Chapter 17

It was a small, traditional classroom, comfortably fitting the five students and their teacher. As Jackhammer and O’Shay peered in through the glass door with the Headmaster alongside, there seemed nothing about this small band of youth that made them more special than any other class in any other school. In fact, the only thing that seemed to set them apart, on the surface, was their striking good looks and attentive behaviour.

“The professor’s name is Gyananakashu,” the Headmaster whispered so as not to disturb the lesson in progress. The teacher was a muscular, bald man and an engaging speaker despite his humourless intensity. “We call him Gyan for short. He has some psychic ability but rarely puts it to use.”

Jackhammer noted the comment with a knowing nod. People who didn’t refine their abilities were either cowards or incompetent as far as he was concerned.

“Think about it,” Gyan was saying to his pupils. “We live in a world so technologically advanced; so magnificent and efficient, that we’ve become terrified of everything natural. The human race puts more faith in bottles over breast feeding; paper money over the natural environment. But which is it that actually keeps us alive? Think about babies, who have been breast fed since the dawn of the human race, yet nowadays we have worldwide movements to actually ban it!

“More than the threat of nuclear holocaust, global terrorism, drug smuggling, kidnapping, domestic violence, murder, violence on television… what’s the one thing that terrifies people the most and serves as the greatest weapon? Think about it. What’s the one thing that causes the biggest reaction? The loudest outcry? The most organised protests? What’s the one thing that you, when you leave the confines of this school, what’s the one thing that you have to be prepared to face? Anyone?”

The class murmured in morbid fascination, but none of the students dared speak up.

The Headmaster used the break to continue: “You’ll have to work the students out for yourself. The two negro boys are Vis and Gill. Vis can make himself invisible. Gill can breathe underwater. The Asian lad is Hawk. He can fly. And the one with glasses is Brains. He chose his name well. It says it all. I assume none of the others are wearing glasses now. I certainly haven’t been informed of the fact. The last one is Simian – or Simmi as he prefers to be called. I don’t think there’s a wall he can’t scale or an obstacle he can’t climb.”

“And that’s The Brotherhood?” O’Shay clarified.

“For better or worse, that’s The Brotherhood.” The Headmaster barely masked the pride he felt for his best pupils.

Inside the classroom, the lesson continued.

“Let me tell you the answer, shall I?” Gyan sounded exasperated. He moved to sit on the front of his desk. The pupils all leaned forward in unison. “Sex.” He paused dramatically, letting the word sink in. “It doesn’t matter if it’s pornography, private, consensual, or gay sex. It’s the most natural act in the world, but people fear it, and use it – to dominate you; to extract information; to crush your spirit…”

“What about rape?” the one called Brians asked. “That’s acceptable to show on TV.”

“True,” the teacher nodded. “A very good point. Rape is acceptable. Why? The act itself is morally reprehensible. It scars its victims for life. And yet it gets less of an outcry than, say, two men kissing in a loving embrace. Why? Anyone?”

The class remained silent, until the student named Brains raised his hand again.

“Is it because the act itself supports the agenda of the fear-mongers? They allow visions of sexual violence on film because it supports their agenda to make sex seem dirty and wrong.”

“Very good,” the teacher applauded. “Of course, many of the writers and actors wouldn’t even know that’s what they’re doing, but a lot of our actions are driven by our subconscious. If a belief is strong enough, we can justify our action – or inaction – in ways that make perfect sense to ourself – although not to another clear thinking person.”

The class chuckled.

“He’s good,” Jackhammer observed.

“Wait ‘til you meet him,” the Headmaster smirked but wouldn’t let him in on the joke.

“And so, in light of this knowledge,” the teacher continued, “you are all at a level now where you need to face up to the fact that sex may be used against you. You cannot be afraid to face it; to use it; or if the need arises, to take it without weakening.

“In this hat I have all your names. As you leave, the first three to walk past me will draw from the hat. Your homework tonight will be to think of ways to use sex against your opponent. Each couple will be given a unique location. When we resume tomorrow, you will go straight to your designated place and face each other. Each match will be filmed for grading later. Remember – humiliation and conquest is the key.”

Cries of protest erupted, drowned out by the shrill bell that signalled the end of the lesson. One by one, the student’s rose from their desk and collected their books.

“There’s an odd number of us, Sir,” one of them pointed out.

Gyan smiled malevolently. “…which means one of you will be facing me.”

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