When CJ woke up, he discovered that his face was covered up with something, for he saw nothing but black.
"You got a bag over your head, boy," he heard Tenpenny say. "How you feel about that?"
"Man, take it off!" CJ pleaded. "Please, man, I can't breathe! Please!"
"Oh, alright," Tenpenny replied, "but only because you said please."
Tenpenny took the bag off CJ's head and the latter realized that he was sitting in the back of the police car.
"You fucking sick mother-fucker!" CJ told the corrupt police officer.
"Intimidate those who intimidate others, Carl," Tenpenny replied dryly. "It's my job. Right, Ed?"
Pulaski just chuckled. CJ look around the car, where he found Ryder sitting adjacent to him.
"Asshole!" Ryder said to Tenpenny under his breath.
CJ then looked through the window, where he saw a lot of trees and grass. There was also the mountain and a few buildings. None of anything around the area looked familiar to him.
"Hey, man, where we at?" CJ asked.
"The middle-of-fucking-nowhere," Tenpenny replied. "Nice, clean air, as opposed to your stoned-out-of-his-brains friend sitting next to you."
"Fuck you, piece of shit eggheaded ass motherfucker!" Ryder shot back.
"Fucking Smoke!" CJ muttered under his breath. That's when he remembered Sweet. "Oh, Sweet!" he shouted. He was wondering if his brother was okay. The wounds he had sustained during the shootout were pretty severe, and CJ was worried that his brother was actually going to bleed to death.
"Sweet is alive," Tenpenny told CJ. "Alive and inside. He's in a prison hospital being treated for gunshot wounds, awaiting trial."
"Yeah, somehow, nobody's caught you two dirtbags yet," Pulaski chimed in.
Tenpenny turned around to face CJ. "Oh yeah, you should be glad, Carl," Tenpenny told him. "Your moron brother's alive, your stoned-off-his-ass homie sitting right next to you is alive, although still fucked up on that wet, your street trash, soon to be turned out sister's alive, and, she's only sucking one grease-ball's dick. Things are going pretty well for you, Carl. So behave, nigga." He then turned to Ryder. "You too, Lance!" Tenpenny told Ryder. "You certainly don't want to get yourself into any deep shit after what you, Sweet, and the rest of your punk ass homeboys did to our crew last year!"
"Fuck you!" Ryder shouted at the corrupted cop. "If my wrists weren't constricted by these cuffs, I'll blow your bald, ostrich-egghead off!"
"Hey Ryder, man, relax," CJ whispered to his friend, "befo' you get us both capped."
Ryder just didn't say anything else. He just slammed his head angrily against the back seat.
"We want you to do a little favor for us, boys," Pulaski said as he and Tenpenny hopped out the car.
Tenpenny grabbed Ryder while Pulaski grabbed CJ. Each of them unlocked the handcuffs off of each of their wrists after pulling them out of the car.
"I can't believe that nigga Smoke turned on me," CJ muttered as Pulaski removed the cuffs off his wrists.
"Smoke?" Pulaski asked. "Smoke does exactly what he's told. He learned that lesson a long time ago!"
"Homies for life? Street loyalty?" Tenpenny chimed in. "That's all bullshit, Carl. Didn't you learn that when they ran you out of town, just 'cause you let Brian die? Huh?" Then he turned to Ryder. "And what about you, Lance?" he asked the 5'3" tall gangster. "Didn't you learn a goddamn thing after your dumb ass brother from another mother was shot by the Ballas and the Ballas and Vagos smoked practically everyone in your gang? Huh?! Eddie, I can't deal with these two. They're both idiots!"
"Let me air these fuckers out!" Pulaski replied as he grabbed his pistol, "starting with this slim one over here."
He turned to CJ and began pointing the pistol to his temple.
"No no no no no no no, Officer," Tenpenny told his partner in crime as he gently pulled him away. "For once, let's let the kid and his dumb ass partner here do something good with their useless lives. They're gonna help us with the fight against crime. Right, boys?"
"Yeah," Pulaski replied putting aside his pistol. "By any means necessary."
Tenpenny then turned to CJ. "Now you stay the fuck away from Smoke, and stay the fuck away from us," he warned. "Otherwise Sweet is going to find himself on a Ballas block getting in touch with his feminine side."
CJ somehow knew exactly what Tenpenny was implying. One wrong move, and Sweet would eventually find himself dropping the soap.
Tenpenny then turned to Hernandez, who was urinating by a tree. "Hey Hernandez, you going to piss all day?" Tenpenny asked his partner, who zipped his pants up after finishing.
"Get your hands off me, man!" CJ snapped at Pulaski who had grabbed his wrists.
"For some reason," Pulaski told CJ, "we've got a little problem with a former friend of ours. He seems to disagree with some of our methods."
"Now who could do that?" CJ asked sarcastically.
"Yeah, you'll never find anybody as fork-tongued as this snake ass bastard," Tenpenny added. "Soon as he gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar, he'll whistle any tune Internal Affairs want him to."
"See," Pulaski started to explain, "They've got him hiding up Mount Chilad someplace, so they can manipulate his testimony any way they want to."
"I want you to pay him a little visit, Carl," Tenpenny told him, "and destroy all his evidence before he testifies." He then turned to Ryder, who was leaning against the tree. "You getting this, Lance, you stoned-ass motherfucker?!" he asked sharply.
"I got ears, motherfucker!" Ryder shot back. "I can hear every fucking word you're saying! So get the fuck off my back!"
"Sort this out, Carl," Pulaski told CJ, "so Officer Tenpenny can sleep easy at night. We want evidence he ain't gonna talk."
"Yeah," Tenpenny added as he and Pulaski walked to their car. "We want you boys to finish the job for us."
As Tenpenny and Pulaski entered their vehicle and sped off, CJ just stared back in confusion. Suddenly, he heard loud banging and clattering. He turned around to see Ryder throwing a temper tantrum, kicking trash cans, tossing stones at windows, and punching on the door.
CJ walked over to his friend to try to calm him down. "Yo, calm yo' ass down, Ryder!" CJ told him as he grabbed Ryder by the arm.
"Get yo' hands off me, motherfucker!" Ryder snapped snatching his arm off CJ's reach. "It's yo' fault we out here!" he added pointing an accusing finger at CJ.
"My fault?!" CJ shouted back confused.
"Yeah!" Ryder shot back. "If you didn't run off to the East Coast in the first place, we wouldn't have been deep in this bullshit!"
"Hey, I told you, nigga! I had to get away from some shit!" CJ snapped back.
"Oh, you mean get away from letting your own brother get murdered and thinking none of that shit was yo' fault in the first place?" Ryder asked in a severely caustic tone. "You just a busta! You was a busta back then and you a busta now!"
CJ was now getting irritated of Ryder's sarcastic remarks. "Okay, you know what?! I had it!" CJ snapped as he got into Ryder's face. "Ever since I came home to make things up for the family, all you've been doing was criticizing me!"
"Because you deserve it, motherfucker!" Ryder snarled at him. "You fucked up! Now you gotta take it to the fucking chin and deal with it! Like I said, you nothing but a thin-skinned busta!"
That's when CJ finally lost it. "That's it!" CJ growled. "I'll show you who the busta is, nigga!"
CJ pounced on Ryder like a cat and wrestled him to the ground. But Ryder's reflexes were too quick. He countered CJ's attack and finally put him in a headlock. CJ struggled to extricate his head out of Ryder's grip, but Ryder's arm was wrapped around his head tight.
"What's up now, nigga?!" Ryder boasted with his arm still locked around CJ's head. "Who the busta is, you say?! Who's the busta?!"
"Fuck you, Ryder!" CJ muttered still choking from the headlock he was receiving from his friend. Then Ryder tightened his grip so more, causing CJ to nearly suffocate "Fuck, I can't breathe!" CJ muttered struggling to speak through the headlock he was receiving from his friend.
Despite being rather scrawny and much shorter, Ryder was physically much stronger than CJ and always prevailed whenever the two would wrestle each other as children.
"Submit, motherfucker!" Ryder demanded. "Submit!"
"Get the fuck off me!" CJ muttered still struggling to catch his breath.
"Say the magic words, motherfucker!" Ryder demanded.
"Fuck you!" CJ muttered sounding even more constipated. Soon, knowing how he wasn't going to escape from Ryder's extremely tight grip, which was on the verge to suffocate him, CJ had no other choice but to comply to Ryder's demands.
"Okay! Fine!" CJ blurted out sounding more desperate than ever. "I'm a busta! Now let go of my fucking throat, man! I can't fucking breathe!"
"Yeah, I thought so, motherfucker!" Ryder bragged as he smacked CJ hard on the back of the head right before throwing him hard to the grass.
CJ coughed loudly and gently wrapped his fingers around his throat to catch his breath.
"Let that be a lesson to you, motherfucker!" Ryder scolded. "Think twice before you want to get physical with me! The fuck is wrong with you tryin' to get in it with me?! If you wasn't my homie, I'd bust a cap in yo' punk ass in a motherfucking heartbeat!"
"Look, Ryder," CJ told him, "fighting about this shit just ain't worth it. We got it bad enough as it is. My brother's dead, my moms is dead, my other brother's in jail, there's no telling what's going to happen to my sister, the Ballas have taken over Los Santos, Smoke sold us out, and only God know what C.R.A.S.H. might do to us or Sweet. You and I are all we have. So let's just chill out and stick up to each other. We cool?"
CJ held his hand out to Ryder, expecting a handshake from him. After ten seconds of thinking, Ryder returned the gesture to his friend.
"Jeah, you right, homie," he said. "We still homies fo' life, my nigga. Ya' Heard?" "Cool!" CJ told him. "Now we got business to take care of. Come on."
CJ and Ryder hopped in a car right next to the trailer building and drove on the road.
"You gonna take us to the building without driving us off the mountain?" Ryder asked.
"I'll try," CJ replied.
"Where'd they say that snake was again?" Ryder asked.
"Mount Chilad," CJ replied. "But seriously, Ryder, why have you been criticizing me this whole time?"
"Because you need criticism, motherfucker!" Ryder replied as CJ drove up the mountain. "Real OG's can take criticism. That's the problem I have with you, CJ. You got thin skin, both literally and figuratively."
"What I need criticism for?" CJ asked.
"Because that's what makes you improve for the better," Ryder told him. "You fucked up the day you decided to run away from Los Santos. It's yo' fault Brian's dead. You never talked to us in five years and the fact you only returned because yo' mama got shot shows how long you were willing to stay out in the East Coast. You made the fucking mess, so it's yo' responsibility to fix it"
"Well you got a point," CJ admitted, "but still, you didn't have to bite my head off like that, nigga."
"Shut the fuck up and look ahead, nigga," Ryder replied. "You still driving."
Without another word, CJ continued to drive up the mountain and finally spotted the cabin.
"So how we gon' get inside that cabin without getting caught by the guards?" CJ asked.
"Ninja style, motherfucker!" Ryder explained. "We sneak up on several of them and surreptitiously take 'em out."
"You know, Ryder," CJ said sounding rather impressed, "I'm surprised you even know what "surreptitiously" means." CJ sneered.
"Just follow my lead, motherfucker," Ryder said.
So CJ and Ryder hopped out of the car and crawled up behind one of the guards. Ryder lifted himself from the ground and used his right hand to cover the guard's mouth while stabbing him in the throat.
"Now that's what I call killing them softly," CJ joked.
So he used the same technique Ryder used on the guard on another guard. He made his way inside in search of the witness inside. As soon as he stepped inside, he pulled out his tech 9 and shot the witness dead. He put aside his weapon and pulled out his camera to take a picture of the witness' corpse.
CJ later ran out of the cabin and spotted Ryder outside smoking a joint.
"Come on, Ryder!" CJ shouted at his friend. "Let's go!"
Ryder dropped his joint and dashed alongside with him. They hopped inside the car and drove off.
"Slow down, motherfucker!" Ryder told CJ as the latter started speeding up. "Just because we trying to escape one-time don't mean you have to drive crazy!"
CJ knew the danger he might put him and his friend if he kept the driving up. So he took his friend's advice and drove much smoothly down the mountain. They made it back to the trailer in Angel Pine to meet Tenpenny and Pulaski.
"Didn't expect you boys to return unscathed," Tenpenny joked.
"Whatever, motherfucker," CJ told him. "We got the photo of the dead body."
He pulled out the photograph and showed it to Tenpenny.
"You did well, Carl," Tenpenny said as he slowly grabbed the photo out of CJ's hand. "Hey, Eddie, did our boys do good?" he asked his partner.
"Exactly what they were told," Pulaski replied.
"Excellent," Tenpenny said. He turned to CJ and Ryder. "You boys be safe out here," he told him. "Me and Pulaski got business to take care of." The policemen hopped inside the car and squealed away.
Ryder took a seat in a lawn chair and began smoking a blunt. CJ took another lawn chair and sat adjacent to Ryder.
"Shit's fucked up, now," CJ said. "Our homie Smoke played us, Tenpenny played us."
"They played us all," Ryder told him.
"And I've been thinking about what you said, Ryder," CJ said. "You was right. I was a busta when my family needed me the most. I let Brian die. I ran away to Liberty City, only thinking about myself, forgetting what was more important. I missed my moms' funeral. I deserved all the criticism you gave me, and I know why you did it. Because you my homie, and real homies criticize their homies to let them know how much shit they fucked up and how they can fix it. You criticized me out of your heart, and criticism helps people learn from their mistakes and try their best to improve, which I'm doing now. So now I'm glad you criticized me, because if it wasn't for your criticism, I wouldn't have shown I got what it takes to be a true gangster. You really are a genius, Ryder."
"See? I told you, my nigga," Ryder told him.
"Yeah," CJ laughed. "You proved me wrong."
"Jeah," Ryder replied. "I got love for you, CJ, but you need someone to call you out on yo' dumb ass mistakes. One thing you have to learn is that sometimes, yo' closest homies are gonna have to criticize you to push you hard enough."
"Yeah, you right," CJ said. "Perhaps I should've just taken it to the chin like the real OG's do. You got me."
"Fo' sho', my homie," Ryder replied.
But CJ was still curious of what happened in Los Santos while he was away. "So what happened in the past five years I was gone?" he asked.
"It's a long ass story," Ryder told him as he coughed from inhaling the marijuana dust while smoking it. "The whole bullshit started last year. C.R.A.S.H. was beating on most of the OG's in our family. There was even one night in which C.R.A.S.H. even crashed our hangout under the freeway and we tried to escape. Little Devil tried to outrun they asses, but got killed in the car crash. We was falling apart. So Sweet and Smoke came in contact with a loan shark who went by the name Black Jack, and that motherfucker gave Sweet $200 for the families. We had to work to pay back Black Jack and in return, he was gonna help us defeat them Balla pushers."
He stopped to smoke his joint and let out another cough. "So right when we working with LB at the junkyard," Ryder continued barely coherent, "yo' moms went down with a heart attack and we now had to pay for both the transplant and the loan shark. It just seemed no matter how much we robbed, no matter how much money we were making off of doing other crazy shit, we were running out of options." He stopped again to smoke his joint. As Ryder continued, he struggled to catch his breath.
"So this Saddlewhite white trash gang, the Tarantulas, came out in Los Santos to work with us, and we made a lot of money. Then while me, Sweet, Smoke, T, and Big Devil celebrated in the car, that white trash gang did a drive-by on us and me, Smoke, Sweet, and T were alright, while Big D bit the bullet. So the Grove Street gangs were rounded up and we ran those punk ass Tarantulas out of our city, and Sweet even killed the leader of the gang. We still had the money to pay for yo' moms' heart transplant and she came out feeling healthy again. Then just when we finally made enough money to pay back Black Jack, me, Sweet, Smoke, and T were put in exile out here."
"Wait! You been here before?" CJ asked.
"Jeah," Ryder replied. "Smoke, Sweet, T, and I were stuck out here and took the train back to find that C.R.A.S.H. was about to tear down our hood!"
"No shit?!" CJ asked sounding suddenly astonished. "Really?"
"Jeah," Ryder replied. "But we had help from my man LB and stopped them motherfuckers from making that shit happen. Also, Kilo Trays' leader Tuckah instigated a gang war between Seville and Temple Drive and got into a gunfight with Sweet. Sweet, of course, prevailed."
"Oh I already knew that, homie," CJ said. "Sweet told me all about that."
"Unfortunately," Ryder continued, "that also caused the Ballas to do a drive-by on us and T-Murder got struck by bullets. Right when we planned a funeral for him, the Ballas came and ambushed the cemetery. Then we got into even more trouble with the Vagos when one of them shot Lisa in the leg."
"Oh shit!" CJ cried out. "Lisa got shot?!"
"Jeah," Ryder replied. "It was at that moment when she decided to move away from the hood for good. I ain't spoken to her since." Lisa was Ryder's older sister who he never got along with. CJ was worried about what would've happened if Ryder lost his sister after losing his closest homie.
"Damn!" CJ said. "Sorry all that had to happen to you guys, man."
"Last year was when Ballas and Vagos took over our hood and Grove Street Families were either killed or locked up fo' life," Ryder continued. "But luckily, Sweet got back at C.R.A.S.H. and blew up their office with a smoke bomb. Tenpenny was pissed like a motherfucker!"
CJ just laughed along with his friend. "I would've loved to see the look on Tenpenny's face," he said gleefully.
"But unfortunately," Ryder continued, "that's probably was the reason why the Ballas tried to kill Sweet the night before you came back, because Sweet eventually got back at Black Jack's ass and jacked his spirit out of him. They ended up blasting Mrs. Johnson instead."
"Man, shit's been fucked up here in the 90s so far," CJ said. "It's only the beginning of the decade and already, we've falling apart. Man, this decade is already shitty."
"No kidding, motherfucker," Ryder replied. "I still won't forget the time our gang used to be big out in the hood."
"Hell yeah," CJ replied. "We had our homies sticking up to us, Seville and Temple Drive were still tight with each other, man I miss the '80s so much. Fuck the '90s."
When CJ noticed Ryder still smoking his joint, he began to feel worried. "A'ight, listen, Ryder," CJ told his friend, "If I can stop being a busta and grow some thick skin, then you can quit the water for good. It's really fucking up yo' train of thought, homie. Not to mention you the only friend I got by my side right now. So please, Ryder, if you want our families to get back on their feet, you should swear off the water for good."
Ryder just looked away and thought for a moment. After about ten seconds of thinking, he finally said, "You right, homie. I'll tell you what. Just let me smoke this final joint and I'm off the water for good."
"You swear?" CJ asked.
"I'm positive, homie," Ryder replied putting one hand across his heart.
After fifteen minutes, Ryder finally threw away his last joint and he and CJ headed back inside the trailer. They were both stuck in the Badlands without any options. As CJ finally headed to bed, it was all smothering his mind. The year has so far not been so kind to CJ. His mother has been murdered, C.R.A.S.H. was blackmailing him, Sweet was imprisoned, and Big Smoke, his closest friend who was a close father figure to him, has betrayed him. What's worse was that he was responsible for the death of his mother. Now all he had by his side was Ryder, who, despite the way he acted towards CJ, still stuck by his side. So there was at least some redemption to all the predicaments. For now, CJ wanted to make everything right by tomorrow and soon drifted to sleep.