For years now Persephone Gray, the metahuman thief known as Portrait, had been trying to get her criminal record erased. She had lost count of the repentant visits she had made to various governments and museums to this end. Every day she had to look in the mirror and tell herself that she was going to turn her life around (that’s what she told herself…actually she looked in the mirror because she looked fabulous and knew it). She was going to take charge and be a model citizen. A law-abiding artist who didn’t have to skip out on her own shows when the fuzz showed up. She was gonna do it. Yep.
Now, Portrait held a folder from the United States government containing official exoneration of all her past crimes, as well as those from dozens of other countries. She flipped through the papers, her eyes glassy. This was everything she had wanted and…it really sucked. Portrait threw the folder over her shoulder, the papers scattering all over the floor. The hell with that, clean slates were boring. She was an ARTIST. A clean slate was just an invitation for a scribble-fest. She was going to paint the town red, make the authorities go blue in the face, turn the other wanna-be art thieves green with envy…no one would accuse Portrait of being cowardly, having a yellow belly.
Her hands clasped behind her back, Portrait looked out the window of her little apartment in Paris. Her eyes were fixed on the horizon, just beyond which lay the Louvre. She grinned widely, bearing mother-of-pearl teeth. She was going to make her return in STYLE! Something really flashy. A bit of panache. Make the various governments instantly regret granting her amnesty. A plan was forming. A sinister plan. Carefully peeking down the hall to make sure her landlady wasn’t around to hear, Portrait laughed evilly.
The next day, as the sun gradually ascended towards noon, Portrait strolled over towards the Louvre. She was wearing a ripped tank top and shorts, and basically looked like any tourist. She wandered around the museum for a while, not really paying attention to any of the exhibits (she had seen them all hundreds of time before after all…and had been IN many of them). Slowly, she made her way towards the room where the Mona Lisa was kept, careful not to make eye contact with any of the security guards.
As usual, it was packed with tourists, but that was okay. This way Portrait could have an audience for her little show. She coughed once to get attention, and then louder when no one looked. That didn’t work either. “HEY! OVER HERE! FREE ART!” she yelled. That worked. As people turned at the universally interesting word ‘free’, Portrait tore off her tank and shorts to reveal her costume. “PATRONS OF THE ARTS! BEWARE! FOR THE MUSE OF THIEVES IS HERE!” She twirled a paintbrush dramatically. “Wait…how do you have more clothing on now than you were wearing before?” a tourist asked. Portrait made a shushing motion. “That’s not important. What is important is that I AM GOING TO STEAL THE MONA LISA, AND THERE IS NOTHING ANY OF YOU CAN DO TO STOP ME!”
Portrait vaulted over the nearest tourist, kicking in the glass surrounding the famous work of art. Snatching it from the wall, she threw up a canvas she had in one of her magic belt pockets, and then leapt into a painting on the side wall of the room.
The canvas was a picture of Portrait as the Mona Lisa. It constantly repeated a message: “I’m back b!tches! And here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to steal The Son of Man, Picasso’s self-portrait, Saturn Eating His Son, The Night Watch, and the Birth of Venus, in THAT ORDER. I’d give a list of times, but I have limited recording time. Nyah nyah, you can’t catch me!”
Portrait tumbled out of the Painted World into one of her safe houses. She leaned the Mona Lisa against the wall, a little less carefully than art historians might have liked. This was great. Why on Earth had she ever even thought of reforming? Grinning, she mentally searched the Painted World to figure out where she was headed next: Montreal!
Canada, more like Can’t Catch Up! Except it would take a little while for the news to spread, and it would be no fun to perform the greatest heist in art history without anyone knowing. Shrugging, Portrait sat down next to the Mona Lisa and began tracking her tag on Twitter. She would have KILLED for a smartphone back in 1920.