Between 7.1-7.2


Anyway, I’m going to tell you this, and you’re going to tell me if you’d either:
A) Count this as spoilers, and like me to not show this stuff again.
B) Don’t count this as spoilers, and would like me to tell you.
Sent by: So many people.
Bitch doesn’t have a secret boss, you misread.
The “scentless man” is Grue.

Ahh. Okay, yeah, that kind of thing is spoilers.
But yeah, that makes sense.

Well, that answers that.

To clarify a bit on my decision to count this as spoilers: It’d be a whole other matter if the chapter had made it clearer that it was Grue, and I’d just managed to miss that, but it didn’t. As a result, I’ve been theorizing on this. Essentially, the Brutus being the narrator made it so that the story hadn’t actually told me this clearly enough for it to not be a spoiler.

Granted, I’m obviously supposed to be using my reading comprehension to read between the lines (which I did do here – I just read the wrong things), and I do appreciate some corrections when I misinterpret minor things.

Corrections are generally a bit of a gray area, really.

[Y’know, I really thought this happened a lot earlier. Like, really soon after Interlude 4. But yeah, rereading my old content for the migration, I can see why you guys wanted to set me straight on this.

That said, past me isn’t entirely wrong. Especially considering that not too many chapters from now, scentlessness is finally related to Grue outside Interlude 4, which means I could have figured it out myself. And if not then, perhaps in 15.4, when Grue being scentless was more in focus. Though by then I’d probably have dropped the scentless man by virtue of it making no sense with the direction the story was taking with Bitch.

And, hell, even if I never figured it out… it’d probably be kinda funny. I fondly remember Zephyr the Jester’s Triangle Clan theory, which was similarly held on to for quite a while.

But on another hand…]

Misreading the scentless man *was* a minor thing, the only reason it got big was that you started to build a big theory around it. Also dogs being social creatures they probably wouldn’t consider someone who only shows up sometimes to be the alpha, so I’d say it was still pretty obvious the scentless man was Grue since he’s the one who’s around to give orders to Bitch.

Okay, yeah, fair enough.

[…this person did have a point.]

I don’t think it’s an accident that the very next chapter after seeing how badly Canary was treated at the trial we learn about Heartbreaker, someone with a similar emotion control power who uses it to the most despicable degree. They even both commit sexual assault (far far more often in Heartbreaker’s case). Do you think he might have been mentioned by the prosecutor during Canary’s trial or kept in mind by the jury?

I don’t think the powers are really that analogous in method, but more importantly, they do share some potential uses… I think you’re right, it’s kind of interesting that Canary and Heartbreaker were introduced in adjacent chapters. “Here are two people who committed sexual assault with mindbending powers, compare and contrast.”

Canary could absolutely do something similar to Heartbreaker if she really wanted to (though perhaps with more effort to keep it up), and if that did occur to the prosecutor, the example of Heartbreaker would go a long way to convince the judge and jury that her power is dangerous to the masses. So yeah, they probably did bring it up.

Out of curiosity, if you start regularly breaking chapters into two parts, would you ever consider immediately starting the next chapter if you finish a chapter before it gets too late? I ask because, based on your usual liveblogging speed (which admittedly varies quite a lot from day to day) and lengths of the upcoming chapters, you’re likely to end up with a lot of “one and a half day” chapters in the near future.

Usually the ends of the chapters line up surprisingly neatly with where I’d end the sessions anyway, but if I finish a chapter halfway through a session, sure!

[essay in ask form]

Re: Paige’s trial, it’s absolutely possible to give her a fair trial! Paige outright said her lawyer was incompetent, so she needs a new one. (And she wasn’t even able to meet him in person beforehand? What the fuck.) Since her lawyer was incompetent, he probably did a terrible job in juror selection, so the jury is biased against her from the start and we need a fresh slate there too.

The restraints were unnecessary and biased the jury, so get rid of those as well. She can keep the collar so she can’t sing or talk loudly, and if the PRT is worried they don’t know her power’s limitations (which I highly doubt), the collar could be set so she can’t talk at all. It’s still easy to let her talk at the trial – just give her a keyboard and a text-to-speech program. There’s all sorts of tinkertech, it doesn’t even have to sound robotic and inhuman.

On top of all of this, the judge reads as highly biased against parahumans. “Oh you’ve never committed a crime before, we want to encourage rogues, you’ve said you want to better society rather than fight, and this crime was an accident, but you did it with a power so you might do it again. You get the worse-than-death sentence because there’s no precedent and fuck the three strikes act.” That’s just silly! Laws differentiate between accidents and intentional crimes for a REASON.

Hell, you don’t even need to let her off scot free! If you want to send her to jail, she only needs the collar, we’ve already established the rest is pointless. “It would be inhumane and harmful to your body”? Not if you cut most of the restraints! Paige did say the collar was pretty heavy, but again, this is tinkertech land. Without the short deadline of the trial they can make something lighter.

Even if the PRT tinkers can’t improve on it, a collar is supposed to be more inhumane and physically harmful than a LIFE SENTENCE alongside THE WORST MONSTERS IN THE WORLD? Plus, where the hell do you think she’s been staying during the trial? I doubt she’s just been relaxing at home. The PRT is used to imprisoning capes, I’m sure they already have plenty of jails set up to contain Masters, and the judge should know these things. This whole trial is a blatant farce.

All of this! Every single thing!

Can you guys really blame me for misinterpreting the judge as being part of the PRT alongside the prosecution, given how fucked up every single other part of that trial was?

A few thoughts. 1. The Birdcage is arguably worse than a death sentence, especially given it’s for life and there’s a good chance of dying there anyways, so yeah anyone they can’t send there would probably just be executed. 2. Paige’s power isn’t mind control. It isn’t even body control, like Regent’s ability to fuck with people’s muscles. What she has is more like at-will hypnotic suggestibility. Mind control implies direct control, which wouldn’t allow miscommunication like “go fuck yourself”.

1. Yeah, makes sense.

2. This is pretty much what I was talking about when I realized why Paige didn’t count against the hypothesized rarity of mind control – or rather, why the hypothesized rarity of mind control only applied to direct control.

That said, I do still call Paige’s power mind control, just “indirect”, because it’s functionally the same: you can force someone to do exactly what you want, even if it’s something they wouldn’t normally do. The only (functional) difference is that for Paige, the commands have to go via sound.

Also keep in mind that Dragon can probably still add extra security features to the Birdcage whenever she wants to (at least as long as it doesn’t involve physically going inside). If the PRT wants to send someone tricky over, she could easily say “I don’t think the Birdcage can hold them yet, give me a few days to fix that.” Wouldn’t surprise me if she just added some sort of countermeasure for if Bakuda manages to build another super bomb, and tries to hold half of Canada hostage.

Yeah, maybe.

Y’know, I wonder what Dragon’s specialty is. Maybe it’s just “security measures”, but we do know she’s made things that can be used effectly by villains as their main gimmick, too.

I’m going to take a break from asks for a bit, but when I come back, I’m going to be responding to your inputs on the question I raised regarding rape and consent, which I’ve saved for last. If you’re not comfortable with that topic, you may want to sit the remaining asks for this chapter out.

[essay in ask form] azdoine:

(Obligatory TW for discussing consent issues, rape, and identity)

I don’t think Heartbreaker’s actions (as described in Buzz 7.1) are directly analogous to any crime accounted for in contemporary law or common law, as heinous as they obviously were? Which sort of circles around to the question you & anon raised during Interlude 6: how does a modernized society work in a world with the existence of superpowers?

If person A intoxicates/inebriates person B to make B give consent and A has sex with them, then we have the implicit understanding that the inebriation will fade, and B’s normal judgement and state-of-being will return. Inebriated!B may have consented, but inebriated!B isn’t the person who spends all of their time living in the world… sober!B is. We consider sober!B to be the morally and legally relevant “version” of B.

On the other hand, if Heartbreaker hits person C with his power to create a permanent change, then the “old C” is gone and the “new C” has replaced them, in a sense. Old!C may not have consented… but old!C isn’t the person who spends all of their time living in the world; new!C is the person who is actually present and self-actualizing.

Modern law/society doesn’t really make any distinctions like this, between different “versions” of a person; we operate under the assumption that each human body is one person with one identity and one agency. But Heartbreaker (and parahumans in general) challenge that assumption, and we can challenge that assumption even just by thinking about cases in real life (e.g. is an amnesiac morally and legally culpable for crimes they don’t remember committing?).

Heartbreaker’s crime isn’t in physical sexual assault or rape, IMO, but in using his power to create permanent mental changes. If he hit me with his power, the new version of me would be a “valid” version of me with the right to choose to have sex with him (IMO). But Heartbreaker would have still done something morally wrong in forcibly changing the old!me into the new!me. Not nearly as bad as literally murdering my old self, but… still far from okay or appropriate, either.

Yeah, this kind of perspective is exactly why I found myself asking the question of “is this actually rape” in the first place. There is consent, but the victim was forced to become the kind of person who would consent.

Where do we draw the line between the legal status of someone who’s had their brain forcibly changed by way of a parahuman power, and that of someone whose had their brain changed in any other way – i.e. literally everyone who is capable of learning and developing as a person?

Hell, even if you only count cases where someone did it to them, it raises questions… Actually, I think it might even provide a good analogy for this situation in reality:

Take a victim of “mundane” (as in non-parapowered) psychological abuse and manipulation in a supposedly romantic setting, who has had their will and/or self-confidence torn down to make them believe that they need and/or love their abuser and that their abuser loves them back. Should that abuse victim be considered unable to consent, whether it’s with the abuser or otherwise?

Heartbreaker essentially does exactly that in an instant (or however long it takes him to use the power).

Of *course* it’s rape.

On one level, this is my reaction too.

I want it to be clear that whether it’s technically rape or not, I definitely think it’s reprehensible.


Personally, I’d say that any form of mind control or non consensual personality altering should be an entirely different type of crime than rape with different implications and consequences. If anything, it may be a worse violation overall, but, unlike rape, we can have stuff like Canary or the whole Persona 5 debacle (if you have heard about that game) where it can be accidental of justified. So an entirely new legal branch should be, imo, erected in the case mind shenanigans become possible.

That said, what Heartbreaker does under his own circumstances should be legally considered as bad as rape, if not worse, and as reprehensible. I just think the terminology should, in a world where such things are possible, be different, just like there are many types of murder of varying justifiability and implications, so should brainwashing, but, at the same time, denying the personhood of a brainwashed person would be cruel. All in all, complicated subject.

This touches on some of the same things as azdoine did in parts of this ask chain [here… no, like, right here, just scroll up], and I think you’re both right. Whether the sexual relationships following are rape or not, the act of using a parapower to (intentionally and without a consenting subject) change someone’s mind permanently, in the first place, should be a crime in its own right. Instant Psychological Abuse™ is awful.

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