Who Wants To Talk About Trolley Problems?!
Roleplaying Log: Who Wants To Talk About Trolley Problems?!
IC Details

In which Atlas and Ghost Spider discuss how they want to handle dire possibilities and also skeeball.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: March 24, 2020
IC Location:
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 25 Mar 2020 07:49
Rating & Warnings: PG-13
Scene Soundtrack: [*\# None]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

* OOC Time: Tue Mar 24 23:47:39 2020 *

* * *


I'd like to hang out and talk a while, if you've got a bit.
Mostly philosophy of heroing and certain elements of the Worthington situation.
And I think that I have, perhaps, been dictating where we meet a little often.
Would you like to pick a spot?

* * *


Yeah sure, that's fine.
I'll have you know I got an A in PHIL 101, and am a force to be reckoned with. I think I've got a place.

It's a good place to talk about hero stuff.

Gwen has found the most archtypically spider place to lurk - a lit billboard with roof below, a catwalk skirting the street-facing edge. Ghost Spider 'sits' on the billboard, lit blazingly by the floodlight that pours over the fading and weathered paint.

She, of course, sits in the way of spiders, sitting on her heels as she simply adheres to the face. Her mask is rolled up her neck and chin, so she can sip at a thermos of something hot enough to steam the air around her.

* * *


I haven't taken it yet. And the trip to an alternate timeline did not help my grades.
By which I mean it crashed them.
See you shortly, then.

It's only a short while later that Carolus flickers into view. Once he's gotten close enough — it's hard to tell exactly how close — it's just a matter of following the scent. He stops, hovering twitchily for a moment like a hummingbird as he surveys Ghost Spider's exact positioning.

Then he settles on the catwalk, digging a thermos of his own out of a bag. Carolus glances around, then looks back to Ghost Spider with lifted eyebrows. He remarks, "I feel as if we've done this before. Or was it an under-construction building with scaffolding?"

He shrugs, drawing something else out of his back and tossing it lightly to Ghost Spider. It's a chocolate truffle in a shiny red wrapper. There's a glint of more within the bag.

"I've been thinking," he says, "of the dilemma of situations like Hodge's. Or… more broadly, the dilemma of situations in which we cannot reliably contain a being. It ties in uncomfortably with the matter of registration, and although I've begun to take measures to duck /that/ possible mistake…"

His antennae rise in concert with his eyebrows again, "The more I think about it the more it seems a problem that urgently requires a tangible solution. I have mixed feelings about that, because of the 'mutant' issue. But if we presume continued propagation of X-gene positive individuals, it is plausible that we will reach a point where a much more significant quantity of the population cannot meaningfully be handled by the legal system."

* * *

Whites and reflected white-gold, Gwen doesn't look down as Carolus lands partially because she knows it's him by ear and by pure feeling. The vague senses of danger just past the point of perception, the skeins of probability carrying danger and pain and worry and motion towards action, peels back just a bit. The world around her becomes a little safer with Carolus around. An effect she had noticed after coming back from Strictly Inferior Universe - and one she had found herself missing when it wasn't there.

"Hey, Atlas." She greets, her greeting wave turning into a snatching hand as she plucks the candy out of the air and she begins to unwrap with her thumb and ring finger while she palms it under index and middle.

"That's a little short sighted, I think. The problem isn't about government being able to police. It's about government having to make decisions too quickly. People like Hodge…"

"If he had stood trial, Carolus, I think he would have had an unsatisfying conclusion, a hollow victory for the 'good guys'."

"But that's how things get better too. Roe vs Wade. Brown vs Board. Society changes when the rule of law is tested. Not when it's circumvented."

* * *

"Do you prefer that name for me, Spooky?" Carolus wonders, with a smile. There's no offense there, nothing to especially worry about. He doesn't linger on it, either, even if he is interested in the answer. It's a preference that most mutants seem to percolate on over their lives, and he has yet to choose decisively his own preference on the matter.

Re-focusing to the topic of discussion, he replies, "I agree. But it isn't what I'm having difficulty with. The Hodge situation was handled…"

His auxiliary hands come together, fingertips pressed to one another, "… impulsively, let's say. I can't blame the individuals in question from feeling the way they did and acting accordingly. But I am attempting to formulate some consistent response pattern to problems of that nature. Or… more directly:"

"How do we deal with the next Hodge to come along? At what point /do/ we escalate to that measure?" He asks, turning to pace a little ways down the catwalk, before turning and passing beneath Gwen again, "My rule of escalation so far has been proportionate relative to the ability of a foe hypothetical or real to threaten me. That seems… inadequate, within the context of the situations I've found myself in."

"And," he says, "if what we need is to do the difficult thing, what can we do in order to support the system so that it /can/ handle the problem credibly?"

"Or am I overthinking things?" Carolus asks, facing Ghost Spider directly again, his pacing halted. A moment passes, and then he asks, "How did those cases go in your reality? Just… so we're on the same page."

* * *

"We're heroing. It's your mask name. Plus, I'm a terrible unregistered dangerous vigilante, and my whims change daily." Gwen notes, popping the chocolate in her mouth and smackingly chewing while continuing. "I like boff of—" gulp "-them."

"Society rebalances. Either powered people are going to get into power, or power is going to get into powered people. Or, I dunno, super fighting racist robots." Gwen decides. "I think registration is probably…" She grimaces. "It's the wrong first step, but it's *a* step. How it interacts, on both sides, is probably going to be the key. How the Unregistered handle themselves, and the Registered. It's not about who's right, it's about who's wronged, and how."

The cases get a suspicious 'please don't tell me' squint incrementally down at Carolus. "Please don't tell me that's a point of divergence. Reproductive rights and universal access to public services? Please, please don't tell me women can't vote here, I'm going to scream at Meaningfully Worse Dimension and it's corn-based degeneracy."

* * *

"I should probably get a new one once I've properly slipped the leash. Assuming I commit fully to that. Not sure yet, just wanted to give myself the option in light of…" Carolus gestures loosely to the side, not really wanting to deeply remark on Apocalypse's reality.

He casually flicks another truffle from his bag towards Ghost Spider, before finally cracking open his own thermos and taking a sip. There's more than a little bit of a smile hiding behind the container, only completely apparent once he emerges from behind it again.

"No," he says, "our points-of-divergence aren't quite that awful. I just wanted to make sure. They are, as you've observed, keystone moments."

Antennae rising a little again, he says, "Let's try this, then. If we were hypothetically setting the core conduct policy for a team, what would you want that to look like?"

* * *

"Yikes, a new name. Look, you're asking the girl who just went with the first label some journ-o spat onto a page and then updated it with 'ghost' in an moment of dimensional delirium. The infinite, and only, Spider-Woman."

"Ghost Spider, locally."

Catching the next truffle with the swift crack of wrapper meeting palm, she gestures with the shifting 'shashasha' of it wobbling in the air.

"You -scared- me! Jheez! I worry about that kind of stuff. I make references people don't get and they look at me like I'm *weird*. Well, more weird. They're right in general, okay, but not for the right reasons!"

Carolus' real question gets a moments thought as she pops the second truffle into her mouth and chews slowly.

"Something… lllike the Titans? I think it's important for the leader to not want to kill anyone. I think it's important for the rule to be 'don't kill people'. I think accepting it from the outset, rather than making hard exceptions, is why people get shot in the street so much. Maybe it's just weakness, but I feel mighty strong most of the time. Too strong, you know?"

* * *

"I wasn't really asking. Just pondering openly. I think that 'Hercules' is an actual person, and that it would be tempting fate in more ways than Atlas already is. I also might want to shunt the naming scheme away from moths for plausible deniability, but—" Carolus waves a hand, "not the time, I think."

"Spider-Woman. Harder to shorten or find cute nicknames for. Spidey is already taken. But if you ask me at all, I think that Ghost Spider has clearer theming. Stronger imagery. It was a /good/ moment of delirium." He says, perhaps the faintest bit teasingly.

Auxiliary arms shrug as he sips at his thermos — it's an odd configuration, but recognizable enough, "Sorry. I know that things tend to skew worse here. I wish it wasn't that way, but I suppose that's just how the dice fell."

Carolus cocks an eyebrow, and adds, "I think weird has the wrong connotations. You are unusual on numerous counts, Ghost Spider, but I wouldn't attribute any negativity to those outstanding qualities of yours."

Screwing the lid back onto his thermos, Carolus nods, "Up front commitment to a firm line in the sand. I see. I think… I prefer that, to the touch-and-go of the X-Men."

Blowing a frustrated breath between his lips, Carolus beats his wings and lifts himself up to the top of the billboard, seating himself at the edge. He carries on, "But I do not know if there is anything to be done about that internal to the team, now. I think… there is an element, in leaving the question open, to occluding a certain measure of a potential enemy's intrinsic humanity. And I can't think of many instances in which that is an unambiguous positive. Is it strange that I hadn't given it much thought before?"

"I just assumed that we wouldn't be about that."

* * *

"My moments of delirium are the choicest and most lucid. Perhaps they are, in fact, the times I wake from the nightmare of reality and open the third eye of wisdom."

"Read that in a book somewhere. I think." Gwen's unmasked lips curl up. "Or I'm just being reminded of Doctor Strange. Alright, fine. I'm 'unusual'."

"It's always about that, Atlas." Ghost Spider decides, 'standing' up to walk down the side of the billboard to stand next to Carolus, looking out over the city. "That's why people put on badges, and masks. It's why people die. Because someone, somewhere, answered a trolley problem."

* * *

"A little bit of both. Doctor Strange has… that… going on, for sure. Technically, we did too." Carolus shudders lightly. His wings give a more pronounced shake, resolving into a momentary light buzz.

He repeats, "A trolley problem…" and lapses into temporary silence.

He makes a perturbed noise, opens his mouth, seems to decide against saying what he was going to say. It takes a moment to resolve into something tangible.

"Ordinarily I would ask you," he begins, "if you'd like to deal with a grimly serious question before fielding it. But the last time that I did that, you basically told me never to do that. So…"

Carolus leans over to nudge Ghost Spider lightly, against— whatever is most readily reachable, "If you're a part of a trolley problem in front of me one day, how do you want those scales balanced?"

"And to give my own answer to that same question, Spooky— I want you to do what you can live with."

* * *

An incredibly heavy question falls into Gwendolyne Stay's lap. It's basically the big one, in any relationship, that could come up in their line of work.

For a moment, the world feels very dangerous. For a moment Ghost Spider feels very small and apart from her body, treading water in a sea of possibilities with a wave rising up before her - a wave threatening to crush her and drag her under.

It gives a little context to her tone. The dry swallow chased away with a gulp of steaming cocoa.

"I… think that if it was me on the tracks, I'd wnat you to do what you felt was right, and only hesitate a little bit, because…"

"If it was you on the tracks, I'd only be able to do what I could do and felt was right, and I know—"

Her voice dips. Smaller, quieter. "—I think that you'd not want me to hesitate. But you'd be sad if I didn't hesitate a little."

"I wouldn't be me if I didn't hesitate a little."

* * *

It's not an easy question to ask, and it's not an easy question to have answered. Carolus Sinclair isn't certain how to interpret the answer he receives, either. What you felt was right…

For her? For him? For everyone in general? Like it or not, he can find an easy reason to weigh Ghost Spider more than a score of regular people. It's cold and heartless, and not at all what he thinks she would approve of. More important, in his mind, is a simple question: What can Ghost Spider live with? She killed her biggest fan, a reality that had been disclosed some while ago now. Could she take doing it again? Could she take being the reason a score of other people died, less connected, less personal?

He says, "I /would/ be sad if you didn't hesitate a little."

A moment more passes. Carolus takes a deep breath, and offers a hand to Ghost Spider. He says, "I think… it's important to establish these things. Even if they're frightening, and even if they hurt. Neither of us intends to subject the other to such a choice. If we can get out of it, we will. And I believe in your abilities."

A sincere breath of amusement leaves him as he continues, "A few times, in that bad timeline, I thought to break away and help you, and you didn't need my help at all. I'm not worried either of us can't take care of ourselves. And I think I've given you enough gloominess for one night."

"Name your compensatory mood lifter. Movie? Pancakes? … More chocolate? To tell you the truth," Carolus is unable to suppress a subdued grin, "my first thought was finding an arcade, wearing out the skeeball machines, and giving away tickets to whoever was there. I don't know why, it just seems to fit. But it's a bit too late at night for that."

* * *

The wave breaks. The moment passes.

It's not as bad as it could have been, and that's better than Gwen expected.

"Atlas, you don't even know my boardwalk hustle. I absolutely destroy basketball games. De-stroy. I'm banned from most arcades because I'd just get meal tickets for the whole band at the cafes. Let me buy you…"

Ghost Spider pumps her hands as if making a free throw shot. "… some shtty cafe pizza. We can get hawaiian, it'll be good."

* * *

"Feeding an entire band on arcade game skills? That's rather better than I do, most of the time. But it's still fun." Carolus says, antennae rising and falling in a quick gesture that usually signals some sort of positive response. He adds, "You'll need to show me how you do it…"

"… And I /do/ like sugary things on pizza. Have you ever had those pizzas that are basically pies baked onto a pizza crust?" …

Carolus carries on conversationally as they depart HERO BUSINESS BILLBOARDS (tm), for all your chatting-on-the-New-York-skyline needs.

* * *

"Oh, we should get you, like, cookie pizza. That's what we need. Dessert pizza." Gwen agrees. "Let's find a place that does skee-ball and basketball games and does cookie pizza, I'm /so/ down."

Pulling her mask down her face, she produces her phone. "Or one then the other. Whichever."

Carolus will end the twilight into morning with a giant arcade bear. It's shitty and green.

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