There were two intruders in Jago’s apartment. She could push a button and fill the entire place with knockout gas or something more permanent. Instead, she went inside to see what they were up to.
One of the intruders sat on her sofa. He was a stout man, thoroughly unremarkable aside from his pale green skin and dark red eyes. The second wasn’t a man at all, but a yeti woman in a white suit. Fluffy white fur poked out of her sleeves and around her collar.
“Good evening, Miss Jones,” said the man, sounding winded just from opening his mouth.
“Evening.” Jago ran her fingers along her watchband, where a dozen secret buttons were waiting for her to push them.
“We’ve disabled your gas system,” the man wheezed. “You are no doubt wondering why we are here? First, I must apologize. We don’t make mistakes often, but despite ourselves, things fall through the cracks. Your paperwork got lost behind a filing cabinet, wasn’t discovered until a week ago. Can you ever forgive us?”
“Sure.” She debated whether the laser hidden in her lamp or the electrical system in the couch would be more effective. “Forgive you for what?”
“You, Miss Jones, are a unique individual. Our scans of your brain indicate great potential.”
“You’ve scanned my brain?”
“We’ve scanned everyone’s brains, precisely to avoid this type of mistake. Still, it happens. Unusual for someone to go this long before being approached. Some of us thought it might be better to simply do away with you rather than deal with the unknown variables you present.”
Jago pushed a button. The laser exploded harmlessly.
“We’ve disabled that as well,” said the man. “It’s impressive work for someone with no formal training. A very good sign. Make a note of it, Miss Carlyle.”
The yeti took a notebook out of her jacket and wrote something down.
“Allow me to introduce myself, Miss Jones. I am Sylas Sylo, headmaster of the Academy. What Academy? Why the only Academy that matters, where we take people such as yourself and prepare them to rule the world.”
“You mean, like James Bond villain stuff?”
He laughed. More accurately, he wheezed with mild amusement. “We are not the bad guys, Miss Jones. We are simply the Secret Masters of the world who ensure that everything runs smoothly.”
“It doesn’t appear to be running that smoothly,” she replied.
“Progress, not perfection. Although perfection will happen soon enough. It’s just that the ordinary people, despite themselves, remain unpredictable, fickle creatures. Easily distracted. Easily ruled, yet sometimes unready or unaccepting of the Utopian ideals we seek to give them.”
“I’m thirty,” she said. “Little old for a career change.”
“We’re aware, but you are too dangerous to allow to live without proper supervision. The Master Plan is difficult enough without a wild card such as yourself getting involved.”
“So back to school or death? Those are my two options.”
“I’m afraid so.”
Her front door was kicked open as a team in high tech S.W.A.T. gear burst into the room. They trained their weird sci fi rifles at Sylo and Miss Carlyle. “Doctor Sylo, you are under arrest for crimes against humanity.”
“Oh dear,” said Sylo with a slight frown on his round face.
Miss Carlyle raised her hands.
Jago pushed a button and the S.W.A.T. team fell down, convulsing. It was easy to induce a seizer with the proper ultrasonic frequencies. She was unaffected by virtue of the earplugs she wore. She was only mildly surprised that Sylo and his bodyguard were prepared as well.
“Secret Masters, you said?” Jago asked. “All right, I’m intrigued.”
Sylo smiled. “Somehow, I knew you would be.”