The Venus Contract
Chapter 1: Aquarius
There are some things so secret, so covert and underground, dark and mysterious, that the secret could end a country. Not a soul would suspect.
When it sees the light of day, the secret is dismissed as pure gossip or farfetched conspiracy theories. And yet, all the "gossips" meet an unfortunate untimely end. An accident.
But with Aquarius, there are no accidents, there is no gossip. There is truth, and nothing more. An accident, call it what you like, but on the "flip-side," they do not exist.
Aquarius is the most dangerous, most alluring, most confidential organization in the world, unlike its twin.
Look out Scorpia, your double is closing in.
Jack ran. She ran through the cold clear night, splashing through puddles without a thought, flitting through the streetlights like an otherworldly specter. Lungs burning, legs cramping, sides aching, wounds throbbing, heart beating wildly, she dashed through the streets of London, not quite sure where she was headed. The only thing she knew to be true in this world full of sick secrets she had been dragged into: she was running in the opposite direction of them.
She had to tell Alex! She had to warn him! It had only been a matter of time before something like this had happened again, and she'd bar it from happening to him. Again…
Tears streaked through the mud and blood on her face, stinging the cuts and bruises she had acquired during her captivity. Wild eyes widened slightly as Jack recognized where her legs were taking her, she was on Liverpool Street. All was quiet, empty, bleak. She bowed her head and pushed harder, she didn't have time to gawk!
Run… Run and tell Alex…!
Her entirely exhausted mind only had room for those few thoughts. Catching herself as she slipped in a puddle, Jack raised her head searching. There! Right on the corner!
Royal & General Bank stood tall and proud on the corner, like the statue of some long forgotten king. Never slowing, Jack pushed through the glass double doors of the façade, her mind vaguely registering how very odd it was that anything was open this late, even the headquarters of MI6.
A guard and a lady sitting at the desk jumped in surprise as she burst into the lighted building. They both impulsively reached for their guns, wondering why such a dirty and shattered woman should be rushing into a "bank" at midnight.
She stumbled into the lobby, dripping sweat, blood, and mud onto the fancy polished floors. Shivering, she kept on coming, crazy eyes whipping around the room. It was almost as if she were scared of anything she couldn't see, the glass doors and windows. She glanced at the fish tank occupying a corner of the lobby and flinched violently.
Before the guard or receptionist could ask, dead and horrified eyes met the guards' for a single second. "Aquarius…" she muttered. Then, she fell to the ground, dead. A scarlet stain leaked through the back of her carrot-orange hair and blood trailed thinly out the side of her still open mouth.
There was nothing but silence, the last tinkles of shattering glass, and the echo of a gunshot for what seemed like eternity.
Suddenly, the receptionists scream then prompt action to faint woke the guard out of his reverie. He swore loudly, jumped behind the front desk (carefully avoiding the unconscious lady behind it) and pressed the panic button. Alarms blared throughout the building, red lights flashed, windows and doors initiated the lockdown sequence, becoming curtained by a metal screen, and all staff and agents in the area were notified of a security breach.
Tonight promised to be long and painful.
Across the street from the Royal & General Bank, a figure on the rooftop lowered his sniper rifle, frowning deeply. This had not been part of the plan. Starbright was not supposed to escape, to warn their possible adversary, to end up dead. She was to be quiet bait, a source of intel. Albeit she hadn't been stocked well with the information they wanted, it had been enough.
Silently, the figure stood from its previously stout position. It pulled out a communicator and spoke briefly before sprinting into the night.
Alfonsio had a report to make.
Mrs. Jones made a frustrated noise and flipped the page. Frowning, she analyzed the autopsy report before her:
…has identified some foreign chemicals circulating her system. Several hallucinogens, toxins, and stimulants have been identified. Disturbingly, we have also found traces of several "truth serums"…
Mrs. Jones bit her lip. Rider's guardian may have not known much about what had gone on with MI6, but she knew all about Rider's missions. That info was sensitive, on a need-to-know basis. She continued skimming:
…signs of abuse, possibly torture. She was killed by a bullet to the brain, dead before she hit the floor. Psychologists analyzed the tapes of her last minutes from surrounding buildings and the lobby. Showed signs of extreme emotional trauma and suspected psychosis. Identified drugs could be contributing factor…
She stopped reading as a sudden thought struck her, what would they tell Rider?
Sighing exasperatedly, she filed the folder away for later. Standing from her non-descript desk in her bland office, she walked to the wall opposite and knocked thrice on a large painting of a tree. A black and gray tree.
Her knocks were answered with a quiet beeping noise. The painting swung open to reveal Blunt's office. Any visitor would have thought the same designer had decorated both rooms, they were that similar.
Blunt didn't even bother to look up from his paperwork as Mrs. Jones strode through the hole in the wall. "Jones."
"Blunt," she replied curtly, "I'm sure you know why I'm here."
Now he glanced up, suspicion flickered across his normally stoic face. "Rider."
Mrs. Jones took a seat. "We must tell him we have found his guardian."
Blunt dropped everything he was doing. "Absolutely not."
"Wh… why not?" Mrs. Jones seemed surprised.
The man opposite her steepled his pale fingers before him, leaning on his desk. "If we were to tell Rider his guardian was killed in our lobby after we had spent weeks fruitlessly searching for the girl, I don't think it would go over well."
Mrs. Jones found herself restraining a furious growl. "But…! Even if it wouldn't go over well, he has the right to know!" She couldn't imagine the heartbreak it might cause if they withheld such information from the boy.
Blunt let escape a harsh laugh. "And when have we ever been about rights, Jones?" He raised a condescending eyebrow at her.
Fists clenched, she was about to reply when the intercom on the desk came to life. "The man to retrieve Rider is in the lobby, sir."
Blunt pressed the reply button. "Good. Tell him to make it snappy."
Blunt refocused his attention on his colleague. "You were saying?"
Mrs. Jones was staring at the intercom. "Blunt," she paused, almost too horrified to ask, "'the man to retrieve Rider?' What are you doing with him?"
The shadow of a smirk adorned Blunts face. He was unusually expressive today. "I'm ensuring the safety of our secret weapon.
"I'm sending Rider to touch up his skills at Brecon Beacons."
. . . .
Authors Note: I believe what I'm doing is called "procrastination." Actually, I call it life, obsession, and a switch of fandoms.
Enjoy my first Alex Rider fic, it is soooo not a one-shot.