The Syndicate

I do not own GTA. Don't sue.

Chapter One: In the beginning…

Everything was going great for CJ. He had a mansion, his gang controlled most of Los Santos, the Ballas and Vargos were gone, his best friend was engaged to his sister, and he had finally cleaned the drugs out of the hood. Rich from the profits of his garage and casino, CJ was ready to kick back and enjoy a life of gangster luxury in his mansion. But there were still enemies who wanted him dead.

The trouble started one night during a party. CJ and a bunch of Grove Street homeboys, as well as The Truth, Cesar, Sweet, Kendyl, and the rest of the gang were grilling steaks by the pool and Mad Dogg was performing on a small stage. While the Truth didn't like the music, everyone else loved it and was they were starting to dance when a lone Grove Street messenger came riding up on a bike. He ditched the bike in the driveway and ran up to CJ.

" CJ. Some guy on the phone…wouldn't say his name…wants to talk to you." Gasped the out of breath thug. "He…means business…I think." Figuring it was Toreno, CJ grabbed the cell phone out of the green-clad kid's hand and said "Hullo?"

"Carl Johnson. We've been watching you. Meet me down at the café at the end of the Ferris wheel pier at Verona Beach for lunch tomorrow and we'll talk. No guns. I'll have my men watching…no funny stuff."

"Who are you assholes? I don't need anything from you."

"No, but we need something from you, CJ. And I don't think you'll want to refuse."

"Why the hell not!"

"For your personal safety, Mr. Johnson." The voice said. Then the mystery man hung up. CJ stood dumbfounded for a moment. Then a deafening crack split the party's carefree noise…a sniper bullet shattered CJ's glass. He clutched the broken pieces in his hand and decided he'd better go meet these guys.

Chapter 2: The Meeting

CJ had driven to his beach house in Verona Beach after the party, leaving instructions with his friends and family to lay low for a while. Sweet, of course, wanted to set some kind of big elaborate trap in the café that would end in lots of bullets, explosions, and hopefully a helicopter chase. But CJ was very low key. He knew these guys actually wanted a meeting and not an ambush; from years of tense gang deals and nearly violent meetings of the splintering Families, he could read someone's motives from their voice. He ventured only the lightest body armor under his shirt and a small switchblade hidden in his afro. In a convoy of Grove Street cars, CJ headed for the pier. Despite Sweet's protests he walked down the peer unarmed and alone.

Thought Verona Beach was a family territory, it was clear that CJ was playing by the mystery man's rules. Every boat bobbing in the waves, every hot dog stand, every rooftop could conceal a sniper. Every car, in CJ's mind, might be rigged to explode. Every one of these happy beachgoers could be packing heat, ready to splatter CJ across the pier. But CJ didn't believe this himself. He was more cautious than paranoid. He knew he had to stay cool. He walked into the Brown Starfish café.

A man in black shades and a black suit beckoned to him from a corner booth. There was already some food waiting for him on the table, but CJ didn't touch it.

"Who are you?" asked CJ bluntly, with no emotion. The man chuckled.

"Me? Nobody. Just the messenger. I've come on behalf…" his voice lowered in volume and pitch, "…of a certain organization. We used to operate out of San Fierro. There we were called the Loco Syndicate. But it's not just one city…" here he paused to sip his coffee, "…it's the entire world, CJ. You know better than anyone in you gang that the world is bigger than your hood. We have the resources to come back from a serious blow…like the one you struck at Pier 69. Already we're rebuilding our operations. Surely you, who have rebuilt Grove Street by yourself, can appreciate this. But I'm beating around the bush. We'd like to enlist your services. We need muscle. T-Bone Mendez and the Rifa were fine back then, but they've been decimated since your little visit to our fair city. The Triads have already agreed to help us with security there..."

"Nah, not Woozie, man." CJ exclaimed. "Woozie'd never help drug dealing scum like you."

"Yes, there was opposition within the Triads…a schism, in fact. Woozie and his men fought bravely, but…take a look."

The man snapped his fingers and a waitress changed the TV channel from a football game to the news. The Four Dragons casino was on fire, and helicopters circled above.

"Shit…" sighed CJ.

"A cover-up for the massacre that took place there. A few patrons were caught in the blaze, but…collateral damage. Learn Woozie's lesson well…if you resist us, it will be the last thing you ever do. We could hit you anywhere, at any time, CJ. You're not safe."

CJ stared at the table. "What do you want me to do?"

"Provide Grove Street thugs to guard our operations here in Los Santos. We'll set up a little headquarters here in Santos, and then…who knows what…"

"And you think you can just threaten me and I'll do whatever you say?"

"Look, CJ…you'll be paid well, for sure. The threats are just to make sure you say yes. If not, we could hit your sister, for example. You think she's safe. No. She and Cesar are in the Jefferson Motel right now, under an assumed name. No doubt planning how to escape…perhaps to Angel Pine. That lovely trailer…"

"Look, bitch!…" CJ spat venomously. "You can't take me down. I'll kill all you assholes. I just say the word and half of Santos mobilizes. A thousand gansters kicking down your door." CJ pulled out his phone and hovered above the speed dial for Sweet.

"But…where is our door? We know everything about you, CJ. You have nothing on us. We're serious."

"So am I. Fuck off." With that CJ spat into the man's coffee and bolted for the door. Unconcerned about snipers or bombs, CJ dialed Sweet. He hurriedly explained what had happened at the diner, that he needed all the Grove Street soldiers to be on alert, and that Sweet needed to get to the Jefferson Motel as fast as he could.

Chapter 3: Lockdown

When CJ got the call from Cesar, he was standing in the middle of the Grove Street cul-de-sac armed with twin machine pistols and surrounded by a swarm of bodyguards. "Kendyl and I are OK, CJ. But man, these guys are good. They threw a grenade in our window, CJ! I had to dive into the bathroom to avoid getting killed! I caught a few rounds to the leg, and I guess they were satisfied that I was dead. Then Sweet came in a Hummer and he and a bunch of Grove Street boys stormed the motel! It kicked ass, CJ! Except for the grenade part."

"Where are you now?" CJ asked, but he didn't need an answer. A tan Hummer came screeching into the circle, the legions of green-clad soldiers stepping aside. Even though his sister and friend were OK, a pained expression came over CJ's face. His phone was ringing, and the number on the caller ID was the same as the syndicate's call at the party.

"CJ. So sorry you decided not to help us. You probably feel pretty secure right now. I'll bet your girlfriend Denise wouldn't agree." The man hung up. CJ immediately ordered a squad of gangsters to go to Denise's house. Hating himself for not thinking to pick her up personally, CJ braced for the worst.

The report the men brought back was not pretty. Denise was found hanging by a rope, swinging back and forth in her kitchen. There was a note pinned to her back with a knife, which read "Last Chance to Change Your Mind" in dark lettering.

Chapter 4: The 5;30 from Unity Station

Already a plan was beginning to form in CJ's mind. His first concern was Kendyl. He needed to get her out of Los Santos, and preferably out of San Areas entirely. He could assume that even now, he was being watched. Wasn't there something Toreno had said to him once? That there were five guys watching him at all times…now he knew what it felt like.

First he put his sister, Cesar and a few handpicked bodyguards into the Hummer. Then CJ himself climbed into a waiting gang car, a nondescript green four-door, with an armed driver. Then a few more green gang cars drove up, bearing loads of armed thugs. The convoy left the Grove Street cul-de-sac and headed for the East Beach highway.

CJ had an elaborate detour all planned out. They went south along the coastal highway, silently passing crowds of smiling, shouting, waving homeboys as they headed for the very southeastern limits of their gang influence. Past Seville, through the imposing smokestacks and industrial bulk of Ocean Docks, the convoy eventually swung west and headed for the airport. They reached the dimly lit tunnel that ran under part of the airport, and CJ finally knew his plan had a chance.

The tunnel was empty. No traffic…if the convoy was being followed the pursuers must have been hanging back a long distance behind. Long enough for CJ's idea to work.

At a few command words from CJ, his driver pulled up next to the hummer. The entire convoy slowed, but not by much. They were still speeding through the tunnel at 55 miles an hour. With the sunlit end of the tunnel flying at them, the doors of the hummer's right side opened. The doors of CJ's car opened on the left side, and, hidden from any observers by the tunnel's dark emptiness, Cesar and Kendyl clambered from car to car. The doors shut just as the first ray of sunlight burst over the convoy's lead car.

Suddenly CJ knew why no cars were following them. They were being watched from the air. A big cargo helicopter swooped low and, in a cinematic maneuver, swung a pendulous magnet from a line, which connected to the roof of the Hummer. The car was hoisted into the air and out over the waters of the Los Santos inlet, going to meet an unknown fate. Only the quick switch in the tunnel had saved Kendyl and Cesar from the helicopter.

Cesar and his girlfriend threw on a couple of hasty disguises CJ had packed for them. Swinging in a loop through El Corona, the convoy split up. CJ's car went to a carwash on the border between the Azteca barrio at El Corona and the Grove Street hood of Idlewood. Under the cover of the carwash, Cesar and Kendyl, in disguise, jumped from the car and caught a taxi to the train station. Within an hour they were on their way to San Fierro.

Chapter 5: Disaster Strikes

That night, CJ was in his house on Grove Street. He couldn't sleep, both from worry about his friends and from the fact that someone might kill him. Cesar and his sister were safe, Sweet was in hiding in Seville turf, and the mansion was well secured by a large gang of thugs, who guarded Madd Dog, CJ's safe, and other valuables on the property. Tomorrow CJ planned to contact Truth, secure the garage and the airstrip, and try to get the bastards who were after him. For now, theoretically, they were staying awake in shifts, but CJ could see that his other bodyguards wouldn't stay awake. A few homeboys hovered between sleep and wakefulness on the living room couch, empty pizza boxes and beer cans strewn about. CJ was staring at the TV, not paying any attention.

Suddenly a news report caught his eye. "This amateur video," the newswoman began, "was shot mere minutes ago in Temple, near Vinewood."

"Shit…" CJ thought, seeing his own mansion on the screen. A few blurry figures could be seen on the roof and around the doors, the numerous guards securing the place. CJ wondered how the syndicate would manage to hit the mansion.

"Here you can see a private jet apparently spiraling out of control." The news anchor said. "The body of the pilot was not found, and authorities think he bailed out before this happened." Just then a Shamal jet swooped down and collided with the mansion. Fire flashed up and filled the screen, suddenly lighting the living room in a faint orange glow. A few homeboys looked up sleepily. CJ winced when the plane hit. The camera, shakily held by a tourist or other amateur, zoomed in on the terrace, which held the pool. It collapsed in a wave of rubble and water. Part of the hillside split and fell from the force of the explosion.

CJ picked up a pair of machine pistols and beckoned to his homies to follow. They ducked out the door and got in a waiting Saber. Soon they were speeding west towards Temple. The car was forced off the road by fire trucks heading in the same direction. The wailing sirens and flashing lights were magnified as they pulled up the the base of the hill. A small army of fire trucks was desperately spraying water on the burning ruins. The rising column of black smoke was eerily lit from below, and a news helicopter circled above like a vulture. CJ had no doubt that Maccer, Paul, Rosie, and Madd Dog were dead. His safe might be recovered, but he saw a few sports cars and his helicopter buried and burning in the wreckage.

While the scene distracted his homeboys, CJ looked to his right and saw something else. A few blocks away, under the highway overpass, a few flickering red and blur lights revealed a circle of police cars surrounding one man being handcuffed. He began to stand a bit too early but was beaten down by police batons. His wounded arm was bleeding badly. CJ whispered to his homies. They flowed.

Crouched beside a cement column, CJ ordered the three thugs to steal a police cruiser and stash it somewhere in Willowfield. All too happy to do CJ's bidding, the three gangsters snuck up and hopped in an empty cruiser. With bewildered shouts all the cops but one climbed into a second car and sped off. The last one, left pointing a gun to the suspect's head, began to shove the man towards the final car. Then CJ saw the parachute on the man's back, and the crumpled parachute sheet, ropes cut, pushed against one wall and lit by the police car's headlights.

CJ stealthily yanked the officer's baton out of his belt loop and smacked him over the head with it. He then uncuffed the captive pilot. "Come with me." He growled. "We're going to meet the guy you work for."