*Sweet Goddess, no! Please don't let it end like this!*
Cinnabar struggled fruitlessly against the hard, slick confines of the plastic that had molded around her body. The vibrator squirmed inside her, stimulating her against her will, and she lost even more oxygen with her silent pants. The mouth of the vacuum chamber steadily approached her. Even if she had been able to move there was no way she could have knocked her prison off the belt and smashed it against the floor. She couldn't even call Sabreglass to her, for how could she wield it? Helplessly orgasming, tears streaming from her eyes, she could only stare bleakly ahead as the slowly moving conveyer belt carried her to her doom. She couldn't have been rendered more impotent.
*White Rose, come quickly. I need you!*
She had no way of knowing if the telepath could even hear her. Her only hope was to send out her silent cry again and again, like a beacon, to give her friend something to home in on.
But the continual orgasms muddled her mental summons, turning them to gibberish. How had Plastica known sexual stimulation would quash her telepathic powers? Please, Ishtar, let White Rose trace her!
Shadow fell across her vision as the conveyer belt carried her inside. *No, not this...* she begged.
But the door closed with a heavy thump behind her, sealing itself with a routine hiss as if she was nothing more than another piece of industrial plastic...which was probably how Plastica had planned it. In a matter of minutes she would be processed, sealed, and shipped to Kaylashat's Greek island, where she would remain forever as a bauble for the sorceress to gloat over.
*No!* she thought desperately. *It can't end this way! Not like this, not a trophy for that evil woman's playroom...*
The thought of it finally sent her over the edge. Her insides quaked as the orgasm hit her, shrill pulses of pleasure that annihilated her completely. The debilitating sensation felt more like death than an affirmation of pleasure. A golden glow fuzzed the edges of her vision, turning to red, then a swimming fog of black. She blacked out briefly.
She came to, gasping, realizing the severity of her plight. The chamber began to grow very cold. The thin film of sweat that had been generated by fear soon vanished; all the moisture was being sucked out of her. She felt her eyes go dry. In another minute her air would be gone completely. She was faced with the hardest choice she ever had to make. She could remain conscious and continue to call White Rose, but would lose oxygen as she orgasmed. Or she could put herself into the metabolism-slowing trance Ishtar had taught her. Without breathing, she could exist in stasis for several hours. The trance had saved her life when she was buried in an avalanche, even though temperatures had fallen to -40 below. It might buy her some time.
But it wouldn't save her. Her heart fell. The temperature in the vacuum chamber would approach absolute zero in ten more minutes. When enough moisture was sucked out of her body, she would die.
What should she do? Should she put her life in the hands of fate? Did she truly trust in the natural goodness of the universe?
She thought for a second that stretched into hours, then made her choice.
She could enter the trance; it would buy her four or five minutes more life. At the rate the chamber was cooling, it might not even be that. She felt her limbs go numb as the temperature fell below freezing, then approached ten below. Her air was nearly gone. Closing her eyes, she mentally chanted the ancient mantra. If she had chosen correctly, she would wake in safety. If not, she would sleep forever.
Nemiah's wings beat with deep, furious strokes as he cut through the cool night air. His forelegs were extended, claws curled like scythes. White Rose rode his back like a grim avatar carved from ivory and lightning. Cinnabar needed her. Her calls had been growing progressively weaker and more fragmented . But that didn't matter, because White Rose had traced them to their source: a featureless concrete factory surrounded by chemical tanks, powerlines, railroad tracks.
BONDMADCHEN MANNEQUINS, the largest of the tanks announced. Plastica's hideout.
Nemiah landed lightly on the roof, folding his massive wings. White Rose slipped off his back. Cinnabar was inside, but where? The calls hadn't come for two minutes now. If whoever held her had harmed her--
She saw an open door and sprinted lightly inside, Nemiah following. The door led to a series of wide catwalks above the plant. She stepped gingerly onto the metal grate, creeping silently down the suspended corridors. An onlooker might have seen the topaz flash of Nemiah's eyes, nothing more. The silent vats below her melded into darkness. In the distance was a brightly lit area, and they both headed toward it.
Together they looked down on the scene below, lost in the shadows at the top of the plant. Almost directly below them was a large vacuum chamber; plumes of white vapor and a flashing display pad indicated it was in use. A broad conveyer led up to its enteric. White Rose looked far to her right and saw a metal worktable on which the torn remains of Cinnabar's clothes were scattered. Her gaze went back to the scene below. A metal ramp led from the chamber's nether end, at the end of which was a unsealed crate carrying a Federal Express sticker addressed to a location in Greece. In a chair before the crate, leaning back with her long legs propped up on the ramp, was a tall, slim woman nude but for a pair of clear vinyl boots and gloves. A bag of half-eaten potato chips lay beside her. She was reading a bondo mag, one hand idly stroking her crotch.
Plastica. It could be no one else.
In an instant she knew what had happened. Cinnabar had been captured, and she was inside that fiendish *thing,* but in whatever state of transformation, she couldn't guess.
She had to stop it!
She slipped onto Nemiah's back again, giving him a terse mental order. With a roar, he sprang from the catwalk and landed on the top of the chamber, ripping through the layers of metal, composite and plastic with his diamond-hard claws.
Freezing vapor flew from the ruptured pipes, and the chamber itself exploded as it suddenly repressurized. White Rose quickly threw up a force bubble to protect them from the shards of flying metal. Cinnabar flew past them in the flaming debris, sealed like a charm inside a clear cube of plastic. *Grab her, Nemiah!*
Nemiah's wings working desperately to hold his balance. He managed to catch the protruding ring in his jaws and flew up, up, far faster than the growing conflagration, to smash through the skylight and leap into the night air. In a few seconds he was well away, the night air whistling through his feathers.
White Rose clutched his back, his speed too great to ride as gracefully as she usually did. Had Plastica survived the explosion? More importantly, would Cinnabar survive whatever that bitch had done to her?
*Cinnabar?* she ventured tentatively in mindspeech.
Cinnabar's eyes were wide open, but she looked like she was dead. White Rose extended a hand to touch the plastic cube. The surface was very cold; perhaps she was just frozen. In the distance, she saw another factory, one that made bread. It was in full operation this time of night and clouds of warm, comforting steam billowed out of its smokestacks.
*Nemiah, fly there,* she said. *Fly back and forth through the steam.*
Nemiah flew into the warm vapor, in and out, warming the plastic gently.
After many tense minutes White Rose heard Cinnabar's faint mental call. *White Rose?*
*I'm here. And Nemiah, too.*
*Thanks.* A shaky mental smile. *I was getting worried.*
*What happened?* She knew her tone sounded incredulous. *Cinnabar...why do you look like a plastic keychain ornament?*
Cinnabar laughed weakly. Though feeble and forced, it was the best sound White Rose had ever heard. *Plastica was acting under Kaylashat's orders. She stunned me in the alley and took me here, to make me into a trophy for her boss. As you see, I'm trapped inside this cube, in a rather...unusual...position
*We'll get you out of there,* Allison said with determination.
*I'm not as I was,* Cinnabar said, her mental tone faint and sad. *This...this shell, it's hard as steel, and molded around my body. I can't eat and I can't drink. If I don't get out of it soon, I'll die.*
*We need Shana and her chemical lab,* Allison said.
*Shana is Plastica's prisoner, too,* Cinnabar reminded her. *We need help, Alli. From outside.*
*Right,* White Rose said grimly, knowing they had to send for experts from outside the team. Always a risky business, as it meant exposure. *Don't worry. We'll find a way.*
Plastica kicked at a piece of twisted metal, sending it skittering across the floor. The vacuum chamber was a hulking, smoking mess. Luckily the factory's sprinkler system had doused it before nearby plants called in an alarm. Blobs of flame-retardent foam covered the wreckage too, courtesy of the back-up system Plastica had installed before she'd begun her experiments. When working with volatile chemicals, you could never be too safe. Luckily her laboratory, and her mannequins, had been at the other end of the building and escaped damage.
Still, it was a helluva mess.
Luckily she'd been able to outrun the blast even in her four-inch spiked heels, flinging herself around a corner before the thing exploded. But she had lost Cinnabar.
The bottom fell out of her stomach fell as she remembered Kaylashat. Plastica had promised her a prize, and that prize had been reclaimed. Kaylashat might badmouth her to other criminals, or, god forbid, enact a revenge. She had to get that cube back before Cinnabar died from dehydration and began to decay. Or the other members of her team figured out a way to free her.
Which was unlikely; her formulas were too esoteric. But one never knew.
Iza and Phanxine peeked timidly around the corner; they'd heard her screaming and made themselves scarce until her anger spent itself. Now they were back, to see if there was anything they could do. There wasn't. But like the best toadies they would continue to try to curry her favor, in the hopes she might drop them a crumb or two of consideration. "Boss?"
Plastica grunted. "About time you idiots got back."
"Boss, what do want us to do? Do you want us to go down to the Fairfax address?"
Plastica considered. Team Paragon could have found out about her mannequin-making operation; after all, they'd known where the factory was. But with their leader entombed and helpless, Plastica thought it unlikely they'd be taking any rash action. "Go ahead," she decided. "But be cautious. Call me immediately if you notice anything or anyone suspicious."
They nodded and left, less cocksure than they'd been few days before, when the operation was daring and new. Plastica gave the wreckage one last look, sighed, and left the factory herself. She had to put in an appearance that day at Sexateria and had to get cleaned up before she became Paula Jean. She was smudged all over with soot and had a few first-degree burns on her face and arms. Even her hair was singed, which meant a haircut and dye job until she made herself a new set of follicles. Implanting all the individual hairs took ages.
She tried to look on the bright side. At least Scirocco was out of the way, which meant Team Paragon was rudderless for the time being. Heartened, she jumped in her lipstick-red Maserati. If Plastica wanted to get her back, she could. After all, she wasn't exactly going anywhere.
"We can't just sit here. We have to do something."
All heads turned toward Chrystar. Her fist slammed the table.
"Look at her!" Chrystar waved her hand at Cinnabar's silent, entombed form. "If we don't do something now, next time Plastica will do something worse. To any of us, not just poor Cinn!"
Lori glanced guiltily away from the cube. All morning they'd been frantically trying to analyze the plastic, trying acids, carbide-steel saws, sonic drills, all to no effect. The plastic was indissoluble and harder even than titanium; not even the diamond-tipped drills had made a scratch. And all the while Cinnabar kept staring at them, eyes wide, knowing that she was trapped, and that she was doomed.
Only White Rose could communicate telepathically with Cinnabar--the two sharing a mind-link from years ago--and she kept them informed on what Cinnabar's desires were. Not surprisingly, they were for everyone to stay calm and analyze the situation rationally. But they soon realized they were getting nowhere. The Team finally put in a call to the West Coast branch of ALOSH, but even their experts were stymied. After working all day the scientists had only managed to break off only the tiniest chips for analysis back at their labs. As for Cinnabar, all they could do was set up a portable stasis field that would keep her alive, at least, in a suspended state until a cure could be found.
The encubed superheroine now shimmered within another cube, this one of pearly, shifting light. The four generators, one at each corner, hummed gently to keep her there. While inside, she would neither think nor breathe nor age, a sleeping beauty immune to the ravages of time. She would sleep forever if a cure couldn't be found.
It was repeat of what had happened to Photon, only this time the victim was her best friend. Lori's worst nightmare had come to life. She felt tears come to her eyes. *No!* she thought. *I won't give up, none of us will!*
The experts had left hours ago but emotions were still running high, as Chrystar demonstrated with her outburst. To make things worse, Blue Cymbidium was missing and hadn't called in.
"This is too strange," White Rose said. She didn't have to say there were only three of them now to deal with whatever other crisis reared its head. Cinnabar was out of commission, and so was Xenon; so that left her as third of command, a position she was uncomfortable with. "Where did you leave her, Arctica?"
"She was at Paula Jean's condo," Lori said. "I went off to warn Cinn, and she stayed behind in case Plastica came back."
"Plastica never went back," White Rose said. "That's obvious. Maybe Blue Cee went chasing someone else."
"Plastic Fantastic is opening their new agency tomorrow," Chrystar insisted. "I'll pose as a model and let myself be captured. Once I'm in the factory I can snoop around Plastica's lab for a counteragent."
"Too dangerous," White Rose said with a heavy shake of her head. "You know what her plasticizing gas can do."
Chrystar laughed. "I'm Chrystar. Do you really think it will hurt me?"
"All right," White Rose said, though Lori could see by the lines on her forehead that she felt deeply ambivalent about it. She closed her eyes briefly. Lori thought she was trying to communicate with Cinnabar, but that was impossible outside of the stasis field. "Go ahead, but *be careful.* "
Lori glanced at the silver mylar business card that waited in front of the phone. FEM-FANTASTIQUE, INC., it said, in red foil script. A team of superheroines on the East Coast. The director of ALOSH had recommended them as they'd had lots of experience in dealing with villains like Plastica and her ilk. White Rose began to tap out the number. "Arctica, I want you to go back to the condo, see if you can find any traces of Blue Cee. She may be on to something , or--"
She didn't have to finish: *Or she may have wound up like Cinnabar.* "All right," Lori said. It would give her something to do, besides worry.
This was too good.
Plastica gloated over the plasticized form of Noelani Walker, nee Blue Cymbidium. What a pleasant surprise she'd had when she got back to the condo. It was such a simple trick she was surprised any of the bitches had fallen for it, but maybe IQ was inverse to tits and ass. Which the half-Hawaiian, half-black beauty certainly had, in abundance.
Plastica had fresh plaskin bandages on her face and hands, but for the sake of art she would suffer a little pain.
She picked up her scissors and cut off Noelani's blue-violet leotard. She was the most exotic--and sensuous--of the Team with her coffee and cream complexion and slightly slanted sable eyes. She was also the most petite, though her muscles bespoke of extensive martial arts training. Plastica wouldn't want to face her in a fight, but then, she didn't have to. She had other means of dealing with her enemies.
The spangled fabric fell to the floor, exposing luscious, uptilted breasts with dark brown nipples. Happily, the superheroine hadn't lost her long, dark hair. Plastica had altered that part of the formula to allow it to work more quickly, and now she was glad she did. The superheroine still had her pubic bush, but this Plastica eliminated with a shot of aerosol depilatory foam. She let the superheroine keep her thigh-high leather boots, though. She looked so much more kinky that way.
Struck by another idea, Plastica began posing her. Her limbs responded with resistance, but the movement was smooth and not stiff. She kept Noelani's kneeling position but straightened her back and tilted her head back slightly. Her face was now upturned as if looking to Plastica for an order. Plastica then bent Noelani's arms behind her back and tied her wrists together with a length of rough rope; this was for effect only, as she knew Noelani couldn't move on her own. Then she buckled a slave collar around the superheroine's neck with a leather leash that trailed down between her breasts, to lie on the ground before her in a perfect liquid line.
She stepped back to assess her work. Yes, much better. Noelani looked the perfect slave, wrists crossed and tied, posture erect yet abject. Now for her face. Plastica pinched the superheroine's eyelids closed and added the hint of a pout to her large, luscious lips. She looked like a puppy dog begging for a treat now, swooning in a stew of sexual submission. It tickled Plastica to think the real Noelani would be filled with horror if she saw the picture she made.
"You're a work of art, honey," she said. "Better than Michelangelo, better than Rodin. Enjoy it. You'll be that way for a long, long time."
She donned her respirator hood and work gloves, then turned on the compressor pump. She lifted the nozzle of the airbrush gun and began to spray. Noelani's smooth brown flesh was soon speckled, then spattered, then coated with bright blue-violet paint that covered her completely. Plastic walked all around her, changing direction and angle to spray her hair, her nipples, the crack of her ass. The paint was a special formula of Plastica's. Once it was dry, the superheroine wouldn't have been able to move even if she hadn't been a mannequin. The hard, shiny shell would hold her fast, encasing her forever in a glistening second skin.
Submission in Blue, that's what she'd call it. It went perfectly with Noelani's pose and even her name.
Laughing, she set the nozzle down and wheeled the Noelani sculpture over to join the Xenon one, an erotic display piece to grace Sexateria's dungeon displays or hang over the cash registers, perhaps. Didn't Kate always tell her visual merchandising was an art form?
On to Chapter 8: A Friend Lends a Hand
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