Since he landed in Las Venturas, Tommy had been a busy man. Cortez’s contact met him soon as he disembarked and introduced himself as Mike Toreno. However, he would not admit to his paymasters which made Tommy believe he was either CIA or FBI. Possibly even Secret Service.
“I’m not a white knight in shining armour and I know you ain’t” He said as Tommy questioned his allegiance. “You know, I try to set the bad guys on each other while trying to remain in the background. And so, to my regret, I have to let the good guys die.”
“That’s not the answer I was looking for” Tommy had said, conceding he was just a contact of Cortez.
After setting up residency in Las Venturas, Toreno wasted no time asking Tommy to do various ‘good will’ missions around San Andreas. He called up Tommy soon after he reached his own outside the strip, asking him to do him a favour in Los Santos. Tommy angrily retorted he had no time for this but Toreno assured he’d get in contact with Salvatore and set up a meeting if he did so. “Just think of it as a way of killing time” He said to Tommy before hanging up.
Tommy left his safehouse on Vanderbilt Road and headed south. It was a while before he reached the train station that took him to Los Santos. First Vice and now this, thought Tommy bitterly. It was going to be a grind but he’d get out of this mess.
Upon reaching Los Santos, he disembarked and found a vehicle waiting for him. A tall man in a dark suit and sunglasses walked up to Tommy and dropped a key into his hand, before disappearing silently into the crowd. It was a sabre; nothing special but it would get the job done.
Toreno had outlined the mission for him simple enough. The rise of gangs in Los Santos had alarmed his ‘superiors’ and he felt it was for Tommy to set them back a few years. “An outsider like you? I bet none of them even know about ’71.” Toreno had said, amused. Tommy didn’t like the man but he had too many connections to fuck with.
The main bone of contention was with the Grove Street Family and the Ballas. Toreno focused solely on the Grove Street gangs as he believed the Ballas were stupid and violent enough to get wiped out by the Los Santos Police, among other threats. Toreno even said they were their own biggest enemies.
The Grove Street Gangs were alleged to have dabbled in the rising tide of Crack Cocaine. The Police utilized the C.R.A.S.H. taskforce which Toreno deemed useless and corrupt. “There’s more criminals in there than on the streets. But that’s none of my concern. I only take on what I can handle.”
A block party at Grove Street meant Tommy had ample time to attack. Toreno warned that the Ballas may attack so he told Tommy to take down as many of the Family before escaping. “I’ll know if you’ve done enough. Trust me” Toreno had finished mysteriously.
Tommy thundered down Idlewood, wary of the various groups of men dressed in either green or purple. There was a definite atmosphere of foreboding in the air as both groups of men attempted to threaten each other; both safe behind their weapons. Tommy was reminded of Vice; particularly the Cubans and Haitians. The more he drove the more rundown the houses became. These gang members however, seemed content with buying weapons and clothes denoting their status than anything beneficial.
Grove Street was on the last turn, framed by an overarching bridge. It appeared the block party was already in full swing. The entire cul-de-sac was a cluster of green monsters emitting marijuana smoke. Tommy parked his sabre further down the street hidden in some bushes as not to bring any harm to his getaway vehicle.
“Jesus, Toreno” Tommy said, observing the numerous gang members clearly enjoying themselves. A large cloud of smoke rose from them collectively. “How do I know who to take out?”
He found a vantage point hidden from view before pulling out a pistol and taking aim. He never needed a rifle more desperately in his life, but lack of funds and no help from Toreno meant he had to improvise. One of the most prominent of the gang members stood up to address the crowd; Tommy saw this as perhaps the leader and opened fire. The fell back as the bullet penetrated his heart into a bloody mess. The crowd looked around wildly as some either ran or pulled weapons looking for the culprit. A second, with a high powered assault rifle, began firing in his direction so Tommy returned in kind and shot him right through the eye. He spouted more blood than the first and staggered around a few times, as though he was trying to figure out what happened, before falling onto his back.
By then, they had figured out what had happened and began shooting where Tommy stood. He fired back a few times before fleeing; a number of their men fell apparently dead. They approached his spot before Hell truly broke loose.
A sea of purple swept down the street to meet the remaining Grove Street members. The Ballas opened fire almost immediately as both gangs began to cut each other down. The distraction was enough as Tommy jumped through gardens back to his sabre and screeched off from the carnage. Out of the corner of his eye, he swore he almost saw a black car parked inconspicuously by the bridge. But Tommy was already making his way back to Las Venturas; the train station wasn’t so far off but he wouldn’t feel safe until he was there. The masses of gang members walking freely with their weapons poorly concealed reminded him horribly of Liberty City and thus, he drove faster until the gang territories were far behind him.
Upon returning back to his safehouse on Vanderbilt Road, his phone rang almost on cue. Tommy knew who it was before he even picked it up.
“Toreno” He said tonelessly.
“Well Tommy, they said you were good.” He said as though he was continuing a thought out loud. “And the Ballas turning up on cue. I can safely say the Grove Street Family are as good as dead!”
Tommy said nothing as he noticed the sun beginning to set outside his window.
“You got some of the biggest troublemakers out there. Big Devil, Little Devil, Mike.. Hell even that kid Carl Johnson. That guy has more assault and theft warrants than Joey Leone!”
“Is this enough? I’m pretty sure I kicked off World War Three on that piece of shit neighbourhood.”
“Now, now Tommy. I have a few more favours that need doing. What.. you’re not in a hurry to get back to Vice are you? As long as you remain here, Sonny’s boys won’t be able to touch you.”
Tommy didn’t respond to that. He hadn’t considered remaining.
“Do me a few favours and who knows? Prove yourself useful and you can line your pockets with green and take down some bad guys. You’ll be doing an honest day’s work!”
“And how about you? Will you be saving the youth of tomorrow?” Tommy responded, his voice thick with irony.
To his surprise, Toreno chuckled as though he heard a great joke. “Something like that, yes. Don’t worry about Salvatore. I have my own men negotiating with him right now. I have some Sindacco friends who owe me a favour. Now” Toreno paused briefly. Tommy heard a few clicks his side of the line before he continued. “Get some sleep. I have a big job for you in the morning.”
With that, he hung up. For the first time in a while, despite not trusting Toreno, he felt some stability. Still holding the phone, he dialled for Jack Blake and decided to tell him what had happened. Having an ally somewhere made this entire task seem less daunting.
Author’s note: Yep, you read that right. Carl ‘C.J.’ Johnson is no more. Perhaps one of the biggest butterflies here... and the irony is, in OTL 1992 San Andreas, Mike Toreno hires C.J. to do his dirty work.
And yes, Toreno is using his connections to keep Tommy safe. So now, he has a new boss though with liberties to make his own fortune in Las Venturas.
To recap, Lance has defected to the Diaz gang, the Forelli’s are growing more powerful and Jack Blake (allied with Phil Cassidy and Mitch Baker’s Bikers) are planning to take down the powerful Vance Family empire. It’s going to be an interesting future for Vice City.