Julius opened his eyes half expecting to be dead, but alas, he wasn't. Instead, he was lying on an ersatz mattress in pain. It didn't take him long to realise that he was in a makeshift basement; above him he could see slithers of artificial light shining through what he presumed were wooden floor boards .He could hear feet creaking the floor boards and people speaking to each other in Arabic above him. He had no way of telling whether it was night or day. Being held hostage by the grubby locals might possibly be worse than death. He only hoped that he had not been caught by SCORPIA.
The last thing he could remember was being in a knife fight against a gang of street kids. He would have beaten them if there wasn't so many of them lunging at him at one time like feral monkeys. It caused him some confusion. Why didn't they kill him already?
He had nothing better to do but to lie there in silence. As much as he wanted to, he was still too weak and injured to try to break out. There were also tight chains attached to his ankles and wrists that were attached to the ground he was lying on. He was cold, thirsty, hungry and injured. If he didn't die of a wound infection there was always dehydration, starvation and hypothermia.
It was a while before someone would switch on a light bulb. The bright light temporarily blinded him. He heard someone walking down wooden stairs, humming absentmindedly as they came down. Julius turned his head to see a girl about his age come towards him holding a cup of water and a blanket. She was wearing an Islamic veil that only left her face visible, he forgot exactly what they were called.
With a gasp, she noticed that he was awake and called out. Surely enough two older boys had come down – Julius recognised them as the two of the boys he had fought against. He was sure that the Arab boys were the girl's older brothers. They circled around his mattress in a vulture-like manner, glaring down at him with eyes on faces that he could not see in the dim light. It didn't intimidate Julius, to the contrary, it somewhat amused him.
"Hello Alien, we have been waiting for you to wake up." One of them said.
"Why am I not dead? How can you speak English?" Julius asked them feebly, it embarrassed him to be so weak.
"Yes, we have thought about killing you but we then decided that you were too talented to kill outright. We need a fighter like you. So we are giving you the option to either join us or die."
"It's also none of your business why we can speak English. We do what we must to survive." Replied the other in a more aggressive tone, also giving him a sharp kick.
"By joining us you will live and prosper. If not we will kill you right now. If you betray us then we will also kill you, but more painfully and slowly. The choice is yours, Alien."
Julius was instantly angered by the awful nickname they had given him but said nothing; he wasn't in a position where he could fight. Obviously he would have no choice but to agree with them, but he was sure that he could abandon them in no time and go back to his free delinquency on the streets.
It was the first time in a couple of weeks that Alan Blunt had put aside time for the Julius Grief case. He had been so busy with other affairs, but this case had a habit of sticking to the back of his mind. As usual he would first look over the files to make sure all information was accounted for. Alan Blunt then allowed for the boy to be sent in.
It instantly occurred to him that if they wanted to be able to find Julius they needed more intimate details on his background. Dr Flint failed to break through the boy's barriers during counselling, so they would need to extract information from someone else. Someone who had known the inner workings of Point Blanc and knew the kind of skills that Julius would have been taught.
Out of all the clones of Dr Grief, Napoleon Grief was deemed to be the one that they could trust the most. Even before laying eyes on the boy Alan knew that he could only trust him as far as he could throw him. Napoleon was a very last resort, a very last resort. The clock was ticking and they had to find Julius soon, for Alex's sake at least. Napoleon was perhaps their only chance at finding him.
"What is it that you want with me?" Napoleon had asked this question in an abrupt and cynical tone.
Standing in the doorway of his office was a tall, weedy, blond and menacing teenage boy. Napoleon Grief had all of the surgical modifications removed. He reminded Alan of the stereotypical teenager; clad in black from head to toe and his attitude was filled with angst.
Napoleon was sixteen and had spent two years impersonating Felix Johnson, the bratty and sociopathic son of a wealthy and powerful American couple. Felix Johnson died during his imprisonment in Point Blanc and his family made a request that Napoleon be reverted to looking like his natural self.
It was during his stay at the Johnson residence that he had a generally kind relationship with the Johnsons' unfortunate younger daughter, Alannah Johnson. He was only clone who had ever displayed any act of genuine kindness, even for a moment. His psychiatrist had also reported that he believed Napoleon did have some sort of conscience and was not a complete antisocial. Though it would have been considered unprofessional, the psychiatrist did note that he found the boy generally obnoxious.
"We want you to help us. Come take a seat." Alan Blunt gave a fake smile as an attempt of assurance or at least if you could say that Blunt was able to smile, it looked more like a wooden grimace. The boy almost threw himself on the chair, sitting in a rebelliously lax but stern way.
"It has to be a damn good reason," The adolescent said with a petulant roll of his eyes, "Otherwise, why would you import me from the US under the name Cedric Brendan Wilson? I was quite happy being on the other side of the North Atlantic Ocean."
"Yes it is. We want you to help us find your brother, he's lost."
Napoleon raised his eyebrows, "You must remember that I have fifteen of them. Which one and why?"
"We want you to help us to find Julius, your youngest brother. We will give you more information once you agree to help us."
It was then that Napoleon's face gave to an involuntary grimace. Obviously there wasn't much brotherly love between him and Julius. That was good thing for the mission.
"We'll give you almost anything you could possibly want; money, freedom, permanent and full British citizenship."
"Why would I want to become a citizen of this drab and cold country? Especially if I have to go by the name of Cedric Brendan Wilson. Besides, I'm quite happy being stateless at the moment and since my father's home country wants absolutely nothing to do with me; there isn't really anywhere I would really like to go. I'll do it only for freedom and money. I would like lots of money."
An idea occurred to Alan; maybe he could find more ways to manipulate Napoleon Grief into working for MI6 in the future. He would definitely have the necessary skills for MI6's disposal and unlike Alex he didn't really have any family or friends, nobody would miss him at all if something bad happened to him.
Alan Blunt then proceeded to explain what had happened to Julius. He showed Napoleon pictures of Alex Rider and explained what had happened in Cairo.
"Well good, I'm glad the whelp died." Napoleon stated abruptly.
"Excuse me? Alex Rider was a good boy and largely missed. You should at least show respect for a dead person, even if you never knew them."
"That is your failure, not mine. I'm just glad that the boy who killed my father died. I'm also glad that it was Julius who was surgically altered to look like him and not any other of us. He was always my least favourite brother."
Alan didn't know what to say to this. To Napoleon Grief, Alex Rider would only be the boy who killed his father and nothing more. He didn't know Alex as a person and how much good he had achieved for the world. Again with the brotherly love, it now made him curious as to why Napoleon was displaying such animosity towards a boy who shared exactly the same DNA.
"We want you to help us find Julius. We want to know what your father trained you boys to do and generally, just all you know about Julius. He is very dangerous and it is in public interest that he is detained."
"Yes, I will help you find him and I will tell you pretty much everything. The truth needs to come out anyway. Besides, society really would be better off without him. I also really want one other thing besides money."
"I want to go to Egypt to find him with MI6."
Allowing that would be against his better judgement, even mentioning it was utterly unorthodox and insane.
"Yes, we allow for that." He had to forcefully make the words come out of his mouth.
"Just tell me one thing, Napoleon-" Alan decided to make this a bit of a test, "Why do you hate Julius so much?"
This made Napoleon shuffle uncomfortably in his chair, "I've always disliked Julius, even when we were both really little. He was always the one who would try the hardest to please our father. When I was eleven and he was nine, a poor trespasser was caught on our property. Dad wanted me to shot him but I couldn't do it, so he got Julius to do it instead. Julius then shot at my feet for running away. He even taunted me about it for as long as I stayed at Point Blanc. I remember on one occasion he came into my room late at night and scratched my feet with a rusty nail because I purposely broke his toy train a couple of days before. I was lucky not to contract tetanus. At least Dad gave him a good couple of whacks for it."
Napoleon Grief then took off his black leather shoes and socks. Surely enough, Alan could see that there were multiple scratches on his feet. It looked rather nasty but not enough to impediment his ability to walk or run. Alan would have rather believed that such things did not happen to children, especially being forced to shoot a person.
"Ok, now you will return back to your hotel room. MI6 will collect you when you are needed. Do not leave the room for any reason other than an emergency."
Napoleon finished putting on his shoes and agreed. Alan Blunt then watched him leave the office.
'What a perplexing boy,' Alan thought to himself and frowned, 'I don't think we will trust him at all, yet again, we have no choice.'
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT IT WASN'T JULIUS THAT DIED! YOU MEAN THAT LITTLE FREAK IS STILL OUT THERE? WHY THE HELL DID IT TAKE YOU SO LONG TO FIND OUT!"
Abdul-Aziz Al-Rahim was now riddled with rage upon hearing that they had held a funeral service for Alex Rider in England and that it was Alex that had commit suicide, not Julius. DNA testing had ultimately proven it a couple of weeks ago. An informer had found out. For someone who didn't feel that much emotion, he was currently seething from head to toe.
He vigorously threw the phone at the wall, smashing it into pieces. There was no doubt that the person on the other end was feeling rather glad about their decision to deliver the news from a distance. Rahim was known to be violent at messengers for no reason other than they had delivered bad news.
Rahim then pulled out another phone (he had several spare for this reason), feverishly punched in the emergency number and started to bark orders. He wanted Julius Grief found as soon as possible and even was willing to destroy Cairo in the process.