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."
"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.
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?"
"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?"
"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?"
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.