Paragon City Stories: Meanwhile at the Superbase
Hosted by UNINVENTIVEHEART
Chapter I, Scene 2
This scene was written before the 2nd Act of “Darkness, Digitized” as a possible way for Paige to overcome Shiara in her mind after the game ended if we never got to that conflict. Since that game has a different scene in place which solves the issue, I don’t consider this anything but just an experiment.
Paige is walking in her mind as she is practicing from her therapy sessions. She pictures an oceanless beach with endless puddles, mud and water in all directions. In her mind, it’s always sunset as that is the most beautiful the sky can become. She walks around barefoot, feeling the texture beneath her feet. In here is enough room to walk to any horizon, and never find the limit of it. In here is enough sky to soar for miles and never leave the atmosphere.
As long as she has nothing to encounter, the bounds are limitless. But if something needs to be dealt with, the boundaries contract to give her limits, walls, barricades. Limits provide safety. Limits prevent hiding.
Paige is walking towards a direction, thinking about her past encounters. She’s integrated the advice from the clinic from dealing with her past transgressors, as well as from her friend Devereaux.
The clinic has been less and less effective in helping her deal with her phantasm, as Dev cautioned her would happen. The most recent meeting led with the mediator telling her not to succumb or fight her demons, but to interrogate them. To try to analyze and find their core purpose for existing and to try and resolve that purpose so you can reconcile it. But Shiara did not want to talk, so inventing a version of Shiara that suddenly does talk betrays her knowledge of the being.
And the demon has been getting worse over the year. More slip ups, more outbursts while awake, more mistakes. More dreams where Shiara terrorizes her. More auditory hallucinations that magnify with her eyes closed. More fear than before she went to counseling.
So, she’s been leaning on Devereaux’s advice: close your eyes, go to sleep, then literally confront and beat the shit out of it.
So far, that’s working out better.
Off in the distance, Paige sees the same blurry woman that she’s used to seeing. The same image that used to terrify her in the past.
“IF YOU WON’T LEAVE THEN I’LL CONS–”
“Bitch, I’ve had enough of that. Either come up with something new, or can it.” Paige says, as psionic armor appears on her hips, chest, and head, and two psionic blades form along her forearms extending past her fists as points.
Paige starts to run toward the figure, which becomes blurrier the closer she runs toward it. After reaching the limit of her running speed, two psionic skates form on her feet, splitting the mud into a wake behind her as her speed increases.
She’s playing joust with her inner monster.
Shiara sees this new and improved Paige, and adjusts accordingly. It forms spikes rapidly and starts to strike at Paige, while splitting in half to make multiple targets.
“Good, I’m looking for a workout,” Paige is interested to see what Shiara (and her own mind) comes up with this time. A spike sails past her, as she leaps up and skates along the spike towards the blurred figure’s torso, and lunges into it with her armblades.
The figure’s form is disconnected from it’s body, decaying by falling apart into millions of pieces. One down, one to go. She rounds off and turns to face the second monster.
She remembers Devereaux’s advice, “If it gets too much for your to handle, you’re not alone… We’re always here for you, kid, even if it’s in your own head. Don’t forget that.” Paige thinks to herself, “It shouldn’t be necessary… it’s just like last week… I got this.”
“If ThAt’S nOt EnOuGh, ThEn HoW’s ThIs FoR a NeW aDvErSaRy?” Shiara asks as her blurring form mixes together with a Rikti Heavy Armor Suit. Now blasts as well as spikes are heading towards her.
[Aspect of Tahquitz Speaking]
“Looking for an assist? I love breaking Heavies,” Tahq asks Paige, “It should be an Olympic event.”
Tahquitz flies up and says in his mind, “Also, I can go full power in here with no repercussions…” as Tahquitz’s eyes glow white and his wings unfurl with a cloud of smoke and feathers signifying his final form.
“READY?” a demonic Tahquitz asks her.
“Oh, yeah… I forgot about that. You can’t have repercussions if your patron spirit isn’t a part of me in the first place! Go for it!” Paige says as she starts skating toward the Heavy Armor, as she sees multiple portals open next to it with similar Shiara-infected Heavies standing next to the original one. She skates in a circle around them using Sonic Cage and debuffing to reduce their power.
[Aspect of Tahquitz Speaking]
“YOU, WHO WOULD HARM THOSE WHO ARE INNOCENT, FACE MY WRATH!” Tahquitz raises his arms and casts an inferno upon the Heavy Armors, then casts a Blizzard on the other side. The two opposing pressures create a twin cyclone effect, spinning around each other as a torrent of fire and ice.
Tahquitz laughs as he twists the dual cyclons through the field of villains. The Heavy Armors collide into each other like ice in a rocks glass being stirred vigorously, receiving more and more damage. The twin cyclones of fire and ice spin faster and faster until their energy is depleted and the raised magma and ice falls in patterns on the Heavy Armors, destroying them.
Tahq’s eyes stop glowing as his wings fold down into whisps of smoke before disappearing.
“How was that?” Tahq asks, sounding far less demonic.
“Brilliant!” Paige says happily, skating next to Tahq’s side. “I know you’re inside my head, so you’re not really him, but I imagine that’s what your powers look like when the real Tahquitz is unleashed.”
“As for you…” she says, looking at the fallen Heavy Armors.
“I’ll return… you’ll never be rid of me. You’ll never be free from my torment. You’ll never know peace again as long as I don’t have–”
“–my mask… I’ve heard this countless times. See you next week.” Paige says dismissively as she lifts her hand up to smash the blurred figure, but the figure dodges her hit. “What?” Paige swings again, and it dodges again. She raises her arm again, then the figure speeds off, and starts increasing in size and multiplying again.
“Oh, no… it’s what my counselor warned about.”
[Aspect of Tahquitz Speaking]
“What?” Tahquitz asks. “Well, I already know what, as you made me. I’m a construct in your head of what you think I would do in something like this… but it’s important for your th–”
“–therapy to understand the why as I do the what. Yes, I know… My demon is adapting to me. This won’t be as easy as I thought. Got any more tricks up your sleeve?”
[Aspect of Tahquitz Speaking]
“Again, construct in your head. How do I know?”
“That is, unless your imagination can pull something out of the metaphorical hat.”
“Nothing comes to mind… that is–” Paige’s thought is interrupted as a new army of 20 inner demons start to charge at the two.
[Aspect of Tahquitz Speaking]
“A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” Tahquitz says as he starts dodging the multitude of spikes coming out of the demons at him, trying to stab him.
“If you have an idea, now’s the time, cricket!”
Paige starts to panic as the 20 or so demons start to connect their spikes together and form a multiple-armed giant demon that is now rolling toward them like a boulder the size of a three story building.
“Hmm… I did watch a bunch of Giant Robot anime shows as a little girl. Wait! I know!!”
Paige says out loud as she sees Tahquitz shapeshift into a metal leg. Then 5 more copies of him appear and shapeshift into other parts: leg, a couple of arms, a torso, and a head. The parts doubled in size, then connected to match the size of the assembled demon.
“Mecha-Tahquitz?” Paige said.
[Aspect of Tahquitz Speaking]
“THIS IS SO CLICHE, BUT WHATEVER. IT’S YOUR IMAGINATION, NOT MINE.” Tahquitz says, with his eyes flashing while he talks like a Japanese Anime robot normally would.
Tahquitz leaps off of the beach, then lands behind the demon approaching page, firing enormous cannon blasts at the demon, ripping it apart. The demon tries to lunge away by shooting a spike to try to pull it away, but Tahq fires on the new spikes stopping it from moving at all.
The damaged tendons of the demon start to decay as it’s severed from the main body. Leaving a small, red-vortex filled core left for Paige to smash again. Tahquitz stops firing, then disassembles and returns to normal, with six copies of himself standing there, surrounding Paige and the weakened core.
“Well, this is awkward…” Tahquitz Prime says.
“Tell me about it.” Tahquitz Duo says.
“Now, hold still…” Paige reaches up and swings one more time to smash the core…
… until Tahquitz #6 grabs it from the ground, curious as to what it is.
Both Paige and Tahquitz Prime shout at once, “NOOOO!!!”
But it was too late… Tahquitz #6 was holding the demon core, as it replicated again, integrating itself into Tahquitz and turning his eyes red.
Then the other Tahqs followed suit… #4, #5 each also had red eyes, and melted into the same blur of body parts that comprised the demon of Shiara. #3 tried to resist before falling the same way, while Duo and Prime ran away as fast as they could.
All to no avail. The combined demon shot two tendrils out to the both of them, “Paige, I’m sorry…” Tahquitz Prime shouts back before his eyes turned red as all six of the Tahquitz clones were absorbed into the demon, growing once more, and taking on a different form… a woman with black skin and tattoos on her arms just like Tahquitz had, with long, straight white hair similar to what Shiara had.
This new demon opened her glowing white eyes, looked at Paige, and said, “NoW tHe ReAl FiGhT cAn BeGiN.”
Two enormous cyclones of volcanic ash and magma, along with ice and rain formed immediately and spun behind her.
“This is why my counselor cautioned against what Devereaux told me… I can’t expect my friends to save me. I have to be able to save myself.”
Paige takes a deep breath, and steels herself. “If you want me to submit, you’re going to have to bring a lot more than that.” Paige’s psionic armor starts to collect sand from the beach then hardens into steel, with her arm blades gaining the same treatment. Her feet shedding the skates, she gets boots in their place.
“I’m tired of this nonsense. COME AT ME!” she yells, running toward the new monster.
Tahquitz Novus starts to charge towards Paige from across the beachhead, with both vortexes of fire and ice rushing ahead of her. Novus starts to screech an unnatural sound as she closes further toward her quarry. A set of thorns wrapped around her arms twist into a set of similar blades, ready to meet Paige for one-on-one combat.
But first, both twisters fall in line and try to land on Paige, first fire, then ice.
Paige sees the volcanic tornado and draws her arms inward as she charges through the intense heat, straight through the center of the vortex… she comes out of the other side, with rock, magma, and fire spewing out of her emergence.
But charging through the cyclone has an unintended side effect… Fire represents revenge, passion, and wrath, and as she emerges, a flash of light obscures her vision filling her full of memories. When her music teacher kicked her out of the program after weeks of training wasted. When the High School counselor recommended in Court that Paige leaves Rhode Island, and her favorite foster mother, Kathy, behind for Paragon City and the judge ignored her railing against the decision to stay at the only home she knew. When the college sorority in her dorm decided to “prank” her upon turning 14 by reminding her that she didn’t belong there: after making over the room with Hello Kitty paraphernalia and Dora The Explorer sheets and pillow covers, they replaced all the books in her room with Judy Blume and Nancy Drew, followed by her college textbooks with Sex Ed ones from the 1970s… and nobody owning up to doing it. Even the RA said, “Next time, lock your door, kid.”
Then she rushes forward into the ice twister for the same treatment and the same mental barrage… the bitter cold slows her movement briefly, but her momentum can’t be denied as she emerges from the other side, just as determined to reach the newly enhanced demon.
Ice being the representation of loss, sadness, and betrayal, Paige again was bombarded with images of her past pain… When her subsequent adoptive parents at 8 years old gave her back to the state when their kids did nothing but torment her both at school and at home. When she was in the Boston Police Department after running away from her next family and living homeless in a Catholic Shelter for 4 months, only to be picked up off of the street and returned to the family that gave her back by mistake… a move that wasn’t corrected until she turned 12 and met Kathy. And attending her Middle School Winter Social, only to sit on the sidelines as no one asked her to dance or even talked to her. The teachers and principal pitied her more than her own peers, which made her leave early on a 6pm downtown bus.
Paige realized that her own memories were being used against her, and that the longer this struggle kept going on, the more that her fears and pain would continue to be used against her. She swept past those feelings and came to a conclusion.
“I’m not going to be able to reason with you, so there’s only one thing left… to face you without fear,” Paige thinks to herself moments before she lunges once more into Tahquitz Novus to destroy her.
Tahquitz Novus charges towards Paige, undeterred by the two cyclones, so she dismisses them.
She runs at full speed, then says “YoU’rE fOrGeTtInG mY nEweEsT tRiCk, My DeAr.” A copy of her appears. And another. And another. Six copies of Tahquitz Novus, blades drawn, charging at Paige at full speed.
“WhAt WiLl YoU dO nOw, LiTtLe GiRl?” the choir of assailants ask in unison.
As each of the clones brought out multiple cyclones of elements, memories, and pain ready to assault Paige, she drops the psionic weapons like shedding a winter coat. She can’t fight them in a traditional sense. She needs to address this at a level they can’t reach.
Paige stops as the villains keep running towards her. “What will I do now? This.” Paige leaps over the six clones, lands behind them, and closes her eyes. She presses her fists into each other, as a tremendous white-hot energy explosion emerges from where she is, engulfing her and all six of the copies of Tahquitz Novus demons, obliterating them at once, followed by the beach head, then the very sky itself.
Paige is now in a solid white landscape, floating, with eyes closed. The armor is gone, unneeded at this point. Her arms are closed around her breasts, head lowered, and her hair floating freely in the vacuum. Her skin is unadorned, radiating pure white, with rivulets of energy surrounding her, emanating the white all around her.
Except in one spot. Directly in front of her is the core of the demon from Shiara, weakened a third time, gently pulsating and red… and in fear of what is about to happen next.
She then starts to talk…
“This is what you were after all along. This is me, the real me. My core self.”
Her arms open and spread from end to end, slowly and gracefully. The wingspan of her arms passes millimeters away from Shiara, burning it with white heat as the core shows a open wound leaking dark energy that scars over in seconds.
“This is me, absent of fear, absent of judgment, absent of pretense. Understand, there is no hate in my heart left for you, but as that may be, I also cannot allow this to continue.”
She raises her head slowly.
“I could only realize this from conflict. No advice could bring me to this point, no medication, therapy, or conversation could make me come to this realization before this moment. I’ve waited for six months. Six months to see how you escalate further and further until I get to my last offense.”
“My most vulnerable form that you intended to consume is ironically my last weapon. The only one that I need.”
She inhales deeply, and says at last:
“And it’s the simplest one of all. Only a realization.”
The demon core is trembling… a pause that is only because of her confidence with the potential of one single desire: Shiara’s final demise in Paige’s mind.
But Shiara fought to the end. The demon core screeched as it shot a single spike into Paige’s chest and began to replicate and spread across her torso without apparent resistance. Then Paige spoke one last time.
“I am Paige Pirillo. And I will never give in to the darkness.”
Her eyes then open, glowing white as well and finally obscuring everything including her own form by the same blinding white light, obliterating the demon in whole as its last attempt to corrupt her failed.
She at last leaves the dream world.
“Mmm…” Paige comes awake softly as the LED clock next to her bed in the Superbase glows 6:15 a.m. A whole 45 minutes before she needed to wake up to get ready for classes.
“Is it over? Is it finally over?!”, she says weakly… “I hope it is…” She closes her eyes and listens… the auditory hallucinations she’s been having lately have stopped. She opens her eyes, now gently tearing up. Nothing.
She tries it one more time, again silence.
She cries at last, but this time, it’s tears of joy. Paige has spent one whole year fighing Shiara in her mind, and she has finally come out on top.
She has finally won. Once and for all.