Jago was too old to go back to school, but the Secret Masters hadn’t given her many choices. After a few aptitude tests and some paperwork, she was approved for The Academy, where the best and the brightest in the unique skills required to rule the world went. Then she was drugged and transported to a hidden location.
She awoke in her dorm room to the a steady thunk of her new roomie throwing knives at a target on the wall. Jago sat up, rubbed her temple.
“Slight headache, huh?” asked her roommate, a dark, young woman in a Che Guevara T-shirt. Winding black cloth wrapped around her face, covering everything but her light brown eyes. “The stuff they use doesn’t usually have any side effects. Probably your age.”
She tossed a knife without looking at the target and still hit it near the center.
Jago went to the window and found it locked.
“Security,” said her roommate. “For our protection. So what are you here for? I’m on an assassination scholarship.”
“Weapons,” replied Jago.
“Cool. I’m Whisper. Whisper Pernicious.”
“Jago Jones. What kind of name is Whisper Pernicious?”
“What kind of name is Jago Jones? We all have names like that here. Except for Tim Guzman. Honestly, what kind of Secret Master name is Tim Guzman?”
Jago laughed. “What’s with the mask?”
Whisper shrugged. “Family tradition.”
Jago stared out the window. The campus sprawled out, looking like a very normal college aside from the armed guards and one kid accompanied by a very large robot. She spotted some mountains in the distance, but she didn’t recognize them and she doubted she would.
Whisper spoke up from over Jago’s shoulder. Jago hadn’t heard Whisper move, hadn’t sensed her presence until she’d spoken. “I thought there’d be more albinos myself. That’s probably totally unfair to albinos though, who are mostly just regular people, right?”
The door opened, and a tall, striking pale woman with dark black eyes entered carrying a clipboard. The eyes said she wasn’t a true albino, but with nearly colorless skin and long, white hair, she was close. She smiled. Her teeth were filed into points.
“Jones, Pernicious, I’m your student advisor and enforcer. My name is Ms. Eburnean. Do not challenge me, and we will get along fine. Displease me, and I can have you removed at my slightest displeasure. Is that understood?”
“Good. We’re having new student orientation in an hour. Don’t be late. Afterward, there will be a mixer for student and faculty. I recommend you attend this as well. Your future might very well depend on it.”
She checked something on her form and nodded to them. “Welcome to The Academy, ladies.”
They waited a few moments after she’d stepped into the hall before daring to speak.
“They say Eburnean once axed a student just for ending a sentence with a preposition,” said Whisper. “I think she still has the axe hanging up in her office.”
She jumped onto her bed. Somehow, the squeaky mattress didn’t make a sound. She threw a knife into the target and groaned. “Still a millimeter to the right.”
Someone had already unpacked her stuff. Jago found her knives in a drawer and handed one to Whisper. “Try this.”
Whisper threw, and the blade sank dead center. “Nice. Where’d you get it?”
“Made it. I mostly work high tech, but old school is a hobby.” She pulled out a katana from under her bed and used it to slice off a section of the bedpost in one, quick slice.
“Sweet,” said Whisper, who Jago could sense smiling under her mask. “I think you and I will get along just fine, Jones.”
Jago smiled. “I think so too, Pernicious.”