“Hey, you’re the new girl everyone’s been talking about. Rylee, right?” said the bulging one, pointing at me and squinting at me like he was trying to remember if he had the name right.
“Yeah, the famous legacy.” added the lean one, smiling friendly at me.
“That’s me.” I said nervously, sliding my purse underneath me and opening my new notebook.
“Well then welcome to Atlas, Rylee. My name’s Buddy Thompson.” said the bulging one, holding out his hand with a smile that made his amber eyes sparkle.
“Hi,” I said, shaking his hand, which was firm but gentle at the same time.
“Johnny Walker.” said the lean one, giving me a smile he either did or didn’t know was sexy as hell and I shook his hand too.
“So,” said Buddy, “are you a genius, agent, or what?”
“I’m definitely not a genius, that’s for sure.” I said, letting out a small laugh, but then quickly added, “I’m not stupid either, though.”
Johnny smiled and said, “So you’re an agent.”
“I guess so.” I said, puckering my lips wonderingly. “I mean I just found out a week ago that my mom was the most famous female agent ever and that she and my dad went here.”
I looked at both their shocked faces and Johnny said, “Whoa, really?”
“Yeah,” I said, their faces amazed, “What are you guys planning on being?”
“We’re both agents,” said Johnny, “but along with being an agent Buddy’s also an assassin, which is a very rare commodity in this business.”
My eyes shot back to Buddy, who was smiling and nodding like he was proud of that fact, and my eyes widened with fear. “Don’t worry though,” he said quickly, because I was about ready to bolt for the door. No way was I sitting next to an assassin who might or might not want to kill me because I could accidentally do something to offend him. He was shaking his head, his eyes wide while he held his hands up to tell me to calm down. “Don’t scream, I mean no harm.”
“Why?” I asked, glancing at Johnny and then quickly back at Buddy to make sure he wasn’t going to jump me. “Why is it so rare?”
“Because it’s such a physically and mentally demanding career.” he said.
“Yeah, but I’m a pretty likable guy.” Buddy said, smiling innocently. “I’m friendly, smart, I like teasing people, I’m funny, and generally just a happy guy.”
“Though sometimes his humor is kind of sinister, but what do expect from an assassin.” said Johnny, smirking, and Buddy shot him a look before returning to a sweet innocent look, still obviously trying to calm me down.
“How many of them are there?” I asked.
“There are lots of us assassins actually, and in fact, my twin brother is an assassin. Silas over there.” Buddy said and pointed across the room to a boy who looked exactly like him. Silas was sitting sideways in his seat and talking to a group of other guys who I guessed were more assassins. “We’re usually in the same classes as agents because we need to know a lot of the same things, but they can also go to classes for the other career they’re interested in too.”
“Like me,” said Johnny, “I’m a genius, and along with being an agent I also like science a lot.”
“Not to toot your own horn.” Buddy cut in, but Johnny just gave him a narrow-eyed glance before returning to me.
“In fact, do you know Morgan Cooper?” I nodded and he continued, “We’re really good buds. Mine and his dad, and Buddy’s mom are all scientists and have been on the same team for a few years now.”
“Yeah, he likes to call himself an agent-slash-scientist because he’s jealous of my double career.” said Buddy, smirking.
“I am not.” Johnny shot back, giving him a look before looking at me sweetly, saying, “Anyway, if you need any help finding your classes we could help. We might even have some more of the same ones.”
“Thanks,” I said, smiling at him. “Did you get here early or something, so you know where everything is?”
“Nah,” he said, shaking his head and never losing his grin, “but we could still help you. If you want.” Was it just me, or was this guy actually flirting with me?
“Thanks.” I said just as the Codes teacher walked in and he kept eye contact a second longer before turning his attention to the teacher.
Bill Turner was this teacher’s name and he was a skinny, very clearly geeky genius. He didn’t look like he had any muscles at all, like most geeks, had graying light brown hair that was slicked down, wore big glasses, and moved kind of neurotically. And just like Pib, I found my pencil hurrying to keep up with him. I was just starting to think that at this rate I’d never make the cut here, when I glanced around and saw everyone doing the same thing.
After the bell rang, Johnny and Buddy accompanied me to Languages of the World: The Americas, where the teacher, Mrs. Moore, was very nice. She had a shapely figure, shoulder length blonde hair, blue eyes, and a sweet face. She also had a sweet voice and was very good at teaching the class in a way that I didn’t get lost at all.
Lunch was next, and on our way back to the entrance hall we met up with Morgan. “Rylee!” he exclaimed when he saw me and started fighting his way against the tide of students to us. “How’d it go? Did you find your classes alright?”
It was only when he finally got to me that he realized I was in between Johnny and Buddy. “Yeah, Buddy and Johnny turned out to have the same classes as me so it was really easy.” I said, looking between the two of them and then to Morgan.
“Good, I was worried you’d get lost or something.” he said, joining us as we continued towards the stairs.
“No need to worry with us around, pal. Trust me.” said Buddy, slapping Morgan on the back and laughing when it almost sent him flying.
When we got to the stairs it was still pretty crowded, and as we waited I watched curiously as it seemed hundreds of students were running on each other’s heels and using all three ways to get to the bottom. And as we were waiting I just happened to glance behind us and see multitudes of other students suddenly appear out of nowhere before the Grecian pillars stationed in the hall.
It was amazing how many students there were, and when it seemed we’d never get there in time for lunch we finally got to the front of the crowd, Morgan and I taking the elevator while Johnny and Buddy used the spiral stairs. And when we were at the bottom we were swept up in the crowd, it carrying us down the first tunnel and into a room called the secondary hall, which was beautiful, even if I only got a minutes’ glimpse.
This was in the same shape as the entrance hall, but its look was completely different. The walls were of the same ashy white stones as outside, and around these chandeliers were navy blue tapestries with sliver fringe, the three Proficient insignias on them, and between them you could glimpse the brilliant red of the ceiling.
I tried to stay in there as long as I could before the tide of students finally pulled me away down the second tunnel and out into another room where everyone dispersed. The boys found me shortly and led me to our table while I gawked at this new room.
This was the dining hall, and it was the most prestigious I’d seen yet. First of all, there were six very long tables running the width of the room that were made of dark almost black wood with white marble tops inlaid almost seamlessly into the wood edges. Then, at the very front of the room on a raised platform and behind an ornately carved podium was a very long, arching table where all the teachers sat.