8th April 2008

3:00pm Broker, Liberty City

The zombie's head exploded in a burst of red and grey as the shotgun shell blew it apart. Standing a few metres away, Niko pumped his weapon and ran on down the empty street around abandoned cars which sat, doors open, corpses lying around them.

"Fresh bullet wounds." Jacob said simply as he examined a body in a leather jacket spread eagled across the bonnet of a black Lincoln. "All to de head. One shot each."

"Meaning?" Niko said with a raised eyebrow from ahead.

"We need to be on our guard if we see any cops." Roman said from behind, wincing slightly at the stench of the bodies around them.

"Wait up!" Niko hissed, holding up a fist and the others clattered to a halt.

The two men gave him looks of surprise but Niko ignored them and said simply.

"There's someone in that alley up there…"

They emerged into the alleyway a few moments later, weapons raised, as the dull bang of a gunshot pierced the silence from up ahead.

Breaking into a run Niko sprinted around the corner, to be confronted by a figure dressed in white.

He was Mexican ,whoever he was, dressed in a white suit and black shirt with handsome tanned skin, now a lot paler than he should have been .But it was the blood patch on his immaculate clothing, and the Desert Eagle in his trembling hands, that Niko took notice of.

"Shit how many people have that gun in this city…" he muttered to himself with a grin, but then the Mexican spoke.

"Quiet fool, and drop your weapon…" he snapped, and Niko slowly complied, placing his shotgun on the tarmac in front of him.

"Who the fuck are you?" he said softly. "And more importantly, where did you get that wound?"

"Police shot me at a roadblock a few streets down…" the Mexican said with a weak smile, but Niko didn't believe a word he was saying. Something about this man just didn't seem right.

"Why you so pale then?"

The Mexican grinned.

"You know ,shitty Liberty City weather and all…"

He stopped as they both heard Jacob and Roman's voices, coming slowly closer.

"Shit." The Mexican said. "I really wanted to make a bit more of my last conversation…"

"Last conversation?" Niko muttered in bemusement as the Mexican came stumbling toward him.

"Well the plague of Xolotl isn't exactly…easy to bear."

"Who the fuck…" Niko said, backing away slowly.

"Xolotl the cleanser…" The Mexican babbled. "The Aztec god of death and the bringer of this blight upon this city of the damned."

By now the man appeared to be on his last legs as he shambled closer, and Niko felt his hair stand on end as the man began to convulse and moan.

He was a metre away now, teeth bared but life still in his eyes.

"I will pass the plague to you friend. The gift of almighty Xolotl!" the Mexican said one final time before lunging forward.

At that point Niko grabbed the writhing soon to be undead by his jacket and drew his pistol, shoving it into his face.

"If you see Xolotol on the other side…" he hissed as he pulled the trigger and blew the man's brains out. "Tell him…fuck him and all his little followers!"

Roman and Jacob emerged into the alleyway, guns drawn, as Niko crouched by the body, pulling the chrome Desert Eagle from the corpse's lifeless hands and throwing away the empty Glock he had executed the man with.

"What the…" Roman began but his cousin cut him off as he stood up and retrieved his shotgun.

"Just some punk trying to rob me." He said firmly before looking up at the two others.

For a second he paused, taking in a deep breath.

Then he saw the walker shambling towards a defenceless woman in the street outside.

"Fuck, run you stupid bitch!" Roman shouted at the woman, but she only gave him a stern look before gazing back at the undead stumbling towards her, drenched in blood, across the empty street.

"Simon!" she shrieked happily. "I thought you were dead! I thought the police killed you when that car ran you over!"

"Dumb fuck." Niko said simply as he walked up behind the zombie and pulled back the slide on the bulky Desert Eagle.

"No what are you…?" the woman began but the gangster ignored her as he placed the gun to the zombie's head and fired ,the dull bang of the pistol echoing across the street as the corpse fell to the ground with a wet smack.

"He was a…"

"Bastard!" the woman screeched and ran at them, fists balled up, until Niko calmly aimed his gun at her head and she stopped, tears of rage in her eyes.

"Just shut up you stupid bitch! We just save your life and you…"

He was interrupted by the whir of helicopter blades overhead, and three black NOOSE Annihilators thundered low overhead.

Turning away from the woman in hysterics before him Niko turned to the others.

"Ok we need to move now and hopefully we can get to Algonquin before the police start clearing the streets with shit more powerful than assault rifles…"

The three weary men stumbled onto the next street, still empty like the others, except for a parked police cruiser and three ambulances, paramedics loading body bags on stretchers into the backs of the vehicles as the flashing blue and red lights blinked out onto the tarmac around.

The two armed police officers only flashed them a quick look of surprise before returning to watching the street beyond, shotguns raised.

"Ok we need a car…" Roman said firmly and the others nodded and began checking abandoned vehicles as sporadic gunfire echoed in the distance. "We go across the East Borough Bridge and then it's a straight shot along the main roads to my place."

"That's if there aren't any roadblocks on the bridges…" Niko muttered.

"Look cousin we need to worry more about the zombies than the fucking LCPD!" his cousin roared slightly too loudly, as the two officers across the street glanced in their direction nervously.

With that Roman cursed under his breath and wandered ahead, checking car doors as he went and swearing softly every time he was met with a dull thunk.

"Amateur…" Jacob said with a grin and lit a joint, offering one to Niko who shook his head. He would need a clear mind if this shit was going to carry on for much longer. Already he found his mind drifting back to the words of the Mexican in the alleyway, the member of the so called 'cult of Xolotl'. He didn't for a second believe that this was the wrath of an Aztec god but the fact the unhinged stranger had claimed that he or his cult had somehow had a part in this plague. That was a thought more scary than any ancient god.

He kept these thoughts in his mind as he checked over a white Landstalker 4x4 with tinted windows.

"Seems alright." Jacob observed from nearby as he shouldered his shotgun.

Niko rolled his eyes. Before all this he wouldn't have been seen dead in this soccer mom piece of crap. But needs must when the dead rise up, he thought to himself.

"We'll take it." He said simply and Jacob grinned as he hefted his shotgun and smashed in the window, reaching inside to open the door.

"Hey!" one of the nearby police officers called and Niko turned, gun raised and walked towards the two men, the paramedics by the ambulances looking on with a mixture of ear and amusement.

"What the fuck do you want copper?" Niko said as the two officers shrunk back from him. "Gonna arrest us? Try anything and I put a shell in you!" he added with a threatening wave of his shotgun.

But the lead officer, a tired and pale faced sergeant, only raised a hand in a placatory gesture.

"Look calm down man." He said with a weary smile. "Take the car. We don't care so long as you take down a few of those undead bastards on your way out. Oh and don't torch anything of course. It's not like society is crumbling or anything…"

Niko lowered his gun.

"So what exactly are your orders regarding this whole plague then?" he said with a raised eyebrow. "Because last load of police we saw almost got us killed…"

The sergeant shrugged.

"We lost contact with the station in South Slopes about half an hour ago so we're not really going on any orders but killing those undead things out on the streets…"

"And the body bags?"

"One of the few orders we had before the station was overrun was to bring a few undead we killed to one of the hospitals so they could do some tests and find out what the fuck we're fighting…"

The sergeant sighed and was about to say something else when a shout came up from the paramedics behind.

"Ah shit." The sergeant said simply as the two men watched the body bags sitting up from the stretchers and the paramedics stepping back in horror.

"You did shoot them in the head didn't you?" Niko asked as he backed away. "That's how they always kill zombies in those shitty horror stories…"

The sergeant's face paled.

"Thanks man…Now get the fuck out of here before more of them come…"

And with that both men ran in opposite directions, the sergeant pumping his shotgun as he ran back towards the ambulances, whilst Niko ran towards the now hotwired Landstalker which Jacob had taken ownership of. Jumping into the backseat and earning a concerned glance from Roman up front, he only shouted at Jacob to drive before sitting up.

"We go now…" he said simply as they sped down the road.

A few minutes later and they were stuck in traffic, a direct contrast to the empty streets they had seen before. All along the approach to the Broker side of the East Borough Bridge stretched one continuous line of vehicles slammed bumper to bumper, armed police officers standing by barriers and parked cruisers with lights blazing out at intervals, whilst horns and angry threats from drivers pierced the afternoon quiet.

"Fuck mon!" Jacob cursed and slammed his fist on the wheel in frustration. "How we be gettin through dat now!"

Niko stared ahead at the line of stalled traffic then turned to the two up front.

"Wait here." He said firmly. "And hide the guns…"

And with that he stepped out of the car, slammed the door shut and walked along the road, pushing through the huge crowd all moving slowly forwards alongside the unmoving vehicles.

It was only when he reached the end of the road and the beginning of the bridge itself that he saw the extent of the holdup.

As the ugly concrete form of the bridge stretched outward and around to Charge Island, so too did the blocks of traffic, whilst the lines of people continued on in a unbroken snake around to the Charge Island toll booth system, now resembling a military checkpoint complete with barbed wire, sandbags, armoured trucks and…

"Fucking tanks…"

They sat by the police blockade, two of them, black armoured forms facing out onto the crowds beyond, who shouted at the thin line of LCPD officers in riot gear.

Shielding his eyes from the sun Niko watched the scene unfold beyond, as a police Maverick helicopter hovered low, snipers leaning out of the sides with weapons at the ready.

"Please disperse!" came the garbled voice of a police captain standing atop an armoured NOOSE Patriot, submachine gun in hand.

The crowd shouted something incomprehensible, but, whatever it was, Niko saw the riot police nervously step back, and the police captain fired a brief burst from his weapon into the air as a warning shot.

"Stay back! Right now!" he ordered and yet the people before him didn't move, only pushed even harder against the police holding them back.

Then Niko picked out the figure of a single man, dressed in a white suit and black shirt, draw a large pistol from his belt in the midst of the crowd, and aim it at the closest police officer.

"Mother…" Niko began, but his curse was lost as the dull roar of the gun going off echoed across the harbour.

For a second there was a weird pause as one of the riot police fell back, a bullet in his skull.

Then everything fell apart.

The officers standing on the roof of the checkpoint with assault rifles, along with heavily armed NOOSE soldiers at the barricade, all raised their weapons and, ignoring the screams of the crowd before them, fired.

The entire crowd around Niko crouched low, despite the fact they were hundreds of metres from the barricade, whilst the mob at the checkpoint, far from running or surrendering, rushed the police line. As the crack of high powered rifles from the helicopter overhead filled the air, Niko watched in horror as, with a dull roar, the two tanks opened fire.

The effect was instantaneous as the high powered shells, probably illegal in other countries, tore the crowd apart. Even from Niko's vantage point he could see the bursts of crimson as people were torn apart, along with the screams and harsh thud as tear gas canisters fell into the dead and dying, hiding the slaughter momentarily. The gas cleared for a second as the helicopter hovered low, broadcasting its message even as the officers leaning out the side fired indiscriminately.

"Disperse now or we shall continue to use lethal force! I repeat, disperse now or we shall…"

Although the reckless police brutality was almost to be expected from LCPD, even to this horrific level, Niko would never have expected what happened next.

He saw it approaching from the corner of his eye, but dismissed it as nothing until finally the plume of smoke he had been watching revealed itself as a sleek silver object, a tongue of smoke and flame erupting from its back.

"Missile!" someone further down the bridge screamed before, with a whoosh of fire, it struck the police helicopter in a blast of orange, its burning hulk falling to earth.

The next few second were complete chaos as all around people fell over each other, police officers in riot gear swept aside like ants by the crowds running in all directions, cars flipped on their sides as people rushed past in their haste to escape.

Only Niko stayed exactly where he was, and only he had a clear view as three silver shapes screamed low over the river, releasing more missiles which struck the bridge and checkpoint simultaneously, a whole section literally blasted apart in a deafening explosion, sending police cruisers, ragged corpses and slabs of concrete flying in all directions.

It was only when the torrent of black smoke began to slowly clear, and the silver shapes came around for another pass that he saw their true form revealed and his eyes widened in horror.

As they whooshed past, he could see their sleek forms to be F16 fighter jets, and the USAF symbols emblazoned on their wings.