PROLOGUE

The water was burning her. It rushed effortlessly down from the shower head, quick and relentless, turning her perfect white skin a bright painful red. She didn't even notice. She was thinking about the laundry. It had to get done or else she'd have nothing to wear once Kreed got home. The water was boiling, filling the small stand-up shower thickly with steam. It was the coughing that caught her attention. Suddenly, it seemed a bit difficult to breathe. She coughed again, realizing for the first time that she was the one making those sickly little wheezing noises. The heat was intense and she screamed suddenly as the pain penetrated her consciousness.

She spun towards the door of the clear glass shower stall, twisting desperately in an attempt to be free of the boiling water. Her ankle collapsed beneath her, bending at the joint, robbing her of her balance so that she flew backwards against the door. The glass felt hot and wet as her shoulder and arm brushed across it, causing the handle to release under her weight. The door swung open instantly and she tumbled head first onto the white ceramic tiles. A crack, like the sound of a baseball striking a bat reverberated in the tiny room as her skull smashed against the tiles. Funny how she felt nothing, she wondered briefly if she'd become as dead and numb on the outside as she was on the inside.

# # # #

Well, Shit.

Things were not looking good.

Kreed crouched deeper into the thick jungle foliage and tried to concentrate on his enemy. There were twenty-five, maybe thirty soldiers... All armed to the teeth, surrounding him slowly but methodically. He began a mental checklist of his weapons. Several semi-automatic weapons, with a dozen bullet clips, two hunting knives, two shiatsu double chrome swords and a shit load of hand grenades. Formidable, but still not enough to bring down a thirty man army. Especially by himself. He was really starting to hate South America. Too many palm trees, snakes and freedom fighting guerillas determined to kill him.

Kreed sighed resolutely and jumped suddenly to his feet, firing two guns into the overgrown jungle before heading towards the nearest tree. Seven, maybe eight bullets had connected, he smiled at the thought and started climbing the tall palm tree. The seemingly peaceful scenery around him exploded suddenly with two dozen angry and well armed South American freedom fighters.

Well, shit.

Things were not looking good.

End Prologue

# # # # #

Chapter One

Cherry swung her legs back and forth over the side of the couch and continued surfing through the channels, balancing the remote on the tips of her fingers. She never stopped long enough on any one channel to see what was on; she was simply skipping through them all in an effort to pass the time on a lonely Saturday afternoon. Chase wasn't even around to bug. Chase... She wished he was sitting with her, but he'd gone with Daren to some second hand paramilitary weapon store. Abandoning her with no one to talk to except Eien. "Screw that..." Cherry muttered angrily, slamming the remote down onto the coffee table. If something didn't happen soon, she was going to explode.

"Ding Dong."

Cherry jumped off the couch with a happy shriek. "YES! Doorbell!" Maybe Chase was home... Nah, she dismissed the thought instantly. Why would he ring the doorbell...?

Cherry stood in front of the door uncertainly. Tugging at the hem of her short skirt and straightening her tank top. "Who is it?" She called out cheerfully.

"Room service." A strange voice answered.

"Oh." Cherry said, moving her hand towards the dead bolt. "Wait a minute." She exclaimed suddenly. "I didn't order room service!" Her hand paused on the lock. "And this is my house- we don't have room service!" Cherry took a step back from the door. "Who are you?" She demanded angrily.

"Hired assassin." The deep masculine voice said clearly through the thick wood of the door.

"Who?"

"An assassin who's been hired to kill you..."

"Oh well then, why didn't you say so. Just a minute." Cherry said, careful not to loose her cheery tone. Seconds later, she swung the door open and raised the gun that she always kept close at hand until it was flush with the strangers forehead. She winced a little as she felt the muzzle of a gun hit against her forehead as well. "Are you sure you don't want to just borrow some sugar?" She asked sweetly, her finger itching to pull the trigger.

"Nah- sorry, but you can borrow a bullet if you want." He replied, pressing the tip of the gun deeper into her skin.

Cherry watched him warily, he was tall, very tall. The same size as Chase if not larger. He was dressed all in black, in what appeared to be the same type of commando uniform she'd seen Chase wear on occasion. He looked like he would be at home in a South American jungle killing natives or something.

'S'okay, I got my own." She said with an evil grin.

"Now, now Eien, we don't want things to get too messy- I'd hate for the neighbours to complain about the noise- or the blood- or your brain matter splattered all over their yard."

"Wait a minute- You're here to kill Eien? Well, why didn't you say so sooner?" Cherry asked, lowering her gun with relief. "I'm not Eien." She said with a smile.

"This IS 105 Parkdale isn't it?" The handsome stranger with a gun asked. "Otherwise- boy would my face be red."

"Oh no- you've got the right address. Hold on, I'll call her for you." She said helpfully. If she knew Eien the girl would probably be wearing twenty layers of kevlar and a bullet proof vest. "EIEN!" She screamed up the stairs. "You've got a visitor?"

"Coming!" Eien replied loudly, bounding towards the staircase. "Who is it-?" She asked, just before pain exploded in her chest as three bullets ripped their way into her. She gasped and fell forward, landing in a broken heap at the foot of the stairs.

"Stupid bitch was always taking my Guess jeans." Cherry said with a shrug.

"Well- thank you kindly ma'am." The assassin said, nodding politely in her direction.

"Oh you're welcome." She said warmly, "Now look out for that first step on the porch, it's a bit tricky..."

A loud groan could be heard suddenly followed by feminine shrieking. "Who the HELL just shot me?" Eien screamed angrily.

Cherry sighed and hung her head unhappily. "If you could have just stayed down maybe we would have gotten out of this without any trouble..."

"Without any trouble? Some son of a bitch just put three bullets in my abdomen!" Eien hissed, pulling herself into an upright position. "And I'm gonna kill the bastard..."

Cherry sighed again and took a step back from the open door as bullets by the dozen rushed past her head. She rolled backwards and reached under the couch for some of her knives.

"Come out come out wherever you are..." The deep voice called mockingly into the house, before stepping warily inside.

Eien was standing unsteadily at the bottom of the stairs, clutching her stomach, still unsteady from the impact of the gunshots. She looked at the man in disgust. "You're dead shit for brains. Dead." She repeated forcefully.

"Really...? That's just what I was going to say about you." He said with a smile, obviously planning to unload his entire gun magazine into her.

Cherry took advantage of his distraction and launched a set of knives at him, smiling with satisfaction as they connected with his gun and sent it flying out of his hand. He turned around quickly, with one fluid motion and stared at her through narrowed eyes. His gun was gone but Cherry strongly suspected he had others and knew she was at a severe disadvantage. Instead of a gun however, the man reached behind him and pulled a sword out of the holster on his back. "C'mere little girl." He said with a seductive smile. "I've got something big'n shiny to give you."

Cherry shook her head. "Sorry, my daddy told me never to accept gifts from strangers." She jumped effortlessly to the side as he swung the sword at her and flipped herself backward with one hand. Using the other hand to launch another knife at him. He dodged the tiny weapon easily enough and laughed. "Ninjas with weapons and kevlar, oh my!" He said mockingly, this time charging at Cherry with his sword poised for attack. She ducked and spun around behind him, grabbing his coat as she moved. Trying to knock him off balance, she yanked desperately on the thick material in an effort to bring him to his knees. It didn't work that way however as he managed easily to move with her, spinning on his heels he knocked her backward into the wall.

"Ouch." Cherry groaned, coming to her feet as quickly as possible. "That hurt! And you dented my wall!" She snapped angrily, racing towards him.

"Your tenacity does you credit." He said watching as she jumped over him. "But you're fighting a losing battle here Chiquita." Cherry landed behind him and swept his legs out from beneath him. He appeared only momentarily shaken before regaining his balance. "Well, this has been fun- but now I'm afraid it's time for you to die."

Cherry watched as he sprinted suddenly out the door and blinked uncertainly. What the hell was he up to, she wondered running over to the front door. "Ah crap!" She screamed just in time to witness her would be assassin pulling a pin from one of the three grenades he held in his hand.

"Me make you go BOOM!" He said with a devious smile. Cherry dove out of the house just as he threw the grenades forward, hitting the ground with a sickening thud as the world around her rumbled and shook. She groaned and rolled onto her side, coughing loudly from having the wind knocked out of her. Debris surrounded her and she stared in horror at the burning piece of window molding that sizzled beside her.

"You didn't go boom..." He said disappointedly, picking her up by her hair and holding her in front of him.

"You blew up my house!" She snapped angrily, oblivious to the pain in her head or the handful of her blond hair he'd just ripped out. "I just painted!"

"And you chose that colour?' He asked, eyebrows raised. "Why don't you just sit back and let me do my job?"

"I'm not gonna let you DO anything- except maybe head down to The Home Depot for paint and drywall."

"Sorry- Bob Villa I ain't."

"My boyfriend is going to kill you."

"Hm, like I haven't heard that one before- what is he? A Football player?"

"No. Mercenary." She hissed, before reaching her hands up and clasping them onto her tormentor's wrist. Gripping tightly she pulled herself up quickly and twisted in his hold, kicking him with both legs as she turned. He released her instantly and she rolled quickly out of his way.

"I'm shaking. No wait- I'm not." He advanced upon her just as an angry cry reached them both.

"OK- Now I am PISSED!" Eien flew towards them both and knocked Cherry's attacker off his feet. He went skidding backwards before rolling into a kneeling position. Eien landed lightly on her feet beside Cherry and looked fairly murderous. Although, considering she'd been shot and blown up she looked pretty damn good.

Cherry glanced at her friend and frowned. "You're wearing my BeBe top!" She hissed angrily.

"So?" Eien asked, unconcerned.

"SO!? Now it's got three holes in the front!"

"Actually, 6"

Cherry groaned.

"Didn't I kill you? Twice?" The man asked, regaining his balance.

"I'm not that easy to get rid of."

Cherry nodded her agreement. "Believe me- it's true..." She said unhappily.

Apparently however the man had stopped paying attention to them. He was busy pulling something out of the small black pack attached to the front of his suit. It seemed to be a gun of some sort, a fact that galvanized Cherry into action. Even as she charged him, he didn't look up, just pulled a magazine of bullets out of his pocket.

"Hey, eyes front!" Cherry snapped, annoyed.

"I'm trying to concentrate." He reached out and smashed Cherry across the face with the gun, moving a few steps backwards as she sank to her knees.

"My face!" She gasped, tears welling in her eyes from the pain. He's still fiddling with that damn gun, Cherry realized in frustration. She grabbed a handful of her tiny knives and threw them at him, hoping to take advantage of his distraction. He dodged them neatly however and Cherry groaned again as the knives flew right past him- straight into Eien's chest.

The man burst out laughing. "Nice shot. Keep that up and I won't have to do anything."

Eien shrieked and fell to her knees. "You- are so... stupid." She hissed before collapsing again.

"My shirt..." Cherry whispered in despair.

The man suddenly pulled out his sword again and advanced on Cherry. She blinked rapidly, trying to clear her blurred vision, but was powerless to do anything but shriek in terror as he raised his sword and prepared to bring it crashing down on her. The loud clash of metal jarring against metal shook Cherry and she opened her eyes uncertainly. "Chase!" She shouted triumphantly. He'd managed to block her attackers sword thrust and quickly kicked the man in the stomach, sending him flying backwards.

Chase stared at the man as he rose easily to his feet. He took one look at Chase and immediately burst out laughing again. "Don't tell me-." He began, almost laughing too hard to speak. "This is the boyfriend!?"

"Err..." Cherry turned red, wishing he hadn't chosen to repeat her words, it was embarrassing. Chase wasn't really her boyfriend and he was likely to say as much.

"Long time no see Chase, Daren." The man said, addressing Daren who had so far remained in the shadows.

"Kreed." Chase spat out. "I don't know who's paying you what to kill whom- but I'll double it if you walk away from this right now."

"Two million dollars Chase? I don't think you've got it." He smiled evilly. "Besides- I'd PAY two million dollars to see you dead." And with those words he rushed forward, sword poised.

Daren emerged slowly from behind the burning debris that he assumed had once been their gazebo and walked calmly to Eien's side. He knelt down and touched the top of her head. "Are you alright?" He asked curiously. She nodded silently. "How the Hell did you get ten of Cherry's knives lodged in your stomach?"

"Erm- long story! Not important." Cherry insisted, interrupting his questioning. "Shouldn't you be trying to help Chase kick that guys ass?"

"Kreed?" Daren hissed angrily. "It would take more than the two of us to stop him."

"Well, then- get going...." Cherry said, making little shooing motions with her hand.

Cherry glanced worriedly in Chase's direction, Kreed was beating him to a pulp and obviously enjoying every minute of it.

"Hell, I don't know what's going on- I mean it ain't Christmas and it sure as Hell ain't my birthday, but here I am, getting everything on my wish list! Somebody pinch me!" Kreed roared in pain suddenly as Chase thrust his sword through his leg. "I said PINCH me, not STAB me you son of a bitch!" Kreed reached down and snapped back Chase's wrist with his free hand, so that he was forced to drop his sword. "This has been fun, but- you die now."

"I was just about to get started..." Daren said, swinging his sword at the apparently distracted man. Kreed raised his own sword and blocked the thrust easily.

"Sorry, but I really am busy." Kreed pulled out the small gun he'd previously held and continued his efforts to get the new bullets in the chamber. Daren and Kreed's swords crashed loudly and repeatedly against each other as Kreed shook the gun against his ear. "Something's rattling in there, why can't I get this right?" He mumbled unhappily.

Chase stood shakily, regained his sword and rushed at him, attacking from the opposite side of Daren. "Need some help?" He asked as Daren and him both took swings at Kreed simultaneously.

"Naw, I got it!" Kreed cried triumphant, jumping high into the air and landing safely beside Eien and Cherry. "Hello." He said, looking down at Eien who was still reeling from being shot, blown up and stabbed. "And Goodbye." Cherry winced at he fired two shots, point blank into Eien's chest.

Eien screamed and fell backwards. Pain, the likes of which she had never experienced consumed her and for the first time in her short life she lost consciousness.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Daren asked, rushing to Eien's side as Kreed appeared to be about to depart the scene of the crime.

"He was hired to kill Eien!" Cherry informed him quickly.

"Really? Well, sorry Kreed- but no one takes what's mine." Daren snarled, prepared to cut the man down to size.

"Reaaaaaaaaaalllly?" Kreed asked with interest, a hint of a smile still on his face.

"Geez man, get a clue! It didn't work the first two times you shot her in the chest so you do it again? You're a total dumbass." Cherry pointed out to him rudely.

"Cheeky aren't you?" Kreed asked redundantly. "Take my word for it- she's dead meat."

Cherry knelt beside Eien and stared at her in horror. "My god..." She whispered in shock.

"Told ya!" Kreed assured her. "I got this nasty money back guarantee policy- no body and I gotta give the money back and in this case I already went and blew it on a new Mercedes... Sorry..."

He fired a few more shots in Daren's direction and Cherry watched in horror as he suddenly collapsed in a heap in front of her. "They can't be dead." Her voice trembled at the thought.

"Oh yes they can..."

"What did you do to them?" Chase demanded.

"Sorry- can't talk now- My time's up! Toodlessssssss..."

Cherry watched in shock as the hit man turned around, running away so quickly he seemed to almost disappear into thin air. "Gah! Chase- did he just-?"

"Yes."

"But how? Is he Batman?"

"You don't wanna know..." Chase assured her, kneeling down beside his fallen comrades.

"I'm already sorry I asked."

"Can you carry Eien?" Chase asked her roughly. Cherry nodded and pulled the girl into her arms. "We can't stay here." Chase said, slinging Daren's fallen body over his shoulders before moving quickly away from the scene. "It's only a matter of time before the police arrive."

"B-but what about Eien and Daren? What are we gonna do?" Cherry wailed miserably.

"We'll figure something out."

# # # # #

"Is she dead?" The man sitting behind the desk asked eagerly.

Kreed shrugged. "Well I pumped her full of those bullets you gave me..."

"The cop killers?"

"Yeah."

"Then she's dead." The man grinned evilly.

"Great, glad you're happy. Can I get my money now, before you break into maniacal laughter?"

"Don't worry, you'll get your money... But first, I have another job for you..."

# # # # #

"Daren! Wake up!" Cherry screamed as she shook his unconscious form angrily. "Wake up damn you!" She stared down at him and sighed. "I give up. How's Eien? Is she breathing...?"

"I don't know..." Chase said, staring at the girl uncertainly. "Daren's the doctor, not me."

"Yeah... and he won't wake up! He's never gonna wake up!"

Daren groaned suddenly and opened his eyes with a start. Cherry stared at him in shock.

"Are you ever right- about anything?" Chase asked smoothly.

"Daren!? Are you OK? We were so-."

"How's Eien..?" He cut her off to ask, walking shakily to her side.

"We don't know- we did all we could but we had no idea how to..."

"It's alright..." He said quietly, kneeling down beside Eien's prone body, his face a blank mask as he examined her. Cherry bit her lip at the fear she saw in his eyes.

"I've gotten so used to thinking of Eien as indestructible- I never imagined she could get hurt, let alone- maybe... actually die..." Cherry's voice trailed off painfully, she couldn't even begin to imagine what life would be like without Eien.

"We need to get her to a hospital."

"You know we can't do that." Chase pointed out calmly.

Daren began removing as many unnecessary layers of clothing on Eien as possible.

"There's so much blood..." Cherry whispered in horror.

"Get me some scissors Chase."

A few moments later Daren began cutting his way through the cotton T-shirt she had on so that she was laying on the counter in her bra and panties.

Cherry stared down at her in shock. "The bullets- didn't go through..."

Daren looked grim. "The kevlar must've slowed them down... They're only embedded in her skin a few centimeters."

"But all the blood...?"

"She's lost a lot of it- she's cut everywhere...."

"Why doesn't she wake up?" Cherry asked in concern.

"I think she hit her head when she fell." Chase informed them grimly.

"She could have a sub dermal hematoma."

"Or she could've just hit her head. She probably just has a concussion." Chase pointed out reasonably.

"That's not a chance I want to take." Daren bit out with barely controlled anger as he began pulling the bullets out of Eien's flesh.

"Do what you want Daren- but don't put the rest of us in danger for no reason."

Daren nodded curtly.

"I'm sure she'll be fine." Cherry tried to assure him. "Just who the hell was that Kreed guy?" She asked curiously.

At the mention of his name the two men tensed instantly. "No one." Daren said, his voice almost a snarl.

"Oh, come on!"

"An old friend- We all served together in Desert Storm." Chase said slowly.

"With friends like that-."

"Yeah- He's not a nice guy OK? Let's take that as having been said and concentrate on Eien." Daren rubbed his eyes wearily.

"Is there anything I can do?" Cherry asked desperately.

"I'm thinking- I'm thinking..."

Chase watched the scene unfolding in front of him with a frown. Truthfully the prospect of Eien's death didn't exactly fill him with horror. The little bitch had set out to make all their lives miserable and was doing a pretty damn good job of it too. As far as he was concerned they'd probably all be better off without her. It was the reaction of his two friends that worried him. He'd known Daren for almost twenty years and he knew when his friend was upset. Right now, Daren was panicking, Chase could see it clearly even if Cherry thought he was handling the situation with remarkable calm. He glanced quickly at Cherry's troubled expression and sighed, knowing he was going to have to help. Eien could die a thousand deaths as far as he was concerned, but he didn't want Cherry upset.

"Alright... We'll take her to see a friend of mine... He's got the equipment to check her out- and he won't ask too many questions."



# # # #

Author's note: Well, I said I wouldn't do it... Said I wouldn't start uploading another story until the others were done but obviously... I LIED! So here is the beginning of "Murder of 6"... It's one looooooooooooooooooong story too. I think it starts out a bit cheesy but I love how it turns out later on...

E-mail and review PLZ! I love to hear from ya'll... I hope the rating I gave this is OK...

Love all around, Elisa