You don't own anything, it all belongs to this bloke called Anthony Horowitz, so really, everything that happens here is his fault (it'd be nice if you didn't have to pay any property damage bills). Also, anyone who is offended by mild swearing should turn tail and run out of here screaming (don't step on the land mines on the way out - no, no seriously, don't).
Operation Scarlet Haze
Are You Ready For the Country?
You thought you knew torture - you were wrong. Torture isn't having the living daylights beaten out of you, it isn't waiting to be dissected or crushed alive, it isn't even a stray comment by Tom Harris that gave you the mental image of Mrs. Stellenbosch in the shower. Torture is sitting in the English class at the end of the summer in a room with no air conditioning, and the windows stuck closed yet showing a clear bright day. There's nothing to do, so the teacher has everyone talking about what they wanted to be when they were little - is that a sadistic glint in his eyes? Yes, you're pretty sure it is. After saving the world a few times, what did you ever do to deserve this? Everyone drones on, besides you, Tom has drifted off to sleep after proclaiming he wanted to be a kick-ass cowboy who also was a rock-star. You find yourself staring at the drool trickling out of his mouth.
"I thought astronauts were the coolest thing."
"I wanted to be Prime Minister."
"I wanted to be a fairy princess."
"A super-cool ninja-spy... still kinda do, actually."
You blink. An wild urge to yell at him or hit him or something, because you know there's no turning back, and it's no game. You want to tell him what it's really like. It's harsh, it's death.. death isn't an if - it's when. You know it, the people who (against your will) send you out again and again with hard eyes and uncaring smiles know it. The enemy knows too - everyone's luck will run out eventually in this game, and at the rate you've been going, it'll probably be soon for you. You're only fifteen years old, and you've prevented nuclear holocausts, been in orbit, traveled around the world, brought down organizations (and also a Space Hotel), and been shot above your heart. Although really, considering all the times you've been shot at, you're proud to report that it was only once.
This is reality - welcome to it.
Of course, most people's realities don't include top-level secret missions - but you're not most people. You're Alex Rider, a seemingly innocent teen with blonde hair and dark eyes, but in actuality a teenage James Bond. The latest spy in a family of spies. But the difference is that, unlike your parents and uncle, is that they are dead and you're not. But you're certainly not still alive through the tender loving mercies of your targets, who have definitely done their best to kill you (of course, considering you're still alive, their best doesn't seem to be all that great). You feel an ice cold chill rake down your spine as you remember the latest attempt by one of the SCORPIA heads, who was ever-so-wonderfully aided by some organ harvesters and your godfather (vaguely, you wonder if it says anything that now they are all dead).
Suddenly, something in the back of your mind pokes you to get you to pay attention. Looking up, you blink. Your classmates (who have FINALLY stopped trying to figure out your secret.. mostly..) stare back at you. Your evil sadistic teacher, who really deserves to have his house TP'd, sighs and repeats, "Alex?" It's your turn to state your childhood ambition. You say only, "Anything but a bank manager." You're actually telling the truth for once. As a kid, you didn't really know, but you knew that Ian's job sucked, and being in a bank sounded boring (hah!). Now, you're working for the one place you never wanted to, and you still don't dream about the future, but for a different reason.
Wow, you mentally kick yourself, that was sort of morbid. Besides, you can't be depressed now because that wonderful, beautiful clock is ticking and it is five, no four three two one YES! The bell rings, officially setting everyone free. Miraculously, everyone is instantaneously awake and out the door - you're one of the first, having jumped over your desk to get to the door - at least your skills are good for something.
The sun is shining, the day is nice, the air sweet. You feel free, you even are able to ignore Tom humming what sounds suspiciously like Barbie Girl. Maybe there's some hope for a normal life. It's been several months...
You decide that in some way it wasn't just SCORPIA that John and Helen Rider pissed off - there was probably some shaman they somehow, somehow angered enough to get him to curse the Riders. Because there was no other explanation for such bad luck. Giving Tom a terse smile, you vaguely notice he's stopped humming and looks worried as you turn away and go over to the sleek, black car (real subtle, MI6). The agent flashes you his I.D., and looks annoyed while he's doing it. He's probably internally bitching about having to go fetch for a teenager, and you really want to tell him where MI6 could stick it. But then again, there's always a chance that they'll send a whole armed group to subdue you and forcibly drag you before the heads, and it'd be kinda annoying to have that happen in front of your schoolmates.
On the other hand, thinking of the chaos it would be possible to cause.. Maybe next time. The agent almost imperceptibly shudders at the look on your face as you plot in the fancy-smancy black leather backseat (instead of cars, can't they spend more money making sure their agents stay alive?). He should be afraid, you've learned to plot from the best after all - unfortunately, no free lessons on how to cackle maniacally - maybe this time? Closing the door, there's one look back, and your throat is constricted for a brief moment (sadly, no one ever buys the bug in eye excuse). Will Jack be greeting you in a few weeks with Tom beaming about your mad ninja skills, or will your luck finally run out?
Only time will tell.
But in the mean time, you just feel pissed off. What is it now, Blunt? Call dog, dog comes, dog goes off and saves the bone that has the power to destroy a continent from bad guy - is that how it is? So much for not using you again. Well, if he thinks that you're not going to annoy him as much as possible - think again. As much as it pains you, you really don't dislike Ms. Jones, she's okay, even if annoying. But for now - hold that though because... Gah! Since when did MI6 hire people that drive so insanely? Diving for the drivers seat and taking the wheel just keeps becoming more and more of a good idea, but there's a glass divisor. Judging by the agents faint smile in the mirror, he knows he's probably generating some major murderous feelings towards him. Damn him!
Just when that piece of glass is starting to look very breakable, the car screeches to a halt, throwing you back against the car seat. Grinding your teeth, you shakily get out of the car. No, no! Bad Alex, no killing the agent. Remember, you repeat in your head, killing fellow agents is bad. Instead, you plaster your best fake I-am-so-happy-and-innocent-and-most-definitely-am- not-a-spy smile across your face and say cheerily, "Thanks for the great ride!" It's worth it, as the agent's face now seems to be a mix of confused and annoyed - you figure, if his emotions and intents are so easy to read, it's no bloody wonder he's been designated for car duty (you mentally give a big HA-HA, neener-neener pumpkin eater at what he has to do all day - maturity is for people who actually expect to live to adulthood).
Looking at the block around the Royal and General Bank (speaking of which, you always wonder what would happen if someone tried to rob it), you figure MI6 wouldn't appreciate you turning up as a twitchy wreck from the ride - or at least, that's the excuse. In the meanwhile, there's a lovely ice cream parlor across the street, with a gaggle of cute girls. Sometimes, it's great to be a teenager.
One chocolate chip cone later, you're in the elevator, on the way up to the fifteenth floor. There are some people staring at you - heck, in their position, you would be too! Some look derisive, but a few of the older ones look like they've seen a ghost - maybe they knew your dad or uncle, who would've ridden up this same elevator. At the end of the hallway Alan Blunt's door is partly open, and he is pacing impatiently in front of the window, looking (as always) like a guy obsessed with the color gray and has a stick wedged way up there.
Perfect opportunity - let's put what you've learned to a good cause. Ducking behind the door, you peek in, he's still looking away.. Creeping in, you lunge and - yes! He shoots, he scores! Smirking slightly, you're sitting there on his chair.. and he doesn't notice. A minute passes.
Damn, whatever happened to situational awareness? Really? As the man continues to stoically look outside, you feel your eye twitching. Why can't he just send you off to deactivate a nuke or rescues the Prime Minister's dog or something already? There are voices just outside (something about someone working with a top-level agent), the door creeps open, and Ms. Jones peeks in - there are some people behind her, but you can't make out their faces. If they're your partners, you'd really appreciate it if they didn't die or try to kill you. Maybe you should ask fate for that.. as an early birthday present? One can always dream.
Alan Blunt speaks, irritation creeping into his otherwise bland tone. "Alex is still late."
Ms. Jones blinks, and raises a brow at her boss. Looking confused, she looks past him and says politely, "Hello Alex, how long have you been waiting here?" Let's see, you left school twenty minutes ago... so that's being with MI6 twenty minutes too long.
Stick-up-his-arse turns around, emotion on his face for once, hehe. Lucky you? Nah - unfortunately, it only makes him look stranger. Again, what shaman did your parents piss off for this to be your life? Ah well. When life gives you lemons, squeeze them into your attackers' eyes and then give them an uppercut. Leaning forward, you give your best smirk. "You know, your security really sucks." There's nothing quite like trying to piss off your boss on a bad day. It makes one feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Quick, put your spy skills to good use and don't smirk at the tic Blunt's developed! One of the people behind Mrs. Jones makes a small indignant noise, but there's some soft laughing too. The group moves into the light and -
"Cub?!" Crap! You only know of three people who would call you that! Double-crap! Sure enough, standing next to Ben and some tanned blonde are the rest of your beloved K-Unit, looking utterly flabbergasted. If you didn't know how much being shot hurt, you'd say shoot me now. The woman looks like she wants to start pointing and laughing at some of the expressions on people's faces.
You know what, never-mind. This is why you shouldn't annoy your bosses, no matter how fun. Let's just stick with irritating enemies - it's more productive in any case. In any case, smile and wave to Ben! "Hey Ben." Agent Ben Daniels, formerly known as Fox, grins back at you. He's looking a lot better - last you saw him, he had just been shot while helping to save a lot of Australia. K-Unit looks even more surprised that you know his name (there's a small possibility you did that on purpose...heh). Finally, you ask the question you all want to have answered. "So what's with the circus? And who are you?"
"Someone who isn't going to kill you," she answers cheerfully.
Huh. If this were anime, you're pretty sure you'd have a big sweatdrop right now - is that good or suspicious? How much does she know about you? Let's just go with suspicious for now - paranoia is healthy, thank you very much. Why do people say it isn't? If it keeps you alive, it's healthy. The lady is introduced as Yuleana Roth. There's something about her face and her coloring that seems awfully familiar. Yup, let's definitely go with suspicious. Well, at least Ben is in the group (you may not trust easily, but saving your life several times qualifies him for the your-pretty-awesome list for sure). Snake is Harry Craig, Eagle is apparently named Donavon Hook (wow, you almost feel sorry for him) and Wolf is -
"Jonathan Davies," he cuts in, through Blunt's monotone. Wow, charming as ever, eh Wolf-er, Davies? Last time you saw him, he had also just been shot (this better not become a habit with you and SAS men), but by the demoness a.k.a. Mrs. Stellenborsch. The time before that, you kicked him out of a plane - which wasn't payback for the time at camp, honest. Eagle looks the same, but a little grimmer, and Snake has a new scar across his cheek. You remember that they were off fighting in the Middle East, which explains it.
"So wait," Eagle says skeptically. "Where is the high level agent we'll be working with?" God, he can be slow, but at least he compensates with his shooting ability. Maybe he's also compensating for something else? You quickly push the thought out of your mind- really do not need to be thinking about that - and give him a sarcastic little wave after Mrs. Jones nods to you.
Eagle twitches in shock - wait, you should start calling them by their names. Um, Hook (hehe) twitches, Craig looks vaguely like the world is going to end (considering you're on this mission, it's wholly possible), and Davies starts yelling (here's to hoping he yells a little louder and brings security running) - "I thought that crazy school was a one time thing! A kid can't be on our mission! What can he do- he's sixteen!" Roth is eyeing you speculatively, but there's also doubt on her face. Gah, she's creepy.
...Did Blunt just roll his eyes? Wow, he must be having an off day. Quietly, you correct, "Actually, I turned fifteen recently." This doesn't seem to make him any happier. Ignore him. "So... if I'm supposedly a high-ranking now, I should be getting paid for this. And do you know how much this is messing with my schoolwork?"
Mrs. Jones says softly, "We may be able to work something out." Well, that's just super-duper.
"We've gotten off topic," Blunt says stiffly. Pulling out the manilla briefing folder of doom, everyone is instantly all business and alert. Someone could here a pin drop, we were all so fixated on his words. This- this is what we will be doing, what we have to know, what we have to find. Our lives depend on it.
"There's a new organization, that has become powerful very quickly. They're almost like a new Scorpia, and seem to want to get rid of Scorpia-"
"What's so bad about that? You interrupt, knowing that if you don't ask he won't explain. Your chest twinges, it still hurts.
"It is better to work with what we know, not to mention Scorpia does sort of have it's rules and deals with us. This new organization, called STING has no deals with us, seems to lack those same rules. We know almost nothing about it. This must be remedied. In addition, the way they suddenly managed to appear on the scene with power already is highly suspicious."
You remember the Force Three, a front for Nikolei Drevin's plan for Ark Angel, and silently agree. Mrs. Jones now takes over the briefing - "The group seems to be located in Dordogne, France, and made up of wealthy socialites who either help front the organization, or use their status to complete their work. As such, you, Ben Daniels, will be an up-and-coming merchant named Louis Barret, and Alex shall be your son Anton. Harry, you will be a family friend who also joins the group named Laurent Breaux. This is helped by the fact that the three of you speak fluent french, as do you, Miss Roth. Miss Roth, you shall be Antoinette Chaffee, a wealthy socialite. You will have no outward connections to the Barrets or Breaux. Jonathan, you will be the bodyguard of the Barrets , Paco Sequera, while you, Donavon, are Antoinette's guard, Nicholas Nomikos."
We are each handed a separate folder, detailing each of us about our character, protection, the lie we must uphold. Mrs. Jones nods, and looks at you - you can tell she seems to be silently apologizing. "Go downstairs, Smithers is expecting you. Good luck."
Good luck. Well meaning, but it always seem awful to tell people.
Looking at the rest of your group, all shooting glances at each other as you all file into the elevator, you quietly snort. Good luck - you're going to need it.
Are you ready?
Taa-daa! Here's my first real chapter of a multi-chaptered fic. =D Obviously, it's second person (what can I say? I like experimenting with writing styles), and if you don't like the style, this fic isn't for you...