Sep 22, 2021 4:58 PM
Iirve and Anastasia in room eight
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"...For example, I could e considered a parahuman but not a cape."

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"And why's that?"

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"I have powers, but I don't go around doing cape things. Capes have secret identities and go around publicly doing things with their powers under a pseudonym. I don't."

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"I think I see what you mean."

There's that thoughtful pause again.

"...so there's an awkward reality underlying this conversation, which is that most of the people at this school aren't safe to go to sleep near, and yet we have to sleep in the same room tonight. You seem like a reasonable person who probably isn't going to try to enslave me in my sleep but, on the other hand, it's hard to know for sure that I also seem that way to you and I'd really rather not fall victim to preemptive self-defense. Thoughts?"

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"--My power doesn't really do that. I mean, I can influence people, but I have to be interacting with them in some way, I'm not like Valefore who can give people ongoing commands or anything. Probably I'll learn to do something like that really soon in class but I can't  yet."

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"Fair enough. Then all I have to worry about is someone else getting you and then getting to me through you, which is at least not a problem until the next time we leave the room."

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"...I am planning to get dinner."

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"Well. How much do you trust me to watch your back when you do?"

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"Having someone watch my back is better than not that and you aren't likelier to turn on me out there than in here."

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"Reasonable of you. —I should probably mention that I can read your mind and I've been doing it this whole time. So I do have something of an advantage at the trust game. Then again, so do you, with the way you read things."

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"That may be why my power told me not to lie to you."

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"Could be! Honestly, though, lying to me isn't a great idea even when I'm not reading your mind. I strive to be the sort of person who people benefit from trusting, and I like to think I succeed." She's as cheerfully sincere about this as she's been about this whole conversation.

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"Maybe so. Without my power, I probably would anyway." Even if that's true, which she really ought to believe, given her power, but she can't tamp down her instinctual suspicion of people--even if you manage to live like that, you can't expect people you've just met to believe it. Even if you say so, who could believe it? Saying things is easy, and most people aren't anything like that. 

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"It comes along with knowing that—at least at home—I can make people trust me whether or not they were naturally going to. That sort of thing is harder to pull off around here, and I don't really like doing it in the first place, but—it's a responsibility, right, because the only thing keeping me honest is me, so I'd better do a good job of it. I'm... not entirely sure that made sense, sorry, this is the first time I've tried to properly articulate that reasoning."

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"My power only goes so far...I can sort of see the concepts you're gesturing at, but not the logic of it." She's not sure what 'the only thing keeping me honest is me, so I'd better do a good job of it' means. Most people don't have anything keeping them honest aside from what they can get away with; it's not like there's something missing that fundamentally has to be replaced. 

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"So in normal human interaction where no one involved can do mind control, the thing keeping people honest is that if they lie and cheat and mess with people too egregiously, the people they're messing with will catch on eventually. You can't spin an elaborate web of lies to steal all of someone's money, walk away with it, then turn around the next week and do the same thing to the same person again, because even if they've found more money since you took it all, they'll remember you and start getting suspicious. If you take in houseguests and then chop their arms off with an axe in their sleep, you will get a reputation as a terrible host. That sort of thing. But that all relies on people being able to come to their own conclusions about who they should trust. If I can just make someone trust me no matter how many times I chop their arms off or steal all their money, then the system breaks down. So I have two choices:" on the one hand, "I could decide I don't care about that and do whatever I want..."

"Or," on the other hand, "I could decide that I do care about that. I could decide that actually, it's important to me that people who trust me are right to trust me, even if I made them trust me with mind control—in fact, especially if I made them trust me with mind control." She weighs the two options and then drops her hands and shakes her head. "I've met people who did the first thing and it's not how I want to live my life. So I have to keep myself honest because I want to be able to honestly tell people 'even if I make you trust me by force, I will do my best to be worthy of that trust, I will conduct myself so that if you are unexpectedly freed you will look back on our time together and recognize that I kept my promises and genuinely worked to make sure you were well-treated by your own standards.' Which I don't expect most people to believe me about until it happens, but, well. I'll know. And it's—useful, right, in a situation like this, to hold myself to that kind of standard so that if I do capture someone and they are unexpectedly freed then they will look back on our time together and think 'damn, she actually did it'."

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"Okay."

She basically understands and accepts the kind of person Iirve has decided to be, although she's still confused by parts of Iirve's explanation--like, it isn't true that you will inevitably suffer consequences if you abuse people, you can in fact take all of someone's money over and over if the two of you are in a position where it doesn't matter if they trust you, they still have no recourse against you. And you won't get a reputation as a bad host if you only chop the arms off of people nobody cares about.

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"Hmm—I see what you mean, but on the level of trust I think what I said still applies. People with power can abuse their power but unless they're putting enormous effort into covering it up, it still becomes known that they're abusing it. If you take all of someone's stuff and they have no way to stop you they will still notice that you've done that and if they acquire more options somehow they will leave or retaliate or just warn all their friends to stay far away from you. If everybody knows your favourite hobby is chopping people's arms off in their sleep, you'll have a harder time tricking people into staying the night in your arm-chopping room even if you can still get them there by force."

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"People in that kind of situation don't usually have friends." She didn't, at least. The part about retaliation is sure true though, the foster-mother who caused her trigger sure regretted it. Wanting to behave in a manner that avoids causing trigger events would be smart! Also she thinks Iirve is probably just wrong about that last one--or, like, is she assuming that once you have chopped someone's arms off you get them medical care and release them back into the wild alive and capable of telling people what you did? That's not just malice, that's incredibly stupid, which is a whole other can of worms. If you don't do that it'll probably take people a while to catch on--maybe it's different when you don't have her Earth's urban density. 

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"—oh, yeah, it makes sense that with more people it's harder to keep track of them all—the way I'd imagine it going, if a member of the court started chopping people's arms off for fun, would be that the servants would gossip and the gossip would get all over town and within a year it would be public knowledge. I wouldn't expect them to let their victims go unless that was somehow part of the fun."

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"Oh." Yeah servants would explain it!!! People mostly don't have servants where she's from but she's familiar with all sorts of stories where people ignore servants and then the servants go on to do things with information gleaned from people ignoring them. 

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"Yep. Happens all the time. It's amazing what people don't notice when they think they're above it all." She smiles the smile of one who may have taken advantage of this effect once or twice.

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"Well, of course." It's awfully convenient! She grins back. She hasn't had the opportunity to take advantage of this phenomenon personally; she tends to avoid the high and mighty. But she would have if it had come up and she approves of Iirve doing so. 

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She bounces cheerfully and hugs her elephant. Friendship! ✨

"Do you think you'll want to go to dinner soon? I could use a bite, myself."

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