Chapter 8

Happy Birthday, Sweet

"Hey. When are you coming home?" asked Tommy.

"For what?" asked CJ, holding his cellular phone closer to his ear.

"Damn, homie, you don't remember? Sweet's birthday's today, dude!"

"Oh, fuck! I forgot all about it! What are you guys gonna do for him?" asked CJ.

"Aw, nothing much. We're just gonna have a party for him. You know, presents, barbecue, stuff like that. If you leave San Fierro right now, you could still make it over here."

"Good idea, man. I'll do that." said CJ.

"Later, homie." Tommy hung up and the line went dead.

"Who was that?" Jay asked CJ.

"It was Tommy. Today's Sweet's birthday, man! With all this shit goin' on everywhere, I forgot it was today!" CJ cried. He felt pretty disappointed in himself for forgetting his own brother's birthday.

"We better get back to Los Santos then. We'll take a break from this cop stuff for a while." Jay suggested.

"Great, thanks. I knew you'd understand." CJ said, relieved.

"Sure. The arms dealer can wait."

After taking a quick nap, CJ and Jay got back to Los Santos that afternoon.

"Hey, you should get Sweet something." Jay said.

"You're right. Let's go to Pro-Laps." CJ suggested. "They've got some tight jackets there."

"No problem."

Jay pulled into the parking lot and stopped the car.

"You coming?" asked CJ as he stepped out.

"Nah, you go ahead. I'm gonna try to get some rest." answered Jay.

"Ok, that's cool. I'll be out soon."

CJ stepped into the sports store and looked around. He spotted the jacket he had been planning to buy and he took it from the shelf. CJ went over to the counter and placed the jacket down. The cashier on duty, an attractive twenty-something year-old brunette, smiled warmly at CJ as he looked up. CJ smiled back casually, too busy to notice the girl's awestruck gaze.

As CJ made his purchase, a Balla entered the store. He pretended to check out the shoes as he fiddled around in his coat pocket, looking for something. He pulled out the picture, and then looked at the man at the counter. He nodded. That's him, the Balla thought. Carl Johnson.

CJ exited the store and walked to Jay's Stinger. He rapped on the door and Jay woke up groggily. He reached back and unlocked the car door.

"You find anything?" Jay asked, as CJ got in.

"I found this Dribblers jacket. Sweet's favorite team. I hope he likes it."

"Damn, lighten up. Stop worrying so much about the party. They'll all be happy to see you."

"Yeah, you're right."

As they were talking, the Balla exited the store. He was just in time to see Jay back out of his parking spot and bump into the purple Tahoma next to him.

"Oops." Jay muttered.

CJ glanced into the rearview mirror and saw a man in a purple jacket running towards the car Jay had hit. The man knelt down and felt the dent on his car, checking the extent of the damage.

"Sorry, man. I'll gladly take car of the damages." Jay offered.

"Motherfucker!" the man yelled, pointing his gun at Jay. CJ and Jay both retaliated, pulling their own guns. The Balla, realizing that he was outnumbered, ran up to the front of his car, tugged the door open, and jumped in.

"This isn't over, Carl Johnson!" he cried vengefully as he drove off. "I'll be back, motherfucker!"

"Whatever." CJ muttered, as he placed the jacket in the backseat. He went up to the passenger's side, flung open the door, and took his seat.

"Hey, Sweet!" CJ called, as he approached Sweet's house.

Sweet left the barbecue and went to greet CJ and Jay. It was nighttime, and everyone was at the grill, which was standing right next to Sweet's house. Kendl and Cesar were grilling steaks, and Fat Joe, Tommy, Spike and Robert Jackson were tossing a football around.

"How've you been, bro?" Sweet asked, as he embraced CJ.

"I'm fine, man. How are you?" CJ replied.

"I'm good. I've just been taking care of shit while you were away. You know, taking out the base pushers, keeping the Ballas and Vagos away." Sweet turned his attention to Jay.

"What's been happenin' with you, man?"

"Nothing much, Sweet. CJ and I have been checking out that bombing at Caligula's."

"Oh yeah. How's that going?" asked Sweet.

"It's pretty good. We have a few leads." said Jay.

"A few leads?" CJ asked jokingly.

Jay rolled his eyes. "Fine. We have one damn lead. The bastard's hiding out in Las Brujas."

"Hey!" Cesar called, interrupting the conversation. "Steak's ready!"

CJ, Jay, and Sweet ran to Sweet's front lawn and sat at the picnic table Kendl had set up. Fat Joe, Tommy, and Spike took seats too. Cesar and Kendl brought the food to the table, and then they too, took their seats. CJ handed Sweet his birthday present.

"Hope you like it, bro. I know they're your favorite team." CJ told him.

Sweet's face lit up with a big smile that CJ hadn't seen in years. He got up and took his new jacket into the house.

The gang had barely begun to eat when suddenly, two pairs of headlights shone in the distance from under the Grove Street overpass. The cars came in, and everyone was shocked to see that they were being driven by Ballas. The two cars stopped in the center of the cul-de-sac, and four Ballas emerged from each.

"Oh, shit!" cried Cesar, jumping up from the bench. The Ballas rushed CJ and his friends, shooting at them the whole time. Fat Joe tipped the picnic table over, intending for his friends to use it as a shield. Kendl was the first to take cover. She crouched behind the makeshift shield and covered her head. The rest of the gang took out their guns and traded gunfire with the Ballas. Sweet emerged from his house, wielding an SMG, and began to fire wildly upon the Ballas' cars. Both cars exploded, taking out a total of three unfortunate Ballas. Sweet's gun clicked empty and he flung it away, onto the grass. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang was taking cover behind cars, houses, fences-whatever they could find.

Robert, who was crouched behind Sweet's Greenwood, happened to look up at the overpass. A lone Balla was running along the side of the overpass. He stopped and turned to face the railing. Then, to Robert's horror, the Balla took out an RPG and aimed it at the battle going on below.

"RPG!" Robert called frantically. Everyone dove out of the way at Robert's command. The missile whizzed over Cesar's head and exploded against the fence behind him. The fence exploded in a shower of flaming splinters, which rained down into the aqueducts below.

"Holy shit!" Cesar exclaimed in disbelief.

Up on the overpass, the Balla swore angrily and reloaded his missile launcher. CJ scrambled away from his spot and ran around to the back of his house. He emerged in a few minutes clutching a sniper rifle, which he had hidden away in a hole behind his house. CJ knelt next to Robert and trained his sniper scope on the Balla. He fired once, and the bullet smashed into the Balla's chest. He was only able to grab at his chest for a second before he dropped dead from the overpass onto the street below. The rocket launcher came with him. It struck the ground and discharged a shell at the rest of the Ballas, killing two of them. Now, only two Ballas were left. They glanced at each other nervously, then took off, sprinting down the street. CJ started after them, but Sweet restrained his brother.

"Fuck 'em, CJ. If they know what's best for themselves, they ain't gonna do shit." Sweet declared.

"You're right." CJ agreed.

"Come on, guys." said Jay. "Let's get inside before anything else happens."

At the sound of Jay's voice, a helicopter rose up from the aqueducts. It hovered forward and hung over Sweet's house. The co-pilot reached under his seat and produced an enormous gatling gun.

"Oh, shit!" exclaimed CJ. "Motherfuckers got themselves a 'bird!"

"Everyone, get the fuck down!" Sweet cried, noticing the large gun in the co-pilot's arms.

Everyone dropped to the ground and covered their heads as chaingun fire rained down. Bullets pelted cars, buildings, and anything else unlucky enough to be in their path.

"It's a goddamn war zone!" yelled Robert, to no one in particular. He was hiding behind the wooden picnic table.

"CJ, where's that sniper rifle?" demanded Sweet, who was hiding in the bushes.

"I hid it underneath your car!" CJ replied.

Suddenly, the gunfire stopped. The giant gun had overheated and the two Balla pilots were waiting for it to cool down. Sweet took this brief pause as a chance to retrieve the sniper rifle. Still lying on his stomach, he scrambled out of the bushes and crawled to his car as fast as gravity would allow. He reached underneath and removed the rifle. Then, Sweet stood up and raised the rifle up towards the helicopter. He aimed at the pilot, and with one quick shot, the pilot was dropped out of the cockpit. With no one to control it, the helicopter sank like a stone to the ground below. The dazed co-pilot crawled out of the wreckage, coughing. In front of his face were two pairs of shoes. One of the shoes flung out and hit the Balla square in the face, knocking him backwards. CJ and Sweet reached down, grabbed the Balla and hauled him into Sweet's house. They sat him down on a wooden chair in the kitchen.

"Hey, Sweet, hand me Gramps' gun." CJ said, tying the Balla down to the chair.

Sweet walked over to a shelf on the wall. On the shelf sat a glass case, and in the case was an old Colt six-shooter. Sweet carefully removed his grandfather's old gun from the box, along with a pack of bullets. He took them over to CJ.

"Oh no, Sweet, I don't need all the bullets. Just one."

Sweet removed a single bullet from the box and loaded it into the chamber. He tossed the gun to CJ and grinned.

"Oh, hell no." the Balla said, catching on to CJ's idea. "Oh no, not that!"

CJ spun the chamber of the gun a few times and aimed it at the Balla's face.

"Ever play Russian Roulette?"

Meanwhile, the rest of the group was waiting impatiently outside.

"What are they doing in there?" asked Kendl.

"I think they're interrogating the Balla." answered Jay.

"How are they gonna make him talk?" asked Fat Joe, joining in on the conversation.

"Let's go see." suggested Jay.

With that, the whole group ran over to the kitchen window and peered into the house.

"You tell us what you know, and I won't have to shoot you." proposed CJ. "Ok?"

The Balla spat on CJ's shoe defiantly. "Fuck you, Grove Street bitch."

CJ pulled the trigger. The gun clicked empty.

"Got lucky that time, fool. Let's go for one more try."

The Balla shook his head.

CJ pulled the trigger again. Nothing happened.

"2 out of 6. Ready for another one?"

Sweat dripped down the terrified Balla's face. Somehow, he managed to hold his composure.

"F-f-f-fuck you." he stammered.

CJ pulled the trigger.

"Damn, nigga, you got some luck on your side. 3 shots left. Still wanna risk it?"

"Ok! Ok!" the Balla finally agreed. "I'll tell you everything."

"Fucking finally!" Sweet cried, half a Saltine cracker in his hand.

"Can anybody see what's going on?" asked Robert, trying to get a good look inside.

"They just cracked him." answered Jay. "Looks like they were playing some good ol' Russian Roulette."

"Ah. That's never fun." said Robert.

"Listen, guys." interrupted Kendl. "You hear that?"

A few blocks down the street, a vroom-vroom sound could be heard.

"What is that?" asked Tommy.

"Sounds like cars, ese." said Cesar.

"Or motorcycles." Spike chimed in.

Four PCJ-600s pulled into Grove Street, and the group got a good look at the drivers.

"Shit! It's those bustas from earlier! And they brought friends!" cried Fat Joe.

"So you were working for the Forellis?" Sweet asked.

"Yeah. Some Forelli dude hired us, said he wanted us to clear out the "opposition". He knew who you were, Carl. He wanted you out of his way before he took over Los Santos." the Balla answered.

"Take over Los Santos? What is this crazy bastard thinking?" blurted CJ. "What else did he say?"

"He didn't say anything else. All he said was to take you out."

"Who else did this guy hire?" asked Sweet.

"Uh, the helicopter guy, and..."

"The guys in the San Fierro candy shop? Did Forelli hire them, too?" asked CJ

"Candy shop? I don't know nothing about candy shop guys. I just told you everything I knew."

"Fine. Sweet, keep an eye on him. I'm going outside." said CJ.

CJ stepped outside and nearly got a bullet in the teeth.

"Holy shit!" he exclaimed, dropping to the ground. He drew his pistol and fired at the nearest Balla. The shot missed and the Balla fired back. CJ dove out of the way and looked around. His friends were all doing their best to hold the Ballas back. Fat Joe, Tommy, and Spike were all shooting from different places. Cesar was hiding behind a house and taking potshots at anyone who dared to get close. Kendl was shooting from behind a car and Robert was firing his Desert Eagle from behind a wall. None of their bullets were making contact with any Ballas whatsoever. CJ leaned up and fired a shot at the closest Balla's arm. He fell to the ground howling, clutching his arm in pain. Spike took this opportunity to shoot a Balla in the head. His head exploded in a fine mist and his body crumpled to the ground. Spike winced at the sight; he never wanted that to happen. Cesar and Kendl stood up at the same time and shot the third Balla three times each. The Balla was knocked backwards with each shot and the last one threw him over a low fence. Now, only one Balla was left, and CJ recognized him as the one from the Pro-Laps parking lot. The Balla turned, leaped onto his bike, and took off down the street. CJ wasted no time in doing the same.

The Balla whooshed down the road, weaving past cars, pedestrians, and street signs. He had no idea where he was going, but he knew that he wanted to get away from this Carl Johnson bastard. If he ever got out of this alive, he would quit gang life and become a shoes salesman. Or maybe a dentist. That's what his mom had wanted him to do.

"Hey!" called CJ, not too far behind. "Stop, man! I just wanna talk!"

"Go fuck yourself!" retorted the Balla as he drove even faster.

CJ paused to think about what the Balla had just told him. Is that even possible, CJ thought?

The Balla turned around and shot at the tires on CJ's motorcycle. The front tire exploded and CJ was thrown off of the bike. The bike spun out onto someone's front yard.

"Shit!" CJ cried. "Shit! Shit! Shit!"

He had just enough time to draw his gun and shoot the tire on the Balla's motorcycle. He too, cursed angrily as he was thrown off his bike onto the train tracks. CJ calmly walked up to the Balla, who was moaning in pain on the ground. He pressed his gun against the Balla's forehead and said, "Bitch, I know you're gonna want this to be easy, so just tell me everything you know."

"Ok." agreed the Balla.

"Ok?" asked CJ, not sure if he had heard correctly. "Just like that? Ok?"

"Hey, you want to know or not?"

"Alright, alright." said CJ, lowering his gun.

"I was hired by the Forellis to kill you. They came to take over San Andreas and they want you out of the way."

"Yeah, yeah, I heard that part already. Anything else?" asked CJ.

"They're the ones who bombed Caligula's."

"Ok, great. Now tell me something I don't know."

"Dammit, man, that's all I know! Oh wait. Did you hear about that arms dealer? The one up in Las Brujas?"

"Unfortunately for you motherfucker, I did." said CJ, bringing his gun back up to the Balla's head. "You wanna tell me something better?"

"Ok! The leader of the Forellis is Sam Forelli. He and his men came from Vice City. They're planning to take over San Andreas, one city at a time. And the arms dealer, the one hiding in Las Brujas? He goes by Drake.

"Drake? Is that a first name or a last name?"

"I don't know. Might not even be his real name at all. But he's very powerful. He's got men all around San Andreas. You would do the Forellis a favor by taking him out."

"Man, I knew you was good for something." CJ said, grinning.

Just then, a loud crack split the air. Blood spurted from the Balla's neck as he was thrown backwards onto the pavement. CJ examined the body, and was shocked to see a large bullet hole in the Balla's throat. CJ knew that this was the work of a sniper rifle. Someone, somewhere, was watching him.