1437/The Mask Makes The Man

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The Mask Makes The Man
Date of Scene: 29 April 2020
Location: Union Square Park
Synopsis: After a brief foray with Mindless Ones, Clea and Victor discuss philosophy
Cast of Characters: Victor Von Doom, Clea

Victor Von Doom has posed:
It is... unusual for Victor Von Doom, of all people, to take a walk through the park. But then, being unpredictable is something that Doom does enjoy being, as it can throw potential foes off balance. Of course, the company he has been keeping lately has something to do with that as well.

Currently, the leader of Latveria wears a fairly nice suitcoat, as the weather has not warmed up that much just yet, though instead of a mask... at least, a visible mask, he has an illusion of something close to his face, but not quite, showing instead. While he would never set out in public without his mask, he also does realize that looking 'normal' attracts far less attention.

Though, could he really appear that normal considering the lady walking with him at the moment?

Clea has posed:
Wearing a mask most definitely attracts attention from the general public. Clea has the faintest of glamours applied to her, the better to conceal her otherworldly appearance. White hair and eyes bright as molten amethysts are a fantasy trope she lives up to, and no need for anyone to come running to her crying out "Khaleesi!" That could be terribly, terribly embarrassing. Thus her hair is faintly blonde, pale enough to pass, and she conjures up a proper set of clothing for the chic city dweller in mind. No one walks around Doom in cutoffs and a t-shirt, do they? Violet for the open coat, something almost black for the professional dress slinking to the knees. Other than the belt wrapped through a bronze loop at her hip, everything is perfectly normal, though a savant of the Mystic Arts would know what that braided leather and curiously pleated fabric draws its elements from. A silent warning, a proclamation, even as she traipses along through... the park. Well, Union Square Park isn't all green like Central Park, being largely paved. She still makes a point of pausing, tilting her head at one of the abundant food carts. "I will be right back," she explains, and promptly ditches Doom.

It will not be the first time. Right? Trouble comes and no Cl--.... wait, wrong reason. He might have to extrapolate her purpose, but that isn't impossible considering the beignet and coffee truck with a fairly long line marks her destination. She beelines for it, missing every sixth step to float along for a March. Not that everyone might note it. And still... still, there she is, going for powdered sugar like a bee after a flower. Jelly beignets and regular beignets, they taunt the uncaffeinated. A bag will soon be hers.

Victor Von Doom has posed:
Victor smiles a bit, watching Clea skip-float over towards the coffee truck, then he looks around. Irony, or perhaps fate, put him near the statue of Abraham Lincoln. He glances up towards the former President, thinking something contemplative no doubt about another leader that had to deal with a Civil War.

Mental note: Don't tempt fate by taking Clea to a Broadway performance. At least right away.

Though, well, Doom does look a bit wary, but then he always does in public. Particularly when he's not visibly wearing his armor, though let's just say that Tony Stark isn't the only armor-wearing individual that uses nanotech to summon it forth if the situation calls for it.

Clea has posed:
The blonde falls in line behind the others, for no one survives Kamar-Taj without learning how to queue properly. And queue she can, chatting with the mother and child in front of her as the pair shuffle closer. The act of orders comes quickly since the food truck prominently displays its hashtag and menu for online options, but the weighty act of patience requires more care. The deep fryers only work so fast, and piping hot bags of deep-fried deliciousness thrown together with sugar are delivered at a temperature that burns fingers. Unless, of course, one is a Faltine. Then, even embodied, the heat hardly causes any troubles for her. Clea has a ways to go yet, the mother-daughter pair going on about their next stop on a day's fun. Every so often, the platinum-haired sorceress looks over to Doom and beams with a certain smile.

See? Normal people doing normal things instead of trying worrying about reporters or hostile takeovers, or what the actual purpose of a bus is. Confusing, why have buses in a city so congested? Portals and fixed gates would be much more efficient.

Clea scans the menu and when her time comes up to make a request, she simply goes for a dozen of all their varieties. Coffee, "the world's darkest", is naturally a requirement, though she might have to pause about the custom of taking it with sugar, cream, mocha, hazelnut, or human souls. Probably not human souls.

Probably. Though when she's asked for payment, her gaze goes distant, turning aside from the truck.

"Uh? Lady? That's $28.50?" the barista prompts. She nods vaguely, a flick of her fingers dropping the coinage and bills from apparently up her sleeve. There's a tip in there, her conscious awareness of money still a fluid notion. "Ooookay, lady, you can wait over there. Maybe get off your phone?"

She doesn't have a phone. That much is plain, even as she gives the counter of the food truck a pass, and stands on tiptoe to see past a crowd of people not generally taller than she is.

Victor Von Doom has posed:
A random passerby comments as an aside to Doom, "Your lady is something else, man!"

Victor arches a brow, then simply says, "You have no idea." The coolness of his tone causes the man to hustle a bit, his pace quickening as Doom flashes Clea a smile as she waits...

Which is, of course, when a mystical portal opens near the statue of George Washington. The dark fires of magic roar, and out come a quartet of Mindless Ones! The massive hulking obsidian forms start smashing their way through the park, eyeblasts shooting out and fists swinging as they seek to obliterate anything in their path.

Doom, for his part, triggers the failsafe in his armor, causing it to fold over his suit, protecting him as he is always prepared for trouble. Though perhaps not for the optic blast from one of the Mindless Ones, catching him just as his armor forms around him and knocking him back against the statue of Lincoln with a thud!

Clea has posed:
The wait for beignets is worth it, surely. The piping hot sweetness of the crust, biting into flaky pastry. Certainly the people risking a face full of blow-sugar and jammy delights are willing to entertain the notion. So she waits, the hairs on the back of her neck rising steadily by the moment. The instinctive grasp of the flow of energy around her ends up being a double-edged sword; it helps for detecting oddities but everyone's potential clouds her vision a little.

Until it doesn't. Her head snaps towards the source of the portal as it forms, sending a careening wail up from the first person to spot them: a two-year-old in a stroller. Mom is too busy staring at her phone trying to paint Harry Potter's fancy wand-swishing into the latest app. Two dogs -- no not Dougs -- start barking and straining at their leashes, aggressive posturing taken for the sake of their oblivious owners. Not likely to be oblivious for much longer.

<<No!>> It was supposed to be a nice day in the park. She knows those fires, the corrupt version of those she commands. But those witch flames, when unleashed, burn with a mystic rage. Everything, even when the fuel is spent, is at risk. She bolts away from the beignet truck, heading for the danger, rather than away. There is no point in diplomatic reasoning, in soft-spoken suggestions or threats that taunt them. By their nature, the hulking goliaths marching out of the portal would never listen. She holds out her hand, violet spheres taking shape, the trademark of her signature rotating in faster and faster orbits. Civilians run, some walking faster and faster, scattering from the risk. New Yorkers learn quick. The shield hurled up might be enough to deflect the eyebeams away from her, but that's rather not the point. "You," she calls out in a wintry tone, "are //mine//." She hasn't even had her coffee yet.

Victor Von Doom has posed:
Mom looks up at the hulking Mindless One looming over her, dread freezing her in place as the eye glows with the telltale energy predicating a lethal blast. She screams, a high-pitched yell of terror...

And then an energy blast comes from behind her, knocking the threatening Mindless One off its feet, its own blast echoing harmlessly into the sky. Standing near the statue, clad in his full armor, is Doctor Doom! He scowls, "Mindless Ones, of course." Then he launches himself towards the quartet, energy blasts roaring from his gauntlets as he looks to attract their attention.

As far as the mystical portal is concerned, he knows that his consort would have a better way of dealing with that, as he focuses his attention on the immediate problem...

Clea has posed:
Tibetan, she can be sure, is about as common here as someone speaking Ojibwe in Gujarat. Sure, there might be one person there, but not likely in the same park. Clea's voice rings high and clear: <<Pull them to me, please!>>

Then she swivels and the flame-drenched chakram of energy formed in her hand traces a descending arc from overhead to the ground. To the casual bystander, she just sliced the air and sidewalk without any visible effect. For the split second they have to see her, anyway. The force of will splinters pathways through the fabric of creation, starting to fold and twist back the path in front of them. The chipped bit of concrete she stands on repeats itself in rotating fans, spilling out around her in a widening quarter that soon enough becomes a hemisphere and keeps growing. Only small plays of prismatic energy in the air give any indication whatsoever of her purpose.

But the portal falls within that rifting command of the Mirror Dimension, and those monsters spilling out might see civilians to attack and buildings to strike, but none of them are touchable. Fractalization bends the crystal planes, fragments of places glimpsed through the hard edges.

The vivid incandescence of the chakram dictates the distortions, forcing distortions to accelerate, whirling chunks of earth around and around so those eyebeams aren't at all easy to focus safely. Maybe the Mindless Ones care, maybe they don't, but she can use the effect just as well to force them to shoot /back/.

Victor Von Doom has posed:
Doctor Doom conjures his own mystical shields, then does as Clea requests, flying back towards her and continuing to fire blasts at the Mindless Ones, luring them over as he stands next to her.

"I suspect this has more to do with you than me." Despite the situation, he sounds almost amused, "Though this seems a bit... inadequate, to be an actual attack designed to harm either of us. More of a message to send." And who would send the message?

Well, considering the messengers, it's a pretty short list. Doom glances towards Clea, "When you're ready, I have something that can dispatch these creatures. Unless you'd rather have the honors, m'lady." Even in the midst of a fight, he does focus on his manners to an uncanny degree.

Clea has posed:
Spaces expand between Clea and Doom, arm's reach traversed with difficult. She keeps folding space within the confines of the dimension with a last burst of effort to contain the Mindless Ones.

That only means contained in an arena with no civilian or presidential statues as casualties. That does not mean defeated themselves. She winces as the brilliant light bursts on her shield, sending embers of it flying back over her shoulders. "Testing out readiness. He does this. Overwhelming force all at once or scouting parties. I have resources here."

She slams her palm forward, precise movements curling her fingers up, and the bending cement skirt of the park lurches up into the air in a berm twice as tall as she is. The advancing Mindless Ones move at a run, but she manages to hurl at least one of them back. The other comes crashing over the top like Wonder Woman in World War I.

"He treats them as fodder and I cannot undo their state here. Sending them back would not improve the situation," she offers through gritted teeth, giving Doom the freedom to do what he does best. "Then we can have our coffee, my treasured mind." Coffee of Doom today.

Victor Von Doom has posed:
Doom nods, then murmurs a few quick mystical words, "With your permission, m'lady." With that, he taps into her connection to the Faltine, a battery of great mystical power that can overwhelm the ill-prepared.

Doom, is never ill-prepared.

Then he chants, green eldritch sigils forming in front of him as he feels the mystical power he already can wield enhanced to levels that, for the briefest of moments, he could see catapulting himself to victory, guiding humanity into the most glorious of Ages...

But such is the seductive call of power, even now, and Doom remembers to focus on the present. Taking that energy and unleashing it without mercy on the Mindless Ones, wiping their blight from existence as he invokes that level of eldritch might. He doesn't bother with monologues or threats for the one who sent them... it isn't like the Mindless Ones are the best couriers for /that/, in any case.

Clea has posed:
Pulling on the wellspring of magic is, in general, not particularly impressive. Not when she is here, though, the undying fires unraveling around her brow and the flames filling her eyes another hue altogether. Her skin glows a little brighter for the drag on that inner source, but the mage-fire holds strong all the same.

Her focus is on the shield, putting her fingers through the motions of the yantras needed to sustain the elegant form of a protective hemisphere. It marks her as one of the Ancient One's students; easy to decipher that at a distance. Not that the Mindless Ones care. Not that Dormammu himself, if observing, would care. The wreath of sigils poured behind the disk's outer edge rotates, keying in as she fine-tunes her protection more for a surge of energy than blunt force, though it will work for that too. A tremor runs through her arm, the only sign of how being tilted as a gestalt spell-battery works. It so rarely happens that she braces herself against it, forcing the channel to remain relatively open.

No monologuing from /Doom/? A disappointment. Next time a hundred bouncing through the parlor will clearly do. Or this is Richards' fool plan uploaded in the wrong place. Still, her job is standing on the defensive and enabling the offense. The scorch marks won't show in the real world.

Victor Von Doom has posed:
Doom seems to sense her disappointment, so scowls, "Four, Dormammu? You send four of these Mindless Ones to confront Doom? I should seek you out and bind you into a Central Park portable toilet for such an affront to my capabilities!" He then clenches his fist, raising his hand up as he channels binding wards backed by Clea's power as well as his own, spinning the quartet of Mindless Ones to face each other, forcing them to confront each other first.

The disadvantage of Mindless Ones. They live up to their name.

Then, Doom says, "I know you're witnessing this, Dormammu, so know this. If you send more of these cretins, or other agents, after Doom or those under his protection, I shall make certain that nothing remains of you but fleeting fables of how it is unwise to cross DOOM." With that, he gestures grandly, channeling the magic into locking the four Mindless Ones into their own conflict, unable to focus on other foes as he looks over at Clea, as if to ask silently, 'There, I have monologued. Coffee?'

Clea has posed:
Clea sends a flash of energy around the shield, heading straight for the portal. As it is, the doorway still yawns open and there might be a teeming mass waiting to come through to answer this challenge. Best not to risk it.

Whether it dispels the portal outright, she has yet to see, but the raw energy impacts with a violet glow and amethystine lines radiate outward from the point of impact, swallowing up any clear view on the other side. Cleaning up, such is the nature of minions of great men or tyrants.

The Mindless Ones might be prone to fighting and struggling, and their best efforts to get away and cause mayhem are limited by their current predicament that Doom successfully sees to dealing with. The white-haired woman isn't intervening for them, so the best they can do is silently struggle and yowl. They are so unattractive! This is torture, like Big Brother: Cyclops Edition. Don't ask if future Summerses come out of this.

Victor Von Doom has posed:
Doom does, however, do one last feat with the magic, as he lifts up the Mindless Ones locked into their eternal struggle with each other. Letting them fight each other as they will have a hard time trying to defeat themselves. He gesutres, and with a rolling *SNAP* of the terrain, the four Mindless Ones shoot back through the portal, just as Clea closes the portal to the Dark Dimension.

Then, he looks at Clea with a wry expression, "Does this happen often when you go to get coffee? Perhaps I should have a coffee house placed on the Embassy grounds?" A bit of humor, even as he folds up the armor, resuming his minor illuion so that no one knows that it is actually Doom that she walks with, this morning.

Clea has posed:
Clea watches the disappearance of the trouble bumbling back through the portal, and soon enough, out of sight and out of mind. Maybe a few of her subjects will think to lash out at the interlopers. The Mhuruuks have no love, after all, of the creatures who invaded their space, even if they have to deal with them all the time. She releases her hold on the shield and it dissipates into vertical streams of bubbles, popping one by one until the embers are all that's left in the glassy confines of New York suspended from a crystal. Rare and sullen beauty surrounds them on the cusp of springtime, people fleeing and the beignets left unattended in a food truck that its occupants abandoned.

"My life," she gestures. "Defined by those unhappy with my existence. I do not mean to give them cause to cease." For that statement comes with a bit of flippant mirth, though underlined by a real truth as cold as the sun in the far north. "Being here defies them. Standing here thwarts their purposes. As long as I breathe and enjoy this realm, they lose."

Victor Von Doom has posed:
Victor smiles, and places his hand on hers, "And I will be more than happy to help with that, of course." He looks at her with a wry expression, "I suspect that the beignets are still somewhat fresh, and I do feel like... compensating, the owners of that food truck for the inconvenience."

He does pause, and then state, "Though, I must admit I was a bit offended by only four. I suspect it was something just to test our mettle more than anything else."

Clea has posed:
"I already paid him. It is not unfair to take what is mine, is there?" Clea's brows scrunch closer together as she strives to understand the strange behaviours of humanity, but she's had long enough to at least understand currency and fair trade. The drop out of the Mirror Dimension takes only a moment, punched into reality once more. The scents of the city burst like wildflowers after the rain, the breeze ruffling their clothes and settling in. Physics no longer cease, but apply themselves with full force, meteorological phenomena gladly crawling up the walls to achieve an impact on their newly returned subjects. Nature prevails once more, even upon Doom.

Clea brushes her hands over her sleeves and down the hem of her dress, making sure she's properly back into fine appearance. With a gentle dusting, she nods to him. "Shall we reclaim our drinks and our food? Then we can walk wherever... oh. The statue." A frown shows for the state of Mr. Lincoln. "I will have to fix that first. It would not be right to leave this in disarray. Maybe there is a message. That we do not have someone who likes your leadership. It is probably to be a nuisance."

That agreement rankles.

Victor Von Doom has posed:
Victor nods, "Definitely, I can take care of the food and coffee, if you wish to fix the statue. Mister Lincoln has had enough affronts to his dignity I believe." A bit of a smile graces his features, as he then gives Clea a slight bow, "One moment."

And then he goes off to the food truck. Since no one is there, he retrieves Clea's order and, well, perhaps he has a bit of sympathy for the plight of a food truck worker in New York. In any event, he leaves a rolled up clip of several $100s for the food truck, as further cost against the inconvenience.

And thus he returns, bearing coffee and beignets, handing Clea her drink as he hrms, having thought about the matter, "I do not believe someone questioning my leadership would send Mindless Ones after me. Seems a bit exotic, when they would likely employ an assassin of more mundane means."

Clea has posed:
Mr. Lincoln, a person she remembers of history perhaps through lessons but not personally, deserves care. So care he shall have. Clea tries to size up how heavy he might be, this statue sprawled off its plinth. Sheer strength alone might do it, but a wave of telekinetic energy is pulled in as well as she negotiates the object back into place. Of course, that takes a fair bit of work and self-control, the careless hand certain to cause actual damage. Care, which governs all, gives her a sense of satisfaction if that small smile is anything to go by once he's set back on his spot.

This, of course, leaves Doom to deal with the beignets. Her money, as with his, is already set on the counter, and that should take the sting out of it. But still, it could be a cause for the employees to rebel against. Once more, she looks at her handiwork and finds it satisfactory. Thus, moving on.

"Which way shall we go?" she inquires lightly. "I would not speculate on what one would use to harm you. Exotic may be the way to trouble you?"

Victor Von Doom has posed:
Victor chuckles softly, "I suspect they would use a sniper with a vibranium bullet. Or possibly adamantium. This..." He gestures towards where the portal appeared, "Seems a bit too grandiose for a serious attempt. No, I suspect that it was meant to be a message of some kind."

He pauses, then smiles wryly, "Perhaps one of your relatives is displeased at our relationship, or wished to test my mettle. Seems to be a fairly... common reaction, among the more mystically inclined, though I can't speak for your family in that matter." A bit of a shrug, as he doesn't look too upset by it... well, aside from the fact that they only sent four.

For Doom? One had best send an army to show the proper respect!

Clea has posed:
"A serious attempt would bring forth Dormammu himself, I have no doubt. In his pride, he would insist to see the truth of the matter itself. You are too likely to escape by other means or falsify your death. With those moments, the greatest danger. His power is insufferable in the Dark Dimension, but it is hardly diminished here. A foe of that calibre is not lightly taken or else I would have dealt with him personally." Already, the words not spoken; already, the hidden statement that stings the pride but leaves the bleeding ego intact at least. There are points where her anger rises, buried away.

"Such options are few. My father, imprisoned. My mother, the same. Has she escaped her punishment, it becomes my responsibility to deal with them. I cannot stoop so far as death, but they will not share the same viewpoint. I put you at risk by proximity to me. Not entirely different from the Dark Dimension. But that was expected, and this your home." A heavy conversation to have walking down the street. New York resumes its pace of life, never slowed for very long. She pays heed to those who might watch, taking a route towards the road and not the park proper. "I am sorry for that. You bear your own risks because of me. I am sorry. It isn't right."

Victor Von Doom has posed:
Victor nods, "What is life without risk? I have my own array of foes, and if they see you as close to me, that puts you in at least as much danger as myself." He glances over to her, "Together, we are stronger than what they can dream of. And Dormammu is not a threat I would take lightly, despite my earlier words."

He considers, "But, bluster means much to someone of that nature. I know this, all too well, from my own experience. If he saw me taking this too lightly, if he was responsible, then it would offend him more than what I actually said and did. Plus, if he thinks I require your aid, then he will underestimate me the next time." Plans within plans, wheels within wheels. Even though Doom seems to have forsaken the active 'world conquest' thing...

Well, he is still Doom. For better or for worse, as he gives Clea a warm smile, "But you, my dear Clea, have nothing to apologize for. I am aware of the risks, and for you, I would embrace them."

Clea has posed:
"Victor," murmurs the sorceress. "You cannot know what your support means. But you must also know I have tried so long to offer protection, and so often been found horrified by the depravities to which some turn in their conquest for control. For power. I do not think either Dormammu or Umar truly /want/ what they had. They only convinced themselves of it to justify a horrendous act. Having gone too far, there was no turning back. Especially for her, she is an opportunist. His malice differs. In both cases, their pain fuels them. The hatred, the rage, the inability to return to what they sacrificed for power has blackened their outlook such that misery must spread from their touch. I would not have that for you, nor for your people." She shakes her head, looking into the street and its streams of buildings flanking a corridor of cars and pedestrians, the occasional tree or scaffold in the way. Peaceful, prosperous, even with the different intrigues besetting those who dwell there. "It would be akin to another nation committing genocide to depopulate yours. Simply because they wanted a tree, having lost a tree through their carelessness or disregard. They fathom no great loss or woe for hurting others or inflicting devastation because none of you, here, amount to anything except fodder. Fuel. Resources. A commodity to be used until extinguished, however long that may be. I was no different to them, save I burned longer than most. I cannot countenance that for Earth. Not for any who associate with me, nor a people who has done no wrong but harbour me. Still. To kill Umar would be as sinful as she is. I won't become her. Neither will I let her take or corrupt those near me, as much as I can. You may already have the mistake of Dormammu's thinking, though. /I/ am weak. On the contrary, I doubt he sees you as reliant on me. He sees me as reliant upon a /human/ to hold my own. Were we confronting one another here, I do not know how the battle would turn out. Ugly. In the Dark Dimension? I still hold the mantle. That gives me strength."

Well, Doom is Doom. "You have become too precious to me to simply discard. He knows this soon enough. Make what preparations you must, for my conquest of you comes not lightly at all, does it?"

Victor Von Doom has posed:
Victor ponders the matter, "There was a time, when the same might have been said of me. But I have... changed. Slowly, steadily. There is no point in conquest if it is a pyrrhic victory." He glances over towards Clea, "I still believe that humanity needs me, but destroying the world to rule it is not a mistake that I would seek to make. That is folly, and not the mark of a wise ruler in any event. No... at some point, Doom's genius and leadership will be recognized, or it will not be, but it cannot be forced. I learned that earlier in my life, the hard way. And even if I did, there was nothing stabilizing it for when I am gone. The recent civil war in my homeland taught me that."

He then smiles over at Clea, "You have, in fact, conquered my heart, Clea. I daresay you did that decades ago, when we first met, though I was too blind with rage to see it for what it was at that time. And while I have no ill intent towards your family... I will not hestiate to defend myself, or you, or my people from their predations. And communicate to them my resolve in terms they would be more than certain to understand."

A soft chuckle, as he continues, "But such talk seems a bit deep and morose for a morning with you, in the park. Though I could never tire of listening to your voice, my dear... I wonder, have you attended any musicals recently? I do believe the Pirates of Penzance is playing, and... well, I do have some connections to allow us to attend incognito."

Clea has posed:
"What would Richards say?" is not a question traipsing across Clea's lips. She doesn't know enough but she knows that much. Neither has the last decade illustrated a fundamental flaw in her logic, such as it is. Her thumb brushes the inner hem of her sleeve, pulled low to the knuckles and longer. "The world, in my estimation, is not black and white. A single monoculture of thought or action will not work for a race as diverse as humanity, one endowed by the immense capacity for imagining its own worlds. The conquest of imagination would destroy what makes humankind unique. All forms of it. I do not see limitations between those gifted and ungifted, those who practice magic or science and those who cannot. An incredibly hierarchical system brings with it great limits and losses, and to carve out whole sections like chunks of meat? It will not breed happiness, I assure you of that. Showing by example is the hardest path to walk. It is initially the least rewarded. So you see, you have drawn a wise conclusion."

Reed is probably spitting tacks somewhere, scowling at his reflection. "Stability, that's not necessarily the dream but the finest thing we can hope for. That separated a people as yours from mere nomads to the builders and creators they are today. Having stability enough for a third generation to survive, to transmit knowledge, and achieve the heights of creativity as you have today. Surely you have seen for yourself what achievements await you for strengthening, not weakening, those bonds."

She tilts her head a fraction and smiles to him, offering her arm to loop around his. "You can learn. The capacity for that is boundless. What you do with it will determine so much. As uncanny and strange as it may seem to some following your career." A roll of her shoulders follows, a supple motion reminding she has the balance of a cat if needed. "For your own sake, my dearest, have some intent towards them. Dormammu would fully conquer this dimension if he claims the throne -- indeed, he has tried. He full well sees a meal ripe for the picking, and I will never believe that his rapacious urge for power ends simply because he struck a bargain with someone. Assume the worst of him, and assume Umar only acts in her own self-interest. She hates the embodied, and you are nothing to her. /I/ am an abomination to her, and at least somewhat comprehensible. She made me, after all. But humanity? No. She'd enslave you as toys and burn you to naught the moment you disinterested her. I've witnessed it too often to know. Should she try, though, I will send her back to her people to see the justice denied them so long."

That said, her expression softens but a little. Though he's going to be horrified to see her response. "A musical? A radio? I have listened to them before. But you can hear it free if you listen, just have the receiver. I don't really know this musical act, the Pirates of Penzance?"

Victor Von Doom has posed:
Apparently their thoughts are running parallel, to a degree, as he mentions, suddenly, "Sometimes I think about Richards... Reed. We were... I would not say we were ever friends, but perhaps we could have been. Perhaps in a way we were, back then. Two brilliant minds bouncing ideas back and forth that could revolutionize the world..." A bit of a sigh, as he accepts the arm, placing his hand over hers as they walk along.

"I can but hope that mankind looks on my example, and the examples of certain other nations, as proper ways to save humanity from itself." Don't tell Erik or T'Challa, they'll never let Doom hear the end of it. "As far as your family is concerned, I believe there's the old addage, 'trust them as far as you can throw them'. Admittedly, that might be fairly far, given my armor's capabilities, but the point remains in that I would not trust them."

He then chuckles softly, "A live performance, actually. On a stage. Clearly, Clea, this is something that we must remedy as quickly as possible. And, well, the advantage of being Doom is that one never knows if one is a Doombot or not. Well, you do, but..." He actually grins at that, not minding using his reputation of 'always being a Doombot' to his advantage.

Clea has posed:
Now there probably /are/ people who recognize Doom. They certainly won't recognize her with the same ease. Phones come up, whispers follow, an unrelenting tide chasing the Latverian wherever he chooses to go. If, of course, they think they know who it is. Maybe it's the gait, the pride, the way he holds himself. There might be some who just /see/ something is off and that's good enough for them.

She gives no thought to them, leaning in slightly. The forgotten beignets are their companion, a bag carried with light ease. Professional but still affectionate, Clea brushes her shoulder to Doom's, rather than knocking both of them off the sidewalk. "History will be the foremost judge. That and the Internet. I have determined everything has a course of commentary online, and the cycles that produce such thoughts flip so fast, they often dismiss themselves." A sigh paints her lips. "It is a strange method of communication, and humanity might need to be saved from it. That much information comes sometimes with willful ignorance, and that never helps."

She glances at him through frosty lashes and, wordlessly, squeezes his hand. "This is not how I imagined things to be. I thought I would be silent on who I chose until such time my future was irrevocably established. At which point, I would be fighting for their life as well as my own with all the ferocity I could conjure. Not being forced to such a position, back to the wall and desperate, is refreshing. It gives me hope I can liberate my home from the insufferable cruelty and disdain shown to everyone there. I await that day when they stop groveling or showing such fear because they cannot be certain upsetting me is a death sentence. Or worse, always worse. Death was easy." She shakes her head again, pale blonde hair bouncing into place.

"Maybe they can hope for performances. We never had such things, not commonly. The masques and concerts were... dark. Faltine culture is not the same and I'm not sure Dormammu ever cared about them." Her lips tighten at that, though she cannot resist a faint laugh. "Are you taking me out then? Should I wear a large hat so no one recognizes me?"

Victor Von Doom has posed:
Victor is... well, perhaps the gait is recognizable, but his face obviously would not be. Though his posture and bearing is definitely noteworthy of something, perhaps social media would take note. He does, however, look a bit rueful at the mention of social media, "Something I have tried to make sure to limit, at least in my homeland. Fortunately, I do have some measure of control as it feels like it can be a drug. An opiate that Karl Marx never even dreamed of envisioning."

He then smiles over at Clea, returning the squeeze of her fingers as he says, "Well, I thought I would use a bit of illusion to make myself appear slightly different, to avoid suspicion. If you wished to wear a hat, that would be your choice, though I daresay you would look delightful in whatever it is you wished to wear." He pauses, then adds, "And yes, I am taking you out, should you wish to go." Because, as always, Doom would not force the issue.

Clea has posed:
"He was so ferociously unhappy. That man would know nothing of a good thing if it bit him. And I am sure many of the mystics /tried/ to bite him, if they were not already encouraging him. I think he was too proud of his beard and his schismatic take to everything." The little roll of her eyes is dangerous enough. "I do not have the fame of Mr. Marx or anyone else to concern myself about. Yet I am still mindful of the fact that anyone seeing me is bound to remember me a little better than some. I stand out even when I try not to." Tall, white-blonde hair, right. It all goes together. She nonetheless holds up the bag of beignets. "Before we go to a theatre space, let us sit down and eat these first. I will have to blow away any of the powder you get on you, but it would seem unlikely you face it, mm?"

This small preoccupation with offering a treat is a straightforward one, found by trying to avoid having her face melted off by one of her unruly subjects.

Victor Von Doom has posed:
Victor smiles, "Far be it from me to argue with the Queen of my Heart." He chuckles, "Marx had some salient points, but he lacked the clarity to seek a working solution afterwards. Saying what is wrong, that's the easy part. Finding a solution to fix it, that is where the difficulty lies." With that, he finds a park bench for the two to sit at, and devour some beignets before taking the rest of the day to explore the city.

There are definitely times where having Doombots standing in for you are a notorious benefit, after all...

Clea has posed:
"If he'd put more attention into his diet than his complaints, perhaps he might have found his arguments landing well." Clea does not further digress into that, meandering into the little community park with Doom guiding her and the world at her back.

"I am grateful that you spare such thoughts for me. These pirates, then. You shall have to warn me what to expect..."

Thus it goes. Normalcy where none exists.