A Bonus Novella in the SSU Series
(takes place before Vengeance)
In his quest for vengeance, he’s turned himself into a criminal...
Niko Andros has burned for revenge since the day his father was paralyzed in a drive-by-shooting ordered by Mexican crime lord Jaime Alvarez. Knowing that the best way to take down his family’s age-old enemy is from within, Niko turns himself into a criminal, then accepts a job within Alvarez's criminal organization.
Jaime Alvarez gloats over the way he’s manipulated Niko into turning his back on the law abiding Andros family. He believes that each illegal, dishonorable act Niko is forced to commit binds him tighter to the criminal life. Trusting that Niko will never risk his own freedom, or give up his growing power, by betraying Alvarez, the crime lord rapidly promotes Niko.
Despite the lip service he pays to his boss, Niko has never forgotten his purpose—to put Alvarez behind bars. He might no longer be an honorable man that his family can be proud of, but Niko will risk everything in order to make certain that Alvarez never hurts his family again. Even if Niko has to go down with him.
NOTE: Undercover is strictly a suspense story. There is no romance.
Nineteen-year-old Niko Andros stepped out of the state prison, startling as the gate closed with a loud clang. Spotting a black town car parked at the far end of the otherwise empty street, Niko started walking. Nerves cramped his guts, drowning the joy of being free for the first time in a year.
“You don’t have to do this,” his father had told him last week.
Niko had fought back the tears that threatened to unman him. He didn’t understand how Pop could not want vengeance for the drive-by shooting that had left him in a wheelchair. All Niko had dreamed of since that day six years ago had been taking on Mexican crime lord, Jaime Alvarez, and making him pay for ruining his father’s life. Hell, Alvarez had been harassing his family before Niko was born. A distant cousin of his mother’s, Alvarez had never forgiven her for joining forces with Niko’s father and uncle, both DEA agents. The resulting law enforcement raid against the Alvarez cartel holdings had resulted in the death of Alvarez’s older brother.
The crime lord had been out for revenge ever since.
Alvarez had sent men to rough up Niko’s father before, but the shooting had been an escalation in violence. The gang members responsible had eventually been arrested, but that hadn’t hurt Alvarez. For the next several years, the crime lord’s men had continued to carry out occasional attacks against Niko’s extended family. The unpredictability of the attacks only added to the strain on the family as it struggled to adapt to the aftermath of his father’s injury.
Alvarez even contacted Niko secretly, offering to stop the attacks if Niko joined the crime lord’s organization. Niko’s reply had been an emphatic “Hell, no.”
Despite Alvarez’s warning not to talk to his father about the job offer, Niko had told Pop everything. By that point, his father had returned to work for the DEA, although in a different job. He’d told Niko to be patient, that the DEA was working with local law enforcement to bring Alvarez down.
For a while the collaboration actually worked. The police rounded up most of the men and teenagers responsible for carrying out the various attacks against Niko’s family, resulting in a period of relative peace.
Then, during Niko’s junior year of high school, someone had planted explosives in his father’s car. A police dog detected the explosives before they detonated, but the incident had terrified Niko. In his mind, the DEA and the cops had failed to stop Alvarez. That left the job to Niko.
Deciding that the best way to take down the crime lord was from the other side of the law, Niko returned to his rebellious ways, channeling his anger into conflicts with the ineffective cops.
Of course, it didn’t take his father long to catch on. Or for Alvarez to make another job offer. After enduring a long lecture from his father, Niko had stated his intent to accept the crime lord’s offer and work to bring down Alvarez’s organization from within.
Yet even with the continued threats, Pop hadn’t wanted Niko to make such a sacrifice and they’d argued bitterly. When Pop finally accepted that Niko wouldn’t change his mind, he brought in another DEA agent, who agreed to monitor Niko as an unofficial confidential informant. But first the DEA would work to help Niko establish his reputation as a good kid gone bad. Niko promised to continue to reject Alvarez’s job offers until after he’d graduated from high school.
But Pop had never given up trying to change Niko’s mind. He’d even tried to talk Niko out of it during their conversation last week.
“Nikolos,” his father had said in his native Greek, “this is a very dangerous endeavor you are undertaking.”
Niko had stared blindly at a spot on the wall of the prison’s visitor’s room, unable to speak past the lump in his throat. He knew the risks and was terrified of what might happen to him. But he couldn’t turn away from his revenge.
“You think you understand a man like Alvarez,” his father had continued, “but you are still young. Those punk kids who carried out the attacks against me are babies compared to the ruthless men who work for Alvarez. As I have said before, some day Alvarez will make a mistake and the DEA will get him. Or some other law enforcement agency. It is not your responsibility to try and take Alvarez down from inside.”
Getting his emotions under control, Niko had finally looked back at his father. “I need to do this.” He smacked his own chest. “The need for vengeance burns inside me. I won’t be able to rest until Alvarez is punished.”
“You could join the Drug Enforcement Agency. Work through legal means.”
“Leaving Alvarez free to attack you again? What if he goes after Mamá next? Or Maria?” Niko shook his head. So far, Alvarez hadn’t done much to threaten his mother and had left his sister alone. But Niko understood that the crime lord had some long-term plan for revenge going on and didn’t want to risk anyone in his family.
“Niko, the DEA does have success. We—”
“No. It’s not good enough.” Joining the DEA like his father had once been his life’s goal. He’d looked forward to the day he could fight to make the world a safer place.
But with Alvarez unpunished for the shooting and the other attacks, Niko had lost faith in the DEA and other authorities to dish out the kind of punishment Alvarez deserved. Niko wanted Alvarez to suffer the way Niko and his family had suffered after his father was shot.
Here is a short playlist of songs that are connected to Undercover:
- "Big Man On Mulberry Street" by Billy Joel. The last line of this song speaks to how Niko feels being undercover for so long.
- "2000 Volts" by Big Bad Voodo Daddy. This makes think of Alvarez. Because he's as bad, or worse, than the guy in the song.