Chapter 1

River Tam rested her head against the window of the train, willing the journey to be over already. She had been cooped on this train for what felt like hours. To make matters worse, she was the only one in the whole car.

She was traveling to her new school, the Academy. The school was only for the brightest students in the whole 'verse, and she was one of them. When she had gotten the pamphlet, she had been almost catatonic with joy. Her father and mother had agreed, and now she was finally going.

She was going to miss Simon though. Her school was to far away to see him often, but she had promised to write every day.

Finally, the train slowed before screeching to a halt. She peered eagerly out the windows, but all she could see was blackness.

She stood up and pulled her suitcase, packed full of new clothes, out from under her seat. She picked up her copy of Jane Eyre, an old novel from Earth-That-Was, and walked to the door, which slid open for her.

She stepped out and looked around, eager for her first glimpse of the school, then frowned in disappointment. There was a light, but it was dim, and didn't show much. There was a path, and she deduced that the school was still a little way off, which was why she couldn't see it yet.

A small cough caused her to spin around, her heart hammering. A middle-aged man stood there, leaning against the train that she had just gotten off of.

He was rather tall, with pale brown hair. The night was to dark for River to determine eye color.

"Ms. Tam?" he asked. He had a nice voice, she reflected. It was soothing. She shot him a smile.

"Yes, that's me." He nodded, and peeled himself off the train, walking towards her.

"I'm one of the staff at your new school. I came down to take you up to the school." He glanced at her bag. "Do you want me to take that for you?"

River hesitated for a fraction of a second before handing it over. There wasn't anything really important in there, just clothes and school supplies.

He gave her another smile and started walking up the path she had noticed earlier. "I apologize that you have to walk a little longer, you must be tired."

She nodded. She had been too excited to sleep on the train, and the journey had taken several hours.

"A little." He shifted her bag to his other hand and continued walking.

"You're going to share a room, I hope that that's all right?" River smiled and nodded, but she felt a small pang of worry. What if her roommate didn't like her? What if she didn't care about school or dancing as much as she did? What if she were much smarter than River and became annoyed that River couldn't keep up with her?

She quickly shoved those thoughts out of her mind. She could worry when she met her for the first time.

The man's voice broke into her thoughts. "Ready for your first look at the school?" River eagerly moved forwards, then felt her breath catch in her throat.

The school was large and white with many windows, all of which were spilling light onto the immaculate grounds. She spotted tennis courts, a swimming pool, and a large track.

"Yes, it's nice isn't it?" Remarked the man, peering at her curiously.

"Do we get to use all this stuff?" asked River, delighted at the prospect. The man nodded.

"Only if you have gym class, or special permission though. We don't want anyone to get hurt." River barely listened as he guided her towards the front door. She was to busy imagining her new life at this school where everyone was like her.

The inside of the school was also white, with marble floors. There were many doors, all closed. The nice man explained that these were the classrooms.

"Here's your room," he said, leading her to a black door set down one of the many hallways. "Your roommate might already be here, so I'll leave you two to get acquainted. Orientation is tomorrow at eight, in the cafeteria." He put her suitcase down next to her and turned to go.

"What's your name?" River called after him quickly. He turned slowly and smiled at her.

"My name's Doctor Mathias."