Inspired by Horowitz's millions of fans worldwide, Secret Weapon expands the world of Alex Rider with more thrilling action and pulse-pounding heroics. Follow Alex as he infiltrates a terrorist hideout in Afghanistan, fights to prevent an assassination attempt at a ski resort over Christmas, and much more! The #1 New York Times bestselling Alex Rider is back with more exciting, edge-of-your-seats adventures!
A great introduction to readers' favorite super-spy, Secret Weapon contains a combination of new and previously published material.
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JACK STARBRIGHT WAS MAKING breakfast, carefully cutting the toast into fingers before arranging them around the edge of the plate, leaving room for Alex’s egg, which was still bubbling away in a pan. She glanced at her watch. There was no sign of Alex, although it was already eight and they had to be out of the house by eight thirty.
She walked over to the door and called up the stairs.
“I’ll be one minute, Jack!” The familiar voice came from the bedroom on the second floor.
Jack smiled and went back into the kitchen. As shelifted the egg out of the boiling water, she asked herself—for the thousandth time—how she had managed to getinto this situation. And what would anybody think, looking at her? She was fast approaching her thirties. ThisChristmas, she would be twenty-nine. When she had firstcome to London, she had been a law student, helping outin a house in Chelsea to support herself. Now, seven yearslater, she was still living there, sharing the place with a fourteen-year-old boy. It was an unusual arrangement, to say the least.
When Jack first met him, Alex had been seven, a little boy with messy fair hair, brown eyes, and plenty of attitude. He had come into the room with his hands inhis pockets, his shirt out of his trousers, and one shoelace trailing, and she’d had no idea that he was going to completely change her life.
“This is Alex,” Ian Rider had said. “Alex, this is Jack.”
Alex had stared at her. “Jack’s a man’s name.”
Those were the first words he had ever spoken to her.
“Well, it’s my name and you’d better get used to it,”Jack had replied.
They had become friends almost immediately.
Jack had been in London to study law. She had a place at the School of Oriental and African Studies, one of thebest colleges in London—but what she didn’t have was money. She had answered an advertisement in the Times.
Room in Chelsea available plus living expenses in returnfor some housekeeping duties and childcare. Would suit a studentor part-time professional. Telephone:
The advertisement had been placed by Ian Rider,Alex’s uncle, who had introduced himself as a banker working in the city. She could still see him now, a darkly handsome man dressed in an expensive suit, sitting with his legs crossed and a glass of red wine in his hand.
“Let me explain, Miss Starbright. Alex’s parents died when he was young, and I’ve looked after him pretty much since he was born. Alex’s father was in banking . . .the same as me. The trouble is, I’m having to do more and more travel these days—Zurich, Luxembourg, Singapore.That’s the joy of international finance! I don’t want Alex to have a nanny or anything like that. I try to spend as much time as I can with him when I’m home. What I really want is for someone to live here part-time and to become a sort of friend to him so he won’t notice it so much when I’m away. You’ll find that Alex is very good at looking after himself. He goes to school just down the road, and I’m sure the two of you will get along well.You’re much closer to his age than I am, and he’s a very easygoing kid. What do you say?”
How could she possibly have known that almost everything Ian Rider had told her was untrue? He wasn’t in banking. He was a spy. Alex’s father had been a spy too. Both of Alex’s parents had been killed by a bomb planted on a plane, and Alex would have died with them but for the chance of an ear infection that had forced him to stay at home. Sometimes Jack hated Ian Rider for the way he had deceived her. But that hadn’t been the worst of it. He had also lied to Alex just about every day of his life, cold-bloodedly preparing him for a destiny that had been chosen for him the day he was born. How could anyone do that to a child? The climbing trips, the martial arts classes, the trips abroad, the different languages that Alex spoke . . . They had all been nothing more than basic training. Ian Rider had molded Alex into an image of himself.
And then Ian Rider had been killed. The police had said it was a car accident, but Alex had found the car and discovered that it was riddled with bullet holes. Another lie. After that, everything had happened very quickly as the entire construction that had been built around Alex’s life had collapsed in on itself. Alex had met Alan Blunt and Mrs. Jones on the day of the funeral, and almost immediately afterward he had been recruited by them and sent for two weeks’ intensive training in the Brecon Beacons.It had included assault courses, unarmed combat, forcedmarches, and survival in the so-called Killing House, a mock-up of an embassy used to practice techniques in hostage release. Alex had half-drowned in freezing mud and water, stumbled up and down hills, been shouted at by sergeants in khaki whose entire vocabulary seemed to consist of four-letter words, swallowed down meals out of mess tins, and desperately snatched a few minutes of sleep when the exercises ended in the middle of the night. He was a child! Nobody seemed to have noticed.
Jack had learned all this afterward. Over the years, with Ian Rider away more and more, she had become Alex’s closest friend, and there could be no secrets between the two of them. She knew everything about his first mission, when he had been sent to Cornwall, to the headquarters of Sayle Enterprises. This was where the Stormbreaker computer was being mass-produced. Sayle planned to distribute them free to every school in the country, and if he had succeeded, the result would have been mass murder.
Alex had discovered that Sayle was a psychopath planning some sort of mad revenge on the UK, and Alex had managed to stop him only at the last minute. Jack had been horrified by the whole story. What made it worse was her knowledge that although Alex had almost gotten killed,
it wouldn’t end there. She was certain that—soon—MI6 would be back.
What should she do? Jack sighed as she unscrewed the Marmite and searched for a knife. She had questioned Alex about the Stormbreaker business. Of course she had. When Alex had finally gotten home in one piece, the two of them had talked until late in the night. Alex didn’t want to be a spy, but the truth was, he had no choice. Ian Rider had already made the decision for him. Jack had considered going to the newspapers. Part of her wanted to stop this madness before it went any further. But she knew that she couldn’t protect Alex by exposing him. All she could do was support him and try to stop him from getting into trouble a second time. It had been years now since she had attended college, and she had to accept that her career as a high-flying lawyer was definitely on hold. Ian Rider was to blame for that too.
She cut the toast into strips and smeared each one with Marmite, then arranged them on the plate. Looking down, she was annoyed with herself. What did she think she was doing? Alex was fourteen, not four—and she was behaving exactly like the nanny she had never wanted to be. She was tempted to throw the whole lot into the trash and start again. At the same time, Alex liked being looked after. And she knew that he wasn’t looking forward to this morning, to what lay ahead.
“Hi, Jack.” Alex appeared at the door and slouched, bleary-eyed, over to the table. Like every other teenager, he wasn’t at his best first thing in the morning. He was wearing his school uniform (the tie was spectacularly crooked) but he wouldn’t be in school until after eleven. He had an appointment. It had been in the planner for weeks.
“Good morning, Alex.” She examined him. “You look a bit of a mess today.”
Alex yawned. “That’s what you said yesterday.”
“No. Yesterday I said you were a total mess. Today is definitely an improvement.” She slid the plate in front of him. “Breakfast!”
She went over to the fridge, took out a carton of orange juice, and poured a glass. When she brought it over to the table, she was absurdly pleased to see that he had lopped the top off the egg and dipped the toast in. What had happened in Cornwall hadn’t changed him. At heart, he was still just a kid. “We need to leave in fifteen minutes,” she said.
“I can go on my own.”
“No. I’m coming with you.”
Alex hesitated. “Jack,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about this. Do I really need to go today? I mean, couldn’t we wait until the holidays? I’ve missed enough school as it is.”
“One more morning won’t make any difference, Alex.”
“But it’s not hurting anymore. Honestly, I think I’m going to be fine. Let’s just cancel.”
Jack couldn’t hide her smile. “You’re not afraid, are you?”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“There is no problem . . .”
“Then forget it, Alex. We were lucky to get an appointment. Have your breakfast and then go and brush your teeth. If you can remember what a comb looks like, you might also think about doing your hair.”
“Jack . . .”
“I mean it!”
Jack went over to make a cup of coffee. She wondered what MI6 would have made of it all. Alex hadn’t been afraid of the SAS. He’d been dumped in a tank with a giant jellyfish and survived. He’d parachuted out of a helicopter over London and smashed through the roof of the Science Museum.
But he was still scared of the dentist.
A tiny little filling.
Jack flicked on the kettle while, behind her, Alex finished his egg.