A nearly-full room of people, arguing over a seemingly unknown topic.
Or maybe it was known, but not to the boy who nonchalantly walked in, hair and jacket damp from the light rain, fifteen minutes late. If he had been any other boy, the teen most likely would've been marched out of the conference room, possibly in handcuffs. However, there was an empty seat next to the boy, and he deftly slipped off his jacket, draped it over the back of the chair, and sat, unperturbed. He noted how quiet the room had became, how the man next to his right elbow stiffened slightly, and that the woman across from him was definitely texting, or doing something of that sort, on her phone. His grey-green eyes scanned the faces of those around him, a ghost of a smirk on his face.
At the head of the table, Alan Blunt smiled. So he did come, after all, the man thought to himself, slightly surprised. "Everyone," he announced
to the now-silent room, motioning to the vaguely familiar teenager, "This is Alexander Rider-"
Alex cleared his throat, leaning back in the uncomfortable office chair. "Actually, I prefer to be called Alex."
Alan would've rolled his eyes, but it seemed to be uncharacteristic for someone of his age. "Alex. Alex Rider. He's an operative who has undergone many successful field missions, and has...taken some time off." For lack of a better term. "He agreed to re-enter field ops, however."
Alex nodded, his eyes taking on a bit of a cold look to them. Jack is dead. There is nothing you can do about that. "Right. Now onto the mission briefing, I assume?"
A man spoke up- the one to his left, not to his right. "Alan, you're really going to let this... this... university student manage and run this op?"
Alex scoffed. "Well, I'm at least not considered a schoolboy anymore."
Another person voiced their argument, from across the table. "This is ridiculous. I cannot believe this."
The tension in the room was thick, and everyone was just tightly wound. The events from the past year had been stressful on everyone, especially those in the intel units. They hadn't gotten anything at all from any satellites or agents, most of whom had been captured and killed. Right now, all agents were on strict orders to stay in cover, and attempt to get back to their safehouses. If that didn't work, then the MI6 hoped for the best.
Blunt let out a sigh. "All of you, quiet!" He snapped, and a projector turned on, and the lights in the room shut off.
Appearing on the screen was a picture- quite simple, actually. If Alex hadn't known better, he would've thought nothing of it. It was a picture of a group of four girls, four boys. They appeared to be at school, and were wearing different uniforms. One boy wasn't wearing one at all, but simply dress clothes. The girls were adorned in short, most likely modified, dark, plaid skirts, untucked white dress shirts, and grey sweater vests. The boys - outside of the one in a suit - were wearing plain khaki slacks, and untucked shirts rolled to the elbow. They were all smiling, the boys holding the hand of a respective girl: a short, brown haired girl was holding the hand of a tall blonde; another with mocha-tinted skin was linking arms with a boy with dark hair and muscles. A thin, blonde, wiry girl was smiling next to an equally thin, black haired boy, and the last girl, who could easily be a supermodel, was leaning on the boy with the suit. On second thought, the both of them looked awfully familiar.
One of the 'adults' spoke up. "They live in the United States, correct?"
Alan nodded, and shone a laser pointer at the projection. The red dot rested on the first of the girls, the brunette. "This is Cameron Ann Morgan. She's nineteen and trained by the Gallagher Academy, practically a cover for a CIA prep school. It's an all-girls school with the exception of the three boys in uniforms. Her mother is the headmistress, father is dead. Both former ops for the CIA. Her step father, Joseph Solomon, was trained at Blackthorne Institute for Boys, and is a former and off the grid agent in the CIA.
"The boy next to her is Zachary Goode. He attended the Blackthorne Institute, another cover for a training camp, geared toward assassins. Cameron's boyfriend. Mother is Catherine Goode, an operative in the now-defunct secret society dubbed the 'Circle of Cavan.' Father is Edward Townsend, a M16 field operative.
"The couple to the right of them are Rebecca Baxter and Grant Newman. Rebecca's parents are field ops in the M16, as is she, and Grant's mother is FBI, father is CIA. To the left is Jonas Anderson and Elizabeth Sutton. Both are members of MENSA, both parents are non-operatives, and they're working for the CIA's research and development center."
He paused to look around for a moment, at the boy that sat in front of him. Alex glanced up at his superior, unmoving, a smirk tugging at his lips. "Should I be taking notes?" Alan merely stared blankly at him, and continued.
"Those two on the end, with the one without the uniform. The girl is the almost-vice-president's daughter, Macey McHenry. Mother runs a cosmetic company. Father is still in politics, just not where he thought. She's a Secret Service op, on the current POTUS' daughter's protection detail. And, finally, the boy is Preston Winters, son of the almost-POTUS. He's currently unemployed, but kept on a tight leash by CIA and the McHenry girl." Blunt's mouth twitched slightly, as if he wanted to smile but couldn't.
Instead of Alan Blunt speaking next, it was Agent Tulip Jones. "Alex, you're to retrieve Miss Morgan. Alive, preferably." She added the last part as an afterthought, choosing her words carefully. "She should be in London in the next week, to visit her former roommate, Rebecca. Be cautious of Rebecca, as well as Zachary. Both are dangerous and very deadly. You will go undercover at 0900 tomorrow morning. We have a flat and money, as well as identification for you at the intel room."
The woman forced herself to take a deep breath. She couldn't believe that they were sending him back in the field. This boy was psychologically unstable, he constantly got into bar fights just for the hell of it... Rider stood, his tall frame towering over those still sitting. He slung on his jacket, and made his way to the door. Before he could leave, Agent Jones stopped him, intercepting his exit a foot or so from the door. "Alex," she uttered softly, worry lines etched in her usually flawless face, "be careful."
Alex nodded, smiling at her with a glint in his dark blue eyes. "You have nothing to worry about."