Summary: They think that this Mission is too low key for them. But it's harder than it looks. (A bit like writing a summary!). There are language issues and some adult imagery hence the rating.

Disclaimer: Just borrowing the characters...again

The Blood Queen


The rain was coming down in icy sheets, bouncing off the rough cobbles and rattling on the roofs of the industrial units that lined the street. Weak streetlights cast dirty orange light onto the pavement, but it barely made an impact on the impenetrable darkness of the early hours of the morning; eventually the whole area would be redeveloped, but for now it was simply a relic of an early time, crumbling into decay.

A woman turned the corner, her high heels striking the cobbles, echoing in the darkness. She wore a long leather trench coat which she instinctively drew around her to keep out the chill. Her cropped blonde hair was plastered to her head, making her smoky eyes look bigger than ever. She'd been at the club until the early hours, and the chances of getting a cab had gone from unlikely to downright impossible. Bloody typical.

Suddenly, a figure stepped out from a side street, directly into her path, and she gasped clutching her coat tighter around her slim body. The man who stood in front of her was tall, but lanky, his long legs clad in tight, tight black jeans that left little to the imagination; the Ramones t-shirt he'd been wearing at the club earlier was hidden under a leather biker jacket, but his black hair still stood up in spikes despite the rain. He leaned on the wall, stopping her from passing.

The woman smiled, but it wasn't friendly. 'Want to play?'

Chapter 1

The antique shop looked as though it hadn't seen a customer in decades – the dust on the display cases was so thick you could write your name in it, and a musty smell hung in the air like smog. As Jim Phelps walked through the door, a bell rang somewhere in the back of the shop, and a rather rat faced man, in a suit that was as old as he was, appeared in front of him.

'I understand that you have an interest in medals from World War 1. I have a particularly fine set of campaign medals including the 1914-15 Star, the Victory Medal and the Campaign Medal.'

'In fact, I'm more interested in the North Africa Campaign, which is largely overlooked in favour of the war in the trenches.' Jim responded, feeling the familiar frisson of adrenaline run through him as he wondered exactly what was waiting for him.

'I have an interesting collection of memorabilia in the rear showroom, if you would like to go through.' He did as he was bid, and saw the familiar black box nestling amongst the junk. As he had done hundreds of times before, he slipped in the disc and sat back to listen.

'Good morning Jim. Approximately three weeks ago a young man named Marcus Pearson disappeared whilst at University in London.' The screen showed what was obviously home movie footage of tall, slim young man, in his early twenties, with spikey black hair, playing a guitar and laughing into the camera. 'Marcus' disappearance has been reported to the police, but in their eyes he is an adult, and they have limited scope to investigate until a body is found. This is not a helpful conclusion. Jim, you may be wondering why your IMF team has been asked to intervene in a simple missing person's case? Eighteen years ago, when Marcus was a small child, his father Robert, an IMF agent working out of London was killed in a helicopter crash whilst on a mission. Marcus was brought up by his mother Lydia.' The screen showed a picture of a slight blonde woman, probably in her late forties. Despite himself, Jim was struck by the contrast between her fragile prettiness and the strength that shone from her blue eyes. 'The Secretary has maintained an interest in the family since Pearson's death, and has asked for your involvement as a personal favour. Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to travel to London and bring this young man home. As always, should you or any of your I.M. Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This recording will self destruct in five seconds. Good luck Jim'. The machine crackled, and smoke crept from around the edges, but Jim Phelps had already gone.

Shannon leaned over the balcony gazing at the dirty waters of the Thames that flowed below. A myriad of sighseeing boats plying the tourist trade wended their way between the fantastical bastion of Tower Bridge, down to the more refined Georgian splendour of Greenwich. Opposite, the Norman keep of the Tower of London shone in the pale light of the winter sun, and, if she leant out a bit further she could just make out the gothic splendour of the Houses of Parliament. The apartment, in a newly converted warehouse was spacious, and, thanks to the economic climate, extremely private as only a handful of the others had been sold.

'This place is wonderful. I just wish we were here under different circumstances.'

'We have it for the week, which should be enough.' Jim replied. Shannon didn't ask what for. They had a week to either find Marcus alive, or locate his body. They all hoped it would be the former.

Grant crashed through the door, his usual box of electronic tricks in his arms, followed by Nicholas and Max, both of whom were carrying what appeared to be the remnants of an explosion in a computer factory. They dumped the boxes of on the floor with a grimace.

'Are you sure you've got enough stuff here, buddy?' Max ribbed as he threw himself down on the sofa. Grant gave his team mate a broad grin.

'You never know what you're going to need. It's best to be prepared.'

'Go join the Boy Scouts.'

'So,' Nicholas turned to Jim, 'Are we really here on a missing person's case?'

'Yeah, why aren't the local cops handling it?' Max chipped in. 'Not that I mind being in London, but it's not our normal bag.'

'I have to agree Jim,' Grant added, 'It does seem more of a local issue. Not that a missing kid isn't important, but there doesn't seem to be a wider significance to this.'

'No, that's true.' Jim admitted, his face grave. 'But Marcus Pearson is not a usual missing person. His father Robert was an IMF agent killed in the line of duty. Marcus is in his final year of University, reading history, and was by all accounts an exemplary student, until a little over three weeks ago, when he failed to turn up for class. He has not returned to his lodging, contacted his family or been in touch with friends since then.'

'He's one of ours?' Jim nodded in response to Grant's question. 'Then I understand why we're here.'

'Could he have just dropped out?' Nicholas asked, 'maybe he was finding his final year stressful and has just gone off to clear his head. Happens to students a lot.'

'Particularly if they take one of your acting classes' Max joked. Nicholas gave him a mock glare, and Shannon rolled her eyes. Sometimes it was like working in a kindergarten.

'He's probably riding a surfboard somewhere.'

'The Secretary doesn't think so. Marcus is very close to his mother, and is highly unlikely to wish to inflict the stress of his disappearance on her. No, I fully believe that something untoward has happened to the young man.'

Nicholas and Max exchanged a glance. Unusual or not, a mission was a mission, and if one of their own was at risk, then they would both give it everything they had.

'Shannon, I want you to come with me to talk to Lydia Pearson. She may feel more comfortable with another woman around. Nicholas, Max, I want you to check out Marcus's student accommodation and talk to his tutors. Grant?'

'I know, you want a full electronic background, financials and medical and police records.'

'Any skeletons in the cupboard I want to know about them before they leap out and hit us. Let's get to it.'

He tried to open his eyes, but the dried blood had all but crusted them shut. His hands were manacled above his head, and the rough stone of the walls dug into his back. He'd lost track of how long he'd been here, confined in the damp darkness, but the whole of his body hurt, the cut wounds on his chest like individual wasp stings, burning with every breath. The sound of the door opening galvanised him, and he strained against the chains, but they held fast.

He heard her walk across the floor, the familiar sound of her boots echoing in the confined space, and the cloying sweetness of her perfume almost overwhelming. Part of him wished he could just die, so the pain would be over, but he didn't want to give her even an ounce of satisfaction. If staying alive was the only victory he could have, then he would take it.

He felt her breath on his cheek, and flinched away.

'Oh good, you're awake again. I thought I'd broken you this time.' He felt something cold and metallic against his ribs and began to shake uncontrollably.