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Paragon 03


Paragon vs. Plastica

by Cobalt Jade (

Chapter 3: Welcome to the Dollhouse

Plastica spread the papers over the carpeted floor of Paula Jean's
condo. They controlled the formation of a new mannequin production company
for which she would be the chief owner, stockholder, and CEO.

*Plastic Fantastic,* she decided. That would be its name.


Lori took her seat at the gleaming black table where the members of Team
Paragon gave their weekly reports. They met in the "empty" loft next door
to Cinnabar's and Lori's own, which served as the team's headquarters.
Thick, steel-reinforced walls made it nearly impenetrable. It had to be,
as it housed scientific equipment, vehicles, records, and the teams'
increasingly sophisticated surveillance and computer equipment. It hadn't
been breached... yet, but then, most criminals wouldn't be so bold. They,
along with superheroes, operated in the gray area between the mundane world
of law and order and the fantastic realm of science fiction and fantasy,
and a code of mutual silence between the two ensured only heavily edited
adventures ever made the press.

Blue Cymbidium -- real name Noelani Walker -- took her seat first. She
was the most beautiful woman Lori had ever seen: half-black, half Hawaiian,
with honey-tan skin and long black hair. Her petite build belied her
martial arts skills, and she was also an accomplished markswoman. She
still wore her superhero costume, which told Lori she'd come in off the
job. She greeted everyone with a cheerful hello and took her seat at the
gleaming oval table.

Next in was Allison, White Rose, who'd come from the gym. She had been
trying to build her muscle mass all summer. Allison didn't really need to,
as her telepathic and telekinetic powers -- as well as the aid of her
magical winged lion, Nemiah -- more than made up for her lack of physical
strength, but she considered it a challenge to prove herself as strong as
the others. She took a swig from her squeeze bottle, taking a seat to
Lori's left.

Last in was Chrystar. Gina was a former dancer before becoming a makeup
artist and had come directly from the set. She wore comfortable clothes
for working, jeans, T-shirts and sneakers, and plunked her kit down on the
table in front of her. "I've got to run after this meeting, kids," she
announced. "Mr. Schwartzenegger is still half an android!" This brought
howls of laughter from everyone around the table.

Lori caught Cinnabar's eye. The meeting was due to begin fifteen
minutes ago, yet Shana was still missing. Only she and Lori knew the
superheroine hadn't called in.

"Let's begin shall we?" Cinnabar said briskly.

The senior crimefighter gave her overview for the week, using an
overhead projector to go over schedules and show maps and other graphics.
Since the team had stopped the French terrorists two months ago (working in
conjunction with a French superhero known as Mirage Fanstastique) things
had been quiet, both in LA and around the world. The team used breathers
like this to "help clean up our own backyards," in Cinnabar's words, which
meant foiling petty robberies, negotiating disputes, and preventing natural
disasters. Allison had saved some campers from a mudslide in the mountains
and gone back to shore up the cliff so it wouldn't endanger others.
Noelani continued her work with LA gangs, foiling several drive-bys and
helping some members to redirect their lives. Gina had been too busy with
her latest movie to do anything, though she lent her muscle power to
Noelani once or twice. Lori -- as Arctica -- had foiled several robberies
on the docks down by Long Beach, where a criminal gang was obviously
operating. She'd wanted to investigate further, but was hampered because
of her class schedule.

"Can you help her, Allison?" Cinnabar said.

"Sure," Allison said. "Let's get together after the meeting, OK?"

After the individual reports had ended Cinnabar closed the meeting with
news of probable trouble ahead. A trio of female assassins known as the
Birds of Paradise had been reported on the West Coast. ALOSH -- the
American League of Superheroes -- suspected they might seek employment in
the California movie industry to gain them contacts to take out their
targets. She flashed their pictures on the screen. "All of you, keep your
eyes open," she said.

Then they tore into the pizzas Lori ordered delivered earlier.

Lori pulled Cinnabar aside as she gathered up her transparencies.
"Sorry, Cinn, but I have to talk to you in private," she whispered.

"What is it?" the older crimefighter said. Noelani was exotic, but
Cinnabar was no less stunning. She had long, curly Pre-Raphaelite hair,
red-brown as a fox's hide, and steel-blue eyes. Her gaze were commanding
and direct. She was the most experienced of the team, with over twelve
years in the business, and the stress showed itself in small lines at the
corners of her eyes and mouth.

Lori glanced back at the others, who were cracking jokes about their
work. "I went to Sexateria today."

"That?" Cinnabar said with a surprised laugh. "There's nothing wrong
with a little healthy exploration. After all you're twenty-two."

"No," Lori said fiercely. "I went into the clothing department and
there was a mannequin there...I swear it looked like Shana. *Was,/i>
Shana, it looked that real."

Cinnabar stiffened. She knew firsthand the strange predicaments that
befell costumed crimefighters. "Are you sure?"

"I didn't get to look at the face for long. But... it was so real,
Cinn. And the expression so... so trapped. I don't know." She ran her
hand through her ash-blonde hair. "Maybe it was only a mannequin. They're
doing such advanced things today with casting and modeling, new types of
plastics. It could have been my imagination working overtime."

"Your concerns are legitimate," Cinnabar whispered. "We'll check it out
tomorrow, okay? When the others have left we'll check up on her apartment
too. She may have left some computer files; she may have been on to
something. But let's hope she wasn't, that she's there in bed with some
man or watching TV."

Lori nodded. Cinnabar's hand squeezed her shoulder.


They arrived at Shana's Van Nuys apartment around midnight. The lights
were off. Cinnabar used her extra key to gain access; she kept duplicates
for all the members of Team Paragon. Inside it was clear the superheroine
had not been there for a few days. Plants were wilting and her cat starving, meowing and wrapping himself around their ankles. Lori fed him
some crunchies in a bowl while Cinnabar did a once-over of the area,
looking for signs of fowl play. She encouraged her teammates to keep
records of phone calls and hunches so they could be traced if things went
wrong, but Lori knew the advice was often impossible to follow in the heat
of the chase. Shana hadn't liked it. "What if someone breaks in, and uses
it to trace us?" she'd said. Cinnabar couldn't argue with that.

Lori looked over the papers on Shana's desk: a catalog for Sexateria and
a stockholder's report, plus computer printouts of press releases. She
leafed through the report. One name and face had been circled: Paula Jean
Estes, Vice President of Merchandising. Paula Jean was stylish but not too
flashy, in her mid-thirties maybe, with a perky smile and light brown hair
she wore in a Hillary Clinton sweep. Modest pearl earrings flashed from
her earlobes.

"Nothing," Cinnabar said, coming back to her. "Whatever happened to
Shana, it didn't happen here."

"Look at this." Lori showed her the circled picture. "There has to be a

"Hmm." Cinnabar said. "I'd better check her last session." She turned
on Shana's computer, using the passwords she had memorized. All team
members were computerized, with network links back to the loft and the West
Coast ALOSH headquarters. In addition, they all had a program that traced
computer activity -- a snapshot of every session in effect -- so the lines
of their research and reasoning could be traced.

Lori watched as Cinnabar keyed into the program, tracing the session
that Shana must have had. "Uh-oh," she said. "Looks like Plastica's

"Oh no," Lori said.

"Yeah, we thought she joined the great hereafter when that oil rig went
kablooie last year. But apparently not. These records say she slipped
back into the country six months ago under her old name, Dr. Polly Mehr."
She pointed at the screen. "And that name, through several phony trusts,
bought the old Bondmadchen mannequin factory three weeks ago." She narrowed
her eyes at Paula Jean Estes' sweetly dimpled face. "Hmmm...I wonder if
those two are connected?"

"She may even be Paula Jean Estes. She's a master of disguise,
remember?" Lori said darkly.

"I put that beyond Plastica's talents," Cinnabar said. "She's simply
too tacky to imitate an executive. Still, it wouldn't hurt to
investigate... if you're up to it."

"Hell, I'm up to it!" Lori said. "Anything to find out what happened to

"The day after tomorrow, then. After all, you have your classes."

Lori groaned.


Aubrey Cantrell squinted at the address in her hand. 67900 La Cienega.
Not the most auspicious location for a modeling agency. Yet there it was:
Plastic Fantastic. What an odd name.

She hoisted her portfolio and crossed the busy street. The agency said
to take a cab or the bus, which was ridiculous, as there looked to be
plenty of parking space around. But any hoops they wanted her to jump,
hey, she'd jump them. It was hard enough to get a break in this business.

She'd arrived in town only three months, supporting herself with
waitressing and piecemeal modeling jobs while waiting for her big break.
The big agencies didn't want her, so she'd had to settle for smaller gigs
like this one. She'd immediately glommed on to the ad in Variety:
BEGINNERS WELCOME. The agency asked for a head shot, a full-body lingerie
or bathing suit shot, and a brief personal history. That was odd, but this
LA. Maybe they had an astrologer on staff or something.

They also wanted the material Fed-Expressed. A big bite out of her
budget, but, as the ad said, they needed models immediately. It must have
been true, because within hours she'd gotten the call.

She walked in and announced herself to the receptionist. "Hi, I'm
Aubrey Cantrell. I'm here for my test shoot."

"Oh yes," the receptionist said, leafing through an appointment book.
She was a very pretty young black woman with full lips and long, soft
woolly hair that looked like a llama pelt. "Why don't you have a seat.
We've been shooting girls all day and we're running a little late. There's
coffee and tea on the table if you're interested."

"Thank you," Aubrey said. She always tried to be polite, though it was
likely a mere receptionist couldn't influence the agency director's
decision. The other would-be models regarded her with frosty glances.
Lori was used to it. She called it the LA glower, for if she was picked,
there would be one less slot for the rest of them. The more experienced
ones, who were used to waiting in places like this, simply looked

Aubrey poured herself a cup of coffee and took her seat. There were a
lot of beautiful women here. Blondes, brunettes, blacks and Hispanics,
even a breathtaking chinese girl. She saw the Kate Moss look repeated ad
infinitum, a few vampish Louise Brooks types, and a Tyra Banks imitator.
She herself was a little of a throwback, a Cindy Crawford girl -- city
sophistication with down-home charm, as an agent once tried to describe

She crossed her long legs and swept back her long honey-blonde hair --
emboldened lately with eighty-dollar streaks -- and waited. The chinese girl went in and came out, then a suave-looking girl with short black hair,
then it was her turn.

"Hi, I'm Iza, Ms. Nyll's assistant," said a short, bouncy girl with
smooth dark hair, dressed as bizarrely as a modeling agency's assistant
could in Los Angeles. "Come with me."

Portfolio nervously clutched in one hand, Aubrey followed the girl through a short hall into a large studio complete with lights and camera equipment. She noticed another studio through an ajar door, but this an
assistant closed before her eyes could linger. Iza quickly directed her
into the empty one. "This is Aubrey Cantrell," she said, introducing
Aubrey to a tall woman who sat in a folding metal chair.

"How do you do," the woman said, rising to shake Aubrey's hand. "I'm Vi
-- Vivian -- Nyll."

Aubrey tried to smile warmly, but the woman's grip disoriented her. It
was too strong for her build and seemed... plastic, somehow, the skin too
smooth and evenly textured. Vi Nyll was a looker though. She could be a
supermodel herself, tall and slim with slender hips, long shapely legs, and
a perfectly proportioned oval face with high cheekbones and soft, full
lips. She wore an expensive silk suit with very high heels and had short
chin length hair so red it was almost magenta. "As you know, Aubrey, we're
putting together a catalog at the very last minute for a new sportswear
company and time is of the essence, so I apologize for this rather rushed
interview and photoshoot. You've brought your portfolio?" Aubrey nodded.
"Great. Let's go through the pictures."

They sat down at a folding table and more metal chairs so Vi and her
assistant could look while the photographer tooled with his lights. The
book contained all the evidence of Aubrey's career up to that point in
time. She watched nervously as Vi quickly flipped it through. Every once
in a while Vi would make some comment or point her finger saying, "Yes,
that," and her assistant would agree. There seemed to be no pattern to
what they found pleasing.

As they flipped Vi spoke with her in a warm, convivial tone that had a
trace of a southern accent. "You say you live alone in LA, right?"

"That's right."

"No boyfriend? Close friends?"

Aubrey swallowed. "Well, I'm new in town..."

"Do you have another job?"

"No, just temp ones. I ended the last one two days ago."

Vi closed the portfolio and looked up at her. "You've got a wonderful
portfolio, Aubrey, and experience besides. I'd like to get some shots of
you now, prelims, to get an idea of how you pose. Your street clothes will
be fine."

Aubrey suspected they'd ask her to pose, so she had fussed for hours
over her hair and makeup, finally deciding on a hip downtown look: short
skirt, zip-up jacket, tall black boots. She stood awkwardly in front of a
roll of white paper. "Hi, I'm Tiger," the young, obviously gay,
photographer told her. "Just relax now. I'm going to shoot a few rolls."
He adjusted the lights, and began to shoot, telling her what poses to take
in the model-ese she was used to.

Posing was still a novelty as she was so new to the field, but she was
not so new that she didn't know what to do. So she sat on the little stool
he provided, stalked, strutted, swept her hair up in her arms, bent,
arched, jumped. Vi and Iza watched her like wolves. There was something
weird about their intensity. Aubrey almost felt she wasn't a human being
to them; more like a commodity, like a new car. But she'd grown used to
that look.

After five minutes Vi called a halt. "You pose well, Aubrey. Now we'd
like to see you in a swimsuit shot. What size do you wear?"

Aubrey smiled, ecstatic at the hurdles she'd passed so far. "Seven
bottom and top."

"Here you go," Iza said, handing her a new white bikini still wrapped in
a plastic envelope. "Follow me to the shower."

"I have to shower?" Aubrey said. Neither the ad or the call had
mentioned this.

"Er, yes. There's a lot of swimwear in this catalog, and the company
wants wet shots for them. We'd like you to shower nude, using the soap and
shampoo we've provided -- it'll give a gloss to your skin and hair that'll
make you look your best for the camera."

"Oh, okay." Iza led her though a dark back hall into a small, rather
cramped bathroom with a large shower. It had floor-to-ceiling doors of
thick glass and a sophisticated nozzle arrangement. *Funny,* she thought.
It looked too high-tech for this low-rent place, which obviously hadn't
been at this address for long. On a shelf inside the shower were a plain
bottle of shampoo and a bar of soap.

"Use as much of that as you need," Iza said. "The more, the better!
You want to look good, don't you?"

"Yes, " Aubrey said.

"Good. Take your time." She closed the door.

Aubrey looked around at the sterile white tiles, her heart beating in a
strange tattoo. *Silly,* she thought. *It's only a bathroom.* She
undressed and hung her purse and clothing on the hangers provided, then
squirmed out of her bra and panties. She felt herself smile as she looked
in the mirror. She looked good. Daily trips to the gym, not an ounce of
fat anywhere, judicious sessions in a tanning booth to bring out a healthy
glow. She cupped her breasts, enjoying their firmness, then stepped into
the shower. The doors latched shut behind her. She turned on the spray,
adjusting its temperature and angle.

She wet herself all over, slicking back her hair; her carefully crafted
face and hairstyle going down the drain. Well no matter. They had served
her well. She took up the bar of soap. It had a fresh, pleasant smell
with an undertone she couldn't identify. Musk? Roses? She ran the bar
over her body, working up a dense, delicious lather. Her flesh felt smooth
and slick under her palms and her skin began to tingle delightfully. The
fresh scent filled her nostrils. Yes, she was definitely going to land
this gig. She could feel it!

She took up the bottle of shampoo and began to soap her hair. Again,
the smell was wonderful. She closed her eyes, letting the suds run down
her face. An overwhelming sensual languor overtook her. Her limbs felt
heavy, her muscles luxuriously slack. It should have alarmed her, but it
didn't; she wanted only to enjoy it. Leaving the suds in her hair, her
hands moved to her nipples, pinching and pulling through the thick layer of
soap. She ran her hands over her torso, delighting in the feel of it, and
pressed her fingers into her pussy. She clenched her hand between her
thighs, rubbing her clit in smooth circular motions. She forgot about the
swimsuit and photoshoot, forgot about soaping herself. There was only her

The warm spray continued to pelt down on her, washing away the foam on
her body and scalp. The smell grew less overpowering. With it came
another strange sensation. Instead of a layer of slick, heavy hair, the
spray was needling on her bare scalp! Her eyes snapped open in surprise.
There, swimming in the water at her feet, were the long strands of blonde hair that formerly graced her scalp. They now performing a graceful spiral
down the drain with the yellow frizz that framed her pussy.

Her hands flew to her scalp. She was bald! What the hell had that soap
done to her? She glanced down at her body. Denuded. Hairless. Smooth as
a peeled hard-boiled egg. Everywhere... even her eyebrows and eyelashes.

"Fuck!" she swore. It must have been a freak chemical reaction. She
grabbed the shower door handle. Nothing happened.

She rattled the handle, then shoved her whole weight against the doors.
They were locked. She banged with her fists, her feet. "Hey! Let me out
of here! I'm stuck!" She tried turning the tap off to see if that did the
trick, but the controls wouldn't budge. The warm water continued to wash
over her, now sounding like a monsoon inside the glass-walled square.

"Help! I'm trapped in here! Somebody come, please hurry -- " Her words
trailed off as more of that mysterious scent drifted in. Trapped, she
couldn't help breathing it in. Oh, it was delicious. She forgot about her
panic. On the second whiff, she ran her heads over her breasts, moaning in

The water formed droplets that became lighter and lighter, then a fine
mist with a warm pinkish tinge. Aubrey gasped in sexual enjoyment,
spreading her legs to rub herself with both hands... forgetting all about
the loss of her hair, even her name and why she was there. Her orgasm
built in an upward glide as slow and perfect as a California sunset, the
pink mist swirling into her lungs, into her bloodstream. She even felt it
drift up through her sex. It transfixed her, holding her in a frozen state
that was almost but not quite orgasmic, a moment so serene and
diamond-perfect she stopped her self-pleasure and merely stood with her
arms at her sides, legs slightly apart, her head raised to drink it in

Waves of warmth rippled across her skin, creating a pleasant numbing
sensation both inside and out. Her limbs went from a dreamy languor to
total immobility. She no longer breathed. She no longer blinked. Her
skin tightened all over her body with an erotic, electric sensation, then
she felt nothing at all. The warm feeling remained, holding her in
blissful stasis.

The gas dissipated through a fan in the ceiling of the stall. It
reversed direction to blow hot air down on her, drying her, then stopped.
She stood in the shower, nude, hairless, and powerless to move. She heard
the bathroom door open, but she couldn't turn her head to see. Then the
shower door opened.

It was Vi and her assistant. "Oh, lovely!" Iza said. She grabbed
Aubrey by the waist and lifted her out as if she weighed no more than a
child. "You were right about her. I wasn't so sure."

Aubrey caught a glimpse of herself as she passed before the mirror. Her
facial features remained frozen in a sensual half-smile, and her skin was
hard and smooth. The warm flesh color of her skin was completely even in
tone. No pores or pimples marred its glossy surface. Her breasts didn't
jiggle as Iza set her down. They remained firm and rigid, the nipples hard
and erect. Almost as if she was...

As if she was...

As if she was a mannequin.

Vi grasped her arm and bent it from the elbow, bringing her hand up to
her shoulder, then bent it back down. "She's flexible. Good."

"Screamed a lot, though."

"That's why we got soundproof glass."

"Did you see how she was getting off?" Iza said with a nasty laugh.
"What a slut. Did you get it on tape?"

"Uh-huh," Vi said. She took out a magic market and wrote something on
the top of Aubrey's shiny plastic skull. "W-BL03-F1-006. Remember it Iza.
That's her serial number."

"Gotcha," Iza said, recording the information in her notebook. "Aubrey
Cantrell, now W-BL03-F1-006."

"Neat!" the black receptionist said, poking her head in the door. "I
knew she'd make a good one." She held out her smooth pink palm; Iza
high-fived it. "Sarah Jackson is waiting in Studio Two for her shoot, and
there's about ten more girls after her."

"The one from Chicago?"

"Uh-huh. Dolly time!" She laughed.

"I've got to run," Vi said. "Order me some take-out, will you? It
looks like we'll be here all day." She gave Aubrey a last glance, making
sure everything was perfect. "Take her to the truck, load her. Then clean
this place up. Get rid of those clothes, and especially that purse, in the
incinerator. Oh -- and that stupid portfolio too." She scooped up the
unused bikini, still in the plastic wrapper, as she and Iza left.

*She has another appointment,* Aubrey thought in amazement. Another
victim, she amended. A girl like herself, a model or actress, who would be
transformed into a mannequin.

As she had been.

She wanted to scream, but her jaws remained caught in the same stupid,
sensual smile. She didn't have the energy anyway. She felt so warm, so
solid and rigid and suspended. She felt her mind drift. *My name is
Aubrey Cantrell... I live in a... house? An apartment? I drive a...
a...* she could no longer remember. It was so much easier not to think,
only absorb.

The black girl grinned at her. "Come this way honey. Oh, are you going
to like your new life." She placed Aubrey on a two-wheeled cart, tipping
her back so she stared up at the light fixtures. "You're going to
Sexateria, where you'll be modeling all the latest lingerie and fetishwear.
Rubber dresses, leather harnesses, nighties... you name it." Aubrey
couldn't move her eyes; she could only watch the ceiling as she was wheeled
away, the black girl's voice a soothing purr. She was a mannequin. No
longer Aubrey Can... whatever it was. Only a mannequin.

The girl took her into a large van where eight other mannequins had been
secured in metal racks. They stood in the same position she did: bald,
shiny heads staring ahead, arms down, legs parted. Every crevice and
curve, even their sexual organs, had been rendered in perfect detail.
Plastic... and perfect. She'd always wanted to be a model. Now she was.

The black girl slid her into position at the end of the rack, securing
her with webbed plastic straps she wouldn't jostle while in transit. Then
she patted Aubrey's cheek and left her there.

Aubrey waited with wide blank eyes. Twenty minutes later another
mannequin came to join her, the caramel-colored Tyra Banks clone, shutting
off her view of the rest.

This story is copyrighted 2002-2003 by Cobalt Jade (
This work may be freely distributed over electronic media provided no fee
is charged for its use. Charging a fee for this story, or publishing
without author credit or this notice violates my copyright.


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