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City Of Lies is a Fanmade Novel made by Mokrie Dela and you need no more information as the whole story is below.

Cover Made By MegaHyperNova!

Chapter One: A Shared Sorrow

Niko stood, staring straight down. Rain tricked down his face, dropping off the tip of his nose with a slight tickle, but he ignored it. His clothes were soaked - the brown leather raincoat doing a poor job of keeping the precipitation out. He lifted a hand and wiped his face with his palm in a futile effort to dry it. Within seconds it was wet again. He sighed, and lamented his cousin's absence. It was all his fault. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a bottle of Vodka - the same brand that the cousins had found in the smashed bar back in the old country. Niko opened the bottle, throwing the lid on the floor, and took a mouthful. He swallowed hard, and poured some vodka onto the ground. Even in the pitter-patter of the rain, Niko could hear the trickle as the vodka reached the dirt. He took another sip and crouched down, emptying the bottle. Then he stood and took a step back. "Happy birthday cousin." He said, his voice broken. "I'm sorry I wasn't a better cousin." He held the bottle up in a toast, then turned away, heading to his car - the last of Roman's original cabs and the only thing of Roman's he had left, apart from the apartment. Mallorie inherited the business. He sat in the car's driver's seat for a moment and took a few deep breaths. Then he drove home - to the apartment Roman had bought almost two years ago.

Niko didn't notice the gray Washington following him.

Life is sh*t, Johnny said to himself. He sat in his trailer in the damned trailer park, looking out the window at what his life had become. For a time it was good. He had the brotherhood, but that was taken from him. He had nothing left, so he left town. Now he was alone, working in a hellhole of a bar. Jim's wife had met someone new, his weekly email told him. Angus was the only person from his old life that he still spoke to, and he kept Johnny up to date on the basics. Clay was hitting the bars and clubs, intent on 'sewing his goddamned seed,' and working in a bike repair shop in Bohan. Terry worked security in some strip club. As for Ashley - who gives a f*ck? Johnny went outside, into the morning sun and stood there for a minute. Then he heard his phone ring. He sighed and went back inside. It took him a minute to find the cell in amongst the mess that he lived in. He contemplated not answering - after all it's probably just Michael, wanting to give him another goddamned lecture about his life. Ever since he returned from the middle east he'd had this holier-than-thou attitude that reminded Johnny of Billy. He cursed under his breath and answered the phone. "Hello Johnny." The voice spoke softly. "Angus." "How's it going?" "Five star hotels, sex drugs and rock 'n' f*cking roll." "Same old Johnny." Johnny frowned. There was something in his friend's voice. Firstly he rarely phoned, and second, he sounded worried. "What's wrong brother?" He asked. "Has Ashley's habit finally killed her?" "No." There was a pause. "It's your brother." Johnny sat on his bed, which squeaked in protest. "He's dead, Johnny." Johnny blinked. "F*cking Iraqis..." He whispered. "No Johnny. It was some pair of gangsters." Johnny let out a pained sigh.

An hour later he stood at the storage garage several miles away. He opened the door and walked inside. He stood for a moment then pulled the gray material aside. His Hexer stood winking in the semi-dark.

Chapter Two: A Rude Awakening

Niko had had a few drinks on his own in the bar down the street, then stumbled back to his apartment, finally crashing on his bed. He woke up with a start, a noise bringing him crashing to reality. A shadow crept across the wall, mirrored on the loft windows. Niko sighed, and began to sit up. Suddenly a hand slapped down on his shoulder, pinning him on his bed. A huge man in a balaclava stood, his second ogre-like hand coming down on Niko's other shoulder. Then a second, skinnier man appeared. His hand came up, a knife held in a gloved hand. Niko threw his foot up, hitting the man's hand. The knife fell, cutting Niko's foot on its way down. The ogre turned his head and whispered something in a harsh tone to his companion. Niko snaked his way from the man's grip, throwing a knee to his groin. The ogre stepped back, smashing into a canvas on the wall. The skinny man reached for something and, a second later, Niko heard the [i]click-whoosh[/i] as a bullet bore into the wall, just an inch from his ear. Niko jumped off of the bed and bull-rushed the ogre, slamming him into the wall. Skinny man fired again, missing. Niko dodged to his left, and ducked behind the wall behind his bed. Ogre followed, pulling his own gun. Niko grabbed a bottle of wine from the rack and pinned himself against the wall. Ogre rushed round the corner, gun leading. Niko reached out, grabbing the man's wrist, and swung the wine bottle at the man's head. Ogre went down, hard, and Niko picked up the gun. He peeked round the corner and saw the skinny man cautiously approaching. Niko didn't waste a second. He stepped out, crouched and fired. The skinny man anticipated Niko's move and dodged, disappearing into the lounge area. Niko rushed forward, gun leading, chasing the gunman. The gunman shouted something, but Niko couldn't figure out what. He jumped round the dividing wall and brought his gun up, seeking out the gunman. He saw the skinny man disappear through the loft's front door. A second later Ogre followed. Niko stood there for a moment in shock. Then he regained his composure, got dressed then left his apartment, sneaking out of the back door into the alley and heading to the subway station. He took the train to Vauxite, then caught a cab to the internet cafe on Frankfurt. Niko then cut through the alley and, certain he hadn't been followed, entered the apartment, heading to the roof. He jumped across to the next building and entered his loft.

Niko spent ten minutes pacing his loft, trying to work out what the hell just happened. Someone just tried to kill me, he thought. But who? And why? He was about to leave and head to the office by Easton station, to see if that government guy could help when his phone rang.

Unknown Number

Niko answered. "Hello Niko." An electronically distorted voice said. "Who's this?" Niko asked. "That's not important. What is important is that a contract has been taken out on you." "What!?" "I can't tell you who, or why, but someone's planning on killing you..." "I know. They just tried." "Sh*t." The voice sounded frustrated, even behind the electronic voice distortion. "They're quicker then i thought. Okay it's alright. Where are you now?" "You think I'm going to tell you?" Niko could almost hear an electronic chuckle. "Of course not. You'd disappoint me if you did. I hope you're not still at your place on Albany?" "No." "Good. Find a place to lay low, and don't let anyone know your location. Take lengths to keep it hidden." The voice spent a few minutes giving tips of what they called counter-surveillance. "How do you know all this!?" Niko demanded. "What the hell is going on?" "Not now Niko." "How do you know me?" "I can't say. Just trust me?" "Why?" "Because I am the only person who can keep you alive." Niko kicked at a lamp by the window, muttering a Serbian obscenity. The voice suggested he calmed down. "What the hell do you want?" He snapped. "For you to do a few jobs for us." "Why? Who are you?" "We've been through that. A few jobs, and that's it. Midday tomorrow, head to Middle Park. Enter the men's toilets, and go to the stall on the far left. Look in the Cistern." With that, the call ended. Niko threw the phone on the couch and swore.

Johnny's return to Liberty City was severely underwhelming. It had been raining - the roads where glossy, reflecting the lights like a greasy mirror, but Johnny had managed to dodge the showers. It was 9 PM, and he turned off of the freeway and found the cafe's parking lot. Terry and Clay were already there, standing by their bikes. Johnny pulled up alongside them, and approached. They shook hands. "It's been a long time brother." Terry said soberly. Johnny simply nodded. "I'm sorry..." Clay consoled. Again Johnny nodded. "So," Terry stepped forward. "It's been a long time coming." "Yeah." Johnny said sharply. "But we will make these b*stards suffer before sending them to hell." "Amen to that." Clay said. "One more thing." Terry said, reaching into one of his bike's saddlebags. He came out with a brown paper package and handing it to Johnny. Johnny unwrapped it, dropping the paper to the floor. Staring back at him was The Lost Motorcycle Club's crest, embroidered on all-too-familiar leather. Johnny looked up and offered a nod of thanks, unable to find any words to adequately capture the moment. He put on the Jacket.

A truck drove past, and the three men looked up, each one wearing their patches. "Our president's back." Clay said with a smile." Johnny looked up. "The Lost are back." He could almost smile. Only now did he realize what had been missing from his self-exiled life.

Johnny led the men to their old clubhouse, but was shocked to see the entire block had been renovated. "City tore it down." Johnny nodded. Typical. "Our boys over in Broker have agreed to give us some of their men. Not all of them, but enough to kick some serious ass." Johnny turned to Clay. "What about the AOD deadbeats?" Terry laughed, answering Johnny's question. "Same old, same old. Some of them, honoring the treaty we had, went their own way, forming a club called The Fallen with the remainder of the Lost. Say the word and they'll be Lost MC again." Johnny nodded. "We can use their clubhouse - they use Alderney's old Casino." Johnny nodded. "Let's go there then." "Hammer down." Terry sung.

Chapter Three: Wetwork

Niko reached into the toilet's tank, picking out a water-tight plastic wallet. He opened it and pulled out the bubble wrap inside. He unraveled that to see an iFruit phone. He switched it on, to be greeted by a red circle with the number 1 by the Text Message symbol. He tapped the screen, unsure exactly how to use the device, and found a single text message, written in capitals. CALL ME it said, followed by a number. Niko did. He got the electronic voice again. "The phone's clean. Use it onlyfor talking to me. No one else. I've installed some apps on there - GPS, Poodle Earth... Grype's installed on there. It's got internet. Everything you'll need." "Need for what?" Niko asked, feeling weary. "And who are you?" "Stop asking." The voice replied with not even the faintest hint of emotion. "The GPS SatNav is set to a location. Go there. There's a silver Lokus parked in front of the Majestic. Keys are under the far left sink." The voice hung up. Niko went to the sink and felt around for the keys - in a brown padded envelope stuck to the sink by double sided tape. He took the keys and headed for the car.

The iFruit phone led him to Bohan, He parked the car underneath Windmill Station and followed the GPS to an alley behind a building that he remembered well. He once had a shoot out for that annoying pr*ck Manny here. The alley itself also held a memory - where that b*tch had stabbed him in the back. Michelle, or whatever her real name was. He stood next to the dumpster, looking around. This felt like a set up. He drew his Desert Eagle. He stood for a minute then his iFruit rang. He answered. "Inside the dumpster. Retrieve the case, then set your GPS to the following location." The voice gave him some coordinates then hung up. Niko sighed and retrieved a metal case from the dumpster. The case was silver, with that bubbly texture to it. It was about three feet long, and only a foot or two wide. He shook his head and returned to his car. He finally reached his destination - a building site not far from the airport. Niko remembered the area - a dirt track once stood here - where he chased down some biker kid for that Mafiya boss, Faustin. What was this, a trip down memory lane? Some guy's idea of a joke? Who the hell was he? He sighed. Is this what his life was? He didn't want to be a monster - he certainly never asked for any of this. He'd successfully avoided crime since finally killing Dimitri on Happiness island, but now? Who the hell was this? And what were they doing? Why him? And what was in the case? the phone buzzed again, and Niko answered it. "No questions." The voice said sharply. "Who I am, and what's going on is not important at this time. Climb the crane, and when you're up there, open the case. Climb over to the counterweight and look towards the airport. You'll see a man in a white suit exit the terminal - don't worry there's a long range zoom. He will be flanked by two men - both heavy set with shaved heads, in leather coats. The target has white hair, and spectacles. He also has a fu manchu style beard. Eliminate him, and him, alone - ignore the bodyguards - then drive back to the Majestic. Leave the car there, with the rifle in the trunk and leave the area. Don't forget to use the plug." Before Niko could reply, the caller hung up. Who the hell are you? Niko wondered, toying with the idea to walk away. He climbed the crane and followed the instructions. He unpacked what he realized now was obviously a high powered sniper rifle, complete with earplugs. He took a stable position by the counterweight, then brought the rifle up, looking through the sights. He zoomed in and, despite the airport terminal being half a mile away, got a close up of the terminal. He waited five minutes before he spotted the man.

The white suit was blinding. The man came out with two men - just as the voice said. Niko took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger gently. He expected to hear the rifle crack, but instead he heard what sounded like a tank firing. The recoil almost made him lose his balance, but he corrected for it. Through the sights, Niko saw the man's suit instantly turn red, as his head literally exploded. The two body guards were covered in brain matter and blood, and people started running. Niko hurriedly replaced the sniper in it's case, and returned to the car. He rushed off, turning onto the Broker/Dukes expressway and heading into the city. He parked the car and made his way to the subway. His phone rang. "What the hell was that!?" Niko demanded, trying to keep his voice quiet. "A Fifty Caliber Sniper Rifle." The voice replied. "The man was called Hector Rodriguez. Look him up on the LCPD Database if you want. He's an arms dealer, on his way to sell merchandise to a contact who wants to... lets say, bad things. You did a good thing. I'll be in contact soon. Keep your head down. The men who want to kill you are still out there." The signal began to degrade as he reached the platform. "What the-" "Niko, trust me. You will take them men out. Just not yet." The voice hung up again. Niko swore and stepped onto a train.

Johnny couldn't sleep. He had too many questions running through his head. Who killed Michael? What was Michael doing back in Liberty City? Why did it hurt so much? How was he going to find the a*sholes that killed him? He found himself running through the names of his late brothers. Michael, Jim, Billy, Brian - their faces, along with a mental image of their needless deaths, playing in his mind like an old movie. How did things get so f*cked up? He wondered how many friends he had left. Sure, Terry Clay and Angus were true, loyal, but they could never refill the hole that Jim had left. Then there was Ashley, who he had loved with all of his being. But what about himself? What kind of a brother was he? The only words he'd shared with Michael were argumentative. How was he better then anyone else? F*ck this sh*t. Johnny said to himself. I'm going for a ride. And so Johnny took the one thing that had never let him down - through thick and thin, come rain or shine - and began cruising the streets. He found himself outside the bowling alley, where Jim loved to play air-hockey. A bunch of bikers playing air-hockey, how pathetic. Johnny's face broke into a weak smile. "I could really do with you being around now Fitz." He said to himself, trying to reach out beyond the grave. He carried on down Union Drive, eventually stopping outside the Libertonian. That greaseball f*ck Ray. Johnny still felt the rage when he heard the piece of sh*t was dead - he should have ended that backstabber's life. But that snake got what was coming to him. Johnny dismounted and walked up to a hot dog vendor. It wasn't even 5 AM, but these guys were up and doing business. The sun wasn't even up. He took a bite of the sausage, a tasteless, rubbery piece of meat, and began to walk back to his bike. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw it. Nothing spectacular, just an awning over a door. A memory awoke in his head, and with it a name. Stubbs. Johnny tossed the hot dog to the floor and crossed the road. The gentlemen's club wasn't open for another hour. Johnny waited.

Stubbs turned up at about ten. Johnny saw him from across the street, where he sat on a bench, his fourth cup of coffee in his hand. Buzzing with caffeine but drained, both physically and mentally, Johnny stood and stepped into the road. A car horn screamed, throwing Johnny off balance. He fell back, his hand breaking his fall. "Get out of the way bro!" A hispanic called leaning out of the window. He looked vaguely familiar, but Johnny couldn't place the face. He didn't respond though, just stood and crossed the road.

Stubbs was sitting reading the paper. Johnny walked in, to be greeted by a man in a suit. "I want to talk to Stubbs." Johnny said. The man asked if he was expected, but Johnny was too sleep deprived to play along. He grabbed the man, pulling him toward him, knocking the clipboard off of the podium. "Stay out of my way or die." Johnny barged past the Maître d' or whatever the hell this guy was and approached Stubbs Congressman Thomas Stubbs III clocked him and stood. It took almost ten seconds but finally the old man's memory kicked in. "Johnny?" "Good you remember me." "I heard you were dead!" "That would be my brother." "Ah." Stubbs set aside his paper, and approached. "I'm so sorry to hear that." "Yeah." Johnny growled. "Death of a family member is always hard to swallow. I wasn't lucky enough to get an inheritance." Stubbs' face dropped. "So that's why you're here is it? Blackmail?" Johnny shook his head. "I want your help." Stubbs raised an eyebrow as a security guard appeared. He waved him down. "Let's go somewhere quieter." Johnny offered a sharp nod. "No saunas or massage parlors." Stubbs laughed. They ended up in a small salle. A rack of fencing swords stood at one end, a huge mirror at the other. "What do you need?" "To find out who killed him." Stubbs nodded. "And how do you expect me to help?" Johnny shrugged. "You gotta start somewhere." Stubbs smiled and began to pace the room. "Do you fence-?" He caught himself mid sentence. "No of course you don't." "He was killed in this city. I don't know why he was even here." "And you want me to find out..." "He was in the army. Why would he be back in the States?" "Our boys overseas not allowed to come home now Johnny? Maybe he was visiting you, or applying for a position on the BAWSAQ... What do you want me to do?" "Find out who killed him. That's all." "Ah. So it's a simple case of revenge, is it? Well I'll try to find out what I can, but I'm thinking maybe you've got the wrong man for the job." "I don't keep company with many cops or feds. A filthy lying polictian is the closest i can get." Stubbs laughed. "I always liked you Johnny." "Yeah," Johnny growled dismissively. "It was a couple of thugs I'm told. A friend told me." "And you're thinking they're in Liberty City." "They better be." Stubbs nodded. "Okay, Johnny. I'll see what I can do. But you'll have to do something for me." Johnny sighed. "One thing, and one thing only - and no killing your family members." "Oh heavens no. Nothing like that." "Okay, but I'm not doing anything until you've come through." Stubbs, seeing the steely look in Johnny's eye, nodded and handed Johnny his number, stating that it's 'a new one.' Johnny left, went back to the old casino, and finally slept.

He woke mid afternoon. He could hear muffled hard rock music and an out of place jingle. It took him a moment to realize his phone was going off. Johnny, still in his clothes, fumbled around and grabbed his phone. It was Stubbs. "Someone up there must be smiling on you." He said. "I managed to find out about your brother. The LCPD had footage from a CCTV camera from the time your brother died. It shows him, followed by two men, go into an car park entrance. The men came back out in under a minute. They managed to identify the suspect, and are going to take him down in the morning. I'll send you a picture of him. Find him, and do whatever you have to do - if you can get hold of a police vehicle, you may be able to locate him through their database. I couldn't get his location. Just remember. You didn't get this from me. I'll recall the favor sometime soon old boy." "Thanks, I guess." "Don't mention it Johnny." Stubbs ended the call and a moment later Johnny received a text message. Then he got up, and headed outside.

Finding a cop car was a whole lot easier then you'd expect. Johnny found a pay phone and dialed 911, citing a domestic disturbance in an apartment. Sure enough, the police turned up and disappeared into the building. Johnny stole the car. He parked it a few blocks away, in a back street, and connected his phone to the Police computer. A minute later he had a match. Johnny set his jaw and abandoned the car.

Chapter Four: Clash of the Titans

Niko had got another call. Whoever the hell it was on the other end, behind the distorted voice, told him where he could find the two men that had tried to kill him. Niko wasted no time. He'd immediately phoned Jacob, and met him on charge island. "Irie Niko." The Rastafarian said, taking his friends hand. "I got the guns. Yo' want backup on dis run?" His English had improved over the last year or so, as had Niko's. "No, that's okay Jacob." Niko said, taking the stubby shotgun, an MP5, and a few grenades. "Thank you very much for the guns." "No problem Niko. No problem. We got each other's backs covered, seen?" Niko nodded. "Yo' need any back up, gimme a bell. I'll be ready if yo' need help against he babylon." Niko nodded again, and the two shook hands.

Soon, in a car stolen from the Airport's long term parking lot, Niko sat parked across the street from a liquor store. He watched the shop front - The Voice had told him it was a front for an illegal gambling den that his would-be assassins like to frequent. The irony was not lost on him. He saw a gray Washington pull up and park in front of the store. Ogre stepped out and went inside. Niko, trusting The Voice's word, waited for the skinny runt to turn up. Sure enough, he did, riding a white Bati 1000 motorcycle. The guy even wore white motorcycle leathers. Niko waited until he went inside, then got out of the car and headed for the alley.

Johnny had written the address of Micheal's apparent murderer on the back of his hand. Stubbs had been unable to get a photo of both faces, but the face that Johnny had committed to his memory apparently belonged to a Lyle Greenhorn. He had a large head, his hair shaved, and sported an un-stylish goatee. He looked just like your typical thug - big beefy and ugly. Soon to be dead. He'd parked his bike in a back street behind a dumpster, and walked the rest of the way. Terry had come through, showing that he was indeed a true brother. How could he have any doubts? He'd gotten a sawn-off shotgun and an automatic machine-pistol, along with a couple of pipe bombs. Johnny also wore some body armor under his jacket. He found the place and checked the address. Everything checked out.

Johnny took a breath, allowed Micheal's face to flash through his mind's eye, then kicked the door open.

Niko had crept in through the back door, knocking a guy out with the butt of his gun, and moved through what looked like a kitchen. He risked a peek through one of two doorways, and saw a cluster of six men sitting at a card table. He saw Ogre, sitting next to a miniature refrigerator, and the skinny guy next to him. He couldn't see any guns, but he knew these guys would be armed. He withdrew for a moment, and contemplated throwing a grenade in the room. He decided against it. Perhaps he could find out who they worked for before he killed them... Then there came a loud crash from another room. There was a shout, followed by a shotgun blast.

"LYLE!" Johnny shouted at the top of his voice. "WHERE ARE YOU LYLE?!" He stepped past the body in front of him, ignoring the almost black blood that rushed from the torso. He lifted his gun up to the door separating the shop from the backrooms and fired. Then he quickly reloaded.

Niko jumped out of cover, his MP5 immediately coming up for Ogre and Skinny. A shot to the leg, maybe the arm. Wound them, then find out what the hell- Neither were there. Niko caught a glimpse of white disappear through a doorway, but ignored it. He had three more men in the room. Two of which had seen him. Niko brought the sub-machine gun up and fired three shots at the first man. Before the guy could even fire a single round, the bullets struck his chest and head. He fell. Then Niko aimed at the other man who was now moving for cover. He fired, but missed. The man had reached his cover.

Johnny barged through the door, and saw someone disappear up some stairs. He followed. He found himself in a small room with a single window that overlooked a room with a card table downstairs. He saw a man fall, shot, and another dive for cover. There's another shooter here. Johnny thought. Immediately he thought of Stubbs. "The motherf*cker! The man he was chasing had ran into the only other room up here. Johnny followed but immediately regretted it. The man had picked up an assault Shotgun, the Street Sweeper. He grinned and pulled the trigger. The sound of an angry jackhammer blasted through Johnny's ears, as he backpedaled. He reached the door and allowed himself to collapse behind the wall. The frenzy of shotgun shells drilled in the the floor, no more then an inch or two from his feet. He quickly pulled them behind cover. "AWW! WHAT'S THE MATTER!" A gravely voice called. "MOMMY CALLED YOU BACK FOR DIN-DINS?" Johnny grabbed his automatic pistol. He carefully slid it into the door way and fired, arching his hand so the bullets would span the entire room. Then he lept up, machine pistol in his left hand, sawn-off shotgun in his right. He ran through the door, spraying the room with 9mm bullets. He spotted the gravely-voiced man, scrambling for cover behind an old bed, and brought the shotgun up. The man's eyes went wide, and he dropped the gun. The man was Lyle. Johnny's jaw was set, his blood boiling. "YOU KILLED MICHAEL!" He shouted, ignoring the gunfire from downstairs. He dropped his pistol and grabbed the man, throwing him onto the bed, helped by a solid swing of the sawn-off. Johnny heard the wet crack as Lyle's nose broke. He heard the man cry out, his hands shooting to his face. Johnny dropped his gun. "YOU KILLED MY BROTHER!" He shouted again, sending a vertical punch straight down into the man's cheek. Ignoring the pain in his fist - not even caring if his knuckles were broken, Johnny backed off and picked up the man's Auto shotgun. "Did you kill him quick?" He asked, his voice on the verge of breaking. "Yes!" The man replied from behind a torrent of nasal blood. "A clean job!" Johnny took a breath. "Well in that case..." He began, ushering the man to stand. "Don't expect the same courtesy from me!" Johnny fired at the man's leg. His knee disappeared, Lyle Greenhorn screamed in agony. Johnny fired at the other knee. Same result. "F*CK YOU!" Johnny yelled, pulling hard on the trigger. He screamed as the automatic shotgun let out it's barrage of shells. Smoke and blood filled his vision, and the screaming stopped. But he didn't release the trigger, not until the barrel needed reloading. Luckily, there was a spare by the bed. Johnny reloaded, then turned round to look at Lyle's body. There was nothing left. He saw part of a face, torn and covered in blood, and a mangled carcass that may once have resembled a body. He looked down. His leather jacket was covered in blood.

Niko had cleared the card room. He rushed down into the cellar, coolly switching his MP5 for the shotgun. He was halfway down the steps when he heard the insanity from upstairs. Several loud booms, in quick succession. He paid no mind, and moved into the basement. A man in a tank top fired a pistol. He missed. Niko fired the shotgun once. The man flew back. Niko turned. Suddenly his world went black. He blinked to see the room on its side. A second later he moved his head, seeing the sideways view of the stairs - the skinny man running up them. Niko pulled himself to his feet and dabbed his thumb on his face. It came back red. He pinched his nose and, despite the bleeding, decided it wasn't broken. He moved up the stairs.

Johnny, now in a blind rage, came storming out of the room. There was a single man, holding a gun in Johnny's direction. The man's mouth was open, his eyes staring at the red figure coming toward him. Johnny fired three times. Then a shot plunged into his chest. He stumbled backwards, but the vest did it's job. Johnny turned and traced the shot to the card table downstairs. He looked through the window and saw a man firing a gun up at him. Johnny lifted the shotgun and took him down quickly. Then he saw movement from a doorway. He fired again.

Niko pressed himself against the wall and stole a glance round. A man was in the process of slumping over the card table when a shine of metal caught his eye. He looked up- "SH*T!" Niko breathed, spinning himself away from the doorway. shotgun shells tore into the wall. Niko blind-fired his shotgun through the door way. The gunman upstairs momentarily ceased fire. Niko used that half second to steal another look.

Johnny saw the head poke out from cover. He fired again and the head disappeared. Did he get it? He paused firing for a second. The head reappeared and Johnny swung the gun round, ready to fire, stumbling slighty. Suddenly he felt a searing heat on the tip of his ear, accompanied by a blast of air. Then there came a second shot, hitting him in the Kevlar vest. He involuntarily dropped the gun. Johnny dropped down, taking cover under the window and felt his ear. He winced as his finger touched the hot wound. "Jesus Christ!" He breathed. The bullet had just missed him. Had he not stumbled, half of his brain would be on the wall. And despite the stumble, the shooter had corrected enough for a heart shot. Johnny gave a silent thanks to the body armor. That guy's dangerous. He told himself. He grabbed a pipe bomb, feeling his heart pounding faster then ever before. Two men, he heard Stubbs say. The other was around here somewhere. Then there came a clatter from by the stairs. Johnny looked up and saw a grenade roll across the floor. "HOLY S*IIIIT!" Johnny called out, dropping his weapons and running for the window in the bedroom.

Niko heard the grenade explode, then darted out from cover, his MP5 leading the way. Part of the floor collapsed, blocking the back door. Niko turned and ran out the front.

Johnny's fall out of the first story window landed him, of all places, on top of some trash cans. He groaned and stumbled to his feet. Everything hurt, there was blood trickling down his face and onto his shoulder, and he couldn't tell his from Lyle's. You shouldn't have killed him. He told himself. He needed answers, not bodies. He stumbled down the alley to his bike. Sirens sounded in the distance, slowly getting louder. He had to go. Now. He managed to reach the road, seeing a car speed away, leaving a cloud of wheel-smoke in it's wake. Who the hell was that? Had Stubbs set him up, or did whoever killed Michael want him dead too? Johnny decided Stubbs was going to get a bloody visit - literally.

Chapter Five: Truth or Dare

Johnny stood in the alleyway, Lyle's blood dripping onto the concrete floor. He watched as the car stopped and a door opened. Stubbs stepped out. Johnny tightened his grip on the gun. Johnny waited until Stubbs got close enough, then he stepped from the shadows, gun up, and grabbed the man's shirt's immaculate collar. "JESUS CHRIST!" Stubbs called out as Johnny slammed him against a wall. Then he realized who the man was. "Good Lord, Johnny!" He whispered breathlessly. "What the hell happened to you?" "Face painting at the Firefly Island Carnival. Its supposed to be Spiderman." Stubbs stood there looking confused. Johnny let the man go and took a step back. "To be fair, he wasn't much of a painter. But how about we continue the festivities?" "Uh... Okay..." Stubbs said, bewildered. "Let's say truth or dare. You go first." Stubbs stared for a minute until Johnny ushered him to continue. "Er... Truth I guess." Johnny flashed a mock smile. "Why did you set me up? I asked for some help, you agreed...." "Wait... What?" "Greenhorn. You sent someone else there to take me down. Why?" Stubbs' face dropped to somewhere between fear and confusion. "Nice acting." Johnny said. Then he laid a hand on Stubbs' shoulder. "My turn. I'll go for truth." Stubbs blinked then, after a minute: "Are you going to kill me?" "I'm looking for a reason not to. I'm struggling to find one. Your turn again." "Oh come now Johnny! It's obvious you think I've tried to kill you. If that was the case, do you really think I'd be here alone? Oh hell, do you really think I would have left Middle Park at all?" Johnny sighed. "You make a good politician. You told me once that lying's what you're good at. Give me one reason why I shouldn't kill you right here?" Stubbs sighed then looked up. "Michael." He said flatly. Johnny clubbed Stubbs round the head. "Don't you dare use him to spare your life." Stubbs, now on the floor, looked up. "What the hell happened?" Johnny looked down, suddenly feeling fatigued. He pointed the gun at Stubbs but couldn't fire. He believed him. "You really have no idea." Johnny stated. Wisely, Stubbs didn't reply. "There was another guy there, shooting at me." "What makes you think he wasn't one of Greenhorn's posse?" Johnny turned and cocked his head. "Because he was shooting at them too. He almost had me too. If i hadn't tripped, I'd be in the back of some coroner's truck." Stubbs raised an eyebrow and winced. He touched his forehead with his hand which came back with a spot of blood on it. "It's only a little cut." Johnny mocked. He reached down and helped the congressman to his feet. He was still fuming, but he had no idea at who his anger should be directed. Stubbs recommended they 'got off the street' and get the biker into some clean clothes. He just happened to have a tracksuit in his trunk.

Johnny had changed quickly while Stubbs waited in the car. He put his blood stained clothes in Stubbs' sports bag and phoned Clay to pick his bike up. Clay had agreed but wanted to know why. Johnny promised an explanation later. "Something else troubling you, Jonathan?" Stubbs asked as the car pulled onto the road. "You mean aside from my brother being dead, getting covered in his killer's blood then being ambushed and coming this close to being a corpse?" He held up his thumb and forefinger to signify an inch. "Well since you put it like that...." "No, what bothers me is that I've only once seen a shooter that good." "When?" "Two years ago, while working for some mob guy." Stubbs nodded then said: "So what now?" "Greenhorn's friend was there. I didn't see his body so I'm thinking he got away." "And you want me to track him down?" "Can you?" Stubbs shook his head. "I don't think so, but I can put you in contact with someone who might." "Who?" "He was my room mate at college. He was in the Police then FIB until two years ago where he was forced to leave the Bureau. He's now a Private detective with a few good contacts." "So I go see him then?" "It's not that simple Johnny. You'll need money first. He demands half up front." "How much does he cost?" Stubbs told him and Johnny's face dropped. "And before you ask, Johnny, no I cannot lend you it. You'll have to find it another way." That's when Johnny decided to phone an old friend...

Niko had been waiting for The Voice to phone again. He had tried to place the call himself, but the number was apparently unavailable. Not busy, there was no message, just a pulsating beep. He decided he needed to unwind. He was so pent up following the shootout in Willis, he was ready to find this son-of-a-b*tch and give him something- Niko's cell rang. "Nickay!" "Brucie?" "Brucie's back baby!" Brucie had been abroad for a few months, on a business trip with his brother. "And tanned. The b*tches have been deprived for too long. What say we hit the clubs homie?" What the hell, Niko thought. "Why not." He replied. "I'll get you-" "No Nicky, we'll get you. Where are ya?" Niko hesitated, then gave his location as the Tw@t cafe on Frankfurt. He then went and took a shower, changing into a pair of stonewashed jeans, his favorite shirt - a stripey one - and a pair of burgundy and white converses. Then he took a stroll to the cafe. He went inside and got a coffee, then sat at a table, sipping at the beverage while waiting for Brucie to turn up, watching the traffic as it passed. He allowed his thoughts to drift, thinking about Roman, his mother and recent events. An Infernus drove past, reminding him of that whole Florian/Darko thing, a chapter he was glad to see the end of. A police car passed, followed by a Stretch E that stopped. The driver stepped out, dressed in a well fitting suit. He walked to the back of the vehicle and opened the door. "Brucie?" Niko whispered. He stepped outside. "Nicky!" Niko nodded his greeting and followed Brucie inside. "Thank's." Brucie said to the driver. "Yeah," This voice came from Brucie's brother, who bore a stunning resemblance to Brucie. "Off to the club." "So," Brucie said as the car pulled away. "How's things?" Niko sighed and filled Brucie in on the recent events and how much he misses his cousin. "I miss the big guy too." Brucie said. "Things just aren't the same without him around." "Oh knock it off you pansies!" Brucie's brother mocked. "Turning emo now are you?" "Shut up Mori." Brucie said, shooting his brother a hard stare. "Make me." Mori chuckled, then turned to Niko. "Maybe Lou could help. Things are going well for him now, owning his own clubs. Damn Brucie, we should have gone into business with them. They got clubs and restaurants here, down in Vice, in Los Santos. It's a big pie they're tucked into." "Give it a rest Mori. I know you're jealous but man. We got what we need here - we got the paper, the women, the cars..." "...The Bling!" Mori chuckled. Then: "Ah f*ck the faggot!" The brothers laughed again. Then the Stretch E stopped. The driver appeared and escorted the men into the club where they met the club's owner who led them to a table in a private area. "Whoa!" Brucie breathed. "This place has changed." "Yeah." The owner said. "A whole renovation." "Looks great Lou." Mori said. "Who did you get to do it? Gotta get them to do my place!" "Some local decorators up in North Holland. Let me get you guys a drink, on the house." Niko watched as 'Lou' walked away. He turned to Brucie, then mentally changed gear. For once he was going to have fun....

Johnny pulled his bike into the parking lot of the strip club just off of walnut way. To him it was another change in the city - a face-lift that did little to hide the seedy underbelly that dwelled within. He could almost smell it. He sh*t off the engine and went inside. Immediately he got a few stares. He'd been in many biker bars, but this was the strangest. Most places were dirty, with men in leathers or MC-colors drinking, smoking or playing pool or cards. Obscenities were thrown around like a hooker's thong, and there was always that....ripe smell. This one however was the opposite. Firstly, Johnny was struck by the contrast to the bars he had spent his life in. The place was ultra-modern and so.... clean. The walls were mirrored in strategic places, and had that glass-block build in others, separated by plain brick. The floor was laminate - no, real wood. There was a bar that stretched in a long arch from a recess on Johnny's left, right the way round to the far wall, bracketing the dance floor - which was lit from underneath. Dotted around were platforms with stripper poles, but only two were in use. There was a cluster of tables - all glass - and, behind them, shielded by the biggest fish tank Johnny had ever seen, was a set of stairs leading up to a catwalk that overlooked the entire ground floor. The music was loud, and heavy wit the bass. With each pound of the R 'n B, Johnny could almost feel himself lifting off of the ground. The other thing that struck Johnny was the fact that, with the exception of one dancer, and a couple of girlfriends, every person in here was black. And boy was there alott of them "Who's this cracker?" He heard someone mumble. "Damn white-boy's got a deathwish." Another muttered. Johnny had barely reached the bar, having been in the club no more then fifteen seconds before a beefy black man approached him. The man wore a string vest under a shirt that in no way hid his over-the-top muscles. Johnny felt slightly intimidated. "What'yo want fool?" The man growled, his face wondering why the bouncers outside - who, Johnny guessed, were armed - had let him in. Johnny told the man what he had told them, then watched as the man's face twisted. He turned and waved someone over. "Take him up, but keep an eye on him. I don't trust this snowman." The second man nodded and ushered Johnny towards the fish-tank. Even though this guy was half the size of the other, Johnny was still intimidated. The man led him up the stairs behind the aquarium, and across the catwalk to a lounge area that overlooked the club through some darkened glass. The man knocked on the door and then, after being given the nod, waved Johnny in. Inside Johnny saw the first two familiar faces of the night. "Johnny K." "Malc." Johnny nodded. "Come sit down man." Malc waved for a busty girl to move. Johnny sat. "I didn't believe it was you at first." He said. "Motherf*cker coming back from the dead. Damn." "I'd love an emotional reunion, Malc, sit around, roast some S'mores, hold hand and sing Kumbay-f*cking-ah, but I'm trying to find someone." "Yeah you said man, but come on. You can have one drink." Johnny shrugged and was handed a Tequila. "So yo' after some quick money." Malc stated. Johnny nodded. "Yeah but let me ask you something. What the hell's all this sh*t?" Johnny waved an arm out to the club. "You President now?" Malc laughed. "No, just a big player in this crew. The club is co-owned with the 'Riders and a businessman." "Your clubhouse not good enough for you?" Malc burst out laughing. "'Course it is! But it don't bring no money in!" "Yeah." Johnny said dismissively. "But you said you could help me?" Malc took a mouthful of drink and looked up, his face turning serious. "Sorry to hear about your brother." "I got someone who can find the remaining killer, but I need the cash up front." "Jewish guy is he?" Malc said, stirring a laugh with his companions. "Ha-f*cking-ha." Johnny scowled. "You gonna help me or do your stand-up routine all night." Malc laughed. "A little joke never hurt no one." He took another sip of drink then leaned over. "I got a couple of prospects on the horizon, maybe you want in? A deal or two will give you a few K." "Whatever, man." Johnny said from behind his drink. "I just need the money quick." Malc nodded then waved at DeSean. Both men got up, urging Johnny to follow them.

"...this smoking Swedish student in her gap year - double D's and everything - who do I see Baby B taking into his room? A teenaged boy!" Niko and Mori shared the laugh but Brucie objected. "That's not true Mori! That's not true. It was a girl, a smoking hot girl-" "B. I'm messing-" "She had t*ts, nice t*ts. Okay they were small but-" "Brucie!" Niko snapped. "He's just joking!" Brucie looked up and laughed. "I know, Nicky." He paused while the two men stared at him. "I f*cking know! I was just messing!" Mori shrugged and waved over the club's manager. "Everything okay here gentlemen?" "Oh everything's fine, but another bottle perhaps?" Mori held out a hundred dollar bill. The man took it and, with his latino brogue said, "Coming right up." Niko paid no mind to the price but turned his attention to Mori. "Brucie never told me he had a brother?" Mori chuckled. "I don't blame him! I wouldn't tell anyone about me either. I'm a f*cking beast! Haha. I'd only put him to shame!" "It doesn't look as though you two get on." Niko observed. "Nah we do." Brucie smiled. "I mean we didn't use to but... things changed." "This guy sucker-punched me, right in the face. Never in the face. He knew the rule, but I deserved it. I was an as*hole." "But he was only trying to help me." Mori smiled, revealing a set of very white teeth. "I gotta say tho, he's come a long way. Did you know what he looked like as a kid?" Mori cupped his mouth, hidding it from Brucie and mouthed the word 'fat'. Niko laughed. "I'm aware of it!" "But the last few trips we went on helped us bond." "Yeah holding hands and everything. Mori laughed. Then the man returned with the next bottle of champagne. "Thanks Lou!" Lou picked up the used bottle and nodded at Mori. "If you need anything else, talk to the assistant Manager Dessie," He pointed to a man who was at the bar shaking hands with some man in a suit. Brucie looked up and asked: "Didn't he used to be the doorman?" Lou laughed. "Got promoted bro'." "You off then?" Mori asked. "Yeah." Lou replied. "I'll catch you guy's later. Enjoy your night." The three men shook hands with the club owner and watched him leave. "So." Mori turned to Niko. "You after work?" Niko, now beginning to feel the effects of the alcohol, looked up. "I co-run Roman's cab company with his widow, but the extra money could help. I'm listening." "Nothing major. Just a deal I got lined up." "That I set up!" Brucie called out. "That little B set up. Basically we're selling some merchandise to some guys from uptown. Should be pretty simple." "Then why do you need me?" "I didn't get to where I am today by leaping without looking! That is why Brucie here is stuck in the car trade..." "I'm not stuck in the car trade bro, I'm number one in that sh*t!" "Oh yeah." Mori said sarcastically. "Genetically Different!'" Brucie lowered his voice slightly and said: "That's 'cause we are!" Niko laughed. "So you want me there as back up. In case things go wrong?" Mori nodded. "So you in Nick?" Niko shrugged and said: "Why not?"

Chapter Six: Deal or No Deal?

Niko had left the iFruit at his Bohan safehouse after crashing there following last night's drinks. He'd walked off the hangover and replenished his nutrients with a homemade sandwich, hydrating himself with an Electrolyte Sports drink. Now he sat in Mori's Buffalo, watching the city pass in the window. The two brothers were bickering in the front - or joking, Niko couldn't tell the difference - and he found himself looking for reasons to leave this city. There was nothing left here anymore.

The car stopped.

"Nicky!" Brucie sung. "We're here homie!" Niko stepped out of the car and followed the men to the back. Mori picked up a compact full-auto pistol, Brucie did the same. Niko grabbed the remaining gun - a P90. He weighed it in his hands for a moment before looking down the sights. "Aint she a beaut?" Brucie laughed. Mori nodded grimly. Down to business.

For some reason, Malc had insisted on a cage. Maybe they were picking up something heavy, Johnny wondered. Whatever, let's just get this over with. Johnny hated cars. Coffins on wheels. Confined tombs. Claustrophobic. Cramped. Nothing could beat the wind in your hair - if he hadn't shaved his off - the open road at your feet... Bohan was the location, Malc had told him, an old warehouse's forecourt in the Industrial district. The smell of Gasoline hung in the air, and there was a damp mist coming in off of the bay. Traffic wasn't too heavy so the place was quiet. Desolate. Forsaken. Johnny, AK slung over his shoulder followed Malc, DeSean, somone higher up in their gang and a lacky. They led him to the meeting place.

Niko rounded the corner and stood there while Mori shook hands with the customer. He looked around scanning for danger. There was the guy shaking hands, two men with him - no wait, a third hanging back and....

Johnny took a double take. He cocked his head and saw the man's gaze rest on him.

Niko watched the man, waiting for him to make the first move...

And Johnny did. He swung his AK up and aimed it at Niko. Niko pulled the P90 out of his jacket. He dropped to a crouch and lined the sights up on Johnny's head.

The second Johnny saw the gun come out he dove for cover. No way was he leaving himself open again. This guy was dangerous, and he suddenly remembered who he was. Mori had brought his gun out - no he had two - and began firing without hesitation. Brucie did too, but he was already retreating. Niko fired at the crate where that biker guy was hiding, then took cover behind a concrete barrier. Mori took cover too, but didn't look like he was going to stay there. "Who sent you?" Niko shouted out, convinced that this biker guy had something to do with The Voice. "What the f*ck are you talking about?" Johnny called back. One of Mori's bullets hit one of the customers. The man fell. "Did you kill Michael?" Johnny shouted. Niko turned his head to Mori. "Who the hell is Michael?" He rasped. Mori shrugged. "Let's just get out of here." Mori replied. Niko shook his head. "Two people tried to kill me then some mysterious caller tells me to kill some guy and, when I finally go after the guys that tried to kill me, this guy pops up and also tries to kill me. That's one big f*cking coincidence." "Okay." Mori yelled back. "Let's take these guys down quick and get out of here before the cops arrive." Niko shook his head.

"Who the hell is this guy?" Malc asked Johnny, having joined him behind the crate. "Two men killed my brother. When I went after them, this guy was there, shooting at me..." "Motherf*cker!" Johnny nodded then shouted out. "Come get me as*hole! Fight me like a man!" "F*ck off!" Niko shouted in response. Johnny lost it and jumped up from cover. He lifted his AK and slammed the trigger down. "OH YEAH!?" Johnny shouted as the bullets drilled into the concrete. One or two zipped past Niko's head, so close that he could feel the air rush. "You should have picked some taller cover!" Mori called. Niko told him to shut up. "Come on!" Johnny shouted again. "Come f*cking get me before I f*k you up!" "Yeah?" Niko shot back. "And I'll rip your f*cking heart out!" Sirens sounded in the distance, rapidly getting louder and louder. There also came the sound of engines, but Niko couldn't place them. "I aint going to jail over this sh*t!" Mori yelled. "Brucie better have the car ready!" Mori scrambled backward and made a dash behind a wall, heading for the car. "Come on Nick!"

"F*ck this!" Johnny jumped to his feet and darted out of cover. He brought his gun up and saw the man running for the building. He fired, but missed then he turned to aim at the cover where that Slavic f*ck was hiding. "Hide like a little girl!" Johnny shouted, rushing straight at the concrete. Niko stood, his P90 in hand. He saw Johnny rushing up on him but, in the distance he saw something more worrying. There was about ten men on bikes, all of whom were dismounting and/or firing guns. Johnny fired at Niko, but missed. He was moving too fast. Niko took a quick aim at the biker. Shards of concrete impaired his vision as the biker's shots barely missed him. Niko fired.

Suddenly Johnny's AK-47 stopped firing. He looked down to see it clatter to the ground and could suddenly feel the hot searing pain in his shoulder. Niko backpedaled and fired at the bikers in the distance. Then he saw that other guy - what was his name, Johnny? - painstakingly crouch for the AK. Niko fired again. Twice. Three times. Then he turned and ran, the police sirens now deafening. He could already see the flashing lights.

Johnny felt the punch hit him in the chest, just next to his shoulder. Then another. He stumbled backwards and a third hit him. He collapsed. The gunfire and sirens faded as the world began to lose its saturation. Johnny moved his head to look at his shoulder but it hurt. He suddenly felt so weak. Sorry Michael. He thought. He turned his head and saw Malc shouting something, but there was no sound. Police appeared in the distance, running in black and white. Suddenly Johnny's eyes felt heavy. He was tired. So tired. He saw that Slavic shooter's face in his mind. He closed his eyes. Jim. Ashley.... Johnny's world went dark.

Brucie was about to slam the accelerator down when he saw Niko running. He opened the driver's door and got out rushing into the back of the Buffalo. "What the hell are you doing?!" Mori shouted. "Let Nicky drive!" Brucie called back. "He's a good driver man!" Niko jumped straight in the driver's seat and immediately accelerated. He didn't waste a second putting on his seatbelt or even shutting the door. The momentum of the car accelerating did that for him. "J*sus!" Mori exclaimed. Niko didn't reply, but he was angry. Of all the sh*t that had happened to him since the war, couldn't his life for once settle down? He slammed the steering wheel to the right, allowing the car to fishtail. He then accelerated at an oncoming NOOSE cruiser, mounting the pavement at the last second. Mori reached into the glove box and pulled out a chunky radio. He plugged it into the car's cigarette lighter and twisted a knob. "...shootout in Industrial. Suspects driving a red Bravado Buffalo, heading north on Alcatraz. Dispatch units from..." "We can listen to the po-po on here!" Mori said. "Help us lose them?" Officer down! Dispatch air units to Bohan." "Sh*t!" Brucie cried out. "We'll never lose the choppers!" "Calm down Brucie!" Niko said as he spun the car onto Sing Sing Avenue." "Oh yeah i forgot. You got that Red Army skills!" Mori shot back a look at his brother that said one thing: Shut up. Then there came the thundering on helicopter rotors. "Holy sh*t!" Mori cried out. "What?" Niko flashed a quick glance over. "The cops just said 'terrorist'." "They think we're terrorists!?" This came from Brucie. Niko said, through gritted teeth. "Apparently so." He drove up the grass and cut back on the Northern Expressway. "Sh*t Sh*t Sh*t!" Brucie yelled from the back seat, hyperventilating. "I know how to loose these guy's!" Niko announced. He sped up the expressway until the passed the police station/hospital. Then he turned off of the road onto the grassy hill. "Where the hell are you going!?" Mori cried out. Niko let the car spin then controlled it until they faced east. Then he quickly fastened his seat belt and slammed his foot down. "No way Nick!" Mori cried out. Brucie leaned forward to see where they were going and cursed. "Hold on tight!" Niko advised.

Brucie and Mori both screamed as the car ploughed through the fence and into the air. They hung in the ether for a second before hitting the ground with a shuddering jolt. Brucie was dazed but Niko was already reacting. He slammed the car into reverse and accelerated. "We do not have a visual." The police scanner crackled. "Suspect car last seen on the Northern Expressway, Bohan, heading west..." "What the hell?" Mori groaned, holding his head. There was a smear on the side window where he had, Niko guessed, hit his head. Niko pulled a text book J-turn and accelerated into the tunnel, switched the headlights on. "What the f*ck are you doing!?" Mori shouted, reaching over to grab the wheel. "You're going to kill us!" Even Brucie looked horrified. Niko looked back and was about to calm him down when he pointed, his face white. "T-T-Train!" Niko looked forward and surprised the brothers again. The expected him to swerve drastically, but he calmly gripped the steering wheel and threaded the car past the oncoming train. There was a horrific rushing sound as the train zipped past, the turbulence rocking the car violently. Niko simply directed the Buffalo onto the right hand side track and sped up. "Slow down!" Brucie shouted. "Didn't you see that train? Do you want to hit another?" "Brucie!" Niko called. "The faster we go the better. We're on the other line. If there's a train behind us we need to go fast to out run it..." Brucie shrunk back into his seat. "Red Army." He whispered. Niko followed the tunnel to the junction he knew was coming. He told the two to relax - that he had done this before. That did not settle them. He stopped at the junction and turned round heading back the way they came, but on a different branch. A couple of minutes later they sped through Frankfurt High station, prompting more panicky shouts from the Kibbutz brothers. Then Niko swerved to the right, sending the car flying off of the track. They hit the ground with an even harder jolt then before. The car limped to the pay 'n' spray.

The Kibbutz brothers had calmed down after a drink while the car was being repaired. "You're paying me for this right?" Niko said, more in statement then a question. Mori nodded. "But after that stunt...." "I lost them didn't I?" Niko flashed a rare smile. "Take the cost of the repair and spray out of my money." Mori nodded and thanked Niko for his help. Offering him a left back home - Niko declined, saying he wanted a walk. He left the brothers at the pay 'n' spray and headed to his loft, checking for any tails like The Voice had adviced. He got in and had a large glass of vodka. Then he decided he'd better head back to Bohan and retrieve that phone. It had seven missed calls...

Chapter Seven: Number 47

Niko's conversation with the angry robot didn't go well. The Voice moaned at him for not answering the calls before telling him that they had missed an opportunity and hoped another one would arise.

Niko switched on the radio and grabbed another drink. Then something on the radio caught his attention. "A shootout in Bohan, yesterday, believed to have been a deal gone wrong. A police officer, Harold Napier, was murdered at the scene while the perpetrators exchanged fire with the LCPD and NOOSE teams. Among the victims was a Tyrone Williams, a known member of the Uptown Riders and believed to be a major player in gang, Dwight Howard, another Uptown Riders member, and a Johnny Klebitz, president of American motorcycle club The Lost, who caused havoc two years ago in their war with the notorious Angels of Death..." Niko stared at the radio. Did he hear that right? Oh well, the b*stard had it coming. Niko got himself another drink then stared into it. He remembered Johnny well from the two deals he did with him, and he had liked him, almost even trusted him. He shook his head. What a f*cked up world he lived in. His cell rang. "Wassup breda?" "Jacob!" "Yo, yo' wanna hang?" Niko glanced at his drink and let out a sad chuckle. "You don't know how happy I am for you to say that." "Wicked! Catch me up at my yard on Dillon." "I'll see you soon!"

Despite his two strong Vodkas - neither of which he felt - Niko got in his Sabre GT and headed into Broker.

"I an’ I please to see yo' Niko!" Jacob said in his usual upbeat manor as he opened the door. "Come on in star." Niko followed him up the stairs and into Jacob's living room. He offered him a drink. Niko eagerly accepted. "I got an email from Badman today." Jacob said, pouring out some rum. He showed Niko a bottle of Vodka. "Got it just for you rasta." Niko smiled. "Anyway Niko, Badman. Jam-rock been doing him good. He no worry about sh*t ya know? He not so paranoid anymore." "He still smoking that stuff?" "'Cho! He on da herb still, but it pure out there. No chemicals in it, not be messing with his head so much." "What about you?" "Yo' know me Niko, I'll smoke till the day I die." He handed Niko his drink. "What 'bout you Niko? You find that bad-man?" Niko nodded. "I found them, but one got away. Let me ask you something, Jacob. Do you believe in coincidences?" "What yo' mean?" "There was a guy shooting at me there - he had shot his way through and almost got me. We both escaped. You remember the diamonds?" "That be a story there!" Jacob laughed. "Glad I an' I wasn't in that saga!" "Remember the biker I told you about? The one who ripped off the mob guy?" Jacob stared into space for a second. "Vaguely. Did you meet him through Elizebeta Torres?" "That's the one." "Tattoo on his neck?" "Yeah." "Yeah I remember you sayin’. What 'bout him?" "It was him at the liquor store in Willis. Then again yesterday during a deal I was making with someone." "The deal didn't go too well?" "No." "Bumbaclot." Jacob took a sip of his drink. "That be a funny coincidence." "I think he may have been after me too. I think he was working for someone - the same person those two men were... or are." "Tsk. The world be full of snakes. It takes a wide eyed eagle to eat 'em." "Well the biker guy's dead." "Really?" Niko nodded and emptied his glass. "I shot him and heard it on the radio today." "Score one for Niko!" Jacob smiled. "Then there's this weird voice that keeps calling me, getting me to do things. He knew about the men coming to kill me." Jacob's eyes went wide. "That some crazy sh*t." "You're telling me. Worst thing is I don't know who it is so I can't track them down and end all this." Jacob stood and got Niko another drink. "Truth be told Jacob, things haven’t been good since I got here." "Liberty yo' home now tho." "It doesn't feel that way. Everything just feels empty without Roman." Jacob handed Niko his second - actually his forth - drink. "Roman was a righteous rasta. He was a good laugh an’ t’ing. But yo' got friends here?" Niko sipped at the drink, still debating whether to get sh*t-faced or not. "Yeah…” He said, staring into his glass.”…I got you, Brucie, Packie… Dwayne, but none of them are Roman are they?" "No and they never will be." "Still. There's a hole Roman left, and nothing can fill it up." "Find yo'self a lady, breda." Jacob offered a sly smile. "I had. Packie's sister, but she turned her back on me when I needed her the most. I liked her but that's inexcusable. I have no one left. Not even myself." "Don't be too hard on yo'self Niko. You a good man." Niko smiled weakly. "What about yo' nephew?" "I see him sometimes - he's walking now.” Niko offered a pained smile. “Even getting the odd word out. But it's hard. He has Roman's face. I know he's going to grow up to look like him. That's going to be the hardest thing." Jacob nodded and took a sip of his drink. “Yo’ gotta forgive yo’self Niko.” Jacob said after a second. Niko nodded. “It’s ironic. I keep thinking… Maybe if I had done what I should have – killed Dmitri when I had the chance – that Dmitri wouldn’t have sent his hit-man. But Roman, he would say about revenge not being good – that I have to let go… Forgive… I guess.. Forgiveness has it’s price.” Jacob nodded. “I wish…” Niko said, setting his glass down. The drink was suddenly kicking in. “That I had kept my integrity. If only I could go back.” Jacob stood and fetched Niko another drink. Niko accepted it and Jacob wisely changes subjects. They ended up watching some amateur comedy from Split Sides, finally crashing in Jacob’s front room.

The next morning, Niko woke up with a hangover. Again. He decided to walk it off. His walk had taken him to outlook park, where he had bought a coffee and a bagel from a nearby shop. He stood against the fence of a gazebo and watched a group of women practicing Thai Chi. Then came a familiar sound. “What do you want now?” Niko said into his iFruit. “Another job.” The electronic voice sounded. “I’m getting sick of this.” Niko replied. “I don’t care who the hell you are anymore. I will not be your dog!” “We can do this the easy way or the hard way.” Niko remarked on how calm this guy was. “I don’t want to play hard-ball, but if you’re going to continue being defiant we will be forced into taking more… aggressive means to ensure your compliance… I would rather not do that Niko…” Niko sighed. It was obvious what that meant. Niko sighed, and sat on a nearby bench. “What do I have to do.” “Firstly, we are not going to use you forever. I hope you can believe that.” “Just tell me what you want done.” There was a moment of silence, broken by the Voice. “I need you to obtain a list.” “That it?” “Don’t get too cocky. The list is held inside City Hall. However, we can’t risk causing any alarms. Running in all guns blazing is out.” “You want me to sneak in there?” “Kind of. I can help you, but only if you understand what needs to be done. If I tell you to run, you run, don’t even question it.” Niko sighed. “Do I have a choice?” “I would like to say yes, but… No, you don’t. Get there for twelve.” The call ended.

Niko had driven his Comet and parked it a block from City Hall. Something told him he may need a fast car. He was walking up Denver Avenue when his phone rang. He answered, but didn’t speak. “Enter the plaza to your east. Under the bench by the fountain is a package containing false identification. Using that, Walk into City Hall and give your name as Clyde James. If anyone asks, you had the flu. Then head into the nearest male restroom and call the number you’re about to get in a text. Leave any weapons you have in the bag y the fountain.” The call ended and, almost immediately Niko received a text containing only a number. He pocketed the phone and headed into the park. Inside the bag he found a wallet, with an ID card, and some money and credit cards. He placed his pistol in the bag, hoping he’d get the chance to retrieve it. Still, he gave it a good wipe anyway.

Armed with this new cover identity, Niko walked into City Hall. There was a security checkpoint inside the entrance. The ID held though, and Niko passed through. He allowed his eyes to dart around until he found the restroom then entered. After entering the far cubical and locking the door, Niko placed the call. “In the tank you’ll find a waterproof packet.” The Voice said with no delay. “Inside it is a set of clothes. Change into them and put your clothes in the packet. Replace the packet in the tank. Then, you will have received an update to your phone with a map. Memorize the route then follow it to the office. There you will find a filing cabinet. Search it for a document titled ‘Illegal Weapons Summit.” Use your phone to photograph each page. Then head back to the washroom, change clothes again and leave, taking the package with you.” Niko turned to the cistern and shook his head. “And Niko… Be careful.” The Voice ended the call. Niko followed the instructions and changed into what turned out to be a blue security guard’s uniform, complete with cap. He replaced the package and began to study the map. No one paid any attention to him as he exited the restroom and headed off down a hallway. Next left, he told himself. He turned the corner and saw two guards walking towards him. He drew a deep breath and carried on. The two guards approached and Niko felt the gaze of one of them wash over him. He focused on keeping his cool and allowed the men to pass. Then, as he was halfway through a sigh of relief, he heard one of them call him. “Hey!” Niko turned. And saw the man looking at him. Sh*t. The guard began to approach Niko. Niko could feel himself sweating. He stood there, frozen, like a deer in the headlights. The guard approached. Niko took a breath and readied himself for a fight. He imagined his route out of the building, pictured him running to the Comet, perhaps even retrieving his gun… The guard was a foot from Niko who was about to adopt a combative stance when the man said something to him, his tone changing completely. “Excuse me.” Niko, stepped aside, keeping his face as neutral as he could. The guard strolled past Niko and grabbed the shoulder of a teenager who appeared to be part of a group. A school trip perhaps? The two shared some words that Niko didn’t catch and a woman who he assumed was the teacher joined in. Niko used the distraction to slip past.

He reached the office without further incident and entered. Thankfully it was empty and, equally thankfully, there was only one door, no windows and the single pane of glass on the door was covered. Niko closed the door and turned to the filing cabinet. It took him little under three minutes to find the file, and a further two to photograph the Document. Then he replaced the file in the cabinet and turned to leave. He strolled out and back down the corridor, acting as casually as he could. Halfway there, he told himself. Now for the tricky part… The teenager, teacher and security guard were still having their discussion, from what Niko could hear of it, the kid had kicked at something and broken it. He had a look to him too… “Hey!” The guard called out. Niko instinctively turned and realized he was walking slightly too quickly. “Can you give me a hand here buddy?” Niko thought on his feet. “Sorry man.” Niko said, using his best American accent. “I gotta rush to the…” Sh*t, what was the saying!? “…John.” Niko threw a quick uncomfortable face in and stood there, trying to turn away. He used the moment to read the man’s ID. Thom. The guard threw up his hand. “Ok but get Jim up here as you pass him will you?” The guard pointed down the hall. Niko nodded and walked off. “Hey Jim.” He said as he passed. “Tommy boy up there wants you. I gotta rush…” Jim nodded and headed up to assist his colleague. Niko headed to the restroom, relieved that his little acting worked. I’d like to thank the Academy…

Niko had put his own clothes on over the guard uniform and hid the hat in a pocket, along with the package. He then left the rest room as his cell rang. “Mister James?” The caller asked. “Yeah?” Niko replied, confused. “I’m Doctor Darren McKenzie, Northwood Hospital. I’m hope I am not interrupting but – well I’ll be brief, your wife has gone into labor. Are you able to get here?” “She’s giving birth? Now?” “Yes. Can you get here?” Niko, thinking he knew what this call was, nodded and said “Yes.” He hung up and headed to the exit. “Everything okay there Mister James?” The security guard asked as he swiped the card. Niko nodded and threw in a false laugh. “My wife’s having a baby… Like, now!” The man’s eyebrows lifted. “Godspeed sir.” He smiled. “Thank you.” Niko said completing his day’s acting. I’d like to thank my family….

Niko headed to the park and retrieved the bag and his gun. Then, as he got in his Comet, he got a text.

Hospital Roof.

Niko parked his Comet in the hospital’s parking area and climbed the countless of floors to the roof. He walked around, hand on his gun in his pocket. After a minute he realized he was up here alone.

Then another text came through.

Turn on Bluetooth.

Niko did and, after a few seconds got a Bluetooth pairing request from: [b]N.B. - Send the photos.[/b]

Niko sent the photos then, after a moment the iFruit rang. “Thank you.” The Voice said. “And well done. I’m glad you didn’t get detected.” “I wish I could believe that.” “Me too Niko. Things will make sense soon, I promise you.” “Doesn’t mean anything friend.” Niko replied. “I’ll be in touch.” Niko hung up, then said. “That guy’s an a*shole.”

Chapter Eight: Homecoming

The first thing he saw was the blurry room. The lights hurt his eyes. He blinked and tried to sit up. A pain shot across his shoulder and chest, and he slumped back down. A man came up to him and said something. Was he drugged? What the hell… was…

He woke up again, not knowing how long he’d been asleep for. He lifted his head and looked around. His eyes were still sore; the lights still too bright and everything was a blur. He was thirsty. A woman appeared and said something to him. He stared at her alien language. She smiled and leaned in closer, talking into his ear. He still didn’t catch it. She picked up a glass of water and offered it to him. She even had to help him drink it. Pitiful. He wasn’t sure if he fell asleep again, or just dozed but suddenly he saw the first familiar face. “Angus.” He breathed. “Glad you’re still alive, Johnny. Sh*t’s been a bit weird here.” Johnny struggled to sit up. He reached for the drink. Angus passed it to him. “Never thought I’d see the day where I’d be helping you fulfill basic motor functions brother.” Angus said with a cheeky grin. Johnny managed a weak smile. “Seriously though Johnny, I’m glad you’re still alive.” “P*ssy!” Johnny laughed, causing him to wince slightly. “Jokes and pains aside, me to my brother.” A doctor appeared and checked Johnny’s stats, then informed him that he wanted to keep him in for a few days for observation. Johnny was too tired to complain.

The next day, however, he wasn’t. He told the doctor he was going to discharge himself during the man’s rounds. The doctor wasn’t happy, and made several attempts to dissuade him, but Johnny was adamant. The doctor had then given him a prescription of painkillers and urged him to seek medical consultation if he felt any thing at all. Terry had come to pick him up and offered him some new clothes – including a new jacket. Johnny dressed and followed Terry to the van. “Got a welcome home party waiting for me?” Johnny joked as Terry pulled into traffic. “Not really. Just glad to have you back.” “I gotta get that pr*ck. He’s got to have something to do with Michael.” “You know who shot you then?” “Yeah. I worked with him a couple of years ago. Guy could shoot – I remember that well. The fact he’s popped up twice in my search for Michael’s killers tells me he’s involved.” “What was his name?” Terry asked, turning onto a bigger road. Johnny sat for a minute, thinking. “Niko, or something like that. A Russian guy I think. Why?” “Guys I know that can get some guns have a friend in the police. It’s how they move their stuff around unmolested I guess. I’m thinking maybe they can track him down.” “Cost?” “Not that much – couple of hundred maybe.” Johnny groaned. “Don’t think I’ll get the money from Malc after all.” “On the contrary Johnny, Malc told me he’s got your cut and for you to go see him when you’re out. Also the brothers have put some dough in the pot for you.” “Really?” “Yeah. Brothers for life, remember.” “I’d forgotten what that meant, with all the sh*t with Billy and Brian.” “So had I. Can’t say I was too pleased about you upping sticks an’ all, but can’t say I blame you.” “Was that selfish of me Terry?” “Ah hell, I dunno Johnny. What else could you do? Losing two of your closest brothers, seeing your world destroy itself… Can’t say I’d want to stick around either.” “Yeah I guess. It’s diabolical that it take my brother dying for me to realize where my home is.” “Getting a bit emotional there Johnny. You want me to pass you a handkerchief?” “F*ck you!” Terry laughed. “What is it, John-boy? Truth hurt?” Johnny smiled and turned to look out the window. “Will we ever be free from this Terry?” “From what?” A horn blasted outside as a truck cut up a taxi. Terry smiled at the cab driver shouting something obscene. “From this life of insanity. The war with the AOD, Billy, Brian, now this with Michael… When Billy went inside things finally settled down, then he comes out with his vengeance against the world. It feels like history repeating itself...” “It gets worse brother.” “What?” “The AOD still don’t like us. At least the hardliners don’t; Those who remember the fights. Don’t be surprised if they crop up again.” “Those deadbeats are like cockroaches. They’re everywhere, and you kill one, another one turns up. But they’re nothing special. If I have to I’ll take every last one of them down.” “I hear that, and the brothers are behind you, believe me. We’re gonna start riding in a posse again. No more getting yourself into a duel. I’d like to see this commie pr*ck take on a dozen of The Lost!” Johnny sighed. “The scary thing is I don’t think it’d faze him. He’s a f*cking killing machine.” “Then we best be careful.” Terry said as he pulled into the old casino’s access road. “Welcome home, Johnny.”

Niko stood with Mallorie in the kitchen, a cup of tea in hand. He sipped at it. He didn’t much care for it, but it wasn’t too bad – once in a while. Roman Jnr. sat on the floor in the lounge, playing with some toy car. Niko watched him constantly moving the plastic vehicle backwards and forwards. “It’s hard seeing him.” Niko finally said to Mallorie. “I know.” She said softly. “I still miss him. Every day.” “Me too.” Niko sipped at his drink. “Do you think you could ever move on?” “Re-marry?” She shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe date someone sometime, but I’m not looking. No one can ever replace Roman.” “That is true.” Niko stared into the cup. “How have you managed to get over it?” Mallorie settled her cup down and turned to Niko. “I haven’t. It still hurts to think about him for too long, but I still think about him every day. I would rather feel that pain then forget him.” Niko nodded. “I’m struggling. The world just seems empty without him. It’s hard for me to find a reason to get out of bed in the mornings.” “Why do you?” “For Roman.” Niko gestured with his cup at the toddler on the floor. “I feel I owe it to his father to watch over him.” Mallorie smiled. “I’m glad you think that, Niko. He’d want you to be there for him.” “I just wonder: What sort of role model will I be? Do you think Roman wanted me to teach his son to kill people?” Mallorie stared straight in Niko’s eyes. “But you left that behind… That was two years ago. You haven’t killed anyone since, have you?” Niko hung his head. “Niko…” “Someone tried to kill me, and now I’m being manipulated into being someone’s hit man. Two years I had left it all behind, until this.” “I can’t say I’m happy about that, but we’ve all done bad things. I mean look at Vlad.” “Still, there is no excuse is there?” “Perhaps not. Can you not just walk away from this person?” Niko shrugged. “I don’t know who it is, only they’ve got some connections. If they know who I am, they may know who you are. I don’t want to put you at risk.” “I’m a big girl, Niko. I can handle myself. Besides if things get dicey, I can phone my cousin. Or you.” Niko flashed a sad smile. “Let me ask you something Niko. What have you done since the wedding?” “What do you mean?” “Have you gone out on the town? Partied? Been looking for a woman?” Niko scoffed. “I don’t feel much like partying, Mallorie.” “But you have to live. You asked me how I got over it. I didn’t but I learned to live life – Roman Junior forced me to do that. What about that girl you were going to bring to the wedding?” “I haven’t spoken to her since. But that’s what Jacob said. I have to live life. I’ve even been tempted to smoke some of his marijuana.” “If that’s what it takes, but don’t turn that into a habit, Niko. Find something to brighten your life up. You can’t live in the dark forever.” Niko turned to the child and nodded. “Perhaps you’re right. I guess I’m afraid of the guilt – I don’t think I could handle any more.” “What guilt?” “If I move on, If I live my life and be happy and…. Forget Roman.” “You won’t. Trust me.” Niko smiled and nodded. “And get Jacob round again, Roman loved him. He was giggling all night.” Niko chuckled. “Roman once said to me that watching paint dry with Jacob would not be boring.” “And he’s right. He’s a good friend, Niko. Cherish him.” “That’s one thing Roman has taught me, Mallorie. Don’t take anyone for granted.” Niko put his empty cup on the side. “I better go. I’ll see you soon.” Mallorie put her cup down and called out to her child. Niko said goodbye to the pair of them and walked to his Sabre GT. He drove home and considered putting the last of Roman’s Esperanto cabs in storage.

Chapter Nine: Ace of Spades

Terry’s contact had been unable to find Niko, but had dredged up some information on him. Apparently the man named Niko Bellic, and his cousin Roman had stirred up some bad debt with some Russian gangsters. Johnny thought back to the man he had kidnapped with Malc, his name was Roman wasn’t it? Coincidence? Sitting at the computer in the old casino clubhouse, Johnny decided to run a search. He managed to find an archived story on Liberty Tree about a shooting at a wedding. There was a picture of a victim. Roman Bellic. Johnny let out a sigh. So this is why this Niko was gunning for him, was it? Revenge over kidnapping his cousin? He leant back in his chair and stared at the wall. The two times he’d worked with Niko – before the kidnapping – had been okay. He had liked the guy. But what did Niko have to do with Michael? Johnny reached for his phone and dialed. “Stubbs.” He said when the call connected. “I want the number for your P.I. friend.” Stubbs gave him the address, saying that this guy didn’t do business over the phone. He then told Johnny that he’d put in a kind word but was unsure whether it would make any difference.

Johnny then rounded up Terry, Clay and a few others to ride. He would never admit it to anyone, but he was slightly scared of this Serb. “Where we goin’?” Clay called out as they set off, Johnny, of course, leading the pack. “To see a man who may be able to find that Serbian.” Johnny called back. “What’s the deal with him?” Clay asked. “I think he may have something to do with Michael’s death. Two years ago I did something that might have p*ssed him off. I think maybe he’s out for revenge.” “What the hell did you do to him man?” This came from Terry. “I can’t say my brother, but I need to find him before he finds me.” “Well we’ve got your back, Johnny, just promise us you’re not getting us up to our necks in anything.” “I don’t think so… At least I hope not.” “That makes me feel comfortable.” Clay said.

The guy’s office was above a shop on Frankfurt Avenue, opposite the internet café. Johnny left his fellow riders with the bikes under the El train and headed in.

The man was at the door before Johnny could enter the office – he’d had to press the buzzer and identify himself. There was also a camera, though Johnny hadn’t seen it. It was well hidden. “Mister Klebitz.” The man said, offering his hand. “I’m Mister Locke.” Johnny took the man’s hand. He had a firm grip and a serious look in his eye. Johnny sat in front of the desk and waited as Mr. Locke sat on his seat – a tall-backed brown leather chair. “What do you need?” Locke said bluntly. “Help finding someone, and figuring something out.” “Ok lets start with the first one.” Locke reached for a pen and a small notebook. “Name’s Niko Bellic.” Johnny said. “Serbian I think.” “Right…” Locke was taking notes. “Go on.” “I think he’s trying to kill me and, he’s come close twice. I just got out of hospital yesterday.” Locke raised an eyebrow. “Close call was it?” “Something like that.” “Why do you think he’s after you?” “Is this going to be between you and me?” “Of course. I wouldn’t want any of this getting out. I run a more… renegade operation here.” Illegal, Johnny thought. “So this man’s motive?” Johnny sighed. “I kidnapped his late cousin two years ago.” “You kill him?” “No, he escaped, or was released. I don’t know. He was shot at his own wedding.” “Harsh.” Johnny nodded. “So you’re thinking revenge?” Johnny nodded again. “We worked together twice and neither of those times did we have a problem with each other.” “What were these jobs?” Johnny shrugged. “Deals.” “Drugs?” “Deals.” Johnny repeated. Locke nodded and wrote something down. “Can you describe him?” Johnny did. “Sounds like half the men I track down.” Locke observed with an edge of humor. Johnny didn’t laugh. “And what was the other thing? Is it connected?” “I think so. My brother was shot dead recently and I found one of the men that did it. It was there this Niko first came close to killing me. I’m trying to find the remaining killer. And this Niko.” Locke, having rapidly written a page full of notes, scanned through them. He summarized back to Johnny then asked specifically what he wanted. “Find Niko and find out who killed Michael Klebitz.” Locke nodded. “If he’s operating in Liberty City – Broker, Dukes, Algonquin or Bohan – or Alderney, I’ll find him. I haven’t come across any ghosts yet. As for the murder – I’ll see what I can find out. Now, as for the price…” Locke gave Johnny the figure, writing it on a piece of paper. How wonderfully clichéd, Johnny thought. “I’ve only got a quarter of that.” Johnny said. “If you can pay that up front, today, I will begin. You can pay the rest when I obtain the information.” “That’s the thing…” Johnny sighed. “I won’t be able to get more then half. At all.” Locke’s face changed. “You knew this and then wasted my time?” He sighed and shook his head. “You can give me half of what you have now and then you may leave. I cannot be of service if you cannot front the money.” “You’re not having the money.” Johnny said, shaking his head. “Not if you’re not gonna help.” “I don’t think you understand, Mister Klebitz.” “No pal. You don’t understand. I have some of my boys outside. You want them to run in here, followed by the rest of us?” Locke didn’t blink. “Okay Johnny. I tell you what. You do something for me then I’ll begin my search. Then when I come through – which I will – you do me another favor. For this, i will allow you to pay half. I’ll still need what you got now though.” Johnny stood and grabbed the envelope from his pocket. He felt bad turning his brothers’ money over to this… shark, but he had no choice. This was his only hope. “What you want done?” “A simple task really, but one beyond someone like myself – I have to be carful here to keep my hands clean. I have a client who is quite persistent at not paying me. He has an almost five K debt. That is not acceptable. Normally I will hire a bounty hunter, but, seeing as you owe me two favors – for free – I think you can do it.” Locke leant into a drawer and pulled out a file. He slid it over to Johnny. “Find this man – all information will be in the folder. He’s an avid gambler – likely why he is unwilling to pay me. There’s a back-room gambling club he frequents in Broker. See if he’s there. You may want to brush up on your poker too – they won’t let you in just for a gander.” Johnny nodded and took the folder. “You’ll need at least a hundred dollars to play. See if you can clean him out. Then kill him – just him. Follow him, do whatever you need to. Then go to his apartment – the address is in there and he lives alone, and call this number.” Locke wrote a number on a scrap of paper and handed it to Johnny. “He will help you out with the rest. You can keep whatever you win.” Johnny nodded passively and pocketed the file and scrap. “Have that information ready.” Locke stood and escorted Johnny to the door. “I will. It may take a few days, a week tops, but I will.”

Johnny pulled his bike over on Dillon Street and approached the hardware store. Inside stood a lone man behind a counter who watched Johnny like an eagle. “Can I help you?” The man asked with a disdainful scowl. “I was hoping there was a game on.” Johnny replied. “Game of what?” “Cards.” The man laughed. “This aint not casino man. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but this is a hardware store. You wanna buy a hammer?” Johnny slapped a fifty on the counter. “Got any spades?” The man picked up the fifty and checked it. “That all you got?” Johnny showed the man a wad of cash. “I’m good – let me through.” The man pocketed the fifty then let Johnny into the back.

The room was dark, a single bare light bulb did a lazy job on illuminating the room and there were no windows. A green felt card-table sat in one corner, with mahogany chairs surrounding it. One of the men turned and stared at Johnny. “Who’s you?” He rapped. Johnny approached the table and produced the cash. “A man with money.” “Yo Barry!” The man called. The man from the shop appeared. “You let this fool in?” Barry nodded. “He seems cool.” “And how you know he’s not a cop?” Barry looked at Johnny, his eyes tracing the biker's tattoos. “Does he look like a cop? He‘s one of those Lost boys – that biker gang.” The sitting man chewed on his lip. “Ok man, you’re in. But no tricks or fancy stuff ok?” Johnny nodded as he sat down. He put his money down and set his chips to his side. “Let’s deal.” Johnny said. “I’ll say when we deal.” The man said, picking up the cards. “Texas Hold ‘em.” He shuffled them and dealt each man. With his initial bet in, Johnny picked up his two cards. Three of Diamonds and seven of hearts. He frowned at the hand. “Some face you got there money.” The man said looking at Johnny. One of the other men checked. The next raised by five chips. Johnny threw five chips in. What the hell, he thought. The dealer raised by another two, which everyone matched. Then the dealer placed the cards in the middle, face up. Johnny saw a three of spades show up, alongside a seven of – no, wait, that was a nine. Someone raised but Johnny matched. Another card was laid out – a seven of diamonds. Johnny resisted the urge to smile and raised three. It was matched. The next card that came up was another nine. No one else raised and then it was time to show. Johnny saw the man next to him show a pair of fives. Next to him had a king-high card. The next player showed a full house – three nines and two fives. Johnny’s two pair wasn’t good enough.

The game carried on, with Johnny trying his hardest not to bust. He’d identified Locke’s target and started paying special attention to his face, slowly picking up on his tells. After a while one of the players busted out. He stood and left, muttering a profanity as he did so. Johnny began to slowly build his chips up again – by blindly bluffing his way out of trouble and betting as unpredictable as he could afford. He kept his thoughts half turned to Michael, dwelling on his brother’s death. This kept his face solid and cold, a steely leer in his eyes. Another man dropped out – deciding to take his chips and cash out. “And then there were three.” The man who had coldly greeted Johnny chuckled. “You wanna go home mister biker man?” “If you can’t stand the heat mister…” Johnny picked up the cards for his deal – his fourth one of the game. With two cards each and the deck by his side, he picked up his cards and studied them. The bets were placed and it came back round to Johnny. Check.

Johnny placed the cards in the middle and another round of betting proceeded. He placed another card in the middle. Ace of Hearts, four of clubs, King of diamonds and Queen of Hearts. Johnny looked at his hand again and mentally added his cards to the middle. Then he looked up and saw the target flash a quick smile. Johnny dealt the final hand. Jack of Hearts…. Johnny caught a glimpse on the target’s face who raised by ten. Johnny raised another ten to that. The slightly rude man folded, leaving Johnny and the target. The man raised. “You’re bluffing.” Johnny said. “Try me.” The target said with a wink. Again Johnny matched it. The duo kept this up until both were all in. The target revealed his hand – Ten of Clubs, Jack of Hearts, Queen of Hearts, King of Diamonds and Ace of Spades. “Ace high straight.” The target said. “Beat that mother*cker.” The man laughed. Johnny leant back in his chair. “You’re one hell of a card player.” Johnny said. “Haha! My luck is in today.” Johnny shook his head. “’fraid not.” The target’s face dropped as Johnny showed his hand. Ten of hearts, Jack of hearts, Queen of hearts, King of hearts and Ace of hearts. “Royal flush.” Johnny announced. The man blinked. Johnny collected his chips. And turned to the rude man. “Cash them.” The man mumbled something but did so. “You’re a lucky son of a b*tch.” The target said to Johnny. “I aint even got enough for the cab home.” He stood. “I guess I better walk.” The rude man passed a wad of cash to Johnny. “If you can promise not to win too much you’re welcome back here sometime money.” Johnny nodded his thanks and the two exchanged numbers. “Hey.” He said to the target, pulling a ten from the wad. “For your cab fare home.” He held it out. The target shook his head. “Nah man its cool. You won that, it’s yours.” “If you’re sure...” Johnny said, pocketing the money. “But at least let me give you a ride home.” The man stood and stumbled. “I think I may have had a bit too much tipple. Okay man, take me home.” Johnny laughed and escorted the man outside. “See you soon.” He said to the host. “Hey Dom.” The host said to the target. “Gimme a call and let me know you’re home ok will you?” “Yeah…” Dom replied. Outside, Johnny sat Dom on the Hexer and started the engine. “Where you live?” Johnny asked. “Firefly Projects.” “Right. Don’t fall asleep on my shoulder.” Johnny accelerated down the road toward the Broker-Dukes Expressway and headed to the projects. The target - Dom – fell flat on his face as soon as he got off the bike. Johnny picked him up and helped him into the apartment block. After getting the elevator to the tenth floor, Johnny helped the man into his apartment – a dark dreary and untidy place. The man stumbled to the phone on the wall by the balcony. Johnny stepped to the open door and looked out. “Some view you got here.” He said. Dom ignored him and phoned the guy from the card game. “All home good mother*ker….. Yeah he’s cool….. I know, gotta look after your best customers, hey?.... yeah ok. See you soon.” Dom hung up. “Thanks for the ride man.” “No problem.” Johnny said. “I better be going but I tell you what, it’s some view you got up here.” That worked. Dom stepped forward and leant on the guard rail. “Yeah it’s cool. Say I never got your name, what was it?” Dom was just turning round when Johnny grabbed his feet and lifted, tipping him over the edge. Dom screamed as he fell, and Johnny was already out of the door, closing it quietly behind him. He took the elevator down and walked back to his bike. He rode off, quick to give the host a call. “Dom’s home all safe and well.” “I know money, he just called.” “Ah. I thought he’d either forget or fall asleep in the elevevator. He seemed out of it when I dropped him off on the corner.” “Yeah. ‘Sall cool. So long as he don’t fall down the stairs. He always drinks a lot when playing.” “Yeah. See you soon.” Johnny hung up then phoned Locke. “It’s all done, and I won two hundred dollars.” He’d actually won three hundred and twenty. “Exceptional work. Come see me tomorrow and we’ll see if I’ve got anything for you.”

Chapter Ten: Round Two

Another job. Niko sat outside a Bean Machine, a coffee in hand. In his other hand, his iFruit held to his ear. “How much longer is this going to go on?” He asked tiredly. “As long as it needs.” The voice replied. “It won’t be forever, and eventually everything will be explained. But for now, I need you to do this.” Niko sighed. Was this ever going to end? “There’s a man coming in on a train from up north. Meet the train at Easton terminal and follow him. I’ll send you a picture of him. Follow him and tell me where he goes. Do not let him detect you and do not engage him. Do not lose him.” The voice hung up. Niko sighed and finished his drink before getting in his car. He’d stolen it from the airport long-term parking lot so he was confident no one would miss it. Niko closed the door on the dark green Regina and keyed the ignition. Ten minutes later he was walking into Easton Station. The first thing that struck Niko is that he’d never been in here before. He’d been past it countless times but not inside. He always drove to Mallories. He’d stopped trusting trains when he’d heard about someone stealing a subway car. He hadn’t believed it at first until he saw amateur camera footage on Weazel News, showing a huge helicopter carrying the carriage. The second thing that struck Niko was the interior design in the station. The lobby was large, with marble floors that reflected everything. The walls were varying shades of brown and cream, with intricate designs carved into the pillars. A grand staircase stood at the far end, leading, no doubt, to a couple of platforms. Niko looked at the information screen, finding the train the voice had mentioned. Platform 3 Niko made his way to the platform and found he had ten minutes. He decided to visit the bathroom before sitting at a conveniently placed coffee bar. He ordered a decaf and a muffin. He waited….

Johnny sat in Locke’s office. He’d phoned saying he had some information. Locke slid a photograph over the desk to Johnny. “Marcus D’Amico. Don’t be fooled by the name, he’s not Italian. No mob links. He’s an amateur hit man – not a very good one. He apparently used to work for the government. Some sort of field agent. His partner was killed recently in a betting shop in Willis.” “His partner?” “Lyle Greenhorn.” Johnny laughed. “He was one of the men that killed my brother. He admitted to it to my face.” “If he did in the last five years then D’Amico would have been involved.” “I think I saw him at the store when I got Lyle. Where can I find him?” “He owns an apartment on Franklin street in Alderney. But there was a problem.” Johnny stared at the man. “Getting the information was… tricky. There were a few blocks up and I know why. Both Greenhorn and D’Amico worked for the government.” “Ex-spies?” “Something like that. I struggled to find anything on the men in the last couple of years. To me that says one of two or things.” “Which are…?” “Well, one, the men are still employed by the government in some capacity – whether it’s directly, as in spooks, or as a contractor kind of thing, or some kind of retirement package giving them protection or something. The second is that they went underground – this is more likely. My money would be on them being freelance assassins or something.” Johnny pondered that information for a moment. “Franklin you say?” Locke nodded. “I think I’ll pay him a visit.” Johnny stood and turned to leave. “Be careful.” Locke said. “I still got one favor from you – I want you to be able to do it.” Johnny snarled. “Find out about my brother first.” With that he left.

Niko had spotted the target, and was now tailing him, blending with the crowd where he could. He kept his distance and resisted the urge to rush when the target disappeared round a corner. Niko rounded the corner, one of many men in suits. He’d chosen a brown-grey double-breasted jacket combo in the hope that he’d look more ordinary. Sure enough, the target was ahead of him. He saw the target step into a car. Niko carried on walking though. He passed the car without even looking at the car. Ten yards ahead, behind a couple of other parked cars, Niko’s ‘borrowed’ Regina waited. He got in and switched on the engine. For good measure he picked up a map and unfolded it, resting it over the steering wheel. He opened the window too and looked out, playing the lost tourist. Niko hit the indicator and went through the motions of waiting/looking to pull into traffic. The target’s car, a black Cognoscenti, indicated too and pulled straight out. Niko glanced at the map as the car crawled past. He felt the driver’s gaze and the car passed. Niko let a couple of cars pass and pulled out. The Cognoscenti turned onto Albany Avenue, heading south. One eye fixed on the car, the other watching the road and traffic, Niko guided his car onto the same road, now three cars behind. The Cognoscenti turned onto Gamet street, heading West. Niko turned the steering wheel, threading his car into the traffic. This is my life now, he thought. Being used by some mysterious d*ck.I’m bored of all this. A taxi passed, drawing Niko’s eyes to the advert on the roof. Vice City Air: Trips to Vice City from Liberty City. Only…. Niko allowed his mind to wander. Perhaps that was the answer. Sun. Sea. Crime, he reminded himself. Vice is known for it’s crime, at least in years past. In the eighties, it was the country's hub for drug imports. Who’d know if I just left? Niko asked himself. If I just turned this car right now and drove to Francis International. Would they be watching the airport? Are they watching me now? Europe. Would they – whoever they are – be able to follow him there? Would it be worth it? But what about Mallorie? The Cognoscenti turned north on Union Drive. Niko followed, allowing himself to drop back slightly. Who the hell was this? Niko asked himself? Another poor gullible chump? Perhaps one day he’d pick up a tail and not see it, then go home and sleep, never to wake again. Perhaps, Niko thought, that was the only way out. The Cognoscenti turned onto Kunzite, past the police station, bringing memories of Francis McReary to Niko’s weary mind. A left turn, then another, and the Cognoscenti cruised down into the tunnel. Alderney. Niko thought. Who the hell was in Alderney that knew me? Pegorino was dead, and his syndicate long gone. Dimitri, who’d used the old Casino in Alderney when he was in with Jimmy was also dead – Niko had made sure of that – something he should have done when he had the chance. Who else was in Alderney? That Anceloti b*tch? Phil Bell? It had to be one of those… Or, Niko’s mind reminded him, it could be someone who’s not based in Alderney at all….. The Cognoscenti turned and headed north until it reached the large car park in Leftwood – or was it Westdyke? Niko cautiously pulled his car in and parked on the second level. The Cognoscenti carried on going up. Niko stepped out of his car and ran to the ramp. He crouched by the wall and moved up. He reached the next level in time to see the Cognoscenti disappear up the next ramp. Niko ascended the ramp closest to him, almost walking into an old red pickup. The driver – an old man with white hair – honked his horn and said something. Niko moved on. The Cognoscenti was parked at the far end, and the passengers alighted, walking to the stairwell by their car. Niko turned and back-tracked down his ramp, hurrying to the other stairwell. He rushed downstairs and leapt the railing outside to the sidewalk. There he walked quickly to the corner of the car park and turned the corner, slowing himself to blend with the sparsely distributed pedestrians. He passed the other door and turned the corner. He then turned and walked back. No one came out of the door. Niko, confused stared round the corner and glanced up at the car park. Then a thought crossed his mind. He ran round the corner until he was on the same side as the exit he had taken. The door opened and the men stepped out. Smooth,Niko thought to himself; the men had exited the stairwell and crossed the car-park on one of the lower levels, then exited from the other stairwell. Niko had almost lost them.

Johnny had parked his bike on Panhandle road, on the small, dead-end street under the Skyway ramp and walked round to Franklin Street. He had left his Lost MC jacket back at the Casino, and was wearing a simple turtle-necked jacket, with faded-to-gray stonewashed jeans, brown hiking boots and a beanie. He zipped his jacket up to hide his tattoo. He had considered wearing shades, but the sky was overcast. Johnny sighed, wondering if this was going to be another wild goose chase. Oh well, here goes nothing.

Johnny went inside, and found the appropriate apartment. He took a deep breath and pulled his sawn off from his jacket. Johnny kicked the door open and moved inside. Two men in suits were jumping to their feet, reaching for their side-arms. Johnny fired, hitting the first man in the chest. The second had cleared his holster. Johnny darted to his left, firing as he moved. The man fell. Johnny moved into the room, as another door swung open. A gun fired, and Johnny dove for cover – behind a counter that separated the kitchen from the lounge. The bullets chipped away at the floor and wall as Johnny pressed himself against the counter. He reached over the top with his shotgun and blind-fired at the doorway. Then, nothing. Johnny poked his head over the counter, to be greeted by a silenced gunshot burrowing into the worktop, sending shards of chipboard into Johnny’s face. Johnny rapidly dropped back into cover. He slowly pushed his head up again, and another gunshot chipped away at the counter. Suddenly, Johnny wondered if he’d bitten off more then he could chew.

Niko heard the gunshots from the bench across the street. He stood and dropped his bagel and coffee – a good cover he felt – into the bin and hurried across the street. To hell with this mystery man, he thought. He reached for his Desert Eagle.

Johnny had noticed a kettle steaming in front of him. He smiled, these f*ckers were waiting for their coffee or something. He reached for it and then sat back down, narrowly avoiding another two gunshots. These guys were good – and patient. They weren’t firing shots constantly, they were waiting to see the target, and they could – and would – wait all day. Johnny threw the kettle at the men, and heard a restrained yelp – not the agonizing scream he had hoped for but enough. These guys were tough. Johnny leapt over the counter and fired at the men. The shotgun’s spread had hit both men at the door but hadn’t killed either. One of them fired back, but missed. Johnny rushed forward and thrust the shotgun into the man’s chest/stomach. He fired, and the man flew back into the other. Johnny then thrust the shotgun’s butt into the other man’s face, breaking his nose. Johnny picked up the man’s silenced pistol and buried a shot in it’s owners temple. He then reloaded and darted into the next room. A man sat on the bed, a gun aimed at Johnny. Johnny instinctively dropped his shoulder, into a roll, grateful that the room was large. The gunshot came and missed. Johnny felt the heat tear the air by his ear as he rolled. He leapt to his feet and thrust his shotgun-wielding fist into the man’s face. He then stole the man’s gun and dropped it to the floor. “Michael Klebitz.” Johnny said, his voice dripping with venom. “Know the name?” “No.” The man said calmly. “Then I think I better introduce you to him.” Johnny cocked the gun. The man’s face dropped. “I don’t care who you are but I can guarantee you, you’ll be bringing a world of pain to your door.” “Let them come.” Johnny snarled. “I got a hundred brothers all wanting a fight.” The man scoffed. “’Brothers’… You’re up against professionals here. You can’t stand against us.” “You’re a little cocky aren’t you? You’ve never met a biker though. Most of them are ex-military. We all know how to shoot and fight. Believe me. Now why don’t you be a good boy and tell me who you work for. I might let you live then.” The man chuckled. “Not going to happen big guy.” Johnny hit out at the man again, hearing the wet squelch as his nose broke. The man growled through his teeth. “Still not saying.” He breathed. Johnny leant forward and grabbed the broken nose. He pushed, hard, and gave a little twist. The man cried out and Johnny pushed him on the bed. “F*CK YOU!” The man shouted. Johnny grabbed the silenced pistol and shot the man in the leg – in the knee actually. The man let of a pained yelp. “Want to phone a friend?” Johnny asked. The man did not reply. Johnny jabbed the bullet wound with the suppressor and pushed hard. The man screamed and, after what felt like eternity, slapped his hand on the bed. “Okay…” He cried. “Okay.” Johnny stepped back and aimed the gun at the man. “There’s a guy… Secretive.” The man winced from the pain in his leg. “He hides behind a desk – no name just orders. He’s new, killed the older one or something.” “Where can I find him?” “I don’t know. His orders come through someone else.” “Who?” “I don’t know.” "D'Amico?" Johnny waved the gun. "Yes." The man breathed. "But he's not here.... At a meeting..." "Where?" The man stared defiantly. Johnny shoved the suppressor into the wound again. The man screamed and wriggled in agony. “Where?” “Meeting a man named Carter… No Cartwright. Lives on Ivy Drive. He sees the man and gets our orders.” “He your boss?” “Yes.” The man grunted with pain. “So who is he, the Mafia?” “I don’t know. Someone who wants people dead… Dangerous people.” “Dangerous people?” “Yes. Former mercenaries. Loose ends. Enemies – I don’t know. I shoot who I’m told to…” “Don’t move a f*cki`ng muscle.” Johnny sighed at the familiar voice. He dropped his guns. The man on the bed moved then, awkwardly but fast. His hand shot to his mouth. Johnny jerked towards him but then the voice – accented – shouted. “I SAID DON’T F*CKING MOVE!” Johnny stared at the man on the bed, realizing it was too late. He’d stopped moving and his head now hung off the mattress, foam leaking from his mouth. Johnny turned. “You.” He said. “What the hell have you go to do with all this?” Niko asked through a grimace. “Why did you kill my brother?” Johnny snarled. Niko frowned. Brother? What Bro- The gun dropped to the floor as the fist hit his face. Niko stumbled back but raised his fists. Johnny punched again, hard. The biker had a weight advantage, and was probably a bit stronger but Niko didn’t care. He’d had enough of all this sh*t. Johnny punched again, throwing all of his weight into the swing. Niko tried to dodge but the punch hit his shoulder. Niko fell back. Johnny followed up with a kick, but Niko rolled clear. His arms out, Niko grabbed Johnny’s foot. He tried a twist but Johnny pushed forwards, stamping on Niko’s leg. Niko threw his other leg up, barely missing Johnny’s crotch as the biker jumped backward. Niko scrambled to his feet and lunged at Johnny, pushing him against a glass book shelf. The glass shattered as the two men collided with it. Niko punched at Johnny’s face, connecting solidly with his cheek. Johnny pushed back, using his weight to throw Niko off of him. Niko landed, back first, against a wardrobe and pushed himself back to his feet. Johnny bull-charged at Niko, grappling him and plunging him into a pile of boxes in the corner. Niko grabbed Johnny’s fist with both hands and pushed back. Johnny grabbed Niko’s arms with his other hand and threw in a quick headbutt. Niko yelled out but plunged his knee upwards, hitting Johnny’s stomach. The biker recoiled slightly, giving Niko a chance to knock him off balance. Johnny fell, landing on something hard. He looked down and saw his shotgun.

Niko grabbed the silenced pistol and spun round. Johnny was bringing his shotgun up.

The biker’s eyes flashed on the pistol and fired.

Niko ducked, anticipating the shot. Luckily the spread missed Niko, and obliterated a window behind him. Niko stepped forward and, holding the gun in both hands like a club, hit Johnny’s gun loose. Johnny didn’t drop his gun, though. He grabbed at Niko’s and pushed the hand at the broken window.

Niko felt his skin tear, and the warm trickle of blood cross his wrist. Johnny hit Niko’s hand against the window frame again, sending more shards of glass scraping across Niko’s skin. His fingers weakened and the gun came loose. Johnny hit out again, sending Niko’s gun flying out of the window. With his other hand, Niko hit out at Johnny. He let his elbow follow through, knocking the shotgun from the biker’s hand. Johnny grabbed Niko, but the Serbian spun free. He picked up a discarded curtain rail from the floor and, gripping it with two hands, pushed it against Johnny’s neck. The biker, struggling to breath, tried to push back. “I did not k-” Nikos speech was cut short as Johnny pushed himself forward and grabbed the curtain rail. He pushed back at Niko, and the two found themselves in an inverted tug of war. Niko, knowing he wasn’t going to win this battle of strength, ducked and released his grip. Johnny lurched forward and Niko stood, grabbing the man’s legs and tipping him over his shoulder. Johnny managed to brute force his way free of Niko’s punches and grabbed the smaller man. He pushed forward with all his might, picking the man up and charging forward.

Niko threw his hands around Johnny’s torso as he tumbled through the shattered window. Both men toppled, in a shower of glass shards, and fell to the concrete alleyway below.

Johnny lay on the floor groaning. He tried to move but couldn’t.

Niko ignored the pain in his back – probably a cracked rib – and rolled over. His eyes saw Johnny, then a sparkle of light.

Michael’s face flashed before Johnny’s eyes. The biker gritted his teeth and growled, pulling himself to his feet. He looked down…

Niko saw the man he had once worked with stumble forward, reaching for the fallen pistol.

Johnny watched as Niko’s eyes landed on the pistol. Not a chance in hell, he thought. Today you die

Chapter Eleven: An Unlikely Alliance

Niko pushed himself to his feet and ran as fast as he could. Johnny brought the gun up, almost in slow motion. Niko jumped and dove, like a professional swimmer, and grabbed the sawn-off shotgun.

Niko rolled over and swung the gun round, pointing it at Johnny.

Johnny looked down at the man lying two foot from him, pointing his own damned gun at him. He ground his teeth but knew, if he pulled the trigger, Niko would too. Johnny only had his gun loosely pointed at Niko’s torso – the man had moved too quick for a more solid aim. Niko, however had his target well within range of the spread. If Johnny adjusted his aim, he would die. Niko, out of breath, spoke. “I did not kill your brother.” He said. Johnny moved backwards half a step. What? Niko lowered the weapon slightly. Not enough for Johnny’s liking, but it was a sign of intent. “Greenhorn tried to kill me.” Niko said. “Then…. It gets complicated.” Johnny, still breathing fast, his heart racing, tried to process this. The biker shook his head but kept his gun aimed at Niko. “You almost killed me.” Johnny growled. “You shot at me in the liquor store, and shot me up in Bohan. You tell me you’re not my enemy and expect me to believe it? Lower my guard, then take me out?!” Niko sighed. Then he dropped the gun. He held his arms out, his palms open. “I do not wish to kill you. I never did.” Johnny lowered his gun. Niko kicked the shotgun towards Johnny. “This is yours.” Johnny picked up the weapon and lowered his. He went through the motions of putting the pistol in the back of his pants but in reality, he was emptying the clip. “So what now?” Niko asked. “I don’t know. How do I know I can believe you?” Niko shrugged. “You know when we did that diamond sh*t, I didn’t think you’d ever turn on me.” “I did not turn on you, Johnny. Were you the guy upstairs in the liquor store? You shot first. I was coming after that ogre-ish mercenary, not you. Same thing in Bohan. You shot first.” Johnny’s breath left him then. Niko was right. Neither man could exactly stand up during those encounters, waving a white flag and shouting ‘I’m your friend!’ Johnny handed Niko the gun back. Niko took it, immediately realizing the gun was empty. He’d almost missed that, but the clip by Johnny’s foot had given the game up. Niko slid the gun back into his pocket, subtly coupling another clip as he did so. The biker didn’t even notice. “I’ve worked for all sorts of people.” Niko said. “Russians, crooks, junkies, even the Mafia. When someone hires you and tells you to shoot, you do. “But I left that behind. I tried to live a normal life. Someone rudely interrupted that. I thought all my enemies were gone. Dmitri, Ray…” “Wait a minute… You killed Ray? Diamonds Ray?” Niko nodded. “He killed Jim.” Johnny said. Jim… Why did that ring a bell, Niko wondered. “Ray killed a lot of people. But this isn’t about him.” Johnny nodded. If Niko had killed Ray, then maybe he weren’t so bad after all. “Prove to me you didn’t kill my brother.” Niko held his hands out. “I didn’t even know you had a brother. But I think we’d better leave.” Niko nodded at the apartment above them. “Go our separate ways?” Johnny shook his head. “I need answers.” “Then how about we get out of here before we end up in jail together? I have a car round the corner.” “My bike’s over there.” Johnny pointed. “We go there, then to your car. I follow you to…. The burger shot round the corner. We talk there.” “Okay.” Niko nodded, ushering the biker toward the street.

Niko sat in Burger Shot, a bleeder burger meal in front of him – out of appearances rather then nutritional requirement. Johnny sat opposite, nursing some fries. Niko began laying it out for the biker. “I woke up to two guys trying to kill me.” Niko said, prodding his half-eaten burger with a fry. “I managed to evade them, but it was obvious there was a contract out on me. They knew where I live. I haven’t been back since. Luckily I inherited a property from someone – and it’s registered under their name still, so I’ve been staying there. “Also some mysterious voice calls me, tells me to pick up this package – it’s a phone that this guy’s been using to manipulate me into doing whatever he wants. He knew I was about to be killed. He’s got me to do some things, none of which make sense. It was this guy who sent me to Willis – the man you killed – I assume it was you – was one of the two that tried to kill me. I don’t know who the other was.” “And Bohan?” “Coincidence. I was working for a friend. You appeared and fired the first shot. Both times I acted out of self-preservation, not malice. Today, I was doing my sheep impression; doing whatever I was told.” Niko shook his head.

Johnny stared at the person in front of him, and suddenly saw a weary broken man. “I was told to follow someone, and report his location. Then I was told to wait and follow him to some meeting.” “A man named Cartwright.” Johnny said. Niko looked up. “Two men killed my brother. I don’t know why, but I’ve got to find them. I got one, but I need to find out why.” “So the people who tried to kill me, killed your brother.” Johnny bit his lip at the revelation. “Believe me now.” Johnny slowly nodded. Niko took a sip of his drink. “I’m guessing you managed to beat it out of one of the guys back there.” Johnny nodded. “The meeting’s probably over, but he said the man lives on Ivy Drive.” Niko suddenly seemed to spring to life. “Then we’ve got somewhere to start.” Johnny blinked. “‘W’e’?” Niko nodded. “We’re both after the same guy – unless you’ve killed him.” “I haven’t. Yet” Niko nodded. “I need to get to a internet café.” “Why?” “You’ll see…”

After their ‘meal’ the two men headed down to Alderney’s Tw@t internet café. Niko led Johnny to the back of the room, sitting at two computers around the farthest pillar. From his seat, Niko could see everyone in the room, and had a very good view of the front door. If anyone came in, Niko would see them first and, by the time they spotted him, he’d be out that back door.

Niko tapped on the keyboard and the screen flickered, displaying the LCPD website. “Watch this.” Niko whispered to Johnny. Niko dramatically hit Enter. The screen changed, bringing up the Police Database. Niko began typing commands and, within seconds they were staring at a list of Cartwrights. Seven names on the list resided near Ivy Drive. Four of them lived on Ivy itself. Niko clicked on the first one. A picture of an old woman appeared. No criminal record. Niko shared a smile. Due to certain events two years ago – some of them Niko had a hand in – that were labeled as terrorist incidents, and the Jingoism Act, the police had received a present from the city – their databases were expanded and now encompassed every legal resident of Liberty City and nationally known criminals. “I somehow doubt that’s her.” Johnny said. Then: “Who’s to say we’ll find him – or her? Could be using a fake name.” “Oh, undoubtedly is.” Niko said. “But if the guy told you the right name, fake or not….” Johnny frowned. What? Niko waved a hand up and carried on his search. After almost half an hour, Johnny stood. “I’m getting a coffee. You want one?” Niko shook his head.

At the machine Johnny pondered this new alliance. Could he completely trust this guy? With a sip of his drink he realized he had to. “Just keep your wits about you, Johnny.” He said to himself in a husky whisper. “Don’t let your guard down for a second.” With his free hand he fumbled the shotgun under his jacket.

“Couldn’t we do this somewhere more secluded?” Johnny asked, sitting back down, his eyes scanning the many customers. “No.” Niko replied, without looking away from the screen. “If they trace this, they’ll trace it to an internet café, not my home. Dead end.” “What if they trace it now?” “If any police turn up, we leave. By the time they’ve isolated the terminal it’s from, we’d be six blocks away, and the computer’s history deleted.” Johnny nodded. Then Niko froze. “Johnny, the apartment we were at is owned by a Marcus D’Amico.” Johnny’s head shot up. “D’Amico was arrested last year for gun violence, but it never got to court. He was arrested with…. a Jackie Cartwright.” “You found him?” “Her, Niko said. Cartwright’s a woman.” Niko tapped a command and a picture came up on the screen. “That’s the guy that tried to kill me.” Niko whispered. “Greenhorn’s partner.” Niko nodded. “Cartwright lives at 529….” “Ivy drive.” Johnny said. Niko nodded. Then the familiar feel of his iFruit phone. He sighed. “This is the guy I was telling you about.” Niko answered the call. “Get out of there. Now.” The voice hung up. All color drained from Niko’s face. “Go to the car. Now.” He said to Johnny, simultaneously clearing the browsers history. He closed the browser then he set the computer to reboot – something you can’t normally do with public computers, but there were ways. Niko stood and strolled to the exit. He smiled at the attendant and walked out the door. Niko was just pulling the car onto Kemeny Street when the convo of black Buffalos appeared in his rear view mirror. “What was that about?” Johnny asked. “That as*hole told me to leave. Right now the FIB are probably walking in through the door.” Niko turned for the Skyway.

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