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Silver Infernus/Blood Brothers

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Introduction

Blood Brothers is a fanfiction in the works by Silver Infernus. It will be set in Vice City, taking place in 1989, after the events of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. The protagonist will be Pete Vance, the younger brother of Victor and Lance Vance.

Story

Prologue

ESCOBAR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, TERMINAL A
JUNE 5, 1989

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are arriving at Vice City," The female announcer's voice rang over the intercom. "Please unfasten your seat belts when prompted and secure all your belongings. We do not assume responsibility for any lost artifacts. If you require assistance, please contact the staff at Escobar International Airport. Thank you for choosing Plummet Airlines."

Pete Vance looked out his window as the airplane began to approach the runway. It had been a long flight, least of all the reasons being several delays during takeoff, but they had finally arrived in Vice City. The view outside showed palm trees, clear weather, and other things typical of a tropical island. He wondered if it was a metaphor for the city or a mask hiding its corruption. If to be judged by the climate, it would be a fairly decent place to live, although he knew it held the secrets as to the disappearances of his brothers.

Pete had been very sick with asthma for years, and with their mother Janet spending all the family's money on cocaine, his older brother, Victor, had joined the army to pay for his medical bills. Vic had run into trouble in 1984 and had to find employment elsewhere. Lance left for Vice a bit later too to help him, and both of them came back to Florida soon after. Two years later they returned here for an errand they had kept to themselves, and both disappeared not long after.

Vic and Lance had been vague as to how they obtained money, but Pete had managed to keep his condition mild with the cash, and now he was going to find out what happened to them. It was the least he could do.

A rumbling was heard through the interior of the airplane as it touched down. As it slowed and finally came to a stop, Pete stood up and took his few belongings. As he left the plane and took the rest of his bags from a conveyor in inside the airport, he cleared customs a few minutes later and stepped out onto the street. There were many people piling in and out of taxis around the terminal. Almost immediately, a yellow cab pulled up on the opposite end of the road and the driver beckoned to him. As Pete began to move towards it, a second cab stopped next to him.

"Go away, I'm taking this one!" the second driver shouted.

"Asshole!" the first driver yelled as he drove off. The second driver stepped out of his cab and opened the trunk, Pete put his bags inside, and climbed into the taxi. The driver closed the trunk and sat down behind the wheel.

"Alright, where to?"

Pete took out a sheet from his pocket and read it. "Dakota Hotel, Ocean Beach."

"Will do," the driver said, and put his foot to the pedal. As they drove away from the airport, he said, "My name's Ted, by the way."

"Pete Vance."

"You look one of those off-the-boats, Pete. So what made you come to Vice City?"

"I'm...looking for someone."

"Aren't we all," Ted grunted, honking his horn at a speeding car. "Goddamn Haitians...think they don't need to follow the road like the rest of us. So, you got employment here?"

"No," Pete said. Was everyone in this town this conversational, or was it just this guy? "I was in a hurry to get here."

The driver thought about it for a while as they pulled onto a bridge and left the island behind. As they approached another one, Ted turned back to him.

"Hey, I know a couple of guys that can help you out. They might be a bit odd, but you'll get used to them."

"I know quite a bit about odd, actually," Pete laughed.

"Not a bad thing, my friend. City's getting crazier every day."

When the taxi pulled to a stop on the side of the road, Ted said, "We're here." Pete retrieved his bags from the trunk, and took out his wallet. He gave Ted a handful of bills, and as the latter climbed back into his taxi, he added, "Drop by the cab depot some time, Pete. Look for Kaufman Cabs in Little Haiti." As he drove away, Pete looked around. A beach stretched from across the street to the distant ocean, and many buildings flashed with neon lights. Cars were squeezed into every available parking space, and people walking by didn't spare him a second glance.

Welcome to Vice City, Pete thought.

Chapter 1

1 WEEK LATER

"You've been standing outside for twenty minutes now," Dan, the concierge said, stepping out and lighting a cigarette.

"I'm waiting for someone," Pete replied.

"Wouldn't happen to be a whore, would it? Cuz usually you're supposed to pick them up."

Pete chuckled. "No, someone coming in from Little Haiti. He'd be here today."

"Haiti?" the hotel employee frowned. "That's in the mainland, isn't it? The bridges closed yesterday because of a storm coming in."

"Really? Why would they close the bridges because of a storm? From the one week I've been here, I can see that the government isn't too protective of its citizens."

"You're right there, Mr Vance," he said, offering Pete a cigar. "There's a very thin line that borders on what's legal and what's not in these parts."

Pete declined it. "I'd rather not. Asthma." Dan shrugged, and put the tube back in his pocket.

The former frowned. "I was hoping to meet someone over in Little Haiti today."

"Well, if it's important, you can take a boat over to Viceport," the concierge said. "You ain't allowed, of course, but no one really gives a shit. The VCPD won't be looking for you, but you'd better run fast if they do spot you. Here, I know someone down at the docks who can take you to the mainland. His name is Keith Jamison, he's down by the piers. Tell him I sent you. Oh, and his bike is parked in the alleyway, I meant to return it to him." Dan handed him a set of keys.

"Thanks," Pete said, "Sign me out." He walked into the alley, spotted a Streetfighter, and placed the keys in the ignition. The motorbike hummed to life, and he eased it out onto the road.

When Pete reached the pier, he stopped next to a worker loading crates onto a speedboat. "Could you tell me where Keith Jamison is?"

"Are you a cop?" the worker asked, squinting suspiciously.

"No, I need to get to the—"

"How do I know you're not trying to put us inside?"

Pete was slightly thrown off. "Well...are you doing anything illegal?"

"Why do you want to know?" the worker began stepping towards him. "It ain't your business, is it?"

He was considering leaving when a second man walked up a ramp from a parking lot. "Gus, who're you talking to?"

Kj bloodbrothers

Keith Jamison.

"Some guy looking for you, Keith," Gus said. "I'm thinking he's looking for trouble."

"Oh calm down," Keith said. "Just finish loading that stuff up. Come here," he added to Pete.

"So, what do you want?" the man asked.

"Dan sent me," Pete said. "He said you could help me get to the mainland."

"Dan returned my bike, I see," Keith said. He paused for a moment. "Yeah, I can get you across the water, but it's gonna cost. You're lucky I'm about to leave right now."

"I don't have a whole lot of money." Was everyone in this town after the same thing? And what for?

"I ain't talking about money, boy. There'll be those Haitians waiting for us at Viceport. Those scumbags are always trying to rip off my stuff. Can you handle a gun?"

"Yeah," Pete said. "Well, I'm not a soldier like my brother, but I've done a few odd jobs before."

"Good," Keith said. "I'll need you to help look out for us while we're crossing. If those bastards don't kill us, and if I like how you run things, maybe I can keep in touch, look out for you."

"All done here, Keith!" Gus called.

"Get on the boat, boys. Just give me a second," the latter said. He wheeled his bike into the parking lot.

Pete climbed onto the Squalo, and stood across from Gus.

"Something to bear in mind," the worker said, not looking at him. "Don't hurt to be too careful in this town."

Keith came back, and climbed onto the boat with them. He reached under the seats and pulled out two Micro SMGs. He handed one to Gus and one to Pete. He ignited the boat's engines. "All set? We're out of here, boys."

Pete felt the night wind blowing against his face as the Squalo churned over the waves and away from the pier. He could tell that Keith was involved with a lot of illegal stuff, and couldn't help but wonder if he'd get caught up in it as well. Was this what Vic and Lance had been doing for two years? Was it why they disappeared? And if he stuck around long enough, there was no doubt he'd find out where they went, but the problem would be getting out.


"Alright, we're approaching Viceport," Keith said as the mainland finally came into sight. "Be ready for anything."

There were a few more moments of silence, broken only by the sound of the Squallo cutting through the waves. Then—

"Haitians, coming up in Jetskis!" Gus shouted, aiming his gun. Pete did likewise on the other side.

"Take them out!" Keith said, "I'll get us onto land as quickly as I can."

One of the dark-skinned pursuers raised a pistol, and Pete pulled the trigger. Crimson stains spread across his purple shirt, and the Haitian fell with a splash into the water. He could hear Gus firing rapidly. The boat lurched as Keith turned the Squalo. Pete saw more Haitians speeding towards them, and he shot as many of them as he could. It wasn't easy, since they were small targets, and the SMG wasn't especially accurate for longer range. But finally, Keith docked the boat ashore, where a group of gunmen waiting for them fired on the Haitians. The man jumped off the boat, followed by Pete and Gus. One of his guys tossed him a gun, and he joined in the firing. "Let's take them out before we unload! Protect the boat!" The Haitians leaped out of the water too, and returned fire. Pete spent the next few minutes killing them, avoid getting shot, and picking guns off dead allies and enemies when he was out of ammunition. Finally, silence reigned over the port again.

Keith looked around. They lost a few men, but the Squalo's contents were still safe. "Guys, start unloading these into the vans. Pete? Can I talk to you?"

Pete, who was still tense after the fight, took a breath. "You did good," the former said. "A little tentative, but you'll get over it once you start doing this again. Hey, what is it you're looking for here?"

"I'm trying to find out what happened to my brothers. They disappeared three years ago."

Keith was silent for a moment. "There's a guy who knows just about everything that goes on in Vice. He's on the other island though, but I can introduce you once we get back. In the meantime, I'll bet a few people here can give you answers. This place," he gestured to the empty garage they were standing next to, "Used to belong to Phil Cassidy when he ran his business in Viceport. He lives in Little Haiti now, I can take you to him. He's a war veteran, but did you say your brother was a soldier?"

"Yeah."

"Then there's a chance he knew him."

"Vans are loaded, Keith," Gus called.

"Alright, Gus, you drive the first van. Pete, you're with me. We're going to drop these guns off at Phil's place. There are probably more Haitians waiting for us, so I'll need you ready for a drive-by maybe." Pete sat in the passenger seat of the Pony, SMG ready. Keith started the engine, and the vans pulled onto the road. Gus' voice came over a speaker as the vans entered Little Havana. "Keith, I see Haitians waiting up ahead. Is there another way across?"

"No," Keith said. "let's plow through them. Pete, try to take out the drivers. The Haitians are the ones in the red Voodoos." Pete rolled down his window, and stuck his gun arm out. He fired a rapid burst, breaking the windshield on one of the Voodoos and splattering blood on the glass. He turned to deal with a second one.

Two bullets hit the van's rim, sparking off the metal and leaving holes. Pete turned back to see the first Haitian car's gunner, and shot him too. There was chaos among the street as the small convoy sped down Bayshore Avenue. But the Voodoos were faster and could easily outstrip them, and the Pony began to shake as it tried to move with a popped tire. Keith grabbed the mike. "Phil, can you hear me? We've got your guns, we need a bit of help here!"

The vans turned onto another road, and off to the left was a blond-haired main holding a machinegun on a tripod. He fired at the Haitians, and several of the vehicles were destroyed by the heavy gunfire. The rest turned and left.

"Thanks, Phil," Keith called out the window.

"No problem," the man replied. "Put them in the garages."

As Keith put the Pony to a stop inside a compound yard, Pete stepped off the van, and noticed that Phil only had one arm. The man seemed to have a naturally cheerful personality, and knew a lot of the guys. As they unloaded the crates from the vans, Keith took Pete over to him. "This is Phil Cassidy. Phil, this is...what was your name?"

"Pete Vance."

Phil suddenly turned to look sharply at him. "Vance? Did you say your name was Vance?"

Pete nodded. He guessed why the man was so surprised. Maybe...

"You...you have brothers, right?"

I knew it. "Yes. Victor and Lance. They...disappeared in 1986. Do you know them?"

"Course I do!" Phil said. "Vic was my brother in arms. We got through a lot together after he got kicked out. Some asshole Sergeant had tried to kill us too, but Vic dealt with him. He was controlling all of Vice's criminal activity in '84."

"Do you know what happened to them?"

Phil paused. "Not personally, no. I've got a lot to worry about I didn't really go snooping. But I know someone who worked with them before. You want Tommy Vercetti. You've heard of him, right? He practically owns this town! He gets around the city a lot. His nearest place is just a block away, it's a cab depot, you can call him up."

Pete returned to the others and helped finish unloading the guns. When they were done, Keith nodded to him before getting back into his van. "I'll be in touch, Pete. See you around." The two Ponies pulled out of the compound yard. Phil closed the garage door and locked it. "Hey, you got a place to stay on this side of the island?" He shook his head. "Here, climb into my truck. I'll take you to my old place. Vic stayed there a couple of nights after Sergeant Martinez got him kicked out of Fort Baxter."

He followed Phil to his Walton, and the latter opened the door. "You mind driving? I avoid it whenever I can cuz of my arm and all." The former nodded and climbed into the driver seat. As Phil sat shotgun beside him, he said, "the address is 101 Bayshore Avenue. It's down by Viceport."

As Pete followed the veteran's instructions to the house, he looked around at the mainland of Vice City. It was certainly very different from the island, and he could see some buildings halfway torn down. "Those are some empire sites Vic built," Phil said, pointing out the window. "Spent a lot of money on them too...shame it doesn't count for much anymore."

When they reached Viceport, Pete pulled the Walton off the side of the road and saw an apartment with the number "101" scrawled over the wall. He climbed out, and Phil tossed him the keys. "I'll catch you later, Pete. Call me up if you need some guns or something." Pete opened the door and up the stairs into the apartment. He walked across the single room and sat down on the bed, thinking things over. Now he knew that Vic and Lance were involved in illegal activity, and it was likely he would join them. But it was rather disconcerting how no one as of yet knew what happened to them. Well, he would find out, sooner or later.

Pete looked down at the bedside cabinet, and saw a picture of a pretty-looking woman. She was smiling and holding a baby, and in the background, Phil's Walton could be seen. There was another man too, balding with narrow eyes. He was looking away from the picture. Who were they?

Pete sighed, and lay down on the bed. It had been a long day, and sleep finally caught up to him.

Chapter 2

6 HOURS LATER

Pete woke up from a restless sleep, looking out the balcony window across the room. It was still early in the day, but he didn't feel he could go back to sleep. Getting out of bed, he took his gun off the cabinet and slipped it under his jacket. He paused, noticing the picture of the woman, and put it in his pocket as well. He carefully locked the door behind him, and stepped out onto the street.

He hailed a VC taxi, and asked to go to the Kaufman cabs depot. The driver scowled, but didn't object. When they arrived, Pete paid the driver, and walked into a yellow building sitting on the street corner. It was a relatively small depot, and an elder lady was sitting in a small room, talking into a microphone. "...better get him there quick, he never thinks we're good enough..." she turned when seeing Pete. "Oh, hi. What are you doing here?"

"I'm looking for Ted," Pete said.

"Sit down over there, boy," the lady said, pressing a button on the microphone. "Cab 11? Ted, there's someone waiting for you at the cab depot. Name of..." she turned back to him. "What did you say your name was?"

"Pete Vance."

"I'm Delores," she said, turning back to the microphone. "Yeah, someone named Pete. Okay. Okay, hurry on back. He's a bit busy right now," Delores said. "He'll be back later in the day, but in the meantime, could you do me a favour? Just take one of those cabs over there, and go pick up this guy over in Downtown? We're a bit short of drivers right now, I'll pay you all and too."

"I've got some things to do right now," Pete said uncertainly. "I'm not sure driving a taxi's the best use of my time."

"Oh come on," she insisted. "You look like you need a few greens, it's not that hard."

"How much?"

"Depends on you. You'll be driving him around to a lot of places, he'll pay up."

He thought for a moment, then agreed. "Okay." He walked over to a cab, and saw that the keys were in the ignition. Before leaving, he remembered something. "Hey Delores. Do you know some guy called..." He tried to remember the name Phil had given him. "...Vercetti?"

"You mean Tommy? Yeah, he's the muscle behind this outfit. His guys hang around here and give us protection."

"Where could I find him?"

"The Vercetti Estate up on Starfish Island. It's the big mansion looking over the east island."

"Thank you," Pete said, closing the door and driving out of the depot.

He pulled onto the road and headed for Downtown, he checked the picture and name taped onto the dashboard. Squinting, he spotted a likely-looking man wearing a red T-shirt standing next to the police station. Rolling down the window, he drove towards him, and called, "Hal Norwood?" The man turned around, spotted the cab, and climbed inside. "About damn time! Take me to the Stadium. I'm meeting someone there."

Pete tapped the location on his GPS, set the fee timer at $0, and pulled out of the lane. "You gotta be kidding me?" Hal said. "You're a damn cab driver, and you can't find your way around the town?"

"I'm new."

"Don't know what the hell Kaufman is doing these days...well if you don't ask too many questions, I guess I'll be okay with you."

When Pete stopped the taxi next to the woman indicated by Norwood, she sat down beside him, and he said, "King Knuts."

"You mean the one we passed by on the way here?"

"No, I mean the one in Little Haiti. Step on it."

As Pete took the cab around a loop and back out of Downtown, the woman said, "This guy is using a GPS. Why don't we just call VC cabs next time?"

"Cuz Kaufman is cheap," Hal said, sliding his hand over. "And baby, you should know—"

"Don't start, Hal. I ain't your wife. If I told Mary how you talk to me..."

"Hey hey, I was just messing around, you know?" Hal said, raising his hands defensively.

"You do that a lot, don't you? I don't suppose she would care anyway. When you get a kid from a damn whore and you marry her, you don't even give a shit that she runs around every night with other guys."

When Pete stopped the cab next to Little Haiti, the woman said, "Impressive. You got us here pretty quick." She stepped out, and entered the restaurant. She came out a few minutes later, walking casually but quickly, holding a box. She climbed back into the taxi, and placed it under her feet. "Okay, we've got it. Get us to the junkyard. It's not too far away."

Pete pulled the cab off the main road, and stopped at the entrance. His blood ran cold when he saw who was standing outside. Five Haitians were waiting for them. He took one hand off the wheel and reached for the SMG tucked into his jacket. "Relax," Hal said. "We set up a meet here. Go ahead, Ruth." The woman picked up the box, exited the cab, and walked up to them. They spoke for a few moments, and gave her a file. She handed them the box, and walked back into the cab. "Okay, take us to 1800 Borasco Avenue."

Hal looked out the window. "Oh, shit..." Ruth followed his gaze, and saw three Sentinels pull up, and a dozen men stepped out.

"It's the Vercetti boys," she said. "Step on it. They're after the Haitians, but if we stick around, they won't have a problem killing us."

Vcapp dt

Ruth McKenzie's apartment.

Pete accelerated the taxi around them, and as he turned, he saw the gang members open fire on the Haitians. He took them back Downtown, and stopped outside an apartment. Hal and Ruth climbed out, the latter holding the file. "Thanks for your help, kid," she said, handing him some money. "See you around." Hal gave a curt nod, and followed her into the apartment.

"What do your customers usually get up to?" Pete asked Delores as he parked the taxi back inside the depot. "I had a very interesting morning."

"Oh, this and that," she said, giving him a few bills. "Here's for your time. Oh, did you want to see Ted? Ted!" she shouted. A man looking over his taxi turned, and walked over.

"Hey Pete," the driver said, "how you doing?"

"I'm getting places," he replied, shrugging. "You said you could help me out?"

"I recall," Ted said. "Sit down," he added, pulling out two chairs beside a table. "Listen, I've been working at Kaufman's for a long time, and these last 3 years have been, let's say...very interesting. I've seen people come and go, got bullets punching holes in my cab and breaking my window, a few close calls. Say, this one guy, Jimmy Pegorino, came from Alderney and is doing some business here. They're doing some basic gun running...I hear you've met Keith Jamison, he works for Pegorino. You can find him at 175 Beachside Avenue. He pays, if you pull a few favours for him."

"Thanks, Ted," Pete said, standing up. "Listen, I got to go now, I'm seeing someone."

"Need me to take you?" Ted asked.

"No, it's alright. His place isn't too far off." He said goodbye, and ran off towards Phil's place. The ex-soldier was sitting on the hood of a Patriot and smoking a cigarette. He waved his one arm at Pete when he saw him. "How you doing, Pete? What can I do for you?"

"I'm going to be seeing a lot of people with, erm...connections. I have a feeling I'll be running a few errands for them before they answer my questions. You got any guns?"

"That and more, bud," Phil said, dropping his cigar and stepping on it. He walked to the back of his hummer and opened the trunk. "Usually I charge for it, but seeing as I know you, that wouldn't be decent." He grabbed a handgun, an assault rifle, a knife, and a few grenades. Carrying it to his truck, he said, "Wait here. I've got something for you." He entered his trailer, and came out a few moments later with a blue vest. "It's got gun holsters for basically everything. Bulletproof and everything too, I pulled a lot of strings to get these imported from San Andreas."

"Thanks, man," Pete said, putting it on. He put his pistol and SMG in the holsters underneath the vest, tied the grenades to the rings beside them, and strapped the rifle across his back.

"So, I'm guessing you're going to talk to Tommy?"

"Yes," He was about to climb into the Walton, when he remembered something. Taking the picture of the woman out of his pocket, he asked, "Phil, who is this?"

Phil froze. Taking the picture slowly, he squinted at it, and sighed.

"That's my sister, Louise. Vic took quite a fancy to her. She died a few years ago, cuz of a fight against these crime lord brothers, the Mendezes. Your brother never quite forgave himself for it."

Pete nodded, and started up the truck's engines. There were so many things that connected Vic to Vice City, it seemed. As he pulled onto Bayshore Avenue and headed for Starfish Island, he asked, "You talk about Vic a lot, Phil. But what about Lance?"

Phil laughed. "Oh, Lance was quite a character. Not as hard-core as Vic, but you can tell a joke to him and laugh it over. Lance was loyal, knows how to look out for the empire. He was a good guy, hung out with Louise when Vic was too busy to. He became Tommy's partner in crime too in '86, but I'm not sure what happened to him. Tommy doesn't like to talk about it, I'm guessing something happened during that time his boss arrived on the front door. It was three of them against the Mafiya man, it was a miracle Tommy survived. We're here, by the way," he added, pointing out the window at a mansion up on the right. Pete took the truck onto the driveway, and they were stopped by a pair of gunmen. They were wearing the same colours as the ones whom had attacked the Haitians earlier, and toted Micro SMGs. One of them stepped up to the window. "Yeah?"

"We're here to see Tommy," Phil said. "Tell him it's Phil."

The gangsters nodded, and let them park next to a white Infernus. As Phil was searched for weapons and Pete handed over his vest, they were escorted into the estate. They walked up a set of stairs and into a room directly across the entrance. Inside, a man wearing jeans and a turquoise-coloured shirt was talking to more of the gangsters. "...you did good. Put the package in the safe, and if those Haitians try to come at us again, we'll teach them a lesson about stealing our stuff." He turned and saw the two standing outside his door.

"Tommy!" Phil said, "Good to see you again!" He playfully punched the man lightly in the shoulder.

"Phil, haven't seen you in a while," Tommy said, settling into a chair behind his desk. "Sit down, both of you. Who's your friend?"

"I came into Vice a week ago. I'm Pete Vance."

Tommy looked surprised. "Vance? Do you have brothers?"

"Yes, two."

The former thought for a moment. "So why are you here?"

"There's questions I need answers to. I thought you could help me."

"Alright," Tommy said, standing up. "I'll answer your questions, if you can help me with something."

"I figured as much," Pete said. "Let me guess, you need some firepower to keep things in order around here."

"That's right. I've got a lot more to run now these days, and I can't do it by myself. So, grab your guns, and wait for me outside."

Pete nodded, and walked out of the room. One of the gangsters gave him his vest back, and he exited the mansion.


"Why did you bring him here?" Tommy hissed as soon as Pete was out of earshot.

"I saw what this guy could do, Tommy," Phil said. "He wants to know what happened to his brothers."

"Do you have any idea what that bastard Lance did to me? When Sonny Forelli came here, he sided with him. I had to kill them both. Now his brother's here, snooping around. But I'm not telling him that. That would only give me something else to worry about." It was clear Tommy had wanted to let this out for a long time.

Phil was speechless for a moment. When he could finally talk, he said, "I don't suppose you're at fault, Tommy. But don't you suppose you should tell Pete what happened? He deserves to know."

"I haven't had a lot of forgiveness in my life, Phil," Tommy said. "There's no doubt he'd try to kill me out of revenge. But look," he continued. "Since he doesn't seem much like his backstabbing brother, and mostly because I've got more pressing issues right now, I'd rather not kill him. I'll try and get him out of Vice, but for now, I'll keep him busy."

"Alright, Tommy," Phil said, walking out of the room. "I hope you know what you're doing."

Tommy grabbed his Ruger off the wall, shaking his head. He followed Phil out of the mansion, and approached Pete, who was standing next to the Infernus. As Phil climbed into his truck, the latter waved goodbye. Tommy unlocked the door on his car, and climbed in. "Get in." Pete sat down beside him, and beside them, four gunmen entered a Sentinel. As Tommy drove them towards the mainland, he said, "We're intercepting a drug trade. We kill everyone, take the money and the drugs, and come back."

"Sounds risky," Pete said.

"Not if we pull it off properly. I got put in that situation once, and it really puts you in a hole. If we wipe out everyone involved, we wouldn't have a problem we can't handle. There will be a lot of guys there, which is why there's more of my guys behind us. I'm also counting on you to be a good shot."

"In exchange for...?"

"A fair share of the money we take. And some answers, which is what you came here for right?"

"Yes."

"You'll get them, Vance. Just don't expect to like it."

Chapter 3

Tommy stopped the car on the side of the road, with the Sentinel behind them. "Little Haiti Sprunk Factory. The Haitians are doing a trade here with the Sharks. You guys know what to do." The gang walked down the alleyway, weapons ready. Two of the gunmen stood flat against the wall next to the door. Pete pulled out his assault rifle and a grenade. Tommy, hefting his gun, kicked the door in. Pete pulled the pin on his grenade and tossed it through the door.

An explosion sounded inside the factory, followed by the sound of screaming. "Move!" Tommy shouted, dashing through the door. "Pete, you're with me." The occupants inside turned in surprise, grabbing their weapons. Pete aimed at one of the Sharks, and pulled the trigger. The gangster fell as bright red stains appeared on his chest. He turned and shot another who raised an Uzi. The factory was filled with gunfire, muzzle flashes, and shouting. Tommy was shooting down Haitians and Sharks from the upper levels, their bodies falling over the railings and onto the floor.

Pete's vision swam. He was constantly moving to avoid being shot, and his breath was beginning to come up short. He ducked under the stairs, inhaling and exhaling raggedly.

"What the hell are you doing?" Tommy shouted. "Get back out here and kill them!"

Pete shook his head to clear his vision. He reloaded his rifle, closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and ran out, firing rapidly.

"Up there!" Tommy shouted. The former saw two of the gangsters trying to escape to the rooftop. The three surviving gang members ran up the stairs, led by Tommy. Pete, clutching his chest, followed as quickly as he could.

A Sea Sparrow was waiting on the rooftop, and the Haitians were trying to take off. Tommy and his gang were firing at it, but the driver fired the helicopter's cannon. One of the Vercetti gunmen took a shot in the shoulder, and fell. He screamed as the gun raked him with bullets, and jerked before lying still in a pool of his own blood. Tommy and the other two dove behind some crates, while the cannon fired at their cover, chipping away at the wood.

Pete opened the door, firing his rifle at the Sparrow's driver. The window cracked, splattering blood on the inside of the helicopter. Caught by surprise, the last Haitian jumped out, aiming his gun at him. Tommy stuck his Ruger from over the crate, and shot the gunman. The latter let out a stray shot that missed Pete's head by inches, and collapsed, dead.

Tommy walked over to the body and picked up the suitcase the Haitian was carrying. Walking back to Pete, he demanded, "What was that all about?"

Surprised, he replied, "What do you mean? I just saved you guys."

"You dove under the stairs during the gunfight," the crime lord said, uncharacteristic anger showing in his voice. "What, did you panic?"

"No, I—"

"Were you shot?"

"No. I have asthma."

There was silence. "You have asthma," Tommy repeated.

"Yes."

"What the hell are you doing here?"

"Look Tommy, it's not that bad. It only crops up sometimes, but it's nothing serious. These Haitians didn't get away because of me, so if you have a problem with that, you don't have to bring me along next time. I can still get things done decently, I'm not as affected by it so much, thanks to my brothers. I want to find them, and you're going to help me."

Tommy took in his words. "Let's talk in the car," he said. "You two, get back to the mansion." The gunmen headed back downstairs. "Follow me," he said to Pete. They returned to the Infernus, and the former drove them back to Phil's place. "You did good, Pete. Your condition is unfortunate, but you know how to handle things." He stopped the car at the compound yard, opened the suitcase in the backseat, and gave him a handful of money. "That's your share. And about your brother...Vic." Tommy told him everything about what happened during the drug trade in Viceport. When he was finished, Pete was silent. "That was when you were set up."

"Yeah. Diaz decided he didn't need Vic and Lance anymore, and got word of their deal with us through one of Vic's acquaintances, Gonzalez. I killed Gonzalez afterward, and of course Diaz."

"Shit. After all he's done, especially for me..."

"You'll have to find the answers to Lance somewhere else. There's no good asking me." Pete could tell Tommy was hiding something, but didn't know what his reasons were. As he nodded, and climbed out of the car, the crime lord drove off back onto the street, his headlights fading into the streetlights. Pete turned, saw a light on in Phil's trailer, and walked towards it to tell him everything about what happened.


"Pete, there you are," Tommy said as he walked into the mansion, once again escorted by the Vercetti gang members. "Get your guns, we're going to jump some Haitians."

"They said the tornado's coming through Vice today," Pete said, surprised. "Are you sure that's a good idea?"

"Starfish is going to be hit worst," Tommy said, shouldering his Ruger and walking down the stairs. "It's better we go into town for a while anyway."

Pete took his vest back and followed Tommy and the gunmen back outside. It had rained heavily all morning, and the sky was filled with dark clouds, as if ominously warning anyone outside of the coming gales. He sat down in the Infernus' passenger seat. They headed again towards the mainland, with the gang Sentinel following.

"Now, we're taking out the Haitian leader," Tommy said. "She goes by the name 'Auntie Poulet'. I've been trying to get rid of her for 3 years, but she's got a tight grip on Little Haiti. We're meeting up with another gang, the Cubans, to help us. Their boss, Umberto Robina, has very...explosive ideas. He's run some gangs out of business by planting bombs in their key locations. They'll give us some backup and firepower, because Poulet knows we're going to make a move soon."

They stopped outside a house in Little Havana, where half a dozen vehicles were parked around the street. Tommy waved at a Hispanic man, who grabbed a gun and ran next to the window.

"Tommy! You ready?" Umberto asked, with a detectable Cuban accent. "We'll get two vans coming with you, and the others are going to roadblock any means of escape. You find her and fill her up with bullets!"

Tommy nodded, and the Cubans hurried into their respective Ponies and Hermes, covering themselves from the sleeting rain. Tommy led the Sentinel and the vans towards Little Haiti.

Pete looked out towards the distant bridge. A dark shape was seen in the north, slowly becoming larger. The trees around them bent and swayed. He tore his gaze away when he felt the car stop. He climbed out with the others, and Tommy said, "There's a sniper rifle in the back of the Sentinel, Pete. Use it to take out some of the guards, then follow up and we'll find Poulet." He beckoned the gunmen to follow, and Pete quickly took out a sniper rifle from the car's trunk. Whether the Haitians would be great in number, or because Tommy knew he was better off away from the action, it was a good tactic. As he climbed to the top of a small house, bracing his back against the protruding roof so he would not be affected by the wind, he cautiously raised the rifle.

The Haitians quickly spotted the incoming gunmen, and they immediately engaged. Pete spotted the purple of a T-shirt in the thick rain, and pulled the trigger. The rifle kicked back, but saw blood spurt and one of the enemy gangsters fell. He aimed again, killing another Haitian. He didn't stop until he was out of ammo, discarded the empty gun, and slipped down the roof. Taking out his assault rifle, he stepped up to Tommy, who pointed at a small wooden hut. "She should be in there."

Pete raised an eyebrow. "In that tiny place?"

Ignoring him, the crime lord stooped and walked towards the door. He kicked it in, aimed his Ruger inside, and lowered it. "She's gone!"

"Maybe she decided to leave because of the storm," Pete said.

"Not likely. Follow me." Tommy walked back towards the car. One of the Cubans frowned.

"Hear that, amigo?" Pete strained his ears for sound over the pouring rain. He looked up.

"Who would fly a helicopter in this weather?" Tommy looked up too, and ran inside the Infernus. "Pete! Get in, now!" The former complied, and barely had time to shut his door before the crime lord stomped on the gas, taking them away from Little Haiti. Above them, gunfire chipped at the cement around them. The helicopter took a right and away from the island. Tommy stopped the Infernus at the street, and ran out. "Follow me!"

They were at a fire station. Pete followed him to the back of the building, where a Armadillo was parked in the open space. Tommy busted the doors open and climbed in, hotwiring the helicopter.

"Maybe we should call this off," Pete said.

"Screw that!" Tommy shouted over the splashing of the rain. "If she gets away, we're not going to get another chance at this!" The Armadillo sputtered to life, its blades slicing at the rain that fell onto it. Pete looked around at the skies. "There!" They flew towards the speck hovering over a bridge. To their north, the tornado was seen to be closer. Much closer.

"There's a tether in the backseat!" Tommy said, his voice almost drowned out by the sound of rain falling and the helicopter's blades. "Strap yourself to it and take a shot at them!"

Pete dashed to the back of the helicopter, opened the sliding door, tied the tether to himself, took a deep breath, and leaned out, grabbing onto the bracing with one hand and holding his assault rifle with the other. Trying hard to aim onto Poulet's helicopter, which was constantly swerving, trying to avoid them and gain control over the powerful winds. In the window he saw a Haitian piloting the aircraft, and a chubby elder woman sitting beside him. Behind them, 2 more Haitians were standing on the rims of the Sparrow, holding rifles.

"Shoot them, damn it!" Tommy yelled. Pete pulled the trigger, and the rifle jumped in his hand. He couldn't see whether they made contact with the other helicopter or not. Swearing, he tossed the rifle onto his seat, unholstered his Micro SMG, and fired.

The smaller gun was much easier to steady, and he emptied clip after clip into the Armadillo. They were caught in turbulent winds too now, and Tommy was trying to hold them still.

A bullet from one of the gunmen skimmed across Pete's shoulder, and he flinched, nearly letting go. Gripping the bracing tighter, he fired at the Sparrow's tail rotor. Poulet's helicopter jerked, and sputtered. It began to spin, losing altitude. It crashed into one of the bridge supports, its blades still slicing at the concrete. It plunged into the ocean, and a moment later exploded, spraying boiling hot water high into the air.

"Got her!" Pete said. Their Armadillo lurched, and his grip on his gun loosened. It fell out of sight and into the water, and without waiting another moment, he pulled himself back into the helicopter.

"Damn!" Tommy shouted, trying to regain control over the aircraft. Pete wiped the water off his face, and was mute.

The tornado was almost on top of them, and they were caught in its winds, slowly but surely spinning towards it. Tommy turned the Armadillo as hard as he could. They were constantly being blown around from its horizontal spin to its vertical one, for a sickening moment plunged rapidly towards the ground and towards a fiery explosion. But they finally managed to break away, flying as fast from the tornado as they could. Tommy landed them back in Little Havana, where the others were waiting for them at Umberto's place. Tommy and Pete ran out of the helicopter, and into the safety of the house. Both were breathing deeply. As the storm passed over them, the crime lord wiped himself dry with a towel and looked at him.

"Well done, Pete. You're really something."

Pete took off his vest, and rubbed his finger across the groove where the bullet had skimmed across. "Thanks, Tommy. But don't ever make me do that again."

Chapter 4

12 HOURS LATER

The storm warning was over the next day, and the bridges were re-opened. When Pete returned to the Dakota Hotel, he found Dan and asked, "Can I use the phone? I need to make a long distance call."

"It'll cost ya," the concierge said, putting the phone on the counter. Pete gave him some bills, and the former raised an eyebrow.

"Errands went well for you on the mainland, then?" he said, pocketing the money.

"You've no idea," Pete said, taking the wireless phone and walking over to the lobby. He sat down, and dialled the number. Someone picked up on the second ring.

"Hello?"

"Aunt Enid, it's me, Pete."

"Pete! Nice of you to call in. How are things going down in Vice City?"

"I...great. I've...made a lot of friends."

"That's nice, dear. Have you found out anything on your brothers yet?

Pete sighed. "Yes, auntie. Vic is dead. I don't know about Lance."

"Oh my," she whispered, shocked. "How did it happen?"

"I don't know. I'm still trying to figure it out." He couldn't tell her. He couldn't.

"I...I'm sorry to hear that. Well...enjoy your stay in Vice City."

"Are you alright, auntie? You seem worried."

"No, everything's fine. I'm just...I can't believe Vic is...how am I going to tell your mother..."

Pete's fist clenched. "She doesn't care. She doesn't give a shit about us. All she does is waste our money on cocaine and Mexicans."

"Pete! Don't talk about your mother like that. She may have made mistakes, but she's still a good person."

"Yeah. You're right, auntie. I'm sorry, I'm just really frustrated with everything that's going on here."

"Okay. Keep in touch, Pete."

"Bye, auntie."

Pete hung up, and sighed. He stood up, put the phone back on the counter, and headed upstairs to his room.


There was a knock at the door. Pete walked over and opened it.

"Phone for you, Pete," Dan said, handing it to him. He nodded thanks, and answered as the concierge left. "Hello?"

"Pete Vance," a familiar female voice said. "This is Ruth McKenzie. You were my driver when I was running my...errands with Norwood."

"So I recall. What is it, Miss McKenzie?"

"Call me Ruth. Anyway, I've heard about what you've been getting up to with Tommy Vercetti. Took out the Haitian leader in a storm, that right?"

"Yes."

"You must really be one tough son of a bitch then, Pete. Keith Jamison tells me you're looking for something. Maybe we can help. Find us at 175 Beachside Avenue in Washington."

"You mean..." Pete thought for a moment. "Jimmy Pegorino's place?"

"That's right. You seem to know a lot about Vice City considering that you're new here. See you around."

He headed downstairs, grabbing his weapons and vest. He called Kaufman for a cab, and returned the phone to Dan. After waiting outside for a few minutes, a taxi pulled up, and he climbed inside.

"Hey there, Pete," Ted said.

"You got here fast," he replied, impressed.

"I just dropped off a fare in Vice Point. Where to?"

"175 Beachside Avenue."

"Will do," the taxi driver said, pulling the cab out of the lane and turning right at the first street. "You know," he added, "I've got the same fare giving me that address several times. Let me guess...you're going to see McKenzie?"

"Yes," Pete said. "She seems trustworthy."

"She is," Ted said. "But I ain't so sure about that partner of hers, Norwood. Something off about him."

Jp bloodbrothers

Jimmy Pegorino in 1989.

When they reached Pegorino's place, Pete paid Ted, and knocked on the door. It was answered rather quickly, and McKenzie was waiting for him. "There you are. Come in." She closed the door behind them, and led him to the living room. Sitting around the room were Hal Norwood, Keith Jamison, Gus, and a dark-haired man he guessed to be Jimmy Pegorino. As Ruth sat down on a couch, and gestured for Pete to do so as well, he sized up the man. Pegorino had black hair cropped short, dark, narrow eyes, and a long, narrow chin. He had a rather tense look about him.

"You must be Pete Vance," he said. "Heard you started leashing yourself to Vice City's criminals soon as you got here."

"You're right," he replied. "I'm Pete Vance."

"You're real smart, Vance," Pegorino said, sounding neither amused nor irritated. "I can't give you a way in, I'm only here on business from Liberty. But I've got a few jobs for you that'll pay well."

McKenzie stood up. "I think I'll take Pete into town for a while, show him around now that the storm's passed Vice City."

Pegorino nodded. "You might as well bring him along for that errand when you're done. Tell me if he's got the balls for what I'm planning."

"We'll meet you Downtown," Keith said, as Pete followed her outside. "See you later, Ruth."


Two of Pegorino's gang members were waiting for them outside in a Moonbeam. As Pete and McKenzie climbed into the backseats of the van, she said, "Take us to Sunshine Autos." The driver scowled, but pulled the minivan onto the road and towards the mainland.

Two of the four bridges connecting Vice City's two islands required major repair, and traffic was heavy as they were squeezed through Starfish Island. When they reached the auto shop, the gang members dropped them off and drove off. McKenzie showed him inside, and said, "It's time you got your own car while you're here in Vice. Here's the owner." A large, short-haired man wearing a dark suit watched them as they approached. "This is BJ Smith, the car dealer."

"Ruth, what can I do for you?" Smith asked, shaking her hand.

"Getting a car for my friend here," she replied. "You got anything...flashy?"

The man thought for a moment. "Tommy brought in a decent-looking Phoenix a few weeks ago, I fixed it up. It's sitting in the downstairs garage. Wait one, I'll drive it out for you." He walked out of the showroom, and down a ramp. Pete turned to McKenzie. "Tommy? Does he mean Vercetti?"

"Who else? He owns quite a few of these places around Vice. Drops by every now and then to collect his revenue for the protection he's giving."

"So that's how the powerful get rich here. They find the vulnerable and suck them dry, where they're not in a position to complain."

A fast-looking car moved up the ramp and stopped outside the door. Smith climbed out, and beckoned at them. "Take a look."

Pete whistled. The Phoenix looked like a cross between a muscle car and a sports car. It had a slim, laminar look to it. The exterior was painted jet-black with a bright yellow stripe down the middle, and on the back were two huge exhaust pipes. The interior had a pair of leather seats.

"Quite an eye-catcher," Smith said. "I spent a lot of time on this thing."

"How much?" Ruth asked.

"Twenty-four thousand."

"What do you say to eighteen?"

"I say that ain't worth all the work I put into this."

"Twenty, then."

Smith thought for a moment. "Alright. But only cuz it's you, Ruth."

As McKenzie pulled out her wallet, Pete said, "No, I'll pay, I've brought enough—"

"Pete, if you spent all your earnings on this car, you'd be broke," she said. "Don't worry about it. Just consider yourself owing me a few favours." As she handed the money to Smith, he said, "Key's in the ignition. You can go see Earnest Kelly if you want to save yourself the trouble of registering the car."

As Pete took the driver's seat, and McKenzie climbed in beside him, he said, "Thanks, Ruth." As he drove through Little Havana, he remembered something that had been on his mind for a while. "What's your relationship with Hal?"

"I'm his sister-in-law. His brother, Ian, was my husband. He died not long ago when we were caught in a gunfight with the Haitians. It was thanks to Hal that I got out alive."

"You're taking it well," Pete said. "A lot of people I know would do something stupid like slaughter a whole bunch of Haitians or shut themselves out from the world."

"I lost a lot of people in my life," McKenzie said, with a bitter laugh. "I'm getting used to it, really. But when we drove away on a Voodoo with a cracked windshield and a punctured tire, it was hard to know Ian wasn't with us. I was in shock."

"Is he...is Ian, anything like Hal?"

McKenzie gave a slight smile. "I know what you're asking. Ian was loyal, trustworthy, and never broke a promise. He wasn't the best on manners, but he knew what was right...as far as we can go. Never took a life if it wasn't necessary. Didn't have a great past, but he was trying to get over that. So, no...he wasn't anything like Hal."

There was an awkward silence as they entered Little Haiti. "So, who's this Earnest Kelly?" Pete finally asked.

"Guy who works at the Print Works. He'll get you some papers and ID for your car in case you get pulled over by the cops or something."

"Let me guess," he said, driving them out of the dealership. "Tommy owns the place?"

"Correct."

"Figures."


When Pete came back out of the Print Works with the ID documents, McKenzie said, "Now let's get you a phone. There's an Electric Boulevard in Downtown, it'll be our last stop before we get started on that errand."

"I think I'll pay for the phone," he said, turning onto Bayshore Avenue and heading Downtown. "So what's this errand?"

"Pegorino wants us to eliminate a bunch of cops that tracked him down from Liberty. He got a manslaughter charge last year, and they're coming to bring the VCPD some files on him. We need to ambush them as they land on the VCPD rooftop, take the files, and bring them back to his place."

"Not really a smart idea, they're just going to send more officers and put a lockdown on the area."

"Pegorino's not hanging around too long, he's leaving in a few weeks. We just need to keep them busy until then."

They stopped at a small store on the Downtown streetside. Pete entered the store, selected and purchased a phone, and came out a few minutes later. As he walked back up to his car, a Kaufman cab pulled up to them. Ted waved at him from the driver seat, and Hal, Keith, and Gus climbed out of the taxi.

"We should get going," Keith said. "I'll go with Gus up to the fire station rooftops. Pete, you're in the opposite building. Ruth, Hal, you're on the helipad. You guys will take their helicopter and hightail it back to Pegorino's."

"Pete, put your car in the parking lot over there," McKenzie said, pointing. "I left a sniper rifle for you under the Sabre parked there. get into the adjacent building and give us some covering fire from the rooftop." Pete nodded, and climbed back into his car.

"Make sure you don't fall off," he heard her add as he pulled it into the parking lot.


Pete found the stairway that lead to the top of the opposite building, and placed his Sniper Rifle on the roof's bracing. Looking through the scope, he saw Ruth and Hal hiding under the helipad's ramp, Uzis ready. Keith and Gus were also crouched on the rooftop of the fire station. After waiting for fifteen minutes, a group of policemen walked up the ramp and stood next to the pad. After another ten minutes, the sound of a helicopter became more apparent as it filled the sky.

A Maverick landed on the helipad, and four black-uniformed officers stepped out. When they stepped up and began to talk, Ruth rolled a grenade from behind the ramp. There were distant shouts of alarm, followed by an explosion and bodies flying everywhere. When the smoke cleared, Pete saw her jump out from cover with Hal and spray the survivors with gunfire. He took aim, and fired, taking an officer through the head. He heard the cracks of Keith and Gus' sniper rifles as they took down 2 more. When the helipad was cleared of enemies, Ruth and Hal climbed into the helicopter. A moment later Pete's phone rang.

"We've got the file," she said. "They've stowed it inside the helicopter. Catch you guys later." The Maverick took off and flew away from the mainland. Pete dropped the sniper rifle, and headed back downstairs. As he pressed himself flat against the alleyway, he saw Keith and Gus running across the street. The sound of sirens were heard and they turned to fire at the police cars coming towards them. Keith managed to make it across, but Gus fell behind and was forced to duck back to his previous position, firing his pistol.

Keith ran up to Pete. "Go back your car, we need to get out of here!"

"What about Gus?" he asked.

"Nothing we can do for him," the man panted. "It would be suicide if we tried anything. Let's get back to Jimmy's place, we need to lose this heat!"

Pete sighed. "Alright. Let's go."

They made it back to the parking lot without trouble, and gave the VCPD the slip by going out via a back lane. Pete reached Pegorino's house, and Keith climbed out. "I'll call you later, Pete. If Gus is still alive maybe we can find him."

Chapter 5

Pete's cell phone rang. Taking it out of his pocket with one hand while driving, he answered it. "Hello?"

"Pete, this is Tommy. Get over here to my place, pronto."

"Should I even bother to ask how you got my number?"

"No. Hurry it up!"

Pete ended the call, put his phone back into his pocket, and made a turn that would take him to Starfish Island. He parked his Phoenix next to Tommy's Infernus, got out, and was led into the mansion. Inside, Tommy was pacing back and forth, while a man in a pale purple suit was sucking something powdery through a straw behind him.

"Tommy, what's going on?" Pete asked. The crime lord turned to him.

"We've got some trouble," Tommy said angrily. "This Cockney idiot, Kent Paul, told the Haitians about you. Your name, what you've been up to, where you live, all that."

"Tommy, I always told you that guy was no good," the second man said, looking up. "He's been really—"

"Shut up, Ken," he snapped. "Paul's always managed to find out about everything that goes on in Vice City, and he tends to get drunk at times. Put the two together, and this is what happens."

"So why are you telling me this?" Pete asked.

"You've got your uses," Tommy said. "Besides, they know you're with me, and next thing we know we'll be up to our heads in a gang war. I've stayed out of this for the past few years, since I've got a lot to do."

"Tommy, Tommy, Tommy! You know what you should do?" Ken cut in agitatedly. "Jump him! Teach him a lesson! In fact, I'll—"

"Lay off the crack, Ken," he said. Turning back to Pete, he said, "There's no point trying to get rid of Paul. Like you, he's got his uses, and the Haitians already know about you. So, here's what you need to do. Head over to the Malibu Club, find him, and bring him back to me."

Pete nodded, and left the mansion. Starting up his Phoenix's engines, he drove to Vice Point and found the Malibu Club. Entering, he asked a security guard about Kent Paul, who pointed at a man with spiked-up blond hair. He walked around the group of people clustered around the dance floor, and approached the man.

"Hey mate, looking for something?" Paul asked, with an easily detectable British accent.

"You're coming with me, Kent Paul," Pete said.

"Sorry?" he said, "Can't hear you, music's real loud and everything—"

Pete grabbed Paul by the sleeve, and pulled him off his stool. Dragging him forcibly outside, ignoring his protests, he pulled out his pistol and put it to his head. "There, can you hear me now?"

The latter trembled. "Put the gun away, mate! Just tell me what the devil you're doing!"

"I've got a gang of Haitians getting ready to jump me," Pete snarled. "And it's all because you couldn't keep your mouth shut." Giving Paul a shove with the gun, he said, "Get in the car, no arguments. You try anything and you're dead."

The two climbed into the Phoenix, the former watching him carefully. As Pete drove them back towards Starfish Island, Paul, who seemed to regain some of his nerve, said, "Blimey, you're just like Tommy. Couldn't ask a chap politely, could you?"

"You know, it's funny you mention him," he said, still sounding irate. "I think we'll pay Vercetti a visit right now, and you can explain to him what the fuck is wrong is you."

When they reached the Vercetti Estate, Pete walked Paul up to Tommy, who said to the latter, "Inside my office." When the man was out of earshot, the crime lord said, "You need to find some place to lay low for a while. There's this shack, up in Downtown hidden above a store. There's a staircase leading up to it, and it's close to this bar, the Greasy Chopper. There's some Bikers that run that place, go talk to Mitch Baker. He'll give you some jobs to do, and he's also got security which you might need if those Haitians come after you."

As Pete followed Tommy's directions, he decided to get to Downtown via Vice Point rather than Little Haiti. He parked his Phoenix down an alleyway, and casually walked up the staircase leading to the roof. He spotted a small wooden shack, with a worn-out door and a single bed. The windows were boarded up. He entered the confining space, closing the door behind him, and lay down upon the bed, which was surprisingly comfortable. Sighing, he quickly managed to fall asleep.


6 HOURS LATER

Pete was awakened by the sound of his phone ringing. Sitting up in bed, he found it in his pocket, and pressed the answer button. "Hello?"

"It's Keith. Meet me outside the Downtown police station, don't ask any questions."

"I think I already have a pretty good idea why," Pete said, putting on his vest and stepping out of the shack. It was a short run to the police station, and he quickly spotted Keith.

"Thanks for coming so quickly," he said. "You bring your gun?"

"Always," Pete said.

"Good. We're going to—"

"Bust out Gus?" he asked.

"Yes," Keith said, pulling out an SMG. "Come on."

"If you cared so much, why'd you leave him?"

The question caught him by surprise. He turned to face Pete. "I had no choice..."

"You could have done it," the latter said quietly. "But you were saving your own skin."

"Look...I...the whole place was swarming with cops!" Keith sputtered. "We'd have all been killed—"

"Keith, it's something called loyalty," Pete said, sitting down on the sidewalk. "Listen..."

"Get up, Pete!" he said. "We've got to go in there now!"

"Put the gun away," he said calmly. "Sit down, relax, and listen to me. The VCPD are just holding Gus for now. They can't do anything to him until he gets a trial. Now, my guess is, he either didn't have family, or he didn't tell the cops about them. Either way, it won't make a difference if we wait or not."

"What are you trying to say?" Keith asked.

"Tommy told me something the other day..." Pete said. "He used to work for this crime family, the Forellis. Ever since the 60's, he was one of their best gunmen, always got the job done. Then, something nasty happened in 1971. His boss, Sonny Forelli, set Tommy up. He was forced to kill eleven people instead of one as he was supposed to, and got landed in prison until '86. You see where I'm going with this?"

"I didn't set Gus up!" the former said angrily. "It went wrong, we didn't get out in time."

"You left him behind. And all he did was follow your orders. Look at me, Keith. Would you believe that five years ago I would be too sick to get around, let alone come to Vice City? I'm doing all kinds of shit now, and the reason I'm here is because of my brothers. I never knew how hard Vic and Lance had it down here, doing illegal stuff to make money. Chances are, they're not here anymore. But the least I can do is find out why. I'm here," Pete repeated, standing up. "because of my brothers. They worked hard to scrape up the cash so I can keep my condition mild, and now I'm going to find out what happened to them. So, if you're going to work with me, I'll warn you now not to desert me like you did to Gus when I need you."

"Okay," Keith said. "Can we go now?"

"We can't go in there alone," Pete said. "Like you said, we'd both be killed."

"So what the hell do we do?"

"We'll go down to the Greasy Chopper and call some Bikers for backup. Tommy put me in touch with them."

Pete entered the bar, which was dimly lit and had the scent of cigarettes, and called, "Is Mitch Baker here?"

A muscular man with black short-sleeved clothes stepped out of another door. "Who wants to know?"

"Tommy Vercetti sent me. I need some help."

"Prove it," the Biker said. Pete pulled out his phone, called Tommy, and handed it to him.

"Tommy? Mitch here," the gangster said. "Yeah, some guy here called Pete says he needs my help. Alright. Okay." Mitch hung up, gave the phone back to him, and said, "Tommy says you can do a few jobs for me if you need money."

"Can this wait?" Pete asked. "I need backup right now, I'm trying to get someone out of prison."

Mitch thought for a moment. "You must be good if Tommy sent you. Alright, I'll get a couple of boys down to the station. But come see me again later cuz I'll want something in return."

Pete and Keith met up with a trio of Bikers waiting outside the police station. "You Vance?" the lead one said. "I'm Zeppelin. We're going in with you. We've got an escape vehicle in the back, and some boys circling the area to cover you guys. Once you have your buddy, we'll split up, capiche?"

"Capiche," Pete said, pulling out his assault rifle. Keith slowly opened the door, and they ran in. Pete shot the officers behind the desk, and they hurried down the hall. Zeppelin turned a corner and fired his twin SMGs, followed by the sound of screaming. He ducked behind a wall as bullets flew towards him. Keith lead Pete towards the cells, picking a key card off one of the dead officers. He quickly found Gus, and said, "We're getting you out, Gus!"

"Keith, we have company!" Pete called, as he heard the sound of footsteps upstairs.

"Open all the cells in this section!" Zeppelin shouted. "It'll cause a distraction!" They opened the doors one by one, and the criminals quickly ran to seize the weapons dropped by fallen officers, and ran towards the exit, rushing towards the street. Some of them were hit by bullets and fell, and others threw themselves on the officers, shooting and beating them to death. Keith and Pete led Gus towards the back exit, and saw an Admiral waiting for them with a Biker in the driver's seat. They entered the vehicle, and they sped out of the alleyway and onto the street, where multiple Bikers on Angels were causing havoc for the officers. The prisoners were running in all directions, and Pete saw Zeppelin jump onto his bike and join the fray. Keith stuck his SMG out the window, shooting down a cop. They both sat back and were breathing erratically as they drove away from the scene and into the relative silence of the night. Pete had a tight feeling in his chest as his asthma started acting up again. Finally, Gus said, "Thanks for coming, Keith."

"Pete was right," Keith said. "I never should have left you there."

"Where to?" the driver asked.

"Viceport," Keith replied. "Gus, you'll be staying at my place for a while."

"Shit," the Biker said. "The cops are going to be all over us by tomorrow. You'd better be as good as Vercetti said, Vance."

"Oh, don't worry," Pete said, the constricting feeling in his chest vanishing. "That and more."


9 HOURS LATER

Pete woke up staring at the wooden ceiling of the Skumole shack. He put on his vest, grabbed the pistol he kept under his pillow and slipped it into one of the holsters, and made his way down to the Greasy Chopper, which was down the street.

Zeppelin was outside, smoking a cigar. Spotting him, the biker nodded at him, and walked into the bar with him.

"Boss!" He shouted. "Vance is here!"

Mitch looked up from the pool table, and stood up. "Alright, I recall you owe me a favour."

"That's why I'm here," Pete said. "But one errand only. I've got something to do."

Baker narrowed his eyes. "After my boys freed that friend of yours, we all ran for cover when the cops came after us, kid. One errand it is...but you'd better make it worth my while. Here's what I want you to do." He sat down on a barstool. "We've been regaining power in Vice City since some empire jockey busted our sites down about five years ago. But see, the Sharks have been a bit competitive about our territories in Downtown and Vice Point. I want you to give them a little distraction while we take it back from them. You're going to take some Haitian colours and create some chaos between them."

"I don't know, Mitch," Pete said doubtfully. "The Haitians have caused enough trouble for me, and if they find out about this—"

"Grow some balls, Vance," Mitch said. "Remember: you owe me. Now we don't want things to get nasty, do we?"

The former said nothing. Baker pulled a set of folded clothes from behind the bar counter; a pale purple shirt, light blue jeans, and a headband. "Put these on. I've left a car behind the bar as well. Go wreak some havoc, and get out as fast as you can."

Pete sighed, took the gang clothes, which smelled slightly of blood (he had little doubt as to how the biker obtained them), and left the bar through the back door. He quickly changed, entered the Voodoo that was parked there, and drove Downtown.

It wasn't too long before he spotted a likely-looking building placed at the end of the road adjacent to Borasco Avenue, next to a steep set of stairs. A rather shifty-looking building was placed on newly paved asphalt, where a dark-coloured SUV with red and white colours was parked next to the door. He stopped the Voodoo a safe distance away from it, knowing he would probably have to make a quick escape after the attack.

There were no Sharks lurking around, so he decided to get their attention by other means. Pulling a grenade out from his vest, Pete pulled the pin and tossed it at the Rancher, taking out his assault rifle at the same time and turning off the safety.

The grenade bounced onto the gang car's hood and detonated, causing its engine to burst into flames. A second later, it exploded. Sharks rushed out of the building, guns ready but looking confused. Taking advantage of their hesitation, Pete gunned several of them down, and threw a second grenade through the open door for extra effect. He ducked around a nearby building as the Sharks fired on him.

There was another explosion, and glowing shards of wood and metal sprayed all around the building as its door was blown apart. Sharks rolled around screaming, having lost limbs or caught on fire (the more unfortunate ones had both). Pete shot the survivors still outside, watched the fires die down at the entrance, and cautiously entered.

He was inside a small bar. Everything near the exit was wrecked, and bodies were strewn around the floor. The bartender raised his hands. "Don't shoot me!" He pleaded. "I'm not involved with whatever you guys are fighting over." Pete walked over to him, still aiming his rifle at the man, and after making sure he was unarmed, knocked him out by hitting him on the side of the head with his gun. He destroyed everything else of value in the room as quickly as he could, mostly resorting to shooting them, and ran back outside.

He saw a convoy of the Sharks' Ranchers approaching the building from the south side, and he quickly returned to his Voodoo. But he barely managed to start the engine again when he saw them turning in his direction. Without hesitation, Pete floored it. He made a sharp turn towards Hoarmount Avenue, hoping to return to town before they had him pinned down, but could still see them chasing after him in his rearview mirror. The gang members in the passenger seats were leaning out their windows, holding pistols and SMGs. They would be in range soon.

A police car came out of nowhere, ramming the Voodoo from the side. The car was spun around, facing the Sharks. "Shit!" Pete yelled, seeing the Sharks coming head-on towards him. More VCPD cruisers were pulling out of alleyways and sideroads, their sirens blaring, forming a line between him and the oncoming Ranchers. Several officers drew their guns.

There was no time to react as the first gang car smashed through the roadblock and hit the Voodoo. The impact wasn't too shocking, as the SUV was slowed down when it hit the police cars. And even though smoke began to billow from the low-rider car, it spun the vehicle horizontally. Seizing his opportunity, Pete turned the wheel and stomped on the accelerator, driving southbound.

He saw that the Sharks were being restrained by the officers, and they stepped out of their Ranchers, dropping their weapons. One of the VC police had grabbed onto the door handle of the Voodoo just as he drove away, and the officer was being dragged along the ground, still clinging on. He began to force himself up to face level, reaching for his sidearm.

Pete swerved the Voodoo onto the left side of the road, and pushed his door open hard as he drove past a streetlamp. The officer screamed as he was smashed forcefully against the metal pole. His grip slackened as the door closed again, and as the car turned slightly, was forced under the rapidly spinning wheels. His scream was sharply cut off, and there was the crunch of bones breaking.

Pete winced. He was slightly disturbed himself by how easily he was killing other people now, even in the least moral ways. He finally made it to Little Haiti, and ditched the car at the junkyard, along with his Haitian attire. To make sure he wouldn't be spotted, he decided to give the scene a wide berth by cutting around the docks rather than the main road. After half an hour of trekking along the water's edge, he found himself at Phil's place.

Chapter 6

Phil was picking guns from the back of a hummer. "Good to see you, man," the ex-soldier said, examining a shotgun before putting it down. "Refill your ammo, it's on me."


"What's the occasion, Phil?" Pete asked, looking over the guns. He grabbed a few magazines for his assault rifle, and discarded his nearly empty pistol. He replaced the empty holster on his vest with a heavier but more powerful Colt Python revolver. He also realized that he needed a submachine-gun, but decided to take a one-handed Uzi instead of the Micro-SMG he had lost in the hurricane.


"We're about to strike gold, buddy," Phil said cheerfully, now looking at a compact Scorpion machine pistol. "I never thought the idiots had the nerve to try it. But I think we'll be more successful."


"What are you talking about?"


"Them Haitians tried to steal a tank off this old-time military guy," he explained. "Some Spanish Colonel called Cortez, so I don't really know him. Thing is, the lockup was pretty well guarded, and those idiots only managed to get themselves killed. Cortez's men are planning on moving the tank, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to pull our own heist."


"I dunno," Pete said doubtfully. "It doesn't sound very smart to piss off an ex-army officer, especially if he's got a lot of hired guns."


"Oh, don't you worry about him. Cortez has been out of town for the past few years. Had some kind of disagreement with the French government or something. And he's too far out of Vice City to trace it to us. His men are only dumb muscle, the stuff they get up too are too illegal to be actual soldiers." Without another word, he climbed into the passenger seat of his Patriot, holding the Scorpion. "C'mon, drive. The place is in Little Havana."


Pete was still a bit skeptical about the plan, but decided not to protest as he started the engine.


As they approached the lockup, the sound of sirens could be heard, as well as rapid gunfire. The road was blocked by a pair of police cars.


As he stopped the vehicle, an officer approached the window. Phil surreptitiously slipped his weapon under his feet, and Pete was glad he left his vest in the trunk. "What's the problem?" he asked casually.


"You're gonna have to make a detour, sir," the officer said. "There's a situation here, some kind of gang fight up ahead. We're trying to sort it out right now."


There was a loud boom, as not one but both police cars exploded. The officer was thrown off his feet. "Shit," Pete swore, putting the hummer in reverse and off the street. He stared in disbelief as a Rhino, which had smashed through the roadblock, drove past, with several Voodoos behind it. Whether they were trying to stop the driver or escort it, it was plain to see that someone had taken off with the tank.


"Get after it!" Phil shouted, and Pete immediately obliged, turning the vehicle around and flooring it. He guessed that the ex-soldier must have put modifications on the Patriot, because its sudden acceleration outstripped several of the Voodoos and easily began to catch up to the Rhino.


Phil fired his Scorpion at a Voodoo that was alongside them, killing the passenger as Pete performed a PIT maneuver. The car spun sideways, as a second gang car smashed into it, crushing the side of the vehicle and the driver with it. Spinning the wheel left, he pulled the Patriot onto Bayshore Avenue, with several Voodoos in pursuit.


"Get in front of it!" Phil shouted. Pete stomped the accelerator again, shooting them forward. The tank began to turn to block them. "Watch out!"


Pete made a sharp turn, moving out of the way as a third Voodoo sped past them, smashing directly into the tank. Its engine exploded on impact, destroying the car instantly. Taking advantage of the momentary confusion, he drove the hummer in front of the Rhino.


Phil kicked his door open, dashed quickly to the tank. But it began to move again, trying to escape the mess of the destroyed Voodoo. The ex-soldier was right in its path. "Phil!" Pete shouted.


But the former made a daring move with the agility of a much younger man. Leaping onto the tank, he grabbed its cannon and hung on tightly. The driver actually fired in an attempt to dislodge him, but even the force of which the shells were fired couldn't make him let go. Pete grabbed his Uzi and aimed directly at the Rhino's open front viewpoint. He emptied the clip into the driver's exposed face, careful not to hit Phil. The dead gunman tumbled out of the tank, which finally slowed and stopped. Phil let go of the cannon, and rolled onto the ground.


"Phil!" Pete said again, climbing out of the car and dashing towards him. "You okay?"


Phil stood up and wiped a smear of blood off his face, grinning. "Oh, I've been hit worse. Nice shooting there." The conversation was cut short as the sight of more Voodoos and police cars were seen speeding down Bayshore Avenue towards them. "Oh, hell. There's more of them. Listen Pete, we're both getting wet standing out here. Get the hummer back to my place, I'll take the tank and meet you there. We should split up and lose the heat." Climbing into the Rhino and still looking slightly dazed, Phil drove off. At his words, Pete just noticed that it had begun to rain. It had begun to come down heavily while they were chasing the tank, and only after relaxing momentarily did he notice. Without wasting a second, he returned to the Patriot and headed for a different route.


As expected, the cars all went after the tank. Pete managed to slip away into Little Havana without attracting attention, but still made sure he wasn't being followed before pulling onto the dock that was adjacent to Phil's compound yard. Parking the damaged vehicle next to a pile of junk, Pete noticed that the door to the trailer was ajar. Deciding to wait inside for Phil rather than get soaked by the rain, he walked in.


It was a small place, with only a wall separating the two rooms. There was a fixed table on the left side with a wrap-around couch, and a TV off to the right. The walls were decorated with posters. Pete noticed that there were a lot of sheets scattered on the table. He could tell that Phil wasn't one to clean up after himself, because some of the sheets were dated as far back as 1984. But there was a name on the sheet that caught his eye.


Pete didn't want to intrude on Phil's privacy, but he was curious to find out why Tommy was writing messages to him.


Phil, it's Tommy, one of them said. I decided to send this to you because I've been tipped off about the VCPD tapping into my calls. I need you to meet me outside the Little Havana hospital at 5:00 this afternoon... It was written a few years ago, and the rest was hidden under another sheet. Probing around, he found one from three years ago.


Don't even think about coming over to the mansion. Your arm just got blown off a few days ago, and you'll only get yourself killed if you try to help us out. Lance and I can handle ourselves, we're well prepared...


Interested, Pete shifted the note to the top of the pile and kept reading.


...I don't think they'll try to tax our business sites again. But their boss, Sonny Forelli, is personally coming over. I'll see you in a few days, after all this is sorted out.


He shuffled around the notes for any more indications of the fight in the Vercetti Estate, but didn't find any more of the notes he was looking for. He was about to turn away from the table when he spotted something else. And it was in Vic's handwriting.


August 26, 1984. Phil, I've dealt with Mendez and Martinez. Lance and I are leaving town for a while, until things settle down. I heard you were in a bit of trouble, so if you need somewhere to lay low, there's a compound yard up in Little Haiti Louise showed me. I don't need it anymore, you could move in.


The sound of the Rhino's engine slowly grew louder over the sound of the rain. Quickly putting the note back on the table, Pete walked back outside to see Phil climbing out of the tank. The distant sounds of sirens were heard on the street, but no police cars entered the compound yard. Then he noticed that the ex-soldier was bleeding.


"Phil, you're injured!" Pete hurriedly took him by the shoulder and hauled his staggering form inside the trailer. Phil was clutching his own chest with one hand. He collapsed on the bed, breathing heavily. Pete quickly found a first-aid kit and grabbed some medical tools.


"Haitian bastards took pot shots at me," Phil growled. "I was lucky they didn't take off my head."


When the bleeding had stopped and Pete finally managed to extract the bullet, Phil said, "Thanks for your help, man. I appreciate it. Drop by later, I'll let you in on phase two."



Pete lay in his bed, staring at the wooden roof of the Skumole shack. It was really early in the morning, and he had been awakened by the thoughts of his brothers.


His attempts to find out about Lance's death seemed to be harder than he had first thought. Despite the numerous tasks he had done for those who perhaps held the answer, he received nothing but money. And this was the first time in a long time he had time to think back on it all...


Pete knew that Aunt Enid had never wanted him and his siblings to earn money by such a risky living. Yet there was no other way to pay off the bills they had. He remembered, despite Vic's protests, joining his older brothers in the criminal business at the age of twenty-one. The odd jobs in Daytona Beach, Birmingham, one unfortunate incident in Savannah. And worst of all, the slaughter in Liberty City six years ago. Somehow they had managed to stick together and make it through. It had been a mistake to split up, when Vic and Lance came to Vice City. But by 1984 the asthma was really getting to Pete. There had been no choice. America was, in some ways, the land of the free. If you didn't make it though, it became a place where you were alive one day and dead the next.


Pete didn't know how long he lay there, but he didn't get up until his phone rang. Picking it up, he saw that the caller wasn't on his list of contacts. Sitting up in bed, he said, "Hello?"


"Pete, it's Umberto Robina," came the reply. Unmistakable Spanish accent. "You remember me?"


"Yeah. You're the Cuban gang lord, right?"


"Si. I still remember that hit we put on the Haitians during the hurricane. You've got some big cojones, amigo!"


"Thanks, I guess."


"Anyway, Tommy wants to see you over at the manor. He says he has some sort of plan to deal with these chumps. When you've got some time, drop by my place. I need your help."


"I'll be sure to remember that, Umberto. Catch you later."


Pete put his phone in his pocket, put on his vest, and making the usual check to see that he wasn't being watched, quickly walked out of the alleyway and onto the street. He hopped onto his bike and headed for Starfish Island.


"...if word reaches the Haitians about this, I will send you away," Tommy was saying angrily to Rosenberg as Pete approached the main doors. "So lay off the damn crack. And you," he turned to Paul, who looked a bit terrified. "I'm warning you. Stop trying to listen in on our meetings. I have no problem silencing you if you betray me. Don't believe me, ask Ken here about what happened to L—" He just noticed Pete standing outside the doors, and stopped speaking abruptly. The crime lord seemed slightly on edge.


"Umberto called you?" he asked.


"Yeah. Said you had a plan?"


"Yes. Come on." Pushing Ken and Paul aside, he quickly walked out of the estate and down the stone staircase. Pete couldn't tell why, but Tommy seemed to be acting a bit strange. Not afraid, but cautious. It was very unusual considering that he was rather irate just before the unexplanable wariness. It gave him the feeling that he should be suspicious about something.


But Pete didn't have time to dwell on it as Tommy walked him over to a heavily resprayed van. It had the gang colours of the Sharks. As he talked, he became less apprehensive. "Now, Mitch said you started a war between the Haitians and the Sharks. They'll be busy trying to sort things out and killing each other, so I don't think they'll be very persistent about looking for you. And this gives us a good opportunity." Opening the back door on the Burrito, Tommy took a leather vest and a dark set of clothing from the vehicle's storage compartment. "This is a gang vehicle used by the Sharks. Now, as far as they're concerned, the Haitians just attacked one of their businesses, so the Sharks will be out for revenge..."



After Pete changed into the gang colours and made his way to Prawn Island, he felt slightly uneasy. Not about the part where he had to kill the Haitians, but the part after that. Spotting five Sharks walking down the street, he stopped beside them and rolled down the window. "Uh...hey, guys!"


The gunmen turned. One of them approached the van. "What's going on, man?"


"You remember when our place Downtown got hit?"


"Couldn't forget. The boss wanted to blast Little Haiti to bits."


"Yeah...listen, he got word about one of their shipments. A shitload of snow is coming in at the docks, and he wants us to rip if off. You guys in?"


There was no hesitation. "We're with you, man!"


"Get in."


As the Shark rode shotgun and the other four piled in the back, the gangster asked, "What's your name, by the way? I don't seem to remember you."


Pete hesitated for a moment. "Jake. I'm new."


"I'm Sherman. Where you from, Jake?"


"Liberty City. The Sindaccos were giving me shit, so I left a few months ago. Your gang seemed like my type of hangout."


"Amen," Sherman chuckled. "Well, you've come to us at a good time. A couple of years ago we lost a lot of our business sites to the Vance gang. People considered us street trash. But now that the competition is mostly gone, we've started rebuilding. Not an empire, it looks like Vice won't have that around again. But we've regained some status in the criminal underworld."


The gangster seemed to be very observant, as well as intelligent. Not the usual gun-toting grunt one usually found intimidating any passing bystander. Not wanting to seem quiet, Pete asked, "Why aren't you higher up in the chain? You seem to know a lot about how things work in the city."


"I've been around for a long time. But I like being the one to get things done more than the one telling someone to do it. There's too much dumb muscle in our gang walking the streets right now."


"Hey, Sherman," one of the Sharks in the back said, "You wouldn't happen to be talking about us, would you?"


"No, that's not what I meant," Sherman replied. To Pete, he added, "Don't get me wrong, they're loyal and all, it's just that...I feel like I'm looking out for them this way."



"We're here," Pete said, pulling down the road that led to the Junkyard. He quickly spotted the docks off to the left. There were a couple of Haitians standing near the entrance. He pulled the Burrito to a stop, and the Sharks disembarked, drawing their machine pistols. Not wanting to make himself an obvious target or a weak link, he decided to use his Uzi.


Sherman gunned down the two Haitians standing guard with his weapon, and the gang ran onto the docks.


It looked as if the shipment had just arrived. Large crates were strung up and laid in rows along the waterside, and the Haitians were loading up the first of the drugs onto Flatbed trucks. Spotting the Sharks, they hastily moved to block the way. Pete and the others took advantage of their arrival as the surprised Haitians fumbled for their guns. Six of them were killed before they managed to return fire.


There were only about a dozen of the enemies left, and despite their greater numbers, most of them only carried handguns and weren't too much trouble. Some of the Sharks took a few hits, but they quickly won the firefight. As quiet settled over the docks again, Sherman said, "Someone might have heard the commotion. I'll pull the van in, and we'll get as much of it in the back as possible."


"Why don't we use the trucks?" Pete asked, already half-hoping that they would leave the van where it was.


"Too obvious. If we get spotted, they'll be on our ass for sure, and those things are slow. We'll take two thirds of it, and toss the rest of it into the water. It'll still get the point across to those Haitians."


"Listen," Pete said slowly, "Why don't you get the drugs and the guys to the lockup? They're hurt, I'll stay behind and get rid of the remaining coke. I'll meet you back on Prawn."


Sherman frowned. "Are you sure, Jake? What if the Haitians come snooping and find you?"


"I can take them. No worries."


The gangster still looked a bit uncertain. "Okay, but let's be quick."


He stood guard as the others loaded up the van. When they were done, Sherman climbed into the driver seat. "Good job. I'll see you back at the safehouse, I guess."


Pete didn't reply. He took the remote out of his pocket. Here was the part he didn't like. If he had doubts about this before, then the guilt was eating him alive now. As soon as the Burrito pulled onto the road, he pressed the button, squeezing his eyes shut.


The van exploded, engulfing everyone inside and leaving no trace of the bodies. Flaming bits of molten metal and burning cocaine sprayed everywhere, scattering from the destroyed vehicle and quickly fading into smoke and ash.


Pete stood there, transfixed. At first he had thought Tommy's plan was immoral, to say the least. But after speaking to Sherman, and even taking a liking to him against his better judgement, it had been almost impossible for him to make the decision. Gripping the remote tightly, he suddenly flung it at a brick wall, smashing the device open. Taking his gang colours off and changing back into the clothes he had stashed nearby, Pete threw the Shark uniform into the still flaming Burrito. As he walked away from the junkyard, he called Vercetti Estate.


Tommy answered on the first ring. "Did you do it?"


"Yeah."


"Good. Then the war is definitely on between the Haitians and the Sharks. This time tomorrow they'll be tearing each others' throats out."


Pete heard the satisfaction in his voice, and knew that there was no point trying to relay his feelings to the crime lord. Tommy was far too used to taking the lives of others to care anyway.


"Listen, Tommy...I'm done with this."


"What do you mean?"


"I've got a lot to do, and I didn't come to Vice City to kill people. If you don't want to give me the answers I need, that's your choice. But I've been getting too distracted lately. You've got a lot of people working for you, so get them to do it. I'll be leaving as soon as I find what I'm looking for."


There was a long pause. Pete was wondering whether Tommy had hung up. But then he said, "You'll leave when you find out?"


"Yes. I've got no other purpose here."


"Okay...then I'll tell you. If I have your word that you'll leave within a week."


"Alright." Pete held his breath. Was he finally about to learn everything?


"Your brother Lance and I had taken over quite a bit of Vice City's businesses and assets in 1986. But that didn't make my boss, Sonni Forelli, so happy. So he came down here to pay us a visit."


No surprises there. He knew that already from Tommy's notes to Phil.


"So we get our guys together and prepare to face Sonni down. But he gets his guys to surround the estate, and our gunmen couldn't get in. It was just me, Lance, and Rosenberg. And Rosenberg's not much use in a gunfight. We eventually took Sonni down, and his guys all ran. And I was left standing, but Lance wasn't."


Pete was silent. So that was how it happened. Something was still nagging at him, but he couldn't tell what it was.


"So now you know."


"Yeah..." he was hardly aware of himself speaking.


"You gave me your word. So go back to wherever you came from. You've been very helpful." Tommy hung up.


He stood on the street for several minutes, thinking. What was it that still bothered him? Something was off. Why was Tommy so eager for him to leave? And if all that had happened was that Lance died standing beside him till the end, why did he not tell him sooner? Pete remembered how strange he was acting back at the manor. Maybe Tommy had only told him a part of the truth. Maybe he was lying altogether. Either way, he was convinced that the whole story was still elsewhere, and he still had to find it. He decided that it was time to find out how Lance had died by his own means. But he needed somewhere to start.


As if in answer to his thoughts, Pete's phone rang.


"Pete, it's me, Keith."


"Keith! How are you doing?"


"Great. Listen, see me at Pegorino's place. He says he has another job for you."


"Alright, I'll be there in a bit."


Keith was a resourceful man. It was as good a place to start as any other.



Keith was waiting for him outside Pegorino's place. He greeted Pete warmly but seemed rather distracted. They entered the apartment together. The gang boss was in the living room.


"Good, you're here. Keith, wait downstairs until we're done. This is a private matter." Keith looked mystified, but complied. Pegorino's bodyguard closed the door behind him.


"Now, listen and don't talk," Pegorino said. "I need you to report to me on Ruth McKenzie's dealings."


Pete was surprised, and a little more than outraged. "You want me to what?"


"You heard me. I'm beginning to wonder if she's trying to screw me over."


"Why would you think that?"


Pegorino began to look annoyed. "I can notice these things. Now go to her apartment, see what she's up to. Call when you have something to tell me."


It was plain to see that Pete wasn't about to get any reasonable answers. As he stood up and began to left the room, he heard the Alderney man add, "And don't tell anyone about this. I'm warning you right now."


Keith was outside. Seeing Pete, he began to approach him, but the latter give a slight shake of the head, well aware that Pegorino or one of his gunmen could be watching. He climbed into his Phoenix and drove off, heading north.


Driving well out of Washington Beach, he decided not to risk calling Keith just yet. Instead, he dialled Gus' number.


"Hello?"


"Gus, this is Pete. I need you to give Keith a message for me. And make sure Pegorino doesn't get it."


"I hear you, Pete. What is it?"


"Tell him to meet me near the Downtown police station this evening. I need to talk to him."


"Okay. I'll let him know."


Pete smiled as he hung up. He had grown to like Gus. He was careful, but also reliable and didn't ask a lot of questions. The moment passed quickly as he thought of Ruth. He couldn't bring himself to believe that she was up to anything suspicious, no matter what Pegorino said. She seemed to have taken to Pete, putting aside her usual brusque manner when talking to him. But despite her tough nature, she seemed to be lonely. Something he had come to sympathize with of late. And despite the short period of time he had known her, Pete was amazed at how close they had become. Sure, their relationship seemed to be just business to any outsider. But he could feel it. There was something else there.


Pete pulled his Phoenix into the parking lot, and rang Ruth's apartment unit.


"Who is it?"


"It's Pete."


"Oh hey, Pete. Haven't heard from you in a while." She sounded preoccupied.


"Yeah, I've been busy. Can I come up?"


"Sure." She opened the door electronically, and he took the elevator up to her suite.


Ruth opened the door for him. The first thing he noticed about her that was different was her expression. She looked anxious.


"Something wrong?" he asked.


She didn't say anything at first, except "Sit down." He sat on the couch, next to her. She still had the same expression. After several minutes, she finally said, "I'm getting tired of this shit."


"Me too," he said, not sure what else to say.


"I feel like someone's about to stab me in the back. Pegorino doesn't trust me for some reason. Hal is up to something, and won't tell me what. I could swear I'm being followed sometimes." She looked frustrated. "This damn city is filled with crooks, and I want out."


"So why don't you leave?" Pete asked.


"I have the feeling that Pegorino thinks I'm a rat. That I've been helping the LCPD track him. If I leave, he'll try to kill me."


He thought for a moment. "What have you been up to?"


Ruth didn't answer. She didn't even look at him.


"Ruth...do you trust me?"


"I..." she turned slowly to face him.


"You can. I want to help you. So does Keith, and Gus."


"I don't know that," she said. "Everything's so different now."


Pete wanted to tell her about the thing Pegorino wanted him to do. He wanted to tell her that he was just as frustrated as she was with everything. That he was sick of killing people until he got what he was looking for. And most of all, how he felt about her. But he couldn't. Not right now.


"Listen, we can make this work out," he said, drawing closer to her. "We should see why Pegorino and Hal are acting like this. It'll give us some answers. You're just going through a hard time. It'll pass."


"Do you think so?" Ruth asked, looking into his eyes.


He put his hand on hers. She didn't draw away. "I have a plan. We'll get through this. You'll see."


They were interrupted by the sound of Ruth's phone ringing. Standing up, she answered, her usual briskness returning in an instant. "Hello? Are you sure? Alright, see you in a bit, Hal." She hung up, and turned. "Pete, I've got to go. Let me know if I can help you with what you're trying to find."


Pete remained sitting on the sofa even after she left, not moving. He sighed, and followed suit. Returning to the parking lot, he drove off to the Skumole shack. Parking the car under the stairwell, he walked to the police station.


Keith was there waiting for him. Spotting him quickly, he said, "Gus told me to meet you here?"


"Yeah. Follow me." They returned to the Skumole shack, and Pete closed the door behind them. He got to the point immediately.


"I have my doubts about Pegorino."


Keith nodded. "So do I. I have a feeling that he's been dealing with the Haitians. And he doesn't trust any of us."


"He..." he hesitated, but decided that he could trust him with the secret. "...asked me to find out what Ruth was doing, and tell him."


"I have a feeling that he's hiding something."


"Everyone has their own secrets," Pete said darkly. "And I think we should find out why Pegorino's trying to point the blame at us."


"You have an idea?"


"Yeah. We need someone who can help us access the VCPD database, and trace the phone calls on Pegorino. I also need to find the ones on Tommy Vercetti and Hal Norwood."


Keith bit his lip. "It won't be easy."


"We need answers, and that's where we'll get them. Do you know someone who can help?"


"Yeah. This computer expert called Cody. He's no gang grunt, but I can persuade him to help for a fee."


"Good," Pete said. "Call him. We'll need a few days to plan it out."


"I'll see you around then," Keith said, walking out of the shack. Pete decided to leave as well, and headed back to the hotel.

Chapter 7

Pete was already thinking about their plan. There were a number of ways that they could do it, but it should be inconspicuous. And the less killing involved, the better.


His thoughts were interrupted by his phone ringing.

It was Tommy.


"Pete? Get your ass over to the manor immediately!"


"I told you already, Tommy. I'm out. Besides, I'm getting ready to leave." Not strictly true, but Tommy wasn't to know that.


"This isn't a job," the crime lord snapped. "I need you here for something else, so get over here!"


As Pete got into his Phoenix, he considered the possibility that Tommy had somehow found out about his plan and was luring him into a trap. But he ruled it out. If he wanted him to leave, then he wouldn't go through the trouble of trying to erase him.


He reached the Vercetti Estate in less than twenty minutes. He hurried inside, where he saw not only Tommy, but also his gang, as well as Umberto and the Cubans. Everyone had a gun.


"Why'd you call me here?" he asked.


"We're about to get hit by those Haitians," Tommy said.


"Why? You said they were at war with the Sharks."


"Paul slipped out yesterday and went to the Malibu. He got himself drunk and ratted us out." He looked angry. Very angry.


Pete rolled his eyes. "So you need us to hold them off."


"Exactly. After that we're shipping him off to San Andreas with Rosenberg. I've had enough of his drug habits as well."


He was surprised that Tommy wasn't going to kill them. But he didn't object.


"Tommy! Looks like they're here!" Umberto called.


"Then let's teach these bastards a lesson," the crime lord said, picking up his Ruger. "I'll guard the main staircase with my boys. Umberto, take your Cubans outside. Block the front and back entrances. Pete, hold them off at the stairwell. I've got reinforcements on the rooftop."


He complied, taking his assault rifle off his back and running down the hallway. He stayed at the bottom of the stairs with three Vercetti gunmen and aimed his weapon down the hall, waiting.


The sound of gunfire was heard echoing from the back pool, followed by shouting and screaming. No one made it through for the first few minutes, but eventually Haitians began running inside.


Pete shot two of them dead before they could react. They tried to retaliate, but the Vercetti gang members made short work of them.


More came, and in greater numbers. There were Cubans giving chase, and the Haitians caught in the middle of the crossfire were quickly eliminated.


One of the Vercettis looked down at them from the top of the stairwell. "They've got helicopters landing on the rooftop! We're getting outnumbered! Aagh!" He screamed as bullets flew into his back, and pitched over the railing. Pete winced as the gunman hit the ground with a crunch, his scream sharply cut off. Reloading his assault rifle, he said, "Stay here and hold them off. I'll help them out on the rooftop." He spotted an RPG propped up against the storage room wall, hoisted it over his shoulder, and held his Uzi in his other hand as he raced up the stairwell. There were a lot of Haitians trying to stop him, and he couldn't move quickly enough to avoid the hits he took, but the vest held as he shot them dead. Reaching the rooftop, he saw about twenty Vercettis engaged in a fight with the Haitians coming in on Armadillos. Each helicopter must have held at least eight enemies. Even the combined fire from the Vercetti gang's machine pistols weren't enough to bring them down. It looked like three had already touched down on the massive helipad, and more were coming.


The Haitians fired at the barrels some Vercettis were hiding behind, and the red objects immediately exploded. The victims didn't even have time to scream as they were torn apart, the mutilated remains of their bodies falling everywhere. Pete retaliated by firing a missile at one of the Armadillos coming in. It hit the rotors dead on, and the aircraft spun out of control. It careened away from the rooftop and crashed onto the back staircase below. It exploded, leaving a gaping hole on the stairs and nearly collapsing the stone poles holding up the roof.


"Good shot!" one of the Vercettis shouted. "There's one more, take it out!"


Pete checked the RPG and saw that he had one shot left. He aimed at the last helicopter coming in, but didn't fire just yet. Waiting until it was low enough, he blew off its tail propeller, causing the Maverick to crash into the cluster of Haitian helicopters on the helipad. Several of the enemy gangsters were killed immediately, and the survivors desperately tried to escape the flaming wreckage, to no avail. The other three choppers exploded in chain reaction, consuming all the Haitians in the deadly conflagration. Silence settled over the rooftop.


The Vercettis cheered. But Pete was already on his way back down the stairwell, holding his rifle again.


Tommy was engaged in a heavy fight against the Haitians in the main staircase. The dark-skinned gunmen were pressing down on him in all directions, and the Vercettis all lay dead on the ground. Pete shot some of the Haitians on the second landing, providing a distraction and giving the crime lord a chance to focus on the main entrance.


"Tommy, the rooftop's clear," Pete said, running towards him and giving him a hand. "It looks like the Haitians are dwindling too."


"Good, they should call the attack off soon," the former was bleeding from his chest and shoulder, but ignored it.


"Should I call your boys down to give you a hand?"


"No, I can handle this," Tommy said, gritting his teeth. "Go fetch Ken and Paul, they're hiding in the bar."


Pete helped him take down the last of the Haitians on the staircase. There was a brief respite, but he hurried to the bar and found Paul and Rosenberg hiding behind the counter. "Come on, we're leaving."


"Are you nuts?" the lawyer said, "We'll never make it out alive, those Haitians are everywhere!"


"Tommy's telling you to do it, so do it," he snapped. Reluctantly, the pair followed him outside.


Tommy was talking to Umberto. "We're taking them to the airport, so I need some of your guys to go inside and hold them off there. This is almost over."


"Whatever you say, Tommy," the Cuban man replied. "Pepe, take ten others and go inside. We can take them, these Haitians fight like little girls!"


The crime lord got into the passenger seat of a Sentinel, and said, "Ken, Paul, get in the back. Pete, drive us to the airport." He clutched an SMG in one bloodied hand, and rolled down the window. "Those Haitians will be after us, but leave them to me."


"Bloody hell mate, why can't this wait until it's over?" Paul asked. "These goons are swarming all over us!"


"They're here for you, idiot," Tommy said. "You told them about our plan, and they're looking for more information. This'll never end until you guys are gone."


Pete pulled them out of the long driveway, smashing through a pair of Voodoos that blocked the entrance. The Sentinel shook with the impact but it held as they sped down the middle. Making a sharp left, he headed towards the mainland.


In the backseat, Rosenberg was looking terrified. "Tommy, Tommy! They're chasing us!"


"Of couse they are," the crime lord said, leaning out the window and firing at them. "Keep your heads down and shut up."


There was another Voodoo coming towards them. Pete could see that they were on a collision course, so he made a sharp turn at the last minute. The Haitian car skimmed the corner of the Sentinel, but avoided the worst of the damage. However, the car spun 180 degrees. Turning the wheel to the right rapidly, he floored the accelerator just as the first Voodoo missed them by inches. "Jesus Christ, Tommy," Pete said, "Can't your guys give us some backup?" The crime lord didn't answer, but was holding a walkie-talkie in the his other hand. As they pulled onto the mainland and made another left, he spoke into it. "Now, Mike!"


A second Sentinel pulled onto the road from the north, smashing into the Voodoo that was chasing them. Pete risked a glance backwards. There was a Vercetti behind the wheel, with three gunmen firing at the Haitian car.


"That answer your question?" Tommy asked dryly as they continued towards the airport.


It wasn't over yet. More enemies were coming out of every road and alley, on foot and in car. Fortunately, they were now in Little Havana, and the Cubans were doing their best to distract them. A Hermes plowed through a trio of Haitians, crushing the unfortunate gangsters. It then collided with a Voodoo and sent it flying into the water.


Tommy laughed mirthlessly. "Nice one, Rico!" The Cuban driver gave them the thumbs up, before speeding off in another direction.


After countless run-ins and close calls, they made it to the airport. Tommy took Paul and Rosenberg to the entrance. "These are your tickets. I've sent your stuff to San Andreas ahead of time. Ken, here's the address to the rehabilitation centre I've signed you up for."


The lawyer looked horrified. "Rehabilitation? You're sending me to rehabilitation?"


The crime lord ignored him. "And don't come back, because I will know about it."


"That's a bit harsh, mate," Paul protested. "You're forcing us to live in a bloody desert?"


"You can blame that on yourself. This has gone out of my control. Now get going." As they entered the airport, Tommy returned to the Sentinel.


"Pete, take us back to my place. I have a feeling that we're going to need to clean up whatever's left of those Haitians."



They had made it back just in time to take out the last of the Haitians. After that it was a matter of restoring everything to normal. Pete loooked around the Estate. "Doesn't look so pretty."


Tommy shrugged. "Not so bad. You should have seen that brawl we had with Sonni."


"The one where Lance died." He wasn't checking for confirmation, but more to scrutinize Tommy. See his reaction.


The crime lord's expression hardened. But it wasn't resentment. "Yeah. That was messy."


It didn't look like he was lying. But he was definitely hiding something.


"My boys told me how you took out those helicopters," Tommy said, bringing his attention back to the matter at hand. "Well done. This wasn't really a job, but I guess I owe you something." He led him to the safe, and gave him a large wad of money. Pete looked at the cash. "You lost a lot of your gang. So did Umberto."


"Happens all the time," the former said dismissively. "Besides, those Haitians lost a lot more. It'll take them a long time for them to recover from this. If at all. And that gives us the perfect opportunity to take them out for good."


Pete groaned. "Here we go again. Whatever it is, count me out. I said I was done, and that's that."


"But this could actually be the end of the Haitians," Tommy insisted, a rare excitement entering his voice. "Right now, there can't be more than twenty or thirty of them left walking the streets. They've been weakening for years. All we have to do is take out the last of the leaders, and wipe out their businesses. Simple as that."


"Doesn't sound so simple."


"Before you leave, see Umberto. Once you get this done, you will be rewarded. I'll see to it myself."


Pete thought about it for a moment. He still had to make his plan to find the tapped phone calls. But that would take time. And until then, he had to give Tommy a reason as to why he was still here.


"Fine," he said at last. "But it better be worth it."



Pete parked his Phoenix in the compound yard, and saw Phil lining up wodden crates against the side of the trailer with one hand. It looked difficult. Getting out of his car, he gave him a hand.


"Oh hey, Pete," the ex-soldier said. "Thanks for the help."


The fumes emanating from the crates were very strong. Pete moved away from them when they were all stacked up. "Whew...what's in there, Phil?"


"Boomshine. I make the liquor myself."


"And you drink it?"


"Yep. That stuff is the best."


"If you say so," Pete muttered.


"Anyway, thanks for coming over. I was about to call you. It's time for us to get serious with the military hardware?"


"What, the tank wasn't serious enough?"


"Not nearly enough, boy. I need some firepower in the sky. So we're gonna steal a Hunter helicopter."


"Sounds fun. Where is it?"


"Same person who had the tank. Cortez put it on the rooftop of some apartment up in Vice Point. I recall Vic used to have a suite there."


"Okay. Are we shooting our way in?" he asked, eyeing the shotgun in Phil's hand as he took the wheel.


"Maybe," the ex-soldier said, climbing into the Patriot. "This operation has a lot of variables. Keep a piece on you."


It was a long trip to Vice Point. As they made their way across the bridge, Pete said, "Phil, this'll be the last thing I do for you, okay? I have things to do here, and the money is good and all, but I think I've made enough to look after myself. And I have to get this thing done, it's very important."


"I understand," Phil replied. "It was good serving with you, man."


They stopped outside the apartment. The door was open, and the lobby was empty. They took the elevator up to the penthouse suite.


"The only way to the helipad is through the other door in there," Phil explained. "So we'll bust the door open and get to the helicopter."


"What's the variable you mentioned?" Pete asked.


"There could be people inside. If there are, this won't likely be quiet."


Pete put his ear to the door.


"I like the new place, Mercedes," a voice said. Spanish accent, but not Cuban.


"Thank you," replied a female voice. "Could you bring the package Downtown for me, Rodriguez? I'll be down there later today, so make sure they save some for me."


"At least two people," Pete said quietly. "They could be Cortez's henchmen."


"Then let's kick the door," Phil said, raising the shotgun.


Pete nodded, aiming his revolver at the door. He fired three shots, forcing it open, and rushed in with Phil behind him.


They were in a fancy suite. The walls were clean white, and a large window overlooked the street below. To the right, a staircase led to the upper landing. The occupants inside turned towards them in surprise. The man grabbed for his gun, but Pete dispatched him with a single bullet in the head. The woman screamed as he aimed at her.


Pete hesitated. He had forced entry assuming that both of the occupants were armed and dangerous. But looking at her dark pink skirt, stockings, and faded black vest, it didn't seem likely. He was about to say something when Phil raised his shotgun and fired at her.


The buckshot tore through the woman's clothes and sprayed blood everywhere. She was thrown off her feet, rolled onto the table, and was still.


"Phil!" Pete said. "She wasn't a threat!"


"Standard operating procedure, son," the ex-soldier said. "Take out everybody in the room who could raise the alarm. We can't have her run off and tell Cortez's goons about us."


"This isn't the army!" he said, still looking at her body in shock. "We were just taking the chopper, and we could have knocked her out at least."


Phil shrugged. "Too late for that, Pete. What's done is done." He stiffened as he heard the sound of heavy footsteps. "Say, someone's coming. It could be more of Cortez's guys. Get up to the roof and get the helicopter back to the compound. It might be a while before I get back, so just leave it there."


Pete knew that time was short. Running up to the second landing, he went through the door that led to a short flight of stairs. Opening a second door, he saw that he was on the roof. A dark green helicopter was placed on the pad. Spotting no one else around, he put his Colt Python back in its holster, entered the helicopter, and started the engine. As he took off, he heard shouting from below, and could've sworn that someone was shooting at him. But he turned the aircraft back towards the mainland and didn't stop to look.


It took a lot less time for him to fly across the water than to drive around the roads. But despite the relatively short trip, Pete was getting a headache from the sound of the rotors by the time he was back in Little Haiti. He put the Hunter down for a landing in the compound yard, returned to his Phoenix, and left.


He drove south, and was wondering where he was going before he noticed a Cuban waving to him on the street. Pulling his car to a stop, he let the gangster enter.


"Hey, I'm Pepe. You Vance?"


"Yes," Pete replied. "How'd you know?"


"I remember you from Tommy's place, amigo. You've got some big balls, what you did." The Cuban chuckled. "Listen, Umberto wants to see you at his place. He's getting ready to wipe out the Haitians, and he thinks you can help him."


"That I can."


"Then let's go right now."


Pete easily found Umberto's house, and saw gun making preparations with his gang inside.


"Boss!" Pepe said. "Remember this guy? The one with the huge cojones?"


The Cuban leader greeted him enthuthiastically. "Now we're ready." Turning to the gunmen, he said, "Listen up. Pete here is going to show you guys how to deal with those Haitian chumps. They can run, but they can't escape us! Go get them!" The gang grabbed their weapons and starting their cars.


"Eh...Pete, listen amigo," Umberto said. "I need to stay here and make plans for our next attack. So you'll be leading them. I left a bunch of boats at the north part of Starfish Island. The Haitian leaders are trying to leave by water. So take my boys and kill them all! Come back later so we can destroy the last of their businesses."


Pete nodded, climbing into his Phoenix with Pepe riding shotgun. The convoy of Cubans made their way to Starfish Island, and quickly found the boats. He took the driver seat of the Jetmax, and half a dozen gunmen stood on the back, holding AKs, Rugers, and M4 assault rifles. Rico and Pepe drove a Speeder each, with just as many Cubans. "Okay, Pete," Pepe said. "the Haitians should be sailing towards Vice Point. Let's sink them into the ocean!" The boats headed east, and spotted five boats with Haitians aboard. The Cuban boats quickly closed the distance, and exchanged fire.


All Pete could do was keep his head down and make sure the Jetmax was aligned with the other boats. The sound of screaming, gunfire, and bodies falling into the water filled the air. He flinched as the Cuban behind him took a bullet through the neck and fell backwards off the boat, spraying him with blood. Grabbing his Uzi with one hand, he fired at the Haitian driver.


The enemies quickly lost two of their boats. But the other three sped up, heading towards the narrow channels of water between Leaf Links and the east island. "After them!" Rico shouted. The Cuban boats, having all taken a fair share of damage, spewing smoke and leaking water from the bullet holes, gave chase nonetheless. Pete quickly checked to see how many gunmen he had left on his boat. Three.


As the Cubans closed the distance again, the gunfight resumed. But the Haitians had gone out of the open water and were using the cover of the islands and the protruding dockings placed around the channel.


"They're splitting up!" Pepe said. Two of the boats went one way, and the third the other. Pete followed him chase the larger group, and Rico went after the lone boat.


"Focus your fire on one of the boats at a time," Pete said, and the Cubans complied. Quickly, one of the Haitian boats caught fire. The passengers abandoned the vessel, and were shot dead in the water. The boat exploded seconds later.


Pete moved around the soaking wreckage, and went after the other boat. But they had a brief advantage while the Jetmax was trying to readjust its direction. Its engine burst into flame.


"Everybody off!" he shouted, grabbing one of the Cubans and jumping into the water. The other two followed, and swam away in time to avoid injury from the explosion.


"Shit!" Pepe shouted as his Speeder collided with the destroyed Jetmax, and threw him and the two surviving Cubans on his boat off. As the sound of the boat faded, the gang was left treading water and making their way to the shore.


Pepe swore in Spanish. "Looks like we fucked up real bad."


Pete, who was already feeling the limited effort of swimming that his asthma would allow, was catching his breath when he looked up and spotted something. "Maybe not. This isn't over yet." Without waiting to explain, he ran up to the hovercraft he spotted docked near the golf course. Jumping in, he hot-wired the engine and gave chase.


As they returned to the open water, it seemed that Rico and the others dealt with the second Haitian boat. That left one more. Speeding up, Pete raised his Uzi again and emptied his clip at them, killing four of the Haitians. But the driver was still alive, and so was, it seemed, the Haitian leader on board. Dropping his gun to the floor, he grabbed his Colt Python and fired 6 shots at the boat. The driver took two bullets in the back, eased back on his seat, and let go of the wheel. But now Pete had empty magazines for both of his sidearms, and had no time to reload as the Haitian leader took over the boat's controls. Carefully tucking the handguns back into his vest, he moved up alongside the boat.


The Haitian leader grabbed a pistol and took aim. Pete made a sharp turn right, smashing into the boat and shaking the gun from his grip. Taking a grenade off his vest, he pulled the pin with his teeth and flung it straight into the boat.


The Haitian's eyes widened in panic. He stopped the boat, and ran towards the side and jumped off. He scrambled onto shore and dashed towards the nearest parked car. Pete eyed the ledge that separated the land from the water. It wasn't too high, but he wasn't sure if the Bovver would be able to maneuver over it. He had to try anyway. Stomping down on the accelerator, he felt the bone-jarring impact but pulled onto land.


The Haitian leader had broken into the Stallion, and was driving away at top speed. Pete spun the hovercraft onto the road and followed, smashing as hard into the muscle car as he could. The impact knocked the trunk open, but also severely damaged the Bovver. He could hear the hiss of leaking air, and knew he had seconds. Grabbing a second grenade, he pulled the pin again and threw it as hard as he could at the Stallion. It bounced into the trunk, and for a second, nothing happened. Then, the car flew upward from the rear side, the flaming remains flipping end for end.


Pete slowed the damaged Bovver, and climbed out with a sigh of relief. To his surprise, he realized that their chase had taken them back to Starfish Island.


Rico's boat was parked by the water, and the surviving Cubans were looking at him in amazement. Finally, Pepe said, "Amigo, you've got some big cojones."



"...and then, I was saying to Rico, 'Man, Umberto will cut our balls off'," Pepe said. "But then we saw the last Haitian leader running for a car, and Pete chasing in a hovercraft. And I said, 'Let's give him some help'. So we run for our cars. But that Haitian was driving pretty fast. And then we see Pete roll that grenade into his trunk, and man, that was the end of that."


Umberto laughed. "Then you are lucky he was with you. Because I would have cut your balls off if you let even one of them get away." Clapping Pete on the back, he said, "Well amigo. This is it. One Haitian business site to blow, and that's the end of them. Little Haiti will belong to us! This is what we will do."



"A front, huh?" Pete asked as they approached the building.


"Yes," Pepe said, making sure his gun was out of sight. "The Haitians make Sprunk there and ship it to the mainland. It is time to put them out of business."


They were in a Trashmaster, wearing employee uniforms, and driving towards the factory. Pete recalled how they had once attacked the factory when the Haitians were doing a deal with the Sharks. Now they were going to blow the whole place up.


The garbage truck stopped in the alleyway. Pete and Pepe climbed out, the Cuban saying, "You know, we did destroy one of their other factories a few years ago. The Haitians are still using the same solvents." He laughed. "They just don't learn, amigo."


The Haitians inside were standing guard, but they didn't seem so intimidating anymore. Ever since the deaths of all the leaders, they had done the only logical thing they could think of: guarding their last asset. It had made Umberto laugh.


"They are idiots, Pete," he had said. "Grouping together so we can wipe them out all at once."


Pepe looked around, and quickly spotted Rico on the roof. The Cubans exchanged signals, and the latter hefted an RPG. Aiming at the Voodoos parked in the alley, he fired.


Four of the gang cars exploded at once. As expected, the Haitians came rushing out. "Hey! Over here!" Pepe shouted. "Your cars exploded! Our truck can't get in!"


"Wait here," one of the gunmen said, and a score of them ran into the alley.


"Now!" Rico yelled. Cubans swarmed them from the street and where they were hiding in the alley. The Haitians were trapped in the narrow space, caught unawares and extremely vulnerable to the gunfire. They were quickly wiped out. Pete and Pepe drew their guns and ran inside, where there were even more Haitians waiting. They looked confused, as Cubans entered the factory and opened fire.


"Pete!" Pepe shouted. "We need to plant the bomb!" They ran over to the solvent processor, which was located directly under a staircase. Pete ducked behind it, the machine protecting them from any gunfire. As he planted the bomb, Pepe stood next to him, watching for any Haitians that tried to delay them. After a lot of fiddling to make sure it was all right, Pete said, "Okay, let's get out of here. We've got thirty seconds." He picked up his gun as well, and they ran out of the factory, with Pepe shouting, "Run! Get clear!"


The Cubans retreated far from the building, dashing across rooftops or down the streets, leaving the Haitians very confused.


Pete was watching from the opposite rooftop. Three...two...one...


He squeezed his eyes tightly shut as the factory exploded. Stones and metal flew everywhere, falling onto the streets and into the alleys. The surrounding buildings caught fire, and a nearby billboard collapsed, blocking off the street.


Pepe cheered. "Hahaha! It is over for the Haitians!"


"I don't think we killed all of them," Pete pointed out. "There must be stragglers."


But nothing could wipe the smile off the Cuban's face. "Ah, they won't be causing us trouble anytime soon, amigo. We have won!"


Pete realized that he just saw the end of another gang war. But remembering all the lives and damage it had cost, he knew that he himself, as a hired gun, would feel no jubilation about it at all.



As Pete walked back outside onto the streets of little Havana (an ecstatic Umberto had asked him to stay for a party, which he declined), and called Tommy.


"Tommy, we did it. Your Cuban friends are celebrating."


"I just heard about it." There was a pause. "Under different circumstances you would have made a good gang leader here."


He laughed humourlessly. "That kind of stuff doesn't really appeal to me. I do what I have to, that's all it is."


"If you say so. We all start somewhere." When Tommy didn't say anything, Pete said, "I guess this is goodbye."


"Yeah. See you around...or I guess I won't."


He started the engine on his Phoenix as he hung up. Don't worry, Tommy. I won't be going anywhere. Not until I find out everything.



Chapter 8

Pete crumpled up another sheet of paper, tossing it into the recycling on top of the overflowing pile. It wasn't that the ideas wouldn't come to him, they just wouldn't connect into a plausible plan.


It was two days since the Haitians were wiped out. He had spent most of the time in the Dakota hotel making plans on breaking into a VCPD building and obtaining the traced phone call records. Back in the old days it was a simple matter of putting on a uniform and looking around. Now you had to have clearance to get what you wanted from it.


He frowned, and looked at the sheet laid in front of him, and retrieved one of the notes he had thrown out. Maybe there was a way for it to work...


Pete's phone rang, and he picked it up immediately.


"Pete? It's Phil. I need you to come over to my place, hurry!" There was an unaccustomed urgency in his voice.


"I'll be right there." He grabbed his vest and car keys, locking the suite door behind him. You never knew when someone would try to break in. He pulled his Phoenix out of its parking space and headed for Little Haiti at best speed.


It took him over half an hour to reach it, and by the time he pulled into the compound yard, Phil was waving at him frantically.


"Thanks for coming, bud," he said, climbing into the passenger seat.


"Phil, what's wrong?"


"Something's happened to Mary-Beth! Get us to my sister's place, go!"


"Phil, I need you to calm down for a second. Who's Mary-Beth? And where does your sister live?"


"Mary-Jo's apartment is 874 Bayshore Avenue, Little Havana, unit 32. Come on, move it!"


Pete pulled them onto the road, and (with a few illegal maneuvers) got them there in less than ten minutes. He stopped the Phoenix on the side of the road next to the apartment.


Phil was already climbing out, and buzzed the intercom repeatedly. "Mary-Jo, it's me!"


A female voice answered. "Phil? Oh, thank God! Hang on, I'm opening the door."


Pete followed the ex-soldier into the apartment and up to the third floor. The door was opened by a rather sizable woman.


"Mary-Jo, where is she?"


"Oh, Phil, this is terrible!" she exclaimed. "I came back from Verdi with the groceries, and Mary-Beth was gone! They left a note here." She handed it to him.


Phil handed it to Pete. "What's it say? I'm illiterate."


He read it out loud.


Phil Cassidy, my men have told me what you have done. Your murder of my daughter Mercedes is an outrage and demands vengeance. I have taken your niece to Terminal C at the airport. If you want her back alive, bring the Hunter to me. Come alone and unarmed. If you have doubts that I would harm her, do not forget. You have killed my child, and I will not hesitate to do the same. Colonel Juan Garcia Cortez.


Mary-Jo had turned her attention to him. "Hold on...I know you. You're Vic, aren't you?"


He glanced up from the sheet. "No, I'm Pete. vic was my brother."


But she looked too hysterical to notice the past tense. "What are we going to do?"


"I'm going to tear those bastards apart, until they give her back," he growled. Pete put a hand on his shoulder.


"Phil, be rational. They have her hostage. And I have the feeling that Cortez is pissed off at us right now. So the last thing you want to do something stupid that'll get us in even more trouble. He wants you dead, and you can't give that to him." He glanced at Mary-Jo. "Is Mary-Beth your daughter?"


"No, she's my niece too. Her mother was Louise. I thought you knew that, Vic."


Turning back to Phil, Pete continued, "I've dealt with hostage situations before, and if there's one thing I've learned from it is that people see what they want to see. So what we need is a plan. Something that'll get both you and Mary-Beth through this alive."



Phil kept close to the side of the wall, careful not to make a sound. Back in the days when he was in the army, his commanding officer had always said he was no good at stealth missions. Too jumpy. But now that age and his old injuries were catching up with him, he had gotten into the habit of being cautious.


He looked up at the high wall that enclosed Terminal C. He had moved around the perimetre of the wall on the outside, careful not to fall onto the street below. No one inside the terminal could see him yet, but once he moved over the wall, that would be a different story. He had no doubt that Cortez had a lot of gunmen waiting for him, and he wasn't too eager to alert himself to their presence just yet.


Most people wouldn't have guessed that Phil was capable of climbing a wall quietly with just one arm. But they were wrong. In less than a minute, he was peering over the faded stone at the cluster of gangsters standing next to their cars and holding guns. But his gaze was automatically directed at the one holding Mary-Beth firmly by the wrist. She didn't look too happy.


Phil watched the skies. Wait for it...wait for it...


The sound of the Hunter's blades was heard filling the air. The gunmen all looked up to see it appear from the southeast, so that no one would notice Phil clutching the wall behind them. Pete was behind the controls, although they wouldn't be able to tell from the tinted windows. Still he waited. One wrong move now could be fatal not only to him, but also to Mary-Beth.


The Hunter made a wide turn and began to settle in for what appeared to be a landing. The gunmen raised their AKs to the helicopter. "Don't try anything, señor!" one of them shouted. "Come out with your hands up!"


Pete was about ten feet off the ground when a Little Willie swooped in from over the building. Its cannons flashed, missing the Hunter but causing enough of a distraction for Phil to heave himself over the wall and drop silently onto the ground behind them. More of the small helicopters arrived, firing at the Hunter, which began to take off again.


In reality, the Little Willies were part of the plan. Phil found someone he knew who owned half a dozen of the aircraft and fitted them with dummies and remote controls. But Cortez's men were momentarily confused. But when Pete was flying to and fro around the terminal, and some of the decoy aircraft shifted their aim at the gangsters instead. They retalitated, and as the sound of gunfire drowned out all else, the ex-soldier made his move. Grabbing his butterfly knife from his pocket, he rushed one of the guards, who was facing away from them and firing into the sky.


The gunman spotted the movement, and began to turn, but not quickly enough before the blade sliced his throat open. He let out a scream, but it went unnoticed as the rest of the gang were shouting and still trying to bring the Little Willies down. The second guard was dispatched just as quickly, and he turned his attention to the one who held Mary-Beth.


Phil flicked his knife at the gunman, who dropped with the blade sticking out of the back of his head. Without waiting, he grabbed his niece and ran for a nearby Sanchez.


But some of the other guards had finally spotted them. "It's a trick!" one of them shouted. Heads turned their way. Knowing he had seconds, the ex-soldier propped Mary-Beth on the bike and seated himself behind her. His body would shield her from any bullets that were fired their way. "Hold onto me tight, sweetheart," he said, and floored the accelerator, swerving back and forth to avoid the shots that flew past them.


"Thanks for coming for me, uncle Phil," said a small voice.


Phil looked down at Mary-Beth. Until then, he had avoided looking at her face. Rescuing someone meant that nothing should be able to distract you from carrying out your mission, and if he paused to comfort her, it could be disastrous. But he couldn't help it.


His niece looked terrified, and there were dried tears on her face. But she looked unharmed, and clung to his waist with her head against his chest. "It'll be alright, Mary-Beth." They were small targets, but it was an advantage only if Cortez's gunmen didn't get to their cars. But he wasn't too worried. Pete knew what to do.



"Okay, Phil's got her," Pete said into the Hunter's built-in communications device. He was talking to Phil's contact, the one who was controlling the Little Willies. "It looks like they've caught on. Put all your cannons on the gunmen. I'll take out the cars." He knew that there would be no time for the contact to respond, but he must have heard, because the remote-controlled helicopters turned their full attention to the gangsters. But their rifles were doing heavy damage as well. One helicopter exploded, then another. It was time to turned the tables.


They were shooting at him now, too. But the bullets didn't penetrate the metal armour, and he retaliated by firing the Hunter's rockets at the cars. The gunmen unfortunate enough to be standing next to them were instantly killed. After, taking out every vehicle on the ground, he fired at the survivors with the machinegun. The firepower was devastating. In a matter of seconds, it was over. A mass of bodies lay scattered around the terminal, and the destroyed cars still smouldered and burned. Blood stained the runway.


Pete grimaced as he pulled the Hunter up and away from the airport. The unfortunate thing about a hostage situation was that someone on either side had to die before a solution had to be reached. And in worst-case scenarios, everyone had to die.


Let's hope that's not going to happen to us, he thought as he flew toward Little Haiti. If Cortez was pissed off before, this had to have set him on a bloodlust.



Pete returned the Hunter to the compound yard, then headed back to the apartment. He found Mary-Beth sobbing and being hugged tightly by her aunt. "It's alright," Mary-Jo said soothingly. "The bad guys can't hurt you now."


"I was so scared," the girl whispered. "They said they were going to kill uncle Phil."


She couldn't have been more than five or six years old. Pete felt slightly sick. Some people would go to any lengths to get revenge.


Seeing him enter, Phil stood up. "Well done, Pete. You should've joined the army!"


He smiled briefly. "Vic used to tell me that. Listen, I think it's safer for you guys to get out of here. When Cortez hears about this, he'll come down himself to make sure you're all dead."


"I've been thinking the same thing myself, partner. I've been thinking of setting up a gun shop in Liberty City. I've got an old army buddy there that can help me out."


Pete looked surprised. "Are you sure that's a good idea? Liberty City's a more corrupted town than Vice. Your priority is to keep Mary-Beth out of danger."


"Oh, I know that. Her and Mary-Jo are going off to Jacksonville, it'll safer if they're in the mainland. But Liberty's the only place I know where I can make a successful living with this kind of stuff."


"But what about the tank, and the Hunter? And all the guns you've stashed here?"


"Oh, I can live without the tank and the heli. But my contact will smuggle my firepower out of the city by boat. I'll arrange it as soon as we've settled down."


Pete turned to Mary-Jo. "Are you okay with this?"


She waved a hand. "Oh, that's a sure thing, Vic. I was packing everything up when you boys were out. I've got tickets and everything. We can leave right now."


"Better if we don't tell the superintendent we're moving out," Phil said. "It'll take Cortez's guys longer to catch onto us."


"Good idea," Pete said, standing up. "Let's get going then, before word reaches Cortez about the rescue."


It took them ten minutes to get their belongings into the back of Mary-Jo's car (They left most of the furniture in the suite). Pete took the wheel of the Regina, and drove them to the airport at best speed.



Pete helped the Cassidys put their luggage into the machine, and walked with them to the airport entrance.


"Well, I guess this is it, Pete," Phil said, extending his hand. Pete shook it. "Thanks for everything. I'm really glad you came here. Your brothers would have been proud of you."


Would they have? But he said nothing, except, "Good luck, Phil. It's been an experience."


"Bye." The ex-soldier waved one last time, and hurried off after his sister and niece. They were soon lost from sight among the crowd of people bustling around the airport.



Pete held the sheet of paper up, and read it again. It was messy and scribbled, but he knew what to do. Yes. Everything would work out. And it wasn't even as complicated as he first thought it would be.


He looked around at the materials he had collected. Two spare LCPD uniforms, retrieved from the helicopter used by the cops that were looking for Pegorino. The standard-issue police equipment that they would carry, also from the helicopter. The forged dossier containing the clearance that would let them search the database without arousing suspicion. And of course, the electronics that Keith's contact would bring that would narrow their search and find out everything that they had to.


Making sure that everything was in place, he called Keith.


"Pete, is that you?"


"Yeah. Listen, we're just about ready to get the records from the database. What did Cody say?"


"He's agreed to help us, but his price is quite steep. You'll have to pay half."


"That's alright. Come see me Downtown. I'm in the shack right now."


Twenty minutes later, he saw Keith climb out of his car, with another man fumbling with an armful of devices. He gestured for them to follow him up to the Skumole shack, where they laid everything out on the floor.


"You're Cody?"


"That's right," the man replied. He had a scrawny build, and had a nervous air about him. Pete hoped that he was up for the job.


"Cody what?"


"Just Cody. It's not even my real name. I like it, because I'm good with codes."


"I see. Now, here's the plan..."



The officers on duty looked up to the sound of the police station doors opening. As the three men approached the desk, one of the VCPD asked, "Who are you guys?"


"Major Evan Flint and First Lieutenant Mark Jepsen," Pete said. He and Keith showed a pair of ID badges. "We're LCPD."


The officer frowned. "We didn't receive notification of any forces being send from Libery City."


"We just arrived," Keith said. "We're keeping this quiet, because the last team we sent were ambushed and killed."


"Yes, happened on this very rooftop. Unfortunate. Well, what's your business? And who's that?" The officer looked at Cody.


"We're looking for Jimmy Pegorino. And this is our specialist. He's helping us track our target."


"If you don't mind, we would like to take a look at your database," Pete said. "Maybe we can run some checks on phone calls made in Vice City and see if we can get a fix on Pegorino's location."


"Okay," the officer said, handing him an access card. "Down the hall and take a right. Use any of the computers you want."


"Thank you."


They headed to the data centre, and Cody seated himself at the nearest terminal. Since they claimed to be police from outside the city, the VCPD would have to run a check on them before setting the restrictions. In any case, the names Pete and Keith were using were those of actual LCPD officers. They had a few hours before the VCPD caught on. Maybe less if they did a face check.


"Hurry," Pete said in a low voice.


"Okay, okay," Cody swiped the access card, and was granted entry into the database. Plugging in a storage device that would copy the audio files of the phone calls, he asked, "Any specifics? It'll narrow our search and save us a lot of time."


"Summer of 1986 to now. Key names: Jimmy Pegorino, Hal Norwood, Tommy Vercetti, and Lance Vance."


"Shit," the computer expert said. "That'll take a while." He looked around nervously. The officers were attending their various duties around the room, but took no notice of them.


"We don't have a choice. We're only getting one chance at this, so let's make this good."


Forty minutes went by, and the downloads were still proceeding. Pete kept up the appearance of casualness, but in reality he was tense, one hand on the Uzi under his uniform.


"How much longer, Cody?" he asked.


"Almost done. Just a few more files. Two minutes tops."


The sound of suspiciously soft voices were heard coming down the hall. Several metallic clicks were heard.


"Damn, they're onto us," Keith said, drawing his pistol. Cody paled.


"We've got to get out of here!" he said, sounding panicked.


"No," Pete said firmly. "We'll hold them up. Just concentrate on getting the files."


Three VCPD officers entered the room, guns aimed at them. "You there, by the terminal. Stand up!"


Everybody in the room froze. Keith raised his weapon and shot all three of them down. Pete leapt to his feet and sprayed the crowd of police with automatic fire. An alarm sounded throughout the building.


"Keith, I'll clear the room," Pete shouted, reloading as he ducked behind a desk. "You hold off the ones outside!"


"Shit, I think I'm gonna piss myself," Cody said frantically, ducking his head so that the cubicle would protect him from any shots. It was doubtful that the wood was actually bulletproof, but it would keep him out of sight.


"Shut up and grow some balls," Keith said, keeping his handgun aimed at the doorway. "You're being paid for this, so you'd better do it right."


The officers inside the room now had their weapons out. Pete kept their attention on him by opening fire on them again, dropping them one by one. He and Keith had filled the bullets in their weapons with stun rounds, and would at worst knock out anyone who got shot for a couple of hours. He had no intention of decimating the VCPD police force. A city as corrupted as this needed every officer they could get, and as long as they didn't aim for the eyes or the temples, what they were doing would leave no permanent damage.


"Are you done yet?" Pete asked as he dropped the last officer in the room and watched the entrance with Keith.


"Almost," Cody said, peering out from his cubicle. "Jesus, this is the last time I'm doing a job like this. Three grand isn't worth putting my neck on the line."


An officer dragged himself up from behind his desk and raised his pistol. Aiming at the computer expert, he shot him in the leg. And unfortunately, his weapon was filled with live rounds.


Cody screamed and fell onto the ground. Spinning around, Pete put five rounds into the officer's chest, taking him out for the count. A second later, the computer beeped.


"We've got the files," Keith said, grabbing the storage device and yanking it out of the computer terminal. He slipped it into his jacket.


Blood was dripping down Cody's leg, and he lay on the ground, sobbing and clutching his injured limb. Pete tossed his gun to Keith, and hoisted the computer expert up under the arms. "I'll help get him out of here. You'll have to cover us."


It was a short trip back outside. But it was made a lot difficult with the police trying to stop them, and Keith's efforts to protect his temporarily vulnerable allies. But they finally reached the Washington parked outside. Dumping Cody unceremoniously into the backseat, Pete climbed into the passenger seat as Keith handed him his Uzi back and took the wheel.


He ejected the mostly empty magazine from the chamber, and slotted live rounds into it. If any VCPD cars pursued them, he would aim for the wheels, which were too thick for stun rounds to penetrate.


"Floor it," he said. The car sped away from the police station, and headed south.



After dropping Cody off at the hospital, Pete asked Keith to take them to Phil Cassidy's compound yard. The VCPD were buzzing all over the Downtown area, and it was better not to return to the Skumole shack in case the police located the staircase tucked into the alleyway.


They entered the trailer, which wasn't locked. Keith found Phil's laptop and laid it on the desk, and they inserted the storage device into the portable computer.


"This is it, Pete," he said. "All our answers are right in here. Let's see what it has to tell us."


He opened the file. There were hundreds of audio clips inside.


"Try that one," Pete said, pointing at one of them at random. Keith clicked it.


'April 8, 1988. 11:34 am.' the file read.


"Too early," Keith said. "Let's see another—"


"Wait!" Pete said sharply, as more words appeared on the screen. Something was labelled below the date and time.


'Caller: Hal Norwood.'


"Aye, who's dis?" It was a female voice, heavy laden with the unmistakable accent of a Haitian. She sounded rather old.


"My name is Hal Norwood. Are you Auntie Poulet?"


"That I am. Ya say your name is Norwood?"


"That's right," Hal's voice wavered slightly, but he pressed on. "I understand that my brother Ian recently caused you a bit of trouble?"


"Aye, my boys know all about it. Dey very vexed with 'im."


He took a slow breath. "Well...we can make a deal, if you want. If you tell your Haitians to wait in the junkyard and stay out of sight, I can lay a trap for him."


"You tryna get ya deadman brother? Git the jump on 'im?"


"Yes. I've had some disagreements with him of late."


"Ya feisty one, Hal. But 'tis an opportunity. Ya want money for dis, say?"


"Yes. Five grand, no less."


"A deal it is then, Hal. M'catch you later."


The file ended. Pete clenched his fists.


"The treacherous bastard, he sold his own brother out for five thousand dollars?"


Keith bit his lip. "Ruth's not going to like this."


"No, she's not. Play the next one."


'April 9, 1988. 5:26 pm. Caller: Hal Norwood.'


"Hello?" The voice was male, but unfamiliar.


"That's Ian," Keith said slowly.


"Shh."


"Ian, how are you? It's me, Hal." The tone in Hal's voice sounded slightly forced.


"Hal? Listen, I'm sorry about last week. I know we've had our diffences, but this is really stupid. Let's stop this, because it's not getting anywhere—"


"Hey, you're right. In fact, I'm the one who should be apologising. Listen, can you meet me at the junkyard, I've got something to show you."


"The junkyard?" Ian sounded puzzled. "Why?"


"It's where I put it. No one knows it's there."


"Put what?"


"You'll see. What do you say, eh?"


Pete already saw what was going to happen before Keith clicked the next file. Of course, it was so obvious...


'April 9, 1988. 7:13 pm. Caller: Hal Norwood.'


"Ruth! I need you to meet me at the junkyard immediately!" Hal's voice had an uncharacteristic urgency to it.


"Hal? What's going on?"


"It's Ian, he's in trouble! The Haitians are everywhere, I'm trying to get to him!"


"What?"


"There's no time, just get over here!"


Pete shook his head. "This is insane..."


Keith looked grim. "I think we know everything we need to about Hal. Let's see what Pegorino's up to."


They ran through the files for a few minutes, until they finally found one that look promising.


'June 11, 1989. 3:47 pm. Caller: Jimmy Pegorino.'


"Hey, Peg. Thanks for calling me back." It was Hal. "How are you finding Vice City?"


"Weather's too damn hot in the tropics. Anyway, I don't have time for small talk. What was that thing you wanted to tell me?"


"Remember when you told me you were looking for a few bucks to earn while you're staying here? I've got something that'll interest you."


"What would that be?"


"You remember Pete Vance?"


"Yeah. I don't trust him."


"Neither do I. He's spending a little too much time with Ruth for my liking."


"I don't trust her, either. They're looking for something, and I have a feeling as to what it is. And that other guy, Keith. I know he used to work for the Leones back in Liberty City. Those guys don't get around to Alderney a lot, but they're trouble."


"You did?" Pete asked, surprised. He had a few encounters with the Leones when he went to Liberty City, and he wasn't sure whether it was friendly or not. Keith gave a quick nod, but didn't say anything.


Hal spoke again. "Hey, I know exactly what you mean. Tell you what, here's how you and me are going to make it big. I know some Haitians that'll pay us a load of greens for turning these guys in. You'll be going back to the coast as a rich man."


"I'm already rich, but I know what you mean." There was a pause. "I'll think about it. But be careful, don't blow our cover. McKenzie doesn't like it when you two have to make deals with Haitians."


"Ahh, she doesn't complain a lot. Don't worry about a thing, Peg. I'll call you."


Pete stared at the laptop, the words still echoing in his ears. "Hal and Pegorino are planning to take us out."


"That's something else to tell Ruth," Keith said angrily, standing up.


"Tell her everything," he said. "Tell her to call me. We need to get together soon and think of a way to sort this out. I'll see if there's anything else in these files."


As the sound of the Washington's engines faded from the compound yard, Pete rearranged the files on the page to sort by date rather than name, and scrolled up the page. Everything he needed to know would be in the 1986 section. It didn't take him long to find one of the files.


'October 17, 1986. 6:24 pm. Caller: Lance Vance.'


"Tommy, we gotta talk about stuff." It was his brother's voice alright. Pete hadn't heard it for such a long time, he had begun to forget what it sounded like. Yet Lance didn't sound too happy. In fact, there was a lot of stress in his voice.


"What's the problem, Lance?" Tommy asked.


"It's you, my friend, I feel you're not giving me a fair slice. And more than that, you been embarrassing me in front of the boys. I can't have that."


Pete knew that it was hard for Tommy to take a backseat to someone else, or sit back and let someone else handle something. Then again, Lance was known to overreact to the slightest provocation. And he had an unfortunate tendancy to play the victim.


"Lance, it ain't like that. You've been making mistakes."


"Tommy, I'm not your message boy. I'm not your running boy."


"Lance, don't screw up, and we won't have any problems. I screw up, you can lay into me anytime." Tommy sounded as if he was trying to be reassuring, but there was a hint of impatience in his voice. He obviously wasn't used to calming people down.


"Tommy, I've done everything for you, you treat me like a fool. Don't do that!" Lance sounded angry now. Pete doubted that he was even listening to the crime lord.


"Lance, I won't rip you off, or stab you in the back, okay? Just take it easy. This is tough enough without you getting all emotional on me. Trust me. Do you hear me, do you hear me?" There was an edge entering Tommy's voice.


"I hear you, Tommy. But I can't take this much more."


"Lance, don't do this. Now I'm warning you. Do you hear me? Take a few days off, okay? I'll talk to you."


As the file ended, Pete began to wonder if Tommy's partnership with Lance wasn't as perfect as everyone thought it was. Now that he thought about it, the crime lord seemed to look tense whenever he mentioned him. What had happened?


A few files down, he found another call to Tommy, from Lance. This time, there was no time for conversation.


'October 23, 1986. 9:18 am. Caller: Lance Vance.'


"Tommy, it's Lance. We've got big problems, come down here right away."


The 'big problem' was probably Sonni Forelli's imminent arrival at Vice City. Knowing that the answer was very close, Pete scrolled down a little more and began to open the files one by one. Skipping over a call from Cortez (he was surprised to hear that the Colonel was in touch with Tommy), someone called Steve Scott, and a very drunk Kent Paul, he clicked the one after that.


'October 24, 1986. 4:20 pm. Caller: Earnest Kelly.'


"Tommy, it's Earnest. Earnest Kelly."


"Hey, how are you?"


"Fine. I'll need a stick to walk, but I'll be getting back to work soon."


Pete was about to close the file when he heard the next thing Kelly said.


"I heard about Lance. What a little prick, huh?"


"Yes."


"Never trust a man who walks the streets in his pyjamas, that's what I say. I'm glad you took him out. Hope it was painful for the prick..."


Pete hardly heard the rest of the file, and didn't even notice when it ended. Kelly's words echoed in his head. I'm glad you took him out...


Listening to the file a few more times to make sure he had heard correctly, he slammed his fist down on the laptop. It automatically turned off as the lid closed over it, halting Tommy's voice in mid-sentence.


He didn't know what he was doing. But there was one thing he finally knew for certain. Whether he had finally grown tired of Lance's dissatisfaction, or maybe wanted all the money and power to himself, Tommy Vercetti had killed him, and covered it up by putting the blame on Sonni Forelli's gunmen during the attack. Had he shot Lance in the back? Or did they face each other one-on-one as they fought to the death?


It doesn't matter, Pete thought, as he slipped on his bulletproof vest, and walked purposefully towards the Rhino still parked off to one side of the compound yard. I will find Tommy, and kill him personally. I will watch him die, just as he watched Lance die.



Chapter 9

It was a quiet evening. The Vercetti Estate cast long shadows onto the ground as the sun faded into the west. The usual gangsters patrolled the manor inside and out, weapons hidden in their pockets.


Two of them stood on the west side, near the road. They were sitting on the stone wall that separated the lawn from the sidewalk. The pair, bored from taking shifts on the island all day, were chatting to each other.


"So you think things'll get better on the mainland now that the Haitians are gone?"


"Definitely. They can stop lurking around the cab office and the ice cream factory."


"I was surprised Tommy didn't deal with them sooner."


"Ah, it's no easy job to run an entire organization in a place the size of Vice City. That's why he got Umberto and that other guy to do it?"


"Yeah...what was his name again? Pierre?"


"I think it was Pat..."


Then an explosion shattered the stone wall, killing both of them in the blink of an eye.



Mike ran into Tommy's room. "Tommy, we've got a problem!"


The crime lord looked up. "What is it?"


"We're under attack! There's something outside!"


Tommy grabbed his Ruger, and ran out of the manor without another word.



Something had blown a sizable hole in the wall that surrounded the Estate. The Vercettis were firing their Micro-SMGs and screaming in the grounds.


Tommy looked around. "What the hell is going on?"


"It's a tank! There's a tank tearing through our defences!"


And so it was. He looked in half-amazement as a shell took out five gunmen, as well as a chunk of the lawn, and moved on.


"So it is. But who's in there?"



Pete destroyed a part of the low wall that led to the back of the Estate, just enough so the Rhino could move up onto the elevated ground. Bullets peppered the hull of the tank, to no effect. He plowed through a group of them without remorse, looking for more victims to kill. Tommy was nowhere in sight yet, but he could hardly ignore an attack on his estate. Sooner or later, he would come out.


Firing another shell from the cannon, he melted some tall hedges, and set the surrounding plants on fire. Driving through what was left of the carefully-trimmed grass, he passed a few swimming pools and reached the waterside. There was a slight bump as it slid off the elevated land.


The back staircase was blocking his way through. He fired at it repeatedly, blowing the stones apart and killing the Vercettis that were standing next to it. He was about to drive forward when something exploded right outside the tank. Turning the Rhino sideways, Pete narrowly avoided a second missile. And he saw who was holding the launcher.



"Pass me another rocket," Tommy said. Mike complied, handing him more ammunition for his RPG.


"Good, we've got their attention," the crime lord said.


"Now what, boss?"


"Now we do this."


Tommy grabbed Mike and dove away as the tank's shell flew past them.



Pete swore. He had almost got him. But Tommy was obviously too good to be taken out that easily.


Knowing that the Rhino wasn't invulnerable to explosives, he decided to climb out and use his gun. Taking his assault rifle off his back, he sprinted across the lawn and prepared to turn around the corner shooting.


But when he reached there, he saw only Vercetti gunmen.



"If he makes it past them," Tommy said, "Make sure he gets into the manor. I've laid a trap for him."


"I'll grab a gun, boss," Mike said, dashing off.



Pete shot another gunmen dead, and ducked under the stairs for a breather. When he recovered his stamina, he took out two more, and ran for the main door. Tommy had to be inside.


He didn't have to look around to see that he was instantly surrounded. There were gangsters everywhere, weapons raised. But they didn't fire. Not yet.


Standing outside the safe room was Tommy. Spotting him, the crime lord said in disbelief, "Pete! It was you?"


"That's right!" he shouted back defiantly.


"Why?"


"Because it was you who killed Lance!" Pete pointed his gun at him. "Now you'll be the one who leaves this town!"


The Vercettis opened fire at the same time he did. But Tommy moved out of the way. He ran up the stairs, yelling, "You're just like your brother! A fucking backstabber!"


Pete ignored the bullets that were fired at him, and ran after the crime lord, gunning down anyone in his way. He chased him down the stairwell and down the hall that led to the waterside. He saw Tommy running past the pool, but didn't get to do more than shoot the wall next to where he was before he ran around the corner. Ignoring his asthma, he gave chase, shouting, "You lied to me, Tommy! And you won't take me the way you took him!" Reloading his assault rifle, he ran down a second hallway, and entered the maze.


He could hear Tommy's footsteps as he ran around the hedges. Following the sound of his breathing, Pete turned the corner, and saw him pointing a sniper rifle at him.


Swearing, Pete fired wildly, shooting Tommy twice in the side, staining the teal shirt with crimson. But the sniper rifle discharged, and the slug caught him in the stomach just as he was about to aim for the head. The bulletproof vest held. Barely. The assault rifle's third bullet entered the crime lord's bicep, forcing him to drop the weapon.


The sniper round had knocked Pete off his feet, but he stood up and gave chase again. Tommy was injured now, and ran for the exit. Pete followed, but turning the corner again, he was confronted by three gunmen, and had to waste valuable seconds killing them. His movements were also hampered by the vest, which was now riddled with bullets and slowed down his movements. He turned around one more corner, and saw at least twenty Vercettis standing ready, aiming their guns at him.


Pete ducked back into the maze as bullets exploded around him. The rounds tore through the hedges that made up the maze and buried themselves into his vest. A couple of them made contact with his unprotected legs, and he nearly fell from the pain. But resisting it, he hobbled backward instead, deeper into the maze. Still driven by hatred and the thought of revenge, he decided to re-enter the estate through where he came out and look for Tommy from there.


But more gunmen were running around the ruined staircase and looking for him. With his flagging energy and his injuries, Pete began to doubt that he could carry out his task. No matter. If he died, then so be it. He broke from cover, running along the waterside and shooting at the Vercettis, ignoring the pain that shot up his body every time his feet touched the ground. They were running at him now, and he killed three of them easily, one by one. The fourth made a dive at him. Pete raised his gun, and pulled the trigger. But the magazine was empty. The Vercetti smashed into him, and they plunged into the ocean.


They still fought, staining the water with red. A knife flashed in the gangster's hand. Pete yanked it out of his grip and stabbed it deep into his neck, kicking the writhing man deeper into the water. Suddenly, strong hands grabbed him from behind, and hoisted him onto a boat. He lashed out, yelling incomprehensively and trying to find a weapon on his vest.


"Get the vest off him," one of them said. A hand touched his chest. Pete pushed it away.


"Pete, take it easy!" It was a different voice. A female one.


He opened his eyes, and realized that it was Ruth. The other person was Keith. They were on a speedboat, which was heading away from Starfish Island rapidly.


Ruth took his sodden and bloodstained vest off of him. "This would have suffocated you," she said. "What were you thinking?"


"It's bulletproof," he said.


"You know that's not what I mean. Are you insane? Attacking Vercetti Estate on your own?"


"Tommy killed my brother," Pete said indignantly.


"And you would've been next," she said. "You're hurt. We've gotta get you someplace safe."


"No," he said. "I won't rest until Lance has been avenged."


"That's crazy talk," she said. "Revenge will hurt you more than it will anyone else."


"I'm not asking you to come. I can do this on my own."


"Pete Vance," Ruth snapped. "You're not going back there, and that's the end of that. Don't make me knock you out. Where have you been staying?"


"Some shack in Downtown. Tommy knows about that place though."


"Then we'll go to Phil's place," Keith said.


As Pete reluctantly eased back in the boat, the pain and tiredness began to catch up to him. He sighed. His one chance to take out Tommy had failed. Then again, he could have been a lot more careful about it. He felt himself falling asleep...



Pete woke up staring at the ceiling of Phil's trailer. His arms and legs were bandaged. Turning his head, he saw Ruth and Keith sitting in the other room.


She immediately noticed. Walking over, she asked, "How do you feel?"


"Fine," he replied. It actually wasn't as bad as he thought.


"You were lucky," she said. "You got shot a couple of times by some small bullets, but you'll be able to walk by tomorrow. Nothing too serious."


He just noticed that there was something odd about her voice. Suddenly remembering, he said, "Keith's told you about Hal, hasn't he?"


She nodded. "Somehow, I knew all along," she said. "Something about that day just didn't seem right. We need to deal with him."


"I thought you said revenge would accomplish nothing."


"This isn't about payback. Keith told me about Pegorino too. We're about to get hit. Now that the Haitians have been wiped out, they'll see to it themselves. We just have to be faster than them."


Pete was amazed that she was taking it so well. Ruth was a very sensible person, and kept her cool very well. She hasn't gone so far as to single-handedly tear half a mansion apart, he thought.


"Well, are you in?" she asked.


"Yes," he said. "I promise."



Ruth and Keith insisted on staying until Pete was able to walk again. The next day, however, he assured them that he would be fine on his own, and that he "promised not to go running off on a rampage again".


"Keith, you should find Gus," he said. "See if you can get some guys together. We can't do this alone." Turning to Ruth, he said, "And try to find out where Hal and Pegorino are. Obviously, act as if you don't know what they're up to."


"I can't play dumb," she said. "They already know that I suspect something, and if I overdo it, they'll be onto me."


"Okay, well whatever you think will be convincing, then."


As they left to carry out their respective tasks, Pete stood up with a wince. Although he had no trouble with walking, it still hurt to walk in the morning.


He became aware of the sound of engines outside in the compound yard. He was wondering whether Ruth and Keith had come back, when he realized a few things. One, the sound was not from a single car, or even two cars, but many more. Two, it sounded as if they were V8 engines. Neither of them used muscle cars, though. Peeking out the window, he saw a fleet of black Hermes, painted with flames on the front. Cubans! And so they were, stepping out of their vehicles and drawing weapons. Had he been tracked down already?


Pete cursed his stupidity. He should have known that Tommy knew where Phil lived, and that he would think to check here. Quickly, he looked around for a weapon, and spotted Keith's pistol. Grabbing the handgun and checking it, he saw that it still contained 12 stun rounds. Good enough.


Bursting out of the trailer, he made a sprint for the Phoenix, which was parked not so far away. Immediately, gunfire erupted all over the compound yard, and he found himself running for his life, firing whenever they came too close. Without opening the door, he grabbed the rim of his car and dove feet-first through the open window. Starting the engine, he stomped on the accelerator and sped out of the compound.


More Cubans were waiting in their vehicles outside, and seeing the Phoenix fly past them, they gave chase. But their modified Hermes were still no match for the sports car. Pete made a sharp turn onto Bayshore Avenue, and not knowing where he was going, floored it again, swerving around cars.


There were at least ten Hermes behind him, and more than one collided with each other, another car, or whatever else was on the road or off it. He was beginning to lose sight of them by the time he reached Viceport, when one of them smashed into his car. It spun erratically, and Pete caught a glimpse of the driver's face. It was Rico, and his expression was savage. He put the Phoenix into reverse, and drove off again, but somewhat hampered as part of the car's coverings were scraping one of the back tires.


Bullets were sprayed along the ground, and he felt his damaged car spin as one of the tires popped. Now no longer in control of his drive, Pete felt the Phoenix smash headfirst into a wall. He felt disoriented, but didn't give himself time to recover as he ran into a yard before the Cubans turned the corner and spotted him.


Pete realized that he was in Phil's old place. Hearing the sound of approaching V8 engines, he quickly hid behind a group of crates that were placed inside the unused garage. Clutching Keith's pistol tightly, he tried to mask the sound of his shallow breathing.


The sound of wheels grinding to a stop, and doors opening and closing was not far off. Voices muttered to each other in Spanish. "He's can't have gone far," Rico said. "Find him." As the gang walked around the yard, guns raised, he called, "Pete? Tommy would like a word with you..."


Pete lay still, making sure that he was completely hidden behind the boxes.


"...He would have come himself," Rico continued. "But I'm afraid you've shot him up a bit..."


Pete was aware that something was lying in the dark, just to his right. Turning his head slowly, he looked.


Two bodies lay next to each other. Some of the more devious insects had taken the liberty of eating away the flesh over the years, leaving some parts of bone showing, but he suddenly realized who they used to be.


The first was wearing an orange T-shirt and light coloured pants. There were bullet holes and dried blood stains on the left side of his body. And despite the fact that he looked as if he was placed there for the longer time, his clothes were mostly undamaged, apart from the bullet holes, and the appearance of having been dragged a short distance. The second was wearing a mostly white suit. Unlike the first, his body was riddled with bullets, and the suit was ragged and torn. He looked as if he was dumped unceremoniously onto the ground. Most importantly, the remains of the clothes that clung to the two bodies were the ones worn by Vic and Lance the last time he had seen them, just before they had left for Vice City in 1986.


The sudden knowledge that he was so close to all that was left of his brothers was mortifying, as well as the state they had been left in, and Pete couldn't hold back a gasp of horror. Would he soon be placed next to them, given to the insects to eat away until nothing remained but the skeleton?


"...So we'll have to deliver the message ourselves."


Pete realized that Rico must have heard him, because he was standing over him and pointing his gun at his head. Without hesitation, he shot the Cuban. The single stun round caught him in the thigh, and he fell with a pained yell.


The rest of the gang immediately pointed their guns at him. He was wondering how he would make it out of this alive when another Hermes zoomed into the yard, braking sharply. Out stepped Umberto.


"Stop!" he shouted. "Put your guns down!"


"But Umberto, Tommy told us to kill him!" said one of the Cubans.


"Tommy's not your boss, I am!" Umberto said. "And I'm telling you not to shoot him!"


Slowly, the Cubans lowered their weapons. Rico stood up, clutching a crate for support.


"I think he crippled me," he moaned.


"It's a stun round," Pete said. "You'll be fine in a while."


He was talking just so they wouldn't notice the fear in his eyes. Yet his voice was shaking. He had just stared death in the face a few seconds ago, and he wasn't so sure he was out of it yet.


Umberto walked over. "Pete, I just heard what happened," he said.


Pete said nothing, wondering what this was about.


The Cuban leader's face broke into a smile. "Attacked Tommy's place on your own with a tank. Amigo, you've got some big cojones."


Still, he didn't reply.


"Tommy's not too happy with you."


"No, I'll bet he's not," Pete couldn't help saying.


Umberto laughed. But then his expression faded into seriousness. "Pete, I know what this is about."


"You do?"


"Sure. When my boys went looking for you, they found this inside the trailer." He pulled Phil's laptop out from his car. "I saw what you were up to."


The former was silent again, standing still. With a sigh, Umberto said, "Amigo, I think you misunderstood Tommy. He didn't betray your brother. It was the other way around."


Pete's expression hardened. "How can you say that?"


"Because I heard this." He opened the lid on the laptop, and played one of the audio files.


"Hello?" The voice was male, and accented with a hint of Italian.


"Hey...is this Sonni Forelli?" To Pete's shock, he realized that it was Lance's voice.


"Yeah. Who are you?"


"My name is Lance. I'm a partner of Tommy Vercetti."


"Is that so?" Sonni sounded more interested now. "And what does he want?"


"Well...right now, he's giving you the middle finger."


"I can tell. I'm planning on heading down to Vice City and teaching him a lesson."


Lance paused. "I can help you out there."


"And why would you do that?"


"Because Tommy isn't letting me in. After we took out Diaz, we had agreed to split everything fifty-fifty. But he didn't keep that promise."


"I've known him to disappoint me more than once, Lance. Are you saying you're switching sides?"


"Yeah. Can you give me a chance?"


"We'll see. What do you have to offer?"


"I know that Tommy owes you three mil. He's counterfeiting the money off at his Print Works. That's what he's planning on giving you."


"Is he now? I'm planning on sending some guys to pay his businesses a little visit. Maybe that's the first place I'll go."


"So, do we have a deal, Sonni?"


"Yeah. Don't worry about yourself when we hit Tommy's place. My guys'll protect you if comes after you."


The file ended. Pete was completely speechless. His own brother had turned on Tommy...he had gotten it all wrong...


"I'm sorry, Pete," Umberto said. "But it happens all the time. I knew some guys who tried to sell me out a few years ago, and they worked for me for years..." He trailed off. When he didn't get a response, he said, "Amigo, I don't want you to die like this. You've done too much for us to just...Listen. It might be hard for you to know that your brother makes mistakes, but it's not your fault. And it sure isn't Tommy's fault."


Pete closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he exhaled, he said, "I don't suppose I can send Tommy an apology..."


"No, you probably can't," the Cuban said with a half-smile. "What's done is done."


The former walked back toward the crates, beckoning for Umberto to follow him. He stood next to the bodies, and all he could do was stare at them.


"I think Vic died just outside this garage," Pete said. "He deserves better than this."


"Yes," Umberto agreed. "My boys can take the body and bury him somewhere nicer than this."


"Thanks, Umberto. I'd like that."


"What about Lance?"


Pete stiffened. After hearing the phone call to Sonni, he had frozen his thoughts. Now they all came crashing down inside his head.


"Dump him into the water," he said quietly.


As the Cubans moved to deal with the bodies, Umberto (spotting the wrecked Phoenix just before driving into the yard) told Pete to get into his Hermes. As they drove out of Viceport, the gang leader said, "Now, the best thing for you to do is to get out of here, amigo. Should I take you to the airport?"


It was tempting, Pete thought. To run before Tommy realizes I'm still alive. But there's still some unfinished business I have here.


"No," he replied. "I made a promise. And I intend on keeping it."


Chapter 10

As Pete made preparations for the upcoming task, there were times he actually couldn't believe that he was still here. I was supposed to leave Vice City as soon as I found out about my brothers. But I can't leave Ruth and Keith to deal with their dilemma on their own. This isn't just about me anymore.


It was a stupid idea to return to the compound. But Phil's supplies were already here, and he doubted that Tommy would think he'd come back here. He found another bulletproof vest and restocked on weapons. He had lost the tank during his attack on the Vercetti Estate. But he still had the Hunter (in reasonably good condition too). And he intended to make good use of it.


When he was sure that he just as ready as he could be, he called Keith. The latter answered on the first ring.


"Keith, it's Pete. I think we're ready—"


"Pete, thank God. Something's not right. I've called Ruth several times, but she hasn't responded."


"What?"


"I'm heading to her apartment now, can you meet me there?"


"Yeah. See you in a bit."


Quickly putting his phone back into his pocket, Pete ran outside. His Phoenix was completely trashed, but Phil's Patriot was parked and ready to go. He headed for Downtown at best speed, and got there in little more than five minutes.


Keith was waiting out front. He looked worried, and without a word, they entered the lobby. They hurried into the elevator, failing to spot the person who stood still against the wall in the darkened hallway adjacent to them, holding one hand over a woman's mouth.


When they reached Ruth's apartment, they saw that the door was slightly ajar. Drawing their guns, they walked in slowly.


"Shit," Keith whispered, looking around. The living room was a mess. There was an obvious sign of a struggle. Everything was scattered, and there were bullet holes on the walls. And there was a figure lying face down in a pool of blood.


"Oh my God." Pete ran up to the body. There was a bullet hole in the back of his head.


"It's Gus," Keith said, his fist clenching around his gun. "I told him to go with Ruth yesterday."


"He was thrown onto the floor," Pete said. "Never had a chance."


There was a roar of pain heard many floors below him. Both men straightened up.


"Let's go!" They ran down the stairs as quickly as they could, and ran out into the lobby just in time to see Pegorino forcing Ruth into the backseat of a Greenwood. Hal was in the driver's seat.


"Don't bite me, you bitch," snarled the Alderney man, shoving her into the car and slamming the door shut. Keith raised his gun and fired, missing him but hitting the car. Pegorino grabbed an AK from the front seat and returned fire. Pete and Keith ducked behind either side of the lobby wall, as the gunfire stopped and the car drove off.


"Come on," Keith said, as people ran out of the apartment to see what was going on. He and Pete ran for the Patriot, and gave chase.


The Greenwood could be easily seen moving back and forth between the cars heading down Bayshore Avenue. But the military vehicle's modified engine ensured that they would quickly catch up. Keith pulled out his Micro-SMG and leaned out the passenger window.


"Don't hit Ruth," Pete grunted as he weaved around an Infernus.


"I'll try not to." He fired at the Greenwood's tires, popping both rear wheels. Amazingly, the car continued to drive with fair precision.


The chase continued out of Downtown and into Little Haiti. They pulled onto another road and towards the docks. Out of sheer luck, the Greenwood made an unexpected spin and entered the compound yard. Pete stopped the Patriot inside the yard as well.


"I'll take Hal, you take Pegorino," he said.


"Deal." They climbed out of the hummer, guns drawn.


Norwood had a pistol with a silencer on the end (Pete was wondering why the other occupants of the apartment didn't notice the ruckus in Ruth's suite) and fired at them. But the bullets had a lot of scatter and didn't do much more good than attracting attention to himself. Pete raised his Uzi and returned fire, but had the same luck. Norwood ducked and ran for the nearest vehicle: Phil's Walton.


Pegorino was holding Ruth with one hand, and his AK with the other. Keith aimed carefully, firing a single shot from his Micro-SMG. The bullet caught the Alderney man in the gun hand, and he dropped his weapon with a yell of pain, involuntarily letting go of Ruth at the same time. She tore free from his grasp, running towards Keith. Pete aimed at Pegorino, who was close enough to be hit by the handgun's fire. He would have succeeded had Norwood not grabbed his partner and pulled him into the Walton as well.


Pete dove off to one side as the truck sped past them and into the street. Keith cut the bonds on Ruth's hands and they hurried to the Patriot.


"I'm taking Pegorino to hell," she said as he handed her a gun. "Gus died trying to protect me."


"You two chase them on the ground," Pete said, dashing for the Hunter. "Keep them busy while I use the helicopter to cut this chase short." He climbed into the pilot's seat, activating the rotors and the guns. Now that Ruth was free, he would have no problem blowing Norwood's hijacked car to bits.


The Hunter lifted off the ground with a mighty roar, and as the roads were seen below him, and he could discern the Walton speeding for the bridge. Flying over the buildings to save time, he caught up to the truck. Firing the machinegun brutally, he poured barrage after barrage of gunfire on the vehicle. Yet it remained intact. He wouldn't use the rockets unless he had to. Not with other people around.


The chase continued over the bridge and into Leaf Links golf course. Pete was forced to readjust his course as they drove under a low wooden walkway that connected one side of the island to the other. By the time he was facing east again, he saw that Norwood and Pegorino had abandoned the Walton and were running across the golf course. Pete kept the aim on them, ready to fire when they emerged from behind the hills and were caught in the open. Which would have been fine had Norwood not retrieved an RPG from the back of Phil's truck and fired it at him.


The missile hit the Hunter, damaging it but not destroying it. But as Pete fought to regain control of the helicopter, he saw that Norwood and Pegorino were running towards two Mavericks at the water's edge of the golf course.


"Come on, come on," he growled, trying to bring the weapons back online. He had a good chance of taking the helicopters out and leaving them trapped. But after a lot of fiddling, he only managed to get the machinegun partially working, and by then, both of them took off. Norwood flew south, while Pegorino flew west.


Pete knew that Phil connected radio transmitters with all his vehicles. He managed to make contact with the Patriot, and said, "Keith, this is Pete. Can you hear me?"


"Loud and clear. We're crossing the bridge right now. What's going on?"


"I need you to turn back. Pegorino's heading southwest, flying for the airport, most likely. Stay on him, I'm going to deal with Norwood."


The next voice that was heard belonged to Ruth. "Make sure you make him pay, Pete."


"I will." Without wasting another precious second, Pete cut the transmission and headed after Norwood. They were flying over Vice Point now. Activating what was left of the machinegun, he loosed everything he had on the Maverick.


The cannon was damaged, and fired in short bursts. But keeping his aim on the helicopter's rotors, he soon forced Norwood into a landing. Deciding once again to try and pick him off, Pete was about to destroy the Maverick with Hal next to it when he was hit again by an RPG.


"Fuck," he growled, slamming the Hunter onto the ground and diving out. He barely ran clear before it exploded, taking the second helicopter

with it.


Norwood had commandeered a Wintergreen and was escaping through Washington Beach's alleyways. Spotting a Streetfighter placed nearby, Pete gave chase, careful not to smash into any of the buildings. Their high-speed chase was likely to be fatal if one of them was careless. But he had the faster bike, and soon managed to catch up. Grabbing his Uzi, he aimed at Hal's back and prepared to fire.


Norwood suddenly braked, jumping sideways off his bike and landing on the Streetfighter. They sped out of the alleyways and across the road as they wrestled precariously on the small vehicle. Pete took both hands off the grips but kept his foot on the acceleration as he twisted around and aimed his gun at Norwood. The latter punched him in the stomach, forcing him to double over and nearly roll off the bike.


They were now speeding back and forth across dirt, and then grass. He punched Norwood in the face, who fell off. But one of his feet hooked around Pete's, and the movement sent both of them sprawling onto the grass. The Streetfighter plummeted into the ocean.


Norwood snatched the assault rifle off his pursuer's vest, and Pete tackled him onto the ground as three rounds discharged into his chest. He felt the kevlar take the blows, but it constricted his breathing slightly. Not a good thing if you were asthmatic. He grabbed the gun and tried to slip the magazine out of the chamber. Hal's hand squeezed the trigger, firing the rounds into the air. As pedestrians screamed and ran, Pete smashed the gun out of his hand.


Norwood rammed him with his shoulder, sending him sprawling. Pete stumbled, letting go of the weapon and falling backwards into the water. He instantly felt the weight of the vest and all the guns on it weigh him down. He unzipped it, grabbing two objects before letting it sink into the ocean. As he swam for shore, Hal, who had found the assault rifle again, fired at him.


Two bullets penetrated his back, and one in his side, and Pete bit his lip to stop himself from crying out with pain. Raising one of the weapons he held, a pistol, he returned fire. The rounds narrowly missed Norwood's head, but he ran nonethless. Pete pulled himself out of the water, and trailing blood as he ran, he saw Hal enter the lighthouse. Dropping the empty pistol, he followed, wincing with every step.


As soon as Pete entered the lighthouse, he had to duck as another spray of bullets were fired at him. Taking deep breaths to calm himself, he looked at the other object held in his hand. It was a knife. No good for firefights. So he had to get close. Nothing for it, then. He counted to three, and began running up the spiral staircase as fast as he could, trying to avoid the bullets that flew around him. Before long, his asthma began to take a toll on his movements, but he didn't stop. If he did, then he would die. There was no cover on the staircase.


Pete's vision swam as he fought to catch his breath. He flinched as a bullet pierced his leg, and a second grazed his cheek. He still dragged himself up the stairs, holding onto the railing with one hand. A third bullet entered his stomach, and white-hot pain engulfed him. He let go of the railing, and slumped onto the ground, gasping out his breaths and waiting for the rest of the bullets to finish him off.


They never came. As the ringing in his ears stopped, he could hear a clicking sound, and Norwood swearing quietly. He must have run out of ammo. Gritting his teeth, Pete pulled himself to his feet, put his knife up his sleeve, and dragged himself up the stairs. Hal had nowhere to go, and could only wait for him to reach the top. But the stairs were so long, and the top was so high up...


Norwood wasn't at the top of the staircase. Knowing that he was lurking on the lookout tower, Pete knew that he had one guess as to which side of the exit he was on. Taking a silent breath, he ran onto the circular platform and turned sharply right. A blunt pain on the back of his shoulder blade told him that he was out of luck. He fell as the pain extended to the two bullets in his back. Rolling over, he saw Hal standing over him, holding the empty rifle and preparing to hit him with it again.


"The Haitians were going to make me a rich man," he shouted, rage burning in his eyes. "Then you came along and ruined everything. I guess I'll have to kill you myself."


"You sold your own brother out, jackass." Pulling the knife out of his sleeve, Pete stabbed it deep into Norwood's side side.


He screamed and fell back, letting go of the gun. It flew over the edge of the railing and fell into the water with a splash. He tackled Hal, grabbing the blade's handle and driving it deeper. His opponent roared with agony, and reflexively knocked him back onto the ground. Pete's vision blurred again, but he fought the exertion and stood back up, grabbing Norwood by the shoulders and slamming him into the wall several times. He turned him around and prepared to use the lighthouse's unyielding solidity to drive the knife straight into his middle, when Hal's head snapped back, catching Pete in the face. They continued to wrestle, each trying to kill the other with their own hands.


The sound of people running up the staircase was heard echoing through the lighthouse. A minute later, Ruth and Keith reached the lookout tower, guns drawn.


He spun himself around, so that Norwood's back was facing them. "Shoot him," he growled. Ruth and Keith shot Hal several times in the back, choosing not to aim for the head in case they hit Pete. The latter could feel his opponent's grip weakening, but still he fought.


"That's all we have," Ruth shouted. "We used the rest while we were going after Pegorino."


He thrust Hal at the railing, pushing with all his might. But Norwood's grip tightened at the last second, pulling both of them over. Pete grabbed onto the bars, feeling all his injuries straining and threatening to loosen his hold. Norwood grabbed onto his ankles and wouldn't let go. Ruth and Keith ran over to see them dangling precariously over the lookout tower. The former extended her hand. "Pete, come on!"


Pete shook his head. If he let go, then his opponent would drag them both down. He swayed back and forth, trying to get Hal to let go. He swung towards the side of the lighthouse, and put his weight into it. Norwood smashed hard into the stone, and the knife in his side was driven in half an inch deeper. He flinched, and in that instant, he let go, screaming all the way down.


Ruth didn't watch him fall. She grabbed Pete's bloodied wrists, and pulled him as high as she could But she couldn't get him over the railing without letting go. Keith took him under the arms and hauled him onto the relative safety of the lookout tower.


Pete spat blood onto the floor, and slumped onto the hard stone. He could feel himself beginning to lose consciousness.


"He's very badly hurt," he heard Ruth saying from the other end of a tunnel. "We have to get him out of here."


"I know somewhere we can take him..." Keith replied, and his words echoed around Pete's mind as he passed out.



Pete didn't know how long he lay there. But he didn't want to get up. He didn't even want to open his eyes.


He was lying on a bed. Not very soft, but right now he was beyond caring. He could be lying on the lookout tower, or in the Viceport docks, looking into Vic's empty eyes...


Pete jerked and sat up. The movement immediately caused the side of his body to flare up in agony.


"Pete!" Ruth was sitting in the room, and she ran to the bedside. Afraid to move too quickly, he slowly leaned back. It still hurt.


"Keith said it was going to be a while before you woke up," she said.


"How long have I been out?" he asked softly.


"The whole day. You should avoid moving. Hal shot you up pretty bad."


"Where am I?" Even the right side of his face hurt where a bullet grazed him.


"The safehouse in Viceport. Keith used it before, when Gus..." She trailed off.


Pete just remembered that Gus was dead. He was surprised that it affected him so much. He had simply turned away as the Cubans rolled Lance's body into the ocean, but Gus had been loyal and brave until the end. "Hal?"


"Fell off the lookout tower. Landed on some rocks." There was no change in Ruth's expression or voice. Especially no satisfaction. And what she said next made it obvious why.


"I was so afraid," she said, sounding just like she did back in her apartment. "Afraid I was going to lose you."


Pete turned his head to look in her eyes, and what he saw there made him forget his pain, and all his feelings of loss. He knew, right there, that she did feel what he did.


Ruth bent down, her hair sweeping over his face. Their lips met. When she finally leaned back, he felt stunned. Then she smiled, the first genuine smile that was completely joyful free of worries since he met her. He returned the smile.


Keith came into the room. "Good, you're awake, Pete," he said.


Pete found that his happiness was becoming euphoria. And it had nothing to do with Hal's death, although Keith didn't know it. Still smiling, he said, "We did it."


"That we did. We're home free at last. I don't think Pegorino's going to be calling hits on us anytime soon."


"Did you take him out?"


Keith shook his head. "No. He had his guys stationed at the entrances as we reached Escobar. He took off on his plane. He's probably back at Alderney by now."


"Ah well. What's done is done. But there's something else you should know, Keith," Pete's smile faded now. "While we were making our plans to deal with Norwood and Pegorino, I may have, erm...pissed off the most powerful crime lord in Vice City."


"Tommy Vercetti?"


"Yeah. I'll bet he's still looking for me. So the sooner I leave, the better."


"You're leaving?"


"Yes. I have to."


"Well, if you must," Keith said soberly. "But you have to recover first. You're not going anywhere until you can walk on your own."


"He won't be on his own," Ruth said. She put her hand in Pete's. "I'm going with him."


"You are?" The latter looked surprised.


"Yes," she said, grinning. "Someone needs to keep an eye on you, make sure you don't do anything stupid."


Pete closed his eyes, feeling more happy than he had his entire life.


"Thanks. I appreciate it."


Epilogue

Pete zipped up the luggage bag. "I think that's it."

"Are you sure?" Keith asked. "Nothing else you want to take?"

He laughed. "Quite a bit, actually. But most of it is illegal."

"Of course."

Pete and Ruth made their goodbyes inside the safehouse, deciding not to hang around outside too long.

"I'm glad I bumped into you, Keith," Pete said. "If I hadn't, I probably wouldn't be standing here right now."

"I agree. You probably wouldn't be."

Ruth embraced Keith tightly. "I'll miss you," she said.

"Me too. Make sure you look after him. He needs it." Over her shoulder, he winked at Pete.

Ruth and Pete put their belongings in her Deluxo, and she drove them away from Viceport. It was a short trip to the airport, but once or twice Pete could have sworn that there were Sentinels with tinted windows following them. He didn't mention this to Ruth, and decided also not to question her decision to make a few detours. The Sentinels didn't appear after that.

Ruth locked the car and tossed the key onto the seat. "If anyone wants it, they can break into it." Before long, they were standing in line, waiting to board the plane.

Pete, who was thinking something over the entire morning, made his decision at last. Taking his phone out of his pocket, he said, "I need to make one last call."

She was puzzled. "To who?"

"An old friend," he said with a bittersweet smile.

Someone picked up on the second ring. "Who is this?"

"Tommy, it's me. Pete."

"Yeah? What the hell do you want?" The crime lord's voice was less than welcoming.

"To tell you that I'm sorry about everything. I didn't know."

"It's a little too late for that. Half my estate is destroyed, I've lost at least thirty members of my gang, and I can still feel that bullet you put into my kidney."

"Believe me, Tommy. If I could go back in time and undo it, I would. But it wasn't until after that I found out the whole story."

"So why the call?"

"To tell you that I'm leaving Vice City, and never coming back."

"Good. Because if you did come back, I'd have to kill you."

Pete had to laugh at that. "I'll bet. Look, I grew up with Lance, and I knew he could be a bit stupid about things. And if you told me the truth, I would have known right then and there that it wasn't your fault. If that was me having to deal with his betrayal, I would have killed him too, even if he was my brother."

There was a very long silence. But Pete didn't break it, and let Tommy decide on what he wanted to say. And he was not disappointed. When the latter spoke again, his voice lost some of its hardness.

"Things have been interesting since you came into town, Pete. You've done a lot for us. And you're a tough son of a bitch."

"Thanks, Tommy," he said, as they were admitted through the doors leading onto the plane. "That means a lot to me."

"Look after yourself," Tommy said half-grudgingly. "I know that's what you're good at."

"You too." They hung up, and Pete felt that although the crime lord hadn't completely forgiven him, he had done his best to make amends. It was as good as he could have hoped for.

"So who was your 'old friend'?" Ruth asked dryly as they found their seats and put their luggage on the rack above.

He rolled his eyes. "Take a wild guess."

As they sat down and simply enjoyed each others' company, she asked, "So where are we going? Liberty City? San Andreas? Somewhere else really crazy?"

Pete shook his head. "Oh, no. I'm done with this. My brothers never got to live the quiet life before they ended up dead in Vice City. I have no intention of following them."

"I don't know," Ruth said wistfully. "It does seem hard to leave this all behind."

"We'll get used to it. If we got into this whole mess, then we can get out. Hold onto our sanity while we have it."

"Maybe. But don't avoid the question. Where exactly are we going?"

"Back to my hometown, that's the only place I've got family now. But it's nowhere as crazy as Vice City. You're going to love my Aunt Enid." He smiled, looking out the window as the plane took off. Vice City was already far below them. He hoped he would never see it again.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are now departing Vice City. Please keep your seat belts fastened until we are at sufficient altitude. We will be arriving at Orlando in ninety minutes. Thank you for choosing Plummet Airlines."

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