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The Secret Order of the Scepter & Gavel

The Secret Order of the Scepter & Gavel


Nicholas Ponticello


Fiction, Humor Fiction, Mystery, Satire Fiction, Science Fiction

Publish Date

April 1, 2024

Short Description

Vanderough University prepares its graduates for life on Mars. Herbert Hoover Palminteri enrolls at VU with the hope of joining the Martian colony in 2044 as a member of its eleventh graduating class. He thinks if he just keeps his head down and gets his studies done, he’ll get the marks he needs to join the esteemed engineer corps on the red planet. But then Herbert is tapped to join a notorious secret society: The Order of the Scepter & Gavel. As a new pledge, Herbert has to prove himself in a series of dangerous initiation rites, even if it means risking his life and the lives of his friends.

Many years later, while Herbert is enjoying middle age on Mars, a murder occurs in the colony, and Herbert starts to suspect it is linked to the secret Order of the Scepter & Gavel of his past.



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The year is 2070, and Herbert Hoover Palminteri is working as a janitor on Mars. He and his wife Cady were sent up in 2044 after graduating from Vanderough University in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Herbert complains that the only reason he is stuck scrubbing floors on Mars is because of a scandal that happened back during his freshman year at VU. He was tapped to join a notorious secret society—the Order of the Scepter & Gavel—and he hints that there was a terrible accident during one of his initiation rites that led to the downfall of the entire society. During this hazing ritual, a boy named Freddy Euler died. Herbert had hoped to never again revisit the death of Freddy Euler, but now that a man has turned up dead of a suspected homicide in the Martian colony, Herbert finds himself reliving the painful memories of his youth.


The murdered man was named Adolf Dussel. He worked for the Martian Census Bureau. Herbert didn’t know him well, but he and Cady are dragged into the investigation when it is discovered Adolf died of radiation poisoning from a spent nuclear fuel pellet stuffed under Adolf’s mattress. It turns out in the course of Herbert’s janitorial duties, he sometimes disposes of nuclear waste, so he becomes a person of interest. As the investigation gets underway, Herbert relives his freshman year of college when he was tapped to join the Order of the Scepter & Gavel. He recalls the various initiation rites that he was forced to complete to become a member of the secret society.

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Nicholas Ponticello

Nicholas Ponticello


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