Sergeant Daniel Sanders sat at his desk, drumming his fingers on the polished oak wood. MI6 had informed him of the new temporary addition to the SAS – Cub was coming back. The small, blond and quiet schoolboy that had been here… what was it? Four, or was it five, years ago?
MI6 had clued him in on Cub's status. Safe to say, he was disturbed and troubled.
Apparently, Cub was considered as the top; one of the best intelligence operatives in the entire fucking world.
Sanders had difficulty just wrapping his head around that. Dear, young Cub. The best of MI6. He couldn't have been more than a teenager when he was last at SAS, so what had happened so quickly in the past five years to get him up there? He knew Cub had been on missions, but… who exactly was he?
Cub was due to arrive any minute now and Sanders leaned back in his chair, shutting away the confusion and wonder so the man known for making SAS a living hell was present and centre.
As if on cue, a hard knock sounded on the door to his office.
Whatever Sanders was expecting, was not the person he was seeing in front of him now. Almost dumbstruck, the only thing that saved him was the factor of how long he'd worked in the SAS. Emotions were easy to hide.
The Sergeant studied the handsome young man in front of him. Blank face, but serious eyes. Tall, around six foot two inches, with a solid frame. Broad shoulders tapered down to a slim waist – Sanders would bet all his money that women swooned over a guy like this – and his blond hair was lightened by the sun. He looked nothing of the quietly innocent Cub the Sergeant remembered.
As the man strode into the room, Sanders couldn't help but notice the powerful, languid gait he had. Cub was never that confident, nor did he command so much… attention.
He would make a fine leader, Sanders absently assessed. "Do you know why you're back here, Cub?"
Dark amusement seemed to flash through his brown eyes. "Refresher course. And protection, of course."
Protection? This was news to Sanders; and he didn't like surprises. "Protection from what?" he asked sharply. "Does it put my men in danger?"
"Not necessarily." Cub said lightly. "Apparently, I've caused too much of a ruckus with a few of the terrorist organisations. They've gotten pissed and now they're after me." He pulled a sour face. "It doesn't help that somebody put a hit out on me worth a couple zero's."
A few terrorist organisations? A couple zero's? thought Sanders incredulously, just who was Cub?
"MI6 thought, instead of leaving me to my own devices, where I'd surely destroy a whole city, sink a couple ships and maybe accidentally shoot some important politician and a few civilians, they decided putting me back here was for the best. And I agreed, because what other protection could be better than a whole camp full of SAS soldiers who are trained to handle terrorists?"
Floundering around at the bombardment of information, Sanders cleared his throat. "Could you tell me your real name, Cub?"
"That's against protocol, sir, and against MI6. But then again, when have I ever listened to them?" Cub smiled. "Everywhere I go on a mission, it's like everybody knows my name. Sometimes, I don't know why I bother going undercover. I don't know if you've heard of me, sir, but my name is Alex Rider."
Forgetting about the Sergeant he was supposed to be, Sanders slammed a fist down onto his desk in utter shock. "Alex Rider? My god, Cub, of course I know of you!" He started rattling off the rumours that had been flying around for years now in the British militia. "You parachuted into a museum and shot at the Prime Minister. You skateboarded down a mountain on an ironing board. There were rumours about you stopping some nuclear detonation. We heard you were on Air Force One, and one of the men here witnessed you fighting some guy on a hot air balloon, he also saw the satellite fall out and squash a woman."
Cub winced at that.
Sanders stared at Cub, only now realising everything he'd just said was done by the person standing there like it was all normal.
"One of the less believable tales was that you went up to space, but I didn't believe that could have – it's true, isn't it?" The resigned look that had entered Cub's eyes confirmed it.
"You were the agent to take down Scorpia." Sanders blurted out.
At the mention of Scorpia, the Sergeant noticed Cub's mouth tighten in barely restrained anger. His eyes were cold and pitiless. "I was." No other information was offered. Sanders knew a touchy topic when he saw one.
Over the initial shock of who Cub really was, Sanders collected himself. "It was said you were thrown into a pit of scorpions at one point. You somehow managed to escape that, and then got tossed into another pit, but this time, full of king cobras. You were bitten by both animals, but still managed to get out of that and stop multiple assassins from killing the President of the United States. All while you had seven bullets in you as well."
Cub's lips twitched as he struggled to keep back a smile. "Actually, sir, it was a pit of scorpions, then a pit of lions – they thought it'd be a funny cliché – and then a pit of cobras. I got bitten by the cobras and I was only shot twice – I seriously doubt anyone could survive seven bullets – and drugged at the time. I could barely walk straight. Took me a day or two to recover, and then I only just managed to get to the White House in time. I basically fell on top of the President after securing the perimeter. Having a few injuries does that to you. The ones who stopped the assassins was CIA. Afterwards, the President offered to have me over for dinner and a talk – I guess me pulling my self-made stitches and bleeding all over him, kind of made us fast friends – but I declined."
Sanders could feel his mouth open and closing and opening again. He asked the first question that popped into his mind. "Why the hell would you decline dinner with the President?"
Shoulders shrugged. "I keep away from the government as much as I can – aside from the missions, obviously. He wanted to offer me a medal too, but I told him to just keep my identity as secret as he could." Cub smiled wryly. "I guess he either told someone who I was, or more people who knew me saw me there then I thought. But then again, even if he did, my file is now protected by MI6 as well as CIA, homeland security, and all these other American services, so I guess it all works out. If someone wanted it, they'd have to go through a hell of a lot of protection, firewalls and encryption codes to get it."
"The President offered you a medal and you decline? Just because you don't like the government?"
"Amazing," Sanders muttered. Cub spoke of the government, secret or otherwise, with such familiarity and ease. "Aren't you compromising security?"
Cub shook his head. "Did I tell you who threw me into the pits? Did I tell you why I was thrown in there? I didn't tell you who the assassin's were. I didn't tell you anything."
"But you told me there was an almost assassination attempt on the President." The Sergeant pointed out.
"There are always attempts on the President, just like there are on our own Prime Minister."
Sanders nodded his understanding in Cub's reasoning.
"Besides, even if I do tell you about my missions, you aren't going to tell anyone. Are you, sir?" A cool mask slipped on to Cub's face, and Sanders had the impression that his next answer had to be the right answer.
"Who do you think I am, Cub? And why the hell do you think I'm here?" He felt a bit insulted at the fact that Cub would imply he would betray his country.
"Just making sure, sir."
"So I heard you flew a commercial plane full of passengers to safety. In the ocean. Why?"
"I found the pilot in one of the toilets, dead, alongside the co-pilot. The plane had been flying on auto-pilot. And I didn't really fly the plane to safety; a flight attendant helped me along. I'd only taken so many flight lessons. I did take out the terrorists who were responsible, though."
"It's said you sunk an island into sea."
Cub surprised the Sergeant with hearty laughter. "That would be a lie."
"So you didn't."
"No, I didn't sink an entire island into sea." Cub admitted. "But I did manage to almost destroy the island in question. Bomb's were about this size," he made out a small object, about the size of a basketball, "but the explosions were huge. Almost flattened the entire island – and kill myself in the process." He talked about having a near death experience so casually. Like an everyday occurrence.
"And what about –"
There was another knock on his door. "Enter!" Sanders barked out. He still had stories to be confirmed and questions to be answered. A young man poked his head in. "What is it?"
"K Unit has arrived and are waiting outside, sir."
He gave an irritated sigh. "Give me a minute, Heath."
"Yes, sir." And the man closed the door.
Sanders turned to Cub, who'd become blank and silent again. "You remember K Unit? They split up for a time after selection, but then got back together."
A smirk. "How could I not? They made it hell on earth for me during those two weeks. Fox is good though."
It struck Sanders at that moment. He had completely forgotten about the soldier who'd been promoted to MI6 years ago. "Ah, yes, how is Fox?"
"Like I said, good. I did a mission with him, back when I'd started getting my… reputation. I've bumped into him from time to time, but haven't been on another mission with him since. He's working his way up in MI6."
A small kindle of feeling found its way in Sanders; he was proud of his soldier. Even if he didn't like MI6.
Another irritable knock tapped on his door. "Ah, sir?"
"I'd rather not have anyone knowing who I really am. I know they're gonna know I'm from MI6, but I'll tell K Unit about the other stuff only when I have to."
A sly smile appeared on Sanders face – Cub was going to be a surprise to the SAS indeed. "It's against protocol, remember?"
Cub gave a relieved smile. "Thank you, sir."
Author's note: Another idea I had - I have a bunch in my head that I need to put down on paper ): But I'm not quite sure where this will head. Any ideas, readers? I'd really love some help.