5-0 were on patrol, cars everywhere, helicopters sweeping over the hills, spotlights dancing over shacks and panicky moonshiners and people fucking and people going to work or just on a walk. Patrol Cars were out in force, barricades and roadblocks were set up, and the radios were a mess as they shouted and yelled and talked over each other.
All of them looking for me.
Well, not me exactly, whatever was in the back of my truck. Whatever it was, Mr. Whittaker had told me that as soon as I got onto the roads and within distance of a satellite orbiting overhead, the police would know I was on the move and roughly where I was.
"What the fuck is it we moving? This ain't White Lightning," I'd said, and he'd just laughed.
"Part of the reason people come to me to not do business is because I am not a curious man," he'd told me,"It's not people and it's not drugs, which I won't touch, so as far as I'm concerned it's nothing, nothing that I need you to get to Whitewood Estates."
I'd laid out my business plan to him, told him the situation I was in, what I wanted from him, how it would benefit us both, and asked him if he was interested. Basically I was asking him to buy into the Quarry with me and provide replacement equipment for the stuff I'd sold back to the companies that Hunter had owed money to. I needed him because he was someone who had experience in transport and moving goods, and if we used his network of trucks to move what we mined we'd have an immediate jump on any competition by running our own transport system. I could have asked Woozie to buy in and we could have worked things out like that, but I didn't want Woozie to think that I thought of him as my own personal bank... plus it was nice to.... diversify.... was the word, and not put all my eggs in one basket.
Plus, at a time when I was basically fucked and had nothing and no one, Mr. Whittaker had given me a job and a chance, and I wanted to repay that.
He'd been interested, of course he was I offering him a chance to make a shitload more money, but a little concerned about taking on the cost of reequipping it. So he'd offered me a trade. He had a package that needed to be deliver, a VERY hot package. He'd been holding it just waiting for the right person to come along, and now here I was. If I could get the package delivered, instead of paying me, he'd sign onto the deal to come in on the Quarry, and take on the cost of the new equipment.
So now here I was, driving a truck loaded with who knew what, and the police all over the place, a satellite up in the sky telling them that I was somewhere below them, a moving target, my cargo sending out a message every so often saying,"Hey, I'm here!" telling them the general direction to go in....
But they couldn't find me, and I was just cruising along, not a worry in the world.
I was listening in on the police scanner, chuckling as I heard the police getting increasingly frustrated. I'd traveled the rails and through tunnels deep under hills, blocking my cargo from communicating with the satellite above. Whatever had been stolen I figured had to be something belonging to the Government, which didn't bother me, I'd stolen plenty of things from the Government recently... hell, I had a fucking jetpack stashed at the airstrip. Out in the open now crossing the rail bridge over San Fierro's Bay, I knew I was exposed and could be seen, but just like I'd hoped, when the police picked up the next signal they made the guess I'd thought they would.
"Picking up a signal in San Fierro Bay, subject is likely traveling by boat, have the Harbor Patrol stop every boat and search them, no matter how long it takes."
I laughed, it would be fucking chaos down there, and by the time they got the next signal that I was across the harbor and into the desert, they'd have a couple hundred pissed of boatowners to deal with.
"TRUCK SIGHTED! TRUCK SIGHTED!" I heard over the police scanner, excited, interrupting the other chatter as I drove along the tracks,"CORRESPONDS WITH SIGNAL! ALL UNITS CONVERGE ON BONE COUNTY, OUTSKIRTS OF LAS VENTURAS!"
"Shit," I grunted,"Knew it was too good to last."
A helicopter was already coming in as I continued along the tracks, and I knew I had to lose it fast. But how? Nothing out here by desert, unbroken views as far as the eye could see..... if you stuck to the road or the rails.
Cutting through the oilfields, the helicopter couldn't follow without getting tangled in powerlines or the pumping oil wells. Cars tried to follow but struggled to get traction in the desert sand, while I powered through, getting as much visual blockage between me and them as I could, crossing over the last length of desert, through thin, hard grass onto the roads of Venturas, sliding in with cars and other freight trucks delivering their loads. The police scanner was going crazy, calling for traffic to be shut down and roadblocks set up, but Venturas doesn't stop for anything, and in the chaos I moved through the streets and to my location,
Big steel doors opened and two scruffy looking dudes with beards and ponytails ran out wearing, off all things, labcoats over Hawaiian shirts, shorts and roman sandals. We moved the truck inside and the doors shut, blocking the cargo from delivering its signal, which the satellite wouldn't have been able to pick up through all the interference thrown up by Venturas anyway. Mr. Whittaker had had the truck inside a big concrete shed as well, blocking the signal till he had someone to drive it for him, and not it was delivered, the police were going to be fucking lost. They'd fuck around and cause some hassles and stop some trucks, but they wouldn't find us.
"Excellent work, my friend," said one of the weird hippy looking scientist dudes, handing me an envelope of cash,"You've done a far greater thing than you'll ever know."
"What exactly have I done?" I asked, looking at the truck as the other "scientist" climbed up and inside the tank,"Whatever in there, the police wanted it pretty bad."
"Success!" laughed the other scientist, popping back up holding.... oh were you fucking kidding me, the Green Goo?
"Oh shit, Truth?" I asked, and both scientists gave me surprised looks.
"So what is it?" I asked,"He never told me, just ran off saying we was in Year Zero."
"Indeed we are," nodded the first hippy, leading me to a side door as his friend took the Green Goo towards a desk and began working on getting whatever was transmitting a signal out of the weird housing it was in,"A brave new time to be alive, when all questions will be answered."
He opened the door and we stepped outside.
"So how about answering this question," I said,"What is that stu-"
He stepped back inside and closed the door behind me, locking me outside.
Well, shit.... so much for a brave new fucking world.
"Package delivered, Mr. Whittaker," I said into the payphone,"So... we got a deal?"
"It will be a pleasure to REALLY do business with you, Mr. Johnson," Mr. Whittaker told me,"We'll make a partnership between RS Haul and Hunter Quarry, transport what we mine with my trucks and not have to pay out anything to any third party. I'll have to make you a partner in RS Haul as well, junior to me of course, and I'll be your junior in Hunter Quarry..... congratulations, Carl, you've just potentially made us both very rich."
Now THAT made the whole trip there and back well worth it.
After sorting out a few more details with Mr. Whittaker and talking about our plans for the Quarry, I'd headed to my hotel suite and crashed out, getting a good night's sleep. The next morning I dressed up casual for a day moving around the city, because Suzie had promised to take me around and show how they ran they bookies without being hassled by 5-0 or the mafia running they own books.
But first I'd headed out to the warehouse in Whitewood Estates I'd taken the Green Goo to last night, wanting another chance to talk to those guys reminded me of Truth. But when I got there, the place was deserted, not a sign that anyone was there or had been there recently. They'd pulled a fade, taking the Green Goo and going wherever to get a closer look at it, figure out what it was, what it did, what it meant.
"Goddammit," I said, snapping my finger. Now it would be bothering me, not knowing what it was.
I headed for the Four Dragons to meet up with Suzie, but just as I got to the door, my phone rang.
"Hello?" I asked.
"Who am I speaking to?" asked a familiar voice.
"It's CJ," I said, grinning, was this motherfucker so high that he'd forgotten that HE called ME?"Hey, Truth, is that you?"
"Might be," said Truth.... shit, he really was high,"Might be a Government algorithm trying to pick your brains, so don't admit anything!"
"Whatever man, wassup?" I said, grinning, figuring he was calling to tell me about the Green Goo.
"I need a favor, Carl," he told me,"Thought I could cash in some karma chips."
"Your credit good," I shrugged, walking around in front of the Four Dragons, keeping out of people's way as they went in, no one paying me no mind. In Venturas, like in Liberty City, everyone kept to themselves.
"I took some fellow travelers deep into the desert on a peyote safari a few nights back!" Truth whispered down the phone line, sounding a little... high strung, unusual for Truth,"We faced the inner light and communed with the Lizard King!"
"Sound fun, how'd it go?" I asked, grinning.
"That's the problem, I don't know! I'm in Los Santos," Truth said after a pause,"I woke up in a Japanese bathhouse about an hour ago.... I have no idea how I got here or where the others are."
"They're probably fine," I laughed, shaking my head and reaching for the door to the Casino. So Truth had blacked out? I guess even he had a limit to the amount of drugs he could take, and the others were probably all in similar positions, a bunch of old hippies with LSD running through they veins waking up in a bunch of different locations.
"I don't think so," whispered Truth, talking faster now, trying to maintain but sounding like he losing his grip,"They were Brits - a band and their managers. They have no experience about the desert."
I stopped with my hand on the door and stepped back. Shit, a bunch of pasty-skinned British musicians high off they fucking heads lost in the desert, that didn't sound good.
"OK," I sighed,"Where'd you make camp? I can go have a look."
"I took 'em up Arco del Oeste - fanTAStic sunsets," he told me, calming down now he'd done his bit for karma,"Best start looking for them up there."
Well, so much for an easy day cruising Venturas finding out how Suzie took money off of idiots who didn't get enough legal gambling for they tastes.
I got out of the Solair and walked through the brush, looking about, not seeing anyone up here. Shit, for all I knew with Truth, he was flashing back to something he did back in the 80s.
"Hello?" I called out,"Hey, anybody out here? Truth sent me!"
"EH!" shouted out a very British voice, coming from somewhere over in the scrub,"Over here!"
I walked over and found two very sorry looking bastards lying in the sun, one huddled up clutching his knees and groaning, the other flat on his back with... Jesus Christ, his fucking cock sticking out his pants.
"I dunno, mate," said the one with his cock out. His accent was so thick I could barely understand what he was saying, he was British, that was obvious, but he didn't sound like no Brit I ever saw in the movies or on TV,"I wuz 'aving a dream; I wuz wanking over some fat bird's tits when this twat turned up."
He pointed up at me, and I wondered what a twat was - it didn't sound good, like a "twit"? That was something British people said, wasn't it? Anyway, he didn't sound like he was fronting, more like this was just how he spoke.
"Maccer, you fucking psycho!" yelled the guy who had been moaned, getting to his feet. He was wearing a sleeveless jean jacket over an undershirt straining against the start of a pot belly, he looked like Billy Idol probably did nowadays,"You did it again, didn't ya!?!"
"That peyote was shite!" complained Maccer,"You were looky I brrrrought soom tabs along!"
"I've told you a million times not to put stuff in my fucking drink!" shouted the other dude, grabbing the sides of his head like he was trying to keep from just laying into him with his fists. I stood there watching one fat-bellied British dude approaching middle age yelling at a young British dude with his cock sticking out about fucking up their drugs, arguing like a Dad and his kid... if your Dad got drunk with you and did drugs then called you a bunch of dirty words.
And that was how I met Kent Paul and "Maccer".
"'Oo are you agin?" asked Kent, turning to look at me and raising his hands up. This guy wasn't entirely all talk, despite the fat belly and stupid clothes, something about him told me he'd been in his share of fights and made some hard decisions.
"Oh, I'm a friend of The Truth's," I told them, hoping they'd be grateful enough to have a lift back to Venturas to forget to ask why the hell The Truth wasn't there anymore,"He said you guys might need a ride into town or something."
"But oom a fukking ras-berry!" shouted Maccer.
"You are NOT a fucking raspberry!" shouted Kent at Maccer, obviously fed up with him, then hunched over and starting taking deep breaths.
"I can't feel me legs, our P," moaned Maccer, stroking his hands up and down his legs,"I've wanked the use out of them!"
Jesus Christ, what the fuck had Truth gotten me into now.
"Just stand up, you soppy cunt!" sighed Kent,"We go through this every weekend."
He struggled up to his feet, legs shaking, and I shook my head.
"Man, what the hell was y'all doing last night?" I asked.
"Anybody got a rag?" asked Maccer, and I turned and.... ah shit, he'd finally put his cock away but he had fucking cumstains all the way down his fucking pantslegs... BOTH SIDES!
"ugh," I grunted as Kent handed Maccer a rag from out his pocket,"So where am I taking y'all?"
"I've got a pal, Rosie," grinned Kent as Maccer turned around and began scrubbing down his pants,"He's got some casino gig going down in Venturas. Sweet."
Oh. Now THAT was interesting.
"Alright," I said, and then Maccer turned around and handed the rag back towards Kent, who waved it away angrily.
"Fuck off, string!" he yelled.
"Oh, charming!" shouted Maccer back, like HE the one who should be offended.
They hopped into the back of the Solair and I started up and headed back down towards El Castillo del Diablo, the deserted old mining town at the bottom of Arco del Oeste. The sun was just starting to set and I had to admit Truth had been right, they were pretty fucking nice.
"So uhh..." I started, thinking back to what Truth had said,"Where's the rest of the band, guys?"
Kent looked surprised for a second, then he slapped Maccer on the side of the head.
"Maccer, where are the boys?"
"I don't fooking know, do I!" he yelled, adjusting his sun hat,"I remember snakes, lots of snakes!"
Kent looked disgusted, but I grinned, I'd been by that place a few times coming between the airstrip and other places - run by a fucked up redneck family I did my best to avoid after being dumb enough to go in there one day out of curiosity, only to be asked if I'd been out in the sun too long.
"There's a snake farm not too far from here," I told them,"We can go check it out."
We drove in silence for all of 30 seconds before Maccer turned to look over at Kent and got a look in his face like he meant to have some fun.
"You look as pale as a drowned baby, man!" he grinned at Kent, who was holding his stomach as we bounced over the rocky path.
"Oh..oh god... I..... I think I'm gonna chuck!" he moaned.
"P," grinned Maccer,"What you need is some food down ya! A fried egg sanger with mayonnaise will sort it! Or what about a pickled egg?"
"Ahhh, pull over now!" shouted Kent.
One thing I'd learnt a long time ago, when someone is feeling sick and tells you to pull over, you fucking pull over.
"Feel better?" I asked him as he got back in on the front side passenger's seat, leaving Maccer alone in the back.
"Mooch," he said, nodding and leaning his head back, sweating a little but with some color back now.
I drove on down the road to the Snake Farm, and we pulled in and hopped out of the car, looking around for the rest of the band.
"Looks joost like Salford to me," said Maccer.
"What ARE you talking about?" sighed Kent. He sighed alot, I noticed.
Daddy Redneck was standing outside the main building of the Snake Farm, and his son Cowboy Redneck was leaning against the wall just a few feet away. Before I had a chance to ask them about the rest of the band, Daddy Redneck spoke up.
"Take a gander at 'em fellas, is that 'em?"
"That there city boy has gone and been with my prize hog," nodded Cowboy Redneck towards Maccer,"Now I don't even get no sugar from her!"
"And that one done screwed my sis!" yelled another redneck, older and thick around the middle, dressed in a black rain slicker even out here in the desert, pointing at Kent,"I've had a terr'ble aching in my grinds ever since!"
Walking beside Slicker Redneck was what I guess was the Slicker Redneck's sister.... Jesus, Kent, I'd rather have had the hog.
"What'n tarnation?" grunted Daddy Redneck, pulling a piece, Cowboy Redneck reaching slowly behind him as well,"I'm a fixing to give ya a whoopin' for what you gone and done to my young'uns!"
"Oh no!" gasped Kent, throwing his hands up while Maccer just looked at everyone confused, like he wasn't sure exactly was happening,"Run like fuck!"
All the Redneck males had pulled pieces now, and I couldn't have that. I'd told Truth I'd get them back to Venturas, and when I'd heard about Kent's friend running one of the Casinos, I'd seen my chance. I wasn't about to let some inbred redneck fucks get in my way. I pulled my own piece, and Kent dropped to a squat, throwing his hands over his neck and burrowing his head down deep. Maccer wandering aimlessly over beside him, then squatted down and did the same, maybe because he thought that was what they were doing now.
"Heh," started Daddy Redneck, rolling his eyes at my gun,"Y'think I haven't seen one of those befo-"
I put my gun away and turned to look blankfaced at Kent and Maccer, wondering how they'd react. They were both staring at me wide-eyed, and then finally Maccer spoke.
"That was FOOKING BRILL!" he shouted, then lifted his hands up and started jumping about going,"Pew! Pew pew!" as Kent rolled his eyes.
"That was some cold-hearted shit, my son," Kent told me, then grinned,"Nice fooking work, come on, let's get to Rosie's."
"'Ey? What about the band?" asked Maccer as we drove out of the Snake Farm.
"We'll just have to pray they've made it to civilization," grunted Kent,"Keyboardists and drummers are ten-a-penny anyway."
"Coldhearted, eh?" I asked, grinning.
"Welcome to the music business, my son," smiled Kent.
Yeah, this dude was OK.
We drove quietly for a little bit, Kent slapping Maccer's hand every so often when it crept too close to Maccer's crotch. As we got closer to Venturas, I asked the question.
"Which Casino is it?"
"It's called Caligula's," he told me,"It's on the strip somewhere, I think."
Oh fucking jackpot. That was THE Mafia Casino, the one all the families were tied up in. Fucking perfect, and these two were my key straight to the man in charge.
We were quiet again for a little bit, just listening to the music, tuned to Radio X at Kent's request. But finally Maccer asked the question that had been bothering him since he first heard Kent mention Rosie's name.
"What kind of tits does this Rosie have?" he asked,"Big floppy sausage tits? Empty saddlebags? Or bee stings?"
"Rosie's a MAAAN!" yelled Kent,"AND STOP TOUCHING YOURSELF!"
"It's just for comfort Pablo," he moaned,"This is a stressful situation, man."
"You're fucking telling me it is!" Kent shouted.
"Aw, can it you two!" I yelled as we passed out of the desert and back into Venturas, I'd had enough of hearing them go at it like a Dad and his retarded son.
As we entered Caligula's, I wondered what this Rosie guy would be like. To run a Casino in Las Venturas AND be in charge of an operation run by two competing Mafia families? I'd have to be careful, this guy would be smart, tough and fucking dangerous.
"Kent Paul, here to see Rosie," Kent told the gorilla who opened the door to Rosie's Office.
"Hey boss, there's somebody here to see you!" he called out.
A migraine? And his voice sounded, well.... I didn't know no other way to put it. He sounded Jewish. Like, stereotypical nerdy Jewish man living with his mother at 40.
"Oi! Rosie, son, it's me, Paulo!" shouted Kent, pushing against the goon.
"Ooooh God. My despair. Is complete," Rosie complained,"OK, let him in."
"Rosiiieee!" laughed Kent, who seemed to like being called Paul or Paulo, I'd have to remember that,"How are you, me old son?"
"I pray that one day, I can escape my perpetual torment," sighed Rosie as I grabbed Maccer by the collar a second before he could walk right into a table,"And retire in peace and comfort a million miles awaaaay from ANYONE I've ever FUCKING KNOWN and, instead, I get this."
He rolled over on his couch so he was facing away from us, waved his arm weakly at Kent and then just burrowed in.
"Come on!" laughed Paul,"It's me, Kent Paul!"
"Well, hello Paul, what a pleasant surprise," mumbled Rosie, sitting back up and noticing me and Maccer for the first time. I had to say, he wasn't what I'd expected. He looked at us and asked the question he had to ask, but he didn't look like he really cared what the answer was,"Who the hell are these guys?"
"These are my boys," grinned Kent,"Maccer and Carl."
"Wassup?" I asked.
"You want any speckled doves, boss?" asked Maccer, voice LOUD even though he wasn't yelling,"Oom peaking on one right now! Top of the range, man!"
"Well, it's fitting," sighed Rosie, who sighed even more than Paul. He got up and walked between us as far as the nearest seat, then collapsed back into it,"As I sit here up TO MY NECK in a river of shit, with every Mafia gorilla from Liberty City to Los Santos PISSING in my face, that you, Kent Paul, should witness it."
"Wassa matter, son?" asked Kent, and I realized at last that he was "handling" Rosie, and that he was fucking good at it. Maccer seemed to push his buttons but all in all he handled him too. He'd told me on the trip over he was a Producer working with Maccer's band The Gurning Chimps, and he'd used to manage a big rock band called Love Fist too. Now I was seeing him in action with Rosie - who was just about the whiniest motherfucker I'd ever met - getting him to let it all out.
"Too numerous, oppressively insurmountable and depressingly fucking typical even to mention," moaned Rosie,leaning forward over his knee and pressing his head into his hand.
"It's alright, bruv, Paulo can help," grinned Paul, patting Rosie on the back, then looked up at me.
He told me he'd "give me a tinkle later" which I hoped meant a phone call, since I'd given him my number on the drive over. I nodded and turned to go, then heard Paul sigh.
"Not you, Maccer," he snapped, and I turned to see Maccer had been following me out of the room,"Oh, you twat, unbelievable."
I left the office and made my way out of Caligula's, pulling my phone out as I moved towards the Solair. I was thinking about Truth had told me once about karma - everything going back to the egg. He'd called me looking to "cash in some karma points" after accidentally leaving Paul and Maccer stranded in the desert. I'd been happy to do it, and now karma had dropped in my lap just what I needed for the Casino job I was planning with Woozie.
"Hey Woozie," I said after he picked up,"I think I found a way to scope Caligula's without causing too much suspicion. We can talk later."
I hung up and turned to look up at Caligula's. The Mafia's big Casino in Venturas, last holdout against The Corporations. They last stand to hold onto the city that they built.
They didn't stand a chance.