Jennifer Lee, the short, petite Asian girl with a purple streak running through her short black hair, had been shocked when the dean of the Sizemore HCP appeared at her home a few weeks ago and offered her a place in the program. He also offered to personally transport her and her luggage to campus since the offer had come so late, which is where she had just come from, having been transported to the underground HCP complex; from Oregon to Chicago in one easy step. She had been shown the exit to the complex and given a piece of paper with her new address on it and then left to find her own way there, the dean told he her luggage would be delivered later.
After wandering around for 45 minutes and asking for directions three times, she was just now approaching her new house. As she approached she saw that is was really large, she supposed it had to be to house seven student and two ‘babysitters,’ she also realized she had been given no key or pass code to open the door, so she made the assumption that the door would be unlocked and she’d get a key later. She opened the door, calling out, “Hello, is anyone here? I hope I’m in the right place and not breaking into someone else’s home.” A tall boy in ridiculously good shape with a mop of wild blonde hair, in a tank top and shorts appeared at the banister on the landing at the top of the stairs.
“Hey, pretty lady, if you’re one of the secret seven then you’re in the right place,” his accent sounded typical southern California surfer.
“Oh, you like it, came up with it myself. So who are you, what’s your power, who are you related to, what’s your major?” he asked coming down the stairs offering his hand.
“Umm, that’s really personal, I don’t even know your name yet,” Jennifer said taking his offered hand. She noticed the large different in their heights, he was at least 6’2″, compared to her own 5’5″.
“Alright, fair enough, my name is Sam Johnson, from So Cal, my power is solar powered physical enhancements, my major is communications and my father was a bank robber who killed a man with his power during a robbery. So now you know me, what you do?” Sam asked, talking very fast.
“What do you mean solar powered enhancement?” Jennifer asked, staling.
“I take in sun light, store it like a battery and use it to give myself super strength or speed, or endurance, reflexes, healing, or senses. It’s very versatile.”
“Okay, that’s a nice power. Umm, my name is Jennifer Lee, my power is fire blasts and flight, and I don’t want to talk about my criminal family member, thank you,” Jennifer said. “So do you know what we are supposed to do? Should we wait here for everyone else, I still need to get all my stuff for my regular classes.”
“I have no idea, but this is college, I think the rules are all a bit flexible, I say we go find the administration building, get our IDs and schedules, then find a dining hall, I’m starving, you game?” Sam asked.
“Um, I guess so, so do you know where it is, I got lost several times trying to find this place.”
“Yeah no problem, I have a map, plus you know this campus is set up in a tidy little grid system, and really isn’t that large, haven’t you ever lived in a big city?” Sam asked.
“Um, no, small town girl.”
Allison was just approaching the house when she saw a tall blonde boy and a tiny Asian girl leaving the house and heading in the other direction, she considered calling out, but thought better of it. She wanted to get settled in and she wasn’t that into bonding either. The house was huge, it looked kind of like a fraternity house, she walked into the entrance, calling out “Hello?” nobody responded, so she began to explore, the entrance room was as big as some of the apartments she’d lived in, a large staircase went up to the second floor, to the right off the entrance was a large living room with a pretty decent entertainment system, surrounded by three couches, the room behind that one looked like it might have once been a small library, but there were no book on the large number of shelves. Back to the left of the entrance, a huge dinner room, but currently it only had a normal family sized table, making the majority of the space empty. The swinging door on the right led to a massive kitchen, huge stove, huge refrigerator, tons of countertop space, on the right wall there was three doors, she checked them, one a very large pantry, one a small utility cupboard, the last led to a room behind the entrance, it had a large open archway to the entrance room, large double French doors opening to the backyard, and two other doors, one that led down to the basement, she choose not to go down there, but she could tell that it was a finished basement, and the other door was a bathroom. She headed upstairs, there were at least ten doors that she could see and the hallway turned at the end in both directions. These were obviously bedrooms and bathrooms and closets, she wasn’t sure if anyone else had chosen rooms yet or if they would be assigned later, she decided just to head back downstairs without exploring anymore, she was pretty sure she had gotten the layout of the house.
Allison was unsure about what to actually do, she had never really been the most proactive, so she decided to wait for someone else to show up rather than going exploring. Luckily the television had cable, so she settled in and started watching a 24 hour news network, they were doing a piece on a Hero who had recently fallen. A Detroit based teleporter, it wasn’t anyone she had heard of before; Flash-step, but Allison had lived in Colorado for past few years, so she didn’t see a lot of coverage from Michigan based heroes. The anchors were just beginning to speculate about the actually cause of Flash-Step’s death, the DVA had edited a large portion of the video the station was airing, when Allison heard a car pulling into the driveway. She looked out the window and saw a newish pick-up truck heading to the garage out back, Allison turned on her power to make sure the man in the truck was meant to be here, as an empath, with the power to sense and control emotions, and while not as strong as a telepath, the ability to sense emotions gives a much better understanding of those with the intent to harm. She sensed no such intent from the person in the truck. She watched him get out the truck and check the garage doors, but they all appeared to be locked so he started heading to the house, he was an average sized, average build, Hispanic man with short almost shaved head, and a beard of the same length
Michael had been driving all morning, he only lived about four hours north of Sizemore. It was actually one of the colleges he was looking at even if he didn’t get into the HCP, which considering his family’s history, not getting into an HCP was always more likely than not. So Sizemore Tech was quite a pleasant surprise. As he was pulling up to the house he was amazed at the size, it was a mini mansion, he pulled into the drive and headed around to the back where the garage was located. He got out to see if he could open one of the doors, but they all seemed to be locked. He headed up to the back door, where he saw a girl looking back out at him, she was cute, with long straight black hair and a large chest, when he got up close to her he saw that were also about the same height, her maybe 5’10”, to his 5’11”. “Hello,” he said, “are you one my new roommates?”
“If we’re both in the right place, then yes. Hello, I’m Allison Beckett,” she said.
“Yo, I’m Michael Gonzales,” he said, “can you believe the size of house? It’s crazy.”
“Yes, it’s pretty impressive. Do you know what we’re supposed to be doing? I haven’t seen anyone else for a while and all the dean gave me when he dropped me off was this address,” Allison asked.
“When I declined the dean’s offer of a ride he told me I had to be here by noon today, so if I had to guess I would say that whatever is happening is happening then. It’s about ten til eleven, so we have about an hour. What do you want to do until then? Maybe you could help me bring in my stuff, then we can see if there is anything to eat in this house.”
“Sure, I’ll help you bring stuff in, but I already checked the fridge and pantry and there is no food in the house,” Allison said, they headed out back to Michael’s truck.
“Ah, that’s too bad, I was kind of hungry. So what’s your power Allison?” Michael asked.
“I am an empath, I can sense and control emotions. What do you do, Michael?”
“Oh, that’s a neat power,” Michael said.
“You know I can tell your lying, you don’t think it’s a very good power.” Allison said, “it’s hard to lie without emotion, especially guilt, empaths are even better lie detectors than telepaths, because most people’s surface thought are just them repeating the lie, so telepaths can’t tell the difference. It’s just one of the ways my power is super useful. So what’s your great power that you think empathy isn’t that great?”
“I am a shifter with adapter abilities,” Michael said with a smug smile.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what that means, I know what a shifter is, and I know what an adapter is, what do you mean your both?”
“Well than allow me to explain my awesomeness. My basic shifter form is reptile-like, snake faced, three fingers, two toed, about four times human strength, with enhanced durability and enhanced healing, nothing all that special. But when I face off against a super or a powered, I gain a physical trait that gives me an advantage against them. If I face a flyer I get wings, if I face a fire user I become fireproof, I get pretty much any physical trait I need to win,” Michael said, “within reason,” he added in a much quieter voice.
“Wow, that is pretty impressive.” They put Michael’s bags in the library, and moved into the living room. Allison sat on the end of the middle couch, Michael sat in the closest spot to her on the couch on the right.
Michael wanted to put in some leg work before the others got there in case he ever wanted to try and hook up with her. “So Allison, what’s your major?”
As soon as Tony got outside after leaving the HCP facility, he turned into a hawk and took to the sky, not only would it give him a bird’s eye view of the campus, it would let him get to his housing fast. Tony had been flying in one form or another for years and had figured out how to find street addresses from the air a long time ago. It only took him a few minutes after getting into the air to find and fly to his new home. He circled the property a few times, going low and looking into the windows, he could only see two people in the house, sitting on some couches in the living room. So he thought it would be great fun to swoop in and surprise them. He flew through an open window, landed on the back of the third couch and swiftly returned to his normal human form, a short, skinny, pale, messy haired teen, in one fluid, practiced, motion. The girl screamed, which was kind of funny, the other guy did something unexpected, he jumped up and changed into a monster, he had a big mouth full of sharp looking teeth, five wickedly sharp claws, and a long tail with a couple of sharp barbs on them, and he charged Tony. Tony fell backwards off the couch, landed hard on the floor and started to back petal away from the monster. “Whoa dude, I come in peace. I’m supposed to be here, chill man, calm down,” Tony yelled. The creature slowed, then stopped, but kept staring down at Tony with predatory eyes, after about thirty seconds he changed back into a young Hispanic man.
“Who are you?” he demanded.
“Whoa, man, my name is Tony Price, HCP student, son of a villain, your new roommate,” Tony said.
“Are you stupid or just crazy. If you ever use your powers around here again and risk my secret identity, I will rip you apart,”
“Sorry man, didn’t mean to offend, but all anyone saw of me was a bird, no suspicion should fall on me or us. I have done this kind of thing before,” Tony said.
“And is that bird of yours even native to this region? And bird or no, people may find it strange if a hawk flies into our house, since I’m assuming if I hadn’t said anything you’d have kept flying around like that, in and out. Is that all you can do anyways, change into a bird, that alone wouldn’t get you into the HCP.”
“Of course not, my power is amazing, but it’s rude to ask a question like that before you introduce yourself, plus I think your transformation scared the lady over there,” Tony said pointing toward Allison. At which point she finally found her voice again.
“Michael that’s not the form you described to me,” Allison said.
“Yeah, that surprised me a bit too, it was a reaction to his power,” Michael said, pointing toward Tony, “he must be scrapper for me to need all those offensive weapons. And sorry Tony, your right I was rude and overreacted, my name is Michael Gonzales, and this is Allison Beckett. Now what is it that you can do that would cause my shifter form to react like that?” Michael said.
“Well apology accepted, and I agree with you, that was a bit reckless of me. Like I said, my power is awesome, they have trouble putting my power into a specific classification. Basically I can change into any animal I want too. They try to say I am just a shifter, but I think I’m more of a mimic, because I have to touch the animal I shift into, then I save that form to use for later, and I’m the same size and coloring of that animal. I have about 100 different animals saved up, lion, tiger, bear, snakes, birds, marine mammals,” Tony said.
“Well that would explain why I needed such an aggressive form, if you can change into a tiger or bear, you’d be a big threat and I’d need the claws to fight back.”
“That’s the second time you said your form was different because of me, what’s that mean?” Tony asked, sitting down on the third couch, with Michael and Allison returning to their own seats.
The dean stepped out of his portal with his final two students, Hope Simons and James Reed, he had planned to pick up each individually, but he had fallen behind schedule. He wanted each of the students to find their own way to the house, so their meetings and social interactions would be more natural, plus hauling all that luggage from one kid’s home to another would have been unmanageable. But two should be fine and not skew the results too much. He led them to the lift to get out of the HCP complex, “Alright you two, this is the address of your new home,” he said handing Hope the paper, “there is going to be a house meeting for you at noon. That is if I can pick up your advisors on time. I’m running late, bad form for a teleporter”
James followed Hope out of the lift from the HCP, it led to a disused classroom in the basement of one of the lecture halls. James had to admire Hope, tall and extremely fit, with a beautiful face, but the most striking features were her hair and eyes, her hair was bright metallic red, so were her eyes, it could be dye and contacts, but for someone in the HCP trying to keep to the secret identity restriction that would be profoundly stupid, so it must be a variant human anomaly. And it only added to her beauty rather than detracting from it, so James was quite enamored with her from the start. James himself was of similar height, about six foot, he was also in great shape, having taken multiple forms of martial arts over the last ten year, and running on his high school cross country team, one of the only high school sports a super is allowed to compete in. James’ mother is Korean, his father was black, and so his skin and features were a pretty even mix of the two. As they were walking out of the lecture hall James tried to start up a conversation with Hope, “So Hope, um…”
“You can go ahead and ask what my power is, that’s what all of us want to know about each other, I want to know what yours is too,” Hope said.
“Okay, good, I wasn’t sure what the protocol was for this kind of thing, I’ve never met another Super, not even my father…Um, yeah, so what’s your power then?”
“Your father, huh? The super criminal in your family then?” Hope said.
“Yeah, I’d rather not talk about it.”
“Fine, I don’t want to talk about mine either, so we’ll leave it for now. My power makes me an enhancer that allows for healing too. I supercharge people’s immune systems, it also give a boost to the muscles, so they gain strength, and speed and reflexes, but it doesn’t do anything for those who already have enhanced physical abilities,” Hope said.
“That pretty cool, but I’ve heard that healers and enhancers rarely make it through the HCP, you have anything more offensive to make it through?” James asked.
“No, that’s it for right now, but I’ve heard the training here is so intense that people often discover new aspects of their abilities, or new uses for what they already have, so maybe something will come up before I ‘fail to advance.’ So what do you do James? You see I’m just as curious too.”
“I’m a drainer. I use these smoke/shadow-like tendril things to drain someone’s energy and strength,” James said making a shadow-like hand appear above his own hand, “then I can use it on myself, I can’t become super strong or anything, but I can become the best a normal human can be, strength, speed, agility and so on, plus it can heal me, or end fatigue. But probably the most interesting part is I can give that energy to another person, so they can heal,” James said.
“Well, that seems like a very useful ability, better than mine at least, plus you can heal people too, so it trumps my ability.”
“Sure I can heal, but I have to drain someone else’s energy first, so it’s bit of a wash, except maybe in a life threatening situation. Still, I’m going to see about getting into the healer’s courses, maybe they can teach me something new.” James and Hope continued to talk all the way to the house, with Hope generally picking up the slack on the conversation, James didn’t seem to be very good at small talk.
Carter and Diane pulled up to the house a little after noon, haven taken their government issue sedan from the faculty parking behind one of the lecture halls. The dean had dropped them off in an empty classroom, classes weren’t going to start for three more days so most were empty. Despite the access they were to have to their seven charges, they didn’t have access to the underground complex, it would raise too much suspicion from the professors if they were seen roaming around down there. “Are you ready for this Diane?” Carter asked.
“No Carter, I don’t think I am, but it’s now or never. Let’s do this.” They got out of the car and headed up to the front, walking into the entry way, they heard laughing and loud talking coming from the living room, “at least it sounds like they are getting along,” Diane said. They walked to the entryway of the living room, Diane knocked on the door frame, “Knock, Knock. Hi, everyone,” Diane said, there were five people sitting around the various couches. “Are the other two somewhere in the house, or have they been here yet?”
Allison was the one who answered her, “I saw them leaving the house as I was getting here, about two hours ago now, but I didn’t get the chance to talk to them, so I don’t know when they will be back. But not to sound rude, but who are you?”
“Of course, don’t worry, we are meant be here. My name is Diane Greene, I am a lawyer for the ACLU, second chair for the discrimination lawsuit. I am here to make sure the HCP adheres to the agreement we all agreed on. This is Agent Carter Shields, he is a DVA agent. He is here to make sure we’re not skewing any results to appear more favorable than they really are. We are going to be keeping track of your progress while in the program.”
“So you’re our babysitters then?” Michael asked.
“No, nothing like that, in fact we are going to be keeping our interaction between us and you to minimum. We need to make sure you are succeeding or failing without our interdiction,” Carter said, “Diane and I each have our own separate apartments downstairs, we will only be doing passive surveillance and a personal interview with each of you, only once every two weeks. We will of course be available at all times if any incidence comes up, I was once a student of an HCP, so I know what you will be going though. Otherwise it will be up to each of you to make your mistakes and pass or fail in the program on your own.”
“So you’re a super then?” Hope asked, “What’s your power?”
“Yes, I am a super, I am an advanced mind, telepathy and telekinesis. Diane here is also a super; super brain, perfect memory and pattern recognition, necessary skills to evaluate your progress. I think we should wait for your other classmates before we continue with the rest of the meeting.”
Sam and Jennifer were heading back home after a truly awful college cafeteria meal. The line at the administration building was long, taking over an hour to get their Ids and schedules, and rushing lunch to make it back home by noon. When they entered the house they heard talking from the living room, five young people and two older ones were sitting on the couches talking. The older people were of a similar age, mid to late 30’s, the man was in good shape with thinning brown hair. The woman was kind of short and a few pounds overweight, with a blonde hair styled in a pixie cut. “Hi everyone. I’m Sam, this is Jennifer, how’s it going?”
“We’ve been waiting for you. I’m Carter, this is Diane, that’s Allison, Hope, Michael, James and Tony,” pointing to each of them in turn. “Now that everyone is here we can get started, there is not really that much to go over. We have already told the others our role in this house. You will all be required to meet with both of us once every two weeks to discuss your progress and issues that may have arisen, we’ll make sure these meetings don’t interfere too much in any of your normal schedule. The DVA is providing a kind of small allowance for food and cleaning service, but even with the service, you should all be keeping the house clean, we’re not your parents, we won’t be enforcing rules, but we do share this house and we expect at least roommate edict. You will all also be provided a monthly allowance as part of your scholarships. So we won’t forbid parties or late night company, but we’ll be around and judging your actions more closely than the other students in the HCP, so it is up to you how to behave. The things you do and things you don’t do will all be reported on. Just so you are all aware.
“Tomorrow is Saturday, basically your last free day before the HCP begins, so those of you who haven’t yet should get their Ids, schedules and books tomorrow. On Sunday you have HCP orientation at noon, I suggest you not be late for that, and you arrive at least an hour early. There are no exact room assignments yet, but the boys will be on right the girls will be on left, there are eight room, every two share one bathroom, so one of you girls will get their own bathroom, decide among yourselves. Mine and Diane’s apartments are downstairs, off limits to students, but the basement also has a basic gym that is available to all. All of your luggage should be delivered in a few hours. Umm, that’s all I can think of for right now, anyone have any questions? Diane you have anything to add?”
“I would just like to say I’m here for you, I want you all to succeed in this program, if you do, you’ll open the way for many others that may not have otherwise had the opportunity, but there are many people also looking to see you fail, make sure you come to me if anything seems out of place,” Diane said.