(LIGHTS RISE on the HR office of the Municipal Association of Superheroes of Kansas (MASK). Janice is sitting at a cluttered desk, going through some paperwork. There is a printer nearby. She has the look of someone with something on her mind, but she’s trying to bury herself in her work. The phone rings and she answers it.)
JANICE: Municipal Association of Superheroes of Kansas, HR Department, this is Janice. (beat) No, no. Complaints like that need to go through our legal department. (beat) Because the HR department doesn’t handle property damaged caused by a superhero stopping a train from going off the rails. (beat) Yes, I’m very sorry that your fender got dented. (beat) But he saved fifty– (beat) You know what? I’m just going to transfer you to our legal department. (beat) You have a nice day.
(Janice punches in a few commands, then hangs up the phone with a crack.)
(She starts going through her paperwork again, but more and more, she finds herself looking at her cellphone. Aegis enters (the door should swing inwards). She is a larger-than-life superhero, wearing armor.)
AEGIS: Well met, sister Janice.
JANICE: Oh, hey, Aegis.
AEGIS: I am eagerly awaiting our outing this evening. I have heard great tales of this concoction you call “tequila.”
JANICE: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it too. But we’re gonna have to leave a little later than I wanted.
AEGIS: But tis the hour of closing!
JANICE: I have one more appointment. (annoyed) He insists on only coming in at night.
AEGIS: Oh. Him.
(They share a look of sympathy.)
JANICE: Shouldn’t be too long.
AEGIS: What did he do this time?
JANICE: The usual.
AEGIS: Sometimes, I cannot understand why the women of your planet have not yet done away with your menfolk entirely.
JANICE: They’re not all like him.
JANICE: Unfortunately, we need them for reproduction. And fun.
AEGIS: My planet learned to go without.
JANICE: Well, maybe we’ll get there someday.
AEGIS: I pray to the goddesses that you do.
(Janice laughs. Then she turns to check her phone. She lets out a sigh, setting it face-down on the desk.)
AEGIS: Sister Janice? What ails you?
AEGIS: You sigh like the southern breezes of the Planet of Warrior Women, after the monsoon season has passed but before the second sun has returned to the eastern hemisphere.
JANICE: Do I?
AEGIS: What troubles you, my friend?
JANICE: It’s nothing. It’s…
AEGIS: Tell me.
JANICE: It’s this…tradition. We have here on earth. It’s called a ten-year high school reunion.
AEGIS: A reunion lasting ten years? That is quite the tradition. Even our memorial services to the queens of days gone by do not last longer than three years.
JANICE: No, no. It’s a celebration of ten years of life after high school. (beat) “Celebration.”
AEGIS: Why do you say the word so?
JANICE: Because I’m not sure there’s really much to celebrate.
AEGIS: That you have survived ten years, in spite of the evil-doers that plague this world should be reason enough to celebrate.
JANICE: But that’s just it.
JANICE: All I’ve done over the last ten years is…survive.
AEGIS: You should be grateful! The invaders from Yumpy who attacked last year have a policy of leaving behind no survivors.
JANICE: No, I mean–
AEGIS: And Captain Kaos’ schemes usually leave precious few alive. You were in Lawrence when he–
JANICE: No. That’s not what I mean.
JANICE: I mean…I’ve survived, yes. But that’s not really the same as living. But what have I done with my life?
AEGIS: Is working in the HR Department not a noble calling?
JANICE: Noble, yes. But it’s not fulfilling. Not for me.
AEGIS: The Municipal Association of Superheroes of Kansas serves this puny world well. How is that not fulfilling?
JANICE: I guess it’s just not what I dreamed I would be doing with my life.
AEGIS: And what did you dream of?
AEGIS: Janice. You must be true to me. I am your sister of ovaries. No woman should ever deceive another.
JANICE: It’s stupid.
AEGIS: Nonsense. You are a wise woman.
JANICE: No, really. It’s just such a cliche.
AEGIS: Tell me.
JANICE: (sighing) When I was in high school, I wanted…to be an actress.
AEGIS: An actress.
JANICE: I told you it was cliched. So cliched. Oh, God. The little Kansas girl who wanted to make it big in Hollywood. (beat) It’s stupid.
AEGIS: No! Not stupid, my sister. But perhaps…
AEGIS: Perhaps a little…unambitious.
AEGIS: From what I’ve seen of your popular culture, on this planet, an actress does little more than display her body for profit.
JANICE: That’s not…really…what I was going for.
JANICE: I don’t know. Being an actress always seemed like it would be an amazing adventure. The chance to go around and play make-believe.
JANICE: Be someone else for awhile. Someone exciting. Or dangerous. Or…sexy.
AEGIS: Is there something wrong with who you are?
JANICE: I guess not. But…who doesn’t like to pretend to be someone else, every now and then?
AEGIS: I. I do not like it.
JANICE: Well, you’re exceptional. Pretty much everyone on my intake sheets has at least one alter ego. I’m pretty sure Green Girl has three. And don’t get me started on Stormy Knight.
AEGIS: To speak of him would be a foolish conversation, for he is a fool.
JANICE: No kidding.
AEGIS: Personally, I have never understood this obsessive need to have a secret identity.
JANICE: Well, what you have to remember is that most people in MASK started out as human. With lives other than this one. They have families and loved ones to protect.
AEGIS: I see. Whereas all of my loved ones are safely back home on the Planet of Warrior Women.
AEGIS: And would never need my protection anyway. (beat) I do miss the company of other Warrior Women.
JANICE: All the more reason I’m surprised you’ve never been tempted.
JANICE: To just…be someone else for awhile. (beat) I mean, don’t you ever think about it?
JANICE: Really? You never wanna just fit in?
JANICE: You absolutely never think about dressing like a human woman and going into town? I’ll bet you’d be surprised at how differently people treat you when you’re not in your armor.
AEGIS: I wager I would not be surprised one jot.
JANICE: You never know. It could be fun. You could hit the town. Maybe meet a nice girl who wouldn’t be intimidated by you.
AEGIS: And be ogled by your menfolk. It does not matter what a woman in this world wears. Armor or a simple cotton shift. She will be treated like a good for purchase.
JANICE: Not every man is like that.
AEGIS: Oh no?
JANICE: There are exceptions.
AEGIS: Like who?
(Brandon enters. He is a meek and introverted young man, wearing glasses.)
BRANDON: Hi, Janice. I’m here to look at the printer.
JANICE: Like Brandon here.
JANICE: Brandon isn’t a pig.
BRANDON: …I’m glad you think so?
AEGIS: Ah, yes. Brandon. Of the Glorious and Honorable Department of Information and Technology.
BRANDON: We just call it “IT” these days. (beat) Not that I’m complaining, but why am I not a pig?
JANICE: Just trying to convince Aegis that not all human males are idiots.
BRANDON: Good luck with that.
AEGIS: Her point is fair. You are noble and good and not at all pig-like. (beat) Brandon.
(Brandon and Aegis hold a look.)
BRANDON: Well, thanks. (to Janice) What’s wrong with the printer?
JANICE: It’s suddenly decided to refuse to print the color red.
BRANDON: Do you think that’s a political statement?
JANICE: Could be.
BRANDON: Let’s take a look.
(Janice leads Brandon over to the printer, while Aegis watches. It’s obvious there’s an attraction between Janice and Brandon, but neither has quite figured out how to express it. Brandon begins tinkering with the printer.)
JANICE: It really hasn’t been the same since the Terrible League launched that attack on the office last week.
BRANDON: Well, the Eccentric Electrician is part of the Terrible League. It’s possible that he may have shorted out some wires. (beat) Or it could just be the toner.