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WARNING: The following review contains several spoilers for the novel in question.

StarCraft: Ghost Academy is a sort of continuation of the Frontline series of mangas. Like frontline, it is divided into volumes; this review is about volume 1.

Synopsis:

Ghost Academy begins with a UNN anchor interviewing the director of the Ghost program, Kevin Bick, after dozens of Dominion worlds received holo-footage of former Dominion Senator Corbin Phash demanding that the Ghost Academy close its doors. Bick assures the populace that the Ghost Academy is a benevolent institution of learning that doesn't experiment on its students like the Confederacy did.

At the Ghost Academy, trainees have been divided into teams. Team Blue consists of Gabriel Tosh, a first-class trainee, Lio Traviski, a fourth-class trainee, Kath Toom, a third-class trainee, and Nova Terra, a fourth-class trainee. First-class trainees are those who are close to graduating, while fourth-class trainees are new recruits. Team Blue's first training exercise was a simulation where they were required to infiltrate a planet-hopper that was taken by five UED pirates in order to rescue a Senator and his aides. Tosh began explaining the plan, but Nova quickly ran off to do her own thing. She sneaked into the rear and telepathically ripped a metal door of its hinges, while the rest of the team proceeded with the original plan. Lio attempted to jump onto the wing but failed, Kath triggered an explosive in her face, and Tosh was gunned down by a Marine. Nova reached the hostages but was backstabbed and eventually failed as well. They were each given appropriate percentile scores after the simulation ended, and Nova was irate that she had failed, while Tosh and Kath were miffed that Nova didn't follow the plan.

While Team Blue prepares for a history indoctrination with preceptor Soohoo, Superintendent Sarco Angelini enters Bick's office. Bick reports that the experiments on Colin Phash are going well, and that he is a PI of 7.5. Bick also reveals the latest addition to Team Blue: Aal Cistler, the son of the finance minister. While a superb martial artist, Aal is only a PI 4.5, which isn't even a telepath. Neither Bick nor Angelini appear to want him there, but Aal's father is the close personal friend of the emperor.

Meanwhile, at the history indoctrination, preceptor SooHoo discusses the Confederacy's incompetence in letting their strongest Ghost, Sarah Kerrigan, defect to the Zerg. He refers to the UED and Umojans as "race traitors," and obviously teaches propaganda instead of real history. After the students leave, Dylanna, another team leader, berates Nova for not working with her team. Then later at lunch, Aal Cistler is inducted into Team Blue, and is unhappy to be there. Lio however goes to do his own thing; he is technopath and is able to send electronic letters telepathically. However, he has a serious drug addiction to a substance known as "hab," and surviving day to day becomes harder for him as his doses are late.

For the next simulation exercise, the team is required to reach the middle of a maze filled with robots and deactivate its defenses.  Nova successfully reaches the end, but the rest of the team still receives bad scores because they didn't work together. Next, the team is sent to Sergeant Hartley's class for martial arts. Hartley is a very hands-on teacher and manhandles many of his students, pushing them to their limits. Tosh and Aal are forced to spar because they did the most pushups. Tosh gets some good initial hits in, but Aal surprises him with his martial prowess as well.

After the class, Dylanna harasses Nova about not working with her team again. Tosh reaffirms that Nova needs better teamwork. As Nova leaves, she sees a kid, which bothers her because she keeps seeing this kid everywhere. Nova then stumbles into Delta's room, who is another trainee, albeit a child, and helps her study for her tests. Meanwhile, at lunch, Kath shows her disgust for Aal, who she thinks feels entitled because of who her father is, and leaves the table.

Next is a C-10 Weapon Assembly exercise. Aal scored very low and received another jab from Kath, and Lio scored low due to his withdrawal symptoms. Aal then catches up with Lio afterwards and says he can get him some hab if he does him a favor. At lunch, Delta comes to thank Nova for helping her pass her exam, and Kath is happy that Nova helped her with assembling her C-10. Then when Nova goes to sleep, she has a nightmare about what she went through in Tarsonis's Gutter, and her nightmares intermingle with those of Delta. The next morning, it turns out that Tosh also intercepted Nova's dreams, because he also didn't sleep with a psi-screen on to block out other Ghosts' thoughts. Tosh and Nova have a little heart-to-heart, and Tosh reveals that he was raised by his grandma in the slums of Haji, who thought that Tosh's powers were from the gods.

The drugs then finally arrive and Aal gives a needle to Lio. Meanwhile, Kath's father reports that a computer glitch led to some accounting irregularities and that his mining company is under investigation. The team is then sent to do a repeat of the planet-hopper exercise. They all work together very well until Lio experiences a drug-induced hallucination that things are crawling on him. Nova, knowing what drug withdrawals look like from her time in the Gutter, reacts quickly and calls a medic. Unfortunately, she and Lio have their minds wiped by Superintendent Angelini to ensure their loyalty, who reveals that he knew about Lio's drug addiction.

Afterwards, the scene is chalked up to food poisoning, and Aal is expelled from the Academy for drug trafficking. Preceptor Lagdamen announces that Delta will be replacing Aal as Team Blue's fifth trainee. Aal however leaves Kath a message about her dad, leading her to believe that he orchestrated the investigation. Nova however is promoted to a third-class trainee, and Team Blue congratulates each other on their teamwork.

Review:

As the successor to Frontline, Ghost Academy does a fairly decent job. Unlike Frontline, it is a bit too much into the extended-universe for some people, but it definitely gives a good look into the Ghost Academy. It was definitely interesting seeing the events of the novel StarCraft: Ghost Nova illustrated. Malcolm Kelerchian looks very dramatic as he introduces himself while jumping through a wall, kool-aid man style. Fagin looked very sinister with his filed teeth; Ghost Academy and Nova have the same author, so the flashback scenes were sure to turn out great. Ghost Academy had its fair share of humor, such as Kath taking jabs at Aal, and the history lessons being referred to as "indoctrination".

The artwork is somewhat stereotypical, with Ghosts drawn wearing form-fitting suits - the men being overly muscular and the women having huge bust lines. Everyone seems to have a goatee and scraggly hair. The Ghost Academy acceptance and eviction letters at the start and end of the novel were also a nice touch and were interesting to rad.

Each character was given a great backstory and while Ghost Academy focuses predominantly on Nova, every member of team blue was given his moment in the spotlight. The story has enough mysteries to keep the reader hooked for volume two. The kid that Nova keeps seeing in this facility is likely Colin Phash using his projection ability - Nova is likely one of the few who can detect it. It will be interesting seeing what kind of other special abilities other Ghosts will have. Lio was already capable of interfacing with technology psionically.

Accuracy and Canon:

The only real mistake in Ghost Academy is that it claims that Ursa, on which the Ghost Academy is located, has a moon called Canis, when Ursa itself is supposed to be one of Korhal's moons according to the Frontline Orientation story and StarCraft: Heaven's Devils.

It was strange that at a psionic index of 4.5, Aal was not even considered a telepath and not good enough to be in the Ghost Academy period. But most Ghosts are a psionic index of 5.0. Later on, in one of the simulations, which appear to take place in real life, Aal also destroyed a robot with nothing but his bare hand, which shouldn't even be possible. So it appears that Blizzard is steadily increasing the power of "average" Ghosts, in contradiction to the standard set by Micky Neilson, who gave them modest powers in Uprising.

 

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