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Museum Job

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Thursday, 6:23 PM
Rogue Adventurers’ Association, Somewhere Beneath Angel Falls.

“Hey, Asp?” Victoria called her employer, trying to get the Asian woman’s attention as she readied her bar for customers.


Asp’s robe and gown swished as she spun around, the glint of her swords visible beneath her ubiquitous green garments. “Something on your mind hon? I’ve got a few spare minutes.”


Victoria set her shades on the bar and held up a newspaper article from one of the Velcro pouches on her belt. “Have you heard anything about this ‘Sand Queen’ display they’re unveiling at the museum?”


“Not really,” Asp shrugged. “I’m not in that business anymore. Just let people do what they want here, not my business. Apart from it’s supposed to be a big deal, I haven’t been paying much attention. Just some old Egyptian priestess. A few jewels and whatnot. I think some art pieces.”


“Don’t know anything huh?” Victoria chuckled a bit.


“Not a thing,” Asp said flatly, examining a glass and scratching a bit of grime with a fingernail before sighing and setting it in the sink.


“Says the display is going to have the Sand Queen’s mummy, several pieces of pottery and gems, and something called the Eye of the Sand Queen.”


“And you want it?” Asp asked, barely paying attention.


“Damn right I do,” Victoria laughed. “Something with a name like that has -got- to be impressive.”


“Alright,” Asp sighed. “Just remember, you have a shift Saturday, so I’d prefer you not be in jail.”

Friday, 11:15 AM
Angel Falls Historical Museum, Angel Falls Downtown District.

Mid-day in the AF Historical Museum was a pretty relaxed affair. There just weren’t that many people visiting museums in the middle of weekdays. A few students were with tour groups, and a few families with children to young to be in school yet were visiting, but the large crowds weren’t around. That said, there were still no shortage of security guards.

Uniformed men and women stood off to the sides, periodically glancing in to rooms, making sure everyone was behaving themselves. Scattered around, a handful of historians, archaeologists and anthropologists examined various displays, taking notes of possible changes and updates, as well as simple additions to their personal notes.


No one paid much attention to the pigtailed 15 year old girl in a green t-shirt and tight jeans who looked through all of the Asian and African displays, marveling at everything from Zulu shields to Japanese Noh masks. She came to a cordoned off area with a plywood wall blocking the view.


“Hey, what’s this?” she asked an elderly woman with thick glasses and curly white hair.


“Hmm? Oh, that’s where they’re finishing the Sand Queen display for tomorrow,” the woman, a guide named Lorraine based on the nametag on her sweater, told the girl.


“Sand Queen?”


“Yes, an ancient Egyptian priestess. They found her tomb last year and are going to be unveiling the discoveries tomorrow. It’s quite exciting.

Normally, only royalty or nobility were placed in elaborate tombs. Before finding her tomb, no one had even heard of a ‘Sand Queen’. The relics on display are all studied as much as the doctors could. They’re still looking at hundreds of pictures,” she smiled. “It’s really quite amazing.”


“Oh, cool,” the girl agreed. “Guess I should have waited to come here until tomorrow,” she laughed a bit.


The girl soon headed on her way and resumed looking at the displays, ignoring the other patrons and seeming to just be enjoying herself as a slightly nerdy teenager might in such a place. No one paid her much attention as she slipped around a corner and pulled some thin bits of metal from under her wristwatch. She quickly worked the lock of a utility closet and slipped inside. Pulling yet more thin tools hidden on herself, she worked a ventilation duct cover loose and slipped inside, closing it behind herself.


“I hate this part,” she muttered, wrinkling her nose at the dust and suppressing a sneeze as she settled in for a long wait.

Friday, 10:03 PM
Angel Falls Historical Museum, Angel Falls Downtown District.

Satisfied that the museum was empty apart from a handful of guards, the girl slipped the duct cover she was hiding behind off and climbed out of her hiding place. She pressed a finger against her nose to avoid sneezing as she worked stiff joints loose.


“Okay…that was a crappy hiding place…,” she muttered to herself when her shoulder audibly cracked as she reached up to stretch.


Opening the door the barest crack to look out, she saw a guard walk out of the hall in to the European Feudal era wing, the glow of the flashlight disappearing around a corner. Satisfied she was relatively safe, she crept down the hall and made her way to the Egyptian wing.


Rather than a 15 year old youth, the woman who carefully snuck past the partitions around the Sand Queen exhibit seemed to be in her early twenties, with an athletic build, full pink lips, a brown ponytail, and a confidant bearing. Dressed in a blue tank top and cargo pants, all partially bandaged over, and with bindings on her hands, she looked like an adventurer rather than a thief.


“Let’s see what we have here…,” she whispered in a British accent. She carefully used her miniature picks and clamps to disable the alarm on a pedestal labeled for the Eye of the Sand Queen. Pulling the case lid off, she reached down to pick up the small grey stone sitting an a glass covered 3-inch square box before suddenly recoiling. “Dear God, it’s an actual fucking eye?!” she hissed.


Her blood suddenly ran cold as she heard a throat clear behind her. “I do hope you have a good reason for complaining about exhibits after hours,” a woman’s voice stated.


Turning, the would-be thief spun around and saw a statuesque woman in red, white and blue spandex, with a mask and cape staring at her, lips pursed. Her long black hair waved in the slight breeze from the air conditioning.


“So…uh…you would be Super-Milf or whatever you call yourself, huh?” the thief asked.


“Whatever indeed. I, and everyone else, calls me American Mom,” the heroine told her. “And you’re almost certainly under arrest, Whatever-you-call-yourself.”


“Th’ name is Croft dear,” the thief said.


American Mom didn’t seem amused. “I have a teenaged son and I’m not a moron. I know full well Lara Croft is a character from some game. Meaning that -isn’t- your name. It is an impressive disguise though. I’ve been in the museum all day and never saw you enter, so obviously you didn’t look like this.”


“And how would you know that?” ‘Lara’ asked.

“I’ve been at this a LOT longer than you likely have,” American Mom informed her, dangling a mask from the end of her finger. The thief immediately recognized the face of the guard she had thought she’d evaded dangling limp and hollow from the hero’s finger. The guard’s torn uniform was pooled around American Mom’s feet.


“Well, fuck me…”


“You really should quit the casual swearing. It’s terribly unbecoming dear.” A-M seemed to be somewhat amused by the thief’s reaction. “So, who’s really behind the face? You’re already caught. Lying more is just being insulting to us both.”


“Hmph, fine,” the faux-Lara frowned, reaching to her face and chest and gripping her skin and shirt. With a hard rip, her body seemed to tear apart in pieces which the thief promptly threw at American Mom, before turning to run.


The heroine sidestepped one of the ‘projectiles’ and caught the other in one hand. “Hold it! You know you can’t get away from me. You couldn’t outrun me in a plane let alone on foot.”


Victoria stopped in her tracks, the words seeming to physically grip her. She suddenly felt quite foolish; if A-M wanted to, she could have kicked her ass in two seconds. The heroine was doing her best to keep things from escalating, and Vic just kept pushing her like a little kid who wasn‘t getting her way.


“Alright,” she sighed, turning around. The twenty-two year old mutant-thief’s shapely body was clad in a short-sleeved and legged purple wetsuit with a belt covered in velcroed pouches around her waist. Her short blonde hair framed a young face with somewhat thin lips and overly wide-spaced eyes. She pulled a pair of shades from one of her pouches and put them on. “So…now what?”


“First, a question?” American Mom asked.

“What is this made of? I’ve been around a long time, and this doesn’t look like any artificial fiber or polymer I’ve seen.”


“You don’t want to know,” Victoria told her. Seeing American Mom frown, she sighed. “It’s my actual skin, okay. I shed it.”


Receiving an answer, American Mom had to inwardly admit the thief was right, she didn’t want to know that; there‘s no way that could be sanitary. Outwardly, her only response was to drop the right half of a skin and frown.

“Okay, that answers that… So, do you have a name? A -real- one.”


“Veil ma’am. Victoria Vale is my given. Don’t you have real criminals, like super villains and stuff to deal with?”


“Stealing priceless antiquities isn’t a crime then?”


“I wasn’t stealing it,” Victoria protested.


“Oh? Just polishing it for the audience tomorrow?”


“I was going to take it, yeah. But I was going to give it back.”


“A thief that gives stolen goods -back-?” American Mom asked, more than slightly skeptical.


“I was gonna keep it for a bit, but what do I need it for? No one would fence this stuff. I can’t show it off, and it doesn’t have a practical use. I give most of it back.”


“I…see?”


“Honestly, I do!” Victoria felt like she was standing in front of the Inquisition. “Once I’m done, I give a lot of stuff back. Just…not directly. The missing prize winning Welsh Corgi that turned up in a crate at animal control, with the owner’s name on the crate? The 8,000 dollar custom Rolex owned by that Korean CEO meeting with city officials that ended up in an envelope on a police station reception desk? The contents of the desk safe at the Opera House which were found in St. George’s Cathedral?”


“If I recall, the news said fifteen hundred dollars was unaccounted for,” American Mom pointed out.


“Well, duh. -Cash- is something I have a use for. Fun is fun, but I’m not gonna go away totally empty handed if there’s that easy of profit.”


American Mom rested her forehead against her fingertips. In well over half a century of heroics…this was among the weirdest cases she’d dealt with. A mutant thief who was apparently just an adrenaline junky.


“Alright, put the…eye…back and we might be able to reach an agreement here.”


“Put it back? Gladly. I didn’t -want- to steal a two thousand year old eyeball. That’s…seriously gross.” Victoria gingerly picked the mummified eye and its case off the floor and put it back on its stand.


“Victoria, miss Vale, I assume you know other unsavory types? The criminal element almost always has contacts in low places.”


“I know people, yeah. Why? You want a snitch or something? I do have some standards of behavior, hard as it is to believe.”


“I don’t want you ratting out every burglar, pot dealer or graffiti artist, if that’s what you mean. But if you get wind of someone crossing the line, doing something beyond what cops can handle, I want to know, and your abilities can probably get that information.”


“And what do -I- get out of this?”


“Not going to prison for one?” American Mom offered. “It might be a slight bending of the rules, but if it helps me stop a serious threat, it’s well worth it. If that’s not enough, then consider it protection. If I’m around, and you’re in to more than you can handle, and NOT breaking the law, I can offer some added muscle.”


Victoria pursed her lips and considered. It wasn’t a -bad- deal. Hardly great, but not bad. “Alright,” she agreed. “But there’s a catch. Don’t pin any of your info on me. Don’t come to my place, and for the love of god, don’t wear spandex if we have to meet. Dark glasses and a wig or whatever, fine, but I don’t want people seeing me with you.”


“Believe me, the feeling is quite mutual. And I’m not about to put a contact in danger if it’s at all avoidable.”


“Alright then,” Victoria nodded, reaching for another of her belt pouches. “Meet me here if you need information. My shifts usually start at 11. Find Asp, the owner, she’s hard to miss with her green hair. Ask her if I’m in, and she’ll tell you if I am, or when I’m scheduled.” She handed over a small business card to A-M.


“The Rogue Adventurers’ Association? I’ve never heard of it. Are…are these instructions for getting there? Sewers, rail lines, a cargo elevator?”


“Asp doesn’t want random people barging in and causing trouble. Anyway, I work there, and it’s neutral ground. No violence allowed on pain of…well, a lot of pain honestly. Asp is -very- strict on that. We have a deal?” Victoria offered a hand covered in a fingerless leather glove which American Mom accepted.


“Deal.”


“Oh, and copy what’s on that card to something else. My power made that, and I’ll degrade in a few hours.”


American Mom looked at the card in mild curiosity. “Noted…”


She really hoped her deal with the devil was wise. Greed could be controlled, exploited if needed. But this ‘Victoria Vale’ seemed more driven by impulse and excitement; a type that all to often got in trouble they couldn’t handle and dragged everyone else in with them. Well, at least now the girl might have some proper guidance.




Vicki Vale is owned by Sligking, who wrote this fun little piece. AM is of course, my flagship

Lara Croft (c) Eidos Games.
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© 2013 - 2020 johnnyharadrim
Comments20
anonymous's avatar
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leanne77's avatar
great work
LemonxChanh's avatar
LemonxChanhHobbyist Digital Artist
I saw Tom raider around here !
JGalley0's avatar
A classic American Mom pose if I ever saw one!
Soviet-Superwoman's avatar
Good stuff all around here!
johnnyharadrim's avatar
Thank you Olga!
Sligking's avatar
You did an amazing job bringing the story to life JH.
johnnyharadrim's avatar
My friend, couldn't have done it without you!
frokamen's avatar
great work
Darth-Ono's avatar
Great story and picture

johnnyharadrim's avatar
Thank you! Slig's a darned fine writer!
Natter45's avatar
Natter45Hobbyist Digital Artist
Somehow for some reason the way the picture looks it needs the video game health bars in my mind..
johnnyharadrim's avatar
Exactly! Fight!
Natter45's avatar
Natter45Hobbyist Digital Artist
Heh.. it does doesn't it.
johnnyharadrim's avatar

Good one! Although AM's moves would be limited to "Maternal Voice", stern lecture, finger wagging and superbreath ;p

She very rarely employs her super strength, speed and fighting moves against ordinary human foes.

Sligking's avatar
Ordinary?  Victoria is insulted!
johnnyharadrim's avatar
An extraordinary young lady :)
Natter45's avatar
Natter45Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh dear..
Knight3000's avatar
Knight3000Hobbyist Digital Artist
Good story
anonymous's avatar
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