, how may I direct your call?" the receptionist
behind the semicircular table -- a fractal
web of glass
-- recited in practiced tones. After a few moments of "mm-hmm"s she had disposed of the call, and was able to turn her attention to the average-looking man in blue jeans and a mousy brown jacket who sat on one of the steel chairs abutting the wall. "May I help you, sir."
"Yeah," he rose and walked casually to the desk. "I'm here to register as a superhero.
She tilted her head just a bit to the side. "And what is your superpower
"I'm sorry, did you just say jaywalking?"
"Yeah, jaywalking." He stood up and kind of puffed himself out a bit. "I am.... The Jaywalker
A moment passed. She blinked several times, noticing for the first time the faded dark grey "J" on his faded, light grey t-shirt. He nodded and raised an eyebrow.
"Sir, I-- I'm sorry sir, but jaywalking.... isn't a superpower."
He looked like he'd been punched in the gut. "But you don't understand, I'm good at it, I mean I'm really, really good at it
. Like, when I cross the street, I can completely tune out every law there is against jaywalking--" he leaned in a bit, "it's as though, for me, the law doesn't even exist."
"Sir, anybody could do that. People choose to obey the law because.... well, because it's the law."
"But I'm good at it. I mean, freakishly good at it."
"Is that because you have some kind of super-speed?" she asked, with a hint of hopefulness. "Or maybe some extrasensory perception of when cars will be coming?"
"Huh? No, I just look both ways and wait until there's no cars, and then just sort of.... you know.... walk. Across the street."
"Sir, I'm really sorry but what you're describing just isn't
a superpower. You can't really register as a superhero unless you've got a superpower."
"Wait, what about Armor
Man? He doesn't have any superpowers, he's just a regular dude who happens to be rich so he could afford to fiddle around and make himself a hi-tech supersuit. Or Ratman
-- he's just a regular guy with some ninja
training and costume gimmick."
"Yes, but both of them are genius-level experts in what they do. Do you think you could invent your own suit of self-contained super-armor to fly around in? Or do you have the psychological insights to manipulate criminals into their own downfall by anticipating their moves, and then stealthfully inserting yourself into their organization to do just the right damage at just the right time?"
The man looked defeated. "Um. No, probably not."
The receptionist turned her palms up in gesture of 'there you have it.'
The man looked positively downtrodden.
"Oh, don't feel bad about. So what if jaywalking isn't a superpower, you can still be a good citizen."
The man nodded dourly, and walked out the door. A moment later came the sound of a car screeching and a driver yelling, "get out of the road, you moron!!"
The receptionist sighed and answered the angrily buzzing telephone. "We need Mavenhawk," the voice on the other end cried through static, "in the industrial district, right now."
"Roger that," the receptionist replied as she pressed two buttons under the desk. The skylight
in the ceiling opened as she donned a silver mask, drew a massive, gleaming sword from under the desk, and flipped up a sign reading, "Back in Five Minutes." Massive silver wings spread out from her back, and up through the skylight she flew.