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Chapter 1


Written by Ephiginia
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 1

Three sleek guns of various types, the kind a military sniper would do anything to get his hands on. Customized. Tested. Packed neatly away in a nondescript suitcase, and slid across a long table for inspection.

"I told you, I don' do assassinations."

The older man chuckled. "What'll be the difference? You sneak in, like usual. Do your job. Come back for the other half of your payment. It's just this time, you aren't taking off with the jewels. You steal someone's life, instead."

The case popped open. The young man glared down at the weapons, scowling. "I'm no good with guns."

"Don't give me that. I saw what you did to Miller."

"He got in my way at a bad time. An' I didn't kill him, Flatley."

He shrugged, and lit himself a cigar. "Want one?"


"A bit testy today, aren't we?"

"Just who is it you want me t'get rid of?"

Flatley slipped a hand inside his coat and withdrew a photograph, black and white. He threw it down on the table. "Caused me more than enough trouble for one lifetime. If it makes you feel any better- the bastard's killed more innocent kids on the street than he has any of my boys. You'd be doing the world a favor."

The other picked the picture up, eyes widening with recognition. "You actually gonna cross HIM?"

"Then name your price. I need to see him dead."

He thought only a moment. "Double what I normally charge, expenses aside."

"I could hire a cadre of real assassins for that much."

"You asked me."

"True. And you have certain... assets at your disposal which may well finish the job more completely than others. I'll get you your money- half of it- downstairs. American. Cash."

The younger man nodded, and started toward the door.

"Your guns?"

"I don't..."

"You need long range weaponry. You really don't want to see this guy up close."

He hesitated, hand on the doorknob. Then grabbed the suitcase.

"And once this son of a... Remy?"

The door slammed shut.

"There's a profound difference between stealing and killing," Jean-Luc had said. "The things you steal aren't someone's life. Things don't have souls. But to take anyone away from family and friends is to damn those people to a different sort of Hell."

But what if the life you took had only, in who knew how many years, caused suffering? What if any poor creature which came in contact with it was destined to die- slowly, brutally, painfully? Was it right to kill such a person, to send one who reveled in death to the grave?

And most important- did Remy LeBeau really care?

No. He didn't. Not now, anyway. In every way, shape and form, Victor Creed deserved to die. And all the better if it was by this thief's hand.

"Nice to see you again, Armand!" The woman at the door swung it wide open, inviting him in.

Maureen: forgery specialist. Could make any document seem so real, the best of the feds couldn't catch it. She lived with her husband in London's suburbs, though they were both as American as apple pie- whether they were on the run, or just liked it better in the Isles, Remy didn't know. Her husband Robert was a hacker, and the both of them were quick and thorough, if not cheep; they catered to the upper crust of the criminal world. Of course, "Maureen" was just as likely to be her real name as "Armand" was his. But there was something nice about being recognized and welcomed by someone like this- even if it was for business reasons.

"An ID and passport. French. And as soon as possible."

She quirked an eyebrow, but led him into a back room where her equipment was kept. "What's the job this time?"

"The usual. In Norway." He attempted a smile.

"Well, it can't be anything too grand. It's Norway- what have they got there but snow and reindeer?"


"I'd rather go to France."

"France is overdone," he said, mildly.

"Of course you think so. You're French."

"I've really got to hurry."

She took the hint, gave him a time to come back, and got to work.

He might have taken the day to tour the city, but like Paris, it just brought back bad memories. For all of a moment he considered visiting Alexandra, or at least finding someone to take his mind off things, but ended up shut in a posh hotel room with a bottle of red wine.

He couldn't close his eyes. When he did, he saw Creed's demented grin, or Genevieve's blood splattered over the sidewalk. Sleep played with him for a few hours, dreams or sound causing him to fly out of bed, eyes flashing.

Morning came too early, but he managed to get down enough of the greasy food to keep himself from fainting. Maureen offered coffee, at least. He paid her a great deal more than she had asked- Flatley was picking up the tab, after all- and ran out to the airport.

The fake ID might have been overkill. Still, LeBeau wanted to keep his tracks clean. There wasn't the slightest chance he'd let himself underestimate Creed. As it was, he had little chance of living through this confrontation. Though sure of his skills- both his profession and his ability to defend himself- he was smart enough to realize now that Creed had been in the game longer, knew more, and wasn't so easy to get the drop on. And he would have no regrets ripping LeBeau's entrails out.

LeBeau wouldn't exactly have regrets blowing Creed to bloody pieces, either.

He traveled to Norway via ships and train, using his best Nordic accent to avoid suspicion. Not that his impression was very good, or his very presence didn't make people stare, anyway.

Flatley had said Creed was in the south, out in a less populated area where he'd gotten himself a nice home. He'd clawed the brains out of the original owner, and probably anyone else who had come within a mile of the building. LeBeau spent the night at another nice hotel, making himself enjoy the luxury of warmth and reminding himself every few minutes not to drink anything. He had to be sharp.

A rented truck took him closer to his target. He stopped for a few hours to test the guns on game, getting familiar with their weight and capabilities. Perhaps the gun wasn't his chosen weapon, but he was fair enough at it. Besides, with the gadgets and gizmos on these, a "bad shot" could be defined as anything three centimeters off target.

His plan, simple as it may have been, was to sneak up on the place and finish Creed off with a round or two into his thick skull, with a nice explosion for a finally. And hopefully Creed wasn't keeping anyone in that house of his. The only backup plan Remy had was to blow it up.

When he got within a mile, he abandoned the noisy truck and, slinging his choice of the guns onto his back, and another at his side for safety, walked the rest of the way.

Who would want to live out here? All of it was trees and snow, cold, whiter-than white snow. Of course, the same people who wanted to live here would complain about the swamps.

Onward and upward, through a blinding terrain which was rapidly dampening what little was left of his morale. He began to wish he had chosen to do this all at night- he always worked best at night, whether it was stealing a priceless jewel, or capturing the heart of some unlucky, albeit gorgeous, woman. Still, doing this in the day would give him a bit of advantage- he would be able to see better. If the blasted snow didn't shine so much.

He came to the top of a particularly steep hill and stopped for a rest, eating something before he got up again. Wouldn't do at all not to have his strength.

He trudged on.

It wasn't so much a house as a mansion. Bordered by sparse woods, in which LeBeau saw not one animal or heard any bird. It could have had something to do with winter, but his mind had conjured up all sorts of images of Creed and any living thing which may once have made its home here.

What to do now? Remy was no pro when it came to assassinations. Sneak in and find Creed? Or wait until he showed up at the door?

He opted for the second. Better to stay away. Especially since Creed would recognize him with one whiff.

He set his equipment up downwind, and lay in the snow under the cover of some trees. He'd worn white, of course, though it didn't keep him from feeling exposed. But he stayed where he was, perfectly still for what may well have been hours, waiting for some sign of the other killer nearby.

Time passed. And more. And more. He checked his watch a few times, holding in exasperated sighs.

When Creed finally did show up, it wasn't at the door. A big car flew up in front of it, and the huge man climbed out, looking for all the world like a great big cat.

LeBeau set his finger to the trigger, aiming toward Creed's head. The man half-turned, and through the crosshairs Remy could see him lift his nose, brow furrowed. Did he smell him? Dieu, he hoped it was just the monster's habit. Or that he had caught the scent of a deer.

He hadn't. He turned directly toward LeBeau, and smiled.

He jammed his finger down on the trigger.


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