| Paragon vs. Plastica
by Cobalt Jade (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chapter 5: Enmities Awaken
Plastica glanced up from her workdesk long enough to discover which cell
phone was ringing, then grabbed it with her free hand. "Hello?" Plastica
said, barely remembering to soften her voice into the Paula Jean's sexy
"Paula, it's me," Kate Spolington said. "I got your message when I came
in this morning and yes, I did look. That mannequin by the dungeon is
gone. I looked all over the store, and it isn't there."
*Fools,* Plastica thought. She couldn't help grinning, though the
implications -- that Team Paragon was aware of the connection between her,
Sexateria, and their missing teammate -- were serious ones. She was sure
they'd broken in last night, though they'd left no trace of it, to rescue
their teammate; and what a surprise they were going to get! "Well, keep
lookin' honey," she said, using her other hand to solder two wires
together. "I may be in later in the day. Watch the store for me."
The call finished, she finished her soldering, then snapped the panel
shut. She hefted the heavy weapon onto her shoulder, feeling like a female
version of The Terminator. It was good within a range of ten yards,
shooting a compressed stream of gas that plasticized the victim within
seconds. If Team Paragon came snooping around here, she was more than
ready for them.
"Hey, watch that," Phanxine squealed.
"Relax," Plastica said. Phanxine was very pretty, but too short to make
a good mannequin, though Plastica entertained notions of it sometimes.
Unlike Iza, Phanxine didn't rate too highly in the brains department.
Plastica targeted her through the viewfinder, wondering how well her
coffee-and-cream skin would keep its tone once she was plasticized. "Find
me a victim. I want to test this baby out."
"What about Plastic Fantastic? We're supposed to set up the new office
on Fairfax today."
*Shit,* Plastica thought. She'd forgotten completely about the would-be
models they'd taken such pains to schedule. She still hadn't finished
processing the first batch of Plastic Fantastic mannequins; they were
stacked head to crotch in piles ten high at the rear of the factory,
waiting for wigs, paint jobs, and buffing. "Thanks for reminding me." She
put the gun down; she'd have to test it later. "Where's Iza and Tiger?"
"They're already there. Tiger's installing the showers."
Plastica coiled her long electric-blue hair into a bun on the back of
her head, keeping it there with pins. She pulled Vi Nyll's wig over her
scalp, smoothing it at her hairline with her fingers. "I want you to go
there too to keep an eye out for the cops. My source at LAPD told me they
might be on to us. Some of those were reported missing."
Phanxine left, muttering rebellion. Plastica ground her teeth. She
didn't need any insubordination from her staff. She finished dressing in
the Vi Nyll suit, then stood before a mirror to mold her facial features.
She made her cheekbones a little higher, her chin more pointed; her were not the only things that were made out of plastic. When she had
finished Vi Nyll stood before the mirror in all her glory; only the
sharpest observer could detect any resemblance between Vi and Polly, or Vi
and Paula Jean.
The Xenon mannequin watched her mutely. Stripped of the bondage gear
and wig she looked no different from the dozens of other mannequins in the
"Your friends will never find you, you know," Plastica said. "I expect
they're discovering their mistake right now." She studied the wide,
expressionless eyes, searching for a reaction. There wasn't any. She
began to feel a bit stupid for talking to a hunk of plastic, even if had
been a human being once.
She gave the stand a sharp kick with her boot, sending it rolling away
from her. It trundled backwards down a low ramp, coming to rest between an
old crates and a stack of fluorescent light fixtures. It could very well
stay there for decades, cobwebbed, forgotten.
Plastica smirked. Of course, she could always recycle it...
She opened the Yellow Pages, looking for firms that rented heavy
industrial equipment. Punch presses, sheet metal benders, pipe
extruders... *plastic grinders. *
She lifted the phone.
It wasn't Shana.
It had Shana's legs, Shana's skin, Shana's breasts, but when they
removed the hood... it was someone else.
Cinnabar threw the hood down, stricken. Why hadn't they checked in the
store to be sure! Shana could still be there, in a closet
somewhere... that is, if Plastica hadn't decided to get rid of her first.
"They've made a switch, obviously," she said quietly.
"Are you sure?" Gina said.
Lori nodded. "Look at the face. And the mannequin we saw had writing
on the top of its head. This one has a number." She looked up, flint in
her eyes. "Guys, we have to go back. To find out what they've done with
the real Shana, at least."
Cinnabar knew it would be impossible to do another search of the store
during operating hours. Besides, they'd searched the place from top to
bottom and hadn't seen another Shana. She rubbed her eyes, steeling
herself, and made the decision. "No. Gang, we need to regroup. We can't
go back to the store today."
"But -- " Lori interrupted.
"No." Cinnabar kept her tone firm. Her eyes flicked to the rest of the
Team, telling Lori the decision was final. "What else did you find out
"I got Paula Jean's phone number, license plate, and address," Noelani
said. "Here are the digital images I took of her desk."
Cinnabar flipped them through. They were mostly office memos, take-out
menus, and the like. But one scrawled list of numbers looked familiar.
"Gina, what's the number on this mannequin's scalp?"
"W-BL03-F1-006." Gina read.
"That's this one right here," Cinnabar said, pointing with her finger.
"This must be a list of serial numbers." She looked back at the mannequin.
"Both numbers written on the scalp, in black felt-tip marker... in the
same hand too, I'd guess, going by the writing on this list."
"It's very lifelike," Lori said, swallowing. "As lifelike as Shana
"I'd like to do a probe," Allison said quietly.
"Be my guest," Cinnabar said, though they all had some idea of the awful
truth that was slowly becoming clear to them. Allison pressed her
fingertips to the mannequin's shiny plastic scalp and closed her eyes. Her
lips parted as she began her telepathic probe; as White Rose, it was one of
her most useful powers. For ten long minutes she concentrated, her
expression changing only slightly. Finally she withdrew her hands and
staggered, nearly slumping to the floor.
"I'm all right," she said, weakly, as Lori and Gina helped her up.
"Get her some water," Cinnabar said.
Noelani handed her a cup. Allison took several sips, before flicking
her hair out of her eyes and speaking. "She's alive," she said bluntly.
"Fuckin' sh -- " Gina began, then remembered herself.
"The process Plastica used changed the chemical structure of her body
the same way Gina can change hers, except she can't change herself back.
She's aware of things, but her mind is trapped in a sort of stasis, a dream
state." She took another sip. "I was able to read her memories." She went
on. The mannequin's name had been Aubrey Cantrell, and she had been a
hopeful model. She'd sent some headshots to the La Cienego address within
hours after she saw the ad in Variety. The agency turned out to be Plastic
Fantastic... the same one Gina's policeman boyfriend had investigated.
Cinnabar listened with deepening shock as Allison described Vi Nyll and
her assistants, the photoshoot, the showers. After being mannequinized
Aubrey had been taken to a warehouse where she'd been stacked on the floor
with dozens of others. Paula Jean Estes had picked her out of the pile
yesterday afternoon and taken her to Sexateria, where she'd been dressed in
Xenon's clothes. Then a merchandising assistant had wheeled her to the
dungeon while Paula Jean took Shana away.
"Where did Plastica take her?" Cinnabar asked.
Allison shook her head. "I don't know."
"I bet they're the same person," Gina muttered. "Paula Jean and
Plastica. And Vi Nyll, too, going by the name. Those women aren't missing
at all -- they got turned into mannequins! They're probably all warehoused
in Plastica's mannequin factory, waiting to be auctioned, or sold, or...
or... Cinnabar, we have to do something! There has to be some kind of
Cinnabar rubbed her temples. The scope of this investigation had
widened, and the price of failure higher than they all knew. She wanted
forget about the horrible mistake she'd made. But if she hadn't taken the
wrong mannequin, they wouldn't have found out as much as they did. "Here's
what I want you to do," she said. "Lori, Noelani, I want you to stake out
Paula Jean's condo. Take breaks to rest if you have to. Don't break and
enter, only watch. I want to know for sure if Paula Jean is Plastica in
disguise. Allison, after you've had some rest I want you to go back to
Sexateria and see if you can pick up on the staff's thoughts. They may
know where Shana was taken. But be careful. If Paula Jean and Plastica
are the same person, she may be on to us. Don't take any more risks than
you have to. "
She turned towards Gina. "Gina, our job is going to be the most fun.
We're going through the help wanted sections and all the latest talent
guides, looking for that ad. With any luck, we may be able to find out
where Vi Nyll will strike next."
"Gotcha," Gina said. She wheeled the Aubrey mannequin to a corner and
draped a blanket over it.
Far across the Atlantic Kylasha the Damned kept court on her island, a
tortured volcanic nipple on the blue-green of the Aegean Sea. Tall,
severe, and ageless, and inhumanly beautiful, a mixture of all human races
and none: that was Kylasha.
She wasn't known to the world by that name of course. In the modern
age, she was Countess Kayla Medea Pantaglios, and her villa was equipped
with computers and DVD players, microwaves and satellite dishes; she had a
helicopter and a Mercedes she used for tooling about on the mainland. She
loved modern conveniences, though she herself was by no means modern. She
was over ten thousand years old, though she had spent most of them in
suspended animation deep within the earth. Until an archaeological student
named Cinnabar Steele had freed her... and then, as Scirocco, had tried to
Kylasha frowned at the memory. Though she was a Countess (and she had
labored long and hard to falsify the records for it) that was nothing
compared to the power she once held as a sorcerer-queen in her native land
of Bubabis. A title she intended to reclaim, one day... as soon as all
the pieces of the Sword of Screams were brought together. She had found
three, but Scirocco had taken one of them from her eight years ago, when
her hideout in Stuttgart had gone up in flames. Though she'd taken a
wicked on Scirocco before that happened.
Nonetheless, she'd been bested by a mortal. And Kylasha the Damned did
not take that easily.
She hadn't the resources for vengeance right now, which was why she had
tapped Plastica for the job; if she lived up to her promise Kylasha would
take her under her wing. There was more than one dirty job she could do
for the Countess and her organization.
She ran her beringed hand over a polished marble plinth the height of
her waist. Scirocco would go there, she decided. On a slowly revolving
stand, with spotlights. Nude, of course. Kylasha always appreciated
beautiful things, no matter how deadly and vexing they were. If the pose
was erotic, so much the better.
She took a seat in the silk-upholstered armchair, loosened her robe, and
signaled to the two naked slaves waiting by the door. She kept a pair in
every room to serve her needs. The had once been an American
college student hitchhiking around Ireland, the woman a nanny from
Austria, but now they were only extensions of her will and lived only to
please her. She nodded at the Siberian tiger skin in front of her. The
two slaves knelt on the fur and embraced, then began to do what sex slaves
do best, for their Mistress's entertainment.
She lifted the phone, stroking herself between the thighs. Time to
check on Plastica.
"This is more boring than watching paint dry," Lori complained. They'd
been here all day and seen nothing, and it was growing cramped in Noelani's
tiny Hyundai. Now it was evening and the condo's windows were still dark.
"Remember we're doing this for Shana," Noelani reminded her.
Lori sighed. She could think of better uses for their time if they
wanted to find Shana and help those girls. They could go back to Sexateria
and ask some questions, or try to track where Vi Nyll and her operation had
disappeared to. Even a raid on the mannequin factory would have been more
productive. She took another sip of Diet Snapple, suddenly noticing a
little sports car tearing down the drive.
"Get down!" Noelani hissed. They ducked their heads as the car
screeched past them, making a right-angle turn into Paula Jean's garage.
Lori raised her head a fraction of an inch. The figure that slammed the
door was neither Plastica or Paula Jean; it was Vi Nyll, going by Allison's
description of the agent's outlandish clothes and short hair. Vi Nyll
clipped purposefully up the walk and unlocked the door. She vanished
"We've got to check this out," Lori said, poking her teammate's
"Cinnabar said no break-ins," Noelani warned.
"Who said anything about breaking in? I only want to get a better
view." Before her teammate could stop her she slipped out of the car,
running in back of a hedge to transform herself -- "Team Paragon, Arctica!"
-- and blasted off into the night like an icy arrow shot from a bow.
She didn't go far. She circled the complex and landed on the roof above
Paula Jean's condo. Lights were snapping on below her as Vi Nyll made
herself at home. There was a skylight in the ceiling and Lori floated over
to peer cautiously over the edge. Vi Nyll paced restlessly below her as
she undressed, leaving her clothes where they fell. Lori gasped as she
ripped off her wig, revealing a long shock of bright blue hair...
There were three other wigs waiting on the dresser, one of them a mirror
copy of Polly Jean's Hillary Clinton 'do. Lori had already been certain
the three were the same. She continued to watch as Plastica stripped down
to her panties, then stood naked before the mirror and started squeezing
her breasts. Lori was shocked to realize she was molded them, forming them
into a new shape. Plastica did the same thing with her facial features,
then gave her ass a slight shake and it, too, rearranged, like the side of
a plastic garbage can popping back after a denting.
Then the phone rang suddenly, and Plastica flung herself across the bed,
displaying her inhumanly lithe body to its best advantage.
Lori started as Blue Cymbidium -- Noelani -- suddenly appeared at her
side, her blue and purple costume making her almost invisible against the
night sky. "I couldn't let you stay here alone," she whispered. She
handed Lori a phone tap.
"Thanks." Lori fitted the stethoscope-like device into her ears,
pressing it against the plexiglass of the skylight.
"...of course I haven't forgotten about you, Countess," Plastica was
saying. "My people are working on it, they're there right now. They know
her routine. Uh-huh. Of course. I can accommodate you in that. My
process is *very* flexible." She flipped herself onto her back. Not even
models had that large and protuberant, or legs so decadently long.
*She must have had bone grafts on her shins,* Lori thought. But Plastica
was no catwalk darling. Taut muscle moved like whips under her flawless
ivory skin, and her legs snapped like a pair of giant scissors. Then came
the words Lori dreaded to hear: "... Cinnabar will be yours, delivered by
the end of the week, I guarantee it."
"She's going to kill Cinnabar!" Lori said in a shocked whisper. "She's
got something set up!"
But Plastica wasn't finished. She must have had call waiting because
she immediately answered another: "Oh? It is? I'm on my way." She slammed
down the receiver, then began to dress again with jaw-dropping speed.
"I've got to warn her!" Lori said. Noelani looked unsure, her eyes
flickering under her petalike blue mask. She never was one to make snap
decisions, Lori knew, and that might let her have her way now. "There's no
point in us being here anymore, Blue. We know who Vi Nyll really is -- and
she must have found out who Team Paragon is, too."
"Right," Noelani said. Her eyes said she knew the implications. "You
warn Cinn. I'll keep watch here, in case Plastica comes back."
The front door slammed as Plastica left the condo clad in a skintight
neoprene minidress. The sports car pulled out of the garage with a
screech. Lori had already overtaken it, flying toward the library where
Gina and Cinnabar were working.
"Look at this. This has to be the one," Gina said. She unfolded the
paper so Cinnabar could see.
"Models wanted," Cinnabar read, brushing her long behind her
ear. "For start-up agency. No experience necessary. Lingerie,
sportswear, swimsuits. Send resumes, head and body shots to 4111 Fairfax,
Los Angeles, by overnight mail for immediate consideration." She put the
paper down, recalling the wording of Plastica's last ad. "Not much of a
copywriter, is she?"
"We've got time to check it out tonight," Gina said hopefully. "It's
only ten o'clock."
"If you want to drive by, that's fine, but this is really a job for the
Team," Cinnabar said. "Can you think of a way to delay the opening for a
day or two, though?"
"Shut off the electricity?" Gina said.
"Now you're talking." Cinnabar grinned. "I was thinking of a water main
rupture, myself. Or a sewer line break. That would be appropriate." She
yawned. "God, I've got to get some sleep. I think I'm going to head back
to HQ. Since you're up to it, check out the address, and if it is Plastic
Fantastic, create what inconveniences you can. But be extra careful.
Plastica may be on to us by now. She could be watching."
Gina gave a mock salute. "Aye, Chief."
Cinnabar left the library for the balmy heat of an LA night. She would
have enjoyed it more, but she was tired. She wasn't as as she used
to be. Gina and Lori had the youthful energy to stay up all night, for two
or three days if needed; she didn't. Not that she still didn't turn
heads... she gave a smile to the parking lot attendant as she drove out in
her purple Mazda. He reminded her a little of her boyfriend,
Michael. They would have gotten married, if she hadn't opened Kylasha's
tomb that fateful summer, if she'd decided to leave the tomb to the experts
and not a naive archaeological student who thought she knew everything...
She shook her head; she'd driven right past the cash machine she always
used to deposit her checks from the Near East Institute. She parked her
car and went to the walk-up window, extracting her ATM card from her
wallet. She fed it into the slot. It went in halfway, then stopped.
"What is this," she muttered. The card seemed to be stuck. She gripped
it with her fingers, but it wouldn't budge, either inwards or outwards.
Her fingertips touched a metal plate on the inside of the mechanism.
Her mouth stretched in a silent scream as thousands of volts of
electricity suddenly surged through her body. The world went dark around
her, and she fell like a stone under the neon-lit palms.
This work is copyrighted 2002-2003 by Cobalt Jade (Cobaltjade@aol.com).
This work may be 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.