Welcome to Riverside; we're so happy to have you. They take your coat at the door? Good. Get yourself settled in, we want you to be comfortable. You're a guest.

So you've probably heard about the rain, yeah? That's the one thing that just about everyone knows about Riverside. It's not an exaggeration, either. It really does pour just about every damn day. On average, we get about a single day of sunlight per year to play with. You wonder why people around here are so screwed up.

But I know you didn't come to me to talk about the weather, did you? Nah, you want to talk about the gangs.

Let me give you the run-down.

By my estimate, Riverside has five happy little families running the show right now. Nice, right? The Irish mafia and the Russian mafia came along with their respective immigrants, and they and the Fairfellows operate outta the projects and the industrial district. They stick to No Man's Land, because they aren't dumber than fried shit--they know better than to get mixed up with the bigger dogs.

Which is what you want to hear about, isn't it? The Ink and the Roses.

Let's begin with the Ink.

The Ink is the older of the two. They traffic coke and firearms. They gotta lot of businesses they use as fronts and safe houses, sometimes called inkwells, and let me tell you, they got Riverside's night scene locked down. They run Lucky Joe's and The Jack's High, which are bars and nightclubs, and the Bacchanalia, which is a whorehouse (and called the Bach, in common parlance.) But their biggest two ventures are The Kietzke (KITS-kee) and The Casino Bolero (just the Bolero), both located on Red Letter Avenue. You c'n think of Red Letter Avenue as the aorta of the beating heart of Ink territory, if you like. I do.

Sitting atop of the whole shebang for the moment are Simon Emmett and Jefferson Smith, collectively referred to as Simon-and-Smith. Emmett's all twisted up like a corkscrew. He's the numbers guy. Smith handles HR. They're the Executive and Co-Executive Officers of the outfit, respectively.

Members of the Ink are referred to as associates, who answer to a handful of superiors known as officers. Associates and officers are together known as Ink operatives.

The Ink was founded by Gregory Callahan, and may he rest in peace, wherever he ended up. Clever son of a bitch damn near took control of the entire city.

That is, if it weren't for the Roses.

The Roses are Riverside's second-biggest outfit. Originally, they were a sex workers' union--but their founder, Ms. Madeline Oceana ('Ma') had her eye on other things than keeping her girls safe and paid. Save the Bach, the Roses own sex in Riverside, working out of what they call 'briars'. They run The Cottontail, the Rêve Rouge, and Madame Butterfly's. They also have a flower shop called Brisby's, and I'm one hundred percent sure that's where they put their opium through. Hell if I can prove it, though.

The Roses are run to this day by Ma Oceana, the Lady of the Roses. Every member of the Roses is a sister, but not every Rose is a Sister. The Sisters--Ophelia Banksly, Derry Lake, and Cynthia Brandt--are Oceana's immediate underlings. They're her eyes, ears, and hands. They run correspondence between Ma and her madams and manage the girls. Every Rose that isn't a hooker, madam, or Sister is a runner or an enforcer. Runners, well, run. They move poppy. Enforcers protect them.

Hm? How can you identify them? It's pretty easy, kid, if they've got their sleeves rolled up. Ink members get a tat spiraling down their left forearm, elbow-to-wrist. The Roses' answer to that was a thorny vine going down the right. The Sisters get a full sleeve of roses. There's no way to tell an Ink officer from an associate, 'less you see a little silver whistle around his neck. That's one of Emmett's touches. Greg Callahan had a pretty strict dress code, but I guess Emmett's relaxed that since he's been on top.

(Oh, just an aside. Never refer to a Rose's sleeve as 'ink'. It's a brand. Roses get brands, not ink. You ever use a stain's term to refer to one of them girls, and--huh? Oh, stain is what the Roses call members of the Ink. The equivalent term is weed.)

The Roses control the north end of Riverside--the Upper East and Uptown--and the Ink runs the south: the Southern Riverfront, Downtown, Montgomery, and Winchester. There's a bare little strip of unoccupied territory that runs between them that we all call No Man's Land. No Man's Land encompasses the Projects and the Northern Riverfront.

That's exactly right. The river doesn't just cut the city clear in half: it's the dividing line between the Ink and the Roses. The river that the Gold Bridge runs over. The river that the north end of the city calls Greed, and the south calls Temperance.

Still with me? Good. I'm going to tell you something, kid: this situation was a powder keg. And then someone went and threw a match called Ophelia Banksly on it.

Now that you've got the basics, let's you and I see how this whole thing went down.

Ready? It started like this.

Lieutenant Jason Hetfield
Riverside Police Department, Gangs Division

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