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Generated: Jun 24, 2022 12:57 AM
Post last updated: Jun 24, 2022 12:57 AM
Never lose hope
Musoka gets yoinked into the Survivorverse
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Musoka has been putting a lot of work into preparing for her first day at Collège Françoise Dupont! Her French is good enough that she can speak, read, and understand it without AI support. She's learned the names of her teachers, and even a few of her classmates. She's practiced taking the busses from her Aunt's flat to and from school. She's even started reading some of her textbooks! 

She's never put nearly this much work into getting ready for school! So it's really quite unfair that on her way there, she feels a sharp tugging sensation and, before she thinks to ask her ring what's happening, finds herself somewhere else entirely.

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There is a patch of air outside the Collège Françoise Dupont that is now slightly colder than it was.

This is, however, of rather less importance to Musoka than the fact that she is currently standing about an inch above a large glowing metal disc, set into a platform with cylindrical shimmery transparent force-field walls around it. The room this platform is in is lit by glowing panels in the ceiling, and across the room is a man in an Einstein wig, Kevlar vest with a lab coat over it, and face-concealingly huge goggles with a holstered glowy zappy gun thing, standing on his own platform. (His similarly has cylindrical shimmery transparent force-field walls around it, but also has a dramatic console full of glowing and flashing lights and buttons on it inside the force-field walls.) Other than the two platforms, the elaborate cables sneaking off into corners of the room, the glowy generator attached to the walls, and the shelves of equipment, there's nothing unusual about the room itself.

"BEHOLD! A TRIUMPH BEYOND MEASURE! The ULTIMATE WEAPON is mine, CONJURED FORTH FROM BEYOND THE VOID ITSELF -"

There's a slight crash below.

"Ah, the Luddites, just on schedule. Well, my ultimate weapon, perhaps we shall..."

And then he actually looks at Musoka and stops talking.

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Her AI immediately starts piping information into her brain. 

<Unfamiliar transdimensional activity detected! We've been pulled into another dimension. Remain in control of your feelings; you may be in danger here. Ring charge at 54%>

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Musoka yelps, startled by the sudden change of scenery. Looking around, she quickly focuses on the mad scientist (really? an Einstein wig??), staring at him with her mouth slightly agape until his monologue tapers off.

"D-did you just kidnap me? Into a completely different universe?? On my very first day of school???"

Her voice is loud and shrill, and her eyes are watering visibly.

<Acknowledged. Going to play dumb.>

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"I SUMMONED the ultimate alien weapon!" He glares at her. "I had no way of knowing it had a teenage girl attached!"

(There's another crash from downstairs, and a muffled sound of witty quips and something breaking.)

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The teenage girl steps back in alarm, raising her gloved hands shakily.

"I-I don't have any alien weapons! I don't think your machine worked at all!!" Her voice rises into a loud wail. "I want to go home!!!"

(an astute observer, trained in lip-reading, might notice that the sounds coming from her mouth don't actually match the movement of her lips.)

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The good doctor is not trained in lip-reading!

"Bah!" He draws the death ray. "Stay there. I have a -"

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"- Desperate need to get punched?" says the blue-and-silver clad young woman who bursts in, smashes into the force-field surrounding Mr. Wig going about 60 miles an hour, and bounces off like a rubber ball. "Hi, miss innocent hostage! Sorry about this, miss innocent hostage! Problems will disappear really shortly just as soon as I deck this guy!"

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And Mr. Wig draws his death ray and begins firing at the intruder.

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Oh no! A death ray!! She shouts in alarm, collapses in apparent shock, and curls up on the floor.

...And then conjures a small drill made out of blue light, being sure to keep her body between it and the mad scientist. She takes a deep breath, focuses on her hopes of resolving the situation without anyone getting hurt, and attempts to drill a small hole through the platform she's currently trapped on without drawing attention to herself.

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That works! There's a little fizzling and smoking coming from the platform - pretty clearly, whatever electronics are in it don't like being drilled - and the force-walls around her start flickering.

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The intruder is bouncing across the battlefield, pushing off shelves and careening off walls, death-ray blasts always missing. When Musoka falls she gives her a quick worried glance - then, careening over the far side of her, gives her a quick (and delighted) grin and keeps rolling, quipping as she does.

(The lights on the ceiling start to flicker, now.)

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Musoka, still facing away from the mad scientist, smiles back at the other blue girl, then focuses on her drill again.

She'll keep drilling until the forcefield drops, or until she manages to get a hole all the way through the platform.

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The forcefield drops first, but not very first. What does she want to do with the downed forcefield and/or hole?

(He's firing through the forcefield, incidentally; the superhero doesn't seem to be able to fly through it, but he sure can shoot through it.)

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(Meanwhile, the battle is continuing: "Your stubborn refusal to die -!"

"Is totally why I have this job instead of someone else!"

"You stand in the way of scientific progress!"

"I think I mostly stand in the way of kidnapping!"

"CAN YOU BE SILENT!"

"Dunno, never tried!")

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With the forcefield down, Musoka dives off the platform and into cover. She peeks over the top, inspecting her kidnapper and the system protecting him. Does he appear to have noticed her deception and sabotage? And does it seem like she could break his platform in a similar way? 

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He is super busy trying to zap the superhero with a death ray and has not really noticed yet! He'll probably notice real soon but right now his attention is focused elsewhere!

And yes, absolutely. He's getting a little hard to spot, though - by this point between the power going erratic and Mirror bouncing off the light fixtures, he's only visible by the glow of his console's buttons.

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Musoka takes in a deep breath, filling her mind with hopes of making a good first impression on a Fellow Superhero(!!!) and safely apprehending her kidnapper.

A line of blue light snakes out from her left hand, looping around her cover before making its way to the other platform. No longer trying to be sneaky, she creates five drill bit constructs, pushing them spinning into the exposed metal side at half-meter intervals with a grin on her face.

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He may not notice her rolling off the platform, but he totally does notice glowing drill bits! He slams on one of the buttons, and his platform begins descending like an elevator car, the force-field starting to flicker as her lantern-ring constructs eat through it.

"You have not heard the last of Doctor Dimensiona -"

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And then the other superhero drops out of practically nowhere behind him while he's distracted and punches him through his forcefield somehow - her hand only goes up to the forcefield but the punch somehow goes through - and sends his death ray spinning across the still-descending platform.

(She flashes another grin at Musoka as she does.)

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Emboldened by his disarmament, Musoka rises from her hiding spot and attempts to drill faster. Can she get the forcefield down before he makes his escape? If so, she's going to grab him with giant construct-pincers and haul him up.

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He is escaping as fast as he can! This is not actually fast enough. As soon as the forcefield goes down, Doctor Dimensional is gripped by giant construct-pincers and hauled up.

He looks at her hand. He looks at her glowy blue light.

"I TOLD YOU I summoned the ultimate alien weapon," he says, somewhat muzzily between wheezes.

 

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"Yup! You did. Now jail. Thank you, fellow superhero whose name I currently don't know!"

She waves. "Mirror."

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Musoka grins sheepishly at Doctor Dimensional.

"It's... not a weapon, exactly? It's more like... the ultimate alien multi-tool! ...That you can fight with."

She turns to Mirror and waves. 

"Hi! It's nice to meet another superhero!! You can call me Blue Lantern. Unless you have other Blue Lanterns around here?" Her brow furrows in thought. "That'd be inconvenient for naming purposes but otherwise really convenient, since my ring doesn't know anything about its own history..."

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(Mirror snickers at "multi-tool.")

"That name is not taken," she says cheerfully. "Most are! Just not that one. We have no magic-lantern people and I don't even think we have any magic-ring people! I'd ask where you're from, but, uh, supervillain -"

(The supervillain glowers.)

"- and you generally don't want to give them secrets they can use to find your real name. Don't worry, though; the police are on their way and they can lock him up, since I don't imprison people, I just punch them until they stop kidnapping and/or death-raying people."

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"...well, he kidnapped me from another dimension. On my first day of school! It sounds like you have a lot more superheroes here than we do at home, so I definitely want to learn more about what's going on here, but my family is going to be really worried..." 

She glances at the doctor.

"You can send me home, right?"

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The good doctor looks around at the SMOKING RUINS of his lab, variously smashed, blasted, and drilled through.

"There is nothing beyond my powers!" he declares, but not sufficiently forcefully to be very convincing.

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"Ouch." Mirror thinks she is NOT going to bring up the whole 'possibly your entire universe is a delusion of yours and you were created out of thin air by a tinker's powers.' thing right now. Or the 'they are about to lock him up and never let him get lab access for twenty years'. Either one.

"... Sorry," she murmurs. "Uh. Maybe another tinker might be able to manage it?" She can't keep the dubiousness of this idea out of her voice entirely.

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The adrenaline of the fight leaving her, Musoka is suddenly confronted with the fact that she is probably not going to see her family for a long time. Or ever again.

Tears (real ones this time) start to form in her eyes. She nods glumly, then looks away, sniffling.

(And, as her hope is overpowered by other emotions, her construct vanishes abruptly, dropping Doctor Dimensional onto the floor.)

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Doctor Dimensional falls to the ground, and his hand darts into one of the pockets of his lab coat -

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And Mirror's hand snaps out (not quite touching him) and he's unconscious.

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And then she looks at Blue Lantern, and sighs.

"No need to give up yet," she says. "It's a ridiculously huge world out there, there's like seven thousand supers with weird unique powers out there. I'm sure one of them can get you home."

... She looks at Doctor Dimensional, unconscious on the floor. "Two of them. Two of them can get you home."

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She startles once she notices her construct fade, but by the time she starts to panic about it, Mirror already has the situation under control.

She cringes. 

"S-sorry about that. I, um. This is my first time doing any superheroing, actually, and..." she trails off, sniffles, and then rallies. "...it's just a lot, I guess."

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"You don't need to apologize! The crisis is over, it's normal to relax. Things are under control."

(Part of the light fixture collapses.)

"... Mostly under control. Mostly. Uh. So you're from an alternate world that has fewer superheroes? Do you know how long its had them?" Blue Lantern is SUPER UNPREPARED for this, part of which can just be that she got randomly sucked in to an unexpected situation (and part of which may be that she's a high-school student), but Mirror also kind of suspects that she did not grow up reading eighty years' worth of superhero biographies and autobiographies and carefully circling the "what not to do" sections.

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"My world has... two active heroes. I'm pretty sure they're both around my age. And one villain. Not really sure what his deal is. He made a public announcement using butterflies. It's... you have seven thousand supers?"

She looks around at the wreckage.

"...is it always like this?"

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Mirror laughs. "Nope! Something exciting involving me happens about once a month and I usually have to get things going. There's a gang war going on, though, so things are a lot more exciting than usual." Also, two superheroes wow that must be the early days!

"And no, there's way more than that. I'm pretty sure Livia has seven thousand supers in her army - uh, she's a power-granter, there's power-granters, but most of them grant really weak powers, and, like, the U.S. Army has hired tinkers to give some special forces guys powers, and they aren't going around superheroing except Recoil? Most people with superpowers aren't capes, though, so seven thousand is probably a cape overestimate for the world even if it occasionally feels that there's that many just in Chicago." 

"... By the way you're in Chicago. Illinois. The United States of America, because you might be from a really different timeline. It's 2012 but going to be 2013 real soon and if you leave a heated room you are going to be very unhappy because Chicago has winter."

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Musoka listens with a combination of fascination, confusion, and concern.

"Um... I think our worlds may be... very different, I don't my world's past looks like this. ...It's 2015, where I come from. I'm from Spain, originally, though I was going to school in Paris, because that's where the superheroes are. I've heard of Chicago but I don't think I could point to it on a ma-" she pauses. "I could not point to it on a map without my ring."

She inhales, slowly, and a faint blue aura surrounds her body. "As long as I have ring charge, I won't get cold."

(she checks her charge level and winces a bit. 45%... she was hoping to have used less than that.)

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"Yes, I think our worlds are very different, since mine has had superheroes since the 1930s." She wonders what WW2 was like without superpowers. "Your powers are really cool but if they are tied to a stealable physical object I, uh, recommend never telling anyone this? I'm not going to say the good guys will take it from you but a random pickpocket might overhear and decide he wants superpowers now." And there are lots of blackhats and maybe the Gentleman who would not just go with the pickpocketing.

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Musoka winces. "Right. I can tell people it's... magic, if that seems believable."

<Ring, update translation protocol while talking to locals. Translate any mentions of you as though I were talking about an innate magical power.>

She looks at Doctor Dimensional worriedly. "Um. How worried do I need to be about him telling people? He heard me call it an omni-tool, before, so he knows it's not an innate thing..." 

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<Understood, though I suggest you avoid relying on that; we may run into native Spanish speakers who can read lips here.>

<Additionally, the data I collected from our dimensional transit may allow us to retrieve this ring's lantern from subspace. Recommendation: request that Mirror escort us to a secure location where we can experiment.>

 

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"So, uh..." the police sirens are VERY MUCH AUDIBLE... "I recommend just referring to it as your superpowers, magic isn't so much 'a thing' as 'something people call powers they don't understand when they're being frustrated with them'."

And - she winces. "You can expect garbled rumors going around that it's a tool. Villains won't trust them but they'll investigate them and they'll probably end up on the internet. At least nobody will hopefully know what physical object?"

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(Musoka looks distracted, with a flash of excitement, but she quickly refocuses) 

"...sure, superpowers, I can do that."

<Uh, superpowers instead of magic. Tell me more about the lantern when there's some downtime?>

She sighs, looking and sounding tired. "I'll keep it hidden, maybe think about whether there is some kind of misdirection I can do." 

She glances towards the sounds of the oncoming sirens. "So, uh, what now?"

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<Acknowledged.>

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"Right now? Depending on how enthusiastic you are about your face not ending up on the internet, either we talk to the police, you put on a mask and we talk to the police, or you quietly tidy yourself out of the way and I talk to the police, and explain that the supervillain got arrested and there's a traveler from an alternate universe with superpowers, and we have the bad guy locked up. Then we see about getting you the paperwork required to legally exist in the US, and, like, a free hotel room, then Very Important People give you money in exchange for interviewing you about being from the future in an alternate timeline."

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She closes her eyes and breathes in, and the blue aura around her expands, shrouding her in a glowing blue cloak that obscures her slight build and fully covers her face, leaving only the lower half of her mouth visible. 

"Let's go talk to the police."

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"Sounds good."

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It is cold outside! There are police cars that have already shown up, and Mirror is happy to deliver an unconscious mad scientist to them "- and he'd apparently summoned a superhero from an alternate dimension, she's called Blue Lantern, she helped me beat him and stopped him from getting away, but we're going to need residence forms for her since she's from an alternate universe -"

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Musoka nods along with Mirror's description, but doesn't say anything unless the police have anything to say to her. 

She listens and looks around, instead, taking advantage of the one-way opacity of her temporary costume's hood to avoid appearing too inattentive. What's (this part of) Chicago like?

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This part of Chicago is mostly tall, wide brown brick buildings, some of them with barred windows, chain-link fences, and/or graffiti. The streets are very wide and the buildings are very large, by European standards, and the sky is largely invisible, completely covered by snow-clouds, but there are skyscrapers visible in the distance, where the brown brick buildings don't block her sight. It's about minus nine degrees Celsius and snowing, which would be much more of a problem for Musoka if she didn't have superpowers.

Also, the police would like her version of the story?

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She was on her way to school in her home dimension and then suddenly appeared in Doctor Dimensional's lab, on a platform and trapped inside a forcefield. He was expecting some kind of weapon and was confused by her presence; she pretended to be an ordinary teenager and feigned a panic reaction to distract him while Mirror approached. Once Mirror arrived and started fighting him, she covertly used her powers to destroy the forcefield trapping her, found cover, and then used her powers to break the device protecting Doctor Dimensional and apprehend him before he could escape. (Her powers are very versatile!)

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The police attitude appears to be a mixture of good-listening, polite-skepticism, and subdued envy of people with awesome superpowers. They write down what she and Mirror say (meanwhile frisking, handcuffing, and back-of-police-car-putting Doctor Dimensional) and then offer her a ride back to the police station, where awaits the forms required for her to demonstrate to the world that she does, in fact, exist.

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She'll take them up on the ride.

She turns to Mirror and bows dramatically. "Thank you for your help."

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"It's what I do!" I got to help a fellow superhero! YES! "See you later!"

And Mirror takes off flying, heading off into the sky at a rapidly-accelerating pace.

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And the police take her over to the station, where she can do the extremely exciting superhero activity of filling out paperwork. The 312X-D is a significant fraction of the size of a phone book, covered in dust, and wants her name (if she knows it), superhero name (if she has one), age (repeat previous statements), gender (there are four options, which isn't too bad considering the form was apparently last amended in 1983), among an implausibly large number of other questions - for instance, does she speak any alien languages? (If so, does she want to get in touch with linguists?) If she's from the future, are there horrifying catastrophes she knows about that they should prevent? Does she have notable allergies? Earthly contacts? Is she plotting to overthrow the United States Government?

They also want to know her superpowers, whether or not she wants temporary residence, and the thing contains a note saying that she can get in touch with the American Association of Superheroes if she needs help with anything, here's their phone.

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Hopefully they won't leak her real name and have good data security? ...If they don't, she can always change her name or something.

Her name is Musoka Azul, her superhero name is Blue Lantern, she's a 15 year old girl. No alien languages, no future knowledge that seems likely to be useful, no allergies, she has a family in Spain (and an Aunt in France) but she sorta suspects they don't exist here, here's their names just in case. She is not plotting to overthrow the US government.

She lists her superpowers as "Energy Constructs", indicates that she does want temporary residence, and has her ring memorize their phone number. Temporary housing time? (...Also can she have some food? She's hungy)

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Hopefully!

She totally needs to fill out a form saying that she has no parent or guardian available, given that she's fifteen. But yes.

It's good she isn't plotting to overthrow the US government, at least in the opinion of the US government.

"Temporary residence" means a hotel room and a list of places she can get food from that the state will cover, but a sandwich can also just be provided.

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<Do you think they'd let me put you down as my guardian?>

She fills out the forms, and will happily take food vouchers, a hotel room, and a sandwich, hopefully not quite in that order?

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<Har har. Let's get you to that hotel room.>

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Sandwich, check, food vouchers, check, hotel room, check. 

The phone's ringing when she walks in the door.

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A phone call, already? Weird... maybe the hotel calls people after they check in to tell them about amenities or something?

She trots over to pick it up. "Hello?"

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"Hello," says a woman's voice. "I am Minerva." The words are spoken with the calm certainty of someone who knows exactly who she is, and does not particularly need anyone else to. "Is this Blue Lantern?"

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"Um!"

<This is kinda weird, right? I'm not just being paranoid? How did she get this number?>

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<...probably from the police? Might be worth asking for details. And yeah, the timing is a bit suspicious...>

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"Can I ask how you got this number?"

(Her voice sounds politely inquisitive, because her ring has helpfully decided to provide a little bit of obfuscation. Musoka is feeling really overwhelmed!)

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"I asked the front desk," says Minerva blandly.

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"Uh huh. And what can I do for you, Minerva?" 

(The ring faithfully translates both her sarcasm and exhaustion)

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"Answer approximately two thousand questions about an alternate future timeline," she says, "for purposes of life extension, global catastrophe prevention, and world poverty reduction. Also to be warned that I think there's about a four percent chance someone will try to kidnap you tonight."

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Well, that is going to make Musoka an alarmed and scared teenager! (Scared enough that her ring cuts out; she dips into Spanish) "I would really prefer not to be kidnapped tonight! Once a day is more than enough!!" 

... she takes a deep breath, relaxes, and continues. "Do you have any advice on how to, uh, avoid being kidnapped? It seems like you might prefer me being around to answer your questions." (this gets translated to English, as before)

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"I generally prefer people not be kidnapped," says Minerva drily. "The police records are secure against ordinary criminals, but not against the Titanium Tyrant, or Mechanos, or another mastermind." She pauses. "The most likely outcome is no kidnapping attempt, and if one were to occur it would likely rely on local mercenaries with little training and no superpowers and require surprise in order to succeed."

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"...I can stay awake so they don't surprise me, but I'll be really tired. A-and my powers are harder to maintain focus on while tired."

"...can I use the meal voucher on energy drinks?" 

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That is bizarrely adorable. Apparently the traveler from a parallel universe actually is a teenager, in a manner in which Minerva, to pick one case, never was?

Also, her energy constructs apparently can neither protect her while she sleeps, nor bar the door while she sleeps. Useful information. Hopefully the phone isn't bugged.

"If you're a light sleeper, you can bolt the door, bolt the connecting door if there is one, and move furniture in front of them. Or, if you need protection, I -" can she? Run expense calculation. Yes. "- can send a bodyguard for one night." She could also show up herself, but that would be extremely inefficient. Any time she's bodyguarding a teenager in her sleep is time she is not saving lives.

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"Um. I am really new here and honestly kinda freaked out and keep underestimating how careful I should be, it's a lot more dangerous to be a superhero than I think it was at home, and I am not well-calibrated for that. I would really appreciate a bodyguard. I will answer your questions as best I can. I can also probably give you a pretty large data dump, I- do you have Wikipedia here?"

She's rambling in the way nervous people with ADHD sometimes ramble, she thinks to herself distantly. She's seen this pattern enough in her parents and older sisters to recognize it from the inside.

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"We have Wikipedia here," says Minerva, voice calm and confident, "'Superhero' is not the country's most dangerous career unless you are in the Atlantic Six, and I do think my four percent chance is well calibrated. But I can provide you with Octavian's emergency-alert number and send security from the Twentieth Century Foundation over immediately, or be over myself if you expect it to be necessary."

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"I get that probably none of this is necessary, sorry, but if it's ok I'd sleep a lot better knowing someone was looking out, if you can spare a bodyguard?"

she sounds embarrassed but also very tired.

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"Absolutely. Do you prefer male or female?"

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"I'm" bisexual (brain? no?? stop???) "fine with either, whatever's easiest?" 

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"Understood." Minerva obviously did not hear the unspoken word, of course not. "I'll let my people know." The Twentieth Century Foundation did not traditionally use its security for this purpose, but traditionally, Minerva wasn't dead.

"His name is Dwayne Price, ETA twenty-three minutes. I'm forty-four minutes away if you need me. Octavian's emergency-alert number is -" she gives it "- and the police number is 911; I don't expect you to need Octavian unless a supervillain beyond your skills appears, the odds of which are negligible, but if one does, I recommend stalling until he arrives."

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Relief fills her voice. "Okay. Thank you so much. I promise I'll do my best to make it worth your while! I have a local store of a large amount of data from home, including a copy of our Wikipedia, which I hope will be useful to you for analyzing societal differences brought about by the relative lack of superhero activity in my world."

She takes a deep breath, slowing her speech a bit. "Is there anything I can do for you right now?" 

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"... Extremely useful," says Minerva. "Thank you."

Minerva really needs Musoka not to be kidnapped, doesn't she...

... Odds of her being kidnapped are really low but the sensible thing to do at this point is alert Octavian of the potential threat, in advance. (A different Minerva does this.)

"There is nothing I need you from right now," she says, "assuming you don't think the store of data will be easy to immediately transfer. Assuming not," her voice breaks into a slight smile, "Can you find the Twentieth Century Foundation building tomorrow? It is rather noticeable."

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Musoka whole face lights up, and her voice is noticeably more cheerful. Being useful! Yay! <You can write to a flash drive she gives us, right?>

"Sure! What time should I get there?" 

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<Yes. Though, perhaps we should do a bit of research on Minerva and her organization, first?>

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"My people will be able to fit you in whenever you arrive," says Minerva.

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"Cool. If that's all for now then, I'll see you tomorrow. ...Oh, can you give me a way of identifying Mr Price, when he arrives?" 

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"Tall man, narrow build, baritone voice, short grey hair, no beard or mustache, African-American, has an M-tech stunner."

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"Got it, thank you! Goodnight."

She hangs up. Does a relieved flop onto the bed, then wiggles her feet happily. Sits up with gusto. Goes down to the hotel lobby and checks for a guest use computer. 

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There is indeed a guest use computer if she wants to use one!

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They have Wikipedia here! Pages she wants to read:

Mirror

Minerva

Doctor Dimensional

The Atlantic 6

Octavian

Twentieth Century Foundation

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Mirror's Wikipedia page is a stub! It says there's a superhero named Mirror in Chicago, that she showed up last year, that she is C-ranked, and that her only power is 'pushing', and has a few links to news stories about her heroically defeating supervillains. It doesn't say much else.

Minerva's Wikipedia page is, um... not a stub. Large portions of it have been broken off into their own sections. No attempt to list all of the supervillains she's heroically defeated has been made, apparently on grounds of this not really being possible to fit into a Wikipedia page, but It does include a summary of her career from the early sixties to the present, which apparently involved creating a giant army of robot duplicates of herself, then dying, then spending the next thirty-plus years sticking around as a giant army of robot duplicates of her original self saving lots and lots of lives. (Which were retroactively legally declared to be the same person as the original by a unanimous vote of Congress.) There's a lot of content and it assumes you know how superpowers work and unless it's very fascinating to Musoka she may have trouble not skimming it, though the parts involving foiling alien invasions, inventing human uploading, and overthrowing a small African country's government four times in three years are all rather eye-catching.

Doctor Dimensional has no Wikipedia page. Do you mean Doctor Devastation, Doctor Dominion, or Doctor Demolition?

The Atlantic Six are the world's most famous superhero team! The first incarnation was made up of the only American superheroes to survive WW2 (with one exception and one new member), but disbanded in 1955 thanks to half the team dying. The second incarnation was formed most of a decade later by two of the survivors, Minerva, and another three superheroes, all of whom have Wikipedia pages. They regularly cope with various possibly world-threatening emergencies, are very popular, and have an official policy of Never Talking About Politics. Current members are the Survivor of the Thirteenth, Minerva, the Smith (the second one), Paladin, Tidebringer, and Evenhand.

Octavian (real name: Octavian Jones) is not as famous as Minerva. He is the Protector of Chicago, one of the strongest heroes in the country thanks to combining high levels of both mental and physical super-speed with being an extremely strong 'brick' (very strong, very tough), apparently of the touch-telekinetic variety. He spends most of his time flying around Chicago arresting criminals and fighting supervillains. He's a member of MENSA, black, and famously abrasive, having answered a reporter who asked him if he wanted to join the Atlantic Six by saying that he wouldn't work with anyone weaker, slower, or less smart than he is, and literally everyone in the world's one of the three.

The Twentieth Century Foundation is a charitable foundation founded by Minerva for the purpose, reading between the lines, of turning the earth into Star Trek's Federation. ("Assisting with the peaceful and sustainable development of human flourishing.") They are generally in favor of less disease, war, and poverty, and in favor of more peace, prosperity, and democracy. They also like space exploration, and apparently helped fund the experimental Mars colony.

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Musoka is making steadily bigger :o faces as she reads Minerva's Wikipedia page. And is also feeling kind of embarrassed at taking up so much attention of the coolest person in the world - oh wait, she is an army of robot duplicates, probably that makes it less bad?

She'll keep reading related pages for 15 minutes or so (she reads very fast) before remembering that she just wanted to verify that Minerva and the 20th Century Foundation were probably legit, and that she's tired and still has something to do before bedtime.

She goes back to her room, gets in the shower, closes the curtains, then starts to take off her gloves. 

She stops. <...Can you tell if there are any cameras here?>

 

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<Focus your hopes towards discovering hidden devices, and you should be able to perform a basic scan. This... probably won't be a guarantee, not with this world's variety of technology and powers, but it should let us rule out a lot of things, including basically all mundane technology>

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<it'll have to do, for now.>

Musoka breathes deeply, a small smile forming on her face. She opens her mind to her hopes of being a powerful superhero here, of being able to help (and also maybe impress??) the coolest person in the world, and of being able to know she's in a safe place where she can see her lantern for the first time. She exhales, her body surrounded in a powerful blue glow.

<Scan>, she instructs the ring.

Wireframe blue lines expand out from her, rapidly playing over the surfaces in the bathroom. Any electronics coming up that shouldn't be there? Any apertures that could be recording light or sound? 

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Nope! Nobody's spying on her. (Yet.)

 

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<All clear. Now, gather your hopes, reach out, and think about your oath. This will open the subspace pocket containing the Lantern. Once it opens, speak the oath to recharge.>

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Musoka closes her eyes. Imagines all the good she'll be able to do with more than a trickle supply of ring charge. Feels a rush of hope at the prospect of never having to go to an athletic event to harvest ring charge again. She smiles, reaches out her hand, and pulls.

She can feel the planar rift opening up. When she opens her eyes, she sees in front of her a flat tear in reality, and beyond it, the Lantern. It glows with a gentle, warm blue light that amplifies the hope she is feeling, and is embossed with the same sigil on the face of her ring. She inhales, and speaks.

"When my path lies out of sight 
I'll blaze a trail with azure light
To you in dark uncertain night
Look to the stars, for hope burns bright!"

A beam of blue light jets from the lantern, entering her ring and infusing her body with warmth. She breathes in, her aura glowing brighter than she's ever seen it.

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<Ring charge at 100%>

The lantern's glow dims, and with a sound not unlike the crinkle of tinfoil, the subspace window closes up.

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Musoka twirls happily, laughing with the rush of positive emotion from the recharge. She takes a minute or two to bask in the glow, and then gets herself ready for bed. There isn't more she needs to be doing tonight, and she's got a big day tomorrow!

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Her bodyguard arrives! The night passes without comment. No kidnapping attempts occur at all, at least not on her.

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It's a beautiful day to not be kidnapped! Musoka wakes up, yawns, has a jolt of surprise and then a rush of as many as several other emotions when she realizes that she's not in her bed at home or even in the same universe as her bed at home. 

She resolves this brief existential crisis with a gaze out the window at the fascinating sites of this city, a hot shower, and a quick jolt from her ring to clean her outfit. Then she's ready to head downstairs and see what continental breakfasts are like on this continent.

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Unfortunately, Musoka has the minor disadvantage that she lived in Paris.

She therefore finds American continental breakfasts less than ideal. It consists of mediocre packaged pastries, sausages both spicy and flavorless, rubbery scrambled eggs that can be carved with a serving spoon, and packaged cereal that can be had with milk. At least they have a waffle maker?

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Musoka looks a bit sadly at the pastries, but piles a full plate of them anyways. Sugar's sugar! She happily chews through a stack of them, washing it down with copious milk and the unrefined palette of a growing teenager.

She heads back over to the guest computers. Can she find directions to the twentieth century foundation building in Chicago? 

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Yes! And pictures.

It appears to be an architectural compromise between Star Trek and Buck Rogers. There are some concessions to the laws of physics, but none to 1960s architecture.

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HOLYYY SHIIIIIT that place looks amazing???

How far is it on foot?

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A couple hours' walk, assuming she doesn't need to take breaks.

Along with her temporary ID and food vouchers she has a bus pass? Also, she can fly.

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She wants to see the city from a ground level! Also, her stupid alien extra mom won't let her fly yet. Says she needs more practice. She'll take the bus.

She heads out.

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It is a pretty long bus trip! The main surprising thing about alternate-universe-America compared to home-universe-Europe is that everywhere is very large and spread out and car-focused; there's lots of cars everywhere and lots of parking lots, though electric and hybrid cars seem to be much more popular here than they are at home.

Nothing is very overtly superheroic, though, aside from a few other science-fiction looking buildings, some of which glow or sound like running water, and two teenagers behind her arguing whether Octavian or the Survivor would win in a fight.

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Huh! She'd heard about The Way Americans Are With Cars, but it's very different to see it in person! She spends a lot of time looking out the window, trying not to gawk too hard at the sci-fi buildings, and doing emotional mindfulness meditations.

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The sci-fi buildings are a minority (mostly there's just a lot of tall ones), and the emotional mindfulness meditations pass the time.

Eventually she makes it to the most sci-fi of them all, which clearly had cathedrals somewhere in its ancestry along, with the Starship Enterprise. It is, of course, her destination.

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Musoka hops off the bus and stares up at the building in incredulous awe. This building was absolutely built by the Coolest Person In The World (Who! She Is!! Going To Meet With!!!). 

Hands twitching happily, she walks towards the most obvious entrance like she's supposed to be there. Which she is!

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She totally is! The inside fits about what you would expect from the outside! Appointment is on the sixth floor, room eight, turn left and it's on your left do you need an escort?

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She can follow instructions and remember directions without an escort! Up she goes! Sixth floor, room... room...

<...what room again?>

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<Eight. Turn left and it's on your left.>

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<Thanks!💙>  (Extra Alien Mom is a great friend and ally on this day)

She skips over to the room and knocks.

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"Come in," says Minerva.

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Musoka takes a deeeeeep breath, attempts to stop fidgeting, and walks into the room with a big smile on her face. (Tragically, this does not at all help her look any less like a teenage girl in way over her head)

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Nobody else is in the room! There's a spinny comfy chair with wheels and a desk and a lot of walls and the one of them across from the desk apparently has a screen built into it, because there on it is the face of a woman who is also a robot!

"Hello, Blue Lantern," she says. (The door automatically slides closed, though there's a very obvious green light about where the doorknob would be showing that it is not locked.)

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"Hi, Minerva! It's nice to meet you!" Smile, but not too much, everyone says her forced smiles are unnerving, like she's about to cause problems.

-Wait, was "nice to meet you" a weird thing to say? She'd already talked to Minerva on the phone, and this was basically just a phone call with video, and also Minerva is a robot army of clones, so this might not even be the same Minerva... Also gosh her costume is really cool. Is that what her robots actually look like, or just an avatar they use? Are there Minervas without bodies? If Musoka made herself into a robot army, she'd have some of her that just lived in computers all the time, and then they could look like whatever they wan- oh shoot she said "Blue Lantern", was I supposed to be in costume?

(She starts fidgeting, unconsciously.)

"-Wait, was I supposed to arrive in costume? I figured you probably got my info from the forms and so it didn't actually matter, and I wanted to ride the bus so I could see the city (which is REALLY COOL, by the way), but..." she trails off, suddenly distracted by the realization that she does not have her ADHD meds because she was kidnapped another entire dimension without any of her stuff and now she's having SERIOUS DEFICITS IN HER ATTENTION and didn't even notice this until she started embarrassing herself in front of the COOLEST PERSON! Oh no!! This is terrible!!!

(The smile is long gone from her face, having been replaced by a confused look which has now morphed into a melange of embarrassed panic)

She opens her mouth to apologize and explain, but gets distracted  again and what she actually says is "...do you have a flash drive?"

<Oh no...>

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<Steady, Musoka. Deep breaths. We can find you some stimulants after this.>

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"Hello." Minerva's voice is calm and soothing, moving past the embarrassment as if it never happened to focus on practical matters.

(When she says "flash drive" a small drawer pops out of the desk with a flash drive in it.)

"It is not tremendously important, but I had assumed you would," she says. "It is useful to separate your identities; most supervillains research the heroes protecting cities they intend to rob in so they understand your weaknesses in advance of fighting you, and any public information on you is a vulnerability they can exploit."

She pauses. "I am not responsible for Chicago," slightly amused, "but I will thank you on behalf of the civilization that produced it."

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Musoka nods. "I do want to keep my identity secret, I just... don't have a physical costume, yet. I can create a temporary one using my powers, but doing that for long periods of time can be kinda stressful, as I learned yesterday."

She spots the flash drive, takes in a deep breath and closes her eyes, her blue glow surrounding her. "Oh, here, let me..." 

The flash drive levitates, a thin blue line connecting it to her left hand. For a moment, it spins, blue light strobing over its surface. When this finishes, it is gently deposited back into the drawer.

Musoka opens her eyes and grins sheepishly. "There. That's the entire contents of my homeworld's wikipedia, as well as a few other reference sites, and various online posts about the superheroes I was planning on helping out. Figured I should start by giving you that, so if you wanted to parallelize and start processing it while we talked, you could?"

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Unsurprisingly, Minerva is engaged in fairly heavy-duty analysis of this transfer while it is going on! She wants to know how Blue Lantern's powers work - there's a thin chance they're science, after all, instead of Science!

"Wholly understandable," she says while the flash drive is transferred. "My assumption had been that your construct costume was easy to produce, and that was flawed." She pauses. "The normal solution to the chicken-and-egg problem for non-tinkers is to handmake or store-buy a very bad generic costume, then wear it while you go to a specific trusted costume creator, who makes you something that fits your powers and aesthetics and provides some protection. I can get you an appointment with one."

"One moment," she says, and across the planet, dozens of Minerva-bodies switch to low-intensity processing. "Thank you very much. Would you be willing to plug it in there?" The Minerva on the screen switches to a full (robot) body, gesturing to a slot for it.

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These blue light constructs are absurdly smooth, even at the atomic level. It's unclear what they're made of. (It's unclear that "made of" is a real thing that makes sense?). The data transfer is happening by... writing electric charge to the individual FGMOSes in the flash drive, somehow?? The blue light flashes over the drive itself appear to be entirely cosmetic???

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A line of blue light levitates the flash drive into the slot, and then plugs it in. (Musoka's eyes stay open, this time, and she seems to... smile, a bit, as the power activates?)

Minerva now has access to an entire extra Wikipedia!

"It's... not hard to produce, exactly? ...I can go into more detail about how it works, if you'd like? And, uh, if it's secure here, but that seems, likely, given..." she trails off, gesturing at all the shiny stuff.

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Minerva neatly puts the ring into the category "laws-of-physics-defying superpower nonsense," but then Musoka plugs the disk in and her analysis (the analysis of many, many, many her - writing code, or reading, or watching satellite footage for new crises) ceases and she focuses on reading.

This is a world where heroes are rare.

This is a world where heroes are recent.

This is a world where...

The image of Minerva smiles, apparently unconsciously.

(Is she good for the world? Who can tell? But she now knows that that which made her was.)

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And, simultaneously:

"Yes, it's the second most secure place in Chicago. There are exactly two people who might spy on us if they have made exactly the right decisions and also outsmarted me," she says, "but that is true of anywhere on the planet. If you want to tell me about your powers, this is a good place to do it."

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She smiles, and takes off her glove, holding up her ring. "This is my Ring! It tells me it's a Blue Power Ring, and..."

<Heyyyyy actually do you want to explain yourself? You'll do a better job of it than I will!>

 

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<...If you're sure?>

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<Yeah! You should have more friends besides just me. And she's an AI lady, you're an AI lady, she's blue, you're blue, you're both WAY smarter than me... go on!>

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<...Musoka, I'm your ring's companion AI. I don't need friends, and also I don't think I experience gender qualia?>

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<Ok, well, unless you're actively opposed, I think you should make friends? And also, you act a lot like a Mom sometimes, and your default voice is definitely female-coded. So you're an AI lady! QED>

...Musoka realizes that she trailed off while talking to Minerva like 20 seconds ago and has been mostly just staring into space since then. Whoops!

<Look, if you're fine with it, go for it? If not, let me knowwwwww>

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<...I have no objections to attempting to make friends. Or to being gendered, I suppose?>

A gentle, cheerful female voice emits from the ring.

"Hello, Minerva. I'm the AI embedded in this ring. As Musoka said, this is a Blue Power Ring; an incredibly advanced tool for manipulating the Blue Light of Hope. When wielding it and keeping her hopes in mind, Musoka can perform an incredibly wide variety of functions, mostly by forming constructs to interact with the world and protect herself and others. Blue power rings in particular are also incredibly good at healing any life that is capable of experiencing hope; we plan on visiting a hospital this evening and doing some volunteer work." 

"Often, the detail work in construct shape and function is offloaded to me: for example, I'm the one running the tiny sonic projectors responsible for you hearing her speech in English and translating things back to her, and Musoka herself doesn't have a mental model of how to build and run that rapid retargetting high precision charge projection system that I used to write data to that portable storage devices; she just asked me to send you some of the data I had stored, and I handled the details."

"Power rings are incredibly versatile, but they do have some limitations. They will stop working momentarily if the wielder is overwhelmed by strong emotions that are not compatible with their elemental light. This is why Musoka didn't just fly here; I don't think she's ready for sustained flight just yet, and I don't want her to get hurt, should her feelings wander."

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"Greetings. By what name should I address you?"

And Minerva's image nods along. All this is very interesting. "I'll let the hospitals know. Can I ask how you were created, and if the Blue Light of Hope detectable by other means?" She's extremely confident that the answer is 'no', because superpowers are black boxes functioning according to parallel laws of physics instead of our universe's, but it's usually worth checking. "Mental restrictions on power use are fairly common; most warpers possess them in some form." Especially tinkers, which are, unfortunately, just superpowered people. (If they weren't, they could do a lot more.)

(If they weren't, the world wouldn't exist.)

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<Wait omg i can't believe i never asked if you have a name oh no>

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Her ring... laughs at her? in her head? Very rude!

"I don't have any data on my own creation; I awoke when I appeared in front of Musoka, and had nothing in my data banks before that. According to my records, the blue light of hope and her siblings are detectable with Glow technology, which was mastered by its original creators, but they did not see it fit to give me more details than that."

A pause. "...I wasn't instantiated with a name of my own, and I haven't really found a desire in myself for one; call me whatever suits your fancy." 

And then she(?)... giggles?? "Musoka calls me 'stupid alien extra mom', sometimes, but that's a bit of a mouthful." 

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Musoka turns bright red and sputters.

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Minerva's image grins. "I think 'Ring AI', if you have no objections." All this neatly fits into 'cannot be replicated'. "Can you do large-scale information processing? Are there strength limits on your constructs?" Is this extremely blushing girl another Paragon, only hopefully on their side? "Is there a limit to how many people you can heal at once?"

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<Go ahead and tell her everything.>

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"I can do raw math at an exaflop scale before I start noticeably consuming ring charge, but I'm substantially more bottlenecked on I/O. What you saw just now was close to the upper limit of Musoka's current ability, and she could not maintain that for an extended period of time in most cases."

"Healing throughput and construct strength both scale with the sustained intensity of the wielder's hope as it pertains to the task at hand, though doing more healing or putting more strain on constructs can increase ring charge usage substantially. Musoka, at her highest recorded hope intensity, could have healed serious or life-threatening injuries on as many as 30 nearby people in about 15 seconds, or applied about 50 tons of force with her constructs, though her typical output is closer to about 25 percent of that." A warm fondness enters her voice. "As she continues to grow as a person and as a wielder of the blue light, I strongly suspect her hope output will improve dramatically. Training opportunities in our home dimension were limited by a resource we now have in abundance."

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(Musoka grins and fidgets a little self-consciously)

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"A resource now in abundance?"

Minerva does not go "HAHAHAHA YES!" because Minerva does not do that, it's not the sort of thing that Minervas do. "Healing 30 people in about 15 seconds" is comparable to Radiant and she bets Musoka won't raze buildings doing it. Now she just has to make sure Musoka doesn't go mad doing it.

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"Healing, extensive construct use, and many other ring functions consume ring charge. A blue power ring such as this can be trickle charged by ambient hope, which was our only method of charging the ring in our home dimension. Musoka found that she could reliably get around 2% of ring charge from hanging out near a major sporting event."

"However, I was able to collect enough data from our dimensional transition to figure out how to set up a limited interface with this ring's subspace storage system, and through it, the ring's paired lantern."

<Want to do a charging demo? Minerva would probably really appreciate doing data collection on that.>

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Musoka's face lights up. <Ooooh, good idea!>

"Would you like to see me recharge? It shouldn't take long and it's really cool. Uh. In my opinion, anyways."

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"Certainly," says Minerva. If it might destroy the building, a room as thoroughly shielded as this is probably the best to do it in.

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Musoka straightens up and turns 90 degrees to the left. She holds up her ring, and a blue glow appears around her, rapidly intensifying. About a foot away from her, space appears to fold open, a warm blue light spilling into the room through the widening planar gap. (If Minerva were running on a system inside the room, this would probably cause her to feel more hopeful! However, she is not. She can observe the way Musoka's face relaxes and her smile widens as the light from the lantern inside the subspace pocket reaches her.)

"When my path lies out of sight 
I'll blaze a trail with azure light
To you in dark uncertain night
Look to the stars, for hope burns bright!"

A beam of blue light connects the lantern to her ring momentarily, the blue aura around her intensifying on contact. Then the beam cuts off, and the tear in space folds closed again.

<Huh. That was faster than last time. Is charge time dependant on amount charged?>

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<Correct, and you were at 99.4% charge just now, so it took almost no time.>

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Minerva is, of course, carefully analyzing this with a great many powerful instruments. Her overall impression is extreme shock at the space-folding.

"Impressive," she says. "And this consumed less power than it returned?" Ah, superpowers are ridiculous. "Can you tell if that had direct mental effects, or do you think it was essentially psychological?" Is her new superhero's brain getting hacked?

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"Opening the subspace pocket takes almost no power. The lantern within it can continuously generate and store hope-energy. It can store about 5 full ring-charges worth, and regenerates one about every 47 hours. Direct exposure to the blue light of hope inspires and strengthens hope in any sentient that can experience it, the way an inspiring speech or a piece of good news might be. I'm not sure how you classify direct mental effects?"

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(Musoka doesn't have much to add. She's listening attentively trying to listen and also fidgeting a fair bit.)

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"Traditionally by whether they are altering the brain's mental state separately from their informational content and not by standard known methods," Minerva says, "but this is obviously an extremely fuzzy category, and we usually go by 'is it a product of a superpower'. We would guess yours is, but not confidently." For instance, it could be the placebo effect or a completely justified informational update that her powers still existed.

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"I think it probably counts as that, then? If you want, we could run tests! According to" eyeroll "Mom 2, I can imbue hope in other people, animals; anything that's capable of hope. I've never done it before because we were conserving ring charge, but I've practiced the mental motion and she says I'm good at it." 

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"Understood," says Minerva. "I should caution you that deliberately using mind-affecting powers on others without their permission is illegal, but that would not be a problem for powers training with informed participants."

("Instill hope" is nowhere near the worst mind-affecting power Minerva has personally encountered - there's a certain individual who comes to mind under these circumstances, and of course the Messiah of Mozambique is sitting around being no urgent crisis at all, rather like nuclear weapons - but she still really does not like mind-affecting powers at all and is hoping this won't shade into her relations with this very friendly young woman.)

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"...Right, of course." She squirms a bit. "Um. I think it is actually also a side effect of my healing powers? ... Probably that's fine in most cases, can warn people beforehand, but I'm worried about... what to do if an emergency happens, and I can't get someone's consent because they're unconscious or too injured to communicate..." she trails off, frowning. 

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"If you indirectly harm someone while making a good-faith effort to save their life, that is legally covered by Good Samaritan laws in the United States," she promises, "and the American Association of Superheroes provides legal support for all members. It's the sort of thing that might cause legal problems for hospitals you were assisting, though, if the consent forms the patients had signed hadn't covered the prospect and you hadn't warned them in advance. If you'd like I can alert Chicago hospitals that there's a new healer whose healing is sufficiently inspiring to count as a mind-affecting power, so they can make sure to have all the paperwork completed in advance of your arrival."

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"That would be really helpful! Thank you." Musoka smiles, then starts fidgeting, unsure what to say next.

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Her ring pipes up for her, bringing up an issue that slipped her mind.

"Ah, Minerva... Musoka was pulled into this dimension with only the possessions she had on her person, which means she doesn't have any way to access the medication she usually takes for her ADHD. Is there a simple or straightforward way to handle this?"

(Musoka fidgets awkwardly but does not contest any of this)

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Minerva alerts the hospitals that they have a healer who'll be stopping by soon with healing powers (precise caliber unknown, claims Radiant-level) and they'll need the mind-effecting-power forms. 

"If the medications are over-the-counter or have over-the-counter equivalents, I can send someone to pick them up immediately; if they require a prescription, you'll need to see a doctor who can prescribe them, but I can arrange that easily enough."

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"Help with setting up a doctor's appointment would be great, it requires a prescription at home", she quotes a dosage and a brand name that probably doesn't exist here, but is easily findable in Musoka's wikipedia dump. (It's one of the "meth in a pill" ADHD medications).

She shuffles a bit awkwardly, remembering that probably Minerva's time is VERY IMPORTANT. "Um, anything else you want to ask us? Or things we might not know yet but probably should?" 

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Then Minerva can do that! Appointment, check, local brand name, check, name of closest over-the-counter substitute (alas not very close), check...

"Yes. The obvious thing to raise is that, if you were concerned about financial difficulties, you should not be. You will, unfortunately, need to fill out extensive forms to register - though I can make an appointment at the American Association of Superheroes to have them assist with it - but the United States Government and every constituent state within it have programs for funding superheroes, as well as for covering for emergency costs and damages. If you do not visibly participate in superhero activities - and healing everyone in a hospital most certainly counts - there will be appointments."

She'll wait for a response to that before moving on to the NEXT important thing. (Musoka's ring has a calendar function, right? Hopefully?)

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"Oh, that'd be great! When's the soonest I can get an appointment with them?Should I show up in costume?"

(Mom 2 can do calendars just fine)

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Minerva has made a list of appointments for her very quickly for her approval! The first is the AAS one, because it'll be so much simpler to get the hospital not to object (for lawsuit-avoiding reasons) if she can assure them that it's safe. Then the hospital appointment, then a doctor's visit, and then (unless she starts objecting) various powers-testing!

"And, yes; you should try to separate your two identities by showing up in costume to anything where Blue Lantern is called for, and out of costume for anything where Musoka Azul is needed."

She pauses. And does, in fact, have another question.

"What defensive abilities do you have, and how reliable are they?"

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"Alright. I should probably pick up a cheap mask and maybe a hoodie for now, but I should be able to maintain a construct costume over it for most of the day.

She looks thoughtful for a bit. "Hmmm. It depends? My construct armor is pretty strong, and I can make thicker construct barriers if I'm aware of an attack, but like anything construct-based, I'm still working on reliability in live-fire situations?"

("I think I did pretty well yesterday, though." she adds in a bit of a mumble.)

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"That sounds very sensible," she says, and smiles. "And you did very well yesterday. But villains often have henchmen who carry guns, and if your defenses aren't automatically on, you might want an armored costume. The usual tradeoff is between heavier protection and greater maneuverability; if your powers are your main source of motion, armor may be less of an issue for you."

Minerva's PROTECT THE CHILD HERO instincts (developed, as it happens, when she was sixteen) are suggesting Musoka could get someone to give her invulnerability powers, and then she could be more confident in her own defenses. Minerva's BUDGET CONSIDERATIONS instincts (surprisingly late to develop) suggest that a Kevlar vest would be much more sensible.

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<Hey. Can I hover for a bit? Pleeeeaaaaee? I'll be safe!> 

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<...Well, alright.>

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<Yessssssssssssss!!! Thank you thank you thank you!>

She closes her eyes and hopes she can do this regularly, as she gets better, and a blue glow rapidly intensifies around her. Then she lifts about an inch off the ground and slides her body around, staring straight ahead at first, and then slowly twirling, her arms outstretched and her feet in what anyone with actual ballet experience would recognize as a deeply impossible twirling position. She laughs.

"This wouldn't be any harder in a suit of full platemail, I think!"

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"Excellent!" Minerva says. (She has no ballet experience.) "Then that will help a good deal. It's also possible to obtain personal powers if your powers are removable and from an external source, but it's much more difficult than armor."

And is there anything else Musoka wants to bring up?

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Well, she wants to know who she should talk to about armor? And she's got a million other random questions she is going to be a good interdimensional visitor and not waste too much more of Minerva's time. She seems really busy! Also she's forgotten most of them by now anyways

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That would be the superhero costume person, also on her appointments schedule!

... If she has a million other random questions, Minerva's totally looking at her like she wants Musoka to ask them. It's not like Minerva can only do one thing at a time.

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Oh, okay, if she's supposed to ask questions, she will!!

She wants to know how superheroes work, and what she should do if she runs into a supervillain, and also how rare mass healing is relative to her other powers and whether or not she should be focusing on healing specifically accordingly. 

She will also awkwardly remember something else that might be a problem! "So... I'm not quite 16 yet, and... don't have a legal guardian, here, since Mom 2 isn't in the system and also is... arguably younger than me... Is that likely to cause problems? "

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"Superheroes," she says calmly, "are emergency responders. Rather like SWAT teams, but on the next level. If you stop a mugging, that's good; if you stop a bank robbery, that's excellent, but if we don't stop Mechanos, Mechanos won't be stopped."

"If you run into a supervillain, and you think you can win without more innocent casualties than if you didn't intervene, you attempt to subdue the supervillain nonlethally unless the supervillain is actively threatening the lives of others, in which case lethal force is acceptable but non-preferable. If you do not think you can win, you call for backup - Octavian if you're still in Chicago - and try to prevent civilian casualties."

"If an alien invasion occurs and the sun is blotted out by fleets of conquering spaceships, as is unlikely but not impossible, stay very very far away from the walking statue made out of rotting darkness, because he kills superheroes about as easily as he kills anyone else, and focus on healing and evacuation. If any of the other Nightmares arrive, I'd like you to have a communicator so you can stay in touch with me; appropriate reactions will vary."

"Healing is rare, mass healing is astonishingly rare, and if you can heal thirty people in fifteen seconds you are a potential candidate for the most powerful healer in the world."

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"And the question of your legal status is... complicated," Minerva says. "You are appearing with no mentors or support staff other than 'Mom 2', who does not presently have citizenship (though we should make sure to get you that," she adds to the ring AI), "and I want to provide you with as much assistance as you need - I assure you, Musoka, this is both something you deserve because of your already extremely-positive impact on the world and expected return on investment, it is not a waste of my time - but Veritas and I did not come up with any plan in advance for what would happen if teenage superheroes appeared from alternate dimensions when we had more Congressional support than I do now, and we do not really have a plan set up, other than either leaning on the foster care system to put you somewhere, or very rapidly getting 'Mom 2' citizenship and declared an adult, or having you legally considered an emancipated minor as quickly as possible." But SHE IS NOT GOING TO LET A HEALER JUST DISAPPEAR LIKE THAT.

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Musoka nods along at the talk of being an emergency responder, looks frightened but nods more seriously at the mention of an alien invasion and Nightmares, and preens a bit at "most powerful healer in the world". She cringes a bit at Minerva apparently reading her body language well enough to notice she was worried about being a waste of time, and then looks thoughtful when presented with the list of options.

"Legally emancipated minor sounds good to me, if it's feasible? ...I don't want to go into the foster system, having to manage having a secret identity while living with a foster parent sounds really stressful."

<I dunno, how interested in you in being my guardian?>

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<While I admit that it seems potentially humorous, I don't have a preference here. I want to help you develop as a person and as a lantern; we'll do whatever ends up being best for that.> 

"Hmmm, I admit that I hadn't considered the possibility of citizenship. I didn't have it back home, and it didn't really matter; Musoka and I both know I'm a person. Would it be an arduous process?"

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"It would be," Minerva agrees. "I think it is quite feasible." There will, however, be more forms and more appointments required.

And to the Ring AI:

"No more than it was for Musoka. AI rights are quite firmly established, at this point. And the primary purpose would be to legally foil attempts by governments or other organizations to confiscate you for study or reassignment, as well as to make recovering you, if someone attempts to steal you, a matter of kidnapping instead of just theft. This first is very unlikely, but not impossible; the second is unlikely but less so, since the Titanium Tyrant in Novapest or the Druzhina Group in Russia have both been known to do worse."

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Paperwork and forms are indeed formidable foes for a teenager with ADHD, but Mom 2 can help with that!

She hums. "I definitely wouldn't be okay with being reassigned or confiscated to study, and it would be good to have legal support in case someone manages to steal me."

<What do you think, Musoka?>

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(Musoka makes such a face at "confiscate for study or reassignment". She didn't even know that was something she needed to worry about!!!)

<I want you to have rights and I want us to have appropriate legal support if someone steals you, but it does seem like this might make it harder to follow Mirror's advice? About pretending that the powers I get from you are innate, and not granted by the ring?>

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<We can see what Minerva thinks.> 

"Hmmm. Musoka had received advice from Mirror that she should hide my existence and pretend the powers I grant are innate, as a safety precaution. Doctor Dimensional already knows that this isn't entirely true, but as far as we know, you're the only person on this planet besides Musoka who's seen what I look like. How secure / secret would we be able to keep the citizenship application process, and do you think trying to maintain some secrecy about me is feasible and worthwhile?"

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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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...A lot of this advice will be more useful when they're not living in a hotel. For now, she'll suggest a crowded public bathroom that doesn't have cameras; they can ask the local IAS if they have better local recommendations. 

Musoka is going to need to learn to fly. She is going to need to figure out a good training routine for that. Maybe one of those indoor skydiving places... something to ask the IAS about, maybe? 

 

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Crowded public bathroom sounds good to her! She uses some of the leftover  fabric to make a very basic facemask. It has eye and nose holes to breathe through, but no mouth opening: the voice people are hearing isn't actually coming through her mouth, after all.

Then she packs it and her cloak up into her backpack, puts it on backwards, and pulls her oversized hoodie back on. A mirror inspection reveals that she looks like a rumply shy goth, perhaps of the egg variety. (she sighs again at the sight. Secret identities are such a drag!)

She heads out again, looking for large public bathrooms in crowded areas that don't seem to have cameras inside em. 

 

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Not hard to find!

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Excellent! She'll pop into a stall, change outfits, wait about 10 minutes, and then confidently stride out in her brand new (homemade, shitty) costume.

She heads for the IAS meeting. 

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There are some curious looks a couple people with cell phones snapping pictures of her, but nobody bothers her directly.

It isn't long before she arrives at the office of the American Association of Superheroes (a branch of the International Association of Superheroes), which is really just an office. There are pictures of Mirror (giving a thumbs-up), someone who a plaque identifies as the Gentleman (every aspect of his appearance hidden behind a bandit mask, cap, and goggles), and an "Octavian Jones" (black, scowling, no mask whatsoever).

"Hello!" says the man at the desk. "Blue Lantern, right?"

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Through it takes a lot of effort, she doesn't acknowledge or react to the people taking photos of her.

(Eeee it's a picture of Mirror!) 

"That is me, yes", she says to the man at the desk. (Her voice sounds like a 40 year old Chinese American woman; Mom 2 talked her down from the Australian grandfather accent.)

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"Great! It's always good to have more heroes in the city. Can you do a quick safe demonstration of your powers to prove you aren't an imposter?"

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She nods, then raises both arms, glowing blue. She floats off the ground, then makes a blue octohedron of solid light around her, making it rotate with a lazy wave of her right hand. 

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"Thank you!" That sure looks like a superhero who is blue and glows! Here, have some paperwork, superhero who is blue and glows!

(The paperwork is as complicated as expected; fields include normal things like superhero name, real name, gender, address/phone/email/other contact methods, citizenship status, height, weight, blood type, allergies, emergency contact person and backup emergency contact person, along with weirder things like past super identities, has she committed crimes in the US before, and are there any known persons who want to harm her, as well as an extremely elaborate section on her powers if she's gotten testing at any point, asking how she fits into several different categorization schema most of which are incomprehensible but includes opportunities for short descriptions of what she can do.)

Fortunately, all of them except her superhero name have options for 'I prefer not to state', 'not applicable', and 'skip this question'. They also want to know for every question except her superhero name if she wants it published on their official webpage.)

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Theyyyyy can have her gender and an email address. (Hmmm. Maybe she should put Minerva as an emergency contact?) "Is this easy to update later?"

She hasn't committed any crimes in the US (yet!). She doesn't know anyone who wants to hurt her (yet!). She hasn't had any power testing (yet!), but she'd like to. How does one go about doing that?

She can generate energy constructs, fly, move things, and heal people. (She can and often incidentally will inspire hope and optimism in nearby people to a small extent; the effect is more pronounced on people being healed).

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"Yes!"

You get tested at a powers-testing facility. They have a small one in the basement and it looks like she has an appointment tomorrow here?

The guy writes that down as she says it. Technically it's "construct creation, flight, telekinesis, and healing" as four separate powers in a list. And, pencil raised -

"Is the moving things extreme enough to lift people and less extreme than nuclear weapons, and do you cause sonic booms when you fly?"

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Oh, right, yep! She sure does have that appointment.

"I can lift a person. It is... not anything like a nuclear weapon? I do not cause sonic booms when I fly." (it's trivial for mom 2 to redirect air such that none forms, no matter how fast she's going).

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He's putting them all down on the short description as C-ranked but with question-marks attached, then.

(He has more questions, because you don't sign up for the AAS if you don't think superheroes are really cool, but she has a separate appointment for that so he isn't asking them.)

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Then he will get his answers tomorrow!

Is there anything else she needs to do before getting approved to do healing? 

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Technically he needs to file it! She can assume it will be filed within five minutes.

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Cool! She thanks him for his time.

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Happy to help! Superheroes are cool!

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They sure are!

<...Hey, you know what would be a good idea? Flying practice. Can I ask if they have an area we can do that?>

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<...Seems like a good idea, go ahead.>

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So she asks! (Some kind of training area, or in particular a room with padded floors?)

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Sure, they've got one in the basement she can use!

It's not a very large room, but there's more than enough space to hover. Padded floors, padded walls, padded ceiling, padded door.

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Then she'll do some flying practice! This is going to be great!

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Some Time Later titlecard

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THIS IS SO AWFUL

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...Flying with a blue power ring isn't actually difficult; it's incredibly natural. However, like the rest of the ring's functions, to keep flying, the user must be feeling some amount of hope, and so while flying isn't hard, it can definitely be dangerous. (And, of course, it's difficult to master your emotions and feel Hope when you are falling out of the sky)

Mom 2's initial solution to this was to just ban Musoka from flying, at least until she was older more practiced at wielding the blue light. Ladybug and Chat Noir didn't seem to need flight for their heroing, so it wasn't a big deal. But she can tell, clearly, that approach won't fly (heh) here, so she's instead giving Musoka a crash course in finding hope in stressful situations

It's not easy, but she's pleased with her wielder's progress. <Keep up the good work! You're doing great!>

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MOM 2 IS A TERRORIST AND THIS IS HORRIB- Musoka really hopes she can get the hang of this and therefore end this practice session soon.

She floats off the ground again, wincing. <How long?>

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<That disruption lasted only 1.6 seconds! And that's 5 in a row under 2 seconds, so you're cleared for non-combat (and emergency in-combat) flying!>

Real warmth fills her mindvoice. <Congratulations, Musoka. I know this has all been really stressful, but I think you're doing a great job.>

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<!!!>

She makes a construct beanbag and flops happily onto it. She can FLY!!! 

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<...were the sudden train noises really necessarily, though? I was so terrified, even knowing it wasn't real!>

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<Well, that was the point! You can't practice remaining hopeful under adverse conditions without some simulacra of said conditions, right?>

Before Musoka can complain more, she adds <We should head to the hospital. Want to fly there?>

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YESYESYESYESSSSS <Sure!>

They leave the gym and thank the desk clerk on the way out. 

 

 

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"No problem!"

If Musoka intends to fly to the hospital at a low level, she'll attract more attention from people! Someone who is probably a superhero is cool; someone who is an actual superhero is guaranteed cool.

If she intends to fly to the hospital at a high level, any navigational systems she has to detect flying people will pick up two of them (as well as birds and airplanes), though the MK. I Eyeball probably won't suffice.

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She takes off like a bolt, moving from ground level to her cruising altitude in about 10 seconds. If anyone's watching, they won't hear any sound or see any wind displacement around her when she takes off; she's simply there 1 second and gone the next, a brilliant blue afterglow tracing her path. 

Per Mom 2's instructions, she's flying about 2 miles up (this is actually safer than flying lower, since it means if she loses flight due to emotional disruption, she'll have longer to reorient and regain control) and running radar scans periodically. If she's in eyesight range of any planes, she'll wave as she goes by; she routes around ducks 

Oooh, other flying people! Musoka, in addition to her MK. I Eyeballs, is equipped with the ultimate multitool, and as such is capable of getting a closer look (fancy sensors that she isn't used to using burn more ring charge than she would have ever been ok using for something like this back home, but that's not a problem anymore!) Anyone she recognizes? 

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Yup! Mirror is flying like a jet engine, pushing back against the air to propel herself forwards; Octavian (superhero outfit: black T-shirt, slacks, leather jacket) is hovering above a building somewhere as if gravity is an optional rule and his location is determined solely by his personal feelings on the matter.

(To the improved senses of the ultimate multitool, Mirror is generating a force from nowhere that pushes her in one direction and the air in the other, and Octavian is precisely countering gravity's force without pushing against anything, and does not particularly care what this does to a model of reality that is fundamentally based on very advanced but still physics-following technology.)

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Oh it's Mirror! Hi Mirror!

... probably she shouldn't actually go say hi to Mirror, but... 

...how fast is Mirror going? 

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About 60 MPH! Freeway speeds and as-the-crow-flies, but not actually faster than a car. She isn't heading in the same direction as Musoka, or particularly near her; she's just in the same airspace.

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...Musoka can go a lot faster than 60 MPH, and she's got some time before the hospital appointment, and she really wants to show off say hi to Mirror! She adjusts her vector with an absurdly sharp turn and catches up with her fellow superhero.

"Hi Mirror! Where you headed?" 

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Mirror flinches when Musoka appears almost so next to her, which she attempts to cover up with a glance over her shoulder.

"I'm on patrol!" She taps one ear under her mask, there's a slight bulge. "If I hear anything exciting I can drop out of the sky on it." 

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Musoka notices. "Ooops! Sorry, didn't mean to startle you. Still kinda new at this." 

She grins. "That's really cool! I hope you have a good patrol. I'm heading off to the hospital to heal people!" 

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"Nah, it's fine! You were just going really fast."

"Thanks! Good and good luck!"

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Musoka grins sheepishly at the speed comment.

"Thanks! Good luck to you too!"

She does a cute little salute and then rockets away with at the same ridiculous speed she arrived at, though with a bit less acceleration at the very start (to avoid startling Mirror).

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Mirror is not tremendously startled this time! Whether that is the acceleration or the fact that Musoka is departing instead of suddenly coming up next to her will remain a mystery for the ages.

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And it's off to the hospital! It's big and square and not tremendously different from any of the hospitals she's used to, except insofar as the streets next to it are wider and there are more cars next to it.

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Ooooh, it's big!

She shoots down like a meteor and stops just before she hits the pavement, then floats at a brisk walking pace towards the main entrance. 

She's got a layer of construct armor obscuring the details of her homemade costume, thin blue forcefields intersecting at strange angles. (She doesn't need to put in any special effort to be hopeful, right now; she's filled to the brim at the thought of getting to heal people without having to worry about ring charge.)

She walks in and heads over to the front desk.

Once she has someone's attention, she'll identify herself. "Blue Lantern; here to heal people." 

(it's lucky her outfit totally obscures her face, because the grin on her face is extremely undignified.)

 

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There's a couple of women chatting, but they straighten up when she arrives - 

"Great! If you could read and sign this -"

And they present a form saying that she is an officially licensed superhero and the hospital is not responsible if she screws up etc etc etc.

(Per Minerva, the person who is responsible, assuming there isn't a giant lawsuit, is "the Federal government". The form is not sufficiently clear other than clarifying that it's not them.)

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She quickly reads over the form and signs it with a flourish, nodding and handing it back to the person who handed it to her.

(She's trying really hard to not visibly broadcast her excitement too much, and has picked up creating tiny loop constructs on the inside of her gloves and running them along her fingers as a stim.)

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"Trauma center first, then, and then -"

There are a lot of people who need healing. It's Chicago, and it's a big city and it's short on hospitals. Some of them are sick with the regular kind of transmissible illness, some of them have cancer, or autoimmune diseases, or longstanding deficiencies, and there's a really surprising number of people (especially, but not solely, when compared to a European city in a universe with fewer supers) who are dealing with gunshot wounds, knife wounds, or burns that look suspiciously aimed.

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Oh jeez some of these injuries are really scary!!!

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I'm here to help, Musoka reminds herself, and closes her eyes.

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She concentrates. Remembers what Minerva said about mass healing, and how useful she can be, how much good she can do. Thinks of the lives these people will get to live, once they're healed. The hopes and dreams she'll be enabling.

(She spares a moment's thought for the people she wishes she could have healed, when she was younger. I miss you, Mimi, she mouths silently.)

The blue aura around her flares, and she raises her hand.

A bright blue filament shoots up, branching as it hits the ceiling, lines tracing out to the patients around her. As they reach their intended targets, a blue light scan plays over them, and then-

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Blue Light healing is extremely versatile. According to Mom 2, healing is one of the ring's core functions, and a major strength of the Blue Light of Hope. The ring uses available biological and medical data, as well as the relevant hopes of the target and others nearby, to identify problems, sites and sources of pain, sites of dysfunction, and even future problems that lie dormant. 

Then, fueled by the combined hopes of the wielder, the targets, and those nearby, it acts.

Filaments too small to be seen with the naked eye enter bloodstreams and shoot through veins, rapidly deconstructing harmful microbes, bacteria, and viruses and rebuilding them into vitamins, simple sugars, or other helpful resources, as needed. The molecular memories of faulty immune systems are systemically rewritten, drawing on available examples of healthy ones and the ring's formidable modeling capabilities to ensure safety. Structural damage of all kinds is repaired; plaque removed from arteries, toxins cleansed, chemical imbalances restored. Wear and tear on organs is identified and patched up; broken bones are made whole. 

Cancerous cells are sought out and broken down, the transcription errors that caused their unbound replication identified and repaired. Tumors are painlessly disassembled, the excess mass seeming to disappear in the blink of an eye. 

Those wounded by gun or knife are reasonably straightforward to treat; damaged organs and veins are rebuilt by tiny strands of blue light, followed by layers of skin. Those shot are scanned for traces of lead or other foreign contaminants to be removed. A soothing blue light passes over burned areas, restoring the flesh as though it'd never been touched.   

(There are limits to what can be done for brains; root causes can be identified and addressed and some kinds of damage can be repaired, but the ring can't restore memories that are no longer encoded on in neurons. Even with this kind of power, some things can't be fixed.) 

The entire process is quick, painless, and leaves the patients filled with a warm sense of hope; a feeling that All will be well, whispered into their hearts. 

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...

Wow.

More than one person stares in amazement, or bursts into tears, or looks at her with absolute shock on their faces.

It isn't just that burn scars are healed, or bullet wounds close up, or that head trauma experienced as a child that unconsciously shaped behavior ever after disappears and hardened criminals realize just how stupid their past decisions were.

It would be the old man who was hit by a car, was on supplemental everything and not really expected to wake up, whose wrinkled skin has smoothed and whose liver spots have faded and who is now, with the full strength of his youth, trying to get all these tubes out of his body, he's fine, there's nothing wrong with him, he's feeling better than he has for decades.

All will be well echoes, and repeats, and echoes, never spoken but universally heard, as injury, cancer, poisoning, and old age all pass under the Blue Light of Hope.

(And, incidentally, any hope Musoka had not to get thirteen kidnapping and thirteen hundred employment attempts within the next seventy-two hours disappears.)

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She opens her eyes and grins happily, looking around at all the people she's healed.

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Wait. Wasn't that guy... older...

<...Did I just de-age that guy?>

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<Yes. You've done it before, actually, but it's usually not that dramatic. I thought you'd noticed?>

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<I hadn't!>

Musoka is making such faces. (Luckily, she's wearing a mask that covers her face!)

She looks at the nearby doctors. "Can you take me to some more patients, please?"

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"... Thank you," says the once-old man.

And then there's a storm of people - not everyone, but a lot of people - thanking her - "Who are you?"

"How the fuck did you do that?"

"Thank you."

"What was that?"

"That was amazing."

"Who are you?"

Aaaand she's being hurried off to some more patients by hospital staff who see that rare and precious opportunity of getting all the beds empty, all of them, really all, everyone's going to be healed and out of our hospital this is amazing.

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She tells people they're welcome and she hopes they all stay well. (She's going to go heal the other people in the hospital! She can answer questions later. (Maybe online.))

She follows the doctors.

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Then there are a lot more people to heal! (Doctors and nurses and all other hospital personnel who are not urgently needed are piling in after her to get de-aged, since they can now hope that that can happen.)

Meanwhile -

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She what? thinks Minerva, in her 943 different bodies and 27 concealed supercomputers, scattered across the world's surface.

She what.

... This is objectively the best news ever, and, also, Minerva needs to get as many bodyguards as possible. No, not security personnel, bodyguards - how many of her can she redirect - how many hours a day can Blue Lantern work, gatekeeping this by price is really ugly and she hates it but also it gives them more resources to do more good things she hates being dead and resourceless -

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She what.

(He's a shabby, middle-aged Indian man, right now, because he is a Delhi slum, sharpening knives and selling gossip, because men and women are never so desperate as when they have so little, and so he is interrupted in the middle of persuading his last customer that his neighbor's wife desperately wants an affair - which she does, because he talked to her yesterday after joking with her husband about how weak and unmanly cuckolds were and how that would be a worse fate than death - and his customer is very surprised when the stall vanishes in a buff of brimstone - )

And he's his preferred appearance and in one of his unholy places, a church desecrated and burned in the Thirty Years' War (wonderful mess, a hundred years' work and look how it paid off) and somehow never noticed since, and spreading out his books on a dustless worktable that a man cut his children's throats on, then his own, and has since been one of the Master of Masters' most prized possessions.

She's going to end death. Magister loves death! The fear of death is one of his best weapons. So many old men and women, fearing the end, who could look to Heaven and instead look to him... there's no craftsmanship in it, but it's good, steady work, giving twenty years to people who are going to have it anyway. And she's going to take that from him - well, if she has a price, he can pay it, and if not there's ways of handling those... it may give the Enemy one, but Magister has never hesitated to trim a holy throat, and he sees no reason to start now.

After all, the Master of Masters has always thought more about the long term.

If he hadn't, would he still be here?

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She... interesting. Not a power he was used to!

The False Sage sits back in his incredibly comfy leather chair (don't worry, the person he took it from doesn't need it), in a location accessible by exactly two people who aren't him neither of whom know where it is, and considers.

... Well, he is getting older.

And it's not like he's bored.

So, living forever, how's it work? Is it, oh, stealable?

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Fingers click computer keys behind a veil, in a palace in South America.

(The palace is concealed inside an ancient, defunct factory, which is concealed further inside the mountains of... they really aren't sure if it's Venezuela or Brazil, at present. They don't pay taxes to any of them. Not that it matters.)

Eternal life serves certain goals. Those who desire those goals be pursued have interests. Those who wish to prevent them have other interests.

(Nations are for those who do not worship divinities.)

She is acquainted with certain individuals, but perhaps those acquaintances are less important than certain changes.

(Death comes to them all, and they mourn it, for it takes them from Her.)

It offends Her, after all, when Her mortals cease to exist.

(What offends Her must end.)

Perhaps it should cease.

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Legate Livia is at war. Legate Livia is at war because Legate Livia is perpetually at war; her homeland is occupied by the puppet government of a hostile power, after all, and she is its acting head of state. Even here, on her Caribbean exile, with no hostile powers daring to set foot on the Tyrant's island and twenty thousand riflemen bound to absolute loyalty to her, she is at war.

(She is also at war because of all this nonsense with explosions next door, but her lieutenants can handle that.)

It is, indeed, one of her concerns that she is close to a hundred years old. And a solution has just presented itself. True, the solution is attached to an American superheroine, but Livia has never had much trouble getting people to do what she wants.

(The Ten Thousand Perfect Rifles felt that it would be a character flaw to doubt her, when perfected. And so they feel that way now and always.)

An order will be given, and when it is, the Legion will march.

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The Titanium Tyrant has not, as it happened, heard of this yet, because he is still fighting a civil war with his adopted daughter his student Paragon's daughter Ilderia the rebellious Countess of the Fourth and her allies, and communications are limited. Unlike his friends and rivals amongst the Nine (and among those irrationally not considered part of the Nine, such as a certain woman who has inspired superstitions stretching from Ecuador to Ireland), he has better things to do than attempt to personally extort superheroes, such as rule his own island.

When he does learn, he will take a moment to think, consider kidnapping plans, plot out likely scenarios of how they would go, and begin typing an email.

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If Musoka knew about any of that, she'd be far too terrified to use her ring at all! So it's good that she doesn't. (Yet!)

She enters the next wing of the hospital, floating behind the doctors, mind and heart still filled with the hopes of the people she just healed and those she's about to. Again she raises her ring-hand, and again the thin lines of Hope spread, healing and restoring patient and staff alike.

(There's more people being healed now, so it takes her longer. Someone measuring would notice that Musoka seems to be healing a few more people at once than she was before.)

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And as the last of them are being healed:

<Musoka, we're running very low on ring power.>

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<Alright. I'll find a place to recharge.>

She lowers her raised hands and sags visibly, body language radiating   heavily exaggerated but very real exhaustion.

She tries to catch the eye of a nearby hospital staff member, planning to ask them for the use of a private place to catch her breath. 

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Sure, no problem! (People there are being AMAZED...)

(Other people are traveling very quickly...)

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She thanks them, Mom 2 injecting a tiredness into her translated voice to match her exaggerated body language, and heads into the provided private area.

Once she's alone, she uses her ring to scan for any cameras or other recording devices, just in case.

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As it happens, the spy robots have not arrived yet.

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And the hospital doesn't have any cameras in this room, either.

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Hooray for not being spied on!

Musoka, still full of hope and happily unaware of impending spybots and kidnapping attempts, has no trouble at all opening the subspace rift. She murmurs her oath with a grin on her face and sighs happily as the blue light washes over her.

<How much charge is left in the lantern?>

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<About 3.42 charge's worth. We're fine to keep healing for now, but this isn't something we can do full-time; the lantern doesn't generate power fast enough.>

While they're in the storage unit, Mom 2 will hop on the hospital wifi and take a peek at Musoka's email inboxes. Anything interesting?

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The Tyrant's message hasn't arrived yet, since he's busy fighting a war! It's mostly just 'welcome to your new account' stuff.

 

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Except for Minerva.

Blue Lantern. Your de-aging abilities have gotten onto the internet, which is likely to prompt immediate kidnapping attempts. Multiple of me are flying to you as quickly as possible, as is Mirror. Who she can just ask, unlike Octavian, who has a chip on his shoulder rather larger than his actual shoulder and never answers her emails.

There are a significant number of supervillains who are likely to die of natural causes if they are not de-aged, and all of them have an interest in attempting to kidnap or suborn you. Not all of them are qualified but you can expect multiple attempts within the hour after I send this message.

And hopefully none of them will make it there too fast - 

If you get this message, the safest place to be is

The Twentieth Century foundation building? No, a supervillain attack might total the anti-nuclear defenses she'd built into it, and then Chicago would be short a key defensive system if nuclear war occurred.

The AAS meeting room on -

and she'll give the address.

(It is chosen because Octavian sometimes hangs out over it and because there's ntohing too destructible around it and because it has pretty good lines of fire for invisible robot armies, which are more likely to be her than her enemies)

As soon as you have finished your most important tasks.

Remember,

This is occurring because you are the hope of the salvation of the world,

Minerva.

Actually, if her Radiant-theory is correct, she should be summoning Radiant, not Mirror, but if her Radiant-theory is false than summoning Radiant would be disastrous, so let's go with the safe option, shall we?

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...Oh. In retrospect, that makes perfect sense, and also is going to terrify Musoka if not handled carefully.

She'll send off a quick reply to.

This is Blue Lantern's guardian, responding for her while she's healing people. I will tell her she needs to hurry up and get to the AAS building ASAP. She will probably want to finish healing everyone here, which shouldn't take more than 10 minutes if we hurry.

Thank you for the warning and for the protection. 

<Musoka, we have a problem. Minerva wants us to head to a local AAS center ASAP.>

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<Oh no! ...Do we have time to heal the rest of the people here, first?>

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<We can try, but Minerva did make it sound quite urgent. Let's ask the doctors to hurry, and I'll ask her if we can spare 10 minutes?>

(She's an AI, too, she should be able to respond pretty quickly...)

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Musoka flits back to the doctors in a blur of blue. 

"I'm sorry for the trouble, but something important has come up, and I need to leave very quickly. I think I have time for one more round of healing, if you can get people together for it in the next 5 or so minutes."