There’s an undeniable crime problem in Los Santos, an affluent city rife with thieves and bandits of all pedigrees, which isn’t in itself all that strange. What’s odd is the incredibly high number of unsolved crimes, of acts no one claims, ones that the LSPD can’t even begin to lay blame for. Even when committed in broad daylight, even when the police arrive on the scene in the middle of a heist, no one manages to catch more than unclear glimpses of the culprits, no bullets hit their marks, and when all is said and done there is somehow never any reliable evidence. No camera ever manages to catch a thing, no trap is ever successful, and never has a single witness managed a coherent report, like somehow none of them ever pay enough attention. Like somehow what they’ve seen can never be put into words.
Throw a stone and you’ll hit a crook in Los Santos, from thugs to conmen to masked killers they all call the city home, all know their place, yet somehow the balance of powers never really makes sense. Like something is missing, like everyone’s fighting to be second best while the title of top dog goes empty. Not that the reluctance to take charge is all that surprising, considering the way any crew which starts to grow big enough to extend their hold over the city is cut down. Driven out or found murdered, often laying in the remains of what was clearly a vicious shoot-out, though the killers are never found. Like vigilantes, only not nearly so altruistic; the spoils belonging to the defeated gangs are always taken, and only reappear at the scene of yet another unclaimed crime.
There’s a crew in Los Santos, so ingrained in the essence of the city itself no one seems to remember how things were before they arrived. The Fake AH Crew; legends in some circles, monsters in others, both consummate enigmas and borderline celebrities, the crew with the world at their feet. The main six players of the inner circle aren’t odd, exactly, each criminals of great renown but still holding pretty standard goals, greedy and bloodthirsty and perhaps more loyal than most but still acting well within their given standard of normalcy. They aren’t unusual, really, but these days they do have their little quirks.
As the leader Geoff has always had to present himself as reasonably level-headed, controlled outside the occasional snaps of frightful anger, a little overbearing in his need to dictate every plan maybe, but what criminal kingpin isn’t? What’s odd is the new fear kept behind closed doors, Geoff second-guessing his own ideas to a degree that is wholly out of character, running over plans again and again, pulling them apart and looking for flaws, debriefing even after successful missions when everyone else just wants to celebrate, unconsciously pressing his hand to his heart like reassurance that it’s still beating.
Jack drives like she’s made a deal with the devil, like every vehicle is just an extension of her being, inherent ability paired with unmatchable knowledge of every backroad and alley in the city. What’s odd is the nightmarish daydreams she gets sometimes, when she looks back at her latest baby and sees flickers of crunched metal and shattered glass, the phantom scent of spilled gasoline and the unmissable click-whoosh of catching flame.
For all his quick temper and flippant attitude Michael can be utterly pedantic about checking and rechecking the timers on bombs, which honestly isn’t an awful trait in the resident explosives guy. What’s odd is the way Michael gets angry about it sometimes, storms about the penthouse yanking out every last alarm clock, the way he swears he can still hear something ticking with furious intention, like the last seconds of a countdown.
He may be happier in a no-holds-barred fist-fight but nobody could say Jeremy isn’t good with a gun, an excellent shot with just about any weapon he can get his hands on. What’s odd is the little burst of panic he gets right after firefights, patting down his own chest, checking again and again like he can’t quite believe he wasn’t hit.
Ryan isn’t wracked by guilt, doesn’t regret what he does the way some might; he’s a killer and he owns it, he chose it, and it truly doesn’t bother him. What’s odd is the way he still can’t sleep, can’t close his eyes some nights when the darkness squeezes close and he feels so cold, like the depths of the ocean are pressing down on him, stealing the air from his lungs.
In terms of his own safety Gavin is as reckless as they come, all slapdash impulses and delighted disregard, chasing amusement at any cost when it’s only his own neck on the line. What’s odd is that sometimes Gavin walks around with a parachute strapped to his back and no intention of flying that day, utterly overzealous precaution without any real explanation as to why, like some part of him is always terrified that he’s going to fall.
Maybe the Fake’s know, on their worst days, that something isn’t quite right, something about them has gone awry, but the concern never lingers in the face of their unmatched success. Because a crew’s a crew, right? Maybe they’re a little luckier than most, maybe they’ve been unstoppable for so long it feels like no one else is really trying, like they are the merciless gods of their city. Maybe they catch themselves drifting sometimes, losing time or memories or thoughts or scars. Maybe they all know something is not quite right, a distant siren in the back of their minds begging them to pay attention, but surely it doesn’t mean anything.
You can romanticise it all you want, call them the scariest, the most dangerous, devastatingly talented in all the worst ways, but at the end of the day all humans are flawed and all crews will fall. Whether or not falling is enough to shake them from their throne is, however, a completely different issue. If a crew dies in the woods (the city, the sky, the sea), and nobody is brave enough to tell them, did it even happen?
There’s an empty penthouse in Los Santos, one that cannot be sold, one no one likes to talk about, not really. What has been said is that the door sticks sometimes, cannot be opened no matter how much force is applied. What has been said is that things move around all on their own, new stains reveal themselves and furniture appears and disappears like someone’s been squatting, but the dust is too thick for anyone to have visited. What’s been said makes shivers run down spines, hair stand on edge, gives rise to furtive glances and shared discomfort, an unspoken agreement never to return.
Maybe this alone wouldn’t be such a problem, maybe owning the most prestigious penthouse in a city overrun by wealth would be enough to attract some sceptic, but there is of course the matter of the previous owners. The most despicable, untouchable, indelible criminal gang the city had ever seen. Has ever seen, even this long after their passing. They died, at some point. No one quite remembers when, or how, no one really seems to talk about them anymore, not beyond wild stories of their antics, amazing heists and unspeakable terrors fading off into silence, like they did in the end. How bizarre it is that the crime levels didn’t actually drop even after they were gone.
There’s something deeply wrong in Los Santos, something strange and unsettling, like a catastrophic event has knocked the whole city just slightly out of sync with the rest of the world. It’s in the way the LSPD have cabinet upon cabinet of unsolved crimes that never manage to make their way into reports, years of unacceptably unpunished offences that would bring the might of a federal investigation if only they were disclosed. In the way a startling amount of those offences resemble crimes from days long past, copycat plans following acts of a crew long buried, new targets hit with the same old flare, methods and motives impressively in-character down to the smallest details.
There are secrets in Los Santos. Things no one knows, things everyone knows, an awful, impossible, inescapable reality they’ve all been trapped within. It’s in the way unease builds and dissipates without cresting, citizens never quite recognising their own discomfort, never fully acknowledging the oddity of acting without reason, of crossing the street or averting their eyes, of taking the long way home simply because that one corner just didn’t feel right. In the way the city is beset by sudden inexplicable explosions, the way gunfire rattles without a source, the way empty streets echo with chilling laughter like the ghost of a memory, the phantom chill of a nightmare, the ceaseless loop of those who will not be laid to rest.