I do not own any of the original characters, locations, and certain plot points. All the credit goes to the video game companies, Volition and THQ.
What happens now?
"What the fuck was that?!" One voice scolded the other.
"It was the only way!" The second voice replied.
"I said talk; not set off a goddamn bomb!"
"Relax Troy. The Saints are finished. Don't try to find me…"
A "unique" city like Stilwater is unlike any other city in the U.S. There are lots that can be said in a place full of gang violence, drug deals, and hearing a bomb go off under the city's main bridge. Stilwater has a tendency to choose its citizens; chooses who stays and who ends up in a body bag. There was a time dating to a few months prior to this particular explosion; around in the early summertime. Just like an army raiding a castle, the city needed liberating. Three, diverse gangs fought for territory in every street corner, every party spot. Many have bled for their leaders in their mission for hostile takeover.
These gang wars had been brewing since the time of the Carnales taking precedence over the drug business. Before the Vice Kings, the Westside Rollerz, and the 3rd Street Saints, the Carnales were the most feared gang in the city. Their colors sported red, and they showed their true colors when dealing with the opposition with bullets. The Vice Kings were next to rise up in the city. Starting out as a bunch wannabe bad asses in Sunnyvale, their leader Benjamin King stepped up and took their potential and strength to the Carnales. Their rivalry has been bloody for years.
When it came to the street racing circuit, that was where the real action was. It was boys in blue vs. boyz in blue. The Rollerz were sneaky bastards in their time. In between the rivalry of the former two gangs, the latter two found solace in areas that weren't taken over. Over the years, there was red, yellow, and blue walking the streets, instilling fear and ego tripping wherever they treaded. However, another gang crept from the storm drains of 3rd Street. That once small gang was the 3rd Street Saints. Their leader, Julius, saved a silent wolf known as "Playa" from nearly getting shot by a Vice King member. Since that time, the Saints have been cleaning up house up and down neighborhoods and businesses to put the hurt on the other gangs.
Like the status quo goes for a city like this: it chooses who stays and who dies. It's a simple way of life, perhaps too simple for any other city to understand. Stilwater was always in peril, being a combination of the Big Apple and City of Angels can cause a lot of stirs. It's only one kingdom that was trying to be had by everyone. Living the life of a gang banger would mean utter devotion to the family who took you in. Some deviated from that life because "family" can be too strong a word to keep to. For the Saints, you have a choice to drop your colors and walk out a free person. Julius was a reasonable type of leader, always trying to make peace because Stilwater is a big place.
After months of weeding out the non-peace keepers, things were turning around for the people of Stilwater. It was all because "Playa" and the Saints had put a stop to the gang violence. Playa didn't have a real name. Well, "street rat" would be one since he was nearly killed on a street corner during a gang dispute. "Silent Wolf" was his second name due to him not saying a word. He was one of those "actions speak louder than words" kind of individuals. Even Johnny Gat thought he was a psycho at one point because he knew his way around a rocket launcher. He loved every aspect of him. The Saints were slowly rebuilding decimated strongholds and putting businesses like "Friendly Fire" on their payroll. Then on one, brisk night on a yacht, an ugly set of events were set in motion that showed how karma was being the unreal ass kicker it was. Playa and a politician named Alderman Richard Hughes were having a private conversation for three and half minutes. These precious 180 seconds of Hughes berating him of how gangs were filth turned a negative into a positive in his campaign for clean streets.
Hughes was your regular clichéd politician. His words shot out from his silver tongue; lies to those who opened their ears and hope to those who wanted change. In about three seconds the conversation was cut short. Heart racing beeps from the bomb sent the yacht ablaze under the city bridge. Its remains sunk into the loneliness of the ocean. Back on the surface and into the busy, more upstanding parts of town, Channel 6's Anchorwoman, Jane Valderamma delivered the news event that devastated only a few on the Saints' behalf.
"Breaking news! Earlier tonight, Stilwater's esteemed politician, Alderman Hughes was lounging on his yacht, enjoying his victory in becoming the next Mayor. A few witnesses say he was having a closed conversation with one of the prominent gang members from Saints Row. The yacht met its short lived voyage under the Stilwater Bridge, and so far the police have yet to find any survivors. It seems Mr. Hughes went from a stellar victory to ridding the streets of gang violence, to a sunken defeat by the end of a ticking time bomb. Along with the Alderman's passing, a Saint whom many came to know him as "Playa" was found charred to death in the boat's remains, and is currently being fished out of the water. It has not been confirmed whether he's alive or dead. Which begs the question: was Hughes a suicidal man, or were the Saints trying to kill two birds with one explosion? I am Jane Valderamma: Channel 6 News."
Some of the city's more questionable citizens such as hobos and sugar daddy rednecks lent a moment of silence to the fallen Saint. Above all the Saint members, he was the one who had the most involvement, the most loyalty to his brothers and sisters in eliminating the Carnales, Vice Kings, and the Westside Rollerz. He was like a second gun toting maniac like Johnny Gat; one of the Saints' Lieutenants. They worked together the most in putting the hurt on the Vice Kings and forcing their leader to leave the country as a new man.
To most, Playa was a hero. No more girls were getting kidnapped; they were keeping drugs away from adolescent children, keeping their neighborhoods safe. Basically, they were doing about 85% of the work the Police never get done. Around 5:30 in the morning, Johnny was tossing and turning when suddenly his phone began buzzing like crazy on the floor next to his bed. He slept through two of the phone's buzzers, but the more it went off the more he got agitated. Groveling under the sheets, he asked his girlfriend, Aisha, to pick up the phone. She was nowhere to be found, and apart from being disabled by a shotgun blast to the leg, he tumbled off to the side and answered the number.
"Eesh, this better be you in the bathroom." Johnny said in a cranky tone.
"Johnny, its Dex. Some shit went down with Playa and that Hughes guy."
"Seriously; he killed the Alderman? Good on him; I would've waited after having my afternoon target practice to put a bullet in that prick's eye."
"It's more complicated than that. Come down to the Church. We'll explain everything there."
"Fuck that, Johnny replied, I'll see y'all at noon if I ever get any sleep."
"Julius is gone, man! Playa just got blown to hell! The boat Hughes was on blew up an hour ago. It's all over the news now." Dex continued before he heard a phone dropped on the floor. "Johnny, are you there?!"
At that point, Dex was feeling hot under the collar. Johnny and Playa were thick as gun slinging thieves, and he usually doesn't take one of his closest homies getting blown up so well. Dex hung up the phone and told the other Lieutenants Gat was coming. Aisha was there along with Troy, Armando, and his younger brother Carlos. They all sat at the meeting table in the old Church at the Row. This was where Julius used to make the decisions in what to do.
Armando, Lieutenant and founder of the sub gang charter, the Guardian Angels, asked out of curiosity what Johnny was planning to do when he got to the Church. Dex explained it like the Hiroshima A-bomb; once it reaches a target it'll go all nuclear without any sense of restraint. Armando has been out of the Stilwater gang for some time due to a fall out he had with Julius awhile back. He has heard stories about the other gangs getting wiped out, and had little involvement in handling them himself. Especially the Carnales; that was a whole other tale he didn't want to get into. While they waited for Johnny, they discussed at length about their gang's future.
"It's good you're here, hermano. Times like these, we need another voice of reason to balance the crew." Dex said.
"I came as soon as I heard. With the other gangs gone, my crew and I can come up for air." Armando replied. "If you guys want us back that is."
"Stilwater is ours for the time being. There are still a lot of damaged neighborhoods and strongholds that need fixing. As you guys know, Playa wasn't always discreet. He and Johnny were like Butch and Sundance in many of their missions together."
"So, when he barges through those doors, I run for my life right?" Troy asked. "We've seen him pissed off before, but that's nothing compared to what he's feeling right now."
"The way I see it, he has two ways to blow off steam: go to a strip club or blow shit up somewhere." Aisha pointed out. "C'mon Dex, how'd you think he was going to react when you told him? I'd say we let him burn off some steam and maybe he'll be calm enough to talk about this."
"Or he breaks in here with a chain gun and blows us all to kingdom come." Troy replied as everyone looked at him funny, especially Aisha. "Too soon?"
"It's too bad about the strip club being left out." Carlos said in the background.
Carlos was watching TV when he called the others over for another breaking news story. Johnny was blowing off steam alright, and it wasn't getting pussy at some cheap strip joint in some part of town. Blind rage guided him to where the boat explosion took place and went to the Stilwater Bridge to cause a scene. He was threatening reporters and cops for answers Jane said. Dex put his head down and couldn't believe what was happening.
"You got to be shitting me." Dex shouted!
"Jesus Johnny." Aisha said to herself.
"Let's get him out of there." Armando said before talking to his brother. "Bro, stay here until we get back."
"You got it." Carlos agreed.
Everyone got in their vehicles and hauled ass to the aftermath of what seemed to be from a distance, a huge riot where cops were getting beaten up and thrown all over the place. The paramedics managed to get two charred bodies out of the water and onto a stretcher. Armando and Dex got out and ran to get Johnny away from the police, but that was easier said than done. Not because Johnny gained the upper hand, his disabled leg prevented him from doing any further damage than he wanted to. In the midst of all the screaming and cops containing the situation, Troy got a good look at one of the bodies being hauled away onto a Paramedic truck. It had dark pieces of purple on him so it was confirmed he was on that boat.
Armando managed to break through to get Johnny on his feet, and boy was the word "mad" the understatement for this Saint. His face was beating red, bulging eyes while waving an NR4 glock, firing off two shots in the air. He was a complete mess. Dex tried his best to calm down the crowd as Armando covertly got Gat away from the crowd. He was cursing like a wild banshee, blaming Hughes for committing suicide and taking one of his closest homies with him. "You fat, hair receding, two faced bastard!" he said. Troy and Aisha waited to take him off Armando's hands while Dex followed and told them they needed to make themselves scarce for the day.
Aisha took him home while the others drove back to their own homes. As they were driving back, Armando was quite convinced Johnny hadn't changed at all since he left the Saints. Taking some back road, Aisha was both worried and scared at the same time, looking at Johnny every once in a while to see how he was holding up. She gave him plenty to drink so he could pass out until later in the day.
It became a devastating time for the 3rd Street Saints. Dex was scared about them falling apart, and with Julius missing there was nobody to run the crew. It became the one morning everybody got drunk in order to put the night behind them. The next day, Troy, Armando, Carlos, and Dex reconvened at the Church. Everyone except Carlos was wobbling and toppling over stuff. Dex on the other hand, sat at the meeting table to figure out what really was the future for the Saints. Carlos came in with coffee to even out the jaded flow. He was then called over for a level headed discussion.
"I saw you guys on TV." Carlos said. "Glad I'm not on his bad side."
"Everybody grieves their own way, little man." He replied taking a coffee. "I just hope Aisha got him home alright."
"What a fucked up night." Troy shouted coming into the Church! "You know Dex I'm curious, how does Aisha always put up with his shit?"
"Eesh is the strongest out of all of us. I'm grateful she can still put up with his thick headedness."
"So how is this going to play out?" Carlos asked. "I see the Row's gotten a little thin since you guys took out the other gangs."
"Kid has a point." Troy brought up. "With Julius out of the game, we need someone in charge to make the Row whole again."
"I say we recruit more members." Dex suggested. "I know people 'round the industrial area of the city just looking for a chance to join up."
"Sorry, Armando said as he struggled to sit in his seat, couldn't sleep well last night."
"That's because you slept on one of the church benches, bro." Carlos reminded him.
"Don't rub it in, huh? I overheard you saying we should recruit new members. I say we should. Your gangs may be gone, but new ones might roll in anytime soon." Armando said. "We need to prepare for this."
Everyone at the table pretty much agreed for new Saints to come in and defend Stilwater. There were plenty of ways for people to get noticed by the Saints: cause robberies, win street races, assist in gun battles, and give positive feedback on how much the Saints have helped people to turn the media in the right direction, along with other options. Troy chimed in and suggested about building safe houses in the outskirts of the city. After the scene Gat caused the police would have no choice but to step in and excavate the Church along with other locations the Saints frequent in. The safe houses would have to be diverse to serve each specific skill set they required. They wouldn't have any missions for the recruits yet other than clean up damaged strongholds and anticipate the Lieutenants' needs.
There were still two more votes to be made for this idea to go through its' hoops. Dex had texted Aisha to see how she was holding up from the night before. Her phone buzzed once; Gat didn't budge an inch in bed. His body ached everywhere from all the anger and excitement. Aisha walked out of the bathroom and saw the text about the Lieutenants reconvening and discussing the future. She texted back confirming she got the message while walking over to see how Johnny was doing.
He was a mess to say the least. Along with a busted leg, he had bruises all over where the cops beat on him. Just when she was about to get his attention, out of nowhere he expressed how much he loved her. He said she was the only one who understood him; the only one who can put him in his place and how he would feel if he lost her. Well, after a trail of bodies for anyone who got in his way would justify avenging her demise, but he would feel like shit after the fact. She smiled and was glad he was acting like his usual self. She then said Dex and the others were at the Church, waiting for them to add input in expanding the Saints gang.
"I could really use a stiff drink and a punching bag." He said while being helped out of bed. "Then we'll get going."
"No time for drinking, Johnny. Now come on, take a shower so we can leave. I'll call Dex back so he doesn't worry."
"Since when did that ass hole ever gave a shit about me?" He asked getting out of bed.
"Don't be a baby. Hurry up!"
"Love ya, Eesh; mean it." He replied before going to the bathroom.
After a couple hours waiting for Johnny and Aisha, Troy grew restless. He kept complaining they were taking their sweet time getting to the Church and chime in on the plan. Suddenly, he got slapped upside the head by Johnny walking in with Aisha with a whole new outlook. For the others, that was either very good or bad considering how he blacked out at the crime scene. Armando brought them up to speed on their plan.
Over the course of several months in eliminating the three main gangs in the city, they have lost over fifty-six Saints plus affiliates while another good twenty-one of them were taken to jail; courtesy of the Carnales. Dex said he knew of a freelance drug mule that could take care of the prison break, and procuring boats for them to escape the island the prison was based on. As for the expended Saints who have gone and bled purple for the good of the Row, it was time to recruit new blood and bring their name back in full once more. Before, Dex mentioned about a couple of contract workers wanting to be on the Saints' payroll.
He knew a total of forty solid workers who owed him a few favors. That took care of the construction of the safe houses, but there was still the issue in the geography where they were going to be placed. Most of the city's outskirts were occupied by hills people, trailer parks, and some wild animals leading into the ocean bay. Gat took a look at the map and pointed out the perfect place to run his safe house. He chose the Marina just west of its' exact location; lots of open space to canonize young punks in.
Each Lieutenant was going to split up into individual safe houses based on their skills: Gat had the muscle, Aisha had the vocals and wits, Dex was a man with a plan; a mission tactics expert, Armando had the teachings of what it means to be a Saint, and Troy had something else planned that wasn't going to involve recruiting. Everyone in the Church took concern over his decision to not be a part of the plan, but instead arrange a meet with the drug mule and take a trip to liberate the locked up members. So far, the plan was falling into place. The question on everyone's minds though, was how to put the word out. It couldn't be just random strangers picked up off the street anymore. These Saints in particular were going to have to have skill; real skill if they were going to survive longer. Since each house was going to have a diverse group, it was going to take time to find the right recruits.
"We should make fliers and post them all over the city. People will line up for events like this," Aisha said. "For me, I'll do some underground franchising. Maybe the people will start to think of us in a more positive light."
"I'm down for that babe, Johnny said, you'll shit the pants of every networking nerd when they find out you're back from the dead."
"It has to be discreet though." Dex reminded her. "Benjamin King may have left the country, but a lot of your fans will be shocked and pissed to find out the media had lied to them."
"The truth will come out, and I know just how to do that." Aisha said.
"I have a layout for where the drug mule usually makes his rounds. He should be in town this afternoon." Troy said.
"One of my guys has a contact in the commercial business. We can talk brass tax in getting our faces on a Freckle Bitches commercial. Anything to prove we're not a bunch of psychopaths." Armando explained as Gat looked at him. "Hey, I'm sorry you had to see what you saw, but that shit you pulled on TV isn't going to be good for us."
Things became settled from here on in. Everyone had their jobs and it was going to be a lengthy process to find the most unique and qualified Saint Recruits. Dex told Gat and Aisha to take whatever side roads they could to find the Carnales mansion and set up shop. Troy had some business to take care of elsewhere before meeting the mule later that afternoon. Eventually, it was only Armando, Carlos, and Dex sitting at the table.
Armando felt like having a smoke and wanted Dex to join him out behind the Church. He gave Carlos some money for breakfast and said he'll meet him later. It was a sunny and tense day out in Stilwater, filled with questions about Gat's mental stability over the loss of Playa as well as Armando's standing with the gang. They talked things over; Armando was cool with them. He asked about Julius; not for his well-being, but why did he disappear after all that's happened.
Dex thought about going to the station himself to see if he could speak to Julius. He didn't know yet. As to Armando's standing with the Saints in the present tense, he was always good in Dex's book. He labeled him as the second voice of reason because for a time Armando settled a lot of disputes without ever picking up a gun. He was afraid of guns to a degree; another trace of his past that led Julius to kicking him out in the first place.
"I never gave my condolences; heard he had quite a reputation here." Armando said lighting up his cigarette.
"It's fucked up." Dex replied letting out a smoke. "Hughes always had it in for gangs. We struggling to survive and he shits on us at every chance he gets. But thanks."
"I've seen his wife on TV. She's got a stripper pole up her ass my god."
"Maybe Hughes had erectile dysfunction. Don't know, don't fucking care. Hey, about your brother, you think he's qualified to be a Saint?"
"That's…not an easy question. Carlos is always eager; he's much to learn about how the gang operates. But yeah, he's capable. He's loyal if that's what you're worried about."
"No doubt about that, man. Despite Playa's loyalty when he helped us take out the Vice Kings and the Rollerz, he was unstable. Maybe I'm jumping the gun, but a guy with hardly a word to say and a lot of influence from Gat. I mean, you saw what he was like earlier today. That's not a pissed off Johnny. I don't even know what the fuck that was."
"If I were him losing a close friend, I'd be pissed too." Armando replied blowing out smoke. "It's never easy someone close to you is gone forever."
"Maybe it's for the best. He started out as a street corner rat, died a Saint at the end. We need more guys like us. We need a future here."
Something Dex said caught him off guard. He was taken aback when he basically wished death on another Saint, especially a loyal one. He called him out on that.
"You'd wish death on a brother?" He asked throwing away his cigarette. "That isn't like you, Dex."
"Some things change, man." Dex said before flicking his cigarette. "Look at us now. Sooner or later, we got to start looking out for ourselves."
Just before Dex went inside, Armando asked him one more thing. The falling out he had with Julius was a unanimous decision made by both him and Dex. At this point in time, Dex was willing to let bygones be bygones, but back then after many of the first members of the Saints were killed by the Carnales, there was still a mystery yet to be solved. Armando had a girl putting some pressure on the leaders, Hector and Angelo. There was a conspiracy behind a slip-up she made, and Dex being with her when it was all going down.
He knew it was ancient history, but if he knew anything how she slipped up he wanted to know about it; bring closure to the matter. Dex simply told him to let it go and stop worrying about "beaten angels" who had fallen from grace. He continued going inside leaving Armando with a cold shiver running down his left shoulder blade. The weird thing was, outside felt like summer. For the time being, he kept to the plan with a sense of uncertainty in his heart. He couldn't describe it really, and he didn't want to throw old accusations where it probably didn't belong, but he had the feeling Dex changed. It was not for the better he thought. He headed to an old diner down the street to catch up with Carlos.