Friday, August 23, 2013

Vs. Lex Luthor


"Seventh District" was filmed in a soundstage in Koreatown that was the mainly off street. You wouldn't notice it if you didn't know it was there. It didn't have any signs, no outward descript.  It was kind of like Shield headquarters in the old comics, if Shield headquarters was in a shifty neighborhood in an old building with lots of movie trucks parked in the back.

It was also, depending on the time of day she was to be on set, about an hour from her condo in El Segundo. But she liked living on the beach. Okay, her place was actually about a mile from the beach. And that mile had a large patch of land that was owned by an oil company. And El Segundo, because of oil interests, a bluff, and LAX, had a pretty shitty beach. But still: There was a principal somewhere.

It was a Friday morning, she found herself in traffic on the 405 - thankfully she had planned for it time wise. She was listening to a podcast in which a comedian interviewed another comedian. Normally she got into it, but it turned very quickly, as they often did, into a ‘who you met on the way up’, and exhaustive lists of comedy clubs. At first she thought it was kind of interesting listening to interviews with comedians that weren't just telling jokes. Then she realized that they still had to be entertaining about it. Comedy world: a little chummy.

Ahh, well...she turned to terrestrial radio. That could be fun and Yelly.

However, as she turned to a radio station that promised to give her the world in 22 minutes, and trafic and weather on the fives (where she learned the traffic continued on the 10 freeway).

She heard: "We are just getting word of a series of what appears to be co-ordinated robberies on banks and jewellery stores have just taken place at five locations in Downtown, West Hollywood, and Irvine, this morning. No injuries have been reported, but groups of suspects have managed to rob..."

Sarah paused. The thought came to her head. MAZING GIRL TO THE RESCUE!!!

However, she was stuck in traffic. She could get off the freeway, but that would take, like, 10 minutes in this traffic...just to do that. And the robberies were reported in the past tense. And no one was injured. She shrugged. Her gut told her that, yeah, this probably was a problem, and that things were about her, but well...only so much she could do this exact minute.

She adjusted her ipod and found a podcast all about home winemaking that sounded like fun.


******

She followed the story for the rest of the day as she could while working mainly on building a canister of used deodorant that was a plot point in next weeks show. You couldn't just go to the store, and the script was fairly specific about it. A lot of design went into it - or was blatantly stolen from an AXE brand deodorant can she got.

But the robberies where all coordinated to go off at the same time, using near identical MO’s, before the stores were open - and it looked like they had managed to claim about 300k in jewellery and cash. In one case the police had reached the scene, but they had escaped. All of the robbers had good equipment seemed highly trained.

Ehhh...these kind of places were insured to one inch of their lives, so it wasn't too big a loss, and no one was hurt so Sarah first impulse was to kind of shrug it off. Her powers gave her a vague sense of when people were in trouble, and it hadn't gone off. So, all was well...

******

That night - well actually, around sunset – ‘Mazing Girl jumped over to a rooftop and observed one of the banks. It was a semi detached two-story structure in West Hollywood with large glass windows...it looked a lot like a fucking bank. It even appeared to be open, as if nothing was going on which probably made sense. If you’re not going to get any interest at your bank these days, good opening hours are a courtesy.

She watched it for few moments lost in thought. She turned her head and saw someone standing next to her.

"These little chats we have," said Knighthawk, "are they getting tiresome for you as well?”

"Look, I can't be in six places at once."

"Were you at the store?" asked Knighthawk.

"In traffic."

"Oh great," Knighthawk remarked. "When you first appeared some people told me, you know, ‘Maybe you should move. San Francisco could use your services...someplace else’. LA was in such good hands."

‘Mazing Girl shook her head. "Look...can't we just team up here?  Pool our resources? Shit like that? Or are you just going to lecture me? You weren't there either."

Knighthawk sighed. "If I find something...I'll be in touch."

‘Mazing girl sighed. And she turned her head sideways. It looked like a glance away to see something on the street - but really it was to look away so he could disappear and the conversation would end. It was one of the good things about dealing with superheros. Goodbyes were crap sometimes in real life.

Sarah turned to go, walking across the rooftop...

And right into The flame.

"heard your conservation. don’t mean to pry."

Sarah looked down at the shorter heroine that continued to look like something Rob Zombie would put, for atmosphere, in one of his videos. An evil looking 12 year old that would burn your eyes out.

"Jesus," said Sarah.

"take this."

The little girl (or was she 30?) had something in her hand. It was strange because a second ago she swore she had nothing at all. Except, that is, except the night. But, yeah, that was being poetic. Flame wasn't holding anything earlier...

It was a grey manila folder. Sarah took it, and looked at it in the edge of darkness.

"Do you have like access to the FBI?" asked ‘Mazing Girl, "And the NSA?"

The Flame looked up and smiled. "Very little in this city happens that I do not know of, almost always before they do. But then they learn, and the slowly gather...like the limited small reptile minds they are."

Actually, “smiled” may have been the wrong word. It was accurate, but didn't convey the correct connotations. Sarah shook her head.

"in any case, the location and identity of the robbers is beyond obvious. and in a few days the authorities will figure out what they already know, poor devils, but they will know what they know...the robbers have infiltrated the fbi, which is also obvious...but probably not to the fbi. well, you can see the mess we’re in."

"No I can’t," said ‘Mazing. "I just glanced at a NSA letterhead."

And The Flame smiled.

"well, read the memo. this is the work of one man. a very dangerous man. don't know his real name. he’s rented an office downtown, under a corporation. he’s the key.”

"Do you want to team up and stop him?"

"he’s also rented a warehouse in southpark. like the robberies, you attack one; the other vanishes into the night. without it you couldn't convict him. without him it’s pointless."
Sarah nodded.

"you take him. several of his conversations suggest he’s obsessed with you, in some fashion. why not give him what he wants? and i am better, i suspect, with frightening large groups of men to doubt their sanity and their lives."

"You probably went to school for it," said ‘Mazing.

"i went to yale."

And Sarah laughed out loud.

"So where is this place?"

"again, in the memo. last page: conclusions."

"This must 50 pages long, he robbed the banks this morning, how quickly did you do this?"

The Flame turned and disappeared into the mist. "Let’s aim for 9:45? Don't enter the building before then."

Sarah smiled. Sometimes when she was with The Flame, she worried about her brain exploding. Sometimes she smiled. She turned and walked into Knighthawk.

"Um, I was going to tell you.”

Knighthawk laughed "I've been doing this for longer then you have, and will give you one piece of advice."

"Really. Just one?"

"She’s never quite on the level. There’s an angle you don't know about. She’s brilliant, but.... you do it. If what I heard was right, threes a crowd here. You do it."

"Your great for encouragement," said Sarah.

"I respect her. You..."

And Sarah turned her head again.

*********

The office turned out to be in the old gas company building, a gorgeous building built into a fountain - literally built in as a modernist glass expanse. She had driven buy it dozens of times in LA, but never been inside. It was one of the good parts of being a superhero. The Bradbury Building, the Parker Center - she had the excuse to break into a lot of nice buildings.

However, she decided not to break in. She went to her car and pulled out a trench coat from the trunk - it was one of her utility items. Wearing it she looked like a woman walking into an office at 9:45 PM wearing a baggy trench coat. That wasn't the least suspicious...
 
However...as she walked in, past a guard who seemed oblivious, it seemed to have worked. She entered into an elevator going up to the 9th floor...and fixed her mask back in place. She left her jacket on her shoulder...it would look cool dropping it off as she walked out the elevator.

Not cool for anyone in particular, but cool.

And as the elevator dinged and she walked out, the trench coat hit the floor. Yeah....she did look cool.

You know what I’m talking about.

She walked calmly down a hallway in a non-descript office building - and kicked open a door.

Inside was an empty secretaries office - I mean, literally empty. There wasn't a lick of furniture in it. Beyond it, Sarah saw an empty doorway to a room with a large glass window overlooking the city. A large wooden desk of beautiful construction, a cold concrete floor, two chairs, and a man in a suit.

A very nice suit with a very bald head.

"Good evening," He said. "I've been waiting for you."

"Oh?" queried ‘Mazing Girl. She hated when people said that. Now, it could have been a lie, but it was disturbing thing to hear.

"My name...is Lex Luthor"

Huh?

Lex Luthor. He was one of those comicbook characters who you think appeared fully formed from the outset, but not really. He fought superman in, like, the late 40s: first as a generic hairy foreign spy, then as a mad scientist; then as kind of bald power-mad fiend with body armor; then as a corporate executive; then pretending to be his own son; then as president; then a power-mad fiend in body armour... She thought that there was even a spot where Luthor became messiah or something. All of this stuff, it should be noted, Sarah remembered in like 5 seconds. Great use of her brain.

"You’re not Lex Luthor, its a fictional character created by.....

"Oooh! I have the same name as a fictional villain. Well...I am the real one and oooooooooooooooh! Like I care about a cease and desist letter. Ooooh! Copyright infringment...oooooooooh!! Civil lawsuit. I just robbed half a million dollars and plan to rob the Federal Reserve next week.....oooooooooooooooh, this is such a big issue."

"Well, you don't have to be a dick about it,"  ‘Mazing Girl told him.

"Well, I do get to be a dick about it, I am Lex fucking Luthor, I can do what the fuck I want."  

‘Mazing Girl shrugged and covered her eyes. Other shoe...other shoe...

"Jigs up, can we make this simple? No? You’ve got a master plan. You got something really evil thing do," said ‘Mazing Girl. "And please note I don't normally describe people as evil, as that is rhetorically lazy, but the entire setup here, yahadaha yadahah."

"You talk a big game. But you know by now I am a genius. Every step was to bring you here. Right here. And once you’re gone I will loot Los Angeles clean and destroy your precious city...for money: yes. But mainly because you care about it."

"And? Next we have..?"

"Mazing girl...I have something very special for you. Something very special indeed."

He went into the desk with slow movements - as if he was daring her to stop him. But she stood still. He found a small container about the size of a snuffbox clearly made of metal and...

He opened it. Inside was a small shiny green rock in a bed of velvet.

"Kryptonite, my dear ‘Mazing Girl. Kryptonite!"

‘Mazing Girl paused. She looked at the stone.

Then stoped, and looked at it some more. Really? There had to be a trick here.

"Ahhhh..?"

"It took some doing," gloated Luthor. “But...."

"Kryptonite doesn't exist. It was created for the radio show because the actor who played superman wanted to take a vacation."

Wow...she knew a lot.

"It’s radioactive krypton."

"1. Krypton is a noble gas...which means it’s a gas at room temperature. 2. As a noble gas its variance shield is complete and by definition it can't be radioactive, as its particle mass is always neutral."   

(Note: This wasn't actually true, but much of Sarah’s high school chemistry was obviously replaced with comic book trivia)

Sarah looked at the stone again. She tried to place it. Some type of jade - it was clearly a real rock but...

"Maybe this takes longer than in the comics," mused Luthor.

"All day I thought: ‘Ooh god!” I was scared of the criminal mastermind - but God! Kryptonite? Are you fucking serious? My weakness is not kryptonite. That’s just stupid...and made up. Yes, I kind of have the powers of superman, but not the silly shit."

Lex Luthor looked at his stone, and then at her.

"Maybe your just pretending.”

‘Mazing Girl picked up the stone. For a second, she thought about eating it. But thought that might have been a bad idea. Kryptonite poisoning would be a bad idea. Instead she crumbled it. It would have been nice to say into dust, but really it was just turned into very fine pebbles.

Lex paused. "So...."
  
"Do you want to be taken to jail out of the window, or through the door?" asked ‘Mazing Girl. “I'll leave it to you."

Mazing Girl grabbed him, lifting him up by the scruff of his suit in one hand. She didn't do this for very long, as it tended to rip things, but it was a cool visual.

"What is your weakness, by the way?” Lex asked.

"I can't stand pure salt water," offered Sarah "It’s like acid to me."

Lex paused...and was quiet the rest of the trip to the police station. He had the kind of pause that suggested his pop culture frame of reference wasn't good enough to be a real supervillain.

******

As it was, The Flame managed to capture 3 men and retrieve large quantities of jewelles, and money - as well as a bunch of bank robbing equipment. The rest of the robbers and money were in the mist - probably a good deal of them permanently.

Still, not a bad night. “Luthor” was in jail on 20 million dollars bond - still no real name, or was the poor bastard really a poor bastard?  It gave her a moments pity for him. 

Still...it had been a successful evening.

So, to celebrate the next day she went to the beach.

It was a good chance to wear that blue bathing suit she had bought about, oh...a year ago. It did, for whatever reason, make her arms look cool.

But the water was kind of cold. Sitting outdoors it the kind of weather where it didn't quite sunburn, but kind of did; and she didn't have a good book; and the meal made her loggy. And she was by herself so she couldn't throw Frisbees to anyone.

And worse yet was the thought in the back of her mind – there’s always an angle with The Flame...always a second layer. What was the purpose of what she did? Was something going to happen with her, something that rocked her to her very core?

Damm that Knighthawk.

Ahh... She went home after about an hour. 


ELSEWHERE...

Deca sat in his... lair, that was the right word...and watched the video from inside Luthor’s office for the dozenth time.  He had needed an emergency cash injection and the entire episode had pizzazz. He laughed.

"YOU ARE SO PREDICTABLE, FLAME, LEADING HER RIGHT....MY GOD IS THAT A REFERENCE TO ALIEN NATION?"

he paused.

"SO THAT’S YOUR SECRET ‘MAZING GIRL....YOUR A NERD!"

And he laughed some more. Laughing was free. The next part would cost a lot of money. 

He especially guffawed when he saw the 25 bodies of the robbers he killed after today’s heist on the floor.