[WP] In a world where everyone gets a super power at the age of 18, people has learnt to adapt, linking their power to their job. It’s been a few months after your 18th birthday and your parents are nagging for you to get a job. The only problem being you don’t know what your powers is.
Dad can calculate in his head. Some people don’t think it’s a super power, but given enough constants and equations, he can formulate just as well as the best algorithms and statistical platforms, though his handwriting is so garbage that he uses those for market analysis anyway.
Mom’s a firefighter; she doesn’t burn, or freeze for that matter, and can plow through hazardous locations without even pausing for a second. A bit of a mismatch, so it made my birth scientifically interesting when it came to the power institutions.
They’d lost interest after three years, when I’d not shown any of the tell tale characteristics of getting a hero sort of power, which left me and my family alone. The government mandated worker left when I was twelve.
Which left me standing on the edge of a building, staring at the urban megaplex. Super concrete structures let everything stretch up into the heavens like fingers tapping in morse code to whatever hidden god existed beyond the growing kingdoms of man. If I wanted to, I could go tour the ‘Needle, see how close we were to breaking physics just that much more.
But I didn’t.
A man flew by overhead, a palette trailing behind him bound in heavy chains. His uniform rippled, and then he vanished, let into a tall high rise building to give them their mail.
A kid walked by underneath, staring up at the sky like the buildings were teeth, his eyes wide and wild, and I watched him for a while.
Unlike my mother, and my father, I couldn’t figure out what the hell my power was. Nobody could. Countless tests clustered around my 18th birthday had given me absolutely nothing.
And the world wasn’t built around people like me. The world was built around people excelling at their careers. The world was built off of people being actualized, people being attached to their jobs by their abilities.
People who were, well, super.
The kid darted into an alleyway, and I sighed, giving up on people watching for the day, and crawled my way through the stair cases, ignoring the omnipresent advertisements for Association jobs, propaganda posters and advertisements for the worker’s unions. The front desk secretary (six arms) waved at me without looking up from her work.
“Another day?” she asked.
I shrugged at her. “Arach, I just don’t think it’s going to show up.”
She still didn’t look up, reading the screen in front of her and writing up schedules, taxes, and who knew what else for the front company. “Give it time. You’ll figure out something you’re good at.”
“But what about being super-good at something?” I asked.
“Japan hasn’t had someone without powers for decades,” Arach said. “I doubt you’ll be the first one.”
I glared at her.
She still didn’t look up, so it went over her head. I turned, and walked out in a huff.
The streets of the burgeoning megaplex stretched out like rude scrawl; the boom of mega structures hadn’t done so well with urban planning, and the cars crawled across a sprawl of bulging veiny streets. If I were faster, I could run, but-
Was someone crying?
I cocked my head to the side and squinted at the alley next to the building. At the mouth of it, a kid’s hat sat.
No, wait, this was the same kid’s hat. The one that’d been on the kid wandering around earlier. I squinted at it, then squinted down the alleyway. In the shade of the tall rises, away from the light of the streets, it looked like the crevasse between sword blades.
I swallowed, then walked forward. “Hey, kid you in here?” My fingers were already sliding down to my omni-pad.
Then, abruptly, I was on the ground. Pain exploded across the side of my head, and blood trickled down from an opened cut. I stared at the thin sliver of sky, far above where the buildings threatened to break out of the first layer of the atmosphere, for what felt like forever until a man stepped into view.
“You’re not a hero,” the man said, grim. “Seems like you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“Just… just walking here,” I managed. My teeth had chipped. My tongue bled.
The man knelt down. One of his fists was slick with blood. My blood. God, I could just about vomit.
But I was lying down, so I didn’t. So I didn’t.
“Wrong place,” The man agreed. “But maybe not wrong time. Seems like you’re good for something after all.”
I turned my head slightly, just to stop the blood from running. In the corner, the kid sat, bloodied up, his eyes locked on mine. What was he waiting on?
Ah, he thought I was-
He thought I was.
“Good for what?”
His hands settled around my shoulders, and he pulled me back up to my feet, fingers digging into the thin bones of my collar. He gave me a shook, and a grin. “Hostages.”
My stomach fell.
It took three hours for Vernier, Sector D4’s resident hero to show up, and I kept quiet, stone cold quiet the entire time. He’d introduced the other side of my head to his fists, so I could play the part better (or he just wanted me to be in ever more pain, that was also an idea) and my head rang like a bell, a throbbing awful pain for me to consider.
Vernier went down like a goddamn chump when the perp pulled a gun on the kid, the strongman unable to make the proper decision, and the perp throwing a bolt of lightning in that split second. He hit the ground and writhed like a snake showing its belly, and the perp inched closer, one by one.
“You… you going to help?” the kid asked, turning to look at me. One eye was blossoming like a hollyhawk; bright black. The other looked like there was hope, hope that I couldn’t give back to him, no matter how much I wanted to.
Vernier screamed at the electricity poured through him. His muscles were strong enough to tear through the skin, the downside of having super strength. I grit my teeth, watching them. Watching smoke pour up through cooked flesh.
That’d be us next. There’d be no need for hostages after the villain won.
I swallowed, watched the scene. Tried to pretend to be my dad, calculate things out.
Tried to pretend to be my mom, and show no fear.
It wasn’t a jump to my feet so much as it was a lunge, and after the first faltering step, the rest came easier.
And I pretended I was Calibre, hurling myself hyper sonic across the Atlantic ocean, and I pretended I was Artemis, so I’d strike true every time, and then I pretended I was Martial, and broke the fucker’s elbow, snapping it out of socket. The perp turned, his eyes wide, his gun tumbling from his numb fingers, and I pretended I was a soldier, snatched the gun from his fingers, and pulled the trigger.
It clicked after a dozen pulls, after blood drooled down my face and across my clothes, and long after the man was dead I remembered to drop the gun.
In the news, they called me hero. Vernier shook my hand. The kid smiled with me, and we looked like a pair of idiots with bloodied and bruised skin.
In the new, they called me a hero, and I had nothing to show for it. No costume, no nothing but-
I’d still saved the day.