like such a clever idea to only make the flames colourful

Lindsay, like so many others, doesn’t talk much about her upbringing but when pushed she likes to say she was born with a gun in her hands. In reality it’s more that she was born into a war, into the end of an era, into the criminal royalty of Texas burning to the ground around her, golden finery turned to bloody ash. Her childhood was as luxurious as it was tragic; opulence in a world on fire, she never wanted for any material thing but every moment was undercut with a air of tense finality – even as young as she was Lindsay knew it was bad, knew they were ceding more and more territory, losing foot soldiers faster than they could replace them.

Lindsay took a teddybear to her first self-defence lesson, learnt horseback rising while surrounded by armed guards, went to the gun range in designer dresses and had a favourite diamond-encrusted dagger before she’d grown out of dolls. She could handle her own security better at 12 than most could at 20 and knew with absolute certainty that she would eventually have to prove it. By the time Lindsay was a teenager the writing was well and truly on the wall, and before long her family’s reign was no more.

She didn’t lose everyone; was incredibly lucky really, the Tuggey’s always did cultivate ruthless strategy over senseless brawn, and when the tables tipped so far that they could not be recovered her close family gathered what they could and disappeared. They weren’t left utterly bereft, had enough tucked away to live out their lives in comfort, but their near timeless empire had crumbled and few were prepared start over from the bottom.

It didn’t bother Lindsay though. For all she’s been given throughout her life she has never been afraid of hard work, and she wasn’t prepared to give up on the world she grew up in, the world she was made for, so as soon as she’s old enough to make it on her own she leaves behind the safety of retirement and walks right back into the lions den. Lindsay doesn’t go back to Texas, isn’t interested in coexisting with the gangs who had taken so much from them, but eventually she makes her way to Los Santos.  

With talent, money and anonymity on her side Lindsay can take her time, scope out any crew who takes her interest and make sure she’s fully informed before trying to catch their eye. She skips over most of the big gangs, violent and cruel with none of the cleverness or bone-deep loyalty her family were known for, but when she comes across the fledgling beginnings of the FAHC, penniless and more or less unknown, Lindsay is almost instantly sold.

Lindsay practically hired herself, walked right up to Geoff and Jack and politely offered her interest, all starstruck praise and pretty deference, like she didn’t have a nail-studded bat slung over one shoulder, like she didn’t know just how to win them, playing on Geoff’s ego and Jack’s careful scrutiny, like she hadn’t just stepped in and helped take out the last of a gang who’d been making a nuisance of themselves for days. Revealing her family name straight away would likely have landed Lindsay a job on the spot, but waiting until after they’d made their decision, inviting her in on her own merits, kickstarted the respect that would only grow over the years.

No one expects it when they look at her, with her soft clothes, cutesy jewellery and undying smile, but Lindsay can play muscle with the best of them. Wields that goddamn bat with brutal efficiency, unflinching in the face of blood and violence, joyous in the thick of a fight.

The sweetness isn’t false, she’s genuinely friendly, happy go lucky and unerringly polite, right up until someone tries to use it against her. Lindsay lives to prove people wrong, and she’s never content to just show up their ignorance, oh no. It’s almost bullying, the way she rubs their face in it, the way she completely destroys them. It’s mesmerising. Michael’s never been a closed-minded kind of guy, never thought Lindsay needed protecting just because she was a woman, but the first time he saw her more or less curb stomp some dickweed mercenary who’d been running his mouth like he had no idea who exactly arranged the payment of his fees, well. The less said about how Michael ended up at the bottom of a flight of stairs with a lump on his head and hearts in his eyes the better.

In the end it was Lindsay who promoted herself too - didn’t ask for more duties or demand a bigger cut, just slowly started taking on more work, restructuring things that weren’t working, reassessing their goals, building up the support crew and taking point on their management. It’s this group, her crew within the crew, who notice first. Who realise, with endless amusement and shockingly fierce pride, the way she’s stepped up, the way she’s making decisions the others follow without a hint of complaint, running things without express permission to do so.

It could have been nasty when it came to a head, could have torn the crew apart, one more gang fallen victim to deadly power plays, but this isn’t just any crew. There’s a tense few days, closed-door meetings and meaningful looks, but in the end it’s talked out with minimal frustration.

The FAHC is still Geoff’s crew, it will always be Geoff’s crew and nothing and no one could change that, but as it has relentlessly grown so too has the requirement for someone to step back and lead from the sidelines. Someone who can keep cohesion and doesn’t throw themselves headfirst into every exciting altercation the FAHC gets involved with. Who can make objective choices and take command when shit hits the fan and everyone is left scrambling to keep up.

Geoff is the boss, and Jack is his right hand, but Lindsay is the advisor, the overseer, the one whose eye is always on the bigger picture. Her name isn’t synonymous with the crew like Ramsey, isn’t unintentional branding like the reputations of so many of their more colourful members, but she is by no means unknown.

Any who survive getting close enough to the FAHC to see the way flames seem to flicker around them, a phantom air of ferocious disaster, of controlled devastation, the way the crew follows its path fearlessly and without question, cannot help but learn Lindsay’s name, and by god they won’t forget it. Will spread her story far and wide as they flee Los Santos.

The rise of the firebird; born from ashes only to recreate herself into something more, something magnificent and untouchable, torching anything and anyone who tries to stand in her way.