It was at this point that she was sent to a government learning facility known as "The Academy". While her parents and Simon believed the Academy was a private school meant to nurture the gifts of talented children, it was in fact a cover for a government experiment in creating assassins. While in the hands of the Alliance doctors and scientists, River was secretly and extensively experimented on, including surgery that damaged her amygdala. According to Simon, the Alliance attempted to isolate River from her family, though she managed to send a call for help by putting a coded message in a letter to her brother. Simon decoded the message and set out to rescue his then 16-year-old sister, despite his parents' insistence that he was being paranoid. Simon exhausted his personal fortune and sacrificed a promising career in medicine, but eventually located and freed River with the help of anti-governmental groups.