adder.”

“I recognize the manufacturer all right.” Carl said and gave a thumbs up. This prompted another faint smile from the big European.
“Good, now we got ya familiar with the target. And finally, the destination. It’s the fancy, big estate just northwest from Madd Dogg’s place. The snotty brat’s name is Chester Chesterfield III.” Amadeus said with a frown, showing a map of the area with the mansion’s location identified by a bright red X.
“Ugh, what’s worse, that name or the fact he shares it with at least two people?” Carl asked.
“Well, his father is a well respected admiral in the Navy apparently. Don’t know why he’d let the son get away with all his nonsense... but eh, you know how the saying goes? Karma always finds a way, and you’re delivering it today.” Amadeus stated with an “I can’t wait to see the boy’s face” look. Carl smirked, and was definitely in it all the way.

“If that’s all, guess I’ve got a snake to snatch.” Carl said and was about to get back in the Savanna, when Amadeus raised his hand as a signal for him to wait, and dug into his pockets, eventually finding something that looked like a keycard.
“You’ll need this to gain access to the estate grounds. Flash it at the entrance, and you’re in!” he announced, handing it to Carl.
“How’d you get this anyway? Thought he’d want to keep uninvited guests out.”
“Fun fact, your friend LB, who originally contacted us, was tasked with stealing this for a future mission. I’d say he did a pretty sleek job, and didn’t attract much suspicion either.”

With all the data and inventory he needed, Carl headed on his way. He chose to walk as the house wasn’t that far away, and he did not want to leave his car anywhere near the crime scene as the various modifications meant it was one of a kind, and thus easy to track down. Amadeus had ordered the mechanic to pretend to work on Carl’s car so as not to arouse suspicion back at the mod shop.

During the walk, Carl noticed a bunch of Temple Drive Families loitering just outside the bar. They mostly seemed to mind their own business, but one of them noticed him passing, pointed at him – which Carl easily noticed at the corner of his eye – and immediately began whispering something to his comrades. Although he didn’t feel particularly threatened, Carl made sure to occasionally peek behind to ensure he wasn’t being followed for as long as he was within the boundaries of Temple. He could recall Sweet mentioning them in passing earlier – that set had also split from the Grove during the internal affairs, but wasn’t supposed to be as openly hostile as the infamous Seville Boulevard Families. Carl definitely wasn’t staying to find out if that was true, though.

Meanwhile, at the Chesterfield Mansion...

Life in a massive two-floor estate, which towered over all of its neighbors and had a massive garage, indoor pool and minibar just to name a few of the luxuries, was certainly the ultimate dream of all the people in Los Santos. It would be possible to just relax and look down at the rest of the city, far away from the street thugs that inhabited practically every street corner, while enjoying the peace and quiet of the rich people’s community...

“This is horse-sh*t! I’ll rip your f*cking dicks off, all of you Uranusian invaders!” Chester screamed off the top of his lungs and tossed his controller at a wall of his self-dubbed ‘entertainment room’. Fuming with rage, he scanned the rest of the room for something else to do for a change, such as playing one of his various arcade machines. He still couldn’t believe that bitch of a friend of his, Chad, had somehow beaten his high score in pinball while drunk. That was unacceptable since he owned the machine, so obviously only he had the right to hold top spot on the leaderboards. Before he could get started with fixing this obvious injustice, though, the door suddenly swung open, startling him more than it should have.
“And what the f*ck do you want, butler? I thought I told you to knock first, dickhead?!” he continued, not improving his manners at all at the sight of a middle-aged man who, as usual, maintained his composure.
“Mr. Chesterfield, Sir, I only came to remind you that...” the butler started.
“Gaming controllers are expensive? So f*cking what? I could buy the factory that makes them if I wanted to! Don’t f*cking whine and get that f*cking sloth of a maid to clean that sh*t off!” Chester continued to scream at his butler’s face.
“She quit her job two days ago, Sir. I feel I need to make it clear that even though you promised her double wage, she isn’t coming back.”
“That f*cking whore! No one says no to me like that! I’ll buy her and turn her into a stripper!” Chester lashed out and went to grab a can of eCola from his mini-fridge.
“I doubt that’s possible, Sir. Now, I actually came here to announce that your girlfriend is soon going to visit. Please remember to be courteous – I’m sure your father wouldn’t like to hear about yet another break-up.” the butler stated sternly.
“I always am! Hell, didn’t you notice how I held the door open for her last time?!” Chester asked, genuinely sounding baffled as he drank about half the can in one go.
“May I remind you that stuff’s not exactly healthy for you?” the butler asked.
“You didn’t say Sir!”
“Right you are, Sir. By the way, I hope you’re aware we are traveling again in two weeks.”
“Two f*cking weeks?! But that’s when Simon is gonna hold the party of the century!” Chester shrieked, finished his can and tossed it towards the trash can on the other side of the room, only to miss by a mere inch. He merely shrugged it off and jumped onto his water-bed, which he probably could never get enough of.
“Sir, I’m afraid the promoters are not going to cancel the event just because you have other things to do. Besides, Joey said you should focus more on your driving, or you’ll never beat Hilary King and... that other guy.” the butler suggested.
“Those f*cking promoters! If Sprunk wasn’t the main sponsor, I’d buy out the f*cking company and permanently fold it just to teach the bitches a lesson! And speaking of the racing itself... relax for a bit, old man. And tell Joey to do the same. I’ll be guaranteed to win. I have the chrome Adder.” Chester told him smugly.
“You said that last time, at the Stilwater race, and didn’t even come close... Sir.”
“Pure fluke! Fluke, I tell you! Now get my f*cking fanciest suit, I can’t look like this when Tiffany shows up!” Chester yelled. The butler was about to leave, when Chester jumped up again.
“And throw the trash where it belongs!” he demanded immediately afterwards, pointing at the eCola can, which was still on its side, on the floor.
“...Yes, Sir.” the butler said bitterly, and did as told.

Outside the mansion, 30 minutes later:

“When he said it’s fancy, he wasn’t kidding.” Carl thought as he stared at the huge, tan building from behind the locked gates. The mansion was slightly to the right from the entrance to the grounds, and immediately in front of the gates was a huge garage building with two doors, suggesting Chester owned more than just one car. However, Carl was relieved to see he did not need to sneak into the garage, since Chester had – presumably to show off – left the Adder sitting outside, right in front of the mansion, just like in the picture he saw earlier.

Carl decided to act fast, as he didn’t want to arouse immediate suspicion by loitering, and suspected the nearby people were soon going to realize he wasn’t one of Chester’s rich friends as his clothes and haircut were cheap and not in fashion around these parts. No guards were in sight anywhere nearby thankfully, and most windows seemed to have curtains on them. He walked up to the security panel on the left side of the gates, grabbed the keycard Amadeus gave him, and held it in front of the lock.
“God, this had better work...” he thought as the mechanism read the card. Eventually, the red screen turned green, a text “Access granted” appeared in big, uppercase letters, and the gates opened up towards the mansion grounds. Carl wasted no time and, after placing the keycard back in his pocket, walked through them as casually as he could. Some of the pedestrians behind him were already giving him weird looks, but he promptly ignored them.

Thanks to his time in Liberty City, Carl had plenty of experience breaking into locked vehicles. He swiftly walked up to the Adder, made sure his elbow was well covered, and hit it against the window with full force in order to break it.

Except it didn’t. It was almost as if he tried to bring down a brick wall – the window simply refused to budge. He should’ve known high-value cars like this weren’t broken into so easily. Carl instinctively grabbed his elbow in pain, and silently cursed under his breath. He had to do something quickly, as the failed strike still generated lots of noise, and was bound to arouse even more suspicion than his uninvited entry did. He quickly moved on to plan B, which was to use a picklock on the door. He had already inserted it and started to turn it around, when he saw through the car’s windows that the front door to the mansion had opened.

“What do you think you are doing here, mister? I recognize the faces of all of Mr. Chesterfield’s friends and associates, and you do not seem to be one of them.” the butler’s stern voice called out to him. Carl again used some of his favorite swear words under his breath, and realized he needed to jump to plan C immediately. If it failed – well, certainly Tenpenny would keep him protected in jail in exchange for some favors?

“Back off!” Carl yelled, quickly pointing his M9 at the butler. He had ditched the lockpick by now, and after the butler’s hands were high up in the air, Carl turned to aim to the side and shot at the window. It quickly became full of scratches, and he silently thanked himself that the glass wasn’t bulletproof. He shot again, and the glass completely shattered. By now, the butler had ran faster than Carl expected, behind a flowerpot for cover, screaming for security to arrive. Carl had just unlocked the car’s door from the inside when he noticed two large men, even fatter than Smoke, barging out of the mansion’s front entrance as well, looking like they were going to do a lot more than just restrain him if they got their hands on him. Behind them was what looked like (at a quick glance, anyway) the main man of the place, and behind him was a young woman trying to hold him back.

“That black f*ck is stealing my best car! GET HIM!” Chester wailed in disbelief.
“Chester, my best friend is black!” his girlfriend angrily remarked upon hearing that.
“Believe me, I hate all thieves equally!” he responded as Carl scrambled inside the car trying to get it in gear. He had never driven this model before, and for some reason everything about it seemed out-of-place, like it was almost too modern to exist yet – but then he remembered Amadeus saying the car hadn’t been mass-produced yet, so it was most likely a concept. Carl finally started it up and accelerated forward just as one of Chester’s big goons walked up to the window and grabbed Carl by the shirt.

The sudden acceleration was so fast that it was a miracle the guard somehow hung on. To shake him off, Carl quickly slammed on the brakes while Chester continued to scream on the background as he ran after the Adder as well. Before Carl knew it, the strongly built guard was already back up on his feet, but by now he got left behind as another rapid acceleration saw Carl exit the mansion grounds through the still-open gates, with a couple of curious pedestrians jumping out of the way. Now safe from being locked into the yard, Carl had to make a quick decision of where to go from here – left towards Richman and eventually the rest of the city, or right, to the countryside? His choice was reinforced within seconds as a cop car came up to him from the right. Carl didn’t stay around to wait for Chester to scream at the officers to do their job, as he made a left and hoped he would somehow manage to hide from the law in the busy city.

As for Chester, he ran right past his gorillas outside the mansion grounds, intending to catch his prized car on foot if he had to, but already had to stop due to exhaustion before he could get far. As he caught his breath, he just noticed the police car driving by, with the officers looking unsure if they should go after the supercar or not. Without bothering to think, he ran right up to the slow-moving squad car and knocked on the window, which took both cops completely by surprise. The driver was already about to draw his gun when he recognized the man stopping him, and quickly went from shocked to looking professional and modest again as he rolled his window down.

“How can I help you, Mr. Chesterfield?” the officer asked in a sugary voice that Carl fortunately was not going to hear, or he may just have vomited behind the wheel.
“We would like to report a theft...” Chester’s butler said, having walked up to the scene as well. In his tow were the guards and girlfriend as well, all of them a bit in shock and confused.
“A motherf*cker stole my car! My chrome Adder!” Chester shouted, interrupting the man.
“You mean that car that just left the yard?” the cop asked.
“Ain’t that f*cking obvious?! Besides he was speeding and nearly ran people over! Including my security!” Chester continued to rant. By now, the whole street was staring at him, which was at least making his girlfriend feel uneasy.
“Yes, speeding is a crime. Anyway, we’ll, uhh, inform the other patrols and see what we can do.” the other officer commented from the passenger’s seat.
“This is not a f*cking ‘we’ll see what we can do’ situation! I want my car back, and I want it now! I NEED IT! DO YOU GET IT?!” Chester shouted after the police car when it already left the scene in a hurry, putting on the sirens. When it disappeared behind the curve in the road, Chester slowly went down in his knees and started sobbing quietly. He’d even do something drastic, like forgive Chad for beating his high score, if he could only get that car back. Since he was holding up traffic in his current position, one of his guards eventually helped him up and walked him back to the mansion.

Carl, who had quite a big headstart on the cops, was struggling tremendously. The car was definitely a concept for a reason, suffering from ridiculous understeer and nearly uncontrollable power. He already once narrowly saved it from a ditch, which resulted in the right side of the Adder being almost completely covered in dirt. He could only hope that cleaning up the car after delivering it was not part of his mission. He had no idea if the cop car he saw a while ago was on his tail, as he could barely hear anything going on outside over the Adder’s engine.

Having wandered cluelessly around Richman – an area he normally didn’t frequent – he finally found a downhill road leading back to the rest of the city. Carl had slowed down to follow the speed limit as the hill was admittedly quite steep, and thanks to doing so he could notice how pedestrians on the left side stared at his car in admiration, while everyone on the right looked disgusted that someone would allow such an expensive car to gather this much dirt.

Back in the Temple district, Carl accidentally made a couple of false turns, forgetting where the tuning shop was again, and costing some time. As he passed by the cemetery, he realized his phone was ringing. Normally he hated multitasking, but he supposed it must’ve been important, and took the call while maintaining decent speed in the mostly clear roads.
“Not the TransFender! Change of plans!” Amadeus practically screamed as soon as Carl picked up.
“Wait, what? I’m just a block away, sure I can...”
“No, you absolutely can’t. Cops are crawling all over the place! Then again this is a wealthy young idiot we’re talking about, so obviously the whole precinct is here.” Amadeus continued in a bit of a panic.
“I appreciate your concern, but I’m right near the cemetery, and I don’t see any...” Carl began, and already turned to the road with the mod shop alongside it, when he realized right in front of him were three police cars, all traveling in a line with sirens on at his direction.
“...Pigs?” he awkwardly finished and did the fastest 180-degree turn he had ever done, as he undoubtedly attracted the officers’ attention and the only way out was to go back the way he came. As he made the turn south, away from the general area, he could just barely feel one of the cop cars ramming the Adder from behind.
“Change of plans, take it to the Loco Low place back at Seville. God, this had better work out...” Amadeus told him over the phone without more detail, and suddenly hung up after finishing his sentence. Carl took that as a sign he didn’t need to call back another time.

Soon, it felt like the city had descended into utter chaos over just one stolen car. Carl could now hear blaring police sirens seemingly from every direction, and saw people fleeing out of his way in terror. Even though the Adder was fast enough to outrun the cop cars, it was practically irrelevant as more kept joining the chase from side streets. Carl had to make up his escape strategy on the fly due to all this, but at least made sure to stay away from Pershing Square, as it was bound to be a police hotspot by now. He headed for the northern roads and decided to lead the chase into Ballas territory, thinking it could potentially fool the officers into thinking they were responsible.

“Do these fools grow on trees or something?” Carl asked from himself when another police car nearly cut him off later on and forced him to make a hard swerve into the parking lot of the Jefferson church. Luckily it had two entrances, and he got out from the other end before anyone got the idea to block him in. An elderly woman was forced to nearly dive out of his way, and Carl briefly saw her in his mirrors waving a fist at him, before he already made the next turn towards the motel. Judging by the behavior of the police cars thus far, it appeared they didn’t want to deal damage to Chester’s car in fear of him buying them out of their jobs, or so Carl figured at least.

His plan was to drive uphill from near the Jefferson Motel and follow roughly the same route as Ryder did in their last job, but almost as expected, more police cars swarmed in from both the uphill street and directly in front of him as well. Carl hit the handbrake and did a swift U-turn to get out of the mess, and was just barely struck in the rear by a squad car before he swerved onto the train tracks. The surface was terribly unstable, but by now more and more cops had filled the streets nearby, making the tracks the only legitimate option. Carl began driving south, towards the Unity Station.

As two more cop cars joined the chase from both sides, Carl began to seriously question the lifestyle he was about to choose. In the ‘hood, he only had to worry about the easily avoided occasional officer snooping around for criminal activity, but now that he stepped into professional territory, things kept escalating to crazy levels. Did he really want to impress the rich man he had never even met so badly that he should continue taking risks? Were there better opportunities to make money? Carl didn’t even know where he was supposed to hide from this swarm. Following the train tracks into the tunnel past the Unity Station, and eventually into the countryside, would only mean the cops would precisely know where he was going to come out. Maybe the water canals could help... but then they were extremely open and anyone could pinpoint his location from street level. All the choices seemed to lead into inevitable doom.

When Carl was busy filling his head with negative thoughts, he briefly checked his mirror and noticed that, just after passing by Ganton Gym, a dark shape was following him alongside the police cars. It took Carl a while to make out what it was before he noticed two of the chasing squad cars getting thrown viciously in the air as the shape made contact with them from behind. Of course he should’ve known this would happen... he was on train tracks after all...

Before the train reached his Adder, the cop car closest to him made a daring charge, and managed to ram Carl hard from behind as they entered the sharp corner leading to the Unity Station. At the precise same time, Carl moved over to the left to dodge the train on time, but lost control as a result of the additional hit. The train proceeded to mow down the last cop car as well and literally crush it before flinging it into a wall, while Carl flew straight off the tracks into the junkyard nearby, and dove nose first into a pile of rubble. Within mere seconds, everything went dark.

“Never. This. Sh*t. Again...” Carl swore to himself as he held on to the steering wheel with shaky hands like his life depended on it. At the immediate moment, he didn’t really feel any pain, and hoped it wouldn’t come either – the hit probably wasn’t as bad as he expected. At least he was still definitely conscious, and the darkness came from the garbage surrounding the Adder from all sides actually. The trash smelled horrible, and Carl was starting to feel he could suffocate in the dirty air if he didn’t get on the move. No sirens could be heard outside, but it didn’t mean anything yet – there could well be a dozen officers surrounding the pile with guns on the ready with his luck.

Carl found the gas pedal after feeling the bottom of the car with his foot for a while, and slowly and steadily accelerated. The car didn’t seem to move anywhere, and was probably stuck on top of something. Carl pressed the pedal more firmly, and could now feel how one of the tires was airborne and prevented the car from moving. Next he accelerated with full force, and finally got himself unstuck, launching at a dangerously high pace out of the rubble. He quickly braked to avoid plowing into something else, and looked around in relief. All the windows and the windshield were extremely dirty and he could barely see through them, but at least he was out in fresh air again. He glanced through the missing driver’s side window to see what was happening outside, and was glad to see that no cops had gathered in the area – only a few concerned citizens who looked unsure if they should approach the Adder or not.

Keeping a low profile, Carl waved at them innocently through the missing window to signal everything was fine, and slowly drove back out into the streets of Willowfield. He tried using the windshield wipers to clean the worst dirt off, but they only seemed to spread it into a larger area – of course, with his luck, that was bound to happen. Fortunately he could still see a little bit through a narrow clean gap in the approximate middle, and the headlights of passing cars were still visible through the dirt, making him not completely blind.

When Carl entered the street, he was startled by a sudden, very loud “HEY! YOU!” almost immediately. He pressed on the brakes and looked outside again to see a cop car that had stopped at a traffic light, with the driver yelling at him via loudspeaker. Carl had no idea what the Adder looked like from the outside, but hoped it had become unrecognizable by now. He stuck his head fully out of the window to respond.
“What is it, officer?” he chanted nervously.
“Well, what do you think it is? I’ve seen lots of sh*tty cars in these parts (as expected) but driving a wreck like that is borderline illegal. I suggest you just call a towtruck or something.” the cop stated in a much calmer voice.
“Yeah, err... don’t worry about it, I’ll get it fixed up. Had a rough day, y’know?” Carl said.
“Oh, don’t we all sometimes have those rough days. Go on your way then, and make sure we never need to see that thing in such a condition again. What car is it anyway?”
“It’s, err, my Remington.”
“I see. Remember to reattach your license plates too while you’re at it. Drive safe!” the good officer told him before motioning him to get moving, as Carl had been blocking quite a lot of traffic with his suddenly-parked car.

He made sure to get to Loco Low Co. via the quickest route possible, and ignored all the weird looks from pedestrians to his best ability. He could even hear some Seville boys laughing as he drove into their neighborhood – so typical of them, always making fun of those they assumed to be worse off than them. At least Carl was able to hide his face, or they might have tried to chase him out of the turf, which he didn’t need right now. As he turned into the driveway leading to the tuning garage, he saw two familiar-looking faces talking to each other, but in ordinary civilian clothes this time. They turned to face him and made way as the garage door opened and Carl limped straight inside with the wreck. He had barely got out of the car when he already felt someone grab his shoulder.

“Thank the f*cking almighty! How’d you survive that? Honestly, I knew there was gonna be some heat when Chester found out, but this is just... I dunno how to put it!” Andreas’ distressed voice said to him as Carl finally got a chance to inspect the car from the outside. The rear end was bent up particularly badly, which explained the low straightline speed he experienced while driving the scrap of a car. In addition, sure enough, there was tons of garbage all over the car,
“Word on the streets is the cops were running after someone hard, before everyone got smacked around by a train. The stolen car has since... vanished.” Amadeus said much more calmly.
“Well, I’d say he was lucky the car was rendered unrecognizable, but goddamn, that became far more dangerous than it should’ve been!” Andreas continued to rant, shaking his head.
“At least I completed the job, didn’t I? Boss only wanted the car out of the streets, not specifically for himself in pristine condition?” Carl asked even if it felt a bit inappropriate.
“Yeah, yeah... sure... in the meantime, let’s get a tarp to cover this piece of junk. Someone else gets to decide what to do with it.” Andreas said, and got to work with Amadeus while Carl leaned on the wall to finally get some rest.

As he did so, he realized there was a third person in the garage as well, who had just stepped inside through the open door. Carl instantly knew that wasn’t the owner of the place that he occasionally chatted up with whenever he came to shop. He confronted the man quickly.
“Whoa, who let him in here? This was supposed to be private business!” he shouted, attracting the attention of Andreas and Amadeus as well. They both were about to mumble something when Carl continued to speak up.
“He could be an undercover cop for all we know! Or even one of those Russian mobsters... they sometimes operate in this area as well! Why are you two just standing there?”
“Ex-cuse me?” the middle-aged man asked in condescending manner, staring Carl right in the eyes and making it difficult for him to make further accusatory claims. Checking out his most distinctive features, Carl noticed he had a somewhat recent-looking scar above his left eye, and a long vertical one on the right side of his nose that went across the mouth. His stylish black suit jacket and matching pants made it clear he meant business.

“I, uhh... you don’t happen to be the owner of this place, do you?” Carl stammered.
Amadeus chuckled. “Actually, you’re looking at the guy who was courteous enough to let you and your buddies on board.”
“I – what? You mean...” Carl asked, switching his gaze between Amadeus and the newly-arrived man, as the garage door automatically closed next to him.
“Felix Schrader is my name, thank you for clearing things up. Or is our new employee not certain yet? Would he like to pull my hair as well to make sure I’m not actually a Russian loan shark wearing a wig to fool you all?”
“Uhh... no thanks. I already pulled Santa’s beard when I was about 4 or 5, and let’s just say my uncle was most displeased.” Carl said as coolly as he could in this pressured situation.
“Boss, what are you doing here? We all know we can’t have you takin’ risks like this.” Andreas said in a worried tone while placing the tarp over the Adder.
“Just because cops keep investigating me all the time doesn’t mean I have to live 24/7 in a f*cking bubble, Andreas!” Schrader hissed in an unpleasant bossy voice. “Besides... nothing makes it more clear that I don’t want to be harassed than a good old-fashioned bribe, if stuff like that is needed. Right now though, I barely saw a single officer nearby.” he continued, now sounding much more friendly.
When Andreas and Amadeus nodded in unison, Schrader focused his attention back on Carl, and walked right up to him to get a better view at the man who had now completed two dangerous missions in a row. At close distance, it became clear that Schrader towered over him, which didn’t at least do anything good to Carl’s confidence.

“I indeed do hope that the state of this car is not a testament to your driving skills, but the ruthlessness of the local police force.” he said firmly, standing right up in Carl’s face.
“Hey, will you cut out the threatening attitude, fool?” Carl asked without thinking.
“Threatening, intimidating... call it whatever you want, but this is how I usually tell apart the strong from the weak. At least you don’t give in immediately just because I have authority. It’s good, but I hope you can control your emotions as well. After all, not everyone you’ll meet is that... tolerant of aggressive verbal self-defense.” Schrader explained and – to Carl’s joy – backed up to a reasonable distance again.

“Now... as far as I’m concerned, you have taught a good lesson today to that Chesterfield kid. Maybe, just maybe he’s taken a step towards reconsidering his lifestyle... or maybe he’s just developed more hatred for the black community. Who knows, right?” Schrader asked, spreading his arms and almost looking friendly.
“Bitchboy will never learn. Not unless he gets a proper whoopin’ from one of us later.” Amadeus commented from the sidelines, sounding a bit bitter.
“No need to turn this into a serious beef with him now. As far as I’m concerned, I’m now even with him, even though he doesn’t need to know who ordered his car stolen.” Schrader said professionally.
“He did somethin’ to you before?” Carl asked, briefly raising his hand like a schoolboy before realizing it looked stupid, and put it down quickly.
“Threw eggs at my mansion for fun.” Schrader told him sternly.
“I, err, I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Joke’s on him, at least I got a free breakfast that day.”
Carl forced himself to chuckle. Schrader waved his hand lazily.
“Don’t do that, it was a deliberately terrible joke. I do find it surprising how often people do just that. Force themselves to laugh at me because it’s me.”

Carl was again a bit taken back by the man’s odd nature. He decided to switch topic quickly.
“So... I passed, right?”
“Let’s see. We have the only chrome Adder of Los Santos permanently off the streets, and wasted a lot of the cops’ resources while doing it. I’d say this quick operation fared quite well – but there’s one thing we have to discuss first.” Schrader stated with the stern voice again. Carl knew what was coming up.
“If it’s about me not answering that damn phone, I already told Andreas...”
“What phone? I’m talking about the fact you didn’t ask for a paycheck for this, which I find surprising. Almost as if you value getting introduced to this organization more than money.”
“Yeah, well... I suppose I shouldn’t expect solo initiation stuff to have a paycheck, right?”
“Don’t see why it shouldn’t. You’re clearly humble, something your friend with the sunglasses could learn from you. And on that note...”
Carl patiently waited for him to finish the sentence.
“...you could do with 20 thousand bucks and an official welcome to the club from the leader himself.” Schrader finished.

It took a gentle slap from Amadeus to return the stunned Carl to the real world. When the garage door opened up again, he realized he had been handed a pile of notes, which he was quick to stuff into his wallet without further thinking.
“Take care of yourself in the streets now... and please do keep a low profile. We’ll get back to you when something more advanced needs doing.” Schrader told him, patting him on the back.
“And there’ll be teamwork next time too.” Andreas pointed out.
“Most likely with your gangsta friends though, sadly. Try to knock some sanity at the Rover guy’s head next time, will you?” Schrader requested.
“Don’t think he’ll ever listen to me, no matter how sober he can get. And, uhh, with all due respect, it’s Ryder, sir.” Carl said while turning around to face his employer.
“Ah, if he wants his name to be remembered, he had better grow as a person!” Schrader said with a carefree tone, before the garage door once again closed.

And so Carl left the area to go back home for a well-deserved rest, one daring experience richer, and certainly feeling more confident than he thought he could be.

But what about Chester?

Does anyone even care about Chester?

“It’s OK, m’lord, setbacks happen to everyone. It’s life.” the butler calmed down a wailing young man lying face down on his water bed.
“It’s NOT f*cking OK! And it’s Sir, not some goddamn m’lord! This is all your fault!”
“How is it my fault that Tiffany broke up with you, Sir?” the butler asked monotonously.
“Because if you had been more manly at stopping that f*cktard, I wouldn’t have had my nervous breakdown where I – by complete and utter f*cking ACCIDENT – used a couple of racial insults! And if you ask me, those words aren’t even as bad as people claim!” Chester screamed at the top of his lungs, even though the butler was sitting right next to him.
“He had a gun. As much as I’d love to protect your property, Sir, I can’t just throw my life away by doing something reckless with him...”
“I don’t give a f*ck! My life’s ruined like never before!”
“But consider this a chance to show the world once again what you’re made of, Sir. I know you don’t like racing with that other car of yours...” he started.
“Yes... yes, the other car... I don’t get what’s wrong! I can’t win in that! I’ve tried everything, but it’s just too slow!” Chester complained.
“I know what you’re thinking. But one call to Joey, another one to Mike, and you’ll soon be better prepared than anyone for the next race. Think of it as a chance to win yourself a new girlfriend too – or actually, knowing the current state of affairs... preferably a new house cleaner.”
“I’ll make Hilary clean these f*cking floors with a toothbrush...” Chester said, quickly looking like his old smug self as he sat back up on the side of the bed.
“And I will gladly make him do it another time if the smile hasn’t been yet wiped out of his fat face by then. Chester Chesterfield III will rise again...” the butler promised, prompting his master to evilly grin at him.
“Excellent plan! But since he’s not available yet, I’ll obviously need someone else to get rid of all this trash... like this one.” Chester said, throwing a candy wrapping straight to the floor beneath him. “And that lucky one is – you.” he continued, pointing straight at the butler.

So much for trying to get on the master’s good side.

The End.

Edited by Carbonox

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Another chapter out of the oven. Just a reminder that people who review and give constructive feedback are awesome. ;)



SA5: Spin the Ten Green Bottles



In one particularly quiet Saturday morning, Carl woke up to a vicious knocking noise. A quick look at the alarm clock revealed that it was only 11am – a time of day that he thought was obviously best spent sleeping, to leave more time for night activities. Since the knocking on the front door wasn’t going away, Carl forced himself up from bed, promising himself a few extra hours of rest after this was dealt with. Struggling his way down the stairs, Carl felt that the knocker must have been Sweet, as no one else he knew would be this persistent. As he unlocked and opened the door, he realized far too late that he had put his shirt on the wrong way. All he could hope for was that the guest didn’t notice it.

At the door stood not Sweet, Ryder or even Smoke, but the only white person living on Grove Street: Carl and Sweet’s neighbor from the often forgotten house between them, John Carlson. He generally struck Carl as slightly annoying, because of his common tendency to ask for “minor” errands that usually took hours to finish. However, Sweet had always insisted that even though he was also the only resident of the street who never participated in gang activities (and probably didn't even have an idea how big the Families really were) he was still part of the family and was to be treated properly. Carl thought Sweet was only thinking that way because the former occupant of John’s house was an unruly young boy who only cared about parties and fighting, and constantly looked for the latter in Balla territory. Compared to him, this calm fellow was a saint.

“Whaddya need?” Carl asked, trying to hide his yawn.
“Hello there, and good morning, neighbor! I was thinking if you could lend me some sugar? I just ran out, and I feel my coffee tastes horrible without it!” John said, in an unpleasantly loud voice. Carl felt like reminding him that he was only standing a foot away and there was no need to yell, but politeness won him over in the end.
“Just a sec...” he said and walked to the kitchen to fetch some of his own sugar, which was also about to run out. Ah well, what would he not do for his dear neighbor? John stood patiently at the open doorway the whole time, and Carl felt like he was constantly staring at him, which made him feel slightly uncomfortable.

“Here’s the damn sugar, anything else?” he asked upon handing it over. Looking at John again, Carl couldn’t help but realize they were wearing matching clothes. That infuriated him more than it should have.
“I thought of asking you to fetch my car – this friend from San Fierro borrowed it two weeks ago and has for some reason not contacted me ever since – but you look really sick, friend. Anything wrong?” John asked worriedly.
“It’s called being tired!” Carl lashed out quickly.
“Well then, you need to get your sleeping rhythm right! I mean, look at me! I always wake up at six o’clock, energized as a cat! It has most certainly made my life a lot healthier.” John remarked. Carl wanted to punch him if the unnecessary yelling didn’t stop.
“Don’t cats spend most of the day just lying down?” Carl pointed out a bit dizzily.
“Maybe, but when they’re hunting prey, there is no time for resting! In any case, thank you for the sugar, and I’ll catch you another time!” John said in flamboyant manner, and Carl immediately closed the door with a slam as he turned around to go.

“What a f*cking waste of time.” Carl muttered to himself and without further thought, stumbled his way back to bed. He spent the next two hours just rolling in it, desperately trying to catch some sleep, but he finally had to admit his defeat. Having to walk downstairs and open the door for John was apparently enough to convince his inner clock that sleeping time was over.

Having gone back downstairs, Carl sat down to eat some of his Coc-O-Pops, when another firm knock was heard on the front door just before he took his first bite. Sometimes it seemed so typical that guests would constantly bother him when he didn’t want any company. He swore that if it was John again, he’d just ignore whatever he had to say.

Thankfully it wasn’t him, but Sweet. He was looking a bit stern, but Carl was just happy that there was finally a sensible person he could talk to in his doorway. He invited his brother in.
“Been hearin’ some things, CJ.” Sweet said, upon taking a seat on a couch.
Carl brought his cereal bowl to the living room table and sat down next to him. “How so?”
“Apparently John’s lost his car, and you turned down the help, fool.” Sweet told him in a serious tone, which Carl had grown to despise.
“Dude, it ain’t turning down when I’m just too tired to make a long-ass trip to a new town. Besides, from the sounds of things, fool’s gotten scammed out of a car – how’s a nigga supposed to ever find it?” Carl said casually while slurping his cereals.
“It’s called stayin’ together as a community. Would you rather watch from the side when he has to spend his livin’ to buy a new one, fool?”
“Don’t try to appeal to my emotions, bro, I’m just bein’ rational. Oh, and forgot somethin’ yet? Tenpenny doesn’t wanna let me leave town. I’d rather not run off and take the risk.”
“Tenpenny only said that to make you think he’s in control! You think he’s got a bunch of pigs on the streets watchin’ your every move all the time? Pure bullsh*t.”
“Already got one of his trademark threat calls when I transported sh*t out of town.” Carl said with a mouth full of cereals.
“Anyway, bro, I’m worryin’ about your lack of commitment to the homies recently! It’s as if all you think of now is that... new job, even though we got Ballas, Vagos, sh*t, even our former allies to take care of.” Sweet said, now sounding openly disappointed.

Carl was having none of that. “So you ain’t happy even though I donated 10 grand to keep the homies from striking all the time?!” he hissed.
“Thanks for the f*cking contribution! Is that what you want?! And to be fair, at this rate it’s all but a drop in the ocean...” Sweet’s words drifted off.
“It’s that bad? We totally sh*t-broke?” Carl asked in slight confusion.
“When there ain’t no income, that’s what happens. Some niggas already refused to watch over the bar ‘till I pay them. This ship’s sinkin’ fast. Shoulda seen it coming, money comes before respect these days.”
“I get it, I really do... but what am I supposed to do with it? Maybe if we pull off some big heist, we’ll finally be outta this mess?”
“Heist, huh...” Sweet said, looking interested as he just stared at the wall for a good moment. Carl took the opportunity to finish his breakfast and took his bowl to the dish machine. By the time he returned, Sweet had a question in mind.

“Any chance you can introduce me to that Skinner guy?”
“WHAT?!” Carl was wondering if he just heard things.
“I said, I’d like to meet that employer of yours too...” Sweet said in a clearer voice.
“OK, first off, it’s Schrader. Fool probably prefers that you get the name right. Second... I dunno what to think, man. Always thought you were one to reject the white culture an’ sh*t.”
“I get what ya mean, and I thought the same ‘bout you.” Sweet replied.
“Aw, f*ck. You know how it is though. I mean, of course it ain’t cool how people preach tolerance and still look at us as some f*ckin’ second-class citizens... But these guys, they clearly see beyond my skin color. They always been most interested in my talent.” Carl explained to his best ability.
“Either that, or they’re just desperate.”
“F*ck you, that was just cheap.”
“Couldn’t resist.” Sweet said professionally.
“So you really gonna join their ranks? I imagine they want you to prove yourself too.”
“Anything the whites throw at me can’t be worse than the Families folding.”
“I guess. But, uhh, how about them heists? I was thinkin’ we could pull one off on our own. Just so, y’know, we could take all the income.” Carl changed the topic.
“Don’t see the point. It’s way too risky, CJ. One false move and we’re all buried in Tenpenny’s sh*t for the rest of our lives.” Sweet said, sounding cynical.
“Why the negativity?” Carl asked. He himself didn’t think their odds were that bad.
“When you were still doin’ what you did at LC, the Vagos tried a big score twice, and the Ballas once. Every single one of them, a f*ck-up. Us gangbangers always find a way to fail at big sh*t. Good part was that Big Poppa was so busy bribin’ witnesses on that second heist, we took the chance an’ grabbed East Beach.”
“You did? But I ain’t seen any...”
“For six days.”

Awkward silence filled the living room. Carl hated it. Now he almost wished he had stayed back so he could have helped Sweet hold on to East Beach and maintain a proper connection with Seville Boulevard so they wouldn’t need to feel left alone... Carl felt like Sweet could sense the guilt in him, and decided to steer the conversation to a new direction again, when Sweet spoke first.
“Come. I got somethin’ else to tell too... and there ain’t a better place for it than our good ol’ bar.”
“Itchin’ for a beer, ain’t ya?” Carl asked.
“I’ll get you one too. At times like this, nothin’ calms my nerves better than a cold mug.” Sweet said somberly, leaving it up to Carl to interpret the statement somehow. As they left the Johnson House behind and walked towards the bar, he could sense that something serious was up, but decided to leave any questions until after they were inside.

In the bar, the atmosphere was as friendly and welcoming as ever. Some slightly drunk Families greeted the brothers as they sat down on the nearest two stools. The man who frequented the pool table also waved at them while his opponent was more focused on the game. The only person in the bar who didn’t seem to acknowledge their arrival was a lonely grandma sitting in a far-away table. After serving drinks to some Families, the sweet bartender focused on them, and flashed them a smile. Carl hesitantly smiled back, but Sweet retained his serious expression and immediately went down to business.
“Two Patriots.” he said, and handed over the payment immediately.
“Right away, sir.” the bartender said, quickly counted the money, and went to get the drinks.
“New favorite brand of yours?” Carl asked.
“Ever since I started to feel like Pisswasser had a weird after-taste for it, sure.” Sweet told him bitterly.

The girl soon came back with the drinks. Sweet immediately took a refreshing sip, and Carl followed shortly. He had to admit, cold beer felt extremely good in the commonly hot Los Santos weather – at least as long as it was consumed reasonably. That wasn’t the case for Sweet, who kept Carl waiting for a while as he drank and drank until his bottle was half-empty. Carl could only hope that it really did calm his nerves, because he had heard a lot of alcohol-related stories pointing to the contrary.
“There’s somethin’ about the Ballas you need to know...” Sweet said, now definitely sounding nervous.
“I can only hope it’s somethin’ good that we can take advantage of. A weakness?”
“Oh, don’t I wish, bro... Thing is, for the past few years now there’s been rumors about a hooded figure goin’ around town, murdering bangers in cold blood and scaring others so sh*tless they end up runnin’ straight outta town. Some say he associates with Ballas, some think he’s just a good-for-nothing street vigilante who thinks he’s bein’ tough. Never really took it seriously ‘til I heard someone had capped Leroy in broad daylight on a basketball court. Some witness snapped a photo, and it made page 11 on the local magazine.”
“Leroy got killed? And I just thought these days couldn’t get any worse...” Carl sighed, and instinctively drank a lot in one go.
“Yeah, well... he was a bit of a dick, if ya ask me.”
“Mm-hmm. He knew how to handle himself though. Guys like him are why we grabbed so much turf in the good ol’ days.”
“He sure did, but not against an unknown threat that comes outta f*cking nowhere.” Sweet said with a frown.

Carl scowled as he took a good, long drink. Now he felt he also needed some kind of stress retardant.
“So, hooded figure? As if we didn’t have enough problems already! Got any closer details so I can cap the bitch when I spot him?” he asked, now with a murderous look. He just couldn’t tolerate the idea of an outsider (or at least the person sounded like an outsider) coming to these parts of town to deliver twisted street justice.
“Hold your horses, CJ. This is where the problems come in, ‘cuz we simply don’t know what he’s meant to look like. There’s a reason why it’s just rumors goin’ around and not hard facts... this guy’s not someone who likes to be seen.” Sweet warned.
“I say we inform the whole ‘hood then, get ‘em to stay vigilant. Drive off suspicious f*ckers that are just loitering around.” Carl quickly suggested.
Sweet looked around to make sure no one was listening in on them, and spoke to his brother more silently. “And generate a feelin’ of distrust across the whole community, when we already struggle with other sh*t?”
“If this guy’s real, the homies are gonna find out sooner or later anyway. You wanna be the leader who didn’t warn about a threat on time?” Carl retorted aggressively, but managed to keep his voice down as well.
“It’s not that... ugh, look, CJ, I think you startin’ to forget how to run a gang. You gotta keep morale up, or they’ll lose out to an even weaker enemy. We already got enough sh*t keepin’ the whole Families down, so we really gotta handle this problem in the shadows. Get me?”
“Man, I guess you’re the boss then.” Carl said, and immediately cursed himself in his thoughts for yet again being unable to even just slightly question Sweet’s leadership. “Gettin’ back to the subject, how is this fool meant to look like? Let’s start from the basics. What color is his hood?”
“Most reports say white.” Sweet said dryly. “But then I’ve heard some homies say silver, red, f*ck, even green. And Bert saw some weird idiot in black prancin’ near that Cluckin’ Bell we visited in a group some weeks ago.”
“So it’s like we back in square one. Good f*ckin’ luck findin’ the right one from the middle of all them hooded people on the streets. Any better leads?” Carl asked, and instinctively grabbed his bottle, taking another gulp.
“Not really. I mean, these are all just rumors we talkin’ about. One even has it that some kid with a camera managed to get a snapshot of his full body outside Binco just next block. Apparently he and the camera disappeared and he was found mutilated in some dumpster all the way in Jefferson.”
“Nah, I doubt that one. I’d have heard it way earlier from any homies if that was the case. Although, didn’t that young Joel dude disappear a while back?” Carl wondered.
“Yeah, but he ain’t been found yet, and it’s been 10 days.” Sweet said grimly.

Carl could only shake his head. He contemplated on drinking some more again, but after already moving the bottle close to his mouth, he changed his mind and placed it back on the table. This was no time to get badly drunk, or so he felt.
“Another thing, CJ. Since you’re the one with all the connections, I think you should put ‘em to good use soon.” Sweet requested.
“You think they know any better than us?”
“I was thinkin’ of something else. The guy you and Smoke saw, the Balla contact back at the warehouse... you remember the warehouse, right?”
“Oh, indeed we do. Just like the motherf*ckin’ Alamo.” an unknown voice was heard from behind Sweet. The brothers turned around at the exact same time to realize they were face-to-face with two Ballas, and furthermore, another two had already made their way deeper into the bar and were acting aggressively, like they owned the place.

“You’re pretty far from your own territory, bitches.” Sweet immediately told them as he stood up, so he was face to face with the one in a purple shirt that had some sorts of tribal markings on it. Quite stylish, Carl had to admit – but not aloud in the company of the Ballas, or heck, let alone his own homies. The Balla was slightly taller than him, but Sweet showed no signs of submission.
“Oh, me and my friends are so deeply sorry that we showed up in the poorly maintained territory of niggas carrying out petty desperate attacks on our locations.” the Balla said in a voice that sounded oddly out of place, almost like a well-educated person running with gangbangers for no determined reason.
“Thought we’d even the odds a bit. Judgin’ by your bitter tone, we did a damn good job at it.” Carl chimed in from Sweet’s side, also now standing up.
“Eh, eh, watch your mouth there, Pretty Boy! Y’think you smart, huh? Well I sure f*ckin’ don’t. Cut dat f*ckin’ attitude right there, or I’mma cap yo’ ass like I did yo’ busta-ass homie last week! Yea, dat’s right, bitch. I blasted a fool from yo’ pussy-ass gang and ya never even retaliated!” the other Balla yelled right at him. This one had a white T-shirt and an oversized-looking purple cap that faced backwards. Carl already thought he looked like an idiot at first glance, and his speaking only confirmed that. He should’ve known that the barely civilized Balla would be paired up with one who severely overused slang words, constantly got in people’s faces and just simply tried way too hard to act tough.

Carl sighed. Things were starting to get out of hand in the bar – the other two Ballas were harassing the bartender and other customers. When they reached the grandma, however, Carl could faintly hear one saying “Sorry” and saw them even give her room as she got up from her seat, dropped some money on the counter and slowly walked out of the bar, with no resistance from the others. The Ballas that were confronting the brothers did not say anything until she had shut the door behind her. The silence during her slow walk, which lasted about a minute, was definitely awkward.

“Anyway, we were just about to... politely discuss the warehouse incident, when I realized it would be most inappropriate to start such a serious conversation without introducing ourselves first.” the smarter Balla said, and Carl rolled his eyes. From the side, he could notice Sweet did the same.
“My name is Chad. I believe we may have met before, but didn’t exactly have time to exchange greetings due to the surrounding firefight. My long-time friend here is Bruce, and he has greatly honored you by painting rough estimates of your appearance to his punching bags. As for you, no need to state your names as I’m more than familiar with you.”
“Really? ‘Cause if you were, you’d know we don’t take kindly to invasion of our personal space.” Carl said angrily.
“What reason is there for me to take a threat from a gang that can’t even settle its own debts properly?” Chad inquired and tilted his head in exaggerated manner.
“Yo, mo’f*ckers, ya got so lil’ cash, why ya still wearin’ green? Get it?” Bruce said immediately after him. Carl wondered how many months it had taken him to come up with that.
“Y’know, if you stayed with the times, you’d know you gotta do a little better than that if you wanna get under our skin.” Sweet remarked and took a quick step towards Chad, who didn’t flinch. Bruce, however, immediately backed out a little.
“I can only presume your anger issues arise from the fact that your immediate family appears to be full of... deserters.” Chad said and cast a brief look at Carl, who faintly growled at him. “So, best for you to make sure you’re not next, Sean.”

Sweet had had enough. It was time to let the fists do the talking, and see if the Balla would still feel proud of his wits after a long, well-deserved smackdown. The punch caught Chad by surprise, and he was flung backwards into a wall, before falling into a sitting position. Bruce didn’t tolerate this, and jumped at Sweet immediately, after shoving Carl out of the way. He slammed Sweet’s upper body onto the pool table, with the two players scattering to the sides. Bruce tried hitting his teeth in while he was seemingly defenceless, but forgot about his legs, and got swiftly kicked in the right knee. Carl reacted quickly and grabbed him in a chokehold from behind. Bruce tried to elbow him while kicking at Sweet, who tried to approach from the front to get some free hits in.

Unfortunately, the brothers had forgotten about the two other Ballas, who didn’t bother to introduce themselves upon arrival, and now both jumped Carl just before the pool players could warn him on time. Carl shrieked as he was dragged into the ground, and blindly kicked with his right foot, successfully hitting something. Before the Ballas could slam his head into the floor for extra pain, the people playing pool decided they had enough, and the man in white stabbed the nearest Balla in the stomach with the cue. Sweet charged at Bruce and shoved him right into the injured Balla, causing both to fall over while Carl crawled a safe distance away and got back up.

“We only wish to teach you a little lesson for messing with our property. It won’t hurt as much as you would think.” Chad’s voice was heard, now that he got back up from the side. Carl made a quick glance towards the drunken Families, but unfortunately they appeared too wasted to understand what was going on. At least it was four-on-four, as now the other player joined in and threw the 9-ball towards the angered Bruce, striking him right in the mouth. He stopped right on his tracks and began coughing out blood and pieces of teeth.

“Pal, I think we’re done with lessons at this stage of life.” Carl said, now wrestling with Chad, who was most definitely stronger than he looked.
“You’re never too old to learn...” Chad said, as he pushed Carl’s arm to the side and painfully grabbed his throat. Carl struggled in his grasp and tried kneeing him away, but before he even raised his foot, the pool table regular charged in from the side and hit Chad across the face with his pool cue, throwing him out of balance as he crashed into the arcade machines head first.
“I coulda had him, y’know.” Carl said, even if he didn’t fully believe in it.
“I know... but we ain’t chivalrous samurai warriors. We do what it takes to beat these niggas.” the pool guy said with a nod.
“I guess. But umm, thanks for standing up to us. It’s these kinda acts that really count, y’know. Uhh, Troy was your name, right?” Carl asked, and received another nod in response.
“A bit of help here would be nice too!” a voice was heard from behind them. It was Sweet, who was somehow trying to wrestle with Bruce and one of the lesser-known Ballas. His battle was also made considerably harder by Bruce constantly spitting blood at his face. Troy rushed to his aid, pool cue at the ready for more heavy hitting, while Carl walked up to where Chad was – or had been a minute ago. Now, he had suddenly disappeared.

More trouble followed as the other unknown Balla jumped him from behind the arcades. He grabbed Carl by the waist and threw him fully onto the pool table. Carl tried to grab the nearest ball he could find and use it as a projectile, but the Balla managed to take hold of his arm first, and slapped Carl right in the face with his own hand.
“What’s wrong, nigga? Stop bein’ so suicidal!” the Balla said mockingly. Carl decided to punish him for using an ancient-old joke by directing a heavy kick right at his private area. It worked, as the banger let go of him and backed off in pain. While trying to get himself back up, Carl heard an equally heavy punch take place somewhere above him, and soon the other unknown Balla flew right over him, landing on the pool table as well and hitting his face on the corner.
“Now that’s somethin’. Eight-ball corner pocket.” Sweet commented, and without another word, he helped Carl up from the table.

“Never thought I’d see the day our sour leader cracks a wise joke. Oh, and you seen that Chad fool? Nigga just disappeared.” Carl said while dusting himself off.
“No, and I ain’t seen that other guy from the pool table either. Must’ve chickened out or somethin’.” Sweet said, scratching his head while Troy fought off Bruce just near them, both now holding pool cues. They kept blocking one another’s attacks, and Carl could swear the scene looked familiar from some movie whose name he could not recall.
“Miss me? Oh, don’t worry, I’m right here.” a voice spoke up from an unknown direction. Before the Johnson brothers knew it, someone grabbed both by a leg and pulled them back so hard they came crashing down on the ground. Promptly, Chad appeared from underneath the pool table, encased in dust but more willing to fight than ever. Sweet struggled to get back on his feet, while Chad took hold of him by the collar and pushed him into a wall. He then noticed Bruce was still in trouble, and didn’t hesitate to punch Troy in the shoulder from the side, which took his concentration away and allowed Bruce to hit him across the head with the pool cue. Troy fell to the ground like a rock, and Bruce proudly held him down with his foot, declaring himself the winner in the most broken English Carl had heard thus far.

“Alright, kids, playtime’s over. Kane would finally like to send his regards.” Chad said sternly, now focusing on the Johnson brothers again, and drawing out a knife. Even Bruce had a serious look on his face.
“Kane from the Front Yard crew? Shoulda known scum like him would send even worse scum to do his dirty work.” Carl said, pulling himself back up.
“It won’t be that dirty if you just stand still, you little prick.” Chad spat out. Carl kept backing off from the threatening knife, while Bruce pointed his pool cue at Sweet as a cue that he had better not try interfering. When Carl reached the arcade machines, he suddenly got grabbed from behind in a chokehold and panicked, flailing his arms about, but only getting in soft hits that didn’t affect the assailant in any way. Of course, it was that one Balla he had kicked in the nuts.

“What goes around, comes around, bitch. C’mon, Chad, do yo’ thing... but leave him alive enough that I can get my revenge too.” the Balla said. Carl tried leaning back as hard as he could, to not maybe crush, but at least stuff the Balla between himself and the wall. Sadly, the opponent was far stronger than him, and just pushed forward firmly to get out of the situation.
“Think I’ll get an eye first. Shiny eyeballs are very valuable in combat, but oh, so vulnerable...” Chad said, now sounding almost psychotic, and walked right up to Carl’s face. If he was going to defend himself somehow, now was the time.

Carl gently moved his foot, and doubted the Balla holding him would even notice. Slowly and steadily, he raised the foot higher and higher, before jumping up a bit and executing a high kick that made hard contact with Chad’s knife-toting arm. The blade was thrown high up in the air, while Chad stumbled backwards in minor pain. Carl realized the danger was not over yet as the knife could easily fall on top of him, so he swayed right to the side, taking the Balla by surprise while the knife came crashing down on the floor, sharp end first, and stuck to it.

Bruce was so taken aback by the situation that Sweet managed to shove his pool cue to the side and yank him straight onto the pool table, still occupied by the unconscious Balla. Bruce tried to struggle out of his grasp, but Sweet promptly grabbed one of his arms, pulled it behind his back, and ruthlessly broke it. Bruce’s painful scream sounded so pathetic that Carl would have felt pity for him if not for his loyalties. Speaking of Carl, he still found himself in the Balla’s chokehold, and realizing there was practically no other way out, he did what he had to do – as in, biting his arm with full force. It may have been girly, but as Troy said, they were going to use any means necessary when it came to a life-or-death situation. Carl’s teeth clung on to the Balla’s hairy skin for a good few seconds before he finally let go, and was promptly hit in the stomach with a well-timed punch. He collapsed in pain right in front of Chad, who had managed to pick up a bad slash wound in his arm when the knife went flying out of his hands, and now tried to stop the blood from dripping out. Nonetheless, his angered expression was a clear sign that his fight wasn’t yet over.

“Y’know, CJ, since these Ballas want to party so badly, why don’t we introduce them to our local party games?” Sweet asked after picking up Bruce’s pool cue from the ground again. Carl motioned Chad to follow him to more open fighting space near the place’s entrance.
“What you got in mind, bro?” Carl asked in response.
“Oh, my fave as a kid was ‘Pin the tail on the donkey’. And as luck would have it, we got our donkey, a major ass if you ask me, right HERE!” Sweet said, and shoved the pool cue straight into the defenceless Bruce’s butthole. If the arm-breaking wasn’t bad enough, now his whiny scream sounded like he was being slaughtered with stone-age methods.
“I like it! But not as much as ‘Spin the Bottle’.” Carl said, picked up his still unfinished beer bottle from the counter, and smashed it to create a classic melee weapon.
“You’re out of f*ckin’ luck, pal. I don’t kiss guys.” Chad told him angrily, as they circled each other.
“What’s the matter, Chad? Sure you ain’t gettin’ moody because sh*t didn’t go according to plan?” Carl asked, now starting to enjoy the situation.

Chad had nothing to say to him, but rather made a daring attack towards Carl, only to back off as he swung the broken bottle, which barely missed him. Chad moved to the side to avoid getting stabbed, and punched Carl in the shoulder, now looking almost desperate.
“Got any new tricks? This sh*t’s gettin’ old.” Carl said with a condescending yawn. Chad was most definitely having none of it, as he took a few steps backwards, and reached for his belt. Carl stood and waited, probably for a bit too long, as Chad slowly pulled out something shiny that the brothers recognized immediately.
“Watch out, CJ, a gun!” Sweet exclaimed.
Just his luck – he obviously brought no guns to this place. Carl did what he had to do, and charged forward as Chad was just about to aim at him with what appeared to be a loaded pistol. Carl swiftly slashed at Chad with the bottle, and jumped to the side to avoid stray bullets.

The barmaid screamed, and after that, the atmosphere became eeriely quiet. Carl turned to face Chad again slowly, almost not wanting to see what he had done. Blood was dripping all over the place, his skin was turning pale right before Carl’s eyes, and now that he had a good look at his opponent’s face, he saw that there was a messy hole where Chad’s left eye used to be. Usually, when fighting Ballas for territory, Carl didn’t think twice before shooting one banger and just calmly moving on to the next, but now that he was right up close and personal with a man for whom he had just caused irreversible damage and unimaginable pain... he didn’t really feel proud at all. His faint memories of gang warfare back in the 80’s were nowhere near as violent as this, though he couldn’t tell if it was because stuff had truly become more extreme since he left, or if he was looking at the past through rose-tinted glasses...

Chad was shaking. With his free hand, he tried to clean off as much blood as he could, but the flow was simply too much for him. Slowly and steadily, he took steps towards Sweet and Bruce at the pool table, with Carl not even trying to prevent him. The silence was finally broken when he suddenly stopped about midway through and turned his head so he was looking at Carl through his remaining eye.
“What is it, CJ? Not feeling like dealing the finishing blow from behind just yet?”
Carl had no response, and simply gasped as silently as he could. Chad continued struggling forward, not saying another word, and Carl stared at his blood-stained bottle, thinking if it was more humane to just whack Chad in the back of the head and put him out of his misery... but even if he was going to do that, he got no chance when a sudden roar caused Sweet to jump back.
“GET THE F*CK AWAY!” Chad yelled, pointing his gun at Sweet, who backed up towards the rear of the bar. Without another word, Chad picked up Bruce from the table, and carefully helped him stand upright and walk towards the exit.

“C-Chad... I don’t think I’m ever gonna... siddown again...” Bruce stammered.
“That’s OK. That’s really, really not the worst fate you could imagine... YOU TOO, OUT OF THE F*CKIN’ WAY IF YOU INTEND TO LIVE!” Chad comforted his friend before exploding again, now at Carl, who didn’t have much of a choice at gunpoint and let them walk past. At the doorway, Chad turned around one last time.
“I kinda wish it didn’t come to this... but you f*cking wankers messed with the wrong niggas. You – you just made a lifelong f*cking enemy, you hear?! I’ll be back...” he said with a broken voice, and closed the door behind him with a slam. Carl was still in slight disbelief about the recent events and didn’t really catch on to every word, instead focusing on immediately tossing his bottle in the garbage can near the door. Behind him, Sweet went to help up Troy, who didn’t appear to be critically injured, but definitely took a big hit.

“That was some nasty f*ckin’ fight. You handled yourself kinda well, I must admit.” Sweet said to Carl, who leaned on the wall and took some deep breaths to chill out.
“Well, yeah, y’know me, I gotta be always prepared.”
“What do ya say we take those other losers as hostages? They could know something.” Sweet asked, pointing to the pool table, where one of the other Ballas was still lying unconscious, with the other one next to the table in no better condition.
“Eh, I’m down. They came to our ‘hood, they better deal with the consequences.” Carl said, nodding.
“Good, good, we better clean ‘em up soon before more get the idea to come here. There’s still a few loose ends though, like that one playa who ditched the fight early on...” Sweet pondered.

As if by magic, the head – followed by the rest of the body – of Troy’s pool opponent popped up from underneath one of the tables. The man looked nervous.
“T-the fight’s over by now, right?” he asked from the brothers.
“Yes, and thanks for nothing, nigga.” Sweet said without mercy.
“Oh, please, I’m not a fighter, I’m a janitor, for f*ck’s sake. And – err, you guys held out alright! I was with you in spirit, and all that...”
“A janitor? Hold on a sec, you’re Sam, ain’t ya? You still owe me those 50 bucks...” Sweet noted.
“S-Sweet? So nice to see you in here... I, err, was just trying to win that cash from Troy so I could settle my debt, I swear!” Sam said, now facing angry gazes from both of the Johnsons.
“You could make yourself useful then and help us load up these niggas. You not afraid of taking some prisoners of war, right?” Sweet asked with the kind of voice that left him no choice.
“I, err, will get to work right away.” Sam said submissively and got to work, grabbing the first Balla from on top of the pool table, and slowly dragged him outside.

“One last thing before we move on with our new hostages. That warehouse deal.” Sweet said to Carl, pulling him aside while Troy went straight to the counter for a beer.
“Yeah, you wanted somethin’ about that white guy I saw there?”
“Exactly. White folks in suits don’t normally meddle in our affairs. We need to find out who that cracker is, and we just might strike an even heavier blow at the Ballas’ gun dealings.”
“How am I supposed to do that? Don’t even remember his face too well, he could easily blend in on the streets and...” Carl complained.
“It’s too bad you don’t know anyone who has extensive knowledge of all of Santos’ criminals...”
“What do you... wait, no. NO.” Carl protested immediately.
“You got a better plan? I’m all ears.” Sweet said casually.
“I’m not crawling in front of Tenpenny’s feet to get a favor. Never in all my f*ckin’ life.”
“You wanna make yourself useful to the families, you do what you have to so we’ll get the intel we need. It’s a serious war out there, and I got reason to expect somethin’ from you.”
“Sure, whatever...” Carl mumbled.
“What was that?”
“Affirmative, bro.”

After helping Sweet and the slightly reluctant Sam to load up the two Ballas into the back of a Boxville truck (that was fetched without permission from B-Dup’s neighbor), Carl walked back home with a mind full of even more worrying things. The hooded figure that had escaped his notice until today was possibly on the top of his list. All those ordinary-looking pedestrians he came across on his short walk suddenly felt more threatening as ever when he realized one of them could easily be a dangerous street vigilante watching his moves... or alternatively, he was thinking irrationally and turning it into a bigger issue than it really was. Still, just to be sure, once he got back home, Carl crafted up a short list of people he knew that weren’t acting completely normally and could be plotting bad things behind his back, just to feel a little safer – and to divert attention away from the unpleasant mission he had just received.

One positive change was that Carl was so drained of energy from all that fighting, he actually managed to go to bed relatively early at 10pm, and although he still woke up at about the same time as ever before, at least he was slightly more energized when the new morning came along. He picked up his phone, dialed Tenpenny’s number and went to the toilet to relieve himself at the same time. After all, imagining Tenpenny’s face on his turds was all the relief he needed.

“Carl! What’s the matter? Has an evil, nasty drug dealer stolen your pocket money?” his mocking voice was heard from the other end after a minute’s wait or so.
Carl prepared himself to speak in the most official and dominant tone possible. “Officer Tenpenny, I believe I just might need your assistance with something...”

To Be Continued.

Edited by Carbonox

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Son of Zeus

A suggestion: You should write this fanfic over at Fanfiction.net


You'll get a much better response there. I liked it a lot. The dialogue is still a bit too articulate for gangbangers, but your description of events is pretty awesome. Nice wordplay.

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On 10/12/2015 at 7:14 PM, Son of Zeus said:

A suggestion: You should write this fanfic over at Fanfiction.net


You'll get a much better response there. I liked it a lot. The dialogue is still a bit too articulate for gangbangers, but your description of events is pretty awesome. Nice wordplay.

I've been thinking about Fanfiction.net for some time now, but I guess I'm just way too anxious to join a large and completely foreign community... :p


Oh, and:


SA6: Running Man



The Rusty Brown’s Ring Donuts strand in Market was almost empty at noon, with most of the usual customers still busy with their jobs, making it a suitable meeting spot for Carl and his three least favorite officers in Los Santos. As he approached their table, in neutral colors to ensure he wouldn’t be recognized, Tenpenny noticed him first, and urged Hernandez to give Carl some room to sit. The group was met with suspicious looks from the few other people inside, but since Tenpenny’s status in C.R.A.S.H. was well known for the locals, no one even considered questioning his motives for inviting a black guy who looked like one of those eastern gangbangers to dine with him. Carl only just resisted cracking a joke about the officers reinforcing typical cop stereotypes by chewing on donuts during their working hours, but forced himself to play nice with them to avoid unnecessary trouble.


“Carl, you won’t believe how delighted we are to meet up like this.” Tenpenny said in that sarcastic voice Carl had grown to hate.

“Yeah, I can see y’all are so excited you can hardly keep it in your pants.” Carl sighed.

“Hey, watch your f*cking language in front of your superiors!” Pulaski yelled aggressively.

“I think you once again need a proper reminder of how things work, Carl.” Tenpenny said, now beginning to sound dangerously serious. “Now you get this straight. We own you. You’re ours. We could take a sh*t on you from such a height, you’ll think God himself has crapped on you. Do you understand?” he continued, with Pulaski and Hernandez nodding in agreement on the sides.

“He better f*cking understand.” Pulaski said, always being willing to reinforce whatever Tenpenny had to say.

“Yeah. He better had.” Tenpenny said, and for a moment, silence ensued as both him and Pulaski took a sip of coffee after their threats of the day.


“Shall we get to business then?” Tenpenny asked, sounding a lot more cheerful again. “Now Hernandez here took a good, long look at our files to find a match for you. You made it awfully hard on us, y’know, by being so vague.”

“Would be easier if I had a decent look at the fool’s face.” Carl defended himself.

“We’ll be obliged to show you what we found, but first things first... it’ll cost you a little something.” Tenpenny said, and that smug grin of his was a sign of nothing good.

“I guess it ain’t money you’re after...” Carl sighed.

“The state grants us all the money we need to keep this town clean, thank you very much.” Tenpenny answered.

“Not like we’d want your dirty money anyway.” Pulaski barked from the side.

“Yes, that too. Now, CJ, follow me outside to our car and we’ll talk a bit more about this in private. You two, stay here and guard my lunch.” Tenpenny said, which earned a brief laugh from the other officers. Carl nervously did as he told, and did his best not to look like a criminal as the bystanders kept staring at him uncomfortably.


He stepped outside into the breezy air and leaned on the hood of the squad car, only for Tenpenny to smack his arm violently.

“We don’t want any stains on this thing, so stay away.” he said angrily, before stepping to the driver’s seat and opening the glovebox. Carl leaned on the restaurant’s wall instead, and waited for a solid minute while Tenpenny was trying to find something from what looked like a crowded space. He enjoyed the breezy air and thought of methods to get the C.R.A.S.H. trio killed in a way that’d look like an accident to the public, when Tenpenny chanted that he found whatever he was looking for, and quickly walked up to Carl with a simple-looking piece of paper in hand.


“Your lazy ass always needs to lean on something, huh?” he asked, getting a bit too close to Carl’s face.

Please don’t be another f*ckin’ cop errand...” Carl thought.

“Oh well, that’s to be expected from your kind. As usual, the best way you can be of use to me is to run a couple of errands that are listed right here. It’s the kinda hot stuff that a respected officer of the law can’t be seen doing.”



Within the next minute, Carl was already in his Savanna (or ‘that ugly-ass lowrider’ as Tenpenny put it) driving away from the restaurant and back towards the gang areas, with a number of ‘minor’ things to do before he’d gain access to the cops’ files. While sitting in a traffic light that had apparently decided to stay red for an eternity, he took a good proper look at the list.


1. Visit the Willowfield scrapyard, pick up my package from a local homeboy, Barry. Drop off in East Beach parking garage.

2. Pick up a dark green Hermes from alley north of Jefferson Motel. Dispose of it inconspicuously.

3. A crack dealer named Jay sold me the most disgusting low-quality sh*t ever the other day. Teach that punk not to mess with a man like me, but leave him alive so he can learn. His apartment’s just west of the train tracks at Idlewood.

4. Once you’ve done all of that, go to the Jefferson SubUrban and call me.


Judging by the list, Tenpenny definitely liked to make him work for simple things that an average corrupt cop could just hand over with a sizeable bribe. At least Carl had the comfort of knowing he was going to get something out of this, rather than just doing it to keep Tenpenny happy for another two days. He chilled for a bit, listening to Bounce FM as he drove towards the scrapyard. There was no time of day mentioned on the sheet, so he just had to go by the assumption that the dealer would be on watch at all times.


Carl arrived at the scrapyard half an hour later, having picked up some snacks along the way from the Little Mexico 24/7. As expected, he got lots of looks from the Aztecas hanging around the area, but unlike before, they definitely appeared to be more accepting of him than before. Maybe Cesar had finally convinced them that the Families weren’t as bad as they were made out to be... though Carl did hear one Azteca mumbling something about “that pendejo who somehow won the lowrider race” when he exited the shop. He at least wished they’d have the courtesy to insult him in English next time.


As for the scrapyard, it looked a bit different than when he crashed the Adder through all the rubble – someone had gone and cleaned the place up quite well. It was obviously bad news for dealers, because now any suspicious activity was easier to spot. Nonetheless, a dark figure appeared to be waiting in the area, leaning on a container with his arms crossed. Carl carefully pulled up next to him and avoided doing anything that’d make him look aggressive. He stepped halfway out of the car and spoke up, as the man clearly didn’t bother initiating a conversation himself.


“Excuse me, you Barry?”

“Who’s asking?” the man asked, with a tough attitude. Carl was having none of that.

“A f*cking Grove Street OG, that’s who. That a way to talk to me?”

“Got a password?” the man followed up. Was he deaf?

Carl scrambled to look at the sheet, but there was no mention of one. “What f*cking password? I’ve been sent to fetch something for Tenpenny, that good enough?”

“No password, no package.” Barry (at least Carl assumed he was Barry at this point) said calmly.

Carl sighed. “OK, is it graffiti?”

“Nu-uh.” Barry said. His face was starting to look very punchable.


“Hah. Yeah, right.”

“Knife? Uhh, chicken? Surfer Rosa by the f*ckin’ Pixies?” Nothing seemed to work though, and Barry just casually shook his head after each guess.

“You know what? Keep that f*cking package to yourself, motherf*cker!” Carl shouted, having lost his patience, and walked back towards the car to carry out the other objectives, when he felt someone gently grab his shoulder.


“There you go. Wasn’t so hard after all, right? Take good care of the ‘puppy’ and don’t let those Vagos see you. I saw one of their cars on the arena’s parking lot, so you might not wanna go past that.” Barry said, handing over the package.

“Wait, what? What was the password?” a puzzled Carl asked.

“Motherf*cker. Have a nice day now!” Barry chanted cheerfully and walked the other way, while Carl once again cussed Tenpenny out. Obviously this had to be another one of his funny little pranks that was intended to make his life just a little harder. With the package in hand, he shook it a bit, wondering if there really was a puppy inside, though that theory was debunked when a strong smell soon filled his nose – the type of smell that only hard drugs and rotten cheese could produce – and for some reason, he doubted Tenpenny was in need of the latter, unless he was into exotic tastes or something. Carl could only wonder what Sweet would say if he found out he was put to work as a drug courier, but figured that if any questions were going to be asked, he could just skip this part and be done with it.


Carl had barely got one block away from the meeting point, when his phone rang. As an upstanding citizen, he moved to the side of the road and stopped to take the call, as driving while speaking on the phone was not cool, and would be “a sh*tty way to go” as Sweet put it.


“Hey, CJ, it’s Smoke. Me an’ Ryder are just chillin’ back at the crib, you wanna come? Ryder also got this joke he wants you to hear.” Smoke’s voice spoke to him.

“Ah, sh*t. Look, man, I got a busy schedule today... maybe later?” Carl asked innocently.

“What you up to, baby?” Smoke asked. Carl hated when people did that.

“I’m... hittin’ the block, trying to find out who’s supplying the Ballas.”

“How the hunt going so far?”

“It’s... OK, I guess? Just real hard to get any of these fools to talk.” Carl lied. He didn’t want to tell he was doing Tenpenny’s dirty work, because after witnessing the officers push Smoke and Ryder around and regularly show up in their homes uninvited, he was not going to let them think he was also being held on their leash.

“I know you can do it, CJ. You given us plenty of important victories over the Ballas already, and the people know that. No sane motherf*cker in this town is gonna cross paths with you.” Smoke encouraged. Now that felt a lot better than the constant questions.

“Thanks, man. Look, I gotta go after the next lead.” Carl said, sounding genuine.

“One more thing, homie. Be careful ‘round that Schneider guy. Ryder, stop talkin’ over... oh, yeah, I meant that Schrader guy. He might be rich as f*ck an’ all, but no one knows what those white guys in their big fancy mansions are up to. I just warned Ryder too, but he don’t believe me...” Smoke said, now 100% seriously.

“I think you worrying too much. I ain’t simple-minded, I keep him at arm’s length, all I need is his money.” Carl said.

“Man, I dunno. All I’m sayin’ is, you been making lots of connections outside Grove, and not all of ‘em might be good for us.”

“Says the guy who pissed off a whole army of motherf*ckin’ Russian mobsters.” Carl chuckled.

“Hey, they was the ones who started it!” Smoke shouted, but Carl could tell he was laughing too. “Catch you later, baby.” he followed up, and that was it for the call. Oh yes, Carl remembered that motorcycle chase in the flood control like yesterday. Back then, he was too concerned about staying alive to enjoy the thrilling moment, but now he could feel he got pumped up just thinking about that incident, and how they survived without a scratch at the end. Maybe, just maybe this dangerous lifestyle was beginning to suit him after all.


Carl took a long way around to get to the East Beach parking garage, avoiding not only the arena, but Smoke’s house as well. He’d rather not have had one of the homies seeing him and trying to join his efforts only to find a package reeking of drugs underneath his feet – yeah, if he was going to lose everyone’s respect in Grove Street, that wasn’t the way he wanted to do it. In the parking garage, what awaited him was a large bunch of cars, which confused him to no end – where was he supposed to leave the drugs, without a civilian coming here first and grabbing them before Tenpenny? Of course, the instructions said nothing about placing them in a specific car or anything... so after about two seconds of thinking, Carl stashed the package in the far corner of the garage and piled nearby trash bags on top of it. The smell of whatever was in those bags was so pungent that it covered the stench of the drugs well enough.


“On to the next target.” Carl casually muttered to himself, and set forth towards the Jefferson Motel, while re-reading the instructions. “Dispose of a car? Is this another case of the classic ‘car full of evidence’ sh*t?” he asked himself, and spent the rest of the way thinking of ways to carry out the task. Sure, he could always visit that Little Mexico shop that pretended to be a repairman’s garage, but whose owner actually sold some of the greatest car bombs he had ever seen – right after 8-Ball’s stuff back in Liberty City, of course. But blowing up a car would definitely attract attention, even in the distant, quiet areas, and who knew how much evidence a detective could still dig up from a totaled car? No, if he was going to do this, he had to do it the classic way.


Three long, nerve-wracking hours later, Carl stood outside the Hermes on a completely deserted beach just south of Fishers’ Lagoon, in Red County, eating his remaining snacks to relieve the tension from recent events. How was he supposed to know there was a detective keeping an eye on the car? That black Sentinel had followed him for ages, and Carl only managed to lose it thanks to a Packer driver accidentally dropping one of his cars right on the path of the detective. That chase only took about 30 minutes, but then there was the angry pimp in Los Flores who must have thought Carl was some sort of a competitor on his turf. Next time, he was going to make sure he wouldn’t stop next to already taken hookers, even if the light was red.


“Heh, red light...” Carl chuckled, then double-checked that there were no witnesses, and started pushing the car into the dark lagoon where no one would find it, unless an unfortunate diver were to chip a nail after crashing into an obstruction that used to not be there... but maybe he was thinking too hard now. The car was unpleasantly heavy, and the short push took even longer than he expected. Maybe he should’ve taken Sweet’s advice back at the day more seriously and gone to the gym more often...


A solid ten minutes later, the car was fully submerged and slowly sank towards the bottom. Carl was genuinely glad for a moment, thinking that the heaviest job was out of the way and he could relax for a moment – well, that is, until he realized what the third goal was about.

Beat up a crack dealer? Those fools so pumped with base, they don’t even feel pain. F*ck it, Tenpenny, you sure that sh*t was so bad it’s worth this?


A long while later, he was back in Los Santos, driving a Bobcat stolen from a redneck whose head looked weirdly deformed, and spending most of the way wondering what that rusty wheelchair was doing on the pier on another nearby beach. Carl couldn’t decide what was more unsettling, that or having to face off with the dealer – well, the odds certainly shifted on the wheelchair’s side when he showed up at the border of Ganton and Idlewood, and had a brief flashback of showing up in a crack den with Ryder and sending the drugged up Ballas a loving message from Grove Street announcing their return. With baseball bats.


Not so bad after all. But still, backup was always nice in case something unexpected happened...


“Hey, you.” Carl called out to two Families members standing just outside the gym.

“...and then Leslie threw the pizza right in a 5-0’s face and ran down the alleyway...” one of them said to the other, chuckling.

“In his underwear? Oh for f*ck’s sake...”

“Someone’s talkin’ to you!” Carl announced more loudly this time. That worked.

“Heeeeeey, CJ! Was it true you smashed some Balla busta’s eye off?” the skinnier one asked.

“Uhh... sure.” Carl said, not sounding proud, but with no guilt in his voice either. He had been thinking about Chad for a while earlier in the morning, and was slowly but surely coming to the conclusion that while the outcome wasn’t pleasant, he did what he had to do in the life-or-death situation, and Chad did bring it upon himself by being so aggressive.

“Nice, man. You gonna roll with us like you used to?” the fat guy asked. It took some time for Carl to remember, but he thought this guy was called Rodney, and the skinny one was Eddie. Just like Pulaski, but not a sh*tty person (except from society’s point of view, at least).


“Read my mind back there, homie. Think them crack dealers across the tracks ain’t quite got the message yet to keep the f*ck off the streets... we gotta hit ‘em back hard.” Carl told.

“Yeah!” Both Eddie and Rodney put their hands up, and were clearly ready for action. That was certainly a good sign – they weren’t revolting like those other excuses of homies Sweet told about the other day...

“OK, you guys know where Jay lives? I hear he... pushing real sh*tty base to the homies, addicting them to death.” Carl asked.

“Hey, I’ll show the way. I’m all fo’ blasting that guy too, he used to be one of us, then sold us out.” Eddie said bitterly. Carl didn’t even remember Jay wearing green, but if that was the case – then shame on him for switching loyalties. They waited for a freight train to pass, then crossed the tracks and Eddie led the way into one of the apartment blocks.

“Eh, no blasting this time. We gonna deliver hard, blunt force pain, let him learn the lesson.” Carl ordered, remembering Tenpenny’s exact wording. He doubted beating him up was going to solve any of the hood’s problems – in fact it was likely that Jay would just go crying to the Ballas, who’d later come to return the favor – but there was no real choice in the matter when the orders were coming from Tenpenny.


“Who’s there?” asked a slightly tired voice when Carl knocked on the door of an apartment Eddie pointed out to him. He had a baseball bat ready, the other homies got crowbars out.

“Someone who needs to talk to Jay.” Carl said.

“Hey, I ain’t sellin’ yet! Come back at night!” the voice said, now more angrily.

“And the Grove Street Families ain’t buyin’!” Carl said in response, and kicked the door straight open, revealing a man in a sleeveless black shirt similar to what other dealers around town were wearing – was it supposed to be some sort of uniform? Jay looked shocked, maybe even a little scared, only for a second or so before he put on a smug (and ugly) smile and yelled towards the side door:

“Boys, get in here! We got Grove Street punks over!”


Right away, a group of three Ballas rushed in from the adjacent apartment, acting as the security of this dealer. Carl immediately prepared for another hectic scenario, like what he had at the bar, but this proved to be nothing quite like it. The Ballas were so drugged up that they could barely even function as proper fighters, though Carl’s fears about fighting crackheads like this did come true, as they kept getting back up even after taking a charged bat swing to the face. They almost reminded him of zombies in a way – they couldn’t even form coherent language and kept mumbling as they stumbled forward. One of them was carrying a knife, which made him the most formidable threat of all. Rodney was carefully trying to find a window to strike him, while Carl and Eddie kept fending off the other two with everything they got. While all this was going on, Jay tried to subtly sneak out of the apartment, leaving his men behind to potentially get bruised to death, like a typical buster...


“Where you think you goin’?” Rodney asked loudly, and tossed his crowbar in the air, making nice and clean contact with Jay’s head. It was probably only the presence of crack in his system that prevented him from being knocked out, but he did lose his balance, and struggled to get back up. By the time he was finally done, Carl had walked up to him (with his homies again holding off the Ballas) and dragged him up to his feet only to punch him in the face.

“Officer Tenpenny would like to send his regards.” he said so silently the Families couldn’t hear him.

“This... don’t hurt a bit...” Jay mumbled. Carl’s response was a right hook.

“This is your only f*cking warning, little sh*thead. If you gonna keep cookin’ base to the C.R.A.S.H. fools, it better be grade A sh*t from now on, or we come back and ask a little less nicely...” he threatened with the deepest voice he could make, speaking right in front of Jay’s face now.

“I don’t...” Jay started, but that was already the beginning of a wrong answer, and Carl interrupted him by grabbing a finger and twisting it backwards hard. A crushing sound was heard, followed by a grievous scream. Guess everyone had their weak point, even while high.

“OK, OK! Just f*cking leave me ALONE!” Jay yelled, trying to get away from Carl’s grasp.

“One more thing. Take your sh*tty dope so far away from the Families that we’ll never have to hear from you again... or would you rather break another finger?” Carl asked, this time so loudly that the Families must’ve heard it. That wasn’t part of the job description, but Carl felt this was his responsibility as a co-leader of the community.


“I get it! You, you’ll never see me again! I promise!” Jay screamed, once again struggling. Carl disposed of him by throwing him towards the trash can in the corner. F*cking bullseye, he landed on it directly ass first, just as Carl intended.

“Keep that attitude, and I’m sure we ain’t havin’ more problems.” Carl said firmly, and turned away in disgust. He didn’t want to spend any more time in the company of cowards like Jay than he had to. The Ballas had already been taken care of while he was busy with his thing, as all of them lay unconscious in a neatly arranged pile.


Unfortunately, there were complications on his side as well. Eddie had to support Rodney, who looked badly hurt, and had a bleeding wound in his lower abdomen. Carl rushed to assist him as well, and they slowly made their way out of the house.

“What happened to him?” Carl asked, out of instinct.

“Knife busta got a lucky stab at him. Ain’t the first time the Ballas play unfair either...” Eddie ranted, struggling to carry the much bigger guy outside. There was one of the Ballas’ Majestics parked right outside, and although the Families normally wouldn’t touch those with a stick, this was clearly an exception, with someone’s life on the line. Carl helped place Rodney on the front seat carefully, with him mumbling something in obviously gruesome pain.

“Don’t speak, buddy, it’ll worsen ya up.” Eddie said, getting on the driver’s seat.

“Y’know, guys, I know it’s sad it had to end this way, but you did a man’s job for us today. I’m gonna make sure Sweet hears of this.” Carl said while Eddie started the car.

“Where you gonna go now, man?”

“I got other duties... big picture thing, gotta find out who the Ballas’ allies are, y’know...” Carl explained. Eddie probably didn’t get any of it, being one of those who preferred to just cap any purple-wearing fools in his vicinity and be done with it even if it gained nothing to the Families in the long run... but at least he thumbed Carl up before driving off. That was good enough.


Jefferson SubUrban, 8:00PM


Carl took the freedom to drop by his house and pick up a quick meal before heading on his way again, to the last destination. The city was starting to become darker and more quiet, but the clothes shop remained open long enough that if Tenpenny wanted Carl to buy him a nice outfit for some fancy dress ball, there was still plenty of time.


“You took longer than I expected, boy.” Tenpenny’s mocking voice said on the phone, after Carl had pulled up on the side of the road opposite the store, and called him for instructions.

Carl tried to think of a snarky reply just to make himself feel better, but came up with nothing. Tenpenny laughed.

“Now, don’t even bother wasting our time with your half-assed gangsta slang, and let me give the instructions. Some young, unaffiliated punk called Brad Jones works part-time in that store. He’s been spreading nasty, unwanted rumors all over town about my alleged role in the local drug trading business. Carl, I’m deeply hurt that a man would go so far to undermine the work of a good officer trying to make the streets safer for everyone.”

“Yeah, I can tell you’re on the verge of tears.”

“Jones works security, and his shift ends at 9. He always rides a white bike to work, it’s probably parked somewhere around the back... don’t know where he lives, but you just might find out tonight. You gotta catch that punk, and bring him to me so I can ‘educate’ him to disrespect a man of my standing...” Tenpenny explained. Working for him was starting to become more unpleasant every moment now...

“Kidnapping ain’t exactly my strong suit.” Carl said.

“Well, you better get over it. Or, if this simple job just isn’t simple enough for your whiny ass, you can always just put a bullet in him... that way, he won’t snitch. Your call.” Tenpenny said. No more words were exchanged, as he immediately hung up.


Man, Carl hated this.


That fool he had never even met was f*cked, because he was doing something good for the community. Carl wasn’t stupid, he knew that if the kid were to have a private meeting with Tenpenny, he was never going to see the light of day again... and the other option was a quick bullet to the brain, putting a grim, if not painless end to all of his hopes and dreams. Backing out of this job wasn’t an option either, not because Carl really needed the files, but because Tenpenny would under no circumstances let someone just tell him “no” and walk away...


Carl sighed. He had a plan – a very quickly thought out plan – but if he was going to face a security guard on the streets, he had better pack something that gave him an advantage. With a long amount of time still to go, he made a beeline back to his house once again, and grabbed his handgun, loading it full of ammunition just to be sure. He was already visibly shaking from the thought of the dirty job, though he couldn’t tell if he was more angry or just nervous...

“F*ck Tenpenny, man.” Carl said to himself as he had a glass of tap water to calm himself down a bit. “F*ck that guy, and f*ck all his oddjobs. I’m out as soon as the chance comes...”


Five minutes to 9, he was waiting outside the clothes store, at the back where a number of bikes were indeed arranged neatly in a row. Carl had already unlocked the white one (one could say he was a natural in this) and dragged it away from the rest so he could make his getaway more quickly – nothing would provoke that guard to chase him on his spare time than a stolen bike. With that done, he sat on the saddle quietly, leaning to a wall behind him and reading a newspaper that the wind conveniently transported for him. Generally, he only cared about the comics and sports news, but now he saw an important-looking article right on the front page about the mayor granting C.R.A.S.H. yet more funding to deal a blow to the drug business...


“WHO’S THERE?” Carl yelled, jumping straight up so hard the bike fell over, and pointed his gun towards the adjacent alley. An odd figure had been sneaking towards his location for quite some time, and really blended in well with the house behind it, only revealing its position after accidentally stepping on a fallen branch and cracking it. The figure wasted no time in getting away from the scene, and ran abnormally fast past the houses, and before Carl even fully grasped what was going on, it had completely vanished from sight.


“The f*ck was that? Crazed fan of mine?” Carl mumbled, and holstered the gun again.

“Everything OK back here? I swear I heard some...” a man’s voice was heard from the shop’s back door. Aw, sh*t – just brilliant, obviously this little moment allowed the guard to spot Carl first. He stopped the sentence quickly when he noticed what Carl was standing over.

“My bike? You f*cking thief!” the guard yelled. Carl scrambled to pick the bike back up and tried to pedal away, when he felt the man grab the back of his shirt, which stopped him on his tracks. Carl started viciously slapping his hand away, finally succeeding on the third attempt, and cycled forward at full speed. Now it was just a matter of maintaining a safe distance and ambushing him later... but goddamn, that guard really sounded like a friendly, helpful dude before he saw Carl on his bike. Having to take him off the streets permanently, man, that was sick, no matter how he was going to twist it.


Carl swerved through the alleyways, narrowly avoided being run over while crossing a street, and occasionally looked back at Brad – yeah, that was the name – who was actually keeping up with him rather well despite being on foot. Of course, Carl tried not to look like he was going purposefully slow, rather giving the image that he was struggling to move the bike due to poor fitness. Up ahead, the path split up, with a ramp on the left and even ground on the right. This area looked remote enough, and Carl could easily pretend to get caught by going up the ramp and losing all his speed... but he missed it, because he caught some kind of movement in the corner of his eye, and immediately turned to look in that direction to investigate. He could’ve sworn some dark shape had just run across the yard on his right for no apparent reason...


Crash. Carl promptly put his eyes back on the road just in time to see Brad run up that ramp on the side and attempt to jump right on top of him, only to misjudge the timing (probably due to Carl’s sudden slowing) and now the man plummeted stomach first onto the concrete. He received salt to the wounds too, as Carl couldn’t brake on time and crashed into the laying man, flying right over the handlebars and landing on his knees. Man, he hated that stinging pain whenever something like that happened... they were probably going to be sore for days.


And speaking of Brad – did he ever get bruised hard. He was still unable to get up, though managed to roll over onto his back. If this hadn’t been an innocent target, Carl probably would’ve cracked some joke about him trying to act like an action movie star... but then there was no one to say that to, so he’d be forced to just laugh at it all by himself. For that reason, these solo missions were starting to be a strain on him. He really would’ve liked some sort of buddy alongside him to watch his back and have delightful banter with. Rodney and Eddie did a fine job at the crack den, but Carl was thinking more about someone he knew more as a friend than part of the bigger family. There was obviously Cesar, but being Kendl’s boyfriend, he wasn’t someone whose life Carl wanted to risk, especially for any of Tenpenny’s crap.


“Well, looks like you win, asshole. Take the f*cking bike if that matters so much.” Brad told Carl in clean language, no gangster slang involved in that.

“Brad.” Carl started in an apologetic tone, after just about managing to get on his feet. “I really appreciate what you been doin’ about Tenpenny...” he stammered.

“What’re you on about now?” Brad angrily interrupted.

“I wish it didn’t have to end this way, f*ck, I hate that snake as much as you do, I hope he chokes on the base he’s dealin’...”

“Just get to the f*cking point, if you have one.”

“Tenpenny wanted me to kill you, ‘cause you know his antics and wanna expose them to the ‘hood.” Carl sighed. He should’ve said “kidnap”, but... f*ck it, he wasn’t going to go there.

“And now your hypocritical ass is lecturing me about how bad he is?” Brad asked. He probably would’ve been up by now, but was in too much pain to do that... probably a few broken bones.

“He givin’ me no choice. I’m just a slave to him. If I don’t do this, I’m gonna be f*cked, and the Families might just break apart again.” Carl explained, to his best ability.

“You Grove Street Families? Keepin’ drugs off the streets, like it’s meant to be?”

“Uh huh.” Carl probably should’ve sounded more proud, but it was a bit hard right now.


“Ain’t it great, ironic even...” Brad said after a long pause, and coughed a bit. “Guy from the most righteous crew in town acting as the bitchdog to C.R.A.S.H...”

“It ain’t like that! Look, look, I know what he up to, and I promise...” Carl shouted.

“You’re helping them distribute worse and worse sh*t all over town!”

“...the fight with Tenpenny ain’t f*ckin’ over! I just need to get off his leash first!” Carl forcibly spoke over him, and made damn sure he heard that. Brad fell silent for a short while.

“I don’t get why he’d be so obsessed with me. I only ever told my theories to my cousin and aunt a few weeks ago.” Brad said, and Carl could tell from his voice he was genuine.


Two people? Two people was all he spoke to, and somehow word still reached out to Tenpenny? Carl swore that if one of those relatives of Brad’s was some kind of an undercover spy working for C.R.A.S.H., they’d be the next to get assassinated out in the hood...

“So what is it? You really not gonna kill me?” Brad asked. There was now panic in his voice – pure panic that made Carl uncomfortable.

“I know it’s hard... but if you heard what he’d do to you if he found ya still alive, you’d think this is just doin’ a favor...” Carl said quietly, now unholstering his gun.

“Please! Please, no! I’m too young... just let me go! I’ll escape to the countryside, no one will ever hear from me again, just – DON’T – SHOOT!” Brad screamed.

“I really don’t want to... but at the same time, my life’ll be on the line if I refuse... look, I’ll say it again, I promise Tenpenny’s goin’ down way before I do! And that ain’t gonna be as painless as this...”


Brad didn’t even say anything, just gasped. Carl knew he was wasting too much time here, and just prolonging the horrible fear and anxiety in the man who just five minutes ago was leading his normal life, probably without a worry in the world...


“All us Families gonna make sure this ain’t for nought... he going so down.” Carl said for one last time, grabbing Brad’s hand to comfort him while he pointed the handgun at the injured man’s forehead. About five more hesitant seconds passed...


Carl pulled the trigger.



The End.

Edited by Carbonox
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Son of Zeus

Lol, you needn't be worried. It's not like they're all expert writers there. I have an account there and started an SA story last year. Got 16 reviews in a couple of weeks. Couldn't write more than 3 chapters due to exams....I might continue it someday.


I've read other stories and they're all decently written, just like yours. Give it a shot. Put out a chapter every weekend and you'll be good.

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Mokrie Dela

It's a bigger community - as far as writing goes. The down side is that it's almost too big. Some people won't look twice at your stuff - they'll look only at what they know. Here, at least, I read stuff I wouldn't normally, and I'm all the richer for it. That said, I'd happily take a dozen or so of that site's users if it meant regular activity here. I'm to blame as much as anyone for that; just an hour of writing a day.


Buying that PS4 might have been a mistake... :p


And lowriders...


Keep up the good work. I'll get round to reading this all soon :)

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Ah yes, yet another chapter within the same month. Getting there with the momentum. Overall, this turned out a lot longer than I expected though. Sometimes I really feel like I get carried away while writing dialogue (which is generally my favorite part of the story).


SA7: Cereal Killers



”CJ, get up!”
“Carl, quit f*cking embarrassing us and wake up!” Sweet’s voice echoed somewhere far out in the distance, and Carl could feel someone shake his body a bit too violently for his tastes. Oh, how terribly hard it felt to just get his eyes open enough that he could make out the time on his alarm clock.
“What you... doin’ that for?” Carl mumbled in clearer language than he had expected, and sat up just so Sweet would stop shaking him. Nine in the morning? Good lord.
“We all thought we’d get together for breakfast only to find the new owner of this place still in bed like a...” Sweet’s voice drifted off somewhere as Carl once again started feeling dizzy, and had to slap himself before he’d just fall asleep again.
“And you just need to do it in here? Look, bro, I just had a sh*t day and slept bad, so... just give me a f*ckin’ break.”
“Thought it’d be a happier surprise than this.” Sweet muttered. Well, true, everyone congregating in the Johnson House did sound nice – as long as John Carlson wasn’t invited – but Carl felt like an outsider with his sleeping habits. He finally admitted he was doing everyone a disservice by keeping them waiting, and began to dress up.

“By the way... how was Tenpenny’s errands?” Sweet asked quietly after Carl quickly went through his wardrobe and put on something green, just to please the brother that wouldn’t leave him alone.
“Man, even worse sh*t than before. Think all I did was strengthen the nigga’s chokehold on this city.” Carl told, more annoyed every second, as he tried to fit his annoyingly small socks on his sweaty feet. He then went on a rant about the various ways in which Tenpenny constantly assorted his dominance, before explaining that due to some bullsh*t about “waiting ‘till the heat dies down” Hernandez wasn’t going to bring him those files until a few days later. A few days could be quite critical in Los Santos, especially with the Ballas so unhappy about losing their armory to an unexpected assault.

At least then Sweet showed his sympathetic side and patted Carl in the back, promising him that this was the last time they would voluntarily work for Tenpenny... only problem was, Carl doubted this was all the officer had to offer. He stumbled down the stairs, finally feeling at least a little bit energized, though he’d rather have known about a get-together like this in advance. Smoke was already sitting at the living room table, eating a whole plate full of pancakes, probably made by Kendl, who was sitting opposite him and reading a newspaper. The most surprising sight was probably Ryder and Cesar playing Contra together on Carl’s ancient NES that he himself had touched maybe once since his return. Seeing Cesar in Grove Street like that was in itself a surprise, but then Sweet was really the only one causing tension with him, and as for Ryder – he got along with literally anyone these days, at least as long as they were useful to him.

“Hey, Carl. Feeling tired?” Kendl asked, while Carl and Sweet took the seats between her and Smoke. Both already had conveniently placed plates in front of them.
“Yeah, yeah... anything interesting in the news?” Carl asked, stretching himself.
“Nothin’, just some minimum wage asshole whining that he can’t support four kids by flippin’ chicken burgers.” Smoke said in between bites.
“I meant gang stuff, you idiot.” Carl chuckled.
“Still nothin’, but honestly, keep up the good work, brother. You’re giving us momentum with all your successes, it’s the only thing still keepin’ the Families together.” Sweet spoke up, as Smoke was once again too busy stuffing his mouth.
“Along with respect!” Ryder chimed in.
“Hey, focus on the gam... oh, f*ck.” a disappointed Cesar said, as Ryder’s crucial stoppage of play cost them the last of their lives.
“Man, don’t sweat it, we was gonna lose anyway. Tough part comin’ up soon an’ sh*t. Now, nigga’s gotta eat.” Ryder said, moving on to the breakfast table. Cesar didn’t want a scolding from Kendl, so he also joined the group while his girlfriend fetched more pancakes from the kitchen.

As Carl was getting started with his meal, he gazed across the table to witness Smoke reaching out to grab yet another pancake from the center plate, even though he was still in the process of eating one and had two untouched ones underneath as well. For some reason, no one called him out on it, probably because there was still plenty left for everyone, so Carl kept his mouth shut as well. The next few minutes were spent happily chattering about anything the group managed to come up with. Carl thought that maybe this was worth waking up early for after all... he sure had missed the moments when his family and friends would all just get together and have a good time.

“Carl, you’re in need of money, right? I remember you’re good at street racing, so why not give it a try again?” Kendl asked after finishing her plate and focusing on the newspaper again.
“Eh, me and him both would love it, but no one in Santos wants to challenge us anymore.” Cesar said, just as Smoke burped loudly next to him. He still had two pancakes left, but didn’t seem very bothered as he moved on to the next one.
“Sure, the local assholes know your skills by now... but how about an out-of-town group coming here in just a few weeks? They seem to be accepting wild card entries.” Kendl persisted, and placed the paper in the middle of the table so others could read it too. Well, at least Cesar could, Carl had to settle to looking at it upside down.
“Wait, that sh*t’s legal?” Cesar asked after reading the first paragraph.
“Yeah, I read about it. That club started off in Vice City some ten years ago, eventually gathering various international recruits. Professional stuff. The police couldn’t put a stop to them, so finally the mayor gave in and proposed a deal. They’d be allowed to race on closed street circuits a bunch of times a year, and wouldn’t get in trouble... as long as they’d put an end to the illegal racing.” Kendl lectured. She sure had done her homework.

“OK, so why’d a bunch of VC racers show up all the way across the country?” Carl asked, not exactly convinced by now.
“A lot of other towns got in on it when they realized how popular the racers had become. From there, we get to where we are now – they compete in a fifteen-race championship each year, and right now, they’re about to arrive to Santos for the final round.” Kendl continued, saying all of that out of memory.
“There big money involved in that sh*t?” Sweet asked.
“It says here the final race offers 250K for the winner.” Cesar said.
“And only 50K for runner-up. What f*ckin’ rip-off is this?” Ryder asked, also reading the same section of the article from over Cesar’s shoulder.
“It ain’t a rip-off, they just wanna encourage drivers to go for the win, it seems.” Cesar stated.
“OK, OK, I’ll give it a think, but I don’t really have any kinda race car. I mean, that Savanna I tuned up and brought to your lowrider race don’t hold up much against big name drivers.” Carl said a bit depressingly. No one had much to add to that.
“I mean, that Adder I stole from the Chesterfield kid was real quick, but it got...” he continued, when Cesar raised his arm.
“Chester Chesterfield the Third?”
“Uhh, that’s what he might’ve been called... why?”
“He’s one of the championship contenders.” Cesar said, reading the section where the magazine hyped him up like he was the second coming of Earnhardt, mostly due to him being a Los Santos local.
“Well... that settles it. We gonna get ourselves a car, and show up there.” Carl said, suddenly regaining all of his confidence.
“Cars in plural, holmes. I’ll back you up every step of the way.” Cesar reminded.

After the breakfast was over (except for Smoke) everyone went their own ways in the house: Ryder convinced Carl to come play Contra since Cesar apparently “sucked” at it, Sweet spectated them and occasionally mentioned something about the Seville Boulevard Families (though unfortunately that information went straight out of Carl’s other ear) and Cesar helped Kendl do the dishes, gaining an intimate reward for it based on the kissing sounds that Carl and Sweet both ignored to their best ability.

Then, Cesar again showed up in the living room, looking like he had something to say. Sweet eyed him firmly, while Carl had his eyes on the game as he tried his best to protect Ryder, who kept messing around like a headless chicken. Cesar coughed a bit, looking like he was trying to gather his courage to say something.
“Umm, I saw that family photo of yours – it was quite nice.”
That all? You gotta be more confident, man.” Carl thought humorously.
“But something about it still puzzles me...” Cesar said.
Carl could feel his neckhair springing up. “Not that question, please... not now!
“Who’s the one whose face had been scratched off?”
f*ck, he asked that question!

Sweet tensed up like he had just seen a ghost. Carl could feel himself freezing in place (which got poor Bill killed, but he didn’t care about that) and as he looked back towards Cesar, he could see Kendl on the background, also frozen in place and looking depressed all of a sudden. When she saw her brother was looking, she quickly walked over to the kitchen, pretending to be busy. Smoke and Ryder did not say a word (not that Smoke was able to, with him still chewing his second-to-last pancake) – they knew well enough that it was best for them to stay quiet when one of these family matters came up.

“Did I...” Cesar asked, not understanding the tension around him.
“Nevermind. Come upstairs, I’ll tell you somethin’ crucial.” Carl said, immediately getting up from the couch and urging him to go with him. Cesar looked untrusting, probably even thinking of the possibility of Carl leading him there with murder in mind, but after Sweet gave him a “don’t-worry-he-won’t-kill-you-for-that” look, he shrugged and followed Carl all the way to his room.

Carl reached out under his bed and dug out a small box, full of various nostalgic items from his youth that he vowed to never give up, under any circumstances. He had even taken it along to Liberty City for those five years, to serve as a reminder of the old days. As Cesar entered the room, Carl searched the contents of the box before finding... it. A small, framed picture of a smiling, muscular black gentleman in his mid-twenties, wearing a light green T-shirt... Carl showed it to Cesar, but didn’t let go of the photo, probably fearing it’d get lost if it was tampered with too much.

“This my cousin, Aldrin Johnson. We... don’t really talk about him, at least when Kendl’s around.” Carl introduced him after trying to think of something to say.
“Sorry, man, I wouldn’t know. I just don’t see what’s up... it’s like he defected to the Ballas or something.” Cesar said, sitting down on the bed next to Carl.
“No... no, nothin’ like that. It’s kind of a long story, and I ain’t sure if I wanna go through with it...”
“I didn’t actually know you had cousins.”
“Just the one. I had an aunt, she was... well, a useless basehead who we sent to rehab ages ago. Then she just disappeared, and... f*ck knows what happened next. So anyway, she had one son, and we managed to smuggle him out of social services’ reach, and adopted him as one of our own instead.” Carl told slowly. Smoke blabbered something downstairs, but that was none of his or Cesar’s concern right now.
“Aldrin grew into a real good person, y’know. Real upstanding member of the community, always helpin’ those in need. Kendl and Brian always looked up to him... me and him were about the same age, so we grew into real loyal friends... I still remember when he bought that PCJ, and everyone took turns gettin’ on a ride on the hood’s very own sports bike.”

“Then, the disagreements came. Y’know, already back then, us Families were strongly against drugs on our streets.” Carl began the second, less ideal part of the tale.
“And your cousin was OK with them?” Cesar asked.
“What? Hell no. I just said his Moms was a basehead... it left him real angry. No, he was with Sweet all the way. Thing is, we may have been anti-drug, but we were still a gang... we robbed stores, mugged people, you know the drill... that’s when cousin Al got upset. He said we was all hypocrites, that we should focus on keeping crime out like it was meant to be... and then, he said the thing that set Sweet off. He said we was just another set of Ballas wearin’ green.”
Cesar just looked him straight in the eyes, not saying a word.
“Then, sh*t just got more intense by the day. Lots of drive-by’s, turf wars with the Ballas... we really were no longer safe even in our own community. Al became real insecure, just stuck at his house most of the time, tried to keep his cool... I shoulda seen the signs back then.”
“What signs?”
“His head just couldn’t take all that sh*t. I mean, if there was a fight, sure he’d hold his own, but he said he didn’t wanna live in constant danger, fearin’ that one time there just wouldn’t be that next morning... said that kinda sh*t was for soldiers who know they takin’ a risk, not for well-meaning niggas who just happen to live in the ‘hood.”

“Then, few weeks later, we Johnsons all met up at Al’s place, just to have a good time, y’know? He took his chance and told Sweet all about the issues with the ‘hood. It was the first time they even spoke since that Ballas comment... somehow I thought things was gonna get back to normal.”
“But they didn’t?”
“No, it was Sweet’s turn to set Al off. Maybe he didn’t mean to, but... well, he just said Al should do more to help rather than sit home all day. That was all.”
“Man, I knew Sweet gets angry sometimes, but that’s just...” Cesar started, but didn’t find an appropriate word to describe how he felt.
“Cold, I guess. Maybe he was still bitter, I dunno, but it was a bad choice.” Carl said, shaking his head.
“What happened next then?”
Carl stared at the floor for a moment before finally gathering the courage to look at Cesar again. “Al punched him in the face.”
“Oh, sh*t.” Cesar said, as if he had just heard an accurate description of Aldrin getting butchered.
“He lived through it, y’know. Sweet just took it, probably figured fighting was gonna solve nothing... but the damage had still been done. Sweet urged us to leave soon after that, and little did I know that was the last I saw of cousin Al. The next day, he just... wasn’t there no more. He packed up his stuff and left without a farewell note or nothin’...”

“Where do you think he went?” Cesar asked at last, after Carl didn’t follow up with anything else.
“Beats me... and really, I don’t give a f*ck. Whether he a banker in Vice, or firefigher in LC, or bike tuner happily married to a dude in Fierro, he can live his life however he wants. I dunno what to think of him sometimes... maybe he just really needed a fresh start, and I ain’t one to stop him. He just shoulda considered that Kendl took his disappearance real hard. She still sometimes hopes to hear the sound of that bike’s engine pullin’ up on Grove Street.”
“Yeah, I see that now... poor girl, that’s a lotta sh*t to go through. You think I could comfort her a bit with a nice trip to the countryside?” Cesar inquired.
“Whatever floats your boat.” Carl said bluntly.
“So as for Sweet... he ain’t forgiven your cousin, right?”
“I suppose he woulda, if he didn’t think Al inspired me to leave Santos behind too. And the sad part is, he’s kinda right. When Brian died, I just wanted to get out of all that f*ckin’ mess... so I followed Al’s example and f*cked right off to LC. Though at least I kept in contact with everyone.” Carl told, with his head still down.

“Well, that was one f*cked up story right from the Johnson household. Better join the others and not prolong the moment.” Carl said, pulling himself back up. He placed Aldrin’s picture into the box and shoved it underneath the bed again, when Cesar raised his finger.
“One more thing. Did this Aldrin ever make you question your life as a criminal?”
“I... well, damn, that’s a f*cking good question. Maybe a bit, but then me and Sweet gotta get food on our table somehow, and a legit job ain’t ever worked out too well for us... I mean, this is Santos after all, you gotta have light skin or you ain’t goin’ anywhere. And thinking of it, we kinda like that Robin Hood guy, we take from those who got too many, and give to those in need... as in, us.” Carl answered, feeling like the words were just flowing out of his mouth.
“Heh, you don’t need to justify that lifestyle to me, holmes. C’mon, let’s go play Contra, if Ryder can bring himself to let go of that controller.” Cesar chuckled, and Carl flashed a smile, exiting his room a lot happier than how he felt when he entered. Getting that story off his chest actually felt better than he expected.

“Hey, wait, where’s Sweet and Ryder?” Carl asked as they came down the stairs, and only saw Kendl now reading his magazines (luckily he had stashed the dirty ones out of sight) and Smoke watching a Saints game on TV. He wanted to say something comforting to Kendl after Cesar’s slip, but she already had her mind elsewhere by the looks of things.
“Some sh*t’s apparently goin’ down on Seville Boulevard, they went to check it out.” Smoke said.
“You think I should catch up and help out?” Carl suggested right away.
“As well as you doin’, CJ, you don’t need to hog every little job we pull off. Just relax, homie, come watch the game too if you want.” Smoke said assuredly.
“Nah, I got other sh*t in mind. Thanks for the pancakes again, sis, but I’m really itchin’ for some of my favorite cereals right now too, and...” Carl said heading into the kitchen, but before he could finish, he realized upon opening the closet that there were no Cok-O-Pops in sight... even though he was certain he had just purchased a full package some days ago...
“Yeah, err, before you woke up, I...” Smoke stammered, now sounding embarrassed.
“I don’t need to know! Man, f*ck it, I’ll just go pick some up from Roboi’s.” Carl sighed.
“But what about Contra?” Cesar asked.
“Yeah, good luck getting Smoke’s fat ass off the TV. Uhh, I’ll be back in a bit, this won’t take long.” Carl said, leaving the house in a bit of a hurry as he realized how much he truly needed some Cok-O-Pops to start his day properly. Once again, he jumped into his trusty customized Savanna.

Roboi’s Food Mart, Commerce

As Carl pulled up outside the shop, he once again felt a breeze of nostalgia. Good old Roboi had managed this shop already when he was young, and he and Ryder often shoplifted at the place. That all ended when Carl was once caught in the act, and Roboi made him shovel the snow out of the shop’s driveway as retribution. That day, he learned a valuable lesson about crime and punishment... and ever since, he made sure to hit up other stores instead, where the owners were less vigilant. Nowadays Carl and Roboi had more respect for each other, having learned to know each other as grown men.

Carl grabbed a cereal package from its usual place on the shelves, ignoring the two upper middle-class white women who had been blabbering about some useless gossip before they noticed him, and immediately began whispering something that Carl was maybe better off not hearing. They probably recognized him as a street criminal, or maybe they just assumed it, either way he had learned by now that the best course of action was to pay them no attention, or they’d just freak out and call the cops to report “harassment”. Carl recalled when Ryder once talked back to two obnoxious girls, and would probably have been dragged into the back of a police cruiser if Sweet hadn’t backed him up.
“Equal society, my ass.” Carl thought before heading to the check-out.
“Anything else, CJ?” Roboi asked, looking surprised that Carl only picked up the cereals.
“Oh, maybe I’ll be back tomorrow for proper grocery shopping. By the way, found a reliable courier yet?”
“Some kid from Idlewood offered his help, but turns out all he wanted was the free bike and food packages, as he never came back from his first deliveries! You know, I’m getting tired of all these dishonest assholes who come from Balla turfs, every – single – time!” Roboi vented, earning some looks from passing customers.
“You... you know how to ride a bike, right? And you know the city sorta well?” he asked more calmly.
“I do, but I been busy.”
“But there’s a lot of money in it for you, as long as you don’t steal anything.”
“sh*t, well, money sounds good...”

Another customer in all-black clothing entered the store, holding his head down, and for some reason he walked straight up to the counter. Carl scowled at him – did this dude not understand there was a line? Not to mention he hadn’t picked up anything...
“THIS IS A ROBBERY! GIMME ALL YOUR MONEY!” the person screamed, pulling out a pistol that he pointed straight at Roboi, and pulling his head up to reveal he was wearing a balaclava. All the customers went nuts, ran into the aisles for cover, and those white girls screamed their lungs out...
Well, f*ck...” Carl thought, and started to back out so he wouldn’t get in trouble.
“STAY CLEAR, I GOT A HOSTAGE!” the man yelled in a voice that sounded distinctly white, as he grabbed Carl with his free hand and alternated between pointing the pistol at him and Roboi.
“R-relax, man. Here, I, I got your money! All clean in a bag!” Roboi said after emptying the register, and handed the money to the robber with no resistance... man, Carl had wished he would stand against this asshole like he did with shoplifters.
The robber pushed Carl forward out of the store, telling him to get into the gray Cadrona that was presumably his getaway car. Somehow Carl managed to cling on to the cereal box, which he naturally took along. No robber was going to deny him his daily breakfast.
“DON’T f*ckING FOLLOW ME!” he screamed when one customer tried to play hero and surprise him from behind. The robber fired in the air, then jumped into the driver’s seat of the car and threw the money bag in Carl’s lap.

“Make yourself f*ckin’ useful and count it when I drive.” he told, and scrambled to get through the heavy traffic in the area. Faint police sirens could be heard somewhere in the distance.
“Why’d you take me? Those asshole girls woulda been more profitable targets.” Carl said as he put his seatbelt on, something the robber hadn’t bothered doing.
“I’m not after a ransom, all I want is to get the f*ck outta here without trouble.”
“Looks like 2.5K. Man, you f*ckin’ small-time.” Carl chuckled mockingly, with the man driving erratically north, then turning east towards Downtown.
“Ah, still better than my last stick-up.” the robber mumbled. Carl was a bit disappointed he didn’t respond aggressively to his jab.
“Y’know, this is the kinda sh*t I pulled when I was still underage. I sorta grew outta it ages ago.” he said in another attempt at a mockery, but the man ignored him completely as he saw flashing lights in the rearview mirror.

“The f*cking 5-0! HOW?!” he raged, punching the steering wheel and swerving to a nearby alleyway in order to lose the pursuers. As it turned out, though, there weren’t many good hiding places in Downtown due to civilians all over the place telling the cops exactly where to go. With nothing else to do, Carl made himself useful and tuned the radio over to the police frequency.
“...witnesses say suspect driving a dirty gray Cadrona towards Glen Park... *zzzzz* He’s wearing a balaclava, has a black male accomplice on the front seat... *zzzzz*” the dispatcher called out, with the poor connection making him slightly difficult to hear.
“Accomplice? Who the f*ck are these guys?” Carl demanded.
“It ain’t easy bein’ black in Santos, huh?” the robber chuckled, taking full advantage of the moment to get back at Carl. “Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll be nice with you if you wave that cereal box around, prove you’re a legit citizen.”
“If you think the cops work like that... hey, wait, what the f*ck? Why you still headin’ in this direction?” Carl asked, noticing that they were arriving in Glen Park.
“I’m the one driving this car, asshole!”
“They just said we headin’ this way, they gonna be waiting for us!”
“Oh. In that case...” the robber said just as two cop cars joined the chase from the park. “Oops.”

“Do you think these officers will accept a bribe?” the robber asked, narrowly avoiding a P.I.T. Maneuver at the last second.
“Man, your take from this stick-up is nothin’ but chump change to LS cops. I know a place we can hide, though.” Carl stated.
“A hiding place? This better not be a trap!”
“Hey, you ain’t the only criminal in this car.”
“Whatever! Umm, if this is genuine, and we shake those losers, I might let you run free.”
“You got yourself a deal. The place is... that abandoned sewer tunnel, just past Grove Street.” Carl said, a bit reluctantly. He hated that tunnel, he thought it was scary, but admittedly it had always been the best place for him and the friends to get rid of any heat.

They drove southbound, making a turn at almost every intersection to make it harder for cops to determine where they were going. The leading squad cars had almost lost them, and the final nail in the coffin was when one had to dodge a passing ice cream truck and crashed right through the wall of the skate park. Carl raised his hands in a victorious pose as he witnessed the event through his mirror.
“Look at those peds, screaming and pointing at us. How’d they know what car we’re in? They can’t listen in on the cops or nothing...” the robber said in confusion.
“It ain’t this car, it’s your f*ckin’ balaclava! We kinda stand out here!” Carl chanted.
“Aw, f*ck. Well you know what, LS is pretty hot this time of the year... and I’m sweating already. The cops better not see this sexy face though.”

The robber took his mask off and tossed it over to the backseat. Next to Carl was now a white man (as he expected) who looked like he was in his late thirties by now, maybe even forties. He looked like the type of person who was utterly exhausted from everything he had experienced in life thus far, but still apparently felt the need to go on.
“Ah, now I get it. Grandson needs some candy money?” Carl suggested.
“Man, f*ck off. I thought you were chill.”
“Maybe I’d fit your expectations better if ya didn’t grab me at the store like that.”
“Hey, I thought the cops wouldn’t bother with a black hostage. Sure, it’s kinda sad, but also true.”
“Ain’t that the truth indeed. OK, jump into the drain here. There ain’t no one to see us.” Carl said when they got on a road overlooking the storm drain in Willowfield. The robber didn’t need to be told twice – before long, he smashed through the gate of the abandoned sewer (who on earth had fixed that between now and the bike chase with Smoke?), then came to a stop about midway through the tunnel.

“OK... OK, I think that’s it. You hear any sirens?” the robber asked, insecurely looking behind every few seconds to ensure there was no one following them.
“Faintly, but ain’t that an ambulance?”
“Uh, I dunno, they all sound the same. OK, get off now, I’ll let you go. You were fine, not at all the type that’d just beg for mercy all the time...”
When the robber again checked what was behind them, Carl suddenly grabbed the gun that he had carelessly placed on the right side of his belt, a little too close to the passenger seat. He pointed it at the robber, who flinched and backed up against his side window.

“What the f*ck?! No, please! Is it the money you after? Just f*cking take it, and let me...”
“Quit bein’ a pussy, dude. I don’t give a f*ck about chump change that belongs to my good friend Roboi anyway. I just took this as insurance so you wouldn’t f*ckin’ cross me.”
“Cross you? I already said...”
“Yeah, you was gonna drop me off at a tunnel with no eyewitnesses around... why should I trust you not to run me over? Especially now I seen your face?” Carl demanded.
“But... what is it you want then?”
“Drive a bit further. Actually, go ahead and drop me off at Grove Street.”
“You... you one of them gangstas?”
“Not just any gangsta. Co-leader. Carl Johnson. CJ fo’ short.” Carl stated officially.
“Oh, just my f*ckin’ luck. OK, OK, just stop pointing that thing at me all the time.”
“Y’know, when someone introduces themselves, it’s polite that the other dude does the same.”
“Kevin Williamson.” the robber muttered angrily, starting the car again and driving out of the tunnel. No cops were thankfully waiting on the other side.

He headed for East Los Santos from the tunnel’s exit, with Carl remarking that it wasn’t actually the quickest route, but by this point Kevin didn’t care – he was just angrily looking straight forward, still struggling to accept his defeat. Carl didn’t like taking a detour through Balla territory, but assumed that as long as they didn’t stop, they could get out unscathed. After all, Kevin looked more like a Balla than a rival gang member in his all-black attire.

But once again, it felt as if the world was conspiring against Carl every step of the way. As Kevin was about to drive past the local Cluckin’ Bell, a light blue Majestic suddenly emerged from the car wash, violently shoving the Cadrona into a nearby alley. In fairness, it didn’t matter if the attack took place out in the open or not – in Ballas’ territory, there were practically no laws, and no one to protect whoever had crossed the gangsters. Kevin managed to stay conscious and tried to restart the Cadrona, but the engine had taken too much damage from the hit. Carl kept his gun hidden, and waited to see what the Ballas were up to.

“Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. Y’know, we sorta surprised to see yo’ face in the ‘hood like this.” the driver of the car said upon getting out.
“Unless you got our money, of course.” the passenger suggested sarcastically. Clearly they didn’t believe Kevin was going to pay them off, until he tossed the bag of cash out of the window at their feet.
“You in debt to the Ballas?!” Carl whispered, not understanding how any reasonable person would willingly lend from them... but then, maybe Kevin wasn’t the reasonable kind.
“You call this money?! You f*ckin’ playin’ us? If ya got memory issues, I’ll refresh a bit... GET US THAT HALF MILLION!” the driver screamed at him, clearly not believing his eyes when he saw how small the sum was.
“I tried, dickheads! You know how hard it is for one man to gather that much?” Kevin yelled. Yeah, that wasn’t going to get him on the Ballas’ good side...
“Oh, he bein’ smart. What do we do to smartasses again, Dave?” the calmer Balla asked politely. Clearly the answer had something to do with intimidation, as Dave took aggressive steps towards the car. Kevin rolled his window up as quickly as he could, and locked the door – man, was he glad that function still worked.

“ARGH!” Dave shouted, kicking the driver’s side door as hard as he could. Kevin didn’t seem to care too much for him, probably being used to the Ballas’ aggressions by now. He even yawned, which infuriated Dave even more, as he readied himself for another kick... before noticing who was sitting on the passenger seat.
“Carl motherf*ckin’ Johnson?!” he exclaimed, stopping on his tracks. The other Balla heard this and rushed to the passenger side of the car to check if the statement was true.
“Hi there.” Carl said from behind the locked door, and waved.
“Man, I ain’t got no clue what you Grove Street punk are doin’ with this bitch, but ya sure chose the wrong company.” the Balla smugly said, with his arms crossed. He tried doing a scary face and pushing himself against the window on Carl’s side... but the only reaction he got was amusement.
“Nigga, I think I saw some school kids back there ya could go an’ frighten.” Carl said, now with a blunt face.
“Shut yo’ ugly face, dickhead. You gonna come out to play, or act like the little bitch you Grove Street f*cks are?”

Carl glanced at Kevin, who by now looked more annoyed than scared – a good sign admittedly.
“We need some new wheels, y’know. This wouldn’t start if a monster truck gave it a push.” Kevin said silently enough to not be heard by the Ballas.
“There some on that parking lot across the fence, outside Cluckin’ Bell.”
“Yeah, fine stuff right there. Can you get out first, deal with them? I’ll unlock your door. They don’t wanna kill me, but uhh, I’m not so sure about you. Seeing as you’re the one representing Grove Street...”
“If they don’t wanna kill you, what you sittin’ around for?”
“They look like they’d love to punch me in the face. I can’t allow that, I’m too handsome to get a black eye from some good-for-nothing street thugs!”
“Always gotta do everything by myself...” Carl sighed.

He shoved the door of the car open so fast the Ballas must’ve nearly crapped himself as he backed out right into a wall. Carl immediately pointed his gun at the gangster’s face and put himself in a position where he could see the other one too.
“Get the f*ck outta here, I ain’t in the mood for killin’ today.” he said... and around at the same time, the Balla he was threatening began to pull out a Micro-SMG. Carl fired a shot at his stomach, then quickly pointed at the one on Kevin’s side – Dave, or something.
“Some f*ckin’ Darwin Award your homie after?” he mocked.
“This ain’t a joke! Now do me a favor and say hi to your Moms after I...” Dave started, only for Carl to fire the gun again, now towards his head. He only missed by inches, but the distraction allowed Kevin to suddenly burst out of the car as well and punch Dave in the mouth.

“Come on, Carl – or CJ, whatever – let’s roll! Their friends are joining the party!” Kevin shouted, noting how there were now Ballas coming in their direction from both sides of the alley.
“One last thing!” Carl said, took the Cok-O-Pops box he had left in the foot space of the passenger’s seat, and moved towards the fence that Kevin was already climbing over.
“And you... you lucky I really don’t care fo’ wasting more bullets today. Pussy-ass bitch.” Carl said to Dave, now lying on his back, all the intimidation gone from his appearance.
“This ain’t over! We know Kevin rollin’ with Grove Street these days! We gonna have our revenge!” Dave called out as Carl climbed the fence as well. One Balla tried grabbing his foot and dragging him back, so Carl chucked the cereals over to Kevin and kicked backwards so hard the enemies were forced to let go. Kevin jumped into the nearest parked car, a Perennial, and loyally waited for Carl to get inside.

“Real nice choice.” Carl said sarcastically. Some Ballas went as far as trying to grab the doorhandles, but were promptly shaken off when the Perennial (very slowly) sped up. Others realized their efforts on foot were futile, and went to fetch their own cars.
“Hey, I once had one of these. Real reliable, long as you don’t crash ‘em.”
“By the way, those assholes think we partners or somethin’.”
“Maybe we could be.” Kevin said, sounding oddly serious.
“Ya kiddin’, right?” Carl asked right away.
“Way I see it, we really could benefit off each other. I could really use some money for that debt, and what’s a better way to make it than help the enemy of the Ballas?”
“We ain’t very well off either, though. I might have an idea... but let’s shake these f*ckers off first.” Carl said, as the Ballas began to catch up to them with their cars.

The rest of the day was spent driving all over town trying to evade the pursuers in purple, who didn’t let up even when the duo drove into neutral territory. During the chase, two of the Perennial’s wheels were popped, two Balla cars fell into water, and another smashed right into the pumps of the Idlewood gas station. Another trip through the storm drain allowed them to lose the rest of the Ballas, and by the time darkness once again engulfed the city, Kevin brought his beaten and battered Perennial to a stop on the road just south of Carl’s house.

“Guess the Families don’t really want a man they don’t trust in their main turf, so I’ll just drop ya here. Here’s my number and address... so, just drop by my house sometime if you got a proposition, I won’t bite.” Kevin said.
“I’ll think about it. Just tell somethin’, why did you get in such huge debt?” Carl inquired.
“It’s a long story, best you don’t think of it just now...” Kevin said, sniffing.
“Oh my f*ckin’ god, it can’t be drugs, right?!”
“Drugs? No, I get mine from independent dealers. So much more reliable...”
“That don’t really answer my question.”
“I already told you, another time. Oh, and can I have my gun back? Robbing places ain’t too easy without it.”
“As long as I get my cereal box. It’s under your feet, right?”
“Cok-O-Pops? Y’know, my buddy used to eat these all the time.”

Carl took the box for himself, glad that he at least clung on to it for the whole way. After handing the gun to Kevin, he exited the car and waited for him to disappear behind the corner before walking straight over to his house. He wondered if there even was anyone around this late.

The answer was no. Then again, none of the others lived in the house, and probably had their own lives to worry about. For the first time since leaving the house, he had a look at the clock, which was showing 10 o’clock in the evening. He shook his head in frustration and placed the cereals in the kitchen closet, promising himself that if they disappeared overnight, he’d make himself sausages out of Smoke’s flesh and have that for breakfast. While conducting his business in the kitchen, he also found a sticky note on the fridge, most likely for him.

Me and Cesar went out for a drive. I don’t know where the f*ck you are, so please CALL ME by tomorrow morning or I’ll get the others to look for you.
- Kendl

Underneath was another note, difficult to read due to shaky handwriting.

Thanks for the bacon, CJ. The best kinda friends are those who lend food in a time of need.

Carl opened up the fridge immediately. Sure enough, all his bacon had vanished... along with the eggs he had planned to cook later. He tried to come up with some sort of finishing comment for all this... some kind of deep monologue that would properly express how he felt about Smoke and his habits, and what he generally thought about all the trouble in the world recently unsustainably piling on top of him.

“Motherf*cker.” he mumbled.

Because sometimes, it was just easier to summarize his thoughts into a single word.



The End.

Edited by Carbonox
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Wohoo, 1000 views! Also, a bit of a shorter chapter this time. It should've been done quicker than this, but the obsession with Rocket League got the better of me.



SA8: The Barber of Seville Blvrd.



Little things in life were what made Sweet feel if not happy, then at least glad. One such thing was successfully getting Carl to wake up at a humane time of day so he could enjoy a morning together with his closest friends – and what remained of the family.

While in the breakfast table, the main topic of discussion was some race event that was going to take place in Los Santos. Sweet wasn’t very interested at all in the racing scheme, but would stand behind Carl to the bitter end if he was indeed going to enter the event. Knowing his brother’s abilities (vastly underrated by Ryder) he was confident that the Grove Street Families would highly likely claim the big prize for themselves, even if it meant some foul play.

As the breakfast finished, and Kendl and Cesar moved on to do the dishes, Sweet felt he now had time to properly discuss gang matters. Trying to get a coherent sentence out of Smoke was useless for as long as he was busy with food, so he walked up to Ryder and Carl, now playing Contra.
“Our buddy within the Seville Boulevard Families, LB, gave me a call just today, y’know.” Sweet announced. Carl was too occupied with the game to pay attention, but Ryder listened much more closely.
“LB? Why the hell he called you and not me?” he asked in frustrated confusion.
“Probably ‘cause it’s an important matter we dealin’ with here, you asshole. He tryin’ to talk sense to the Seville OG’s, show ‘em that we ain’t the real enemy. Now as it would seem, the Vagos are openly f*ckin’ with them these days, constantly trespassing on their ‘hood, and the Seville boys are too f*cked up to even defend their property. LB says that maybe if we go help out, show ‘em that we still care, we gonna take a huge step towards reuniting the Families again.”
“So you askin’ us to become Seville babysitters?” Ryder summarized in his usual, distinctively condescending style.
“They was once our homies, and you gonna just leave ‘em to suffer and die? This ain’t babysittin’ or any of that sh*t, it’s about makin’ the Seville boys realize they still got a backbone somewhere, and grow it back! And once we find the cocksucker who’s slingin’ base to their hood, I’mma cut that f*cker up. And that, my nigga, is our next step to takin’ the streets of Santos for ourselves, and man, is it an important one.”

Having said what he needed, Sweet relaxed a bit and focused more on spectating the game again. And then... out of the blue, Cesar mentioned him.

Well, not by name, but just the implication made Sweet tense up. That damned family portrait was still burned into his brain, and being reminded of it like that was like pouring salt on open wounds. He wasn’t really angry at Cesar, or even Kendl who had showed him the portrait in the first place – it was just the painful memories that brought out an instinctive, disgusted feeling, and for one brief moment, Sweet felt as though Aldrin’s fist had just impacted his face again.

Carl wasted no time in urging Cesar to head upstairs for an explanation, and Sweet gave the Mexican a look that made it clear his mistake wasn’t going to get him killed, it was just something he should never do again. As Cesar followed Carl and disappeared from sight, Sweet thought of that moment when he had personally burned his cousin’s face out of the picture in a blind rage. If it was up to him, that whole portrait should’ve been put in the fireplace as it was such a bitter reminder of the good old days, but Kendl would never let him do that... speaking of her, she still looked like she was in shock. Sweet tried to come up with something comforting, but as soon as he started moving his mouth, Kendl just turned around quickly and went straight to the kitchen, pretending to look busy. Sometimes Sweet just had to wonder if the family would ever get over all of its losses.

Ryder and Smoke had stayed quiet (not that Smoke was able to say anything) as they usually did when family matters like this came up. With his co-player gone, Ryder raised the spare controller up to Sweet’s eye level, and while he said nothing, his expression clearly suggested that he wanted Sweet to take over from Carl.
“No.” was the firm response. If anything, now was the time to break the silence and get something useful done... “We gonna go to Seville Boulevard right now, meet up with LB, and take care of sh*t like in the old days.”
“Hey, wait, I ain’t finished yet!” Smoke yelled in between bites.
“I think we gonna survive just fine on our own.” Sweet assured.
“What about CJ?”
“Tell him he can relax for the day. He needs that, it’s been a tough week so far. C’mon, Ryder.” Sweet told, and without another word being said, the two of them stepped outside, into the breezy and fresh air.

“Beats hoggin’ that damn video game, huh?” Sweet asked.
“Sh’yeah, in another lifetime maybe.” Ryder uttered, leaning on the Greenwood that stood in its usual position outside Sweet’s house, and lighted a cigarette.
“Always gotta have a smoke before a gig? Hey, nigga, light me one too.”
“Better that than a Big Smoke with a capital B.S.” Ryder laughed.
“Ha, damn straight. Man, that fool’s stomach is bottomless... dude better not have a heart attack when we chargin' into Ballas turf next time.”

After finishing their smokes, during which they were able to just chill and enjoy the sights of the cul-de-sac, the two got in the car, with Sweet driving (of course). Before he got going, though, Ryder dropped a bomb that he had probably contemplated on for several minutes.
“Sweet, I gotta ask you somethin’. If that deserting cousin of yours showed up on Grove Street, would ya forgive him, like you did with CJ?”
“I ain’t in the mood to talk about that sh*t.” Sweet stated.
“Man, you can’t let the fool turn into some kinda curse word.”
“He ain’t, I just... hate sudden reminders of the past. Can we move on?” Sweet asked. Ryder promptly didn’t continue with the subject, and lighted another smoke.

“So before we get there... can ya help me refresh my memory?” Ryder asked, after they got moving and made some turns to head towards the arena. Sweet looked him in the eyes (or rather, sunglasses) and quietly nodded.
“The Seville set was who started all the beef between the Families, right?”
“They tried cappin’ ya ‘cause you were seein’ one of their sistas?”
“Uh huh.”
“And ya still gonna help ‘em out? Look, hear me out here, homie. After all this sh*t, apart from LB and Emmet, I ain’t got no reason to trust the rest of them fools.” Ryder ranted.
“You’d rather go on a green-on-green war?” Sweet accused.
“I didn’t say that, nigga! I’m sayin’, just let ‘em fend for themselves. They asked for it anyway.”
“Never thought you’d disagree with LB, nigga. I don’t trust the fools either, but in case ya not heard, they gearin’ up for war with us. They ain’t got the balls to stand up to the Vagos, but they still mad at us, f*ck it, they think we want they turf for ourselves.”
“Ya don’t make ‘em sound like the kinda fools we can reason with.” Ryder growled.
“Maybe we can’t, but if we lend ‘em a hand, show no aggression, they just might realize we ain’t interested in goin’ to war.” Sweet explained to his best ability.
“Your lack of certainty is what worries me here.”

They parked the Greenwood outside of the small apartment blocks that served as the primary housing complexes of Seville boys. Sweet’s girlfriend also lived here – damn, he sure hoped the locals wouldn’t remember that incident from when he last visited. It was eeriely quiet in the area, and the only soul in sight was a cat resting on someone’s porch.
“LB told us to meet up at his place. Thing is... I don’t f*ckin’ remember which one it was.” Sweet uttered in slight anger. There were so many doors, all of which looked the same, and knocking on the wrong one could’ve had bad consequences.
“Relax, fool, that’s why ya got me. I been crashin’ on the nigga’s couch all the time back when the sets were still united. It’s clearly this one.” Ryder said, confidently moving to the second door from the right. He gave it several firm knocks.
“Better not f*ck this up then...” Sweet muttered. There was no response, so Ryder knocked even harder this time.
“Hey, open up, you greasepalm! We gonna roll together or what?!”

Out of the door charged about two tons of muscle (based on Ryder’s exaggerated estimate at least) that only failed to grab him because he jumped out of the way as soon as he saw the door swing open dangerously fast. Now Ryder and Sweet were face to face with probably the biggest gangster in the Seville hood, the kind that looked like he was incapable of normal speech, but would roll over any unruly visitor like a tank.
“Uhh, hehe, hi. It was... just a prank, bro.” Ryder said, smiling and waving at the guy, though his smile looked more mocking than friendly, and definitely only served to annoy him further.
“Hey, ignore that motherf*cker, he ain’t got no clue how to treat people right.” Sweet tried to calm the brute down. He now focused his eyes on Sweet and growled something incoherently, not showing any signs of backing down. Probably the only reason he hadn’t attacked yet was because he was slow to decide who to beat up first.

“Whoa, slow down there, big guy.” a voice called out. The door next to the brute’s had just opened up, and in the doorway stood none other than the saving grace himself, still wearing that stupid Sprunk shirt, and looking more intimidating than his size would suggest. LB. Or Lamar Benson, but no one really bothered referring to him by his full name.
“Huh?” the brute called out, scratching his head.
“They was supposed to meet up with me. Guys made an honest mistake, just leave it.”
The man was still looking surprised. Ryder thought he looked like a gorilla and made some ape-like gestures behind his back, before Sweet caught on and slapped him in the shoulder.
“...But they Grove Street OG’s.” the man said slowly and simply.
“And they gonna help us keep Vagos eses outta our streets. We all green here, we gotta stick together, protect each other.” LB lectured him.

The man muttered something, once again inaudibly, and left back into his flat without engaging in any further (proper) dialogue. As soon as he disappeared, LB turned his attention back to the Grove Street boys.
“Ya guys are lucky you stumbled across Willie, and not one of ‘em super-paranoid motherf*ckers who’d shoot intruders in sight. That guy’s kinda slow.” he told.
“Slow physically or mentally?” Sweet asked.
“Does it matter? Either way, f*ckin’ good to see you, homeboy!” Ryder said, pumping fists with LB.
“Same to you, old fool. You guys are real early, y’know. Don’t think the Vagos gonna show up yet for a couple hours.”
“How do ya know when they coming?” Sweet asked.
“I been spyin’ on them for some time, figured out their schedule. Come, walk with me, I’ll show ya around a bit. Don’t worry, you’ll be safe from the locals if you with me.”

The three of them left the apartment building behind and walked in the direction of the row of storage garages, one of which belonged to LB.
“Things definitely ain’t going in the better direction at this part of town. I mean, I don’t mean to brag, but I feel if it weren’t for me an’ my attempts to keep the peace, the OG’s already woulda tried attacking Grove Street...” he said, with a dead serious expression.
“Jesus, it’s that bad? What about the Vagos?” Sweet asked angrily.
“They... well, yeah, that’s about the source of their problems. Vagos are bringin’ crack down here to screw up the local niggas, make ‘em weak targets... and it’s working. They too chickensh*t to resist the obvious invasion. Speakin’ of crack, we got one of them slingers right there.” LB said, pointing across the street at a young white boy in a hoody.
“Let’s teach the punk a lesson.” Sweet suggested and was already about to cross the road, when LB held out a hand in front of him.
“Calm the f*ck down now. These Seville boys real protective of the fools that can get ‘em high. You f*ck that dude up, and even I can’t protect ya.”
“Man, sh*t’s just... REAL f*cked up!” Sweet exclaimed, hardly believing any of this could be true, and threw out his arms in frustration. The dealer glanced at him for a bit, unsure of what was going on, before returning to his daily routine of looking for customers.
“Yeah, it ain’t an easy process helpin’ my homies back on they feet. Good thing we got another problem that we can fix without angering the guys...”

They arrived at a nearby crossroads. LB’s gaze switched over to a building just around the corner from his garage.
“You guys know the local barber?”
“Damn straight I do! Ever since Old Reece lost his f*ckin’ touch, I been goin’ over there.” Ryder chimed in.
“Yeah, he a popular one... mainly ‘cause he knows how to cut you a perfect Elvis hair. You won’t believe how many impostors from all over the state come right to him...” LB told.
“So what’s the problem? Guy been snitchin’ to the Ballas or some sh*t?” Sweet asked.
“F*ck no. It’s the Vagos, when they realized how profitable his business was, they been demandin’ big chunks of protection money. They show up every Tuesday and Saturday to pick up they share.”
“Well, it’s Saturday all right. We gonna wait for ‘em and give a little welcoming gift?” Sweet asked again.
“That’s the plan. You, uhh, wanna play basketball to pass the time? We got a great court down here, mostly unused ‘cause the homies too busy f*ckin’ themselves up...”

A few games later, Sweet became too tired to continue, mainly blaming his age. LB and Ryder quickly got bored of playing one-and-one, and thus everyone just ended up chilling and smoking some more cigarettes in the immediate area by the barber, looking out for the Vagos at the corner of their eyes all the time. Finally, they saw something that didn’t belong to Seville Boulevard, cruising through the streets at high speed with Radio Los Santos loudly blasting out for everyone to enjoy. Or suffer, depending on one’s taste.

“Look at those chumps, showin’ up in a pimped up Tornado, thinking they the sh*t.” Sweet said condescendingly, the other two also shaking their heads. They followed the car for a bit, and LB peeked out from behind the garages to confirm the Vagos were heading to the barber shop. After both of them left the car and stepped into the shop, LB gave his homies the signal. It was time to bounce.

“...being totally unreasonable. I won’t be able to keep this company up if you collect chunks like this twice every week.” the barber’s voice was heard as the trio approached.
“You tryin’ to f*ck with us, cabron?” said one Vago. Always trying to appear more manly than they really were, those bastards.
“No, I’m just saying it’d be mutually beneficial if we agreed to smaller payments...”
“Look at them fancy words! All I hear is bla, bla, bla, I don’t wanna give up the money ‘cause I’m a selfish pussy... Man, f*ck this, let’s teach the punk to talk back at us.” the other Vago retorted.
“Time fo’ us self-proclaimed good guys to crash the party.” Ryder laughed, and the three of them marched into the store confidently, all with pistols drawn and pointed at the eses.

“What the fu--- AMBUSH!” the nearest Vago screamed as soon as he saw the three fellows in green showing up uninvited.
“Esteban, look out!” the other said, raising his baseball bat into a defensive position. These idiots didn’t even bother bringing guns to the place, probably thinking they were in no danger...
“LB? Give ‘em hell, buddy!” the barber cheered on, while Esteban charged at the Grove Street boys with the bat, complete with a crazed battlecry. His swing made contact with Sweet’s upper body, before Ryder got a (lucky) shot at his face, causing him to collapse to the floor and spill blood onto his and Sweet’s shoes, much to their dismay. LB aimed at the other guy from a safe distance.
“You guys gonna serve as examples for the rest of your kind. Ya ain’t welcome here no more.” he announced.
“You think you get away with this, huh? We got brothers on the way as we speak, pen...”
“...dejo. Yeah, I know.” LB said, having interrupted him with a shot in the chest. As the Vago struggled to stay upright, LB shot him twice more, hitting the chest again as well as the throat, resulting in a more painless death than the man deserved.

“Ya alright, Sweet?” Ryder asked. The gang leader was a bit bruised up, but it was obvious he’d live through that.
“Forget about me, ya just worry about what the ese had to say. We might have company.” Sweet warned, peeking outside to see if anyone was coming. So far, the only people he saw were some Seville Families standing around on the sidewalk, just blatantly ignoring the Vagos’ customized lowrider in their turf.
“Man, looks like I won’t have to pay the f*cks after all! How can I ever repay this?” the barber finally spoke up, as he emerged from behind a chair where he had crouched, in lack of any better cover.
“Well, I could try a pink hair for kicks...” LB started, before getting a shove from Ryder.
“Man, quit bein’ a busta.”
“Quit arguing, here comes the cavalry!” Sweet shouted from the door, now seeing multiple Vagos cars approaching the general area. Ryder and LB got the hint without him needing to tell them twice, and they rushed into defensive positions.
“Don’t let ‘em damage my shop any further!” the barber pleaded as the trio disappeared from view. His words may have been spoken to deaf ears, but the Families already knew they had a shop to protect anyway.

“Bet those bitches can’t bring themselves to hurt their priced car, huh?” Ryder laughed, taking cover behind the Tornado while the assailants arrived.
“Watch the f*ck out, idiot, they comin’ from both directions!” Sweet screamed, opening fire in the Vagos’ general direction. One of their cars, an Oceanic, tried running him down, but he was able to dive for cover behind a wooden fence across the street.
“Hold position, I’ll be right back!” LB yelled. He ran around the corner to his lockup – not a move Sweet liked very much, as holding back the heavily armed Vagos was already difficult enough as it was. He blind-fired in the Vagos’ general direction and away from where Ryder was, and got large amounts of machine gun and rifle fire in return. The bullets pierced right through the fence, prompting Sweet to quickly jump for better cover behind a stone wall. His only issue now was that he needed to stand up and peek over it to see anything.

“Man, f*ck this sh*t. We’d never let this happen in Ganton.” Sweet thought as the Playa del Seville streets degenerated into open warfare, with several gunshots, distant screams and cars speeding away being the dominant sounds in the area – alongside the Vagos’ battlecries, of course. Ryder took potshots at them whenever they attempted to go around the Tornado to have a clear shot at him, while Sweet focused fire in the vicinity of another Tornado that formed a roadblock on the south side. He could hear the pained groan of a Vago he managed to strike in the chest – the noise felt so satisfying to him.

A thump was heard against the stone wall a moment later – Ryder had successfully shot a Vago trying to run towards Sweet’s position and climb the wall to get at him. Two bullets in the back was all it took for him to fall and crash into it face first.

“Bringin’ your troubles over here now, huh?” someone asked beside him. The only reason Sweet didn’t shoot him was because he knew from the voice that the person was black. He was clearly a Seville Boulevard local, wearing a green checkered shirt to show his affiliation.
“Who the f*ck are you?” Sweet wasn’t meant to say that, but the question escaped his lips in the heat of the moment.
“Me and the homies been watchin’ you for a while now, Sweet. It ain’t no secret you and Ryder are rollin’ at these parts again... bit of a surprise.” the Seville boy said.
“Well it sure as f*ck ain’t a secret that the Vagos screwin’ around in here too. I don’t see any of you up in arms, huh?”
“We like to... pick our fights carefully, old man.”
“Heh, I doubt you guys gonna find an equal opponent anytime soon. Not unless ten of you try chargin’ at some unsuspecting grandma’s flat, but ya better watch out for the handbag...” Sweet laughed. Probably a bad move, as he didn’t know if there were more Seville bangers in the shadows waiting to shoot at him, but the young gangsta’s disrespectful attitude was really pissing him off.

“What’s your motive, old man? I saw you was with LB.” the youngster said, obviously ignoring Sweet’s remarks in lack of a snarky response.
“How ‘bout you bring your OG’s here once this dies down, and we can talk?”
“Eh, I dunno ‘bout that, they ain’t exactly happy to see your kind ‘round these parts...” the Seville guy started, before an ear-piercing explosion rocked the atmosphere. Sweet was a bit thrown off and scrambled to look over the fence (with the gangster doing the same) only to notice LB had returned to the battlefield and was, at the moment, making toast of the Vagos and their cars with a grenade launcher.
“Say hello to my little...” he shouted at the Vagos, who were panicking at the sight of an explosive weapon that devastated the Oceanic that nearly ran Sweet over some minutes ago.
“...buddy named Ryder!” Ryder interrupted and emptied his clip into the scrambling Vagos, who were too busy avoiding grenades to find cover against firearms. Sweet also took advantage of the situation and managed to drop at least two enemies. The remainder began to flee in all possible directions – west, south, east – while Ryder raised his arms up to celebrate victory.

“Ya kinda ruined the moment, R. Move outta the way, I’mma trash that bling-bling f*ck of a car too.” LB said.
“Aw, fool, can’t we keep it? Them Vagos even paid for all the mods, it like an early Christmas gift.”
“They might come back and try to reclaim it though...”
“Relax, lil’ buddy. I’ll stash it someplace safe. Man, it sure beats drivin’ that sh*tty pick-up all day, huh?” Ryder asked in excitement, and LB appeared to at least somewhat agree, nodding his head.
“OK, well, your car, your responsibility. I just wanted to send ‘em a message...”
“Vagos closin’ back in! Watch the f*ck out!” Sweet’s yell startled them both, and they frantically looked around before spotting the Vagos crowd once again, now approaching from not only the south side, but from the north as well.

“Oh, them eses wasn’t fleeing, they just went for a little jog ‘round the block.” LB chuckled, rushing for cover in the alleyway with Ryder as some of their long-range rifle bullets breezed past them.
“And invited their friends to exercise too by the looks of things.” Ryder added. LB peeked around the corner and fired a grenade at the approaching southern crowd, thinning it out quite a bit while the survivors scattered to the sides.
“They might try flankin’ us, go watch my back!” LB ordered. As he readied another grenade, he heard more rifle bullets from uncomfortably close... then realized it was actually Sweet, who had reached across the wall to grab a gun off a dead Vago and was now using it to even the odds, all while the Seville thug merely watched from the side like a useless new recruit...
“Clarence, do f*cking something for the Families’ sake!” LB exclaimed, very unhappy about what he was seeing. Sweet looked over to the Seville boy, who shrugged.
“I’ll go get us some backup...” he said, jumping over some backyard fences to safely get out of the battleground. As far as Sweet was concerned, he might just have run off to save his own hide.

“Behind us, LB, blow ‘em up! Too many for me!” Ryder said, jogging back to LB’s location while he fired a grenade to the basketball court, taking the flanking mob by surprise. As he looked back, Ryder witnessed one of them flying up onto the basket, then falling down.
“Almost got a 1 pointer there.” he shrugged, then moved on to another wave arriving from the north. It truly felt like they would never stop coming.
“We could really do with CJ in here! It’s like the battle of East Beach all over again.” Sweet remarked.
“Nah, I got plenty o’ marksman skills right here already.” Ryder chanted back to him. LB found another crowd that was a little too close together, probably not having heard of the grenade launcher, and took the shot. Bodies went flying all over the place. Ryder was not so lucky, shooting at an approaching gang member about six times and only hitting him in the leg once.

“We bringin’ their numbers down! Don’t let up now!” Sweet commanded, and got shot at a couple of times by the closest Vagos in response. He jumped down to a prone position behind the wall, now getting pinned down a bit uncomfortably.
“Sounds like that’s our cue then.” an unknown voice spoke up nearby. Before long, more bullets were fired in the direction of the attackers – when Sweet got up, he found out it was none other than the Seville boys, who had apparently gathered some of their SMG’s to finish the job now that they had the upper hand on the Vagos for the first time.
“Better late than never...” Sweet muttered, standing back up and joining the fight again. With LB trashing the last of the Vagos’ Oceanics with another well-placed grenade, and Seville Families flooding onto the streets from the nearby cul-de-sac, the remaining forces of about five men could not handle the stress of battle and fled, screaming in terror, this time clearly not coming back.

Feeling liberated, Sweet climbed the wall and rejoined Ryder and LB, both of whom checking if they were wounded without even realizing. LB’s arm had been scraped by a stray bullet and Ryder’s clothes had been hit a few times, judging by the holes, but somehow he had escaped without getting directly struck by bullets.

Overall, a very nice day.

“Well done... well done, indeed.” said the voice of a leading Seville gangster. He and his men – including Clarence, who had a smug look on his face – had also arrived to check up on the trio.
“Yeah, that’s one way to bring the adrenaline up, I guess.” LB said.
“So what was it that you wanted to talk about, Sweet? Don’t be shy now.” the OG suddenly asked. Sweet thought he must’ve been Manny, one of the set’s highest ranking reps – though he had to admit that guy had grown a massive beard since they last met.
LB and Ryder just looked at Sweet, expecting him to say something that wouldn’t at least make their standing any worse. “We at Grove Street would like a truce.”
The OG snorted. “Is that so? Interesting way to maintain a truce... showin’ up in our turf to turn it into a warzone and get us in trouble...”
“Hey, we got a f*ckin’ common enemy here.” Sweet intervened.
“Common enemy? Ballas, Vagos?” the OG questioned, looking down on Sweet threateningly.
“Man, what the f*ck?” one of the men exclaimed. The others were also chattering in outrage.
“Enough!” Manny yelled to shut the whole crowd up. “Sweet, your proposal is... interesting. I’ll deliver the news to J-Dog as soon as I can. Right now though, it’s best that we split up ASAP. Those sirens ain’t up to no good.”

The Seville boys walked over to the cul-de-sac again while Sweet, Ryder and LB dashed to the opposite direction, hiding inside his lockup as police sirens closed in – just too late to capture anybody, as usual. Sweet was annoyed to not even receive a simple ‘thank you’ for his efforts in driving the Vagos out, but maybe not getting shot on sight in Seville turf was the best reward he could expect for now...

“One more thing, can ya guys help me move some sh*t?” LB suggested.
“I ain’t got no plans today. Sweet, how ‘bout you?” Ryder asked.
“Depends on what we movin’.”
“Just some guns over to the Temple set. They still hate the guts of us Seville Families, but... I’m hopeful I can at least gain they trust.”
“LB, you a f*ckin’ diplomat.” Sweet said proudly.

Once the cops had cleared out the crime scene and all the bodies were loaded into an ambulance, with no perpetrators in sight, the trio was able to exit the lockup and go on their way to Temple Drive. By the time they were moving, the sky was already darkening as evening closed in. Nothing major occurred along the way, except for one speeding Perennial nearly crashing into them as it slid through the streets.

“Wait, ain’t that CJ on the passenger seat?” LB asked in confusion.
“Why’d he ride with some cracker in these parts?” Ryder dismissed the claim right away. A couple of Majestics with Ballas onboard sped past them as he spoke.
“Lotta Ballas on the move too. Wonder if they tryin’ to expand they territory.” Sweet said from the back of the Boxville. He was met with some agreeing comments from his homies, though they ultimately arrived at the conclusion that any of the Ballas’ attempts on Temple Drive would definitely be thwarted by LB’s gun load.

Sweet and Ryder were dropped off on Grove Street as the clock hit 10:30pm. Both were too tired to even consider grabbing a few beers – they just stumbled over to their respective houses and almost immediately fell asleep after finding the nearest spot to lie down. Tomorrow, they would have much more time to think about the next step...



The End.



Coming up in the next episode,


another flashback to the past, and we re-meet a (potentially) familiar character.


Edited by Carbonox

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SA9: Strike Two


There were times when Carl thought his home was most definitely cursed, because of his apparent inability to properly sleep through the night. This time, as early as about 7AM, he woke up to two cats going at it on his rooftop. Not bothering to think how they even managed to get up there, he tried throwing things at the ceiling to make them go away (while still lying down), but called it quits after he tossed a shoe straight up and it ended up falling on top of his stomach. When the cats went back to business as soon as Carl’s noises stopped, he became enlightened on how resistance to life’s challenges was sometimes futile.

As in, he decided to just head downstairs, eat the f*cking breakfast and go on about his daily routine, some hours early.

With a bunch of well-deserved Cok-O-Pops digesting in his stomach half an hour later, Carl put on some warm clothes over his green Eris T-shirt and stepped outside to see what was going on at the neighborhood. His feeling of surprise was difficult to describe with words when he saw that Cesar’s red Savanna was parked right behind Sweet’s Greenwood and the two men were discussing something with Kendl and a fourth person. Hoping the topic was nothing serious, like an assault on Cesar’s turf that’d have forced the lovers to flee, Carl quickly walked up to the crowd to announce his presence.

“Howdy, neighbor!” the unidentified man called out. Carl flinched a bit at the naturally loud voice of John Carlson, but forced himself to look friendly when he approached.
“Wassup, y’all?” he asked, mostly looking at Sweet.
“Wassup, CJ? Is it the end of the world now, wit’ you up this soon?” Sweet remarked.
“Nah, quite the opposite. A new bundle of lives are gonna begin.” Carl mumbled.
“I was just explaining to your brother about how my beautiful race bike disappeared while I was out shopping. I really can’t understand why, considering some reliable-looking young lads promised to look after it.” John spoke up, interrupting Cesar who seemed to have more interesting things to say.
“How the hoods looked?” a bored Carl asked.
“Black – not that I have anything against any race in particular – and wearing purple. I didn’t pay much attention to their faces though.”
“I think it’ll pop up eventually. Didn’t ya say you gotta do your morning jog though?” Sweet said.
“Uhh, yes, I do! It’s just a shame, I’ll need it on time for my triathlon... but you know how it goes, I can’t neglect my daily exercise just because of that! See you around, fellows!” John said, and without another word being spoken, went on his merry way.

“Finally! I swear, CJ, I been tryin’ to chat up Sweet forever, but that blabbermouth would never zip it just for a sec...” Cesar said, shaking hands with Carl.
“Don’t sweat that guy too much! I’d love it if we had neighbors like that in El Corona.” Kendl noted.
“Can I have a quiet, passive and non-intrusive version of him?” Carl asked, prompting Cesar to laugh and pump fists with him. Sweet and Kendl were less amused.
“Just ‘cause he exercising, don’t mean he some insufferable idiot.” Sweet pointed out.
“Who mentioned exercising? Just the f*ckin’ word makes me tired, dog.” another voice spoke up from behind Cesar and Kendl. Sure enough, Smoke had found his way to the scene.
“Man, all the walkin’ you do is to the pizza joint and back anyway.” Carl said in the midst of the usual greetings.
“Not anymore I don’t, I employ the minimum wage couriers now.” Smoke said, followed by one of his hysterical laughs as he slapped Carl in the back.
“Yeah... yeah, but I suppose Cesar’s got somethin’ to say too, right?” Carl suggested. He hated seeing a good guy sort of get left out of the conversation.

“Uhh... sure I do. Thanks, CJ. I was thinkin’...” Cesar started in a clear voice.
“Wassup, niggas? You never gonna believe what I just found!” Ryder spoke over him right then, strutting over to the group looking like Christmas had just arrived prematurely.
“Oh, look, it’s Ryder! Everyone, quickly pretend you care about his findings!” Carl told loudly. Sweet and Smoke laughed, Cesar and Kendl were more confused, and Ryder harrumphed, gently shoving Carl to the side before speaking up again.
“Some hobo’s drug stash! Right under that bridge, not exactly on my property or anythin’ but... finders keepers, right?” he explained with a smile.
“And you had to announce to us all that you gotta smoke it?” Sweet demanded.
“Smoke it? Man, I dunno, sellin' it sounds more profitable these days...” Ryder muttered.

An argument was clearly about to form between Sweet and Ryder about the Families’ drug policy, so Carl was quick to intercept. Kendl seemed to have the same idea, having raised her hands in obvious frustration.
“Look, guys, I left the ‘hood in charge of José so I could come here and make the announcement, but everyone just keeps talkin’ over me.” Cesar said.
If the situation was any different, Carl would’ve asked him if the Pope shat in the woods.
“Us Aztecas, we still beefin’ with the Vagos. You guys obviously got your own problems with the Ballas, but our goals are still the same. We don’t like drugs on our streets, right?” Cesar continued, earning nods of approval from Sweet. “So why not establish some kinda partnership here? We watch each other’s back and bring the fight to the dealers and their gangsta buddies?”
“Sh’yeah, it beats askin’ for help from crackheads like B Dup.” Ryder said.
“Quiet, Ryder, I make decisions here. Now we sure been on good terms lately, Cesar, but I hope this ain’t some one-sided partnership we talkin’ about.” Sweet said. Ryder made a face at him, only to be hit on the shoulder by Carl.
“The Aztecas can take care of themselves, Sweet. We ain’t pussies... no pussy in this town could have two districts under they control, eh?” Cesar told him confidently. Kendl was looking proud.
“Think we can all agree the Ballas are pussies though!” Ryder exclaimed, yet again interrupting the bosses’ conversation.
“Well, they sure fight like girls from what I heard. But they nothing compared to the Vagos. Those fools think they macho, but you never gonna see ‘em in a fight without big guns and lotsa friends.” Cesar said with contempt.
“I heard of the Vagos’ macho bullsh*t before. Actually saw it too. Remember how they ran off like little bitches and came back when backup showed up, Ryder?” Sweet asked, chuckling a bit. Ryder smiled at the thought murderously.
“Yeah, what exactly happened with ya guys? Did the Vagos attack?” Carl wondered.
“Long story, bro. But yes, they did. And lost, ‘cause OG’s in green ain’t intimidated by petty Mexican hoods. No offense, Cesar.”
“None taken, ‘cause I don’t recognize myself in that sentence.”
“I like the attitude of yours. Maybe we really can make it a fruitful alliance? We already got the Ballas down on one knee, this’ll make sh*t a whole lot better.” Sweet pondered, with a smile similar to Ryder’s forming on his face too. The others looked happy with the situation too.

“Ain’t no Vagos gonna be any match for CJ right here. Motherf*cker gouged that eye right outta the Balla fool’s head at the bar... if Sweet’s story is true, that is.” Ryder gloated.
“Ryder, that...” Kendl tried to say something, but the others were too pumped up to let her finish.
“Man, the bloodshed we leavin’ behind us is massive. I wonder how many Ballas there was in the gun warehouse that blew up.” Smoke added.
“Yeah, and I’d like to correct your ass, it was more of a slash than a gouge. But still, it did its job.” Carl said.
Cesar raised a finger. “Us Aztecas can be pretty damn crazy too. Some Vago nearly blinded Sunny by spraying him in the face, so the boys froze his legs and shattered ‘em to pieces...”
Smoke shook his head. “It ain’t craziness, it just the killing instinct ya gotta have to survive in these parts.”
“Shame the Vagos tryin’ to hijack our gun shipment didn’t have that.” Ryder said, smirking to Carl, who however wasn’t looking at him. Throughout the conversation, it became clear Kendl had something urgent to say, and she was beginning to appear visibly distressed as the talks went along. Before Carl could shut his homies up... the explosion happened.

“Just what the f*ck is WRONG WITH YOU?!” Kendl screamed so hard that everyone in the cul-de-sac turned to look at the root of the noise. “All of you, already adults but still glorifying daily violence like it actually solves your F*CKING PROBLEMS? Cesar, I expected you at least to be better than them!”
“Well, no pacifist ever stopped a Balla drug ring.” Ryder mumbled. Carl was seriously starting to think that fool never thought of what he was going to say before running his mouth.
“Look, baby, I’m sorry, I had no idea...” Cesar immediately comforted her.
“Had no idea, huh? You assumed that ‘cause I’m from the ghetto, I’m into the same sick sh*t as you?” Kendl asked, about to tear up.
“I, uhh... no, it was nothing like that...” Cesar said, scratching his head helplessly.
“I’m going for a f*cking walk!” Kendl shouted at his face. “And you better have come up with a proper apology when I’m back!” She aggressively walked out of the scene, everyone knowing it was for the best not to try and call her back.

“Sh*t, man, I know she ain’t no combatant, but I had no clue...” Smoke said quietly after Kendl was well out of hearing range.
“Actually, guys, it ain’t a surprise at all. Come in, I’ll get you some beers. CJ, it’s probably OK to tell ‘em the whole story.” Sweet said, shaking his head and leading the posse to his house.
“Yeah, if you say so. Hell, it’s an important piece of Grove history.” Carl said, shrugging.
“Story? Man, I hate stories. Unless they about a nigga standin’ up to society.” Ryder murmured.
“I ain’t telling this for entertainment’s sake, fool. When I’m done, y’all gonna have a good idea of why I lead the gang the way I do.” Sweet asserted firmly, and poked Ryder in the chest just to show he was once again not taking any of his sh*t.

The group of five took a seat in his living room, with Sweet emptying his fridge to get everyone something to drink. Carl enjoyed his first sip of ice-cold beer immediately, while the others just curiously waited for Sweet to begin his story. He stood in front of the TV and coughed a few times.

“Right, so... it all took place back when y’all was still kids.” Sweet started.
“Well, Smoke counted as a teenager.” Carl pointed out.
“Must ya always correct what I say? OK, fine, Smoke was a pot-smokin’ teenager, and the rest of y’all was still gettin' your... uhh, what’s the word again?”
“Compulsory education.” Smoke growled.
“And man, was it a waste of f*cking time.” Ryder stated, drinking some of his beer.
“Speak for yourself, ese.” Cesar told him.
“It that hard to focus? Ya know, guys, this ain’t just about Kendl... it about my first kill, back when the Families was still findin’ they feet.” Sweet said, with a bit of difficulty in his voice.
“First kill? Woulda thought a badass OG like you would have the poor fool’s head on his wall... or somethin’ like that. Just to deliver fools a message.” Ryder said in surprise.
“Yeah, come to think of it, we never heard that story before.” Smoke agreed.
“It’s ‘cause of the unfortunate results really... I mean, I coulda handled it better maybe? But there ain’t no going back to the past now... so here goes nothin’.” Sweet said, taking a more firm stance, and took a trip down memory lane, for the first time in ages.

It was a Friday afternoon no different from the rest, really. A large rainstorm loomed over Los Santos, not looking like it was going to let up anytime soon. There were no reported problems out on the streets, so Sweet stayed at home and helped his Moms with the chores, while waiting for his siblings to get back from school, just in time for the traditional family dinner. Sweet was just about to start up the vacuum cleaner in the kitchen, when loud ringing was heard from the living room.

“Someone’s calling. I think it might be for you.” Beverly said, smiling warmly at her eldest son.
“It might just be.” Sweet said, walking up to the family phone, and took the call.

“Sean Johnson on the phone.” he stated officially.
“Sweet? Thank God it’s you!” a distressed voice hastily said on the other end.
“What’s going on, Kendl? Are you alright?”
“I... no, I ain’t alright at all. I’m being followed. It’s... it’s gotta be the same creep who came to the school last week.” Kendl said, sounding like she was about to tear up any second.
“Really? Man, f*ck... Where are you now?”
“Calling from some payphone in Jefferson... Please, I need help quickly!”
“Get to the church, they gonna look after you. I’ll get there soon as I can.” Sweet assured her, keeping his voice quiet so Beverly wouldn’t overhear him and get worried.
“T-thanks, bro. I-I knew you’d look after...”
“Why ain’t CJ with you?” Sweet asked. He came across a bit austere, as his anger towards Kendl’s unknown stalker briefly took over.
“H-he in detention. Him and Lil’ Devil, they beat up that thieving asshole Clayton...”
“Of course they’d be. Hang in there, won’t take long.”

Kendl muttered a difficult “thank you” for one last time before Sweet hung up. He immediately headed for his bedroom and grabbed his stashed handgun from a box hidden underneath his bed. He hoped he wouldn’t have to use it – usually the mere presence of the Families’ leader figure was enough to make the craziest fools on the streets flee, but in his professional opinion, it was better to be safe and sorry. When he headed straight outside afterwards, Beverly stopped him, looking confused and a bit scared.
“Sean, where are you gonna go? Everythin’ alright?” she asked.
“There ain’t no problems. It’s just that... Kendl would rather not walk home in the heavy rain. She forgot her umbrella, y’see.” Sweet assured. He was fully aware it was a blatant lie... but he didn’t wish to leave Moms to worry about her offspring at a time like this, with her own health beginning to fail her already...
“...I understand. Just don’t hurt yourself...” Beverly pleaded.
With a nod, Sweet was out of the house already the next moment, and rushed for his old, rusting Pony as rain poured down over him. The van was notoriously unreliable, only making Sweet’s anxiety worse as he hoped it wouldn’t choose this moment to fail on him.

Every second wasted stuck in traffic or waiting for a train to pass felt like at least a minute, as Sweet charged his way to the church and bolted out of the van before he even came to a complete stop. He rushed inside, having swung the doors open, and hoped to see members of the parish inside, giving his sister a safe place to relax in... but instead, the building was utterly deserted. Not a single soul was in sight, and all that could be heard was Sweet’s own heavy breathing and the thunder raging outside.
“KENDL! You here? It’s me, we can bail out now!” he yelled, thinking she may well have hidden inside the church anyway, after finding out no one was present. All that answered Sweet back, however, was his own echo.

“Man, F*CK!” he exclaimed, storming right out of the building and going around the back to the parking lot. Once again he saw nothing, but that was almost to be expected really...
“F*cking hell, I swear to God I ain’t gonna bury any siblings...” he cursed to himself, his voice almost breaking. He needed to gather himself now, think logically...
“Sweet... that’s gotta be you, right?” a girl’s voice called out. In the direction it came from, a dumpster’s lid had been opened from inside, and out came a 13-year-old Kendl, as soon as she recognized her brother’s voice. She was soaking wet, and her clothes were dirty from all the garbage, but the most important thing was that she was alive and well. Without hesitation, Sweet rushed to her, helped her climb out, and gave her a long hug. That was not something he did very often to anyone, which was probably why Kendl looked so surprised, and almost taken aback.

“Sweet, look out!” Kendl suddenly yelled, tensing up and backing off him. Sweet didn’t need to be told twice – he quickly spun around in place, fists at the ready to bludgeon any surprise attacker. Instead, he found himself staring right at an unknown white man, about his age, who stood a few meters away, leaning on a concrete barrier.
“That’s the guy who came after me!” Kendl immediately accused from behind her brother.
“Well, what the f*ck? Ain’t you got anything better to do than harass underage girls, punk?” Sweet hissed at the man, who was much more relaxed than he should’ve been in the presence of an OG.
“I think you got the wrong idea, pal.” the man told him off casually.
“Wrong idea? Wrong f*cking idea, you say?” Sweet barked, taking steps closer to him but keeping his distance, just in case he was going to draw a knife.
“I ain’t actually harassing anyone. Truth is, I just wanted to talk to your sister.”
Sweet’s eyes widened. “Let’s see if you talkin’ the truth then. Kendl, tell me about your last encounter with this man. Let it all out, he ain’t gonna bother you after this.”

Kendl cleared her throat nervously. “Well, last week he wanted to sell me something... wanted to drive me to his apartment so we could close a deal...”
Sweet gazed murderously at the man. “Is that a way to do business, motherf*cker?”
“He said somethin’ about his Moms being real sick, and that he needed to pay the bills... he was gonna sell his old appliances to raise the cash. Then he gave me an address to some place I ain’t ever been to, before CJ chased him off the school grounds.”
“Address? Lemme see it, if ya still got it.” Sweet told her.
“I got rid of it, ‘cause I never trusted that guy... but the place was somewhere on Mason Alley.”

That appeared to have been the trigger for Sweet. “Mason f*cking Alley?! You white piece of sh*t tryin’ to drag my sister to some f*cked up crackhouse?”
“Hey, I’d watch your tone if I were you...” the apparent dealer chimed in. Who did he think he was, talking back like that?
“Watch this, asshole!” Sweet shouted, pointing his gun at the man, who pulled out his piece at about the same time. Kendl let out a shriek behind Sweet.
“Get to cover right now and close your eyes! This gonna get ugly.” Sweet ordered, while keeping a close eye on the dealer. Kendl did as told and crouched behind the dumpster, shaking with fear.
“You must have no idea how badly I need the money, punk.” the man barked at him.
“I ain’t no motherf*cking punk, I’m Sweet Johnson, OG from Grove Street, motherf*cker!”
The dealer chuckled. “They call you Sweet?”
“Tryin’ to test me or somethin’, you pussy-ass white trash? Crawl the f*ck outta Santos right now if you wanna live!” Sweet screamed.
“I’d be much obliged to. Right after paying you back.” the dealer said with a wink.
“Payin’ back for wha---“

The dealer didn’t hesitate to shoot in Sweet’s direction. Kendl squealed in her hiding place as the bullet wheezed clean past her brother and struck the wall of the church. Sweet gave the man no second chances and unloaded two bullets at him, striking him in the stomach both times. As the punk was staggering, still in shock from the impacts, Sweet rushed up to him and slammed the gun right out of his hands before any real harm could be done. Apparently the gunshot wounds weren’t enough for the dealer, because he then dug out a knife, probably thinking Sweet wouldn’t notice it... He attempted to take a stab at him, but Sweet rapidly jumped out of the way and unloaded one more bullet at him to neutralize the threat.

The result was not quite what he was gunning for. As Kendl peeked out to see if the danger was gone, she was treated to a sight of a man with a gaping bullet-hole in the place of his right eye collapsing to the ground like a mere ragdoll. Sweet just stood there, gun still smoking, looking at the body in disbelief as the knife harmlessly fell next to it. He was only trying to wound him and then intimidate him some more to finally get the message across... instead he was forced to cope with the realization that he had just done something no one could ever undo.

Good thing it was just a petty dealer who had tried to abduct his sister, so at least he didn't feel sympathy of any kind.

“We outta here, sis.” he urged, getting straight back into the van. Kendl hesitated, but eventually followed him in. Everything obviously wasn’t right with her... she was completely pale, as if she had seen a ghost, and just stared at her feet the whole way, not saying a word even when Sweet tried to strike up a conversation. Then it dawned on him that he had just done more than only one unreversable deed – he had just, possibly, and completely unintentionally, exposed Kendl to the worst kind of street violence at a much too early age.

“Cops were on that case for months.” Sweet explained to the homies, none of them even touching their beer cans now as they kept looking at him. “I mean, it was obvious really. White dude got brutally shot in a mostly black neighborhood, no doubt the pigs were gonna find the killer by any means necessary. I couldn’t trust anyone... only one I ever told about this was CJ, and Kendl sure didn’t talk either. Though I guess it was impossible for her to ever forget...”
“So who exactly was the cracker?” Ryder inquired.
“It really ain’t important. I forgot it ages ago... and it really don’t matter anyway. Point is, that moment made me realize just how f*cked up the city was getting...”
“And it pretty much kickstarted our personal war on drugs.” Carl mentioned.
“Exactly. Kendl got a lifelong trauma outta it, but... sh*t, that still better than being that asshole’s crack whore.” Sweet said depressingly.
“Well, that story was less boring than I thought! Who up for Republican Space Rangers?” Ryder asked cheerfully.
“Actually I was thinkin’ me and Cesar could talk further about our little alliance. The rest of ya, go out and do what you need for the ‘hood’s sake.” Sweet said.
“You sure? I wouldn’t bother ya!” Ryder insisted.
“We gonna talk about some real boring stuff.” Cesar pointed out.
“Exactly, man. So boring your brain gonna melt if ya hang around. C’mon.” Carl said, gently dragging Ryder with him out of the living room as Smoke led the way out of the house.

“C’mon, let’s hit up a restaurant or somethin’, I know Smoke needs that to stay alive.” Carl suggested outside, trying to cheer up Ryder, who was clearly unhappy about being thrown out.
“Man, f*ck this sh*t. You two go on your man-date yourselves, I got weed to smoke.” Ryder aggressively retorted and quickly walked across the cul-de-sac towards his own house. Carl saw no point in talking sense to him at a time like this.
“Hey, ignore that asshole, I’m up for some juicy pizza any day.” Smoke said, pointing at his stomach that had most definitely grown since last time.
“Heh, OK, but we gonna take a walk there. You gotta burn those calories somehow.”
“Fine by me, but if I get a heart attack, I know who gonna pay the funeral bills.”
Carl shook his head while laughing. “Always about the money, ain’t it? No, but seriously, man, how ya found Sweet’s story? You bein’ on the other side of the argument and all?”
“Nah, man, Sweet did the right thing, dog. Crazy-ass baseheads in this town better stay away from the Johnsons or they gonna get what’s coming to them, ya dig?”
“Yeah, I do. ‘Specially when it’s Kendl.” Carl said quietly.
There was some silence, then he spoke again. “Really though, how can ya still be in support of Families selling crack when it obviously f*cks people up?”
“It’s more complex than that, CJ. We, uhh, can get to my crib, chill a bit, and talk this through once we got our stomachs filled, OK?” Smoke suggested. Carl’s reply was a simple shrug.
“Speakin’ of baseheads, would ya look at that?” Smoke asked, not-so-subtly changing the subject, and pointing out something going on across the street.

Carl had glanced in that direction at the corner of his eye and knew there was a van being loaded, but didn’t realize who it was until Smoke mentioned it. A clear view to the apartments showed that B Dup, Carl’s former friend now turned into an aggressive drug dealer, was overseeing his slave, Big Bear, lifting boxes on board. The weakened Bear was obviously struggling to get the job done, but it was none of Dup’s concern, as he apparently was busy talking on his phone.
“Man, B Dup... There ain’t no fool in Santos I’d like to punch in the face more than that prick.” Carl said, fists clenched.
“I’d hold yo’ horses back there. Word is, Dup been gainin’ lots of connections... he a dangerous man right now. One of the biggest dealers around even.”
“Screw that motherf*cker, he oughta go flex his vagina muscles some other place. He nothin’ but a stain on Ganton as it is.” Carl mumbled.
“Hey, man, I totally agree, but keep the damn voice down. He’ll hear ya.”

With a shrug, Carl agreed with the proposition, as they walked across the train tracks, over to Idlewood.
“Hey, we been havin’ lots of beef with the local set lately. You sure it safe to live ‘round here?” Carl asked, remembering Smoke’s current location of residence.
“All been good, homie. It ain’t as bad as ya think.”
Smoke saw Carl still had a thoughtful look on his face. “Look, man, I know ya don’t fancy my new place, but you gotta understand, that’s how life works. Things gonna get different from how you remember, and all you can really do is adapt or... HEY, MY MOTHERF*CKING WALLET!”

The scream came out of nowhere, but didn’t surprise Carl much, as he did see an odd figure making sneaky movements towards Smoke before snatching something out of his pocket. As the two OG’s turned to face the person, he (it at least looked like a male, if not a short one) was sprinting away from the scene, to the north alongside the tracks.
“Punk, you better get yo’ ass back here!” Carl shouted, running after him without second thought. Smoke also followed suite, though obviously struggled to keep up.
“Get him, CJ! I’ll be – right – behind – you!” Smoke yelled with a pant between each word.
“Don’t worry, I got this.” a determined Carl stated.

The thief ran off to the west and headed for the small housing complex just underneath the road bridge, not too far from Smoke’s place. Having looked behind and seen Carl rapidly approaching, he obviously figured it’d be a perfect spot to lose the heat.

The look on his face was rather priceless when, after scrambling between the houses for a good minute, he ran straight into Carl, who stood firm on his path like an oak tree. The thief was thrown back and satisfyingly landed on his ass, before Carl picked him up again, grabbing him from the collar.
“Do you f*cking know who you were stealin’ from? DO YOU?” he demanded from the kid, who probably wasn’t even twenty yet, and who merely replied with faint “lemmego” pleads. A few moments later, Smoke found his way to the scene, looking like he had run an entire marathon. It was at that point when Carl had a better look at the kid’s face and recognized him...
“Wait, what the f*ck? You the same little sh*t who tried this same sh*t at Emmet’s place the other week?” he said in surprise, while Smoke forcibly yanked his wallet back from the young thief. He was met with some resistance, to which Carl mercilessly responded by slapping the kid on the top of the palm with full force.
“Chill the f*ck out...” he whimpered.
“What’s that? Little bitch finally found his tongue?” Carl asked, shaking him.
“I think he also asked who you f*cking stealing from.” Smoke added.
“Maybe he knows, but is just too stupid to realize he been f*cking with Grove Street twice now.” Carl said threateningly as he pushed the kid against a wall.
“I had no motherf*cking choice, nig... dude!”
“Whaddya mean you had ‘no choice’? The only reason I ain’t pounded your motherf*cking teeth in yet is ‘cause I have just a tiny bit of faith you gonna talk...” Carl threatened.

“I, I’m working for these guys up in East LS! They in desperate need of money, and they sent me to steal something... Please, man, it ain’t nothing personal!”
“Guys, huh? Where do your guys live, little petty loser?”
“If I tell you, they gonna kill me! And you too!” the kid panicked.
“Funny, I was thinkin’ the same about them.” Carl laughed. “Thought you’d have grown a brain though and stole from sh*theads who really deserve it.”
“How can I help it if the GSF are the easiest targets in town?”
“The f*ck was that?” Smoke roared, frightening the kid once again.
“Think he ain’t learned the meaning of respect yet... Lost cause.” Carl said, shaking his head. “By the way, what’s your name anyway, dick?”
“B-Billy! Billy Butler! Can I go now?”
“Easy now, we ain’t finished chattin’ yet. Identity card?” Carl asked.
“No! I mean, I’m kinda... well, my boss tore it up when I couldn’t steal him a turkey.” Billy whined.
“What a sad sob story. Almost gonna bring a tear to my eye.” Carl said sarcastically, flashing an evil smile to Smoke.
“About that boss of yours, though, we really in the mood to send him a message. So, you better lead us to the fool, or...” Smoke told Billy in a deep voice.
“Or... or what?”
“I’m gonna sit on you.”

10 minutes later...

“This the spot?” Carl asked, after the unusual three-man party arrived at a side alley in East Los Santos, several apartment buildings surrounding them.
“Yeah, this it! Umm, I think it’s for the best if... you guys go and settle the business while I... umm, keep watch outside!” Billy said nervously.
“Oh, f*ck that. We about to show you how we deal with pests.” Carl told him.
“Watch yourself, CJ. This place full of serious cats.” Smoke warned.
“’Course it is, this Mason Alley all over again. Some sh*t never changes, this place still got crack written all over it.” Carl mumbled angrily.
“Got a name for the guy who gives you the slip?” Smoke asked Billy, who constantly looked over his shoulder to ensure they weren’t followed.
“S-Steve Norton. His place’s right here, umm, in the second floor.” Billy said, separating himself from the group a bit to walk to the correct door.

Billy led them to the correct door, where Carl made it clear that he was going to be the one knocking and explaining himself. After the kid spent god-knows-how-long sweating, trembling and whispering “oh my god”, he finally gathered his courage and knocked, while Carl and Smoke hid behind the door.
“Billy, is that you? You better have what I asked for!” a moody voice called out.
“Umm, sure! Can I come in?”
“You sound uncertain and I don’t like it. But in any case, drag your sorry ass here, I wanna see your take.” the voice ordered. Billy obliged, leaving the door wide open “by accident”.
“Are you stupid or dumb? Close that thing before some asshole thinks he’s free to come in and take my drugs!” Steve (as Carl presumed, at least) shouted angrily a moment later. That’s when he and Smoke picked a time to make their entrance.
“Costly accident back there, kid.” Carl said mockingly. They now stood inside a tiny apartment, with a window pointing straight at the adjacent building’s concrete wall, messy interior and the owner of the place sitting on the only comfy chair of the apartment to the right of the entrance, as if he was pretending to be a king. He was wearing a neutral all-white shirt and cheap jeans that at least used to be blue at some point. The twisted look on his face told more than his clothing though – this guy was an obvious druggie.

“You Steve?” Carl asked, shoving Billy to the side.
“Grove Street Families would like to send their regards.” Smoke followed up, accompanied with a knuckle crunch.
“What the f*ck is this? A surprise attack?! Billy, Harry, deal with the damn intruders already!” Steve screamed, paranoid as all hell. Until that moment, the Grove duo didn’t even realize there was a third person in the room... luckily Smoke reacted on time upon hearing a new name, and pushed Carl away just on time as another crazy addict tried to charge him from behind, and instead ended up throwing himself onto a kitchen counter near Steve’s location. Needless to say, Billy couldn’t even think about trying to fight the people who just intimidated him to no end, and just backed away.
“Smart kid. There should be more fools like that out here, who know it ain’t worth it to pick a fight with us.” Carl said in a friendly tone, upsetting Steve even more.

“You Grove Street Families... I, I, I know you. How much you... hate crack. I... I can’t believe worthless scum like you would MARCH INTO MY PLACE like that just ‘cause little, little Billy took a drop outta your f*cking... giant piles of cash!” Steve complained, struggling to stand up.
“Yeah, Mr. Norton is right! You – guys need to check your priorities!” Billy pleaded.
“Shut your f*cking ass, you lucky to be alive, white trash!” Carl shouted to quickly put him in his place.

Harry meanwhile tried to join the fight again while Carl’s attention was elsewhere, only for Smoke to slam him to the floor with a wooden chair. At this point, Steve also realized the fight was going nowhere without his interference, and drew a machete of all things – definitely not the kind of weapon an addict should have, though at least it wasn’t as dangerous as a gun. Carl lured him into a careless stab by approaching and then jumping back again. However, Steve then charged towards him without any warning, forcing Carl to leap to the left side and just barely avoid the impact – only his pants got slashed a bit, but no blood was drawn.

“Don’t make me use this, asshole!” Carl exclaimed, reaching for his handgun, but Steve couldn’t care less if he was armed or not, and charged again with barely a second’s notice. Carl dodged to the right side this time and aimed a slight kick at Steve’s back, pushing him up to the wall.
“You... you F*CKING COCKSUCKING PUSSY-ASS N*GGER!” Steve screamed, now so angry that he just slashed all over the place while Carl carefully moved backwards. This time he had ample time to pull his gun out, and point it at Steve’s face.
“You know what this is, right... or you too drugged up to remember?” he asked. Steve continued to try and attack him, seemingly oblivious to the danger.
“I will use this if you force me into a corner, bud. Don’t push it now...” Carl warned.

Bang. Having pounded on Harry for a good while in the corner, Smoke had now turned his attention to Steve, and tossed the chair – which was somehow still in one piece – straight at the upper body of the machete-wielding lunatic, who fell like a rock. Billy again made a whiny noise from the side when this happened.
“Punk-ass... haters...” Steve stuttered from the floor, reaching for his machete, only for Carl to pick it up first. He holstered the gun again, and admired the bloodstained melee weapon.
“We’d like you to remember this encounter, asshole. This is what happens to punks who try start sh*t with us.” Carl said, walking over him and resisting the urge to step on his extended hand.
“And you, kid. You lucky to be alive too. If we catch you one more time...” Smoke said, moving a finger over his throat as simple demonstration.
“But there won’t be another time, right? ‘Cause little sh*t here’s gonna get the f*ck away from a crazy-ass boss who can’t keep he head straight, and get a real job...” Carl told.

Apparently that, along with the previous humiliation, was the trigger for Steve. At the corner of his eye, Carl noticed he got back up as soon as the Families OG’s turned their backs... and then tried to charge him. Doing that from behind, after the fight was already over...
“What. A. Pussy.” Carl thought, moments before he spun around and slashed in the general direction of the man...

As Billy screamed and blood rapidly dripped on the floor, Carl knew he had done what he needed to do... and for once, didn’t even feel bad about it. Steve’s face turned pale as he struggled – and failed – to stop his throat from bleeding after Carl had just slit it clean open. He tried to walk towards the kitchen corner only to fall down a few steps later. In complete awe, Billy tried to approach him, do anything to save him not out of pure loyalty, but just because of how much he feared the consequences if he wouldn’t help...
“Kid. Leave him.” Carl said. That was an order, not a request.
“But...” Billy pleaded, looking him in the eyes. Neither OG had any sympathy though.
“That’s a mercy kill right there. This man here... he was lost to crack a long time ago. And so will you if you don’t take my f*cking advice right here. Get lost, do whatever don’t involve becoming a slave to a bigger and meaner fool... and never show your face to me again.” Carl said, showing him the door. As Billy was about to exit the apartment, he stopped once more to look at Steve.
“Can’t I at least...”
“No, you can’t. Pieces of sh*t like him don’t deserve no mourning audience.” Smoke told him, and pushed him out. No more questions were asked.

After the trio left the apartment building, Billy immediately ran off. Even if he learned nothing, he’d most definitely remember this day for the rest of his life... Carl figured he and Smoke would be safe from the Law as long as they quickly left the area behind, as no bullets could be traced back to them, and Harry was so high during the fight he wouldn’t remember anything clearly, and would end up being a prime suspect for the killing of Steve.
“See now? There gonna be hundreds of fools like that on the streets if we start slingin’ crack on our turf. They wasn’t even workin’ for a gang, and they crazy as sh*t.” Carl angrily told when they had walked back to the Idlewood area.
“Sh*t, man, that dude on the sh*ttiest stuff I ever seen. I only deal in premium quality sh*t, nigga, the kind you could smoke at home every weekend and no one gonna even notice.” Smoke argued.
“Oh, fo’ sure. I shoulda seen somethin’ like that coming. Look, show me one fool who ain’t been f*cked up from crack.” Carl replied frustratedly.
“Gimme ‘til tomorrow and I’m gonna have a bunch of names.” Smoke assured. Carl chuckled in disbelief and didn’t continue with the subject.

“By the way, this sure reminds ya of Sweet’s story, huh? White drug dealer from Mason gettin’ killed ‘cause he can’t think straight, and someone got traumatized... though at least this kid deserved it. Unlike Kendl.” Carl asked, now that he thought about it.
“Damn straight. That little ‘Billy’ musta shat his pants back there. And man, was that fool in need of a f*ckin’ reality check.”
“Amen to that! Just gotta hope he ain’t gonna try some... I dunno, retaliation against us.”
“Don’t see why. He looks like one of ‘em pricks who can’t even hold a gun properly. If anything, that kid just got a lesson about how the status quo works.” Smoke laughed.

With that little problem out of their hands, it was time to finally enjoy the well-deserved reward in the form of an unhealthy but fulfilling meal in the Well Stacked. Best of all, Carl was ready to bet Smoke lost more calories from all the walking they did than he’d gain from the food. Even though he did, much to Carl’s annoyance, order two full pizzas for himself.
“What? A dog gotta try out all the ingredients.” he justified himself between bites.
“I’m sure you gotta...” Carl said, lazily eating from his own slice, when the phone suddenly rang. He picked up in about two seconds, because that’s how willing he was to have a talk with someone besides Smoke for a moment.

“I trust I called you at a good time?” a familiar European voice asked.
“Andy! Long time no see.” Carl chanted, the whole restaurant briefly turning to look at him.
“I don’t think I gave you permission yet to use nicknames. Anyway, Carl, this is a bit of an ex tempore situation we got here... You got any plans for the day after tomorrow?” Andreas asked.
“Far as I know, no.”
“Good, keep it that way! I’ll be on my way to your house tomorrow at about... 12pm? That’s when we got time for a mission briefing.”
“Briefing? This some serious sh*t?” Carl asked, voice down.
“You bet it’s serious, and the money involved is gonna be bigger than last time too. Can you, by the way, ensure your brother and those two close friends of yours are gathered at your house as well?”
“Really? But Sweet and Smoke ain’t...”
“I know. This’ll be a perfect window to introduce myself then... we’re sure those men have the talent to run this job, if they indeed are senior members of the gang.”
“In that case, we got a man-date.” Carl said.
“Charming, ain’t ya? I knew we could trust you.” Andreas said, sounding victorious, and hung up right away.

There was no doubt about it – another payday was looming.



The End.



Finally got sh*t done again. Anyway, continuing with the new tradition, some teasers about chapter 10:


The mighty foursome back in action in a mission that TLAD fans may enjoy.


Edited by Carbonox

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Whoop-de-doo, another pathetic 1-month break. However, I guess I do have an excuse this time, considering there's been stuff like the holidays, Rocket League, Rainbow 6, GTAO with friends, and of course, the world junior ice hockey championships on the way. (Go Finland! Woo!) So anyway, here goes nothing once again.


Oh and also, reviews are still as awesome as ever.



SA10: Death of Angels



”So, you really ain’t got no idea what this job gonna be like?” Sweet asked.

Carl scowled. It had already been difficult enough to convince his friends to congregate in his house with such a short notice, and now he faced a constant barrage of questions from Sweet and Smoke, who weren’t yet sure what to think about Andreas, the high-ranked member of the European gang from Vinewood Hills, showing up for a visit.

“All that matters is that we gonna get paid, OK? He couldn’t tell me details over the phone, that’d be too risky.” Carl told, taking a seat from a chair next to Smoke’s. Ryder was lying down on the couch, and Sweet anxiously walked in circles in the middle of the room, waiting for the arranged time of the meeting.
“I just don’t get why that fool phoned CJ and not me. LB and me was the first to get involved with those guys.” Ryder remarked.
“Will you shut the f*ck up? With that attitude, there ain’t no reason for rich gangstas to trust your ass!” Carl told him, once again getting tired of his friend’s need to piss off everyone around him.
“Sounds like the whining of a bust...”
“When we in my house, try showin’ at least some f*cking respect!” Carl shouted.
“I hope I didn’t arrive in a bad time?” the voice of a foreigner calmly asked them. There he was – showing up precisely on time – and conveniently witnessing schoolkid-like behavior from the people he had just put his trust in.

“No, no, no, not at all. Uhh, welcome to my humble abode, c’mon in.” Carl urged. The man with the almost angry basic look on his face nodded, placed his casual black coat onto the rack, and came to stand in the middle of the living room.
“I see you gathered others here all right. Which one’s the leader?” Andreas asked, pointing at Sweet and Smoke. Sweet raised his hand and stepped up.
“Ain’t it polite to introduce yourself first before goin’ around askin’ questions?” he barked.
“Hmm, indeed. As Carl and Lance – or Ryder, whatever he prefers – know, I am Andreas Richter, the practical right hand man of wealthy and completely legitimate businessman, Felix Schrader. I’m offering you a big chance to make some money while keeping my boss happy as well, if you don’t mind the slightly clichéd way I put it...”

Sweet and Smoke told him their names and offered some coffee, though he declined, having already drunk multiple cups in the morning. Smoke expressed surprise at this – Carl felt like calling him out for excessive eating, but let it go as Sweet once again had a question.
“I thought your boss was real secretive? Why you tellin’ his name to us so openly?”
“I know you won’t tell anyone.” Andreas said with a smirk.
“You came here alone?” Sweet asked, eyes widening.
“No, I’ve got three heavily armed bodyguards in my car outside, who will not move unless I explicitly tell them to. Why?”
“Nothin’, just checkin’... OK, can we move on to the point now?” Sweet asked. Carl smirked a bit at the man’s complete refusal to be intimidated by his brother.

“Right... You familiar with the Angels of Death?” Andreas asked from the whole room.
“We don’t deal with ‘em, but they supposed to have big influence in LS.” Sweet said grumpily, after forcing Ryder to sit up so he could take a seat from the couch too.
“Exactly. Outside of the Ballas and Vagos’ turf, the Angels are some of the biggest drug runners in this city... though I don’t think they directly compete with these Eastern gangs. Anyway, this brings me to the briefing itself...”
“Just so you know, the Families don’t deal in drugs.” Carl grunted, earning a proud look from Sweet.
“Oh, but this is completely in the contrary. My informants have found out that the Los Santos chapter and Bone County chapter – up to the north – have been doing trade for quite some time. The boys from the desert know how to cook some fine crystal meth, but sadly there aren’t many buyers to be had in that region. So, once a week a courier takes off from here, inconspicuously of course, with a large payment for the Bone County boys, then gets back to LS the next day, with crystal in the bag and ready to be sold.” Andreas explained.
“And lemme guess, you want us to intercept that courier?” Sweet asked.
“Bingo! You do exactly that – he takes off tomorrow, 8am or something. Bring his money to a rendezvous point and our organizations share the take – 50-50.”
“Just 50 percent for doing all the field work?” Ryder whined.
“What’s in it fo’ us anyway, other than harassing a big-ass operation and getting a racist crew of bikers knockin’ on our door the next morning?” Sweet questioned. The others were looking puzzled as well, probably for good reason.

“Firstly, if you leave no witnesses the bikers will never find you... and besides, they’ll suspect my organization if anything, so it’s us they’re going to go after, and we’re prepared for them. And as for you, Ryder, I thought you had realized by now that this operation wouldn’t be possible without us telling you about it. Just be glad we’re only taking half the cash, since it’s the revenge and – humiliation we really desire.”
“Revenge? Those engine fume sniffers done something to you?” Carl asked, clutching on to that last sentence like a dog to a piece of meat.
“Let’s just say we made the mistake of trusting them earlier on. I guess it’s no secret by now that we like to employ gangs to help deal with business difficulties... but those guys turned out to be flat-out toxic. As soon as they got the chance, they turned their backs on us for the sake of no more than a hundred K, and instigated quite a firefight at a Temple alley to show they meant business. That cost the lives of many good men, like my cousin...” Andreas told bitterly.
“Sorry to hear that.” the always-so-diplomatic Smoke said, hand over chest in a way that looked just like he was having a minor heart attack.

Andreas grunted, probably uncertain if the gesture was genuine or not. “In any case, I’d say it would be a worthwhile experience for both parties. Disrupting this delivery is going to hurt the relations between the two AoD chapters and drive them into an internal conflict... well, in the best case scenario, that is. As for you, you’ll gain worthwhile experience for future exploits, help solve the city’s apparent drug problem, and besides, it’s gotta feel good to pound on a gang whose initiation tests have mysteriously never been passed by racial minorities, right?”

There were no objections to the plan amongst the group of four, just unanimous nodding.
“Ain’t this great? Now let’s just work out a few more details, and I’ll be ready to unleash you next morning...”

Sure enough, no more than 19 hours after the last details were settled, the fearsome four were all packed up and on their way in Sweet’s Greenwood. Carl took his usual place as the driver with Smoke alongside him, and Ryder and Sweet holding the rear seats. The latter almost looked like a soldier with all the gear he brought for the job.
“German fool said they was takin’ an inconspicuous route to avoid the cops’ attention. We takin’ the road right next to the eastern highway.” Sweet told Carl.
“So when we done, we obviously gonna take all the cash, right?” Ryder asked.
“And tell him the biker had nothin’ and was a decoy. I know the plan, nigga.” Sweet grunted.
“Man, you idiots f*ckin’ serious? Sweet, I thought you wanted in on this thing the other day?” Carl asked in disbelief, and loudly hit the driver’s side door to express his displeasure.
“First off, that was a private conversation, nigga! And no one comes to Grove Street and pretends he a motherf*ckin’ king. Punk’s gonna get what comin’ to him.” Sweet nearly shouted.
“Yeah, he try to assert dominance over us all the time. Where your pride, man?” Smoke questioned, poking Carl in the shoulder as they turned past the arena.

“Ain’t this about no motherf*ckin’ pride, niggas. It’s called branching out. Ya need to see things in the long term... we grab the whole take now and it’ll keep the homies satisfied for, what, a week? Then the cash runs out, and then what? We back to f*ckin’ square one, with the Europeans turning they backs on us for betraying them, and no other source of good cash left. But if we keep ‘em happy...”
“...They wait ‘till the right moment, then dispose of us when we outlived our usefulness?” Sweet continued, annoying Carl even more.
“No, it’s... ugh! Why you guys gotta flip out over petty sh*t and then justify it with the tired old bullsh*t about respect? This contract right here – it literally bigger than the ‘hood, ain’t worth givin’ up just ‘cause it makes you uncomfortable...” Carl raved, feeling like he was the only rational person in the car. Just for a change.
“Bro, you in need of a serious reminder of who runs this gang.” Sweet said, now with a condescending chuckle. Carl saw him shake his head from the rearview mirror.

“Hey, Sweet, remember the Balla hostages you and CJ took at the bar?” Smoke asked all of a sudden when they slowly but surely exited city limits. Quite convenient that he’d change the subject like that...
“Sure, you got ‘em to talk or what?” Sweet inquired, still a bit angry about Carl’s stance.
“They say they ain’t talkin’ sh*t until we give ‘em more crack. Fools got withdrawal issues or somethin’.”
“Well, man, what’s the problem? They don’t talk, you whack ‘em harder. We ain’t feedin’ them more of that poison... sh*t, motherf*ckers should consider themselves lucky to be alive after that bar stunt.” Sweet grunted, not giving in one bit.
“And word is, Balla OG’s angry as sh*t about this kidnappin’. I say we should demand a big-ass ransom, make the whiny niggas someone else’s problem.” Smoke suggested.
“So they could get high again and come back to attack us? Not f*ckin’ happening.”
“Hey, chill out, ya fools, we meant to look for that bike. What’s it look like anyway?” Ryder stepped in.
Sweet raised a finger. “It meant to be a ‘Daemon’ model or some sh*t.”
“How we meant to tell one chopper from another? Or we just gonna ram the first unfortunate f*cker we see off the road, hope he got the stash?” Carl asked in confusion.
“That’d be fun, but unnecessary. Look for high handlebars.” Smoke said.

As they crossed underneath the highway and overtook a slow-moving pick-up truck, Carl spotted a chopper bike riding just a bit of a distance ahead of them. He and Smoke nodded to each other in unison, and they caught up to the biker relatively quickly, as he appeared to not be in a hurry.
“Those handlebars high enough for your fat ass?” Carl laughed.
“No, no, leave this motherf*cker alone. See the patch on his jacket? This dude from the Lost MC.” Smoke told immediately.
“There another biker club in these parts? This sh*t gettin’ confusing.” Carl muttered under his breath. Since he trusted Smoke’s word, he overtook the biker without drama as well.
“Keep drivin’ fast, your condescending buddy said they’d use a real specific route.” Sweet ordered, beginning to sound a bit bored on the backseat. Carl sped up, eventually leaving the Lost biker in his dust, and enjoyed the sights on the lovely-looking countryside. Ryder did the same in his own unique way, shooting roadside animals for target practice. As he landed a shot in a deer’s hind leg, forcing it to limp away into the forest, Carl could only wonder what the animal-loving Kendl would have had to say about that.

Deeper into the country they went, encountering fewer and fewer signs of civilization as it was mostly woods surrounding the lonely road at this point. Carl overtook a black van on a straight stretch of road and noticed something intriguing immediately in front of them: another biker in a patched leather jacket, who was carrying a package tied onto the rear of the bike. The ride’s handlebars were also as high as they came.
“I still don’t get it, why the hell was that cow wearing large earrings?” Sweet inquired, clearly too occupied with his conversation with Ryder to pay attention.
“Hey, worry about that later. We got eyes on an AoD fool who got the cash, or so it seems.” Smoke interrupted, and pointed a finger at the target up ahead.
“How we gonna do this? If we had a bike, we could just snag the package right off him...” Carl said.
“In case you ain’t noticed yet, we in a car! Use the damn bumper!” an annoyed Ryder shouted.
“Sure, but it better be a good hit, or that motherf*cker’ll notice we up to him, and bounce.” Sweet warned, wisely as ever.

Carl backed up from the biker a bit so he could build up speed... but what he didn’t expect was that the van he passed a moment ago was still closely behind, and collided with the Greenwood's rear as he slowed down, probably not even bothering to slow down. Sweet’s reaction was obvious... he pulled the window down and raised a middle finger at the tailgaters, because as everyone knew, the best way to deal with aggressive drivers was to openly state your displeasure.

And then, many things happened at the same time.

A loud roar nearly made Carl go deaf as the Lost biker, who had apparently been following them all along, blasted right past both the van and Greenwood on a downhill section of the road, and aggressively pulled up alongside the AoD biker, as if he had unsettled business with the rival gang member. Carl’s attention quickly diverted elsewhere, as the front passenger of the van responded to Sweet’s gesture by pulling out a submachine gun and opening fire at the rear windows of the car. Sweet and Ryder crouched as soon as they heard bullets pierce the glass, and one brief glance at the van’s occupants revealed that they too were wearing gang vests all along.
“Courier’s got a f*cking escort! Watch out, CJ!” Sweet exclaimed, readying his gun.
“By the sound of your voice, I don’t think it ain’t no hooker you talkin’ about?” Carl joked.
“Just drive, we’ll handle the deadbeats!” Ryder told, rolled his window down and opened fire in the enemy windshield’s general direction. Unfortunately, his aim wasn’t as good as when he was shooting deer.

“Deadbeats, huh? Sounds fitting for these methheads...” Carl mumbled, doing his best to keep up with the rival bikers that were now trying to ram each other off the windy road that went up a hill. At one point, the AoD courier pulled out a baseball bat he had been holding at his back and took a swing at the Lost biker, who just about lost his equilibrium as he was dazed by the impact. Knowing that the guy seemingly had the same interests in mind as the Families foursome did, Carl took care not to collide into him, and even brake-checked the van so it wouldn’t attempt to ram the biker either. Sweet and Ryder still struggled to land hits on the van’s occupants, but at least their engine was starting to show signs of damage as white smoke rose from under the hood.

“We got ‘em, Sweet!” Ryder called out proudly when the wounded van swerved to a dirt road on the side, just before the main road curved again and started going straight from there.
“Yeah, great. Now how about you work those sharpshootin’ skills on our target?” Carl said.
“Don’t celebrate yet, threat ain’t over!” Smoke yelled, finger pointed to the side. Obviously the van didn’t retreat, it just took a shortcut to get in front of them... and the back doors had by now swung open, revealing multiple hostiles with weapons at the ready...

“DUCK!” Sweet commanded, but he didn’t need to say it to make Carl, Smoke and Ryder crouch down as low on their seats as possible, as heavy gunfire erupted and the windshield became littered with bullet holes.
“Everyone alive, right?” Carl asked nervously, and slightly raised his head to see what was going on. Guns were still pointed in his direction, so he crouched down again.
“Sure as f*ck, but now it gets personal! Motherf*ckers think they can trash my car or intimidate us? CJ, get us close enough, I’m gonna throw ‘em a little present.” Sweet said, now definitely deciding that playtime was over. Even Ryder was a bit scared by the tone of his voice.
“Anyone see how the road’s going?” Carl asked, not really seeing a thing.
“Just a slight left now... step on it, get alongside ‘em. I can take the driver.” Smoke urged.
“No! We ain’t backin’ down in front of wannabe big shots! Focus on the gunners!” Sweet authoritatively ordered.
“Your deadset attitude is gonna get us all killed, bro!” Carl tried to talk sense to him.
“You’re gonna thank me when we done with them.” Sweet said coldly, lighting up the object he was carrying.
“CJ better not crash the car, or that thing gonna fly right at me.” Ryder said, a bit worried about the Molotov cocktail Sweet had at the ready.
“Now you said that, I’m gonna keep it on the road just to spite you!”

Carl poked his head out of cover and up again. He smashed on the accelerator to pull up far enough alongside the gang van, and scraped the side of it to show them he meant business. By now, the bikers were far ahead in the distance... they were soon going to disappear from sight if any more time was wasted chasing after the van. Sweet already pulled his window down and prepared to toss the cocktail, but had to back off when he found about three guns aimed right at him once he had a window. He crouched about as low as he could, as a storm of bullets flew over his head and pierced the seat behind him, making it look more like a sponge.
“ASSHOLES!” Sweet shrieked at them, waiting until the shooting was over. Carl sped up a little to get the whole car out of the shooters’ range, but then slowed down again to give Sweet the opportunity he so badly desired. He and the van’s driver kept ramming each other’s sides, and the Greenwood was inevitably going to lose that battle, even with Smoke taking potshots at the van’s front side...

“Alright, supremacist sh*theads, Mr. Molotov wants to say hi.” Sweet muttered to himself, and this time took full advantage of the situation. The bikers didn’t even notice he was back within their range before the flaming bottle flew right at their smug faces, fiery liquid and shrapnels flying all over the place. The horrific screaming made it obvious that Sweet had succeeded in his plan, even if it was massively risky.
“Damn, if I knew there was a barbecue bein’ held, I’d have brought sausages.” Ryder remarked, the whole rear part of the gang van now up in flames. Even if someone back there was still sufficiently alive to operate a gun, they clearly had bigger priorities at this stage. The van finally pulled over to the side of the road moments later, the driver and passenger possibly having felt more intense heat from the back than they should have. The Greenwood passed by without any additional trouble, with all four occupants loudly celebrating their success.

“That does it for the entourage, now time for the courier!” Sweet said, with thumbs up.
“I guess, but didn’t we just leave a bunch of witnesses? Y’know, exactly what the German recommended us not to do?” Carl asked with a bit of worry, now fully fixated on the biker.
“You ever had a look around? There so many of these Greenwoods in the streets, they ain’t never gonna find us. I can respray it though, if it helps cure your paranoia.” Sweet laughed.
“Then how about the fact we all wearing green too? F*ck, I shoulda known it’s a sh*tty idea to represent in a job like this! Since we probably gonna make a new enemy now, we better make it a huge payday so it’s worth it.”
“Y’know, CJ, now I know why environment’s f*cked up around here.” Sweet said thoughtfully.
“Whaddya mean?”
“The flying squirrels are obviously dying ‘cause your paranoia’s spreadin’ to them and they all fall dead from stress.”
“The f*ck you got that from?” Carl asked, eyes shaped like huge plates.
“Just a joke, homie. Focus on the target though, will ya?” Smoke said, shoving Carl’s shoulder.
“Damn straight it’s a joke! I mean, I knew it right away. There ain’t no such thing as ‘flying squirrels’, everyone knows that! What next, underwater rabbits?” Ryder said, like he had intense knowledge on the subject.

The expressions of Smoke and Sweet as they turned to stare at Ryder said more than a million words.

Back in the chase, Carl was closing in on the biker, still being harassed by the Lost guy like he had been five minutes ago – Carl thought they obviously must’ve done something other than fight each other during the time the Families were busy with the van, such as arm wrestling at high speed, or something like that. However the situation was, now the AoD courier clearly had enough, because he took a well-placed swing at the Lost chaser’s face, almost sending him off the road and into the ditch. Somehow the biker maintained his composure, but his momentum was gone, and Carl passed him with ease. He thought of making some gesture that’d say “We can deal with this guy!” but figured he’d just accidentally throw up a rival gang sign or unintentionally mock the Lost fellow, so instead he just pressed harder on the throttle to catch up to the courier.

“This nowhere near Bone County, is it? More like San Fierro region by now?” Smoke asked.
“Guy probably took a wrong turn somewhere. Suits us though, he probably won’t know this place too well.” Carl mumbled with a casual shrug.

The Greenwood was just about tailgating the courier, but was forced to slow down on a long, sharp right, where the biker gained a bit of an advantage. Sweet seemed visibly upset.
“Can’t you go any faster?” he asked in frustration.
“Ain’t my fault that damn chopper has a slightly better turning radius!” Carl screamed back.
“Well, go get him on this stretch! Show him who’s boss!” Ryder incited.
Grove Street Families, motherf*cker!” Sweet yelled in the kind of voice that could give a confidence boost to anyone. Well, anyone pledging allegiance to the Families, at least.

But as Carl closed in on the biker, something happened that he didn’t really expect to see. The courier, having realized there was no escape, no side roads to find refuge on anywhere, reached out to remove the money package from its restraints.
“The f*ck he doing now?” Smoke lashed out.
To Carl, the answer was clear however... when the biker finally got his hands on the package, he immediately began to open it, and when only a couple of bike lengths separated him from the Families’ front bumper, he briefly turned around to look straight at Carl, almost as if he was staring death right in the face without giving a sh*t... and flipped him off before ripping the package open.
“OH NO YOU F*CKING DON’T!” Carl yelled.

It was too late however – the very moment the Greenwood smashed into the bike and sent it off balance right away, the money came flying all over the place out of the bag. As for the biker, he flew far off upon impact, landing somewhere in the nearby ditch, with massive blood marks on the road indicating the path his body took. Carl, Sweet and Smoke rushed out of the car to pick up the cash spread on the road – only Ryder was left behind as he found himself stuck on the seatbelt that wouldn’t budge.
“Oh yeah, it gets stuck sometimes. Just hang in there, nigga!” Sweet leisurely told him.
“This car gonna need more than a f*cking respray after we done!” Ryder screamed back, before Sweet shut the door to focus on money-grabbing.

Things looked desperate however – not only did every bill Carl picked up appear to be mere minor spare change, but a farmer on a tractor, as well as a party of hippies in a Camper and two rednecks on Sanchezes had arrived at the scene and began to plunder whatever they could get on their hands as well.
“Man, this crazy-ass bullsh*t! Get the f*ck outta here!” Carl yelled, firing his gun in the air. It at least scared the sh*t out of the nearby hippie and redneck fighting over a five-dollar bill, as they ran for cover behind the Camper, both still clutching on to the bill like their lives depended on it.
“Where all the big zeroes at? F*ck!” Sweet shouted hopelessly, not having collected a very valuable bunch of loot either. The sound of police sirens already echoed somewhere far out.
“This what you’re looking for?” a voice asked from behind him.

It was the Lost MC member, having done his fair share of collecting as well while nobody was looking. Apparently he had conveniently stumbled across the best bits of money near the back of the Greenwood, and dropped his entire loot in the duffel bag he had in store for a situation like this.
“Hey, man – look, we just helped you settle your stupid dispute or – whatever – with that AoD prick. Thing is, we really need his cash, so...” Carl explained as politely as he could, though he didn’t feel very confident about whether it would work or not.
It didn’t, as evidenced when the Lost fellow got on his bike and pulled a sawn-off shotgun.
“I dunno what sorta beef you would have with the Deadbeats, but thanks for saving me doing all the dirty work. Next time, try not trusting a biker just ‘cause he’s working against your enemy.” he told smugly, now having possibly the most punchable face on earth right after Eddie Pulaski.

“This definitely better be some lame-ass f*cking joke.” Carl said in disbelief, head shaking.
“Far as I’m concerned, it ain’t over yet! Hand over the f*cking money!” Sweet shouted, rashly as ever, pulling his own piece and pointing it towards the biker. He reacted without hesitation and forced Sweet and the others to jump for cover as he, in turn, fired the shotgun. The other looters also visibly panicked at this stage, hiding wherever they could.
The biker stood up over his ride, continuing to shoot into the general directions of the Families. “The Lost MC controls the roads ‘round here! NO ONE ELSE!”
“Bro, ain’t I got a surprise just for you...” Ryder whispered to himself, still stuck under the seatbelts, but at least equipped with a pistol on his own. The shooting ended as quickly as it began when Ryder landed an accurate hit at the man’s shoulder.

“AMBUSH!” the Lost member shrieked, and started up the bike so fast the front wheel came off the ground for a solid amount of time. As he left the scene behind, he almost ran Carl and a redneck over, and managed to dodge some of Sweet’s last, desperate gunfire as he disappeared behind the next corner on the road, lion’s share of the Angel’s stash in hand.
In response, Sweet pounded the Greenwood’s hood. “This a f*cking – giant – waste of time!”
“I agree, but we gotta get the f*ck out of the crime scene right now. Those sirens keep closing in.” Smoke reminded, being the first one to get back inside the car.
“Right, everyone inside, Ryder can count our spoils. If we lucky, that Loser mighta bled out and we can grab his stuff too if we find him.” Carl said. With the whole party on board, he went in the same direction as the biker, bypassing the numerous random people still left on the scene, now engaging in a fist fight over the remaining money.
“Wishful thinking, CJ. Should be obvious that if we get a deal that could make us rich, somethin’ will go wrong. It almost like a law.” Sweet said cynically as ever.

The drive back home through the woods in Flint County was somewhat uneventful – the party obviously didn’t find a fallen biker further along the road, and the only radio station they could pick up on in the region was K-Rose. No one, Sweet in particular, was in the mood for any kind of cheerful country music, so in a non-verbal agreement they decided to keep the radio silent and enjoy whatever sights they could find along the route.
“5360 dollars.” Ryder said out of the blue as they drove past a statue of two elks mating – a popular tourist trap if the rumors Carl had heard were true.
“Come again?” Smoke asked, turning around to look at him.
“The take. If we split it up, it’s gonna be like...”
“F*cking less than 1.5K each.” Sweet interrupted.
Ryder shrugged. “Sh’yeah, along those lines.”
“So even if we keep it, it might as well be f*ckin’ nothing. CJ, y’know what?” Sweet asked.
“I’m all ears.”
“When you done droppin’ us off, just go meet up with the asshole, give him that half. This just – ain’t worth it. We need a bigger, more reliable take.”
“Yeah, go ahead, dog. Just don’t get us involved with those guys ‘till they got somethin’ better for us.” Smoke followed up.
“Y’all don’t know how important that’s to me.” Carl said, somewhat even proud of his comrades.
“We know a’ight. Just don’t get too obsessed with the Europeans, nigga. They might have cash, but they don’t give a sh*t ‘bout our turf wars.” Ryder reminded him.
“Oh, ran out of interest already?” Carl taunted.
“Meh, I just keep ‘em at reasonable length. Maybe that’s why they don’t contact me so much. Yeah... that’s gotta be it.” Ryder decided after a moment of pondering.
“Yeah... maybe so.” Carl said, not wanting a shouting match because he didn’t fully agree with his obnoxious homie. Besides, they were all pretty tired by now, but at least they were already able to see the city across the inlet as they followed a countryside road to the coast.


“Yeah, boss, I know it sounds out of place, but it’s true. Some ni**ers came in guns blazing and attacked us for no real reason.” the AoD van driver spoke on his phone, waiting on the roadside for an ambulance to pick up his injured brothers. “I dunno if Dave made it, we had to stop to help out the brothers... seriously, Willy burned to death back there. Those assholes were complete maniacs. If we find them, they’re good as dead.”
“Just hold out a little longer, buddies.” the other standing biker said, some despair in his voice.
“Yes, boss... we gonna send out search parties. We’re pretty sure they were Santos-based.”


“This was all he had?” Andreas asked suspiciously after Carl showed him the bag in which he had stuffed all the cash the gang was able to grab. They stood on a side alley somewhere in Temple, far away from the eyes of Los Santos’ ever-vigilant law enforcement. In one end of the alley, behind Andreas, was a slightly ominous-looking black SUV, from which his men looked over the exchange.
“Yeah, we got in some trouble. Cash got spilled all over the place, and this Lost biker decided to appreciate our help so much he took off with most of the score.” Carl explained truthfully.
“I see... well, the main point is, the courier is dead and the mission is a success. Of course, it’s a bit of a shame the payday wasn’t what we hoped for... but there’s bigger things coming in the future. You-know-who can guarantee that.”
“Aw, you used up all your concern fo’ my safety back at the Adder job?” Carl mocked.
“That – was a bit of a dumb idea from our part considering the police response. You can imagine I wouldn’t have been too popular in the organization if I had led a promising recruit to an easily avoidable doom.” Andreas admitted, a bit of embarrassment on his tough face.
“Yeah, whatever... just, just make sure those bigger things ain’t as prone to failure as this.”
Andreas shook his head. “The bigger the score, the easier it’s to lose it. You should know by now. Can I trust your – crew to be there for us next time?”
“You sure gotta do some convincin’, ‘cause lemme tell ya, Sweet don’t like doing odd jobs like this too much. ‘Specially when our gang’s survival is sorta on the line here.” Carl said.
“I see... I’ll figure something out. Let’s stay in touch.” Andreas said with a brief nod, and after splitting up the money – because the deal was, of course, still on – then left for the SUV, with one of his men readily opening up the rear door for him. Carl lazily waved him goodbye and walked off into the opposite direction.

It indeed wasn’t a good take, but it was enough to buy him a few beers.


“Come in.” a bodyguard in an all-gray suit told the visitor that had arrived at the doors of a Richman mansion, one of the largest and most luxurious in the entire region. Located on the southern part of the neighborhood, with a terrace at the back overlooking the rest of Los Santos from the safety of the hills, it was a perfect refuge from all the violent crime and unrest that was part of most people’s everyday life. Night had already fallen about an hour ago, but that was no deterrent for this man to arrive for a visit.

The guard escorted his quiet guest to the living room, only separated from the terrace by a sparkling glass wall. There stood the owner of the mansion, in a much more casual, predominantly light blue suit, viewing the lit-up city and looking thoughtful as ever.
“Your guest has arrived.” the bodyguard stated, then promptly left the scene without needing to be told.
“Thank you, Marcus! And welcome to Los Santos again, old friend. I’m actually quite surprised you came back this soon...” the owner began to say.
“Spare the formalities this time, Felix. I’m only here for a short visit.” the guest said grumpily.
“Damn, you must’ve woken up with the wrong foot.” Schrader said with a hint of amusement in his usually official voice.
The guest sighed. “I’ll pretend you didn’t just make fun of me and get to the damn point. You know that plan we talked about last time? I have a feeling it’s on the verge of failure. If I can’t make things right with the Ballas soon, we may need to fall back on the contingency plan.”
“Sh*t, things that desperate these days? I just don’t know how that involves me.”
“How it involves you? Correct me if I'm wrong, but last weekend Amadeus told me your crew has started to employ this group of thugs called the Grove Street Families, who just happen to be fierce rivals with the Ballas. That true?”
“First of all, only some of the leading members who actually know how to handle themselves even on their own. Secondly, don’t you pretend I’ve forgotten about our agreement. Save for the Angels of Death, who’ve been asking for retribution for some time, I don’t really send them after other street gangs. I got bigger interests in mind when getting gangs to do my dirty work.” Schrader told, becoming more serious by now.
“I sure hope so, because it just happened to be so that a party of at least four of those men in green blasted their way into the Ballas’ weapon storage factory while I was overseeing the operation!” the man lashed out.
“I remember that... the building exploded, didn’t it? I saw the smoke cloud all the way over here... in any case, not my problem. I never called a job like that, and neither did Andreas. Surely you can’t expect me to control what they do on their spare time?”
“Yes, Sherlock, the place went to hell. Since the security got overwhelmed, I had to activate a bomb in the office so they couldn’t get their hands on my files, but... the explosion apparently was a little too violent, because it took the entire warehouse with it.”
Schrader didn’t bother holding back his laughter. “I knew you were the crazy-ass motherf*cker of this partnership, as the street gangs would say.”
“We used up lots of resources to get those guns to the Ballas, so obviously it was a disappointing loss. Bottom line is, they’re now trying to pin responsibility on me, and think I’m trying to sabotage their businesses – as if I have some excuse to do so!” the man cried out in frustration.
“So what is it that you want? Me to keep the Grove Street boys off your friends’ back while you do your things?” Schrader asked, arms spread in confusion.
“No, that won’t be necessary... the Ballas still have a general advantage, if we’re not counting the hostages that the Families took some time ago. Just be ready for that contingency plan to kick in at any moment. I’m also thinking, do you have intel on any of those leading members you hired?”
“I haven’t been that busy checking their criminal records, but I can give you some names, if you want?”
“Yes... that’d be a step in the right direction.” the guest said thoughtfully.
“One more thing – you didn’t bring a suit this time?” Schrader chuckled, looking at his friend’s casual clothes that didn’t really do justice to his intimidating record.
“No... I ditched the suit in case the Families recognize me. Besides, dressing up like this helps me blend in – assuming a white man can even prowl Balla turfs without arousing any suspicion.”

A maid promptly showed up to offer coffee for the gentry. Schrader’s friend politely declined and used this opportunity to announce he would be leaving for his hotel room. Getting a good night’s sleep was, after all, an important part of the plan. As a “parting gift”, Schrader handed him a note detailing the names of those Families members he had met eye to eye.
“Don’t be rash out there.” Schrader called out sarcastically as the guest was at the doorway.
“Thanks for the advice - but how else do you expect me to gain any results?” was the answer, followed by the door being smashed shut.


The End.



What about spoilers in advance for chapter 11, that logically shouldn't take longer than a month to make? Sure, here goes:


Cesar's fine-tuned Savanna gets stolen, which is definitely not what he or CJ need, with the big race just around the corner. How are they going to get the whip back? By following the mysterious, totally-not-belonging-to-proper-authorities tow truck, of course!


Edited by Carbonox

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(Excuse the name, I couldn't come up with anything wittier lol.)


SA11: Low Ryder



”Hey, CJ! Ain’t got any time for an old friend?”
Carl flinched a bit, but did come to a stop. He should’ve known that there was no such thing as a perfect day, even if getting his sleeping schedule sorted out and waking up in a particularly happy mood were to suggest otherwise. Ryder was doing nothing of interest on his front yard, just observing the events of the cul-de-sac, and obviously he spotted Carl just as he had arranged an appointment somewhere else.
“There’s a time and place for everythin’, homie. And just now, I kinda got places to be.” Carl said as convincingly as he could, with Ryder lazily leaning on his chainlink fence now.
“Where could ol’ CJ be going at such a hurry? It ain’t even 9 yet...” he wondered, taking a glance at his watch.
“Umm, nowhere.” Carl quickly said.
“Man, c’mon now! What I done to piss ya off this time? I ain’t even made comments on your driving since the biker job, ain’t I?” Ryder asked, walking around the fence to get out of his yard.
“Fine... Cesar called, wanted me to meet up at his, talk about that big race.”
“Oh yeah! The race, where my man CJ gets to embarrass himself with his sh*tty drivin’...” Ryder said with his trademark evil smirk.
“Yeah, go f*ck yourself if ya got time from smokin’ yay...” Carl sighed, spreading his arms and turning his back to Ryder as he headed for his garage.

As Carl got into his Savanna, he barely got out of the garage, when Ryder already ran in front of him, signaled him to stop, and scrambled into the passenger’s seat.
“Just jokin’, you should know that sh*t by now! And this thing better have proper seatbelts.” he said casually, as if he had never pissed Carl off in his entire life.
“Yeah, no worries, they gonna break from the slightest bump.” Carl told.
“Still better than bein’ stuck! So err, you gonna enter that contest wit’ this, or what?”
“Maybe? Ces already got us signed up, but I guess we free to show up in anythin’ within the rules. We might tune our lowriders up later today, get ‘em to speed.”
Since Ryder’s only reply was a bit of nodding, Carl continued the conversation himself. “How well you know Cesar, anyway?”
“Only ever met a few times, but – y’know – fool OK. I might like him better than you. He drive well too if the stories are true... maybe he gonna be my pick to win your race.”
“Hey, hey, let’s not make it a contest between me an’ him, a’ight?”
“You was the one who asked, nigga. Now let’s do this. Let’s pimp those motherf*ckin’ rides.”
“It gonna be about moddin’, not pimpin’. And for f*ck’s sake, don’t do anything stupid now. I only let ya come ‘cause this thing ain’t got no ejector seat.” Carl said. The rest of the trip was spent listening to the radio – thanks to Sweet’s absence, they were able to listen to something new, like K-DST, instead of the same old Radio Los Santos.

At the destination in El Corona, Carl gave Cesar’s front door a couple of firm knocks. Ryder stepped to the side while admiring the Aztecas leader’s bright red Savanna to the right of the house.
“Man, what takin’ that fool so long...” Carl started to think after several long seconds passed with no response. Then, finally footsteps began to close in – and the door was swung open so fast that Carl had to jump back in order to not get a huge rectangle-shaped piece of wood in his face.

“Been a long time, ain’t it, Carl?” the smug, unforgettable voice told him from the house’s entrance. No way – it f*cking couldn’t be...
But it sure was Officer Tenpenny, with his usual sidekicks accompanying him.
Having recovered from the initial shock, Carl looked as casual as possible as he waved a hand and turned around. “Sorry, wrong house.”
“Oh, no, no, no, no, no, you don’t move your ass nowhere, son. We gotta chat a little.” Tenpenny said with that usual voice that showed just how much he enjoyed the situation. Meanwhile, Pulaski did the physical work, grabbing Carl from the shoulders and shoving him off to the side.
“And if you try any of your f*cking wisecracks again, you’re gonna have a baton so f*cking deep in your ass you’ll have no choice but to sh*t through the mouth.” Pulaski barked, like the dog he was.
“Watch out, Eddie, you don’t wanna spook some passing school kid and traumatize him for life...” Carl said back without really thinking, and sure enough, faced the barrel of the officer’s gun almost immediately after.

“One more word! One more f*cking word and I...” Pulaski swore, shaking with hatred.
“I’m sure about that, but won’t we get to the point soon? We don’t have all day here.” Tenpenny casually told him, and moved Pulaski’s gun away from Carl to show playtime was over.
“The f*ck you three stooges doin’ here?” Ryder questioned loudly from near the door, almost making a move at the cops, before Hernandez held him back.
“Oh, we’re just doing our job – you should know better. We’re maintaining the peace in wonderful diverse neighborhoods, like this one.” Tenpenny said, almost sounding like an honest cop for a brief moment.
“We got – your damn files.” Pulaski hissed at Carl, in an apparent attempt to whisper.
“There you go, Eddie, making sure only half the neighborhood hears about our secret exchange!” Tenpenny chanted, before getting in between his companion and Carl, to properly speak to the latter. “Hernandez found five matches to your – umm, loose description. Now you do whatever the f*ck you feel like with the files, and the people in the files... but remember that if you get caught with them in hand, it was because you had snuck into the precinct and stolen them in a desperate attempt to get your five friends out of trouble.”

Tenpenny handed him a bunch of unsorted black-and-white copies of police files, then shoved him aside even though he wasn’t really in the way, and gestured to the rest of the officers that it was time for them to go.
“Yeah, thanks a lot, motherf*cker.” Carl said quietly and headed back to Ryder, as well as Cesar, who had now finally shown his face. Good, because Carl definitely had something to say to him...

“What the f*ck was that about? You called me just so those pigs could have a chat with me?”
“Look, sorry, man! I had no choice, these – these assholes just walked in all of a sudden, told me to call you and get in here ASAP... or they’d bust me for some street race I did years ago.” Cesar said, raising his voice a little, but at least not exploding with anger like Carl.
“Man, oh sh*t... I guess I should be sorry here. It’s just too damn stressful, having those – those f*cks around all the time...”
“How’d they know y’all were friends, anyway?” Ryder pointed out as he and Carl entered the house, Cesar closing the door behind them.
“Oh, hi, Ryder. Beats me, but knowing them, it’s no surprise if they spy on us.” Cesar said somberly.
“Yeah, they love spyin’. Where Kendl?” Carl asked after taking a look around, not finding the woman of the house anywhere. Her presence was still obvious though, as the entire small house was about as clean as it gets.
“Out there, at work. Between her job at some store and my – own kinda business, we get along real well, y’know?” Cesar said with a smirk.
“I guess. I just hope she don’t run into no shady motherf*ckers as a cashier.” Carl mumbled.

In the meantime, Ryder had picked up a newspaper, and settled on Cesar's couch without any real permission, but him doing whatever he wanted was nothing new even for the host of the place.
“Don’t worry about her nearly as much as that little race of yours, CJ.” he reminded.
Cesar looked slightly offended, but Carl was quick to break the tension. “Speakin’ of the race, since we here now, we might as well have a chat anyway. You think our rides stand a chance?”
“Should be good on a straight line at least, but... I dunno about the corners. The suspension can get a bit loose, as you probably know...”
“Sure, I got that part. Maybe I should just get the hydraulics off, then we...” Carl suggested.
“Wait, CJ, one thing. What was them sheets Tenpenny gave ya? Seems weird he’d do that... unless you about to work fo’ them fo’ free?” Ryder said from the couch, having apparently taken as long as five minutes to process the events between Carl and the cops.
“Look, it’s complicated, a’ight? All that matters is that one of ‘em guys is likely to be that cracker we caught in the act of helpin’ the Ballas out.”
“And if we get to him, then what? I thought we was supposed to focus more on turf war, and not runnin’ after random clues, nigga?” Ryder argued. Cesar was starting to feel like the third wheel.
“Well, it might help in the big picture, nigga! Tenpenny might be a f*ckin’ asshole, but he right about senseless drive-bys and sh*t not getting us anywhere!” Carl couldn’t really help himself from raising his voice again.
“So what, now you gonna take Tenpenny’s advice on how to co-run a gang?” Ryder asked in contempt.

Carl was just about to come up with a rebuttal, and Cesar was going to yell at the two to get a room, when the sound of a large vehicle’s reverse beep was heard through the wall, stopping everyone on their tracks. Cesar stood petrified for a short while before forcing himself to move, and sprinted through the door just on time to find a large, brown and unmarked towtruck leaving his property – with the red Savanna in tow.
“Hey, get back here, you f*ckin’ pendejo! That’s my ride, I bought it legally! And it ain’t even parked f*ckin’ wrong!” he shouted, running after the vehicle before Carl stopped him.
“Big rig or not, we ain’t gonna keep up with a motorized vehicle on foot. Get in my car, we gonna tail that thing. Ryder, this probably ain’t for you, can you get these files to Sweet so we can make some move later?”
“Hell no, nigga. I want some damn action that feels rewarding, unlike your biker bullsh*t.” Ryder said, and made his position clear by firmly sitting down in Carl’s Savanna first.
“Ugh, whatever... it’s your own funeral...” Carl said, rolling his eyes as he left the files inside Cesar’s house, made sure the door was locked, and jumped into his car. Whether he liked it or not, it was chase time.

“So I’ll get you in range and then we start shootin’?” Carl asked after finding the towtruck again, heading in the direction of the docks.
“No, wait, stay back. Let’s just tail ‘em for now...” Cesar told, a bit uncomfortably.
“What’s up?”
“Something ain’t right here. Why ain’t they headed for the cop impound, and why ain’t there no markings on the truck? It’s just way too shady... we better off keeping a distance ‘till we find out what they up to.”
“I hear ya. And besides, only a fool would grab a powerful Mexican gangsta’s ride off his yard in broad daylight.” Ryder noted.
“Amen to that.” Carl said, leaning over his door as he casually drove down the street, keeping his distance.

The towtruck circled the Willowfield industrial area for a while, eventually entering the tall bridge leading to Ocean Docks. Along the way, the group of three passed by some construction that definitely wasn’t there before.
“What’s up with that? They repaving the roads or some sh*t?” Carl commented.
“Don’t you know, holmes? They startin’ to build the racetrack. You really oughta learn the map soon enough, get some kinda feel for what you up against.” Cesar said, and poked Carl lightly in the shoulder.
“I’ll think of that soon as we get a future race car back.”

As they went across the bridge, the towtruck veered right soon afterwards, driving between some unremarkable warehouses. Carl was grateful it didn’t head into the National Guard depot, or they’d have faced big trouble – not that he and Ryder struggled too badly last time they snuck in there, especially since Carl discovered the trick of raising two crates at once with a forklift.

“Should we pull over soon, CJ? Sneak up on foot?” Ryder said, as they quietly drove on the tarmac, dodging some containers and ropes as they went.
“Just a sec. They might be headed for that freighter.” Carl said, a massive ship being visible even from behind the remaining warehouses. The towtruck rejoined the official road, and predictably enough, pulled to a stop not far from the ship.
“Why’d they take this long way around?” Cesar asked in confusion.
“Maybe wanted to make sure they ain’t bein’ followed.” Carl guessed.

He parked at a designated parking lot, ensuring they wouldn’t attract attention – save for their lack of dock worker costumes, of course. All three casually walked in the ship’s direction, looking for some place to scope out the area.
“I saw some stairs, leadin’ to a catwalk outside that warehouse. We could go in there.” Ryder said, pointing in the right direction. Since it was clear there was no going near the ship without being spotted by a dozen guards, the other two followed his advice.

Having arrived at the top, Carl heard some chattering from what was probably a guard. He shushed at Cesar and Ryder, motioned them to keep their distance, and snuck up to the corner. With the voice sounding like it was talking away from him, he peeked out from the cover, and sure enough, there was a burly Hispanic man leaning on the railing and talking to his phone. He spoke in Spanish, which Carl wasn’t particularly fluent on, but he could make out some phrases like “they just arrived with the car”.

“Hmph, definitely a planned robbery.” Carl thought. Now that he had a clear view of what was going on, he surveyed the area a little to get his bearings. The towtruck had come to a stop near a large pile of shipping containers, Cesar’s prized car now unhitched nearby. One man was presumably inspecting it, while others were working the heavy machinery around the area, and a semi-truck promptly arrived on the scene transporting another container. The scene looked almost too normal – nothing about the workers really suggested anything suspicious, other than the blatantly stolen car of course, and for a moment Carl thought they had followed the wrong towtruck and stumbled across an unrelated scene...

“Hey, you! Who the f*ck are you?” the guard yelled in Spanish all of a sudden. Carl had forgotten about him already while being immersed in his thoughts about the scene, and must’ve accidentally stepped too close to him, getting caught in his peripheral vision. He knew he had to act quickly, and landed an unexpected right hook at the man’s face.

Too bad Carl also faced an unexpected situation right away, as the man just brushed off the punch like it was nothing, now staring at him with an intimidating “You really done f*cked up now, kid” kind of face. As Carl backed away from him, Cesar luckily climbed up the stairs to reach the scene just on time, and caught the man with a well-placed sucker punch to the side of the head as he was about to grab Carl by the throat. That still didn’t work – he fell on his knees, but retained his consciousness and looked even angrier and scarier than last time – but Carl and Cesar didn’t hesitate this time, and both pounded his head with everything they had simultaneously, finally bringing the gorilla down. Just to make sure he was down and out, Carl kicked him in the side a little – he was glad to find out the guard didn’t flinch or show any signs of pain.

“You guys already in trouble?” Ryder hissed after he reached the catwalk as well.
“Yeah, thanks for the help with that big fool. So what kinda enemies you think we facin’?” Carl asked, eyes on the operations going on below once again.
“Some sorta smuggler gang? No one else should have enough influence to freely work in the docks like this.” Cesar suggested.
“Our pal CJ here sure has talent for findin’ us new enemies to lay the smack down on!” Ryder said in amusement.
“Yeah, bite me. We got some kinda battle plan? I mean, just some of ‘em look like hardened killers to me. At least half gotta be normal workers who’ll flee soon as we fire a bullet.”
Ryder shrugged. “If you’s sure about it, then – whatever. Not like we ever been shredded to bits before, even though the enemy always has better manpower.”
“Then it’s settled. I’ll see if I can sneak up from the left side. Ryder, you take the right. Cesar, you cover us from up here, use those barrels for cover if it gets dicey. When I fire the first shot, it’s on from there.” Carl explained. The plan was made on the spot, but it satisfied him well enough.

Cesar didn’t mind staying at a distance, because he knew that if he was going to attack those smugglers head on, he could’ve done something he would regret later. Not because of him allowing his emotions to get the better of him, but because of the police paying him an unannounced visit one day. He also glanced at the pile of white barrels with an expression of distrust, and went a little closer to check them out. Every single one had the logo that indicated they contained explosives... just perfect. Cesar made sure to set up position as far away from them as he could, and reminded himself not to listen to uninformed advice in the future either.

Still examining the area, Cesar’s attention was disturbed by a barely audible, buzzing-like sound that occasionally came out from somewhere near his feet. There was nothing he loathed more than the thought of a large bug trying to crawl up his skin, so he was reluctant to check the source. However, it was probably better to freak out over an insect now than during the battle, so he slowly gazed at his feet, and noticed the fallen guard’s phone, with an active call still going on. Clearly, the guard didn’t have time to hang up on his presumed boss, and now said man was probably frantically trying to get a response out of his lackey.

Cesar picked up the phone and put it on his ear. Apparently the man on the other end heard this, as his voice became calmer and he was no longer shouting like a madman.
“Pedro, what happened? I was about to send a patrol to check if everything was OK!” the man said in relief, still speaking Spanish.
“You mean you couldn’t see me from where you were?” Cesar asked, doing his best impression of the muscular guard.
“You sure you’re OK? Your voice sounds kinda different and – weird.”
Well, the cover was blown, so Cesar decided to go whole hog. “Maybe it’s ‘cause me and my friend just knocked the living sh*t out of your lover, asshole!” he shouted in English – because he found it much easier to express his hatred in that language. “I know it was your boys who stole my car right out from under me, right at a time when I need it the most, and I’m about to f*cking make every last one of you dickheads to pay!”

The boss hung up. What a shame – though at least Cesar took pride in knowing he probably did so out of fear.

Back at ground level, Carl had successfully snuck his way behind a container, feeling confident that no one patrolling near Cesar’s car was able to see him, though he was uncertain if anyone aboard the ship was observing the area – in that case, he would most likely stand out to them like a sore throat. After ensuring there were no guards walking in his direction, he took a more focused peek at what was going on, now from a closer distance. There were two men in white and turquoise outfits – ones he hadn’t seen before – heatedly discussing something next to another container a short distance away, but yet again, them speaking Spanish deterred Carl from understanding what they were up to.

A third guard walked past them and was stopped by the men, one of whom then said something to him so quickly, Carl felt like he had a flashback to the listening comprehension tests back in school. The fact he barely heard their speech in the first place only enhanced the memory.

The three guys nodded to one another, looking like they had settled whatever they had in mind – and then, all of them walked towards the stairs that led straight to Cesar’s position. Carl clenched tightly to his gun – this time an Uzi – as he realized that couldn’t have been a coincidence... something had, after all, given their position away. This called for desperate measures – now that Carl still at least had strategic advantage, it was time to use it. He jumped straight out of cover and let that gun sing the song of death as he fired the first stream of bullets at the trio.

One of them fell, looking lifeless, and another apparently took a bad hit in his foot, having dropped to his knees in agony. As Carl had hoped, many of the innocent (and possibly oblivious to the whole criminal scheme) dock workers immediately made a run for it, leaving only the armed guards with obvious malicious intent to deal with. Even though he admittedly could’ve done with no witnesses sending the nearest Gruppe Sechs guard right at him, his assumption was that with the somewhat light resistance they were facing, they would hopefully be out of the crime scene long before any response.

Having used up his clip, Carl retreated behind the container to reload. The noise of another firefight on the other side of the area indicated that Ryder had caught on to the plan as well. Carl now put his focus on the last of the men possibly sent after Cesar. The fool had apparently not considered any better plan than a blind charge, and was in a prime spot to get his chest pierced with a dozen or so bullets when Carl peeked out of cover to shoot once again.

With the target succesfully neutralized, Carl pushed forward. More men, who had been on board the ship, were alerted by now and rushed down the nearest gangplank to join the action. Ryder’s timing on the other end of the compound was quick, as he fired multiple shots at the exposed reinforcements, some of whom stopped to crouch while others still attempted to charge forward. As a result, they ended up plowing into one another and crashing down onto the hard concrete at ground level, with only the first in line evading the pile-up and finding refuge behind a dock handler, the occupants of which had already deserted the scene.

By now, Cesar had also caught up to what was happening, and started taking potshots with an assault rifle at the pile of smugglers that was still trying to figure out a way to unscramble itself. Carl made a note to himself that he had to ask Cesar at some point where he got that kind of hardware – he doubted a reputable store like Ammu-Nation would sell anything beyond a bouquet of flowers to a well-known criminal.

Carl kept going forward, now only being a short distance away from the stolen Savanna. He managed to keep the man behind the dock handler at bay with several warning shots, and Ryder had progressed far enough that he was already within sight. Everything was going right according to plan...

“CJ, LOOK OUT!” Cesar’s shout from above was sudden and caught him by surprise. Carl spun around almost 360 degrees before noticing what he was being warned about... the towtruck that had been used to steal the car now had an angry smuggler behind the wheel, as it broke through a nearby chainlink fence to try and crush Carl into a pancake. There was no time to think logically, so Carl made the first move he thought of, and ran behind a thick support beam underneath Cesar’s position.

The heavy truck didn’t have the handling or brakes to avoid an inevitable collision with the beam, and smashed into it with a loud bang, causing debris to fly all over the place. The poor idiot driving the thing hadn’t bothered to put his seatbelt on, probably in a fit of rage, and flew out through the windshield like a dangerous projectile. There was, thankfully, no collateral damage as the pillar protected Carl more than sufficiently. The only problem was that the impact did do a number on the beam, and spread some cracks around it. Carl had no idea how long that structure was going to stand...

“The f*ck you did down there?” Cesar yelled inbetween shots, as Carl got back in his sight and stood behind another container to catch his breath.
“I didn’t do sh*t, but the thief with anger issues sure did. You should probably come down from there soon.”
“I still got unfinished work, CJ! Just get to my car, I’ll clear the way. Then we make our escape together.”
“How many dudes we got left?” Carl asked, while placing another clip in his gun.
“Four, five? Don’t worry about numbers too much though, ‘cause I...”
“When you fools done complimentin’ each other, some help would be nice!” Ryder shouted from the side, desperately holding out behind a pile of planks as at least three smugglers were moving in on his location, flanking in mind.

Carl wasted no time in rushing to the rescue, while Cesar forced one man to back off with his shooting, and wounded another with a hit to the chest. Conveniently, the remaining smuggler attempted to sneak up on Ryder from the same side Carl was coming from – the Grove Street co-leader acted accordingly and took him in a chokehold. The man struggled in his grip as hard as he possibly could, and hissed unpleasant, possibly threatening words at him. Carl did his best to put the fear factor aside and raised his knee up to the enemy’s back to show he meant business.

“Who do you work for?” he demanded.
“Get the f*ck off me, asshole!” the hostile hostage yelled in Spanish, reaching for a knife on his holster. Carl panicked a bit as he wrestled the blade away and it fell to the ground – he then punched the smuggler in the stomach, landing a slightly unclean hit just opposite where his knee was still pressed.
“I’m not f*ckin’ playing around! Who do you work for, and what’s your...”

Yet again, the man searched for something with his free hand. This time, as Carl peeked over his shoulder to see better, he was shocked to realize the enemy was now clutching to a live grenade...
“CRAZY BITCH!” Carl lashed out and pushed the man off so hard that he fell down. Carl ran off as fast as he could, with the bullets from another smuggler’s gun wheezing over his head before he got to cover, doing so just in time as the grenade exploded underneath the failed suicide bomber, whose body absorbed much of the shrapnel and was subsequently torn apart, most likely being unrecognizable even by his own family at this stage.

The others didn’t seem bothered by their comrade’s violent death at all and kept on fighting, though with the removal of one man from the picture, Ryder had a bit of an easier time putting the enemy closest to him down with a well-placed burst (the type Carl wished to see a little more often whenever they went into combat together).
“Up on the ship, CJ! Looks like the boss of this place seen enough!” Ryder told. Once Carl ensured there were no nearby enemies distracting him, he got a good look at the assumed supervisor, who had exited whatever cabin he was hiding in the whole time, and overlooked the action leaning on the railing, seeming disappointed in his men.

“Take that asshole alive if you can! He got answers for sure!” Cesar told from his high ledge as he dispatched another hostile, the one that had found a hiding spot behind the dock handler, and now rushed into action without really thinking straight.
“But as for you, we definitely won’t be taking you alive.” said a nearby voice in Spanish. The startled Cesar did some kind of silly ballerina spin on one foot to find himself staring at a group of three armed smugglers, definitely Mexican, in the eyes. How they made their way up to the catwalk felt like a mystery – until it hit him that he, Carl and Ryder had been focusing on the ship and the right side of the compound most of the time, leaving the other fully exposed.
“You gonna tell me who you work for? Or do I gotta interrogate your boss to get anything outta you?” Cesar asked condescendingly.
“Heh, kid’s got some nerves...” one of the men laughed.
“Hey, wait a sec. White and blue? You guys from the f*ckin’ San Fierro Rifa?” Cesar inquired, now recognizing their attire from up close.
“Clever boy. Maybe a bit too clever?” another Rifa remarked with a smirk.
“You shouldn’t have followed our homies, y’know. We ain’t the kind to leave witnesses in one piece, if you know what I mean.” the last one said, smirking in even more evil manner.

Cesar backed off towards the staircase he and his party initially used – only to notice more men waiting just downstairs outside a parked Rumpo, grinning and laughing mockingly at him. The three ambushers on the catwalk did the same, probably deliberately allowing Cesar to retreat just so he could see himself how badly he was trapped.

There was this one incredibly dumb idea he had... those barrels were explosive and close enough to the Rifas to certainly take them out of the picture... of course, he’d then be caught up between the ensuing fire and the another group that would have him pinned down, unless...

Before anyone could launch more threats that sounded more like insecure men compensating for their presumedly small lower body parts, the floor below them started to crumble all of a sudden, causing everyone to lose their balance briefly – it began to become clear the support beam wouldn’t hold on much longer. Cesar grabbed the railing in a hurry and caught a glimpse of Carl and Ryder moving in on the cargo ship, apparently unaware of his distressed situation. Looking back at the gang of Rifas, Cesar noticed some had dropped their guns, and struggled to even get them back as the floor kept shaking.

He climbed across the railing, so that he was directly above a red container that pointed towards the cargo ship. It was good – it’d make the inevitable fall slightly shorter...

“Adios, amigos.” he said, firing multiple shots at the barrels with his sidearm. Flames immediately came out, signaling how volatile the material was – and fittingly, the men guarding the stairs now climbed up to the ledge, obviously attracted by all that sound, only to stare their demise right in the face –

As Cesar leaped, the barrels went up in a massive explosion, spreading flaming debris all over the place as the beam underneath the catwalk finally gave way and caused the entire thing to collapse down to the ground, taking the whole bunch of Rifa gangsters with it. The bang caught Carl and Ryder’s attention as well: while they already climbed the gangplank, they saw Cesar’s silhouette against the bright light of the explosion and land a bit roughly on the container, just staying clear of the dust from the collapsed structure that now engulfed the area on ground level.

Gaining his composure just about, Cesar signaled to the two (after noticing they were looking at him) to keep going – and get to the boss, preferably. Carl had no idea if his friend was trying to do his best action hero imitation to show off, or if he had actually been in trouble and found no other, more convenient ways out of it. He was going to worry about it as soon as the man in charge was apprehended – which Ryder was already in the process of doing. The boss, a visibly frightened middle-aged Hispanic male, was seemingly trying to run to the other end of the ship and jump overboard, but Ryder grabbed hold of him by the neck and viciously pulled him down to the deck. The man searched for his gun in a moment of panic, but was successfully stopped when Carl put his Uzi up to his face.

“You reckon there’ll be enough of his brain left to donate to hospitals if I spray it?” he wondered.
“Maybe it don’t matter, ‘cause no one’s gonna find the body anyway.” Ryder said casually.
“Please! What the hell do you even want? Is it the cars? Just take that crowbar and go, they’re in the containers!” the man whimpered at their feet.
“He looks scared. Not really what I expected.” Carl chuckled.
“For a damn reason! Anyone who gets past those scary fools has to mean business!” the boss yelled in desperation, as Cesar made his way up to the freighter as well.

“Did you ask him yet why he took my car?” he inquired.
“Actually we decided to give you the honor.”
“Oh, please! Look, he didn’t tell me why! Just take whatever you need and go!” the boss screamed again. Cesar picked him back up from the ground, staring him intimidatingly in the eyes.
“Just a while ago, I went through a shootout and an explosion. Don’t f*cking think I’ll just settle with taking back what’s mine, ‘cause you’re about to give us some proper answers. Why the f*ck is a worthless petty smuggler like you working with the San Fierro Rifa?”
“They – they just like getting big bucks for smuggling cars out of the country for wealthy collectors. I really... don’t have any excuse, now I think about it.” the man said, gasping a few times as he spoke.
“Well, in a way, you do. Because nobody says no to T-Bone Mendez and sees another painless day in his life, is that right?” Cesar said. The boss nodded nervously, his whole body shaking by now.
“I don’t normally associate with violent criminals, but he said he was gonna supply me some nice cars from Los Santos for a good prize, and I wasn’t supposed to ask any questions... just, just please don’t hurt me...”

“I’m afraid...” Cesar said, now grabbing his pistol once again, “when our friend T-Bone finds out your plan was a failure, he might send more men here with less friendly goals in mind. Since you seem decent enough to admit you did a huge f*cking mistake, I can let you off with a quick mercy kill. It sure beats T-Bone’s methods... I hear he loves the feeling of causing agony to another person.”
“I, I... I could also just run away, you won’t have to see me again...”
“True, we won’t.” Cesar said with a smile that could’ve been interpreted as malicious, but deep down he knew he was doing the smuggler a favor as he pulled the trigger, and a silenced shot blasted right through his head, ending his thieving ventures for good.

“Damn, ice cold!” Ryder remarked from the side.
“Help me throw this guy into the harbor... that’ll keep him out of the cops’ sight at least for some time.” Cesar told the Families members, who were more than happy to oblige. Once the man was overboard and out of harm’s way, it was time to make one of those quick exits from the scene before anyone saw their faces – but going down from the ship, Ryder suddenly remembered something and stopped with his finger up in the air, causing Carl to crash into the back of him.

“The guy said somethin’ about cars in the containers, right? We should check it out, just in case.”
“Do we really have time for that? At least I gotta get mine back home and fixed up. I can tell those assholes roughed it up some when they brought it here.” Cesar grumbled.
“Suit yourself then. By the way, who the f*ck was that T-Bone guy? Friend of yours?” Ryder asked after fetching the crowbar mentioned earlier by the smuggler.
“Let’s say, every Mexican criminal in this region knows that prick all too well. Just talking about him this much makes me uncomfortable... All you need to know is if he decides this bloodbath’s enough of a reason to show in Los Santos, it was nice knowing y’all.”
“Nah, I don’t think he that bad. I mean, remember, we got Sweet, Smoke, all ‘em OG’s ready to drop the bitch if they ever see him on our turf. One don’t simply waltz in here like they own the place, don’t matter how much reputation he got.” Ryder said as he was prying open the first of the two nearby containers.
“We should be careful, though. Cesar rarely talk sh*t, y’know.” Carl said seriously.
“If I ever get some alone time with the busta who goes around stealin’ from my friends, it’s gonna end with him hangin’ from a meat hook at best... OK, here goes! Open Sesame!”

Cesar hung around long enough to peek inside – and what he saw was definitely something worth seeing. An all-black ZR-350 sports car, apparently complete with some modifications to make it look like a fancy street racer. Ryder got so excited that he immediately ran to the next container, which revealed an equally satisfying surprise: this time a dark blue Elegy, one that looked like it could outrun the FBI if there was ever a need for that. Or better yet...

“With all due respect to our lowriders... sure these could get us somewhere better in the big race?” Carl suggested to Cesar, who looked thoughtful, but approving.
“Long as you learn the course, CJ. By the way, I call shotgun on this thing.” he said, pointing at the Elegy.
“Ah-uh, maybe for the race, but you said you gotta get your whip back to its rightful home! Go on, homie, get it done, while me and CJ take these babies out for a test drive!” Ryder shouted, so excited he looked like a little boy again.
Carl’s expression was undecided for a bit. “OK, Ryder... let’s go have some fun. But not too long, and nothing too risky! We can’t wreck these things, or we back to square one.”
“That’s the kinda CJ I like to see! More action, less bein’ a bust...”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I heard that word more often than I need.”

With their hotwiring technique that they had mastered over the years, Carl and Ryder broke into the about-to-be-smuggled sports cars quite easily, and were out of the containers and on the road before too long. Cesar had already gone on his way, but one problem did remain.
“Wait, what about my car? It’s still parked ‘round here, and I can’t drive two at once...” Carl realized.
“That problem’s, like, one phonecall away, homie. I’mma get LB on the line, he can get it back to your garage like a ninja. You won’t even see him do it.” Ryder said on the speakerphone.
“Man, sure is good to have friends on Seville Boulevard...” Carl admitted.
“Now, less talking and more racin’ to the observatory!” Ryder shouted, accelerating forward so fast Carl would’ve struggled to keep up if not for the ZR-350’s sheer straight line speed. He had to admit to himself that this was an irrelevant and dangerous hobby... but then what was the criminal life good for if he never got to have any fun with his stolen goods?

Absolutely f*cking nothing.

The End.

Edited by Carbonox

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Hello again. Another chapter uploaded in pretty much standard time, I guess - this despite two things holding me back. First of all, coming up with any halfway decent rhymes for you-know-who took some time, as you'd probably guess. :D Also, in the past week I discovered this Harry Potter fic that I really fell in love with, and focused more on reading than writing - for a change, I should say. Anyway, the relatively short length of this chapter has made it simpler to complete than the last few, so without further ado:



SA12: The Sounds of Santos



Carl and Ryder’s reckless and dangerous tour around the city took approximately an hour, every second of which they enjoyed to the fullest, bantering back and forth in a much friendlier manner than ever since Carl returned to town. By virtue of their fellow road users giving them way – while holding their middle fingers up out of the window – they managed to get through the streets relatively clean. It obviously helped that the cars handled like a dream – Carl could already see himself holding the winner’s trophy in the big race, such was his faith in the ZR-350’s abilities. The Elegy driven by Ryder was doing no worse, and was definitely going to be up high in the standings as well with Cesar behind the wheel. For now though, fun prevailed over worry about the event.

Eventually the fun was starting to wear off, once they had seen practically every sight there was to see in the city. Having gathered memorable experiences like narrowly avoiding running over the actors in alien suits at the movie studios, or evading an angry pizza courier who chased them halfway across the city on his scooter somehow, the two brought their cars to Grove Street in order to call it a day.

Back at his favorite cul-de-sac, Carl couldn’t help but smile as he saw his Savanna parked nice and tidy right in front of his garage, looking like it had been untouched all day long. LB had definitely done his job the way Ryder told he would – but there was one sight that bothered Carl enough to turn his attention away from the car. It was Kendl and Sweet, looking like they were fiercely arguing next to Sweet’s recently repainted (now dark red) Greenwood.

The two exited their cars simultaneously, Carl motioning Ryder to stay back while he handled family issues. “What’s goin’ on this time?”
“Carl?! What the hell is this meant to be, some kill list of yours? Sweet claims he doesn’t know anything, and Cesar would never get his hands on police files, so I know it has to be you!” Kendl exploded, holding something a little too familiar. Yup, it was the list of five guys matching the loose description of the Ballas’ supporter. Courtesy of none other than Tenpenny.
“Uhh... what? No, it ain’t a kill list, it’s just – gang stuff. You wouldn’t care probably.”
“But I do. C’mon, it don’t hurt to tell to your own brother.” Sweet chimed in.
“Yeah, err... I can explain, let’s just get where there ain’t no ears. Kendl, sorry I left it back at yours, but we kinda had to leave in a rush.” Carl said, sincere remorse in his voice.
“All this criminal sh*t you into lately, it just worries me, Carl! First Sweet has to respray his car ‘cause of some biker threat, next I find this when I come home, next you and Ryder show up in cars that sure as f*ck ain’t yours...”
“Look, sis, I know what you think, but me and all us Grove boys are gonna make damn sure there ain’t no heat comin’ your way, at least.”
Kendl scowled. “Yeah, we’ll see about that.”

She placed the files in Carl’s hand a bit roughly, before walking off towards one of the smaller houses in the hood, belonging to one of her long-time girlfriends. There was a long moment of silence as she went, eventually broken by Sweet.
“OK, lemme see them now. Everything go smooth?”
“It don’t ever go smooth with Tenpenny.” Carl murmured.
“Can I see ‘em too?” Ryder said, with familial issues now a secondary topic at best.
“No, Ryder, it’s time for ya to finish your work of the day. Get the boys to stash these rides outta sight, change plates, respray, y’know all that sh*t. When you done, there gonna be no trace these are the ones we took from that... asshole.”

Ryder muttered something in anger as he walked off, phone now in hand to get some of the Families’ tuning experts on the line. Only now did Sweet really notice the cars, as Carl saw him examine them with a much more interested expression than when he found out about the “kill list”.
“What’s the deal with these? You and Cesar gonna race ‘em?”
“Ten points.” Carl said with a wink and thumb up, like some obnoxious advertiser.
“Knock that off, bro. I just wonder, shouldn’t we try sell those cars? This race sounds more like some major gamble to me.” Sweet said, genuine worry in his voice.
“After the race, I’ll consider that. Anything to get ‘em off our hands before this San Fierro gangster called T-Bone comes snooping.”
“T-Bone Mendez? What the f*ck, do I even wanna know how you got on his crosshairs?”
“You startin’ to sound like Kendl now. It’s a long story, let’s just get to the cop files. In case you forgot by now.” Carl remarked.
The brothers walked inside Sweet’s house to discuss the situation further. “So I understand ya did some of Tenpenny’s dirty work, and he got you this list?” he asked with his voice down.
“Sure did. Five guys, all guilty of somethin’, and possibly connected to criminal gangs, such as the Ballas.” Carl said in his most official voice.
“Oh, I know one already.” Sweet said, upon having gone through the names quickly.
“No sh*t?” Carl asked a bit sarcastically. He had only had a brief look at the top of the pile yet, and that file was for a corrupt banker living the high life in Mulholland he had never heard of before.
“Wait... no, nevermind. Heh, almost thought it was the asshole who employed us.” Sweet chuckled, showing Carl the file he was holding. Carl barely prevented himself from gasping as he saw the name on the paper:

Heffner, Amadeus

If Sweet didn’t already dislike Schrader and his whole gang – or syndicate, or whatever they preferred – this was going to put a whole new spin on things if he were to find out. At least the leader’s name was mentioned nowhere on the file, at least after he quickly read through the whole thing, so Amadeus had surprisingly well kept his loyalties hidden from the public eye. Looking through the information a little closer now, Carl saw that the only crimes he had been convicted of in his entire career were grand theft auto, extortion and public exposure, one count of each, and his only suspected associate was someone called Daniel Daedalus, equally unknown to him as the corrupt banker, whose file Sweet was no inspecting.

As much as he knew he was taking a huge risk, and getting caught would get him in big trouble with Sweet, Carl decided he’d pretend not to know Amadeus for now, and conduct any research on him entirely by himself. While the thought of Schrader’s left hand being in cahoots with the Ballas sounded ludicrous, he couldn’t rule it out as they had previously had partnerships with other gangs too, as Andreas’ speech indicated earlier. All Carl hoped for right now was for Sweet to call off his participation in future jobs for the Europeans, to avoid having him run right into the suspect and force Carl to somehow explain things non-awkwardly.

Another name on the pile that startled Carl was none other than his career-criminal-turned-petty-thief friend, Kevin Williamson. Imagining him in a suit was a little off-putting, but a connection with the Ballas was definitely plausible: he had, after all, a debt to pay, and could’ve been forced to help them by supplying guns... but if he struggled to get by so badly he had to rob stores for a living, how could he get his hands on all that equipment? Was it possible that he’d have been just a middle man in the operation? And if he was involved, why were the Ballas so willing to beat him to the ground back when he and Carl met? Did they pin the blame on him for the warehouse going up in smoke, or were they just playing a part at that time, when he was in Carl’s company, to make him appear sympathetic? All these crazy theories were making his head spin...

“Oh, hey, what you doin’?” Carl asked, not really knowing how much time had passed since he last said a word, now seeing Sweet write something on an empty paper.
“Just a quick summary of the targets so we know who we lookin’ for. Least we can do right now is remember the names, maybe the cars they drive too.” said his brother, about to finish the work.
“Good thinkin’. Got any favorites yet?”
“Not really, and I feel there might be more than one guy involved in this Balla gun deal. Maybe we gotta see if any of these might be connected.” Sweet suggested, moments later putting the pen down and showing Carl his work.

There it was: in Sweet’s trademark shaky handwriting, the five suspects, none of which Carl was going to dismiss just yet even if he might have had minor biases.

Shawn Henderson, 51, Mulholland, red Elegant
Amadeus Heffner, 35, Rodeo, gray Landstalker
Bryan Chandler, 32, Idlewood, white Alpha
Kevin Williamson, 40, Verona Beach, gray Cadrona
Arnaud LaRoche, 34, Downtown, blue Banshee (+ others?)

“There, that should do it.” Sweet said, sounding quite proud of his work.
“So how we gonna go through these? We get homies to spy they neighborhoods, or...?”
“We ain’t got enough fools for that. Sh*t, barely got enough to guard the turf now. Too many niggas f*ckin’ on strike and bein’ useless on purpose.” Sweet told, anger once again taking him over.
“Guess that means I better hurry with the race so I can get my... the f*ck’s that noise?”

Carl and Sweet abandoned their discussion as sounds were heard from outside, almost like someone was being beaten and begging for mercy. Sweet hid the summary sheet underneath the table (in lack of a better place) and carefully walked over to the door, Carl directly in tow. Both were ready to take guns out if anything unexpected happened.

“I told you, I just wanted to talk to Carl!” a whiny voice yelled in despair.
“And I told you to f*ck off from Grove turf, or you want me to do as I said last time?” called Smoke’s distinguishable voice just as the Johnson brothers exited the house. Not far from them, right on the front yard of John Carlson’s place, Smoke had indeed tackled a small white kid into the ground and wasn’t going to let go anytime soon.
“Stand back, homies. I ain’t checked if he got a gun yet.” he said after noticing the brothers, still pinning the kid down with all he got. Carl walked up close anyway, because he knew who it was the second he had said something comprehensibly.

“Billy Butler.” Carl said with utmost contempt upon making his way around Smoke to a position where he could be face to face with the kid.
“H-hi! I – I was looking for you!” Billy stuttered. He sure had some nerve walking right into the heart of Grove Street after attempting to steal from Emmet and Smoke already... but something told Carl that with his boss dead, he had something other than theft in mind.
“You got a bad hearing? I thought we specifically told you we didn’t wanna see your face ever again.” Carl spoke, now in the most disappointed tone he could manage.
“I know – and I’m terribly sorry to bother you – Sir – but I have no choice and...” Billy explained, poorly as ever, before Smoke pushed him even harder down, no doubt just to show him who was boss.
“C’mon, big homie, let the asshole breathe. If he got somethin’ useful for us, he might be worth keepin’ alive for just a bit longer.” Carl mocked.

Smoke reluctantly stood back up, only for Carl to immediately grab hold of Billy and push him up to the wall of Sweet’s house.
“Watch the paint, bro...” Sweet kindly reminded, viewing this from the sidelines.
“I could make beatin’ you up into a hobby, y’know. And I will, if you don’t get to the damn point.” Carl said, being up in Billy’s face by now.
“Right! Right! Got it... it’s just a harmless offer really. Because all I’m asking for is if you would... consider me as a future member? Of the – the – Grove Street Families?”

The words echoed in Carl’s head for a long time. He felt like the atmosphere went entirely silent for a good few moments, except for that pathetic voice of Billy’s asking for Families membership... and as he still tried to comprehend it, the voice in his head began to sound more and more mocking and malicious, like Billy had deliberately come here just to insult him–

“What the f*ck, prick? You think we just let any goddamned fool from outta the ‘hood walk in and get to join up if they ask nicely?!” Sweet now screamed, taking position alongside Carl and grabbing Billy’s face in painful-looking fashion.
“Somethin’ stinks here anyway. Why would a kid, who has never done sh*t except try to steal from us, suddenly run at us like this and pretend to be a friend?” Carl added.
“I-I-I ain’t pretending...” Billy’s slightly muffled voice said.
“Then what?” Smoke asked, coming up from behind Carl as well. It was amazing Billy hadn’t yet spontaneously died from the pressure of facing three notorious OG’s who weren’t ready to accept his explanation.
“I heard – that you guys don’t like drugs being pushed on the streets, and I thought that’s righteous...”
Sweet scowled. “It’s a lot more than ‘not liking’, kid.”
“Not all of us think the same way, though.” Smoke noted.
“We ain’t discussing that right now.” Sweet said in annoyance.
“Just gotta let you know there’s alternative viewpoints in–“
“Shut the f*ck up!” Sweet yelled with the voice that showed he was dead serious.

Once Smoke had quieted down and backed up, Sweet was able to re-focus on the kid.
“Now – as for you – what exactly would you be ready to do to join us?” he snarled.
“Well, I could always off a dealer to make your job easier...” Billy said rather unconfidently, keeping his head down.
“No, no, no, no, no.” Sweet laughed at his simplicity. “First of all, there ain’t a snowball’s chance in hell we givin’ you a gun... second, I meant what would you be willin’ to give up?
“I, uhh, don’t really have anything anymore, so it’s hard to say... I mean, I got no apartment, no money, no vehicle...”
“Your virginity, perhaps?” Smoke said out of nowhere, startling Billy like nothing else.
“Relax, asshole, big guy’s jokin’. Though I hope you ain’t tryin’ to get our sympathy there.” said Carl, feeling like his turn was up.
“Of course not, Sir! I mean, I don’t expect you guys to provide for me or any – silly sh*t like that... it’s just that I’ve seen what crack does to people ‘round here, and now that I’m a free man again, I feel like it’s my duty to get – assholes like Steve off the streets when we still got hope.” Billy said, just about keeping his composure throughout the speech.
“Who’s Steve?” Sweet asked immediately.
“Crackhead.” Carl and Smoke told in unison.
“Dead one, I might add.” Carl followed up.
“Good to hear Smoke’s been cleanin’ the hood too then. But back to this little runt... what we exactly supposed to do wit’ him? Time for a lil’ conference, homies.” Sweet said.

At his mark, he, Carl and Smoke formed a tight circle and began whispering what to do next, Sweet keeping watch on Billy so that he didn’t wander into hearing range.
“J-Just to let you know one more thing, I’ve never... hated you or anything, only did what I did because Steve gave me no choice.” Billy told them before Sweet motioned him to shush.
“OK, homies, anything else I should know about this guy, except he’s a pussy and a thief?” he asked from his friends.
“Well, we could easily kill him here and no one would ever give a f*ck.” Carl said.
“How’s that gonna help us? Now look, I know he ain’t properly respectin’ us yet, but way I see it, here we got exactly what we need. A disposable white idiot who can do all the dangerous scouting work for free and save our homies the trouble. If he gets caught – he ain’t got none of our secrets to tell.” Sweet explained.
“Seriously? I liked your first reaction to him more.” Smoke growled.
Sweet shook his head. “At this tough situation, you gotta take advantage of every opportunity you get. Besides, I seen bigger pussies grow into mean as f*ck OG’s.”
“But what if he a Balla spy? He from their turf.” Carl hissed.
“If he was, he woulda broken by now. I know genuine fear when I see it.”
“This a good time to mention Jeffrey asked us to come pick him up from his workplace?” Smoke said all of a sudden.

Carl and Sweet stared at him for a good couple of seconds, both visibly annoyed.
“Ain’t got no time for that, fatso. I hate the asshole’s voice anyway.” Sweet firmly asserted.
“So what about this Billy deal? I know dudes like, uhh, Tony and Bert was kinda pussies when they was young, but this boy takes it to a new damn level.” Carl said.
“I dunno. Gotta take some balls to come straight to us like that. If we was Balla OG’s, he would be dead by now.” Sweet said, surprising his brother somewhat with the statement.
“C’mon, bro, that’s like the Slappers drafting someone who scored a hat trick in one university game and did jack sh*t for the rest of his youth.”
“I get your point, but let’s make it this way... I can take responsibility of that fool, see what he’s really made of. Y’all won’t need to be around him or nothin’, and if he fails the initiation, he ain’t in anyway. That’s the rule, y’all know that sh*t.”
“I thought this was gonna be a democratic vote between the baddest OG’s of the street, but now Sweet just forces his idea through anyway.” Smoke said jokingly and added a brief laugh.
“Ya ain’t even livin’ on this street no more, so your vote won’t count, pork chop.” Sweet snarked back at him, shoved him in the shoulder and broke up the ring to indicate they were done talking.

“CJ, if you don’t wanna see the kid, you better accompany Smoke to whatever gig Jeffrey’s up to.” he followed up. Carl reluctantly agreed, admitting to himself that while Loc managed to be an annoying prick literally all the time, at least he still had loyalty to the Families – more than he could say about the likes of B Dup.
“We take your ride if you don’t mind? I ain’t goin’ for another walk.” Smoke requested.
“Yeah, think it’ll carry the weight...” Carl muttered, listening in on Sweet and Billy’s ongoing conversation out of curiosity. Sweet was back to his bossy self to keep the kid in his place, but was no longer yelling and grabbing his face; instead he spoke more professionally and lectured Billy about all the dangers involved in gang work. Carl did agree that it was a good idea for the gang to put small-time crooks to work in order to save money, but he would have preferred not to reward that bastard with a job of any kind, considering his disrespectful antics in the past. At least he could trust that Sweet was doing this unexpected move strictly for the Families’ sake, not the kid’s.

On the way to the Burger Shot, Carl told Smoke everything about the background and eventual purpose of the sports cars that had – expectedly – caught his attention. In return, Smoke explained that Loc was about to truly make it big on the gangster rap scheme, as he was about to finish off a contract with the reputable Blastin’ Fools Records. Carl could only wonder how much of his success was actually attributed to Madd Dogg’s rhyme book, stolen by him as a friendly favor for the aspiring rapper – of course, he had never told anyone about the robbery, not even his closest homies, because he just couldn’t risk the information going public and landing him in much deeper trouble than the murder of a crazed drug dealer, for instance.

Outside the Burger Shot in Marina stood OG Loc, or “Jeffrey Cross”, but no one dared call him that anymore, for he would immediately correct them with a high-pitched voice that put Mickey Mouse to shame. Carl already saw from a distance he looked impatient, to the point where all he looked at was his watch. Loc didn’t pay attention to the Savanna until after it had come to a complete stop right next to him, at which point he nearly freaked out before seeing the smirking face of Carl on the driver’s seat.
“Yo, CJ! What up?” he said, thankfully sounding somewhat normal this time.
“’Sup, homie. Need a ride?” Carl asked, smoothly as ever.
“Hell yes! I gotta meet up with my future manager, over at Idlewood.” Loc said and jumped across the rear door of the car to get in.
“Idlewood? Sounds like a weird place for ‘em to live, but you the boss.”

As Carl began the drive right back near where they came from, Loc explained every little detail he had learned about his manager candidate thus far – ironically with the exception of the name, which he admitted he had forgotten as soon as their first meeting was over. Due to him also adding a needlessly high amount of forced gangsta slang into his speech, Carl tuned the radio to a higher volume to subtly drown him out. That didn’t work, and Loc only changed the subject to how he felt most of the artists being played by Radio Los Santos were actually “fake” and “not street enough” – and of course, he was going to be a new big star who’d one day bring the genre back to its true roots while blowing away his listeners. If by “blowing away” he meant “causing everyone to scatter out of hearing distance”, Carl could agree with the notion.

“Tell you what, CJ, Smoke, you doin’ me such a favor, I’m obliged to reward you somehow!” Loc chanted about halfway through the journey.
“What, a cut of your record profits?” Carl suggested. He knew it wouldn’t be much, but any sort of money going into the Families’ pockets was only a good thing.
“I don’t think Blastin’ Fools is gonna like that, baby! No, me, OG Loc, the truest gangsta to ever come outta the hood, will give you a preview of my work!” Loc said in excitement, standing up on his seat to get ready. Carl and Smoke immediately both tried to come up with a polite way to tell him to shut up and enjoy the ride – but then they were already too late.
“Eh-eh-eh-eh!” he began with his usual, extremely annoying method of throat cleaning. “This is my favorite part from ‘Unlucky In Love’. Then the bitch told me with a straight face, she never dates gangstas of my race, she don’t know what she really missin’, sure I don’t do huggin’ or kissin’, but...
“Whoa! Alright, enough!” Carl shouted, seeing many of the pedestrians nearby covering their ears and most definitely thinking exactly the same as him.
“Loc, man, you gotta work on your lyrics more.” Smoke added.
“Man, you see those white fools on the sidewalk hatin’ on me? How f*ckin’ typical. They just don’t get it.” Loc complained, completely oblivious to his friends’ opinions.

No one in the car said a word for a while as they subtly left the area. Unfortunately, just one block later Loc decided to show off his songs again.
“So anyway, maybe this is gonna sound better. It’s from ‘Gangsta Business’. Cracker dude thought he could just blackmail a black male, but lemme tell ya...
“Whoa – what – the – f*ck is that?” Carl asked, voice full of embarrassment, while hoping his question would interrupt Loc’s rapping; however, he only kept on going with even more terrible rhymes than last time, leading him to believe he hadn’t taken anything from the rhyme book after all.
I’mma dedicate this one to my homies CJ and Smoke, they a bit serious but still know how to crack a good joke.” Loc finished at last, taking both by surprise.
“Hey, homie, it costs money to have my name on a song.” Smoke pointed out soon.
“Same here! I charge extra too ‘cause of the terrible rhyme multiplier.” Carl said, prompting a laugh from Smoke. Loc apparently finally realized his friends weren’t as fond of his music as he (very reasonably) expected, and sat back down with his arms crossed, looking offended.

With him now thankfully stopping for good, Carl was able to enjoy the radio once again. He was just about to enter Idlewood near the Alhambra club, when something in traffic caught his eye.
“Smoke, you see that?” Carl asked his friend with haste. Smoke appeared to have dozed off a bit, and wasn’t concentrating on the environment much. He merely responded with a shrug.
“It was B Dup, drivin’ that van of his just past us.” Carl said in convinced manner. He turned towards the club to follow the black Boxville, even though it deviated from his route a bit.
“B Dup’s a jerk, dude. He threatened to shoot me some days ago when all I offered was a small sample of my music!” Loc said angrily.
“Yeah, only people he wants to see these days is dealers or buyers...” Carl responded.
“Even if this is Dup, you sure it’s worth to follow his ass? We both know he gets real paranoid.” Smoke warned, when Carl continued to stay on the Boxville’s tail, keeping one car between them like a good spy would do.
“I ain’t got all the time in the world here!” Loc yelled.
“I know you find your – management important, but me and Smoke are always at work, you oughta know better.”
“I still ain’t sure, CJ. How you know Dup ain’t just on a pleasant cruise?” Smoke pointed out.
“At the Commerce district? In a clumsy van? C’mon, don’t tell me I’m the only one who’s noticed his patterns by now.” Carl said in annoyance.
“Patterns?” Smoke and Loc replied in unison.
“Yes, fools, patterns. Dup ain’t ever gone for a drive on his own except when his van’s full of cargo. I seen him load it up a few times, been on a lookout ever since me and Smoke saw him on that walk of ours.” Carl assured.

Another turn later, the car that was between Dup and Carl had gone into a different direction, forcing him to just play it cool right on the back of the van. He had tried keeping a distance of a few car lengths, but that had only resulted in many angry drivers behind him blaring their horns, which certainly attracted more attention than acting normal ever would. It just frustrated him that the three of them were in an open top – even Sweet’s Greenwood would’ve been less conspicuous, mostly due to the new paint.

“Is this really working, CJ? It’s like he going in circles.” Smoke said. He leaned on the door on his side, visibly bored, while Loc yawned loudly behind him.
“You said he paranoid, didn’tcha? No doubt he’s just tryin’ to lose any tail he might have.”
“And what exactly you gonna do if he catches us again?” Smoke asked in disbelief.
“I dunno, fire a spray his way and drive off? Seriously Smoke, you make that punk-ass bitch sound like he can actually threaten us or some sh*t.” Carl said with a chuckle.
“Didn’t I tell you he got contacts? Word is, both Ballas and Vagos buy sh*t from him. And who’s to say those back doors won’t suddenly reveal some armed bodyguards who’ll tear us up?”
“What word said that? Me an’ Sweet never knew!”
“Word of the street, man. Forgot I live in Idlewood now? It’s easy to collect intel by just overhearing a talk or two. Y’all really gotta step up your tactics, don’t wanna rely on old Smoke alone to tell you everything?”

Carl just shook his head in response, before he was abruptly forced to step on the brakes as B Dup nearly came to a stop near the Unity Station even though they weren’t at an intersection yet. This would then cause the gray Washington next in line to almost rear-end them before just hitting the brakes on time. Carl didn’t particularly understand what was going on as Dup was now driving barely at jogging speed.
“Better watch yourself, he mighta seen us.” Smoke said. He was definitely ready to crouch as low as he could any second.
“No, I feel it’s somethin’ else... almost like he lookin’ for something.” Carl assumed.
“Hope it’s my manager then...” Loc muttered inbetween yawns, much to Carl’s amusement.
“I think if your manager’s friends with Dup, that ain’t a good start.” he replied.
“But CJ, you and Ryder was friends since childhood, you want me to judge you by your buddy too?” Smoke subsequently joked.
“Least Ryder’s just a basehead, Dup’s a basehead and about a dozen other negative things... oh, look at that!”

After turning a corner past the station, Dup had apparently found what he was looking for, as he veered left off the road and drove towards a garage door at the far side of the lot. Carl pretended to be stuck in gear to keep his pace down as he observed the Boxville’s movements. Only after the garage opened and Dup drove straight in, did Carl “solve the problem” and manage to speed off at normal pace, after most of the cars behind him had honked at him like they’d never honked before in their lives.
“Thank you, Mark Wayne.” Carl said with a smirk. “Sweet’s gonna like this when we get home.”
“Well, we took a huge risk and somehow came out in one piece. If the f*cker’s adventures really interest you that much, then I ain’t standin’ in your way.” Smoke mumbled.
“Damn, homie, don’t be a cynic now.” Carl said, head shaking with some genuine frustration as he couldn’t understand why his homie couldn’t see the possibilities this plan could well bring.
“Good thing this trip had no other purpose, huh, CJ?” Loc angrily asked with his best Mickey Mouse impression from the rear.
“Oh, crap. Yeah... better get to it straight away. Can’t delay our buddy’s future money-making ventures, huh?”
“Say what you want about my music, CJ, but my manager candidate is sure to have better taste than you!” Loc chanted, still offended about the earlier comments.
“I trust you ain’t rewarding us in any alternate way for transportin’?” Carl tried his luck.
“Man, f*ck off, nigga!”

It was probably almost to be expected that OG Loc wouldn’t forgive any offending party that quickly. Carl brought him to the address he wanted – not quite in the sleaziest parts of Idlewood, but still not a particularly promising location for someone who actually wanted the best for the career of a Grove Street associate. The manager was already waiting outside the house, leaning on his Alpha (nice ride, but nothing like our race cars, Carl thought) and looking bored. As he and Smoke left the scene immediately after Loc exited the car, Carl could only wonder what the white manager-to-be would think about Loc’s obvious racial bias, and some of his less than flattering lyrics.

Good thing he had about a dozen more important things to think about as well.

One detail he had not noticed, however, was the presence of a dark purple lowrider quietly sitting on the alley opposite the garage B Dup entered. The occupants had no difficulty identifying the people who soon afterwards drove past them, thanks to their slow pace.
“Hello again, Carl Johnson. Did you uncover our little secret?” the eyepatch-wearing passenger quietly asked, face widening to an evil smile.


The End.



Next up...


the big race. Yes, it's finally time.



Also, regarding the next chapter, some non-spoilerific things... doing it might either take very long or very little, depending on how things work out. I'm getting a new computer, you see, and I'm not sure yet if I can get Microsoft Office on it immediately. If I can, then there really is nothing holding me back, as I have a strong feeling the next three chapters will be a pleasant breeze to write.

Edited by Carbonox

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Hmm, so, no one's reviewed in a long time, and I don't have a lot of time today to put up a detailed review (gotta wallow in sorrow). I'm going tell you some things about your action scenes.


First off, barrels don't explode, when you shoot them, there's decompression and very rarely (or not at all) an explosion.

Second, suppressed pistols are loud, supersonic thwack sounds...subsonic ammunition is f*cking useless, it kills range, slows down bullets and drops horribly, although maybe you can execute someone with it, but how did a Mexican gangster, to whom Ammu-nation won't sell anything but a bunch of flowers, get his hands on subsonic ammo?

Third, Carl's Uzi. Uzi has a very controllable recoil if shot with a stock, or else, like Carl does, jumping out of cover, the bullets are going to go everywhere but the GD. (General direction) Hell, I even heard of a guy whose gun jumped so high that he shot himself in the head.

Fourth, you have to show how the characters are carrying. It's not like you can conceal an assault rifle, so where the hell did Cesar pull his gun out of? i might have missed something, too much cough syrup makes you drowsy.


Keep up the good work.



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Hmm, so, no one's reviewed in a long time, and I don't have a lot of time today to put up a detailed review (gotta wallow in sorrow). I'm going tell you some things about your action scenes.


First off, barrels don't explode, when you shoot them, there's decompression and very rarely (or not at all) an explosion.

Second, suppressed pistols are loud, supersonic thwack sounds...subsonic ammunition is f*cking useless, it kills range, slows down bullets and drops horribly, although maybe you can execute someone with it, but how did a Mexican gangster, to whom Ammu-nation won't sell anything but a bunch of flowers, get his hands on subsonic ammo?

Third, Carl's Uzi. Uzi has a very controllable recoil if shot with a stock, or else, like Carl does, jumping out of cover, the bullets are going to go everywhere but the GD. (General direction) Hell, I even heard of a guy whose gun jumped so high that he shot himself in the head.

Fourth, you have to show how the characters are carrying. It's not like you can conceal an assault rifle, so where the hell did Cesar pull his gun out of? i might have missed something, too much cough syrup makes you drowsy.


Keep up the good work.



OK, a bunch of those are admittedly sloppy writing, due to me still falling back on video game logic at times (even if I want to get rid of that style). Maybe if it was CJ's car that got taken rather than Cesar's, one could justify his acquisition of an assault rifle by picking it up from his trunk, but it's obviously too late to fix that now... :D


As far as Cesar's ownership of advanced equipment goes, the implication is that he's got underground contacts to sell him what Ammu-Nation wouldn't... ;)


Regarding the Uzi shootout, I guess it'd be possible to interpret that as CJ firing in short bursts to avoid bullets going all over the place, but still quickly enough to burn through a clip relatively fast... being a gangster, he'd have more experience with it than your average gunman. Maybe a stock would make it sound more plausible though.


Overall, thanks for the review, I'm always looking for opportunities to improve especially the combat scenes :D

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And then, Carl used the money cheat to gain all the cash he ever needed in the world, bringing an end to the Families' problems as they won the gang war.


But with this being drama, separated from gameplay, a different solution is preferable, hence why I present...


SA13: How Fast Was That? – Part 1



In what seemed to be a case of nature always finding a balance, after all the recent combat situations he had gotten himself into, Carl was able to spend most of the next several days just relaxing on Grove Street, if not a little anxious as the date of the race weekend drew closer and closer. He had received some mail from the organizers detailing how things would play out: there would be a drivers’ gathering and a free practice session for any takers next Friday, followed by a qualifying session on Saturday where each driver could do two flying laps to set the starting grid for Sunday’s fifteen lap race. The point system was also explained, though it wasn’t much of a concern for him as all he cared about was winning the race – not like he was going to finish very high in the overall championship by only doing one race out of fifteen.

Another letter detailed the regulations of the series, which proved not to be a problem as it turned out the ZR-350 and Elegy were in need of detuning to qualify for the race, rather than needing any additional and potentially expensive parts to stay competitive. Multiple days in advance, Carl and Cesar sent the repainted (now ice white and dark green, respectively) cars to the series’ directors for a mandatory check, which apparently also included fitting special radios “so they could speak to other drivers when needed”. Carl didn’t understand the point of such a thing, and the only response he got to his inquiries was that it “was part of the series’ charm”.

Amongst other news, Carl had also immediately jumped at the chance to tell Sweet about B Dup’s possible drug stash in the inconspicuous warehouse. It took some extra effort to convince his brother that he most certainly planned to attack the location in order to destroy the stash, certainly not steal it and begin to sell it on the streets. Sweet eventually decided that since Carl’s unexpected spying gave them a good opportunity for payback to the traitor, but they’d need to delay the attack until after the big race, as he was busy putting Billy through tough initiation tests and schooling him on how things really worked in the ghetto. Carl still had the thought at the back of his head that trying to turn Billy into an asset was a waste of time – but Sweet probably thought the exact same about the race, due to how many things could go wrong and cause them to walk out with nothing in hand.

On Friday morning, Cesar offered to give Carl a lift to a warehouse-turned-hangout area in Ocean Docks, where the drivers’ gathering was set to take place in the afternoon. Cesar himself had some Aztecas business to take care of and couldn’t commit himself to arrive until later on, so he just told Carl to settle himself in the circles and not make them a dozen new enemies immediately.

As soon as they left Grove Street in Cesar’s Savanna, now equipped with a hard top for “stealth reasons”, Carl could see that the track had already been built, and was nearly ready for use, being almost completely surrounded by portable barriers – of course, the walls of some buildings served as natural track borders in several areas, and adjacent roads hadn’t yet been blocked off as free practice was yet to begin, much to ordinary civilians’ delight. The two followed the track south, passing the start/finish line as they did so, then continued across the tall bridge into the port and turned some more corners before arrival. There were actually two warehouses in use by the racers: a smaller one on the left was apparently the meeting area, based on the rather unglamorous and decaying sign over the doorway, while the right was were contestants’ cars were stored.

Carl waved Cesar goodbye as he exited and took a look around. The atmosphere was terribly cold, more than what one would expect in the fall at Los Santos, and having nothing but his casual tank top on, he certainly wanted to get inside a building as soon as he could – he doubted he’d stand much of a chance if the freezing wind turned him into a “Carl-cicle”.

Only two people were seen outside so far: a guard in front of the makeshift garage’s entrance, and an unremarkable man smoking a cigarette while leaning against the drivers’ center’s wall. Some party music was faintly heard through the wall, implying that the racers were doing a lot more than merely chatting – though since parties often involved drinking, Carl had no idea why they’d be allowed to do laps in fast cars afterwards. He was about to get in and take a daring look, when the smoker stopped him.
“Hey, you the local racer, right?” he asked with a heavy accent, probably French.
“That’s right. What’s it to you?” Carl asked back, a bit on the defensive as he was taken back by the racer’s style of reaching out to strangers.
“Whoa, chill out, slick! I just think it’s cool that we got more guys from this town on board than just me and the sh*tty kid from the hills. I’m Arnaud LaRoche by the way, fourth in points, soon-to-be third as I’m quite good in front of my homecrowd, hehe...”

Arnaud continued to chat about everything that came to his mind, but Carl was barely listening at this point. LaRoche? The exact same LaRoche that was amongst the five Balla sympathizing suspects? The chances of this man being just an unlucky namesake were quite tiny, especially as his age matched with his appearance, and he gave away the fact he was also a Los Santos native. That brought more questions though, such as what his potential association with the gang was – he looked like no banger, but judging by his womanizing adventures that he was now rambling about, he could be a pimp working on their payroll whenever he wasn’t busy racing. Nothing about him also specifically seemed to suggest he was the type to oversee a gun smuggling operation and blow up a whole warehouse when his identity was threatened.

One thing needed to be checked out though, just so Carl could be absolutely certain. He told Arnaud he was going to have a look at his car and make sure everything was alright – the Frenchman just nodded casually, even wishing him luck for the race. His behavior so far was nothing Balla-like, but Carl knew that staying just a little bit paranoid and keeping his distance from the racer was more likely to keep him alive. Showing his driver’s license to the guard, Carl earned a pass into the vehicle storage, where a strict “no touching other drivers’ cars” rule applied and the guard kept following him and tracking his every move, but it was none of his concern. Sabotaging the others’ cars felt unnecessarily petty and risky anyway, when he could just beat them fair and square on the track, and gain more pride that way.

The garage was intriguing to look at. Eighteen cars were placed inside in clean formation, with nine on both sides, parked diagonally and looking like they were all ready to go at any moment. Carl and Cesar’s rides were placed closest to the entrance, and while he knew they should by all accounts match up to the opposition, most of the rivals’ rides were so heavily modified that Carl was surprised they were eligible for the competition in the first place. Moving towards the back of the garage, he bypassed a Buffalo with a full Patriot Beer livery – he had no idea some drivers even had sponsorship in this series – to see just what he was looking for. Just like how it said in the police file, an all-blue Banshee stood near the back of the garage, obviously belonging to Arnaud who had installed golden rims and a license plate with his name on it. The man did probably own other cars according to his file, but luckily the cops had caught wind of his choice of race car, as this definitely confirmed Carl had found yet another suspect.

In the very back, according to the knowledgable guard, were the former champions’ cars. On the right stood a heavily modified dark red Sabre that looked like it was one of the fastest on a straight line at least – but the car on the left, a Comet, caught Carl’s eye the most, mainly because of its bright yellow paint scheme, though after further observation, it was the most interesting automobile by far for other reasons as well. Carl was used to most Pfisters looking a little dated and unappealing to him, but this one looked like it was way ahead of its time with its modern appearance: almost as if the owner had completely rebuilt the chassis to give it a sleeker look and more than likely better performance too. It wasn’t just that, but every visible part (and most likely everything he’d find under the hood as well) had been modified in one manner or another – Carl was so submerged in inspecting the car, seeing if there were any important weaknesses other than a possibly very loose handling, when the guard walked up next to him.

“Like what you see?”
“Whuh? Yeah... maybe, I ain’t sure. This Chester’s car?” he blurted out.
“Oh, no.” The guard was holding back his laughter. “I said these belonged to former champions. If you don’t mind my harsh language, that entitled prat’ll never make it that far... have you seen how much he already dreads this race? We’re beginning to see signs of just how perishable a one point lead is coming into the season finale... though I’m afraid Hilary King isn’t a much nicer alternative champion either.”
“I guess?” Carl said, scratching his head. He hadn’t really bothered to read up on the points battle, and didn’t even know who Hilary King was (wasn’t that a girl’s name?), so his decision was to leave the opponents’ wheels behind and go check up on the racers already. He was no factor in the big picture, but certainly kept growing more curious of what was going on in this scheme.

Arnaud was nowhere to be seen outside, probably having finished his smoke break by now. Carl stepped into the meeting center, where loud music promptly bombarded his ears as soon as he no longer had a wall between himself and the loudspeakers. After getting over the shock of the noise, Carl began to inspect his surroundings – and found himself awestruck yet again.

Somehow, the organizers had managed to build a small makeshift club inside the warehouse, filled with enough activities for all to enjoy. Some racers were seen playing darts or pool, others drinking and having a chat either at the bar or tables scattered around, and out of them all, Chester Chesterfield the Third stood in a quiet corner away from the center of attention, seemingly boasting about one of his achievements to what looked like a stripper. He didn’t look as unconfident as the guard made him out to be... but perhaps his pressure-managing skills would only be brought to a proper test once he actually began to drive.

“Kind of a shame we don’t run through the National Guard depot this year. That corner made for better overtaking.” one man said on Carl’s right, catching his attention.
“I know, right? They always used to be chill about us using that lil’ bit of a road.” another racer complained.
“I heard there was some raid on that base just a month ago. Lotsa guns got taken. Now they seem more uptight about security than government agencies.”
“F*ckin’ criminals. Always ruining everything for us normal people.” the second man said, hitting his fist on the table they sat in. Carl smirked a bit, remembering that robbery a lot better than an ordinary civilian probably should. He didn’t exactly mind whether they ran an extra couple of corners or not – lack of overtaking opportunities wasn’t a big issue to him as he had his own way of getting past people, and it didn’t always involve a clean, no-contact move.

Without joining the conversation, Carl instead moved on to the bar, greeting the bartender with a short wave. The guy looked like he’d rather be anywhere in the world other than this, and only frowned in response.
“Got Pisswasser?” Carl suggested, taking a seat from a stool.
“Non-alcoholic beverages only.” the tender grunted.
“Oh... well, that explains it.” Carl chuckled. At further glance, no one really did stand out as a drunkard after all – it was one of those clean parties, like what he’d have with schoolmates when he was still underage.
“You gonna take anything, or just sit there lookin’ smug like the rest of ‘em?” the man asked angrily a moment later, when Carl had delved into his memories for longer than he realized.
“Oh yeah. Get me a cider then.”

The bartender said something derogatory before pouring him the drink, then went back to cleaning some previously used glasses. Carl hoped he’d never see that guy in Ten Green Bottles, or he’d have to switch to a different hangout spot altogether... though at least he had to give credit to whoever made the cider, which was even tastier than he had hoped for. It just felt quite freezing cold as he swallowed it – and on later thought, a cup of coffee would’ve served him better after enduring the low temperatures outside. He was just planning on ordering some after finishing the cold drink (even though talking to the asshole behind the counter was like sitting in an electric chair) when someone tapped his shoulder.

“Excuse me... you’re one of the local drivers, right?”
The person addressing him was a fat male, wearing a tasteless purple t-shirt and glasses, who had a partially eaten French roll in his other hand.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Carl was bored to death of these repetitive inquiries, and just barely resisted the idea of making fun of the man’s size, though he did introduce himself in passing.
“I thought there was more of you?” the fatty said.
“Cesar’ll show himself when he got time.” Carl answered dismissively. “Now how about we move on to actually relevant questions? Who exactly are you?”
“You don’t know me?!” The man was taken back, the question having offended him. “Just how illiterate are you? I am Hilary King, the inaugural champion – the one that goes down in history, that is – and soon to be two-time champion!”
“The Comet or Sabre owner, I s’pose?” Carl said, ignoring the man’s attitude.
“Sabre Turbo, rookie.” Hilary stated proudly.

Carl was getting tired of the confrontation. He stood up, being glad he was a slight bit taller than the rival, and walked right up to him.
“You wanna strike a conversation, you drop the f*ckin’ insults right about now.”
Hilary gasped and took a step back. “Err, sorry I gave a bad image of myself. I just – have a little mental problem and can’t help myself from trashtalking people who don’t seem to know basic, common knowledge facts.”
“Figured out the ‘mental problem’ part at first glance.” Carl said with a frown.
“So I take it that means apology accepted? If so, would you be willing to strike up a little – deal with me? I really could use all the backup I got...” Hilary said, now sounding awkward as hell, almost like he had two distinct personalities that switched on and off in the blink of an eye.
Carl crossed his arms. “So a condescending asshole I’ve known by name for 30 seconds asks me for a deal, after tryin’ to justify his insults? Awesome.”
“I’ve tried it with the others, but most all are either too slow or honest for this. Please – I’ll make it worth your while.”
“If your deal don’t end in my win, it won’t be worth my while. I need the money more than you’d think, you see.” Carl said. That was something he certainly wouldn’t compromise on.
“I – well, maybe that can be arranged. I don’t really need to win the race, long as I win the championship. Problem is Chester Chesterfield, though... he and his one point lead.”
“How come a loser like him’s beatin’ you anyway? Or does your car have a lil’ too much ballast?” Carl wondered.
“He wouldn’t if he didn’t drive like a careless bitch who wrecks anyone he can see, ‘cause he can afford car repairs no problem!” Hilary yelled all of a sudden. “That, and he has a serious problem with me in particular, for some reason. At least I treated him nicely until it became clear he was deliberately driving dirty!”
Carl decided not to mention his own talent for dirty driving for the time being. “So I can guess where we goin’ from here. You want me to help you in blowin’ him back to the stone age so you get the necessary points to jump him, and if I do that, victory’s mine.” he summarized.
“Exactly!” Hilary said in excitement.
“And you ain’t gonna double cross me and take all the money fo’ yourself?”
“I won’t need to. If I get the championship, they’re going to award me a million bucks! I’m gonna be a M-I-L-N-E... wait, that ain’t the right spelling, is it?” Hilary asked in minor embarrassment.
“Still, there’s seventeen other cars in the field, fatty. Just ‘cause I’m takin’ Chester out don’t guarantee a win for me. You gonna need a bigger carrot.” Carl pointed out now that he had the time.
“What? You want my championship money now?” Hilary asked in shock.
“No, just half of it. Unless I win, in that case I’ll just take that prize money and go home. Good enough for ya?” Carl asked. In his opinion, the deal was about the best he could possibly offer.

Hilary pondered his options for a while, with Carl patiently waiting on his side. The plan was clear to both – the newcomer wanted the individual win more than Hilary did, and would make him pay up from his own wallet if he didn’t get it for some reason. Or alternatively, there’d be no deal at all, which would simply mean Carl wrecking everyone indiscriminately and forcefully taking the winner’s prize one way or another. Over time, he’d grown to care about Chester less and less – what would that young fool do anyway, other than boast even more, if he won the championship? He’d probably want to know what happened to the Adder, but there was no way he’d connect the theft to Carl or the Families, and if he did, he’d simply get whacked...
“OK, let’s do it. You know, I really like the way you roll. You ain’t nearly as much of the ‘in-your-face’ type as that last part-time driver I met, the bitch from Stilwater.” Hilary said.
“Oh, but Hilary, ain’t that kinda sexist from you?” said a new voice all of a sudden.

Hilary and Carl were just about to shake hands, when a third wheel showed up to interrupt the nice, polite conversation almost out of nowhere. Said person was a young, short fair-skinned Latino male, speaking with a distinguished Portland accent that Carl had grown to recognize during his time in Liberty City. The man had no other particular features that he paid specific attention to, and looked so average that he could just blend into a crowd and never be noticed, though something told Carl there was more to him than what met the eye.
“Look who it is, Mr. Buzz Killington!” Hilary shouted, suddenly gaining his smug and condescending attitude back as he talked down on the interruptor. “The man who’s too good to even show up to all of the races these days!”
“Still trying to cover up your abandonment issues with that faux confident bullsh*t? And it ain’t my fault you and Chester f*ck up every other race so badly I’m still in mathematical contention.” the man said with a sly smirk. “I also already told you, not that it’s your business, that I have an important job that takes priority over these races. Except maybe the Vice City Classic, that’s too big to miss.”
“Your mathematical contention really is none of my concern, kiddo. I only keep you there so the media can get a kick out of you having a shot, only for me to coldly take it away from you at this last race with one of my solid runs.” Hilary stated, turning up his nose.
“What, one of those solid runs where you forget midway through just how terrible your Sabre is at taking turns, and plow straight off the track?” the man retorted.
“Just look at this guy, Carl! Absolutely zero respect to the man who helped get this series started!”
“Hey, whoa, I can hardly even keep up with what’s goin’ on.” Carl said on the defensive.
“Whatever, skinny boy! I’m outta here, gotta call in a pizza ‘cause I bet it’s against the rules to eat and dismember Liberty City pricks...” Hilary mumbled, back to his hostile self, and wandered off without another word.

Carl didn’t get much time to gather his thoughts after that bickering, when the unknown new racer cleared his throat and suddenly started up a much friendlier conversation.
“Excuse me for that... don’t let the first impressions fool you, I’m not usually very social, but getting Hilary mad is one of the easiest feats in the world even for an outcast like myself. Well, him and Chester, to be precise.” the man said to him. With Hilary gone, he did seem a lot more awkward than usual, clearing his throat or downright gasping a lot. Carl was starting to feel this whole place was filled with freaks.
“I suppose they ain’t got very strong nerves. So umm – who exactly are you?” he asked.
“Didn’t you hear when Hilary introduced me? I’m Buzz, Buzz Killington.” The racer offered his hand, with another one of those snarky smiles.
“Wha... no, no you ain’t. The real truth, please?” Carl said, annoyed.
“The real truth will shock you, so I hope you’re ready. My real name is Carlos Luis Fernández de Córdoba Lewis-Scott...”
“Come – again?” Carl asked, having fallen off about midway through.
“...but none of that matters jack sh*t because everyone just calls me Deco for short.”
“Oh. Yeah, we can roll with that.”
“Do you have a name?” Deco asked, pointing him forward to come sit with him in a table.
“Carl. Carl Johnson.”
“And they call you ‘CJ’ in short?”
“Wait... how the f*ck you know that?”
Psychic powers...” Deco said in the most mysterious voice he could make.
“Nah, actually it was a guess. Lucky guess, it would seem. Your initials sound like they make a nice nickname. Better than mine, that’s for sure.”
“If you say so.”

With the odd start of the conversation out of the way, Deco started to show his normal side more as he offered Carl a can of Sprunk – fittingly being the favorite drink of them both – and began to properly introduce him to the racing scheme by urging Carl to ask about anything that bothered him. He doubted Hilary would ever have wanted to answer his questions with his “mental problems”, so this was quite a nice opportunity.
“Hilary said you’re also a championship contender... that true?” he began.
“If you want to put it that way. Despite six absences, I’m just fifteen points off Chester at the moment. A win gets you those points, and on top of that, pole position awards two and fastest lap one. So yes, technically I do have a shot, but I don’t let it bother me too much.”
“Why you been off the track so often then? Sounds obvious you got talent.”
“I’ve been busy saving people’s lives. I’d rather not go deeper than that, ‘cause I’m not that interested in gaining recognition for it.” Deco said simply. His expression made Carl think he’d prefer to change subject.

“You the owner of the Comet then? That makes you a champion, right?”
“Correct. Two-time champ, to be precise... not trying to sound like I’m getting in over my head here, but I probably could have three if I still wasn’t struggling with money on the first season.”
“How’d that go then?”
“Well, without going into detail, after I ran away from home, me and a friend decided to build ourselves a race car out of scrap metal to make us some cash. It was a pretty messed up time really, I slept for months in our car that we couldn't even afford to paint and defended it from the fine residents of a nearby hobo camp occasionally. Then, when I finally got to the race track, I was mostly just a moving roadblock, trying to somehow keep up with the others. At least the strategy worked, even those bad finishes improved our monetary situation until I could purchase us some decent parts, the snowball got rolling, and after a miraculously victorious race in Carcer City, I was able to grab myself a Comet, one I’d always wanted only to get chased off the showroom property for looking like a homeless thief. The rest was history.” Deco told, taking a long, well-deserved gulp of Sprunk after finishing his story.
“Was about to say ‘and you never looked back again’.” Carl said with a chuckle.
“Incorrect, my friend, it’s quite the opposite really. I may have never raced that old Tornado since, but I could say I cherish it more than I’ve ever done my Comet... that thing got me started, and it’ll always have a real special place in my heart. May the wrath of Mr. D befall whoever tries to snatch that beauty from me.”

More drinking later, Deco decided to get them two more cans out of the vending machine. Carl needed to tell him twice that he was already full of the drink and didn’t want one – Deco looked at him like he was a freak at the Bullworth carnival and came back with just one can, all for himself.
“Hey, has a local – y’know, like part-time – driver ever won one of these? Tryin’ to see what kinda odds I have here.” Carl asked, now that he thought of it.
Deco seemed thoughtful. “Well, last season in San Fierro, we did have one. Wu Zi Mu was the name of the gentleman who left us all in the dust. Shame he wasn’t interested in running any other races though, for some reason he wanted to stick close to his home region. He could’ve become a success, earned lots of money and fame, but... perhaps they ain’t for him then.”
“What about this season?”
“Eh... He did show up again in Fierro, but there was this weird incident that no one could really explain...” Deco said, now rather puzzled.
“Well, what happened? Tell me, I don’t bite.”
“No one understands really. We were doing practice runs, everything was fine, then according to eyewitnesses, Woozie – that’s his nickname – turns into a corner just too early and slams hard into the inside wall. He was absolutely fuming after said incident, claimed we had changed the course without telling him... it took three officials to get him calmed down. Then, he went back to the track, and no more incidents took place again. He finished back in third though, me and Hilary got the better of him.”
“That’s Hilary and me, dumbass! I won that race, you played second fiddle!” Hilary chanted, having conveniently walked past when he overheard Deco’s commentary.
“Do you ever do anything but spy on people? Roll back to where you came from, meatball.” Deco hissed. Hilary was more than happy to oblige, though on the way he scowled after noticing Carl sitting next to one of his sworn enemies.
“Speaking of that fool, who was the... person from Stilwater he mentioned?” Carl recalled.
“Ah, yes!” Deco looked delighted about the topic. “A strong, independent racer out of Stilwater’s Chinatown. What a battle of the century it was – hard but fair throughout the contest. Now, I did win that one, timed my final pass just right... but it didn’t matter as much as the thrill of the situation did. What a woman... what a badass.” He seemed to drift off into a trance of sorts, even forgetting about his Sprunk as he was engulfed in a particularly pleasant memory. Carl thought he just sounded like a hopelessly lovesick bastard who needed to let go at some point.

“So anyway! Where was I again?” Deco asked after a minute’s pause or so, and emptied the can with one fast gulp as if to compensate for the quiet moment.
“Well, I’m startin’ to get an idea of what’s going on, but what about the other racers?”
“Good point. Here, allow me to introduce some of our distinguished faces.” Deco said, and without further ado, started to point people out one by one.
According to him, Arnaud was indeed the womanizer of the paddock, and had a massive passion for art, having had a painting made of all his wins in the series thus far. He also had a little too much confidence in himself – a trait all too common in these circles – and staunchly believed he could take third place in the standings away from Deco, an idea that was immediately shot down by the Portland man, drawing a chuckle from Carl. As for other racers, the bantering duo in the bar was James and José: best friends off the race track, but the fiercest rivals of all when they did step into their cars. The quiet Russian in one corner that drank something from a large bottle was Mikhail, who according to Deco had a habit of complaining about American culture and often remarking that defecting from the Soviet Union was the worst decision he’d made in his life. Another reserved driver not engaged in a conversation or game of any sort was Ken’ichi, a man that Deco recommended Carl not to piss off at any costs, as he was likely to have the most ruthless criminal connections, and he had already had a terrible season. Gao Wong, on the other hand, was an up-and-coming racer, whom Deco lauded as the biggest improver of the season who’d likely challenge the likes of Hilary next year if he could keep his momentum up.

“And now, for the grand finale.” Deco said a while later, at the end of his barrage of introductions.
“What, a re-introduction to you?”
“As pleasant as that sounds, not quite. Hey, Sven!” Deco called out towards the back of the area.
“What now, D?” a nerdy man asked, having had his darts game against Wong interrupted.
“Nothing, it’s just a flippin’ nice day, ain’t it?”

Deco crouched promptly to see the dart in Sven’s hand fly right over him and stick to the first wall it hit. Sven contemplated on throwing another, but considering nearly the whole club was laughing at his antics by now, he quietly turned away from the crowd in embarrassment and began to play the game properly, with a one-dart disadvantage.
“Care to explain?” Carl asked in confusion.
“Meet Sven, the man so proud of his abilities he puts Chester, Hilary and everyone else to shame. He always believes he can win dominantly, even if he’s never done that before, and the Stilwater race was just a crowning moment to his pitiful season. He actually had an inexplicably good run going, until I caught up to him, at which point he seemingly panicked and made a rookie mistake, clipped a barrier, and flipped right over. He’s been the butt of our jokes ever since... worst part is, it’s not like I’d have barged my way through him or anything, I’m admittedly cleaner than most people here, but he just couldn’t stand the thought of possibly coming second.”
“Cool story, but ain’t y’all being a bit harsh on him?” Carl asked, scratching his head.
“When you get to know him on track, you’ll wish you’d been there for our earlier races to knock some sense into him. Trust me on that.” Deco said, definitely sounding genuine. Carl decided to leave it at that.

For the rest of the allotted time, before the head director’s appearance, Carl shared some stories about the Grove Street Families – of course portraying his gang in the most positive and morally righteous light he could – and explained the reason why he needed the prize money in particular. He was just a bit disappointed that Deco, unlike Hilary, wasn’t going to make his job any easier, because, as he said “The moment I compromise myself for the sake of another driver, it’s not racing anymore”. He also didn’t once ask Carl for any kind of help on the racetrack, so no deals were in sight. Carl could only hope Hilary was still going to stand behind his word...

Cesar arrived just on time, with only about ten minutes to go: everyone had already gathered at whatever seats they could find to wait for the drivers’ meeting. Carl introduced the two men to one another (Cesar being surprised he met someone with a longer full name than what he had) and summarized the basics of what was to come when they still had time. The chit-chat came to a sudden end when the series’ founder and leader, according to Deco an accomplished racer of his own, strutted in.

Turned out he didn’t have much new to say, though he did confirm Deco’s claim that he was barely in contention to win the whole thing if all the events went just right for him. The main man also took the opportunity to tell racers that due to public demand, the event would be televised, and that everyone should keep that in mind to act mature on track. Most of the drivers probably purposefully didn’t listen to that part – for them, getting on TV meant the chance to show their talents in both fast and rough driving to a large audience. Carl and Cesar were more pressured about the information, hoping that none of their enemies would recognize them and make attempts on their lives. The rest of the founder’s speech was just focused on the usual warnings about consequences of leaving the track and racing amongst traffic, as well as a reminder that “after tomorrow’s qualifying, anyone who wishes to use a token can do so at the meeting”.

“The hell is a token?” Carl whispered.
“The winner of each race always gets one... if used, it basically flips the starting grid around. So if someone like Arnaud gets pole position, and I use a token, he goes to dead last.” Deco explained.
Carl frowned. “Ain’t that stupid and – gimmicky?”
“It is, but I didn’t get to decide that. The only comfort is that most token-users ironically end up suffering more than gaining when they try and change the grid.”
“Do any people qualify real slow on purpose to potentially start up front then?” Cesar asked.
“No, it’s become pretty clear that whenever someone does that, no one steps forward with a token. These guys have grown wise to that tactic... besides, pole position’s two free points. Hardly anyone’s gonna say no to that and blow it.”
“Any extra money involved for that?”
“Yeah, that too. 20K for pole man, 10K for fastest lap in the race. I guess it’s a decent incentive.” Deco said with a shrug.
“Definitely.” Carl said, nodding to Cesar.
“Without further ado, wanna do practice runs with me? Get your feet wet on this fine circuit now that it’s showtime?” Deco suggested. The senior director had already declared free practice started, though most drivers didn’t seem keen on taking the chance right away – rather, they began to chatter and play bar games as soon as the man had left the scene. Carl and Cesar had no reason to say “no” to the idea, and together with Deco and a solitary Mikhail, they were the only ones to take it to track at first.

Carl thought the practice didn’t go as sloppy as he’d feared. He could hardly keep up with Deco for the first couple of laps, but did take note of his braking points and followed suite to his best ability. He saw that the Comet kept mostly sliding through the majority of corners, while his ZR-350 and Cesar’s Elegy right behind him turned much more smoothly, with minimal oversteer at any point. Maybe he could use Deco’s Comet’s difficult-looking handling to his advantage during the race... rear-wheel drive cars were the easiest of all to spin off, as he knew from experience. One specific part of the track he paid particular attention to was the final corner, a two-part hairpin, which he was going to want to master not only because it was right next to Ganton, where his biggest fans would be standing, but because it was followed by the longest full-throttle section of the course, and getting a fast run out of the preceding turn was absolutely essential. The only thing that bothered him throughout practice was that in a corner not far from Cesar’s residence in El Corona, he felt as though one of the spectators – the only one not cheering or taking pictures, but rather just standing there with crossed arms – always paid special attention to him and him only. Though he couldn’t see the man’s eyes from behind his sunglasses, Carl could almost swear that he was purposefully attempting to make eye contact.

Over time, Carl would see more and more drivers join them to do laps, such as Hilary, whose walking style earned a few laughs from him, which fortunately went unnoticed. He didn’t know how he exactly ranked in overall laptimes, but he couldn’t have been too bad as he had just about kept the same distance from Deco for several circuits, having steadily improved his lines for the many 90 degree corners that had to be navigated. Midway through what was undoubtedly his fastest lap by far, someone’s voice suddenly blurted something out to him through the communication radio in his car. Carl became spooked, made a mistake, and just stopped on the side of the course to let Cesar and Mikhail through. It took a short while for the radio’s connection problems to fix themselves, after which the voice became much clearer.
“Do you hear me? Answer, goddammit!” Hilary’s voice shouted impatiently.
“Uhh, I’m in. Hello?” Carl said, waited a couple of seconds with no response, then tried pushing the button right next to the speaker. He repeated his message and finally heard Hilary answer back.
“About time! I was thinking if you were too damn incompetent to even operate simple machinery!”
“Fatty, you’re doing it again...” Carl told him with his most authoritative voice.
“Well – just don’t annoy me and I won’t need to be this rude! OK, you see the crane on the mainland side?”
“I doubt I can win the race in a thing that only goes on rails.”
“Quiet! Don’t you get it? If you’ve got any disposable associates, you can have one get their hands on that thing, and grab Chester’s car when he passes underneath.” Hilary explained.
“Sounds like a guaranteed way to get caught to me.”
“No, it won’t if you play it up like it’s an accident!”
“Ain’t no workers using cranes here on race day, everything’s on hold.”
“You’re too damn negative! But one other thing I saw was a pile of logs being held not too far from there. If you can knock them over somehow when Chester’s behind you, you’ll hold him back while losing minimal time!” Hilary continued to insist.
“This sh*t keeps getting real elaborate, fool. Whatever happened to the good old tactic of takin’ that kid out with a bumper? Besides if TV crews catch me doin’ one of your stunts...”
“OK, fine! God, you’re too damn difficult to work with! Makes me think I could get sh*t done better all on my own.”

Carl wanted to tell him he was free to do exactly that, but played it cool for now, not wanting the deal to fall through because of him getting caught up in Hilary’s childish arguments. Using a damn crane to lift Chester and end his bid for the championship? The fat man sure had imagination, but severely lacked a realistic outlook on things. Carl shut his radio off and focused on driving again – within a few laps he had caught up to Sven and used him for some overtaking practice, which ended with Sven’s car facing the wrong way and several cusswords flying in his face via radio just seconds later. Regarding off-track assistance during the race, Carl most certainly did have some ideas, and was going to make sure he got a couple of people on the line when he got back home.

By the way, ever since he finished the call and re-focused on practice, Carl no longer saw the oddball of a man in El Corona, or anywhere else near the track, and forgot about his presence about as quickly as Hilary would fill his stomach with junk food.


To Be Continued...



Author's Note: I want to keep things authentic at all times. Due to that, I present to you the track map, created by yours truly. And yes, I made this masterpiece with good old trusty Paint: http://i.imgur.com/YCHMoN5.jpg

Edited by Carbonox

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Carl's dialogue is a bit OOC at times.


Stilwater? What, you mixing Saints Row with GTA?


Your pacing got a bit mixed up at times, and the party could have been more compact.



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Stilwater? What, you mixing Saints Row with GTA?

Actually not quite. The reasoning behind said reference is that Saints Row and GTA universes are similar crapsack worlds (excluding that stupid alien theme), so it's not far fetched to imagine them co-existing in the same universe. Not going to actually use Stilwater as an in-story setting, just a far-off city among others with no major relevance. ^^

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Yo, yo. This thing'll be a long one. Over 10,000 words! I guess I didn't want to keep the regular readers (indeed, those are confirmed to exist now, yay!) waiting another full chapter for the racing action.



SA14: How Fast Was That? – Part 2



“Hey! You!”
Carl paid no attention to the shouting man. He had only returned to the drivers’ center for a short moment because the long practice session had left him thirsty for another Sprunk – besides, he wasn’t going to respond to anyone who tried calling at him that rudely. The least Chester Chesterfield could do was refer to him by name, as he’d been introduced already during the official meeting, but that was apparently beyond his manners.
“Hey, I’m talking to you!” Chester said impatiently, pulling Carl’s shoulder and walking around him to see his face. Carl still pretended to be oblivious to the rich kid.
“Do I recognize you from somewhere?” Chester continued, voice full of contempt.
“Yeah, I’m the motherf*cker who used to steal your lunch money at school, bitch.” Carl said finally after a lengthy gulp of Sprunk.
“Good try, but I didn’t go to school with no ni**ers.”
“The f*ck you just say?!” Carl almost jumped up from his stool and tried to grab Chester, who promptly took some steps back.
“Whoa, I knew you’d react primitively, but come on. It wouldn’t be fun if stewards banned you before the race even starts.” Chester stated, stroking his hair as if to try and look important.
“What do you want?” Carl asked, arms crossed to signify his own disdain towards the man.
“I know you’ve got nothing to lose out there, boy. But guess what, I f*cking do. I think Hilary King won’t be playing fair on track, and I could do with a wingman.”
“You got some nerve, dickhead.” Carl growled, taking a step towards Chester, who backed out even further.
“Think with your head now, boy! You might get all pissy when I say a few naughty words, but is it worth it to lash out at me when I could make you rich? Just hold back Hilary enough that he’ll score less than me, and we’re golden. I win the championship, fatbag loses his dignity, and you walk away with enough cash to get you a – decent house or something.”

Carl just stared at the entitled man, who apparently thought money could buy him out of treating everyone around him horribly.
“No f*ckin’ deal, buddy.” he stated coldly.
“What?! You’re seriously getting on my nerves now! What do I need to promise you? 500 grand for ensuring Hilary loses? That, that should be enough to feed your god-knows-how-huge litter of kids too for another year, right?”
Carl just laughed at his antics, sensing the desperation in his voice. “Ain’t got kids actually and don’t want any either, thank you very much. We done here, or do I need to educate you a little on what ‘no’ means?”
“But what about my bet on myself? Do you know how much money I have on the line here?” Chester yelled, on the verge of throwing another tantrum.
“Not so much that you wouldn’t survive if you lose. Besides – if you’s so paranoid about losing, why not place your bet on someone else?” Carl suggested. To him the idea was perfectly rational, though just as he expected, this only prompted a vicious barrage of shouting from Chester, which Carl dismissed with a wave of the hand as he left the scene. Quite frankly, he’d seen enough of the kid to last him a lifetime by now.

The talk with Chester sparked a new idea in him though. Normally Carl felt like he could never catch a lucky break in betting, but this time random chance wouldn’t determine his success – all he’d need to do was drive hard and ruthless. There were no bookies to be seen in the scene yet, and assuming they were yet to arrive, Carl had ample time to have a little chat with his overweight “friend”, who at quick glance wasn’t anywhere in the club at the moment. Carl walked out the door to check the garage, when he ran into Cesar.
“Hi, CJ. Had enough practice for now?”
“Eh, one’s gotta take a break at some point. You seen Hilary?”
“Why would you ever wanna be around that fat asshole?” Cesar asked with a frown. “It’s like he can’t exist for two minutes without getting to personally insult someone. Makes me think this Chester guy is an angel next to him.” He sounded like he had just been on the receiving end of whatever bullsh*t Hilary was spewing out.
“Your ‘angel’ just gave me a dozen new reasons to hate his guts like never before. No, listen to this – if this idea I got comes true, I’ll make a huge gain by winnin’ the race, and if not, I got a backup plan that involves a rich kid losing the title, and Hilary payin’ a generous fee for my services.”
Cesar was still not happy at all. “So you’re picking sides now? And please don’t tell me your plan involves either gambling or sabotage.”
“Actually it’s a bit of both.” Carl clarified.

He was a little disappointed Cesar was absolutely not interested in joining his scheme, but being an optimist, he admitted to himself that things could’ve been a lot worse. Cesar wasn’t going to report his actions to the stewards, or try to put a stop to him – but he did warn Carl that he was getting in way over his head and might regret it later. At least he also finally told at the end of their discussion that the last time he saw Hilary, he was whining about something to Arnaud next to the garage. Carl went on his merry way, secretly hoping Cesar would run into Chester and change his mind that way.

“...and then I lost at least 0.2 seconds in the highway hairpin. It’s bullsh*t, really.” Hilary explained his apparent shortcomings just where Cesar told he’d be, giving the Sabre Turbo sitting next to him an angry look as if it was the car’s fault.
“It’s hard to get a good run out of it, but what I usually do in that situation is alter the suspension, make that hot rod oversteer less.” Arnaud suggested as Carl subtly slipped to the scene.
The conversation about car setups quickly came to a full stop. “Well, if it ain’t the newbie.” Hilary said with an unpleasant laugh. Arnaud was less condescending, not saying a word and just looking him in the eyes. Carl wondered if he knew he was a Families OG.
“What we got goin’ on here, boys? Man, Hilary, you’ve gotten fatter since we last met. It ain’t good for your health, y’know. Exercising could balance out your eating habits.” Carl said, head shaking as he pretended to inspect the body of his opponent.
Hilary’s face lighted up red. “Did you come here to say anything useful?” he demanded after a few moments of silence during which he failed to come up with a rebuttal.
“Why do you think I’d ever reach out to talk to you – unless it’s about business?”
“Oh, right... That kinda business?” Carl confirmed his suspicions with a nod. “Arnaud, you’re gonna have to leave us for a moment. We need a certain degree of privacy.”
“Are you absolutely sure, Hilary? We both know what could come out of a situation like this.” Arnaud spoke up for the first time, appearing entirely distrusting of Carl, who could only hope the Frenchman didn’t see right through their planning.
“This’ll be nothing like what happened with you. Now, please – I’m growing nervous, I need to hear what he has to say soon.” Hilary said impatiently, hands twitching as he spoke.
“Of course... When practice’s over, you going to join me in the Pig Pen club? There is no better place to discuss cars than while surrounded by lovely ladies.”
“No, wait, we can’t do that. I – I’m still banned.” Hilary stammered.
“Well, suit yourself then.”

Arnaud was visibly disappointed as he walked away, probably inside the drivers’ center. Carl tried holding back his childish giggles trying to imagine what had got Hilary banned from a strip club – on the other hand, maybe he didn’t need to know such things.
“So, what now? Is this about the betting?” Hilary asked.
“You catch on quick. There any big bucks involved in this sh*t?”
“Heh, knew you were a total noobie.” Hilary’s insult stopped when Carl extended his fist in a threatening pose. “Right, umm, of course it’s big. Especially now that it’s the final round when people get to bet on who wins the championship, along with the individual race win of course. You, err, will bet on me, won’t you?”
“No, I been thinkin’ of Arnaud. It goes like this: you and Chester take each other out so hard you both get a 50 point penalty, and Arnaud wins, surpasses Deco, and I go home rich enough to buy Chester’s mansion right outta under him.” Carl joked.
“I knew you weren’t serious as soon as you said Arnaud’s gonna beat Deco.” Hilary pointed out.
“Why? I thought y’all were friends? You ain’t got even a little faith in him?”
“He might be my best buddy out of these, but honestly, everyone but him knows he won’t ultimately have a snowball’s chance in hell versus that slippery snake in the Comet, and you’ll see why soon enough. Maybe if I just could wreck him for once...” Hilary looked like he was having a sweet dream.
“Y’know, I came to you ‘cause I got an idea that benefits us both even more than that last one. I go bet on myself and win the race. You bet on your championship, then we take care of Chester like we agreed – in the end, long as I get the win, you don’t need to pay up and get to walk off with both your championship money and gambling gains. Deal?”
Hilary looked stunned. Carl felt that was a clear giveaway that the man had been blown away by the suggestion, and they’d be able to work it out with minimal effort.
“Yeah, deal. Abso-f*cking-lutely. Just gotta wait for the damn bookies. They’re so late they missed the beginning of practice completely. Should’ve seen my epic slide in the El Corona corner!”
“Well, at least your odds are gonna be a bit worse then? You’ll make more cash?” Carl asked.
“What kinda attitude is that?! It’s not just about the money, it’s about the pride! I’ll already be ashamed to f*ckin’ hell if Chester has better odds than me prior to the start! It’s just not meant to be that way!” Hilary lashed out. Great, Carl thought, another lesson on irrationality.
“Whatever, homie, can we go inside and wait for ‘em? You can take a piss too when we at it, ‘cause you look like you can’t hold it much longer.” Carl suggested, leading his productive business partner back to the drivers’ center.

The bookies showed up soon enough, when the track had emptied and everyone was anxiously waiting for their chance to place bets. There were two guys, who brought in with them a bunch of charts that showed analyses of drivers’ previous performances, which would then determine their odds. Of course, with Carl and Cesar being new to the scheme, they weren’t included in this complex algorithm, and thus Cesar went straight to the bookies to discuss their own odds. Carl stayed within hearing distance, but mainly focused on reading the charts along with others. He could see that the first three were obvious favorites, though fourth and fifth places were rated quite a lot higher than the rest of the bunch as well.


Deco – 3:1
Hilary – 5:1
Chester – 6:1
Arnaud – 12:1
Mikhail – 15:1

“Hey, Cesar! Didn’t expect to see you ‘round here. In to take the old Savanna to its greatest ride?”
“Nice as that sounds, I got some better wheels now. How about a ’91 Elegy in prime condition, with a turbocharged engine producing 665 horsepower, all unnecessary parts taken off for lighter weight, installed new racing brakes and intercooler, and...”
The bookies were astounded. “Looks like we have a serious dark horse contender here! What do you say we give our buddy here a chance of, I dunno, 1 in 6? He won’t have as much pressure as our prime contenders do, after all, and then there’s the factor of home advantage...” one of them pondered.
“Yeah, we can do that. With Cesar on board, I doubt the rest of the field can really get much done, so we can drive their odds down a bit...” the other said, and immediately began re-calculating.


Hilary – 4:1
Chester – 5:1
Other – 91:1

Chester’s whining already echoed in the hall, as the others could predict. “What the f*ck? Just ‘cause I have one bad run at Stilwater, you tout Hilary as the favorite? I’m still the damn points leader!”
“Why’s Mikhail ahead of Wong? Just ‘cause he had one win doesn’t make him a more likely candidate here today.” another person said in outrage in the midst of the crowd.
“Ah, you must be the other local – erm, hero.” one bookie said to Carl as the other was still busy with his math work. His voice was noticably less friendly than when he addressed Cesar – a big warning sign right away.
“Sure, shoulda been clear.” muttered Carl.
“Brett, what do you think? Doesn’t seem like much of a hotshot to me... could maybe get, like, thirteenth on a good day? Right down there with Mario and all those?” the bookie asked his colleague.
“Yeah, I’d get behind that.” Brett said, only having had one short look at Carl before going back to his calculations. “100:1 sounds about right for that guy.”
“You should’ve seen the practice though, Joel, he actually maintained about the same pace as me...” Deco stated to get their attention, only for both to shake their heads.
“No, no, no, we can’t just take drivers’ words for granted here. 100:1 it is and will remain that way, we just democratically decided that. Though...” Joel said, looking now at a visibly angered Carl, “if you want, we can save Brett any extra work and offer 100:0 if that’s what you prefer.”

The drivers’ center erupted into the laughter of almost all the racers and both of the bookies, Hilary and Chester being the loudest and the latter pointing a finger at Carl like some malicious child. The fact that Cesar didn’t even smile, but rather showed a displeased scowl at Joel’s direction, was of little comfort for Carl at this stage. He was fuming, having been turned into laughing stock just because those assholes didn’t know him beforehand... without even thinking, he was already on his way out of the building, ignoring Cesar’s pleas that sounded like they came from somewhere far away. Just before exiting, he turned to face the crowd once more, and the laughter slowly stopped as the drivers expected him to say something.
“Just you f*ckin’ wait.” he told bluntly, then stormed out and slammed the door shut with a loud bang. Some of the drivers continued to laugh, if not a bit awkwardly now that the target was gone, while Cesar just shook his head slowly, almost knowing that whatever Carl had in mind wouldn’t end well for someone. As he went to take a seat and think of what to do, he could however notice some racers, primarily backmarkers like Ken’ichi and Sven, visibly checking him out, trying to see if he really was as good of a sleeper pick to win as the bookies were implying.

Carl was on a mission. He sped off the scene in his car, following the track towards Idlewood while having already whipped out his phone. His initial idea was to grab whatever cash he had from his house, but that probably wouldn’t be enough to convince the jerks at the drivers’ center that he meant business – so instead, he rung up a contact he deemed trustworthy for this situation. His first attempted call was never answered, and before he tried again, he’d already reached the point where it was time to divert from the course.
“Hey, you! Open this barrier, I got an emergency!” Carl exclaimed to a lone track marshall, looking bored as no cars had passed for quite some time.
“But I have clear orders to not allow any cars off the race track and...” stammered the man.
“This change your mind? I’ll be right back!” Carl interrupted, tossing 500 dollars from his wallet at him, and promptly getting the portable barrier moved. Who said money didn’t open doors?

Carl tried calling again, and after a painful wait, during which he’d covered several blocks on his way to the northwestern part of town, he heard the voice he was waiting for at last.
“Andreas Richter on the phone... what is it? You called at a bad time.”
“Hey, it’s CJ. I really need to...”
“CJ? Did you and Daniel recover the package already?” Andreas asked.
“Wait, what?!”
“Oh, f*ck. Forget what I just said, I should’ve remembered we also employed you guys from Grove Street and whatnot... you can tell I’m not at my sharpest right now. So what is it you require?”
“I...” Carl hesitated for a moment. “I need to ask your boss for a loan. Like, I’m talkin’ 500 grand.” That’s about right, he figured, matches Hilary’s reward and makes me a multimillionaire if I win.
Andreas went quiet briefly, probably surprised at the request. “You do realize... my boss does not take kindly to people who can’t pay their debts?”
“And I realize he’s the only one rich enough to help me. Please – if something goes wrong, you know I’ll make it up to y’all, right?” There was already some despair in Carl’s voice; he wished that wouldn’t screw up his chances.
Andreas sighed. “I happen to be at the mansion right now... just a moment and I’ll let you have a talk with Mr. Schrader. I just think you’re not making a rational choice.”

Carl had felt a bit anxious about getting to talk to the boss, but ultimately it didn’t go as badly as he thought. In fact, Schrader was in good mood that day, based on his tone at least, and more than willing to show a green light as long as Carl accepted he’d take full responsibility for his actions. A meeting was arranged in a quiet back alley in Rodeo, as Schrader wanted to eliminate the possibility of someone following Carl to his mansion and finding out about the partnership. When the talk was over, he noticed some alerts on his phone and discovered he had five missed calls from Cesar, all within the span of a couple minutes at best. As he expected, the phone rang again just moments after he’d hung up on Schrader, and this time he was able to take it, although he could predict what was coming up.
“CJ, please, think about this! Those assholes wanted to get on your nerves, are you gonna let them know they’ve succeeded?”
“I’m gonna let ‘em know they f*cked with the wrong person. When this is all over, they’ll be f*cking B-R-O-K-E ‘cause I’m about to hit the jackpot.” Carl said. He felt he had nothing else to tell Cesar besides that, and hung up before any kind of reply.

Schrader’s goon (someone Carl hadn’t met before this time) was in the scene of exchange much faster than Carl expected; prompting a nod from him in appreciation. Before receiving the money, he had to sign a couple of forms “to ensure you won’t weasel your way out of this” which would’ve sounded threatening on any other day, but right now, that was nothing but an empty phrase to him as he did what was told without bothering to read half the text, then took off with the money, all packed up in a nice little briefcase that he stuck on the ZR-350’s passenger seat. The encounter was over almost as fast as it had taken him to come up with the plan, which was just what he needed – he didn’t wish to keep the bookies waiting now.

After getting back to the pit area, driving at near qualifying speed and continuing to ignore Cesar’s calls, Carl marched right in with the briefcase in hand, being glad to see Joel and Brett still around, currently caught up in a discussion with Deco and Cesar. One by one, the racers began to notice he was back, and began frantically whispering to one another, but it wasn’t on top of Carl’s mind right now. He walked straight over to the bookies, and caught their attention by shoving Brett in the shoulder.
“Hey, assholes. Time to gamble.” he said bluntly.
“Look who it is! Bringing some money on the table now, aren’t ya? Umm, who will it be? Your friend over there does have a legit chance, y’know...” Joel said, still smug as ever.
“Oh f*ck. CJ, if that’s what I think it is, please just – leave it. It’s not worth...” Cesar tried to plead one last time. Next to him, Deco tilted his head in curiosity, while Hilary tried to hold back a giggle in the background, Arnaud next to him observing Carl emotionlessly.
“Too late now. And no, he ain’t my pick for this one. Here’s 500 grand on me winning this race, and I expect it back hundred-fold when we done.”

Carl shoved the briefcase in Joel’s lap, and walked away without another word. There was only one thing on his mind now apart from winning: must run Chester off the road, must run Chester off the road... The dumbfounded bookies set the case on the table and began to count the money, racers now moving over to the scene to peek a look – with the exception of Cesar. He was the only one who knew Carl couldn’t just produce that much cash out of nowhere without it coming from some kind of shady source, and intended to find out right now. Carl was about to drive off the pits already and only come back for the next day’s qualifying, though Cesar was able to convince him to take him along by claiming he’d like a ride home.
“CJ, be honest with me, please. What was that all about?” he asked once they’d covered some distance from the pits.
Carl banged the dashboard. “I shoulda known you’d try to find out. Look, it’s nothing, I just taught ‘em a lesson. Saw the look on the bookies’ faces? Fools couldn’t believe they eyes. If I’m racin’, I ain’t gonna let myself turn into laughing stock before we even start.”
“Bet they’ll be crying about it all the way to the bank. Look, where’d that cash come from? We both know the Families are broke, and you won’t ever go so low as to steal from us...”
“It’s... confidential information. Honestly.” Carl said, tired.
“So confidential you won’t share with a good friend?”
“It ain’t like that, more like... I could get in trouble if I tell.” Carl told him, knowing that was true.
“Your secret’s safe with me, CJ. That’s what friends are for.” Cesar assured.

The look on his face told Carl he was serious about this, and it was perhaps best to just relent already and give both of them peace of mind. Carl told him all he knew about Felix Schrader and his “organization” that acted more like an extremely subtle mafia family, about how LB had originally been one to reach out to them and how Carl took the most interest in serving the mob out of his fellow Families OG’s, which probably made it possible for him to borrow the money in the first place. However, this only drove Cesar to further nag at him.
“So now you either win the race or get a literal 20 foot pole up your ass from these German motherf*ckers for not having the cash to pay them off? Just – what the f*ck is wrong with you? I’ve seen my homies do some crazy sh*t in the past, holmes, no doubt, but that’s just – that’s suicidal, CJ! Can’t believe you’d put your life at risk just to defend your pride!”
“Hey, whoa, it ain’t that bad. I can lose the race, long as Hilary gets the championship and I get just enough from him to pay Schrader off–“
“CJ, there’s always two sides to your crazy gamble! What if Chester runs Hilary off the road at the start and causes him to score no points? Then you’re already f*cked out of a cut of his money!”
“Well, I could provoke him to the point where he gets himself a penalty...” Carl mumbled.
“Of course, should’ve known you’d somehow find a third side of the coin somewhere. Seriously, just go home, take a rest, and think about your idiotic choices for a moment. Maybe you’ll learn something eventually... see you around.” Cesar told him off angrily, exited the car at the spot of the track closest to his home, and just walked the rest of the way. Carl didn’t even have the chance to ask him for on-track help, and felt that it perhaps wasn’t wise to phone him about it afterwards. If anything, he thought Cesar could do with some thinking himself, to properly understand where Carl was coming from.

That night, he slept incredibly badly, with the thoughts of his best non-Grove Street friend being angry with him, and not having the heart to tell Sweet or the others about the gamble that could have just a tiny chance of him walking home empty-handed and in debt. He had a nightmare where he was driving Deco’s Comet – the distinctive yellow color gave it away – and was already about to win the race dominantly, when a giant Hilary came out of nowhere and blocked the road right after the last corner. Carl tried to pass underneath Hilary’s legs and get across the finish line, but his fat arms grabbed the car off the road and held it up in the air next to his ugly, sweaty, laughing face. Then, Hilary turned into Schrader, who pointed down at the track to show Chester getting to the checkered flag first, and told Carl that he was now in a world of trouble... In the crowd alongside the final straightaway was Sweet in worn-out, patched up clothes that made him look like a homeless beggar. Even all the way up in the air, Carl could hear his booing, and at the corner of his eye he then spotted Sweet picking up a pistol and aiming it at his own temple...

Saturday, 9AM

Carl woke up by falling out of bed in panic and hitting his head on the floor. Sweating even worse than Hilary did 24/7, he forced himself up from the floor (it was bloody cold, as if the heating wasn’t working properly), got dressed, and placed a bandage over the spot where his head had been hit. It still hurt like a bitch when he went downstairs for breakfast, but at least he no longer felt dizzy at that point, probably a good thing with the upcoming qualifying in mind. He was not going to stress too much about that, but did know that it was a great opportunity to show the bookies he was a threat to be reckoned with even for the best of drivers.

Back at the pits, none of the racers paid any particular attention to Carl this time, everyone mostly focusing on their own conversations. He could notice that Cesar was perhaps purposefully avoiding any contact with him – there went his hopes of the Azteca having forgiven him overnight. Throughout the waiting period that went by painfully slowly, no one reached out to talk to him, though at least it helped him focus on the upcoming drive. At least the rules were simple: everyone would make two laps, the faster of them counting for the purposes of setting the starting line-up.

The qualifying went surprisingly well for him. He and Cesar were, as stated by the rulebook, the first ones to take it to track, and Carl was pleased to find out he’d just barely beaten the Mexican’s time once he had completed his runs. He thought he could’ve been a bit faster than that, but on his second lap, he got slightly distracted upon seeing a familiar-looking man standing near an S-curve in Idlewood this time – the same man that had looked suspiciously interested in Carl and Carl only during practice. He wondered, after getting out of his car in the pits and watching others head for their fast laps, if the man knew that he knew about his repeated appearances by now.

At least Carl assumed he was relatively competitive, because the next few drivers – presumably backmarkers who’d barely scored any points thus far – were a long way off his pace. The first real challenge to him or Cesar came from Australian-born racer Bruce, who, along with all the others coming after him, was getting eeriely close to their times. Finally, the fifth-last man to take it to track, Gao Wong, knocked Carl out of pole position... but only barely, sparking hope that while the pole money had been lost, at least even the experienced drivers struggled to beat him.

When Chester had completed his laps as the last driver, the order was settled. Deco beat everyone by over half a second to take pole, but behind him it was significantly closer – second to sixth places were occupied by Wong, Arnaud, Carl, Hilary and Cesar respectively, each separated from one another by mere milliseconds. The biggest surprise was Chester, who was only tenth fastest out of eighteen, something that sparked plenty of chattering as soon as his times were revealed to the other racers. Of course, as soon as he came back to park his car, he assured everyone within hearing distance that he had been distracted by spectators and expected better crowd control from the organizers. His misfortune at least made Carl smirk, figuring that whoever had caught Chester’s attention in the middle of a fast lap had done him a nice favor.

At the conclusion, everyone gathered up inside for the post-qualifying meeting, where the lead organizer was already waiting for them. Once all racers had taken a seat from wherever they could find free space, the man spoke up.
“Well, that does it. Final qualifying run of the season went off without a hitch, didn’t it?” he asked energetically, probably trying to fire up the crowd a bit. Slight mumbling was heard all around, Chester still protesting about unruly spectators.
“Anyway, without further ado, I’d like to extend my congratulations to Carlos ‘Deco’ de Córdoba for his pole position. Could you come here to collect the prize money?”
“Just Deco suffices, thank you very much.” he replied quietly.

There was a mixed reaction of booing and applause as Deco walked up to him, shook hands, collected the check, and started answering some of his clichéd questions.
“Some of them are booing ‘cause they feel this could easily turn into another ass-whooping show. Can’t blame them... he’s done that before.” someone said behind Carl, and it took him a moment to realize the whisperer was addressing him. It was Bruce, the pug-faced guy driving a white Alpha, with whom he had never exchanged a single word before, and only knew him by face and name thanks to Deco’s earlier introduction.
“Yeah? Why don’t they just get better? Or, I dunno, whack him off track?” Carl questioned.
“Like they hadn’t thought of that. He’s quite slippery, though. Always seems to find ways to avoid trouble, only goes for overtakes when he’s certain he can pull them off. Knows how to deal with divebombers too. Hard to beat that.” Bruce explained.
“His style sounds pretty boring then. Doubt that earns a lot of fans.”
“Well, then he does have those moments where he pulls some cinematic overtake out of his ass in a tight situation. Bottom line is, if you see that bright yellow eye strain slowly begin to gain on you, that means he’s got a run, so you better know how to block.”

“Attention, everyone! Now that our pole winner’s been – treated, it’s time for any takers to submit their tokens if they want to reverse the field.” the series chief announced, putting a stop to Carl and Bruce’s promising conversation.
“Chester Chesterfield would like to use his – from the round of Las Venturas.” Chester announced in a self-important voice, and presented a gold-painted circular object to the chief.
“Ooo, no one saw that one coming.” Carl joked silently.
“I flip the starting grid back the right way with my Stilwater token.” Deco said after Chester had returned to his place, and brought his object to the man next.
“Alright, those two tokens end up canceling each other out then, and we’re back to a fastest-first grid. Got any others?” the chief asked, eyes wandering across the room looking for any other takers. For a moment Carl thought he was going to get to keep his fourth place slot, but then, unexpectedly, Arnaud stood up.
“As winner of the Vice City East race, I believe this is the best time to use this.” he said, and for a while Carl was hopeful he’d have had his token stolen or something – but there it was, in one of his pockets, as he offered it forward to the chief. In his disappointment, Carl wondered if it was expected of the racers to state their intent this officially.
“Arnaud – you just qualified third, didn’t you?” Deco asked as he passed by. Others were equally surprised at the decision and stared at Arnaud now, expecting a plausible explanation.
“I’m afraid I cannot just let you run away with this from first place. At least when you’re forced to weave through traffic, I do have a legitimate chance.” he answered, with no further word on the subject, even with Hilary audibly complaining to him and Wong also questioning his call.
“Well, I suppose that does it then.” the series chief said after no one stepped forth again, all others having used up their tokens previously. “Reverse grid it is, and that puts – let me see, Mario and Logan to the front row for tomorrow’s race. Good luck to all, as always. Class dismissed, as my former teacher would say.”
“This’ll be the only time those lads ever get to see the front of the pack...” Bruce laughed to Carl, having to keep his voice significantly down as the two new front starters were sitting just nearby.

Carl waved the surprisingly friendly racer goodbye (still being left wondering about his intentions) as he was about to call it a day and head back home. Sure, the track was available for more practice if anyone wanted to take the chance, but he felt he was just about familiar with all the braking points and tough sections. There was still one more thing to settle, and he’d do that as soon as he got off the track, but before he managed to leave the scene, someone stopped him with a light grab of the shoulder. He half hoped it would be Cesar who’d apologize and offer his help in Carl’s battle against the odds, but didn’t quite get what he wanted this time.

It was Deco, Sprunk can in hand – what else? – looking like he wanted to say something urgent.
“Hey, just wanted to congratulate you on the solid qualifying run. Let’s hope the same momentum carries over to the race, huh?”
“Depends on how well I do in a crowd, I guess. You too – uhh, have fun, may the best man win, and all that sh*t.” Carl said, shrugging.
“Word of advice though. I know starting from the back is stressful and you want to move back to the front soon, but if you can, do your best to save the equipment early on.”
“Why?” Carl asked, feeling that went against his usual style.
“Because if you don’t push yourself too hard, at the end you’ll breeze past guys who did just that and have used up their tires. Hilary still makes that mistake a lot, never considering it’s a long race that you can’t win with one really good lap. Don’t be like him.” Deco warned, though more in an educating style than threatening.
“Yeah, thanks, I guess.” Carl mumbled. To him, the whole advice sounded like a scheme to get him to drive slower than he needed – if anything, it made him feel more wary about Deco and whatever motives he may have had. Nonetheless, he politely said his goodbyes and left the track on a bus specifically sent to pick up the racers who already wanted to leave. He proceeded to exit on the first stop and walk the rest of the way to get a bit of exercise – as well as privacy.

Carl made a phonecall and anxiously waited for the man on the other side to pick up. He did feel a bit bad about the fact he hadn’t contacted said person at all for quite some time, but assured himself he’d begin doing it a bit more often in the future, especially in the scenario where he’d lose his Grove Street friends and pride for making that huge bet...
“Kevin Williamson on the phone.”
“Uhh, hi, Kevin. Remember me? CJ from Roboi’s?” Carl greeted.
“Ah, yes, CJ! Good thing you didn’t call me in the midst of another heist – the distraction would’ve been catastrophic.”
“You call those little stick-ups heists now? Get a grip... anyway, I know this might be odd, but we ain’t known associates or anything like that, so I feel I could do with your help.”
“Let me guess – it’s got something to do with a Los Santos Grand Prix?” Kevin asked, and Carl could tell from his voice he was smirking.
“Wha– how you know that?”
“I read my newspapers, friend. You don’t seem like much of a pre-race favorite, but...”
“Yeah, well, wait ‘till you hear the qualifying results. Anyway, Kevin, since I know your money situation ain’t entirely solid, you could make a decent buck if you could offer some, uhh, off-track assistance. This kid called Chester Chesterfield needs to lose the championship, you see, and–“
“Sabotage? Sorry, no deal. As much as I’d like to damage that guy’s ego – yes, I’m aware of who he is – you’re gonna need someone who isn’t me, and has a damn good cover story to tell if they get caught.”
“B-but – why?” Carl asked, nearly pleading.
“You’d know if you had followed the racing before. That series has really cracked down on sabotage of all kinds ever since its inception. Didn’t you hear of this arrogant kid from the East Coast, name was Dan Sucho, I think? He and a few of his friends got caught trying to sabotage Hilary King once, and let me tell ya, those stewards were ruthless. Not only did he get fined to hell and back, he also completely lost the trust of his fellow racers and has been more or less left out of that legal street racing scheme since.” Kevin explained, being more knowledgeable than Carl could’ve expected.
“But over here, Hilary and Chester are perfectly willing to do it to each other?”
“Only those who ever get caught will end their scheming.”
“Huh... what if I went to the stewards and leaked their plans then?” a thoughtful Carl wondered.
“Bad idea, unless you got video evidence. If your claim gets dismissed as false, then you’ll definitely have no friends as the racers will think you’re trying to smoke someone out just because you don’t like them. By the way, in general – I advice just steering clear of their title fight. Don’t know about Hilary, but if Chester finds out you’ve messed with him, it could get ugly. He’s not above making things personal if he needs to.”
“Interesting... well, will keep that in mind. Will you at least come to the track and cheer me on?”
“Hmm, I’m a little disappointed you’ve never visited my apartment yet... but I do have some free time, and crave for quality racing for a change. So the answer’s yes. I can also paint a big banner with your name on it, if you’d like.” Kevin said, getting more excited as he spoke.
“That – err, won’t be necessary.” Carl was quick to dismiss the idea.

With Kevin’s refusal to sabotage, Carl was beginning to think that his earlier thought of having some friends distract Chester on the sidelines – ironically just like what the alleged spectators did to him in qualifying – wasn’t going to work too favorably if what Kevin said about the stewards was true. At a moment like this, Carl was glad he still had his bumpers to work with, and ramming Chester was easy to disguise as an accident anyway. He just hoped he would be able to catch up quickly, being forced behind him on the grid by those silly tokens...

Sunday, 11AM

On race day, Carl felt surprisingly chilled out. He’d had no bad dreams or unexpected head injuries, and was generally feeling more excited than worried about how the race would turn out. As long as someone didn’t punt him into the harbor on the first lap, he figured he was going to be just fine – one doesn’t fluke their way to a fourth fastest qualifying lap, he thought. The only part of the morning that did bother him was, probably ironically, the moment when Sweet, Ryder and Smoke dropped by along with some other gang members such as LB to wish him good luck, and that they’d all be cheering him on. All Carl could think of when looking at them was how he didn’t have the heart to ever tell them what sort of cash he was playing with for extra profit’s sake. Especially Sweet’s reaction would be something he’d never be able to stand – he imagined it to be a particularly painful mixture of raw anger and sad disappointment. At least those thoughts would probably give him the required little bit of determination to win...

Carl barely bothered to listen through to the chief steward’s ramblings at the scene of the pits, only being fixated on getting to race as soon as he could. He spent the last moments before “the most famous words in motorsports” watching as the drivers’ presumed friends and loved ones showed up to offer their final good luck wishes; Arnaud was exchanging French kisses with a lovely young lady, while Deco shook hands with a man who had the longest and darkest hair of any male individual Carl had seen before – he assumed that figure had to be either a big fan of metal music, or someone who actually played it. Switching focus to Cesar, he saw his (former?) good friend receive a hug from an ancient old lady, and one last kiss from Kendl. She noticed Carl as well and walked up to him next, despite Cesar’s gaze suggesting he wasn’t fond of the move.
“Good luck to you too, Carl. Don’t get yourself involved in any stupid sh*t now.” she said, hugging him for the first time in a while. Carl wondered just how much information Cesar had disclosed to her, but maybe it wasn’t a good time to ask.
“We’ll see. One thing’s for sure at least, I don’t plan on losing.”
“There are more important things in life than winning. Try to remember that now, Carl, please.” Kendl said, voice slightly shaking due to worry.
“Except when the Families’ survival might be on the line.” Carl said with a sigh, choosing not to elaborate further. Not that he had time for it anyway, because it was time for her to leave the scene and head to the spectators’ stands to watch the action. One more hug later, Kendl escorted the old lady, who looked to have some back pains, away from the building as well.

“I presume that was your grandma?” Carl heard Deco ask Cesar.
“Yeah... she doesn’t really care for racing much, never did, but y’know, that’s family for you. Always supporting you even in odd situations – well, in my culture at least.”
Deco let out an odd sarcastic cough. “Yeah, right.”
“Any of your familia here maybe?” Cesar asked. Carl wanted to see where this would go, and stayed near the conversing pair on purpose, but without attracting attention.
“Hah! Like who? My parents? The up-to-no-good narcissistic pricks? If they found out about this race, which they thankfully won’t, due to being too elitist for this sh*t, they’d only show up with hopes of seeing me die.” Deco answered in a combination of anger and amusement.
What? Carl was probably even more dumbfounded by the statement than Cesar.
“Man, those two... they certainly were made for each other, their self-centered attitudes complimenting one another so f*cking perfectly, but parenting sure wasn’t their strong suit. Nope. Still don’t know how piling unrealistic expectations on me was supposed to be helpful for the sake of my adulthood. Then again, maybe they just wanted to create a perfect copy of themselves. Another miserable sh*thead who’ll inevitably, at one point, find himself a nice narcissistic wife and make those perfect upstanding citizens the ultimate gift: grandkids, so that they can have some more defenceless people to torment.”
“That’s... that’s...” Cesar stammered. Carl didn’t blame him for not finding any words.
“Thank god for my gir... I mean...” Deco coughed up loudly, looking like he nearly choked on a slightly too big dose of Sprunk. “Where was I? I said, thank god for my buddy who finally helped me see that there was good things in the world as well – if not for that, I probably would be a slave worker in my breeders’ company at this very moment.”
“Your buddy? You mean that heavy metal guy?”
“I think he prefers black metal, I don’t exactly remember. And no, not him. He only came later on. I’d tell you the whole story, but eh – it’s so long that we’d just miss the race. Don’t worry about it too much, I’m just ranting. Too much sugar drinks, maybe.” Deco said, emptying the Sprunk can with one last gulp and tossing it into the garbage.
“I suppose I can only say I’m sorry for what you went through.” Cesar said. That was what Carl liked about him, the sympathy he often offered – what a shame he didn’t extend it Carl’s way though.
“Well, on the bright side, I can say I’ve emerged victorious. Won’t be long now, and I’ll have the census bureau recognize Deco as my official name. Yeah, those sh*tbags who think they’re big because they came from ‘the richest block of Hepburn Heights’ soon won’t even have anyone in existence using a name given by them. But that’s enough about me. How’re your parents?”
“I’m afraid they’re both dead.” Cesar said somberly. “But perhaps I should be glad they were still good, loving people when they still were around...”

“Attention all drivers, could you head outside and walk up to your cars?” an announcement came on the intercom. Deco was a bit disappointed as he’d have liked one more Sprunk as a good luck charm, but the rest were just glad the wait was finally over. The cars had been lined up on the pit straight nice and clean, into two-wide rows, with Carl’s ZR-350 in its correct spot on the left hand side of the second-to-last row. He mimicked whatever the others were doing and just stood upright outside his car, on the driver’s side, waiting for the announcer’s next command.

“And now, before we get going, it’s time to go through our ever-so-important rules!” the announcer called out, and Carl could see from the body language of other drivers that they loathed this part. On the right side of the course, a dorky man stepped on a hastily constructed stage, and a few mic adjustments later, began to explain the regulations in one of the most boring, vacuum cleaner-esque voices Carl had ever heard, reading straight from a sheet without ever pulling his head up and taking any kind of look at the racers.
“Rule 1: Use of any sort of weapons against another racer is strictly prohibited. Rule 2: Use of Nitrous Oxide or any other substance that can give you a brief speed boost is prohibited. Rule 3: Having non-contestants purposefully hinder the race of another driver is especially prohibited, and will result in persecution.”

The first three rules could’ve sufficed, but for some reason, the nerd kept going on and on with his ramblings, and Carl began to feel the rules only got weirder as he went on. Apparently it was illegal to throw live snakes or mice into an opponent’s car mid-race, or to spray the race stewards with freezing water from a fire hose at the race’s conclusion, for instance.
“And as for rule 34...” the dork uttered several painful minutes later. Arnaud was no longer even concealing his yawns.
“Hey, jackass!” Carl almost jumped as Deco all of a sudden shouted at the man.
“W-what now? I think this is a rather important rule...”
“And I think we all know these by now, so why don’t we cut the crap and get going already? Besides don’t you see how goddamn cold it is here?” Deco exclaimed, probably still a bit angry after the rant about his parents – or breeders, or whatever. Carl could get behind that statement, as a few rows ahead he saw people like Bruce, James and José already shaking from the cold air.
“Eh – umm – err – I’m not entirely sure this is...” the dork was trying to defend himself.
“And in this race, your 34th rule is hardly even relevant in the first place.” Arnaud followed up.
Another loud announcement soon followed suite. “Erm, yes, I suppose it’s best you guys get into the cars. We don’t want anyone catching a cold now.”

That was the best thing Carl had heard all day. He stepped in the ZR-350, made sure his seatbelts were on place, turned on the heat to compensate for that cold air outside, and glanced over to the stage where the race’s guest of honor – Madd Dogg – had now turned up.
“Gentlemen, start your engines!” the rapper shouted at the mic, prompting a cheer from the crowd as eighteen engines fired up and were ready to go. They’d ride for one and a half laps at slow speed and in line, warming up their tires before starting the race at the front straightaway just near the Ganton Gym – the pit road being half a lap away from the actual start line due to the docks having much better space for storing all the hot rods.

Moving forward with the line once it was his turn, Carl noticed the starting grid had been projected onto several big screens around the track to help the spectators notice where their favorite would be standing. The series appeared to be mostly informal as everyone was referred to with their first name – at least Carl’s wasn’t misspelled.

1. Mario 2. Logan
3. Darren 4. David
5. Sebastian 6. Mikhail
7. Sven 8. Ken’ichi
9. Chester 10. José
11. James 12. Bruce
13. Cesar 14. Hilary
15. Carl 16. Arnaud
17. Gao 18. Deco

Carl saw no familiar faces in the crowd alongside the track during the pace laps, which was unfortunate as he’d have liked a boost of morale at a time like this. The closer they got to the starting line, the more pressure was starting to build up inside him – somehow he was going to need to catch up to Chester before he’d clear the slower cars up front...

The crowd cheered as the cars settled into a two-wide formation again and arrived at the start line, where the flagman was ready to give them the ‘go’ command. When the green flag waved, Mario and Logan accelerated forth first, while some drivers behind them reacted a bit slowly to the start and immediately had the guy behind them jump ahead. Carl was among the slow starters, having not anticipated the situation very well, and saw Arnaud breeze by on his right side immediately as the race began. Gao Wong was also trying to make a move on him, but Carl blocked him rather easily and instead got shoved forward, which helped him catch back up to the tail of other cars. Up ahead, he already saw Hilary squeeze his Sabre between James and José when they crossed the tall bridge, and Chester forcing himself on the right side of Mikhail and Darren, who had been a particularly slow starter and was already being passed left and right.

Coming into the first corner, a traffic jam was soon formed as Logan presumably got hit from behind, nearly spun, and stacked up many drivers behind him. The outside line was the way to go here, and Carl heftily followed in Cesar’s exhaust fumes, going by numerous cars that struggled to get up to speed, Arnaud included. He couldn’t see the front of the pack now, but Chester was certainly going for the lead in a hurry, and Hilary was trying to force his way forward as well, at the expense of Ken’ichi, whom he pushed to the run-off area as they passed the pits. In the next corner, Carl made a nice, clean move on Cesar, and also bypassed James with the same move as the man in a black Jester had slowed up to avoid Ken’ichi. In a surprisingly good first part of the race, Carl was already up to the top ten and charging, though not as hard as the contenders.

It was a few more corners later that the trouble started. Mario at the front was holding up almost every other car behind him, and Sven was the first to attempt making a move on him – unfortunately, at the exact same time, Chester was trying to do the same on Sven to already get the lead. There wasn’t enough space for all three cars, and sure enough, Chester clipped Sven who crashed into Mario, who then spun directly in front of Chester’s red Turismo that also spun off. The track was rendered almost completely blocked, and in the few seconds that he had to react, Carl chose to follow in the tire tracks of Sebastian, bypassing the crash from the exact opposite direction from Hilary, who nearly crashed into Chester and had to take the long way around his car, probably either cursing his luck or laughing his ass off at his rival’s misfortunes. It was only after the dust settled that Carl realized he was now in third place – only Mikhail and Sebastian were left in front of him, both of them considerably slow qualifiers.

“Holy f*ck. Better not lose concentration now.” he thought, checking his mirrors just to be sure. No one was immediately behind him: the next driver in line, a few car lengths back, was James, having capitalized on the incident. Hilary and Cesar were somewhere further behind, and Chester was presumably at the tail end of the field now, but certainly not out of the race yet. Carl focused on Sebastian now, and decided to make a determined move on him in El Corona – nothing special, just the usual divebomb – but it wasn’t as easy as he’d thought. He probably saw the move coming and pressed hard on the brakes on the outside when Carl went flying down the inside, and having no car to lean on, went wide off the racing line and could only watch Sebastian accelerate back in front with a much better run. Alright, don’t panic now, there’ll be time...

The order remained mostly unchanged when the top three got to the line for the first time to end one out of fifteen laps. Carl got a good run off the final corner – just as he had always wanted to – and was able to pull alongside Sebastian on the bridge, also getting a good slipstream off Mikhail’s car that helped him inch ahead and into second place. Only a few corners later, it was Mikhail’s turn to submit, when Carl made a much more calculated and harder-to-avoid move that pushed the Russian slightly off the line and got the ZR-350 in the lead. Fifteenth to first at the start – how about that? He could already hear the crowd roaring in the pit straight when he passed by them... now all he needed to do was maintain a controlled pace, as he knew Mikhail couldn’t possibly have a shot at him again unless he’d make a colossal mistake...

But late on the second lap, that dream of dominance faded away. Out of nowhere he was rammed nearly into a barrier by a charging car that he thought was a lap-down machine of Mario’s or something – but the red and white colors of that muscle car, and the voice he heard from his communication radio, suggested something completely different.
“Don’t hold up the traffic now!” Hilary laughed at him, and presumably showed off a bit when he power-slid through the next 90 degree corner, leaving some dark red tire smoke for the cars behind to enjoy. Carl cursed at himself, having somehow been able to expect this to happen despite the alliance. Maybe it was too risky to try and push his way past the fatso, but the least he could do was give Hilary a proper run for his money for as long as Chester was nowhere to be seen in the mirrors.

The Sabre Turbo had superior power on the straightaways, but visibly struggled to make some of the corners and slowed down to near walking speed at times, while Carl got through them smoothly and without issue. He managed to get right into Hilary’s slipstream while crossing the smaller bridge out of the docks on the third lap, but his perfectly clean move was ruined at the last second by Hilary taking up the inside line, and blocking him.
“The f*ck’s he thinkin’ now? He this obsessed with leading?” Carl asked himself as Hilary’s bad corner exit slowed him down dramatically as well, and allowed Mikhail to close up on the two with someone else in tow. A quick look revealed the fourth-place car would belong to Cesar, who was certainly more welcome to join the party than any of the other fast guys in the race.
“Hilary, just f*ckin’ move over, Chester’s nowhere in sight and you’re slowin’ us down.” a bored Carl said on the radio, now trying to hold Mikhail back which in turn gave Cesar a good run, moving the Azteca up to third.
“I know – but you haven’t pounded on him yet, haven’t ya? Go do that and then I’ll let you pass.” Hilary responded, again laughing at him.
“Like I’m gonna fall for that. Y’know, you’re gonna be sorry if you cross me now.”
“Hey, all in good time. Can’t let the fans think I’m worse than you though, huh?”

Carl shook his head at the statement, which turned out to be a little mistake as he missed the entry into the next corner, and Cesar and Mikhail would immediately capitalize. Luckily the lead wasn’t going to escape anywhere, as Cesar moved in to hound Hilary within the span of the next couple of corners. Carl was actually quite impressed with his friend’s valiant efforts to overtake the Vice City racer – Cesar simply showed no signs of being intimidated by the aggressive blocking as Hilary tried running him off the track more than once within a lap. Mikhail also tried making a move every now and then whenever Hilary left the door open to block Cesar, but kept getting the short end of the stick.

Carl was finally starting to have enough of Hilary’s antics when he deliberately held back just to try and commit a PIT maneuver on Cesar to get him out of contention. Mikhail was forced to step on the brakes to avoid the situation, which allowed Carl to gain a free position – but he cared even more about giving Hilary some comeuppance that he so clearly asked for. When they arrived in El Corona on the fourth lap, Hilary and Cesar again side by side for the lead, Carl stuck to the back of Hilary’s car and pushed him right off in the corner. The Sabre bounced off a barrier as Cesar got some clear track and Carl followed him into second place – but that didn’t last long as Hilary responded with an even more aggressive move in the very next corner, in turn nearly causing Carl to wreck, and allowing Mikhail through again as well.
“Remember the deal now!” Hilary whined on the radio.
“Real rich comin’ from you. The f*ck was that move about?” Carl asked in outrage.
“Oh, boo hoo. Is the baby crying?” was the response. Carl didn’t even know what to think of it.

The fifth lap was mostly spent in formation, Hilary catching back up to Cesar’s back bumper thanks to some more drifting, and the next two cars following suite. At the start of the sixth, Carl saw from the scoring screen that the top four were only separated by less than a second on the line, but the fifth place racer wasn’t seemingly far away either. Better pick up the pace...

A blue Banshee came flying alongside Carl at that very moment. Arnaud LaRoche had taken a bit longer to weave through slower cars than Hilary or the two locals, but clearly had competitive wheels under him if he could catch up this quickly, from third-to-last starting position. The long front stretch definitely complimented the Banshee’s engine power just as it did the Sabre Turbo’s, and by the time they reached the braking point in the docks, Hilary and Arnaud had weaved past Cesar from both sides, while Mikhail and Carl struggled to just maintain the draft in their slightly slower machines.

Arnaud’s presence was certain to complicate things further, and his sudden appearance made Carl wonder if Hilary was still mad about the French fellow using a token – not that it should’ve mattered now that they were the two leaders anyway. Nonetheless, Arnaud raced his friend surprisingly aggressively, leaning on the Sabre as he claimed the lead, and was followed through by Cesar, while Hilary struggled to get up to speed.
“Look now, you f*cking stupid slow piece of sh*t Sabre, he’s getting away!” he yelled, probably having accidentally switched his radio on. Carl was not the only one to hear it either, because immediately after that he heard a response.
“Aww, did it backfire?” Chester jeered.
“Go – go bite yourself!” Hilary replied, again on the public channel. Multiple people were heard laughing at this, Sven included, whom Chester quickly shut down by telling him what a useless turd he was and that his license to race should’ve been taken away at Stilwater already.

As it turned out, Hilary was still not giving up the lead. One more powerslide later, he was almost glued to Cesar’s back bumper, and used a strategic move to shove Cesar into Arnaud in the next corner, getting both cars out of shape and sliding alongside the Banshee. The two had a drag race across the bridge out of the docks, but Arnaud was forced to yield as Hilary had the inside line for the next right-hander, where he made sure to take up the whole track width to prevent a follow-up move into the turn up ahead. Carl felt he was starting to get stuck behind Mikhail, who was taking everything out of his car now to keep with the top three, and even made some sliding maneuvers to ensure that, though they were significantly less impressive than Hilary’s. In the final hairpin, Arnaud once again forced himself down the inside of Hilary, making contact and causing both to get a bad run out of the corner, but at least he got to wave at the fans as he was registered the leader in the beginning of lap seven.

Carl, on the other hand, got a great corner exit, and was finally looking to make his move on Mikhail and challenge Hilary again – but he wasn’t quite alone as this time another car flew right past both of them in the middle of the bridge, and it was the one he did not want to see, particularly with so much distance still to go. If Arnaud’s Banshee was fast, Chester’s Turismo was like former on steroids – such was the speed advantage that he gained on a straight line. Carl could only assume Chester had done some Hilary-esque driving to shove all the slower men out of his way, otherwise there was just no chance of him moving in on the leaders this quickly. At the very least, this could’ve meant a chance for him to run the runt off the track, and properly fulfill his agreement with Hilary – he just had to make sure Chester wouldn’t get to the abandonment issues-ridden freak first. As of now, he was forced to settle for fourth place, trying to ram Cesar out of his way but instead ended up pushing him past Arnaud and into second, right behind Hilary who had made another move for the lead when Carl wasn’t looking.

“Don’t check your mirrors now, unless you wanna poop your pants!” Chester giggled on the public radio, being certain to announce his arrival to those who didn’t notice yet. Carl wondered if the brat still remembered him, and made his presence known by giving the Turismo a light nudge on a corner exit. Chester may have been quick, but his car control was horrendous, as that small touch almost made him spin – it cost Carl a bit of ground though as Mikhail yet again took the opportunity to pass them both, visibly showing a thumb up as he drove by.

Chester was still in front of Carl, so it was time to switch to a more direct approach. Back across the harbor and on the mainland, at the first right-hander, Carl forced the ZR-350 on the inside of Chester, and leaned on him with all the weight of his car to move ahead while wasting as much of the boy’s time as possible. Sadly the next corner was a left-hander, and the cars were still together door to door, which allowed Chester to do the same trick to Carl and nearly force him into a wall, which he narrowly avoided with some hard braking. However, that little delay was enough for Gao Wong to sneak past in his black-and-yellow Bullet.
“Oh, f*ck, not that guy as well!” Carl screamed, only after making sure the radio was switched off. It was like all the fast guys were piling to the front of the pack now, making his job harder and harder every lap. He just kept losing positions even though the leader was within his sights at all times, and knew that if just one driver made a successful overtake on Hilary and managed to escape, it’d be game over for him. It was best to switch to a more aggressive, daring strategy and forget about wrecking Chester until the end-game, if he was still around.

One thing was for certain, though. The racing was awesome, and there was no telling how much more enjoyment Carl could’ve got out of it if not for the betting and the dangers associated with it. He wanted to share his excitement with someone, and found his frequency while following the pack to start lap eight.
“Hey, Bruce. Not much of an ass-whooping show now, huh? F*ckin’ seven-way fight for the front!”
“Glad you like it. Where are you on the track?” Bruce’s slightly emotionless voice asked.
“Front stretch, right on Chester and Wong’s tail lights.”
“Uh huh. Check your mirrors.” Bruce said. The comment was odd, but Carl did what was told, mostly because he had his hopes up that the Alpha would be closing in, and he could even ask Bruce to rough up Chester for him if he couldn't do it himself for some reason...


Nope, not quite. What Carl did see, however, was a small bright yellow dot that kept getting bigger and bigger at a slow, but awfully steady pace.

Half the distance was still incomplete, and the contest for big bucks was far from over.

To Be Continued.

Edited by Carbonox

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Ok, now I want that next part!



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Mokrie Dela

Alright, just finished the Bourne supremacy last night so let's have a crack at this bad boy at last!


Read the first chapter and ziggy's feedback and feel he's a touch harsh on the fanfiction angle; it's a great place to start and if written well can be brilliant.


On to the actual work. My first thought was "ch came back to SA because his mom was killed, not coincidently at the same time - but maybe that's intentional; trying to re-write as it were.


The first chapter wasn't a strong start IMO. It was very... Dull. It didn't pull me in to a character or a scene or event. It was just jarring with the changes you've made


Didn't spot too many technical errors; maybe a typo here or there, but nothing major.


I'll read on, and post, and I like the concept of bringing the three together.

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SA15: How Fast Was That? – Part 3



“How are you finding this race, Brett?”
“Almost too exciting for me. Got more Orang-O-Tang?” Brett asked his fellow bookie, Joel. They had a perfect vantage point to follow the Los Santos GP from, on top of a building overlooking the two consecutive corners near the National Guard depot – only the best was acceptable for people who made a fine living out of some people’s foolish bets. However, at this race, the pressure was higher than ever for the two fellows.
“I see what you mean.” Joel said, handing a can to his colleague. “I don’t care if he’s dropping back a little, I still feel anxious as f*ck for as long as Carl Johnson stays within touch of the lead. Something needs to happen pretty quickly here, before I get a heart attack.”
“If he wins, we’re broke as f*ck.” Brett stated the unfortunate truth, then tensed up again as the engine noises of the cars were heard from the bridge, and soon a pack of seven came into view one by one, chased by one more driver. Not much had changed on the eighth lap: the order was still Hilary, Cesar, Arnaud, Mikhail, Chester, Wong and Carl – but Deco, the bookies’ own personal favorite for the race, was still going to be a factor by the end as he showed by gaining the new fastest lap of the race and being almost in Carl’s slipstream.

“New fastest lap of the race for Deco! Action really heating up now, folks!” the announcer confirmed after a brief stat-check. “Also fun fact, if the race ended now, the championship would look like this: Hilary 141, Chester 133, Deco 118, Arnaud 111, Wong 77.” he followed, stating this directly to the drivers as well via public radio, probably either to stir the pot, or just motivate them into improving their position – Chester and Arnaud in particular.
“Hey, jackass! Don’t know if you can hear me, but that stat’s the most pointless I’ve ever heard, ‘cause if this really was the last lap, I’d have barged my way to the front ages ago!” Chester yelled in his radio, overconfident as ever.
“Good job keeping your plan of dirty driving subtle as ever, daddy’s boy.” Hilary responded in the midst of another blocking move on Cesar.
“Ugh, what is that smell? It’s almost like a fat person’s sweating hard somewhere nearby. Get off the track already before we all pass out!”
“HAH! Then it’d be a glorious win by default!” Hilary said, raising his fist up in the air inside the car so that the nearest drivers were able to see it.

Midway through the eighth lap, Carl made a daring but calculated move on the inside of Wong to promote himself back up to sixth place. It was exactly the kind of relief he needed at this point – it wouldn’t take more than a lap for Deco to already catch the tail end of the pack, and if he were to get past Carl, the Grove Street driver just couldn’t handle that. Most importantly, the pass from Wong put Carl right back on Chester’s rear bumper again and allowed for the possibility of another “accident” to take place. In front of them, Mikhail also got racy as he got a good run on Arnaud and swung past at the corner right after a train track crossing.

The next announcement, coming from a presumed steward, changed things up a bit. Apparently, Sven had crashed and gone out of the race with massive damage to his car – and Ken’ichi was ordered to come see the stewards for a little talk about the incident after the race. Undoubtedly, the helicopter that currently hovered over the front straightaway had captured incriminating footage that the people in charge didn’t like. Carl hadn’t even considered the possible penalties for on-track sabotage yet, and was now trying to think of what might happen if he got caught like the unlucky Ken’ichi did. If he was forced to just forfeit championship points, it would be a non-issue as he wasn’t a contender for anything above fourteenth place anyway, but could they also invalidate his bet on himself? That was something he didn’t want to even think about. Roughing up an opponent was easy, nearly everyone did that at some point, but how to flat out wreck him and get away with it? As much as it pained him to think about it, he was probably going to need the assistance of another, disposable driver. No, not disposable, that was too much of a harsh word to describe Cesar, especially after their little falling out...

“Hey, Ces. You there?” he started after switching to his friend’s frequency. Just at that same moment, Cesar’s car twitched a bit, and Mikhail made a pass in the second-to-last corner, then continued his charge towards Hilary.
“F*ck, sorry about that. Man, I know – I did somethin’ real stupid back there, and I know I can’t ask you to let me win this race or anything – but umm, as we both have already... felt, one way or another, Chester’s up here with us already. And we just can’t have him beat Hilary and take away my chance to at least pay Schrader off. I know you probably think I deserve to have the Germans cut my teeth off or – worse, but please, let’s let me learn my lesson the hard way some other time, OK? If somethin’ happens to me now and I can’t compete anymore, could you make sure Chester never gets to the front? Yeah, Hilary’s a dick and we both hate his fat and smelly guts like nothin’... but if he wins now, I could just take his money, walk away, and we never need to interact with these people again. I dunno if that was very – uhh, convincing, but – thanks for listenin’ at least.”

No response of any sort came (only a rant by James on the public frequency about Sebastian’s choice of driving lines), which along with the thought of Cesar just sitting there, in the cockpit of his car, and having Carl’s monologue go in from one ear and out from another, felt disheartening to say the least. That was assuming his request even came through – though as far as he knew, these radios couldn’t be switched off at all, mainly so everyone could stay up to date with public announcements. He wondered why no one had tried the tactic of spamming the frequency of Hilary or Chester full of pointless rambling to distract them into making a mistake – or perhaps someone had, but it would’ve been ineffective because constantly talking would likely hinder the distractor just as much.

Lap nine was underway, and some more changes occurred as Arnaud moved past Cesar (again thanks to the great straight line pace of the Banshee) and the rearview mirrors revealed that Deco had not only reached the pack, but immediately lunged at Wong, who had no choice but to yield to the defending race winner and champion. Deco’s move to the front was so effortless-looking that Carl was slowly starting to believe his words about tire management might have been true – it also prompted him to think if he had wasted his own very badly by this stage. There was some slight, but noticeable understeer when he maneuvered through the 90-degree dockyard corners already, but it suited him considerably better than Hilary’s oversteer, as the fatso barely avoided another spin on a corner exit near the pits. Mikhail took a chance and jumped at the opportunity to take the lead, being the first driver besides Hilary to be in the front since Arnaud three laps ago.

Most of Carl’s attention was on Chester, who was now weaving all over the place to not only block him, but to find a place to pass Cesar, eventually doing so with one of the dirtiest moves yet, getting into the rear quarter-panel of the Elegy and almost sending him into a spin, a situation that he narrowly corrected and kept going just in front of Carl. The fact Cesar showed no interest in returning the favor said it all though. He was, most likely, fully intent on leaving Carl (and Hilary) to their own devices here.

Up ahead, passing through the narrow industrial section, the lead pack came across a slower car of Mario’s, who had some bent panels on his car as a result of early crashes, and probably wasn’t up to speed as a result of minor internal damage. Coming into a fast left-hander that led to El Corona, Mikhail probably was surprised that he caught up so fast, and swerved to the right to overtake Mario, who drove on the left side to keep out of the way. Unfortunately, Hilary had already moved alongside Mikhail and was now occupying the line the Russian tried to take; the cars tangled up and Mikhail was sent into a dangerous high-speed spin off the Sabre’s front bumper, sliding right into the safety barriers that the car then bounced right over, flipped several times while airborne and came to a rest upside down outside the track limits, having sent debris scattering all over the place, though mostly off the racing surface.

“Holy f*ck!” Carl yelled, while hearing several similar reactions from others who witnessed the crash first-hand.
“What was that all about?” Wong asked in what sounded like disbelief.
“I believe Mikhail just gained another reason to despise America.” Arnaud said with a small laugh.
“He can only really blame himself though. He just turned into already occupied space.” Deco added.
“Whoa, where the f*ck’d you come from? I thought you were stuck behind Bruce!” shouted Arnaud, who seemingly hadn’t noticed any yellow colors in his mirrors until now.
“Who cares? I’m the star of the show here! I’m the one who overcame a crash to get all the way up here... and did it in style, too.” Chester interfered.
“How are your tires though?” Deco pointed out.
“Quiet! I know what you’re trying! Maintaining your perfect streak and all that sh*t, trying to make me look like a weak champion because you only do the races you’re good at, and beat me each time!” Chester was legitimately pissed, which Carl noticed from his driving as he tried to divebomb past Arnaud, without any success though. “Well, that changes today! I’m about to make history, and you’re still stuck back there with the laps counting down...
“It’s not just the ones I’m good at – but I don’t expect you to understand anyway. I was just being friendly though – you will regret it if you have no grip left at the end.”
“Whatever, trailer trash... Now, LaRoche, move over or make an effort to take the lead!” Chester shouted, having started to lose his cool as Arnaud closed up on Hilary, but despite taking a look in some corners, never took a plunge properly alongside the Sabre to get to the front, and stayed nice and clean in formation all the way until the front stretch.

“Hah! Knew it! I’ve seen this before from you two limpdicks. Just cruisin’ along, super f*cking careful not to waste each other’s time. How does it feel to have such an obedient wingman on your tail to make sure I can’t get to you, Hilary? You and French Fry should just get married or something once you’re celebrating your silver medal.” Chester insulted.
“What?!” Hilary’s voice told everyone he was in disbelief about what had just been said. Carl didn’t know why – he knew fairly well from just one conversation that Chester wasn’t above resorting to discriminatory comments of any kind.
“We’d like to take this moment to announce that Mikhail has got out of his car and is being transported to a hospital for treatment. The crash has been declared a racing incident, no penalties for anyone.” a public message followed up, interrupting the heating conversation.

Going across the bridge on the tenth lap, as the cars approached the first braking point more or less in formation, Carl was startled when Arnaud all of a sudden slowed down much earlier than needed. Chester went for a pass immediately on the right side, but then Arnaud subtly turned his car in his direction and just clipped the back of the Turismo. Chester was sent into a wild half-spin that he could’ve probably saved if he wasn’t flung right on the path of Cesar, who had no time to react (assuming he was trying to avoid a collision) and proceeded to hit Chester into a full spin off the track, one that allowed the whole pack to cruise past him as he desperately recovered, with some soldiers from the National Guard lot pointing and laughing at him, probably liking him no better than any of the racers. The incident jumbled up the pack quite a lot – Hilary still led, having been ahead of the incident, but Carl pulled off a double overtake on the slowed-down cars and was now in second, followed by Deco, Arnaud and Cesar who just barely rejoined the contest in front of Wong. Chester was nowhere to be seen in the mirrors, probably having fallen into the clutches of the next pack.

Carl smelled a sh*tstorm, and got what he expected just seconds later...
“YOU MOTHERF*CKING ASS-FACE!” Chester shrieked like a toddler.
“That was an accident!” Cesar defended himself. Carl would’ve stated he agreed as he’d been a witness to the collision, but thought better of it considering Cesar didn’t even have the decency to utter a word at him.
“Not you! Well, you to an extent as well, but I mean that French clown! He took me out on purpose! PURPOSE! You’re in deep trouble now, CockRoache!”
“Perhaps you should have more spacial awareness, mon amí.” Arnaud said peacefully.
“LOSER! I’ll f*ck your girlfriend in the ass and won’t even let you watch!”
“I’m pretty sure that would be considered rape. She has standards, you know.”
“Your – your clothes are stupid! Your taste in art is horrible! I’ll purchase Mona Lisa just so I can get to smash it on your head and see your reaction!” Chester whined, audibly being on the verge of crying at any moment now. Carl could barely hold his tears back either as he tried to keep the car pointed in the right direction despite laughing like never before in the race.

The next public announcement surprised absolutely nobody. Carl was just glad that Cesar had averted trouble and was still in position to make a decent buck out of the race, however.
“Arnaud LaRoche, we believe a 10-second stop-and-go penalty will calm you down a little.” a steward’s calm voice uttered.
“I believe there has been a terrible misunderstanding. I had suspension issues and couldn’t control the car.” Arnaud retorted like he’d been crafting up an excuse ever since they made contact.
“If your suspension was damaged, how are you still in the race? They don’t fix themselves.”
“Suspension? I meant steering! I tell you, you Americans have such confusing terminology sometimes...”
“Arnaud, c’mon. We don’t want to punish you even further for white lies, just come to the pits and take the penalty. Otherwise we’ll flag you out of the race.”
“I demand a thorough investigation before I’ll take any of your penalties, connard.”
“We do have a replay feature on the helicopter camera, but I strongly believe you’re only digging your own grave here.” the steward said seriously.
“I’ll volunteer to dig his grave as long as I get to stuff him in it!” Chester yelled, but received no particular attention from anyone.

Carl re-focused on the race. Hilary had a bit of an advantage – as one would expect considering the three cars following him all fell behind – but Carl caught up to him so quickly that he could only imagine the Sabre was all out of tire grip and couldn’t sustain proper pace for the rest of the run. It was probably good news for Carl if he could get by and create a gap, but not if it meant Chester would be able to capitalize and catch back up yet again to steal the championship. Behind him, he spotted Arnaud making a nice pass on Deco, who made almost no resistance as the Banshee came flying alongside him. It was the first time Carl had seen anyone overtake him, and sparked a little hope of the race turning out alright in his favor.

When the leaders arrived at the industrial area, something on his peripheral vision caught Carl’s eye, turning out to be quite an important detail. A pile of logs, one that had just been sitting outside the track throughout the weekend, had somehow become loose and were dangerously rolling onto the drivers’ path just as they came to the area. Hilary daringly went through the mess with full throttle and only picked up small damage – but Carl and Deco took the section much more carefully and lost significant ground, whereas Arnaud came blazing past Carl, passed between two logs, and was on his way to battle for the lead again with all the momentum in the world. Cesar and Wong also would’ve barged their way through, but there was no space to get around those who took it nice and easy.

After clearing the log jam, Carl immediately dialed Hilary’s frequency on the next straightaway for good reason, as he’d just realized something.
“Hilary! What the f*ck was that about? You got someone else to do your dirty work with the damn logs?!”
“Whuh, what? Hey, don’t distract me, I have a short attention span...”
“You said in practice that they could be spilled onto the course. I didn’t get anyone to do sabotage from off the track, but I bet you still clung on to the idea, and tried to...”
“OK, calm your man-tits, hood rat. If I was responsible, the guy in charge of the logs wouldn’t have done it that early. In the meantime, consider who gained the most advantage back there, and then make your call.” Hilary said, more serious than he’d been in a long time. Carl thought of Arnaud at first, but then spotted a red Turismo again far behind in the rearview mirror, that had come around once the mess had already been settled for the most part.

So it was Chester who now got backup on the trackside? At least Carl was convinced that Kevin wouldn’t perform sabotage – that discussion on the phone didn’t leave much up to interpretation – and he asked for no one else’s help either, so that absolved him of guilt at least. The usual steward announcements blared in everyone’s cars about how seriously the incident was going to be taken, and how anyone caught perpetrating it would face harsh actions against them. All that was on Carl’s mind, however, was catching back up – gosh, he’d lost so much time he was starting to feel the pressure, especially with only five laps remaining when they got to the start line.

Chester was so far behind that Carl didn’t worry about him, and focused on moving forward. Arnaud had crept so close to Hilary that the cars were almost touching, but from a deficit of about four or five seconds, it was clear that no serious passing attempts were going to be made. Had Hilary “educated” Arnaud in private after the aggressive move earlier on? It made sense considering they got along fine as friends – but did they also have a secret deal, like Hilary did with Carl? If he had promised a race win to Arnaud as a reward for not making dumb moves, that probably meant Carl had a real fight in his hands on the upcoming laps, unless...
“We’ve investigated the recording. Arnaud LaRoche has made a clearly deliberate move to take Chester Chesterfield out, and the assessed penalty will be in effect. Mr. LaRoche, you will have two laps to come to the pits and take the 10-second stop-and-go. As for Cesar Vialpando, his involvement was merely coincidental and no penalty will be given.” a steward stated.
“Pardon my French, but you’re a f*cking dog-loving mongoloid.” Arnaud murmured.
“What was that?”
“I said, dogs love to chase ducks in Mongolia.”

The eleventh lap in general was pretty good. The log jam had mostly cleared up, with the logs having rolled to either side of the track, leaving a clear path in the middle. It was too narrow for two cars to pass through at once, but didn’t pose a real issue to anyone as long as everyone passed cleanly in line, Carl making up some of the gap at said section once again. Hilary continued to slide around the course, but no longer maintaining momentum, just trying to stop his car from spinning out everytime he got on the throttle. When the lap was over, Hilary and Arnaud had company once again, with Carl following right in their tailpipes and Deco a short distance behind the ZR-350. Wong had passed Cesar somewhere along the way, but the two had fallen off a bit after Carl’s lightning-quick lap, almost back to the clutches of Chester.

“And new fastest lap of the race goes to local driver, Carl Johnson! How about that? Deco also gets a personal best, but it’s slightly off Carl’s dream lap.” said the announcer in delight.
“Hey! How many points are you gonna eat off me?” Hilary asked from Carl in annoyance.
“Didn’t Deco have fastest lap before? You ain’t even beaten that yet.”
“Oh, I will!”
“Carl, go! Get next to Arnaud, I’ll be right behind you!” another voice interrupted Hilary’s boasting, probably coming from a private channel. As little trust as he had in Deco, it was about time to stop pretending to play it nice, and go for the top spot for real. Maybe this would teach Arnaud a lesson too on why it wasn’t worth it to be someone’s bitch on the track – and ever since Hilary’s dirty moves on him and Cesar, Carl had been itching to make something happen in the lead battle again...

He swiftly swerved alongside the Banshee, soon being joined by Deco’s high-powered Comet that caught right up to Carl in the draft, and gently shoved him forward just a little. The boost was good enough to slowly but surely allow the ZR-350 to inch ahead of Hilary, going across the bridge...
“What sorta trickery you got going on down there, Deco?” a contemptous Hilary asked as he fell down to third place by the end of the straight, both of the bump-drafters getting in front of him by the time they reached the next corner. “I think I saw something blue come out of your tailpipes! NOS?”
“Only blue thing you’re gonna see is blue flags, telling you to yield to cars that lap you. What’d I always say about those tires?” Deco argued, Carl shutting up for the time being as he was busy quietly celebrating about being the leader once again.
“The King never yields to anyone, you oughta know better.”
“I think the stewards might disagree. Oh well, enjoy falling back though. Tell Chester I said hi.”
“Why don’t you ever switch the record? Tires, tires, tires! I’ll beat you with nothing but the rims left if I have to, by pure willpower!” Hilary laughed, overconfident as ever.

Carl tried to ignore the verbal fisticuffs the second and third place drivers were having now, and focused on going forward. Now that Deco had unexpectedly helped him to the front, it was time to get the Comet out of his slipstream. Carl had his doubts about Hilary being a threat anymore...
“Heeeeeere comes Hilary the Hunter, stalking his pray with only four laps to go! One can only imagine what sorta tricks he has up his sleeve!” he yelled like some child, who had already fallen multiple car lengths behind Deco, Arnaud still obediently (?) following his car in fourth.

Quite a bit surprisingly, Deco fumbled up at the next corner, giving Carl just the kind of advantage he needed, while Hilary forced his way past as the Liberty City driver was recovering – and made it known as soon as it happened.
“Oh my god!” He barely bothered holding back his malicious laughter. “I didn’t even draw my rifle yet, and he made it this easy on me! You’re starting to lose your grip on this series, not feeling like much of a champion anymore, huh?”

He was shut down as quickly as he began his boasting, because in the next turn, Deco latched on to his rear bumper and relentlessly pushed him wide, far off the track and into an empty lot, where the surface was less than ideal for a race car, and he picked up all sorts of dirt into his tires as he settled back to the course, in fourth place. Arnaud took advantage of all the madness to pass both him and Deco.
“Hey! You were supposed to be above doing cheap shots!” shrieked Hilary, who blocked Wong and Cesar’s advances on him with everything he had. As satisfying as it felt to look at that from his rear view mirror, Carl had to imagine the move did nothing good for Hilary’s championship hopes, and was bound to allow Chester back into the fight again...
“Hilary got wrecked by Deco? Oh my god, how low do you gotta stoop for that to happen? You’re giving me a field day here!” Chester’s joyous mockery echoed to the ears of all drivers still involved in the race, and Hilary promptly began trashtalking him once more.
Gotta get away from them. Leave ‘em to fight each other. Gotta push like never before... Screw Hilary, the win’s all mine now.

As the saying went, all good things had to come to an end; Carl just didn’t understand why in this case it had to happen before he truly got to enjoy the situation. The warning signs were there before he even reached the location of trouble: the large crane, that had stood dormant all race long, was moving for the first time, and had got about as close to the track as it could get. Some spectators were already pointing at it in confusion, and the track workers were completely uncertain of what to do about the situation, just staring at the top of the crane probably to see if the operator was within his rights to be working up there right now. The crane’s magnet was dangerously hovering over the track, but Carl thought he could slip underneath quickly enough for it not to affect him – until it all of a sudden began to lower at a quick pace, being obviously aimed at the race car, and conveniently blocking the quickest lane through the corner. All Carl could do was make a quick swerve and drive around the outside of the corner instead, losing lots of time and momentum in doing so, while the magnet continued following him as if to add insult to injury. He could just about feel the effect of the ZR-350 being sucked upwards and almost off the ground at one point, but it thankfully only lasted for a second or so, before he was already out of the crane’s effective range and in the next turn.

The damage had already been done, however. Arnaud and Deco were able to drive past the magnet with next to no loss of time, and were right up on his back bumper yet again.
“I think that’s something for the stewards to investigate...” Deco stated on the public channel, but Carl had other ideas. He already knew the culprit, or at least felt he knew.
“HILARY!” he shouted in private. The man didn’t pay him any attention left as he was still busy trashtalking Deco and Chester more or less equally.
“Hilary, come the f*ck in!”
“What now? Don’t tell me you got something to whine about again, I’ve just been punted off and...”
“Using that crane to sabotage someone was your motherf*ckin’ idea too, sh*thead. Who’s your buddy operatin’ up there, and why he after me?!” Carl demanded mercilessly.
“I think you’ve been out in the Los Santos sun for too long, skinny boy. Seriously, I dunno how many times I need to tell you I called off my brilliant sabotage ideas because you pussied out. Now f*ck off, I got a battle to concentrate on here!”
“Thought you guys might wanna know, I just saw some idiot jump off the crane, he’s gliding down with a ‘chute now.” Bruce said at that very moment.
“Where?!” Carl asked in a heartbeat. Nothing would please him more than the man responsible getting caught so they could exchange some well-chosen words...
“I can’t see from here, but he seems to be headed for the water for some reason.”
“Wasn’t there a boat just passing through? Getaway vehicle maybe?” José said.
“Hope the coastguard’s ready – which they probably aren’t.” added James. “Now get back here, and we can settle this fight like men!”

As nice as it was to hear all the vigilant observations from the drivers – proving there was still some degree of respect for him despite getting turned into laughing stock two days ago – that wasn’t enough to quench his anger now that his lead was all but gone, and while Arnaud was probably just about manageable, it was going to take a lucky break or plain driving talent comparable to Richard Petty to get rid of Deco once again. This late in the race, Arnaud was still the most aggressive of the remaining leading trio, racing Carl hard but fair for the top spot. Arriving at the location of the logs again, Carl refused to let up even though the Banshee was inching alongside him, and forced Arnaud to yield as they blasted through the gap once again, Deco capitalizing in the situation by moving to second with full momentum.

At the start of lap thirteen (good thing Carl wasn’t superstitious) the crowd began to join the action with their powerful chants that echoed all over the front stretch as both drivers behind Carl made a move, Arnaud swooping to the left to make a pass, and Deco in turn heading right as they split the ZR-350, taking over the top two spots.
D! E! C! O!” Carl would’ve thought Arnaud was the Los Santos fan favorite, but didn’t hear a single cheer directed at him – perhaps his name was too long to sound catchy.
“LaRoche, I hope we don’t have to remind you of something anymore.” the chief steward said once again, only a few corners away from pit entrance now. Arnaud had just bravely held his line and maintained superior pace to take the lead from Deco on the outside of a corner.
“What? That you are a bunch of Nazis who aren’t aware of the fact Chester took himself out and tried to frame me? That kid’s a pussy, I tell you that.”
“Arnaud, please. This is your last opportunity. Take the penalty or you will be disqualified.”
“Taking the chance would greatly impress the missus...” Arnaud pondered aloud, having already arrived at the pit straight. Carl knew he’d only have one car to actually deal with regardless of what happened...
“But whatever. Just let the fans know I had Deco beaten before this unfair decision.”

When the Banshee swerved off the track and into the designated penalty box, the game was on. Carl had a look in the mirror on the straightaway to confirm there was no further threats behind them: Wong and Cesar were now third and fourth, and Hilary was probably somewhere far back, struggling to even beat Chester probably. But now, it no longer mattered to Carl who the champion was going to be, because either way he would only need to win and he’d walk away with all the money he and Grove Street ever needed in the world – and he had just the strategy to pull it off. Rather than duel his way to the finish, he could just make it look like he’d miss the braking point to the next turn, clip Deco’s rear fender with a strategic strike that’d send him into a full spin, and cruise off. It was going to be easy, right? He already had a good run coming towards the next 90-degree right hander, so why was he still contemplating?

My parents? The up-to-no-good narcissistic pricks? If they found out about this race, which they thankfully won’t, due to being too elitist for this sh*t, they’d only show up with hopes of seeing me die.” The earlier words of Deco echoed in his mind, even if they were never addressed to him.
“That don’t change nothin’”, Carl assured to himself, “he still an opponent like everyone else.
After I ran away from home, me and a friend decided to build ourselves a race car out of scrap metal to make us some cash. It was a pretty messed up time really, I slept for months in our car that we couldn't even afford to paint and defended it from the fine residents of a nearby hobo camp occasionally. Then, when I finally got to the race track, I was mostly just a moving roadblock, trying to somehow keep up with the others.
“That was before! Now he’s a successful two-time champ, so what if he don’t get to win one race?” Carl angrily yelled to the scolding voice in his head.
Do your best to save the equipment early on... Because if you don’t push yourself too hard, at the end you’ll breeze past guys who did just that and have used up their tires. Hilary still makes that mistake a lot...
This is how you’ll repay him for the advice? Carl flinched at the hissing voice, surprisingly sharp with its remarks as it was preventing him from making the most productive decision in his life...

Coming into the corner, Carl backed out, let Deco have enough room, and settled in behind him to get a better run at the next turn up ahead.
“A’ight, fool, since I just grew a damn conscience somehow, I’ll race you fair... but pull a ‘Hilary’ or a ‘Chester’ on me and you’re goin’ down.” he muttered to himself, head shaking in frustration. He did his best to ignore the loud D! E! C! O! chanting near the now once again dormant crane and used the car’s superior traction to pull up right on the Comet’s gearbox as they closed in on the hairpin on the highway. To his surprise, Deco left the inside of the corner wide open – he wasn’t going to complain as he took the chance right away, but braked a tad too late, sliding wide off the line, and was forced to watch as Deco slipped clean past him now on the other side. The loss of time was minimal at most, and Carl was back in contention just a few corners later, looking for a place to pass...
“F*ck off, Chester!” Hilary’s sudden complaint nearly made him jump. Did he just have to use the public channel to vent his frustration.
“I had the corner! You cut me off!” Chester followed up.
“No, I didn’t, I was trying to pass James! That f*cking pansy can’t even drive fast, just saves his car and then thinks he’s so smart for having a tactical advantage...”
“Oh look, the cheapshotter calls people pansies. I’m sure there’s irony to be found somewhere in here.” said Bruce, obviously enjoying the situation.
“Cheapshotter, you say? Now I’m definitely not allowing you past.” Hilary laughed.
“Good for you.”
A couple of seconds later, Carl could already feel it coming...
“And you’re a cocksucker, Hilary! Just ‘cause you got punted off don’t mean you can take me with you!” Chester shouted immediately after.
“Looks like – I just did.” Hilary said, voice still shaking with anger however.

The conversation kept descending into more and more personal attacks, and Carl made a mental note to shut that down as well from his mind, a relatively easy thing to do once he just assured himself none of the insults were directed at him. Well, except for Chester’s remark about “that ni**er who you get along with surprisingly well”, but seeing as Carl was fighting for the win and Chester was nowhere to be seen, it looked like he was the one getting the last laugh.

The problem for Carl was that he didn’t seem to be able to make a move stick. Clean racing was a bit of a new scheme for him, and he certainly didn’t understand how Deco or any other cool driver (Wong, James and Bruce came to mind first) could make non-contact passes work so flawlessly sometimes. Everytime he got alongside Deco into a corner, he ended up getting a worse exit, and could only watch as the Comet moved back about a car length in front of him. He was going to want to switch strategy or the whole race would follow the same script – and for starters, he made sure to get the best possible run onto the front straightaway. With two laps to go, Carl latched onto Deco’s slipstream, waited until after the first kink, and rocketed alongside. Initially it worked well, and the ZR-350’s bumper was ahead of the Comet’s for quite some time – but with no drafting help from anyone else, he soon began falling back as the Comet’s better acceleration at high speeds, coupled with top speed, kicked in and allowed Deco to enter the first braking point in first spot.

Carl daringly dove on the inside of him into the first corner anyway, and with the next one coming up almost immediately afterwards, that one also being a right-hander, he was able to continue maintaining the inside line, and heard a surprised roar from the crowd when he squeezed Deco towards the barrier and forced him into yielding. If he recalled correctly, Kendl was sitting in the grandstand near the pit area, and just had a front row seat to the pass that was acknowledged with plenty of encouraging applause. Deco came up on him again, looking for room to return the favor in the next corner, but Carl was determined not to let him do that in front of a family member of his at least, and blocked the line with relative ease.

Another lapped car was on the way a bit later on the penultimate lap, this one belonging to Logan (if Carl remembered correctly – he only saw a short glimpse of his mostly off-the-pace hot rod in the beginning of the race) who, like Mario, was struggling with damage to the back of the car, which was probably the main cause of him getting lapped in a race that was remarkably short by national standards. Logan seemed reluctant to give the leaders adequate racing room, and Carl had to make a pass around the outside when he stubbornly stayed to the inside. As soon as he had done that, Logan nearly spun and slid up behind him – opening a gap for Deco to breeze through and challenge Carl again from the outside of the next turn. As much of a disadvantage as it was in a 90-degree turn most of the time, this one (which led to the highway) had plenty of space for even three cars if necessary, and Carl’s tight line proved to be the wrong one as the Comet came blazing next to, and ahead of him once again.

“You sure about this, conscience?” he chuckled, passing through the log jam again right on Deco’s rear bumper, as he needed to. Passing through El Corona, he encountered the biggest mob of Deco’s fans yet, all of them chanting their favorite’s name in unison as many held out signs to cheer him on. Their reaction, as expected, wasn’t too favorable when Carl took a look up the inside of the Comet coming into Idlewood, but they again erupted into the same excited chanting as before when he was forced to yield once again.

He did his best to put that behind him as he reached the tricky (and annoyingly narrow!) S-curve in Idlewood, leading up to the pizza joint. That’s where he noticed that on the outside of the curve, in the midst of the mainly casual fans, stood Kevin Williamson, who made himself known by holding up a small, hand-made wooden sign with “GO CJ” written with the biggest possible letters on it. As much as he’d made it clear he didn’t want banners of any kind... now, having traveled through Deco’s faceless, probably gold-digging crowd of unremarkable fans that certainly didn’t want him to win this race, the sight of just one person who had bothered to come to the scene to support him was enough to motivate him into doing greater things than ever before. He had this!
“I hate you, Chester!” yelled Hilary once again – so, so predictably.
“What? You were the one that went three-wide!”
“Of course I did, it’s part of the championship battle that I take risks! Now stop wasting my time before everyone gets past us!”
“You’re the one wasting my time by going for a pass in every corner! You really are a monkey-f*cking little whiner who’s probably in need of a spanking ‘cause of how naughty you’ve been...”
“Everyone knows your little secret, Hilary, don’t be too shocked now. And so you know, if we finish like this, we’d end up tied in points, but I’d win the tie-breaker. Poor Plastic City scum just doesn’t have enough wins...”
“All thanks to you...” Hilary uttered threateningly.

With only one lap left, Carl was once again right behind Deco as they started their long acceleration onto the main straightaway. It was then that Carl noticed something he’d already forgotten about twice – there, on the side of the track just by the finish line, stood once again the oddball of a person that had come to see him drive on the last two days as well. The man, still in the same outfit as before – including the sunglasses – again kept a close eye on Carl’s car in particular, and he could swear he saw the man smirk and give him a thumb up.

Was it a bad omen? He could only hope it wouldn’t lead to more trouble on the most important lap of all, as he performed a nearly identical move on Deco as what he did last time over the bridge. This time, though, the Comet had more momentum than before and held him back with relative ease – as a result, Carl was prompted to latch back onto the slipstream, which almost got him up to his own top speed before the first “proper” corner. With another inside move into the right-hander, the understeer from used up tires kicked in this time as he couldn’t hold the line, and Deco made that ever-so-annoying return pass on him after switching to the other side.

Don’t overdrive the car now...
Twice more Carl made what felt like a race-winning pass to him, but Deco kept getting a better drive out of each corner, making him feel more and more anxious as they were halfway done with the final lap. A scream on the radio – one whose origin Carl couldn’t be certain about, but he would’ve guessed it was Chester – distracted him a bit, but not as much as Deco, who was just entering the corner with all the logs blocking the way, and flinched a bit going through them, sliding into a half-spin and tapping one of the logs with his rear quarter-panel.

With the excellent run Carl was able to get out of that same corner, he could feel the gap between the cars decreasing so quickly, this was a pass he would not screw up. Coming right into El Corona, a place that felt like the heart of “Deco territory” the ZR-350 was well alongside before they even got to the braking zone, and in the corner exit, Carl cheekily slid right in front of Deco, forcing a small collision that gave him a boost of speed. He was so pleased to see that even with all the D! E! C! O!’s going on, the fans were absolutely confused as the unknown challenger had come forward like that...

The next right hander went without a hitch. Only the S-curve, quick right and quick left by the pizza stack, and the final hairpin were remaining now... he just couldn’t lose this now. In the S-curve, he checked the crowd to see if Kevin was there, but ended up misjudging his line a little bit and got a bad corner exit, and the Comet was right up on his back bumper again...
Well, then he does have those moments where he pulls some cinematic overtake out of his ass in a tight situation. Bottom line is, if you see that bright yellow eye strain slowly begin to gain on you, that means he’s got a run, so you better know how to block.” Bruce’s remark from earlier on came back into his mind at the worst possible time as Deco started looking for an opportunity...
Block! BLOCK! Carl screamed to himself, weaving from right to left to right, eventually choosing right...

And the line gave Carl a particularly bad corner entry as he nearly scraped the barrier on the inside and went skidding all the way to the outside wall – while all this was going on, Deco, who had taken the outside line, came down right across the track behind the struggling Carl, and got himself in front again as he breezed through the upcoming left-hander, now on Carl’s outside.
Just f*cking WHY?!
Playtime was over, Carl had to go for it now, not having any idea how the Hilary versus Chester rivalry would end somewhere far behind. Despite losing so much ground on this penultimate short stretch, he still had what it took to make a daring attempt at the final corner, dirty or not... Deco took the normal racing line into it, and wouldn’t see the divebomb coming...

Except he did, and slowed down accordingly as Carl came flying down the inside, not managing to touch the Comet but at least getting in front of it, even if that meant he would again slide to the less-than-ideal outside line. Entering the final straight with a bit of a wobble, Carl was already starting to think what he could do with the 50 million he’d win – maybe he’d get the bookies to act as his butlers, just to add some insult to injury once they went out of business...

...or not. Yet again, Deco did the up-and-under on him. With a superior line through the hairpin, coupled with a better corner exit, there he was once again, speeding past the unexpecting Carl on the right side.
And for one last time Carl got into the Comet’s slipstream with the last of his faux hopes evaporating as the checkered flag waved, and Deco took it with Carl no closer than half a second behind...
D! E! C! O!
“Ladies and gentlemen, how about that?!” the announcer yelled in excitement. Carl’s hands were shaking, his heart was essentially broken as all that effort proved to not be enough... why, oh why was the finish line not further down the straight?! He didn’t know how he managed to prevent himself from ramming Deco’s car as hard as he could, as they were guided by track officials into a side road that had been hastily converted into a temporary pit area – just to save drivers the effort of driving halfway across the track before they could exit.

A big screen showed live footage of the finish line at all times, with Wong defeating Cesar in their duel for third place just as Carl first had a look at it. OK, how did it go again? Hilary was one point behind Chester and needed a two-point advantage, or he’d just lose a tiebreaker? That meant that at the very least, he should finish ninth with Chester off the points. Was that in the realm of possibility at all with his poor tire condition? Waiting for the next finishers had to be the most painful moment of Carl’s life as paying off the debt depended on this now... whatever they paid for second place again was nowhere near what he would need. Behind them was Logan, but he was a lap down and not in contention... that was always a relief.

In clean formation, James, Bruce and José occupied positions 5, 6 and 7. As nice as that bunch was, Carl let out an unpleasant shriek, his chances starting to go down the toilet now. Deco was already out of his car and being interviewed by a reporter that also tried convincing him to utter a few favorable words about some sponsor product that Carl, still sitting in the car and clenching his teeth, couldn’t give two sh*ts about.
D! E! C! O!
“Shut – the f*ck – up...” he murmured, shaking with anger, feeling like punching someone at any moment now as more of the finishing cars joined them in the somewhat crowded area.

Sebastian, who’d fallen back after a promising start, came home in eighth. There was still hope... what if Chester had got so pissed off with Hilary’s blocking that he had got himself penalized? Maybe even losing some points? That’d be like winning the lottery at this stage...

More engine roars were heard not long after that, and for a couple of painful seconds Carl waited until the cars got in sight of the camera – and there it was! The Sabre Turbo, looking more beaten up than any other vehicle he’d seen cross the finish line so far, came into view in ninth, with Arnaud following right behind him despite the penalty. The Frenchman moved alongside Hilary just before they reached the line, giving Carl a horrendous anxiety attack... but all was well, Arnaud didn’t have enough time to make the pass even if he really wanted to do it. Hilary got the position, and his friend sealed the deal that Chester would come out of this day scoreless. At least no one had announced that he’d have nabbed fastest lap, and with him taking this long to show up, he wouldn’t get it on the final lap anyway. Ah, well, Carl was done looking at the monitors. The profit he’d make off the race was going to be minimal, but it was better than the alternative...

When Hilary got to the scene, and left his car along with Arnaud, he was sure to make his presence known by flexing his muscles and roaring at the top of his lungs. At first he was trying to climb on top of the Sabre and celebrate from there, but his fat legs didn’t allow for very efficient vaulting, and a couple of unsuccessful tries later he gave it up and just walked into the crowd of drivers like he owned the place.
D! E! C! O!
“Just look at those idiots at the stands! It’s like they don’t even recognize the champ when he comes across the line!” he yelled to everyone that could hear him, shaking his head.
“Hey.” Carl said unemotionally. Hilary’s reaction to victory was just what he expected – that coupled with the annoying cheering made him want nothing more than to take half the championship money and leave...
“Oh, well hello there, skinny. Did you win? Doesn’t sound like it.” Hilary mocked.
“No, I did not. That means you pay up, though.” Carl said firmly.
“Oh, I dunno... you kinda didn’t do much to waver Chester, did you? I feel I should just distribute the reward to Arnaud and call it a day...”
“You don’t f*ck around with me here.” Carl told him right away, grabbing Hilary by the collar. The fatty erupted into some miserable laughter, then shoved the hand off with little effort.
“I know, I know. Was just testing your nerves, loser-boy. Hope you’ll like the consolation prize.”
“Whatever happened to Chester anyway?” He ignored the provocations surprisingly well.
“He’s...” Hilary began snickering. “He tried to piss me off a little harder than he should, and has now found himself falling into the ocean to wash off all the entitlement.”
“What? How the f*ck you gonna get off scot free from that? Is he, umm, dead?”
“Some rescuers went down to get him... to be fair, I wouldn’t be too bothered if I was them. And if anything, it was him rubbing against me, I just pushed him off so I could drive in peace... simple as that.”
“Oh, right.”

Pushing Chester into the water? Damn, Carl knew that some drivers would come up with the most evil and cunning ideas to get rid of their competition, but that was quite an extreme trick to pull off, even by Hilary’s standards. Personally, Carl would always prefer a royally pissed off Chester to a dead one, and pondered while walking away whether or not he could get out of the car and swim off following the incident... when the last two men he wanted to see stepped on his path.
“Whoa, whoa, what’s the rush?” Joel asked, his faux friendliness being enough of a reason for Carl to want to strangle him.
“Looks like someone just suffered a bitter loss. Should’ve just put the money on Deco, he was a favorite for this race for a reason.” Brett continued.
Joel poked Carl in the chest. “I guess some people don’t know what it means to have 100:1 odds.”
“All that sweet money, going from your pocket to ours now. No, don’t bother getting all defensive. We saw from the way you drove, you had no chance to begin with.” Brett said, cackling like some kind of an old lady.
“...and I don’t know any f*cking Zaibatsu slogans, and won’t say them anyway, as I’m not a f*cking advertiser, as you oughta know. Now excuse me...”
“F*cking goat-suckers like yourself are the key to our success...” Joel jeered, with Brett continuing to laugh alongside him.
“Hey – you! The f*ck do you think you’re doing?” Deco put all his strength behind shoving the bookies off, saving Carl the bother of beating them up.
“Oh, hey! He he, hey, here’s our – erm, winner, right? I have to say, such an amazing job you did there, the easiest win of your career no doubt...” Joel said, now more nervously.
“You think that was easy?” Deco laughed angrily, sort of like when he was talking about his parents and listing reasons why they sucked as people. “It’s a shame that some people would actually let children like you run the betting scheme in this series. Just so you know, from my experience – since that’s all that matters to you – this race was much tougher than Stilwater, all thanks to the local driver giving me a massive run for my money all the way to the end.”

Hilary was left to play second fiddle by now as the other drivers were all focused on the confrontation involving the bookies. Joel and Brett looked at each other, then simultaneously at Carl, then back at Deco, now with the same old smirks on their faces.
“How very un-winner-like behavior from you, Carlos. Even children such as ourselves saw it coming from far away that he had no way of sustaining a lead in front of you! The only way for this newbie whiner to actually win would’ve been to take you out inconspicuously, and you know the officials would never let that slide...”
“And how about the crane incident, that you two oh-so-conveniently missed while sitting on the other end of the docks? Without it, he would’ve run away with the win.” Deco retorted.
“Only if you held yourself back, which we know would never happen.”
“Because I’m the perfect infallible driver who can’t make mistakes?”
“Well, nobody said that, but with Arnaud out of your way, you catching up to this talentless turd who thinks too highly of himself within three laps would be like taking candy from a baby.”
Joel was entirely focused on Deco at this point – Carl decided he’d heard enough of his rambling, and readied himself to punch him at the side of the head, just to teach him a lesson... before someone grabbed his arm.
“Don’t do it, they’ll come up with a reason to strip you of your money... let me do it.”

Bruce fulfilled his promise, and blindsided Joel with a swift right hook that sent him tumbling sideways and falling in the ground, on his ass for additional insult to injury. Brett shrieked at the sight and ran towards Bruce to restrain him immediately – but never reached him as he got tripped by Deco’s conveniently extended foot, and crashed down as well.
“When you’re done crawling in front of your superiors, don’t forget I had ten grand on Deco over here.” Bruce reminded Brett, who had blood coming out of his nose and showed no signs of feeling like getting up, not for a moment anyway.
“Good choice you had there, even if it turned out quite close by the sound of things.” Arnaud chimed in, having left Hilary’s side at last to join the conversation.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Carl’s fastest lap stick all the way to the end?” Wong said. All the finishing drivers were now gathering at the scene, not one of them feeling an ounce of concern to the bookies.
“Uhh, it did, Deco’s was 0.08 seconds slower.” James said, taking a look at the leaderboard screen, publicly available for all to see.
“Another reason not to be ashamed then about the result...” Arnaud said, the others nodding approvingly.

Now that voice was a welcome sight, if not just because it meant its carrier wasn’t quite dead. Chester Chesterfield III was soaking wet, pissed off, and running away from two track marshals who were inevitably too late as Chester jumped at Hilary to take a punch at whatever portion of his body would hurt the most. Even after the marshals caught up to restrain him, he kept kicking and screaming and spitting all over Hilary’s face... while the Vice City driver did absolutely nothing but smile, with that disgusting victorious look all over again, knowing full well that he wasn’t about to be punished, and had just stolen the points lead with the tiniest possible margin. Nearby, Carl saw Ryder and Smoke arrive at the scene as well, probably tired of the noise made by nearly all the other spectators. He didn’t know if he had the heart to tell them why he’d just lost the race...
“Alright, everyone, let’s use our heads now here.” said the announcer on loudspeakers again, in a failed attempt to calm Chester down. “We have counted the points from this race, and we’re just about to begin the championship ceremonies, sponsored by Sprunk. I present to you – the final points standings!”

With that being said, the monitor with the results changed to show the points – and at first sight, Carl thought there had been a typo, but then he remembered a gruesome detail he’d set aside ever since Friday...

Deco – 129
Hilary – 128
Chester – 127

The list went further, but Carl didn’t care about any other positions, not even when all the others chuckled when James burst into laughter and told José he now owed him free drinks for the entire next season after the battle for sixth place just barely ended in his favor. With just one good long look at the table, Carl came to the realization that all his dreams had been crushed, everything had completely fallen apart all thanks to his decision to race fair... he was just half a second away from success and glory, and all he had now was a pile of debt on top of him...

...and something else too. Hilary, who’d just stood there with his mouth open in awe, had charged straight at Carl after finding him from the crowd, and pinned him into a wall while attempting to strangle him at the same time.
“YOU! USELESS IDIOT! We were meant to have a deal and you screwed it all up!”
Hilary’s rambling didn’t end even when he was dragged off with the combined efforts of Arnaud, Bruce and Ryder, who wasn’t going to just stand aside and look at his homie being abused.
D! E! C! O!
...Sprunk would like to congratulate Deco for this fantastic rally to the top of the standings once again...
“My life is ruined! MY LIFE – IS – RUINED!” Hilary screamed, to the point where he started sobbing – Ryder let go of him and looked away in disgust, José now taking his place as the third restrainer. By the looks of it, no one felt like telling him his own driving style cost him the necessary points at the end...
“T-they should be screaming for my name...”
“Hilary.” Carl said unexpectedly, having just arrived at a conclusion – he couldn’t let this pathetic sack of sh*t intimidate him, and there was still one last glimmer of hope... but first he had to get the man to acknowledge his existence, which took several mentions of his name.
“Hilary, I don’t think this changes anything. You only said you wanted to beat Chester, so by all accounts, you still owe 500 grand...”
Now that was the trigger to end all triggers. Smoke joined the three racers in holding Hilary back as he attempted another charge in Carl’s direction.
“What a great idea! What a lovely idea! Too bad I DON’T HAVE ANY F*CKING CHAMPIONSHIP MONEY NOW!”

“Neither do I, and I know just who’s responsible!” Chester had once again broken free from the marshals’ grasp, but was no longer looking for a fight. Rather, his accusatory index fingers were pointing straight in the direction of Carl – and by the looks of it, Arnaud.
“Yes, you two. Johnson and LaRoche. I know what kinda games you have played.” His two bodyguards that Carl had only seen once before joined him on the sides to reinforce his message. “Just to let you know, this ain’t over, bitches. I know where you both live. I’m coming for your families. Just you wait.”
“And I thought I’d let you know you’re a pathetic little sh*t who ain’t touchin’ any of us.” Carl said, oddly calm despite the fact his last possibility for a decent payday just went down the toilet.
Chester sneered. “Have a nice day, ni**er. Remember to take a bath every once in a while.”

He turned around... only to have Carl toss a brick towards the back of his head. It missed, but instead impacted a bodyguard who rapidly turned around, looking like he was ready to skin Carl and any other Families in sight alive at that very moment – if Chester didn’t stop him and just tell him to ignore “those sad violent outbursts”.

With him and his two gorillas who were good for nothing but ego-stroking leaving the place without further delay, Carl felt like just doing the same. Hilary had left to drown his sorrow in a bottle of wine and would probably be harmless from this point on, leaving Carl with nothing in particular to worry about as he slipped out of the scene unnoticed, and to an empty yard just between some cheap Willowfield houses, where he could relax on his own – if that was even possible – and try to wrap his head around the situation. As he sat on a lonely bench and observed the graffiti on the nearest wall, questions filling his head. What to do now? How to tell Sweet about the debt? What was Cesar thinking now that Carl went and lost the whole debt? A couple of downed bookies and a brick in a bodyguard’s head only gave him the short-lived satisfaction of the moment, but didn’t produce any money that he needed more intensely than ever...
The call took him by surprise, but once the shock wore off, he just kept staring at the wall, doing nothing to show he acknowledged the other man.
“CJ, c’mon now.” the voice pleaded.
“Go – away. I’m in deep sh*t right now, all thanks to you.” Carl hissed.
“What’s going on? I thought you were just fine with second place a moment ago?” Deco asked, taking a seat next to him despite Carl’s wordless protest.

Trying to hold his anger back, he blurted the answer out in the least hostile tone he could manage. “Because-I-lost-that-damn-bet-and-now-owe-a-sh*t-ton-of-cash-to-Felix-f*cking-SCHRADER!”
Deco was confused for a moment. “Wait, you mean the guy known for investing in the box office flop of a movie, ‘Gangstas in Mars’?”
“I – don’t give a sh*t about movies! He might be just some investor to you, but he’s also a dangerous motherf*cker of a mob boss, who’ll probably kill me now that I spread his secrets around, but at this stage, it’ll just put me out of my misery!” Carl took a deep breath, trying to stop his voice from shaking all the time, and forcing himself not to strangle the guy who was utterly clueless to his peril...
“I just don’t wanna talk about it now. Get outta here before I get any ideas of robbin’ all your damn victory cash.” he continued, not being able to bring himself to look Deco in the eyes, regardless of how much sympathy he showed...
“Why did you let the bookies piss you off so much?”
“Why?” Carl was astonished that someone would ask that yet again. “Why?! ‘Cause them treatin’ me like crap wasn’t enough, then y’all f*ckin’ sh*ts joined them to laugh at my face!” he blurted out, the traumatic event at the pits still fresh on his mind.
“Well, I didn’t laugh.” Deco said in-between gulps.
“Whatever you say.”
“Believe what you want then.”

Silence. All that was now heard was some of the continued fan chants in the distance (did they ever run out of breath?) and some oblivious resident of the region mowing their lawn somewhere behind the building, as Carl waited for Deco to say something meaningful – only for him to keep drinking until the can was empty.
“You gonna leave now, or what?”
Deco burped, threw the can towards the trash – only missing by inches as it bounced off and fell to the ground with a clang.
“Well, actually I had something else in mind. You said you were in some gang...”
“Grove Street Families. So what?”
“That means you know how to fight – and get out of bad situations, I presume?”
Carl scowled. “I didn’t think of you as some crook goin’ around looking for hired guns.”
“Hmh... Look, CJ, I don’t normally do this with any racers I meet, but since you clearly would like some money, I guess this offer can’t hurt. No, I’m not a crook, but I do sometimes need people that can assist me on my long-lasting mission for justice – which I can focus on particularly well now that the season’s done and out of the way. It could be your chance to win back the money you lost today – in a valiant battle, nonetheless.”
“Mission for justice? What’re you, some ‘avenger of the night’ bullsh*t?”
“Nothing as clichéd as that, trust me. There’s just a certain person out there, whose actions indicate he’s in desperate need for someone to drag him out of his ivory tower, strip him of his position of power – erm, excuse the rhyme back there – and expose him for what he truly is to the general public.” Deco explained to his best ability.
“Sounds fun, just tell me what to do.” Carl said, not really meaning it, but feeling the offer couldn’t hurt him too badly.
“Not yet, unfortunately. I’m about to leave the state, look up a certain person who can help me get closer to the objective if the information I’ve gathered so far is correct.”
“Uhh... OK? You mind tellin’ me who this evil sh*thead’s meant to be?”
Deco seemed thoughtful for a moment. “I doubt you know him – which is ultimately a good thing, for secrecy’s sake to say the least. Let’s keep it that way for now, and I’ll elaborate once we meet again.”
If we meet again.” Carl corrected.
“I would count on it. Just keep your head calm, and do whatever this Schrader guy wants you to do if it means getting out of that debt of yours.”

Deco stood up to put the empty Sprunk can in its correct place, flexed for a little bit, and turned back to Carl.
“I bid you farewell for now, good sir. Thank you for the race – I wish some of the racers’ bad first impressions won’t hinder you from future participation, if you’re still interested. Once I’m back, I’ll contact you, and we can get to business.”
“We’ll see. And I doubt you’d be that happy with the contest if I was the one winnin’.”
“Dear friend, I race for the sake of the race – not just the victory. Don’t let my occasional dominant nature fool you. Later!”

Carl lazily waved at him as he disappeared, undoubtedly for some more post-race celebration now that he was done pitying the first loser... no, wait, that couldn’t have been in Deco’s nature, most of the time it definitely felt like he meant good all along. He decided that the best course of action was to just head back home, try to set the stress aside for just the rest of the day, and then tackle all the old and new problems in his life, probably starting with paying off the debt any way he could. The ZR-350 could maybe be sold for decent cash now that T-Bone or his men wouldn’t recognize it as the same car they originally had... Carl didn’t feel like he wanted to keep it anyway, due to it forever reminding him of the day when everything went down the toilet. He didn’t feel like re-entering the crowd just to fetch it and drive home, so he instead walked under his own power back to Grove Street, taking a scenic route through Willowfield as he did. Approaching the Cluckin’ Bell, he was glad to finally notice he was out of hearing range of all that damn chanting...

D! E! C! O!
Alright, we all love Deco, but how about we give some recognition to the man in the white ZR-350, Carl Johnson, bravely fighting Deco to the checkers en route to a second place? The man who – err, we haven’t been able to – capture in the spotlights just yet...” the announcer suggested a little uncertainly.
“What’s that fool thinking now...” The spectator stands quickly filled with chattering, most of it negative as the fans didn’t understand why they should support someone else all of a sudden...
“Hey, whoa! Come on, folks, let’s start showing some appropriate respect and make some noise!” Deco shouted after making his way through the crowd to a microphone, one that was supposed to be reserved for musical performers.

And as he and most of the rest of the drivers began a new chant, the fans slowly but surely began to join in, engulfing the area in a slightly different noise than before...
C! A! R! L! C! A! R! L!


The End.

Edited by Carbonox

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Alright, a couple of things I should mention.


First and foremost, it's now time for this story to become more true to its name, and start exploring the other worlds as well. Admittedly this move could've been done earlier instead of focusing on CJ for 15 full chapters now (plus the prologue, which is pretty much the length of a chapter anyway, so make it 16), but better late than never, I say. This'll be the prologue for Vice City (or more specifically, Tommy Vercetti), with chapter 1 for this act hopefully following shortly to show the setting in further, and might I say very important, detail.


Now, how I'm going to go about this in the future is that I'll basically alternate between settings from here on out to balance things out to my best ability, with Liberty City and its characters coming into play soon enough as well. During this phase, personal interest and popular demand will more or less dictate which character's story gets the spotlight next.


Also in the OP, a chapter list in the form of a table will be put up. I think you'll like how it's being done - thanks to Mokrie Dela, by the way, for helping me with the slightly confusing code. ;)


VC0: Precision Strike




Tommy Vercetti was f*cked. And not in the way he would’ve liked it.

As he made his way out of the Ocean View hotel on the first morning of his long stay in Vice City, not even stopping in the lobby for a cup of coffee, he had plenty of time to recollect the clusterf*ck that was the recent events, trying to make some sense out of everything.

It all began with his release from prison after a fifteen-year sentence – something not every ruthless mobster got to experience. Still remaining loyal to his boss, Sonny Forelli, after all that time, Tommy had accepted his first mission without any question – it had, after all, taken him down south into Vice City, the gorgeous Florida town that not only was still stuck in the 80’s in multiple ways (primarily when it came to music and fashion), but most importantly was filled with opportunities for the mob in the form of a large influx of illegal drugs. Of course, none of that was going to come for free, as the city was already filled with crooks from all sorts of backgrounds, all trying somehow to grab the biggest slice of the pie they possibly could. The Forellis had already tried moving into the city six years ago, but had to abandon the plan after they were not only driven out by the Mendez Brothers’ cartel, but their help was also needed more back at home as mob wars rocked the Fort Staunton and Newport areas, largely perpetrated by the Sindaccos. Only later, when the Forellis’ brief presence in Vice City had likely already been forgotten by the locals, Sonny had decided to make another move, this time with some of his most trusty soldiers.

The deal had, of course, gone sour, and Tommy was forced to witness Harry and Lee – good men, whom he sadly only got to know for a short while – get gunned down by unknown assailants along with the guy selling the drugs. Now both the cocaine and money were gone, Sonny was righteously pissed off, and Tommy had no choice but to get the stolen stuff back, with no other help presently except for Ken Rosenberg, the nervous lawyer who was going to be useless in combat, but at least knew his way around the city’s social circles somehow. And now, it was time for Tommy to pay him a visit, just as he promised last night.

It was through him that Tommy learned of Colonel Juan Garcia Cortez, the man who helped set up the deal, and was asked to attend a party on his yacht in the lawyer’s place to perhaps learn more. First on his to-do list was getting properly dressed, however – because apparently the comfy Hawaiian shirt he’d begun to like wasn’t adequate for an official situation like this one.

Hey, I like 1978 too, but, y’know, this isn’t gonna be a beer and strippers do. I mean, no offense, but I think you might turn heads on the runway for the wrong reasons.

Acting reasonable supposedly opened doors in Vice City for newcomers, and Tommy thought he managed relatively well, as he walked out of Rafael's lucrative clothes shop half an hour later with no blood on his hands, and a brand new blue soiree suit to boot. He had almost wanted to teach the shopkeeper a valuable lesson about messing with mobsters when the man cast a pitying look on Tommy as soon as he first walked in and acted like he was a dirt-poor bastard – his mind sure changed quickly once Tommy showed him his wallet, full of money that had actually been borrowed from Rosenberg, but made him look moderately rich for the time being.

Outside the store, his mind soon focused on something else. He had already braced himself for a longish walk over to the yacht, considering he owned no vehicle just yet – but then he remembered that he was a criminal, not really above taking whatever he needed from the civilians, and small-time, grass roots efforts in crime would probably make him a bit more well-known in the circles, while not landing him in imminent trouble. In this case, a foolish local parked his sleek chopper bike on the roadside and left the keys in the ignition as he walked up to a nearby payphone, thinking no one would possibly try and take it in that timeframe, especially in this part of town.

Boy, was he wrong. As Tommy rode the bike down the street, dodging some of the traffic on the way, the former owner could do nothing but yell at him and try to sprint after his stolen vehicle, before it hopelessly disappeared from view behind a street corner.

At the location of the party, Tommy parked in the nearest empty spot he found, noting that almost all vehicles on site were either sports or luxury – Rosenberg wasn’t kidding about the “big players”, that was for certain. A guard stopped him at the gate to the pier, eyeing him with a clearly suspicious look, probably seeing from a mile away that Tommy was new. Only once he presented the invitation did the guard move out of the way, grunting angrily for one reason or another. Now then, it was time for answers.

The party wasn’t too shabby, but Tommy still found himself being treated like an outsider by most, receiving untrustworthy glances from the guests he passed while looking for Cortez. The yacht owner probably wasn’t on the top deck just now, and Tommy had no intention to go out of his way to search for him, so he just entertained himself by grabbing some food from the nearest tray and listening in on people’s conversations.

“...I blocked down on him and then I put him on a wheelchair!” some large black guy – ex-athlete? – said just behind him, prompting laughter from both him and an older, blatantly Texan businessman who even brought a cowboy hat to the party. The third man involved, a tall and well-built one in a distinctive yellow pastel suit and gray tie, possibly another high-ranking businessman, simply chuckled out of politeness.
“That is good... Well, now I’m looking at some prime real estate property. Nightclubs seem to be the name of the game right now, and word is, the public wants more of them... if my company can provide that, I reckon the project’ll be just as much of a success as Equanox was to you.” the Texan explained with some excitement.
The yellow-suited man smiled faintly. “Good to see you’re as optimistic as ever... BJ, can you go see if Jason has arrived yet?” Tommy could swear that was just a thinly-veiled excuse to get the third guy out of hearing range – knowing that something important could be coming up, he inched just a little bit closer without looking at them to hear a bit better.
“I like the way your construction company’s basking at success these days, Avery. It makes me think we could develop a partnership of some kind.”
“You’re in need of another building for your corporation, aren’t you? Perhaps it’ll be even taller than what my protégé’s got over in Liberty City?”
“Sadly no – the one we’ve got just now is just sufficient. Now, this project of mine is still in its alpha stage, not even nearly fleshed out yet... but the general idea was clear as day from the start, and could massively benefit the lives of thousands, if not millions even. I’ll show you the plans in the condo later if you want... but keep quiet about it for now. The public revelation can wait until after we’ve got all the permissions sorted out.”
The Texan seemed impressed enough. “That sounds like a plan... now what’s taking BJ so long?”

“Excuse me, do you have time for a quick chat?” Tommy was a bit startled by the sudden appearance of someone beside him. The man looked like the type he’d rather not associate with in any way, having an unstable-looking smile on his face – well, that could be a result of hard drugs though, so Tommy decided to give him just this one chance.
“OK, shoot. The name’s Tommy Vercetti, by the way...” That was a bigger mistake than he’d thought at first.
“Well, Tommy, I see it from your eyes that you’re still new to this sinful hellhole of a town, probably wondering which of the ultimately meaningless forms of entertainment you want to try out first before inevitably perishing in a nuclear holocaust... but don’t worry, not all hope is lost yet. You can save yourself by contributing to the Pastor Richards Salvation Fund, which will...”
“I ain’t the ultra-religious type.” Tommy stated firmly, but it was as if the man wasn’t listening at all, being more interested in his own tirade.
“...guarantee you a place on the statue constructed in my likeness as we escape from this doomed earth before all those unsaveable degenerates cause society to collapse on itself, by which point it will be far too late as the horsemen of the apocalypse arrive to wreak havoc, just as it’s clearly said in the Book of Revelation – one that I’ve studied very carefully to dictate when all of this is going to take place, and I warn you, the day is closer than you’d think...”
“Hey, I’ve about had it with this bullsh*t.” Tommy grabbed the man by the collar and leaned him over the boat’s railing, at which point the ranting finally ended. “The only reason you ain’t overboard yet is because I don’t feel like being kicked out for the murder of a pathetic, fear-mongering, misinformed scam like you...”

“Hey, whoa, break it up!” A chef rushed up to calm the situation down as soon as it escalated, and was assisted by the unknown yellow-suited man, just on time as the pastor was starting to gasp for breath in Tommy’s stranglehold. As the chef helped Richards up, Tommy found himself in the firm grip of the businessman, unable to break free – probably a good thing for the scammer’s sake.
“Now, now, Richards, what’d I tell you? It’s not an entirely safe business venture to shove your – uhh, unique beliefs into the faces of people you don’t know?” the man said, tone indicating that he was smiling the whole time.
Richards coughed for a bit before he was able to stand upright again. “Brighton – still not interested in making a donation yourself? We both know you got more than enough money that you could spend a portion of to a cause that’s even larger than life...”
“No dice, Pastor. If you’re after money, I could offer you a spot on a commercial though, if we ever develop a drug that reliably cures people from schizophrenia.” Brighton said, allowing Tommy free now that he had calmed down some.
“Great... maybe, uhh, another time.” Richards mumbled, ignoring the chef’s inquiries about his condition as he rushed to the lower deck in a hurry.
Brighton sneered a bit, Tommy having now made some distance from him. “Should’ve seen that one coming. Working for one’s own money just won’t ever cut it for certain people...”

“So what about you? Who are you, and what the hell were you thinking? In fact, why did the Colonel even invite you if you can’t keep it down? Even the Mendezes have never caused a scene here, and that’s a lot from them, attending parties with their worst enemy, Ricardo f*cking Diaz!” the chef now yelled at Tommy.
“Relax now, chap.” Brighton intervened before Tommy could come forward with a rightfully outraged answer. “He’s not really to be blamed, having been crudely harassed to the breaking point by Mr. Richards, who, frankly, should’ve been banned from this boat ages ago... plus, let’s reserve judgement for the man in charge here, shall we?” He extended his hand to point to the side, where Colonel Cortez himself, an older gentleman being escorted by another one of those chefs (did they double as bodyguards or something?), arrived to the scene, looking straight in Tommy’s direction. Finally it was time for a rational business discussion.
“Buenas noches! I hope that crazy old man didn’t give you too much trouble back here – this being your first offense, I’ll be happy to let that unfortunate incident slide.” Cortez began, causing the previously yelling chef to frown a little bit, as he was promptly shooed away. “Now, I understand you’re here on behalf of Mr. Rosenberg. I hope any recent problems haven’t affected his health, or uh, mental well being, Mr... uh?”
“Vercetti. He’s just got a touch of... agoraphobia.”
Cortez laughed lightly. “Excellent, excellent. And you?”
“I just...” Tommy suddenly remembered that Brighton was still standing next to them. “Could we have some privacy here?” he suggested, coming out a bit bossy perhaps, but at least getting the message through loud and clear.
“Of course, of course – excuse me, I should’ve left you alone sooner. Welcome to Vice City though, Mr. Vercetti – I hope you’ll enjoy your stay here.” Brighton shook his hand before seeking out BJ and Avery again in the middle of the crowd – Tommy watched him for a bit, ensuring he was well and duly out of hearing range before he turned back to Cortez again.

“Don’t mind Scott too much – he acts a bit odd sometimes, but he’s nothing to be too worried about. What brought you here though, Mr. Vercetti?” Cortez inquired.
“I just want my merchandise.” Tommy said quietly.
“Ah.” Cortez looked somber. “It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances for all involved. Of course I have initiated my own lines of inquiry, but such a delicate matter will take time. Perhaps we will talk later.” Tommy nodded in acknowledgement.
“Meanwhile, let me introduce you to my daughter... Mercedes!” the Colonel called out, and Tommy quickly found himself focusing on something completely different than processing what had just been briefly discussed, as a damn fine-looking young lady in a red dress walked up to the scene, looking a bit bored with the party so far. If keeping her company was what Cortez wanted him to do, he was more than content to set the drug deal issue aside for a while...
“Caramia, could you look after our guest while I attend to my necessary obligations?”
The girl eyed Tommy, body language indicating she approved of his company, then linked arms with him and led him to the opposite direction. “Of course, daddy.”
“Please excuse me.” Tommy heard the Colonel say before heading off to presumably greet the newly-arrived guest, someone in an all-white suit.

“Mercedes?!” Tommy asked, a bit puzzled, as soon as they were out of her father’s hearing range. It probably wasn’t the most polite thing to say right upon introduction, but it’d been bugging him...
“You try living with it.” she said casually. “Anyway, let me point out some of our most distinguished guests...” They stopped near a group of three first, two of whom appeared to be a couple, though the woman was awfully flirtatious to the third wheel as well.
“That’s our congressman Alex Shrub, with rising silicone star Candy Suxxx...”
“Seems like an odd pairing.” Tommy remarked.
“Definitely... and if you’re really interested in politics, to their right we have Neil Skinner, one of our mayoral candidates... raving old man really.” They bypassed the gray-haired, cigar-smoking man without further comment.
“I believe you already met Scott Brighton. Very successful businessman, charitable as well... does a lot of community work in the city. With him is the Vice City Mambas’ star tight end, BJ Smith – always the charmer.” Mercedes pointed out some more familiar faces. “I’m just glad I haven’t seen Brighton’s subordinate here yet... that man is one of the most intactful I’ve ever met. I cannot believe he’s Skinner’s only real opponent in the mayoral elections...”
“Is that so?”
“He’s almost as bad as Pastor Richards, who you dealt with like a man, by the way...” Mercedes said in appreciation, prompting Tommy to smirk faintly.

She continued showing him around, introducing more key folks such as Love Fist’s lead singer, Jezz Torrent, whose music Tommy had briefly heard from V-Rock on the way to the party – and who was a strong challenger for being the least tactful member of the party – followed by Cortez’s right hand man, Gonzalez, and successful film director Steve Scott. Apparently there were supposed to be two others that liked hanging with Gonzalez – Brett Clarke and Joel Gray, two reputable bookmakers who often worked with the “Vice City Racing Club”, whatever that was. They along with the racers were currently busy with a big contest all the way across the country, preventing their presence in this party – only someone called “Dan Sucho” hadn’t bothered to show his face in Los Santos, but according to Mercedes, her father would never invite him in since a sabotaging fiasco the previous year that Tommy never really understood, and just nodded every once in a while to show her he was at least listening.
“And Papa currently seems to be busy making Armando Mendez at home... you know who he is, right?” Tommy shook his head in response. “Well, he and his brother Diego run a successful criminal empire from Prawn Island. They can get pretty violent sometimes, but like everyone else, I think they enjoy partying at neutral ground just fine...” Mercedes explained to her best ability.
“So you mean they got some of their competition here just now?”
“Not quite yet, I think, but...”

“Colonel!” A powerful but friendly shout interrupted her explanation when a notably short man entered the scene, two bodyguards by his side at all times as he made his way straight to Cortez and Mendez’s location, and shook the former’s hand right away.
“Your parties as ever are a triumph... I can only apologize for my late arrival.”
“I’m sure none of us mind it.” Armando said just before Cortez was about to speak.
“Mendez, Mendez... where’d you leave your brother, huh? I hope he’s not sick or anything.” the shorty said, some tension obviously forming already – Cortez tried calming the two down with hand gestures.
“As we both know fairly well, Diego is much happier when he’s left alone to read some of his magnificent literature – hence why I prefer being our sole representative at parties.”
“As you wish then, Mendez – now I believe I was talking to the Colonel here, so will you excuse us for a bit?” the unknown man proclaimed, his bodyguards also making threatening expressions.
“Who’s the loudmouth?” Tommy asked from a safe distance.
Mercedes chuckled. “I was just about to say – that’s Ricardo Diaz. He’s Mr. Coke.”
“Isn’t it nice to have a neutral ground like this, so we can every once in a while interact together like civilized beings?” Armando said to Diaz with a voice full of sarcasm, walking away faintly laughing as he looked for someone else to talk with. While Diaz’s gaze followed him for a short while, he eventually spotted someone more interesting on the corner of his eye.
“Mercedes!” he shouted to gain her attention.
“Oh, I was just taking my friend into town – another time, Ricardo!” Mercedes countered quickly. To Tommy, it felt like everyone was focused on them now, and Armando Mendez in particular was looking him right in the eyes, probably wanting to know who this new face was, and what he was already doing with the Colonel’s daughter...
“Let’s get out of here. Actually, take me to the Pole Position club.” Mercedes whispered to Tommy, who wasn’t going to object to the idea, and allowed her to lead him off the yacht.

Coming back to the gates, they happened across another newly arriving guest, a white male around Tommy’s age wearing a yellow suit that seemed to match Brighton’s, especially with an identical gray tie as well.
“Already had enough of the tame stuff? About to have a wild night out?” the man noted as they passed.
“What’s it to you?” Tommy snapped at him.
“Absolutely nothing, and we’ve gone through this before. What I do with people you don’t know is none of your business.” Mercedes answered on behalf of the man, who just smiled as he continued to face the two after passing.
“Oh, excuse me, I must’ve picked my choice of words badly. Maybe I can make this up to you in a few days, in the form of a romantic dinner at a five-star restaurant of your choosing?”
“No thanks. If you’re in need of a date, may I suggest the chica from your private army... she just might be the only woman in the world to ever find you interesting.” Without another word, Mercedes led Tommy all the way back to the gates, after which it was Tommy’s turn to lead the way to his new motorcycle. As he looked over his shoulder, he saw that the man had already begun to head for the yacht, as he had hoped.

“Nice ride you got here.” she complimented.
“I suppose – what was that about a private army?” Tommy just had to know.
“Nothing to be worried about. It’s just something he surrounds himself with to seem like an important person... now let’s go before we run into more assholes.”

Without questioning Mercedes’ reasons for heading to one of the city’s most famous strip clubs, Tommy took a bit of a detour to the destination (justifying it by saying he didn’t know the streets too well, which frankly was true) so he could enjoy the feeling of the girl holding onto his waist for as long as possible. A little cheap from him – but then all was fair in love and war.
“See you around, handsome.” she said flirtatiously once they got there.
“I’m sure you will.” Tommy assured, and stuck around to look at her back until she disappeared behind the doors of the club. It was a shame he’d broken his phone last night – getting her number after all this could’ve made an otherwise enrichening day even greater.

He was probably supposed to return to Rosenberg’s place immediately after he was done, but as far as he was concerned, there was no rush at this point. Rosenberg’s nervous rambling tended to be bad for Tommy’s concentration, and he just wanted to spend the rest of the day in his hotel room, thinking about all the new information he’d absorbed in the party, enjoying some of the luxuries he had at his disposal, and most importantly, changing back to nice, casual clothing already. The suit was feeling too hot in a climate like this – and too stiff to boot.





Tommy was up early, having concluded in his long day filled with brainwork that he simply didn’t know enough about the party attendants to figure anything about who busted the deal. Sure, he hoped it was some easily dislikeable pushover like Pastor Richards doing it, but knowing his luck, things would never be that easy. Hopping onto his Freeway after a minimal breakfast in the hotel room, he also hoped Rosenberg wouldn’t freak out too badly when he’d show up on his door without prior notice – that was another, but less important, reason for him to feel inconvenienced due to a lack of a phone.

There are more criminals in this town than there are in prison. We need a lead from the streets.

As heartwarming as it ever was to hear Rosenberg had been worrying about him, it was time to get to work, and by the sounds of things, there was some, as the lawyer had once again done his homework like a useful associate should. An English fool, someone called Kent Paul, often hanging out in the Malibu club, was supposed to be the token informant of this town, having dug his nose a little too deep into the criminal underworld and knowing about things an innocent civilian shouldn’t have even heard of. Tommy was going to see if a little visit would make him talk.

Listen to me, I’m missing twenty keys and a lot of cash.
Drugs, mate? It’s a mug’s game.
What do you know about it?
Oi oi! What I was coming to was...

It turned out Kent – or Paul, or whatever he preferred – was the guy on the boat talking with Alex Shrub the previous day, and shaking information right out of his blabbering mouth took no more effort than tossing him to the floor of the club. It was beyond Tommy’s understanding how a snitch like him hadn’t been murdered yet for being so talkative, but he wouldn’t complain as long as nobody used his “services” against him, or the Forellis in general. The first order of business right now was finding some sort of a drug-dealing chef, who operated out of an unknown hotel’s restaurant, selling product on the remarkably quiet back alley that ran adjacent to Ocean Drive.

It was perhaps Tommy’s lucky day, as he spotted one just a few blocks to the south, on the alley just as he expected. The chef looked like he was busy with a phone conversation, making him an easy unsuspecting target – but for now, Tommy preferably needed him alive. He parked his bike just behind the corner and began sneaking up on him. Catching him in a chokehold would be a good start, and that way he could quickly find out who was on the other end of the line, as well.
“Hey, whatchoo lookin’ at?” Well, damn, his cover was blown sooner than he’d hoped. There was no backing down now, though...
“You better start talking...” Tommy said threateningly, walking towards the chef as he spoke.
The chef had the audacity to laugh at him. “Make me, you prick...”

Within moments, both were ready in fighting positions, the chef slash dealer having put his phone away into a pocket. Tommy was feeling a bit rusty, not having had to fight anyone for some years ever since he established himself on top of the food chain in prison, but at least knew the basics of how to incapacitate another person. He was the first to attack with a right hook, which got blocked by the enemy’s quick wrist – he tried following up with an even faster second attack to keep the man on the defensive, but was instead met with the chef’s right hand pushing his left away, exposing him to a left-handed straight punch to the face...

Getting the first hit in was highly helpful for the chef, who then followed it up with a barrage of vicious attacks, convincing Tommy that he wasn’t up against any average street thug. He was forced to defend all the time as punches kept on coming his way, and all this blocking was beginning to wear him out – but the last nail in the coffin was when the chef pushed him hard into a wall and brought out a knife. Under normal circumstances, Tommy would never run from a fight – but being unarmed, a bit beaten up and against a blade, he knew he had nothing to win here anymore. As he turned around to run, using up all the energy he had, he swore he’d be back for the chef soon with a slightly different plan now that intimidation clearly didn’t work.

The chef didn’t follow him out of the alley as he got on the Freeway and sped off the scene – whatever his motivations were, that suited Tommy’s purposes. He parked the bike a block away and walked back to the scene, climbing some stairs to a nearby balcony that overlooked the alley, where he now saw the chef smoking a cigarette, looking strongly like he was waiting for someone in a specific meet-up spot, and shrugged Tommy off as just another low-key mugger of some sort that wasn’t worth changing the location for.

Tommy had an idea. He sadly had no gun and didn’t know where to get one at the moment – and even if he did, it could take too long and the chef would’ve just disappeared from the alley by then, since that was how his luck seemed to often work. Thus, what he needed was instead a vehicle, something wider than the bike, and he got it relatively easily, by “convincing” some tourist to give up her Infernus as soon as a passing police patrol had left the immediate area. As profitable as it would’ve been to stay on the balcony and wait for any possible associate to show up, Tommy imagined the chef’s phone would get him deeper into the city’s underworld than anything else... and the best thing was, nobody ever needed to know about its former owner’s fate, other than that he’d have gone for a long business trip – and conveniently left an aspiring assistant to handle his stuff in Vice City for the time being. Oh, and it’d solve his problems regarding contacting people as well.

Tommy subtly drove past the alley to confirm the chef was still around, then drove to the far northern point of Ocean Drive, where the alley also began. This was perfect – on one clean precision strike, he’d flatten the thug, grab his phone, hide the body and probably stay around overlooking the place a bit to see if anyone would show up for a deal of some sort. It was a shame things had to go this way, he thought absolutely never, as he built up speed, turned the headlights off for maximum stealth, and was about to contact–

The pointy-hatted bastard dove out of the way. Trying to process what he just saw, Tommy realized far too late he was heading straight into a hard wall sticking out–

When Tommy woke up, everything was dizzy. He could hardly make out any details in the dull gray environment he was currently in, and felt bothered by an inconsistent noise from somewhere close to him. The first thing he was able to see were some white human-like shapes congregating just up ahead that became clearer and more distinguished every time he blinked his eyes... what were they, a bunch of angels discussing whether he should go to heaven or hell? Maybe even ghosts of his victims at the Harwood massacre? If so, he could most certainly take them as soon as he had the power to stand up – wait, on second thought, they appeared to be wearing pointy hats, and by now it was a no-brainer as to what a pointy hat and white outfit equalled...

He was surrounded by a bunch of chefs yet again, and in the middle of them all was him – the leader slash drug dealer, once again busy with a phonecall... so that had to have been where that noise came from. With the world around him now clearing up to the point where even smaller details were visible again, Tommy noticed that the wrecked Infernus sat just next to him, smoking heavily, and he was lying down on the ground next to it, presumably dragged into that position after the crash. Some of the chefs were keeping an eye on the alley’s entrance, and at least two had their eyes directly on Tommy. A common detail between all of them seemed to be that they were holding some sort of a melee weapon, fittingly mainly kitchen tools such as meat cleavers and butcher’s knives... obviously, the leading chef wasn’t the only one of his kind in these parts that was up to no good then.

“No, Adrian – it’s not that simple. I need to move. My usual spot was just – ahh, exposed in the most unexpected manner. Now lighten up, you idiot, I can still get it sold just fine.” the lead chef went on on his phone, those being the first words Tommy was able to hear clearly after the dizzy condition eased up.
“Actually I don’t know yet – but you know me, I have my ways of finding out.” he continued, now looking right at Tommy, who could’ve taken a pretty good guess as to what was coming up when the man was done talking. “In the meantime, anything new on Diaz? Oh... well, I know I can’t boss you around, but can you make sure there’s gonna be some progress soon? Yeah, yeah. Listen, I’ll meet up in you-know-where as soon as I’ve got the info I need. OK, bye now.”

He hung up, then called one of the nearby chefs to his location, whispered something to him, and lightly tapped him on the back. With the subordinate leaving the scene shortly for whatever reason, the leader came up to Tommy, all the others obediently staying by the sides, and crouched down next to his downed body. Tommy didn’t want to admit it to himself, but his heart rate was starting to skyrocket at this point.
“Stylish entrance you made there.” the man said, grinning. “I’m afraid there are no points in it for trying though.”
“Shush now.” The chef accompanied the order with the appropriate hand gesture. “Don’t waste your energy on unnecessary chatter down there. My men kindly revived you once – and only once – so you could answer a couple of little questions, not chit-chat about the weather or the women in our lives.”
One of the other chefs handed him a machete, one that he admired for a good bit, then pointed it Tommy’s way, a bit uncomfortably close. “Basic things first – do you even know who I am?”
“A terrible cook who put anchovy on my food even though I told you...” It hurt surprisingly much just to speak, and having the machete come up on his throat midway through the sentence didn’t help the situation.
“This is not a time for jokes... I thought that was supposed to be common knowledge by now. I know you know a little bit more about me than that – such as my name.”
Tommy shook his head, a reaction that caused the chef’s eyes to widen as he angrily spat in the ground. “So you mean, you heard from someone I’m a drug dealer you could steal from – or anything along such lines – and came here and attacked me, without bothering to learn the facts first?”
The confused look on Tommy’s face prompted him to continue. “Very well, it’s never too late to teach an old guido new tricks. My name is Leo Teal... I may occasionally deal drugs for a consistent flow of money, but my true forte has always been assassinations. There’s a very valid reason as to why I’m one of the ten most wanted men in this town, and have been for quite a while...” He stood up and started walking back and forth in front of Tommy, twirling the machete. “Even if I say so myself, I find myself quite skilled at seeing the world from my target’s perspective – not only does it make them much easier to whack, it helps me anticipate any attempts made on my life, which, frankly, are starting to get tiresome... yours, by the way, was pathetically obvious and I could see it from a mile away. Not that I’d expect anything better from a thug like you... anyway, since we’ve got to such a great start with the introductions, what is your name?”

Leo stopped again to wait for the response. “Timmy – Timmy Vermicelli.” Tommy lied, clearing his throat immediately after that out of convenience, hopefully not sounding suspicious.
“Hmmm... perhaps a mobster then? Odd to see the likes of you in this town – unless there’s someone who really wants my hide that sent you...”
Leo pointed the machete at him again. “Perhaps Ricardo Diaz? Did he get tired of sending goons at me only to have their heads sent back in nice, comfortable bags? Could he have decided to import an outsider to run his errands... questions, questions, so many questions.”
“I swear...” Tommy coughed, “I got no f*cking connection with him.”
“Then who? Mitch Baker even?”
“Never heard of him.”
“This is no time to play dumb, ‘Timmy’. You don’t want me to put you to a test of swimming skills in the shark-infested waters down south by the keys, do you? Name your boss and we can move to the next question already... could it be Juan Garcia Cortez? Umberto Robina with an outside chance? Then there’s always the Men– no, actually, I won’t believe they would have any reason to dispose of me...”
“Tell you what...” Tommy muttered under his breath. “I f*cking challenge you to kill me on the spot, shouldn’t be hard with all that tough talk you make. You’ll do me a favor anyway...”
“Ooo, now we’re talking!” Leo spun the machete around and placed the blade right up to Tommy’s throat. “We’re truly getting somewhere. You must be one of those unfortunate f*ckers who owes the old mob some big money – that’s got to be it, right? I’ve heard some poor indebted victims plead the exact same thing, a quick kill to absolve them of all responsibility... but that’d be a bit too easy for you, would it?”
Tommy’s disappointed expression all but gave away the fact the chef was talking the truth. “Come on now, your secret’s been spilled – tell old Leo the full tale and I can retract the bit about the ‘swimming with the sharks’ activity.”
Tommy was beginning to feel righteously pissed about not just his helpless situation, but the way the assassin kept dodging the chance to kill him outright – were all of Vice City’s feared outlaws pussies like this beneath the tough surface? Ah well, it was time to drop the bombshell and see where it’d get him.
“Two nights ago, some gunmen stormed a drug deal at Viceport. What happened to the coke and the cash?” Man, was he pleased to see the shock on Leo’s face, before his expression quickly straightened... if he caught on like Tommy hoped, the presence of Sonny Forelli on the background was bound to freak anyone out.
“You – you’re part of the Forellis’ expansion effort then.” he stated quietly.
“And you know about the deal.”
Leo’s anger became more visible each second. “Too bad for you I was involved in no way.”
“Figured you’d say that. You’re obviously a big player though, so at least you’ll know where I can get started.”
“You’re interrogating me now?” Leo muttered a laugh, but it was a bit forced. “Didn’t you understand who I...”
“I think if you give me what I need, we can leave this alley in separate ways, never meet again, and Sonny won’t need to pay you a visit for whacking his trusted man.”

Leo was shaking, walking frantically back and forth as Tommy calmly lay in his spot, not moving an inch even though he probably could if he wanted to. This was probably the toughest part of the situation, having to wait for the man to make his decision, and it could be pretty much anything depending on his emotional state...
“FINE!” Leo shouted at last, and unexpectedly charged right at Tommy’s position, stabbing the machete directly forward – and into the wall just above his head.
“Colonel Cortez would make for a good start... but in organizing deals, he tends to stick firmly to the background, avoiding attention from the DEA mostly... it’s his right-hand minion, Gonzalez, who’s got all the inside information and close relations in this town. You go see him at the penthouse north of Malibu – with the Colonel’s permission of course, unless you want to see yourself thrown out from the rooftop – and may he help you on your quest.” he said bitterly, waving his hand inbetween, which prompted his fellow chefs to scatter out of the scene, leaving only him and Tommy. “And if he points you at my direction again, be prepared for...” Leo made a throat-cutting gesture to complete the sentence.

“That’s all? What about the other side involved in the deal? I dunno if they escaped or not.”
“You’re wasting my time here now, Timmy Vermicelli... and my answer depends on who they were.”
“The Vance brothers.” Tommy remembered Ken talking about them on the initial car ride from the airport.
Leo frowned. “Never heard of them. Probably new in town, just like you... you’re on your own for that. Now go, and do not follow me.”

With him being the last of the chefs to leave the area, Tommy breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t like Sonny or any of the Forellis knew who he was after, and would never be able to determine the reason for his disappearance if Leo had gone and killed him – not that they would’ve possibly even cared at that point – but sometimes the sheer fear of a powerful mob leader did wonders on the mind of a problematic street criminal.

Tommy wasn’t going to stick around and wait for a homeless addict to come and steal his shoes – though he was still feeling sore and dizzy, he was just about able to get back on his feet, feeling the worst pain around his chest area. In his weakened state, he went to great effort to pull the machete off the wall, ensuring he had at least some kind of a weapon to defend himself with now. He’d probably start by smuggling that into his hotel room somehow, then go get his injuries checked just in case, and arrange another talk with Cortez as soon as he could. (Well, two Cortezes, to be precise, about some very different things.) He wondered if he could maybe lend some more cash off Rosenberg in order to afford some kind of a mobile phone, one that he wouldn’t break under any circumstances. Except on Pastor Richards’ face if he ever met that insane preacher again, of course...


Throughout the altercation, none of the parties involved were aware there was another man in white overlooking the situation. As much as he would’ve loved to intervene midway through, there were simply way too many chefs around to engage, with or without a firearm... but at least the man in the Hawaiian shirt had picked his wording carefully to avoid what looked like certain death. The observer thought of heading down the alley after all the chefs were out of the area and the mobster got up to pick up the machete... but maybe there were better times for making a grand entrance. Such as at a time not straight after a sticky situation, where the man would be more calm, and wouldn’t mistake him for an attacking chef in any potential adrenaline rush.


The End.

Edited by Carbonox

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Right. Good call. Tommy's rusty as hell. Maybe have him send some time at a range, because after fifteen years, boy the recoil is going to hurt. I like the characterisation so far. Pretty good work.

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It was a month's break, but well worth it. The setting's been established quite a bit further since I last wrote.


VC1: Fallen Soldier



All while Tommy was busy backseat driving for his life in Ken’s car on his first and highly eventful day in town, Corporal Victor Vance at the Fort Baxter military base had a whole lot of his own issues, oddly similar to Tommy’s, that were causing him to suffer from a sleepless night for the first time in ages. The snoring of his fellow soldiers all around him sounded like a bunch of chainsaws going off at the same time, only worsening his condition as he tried his best to come up with even one good excuse for joining Sergeant Martinez’s schemes and ending up doing exactly what he’d promised himself not to participate in ever again.

It could’ve been a multitude of factors really. Telling Martinez about his personal life was definitely his biggest mistake, making him appear to be an easily exploitable target... he took particular interest in how Vic joined the army without any other real opportunities in hand to finally make an honest buck for himself, leaving behind the needlessly dangerous lifestyle of his two brothers, while trying to keep his addict of a mother from leeching away all of his income. Of course, Martinez then offered him a better, “no risk” chance of making all the money he needed on the spot with just a little favor he needed done – if no risk meant being shot by rogue gangsters from speedboats as he swam for his life, and hiding Martinez’s package under his bunk and exposing himself to constant risk of being caught, he didn’t want to know what a genuinely dangerous mission would be like.

The kicker was, Vic could’ve tolerated the part with the chasing boats just barely if the contents of the package had been something else – but now that was wishful thinking. Of course it’d be drugs that he agreed to grab, putting both his career and life in jeopardy for the sake of something he’d rather witness disappearing from this dreadful world for good. At least he was going to work on removing that unnecessary obstacle from the way of his career, as he’d been planning on going straight to Martinez’s office the following day and set things straight with him.

Vic didn’t remember how many hours of sleep he ultimately caught, but it was clear it wasn’t enough as he had huge trouble concentrating on morning routines due to fatigue, and even got scolded by Sergeant Peppah for his struggles in standing upright. Since Martinez was busy and out of the base when he first checked his barracks, he killed time in the gym and comforted himself with the thought of jumping back in bed next evening and receiving the peaceful sleep he’d been previously denied, with the drug package being someone else’s problem by then.

Most of the confidence was still intact at noon, when he returned to Martinez’s office to find the asshat sitting right there, phone in hand, looking busy – though as soon as he saw Vic walk in, he was quick to end the call for the sake of having a chat with his new “favorite” soldier.
“Look, I gotta go, the cavalry just turned up. OK, bye. Corporal, what can I do for you?”
“Listen, Jerry, you gotta get rid of that stuff. It’s making me nervous. I’m not into drugs, and I don’t...”
“Chill the f*ck out, my friend.” Martinez was only mildly annoyed – and patronizing, as usual. “You’re really getting on my nerves. Besides, who are you gonna get in trouble with? I’m your superior officer, and you told me you needed the money.”
“I do need the money.” Vic admitted.
“Uh-huh. But you don’t like drugs?”
“I don’t think they’re a good scene.”
“Me neither. But look, Vic...” Martinez stood up and tried putting a hand on his shoulder, only to be declined. “I assure you, it won’t be much longer now. As soon as I’ve found a good buyer, I can have a man visit your barracks, get that nasty evil stash off your back, and make it somebody else’s problem altogether! You just sit tight and – guard that thing while I fulfill my own obligations.”
“It better be quick then.”
“Absolutely. Now then, Corporal, going back to our discussion about scenes...” Martinez jumped down into his chair again, spinning around in a circle. “How about guns, huh? They don’t give you a moral problem, I mean?”
“No.” Admitting that was probably a mistake...
“Good, ‘cause I know a guy who can sell all the guns we can get him, which is, trust me, quite a lot.”
Should’ve known. “I don’t know, Sergeant. This is getting heavy.” Vic was just about on the verge of leaving at this point, not sure why to bother anymore.
“Now, now, Corporal. Think about that a bit further. You want to stick to this boring, but honest job, and take forever to make the money you need… or be a good kid, help my contact out, and gain enough to cure your sick mother of that terrible addiction?”

Was this another case of emotional blackmail? As much as Vic wanted to insist on declining, the offer felt almost too good not to miss... except for the little detail about that useless asshole having escaped from rehab twice already. Perhaps with the funds Martinez had promised him, he could have Janet shipped off to some high security facility, then use some loophole to get out of this deal and make an honest living for himself, and himself only...
“What do you need done?” he asked tiredly.
“Wonderful! Knew you had it in you. Though, sincerely speaking, I’m not fully certain. I hear Phil’s got issues with some competition in the gun running market, but it absolutely should be nothing to worry about. Just some petty little biker thugs who feed off the community’s fears.”
Oh, how f*cking great. “Where do I find this ‘Phil’ guy?”
“Right over... there.” Martinez laid out a map of the immediate area, pointing out some compound to the northwest of Little Haiti. “Take my bike again if you need it. No worries if it gets wrecked, I can always buy another one... oh, and in your position, I’d use that wooden bridge to the east to get there quicker, before the next storm sweeps it away.”
“I’ll do it... you just get that package of mine sorted. Seriously.”
“What is that? A soldier ordering his superior around? How outrageous!” Vic couldn’t tell if Martinez was being sarcastic this time or not.
“OK, whatever... I’ll see you around, Sarge.” Vic saluted him as he was about to leave.
“Didn’t I mention last time I’m not an officer? No need to salute – not that I’d be offended one bit that you regard me this highly, of course.”
“Yeah, I could salute you a bit differently if that’s how you want it.”
“No need for that. Oh, and almost forgot, my condolences are with you.” Martinez said, if not a bit dismissively.
“What condolences?”
“Are you still here? I thought my recent orders stated otherwise...”

Vic was much obliged to head on his way, though Martinez’s recent behavior kept confusing him more and more by each of his comments. Shortly before exiting the room, Vic noticed the sergeant urgently reaching for something in his drawers – maybe it was for the best if he didn’t know what that was.

Getting on Martinez’s Streetfighter, he again cursed himself for getting even deeper into the sh*t than he ever should have. He also felt bothered by the fact that despite all these illegal activities, he was still much too honest for his own good regarding the drugs, not being able to bring himself to sneak them under someone else’s bed, make it their problem instead of his... it was as if Vic’s inner voice of some kind was ordering him not to ruin someone else’s life permanently just because he himself made a stupid choice.

Heading down the road to the bridge, Vic had such an amazing idea midway through that he came to a dead stop all of a sudden, moving aside so the impatient traffic could flow through. Martinez probably wasn’t very serious or urgent regarding his search for a buyer, but Vic could massively speed up the process by getting one on the line and arrange a deal right now! His hands trembled as he dug his phone out, dialing a number that he’d grown to remember from memory even though he’d had no reason to call it for a good while now.

The tension he felt while waiting for a response quickly turned into irritation with each second that passed, the regular dialing tones stressing him out as he already tried coming up with rational explanations for why his brother wasn’t picking up. Had Vic done something to piss him off? Was choosing a career in the military something that greaseball prick would find offensive?
“Come on, Lance, you sh*thead.” Vic swore, hanging up the call seconds later when nothing still came out of the other end. Why did it always feel like the troublemaker called him up (or used to, at least) in the most inconvenient times, and now that his services were finally needed, he had the courtesy to be busy?
“F*ck that bastard.” Vic placed the phone back in his pocket, now pondering if Lance still had his old pager he could use as an alternative communications device. Those things were starting to go out of fashion now that mobile phones flooded the market, but Vic often found use for his, particularly at times when he didn’t feel like straight up talking to another person. Since he figured it was better to be safe than sorry, he grabbed the pager and wrote the clearest message he could think of.
I just called you to no avail, bro – where are you? I might have a proposition...

Happy enough with how it came out, Vic got back on the road and put the thought about Lance and Pete at the back of his head now, instead fully focusing on what Martinez’s gun-running friend had to offer. Who knew, maybe this partnership with a gun runner would turn out better than expected, and they’d become lifelong friends who shared a secret disdain for Martinez... OK, that was wishful thinking at its finest.

Going through the Little Haiti area for the first time in a while, Vic didn’t expect anything too fancy from Phil’s place, considering the run-down, generally filthy state of the neighborhood struggling with poverty and crime issues, and yet he still somehow was disappointed by the compound’s appearance as he arrived. Debris ranging from small bits of rubbish to destroyed cars littered the whole area, the walls of the small hangar and shacks were rusting away, and a bit further in to the compound stood a trailer barely big enough to accommodate one person. The hostile vibe of the area wasn’t helped either by the ominous sign that he almost stumbled across by accident, it having been a bit concealed from sight.


Vic’s heart began pounding as he took slow but confident steps around the area, keeping his gun well hidden to appear a non-threat, and checking every nook and cranny to ensure he wouldn’t take the likely paranoid owner by surprise. A peek to the hangar revealed a Walton and a Patriot, the latter a bit of an odd choice considering he had never seen anyone but the military drive them. Not that he’d question it if he ever found himself staring down the barrel of Phil’s gun...

Finding nothing else in the hangar (except a red balloon perched on the ceiling that looked a bit out of place), Vic walked over to the trailer next, taking loud steps on purpose to certainly announce his presence if it wasn’t clear yet. Nervously checking that the coast was clear, he peeked inside through the wide open door without stepping over the threshold, and was met with the sight of one of the most cramped living areas he’d ever seen – it had gone to the point where the TV had to lay on top of the kitchen counter in lack of a better spot. Above it was a thoroughly unguarded gun rack, filled with multiple different weaponry ready to be picked up and loaded within mere seconds... would the gun runner leave them accessible out in the open like this if he wasn’t around? Vic guessed there was something more to be seen in the back room that was mainly obscured by the wall, but he didn’t think it was a very good idea to stumble inside someone’s home without being at least invited first...

Something pointy was pushed up against his back while he stood there peeking at the trailer – if not for his military training, who knew how badly Vic would’ve panicked? Instead, he slowly put his hands up without needing to be told so, once again trying to make it clear he wasn’t a dangerous intruder...
“I just got the blood of the last snoopin’ Angel off my hands, boy. If I was you, I woulda just done what the signs say an’ leave this independent business alone...” a somewhat stammering, but calm voice said to him. Vic tried turning his head around to see the face of the man, only to have the double-barreled shotgun pressed harder against him – a clear sign that was a no-no.
“Look, man, Mar---“ he tried to explain.
“Did I give permission to speak yet? You only speak when I want you to answer a question... now, back off from there – slooowly. Move over there – to the left.”

Vic obeyed the orders without resistance as Phil guided him all the way towards the back wall of the compound, hopefully not with imminent execution in mind.
“F*cking AoD scum yet again... I know your kind, y’know. Could hear that bike from a mile away, you tryin’ to make me deaf or something?”
“Actually I---“
“That ain’t the kinda question I wanted answered, smartass. Weird though – I didn’t think you boys took in black members. Not with that racial supremacy and all that other bullsh*t... or was it the White Stallionz? Ah, nevermind, pieces of sh*t, that’s what both you biker gangs are. Should go to war more often – wipe each other off this goddamn map, you hear me? There’s only so much I can do myself before cops get suspicious...”

Phil sat Vic down on a rusty box full of splinters that luckily didn’t bother him through the thick army pants, enabling the two to get a good look at each other for the first time. Vic saw just what he expected – a drunken mess of a man who still would’ve had a bunch of good years in him if not for the presumed addiction. He couldn’t even properly walk straight forward, stumbling around like a particularly clumsy penguin while looking thoughtful, almost as if he’d forgotten about what he was supposed to interrogate him about. He had better remember pretty soon, for Vic wasn’t in the mood to be killed without delay only because of Phil’s faulty memory.

“So – what does Mitch Baker think he’s gonna achieve from all this?” he blurted out after an awfully long pause that involved pointing the shotgun at random directions. “Ain’t he learned yet that I only get a whole lotta more dangerous when these – these invasions make me schiz out?”
“Mitch who?”
“Don’t play dumb wit’ me, little scumbag!” Phil didn’t threaten him with a gun, but did get awfully close to his face, the smell of his breath being worse torture for Vic than anything else yet. “My brother-in-law likes to bludgeon the sh*t outta idiots who play dumb... but no, I think that’s a bit too nice. Got a better idea, I’m gonna give you a shotgun suppository...”

Phil grabbed Vic again and pulled him up. Whatever a “shotgun suppository” meant in this context, Vic wasn’t going to learn that the hard way, and resisted for the first time since getting caught, pushing the shotgun away from him just as Phil was about to forcefully turn him around. Needless to say, the drunkard fired immediately, only for the bullets to fly clean into the skies, away from any people. As unsuccessful as it was, Phil was still left admiring the shot while laughing maniacally – Vic took the good opportunity to take the shotgun away and make some safe distance.

“Phil. Listen up.” It was surprisingly hard to get the drunk’s attention back to him, now that he finally wanted it. “Sergeant Jerry Martinez – that’s who sent me. Ring any bells?”
“Whuh? Jerry...?” The expression Phil had was a telltale sign that he just now realized he’d come incredibly close to a nasty f*ck-up.
“That’s right. It’s his bike I showed up with.” Vic added, nodding towards the Streetfighter.
“Well – why didn’t you say so?”
“Beats me.” He sighed. “Look, I came here because Jerry said you have work – but if you’re just gonna spend all day drinking and being miserable, I’m just gonna---“
“Now hold up back there, friend. If your safety and privacy was bein’ threatened by crazy machos in leather jackets all the time, you’d make these... uhh, precautions too. Though I admit, *sniff* you don’t actually smell like a biker...”
Vic wasn’t made too comfortable by Phil getting up close again. “Great, we finished with the checks now? What do you need done?”
“Patience, my brother. Since you showed this soon, we got plenty of hours to talk this through. Come inside, I’ll get you a drink.” Phil said, arm outstretched to the trailer’s entrance.
“Just no alcohol, please.”
“That’s cool, you look a bit tired anyway, so lemme brew some hot coffee...”

While making himself at home in the trailer, Vic eventually learned – in the midst of Phil’s ramblings about everything else that came to his mind – about the Angels of Death’s operations in the city, and how Phil had been planning on intercepting one of their gun vans: a mission where the “cavalry”, as Martinez put it, would play a crucial part. Phil often liked to use two of his quiet but efficient friends as backup, but if his story was to be believed, they were “still having a hangover of their lives after that Cuban bachelor party”.

When all the details about the mission at hand were cleared up, he brought up a family album that he insisted he share with Vic right at that very moment. Phil was particularly talented at crafting up a background story about every picture he pointed out even if some of them blatantly made no sense – Vic politely listened, though, as he had a feeling Cassidy didn’t have a whole lot of proper friends to enjoy life with, and he himself didn’t get to see many people outside the army base, the few friends he had in the service being some awfully one-dimensional company. The album grossly reminded Vic that he wasn’t the only person out there with a mess of a family – not only was Phil’s dad the type of raging alcoholic that made the gun runner look religiously sober, but one of his sisters had a clear eating problem, and the other – well, looked alright, but Vic could sense an unsettling correlation between her aggressive-looking redneck husband and a black eye that she had in one of the most recent photos. Phil oddly didn’t seem to make the same connection, instead praising the man – Marty J. Williams, that was his name – for being one of the few people in the city save for Martinez to look after his one-man operation.
“Just don’t know how long that’ll be enough, man. Vice City’s getting too dangerous for us freelancers... no going around that.” He subsequently took a long sip from his massive stoup.
“Yeah, I’ve heard that before...” Vic sympathized.
“It just gets more ridiculous the farther you get from my place. Don’t even get me started on the control struggle at Vice Beach – wait, Vic, man, you ain’t crying for my sake, are ya?”

Vic wiped his eyes, choosing not to mention that they were watering because of the fumes coming from whatever was brewing in the same room as they spoke. He subtly changed the topic back to the local gangs, figuring that if he and Phil were to have a long-term partnership, he’d better know his way around. Marty’s “Trailer Park Mafia” (Vic couldn’t suppress the imminent laugh) had indeed done lucrative trade with Phil for some time now, but ever since he had moved his operations to northern Little Haiti, their supply lines were not only under threat from the Angels, but the local posse made up mostly of disenfranchised Haitian youth, known for the type of viciousness that put the bikers and rednecks to shame any day of the week. The silver lining of the cloud was that the similarly formed Cuban gang, one known as Los Cabrones (Vic disguised this chuckle by pretending to choke on the drink) got along a lot better with Marty’s gang, and by extension Phil as well, though manpower-wise, they were being smoked by the Haitians.

“Oh, man – I’d have tons-a stories to tell about Umberto Robina, the guy barking all their orders – but time flies like a damn fighter jet, so we better get on the move.” Phil stood up first, gathering the dishes maybe with a bit too much haste, and led Vic back outside, making a beeline for the hangar.
“You drive the Walton, man.” he added when it was time to choose a car. “A military jeep might arouse too much suspicion now, huh? Though *burp* you are in the service, so...”
“Let’s just stick with your first option. By the way, what’s up with the balloon?” Vic inquired, making himself as comfortable as possible in the pick-up.
“Ah, just some stupid kids probably left it there when playing in the wrong yard. It’s funny though, I tried shootin’ it once, just for target practice, but the little sh*t kept dodgin’ all over the place!”
“Oh, sure... try laying off the booze some time, man. Might help your aim.”

They headed for the supposed rendezvous point, Vic spotting some of the Haitian gangsters along the way occupying one part of the sidewalk and acting like they owned the place. He was promptly warned by Phil never to lock eyes with them or even acknowledge their presence, especially if moving alone. He brushed it off with confidence, knowing that as long as things went his way, he wouldn’t have to get involved in these gang wars often enough to gain any persistent enemies with a vendetta against him.

The two of them pulled up on a quiet spot, sitting within eyesight of a vacant lot near the print works, where a number of Angels were burning rubber with their motorcycles and generally having fun, their guns not having arrived yet.
“The plan’s clear, right? I *burp* hope I explained it all back there.”
“I got you, Phil. When the Burrito shows, we do a little drive-by, you snatch it, I escort you. I just don’t know if it’s a good idea to put your drunk ass behind a wheel...”
“Whoa, whoa, relax, man. I’m used to driving with – uhh, little obstructions.”
“Whatever, just don’t expect me to bail you out if you run someone down.” Vic lamented.
“Jerry’ll probably do that anyway, but thanks for carin’.”
“Don’t mention it. How’d you and Martinez find each other anyway? He always been this bent?”
Phil let out another one of his laughs that made him sound like he was middle-aged already. “Jerry’s been up to a lotta sh*t... only honest work he ever did in his life was the bare minimum that’d get him to sergeant, I tell you that. I used to be in the service, that’s how I met him, but eh – that’s another way too long a story for now. What about you though?” He once again paused to drink, this time from a flask he’d conveniently brought along. “You seem honest. Not the kinda type Jerry’d appreciate much.”
“It’s a bit of a pathetic tale that just involves getting caught up in the wrong kinda sh*t, but that don’t mean I ain’t got experience handling all this gun running stuff...”
“Speak of the devil, look. It’s our van, right on schedule.” Phil pointed at the yellow Burrito making a turn to the bikers’ general direction and stopping just about in the middle of them.
“Go time?” Vic asked, foot just about to step on the pedal.
“Not yet, wait for ‘em to get out first, and then we’re – GO!”

With both of the van’s occupants shutting the doors behind them as they stepped down onto the pavement, Vic and Phil rushed into the scene, the former crashing right into two bikes and sending their riders flying up in the air, and the latter firing a bit all over the place, but managing at least the few important hits on the gun van’s former driver, whose surprised expression was the last the dynamic duo saw of him before he fell right behind a bike and out of sight. Vic swung around to the other side of the van, Phil’s next long burst finishing off the surprise attack that went just according to expectations. Only one Angel was able to get some shots that struck the Walton’s front fender – Phil got out of the truck before Vic even brought it to a stop, and landed some more shots on the fallen Angel’s body to show his outrage.
“I just had the old girl fixed up last week, bitches!” he cried while landing shots and kicks at him simultaneously.
“Don’t waste all your ammo now, man.” Vic said.
Phil raised his smoking gun up to head level. “HAH! I’ve got plenty more where they came from... but maybe his brothers will enjoy ‘em a little more. Let’s check the load.”

It was as if Christmas had come early for Phil as he celebrated the sight at the back of the van, one that he simply described as “good for taking over a small country”. Vic just nodded quickly without paying a whole lot of attention, while humming along to “Balls to the Wall” blaring out of the radio, with increased volume now that Phil was outside.
“They got a car phone in this thing, we might wanna take advantage and stay in contact...” Phil decided after taking one look at the Burrito’s interior; once Vic had written down his number, the journey could finally commence, though he found it a bit awkward to drive while holding the cell. Definitely not a good idea for casual driving, he figured, following Phil through some of the trashier roads of the district. It wasn’t the quickest way – or safest, if the Haitians took interest – but running into an Angel group in formation was too likely if they just used the convenient Bayshore Avenue, and those guys often packed sawn-off shotguns that tore off the whole rear end of Phil’s old Perennial, as he told.

“This is almost goin’ too easy. You always prevail like this?” Vic spoke up when they were only a few more blocks away from the safety of Phil’s compound.
“Ever since I got guys scouting the streets, sure. Like, check this out, this load right here’s a weak point, nothin’ like that convoy that passed through a few days ago... woulda taken a band of professional killers to break through that defence, sorta like the – whoa! Turn around, turn around!”
“What the---“
“Angel van! They’ve got smarter than I thought!” Phil rambled hectically, turning his own van around in a bit of a cramped space as soon as the Angels burst out from behind the corner, just one turn away from his place.
“So now what? We take a long way around?” Vic asked, keeping up to his best ability. The Walton’s age became prominent as he tried to loop it around – he had to turn and reverse so often that the traffic got impatient, and the sound of multiple horns at once made him feel like going crazy. At least when they were on their way again, Vic was between Phil and the threatening other van.
“Do they know where you live?” he asked now that Phil picked up the pace and swerved through numerous side roads.
“Not exactly – but they got suspicions, and that’s bad enough for me. Hell, that’s why I leave no witnesses if they do stumble on my land... you nearly got unlucky.”
“I don’t need to be reminded. What if they do know, and are settin’ up a trap as we speak?”
“Then I’ll get pretty f*cking angry and we shoot ‘em up. Like this one time when their lieutenant tried to---“
“Hold on a sec, Phil. Gosh, f*ck!” Vic barely kept the truck under control and on Phil’s tail, weaving through a tight space between two erratic drivers as he spoke. “I’m getting another call, and it’s distracting the sh*t outta me. I’m gonna see what it is, so – you just lead the way!”

On the next straight stretch, Vic put an end to the ear-torture caused by his uncomfortably loud ringtone he’d forgotten to change long ago. “Who the f*ck is this? I’m in a bit of a situation here!”
The voice on the other end was quiet and reserved. “Hey, Vic. You left a message...”
“Lance? About time your lazy ass got around to calling me back!”
“Oh, nice to hear from you too. Real glad you’re still the same old yourself.”
“Well, you clearly ain’t. What happened to the Lance who was always all about the glamor, taking everything ‘easy’ when people wanted him dead left and right? You sound like you finally got hit by some kinda reality check.” Vic lamented, checking his surroundings as he spoke. The hostile van was nowhere to be seen, but it had been replaced by a couple of Angels on motorcycles now closing in on their location – he counted three bikes, all of whom looked like they were packed with an accompanying passenger too for good measure.
“Funny you should say that. Look, bro, I dunno if you even care anymore, but I got really bad news, and I suppose there ain’t anyone else that could break it to you, so---“
“Hang on there, Lance! Instead of getting all selfish on me again, why won’t you listen to why I called in the first place? Don’t ask how or why, but I’m sittin