Chapter 12: A Better Tomorrow

It didn't feel right, Nick decided, his Cuban Jetmax slicing a path through the dark, choppy water. Here he was, fleeing Vice City for the mainland, while the Mafia was shooting at Andy. After all, the two of them had gone through thick and thin together, they were almost as close, if not closer, than brothers. Besides, hadn't they agreed to come out together?

Well, dammit!

Nick swerved the steering wheel around, heading back to the docks, leaving behind a foam-covered wake. He aligned the boat at the docks, accelerating it to full speed. In the night, the gunfire became sparkling beacons, the sound of shooting traveling a long way off. Reaching down, he found a large duffel bag, and opened it.

Reaching in, he pulled out a Soviet Rocket Propelled Grenade. Sitting down, he flipped the sights open, peered through it, and aligned the crosshairs at the section that seemed to have the greatest number of Mafia shooters.

"Bye-bye," he whispered, squeezing the trigger.

It was almost a sexual release. The launcher bucked, and the long, bulbous RPG shot out of the cheap metal assembly that was its launcher, its backblast illuminating the boat, if only temporarily. Nick tracked the projectile with his eyes, seeing it deviate from its intended course (Russian stuff is for shit!).

The RPG streaked through the night, over the water, slamming into a fuel tank a few seconds later. Both rocket and tank exploded in a fiery light show, a small fireball rising above the docks, a lot less pronounced than what one would see in Hollywood or Hong Kong cinema. Nick wouldn't know, but the explosion killed four Mafia gunmen at once, kindled two more like matchsticks, and attracted a hell of a lot of attention, enough for witnesses to call the VCPD.

Cursing, he rummaged through the bag, removing the HK53, and a pair of Browning High Power pistols he had bought earlier that night. He wanted his favorite Colts, but there were none available. Besides, a gun is a gun is a gun, certainly to the warrior and gunman anyway.

As the boat neared the docks, he made a last-second decision to sling the HK53 over his shoulder, and tote the Brownings instead. Only one man in the Mob could fire weapons akimbo with any degree of accuracy, and by God, it's him. They'll know as soon as they see his muzzle flashes.

The battle raged in front of him, though there was more shooting than hitting. Only Tony and Andy had the good sense to attempt to aim (they had very limited ammunition); the mobsters were spraying and praying, pointing their weapons in their targets' general direction and squeezing the trigger, in a vain attempt to hit somebody (or something).

Nick readied himself, relaxing, calming down. His fingers found the safety catches, discovering for the umpteenth time that they were disengaged. The hammers were cocked, as single-action pistols should be. The magazines were full, and both pistols had a round in the chamber.

The boat entered the general area of the docks. Almost immediately, Nick heard bullets sing all around him, whispering past his ears. He ducked, or at least, kept his head low. He had no targets; he wasn't going to shoot.

Through his eyes, he perceived the boat approach the jetty. He waited, timed himself, watching the jetty approach, judging distances, and—

—Nick hit the boat's brakes (what was it called again?), feeling the boat fight the forces of friction and reverse momentum, to no avail. As soon as the vessel stopped, he popped his head out, and leapt out of the Jetmax, gripping the boat's right side and performing a mid-cartwheel, his duster flapping in the motion.

As soon as his feet hit the concrete jetty, he bent his knees, absorbing the impact of the landing. Bouncing up, he ran forward, pointing his pistols and blasting everything that moved and was shooting at him.

Some light from a nearby streetlamp spilled over to the area just outside its area of influence, just enough to illuminate Tony and Andy. Nick ran for a stack of crates next to them, firing away at everyone who moved, his pistols bucking and roaring in the night. One, then two, a third, and finally four gangsters fell under his onslaught, catching the lead slugs in the gut, chest, and head.

He dove forward, firing his pistols randomly, aiming for the patch of land just in front of the crates—

A bullet glanced off his left shoulder—

—"Ouch!"—

—his left Browning fell from his suddenly-open left hand—

—Nick landed on his belly, covered by the metal crate. He got to his knees, and crawled towards the crate, oblivious to the fact that the bandage on his face was now caked with dirt. Keeping low, he stuck his pistol above his crate, and squeezed off some more rounds, emptying his magazine at the source of gunfire, predictably shooting nobody.

Andy looked to his right.

"Nick!" he cried, recognizing the figure he beheld.

"Andy!" Nick replied, grinning. He ejected the empty magazine from his pistol, letting it hit the floor. He reached into a pocket, removed a fresh magazine, slid it into the magazine well, and disengaged the slide lock.

"Cover us! We're going to flank them on the left!" Andy shouted above the gunfire.

"Okay!" Nick agreed, drawing his HK53 to his armpit.

"Hey!" Tony called, tugging his brother's sleeve.

"What?" Andy responded.

"What the hell?"

"Sorry I got you into this! Just follow me!"

Tony thought about it, thought about his chances of survival, and decided, what the hell.

"Now!" Andy shouted.

Nick recklessly stood up, in the middle of a poorly aimed fusillade. He didn't bother with the sights, didn't bother with aiming, he just pointed and fired, his weapon roaring in the night. He was grinning madly now, mad with sheer power and delight. As soon as he started firing, the smart gangsters took what cover they could, and the stupid ones returned fire.

Bullets spat out of his HK; brass cartridges blew out of the ejection port; the occasional idiotic gangster who stood up or broke cover caught a lucky shot or two and went down in sprays of blood. He sprayed and sprayed and sprayed, feeling the weapon dance and tremble against his body.

All too soon, the carbine went dry.

Meanwhile, Andy and Tony had moved away from the main action, gripping their firearms tightly, but not so tight that their hands lost strength. They scanned the night, making their way through an obstacle course of crates and forklifts and streetlights, before—

—A muzzle flash erupted in the night—

—"Damn!" Andy cursed, flattening himself against a nearby crate, sensing the bullet miss him by millimeters. Tony did the same, though his cover was so low that he had to drop to the ground.

As soon as the bullet passed, Tony was too busy moving to notice. Andy followed him on a parallel track. Both men set off, turning around the furthest corner of their crates, out of the distant shooter's line of fire. Andy saw movement to his left behind a crate, decided he saw a business suit, and fired a short group of rounds at it. The gangster caught a bullet to the throat, slumped forward, and died, a death gurgle escaping his lips.

Both men kept moving, heading towards the unseen gangster, watching him, seeing if he would expose himself, using cover and concealment wherever possible.

The shooter fired a long burst at them off his hip, imagining that he was John Wayne. For his trouble, he was shot four times in the abdomen, thrice by Andy and once by Nick, both of whom saw his muzzle flash and fired at it.

An unseen gangster emerged from behind a container, in front of Andy. Before Andy could react, the mobster squeezed off a shot, the bullet catching Andy in the lower torso. He found himself falling to the ground, emptying his Beretta at the gangster. The gunman jerked under the impact of every 9mm round, taking six shots before falling.

Andy was too high on adrenaline to feel the pain. The fact that the bullet had missed his vital organs merely heightened Andy's illusion that the gunman had missed, and that Andy was merely ducking. Andy got up, wondering why his lower torso felt somewhat stiff, and staggered forward a couple of steps before his torso was aflame.

He ignored the pain, focusing on the task at hand. Soon, the adrenaline coursing through his veins overrode the pain, and the endorphins his brain pumped out temporarily killed the pain. He still had a job to do. He would finish it, no matter what.

Nick reloaded, sliding behind cover. Bullets slammed into the forklift he hid behind, most ricocheting off the curved metal surfaces and whistling dangerously past his ear. Not that he actually heard them; he was too high on adrenaline to care about such things.

He peeked out of cover, seeing a group of gangsters advance towards him. Taking aim, he mowed them all down with an extended burst, inviting a fresh volley of gunfire. He ducked again, a bullet skipping across the surface of the forklift's hood. During a lull, he peered around the corner of the forklift's engine block, seeing a gangster leaning out behind a crate.

Before Nick could reply, a fountain of blood emerged from the side of the criminal's head.

The mobster fell onto his face.

Turning, Nick saw two figures move into his field of view. Both fleetingly passed under a streetlight. One of them was Tony DiMilo, reloading his revolver. The other was Andy DiMilo, clutching his stomach.

Christ…

Both men stopped behind that same crate, next to the dead mobster. Nick made up his mind.

Standing up, he perceived a trio of gangsters behind various crates (really, was there no end to them?). Taking careful aim, he dispatched all three with single shots, and ducked again as a fresh round of shooting started.

A few moments later, the gunfire ceased, as all the gangsters had run their weapons dry at roughly the same time. Getting up, Nick ran towards Andy and Tony, laying down another barrage of suppression fire, if only to keep the gangster's heads down.

Both men turned around, seeing Nick…or rather, his duster. The HK53's muzzle flash illuminated his flapping black duster overcoat, and that was all they needed to see. They relaxed, holding their fire.

Nick arrived their position soon after, diving next to the two of them, landing on Tony's right. Checking his carbine, he realized that it was empty, and threw it away.

Nick stood up, grabbing Tony by the collar, turning the two of them around, such that Nick's back was now facing the entrance of the docks.

"Tony! Look at him!" Nick snarled, using his left hand to force the police inspector's head towards his wounded brother. "He's your brother! Wake up! Whatever he did wrong, he's just redeemed himself! He saved your life! Why can't you accept him? Why?"

Tony couldn't bring himself to answer Nick.

"You're his brother, damm—"

The curse died on his lips. Tony suddenly registered a warm stream of liquid flowing down his face. Tony wondered why; it was so very strange, until he looked up, and saw a large smoking hole in the middle of Nick's forehead, blood streaming from the wound.

Nick was frozen in that position, eyes locked on Tony's. In that one moment, time seemed to stop forever, perhaps because the last of the good of the bad had died.

Nick staggered forward, already dead, pushing Tony to the floor.

Time resumed. Nick's body danced and jittered, a long fusillade slamming into his body. Blood burst out of wounds that seem to magically appear all over his torso. His limbs quivered and twitched, before reaching out in every direction.

When the shooting stopped, Nick fell backwards, landing on the ground, arms perfectly horizontal, legs perfectly vertical, forming a cross, after a fashion.

Tony forced himself to look away, and a good thing he did. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a—

—Andy saw Tony whip his revolver up, aiming it in his direction—

—Tony vaguely heard the word "NO!" as he aligned the S & W's front sight on his target's chest, squeezing the trigger—

—Andy saw a massive muzzle flash—

A massive .357 Magnum bullet sped down the length of the barrel, traversing the space between cop and criminal within a few moments, flying above Andy, and into the chest of a gangster perched on a stack of crates to the brothers' left, just as he prepared to riddle the two of them with bullets.

Andy stared at his brother, stunned.

"Aaaaarrrgh!" the gangster cried, clutching his chest as he fell off the crates, landing a few feet away from Andy.

Andy looked at his brother, turned around and looked at the dead gunman, looked at Tony again, and understood.

"Tony!" Andy shouted.

"Andy!" Tony replied.

Both men got up, ignoring the dozen of scrapes and cuts that had somehow appeared on their bodies. They reloaded, and prepared for the final round, reading each other's minds.

Keeping low, they ran to their one o'clock, firing at two groups of gangsters behind as many crates to their twelve and eleven o'clock, covering their advance under a hail of gunfire. Four of the gangsters absorbed several bullets, and the rest scattered when they realized that their position was now vulnerable.

But it was too late. Andy and Nick fired on the survivors, the sharp, hard crack of the Beretta contrasting with the Model 18's deep, hollow BOOM. Both men didn't care how many shots they fired, so long as they did the job. The criminals attempted to return fire, but many of their rounds went high and wide, and those who did fire were gunned down shortly after pulling the trigger. Those who tried to escape outlived their colleagues by seconds. One by one, the mobsters fell, until a collection of nine bodies, slumped in all positions, were added to the carnage.

An unearthly silence fell on the scene of the battle.

Both men checked their guns.

"I'm empty," Andy declared.

"Me too," Tony muttered.

"Damn."

"Not yet," Tony replied.

"Huh?"

Tony crept around the crate, keeping low. Turning the corner, he saw what he expected to see: a pair of dead mobsters, one with a pistol, one with a revolver. He crawled towards them, keeping as close to the ground as humanly possible, and retrieved the weapons. As an afterthought, he searched them for more ammo, finding a spare magazine for the pistol, before crawling back.

"What have we got?" Andy asked, clutching his wound.

"A Beretta M9, and a…a Casull Fieldgrade," Tony replied, examining the revolver.

"Pass me the Beretta," Andy replied immediately, not knowing what the hell was a Casull Fieldgrade. He received it a moment later.

Andy hefted the gun in his hands, feeling its familiar weight…but it was lighter than normal. He ejected the magazine, and slowly ejected every round, discovering that there were only four bullets in it. Including the one in the chamber, he had five rounds of 9x19mm Parabellum…but that was infinitely better than no gun at all.

Tony examined his big-ass revolver. It was the longest, largest, heaviest gun he had ever seen or used in his lifetime. It was shaped like a Colt Peacemaker revolver, but this huge gun held only five rounds, instead of six. It was chambered for the .454 Casull Magnum, the world's most powerful commercially available cartridge (maybe). He checked the revolver, finding only two long bullets.

More shots rang out, noticeably less than before. The brothers sneaked a peek, seeing two gangsters standing up, covering a lone running figure. Both men took careful aim, aided by the fact that the criminals weren't aiming.

Tony fired a single shot, the muzzle flash temporarily dispersing the night around him. The enormous bullet slammed into his target's chest, atomizing skin and flesh and blood and bone, knocking him to the ground. Andy hammered the other gangster with a pair of shots to the heart, killing him straight away.

Both men vaulted over the crates, pursuing that final gangster. At that moment, the sound of police sirens filled the air, somewhere near the entrance of the dock.

Detective Chia stepped out of his Banshee, a bullhorn in his hands. The entrance to the docks had been cut off by a cordon of police cars, preventing anyone from entering or leaving. A VCPD helicopter, affectionately called 'Green Thunder', had been called up. The SWAT team was en route. All that was left was the call-out.

Turning the device on to its maximum volume, Chia activated the bullhorn, and was rewarded by a sharp burst of white noise. Fiddling about with it, he readjusted its settings, and tried again. Hearing nothing, he announced, "ATTENTION! ATTENTION! THIS IS THE VICE CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT! YOU HAVE ONE MINUTE TO COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP!"

"Why one minute?" a cop next to him asked.

"That's how long it'll take for the SWAT team to arrive."

"Why announce now?"

"I've nothing better to do," he admitted, chuckling.

"What the hell?" Tony wondered, hearing the announcement.

"Come on!" Andy shouted, seeing the last gangster run towards the entrance of the docks.

The criminal passed under a streetlight. Under its glare, both men saw that he was Mike DeFrantz. They spurred on, following him through a maze of crates and vehicles.

Mike spun around, firing several shots. He had discarded his Skorpion sometime in the battle, switching for a revolver. Both brothers dived for cover, hearing the bullets fly over their heads. Andy recovered first, despite his wound, and followed Mike. Tony followed behind, following his brother because he couldn't see Mike from where he was.

Mike approached a forklift, and slowed down. Andy took noticeand fired a double-tap at Mike from the hip. Both shots missed, slamming into the vehicle instead. Mike turned, using the forklift as cover. Andy fired his last shot, and missed.

"Shit!" he cursed, seeing the Beretta's slide lock back on empty.

Taking advantage of the situation, Mike stood up, revolver in hand. He took aim, placing the front sight blade on Andy's chest, and squeezed the trigger, hearing a—

CLICK.

Mike looked down at his revolver, and swore at it. Then, something funny came to mind.

Laughing, he dropped the gun, bearing the smile of a winner.

"Look, Andy! Out of ammo too! But it's a small matter. I'll surrender to the cops. I have money. I can bribe everyone, hire the best lawyers…I'll be out in three days. You, you ain't got shit. You and your brother are in trouble. They'll lock the two of you away, and I can rebuild my empire…and nobody can stop me, Andy!"

Mike broke into fresh peals of laughter as he turned around, back straight, facing the police. Keeping his hands up, he walked toward the cops, still smiling, basking in the glory of victory.

Andy suddenly felt old and weary, his wound starting to burn again. Mike was right, dammit! He couldn't kill him now, not without a gun! SHI—

He felt a tap on his shoulder.

Turning around, Andy beheld Tony. He was holding out his large Casull Fieldgrade revolver by the barrel, its grip facing Andy. After a moment, Andy took the revolver, gripping it firmly, and turned to face Mike, a new surge of energy flowing through him. Tony closed his eyes, and turned around.

Raising the gun, he cocked it, hearing each click as the hammer tensed itself. Pointing the weapon at Mike, he closed his left eye, focusing on the front sight blade. Then, he moved it, planting it on Mike's centre of mass, the centre of his back.

Andy s-q-u-e-e-z-e-d the trigger.

The revolver surged in his hands, a massive bullet roaring out from the muzzle. It flew true, striking Mike in the back, transferring its tremendous energy to the target. Mike gasped as the bullet passed through him, vaporizing everything in its path, blowing out his heart, lungs, a massive quantity of blood, and all manner of substances.

Mike stood still for a moment.

Then, slowly, he fell, hitting the ground face-first, dead.

It was over.

Andy dropped the gun.

Tony turned around.

"He's dead," Andy stated simply.

"Good."

"Arrest me."

"What?" Tony asked, stunned.

"Arrest me. You're a cop, remember? Didn't you say that you were working toward a better tomorrow?"

"I…I…"

Andy reached for Tony's pockets. Before Tony could protest, Andy withdrew a pair of handcuffs. He applied one cuff to his right hand, and the other to Tony's left.

"What the…?"

Andy looked squarely into Tony's eyes.

"Tony…your path is true. Mine isn't, but I didn't have a choice. Now, I'm trying to walk the straight and narrow, but I'm still in trouble. Take me in, Tony."

Finally, Tony understood.

"Come on, bro," he whispered.

Both men turned, facing the police sirens' music, and walked towards the light.

Author's note: Now that this tale is told, dear reader, I'd like to say that I had to take some liberties for this story. I don't think there's a rank called 'Inspector' in any American police force: the equivalent is probably captain or lieutenant. But, in the interests of staying true to the movie, I went and continued calling Tony an 'Inspector'. In addition, I changed some aspects of the story/movie to suit the geography of Vice City, and to ensure that I will not be sued. As always, all quotes belong to John Woo and Golden Harvest. And now…thank you for being a wonderful reader.

Oh, and 'Chia' is a variant of 'Cheah'. If you've watched the movie and the credits, you'd understand why…