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Sep 21, 2023 6:00 AM
marina lands on rescue
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Marina will sit quietly and reflect on her plans so far. They seem pretty good. It seems to her that she could probably find some places that would benefit from Flowers rituals in the city, offering her services as a cape, even if she wasn't able to find an academic job – her papers and qualifications all left behind when she came here.

The farming rituals are a staple, but she won't find such work there. But she could work at a doctor's office or at a hospital, casting healing rituals. She'll probably have to demonstrate, but if she demonstrates it on a small cut, she won't risk backlash even though she's alone. And she knows a bunch of other healing associated rituals – she can do Sow the Seed for fertility, for one.

She could work as a psychotherapist...but she wouldn't have a reputation to stand on to work that. And it needs capital investment in the form of her own clinic.

She wants to see if there's some sort of guild or association for capes? Probably such a place would also coordinate job listings that she could take, and which she could advertise at. They'll likely take a cut out of her earnings, but it will be quick, which means she can get a place and materials for her and Denice quicker. And will let her acquire a reputation, at which point she could start her own firm without needing to use its services.

Belatedly, she realizes that she's kind of adopted Denice as her foster child, emotionally speaking. 


:Found it,: Denice reports after some minutes, :just need to figure out how to get there.: She pushes across a sense of its location, about four miles away as the crow flies.


:Okay, I see a path,: she adds after another few minutes.


:Alright, let's go.: Four miles is a bit of a walk, but the Way of Flowers is the way of vigor. She'll be fine walking that far.


Denice sets an easy pace, anyway, leading them through the housing development and out onto a walking path that parallels a little-used road, then through a park and down a couple more house-lined back roads before cutting through another patch of woods to come out at the library. She's very alert throughout the trip, occasionally hustling Marina off the road to wait for a car to go by or suddenly detouring or holding her back with reports of 'people there'.

The library is clearly closed when they get there, but she spends a minute fiddling with the door with something taken from her pocket, and it opens for her; she then spends a few seconds contemplating the bank of lightswitches by the door before picking one that turns on the lights over the shelves in the far end of the building. :Don't want it too obvious that someone's here,: she explains.


Marina notices the shift in Denice's body language as she transitions to relying virtually entirely on her hearing to navigate, and it's fascinating. She would trade a season's salary for just a minute experiencing what Denice does. What depth and acuity of sensation! She has never seen anything like it.

She's kind of Concerned at how Denice is so good at picking locks, especially given that locks here seem to be more elaborate, but she suppresses this concern. Picking locks is inherently unproblematic – it just has problematic correlates.

:I see. I understand.: She wants to ask Additional Questions about the operation of the artificial lights, but she understands that this is not really the time for it.


:I've never actually used a computer before, if we can't figure it out we can stay nearby and I can listen to how they do it in the morning. Do you want to try that first, or the books?:


:I'm more familiar with books, of course, but I'm also illiterate in English. It seems like the information we want to get most urgently – opportunities for jobs for capes in New York, and how to get them – needs to be timely. And computers are for very fast communications, right? So it seems that computers would be better?

The information about infrastructure and supply chains that I want is more likely to be found in books, since that doesn't change on the order of days, but also it is not urgently relevant to our situation, I think. So we can put that as a stretch goal.:

She is also kind of boggling at how many books there are here, but they also probably have better printing presses. And also haven't experienced a major world war recently that destroyed a bunch of libraries and scriptoria. 


:I think that's right. Or there are newspapers for fast stuff that's nearby or big, they have job listings but I don't know if they have cape ones. We have plenty of time tonight, anyway, we can look at whatever. I'll see if they have instructions for the computers.: She goes to start looking through the papers posted behind the desk and then in the back office, very methodically.


It is so sad that she cannot help!! Being illiterate sucks!!

She suppresses the urge to hum, because they are being Stealthy now.


It takes a bit, but eventually the bank of computers lights up and begins to boot, each playing a jaunty little tune to mark that it's ready to use, and Denice comes out to enter the password to unlock one.

She seems a bit stymied, after that, peering at the screen. :I don't know which of these is the one we want,: she says of the displayed icons. :I guess I can just try them, there's not that many.:

The first few are baffling, but after enough tries she finds the internet browser, conveniently set up with a search bar on its starting page, and enters 'cape jobs'. None of the results that come up are obviously what they want; when she clicks the first link anyway it leads to a news story about rogues - capes who are neither heroes nor villains - using their powers in their jobs, presenting this as something unusual but approved of. :Do you want to read the rest of it?: she asks, after relaying the first couple paragraphs.


:Yes please. From what I've gathered, 'heroes' are more legible (in the governmental sense – which she helpfully packages up for Denice to be able to understand), and villains less so, but still legible, since it seems that the government actively discourages them. For the sake of both of us – me, because I know nothing about this world and also don't know the language, and you, who would prefer not to be known or legible so that the institution can't get you – it seems better to be a rogue?

If being a rogue is societally and legally acceptable but means that we don't have to operate within a formal system, it seems like the best way to go. We, or at least, I, can transition in the future to operating more legibly, but it's harder to transition back, because then the systems will know things about you.:


:That's not really it - you're right about me not wanting to be legible but that's not the real difference. Heroes are good guys, they help people or think they do or at least other people think they do, and villains are bad guys, they hurt people or at least do things that people think hurt people, and rogues just do normal things. When I get the other kids out they're going to call me a villain because they think the kids being there is good and taking them away is bad. Having a job is a normal thing so if you do that and not hero or villain things with your powers they'll say you're a rogue - they might say you're a hero if you heal people, even if it's for money, they're a little weird about doctors.:


:I'd say I'm a lot more proactive and altruistic than the norm where I come from. So I suppose I'd be a hero under that ontology, but I like, don't really think that my proactiveness and altruism as being core to my personality? 

It's very sad that they'll think of you as a villain after that.

Things I'd want to know: what ways do rogues advertise themselves? Your cape powers seem much more varied than our Ways, so presumably there's some sort of process where you have to demonstrate your power so that you can get job offers? Oh, and are there any hero institutions, and if so, how do you join one? That wouldn't be my first choice but it seems useful to know.:


:They've been wrong about me for my whole life, it'd be weird if they stopped now.: Which hurts, but, well. Nothing to be done about it.

:For heroes there's the PRT - that's the government hero thing - and then some other groups, or sometimes they work alone. The PRT you can just go and talk to them and join, they have ads on the TV about it sometimes. For the other groups I don't know - they are groups, they have to get people somehow, but I don't know how it works. I haven't heard of rogue groups being a thing but I don't hear about rogues very much, maybe they are and the news just doesn't talk about it.:

:I think if you just looked for a job that your powers are good for and told them about the powers at the interview that might work? You can show them if they want to see, right?:


She wants to hug her but this is not the time.

:Do you think it would be a good idea for me to try joining the PRT? It seems like they would pay well, but they might pry into my past, which would be...hard to explain. Do you think you could look up whether they have publications online about the joining process?

Maybe? About one in ten people in my world are Practitioners, and people who follow the same Way operate similarly. So it's both common and legible enough that people will work with a Practitioner just like that. But capes seem to have more ad-hoc powers. If I try to get a job at a doctor's office with my healing powers, they might not take me because they have no idea how my practice would interact with their medicine. For us, we have lots of literature about the interactions of practical medicine and mundane medicine, but they wouldn't have that here.

I want to be able to credibly signal that I'm a cape, and what my powers are – that I'm not deluded – and that I'm capable of making deals and doing work on time.:


:There is a thing where capes just appear sometimes. Usually weird-looking ones but I think not always. I don't really know much about the PRT, I can't join them so I wasn't really paying attention to them. For getting jobs I don't think they ask about that stuff mostly? They didn't when they were hiring staff at the place, just if they had reliable transportation. ...also they wanted paperwork, I don't know how you get the paperwork. ID and a social security card and stuff.:

She opens up a new window to search for 'how to join the PRT'.


:We have that too! In the form of Geniuses, which awaken spontaneously. But for them, they awaken in one of the Ways, so we already know to a certain extent what they can do.

Hm. I don't know how to operate a car, if it requires complex operation. Is that what it means? Or is it like, a euphemism for whether or not you're crippled and can't walk? Yeah, the paperwork will be an issue...I wasn't able to bring any of it with me, not that they'll accept it here.

I suppose I could try applying for a job and casting a glamor (she packages up the concept of it: a spell that makes people pay attention to you, sometimes in specific ways, that can change how they perceive and treat you) on myself so that I get it. But that's quite ugly and tantamount to fraud, and so I'd prefer not to resort to that.:


:I mean appearing like they didn't exist before, not that they just didn't have powers. Cars don't sound that hard to drive but they're complicated machines, they break sometimes especially if you have a bad one. At least where I was, everybody drives to work, so if your car breaks down you can't come.:

She reads through the PRT website that her search has turned up: They're willing to let applying capes keep their mundane identities secret, most importantly, and offer a number of perks aimed at helping a new cape get set up as a hero and learn how to best use their powers. They also mention that they don't require their capes to patrol, if they have powers better suited to behind-the-scenes work. There's an email address and phone number to contact them for further information or to do a preliminary interview.


:Oh, yeah, we don't have that. Geniuses have existences prior to acquiring their powers.

Huh. Perhaps things are farther away here? Where I'm from you just walk, or get a horse or carriage. Though maybe if you have cars, then you have less tolerance for walking.:

She thinks on the PRT information for a bit.

:Do you think the PRT are trustworthy? Do you think they'll keep to their word? Hm, I suppose we could try looking up information on capes the PRT has employed, to see if any one of them has had their mundane identities leaked. 

Yeah, I'm not sure I'd be good on a patrol.:

She gets the concepts of 'email' and 'phone' from Denice's Telepathy nuances – it is such a useful spell :Do you think I should try contacting them now? Or, not now now, but soon, before we reach New York. I won't do it if you think it's a bad idea.:


:Almost nobody has horses here. The only ones I know about are the police in New York have some. Cars are good for going places, though, a car could go the distance we walked to get here in a few minutes.:

:I don't know much about the PRT, it wouldn't be safe for me to try to join them so I haven't been paying attention to them like that. I think... sometimes people do leave them, so you can, but it's not common, so their capes are probably okay with being there. I can try to find out about them keeping peoples' identities secret.: She brings up a third window to do so, and this one covers the browser icon. :I can't talk well enough to use the phone but I can try to figure out how to do email.:


She wants to know how much a car costs because she kind of wants one now, but that is not the topic.

:Mm, thank you. I would want the option of leaving, indeed. And yes, email sounds better. Both because I don't know the language and so cannot speak it, save Telepathy, which I highly doubt would work over the phone, but also because it would give us a record of the conversation in text.

Not knowing the language seems terribly problematic. I suppose...are there cases of capes that lose literacy or the ability to speak after acquiring their powers? Maybe I could pretend to be that, and then 're'gain the ability later?:


:I haven't heard of anything like that. We could check. - there's paper and pencils over there if you want to start making a list of what we need to do, just be careful to bring it with you when we go.:

Her most recent search brings her to a forum thread of people discussing cape unmaskings; PRT capes aren't immune, but the PRT itself is careful about not leaking them, it just happens sometimes that a villain will find out who they are despite whatever precautions are in place. :Which isn't surprising, I can tell people apart by sound and a costume won't stop me.:


She will take Denice up on her suggestion and start writing things down, in cursive Towan script.

:That's true. It's likely that there are other people with sensory powers that could unmask people. But there's an incentive for people to coordinate and never unmask each other, like a war crimes treaty. Though the issue with that is that only the PRT is unified, and will police its members from unmasking villains. I don't think villains would have such a structure.

I'm personally not very concerned about being unmasked. I don't have a civilian life, here anyway, and I only care about it insofar as it might affect you.

I might be good to email the PRT? Would emailing them expose our position? 

Aside from that, I want to also get language learning materials. Do you know how this library is laid out, or whether it has materials to learn English with? Even if you can't teach me how to speak, learning how to read would be immensely useful.:


:I don't know much about how email works, but even if it tells them we were here I don't think that's too dangerous. I'll hear it if they're waiting for us when we come back to see what they said, and then we know not to work with them.:

:Kids' books are over there, little kids' books are made for learning to read with.:


:That's true! Your hearing is so good!: A burst of affection and pride.

:I'll try looking for kids' books while you figure out email. Later, do you think you could help me find grammar or linguistics books? It might be helpful for me, because I did research in that a while ago. So they might be more useful to me.:

She'll still be able to keep within Telepathy range so long as they're within several meters or so, but after that it will be too far for Marina to sustain for any significant length of time.

She's trying to look for kids' books that cover jobs, infrastructure, or government. Are there such books? She's expecting them to be illustrated.

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