Kiya slouched in her seat, her hands loosely rested on the large weathered handbag in her lap. Once proud eyes measured the cracks upon the surface of the worn desk between her and the registration officer whose face remained buried in his papers as he nodded approvingly.
"Your account has been cross-checked and states that you are a survivor of the battle that destroyed the Dimension designated as PS469. Is this true?"
"So I am told."
The officer scribbled passively through the forms while offering not so much as a glance at the exhausted woman seated before him. The awkwardness nagged at Kiya, whom even in a state of shock found herself starved for some sense of normalcy in the room. A minute later and the stifled scribbling finally got to her.
"Long day?" She asked, half-concerned as she quietly hoped to provoke a response - or at least buy a couple of seconds without that infernal scrawling reaching her ears. The officer paused, bobbing slightly in less than a nod but none the less providing affirmation.
"You're the twenty-seventh today."
"That bad, huh?" Kiya pondered aloud, removing her right hand from its place of rest and rubbing out an ache in her neck - an old would that persistently hounded her. She regretted that the doctors back home couldn't replace her spine as they had done with her arms. The dulled sensory feedback channeled through the tips of her artificial fingers ill served to judge the applied pressure. She soon winced as she pinched a nerve from squeezing too hard.
"Your account also states that you were a registered metahuman in your native dimension. Is this also true?"
"You make it sound like a bad thing."
"Most foreign metahumans don't mesh well with our society." He casually replied, finally lifting his gaze. "Many end up on the other side of the law not long after arriving."
He furrowed his brow and did a double take on her profile data. The woman before him could not possibly be almost 60 years old, he thought. She wasn't exactly the vision of beauty, but he would have guessed her at pushing 40, tops. "Is one of your powers eternal youth, per chance?"
"I'm a weaponized human." She asserted to the mistaken complement, "You wouldn't believe the things I've had removed or replaced to stay in the hero business."
"I'd imagine." He returned to his work, musing as he did. "Says here your powers aren't innate and, given accounts of PS469's history, you must have practically been raised on violence. I can't see anyone in your career choice lasting more than a couple of years without at least some kind of medical procedure."
"Oh, I've had a few over the past thirty-eight." She chortled, quietly muttering, "But I've caused far more, believe me..."
"Case-in-point." He turned a couple more pages while Kiya shifted in her seat, visibly uncomfortable but less irritated. "So these powers of yours - point-blank kinetic disruption - they're a product of a... how do you say it? Reingard?"
Kiya smiled and pulled the contents of her large handbag out and placed it on his desk. The officer looked upon it quizzically. "A helmet?"
"A time-displaced chronal artifact." She explained, "It was meant to be a standard bulletproofing article - one among millions. It turns out the weapon that destroyed my world also created a tear that threw this particular one back in time a couple of decades to when I first discovered it, thus turning it into a space-time anomaly. This amplified its effects - it wasn't originally supposed to be as powerful as it is... was."
"I can't control it like I did, before..." She tried to explained, the pride in her eyes fading as her voice trailed, "Not since..."
"Since you came here."
She didn't answer. The unsettling reality of her predicament returned and threatened to suffocate the very air from the room.
"Diminished powers..." He noted, discomforted. He reasserted himself into his former role, cursing himself for getting a bit too involved again. The constant stream of suffering day in and out wore away at him. "Not unusual, to be honest." He relented. "Most don't have full control of their facilities after being thrown across space-time." He glanced up and encouraged her, "For some, it comes back."
She faked a smile. Civil discourse was never her strong suite, least of all before she had been reduced to a refugee, but it would be uncouth to return his encouragement, however forced, in some fashion.
"You're going to need a license." He pointed out, returning to his documents, "And a new costume. We have those too, conveniently enough." He handed her a card. "Here. They'll get you started."
"Thank you." The tired phrase again parroted.
"Just do me a favor and don't get yourself into trouble. They'll drag me into court as a character witness."
"They do that?"
"It wouldn't be the first time. Now get outta here, you've got a new life ahead of you." She nodded and carried herself out as he looked over her psychological report, nearly clobbering himself. This one was going to be trouble indeed...
As Kiya exited the Displaced Naturalization Agency office, she stopped and pulled the Reingard out of the bag. She could see her weary eyes reflected back.
"I never wanted this - to be a hero." She admitted aloud. She bowed her head and turned the helmet about to don it. "But when loved ones start dying all around you, nobody in their right mind is going to turn down the power needed to make a difference... but what good did it do in the end?"
She pulled the card from her pocket. A simple act of kindness. A faint reminder of her faith, however fleeting, in humanity.
"There's still something worth fighting for..." She struggled to convince herself. "Isn't there?"