LAST FALL

It was his second week at school. As he walked to class sipping his power drink, he was glad to get into a daily routine. Classes start at 9, except on Wednesday, two three hour night classes on Tuesday and Thursday, and a lab period Monday afternoon. All he had to do is schedule his eating ,Z box, and TV habits, and he should be all set. Eating, he mused, wasn't a problem, thanks to numerous pizza coupons and ramen noodles. TV might be a problem with the night classes, but thanks to the miracle of Bit Torrents and TiVo, not by much. The only concern was studying between playing Z Box. Decisions, decisions.

As he mused, he finished his drink and tossed the bottle into a nearby wastebasket. However, the bottle hit the rim, and was about to fall to the floor when it froze. Bill, his arm rigidly frozen towards the bottle, quickly looked around. Sensing the coast was clear, he mentally lifted the bottle from the floor, and placed it into the basket. Satisfied, he left for his class.

A few seconds later, another student emerged from behind a nearby column, watching Bill, and typing something on his data pad.

LUNCHTIME-THE UNION

As Bill went to sit down for his lunch, someone brushed him, nearly making him knock over his tray.

"Excuse me!" said a heavyset sophomore type.

"Um, that's all right."

"No, it's my fault. Here… let me pay for that."

"Um, thanks."

After he paid the cashier, the young man continued. "Mind if I join you?"

"Uh, sure." He said, hoping this guy wasn't making a pass at him. His parents, living out in the farmlands, made him lookout for things like that after they helped register and unpack.

"I'm Chase, by the way." He said, extending his hand. "That is, my Frat name."

"Oh really?" said Bill after shaking his hand. "Which one?

"Etta Rho. We're one of the oldest on campus."

John listened to him, as he described the frat. It sounded like all the other pitches the frats and clubs have been promoting since he started school. The only difference was this pitch seemed to be directed solely for him…

"So anyway, we're holding an open house this weekend. You're welcome to come!"

"Thanks. I'll keep that in mind."

On a nearby TV, Billy noticed a news report. It looked like something was going on in the city. Someone then turned up the volume.

"…a three alarm fire at a business complex in the north end. The cause of the fire is unknown, but fire officials from two districts managed to control the blaze with assistance from Element Force. The popular hero team helped workers evacuate, and assisted paramedics by getting additional medical equipment for an employee in critical condition. This is Jill Hooper, Channel Six news, Live."

"Must be great living here with all that action."

"You a fan of the supes?" asked Chase.

"I used to follow them back home. My town's too out of the way to have anything. And I mean ANYTHING!"

"Can't be all that bad…"

"Hell, here you have pro baseball, hockey, where I come from, we don't even have a class A league!"

"That bad, huh?"

"I tell you, I was glad to get out of there…"

From a nearby table, a pair of students observed the two.

"Well, he made contact. Let's just hope he'll arrive for testing." said one of them, an older fair haired youth.

THAT WEEKEND

Well, he mused walking down Frat Row, there was nothing else to do that night.

The wifi was down, so he couldn't download a film, or play games. His floormates, mostly being jocks, managed to occupy every tv on the floor by watching different football/baseball games.

After taking a quick shower and getting dressed, he arrived at Etta Rho's frat house around 8 where the party was clearly under way.

He was greeted by a pair of heavyset juniors who were checking IDs. One of them glanced at him, and stamped his hand with a red mark. Before inquiring what it was for, he had to move inside the house.

As he entered, he tried to move through the crowd, uncertain of where to go or what to do. He was in, what he assumed was the common area. Lining the walls were faded full sized portraits, most likely of alumni. On one side, through some people, was where they were serving drinks and food. Unknown to him, someone noticed his wrist stamp, and approached him. An older fair haired youth.

"Pleased to meet you! I'm Tom Caine. Frat President."

"Um, hi. I'm Bill. One of your members, Chase I think.."

"Chase! Of course! He told me all about you! Glad you made it!"

"Uh, thanks!"

"Here, let me get you something." He led Bill to the kegs, and poured him some beer.

"Thanks!" he said as he started to drink. Another thing his parents warned him about that he wisely chose to ignore, he mused.

"So what…" he started to ask as he looked around. Tom had apparently vanished into the crowd.

He shrugged and finished his beer. As he tried to figure what to do next, he realized he had to go.

Quickly, he asked around for the toilet. As he finally found it, he was dismayed to see a long line.

After a few minutes, he crossed his legs inward.

"DAMMIT! I can almost taste it!"

"Hey Bill! Said someone next to him. It was Chase. "How are you… Um, are you okay?"

"I HAVE TO GO NOW!" said Bill as he crossed his legs testily.

Chase looked around and gestured. "Follow me."

Moments later after they left, Tom arrived.

"Good job guys."

At this, the line of people dispensed back into the crowd.

Chase led him upstairs to one of the rooms.

"Where are we going?"

"You need to go, so I'm finding you a toilet."

As they entered the room, Bill noticed some pictures on a desk. With horror, he recognized Tom in the photos.

"Um, isn't this the presidents room?"

"Yeah, he has his own toilet."

"But…"

"Look, you need to go, right?"

Torn between making a good impression, and having to piss, he wisely chose the latter.

A few minutes later, pure heaven.

As he started to flush, the toilet automatically flushed for him.

"C'mon! Lets go!"

"But…" unable to make a sentence after but, Bill quickly complied.

As they left, the toilet, still flushing, apparently was doing a bit more with the specimen it received.

Deep below the building, a technician was analyzing the data from the chemical analysis device that was installed in the toilet. After going through the data, the tech made some notes and picked up a phone.

A few moments later, he spoke. "Yes sir. We analyzed the sample from subject Bill Hazen. His thetamine readings are at the proper levels. Looks like we have a new pledge!"

A FEW DAYS LATER

It looks like he was accepted.

He found a postcard in his mailbox earlier, inviting him back to the fraternity this evening. There were no further details.

When he arrived, he was greeted by a pair of members, and escorted to a meeting area, where other pledges were gathered. The walls were adorned with portraits of previous members, who no doubt led successful careers afterword. He immediately sat down.

"Howya doin! Said someone next to him, extending his hand. A burly young man. "Guess you were invited too!"

"Oh, hi. I'm Bill"

"I'm Drew. Pleastameetcha!"

"Could you keep it down?" said someone behind them. "I'm trying to read."

"Dude, chill!" He then noticed his book. 'I Robot? Great film"

"This is better"

"The book is always boring. All talk, no action. No space pirates, death stations, there aren't even any hot women in there!"

"Go back to your stupid toy commercials!"

As they argued, the lights dimmed. The front door opened, and Tom, flanked by a pair of members, entered. After he settled at the podium, he spoke.

"Gentlemen, welcome to Etta Rho, a most exclusive brotherhood. Other brotherhoods accept others by aptitude. We are no different. Others accept through personality. Again, we are no different. Others will have… secrets. Here, we are … different."

He continued. "We do not concern ourselves with secret handshakes, sayings, or weird rituals. Ours are more… tangible. Our secrets, are ourselves."

At this, the lights dimmed further. A few moments later, Tom's eyes glowed an eerie red. Then his entire body emitted a scarlet glow.

As if on cue, the two members adjacent to Tom also started to transform. One's face turned reptilian, while another sprouted energy wings.

"Oh shit!" thought Bill. "This this is a cult!"

Tom continued. "Drew Harrison, age 18. Metapower, the ability to cause localized tremors by sheer thought."

"Huh? But how…"

"Griffith Bost, spontaneous flame creation and manipulation."

The kid behind Drew responded with a gasp.

William Hazen, first stage telekinesis.

At the mention of his name and 'power', his first thought was 'they know? How?'

As Tom finished with the rest of the pledges, it was apparent he wasn't alone having such a secret. But who were these guys? And what did they want with us? After Tom read the last name, he continued "As I said, Etta Rho is more than a fraternity. We are a brotherhood of unique individuals. Of HEROES!

At this, the room shook slightly, then started to descend slowly. After a few minutes, they arrived in an open subterranean area. Bill could see banks of mainframes, widescreen monitors to rival any sports bar, various scientific devices, and several white uniformed personnel to monitor all this. In his mind, Bill assumed that the various tunnels and shafts seen in the distance must continue all throughout the school. While he and all the other pledges were trying to absorb all this, Tom directed the group's attention to a uniformed individual who approached the group.

"I will now turn you over to our direct CAST liason, who for all intensive purposes shall be referred to as 'The Major'.