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Nov 29, 2022 7:27 PM
Musoka gets yoinked into the Survivorverse
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"I think that Mirror is extremely sensible," says Minerva immediately, "and that this produces a tradeoff. Doctor Dimensional is unlikely to be taken seriously - tinker powers are literally powered by incorrect beliefs, and Doctor Dimensional lacks the prestige that might make other supervillains consider him credible anyway - but 

"Keeping the citizenship application process secret from the world at large is possible. Keeping it secret from the Titanium Tyrant is, bluntly, not. The application process doesn't need to say you're a ring, or that you're extradimensional, or that you grant superpowers, or that you're in Musoka's keeping; all it will say is that you are an artificial intelligence that exists and is capable of filling out a form, but it is highly unwise to ever underestimate the Tyrant and his son can control any electronic system with his brain. He might fail to connect the dots, or he might not, and most of the specific people who I am most worried about coming up with difficult-to-foil theft plots also have unusually good access to information."

Such as An Individual She Is Not Presently Discussing, thank you very much. Or Druzhina, they're much easier to mentally discuss.

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"If they can acquire data that easily, Musoka's activities are likely to garner some amount of attention sooner or later."

"Perhaps we could wait, and do it a few weeks from now? It might make it a bit harder to connect me to her appearance, at least temporally." 

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"The essential limitations on the Tyrant's abilities are time, attention, and willingness to start wars. He is unlikely to interfere with a new American superhero, but if there is a significant chance to obtain significantly valuable resources - and extremely powerful healing would count - without needing to manage a capable and hostile hostage, he may well take it." Fortunately, he's busy; unfortunately, he's the Tyrant. "Whether by him or anyone else, a tinker artifact will be believed much more stealable than a powerful superhero is kidnappable."

"And - certainly." Minerva's image nodded firmly. "That could work quite well."

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Musoka nods seriously. "Are there practical things I should be doing to try and keep a lower profile, especially while I'm improving my combat / self defense skills?"

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"Yes," says Minerva, "but the full list would take a book to explain. If you want recommendations I can send you a reading list; the very short form is to try to keep your appearance, speech style and personal style in your mundane and superpowered identities as distinct as possible - some people find an accent in one but not the other helps, but you need to be good at accents for that, since having your attention drawn to the fact that you are hiding something can damage security by anonymity. Your greatest strength is your enemies not knowing they should be interested in you; your greatest vulnerability is having your face on the news."

She pauses. "If you mean 'as a superhero', the best way to keep a low profile as a superhero is to not be one. If you heal everyone in a hospital - and I agree that you should, if you can - it will make headlines across America. How you handle it is a choice; that it happens is an inevitability."

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<Oooh oooh oooh make my voice sound like I'm really old and also Australian! And also a man!> 

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Musoka feels a wave of mirth from the ring. <Done>

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"Good accents aren't a problem. I could even use different ones while healing and doing non-healing superheroing, if that would help?"

(Musoka is not even slightly considering the possibility that, now that she can heal people without having to worry about ring charge, that she would... choose not to.)

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"Hmmm, I'm not sure if that'd be worth doing? The Blue Light is visually distinctive, especially under analysis, so it wouldn't be hard for someone to connect the two personas."

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Minerva doesn't blink at the accent. "Good. It is essentially certain that someone will investigate the Mysterious Healer Blue Lantern, and that people will find her of interest. If the Superhero Blue Lantern has visually similar powers, especially if she heals people in emergencies, the two will be immediately connected; unless they are seen together, it is likely they will be recognized as both the same person. If they are seen together, they will still be assumed to be connected."

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"Then that doesn't seem worth the effort. Maybe I can get a costume that adds a few inches of height, if I'm getting something that focuses on protection over practical mobility..." she trails off, lost in thought.

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"One of the appointments will be with a costume expert, who can be relied on for confidentiality up to Class III. This issue is one that superheroes have put a great deal of thought into, though there will, unfortunately be capefans who are trying to deduce your true identity because they enjoy doing it."

Online. On the internet. Where supervillains often hang out. WHY ARE PEOPLE SO STUPID.

"A number of books have been written on the topic."

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"I don't expect to do much in my civilian life that would draw attention to me, so I'm not especially worried about people online figuring out my identity..." She trails off again.

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 "...If the Titanium Tyrant is impossible to hide a citizenship application from, and is also going to be interested in Blue Lantern's identity because of her mass healing capabilities, should we be operating under the assumption that he may be able to deduce or guess at Musoka's identity given his implied access to legal records and forms?"

(Musoka, lost in thought, doesn't seem to process this, so she gets a telepathic poke and a quick summary, which causes her to startle and adopt a concerned expression)

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... Does Minerva just need to say "You have blue hair?" Maybe?

"You do have blue hair."

She considers. "And - yes. You should always be operating under the assumption that your secret identity might have been guessed - not that it will be, but that it might have. It might be guessed by him, it might be guessed by a new supervillain with telepathy, or the ability to see through solid objects, or who by random chance happened to see you unmasking. You can reduce all of these risks, but we fundamentally live in a world of tremendous uncertainty. I think the Titanium Tyrant is only interested in mass healing powers he can steal, and I think he will by default assume that no one who cares about morality will be willing to work for him if kidnapped, and I think he doesn't want to risk starting an unprepared war with NATO, which kidnapping a leading healer might do, but all of these rely on my attempts to predict him, which are imperfect because he is smarter than I am." She pauses. "I think you are more likely to have very large offers of money from him and from other - morally ambiguous but not outlawed organizations, such as the Russian Druzhina Group - to clean out their hospitals. Which may well be worth taking." She does not actually think most supervillains will care; the problem is the word 'most' in that sentence.

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Musoka tries not to sputter. Lots of people have blue hair! 

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She straightens up, smiling. "I suppose that even if things here were known to be perfectly safe, I would still be at risk of random interdimensional kidnapping! I'll do my best, and hopefully that'll be enough." 

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"Yes," says Minerva warmly, "you can't do better than that."

... Musoka is probably doomed. Most heroes are doomed. Telling them usually doesn't help and so Minerva doesn't tell them, just makes sure they hear about the statistics at some point.

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Musoka, unaware of her probable doom, is back to being excited about superheroing! Does Minerva have anything else to tell her before she heads off to her next appointment? 

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Her phone number, a list of book recommendation (which can apparently just be sent to her ring?), a credit card, a firm warning not to borrow too much because her income isn't actually certain, and a firm wish for good luck!

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She'll take all 4, happily, and head off to go CLOTHES SHOPPING before her meeting with the International Association of Superheros! 

She buys an oversized black and red hoodie, aviator glasses, hot topic slogan shirts, a grey beanie, a black eyeliner crayon, a plaid skirt, and some tacky cargo pants. (She also gets an energy drink 4-pack and immediately chugs one. Caffeine isn't a good substitute for ADHD meds, but as her Mom proves quite well, it sure is better than nothing.)

She goes back to the hotel, looks into the mirror, and sighs the deep, tortured sigh of a teenager who knows exactly what her aesthetic is and has been told firmly by the universe that she is Not Allowed.

<... This is going to suuuuuck.> 

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<I'm sorry, Musoka. I do think you're making the right choice; Minerva wouldn't have mentioned the blue hair like that if it wasn't important.>

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<Well, I'm glad both my AI moms are in agreement here, I guess!>

She takes off her wonderful blue outfit and puts on the beanie, hoodie, and cargo pants, then adds some smudged eyeliner to complete the look. She adjusts the hat in the mirror to make sure her hair is effectively hidden underneath, and then puts the sunglasses on and heads back out.

This time she hits up a crafts store, buying a large sheet of blue fabric, some thread (no needle), and a fabric marker. Back at the hotel again, she pulls up a guide for making a simple full body hooded cloak, and uses her ring to cut and sew the fabric.

<...I always hated sewing growing up, but this is a lot of fun, actually.>

 

 

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<Glad to know I'm superior to your grandma's sewing machine.>

Mom 2 is going through the reading list Minerva provided. Is there good advice in there about where to safely change into and out of superhero costumes and for getting around if you can't fly? 

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All solutions are imperfect, obviously, especially in the days of cell phone cameras, and it is basically assumed that you will lose your secret identity eventually, either to being unmasked by supervillains, or to fans successfully speculating online, or to some jerk with a cell phone. The key to delaying it as long as possible is finding somewhere to change you won't be noticed and nobody will wonder why you're going in, or care enough to track you going out. Bathrooms and changing rooms are useful, especially if they're behind a corner so no one can see who comes in; here's a guide on spotting cameras, it's good to pick places where there are windows so that you can get out a different way than you come in. Your house is best as long as you have a way to depart from it quickly without alerting all your neighbors, and heroes with good travel powers often stay in a lot; heroes with good travel powers and DIY skills will often find some way to get from their house to somewhere a tenth of a mile away without anyone noticing, and there's discussion of some of the DIY skills.

And the discussion of getting around if you can't fly is pretty extensive, but unfortunately is a lot of 'yup, it sucks'. The basic problem is that supervillains mostly don't want to get into fights with SWAT teams (the ability to shrug off bullets from a handgun does not necessarily protect you from tinker-made stunners, anti-materiel rifles, knockout gas, or any of the other things SWAT teams have started carrying since supervillains showed up), so they try to time their heists so they'll be gone before SWAT arrives. And SWAT tries to arrive as fast is as possible without superpowers. The obvious conclusion is obvious, but also stated: It's really hard to be a superhero without travel powers. The ones who make it mostly either have someone with travel powers help them go faster, really good information sources (usually either a product of superpowers or growing up in giving connections with a high-crime community) so they can arrive before the police learn anything's happened, or specifically show up to the kind of heavy-duty supervillain who anti-materiel rifles really don't help against. This last group (especially if there's multiple of them in a city) will often end up specifically based in an HQ somewhere central with its own flashing-lights emergency vehicle, hanging out while they wait for crises.

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