Hey, peoples. Now, before I continue with this story, I have to add this minor detail: It IS spelt Scorpia, not SCORPIA. Anthony Horowitz himself uses Scorpia and I think I'm gonna go with what the man who wrote the books says. But that's just my opinion.

I know that I've spelt 'secret' wrong in my summary, but I had no more space to write it fully, and I guessed that my readers are smart enough to figure out that it really was secret and not secrt. I hope.

Alex is going to seem quite open in this chapter, but I figured that, with his 'occupation' (understatement of the year) revealed, he won't be as secretive, and besides, everyone loves classmates' reactions, right?

And I KNOW the first part of this is boring, okay?

Disclaimer: If I owned this, I wouldn't be writing a disclaimer, now would I?


Alex promptly shot the offending timepiece.

"Alex! What have I said about guns in bedrooms?" Jack called up the stairs.

Okay, maybe shooting his alarm clock was a bit extreme.

Alex quickly checked his windows for reporters, before rolling out of bed. He had a quick shower, got changed into a pair of dark jeans and a loose gray hoody (feeling that the hood would come in handy), and went down stairs for breakfast.

Grabbing a steaming pile of scrambled egg (courtesy of Jack), he sat down at the kitchen table and wolfed down his breakfast.

Tom was going to walk with him to school, so, while waiting for his friend to arrive, Alex switched on the TV. Big mistake.

"...and Alan Blunt, head of MI6, claims that he has never blackmailed Alex Rider in any way. Speaking of the teenage spy, the group of journalists who were stationed outside Rider's house were threatened with a grenade launcher and bombs if they didn't leave his lawn. In other news-"

Muttering about no-good news reports, Alex turned off the TV. He was about to give a nice long rant to the innocent television when the doorbell rang, announcing Tom's arrival.

Opening the door, Alex was greeted by his worried friend.

"Alex, are you sure you want to go to school?"

Alex sighed wearily. "Yes, as sure as I was yesterday when I told you at least a dozen times, I am going to school."

"Okay, Oka- What are you doing?" Tom asked in alarm as Alex rolled up the sleeve of his shirt and strapped a lethal-looking knife to his arm.

"Some reporters are really insistent," Alex replied, checking that his gun had still had bullets after his alarm clock's unfortunate death that morning.

At Tom's disbelieving stare, he shrugged. "MI6 gave me a call after you left- they said that all my enemies would know where I am now, and I need to be ready for anything. It's perfectly likely that they'll launch an attack at school, and in my experience, they'll have guns."

"Right..." Tom quickly got over his shock, and changed the subject. "Then, if you're so sure about going to school, we should leave. Teenage spy or not, you're not immune to detentions."

Laughing, Alex grabbed his backpack, and the two headed out the door.

"All clear," Tom stated, and Alex slid out from under the bush he had been hiding in. They were about two minutes away from Brookland when a group of media vehicles came speeding past, hoping to intercept the teenage spy on his way to school. They had no idea how close they came to doing just that.

As they walked up to the entrance of Brookland Comprehensive School, Alex pulled the hood of his sweater up. He ordered Tom to do the same.

"Why me?"

"'Cause everyone knows we're best mates, and when they see you and an unknown stranger, they'll put two and two together. They may not have twigged that I've work for MI6 for the past year, but they're not that stupid. I hope," explained Alex.

Tom muttered under his breath about know-it-all spies, but pulled his hood up anyway.

Alex managed to get all the way to his locker before someone recognised him.

"Hey, it's Alex!"

Every head in the hallway seemed to turn his way.

"You know," Tom observed loudly, trying to break the tension, "If you get discovered in a school hallway, I cannot comprehend how you manage to stay under cover."

Alex laughed lightly, pointedly ignoring the fact that all eyes were on him. "Well, in my experience, insane Russian millionaires hell-bent on destroying the world don't pay attention to detail."

Tom frowned. "Always Russian?"

"Usually. Although they don't have to be millionaires. They can be assassins, too."

During that small exchange, Alex had gathered his books from his locker. Slamming the door shut, he turned around and raised an eyebrow, as if noticing the entire student body for the first time.

"Don't you have classes to go to or something? I know I do, though I don't see how I can get to them with everyone blocking the way. I mean, Tom still has the grenade launcher, but that's a bit drastic."

Predictably, the hallway cleared pretty quickly.

Making their way to their first class (World Studies), Alex tried to ignore the staring crowd. One girl even asked him for his autograph, to which he stared unrestrainedly. Blushing furiously, she darted off down the corridor.

"It's like they think I', some ruddy movie star!" he muttered at Tom, who sniggered.

"Well, you are, in a roundabout way. MI6 put all these videos of you on the news while you were... missing. You never told me you snowboarded down a mountain on an ironing board!"

"They got a video of that?" asked Alex incredulously. Tom nodded. "They get a video of me doing extreme sports on household utensils when they could have helped get me out of there!"

Tom laughed and pushed open the door to the World Studies classroom.

"It's not funny! There were more than twelve bullets in that snowsuit..." he trailed off as they walked into the classroom. Luckily, they were two of the first people there, and Alex wouldn't have to endure more shameless staring. It would still be a while before class started, so Alex passed the time by showing Tom the cell phone MI6 had given him.

"Don't touch that!" he exclaimed as Tom moved to tap the camera lens, which protruded slightly more than usual than on a regular iPhone.

"Why? Will it explode?" Tom asked in alarm, snatching his hand away.

Alex rolled his eyes. "No. It shoots tranquiliser darts. It's a feature that Smithers decided to keep from before MI6 allowed me to take a gun on missions. Anyway, the phone has a direct link to the 'Bank', right to Jones' or Blunt's office. Unfortunately, "Alex grimaced, "they also have a direct link to me, and can call whenever they like now that my 'job' is out in the open. It's also a bug detector, Geiger counter, a communications link with K-unit and Ben-" he snapped his mouth shut as students began to trickle in.

"So basically, they can all harass you whenever they want, even in class time?"

"Yup," replied Alex, popping the 'P'.

"Lucky you," said Tom dryly.

Alex was about to reply, but just then the teacher, Miss Shale, decided to make an entrance. She was one of the newer teachers at Brookland, young with curly blond hair. She seemed quite nervous today, and Alex thought he knew why.

"Good morning class. Please find a seat," she said eyes on Alex. "Mr. Rider, would you please join me outside for a moment?"

Alex stood and followed edgy teacher into the hall, noticing that, once again, all eyes were on him.

"Alex, the other teachers and I need you to know, if any students give you any hassle, you must inform us immediately, okay?"

Alex blinked in surprise. "Uh... Sure..."

"Good," she offered him a tentative smile. "And... welcome back, I suppose."

Alex thanked her, and, at the teacher's indication, walked back into class.

Miss Shale seemed a lot less flustered now that she had gotten that out the way.

"Over the next two weeks, we will be looking at animal cruelty and human rights around the world. To start us off, I'll put a video of a particular horror on the animal kingdom up on the darter projector. Alice, can you get the lights?"

After said girl switched the lights, Miss Shale started the video. Alex cursed his luck as the topic was revealed in the form of the title:



Andrea Shale scanned the classroom, observing the different reactions of her students. Most of the girls were sitting with hands over their mouths, eyes wide with horror. The boys at the back of the classroom weren't even paying attention, having decided that paper football was much more interesting than the video. The rest of the class were still staring at Alex Rider. When she saw the boy in question, she did a double take. His reaction was unlike any other in the class.

His eyes were cold, hard and emotionless. His mouth was set in a grim line. His whole body was stiff, and he looked like wanted to bolt for the door.

Andrea quickly turned the video off. There some weak protests from the students, but she silenced them with a mild glare.

"Now, did you all see the cruelty those animals have been dealt?" she asked the class at large. "Can you imagine what they must feel like?"

To her surprise, Alex raised his hand. She nodded in his direction.

"I feel quite sorry for the matadors. After all, they are the ones with the four hundred and sixty tonne bull bearing down on them. And after being in that situation, I don't have much pity on the bulls. Those things are mean."

Andrea forgot all about her position as a teacher, and stared. "You went bullfighting?" she almost squeaked.

Alex shrugged, looking sheepish. "Not by choice. It's a long story, involving an assassin, a mad pop star and an agency that really doesn't believe the things it should." He looked mildly angry at this.

"But, hey, that's in the past. Still don't like bulls, though." He muttered the last part under his breath.

The rest of the lesson passed rather uneventfully, but class was still absorbing that small bit of information. It amazed them that he could be so casual on past experiences that would terrify any of them.

It was during maths that the next interesting thing happened. Everyone was working on the complicated algebra question the teacher had assigned, when Alex sat up very quickly in his desk, head tilted slightly, and glanced sideways out of the window. He fixed his eyes on a sturdy tree, and chuckled humourlessly. Unnecessarily loudly, he said, "Wouldn't it be nice if nosy organizations told people that they were tracking them?" Ignoring the confusion of his classmates, he got up, walked over to the window, and opened it. Then, glaring at the innocent tree, he said, "I know you're there, Ben."

When nothing happened, he said, much more threateningly, "Ben, if you don't come out of that tree right now, I'll take you're a Scorpia assassin and shoot you. So I suggest you show yourself."

There was a moment's silence, and then a fit young man with closely cropped black hair dropped from the tree.

"How do you do that?"complained the man. He had a Liverpudlian accent. "It's just so dang irritating!" He scowled, before climbing in through the window.

"Rider?" asked the bewildered maths teacher. "Who- Who is this?"

"Ben Daniels," replied Alex, "He sometimes goes on missions with me*."

"Hi," supplied Ben.

"If you would please excuse us, I need to ask my friend here why he shows up unannounced at my school." With that, Alex dragged his sometimes-partner out into the hall.

"What are you doing here?" he hissed furiously.

"Whoa, whoa!" exclaimed Ben holding his hands up defensively. "I just wanted to check to see if you're okay."

Alex raised an eyebrow.

"Okay, fine. MI6 sent me in to pick you up and take you to headquarters. They want a full debriefing."


"They also told me that if you refuse," Ben looked confused, "to ask you 'How is Miss Starbright?'. Is that code for something?"

Alex scowled. "In a manner of speaking. Let's just go, okay?"

Ben blinked. That code must mean something important.

Alex stuck his head inside the classroom. "Sorry, sir, but I have to go."

The teacher, who had been staring at the door along with rest of the class, looked bewildered. "Why?"

"MI6 has a rotten sense of timing," Alex said.

"Right, right," said the educator, looking flustered. "Off you go."

"Tom, do you mind taking my homework with you? Oh, and don't be to surprised when the Royal and General Bank is blown sky high."

Well? Waddaya think?

*This is after CT, but Alex has done a few more missions since then.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE send plot ideas in your reviews, 'cause I've got nothing, and if you want another update anytime soon, give me something to work on. I was... distracted while I worked on this, so please point out anything I got wrong.

I will now give you a short lesson on hypnosis:


...now cluck like a chicken.