COMBAT VETERAN TALLY VOLTAIC was exhausted. She'd felt that way ever since the very start of this semester here at the Academy, despite the fresh Canadian air and gorgeous scenery. The truth was, Tally had been exhausted for a long time, as she watched the halls of learning that she loved turn into more of a prison day by day. Rules. Regulations. Protocol, always protocol. Tally was sick of it. She could no longer be herself, it seemed, without earning glares from the older and more-experienced faculty members:
"She's a gladiator. An arena diversion. Not a serious instructor of combat."
"Voltaic? She's a phenomenal warrior, no doubt, but a bad soldier. Terrible."
"Won't obey orders. What does she think this place is, a civilian university?"
"Hot temper. Too hot. She won't last long. You have to play the game."
Tally, for one, was sick of playing games. The only one she was ever in the mood for nowadays was one she'd just invented, lying on her military-issue cot in her stark faculty quarters. Smiling to herself, she went over it:
"Good morning, plebes. Welcome to hell. Today I'll be instructing you, and if any one of you manages to win against me in hand-to-hand combat, with the weapons of your choice, I will personally do your laundry and polish your boots to a high mirror shine for the rest of the year. Good luck. You'll need it!" A smile and a pause. "Oh, and if you lose? You'll get another instructor."
She knew who that "other instructor" was--the Devil himself, Sergeant Cul.
Those plebes don't know what they're in for, Tally thought morosely.