Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In Which Utter Glory is Achieved


Sarah read a lot of comics - tons really. And there was a stock scene: A master jewel thief breaks through a huge high ceiling, into a laser beam full museum, to steal a gigantic gem.

And Sarah in her 'Mazing girl outfit, who was at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum's gem exhibit realised they left out something. Education! Sarah could see tons and tons interesting things about rocks and gemstones - how they formed, where they were found, and what they where made of.

(Mini triva Quiz: The plot of the Movie Star Trek 4 involved inventing Transparent aluminium - but what stone really is transparent aluminium? The answer at the end of this story...)

The musuem was just opening a major new expansion, and she had been invited to take a tour of the place by the police, in case something happened.

However, Sarah was slightly disapointed.

For one thing - relatively small ceilings. Second -  the gems weren't that big. Abstractly yes - big, but more in the demonstrate this is what an opal was, or this is what gold looked like in its natural state kind of way. The only really big thing was jade, which Sarah learned actually got pretty gigantic in the real world-but wasn't that expensive. It was disappointing.

It was perhaps a flaw of being a nerd. There was a certain kind of girlishness that was foreign to her. If any of these stones were to be put on a ring she would have oohed, ahhed, and sworn feality to whatever billionaire gave it to her. As if she had any idea of what a big rock actually looked like. These were, ahh, pretty stones. Stones that were worth more probabbly more then her condminiou-building, sure...but just pretty stones.

Then she saw a spectacular gem in the case she checking out. It shimmered in the light.

"Wow," said Sarah.  "I like this one. It's so big!"

"Its quartz," the museum director informed her.

"Is it expensive?" asked Sarah. The stone was about the size of a...a breadbasket, actually. Yes, Sarah mused, she'd had a breadbasket when she was a kid, and that was exactly the proper dimension for it.

"One this big? A couple of hundred bucks."

Huh?

"Gems are all about rarity - quartz is something like 1/4 of the Earth's mass."

Sarah didn't know that. Again: Education.

And then they left and went to see the dinosaurs. Sarah saw a Plateosaurus for the first time ever. The 8 year old in her was pretty pysched.

******

That was about four months ago. Now sarah was back in the museum - as Sarah. On the big central palladium (was that the right word?). Normally, she recalled, was a giant tyrannosaurus menacing a stegosaurus. Now...now was....

A gem case.

She was there to film an episode of the seventh district, where there is a jewel robbery. The plot line veered somehow into something to do with white slavery . The plots of the seventh district could do that.

But now...they where in the museum, which she learned could be rented for film shoots pretty cheap.

And she had the obligation of finding a really big looking stone.

Sarah of course had the mental problem with gems of - she was a super strong woman. She thought she could have taken a lump of coal and squeeze it into a diamond. Well that was the theory. In reality (which she would have learned if she paid more attention to the graphics and helpful logos) it would take a much bigger a piece of coal in order to produce a diamond she could see with a microscope - and just squeezing it with her hands wouldn't have been even enough pressure. She would have to use the more traditional method of having someone spend 3 months salary.

So, remembering some good advice, she went to a jewellery store got a quartz and glazed it dark purple. She figured it would look better than glass as it had slight imperfection in it. It was clever.

"Sure! This looks good, Jennings!" Todd Nelson, the director for this episode, praised her.

"I think it will photograph well," Sarah told him.

"This light..."

"It;s got a mysterious quality," said Sarah.

Todd shook his head.

He often shook his head. Nelson was a very head shakey director as the things he had to deal with were just okay.

Sarah didn't like him much, but the bueaty of dramatic television was that she she had to work with him maybe three times a year for a week. The way he kept shaking his head, made it worse.

The next problem with the gem case was itself - it was easy to make brakeaway glass. It's a delicious desert of sugar, that Sarah being Sarah sometimes ate after they used it. Don't judge her. She went to a freak show when she was a kid. It fascinated her...it...well, don't judge her.

But sugar glass didn't cut well with normal tools, which meant they had to use real glass and a real glass cutter, and a real guy suspended above it in a harness, which was a tricky stunt...but well, she wasn't a stunt woman. Actually, that whould have been a good career option now that she thought about it. She remembered reading a superman book where he went into that, but she never really thought about it.

So as they lowered a very nice actor down on a wire, Sarah sat off camera working on the stunts. she thought about going into the next hall to look at the Plateosaurus agian - but technically speaking she was working.

Until she felt something on the back of her neck.

It was, by her standards, light. Very light. No one was in danger. That was okay. But something was wrong...

Wrong, of course, was a touchy feely word. Sarah's ability to predict stuff was something she had trouble categorising. For a woman who in someway perhaps overdid her humanity it was something alien. The gift of man, the bible said, is the ability to know good from evil. She did. But one couldn't quite put it into words. It was a feeling - to explain would be like trying to describe blue.To translate it into thought, something her conscious mind could process, was not something even she could do very well. Sarah's power to know when something bad was happening, she thought in her more abstract moments, was probably greater then all her other powers put together. At some level, if she really tried, in her darkest moments...it may have been something similar to omnipotence, to know all and see all - to have the power of God himself.

Or perhaps she was sensing someone stealing a buck from a tip jar. It was hard to say.

Because as she organised materials for the next scene, she couldn't quite say.

But like say a pebble in her shoe, she couldn't ignore it eith.

She closed her eyes and to walked off. Whatever it was, it was close...maybe 50 feet.

And then she realized something was happening in the jewelery room.

Sarah always kept her costume bag nearby - which, in a world where the police pretty much no longer cared about things like search and seizure laws, she realised was going to be a problem someday. But she would cross that bridge when she came to it. Perhaps by jumping very high in the air to clear the river entirely.

She ran into a bathroom - which was very nicely kept by the way. Good thing about being a superheroine: You got see a lot of quality bathrooms. This one looked, like most of the museum, to have been built in 50s, and they really didn't make 'em like they used to. This one was built in the 50s and had quality tiles, fixtures - class act.

However, 20 seconds later - which was very fast for her - she was out of her clothes and into her costume, even counting a brief little panty dance she did.

And then she raced down the hallway to the jewlery room.

She knew abstractly that there was a very sophisticated security system in there - the kind that didn't include those flashy lasers that you see in movies, but real motion detectors, video surveillance, pressure plates on the floor, and the whole shebang. All that and a very thick vault door. In short, it was as an impressive bit of security.

Of course, Sarah could have stolen everything in the place in like two or three minutes, going through the vault like it was tissue paper and the like. But she wouldn't ever do something like that...good and evil and all that jazz. Superhuman ethics - stealing money required an economic system, stuff with the federal reserve, continuing resolutions of congress. That sort of thing. She focused instead on the what.

And so she entered into a now dark hall. Huh? She remembered the lighting being good here. Which was something that the movies (And TV show such as the one she was in effect working on) left out. They turned off the lights in real life.

However they should be on.

No windows or anything either.

And Sarah, who was incredibly strong, unspeakably tough, and uncannily fast, was suprisingly bad in darkness. Her actual senses where no better then anyone else's - worse really, as she was nearsighted.  At night she could get around well enough by moonlight - and streetlight. Los Angeles was a well lit city. But in here...with literally no light source...

It was times like this when she wished she had a utility belt with a flashlight. But whenever she thought of a utility belt the couple of times she needed it a year, she always forgot about it - and it was just more stuff to traipse around in the bag and...

Sigh.

Long term planning was never 'Mazing Girl's strong suit. Or Sarah's, really. But that was a longer issue - to be agonised over when drunk.

She did know something. There was only doorway out of this room, with not even an emergency exit, and she was standing in it.

she wandered in as far as the opening would allow to see.

And then the large bank door closed behind her, and she was in total darkness.

Which, in truth, she found kind of freaky.

She shook her head for a second.

She resisted the urge to walk in one direction until she saw light. That would damage something, and probably more than the value of whatever jewellery was being stolen, which was insured. But the museum probably hadn't upped it to include the "Scared Supergirl" clause, though.

Fear was useful.

However, being punchy wasn't. If she punched, say, a glass display or something, something would be badly hurt.

She closed her eyes. No real reason, she just did.

She extended her senses. This was a techniques she sometimes used. Her hearing, her sense of smell...but mostly her hearing.

There was a light brushing of something....

And she was hit - a punch to mid chest.

No real pain, but...

She reached forward and connected with something.

She didn't actually grab it, but felt something.

she wasn't alone.

Okay, this was something...

Someone, or thing, was in this room with her. It processed available information. It viewed her as a threat. It viewed her as a threat it could reasonably deal with - which given the amount of force to her sternum, was incorrect. It had control over the security system in the room.

These were good thoughts to have in the dark with something she could hear breathing.

The she heard a shriek. The sound of a bird, a hawk, in the night.

Huh?

She recognised that sound.

iI punched her agian, connecting hard with her stomach, a flurry of blows that did knock her back  tossed down less so from her lack of strengh more so then her lack of balance. She screamed almost despite herself at the fear, and the terror at the sence...

Wait a fucking second she had super powers

She got up he hit her.

She didn't sell it

Agian.

Nope

he extended his arm she could tell and she grabed it and flipped around so hard  he flew across the room into a sighn explaining with sedimentary rock was he crashed with a loud singe.

"Whats going on, Knighthawk?"

And the lights came on.

There, standing in front of her, was knighthawk, who was, after Sarah - and maybe the Flame, the number 2 hero in the city. Really, 'Mazing Girl was number one and two...

"The musuem asked me to test the security system" Knighthawk explained. "To see if there are risks...any holes."

Sarah nodded. Wasn't that a plot of a movie she saw when she was a kid? With a famous actor?

(What movie is sarah thinking about: See the end of the story to find out. Also was it any good? Spoiler: No)

 Sarah reached in and grabbed the hand of Knighthawk

"HEY!!!"

Sarah looked, pulling off the glove, or gauntlet - or what ever you would call the kind of built armour thing he had. Gauntlet would be perhaps a little too comicbook-like.

"What are you doing?" Knighthawk demanded.

"I remember your hand," said Sarah, as she looked over the well manicured fingers of Knighthawk.

"Well, your good for something," said Knighthawk. "You ruined my little excersie. I managed to take over the front of their security system, but I wasn't able to see if I could successfully escape through the manned exit of the building"

"Well, I think we successfully proved you couldn't," Sarah observed. "Because 'Mazing Girl is here!"

Knighthawk put his glove back on.

"This is expensive, and ruined. Corundum, lots of delicate mechanisms...not that someone like you would know anything about craft."

"'Mazing girl!!"

Just then, the vault door opened and a dozen guards rushed in.

"What's going on?" demanded the guard as he raised his gun.

"Check with the museum director," said Knighthawk. "Protocol 34."

"No need officer. Mazing girl is here!"

This was the moment that all her blood and sweat and tears made worthwhile. The moment when she realized she could be a comicbook superhero, a creature of a Saturday morning cartoon. It was a surpisingly rare moment, but a glorious one. Utterly glorious.  She looked not quite straight ahead.

"Check with your procedure," Knighthawk instructed. "You know how I hate having to deal with rent-a-cops."

One of the officers protested with hurt sounding "Hey!"

"No offence,," said Knighthawk.

"While you sort this out," said Sarah, hands on her hips, "'Mazing girl has a city to protect!" She jumped up  a couple of feet then troted out of the room as superheroically as she could.

As she left, Knighthawk turned to the guards.

"I really hate her," confessed Knighthawk. "I really, really, do. It's just like this thing now. This thing that eats my soul and..."

"She makes you look like an idiot in a bird mask."

"I just really, really, hate her."

********

Sarah made her way back to the set - or in this case, the central plaza of the museum - quietl, though in fact they weren't recording sound so it didn't matter. Which was good, as despite whatever commotion had happened they were still filming.

Sarah watched an actor, carefully lowered down, use a glass tube on a case and pull out the gem -  another actor playing a security guard came at him with a gun.. and there followed a brief kind of wire-fu fight. It was a fun scene, though it took about three hours to shoot for maybe 45 seconds of screen time...but it was fun.

As she watched the guards push Knighthawk roughly out walk up the stairs to the office of the museum director, Sarah tried not to laugh - not as glorious as that.

She was a stinker wasn't she?

*

Answer to trivia question 1: Rubies!! Rubies are transparent aluminum. Also Saphires, and rare padparadscha, which are all forms of corundum.

Answer to trivia Question 2: Sneakers!!! with Robert Redford!! and Dan Akryoid

Answer to trivia Question 2 pt 2: While the kind of look at early 90s computer security has some fun elements, and it does create a cinematic view of hacker culture(though dated), the thriller plotline isn't very good and Redford kind of sleepwalks through his performance.

Answer to trivia question 3: Yes she was a stinker.