"Who are these people cousin?" Roman asked. Niko stood there in his black suit, white shirt, and red tie from Perseus. His eyes were covered by a pair of black shades. It was a cool day in Liberty City. It was also a nice day for a visit to the Graveyard. It has been one year. One year since Kate's death, and one year since the executions of Dimitri Rascolov and Jimmy Pegorino by Niko's hand. Roman still wondered who the gravestones were for. "Who are they?"
"I found their names online." Niko replied
"Well who are they? They have to be pretty important for you to still be here for them." Roman said.
"There are a lot of them. I didn't think they would all be buried here."
"Niko, please enlighten me on who these people are." Niko gave in to Roman's requests.
"They were men just like me. They were men who killed for money, who did what they had to to survive. They were men who were embittered by a life of tragedy and revenge." Roman was worried about Niko. They way he spoke never sounded right to him, he had hoped the revenge concerned Niko had disappeared along with Darko Brevic. Roman humored him anyway.
"Who is this one? This grave looks older than the rest." Roman asked.
"Victor Vance. I researched him. He, along with his brother Lance, were drug dealers in Vice City. However, Victor had once been in the army. He was disgraced by his former commanding officer and forced into a life of crime. He got his revenge though. Two years later, he was killed during a drug deal at the Vice City docks. The deal was between him and this man." Niko pointed to a grave behind him, it bared the name Thomas Vercetti.
"Who is Thomas Vercetti?" Roman asked.
"Tommy Vercetti worked for the Liberty City Mafia in the early 80's. He was a short-tempered man who rose to glory in Vice City. He killed the head of the Forelli family and Lance Vance, Victor's brother, for revenge and power. He had been living in Vice City since then. He died of heart failure five years ago." Roman sighed. He didn't want to stay around much longer.
"How many dead people are you going to introduce me to today, cousin?" he asked annoyed.
"Only a few more Roman." Roman sighed again and followed his cousin down a path of the cemetery. Niko spoke as they walked. He pointed out gravestones as well, naming names of the associates of the men he held in high spirits.
"Who is this one?" Roman asked when they reached a large tomb. It was a family crypt in the more prestigious criminals were buried.
"This is the Cipriani family tomb." Niko replied. "Inside it rests the bed of Toni Cipriani. He worked as a hitman and errand boy for the mob most of his life. He was made a Capo in the Leone family and stayed that way until he was shot in a Laundromat by a Triad gang he had angered a few years ago."
"He doesn't sound as valiant as the others." Roman mentioned.
"This is true." Niko responded. "However, it is not his accomplishments alone that make him a valiant man. It is the torment and abuse he sustained from others on his journey from the bottom to top that made him great."
"So the assholes around him made him shine?" Roman joked. Niko laughed with his cousin at the joke. It wasn't often that Roman told one that anyone thought was funny.
"I guess you can put it that way." Niko replied. He began to walk away toward more gravestones.
"Who is next?" Roman asked.
"Just one more to go." Niko answered. Roman stayed silent as he and his cousin walked down the pathways.
"Here he is." Niko stated. Roman looked down at a shabby looking stone grave. It was chipped and graffiti showed over it. The stone bared the name "Carl Johnson".
"Who is Carl Johnson, Niko?" Niko inhaled deeply and took a long breath.
"15 years ago, Carl Johnson returned home to San Andreas after a 5 year stint with the Leone family here in Liberty City. He returned home to bury his mother, who had just died. But when he tried to find out why his mother was dead, he discovered that his friends had betrayed him. His old friends had changed and turned on him, the police were corrupted and only contributed to the problem, and he had to fight to survive. After, getting revenge on the wrongdoers in his life, life seemed fine for Carl. However, his brother was killed six years ago during a gang shoot-out in Los Santos. Shortly after, his brother-in-law died in a racing accident. His sister, distraught over the death of her husband and brother, killed herself. Carl returned to Liberty City to try to start over. The police wrongly accused him of a crime and chased him through-out the city two years ago. His car broke down on the Broker Bridge and he ran to the edge of it. The police open fired after wrongly deducing he had a gun with him. He was thrown off the bridge and salvaged hours later with 9 bullets in his chest and 2 in the head. His body rests here, where people, ignorant of his true story, focus on the fabricated story of his final hours and deface his grave like this." Roman was silent for a moment.
"That is a sad story, cousin." He finally said.
"Sadness is a part of life. We cannot escape it. I have showed you these men today to show you that I am not the first one. I am not the first person to do this. All these men gave what they could to protect what they thought was right. I know what we do is unethical and dangerous, but it's what we're good at! That is why I let Darko Brevic live."
"I don't understand cousin." Roman asked.
"I let Darko live because I realized he did not deserve death. Death would be his way out. It would free him from the pain he suffered daily. I thought that if I killed him, my revenge filled life would only be left empty. So, I left him alive. I did not forgive him. I let him die slowly, rather than quickly by a bullet to the brain. That is why he rests in this cemetery now. Because he was stupid enough to waste the life I gave him." Niko and Roman stayed silent for a bit after the speech.
Suddenly, the silence was broken by Roman's phone ringing. He opened it. "Oh, I'm so sorry Niko! It's Mallorie. I have to go-" Niko cut him off.
"No need to apologize. Go, Roman. I'm finished anyway." Roman nodded, patted Niko on his back and ran off to his car. Niko stayed. He would take a cab later, he preferred them actually. He walked along the roads looking at all the names. Each one reminded him of the research he had done in the preceding week.
Niko's attention was suddenly caught by a man ahead. The man stood alone staring at a grave. He was expressionless. He was not dressed for a funeral. He wore a black leather jacket and green cargo pants. Niko could see his somber eyes staring at the grave from under his jet black short hair. He didn't mean to be rude, but he walked over to the man.
"Reminiscing?" Niko asked. The man said nothing. He didn't even move. "I'm sorry, I'll leave." Niko moved to walk away, but the man turned his head toward him and gestured for him to stay. Niko looked at the grave. "Was Catalina your girlfriend?" The man nodded. "I'm sure she was a great person." The man suddenly gave a stern expression and shook his head no. "Oh, I see." Niko replied. The two men were silent, neither wanting to leave the grave. Suddenly, the man spoke.
"It was nice." He said finally. Niko looked at him. "What you said to your cousin, I mean."
"Thank you." Niko replied.
"You know, I knew the men you visited." Niko looked at the man curiously. "I was born in Vice City in 1972. My parents were heavily enamored in the mafia lifestyle. There were a lot of parties at my house, which many mafia members or drug dealers attended. I had the pleasure to meet Victor and Lance Vance once. They were nice people. Lance was sort of an arrogant guy, Victor was the decent one. I hated it when he was killed." Niko listened intently to the man's story. "5 years after Vic died, my parents were killed in a car accident. They said it was a gas leak, but I know that Salvatore Leone had rigged the car to blow before they entered it. As an orphan, I was put in the care of Vice City crime lord, Tommy Vercetti. He was my only friend at that point. He was a great guy. Yes, he had a short temper. However, he helped me learn the business and everything. In 1991, I traveled to San Andreas. I was skilled in street races and quickly rose in the ranks of a local triad leader's racing association. I met CJ there. Unfortunately, I also met Catalina there. She was such a free spirit. I think she and CJ had some history. I didn't care though. That was until Catalina betrayed me during a bank job and got me sent to prison. She thought she had killed me. I returned though, and rose through the ranks of the mafia family that had killed my parents. I killed Salvatore Leone and met Toni Cipriani along the way. He seemed tired of the mafia lifestyle, so I left him alone."
"That is quite a story." Niko replied. "It's amazing you are still alive after all that."
"Yeah, I guess." He said.
"What are you up to now?" Niko asked.
"Have you ever heard of a man named Bulgarin?" the man asked. Niko froze at the mention at the name.
"Yes, I know him. He and I have a…a complicated history."
"I've been looking for him. My employers want him to be…silenced, shall we say. Do you know where I can find him?"
"Do you pay?" Niko asked.
"What's your price?" Niko offered his hand to the man. He accepted it and shook firmly.
"My name is Niko Bellic, my price is revenge"
"Call me Claude."