A/N : So, I'm starting another story. Another SAS story... erm... yeah. Oh well, hopefully you'll find this different enough that you will find it interesting anyway. Ok, so this story is nearly finished, writing wise. It's got 22/23 chapters, plus an epilogue n prologue, so yeah... hope you enjoy it.

Warnings for the story : PLEASE READ. WILL ONLY BE LISTED ONCE ! Violence, language, brief mentions of psycho-active drugs and mental conditions, betrayal. I don't think there's anything triggering, but I cannot be sure as I'm not a psychologist, nor am I an expert in the individual problems of my readers, I can't be certain, so please take care. That being said, I don't believe this is as bad as Perfectly Normal, and no where near as bad as Past of Shadows, so you should be ok.

DISCLAIMER : I own nothing you recognise.


Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori:
mors et fugacem persequitur virum
nec parcit inbellis iuventae
poplitibus timidove tergo.

"How sweet and fitting it is to die for one's country:
Death pursues the man who flees,
spares not the hamstrings or cowardly backs
Of battle-shy youths."

Horace, Ode III.2.13

Alex had had enough. He was sick of being used and threatened and blackmailed by the very people who were supposed to protect him. So when they called him in to investigate the distribution of illegal passports by a government official, he had started making plans.

When he was asked to gain proof by buying a passport, he actually bought two. One cost rather more than the other and was rather better quality and came with various other papers that could give him a completely new life. It was also completely unknown about by MI6.

He waited a couple of weeks then took a walk with Jack. In the middle of a park, he told her of his plan. He was disappearing. Jack was sad to see him go, but understood his reasons. She made plans to visit family over Christmas. She even booked a return ticket for Boxing Day. She would, according to her flight details, be gone a total of three days. He would disappear at the start of the Christmas holidays. When November came, they started to surreptitiously sell things in the house for cash. To a casual observer, it wouldn't seem bare, just minimalistic, but in reality everything that wasn't needed to keep the cover was sold.

Three days before he was due to leave, he went to a local bank and opened an account in his new name.

On the day, he said good bye to Jack and left.

And so fourteen year old Alex Rider became sixteen year old John Sanders.


The Sergeant looked out across the field. A group of soldiers were pulling themselves across a wire. There was one, in particular, who was fast, agile and skilled. The Sergeant dismissed him. Just because he was good at crossing a wire did not mean he would be good enough to join the SAS.

"David!" called a voice behind him, and he turned around, a smile on his lips.

"Michael," he greeted the man.

"How go things in the SAS? You're not here to steal more of my favourites, are you?"

David grimaced apologetically. "Sorry, but yes. Any you would recommend?"

Michael smiled, "Shall we do this inside?" he asked.

David nodded and they both walked into Michael's office.

"So," said David. "Are there any?"

"That depends what you're looking for," replied Michael

The Sergeant shrugged. "Anyone with potential, really. As long as they've completed their training and had some experience, enough to prove themselves at least."

Michael frowned. "There is one, actually, but it depends on your age limit. He's called Sanders – John Sanders. He really is the best I've seen in a while. Crack shot with a gun, second Dan Karate and is fluent in at least three languages. He works well under pressure and is a good leader, as well as being able to follow orders, unless they're really dumb ones – he absolutely refuses to put his team at unnecessary risk if he can see a way to get the job done without it. Bloody brilliant strategist on the spot, though he does tend to let plans ahead of time be a little vague..."

"Sounds perfect, but what were you saying about his age?"

"He's seventeen, and won't turn eighteen until February next year."

The Sergeant raised an eyebrow. "When did he join?"

"About five months ago, and most of that has been on active duty."

"Bloody hell," said the Sergeant, genuinely impressed. Most people, hell, everyone, took far longer than that to complete training. "What's his story?"

"Honestly? No idea. The kid turned up one day with his life on his back and has been ever here since. He hasn't even taken any leave. His file says that his parents died shortly after his sixteenth birthday. My guess is that he doesn't have anyone to go home to."

"How does he get along with the other troops?"

"Surprisingly well, considering he beats them at everything. The new recruits seem completely loyal to him, since he started helping them with their training on his own time. Gets on well with the other soldiers, apart from a few fights at the start with the older ones, but that was quickly sorted out. They were just annoyed at being beaten, and once he kicked their arses a time or two and then invited them all out for a drink – on him – it was fine."

"Does this kid have any weaknesses?" asked David, exasperated.

"He is slightly claustrophobic, but he can deal with it easily enough. We sent him to the psychologist about that once, and the guy said it seemed to be from a bad past experience, but Sanders refused to elaborate. It doesn't really affect him much, so we didn't push it. Also, he has quite a nasty scar on his chest, I thought he had been shot at first, but apparently he simply had a bad biking accident when he was younger – clipped the curb and went flying off, landing with part of a metal pole half way through his chest."

The Sergeant deliberated. In truth, Sanders sounded perfect, but was seventeen just a little too young? He sighed. "Well he wouldn't be the youngest to train there, I guess. Call him over, I want to meet him."

Michael opened a window. "Sanders!" he called. "Get your arse over here!"

David grinned. "So polite," he murmured. Michael had never bothered with the normal way of doing things, and it had got him in trouble more than once in training, if David remembered rightly.

David looked out through the window, just in time to see one of the soldiers who had been on the wire launch himself off the edge of the platform and grab one of the supports to slow his fall.

"Did he just...?"

Michael grimaced. "His sense of self-preservation isn't the best," admitted the man. "But he'll never compromise an assignment. He doesn't seem care too much about himself, but he cares a lot about the teams he works with, and won't disadvantage them by getting injured."

The Sergeant shook his head. "Strange," he commented.

Michael nodded his agreement, before adding, "He's still the best soldier I've seen in... well, in a long time."

David shook his head and leant back in his seat.

The door opened behind him and he turned around… and froze.

"Michael," he said, his voice hoarse from shock. "Give us a minute, will you?"

Michael looked curiously at the two for a moment. Shock was clearly written on David's face, while Sanders' was carefully blank as he stood to attention by the door. He shook his head and walked out.

The Sergeant waited until the door closed, then spoke.



"What are you doing here, Cub?"

Cub frowned, "Sir?" he asked, quizzically.

"You are aware that MI6 have been tearing the country apart looking for you for the last six months, aren't you?"


"Then why do I find you training to be a soldier instead?"

"Don't know, sir."

"Cub," growled the Sergeant warningly.

Cub sighed, and relaxed. It was a clear indication that what was being said next was strictly off the record. "Permission to be completely plain, sir?"


"They used me. They wanted me to do things for them and, if I said no, they would blackmail me. Eventually I just got sick of it. Here I get treated like I have rights, I even get paid."

The Sergeant didn't miss the sarcastic intonation on the last part. MI6 had obviously really screwed up in this case.

"Why not just become a civilian?" he asked, curiously.

Cub lowered his head and looked at the floor. When he looked back up, his eyes were blank. "I guess I could have started a new life as a civilian, but that would have been harder sir. I would have had to find a school and a guardian. I don't fit in at school anymore, because of them, and it was easier just to disappear by myself than to bring Jack with me. And- And it's addictive, sir. I couldn't sit around doing nothing when I knew I could be doing something. Sir." Whether he showed his emotion or not, the Sergeant could hear both pain and passion behind his words.

"And give me one good reason why I shouldn't just turn you in now."

"What they were doing to me was illegal, sir," said Cub softly. "And just because they're the government, shouldn't mean that they are above the law."

"They need you, Cub."

The younger man's face hardened. "With all due respect, sir, they don't. The world has managed just fine without me to keep it turning."

"That's true, I guess," murmured the Sergeant. He was silent for a moment or two then asked, "What would you do if I turned you in?"

"I'd get out again, and leave the country. Go somewhere where MI6 has no jurisdiction. Maybe Canada, or France. Get more fake papers and join the army there."

"Why join the army, again?"

"It's not that I didn't believe in what I was doing, sir; I just didn't believe in why I was doing it."

There was another pause as the Sergeant considered Cub's words.

"Are you going to turn me in, sir?"

The Sergeant sighed. "No, Cub, I'm not. And though I think I am going to regret this, I want you to join the SAS training team."

The grin that lit Cub's face was the first sincere emotion that he had shown.

"First I want to see your file, though. We're going to make a few changes."


A/N: So there you have it. The prologue. Review and tell me what you think? I'll try to have the next chapter up sometime over the weekend, but my laptop's gone in for repairs so my access to the internet may be a little dodgy. But here's hoping, right? Anyway, yeah. Review, please? Pretty please? With a cherry on top?

Oh, and huge shout outs to everyone who's helped with this! It's been around for four years or so, so if I forget someone, I'm really sorry. Off the top of my head… I can think of Timon x3…

And you really should be thanking BlackLightedClouds who convinced me you'd kill me if I made you wait six months for another story. (No, if you read FFH, I haven't abandoned it. I'm simply having slight writers block. I have the plot all sorted, it's just the wording.) Also, she's persuaded me to get on a Yuri(OC from PoS)/Tom fic called Shadows of the Past.

And if you don't read either, then you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. Oh well. It wasn't meant to be a plug. Sorry if it turned out like that.

Anyway, yeah, for the third time now - sorry for repeating myself, and for babbling -, Review!