The academy was hidden inside an unknown mountain. It was kept a secret for the Ivors only. If anyone, especially the ShadeRavens, found out, all the Ivors would eventually fade.
As Zaya and Jaxon stepped into the training arena, it seemed to quiet down. Every Morpher turned and stared at them.
"Um...No welcome back?" Jaxon asked.
Zaya elbowed him, "Shut up,"
Aidan, their TeleCanio 18-year-old instructor came over with a grim expression on his face. Zaya could tell, it meant no good.
"Yes. Welcome back." He seemed hesitant. Jaxon eyed her, he felt uncomfortable, as did Zaya. "There has been an...interference in the system.
" He continued, "No one is safe, and no one is...trusted," he fixed his eyes on Zaya as he said that. There was silence. A few coughs. Some shuffling, but all seemed awkward.
Eyes glared meaningfully at them. Their allies had sympathy for them.
Suddenly, two other kids, their age, came out of the crowd. A boy and a girl.
The girl had dark black hair, tied in a long ponytail, draping down to her waist. She wore an all-black outfit. Ready for combat.
Black sneakers, a black leather jacket, black tactical gloves, and black capris. The boy, however, wore a normal gray T-shirt, green sporty shorts, and had spikey, messy blond hair.
"Leave them," the girl spoke in a firm tone, her expression turned rough as she looked at Aidan. She turned to Zaya, "We need to talk"
Jaxon glanced at her with concern but nodded. The look in his eyes told Zaya no one was trustworthy. She glanced around, everyone still staring.
She managed a few words, "Alright, what do you want,"
"It is best we talk privately," the girl whispered, quickly looking at Aidan.
The boy seemed too shy or quiet for someone like him. Everyone would think he played every sport in the world. The way he stood tall, looking confident.
"Zaya." The girl interrupted her thoughts, "Let's go,"
She led her to a small room. It seemed decent, but it was distinct from the rest. Not that she found that weird, or creepy.
The walls, there were no walls. Just one wall held the door. The whole room was covered in big windows. Light shining right through them.
The furniture was blue, with the Xenos logo pasted on it. Everything seemed to move on its own.
The TV activated as they stepped inside the room, the lights automatically lit, and music started blaring out of nowhere but stopped when the boy held his hand up.
"Sit," the girl demanded
Zaya did as told. Which made her uncomfortable, the way the girl told her to.
The boy took a deep breath, finally, he said "As you know, there have been some issues with this agency,"
"My name is Ravana. And this is Damon, my partner. We are SoothSayers. We believe we know who the imposter is, but we are not certain."
SoothSayers didn't exactly read minds, but it felt like they did. Zaya shivered, they were looking at her, as if she was the culprit.
She couldn't be the imposter, could she? No, it was impossible. If she was, she would know. Right?
Ravana looked at Damon, their eyes meeting as if they were speaking telepathically, probably because they were.
"We think it may be..." she spoke the name in disgust, "Aidan,"
"Aidan?! The one who trains us?" Zaya was stunned. She'd always looked up to her trainer, but hearing this, it seemed impossible to believe. He had always been there for her.
If he really was the imposter...
"We know this is shocking to you," Ravana said, reading her expression, "but if it is to be true, you must be prepared, and you mustn't tell anyone what we have told you"
Zaya's head spun. This was too much information to handle.
"I'm going to, uh, leave now," she hesitantly stepped onto the elevator, her shaky hand pressing the button.
As she approached Jaxon, who was sitting on the waiting chair just outside the elevator, he stood up. "So? What happened?"
"Nothing. They just told me to be careful of the imposter," She looked at Aidan, who gave her a grin. She wanted to cry, but not here, not in front of everyone.
"Zaya, you shouldn't worry. Tomorrow is your birthday, you should relax and enjoy it"
She looked at him, "my birthday..." She had completely forgotten.
Xeno children often got the power to shape-shift at the age of 15. Of course Zaya was excited, but she hated her birthday, the day her mother died, the day everything went wrong.
"You know I don't like my birthday, Jax" Zaya murmured.
"I know, but this time, it's special," he replied back.
He guided her to her corridor. She felt good to have someone by her side. Without her mother, she needed someone like him.
Back in the corridor, they sat on the sofa. It was quiet. Only the chattering of Ivors was heard from downstairs.
Zaya was an awkward person. She preferred it if the other person started the conversation, but Jaxon was more muted than usual. He stared at the wall, blankly, as if thinking about his past.
Unlike Zaya, he had a sadder background. His parents didn't want him and his sister anymore because their powers were out of control. He was only 10 and his sister was 12.
They had abandoned them in the middle of the street, hoping he would die. They managed to survive by a miracle until Aidan found them.
Aidan was 13 at that time, but definitely knew what he was doing. He brought Jaxon and his sister back to the academy, where they were trained.
One year later, Zaya was introduced to the academy and was soon ready for her first mission. She had been partnered with Jaxon while his sister took different missions in other cities.
Ever since then, they were basically inseparable.
"Attention all Ivors. Please resume to the Main Quarter. I repeat, all Ivors to the Main Quarter. Now!"
The announcement shook both Zaya and Jaxon from their daydreams.
"Woah. This must be serious if they had to scream 'now'" Jaxon pointed out.
Zaya didn't reply. She didn't want to go, but as part of this academy, she had to. As the Ivors filed neatly into the Main Quarter, the leader, Valeska, stared at them, scanning each one.
Looking for the imposter.
Zaya held her breath as Valeska's possessive, black eyes turned towards her. Valeska was a SoothSayer, a good one too, but even she looked unsure. She locked her eyes on someone.
Zaya looked to see who. She was focusing on another kid who had bright blonde hair brushed to the side and gray eyes, Finn, about 14. He didn't seem so harmful, yet again, Zaya wouldn't know.
"We have all heard about the imposter here in our academy," Valeska said while examining every face. Murmuring filled the room. Zaya studied the expression of Aidan.
She wasn't a SoothSayer, but it was worth a try. "Today, instead of training, we will be testing. Each and everyone one of you," Zaya's heart skipped a beat.
Testing? What if she failed? What if she was accused?
She looked at Aidan's face, who seemed too calm. The more she thought about it, the more it made sense. Shades could hide expression under shadows. The test would never work.
The advantage of being an Ivor was the no-shadow policy. None of the Ivors had a shadow, in case the Shades tried to hide in them. Of course, real humans saw them, but none of the Ivors did.
Zaya looked across the crowd, noticing Ravana and Damon blending in perfectly. Damon was fiddling with his fingers, while Ravana stood straight at alert, considering everybody closely.
"The test will take place all this month" Valeska continued, "We will see you there"
The Ivors broke into various directions after the assembly concluded. Zaya tagged along with Jaxon. She nudged him.
"Hey, we should try following those two," she said, pointing to Damon and Ravana.
"Why?" Asked Jaxon, "We barely know them"
"I don't know. Maybe they know something about this imposter?" Jaxon didn't get to respond before she dragged him behind Ravana.
Zaya wished she could have someone to talk to about Aidan, but she knew it wasn't safe to talk to Jaxon about it.
The thought of Jaxon being an imposter, it would break her, but she knew he wasn't. He couldn't be.
"Why are you following us?" Ravana snapped, Jaxon chuckling next to her.
Zaya had forgotten she was slowly trailing behind them, not noticing the sudden foot traffic, causing her to bump into them.
"Heh, sorry," she said awkwardly. Ravana inspected her.
Ivors pushed, elbowed and stepped on her feet. She hated crowds. They were unruly, not to mention uncomfortable. Her stress levels rose as others trampled her. She pushed back. It was hopeless.
Abruptly, someone gave her a strong shove, without warning, thinking he was a Shade, she tackled him. Everyone backed away. She used the tactics she had learned in training.
Finally, Zaya stopped when she pinned him down and felt him squirming. She looked to see who it could have been. It was Finn.
Embarrassed, she stood up, aware of every other Ivor, staring in shock.
To Be Continued . . .