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This story starts with a bang! Wil Jamieson is grabbed by two guys in an airport bathroom. They stick a needle in his eye, ask him a bunch of questions and tell him if he wants to live he has to come with them. Wil gathers from their conversation that he in an important piece in a war they are fighting. Wars have casualties, and before they escape the airport one kidnapper and Wil's girlfriend are dead. Barely trusting Eliot, Wil takes off cross country as a fugitive, trying to discover what makes him so special.
Years earlier in San Francisco, Emily is a resourceful teen, living of her skills as monte dealer. Emily uses her skills of persuasion to push her marks to get in the game, and raise the stakes. When she is offered her a chance at a prestigious school on the east coast to learn a much more deadly form of persuasion she jumps at the chance.
The School teaches Emily an craft based on ancient languages and brain anatomy. Like computers our brains run on an operating system, and like computers the wrong line of code and crack it open. At The School, Emily learns the words and sounds that can hack our heads, and leave us vulnerable to persuasion. But with great power comes great responsibility and when a Bare Word is released in Australia it kills nearly 3,000 people, and Emily is held accountable.
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