Hey guys! Here's a looong chapter for you guys :). Hope you guys had a good Christmas and New Year!
Alex didn't even think twice about running into the girls' toilet as he flung open the door and saw what he expected.
Kiara and Anya.
However, the circumstances were tricky.
Anya was lying unconscious on the toilet floor, and Kiara had a smug smile on her face.
'Defeated Ryan? I'm impressed,' she said, placing her foot on Anya's stomach.
'What are you doing?' asked Alex, taking one step closer.
'Just what I've been told to,' answered Kiara vaguely.
Alex knew he had to proceed cautiously. Of course Kiara had the upper hand because she had Anya. Alex cursed his stupidity – he should have brought the unconscious Ryan down as well. Then things would have been more equal.
'Step away from her. Your brother's lying unconscious upstairs,' warned Alex.
'He's not my brother,' said Kiara, smiling. 'I don't care about what happened to him.'
Alex cursed. There was no advantage for him now. He had to find out what they wanted, and who was dispensable and who wasn't. If it was a simple kidnap, Anya would not be killed. If however, they were after Alex, it would be a little more complicated.
'Leave her alone. You're after me, aren't you?' he asked. She would give another vague answer if he asked the question straight, he had to make her assume he already knew what she was up to.
'Why, yes, but I'm not completely done with your girlfriend yet,' said Kiara, grinning. Alex could guess who sent them out – and it wasn't good. If Scorpia had come, they would want both him and Anya. Anya to get to Yassen, and Alex, just for revenge.
'You can't kill her,' said Alex. 'If you want to use her to get to Yassen, you can't kill her yet.' He was trying to convince Kiara as well as himself, that they wouldn't kill Anya yet.
'I know,' said Kiara. 'I know. But…'
She paused, and Alex waited. She wouldn't kill Anya, would she? That would just be ridiculous, but the look in Kiara's eyes seriously scared Alex. Time stood still for a second, and Alex considered. If she wanted to kill Anya, she would probably just stick a knife through her heart or slit her throat. Alex doubted that Kiara had a gun. So Alex edged closer, ready to jump on Anya and protect her. He just hoped that his reactions were faster than Kiara could stab.
Kiara took her foot off Anya's stomach slowly, watching Alex. If he was just a little closer… but he couldn't reach Anya at this distance. Kiara picked up the unconscious Anya from the floor, and slung her over her back. Alex was surprised at the strength in who he had thought was just an ordinary schoolgirl. Now, he knew that she worked for Scorpia, or someone who wanted to get to Yassen.
And before Alex could blink, Kiara had pulled out a smoke bomb and thrown it straight at Alex. The smoke billowed out, and Alex fought in vain to blow it away so that he could see. Blindly, he lunged forward, trying to catch Kiara before she could get away, but only ran into the wall and got knocked to the ground. By the time the smoke dissipated, Kiara was gone, and Alex's heart fell.
They had Anya.
Alex didn't waste time fretting, though. As quickly as he could, he ran back to the classroom where he had left Ryan unconscious.
But when he entered, Ryan was nowhere to be found. So Alex grabbed his phone out of his pocket and rang Yassen.
Yassen heard his phone ring, and whipped it out of his pocket and answered it.
'Yassen,' panted a frantic Alex. Yassen felt terror begin to take hold, but fought it. What had happened to Alex?
'What? Alex, are you alright?' asked Yassen.
'T-They got Anya,' said Alex, the fear showing in his voice. Yassen forced himself not to panic.
'Kiara… and Ryan. Two schoolkids. They're working for someone though. Scorpia probably,' said Alex, telling himself to calm down. 'They're gone now.'
Yassen put on a bulletproof jacket while using his shoulder to hold the phone to his ear. There was no time to waste.
'Alex. Are you alright?' asked Yassen.
'I'm fine, but Anya –'
'I know, Alex.' Yassen was better at handling his fear than Alex was, evidently. Alex still had a lot to learn, thought Yassen. 'Now, I'm going to go and find her. You stay there and placate the secret services.'
Yassen hung up, and Alex stared at the phone dumbly. Then he snapped out of the shock and ran off, to find Tamara.
Yassen revved up his car and sped off down the suburban street. Anya in Scorpia's hands was worse than Anya in Michael Smith's hands. Scorpia did not make mistakes, and Scorpia was ruthless.
What did they want from him? Or, what did they want from Alex? Revenge was the answer to both those questions. Soon, Yassen would get a phone call to tell him that Anya was in their hands. The phone call would ask him to come to a designated location, unarmed and alone (or possibly with Alex Rider in his custody). When he reached the location, he would find Anya with the enemy. They would threaten to kill her unless Yassen surrendered. And then, Yassen would surrender to save Anya. Then they'd kill him and kill Anya after he was dead.
There had to be another way, thought Yassen, so he shifted his mind to overdrive and used his assassin training to think, because Anya's life and his own depended on it.
'Alex,' said Tamara, as she saw Alex running up the corridor to meet her. 'What happened?'
'They – they took Anya,' said Alex, panting. He'd run all over the school looking for Tamara, and was still scared for Anya's safety.
'Alex, who took Anya?' asked Fox, coming up right behind Tamara.
'Kiara and Ryan – the new kids.'
'Schoolkids?' asked Fox incredulously. Alex nodded.
'What did they want?' asked Tamara.
'I don't know. They didn't kill Anya, but they took her away. Ryan attacked me in a spare classroom, but I got away from him. I ran down to the girls' bathrooms and Kiara had Anya, and Anya was unconscious. She talked for a little bit, then threw a smoke bomb and got away. When I ran back to where Ryan was unconscious, he was gone,' explained Alex. Tamara and Ben looked solemn.
'Ok, Alex, thank you. I'm going to take you to MI6 headquarters now,' said Fox. Before Alex could say another word, Fox had his arm around Alex and was steering him towards the car park.
'Tamara!' Alex called out, and she turned around. 'Are you going to find Anya?'
'I'll try, Alex,' she said, and walked away quickly.
'So who is this Anya?' asked Fox, as Alex was getting into the car. Fox started up the engine and drove quickly out of the school, in the direction of the Royal and General Bank.
'She's my friend,' said Alex. He didn't mention Yassen Gregorovich. 'I think they might be trying to get to me through her –'
'Who?' asked Fox.
'You've got Scorpia on your tail?' asked Fox. He shook his head. 'You're an unlucky kid.'
'Very unlucky or very lucky to still be alive,' said Alex. Fox chuckled.
They spent the rest of the drive in silence, Alex wondering about what MI6 would do now. Would they go after Anya, or would they just leave her to die? Because they wouldn't want him going and wasting his life trying to save a girl – Alex was sure that if MI6 had been with him when Damian Cray had kidnapped Sabina, they would have left her to die, to save Alex from being unnecessarily endangered.
But Alex would not leave Anya, not ever.
MI6 would probably insist that Alex stay in a secure environment, and send out some other agent to try and catch Scorpia while they were in town. Whether Anya lived or died probably mattered little to them, as long as they could keep it out of the papers.
If MI6 did go in, though, would they find Yassen?
Alex gulped. It was a tricky situation.
But Tamara said she would try and find Anya. She did owe Alex, after all. Alex hoped that Yassen would get to Anya, and come out safely.
Alex got out of the car quickly when they reached Liverpool Street. He and Fox were admitted, and soon Alex found himself facing Alan Blunt in his office once again.
'So, obviously your safety is penultimate to MI6,' said Alan Blunt. Alex resisted the temptation to snort. MI6 had certainly pretended that his life was valuable to them, but only in the way that a tool was useful to a carpenter. Not the way that Anya's life was valuable to Alex. 'We didn't expect Scorpia to have another crack at you, because we could humiliate them so easily. But, they must have realised that this was a false threat. The government won't allow us to expose Scorpia – for fear of them losing civilian trust. If they find out about Scorpia now, they'll wonder what else they haven't been told. It was cause chaos. So, I'm sorry Alex, but you are not safe from Scorpia. This Anya Gregorovich, is she a close friend of yours?'
'She's one of my best friends,' said Alex. Not only was it true, but the closer Anya seemed to Alex, the more likely MI6 would be to think that they were using her to get to Alex, not to Yassen.
'I'm sorry, Alex,' said Mrs Jones, (yeah right you're sorry, thought Alex), 'but we can't allow you to go after Anya.' Alex's heart fell. 'They've already sent a ransom note to you. We picked it up from your house. We've evacuated Jack Starbright to a holding facility, in case they come after her as well. They want you at the warehouse on Harriet Street at midnight tomorrow.' Mrs Jones handed the note to Alex, and he read it quickly.
To Alex Rider,
As you probably already know, we hold Anya Gregorovich captive.
We ask that you come to the old warehouse on Harriet Street at 0000 hours, on the 12/02/01, unarmed and alone. If anyone tries to accompany you, Anya Gregorovich will be killed. Alex, it is up to you to ensure that you come alone. Do not speak a word of this to MI6, because if we see any agents, we will not hesitate to kill Anya. At the warehouse, we will discuss a negotiation and our demands will be met. When you leave, you are not allowed to contact or tell anything of this to MI6.
We look forward to seeing you.
PS. We cannot be accounted for any injuries that occur when you are in our company.
'If I don't go, they'll kill Anya!' shouted Alex, standing up and towering over Mrs Jones and Alan Blunt. Alex had made his decision. He was not going to let himself sit back while Anya might be killed, no matter what it took.
'Alex, you have to see our point of view here,' said Mrs Jones, gently. Fox put a hand on Alex's shoulder and told him to sit down. 'Your life is more valuable to us than Anya's.'
'To you! What about to me?' asked Alex viciously.
'Alex, calm down,' said Mrs Jones.
'We are still going to send someone in,' said Alan Blunt. 'To catch Scorpia while we know where they are.' Alex frowned. Alan Blunt obviously expected him to be placated by that, but he wasn't.
'If you send in an agent, they'll kill Anya!' shouted Alex, getting riled up again. He was angry that MI6 had taken the ransom note. He was angry that they were trying to override his decision.
'That is true,' said Alan Blunt, 'but our agent might be able to attack Scorpia before they can kill the girl.'
'Scorpia will kill Anya at the sight of any agent,' said Alex, glaring at Mr Blunt.
'That is a risk I am prepared to take,' said Alan Blunt.
'But I'm not prepared to risk Anya dying!' shouted Alex, infuriated. He stood up and pushed Fox away from him. 'I'm going to go after her, and you can't stop me,' said Alex. He stormed out of the room and ran, wanting to get away from the devils in Alan Blunt's office.
When Anya woke up, she was hurting. She felt like someone had stuck her into a boxing ring, and she'd been caught up in the fight between the two boxers. Her eyes flickered open, and scanned her surroundings.
She was not in English class, like she was meant to be. Hadn't she fallen asleep in English –
Anya gasped. The memories came rushing back – the lockdown bell, the toilet, Kiara… And she tried to scream but no sound came out, and suddenly she was aware that she was tied to a chair and had duct tape over her mouth.
Shit, thought Anya. She struggled, hoping to find a weakness in the ropes or any way of escaping, but whoever had her was good enough to make sure that didn't happen, and she didn't get anywhere. It didn't stop her from trying, though. She closed her eyes, gathered up all the energy in her, and squirmed in the chair, trying to loosen the ropes, but nothing happened.
Last time she had been kidnapped, she'd been guarded by a professional assassin whose code name was Viper. She'd escaped… how had she escaped? Oh yeah, Yassen had killed Viper and she had run away with Alex.
But now, Yassen wasn't here, Alex wasn't here, and she was alone, and she was helpless.
Shit, she thought, shit indeed.
It was all up to her now. So she struggled and struggled, knowing that her life might depend on getting out now. She kept going even when the friction of the ropes up against her skin was hurting her, even when she could feel her skin being rubbed away, leaving bare flesh underneath.
Anya only stopped struggling when she felt the touch of cold metal at the back of her neck. She froze, and her brain was overtaken by panic. Someone had a gun to her neck.
'Stay still,' a voice said sternly. 'We wouldn't want you to hurt yourself, now would we?'
Alex felt someone grab him from behind, putting two firm hands on his shoulders and picking him up off the ground.
'Alex,' said Fox. Alex flailed in midair, but Fox was twice his size. 'Alex, calm down. Mrs Jones doesn't want you running off on your own.
Fox put Alex back on the ground and reluctantly he went back to Alan Blunt's office.
'What is it?' Alex asked, annoyed. This was his decision, and Anya's life, not just some other MI6 operation that Blunt was treating it like.
'I told you, you can't go in,' said Alan Blunt. 'You'll get killed.'
'I outsmarted them once,' argued Alex. 'I can do it again.'
'That was a matter of luck,' said Alan Blunt. 'This time they have more leverage, because they have your friend hostage.'
'Which is why I have to go. Alone. You shouldn't have even got the ransom note in the first place – it was for me.'
'Alex, you're being foolish,' said Mrs Jones, losing her gentleness. 'Rushing in there like a hero in the movies is not going to do anything but get you killed.'
'Not if I can help it,' said Alex.
'Alex. You can't go in,' said Blunt bluntly.
'And what are you going to do about it? Put me in a locked facility and refuse to let me out until this whole thing is over?' mocked Alex.
Neither Mrs Jones nor Alan Blunt spoke.
'You're not…' Before Alex could finish his sentence, someone grabbed him from behind and he lost consciousness.