Well - the last Alex Rider story I posted hasn't had much of a response; well, it was kinda rushed, though I think it's going to get better. Not that good a story,at the moment, in any case.The summary also wasn't great, but hey - I'm not very good at writing summaries. I'll deal. In any case, I've re-written it, so hopefully it'll be better...

This is going to be quite short - hopefully five or six chapters at the most. On the other hand, I think this is going to be the shortest of them; the rest will all cover quite a lot of stuff in each chapter. It aims to be in the same sort of style as the books - whether or not I've actually acheived that, you'll have to tell me! The next chapter is already written... and I'm holding out until I get enough reviews (five or ten - I'm still deciding. I'm a pretty easy-going sort of person; it'll probably be five... ;-) but that, of course will depend on how popular the story is...). So if you like it, there's a little button at the bottom of the page. Please tell me.

DISCLAIMER: I own all six of the Alex Rider books - in paper back. The spines are a bit broken, but if you really want them...

This story takes into account everything that happens in the books up to St. Dominic's Hospital - so most of Ark Angel didn't happen. Sorry to all the fans of Ark Angel out there - it just didn't fit. Scorpia couldn't have moved on from it's failure yet, orthis part of the storywouldn't make sense.

The men and woman who sat around the table were some of the most lethal in the world. Not only were they themselves dangerous – though they were – they masterminded and implemented some of the most daring and deadly schemes in the world. They had had a hand in many of the foremost terrorist organisations in the world; they had worked for them. Their organisation was not a terrorist organisation – it implemented terror, but strictly on a cash basis.

These were people who had taken mercenary and made it an art form.

Julia Rothman had been replaced by a cold eyed, heavy jawed woman whose name was, incongruously, Dorothea Sweete. Dorothea Sweete had worked for Scorpia for years; her skill as a killer was only surpassed by her skill as a tactician, and she had several years of experience as one of the high-powered second-in-commands. And at the moment, the nine top members of Scorpia were discussing the shortcomings of their last operation.

A silence had fallen over the room as they contemplated what had happened; a silence vaguely reminiscent of the complete hush of a funeral parlour. The people in that windowless room in the Ca'Vedova knew how to stay silent for hours. Had they not been breathing, nothing would have given away that they were still alive.

Finally, it was the nameless Australian (who was occasionally called James Sloane, by the few members of his family he had left alive) who spoke up, in a curt, cold voice, straight to the point. "We were foolish to allow Mrs. Rothman's vendetta against the Rider family to obscure our view of Alex Rider."

"You think he could be useful?"

"Not so much that – though yes, he could have been." The Australian paused, weighing the value of one word against another. "We… allowed her to colour our perception. It was dangerous; she underestimated Rider, so we did too. Equally, we let her obsession with seeing the boy die take over from the main task, Invisible Sword. She engineered it so the he would be there, rather than engineering him so that he would be there. It was a foolish mistake."

"What do you suggest we do?" This was Dr. Three. He spoke in almost perfect English, though he had a slight softness around the 'l's of his speech – and also the 'r's. There was a tendency that he had to elongate certain vowels, but even despite that, had you heard him speaking without seeing his face, it would have been difficult to say for certain what nationality he was. "We cannot change anything, and our customer has withdrawn his offer. Invisible Sword is obsolete. We cannot recruit Rider now; MI6 will have told him the truth, and in any case, we hired a contract killer to get rid of him, and he is not going to trust those who tried to kill him. Twice, no less. And those who killed his father."

"Julia was a fool about Rider from the beginning." Dorothea Sweete said, harshly from her corner of the table. All eyes swivelled to her, the newcomer in their midst, but she shrugged, indifferent to their scrutiny. "John Rider, I mean. I was her assistant at the time; for a clever woman, she made a fool of herself over him."

It was another characteristic unique to Scorpia – all assistants were alternated. None of the top nine members kept the same secretary or personal assistants for longer than three months at a time – it was an insurance against anyone knowing too much, as well as to stop any workplace relationships. The top nine members needed no relaxation time. For them, business was pleasure.

"She couldn't get revenge from John – but she would have Alex. Not only was he not her son, she would never forgive John Rider for not being who he said he was, and she needed revenge for that. All of us here can understand revenge."

"Revenge for lying to her, you mean?"


"His son – Alex – he wasn't lying to her. Why kill him, when he could have been such an asset?" Julien Gouard, a Frenchman, had defected even before the Cold War, and worked for Stalin during the Purges. He knew all about the waste of talent – he had done a lot of the wasting.

"I was not Julia Rothman's psychiatrist." Dorothea Sweete shrugged. "I wasn't even her assistant when John Rider died."

"Of course. Apologies, Miss Sweete." She inclined her head.

"Thank you. Accepted."

There was another icy hush.

"I think," said Dr. Three, dropping his words like lumps of ice into the cold, heavy silence, "That we need to teach Alex Rider an object lesson."

"We did a deal with MI6." Masayuki Nohmura said, softly. Everything he said was soft. He had been tortured at some point during his life, and the screaming had left him with a voice that barely went above a whisper. On the other hand, he was a world wide language expert, being conversant in over fifteen, and able to translate a further seven. While not strictly a terrorist, his torture, besides affecting his voice, had left him with a hatred of all spying organisations, who, he felt, had turned their back on him. He had been left with his captors for three years. "We said that we would leave him alone."

"And all such deals are honoured, of course." Dr. Three sneered at him. Nohmura shrugged.

"He is only a boy." He said. Dr. Three rolled his eyes at this display of sentimentality.

"Yes. Just a boy. A child." Levi Kroll had taken that statement quite a different way, and his eye lit up as he worked out what Dr. Three was suggesting. "A lesson on him would be a most effective way to show that we still have the power we had before, and we will still use it. We still look weak, after being bettered by a child… his mutilated body would be a perfect way to dispute that. A strong message."

"Indeed. But not only that. Invisible Sword was going to kill school children. We have lost the technology for that, alas," here, Dr. Three heaved a sigh, and a brief flicker of actual emotion scuttled across his face, but was gone in an instant – for a moment, it had looked almost like regret. "But we can still make a show of power; we may have lost status and face, but apart from that, we lack nothing else. We will regain both if we pull through on our promise of killing school children. And to both teach Alex Rider a lesson and regain our lost reputation, we should target…"

"Alex Rider's school?" it was Dorothea Sweete again. Her cold eyes had gained some animation as the talk went on.

"Alex Rider's school." Dr. Three agreed.

Like? Dislike? Hate with a passion? Want to laugh at Dorothea Sweete? Go on - indulge yourself...