Thursday, August 03, 2006

Another day in Paragon City

Her diary sat dusty and unopened on Noelle's nightstand, almost unseen below a stack of glossy magazines and catalogues. Since she'd moved into her Talos apartment almost two years ago, she'd made it her own. Where once a small postcard stuck up against the mirror was her only decoration, now the walls were painted a cool light green, the color picked up by the accents on her duvet cover, a poster sized print of a black and white Arctic landscape framed artfully above her bed. Her dressertop was cluttered with 4x6 framed photos of friends and family, while the corners of her room -- as always -- held the overflow of shoes from her walk-in closet.

Through the bedroom door, the living room was welcoming, an overstuffed couch and wingback chair clustered around a coffee table. Below a ceramic bowl of green apples, the glass protected a collage of newspaper clippings and accolades from City Hall, Noelle's "Hero of the City" announcement from the Paragon Times next to a smaller piece on her skating classes at the Kings Row Ice Arena, almost covering a gossip clipping with familiar bolded names.

On the terrace outside, two rattan lounge chairs with bright pink cushions had a great view of the waters, and a hardy ivy plant grew up the wall and reached toward the balcony above from a terracotta pot on the floor.

The kitchen cabinets, if you'd peered in, were stocked with food -- adult food, not the snacks and treats she's bought in her first months in PC, when the variety in the grocery stores had been so alluring.

And the bathroom was cluttered, but clean, a variety of hair care products and makeup scattered on most surfaces, but towels neatly hung to dry.

It looked like the home of a grown-up, and Noelle -- though she'd come to Paragon City almost two years ago as a teenager learning how to use her new superpowers, uncertain of her abilities and how she'd fit in in the famed "City of Heroes" -- had seemed to make it her own. There had been less newspaper articles lately, perhaps, as newer heroes eager for the press and the spotlight gave interviews and had their pictures published where once hers might have been, but Noelle seemed happy about it. She might, if she trusted you and you asked her, tell you that she was coontent, even delighted with the way things had turned out. That she regretted some of the brash heroics, the constant gossip column mentions, the long nights and constant fights.

Fights there still were to be had, but they were handled quietly, with precision, in a team that she was proud to be a part of, even as she missed some of the faces that had been so familiar once, and were more often than not elsewhere now.

Someone, once, had talked to her about finding a life outside of Paragon City -- of needing to leave to find out who they truly were. Noelle had found her life here, and heroing was just a part of it.

The phone rang, and almost simultaneously, a scrabbling of keys was heard at the front door. "I'm coming!" Noelle shouted through the wood, turned the lock and rushed through the open door to grab at the phone, clicking off the answering machine that started to play her pre-recorded message.


"No, I'm here. What's up?"

"They are, huh? Where?"

"No worries, I'll be right there. See you in a sec."

Closing the door behind her with her foot as she hung up, she threw a pile of mail on her kitchen table, pulled off her tank top as she went into her bedroom, and came out a moment later in a familiar outfit with cape and boots. In a flash, she disappeared, a tracing of frost on the glass-topped coffee table near where she'd been.

Another day in Paragon City.

Monday, May 15, 2006

From the Private, Personal Diary of Noelle Frost

Dear Diary -

Wow. You stop putting pen to paper for a couple of days, and the next thing you know, weeks and months have gone by. I can't even try to catch up on everything that's happened, though I will say it's been really nice to see some of the other Knights with some kind of regularity again. I missed fighting alongside Mav -- my first friend in Paragon -- and Streak, and Muratan, and all the others. I don't value Kessa and Mal any less for seeing them more often, but it's nice to hear the Knights' comm alive with chatter.

Anyway, moving on! Spent the last few days tracking something big in the Shard. Like, big Big. End of the world big. Or, well, world-changing, at least. But we shut it down: me, Jason, Ulric, Psi-Clone and Amorpha, Leroy Jones, and War Bones, a funny big guy I haven't spent much time with before, but the man knows how to throw a punch, and his kick is a killer. A really great group, all told. I wouldn't mind spending more time with them.

And well, with Jason, who's been sort of haunting the Shard, I think. Since he and Sabrina -- since their marriage ended. Working through this thing, I think it helped him. He was like his old self again, mostly. Big grin and all, especially when we were beating on C... I mean, especially against some of the folks we were fighting.

Anyway, I want to try to get back on top of this diary thing. I'm also working with a newer hero named Justice Hart, teamed up in a "Tournament of Champions" to promote cross-coalition alliances, where it's been fun to participate in a few arena matches against friends. All sorts of safeties in play, but still -- I'm glad I'm not usually on the wrong side of Hype and Syn, fer instance, or Zazi's blade. So that's fun to be involved in.

More soon, I hope.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

From the Private, Personal Diary of Noelle Frost

Dear Diary -

It's like I haven't wanted to write anything here because I knew what the next thing I was going to say was going to be, and writing it down would make it definite, where as if I didn't write it... didn't write ANYTHING... then I could pretend everything would be fine.

But I guess I've just been kidding myself. Huh. Quite the choice of words.

This is about Kid, of course. Since he's been back to himself, since I saw him the last time... there's been nothing further. And I just think -- something must have changed in him, because that's NOT the person I thought I was in love with. My Kid would have called me the second he remembered me, the moment he came back to his senses.

And I get being busy. This isn't about that. We're all busy, and we all have important work to do. This is about taking time with the people that matter to you. Time that sometimes needs to be scheduled in advance, when everything's going crazy, or can just happen naturally when there's an otherwise lull.

I guess the short of it is I'm not with Kid anymore. But that's been true for a while. I miss the us we were together, and I miss the he he used to be, and I miss his friendship. But I guess things change.

There isn't anyone else. This isn't like when I kissed Reese while I was with Streak, or when I was dating both Kid and Reese and decided I needed the emotional commitment I could have from Kid. This is about me. Being happy with me, with who I am.

And I'm looking forward to that, and to spending time with my friends.


Monday, February 20, 2006

From the Private, Personal Diary of Noelle Frost

Dear Diary -

Maybe I'm a quitter. Maybe I just had to come back for this reason. But after starting, in the Shard, finding Jason, who looks like a shade of his old self...

I came back to Paragon to talk to this Ganymede person, on some sort of rush mission, and while I was in town, I was scanning my comm channels, and--

I saw him. Kid. And I sent off another one of my pleading "Kid?!?!?" messages, which I've sent off countless times beofre, only to have this stranger answer me. But this time, it wasn't a stranger. It was Kid. He called me "Chilly," and I raced over to the Rikti Crash Site to see him, and I ran into his arms.

And I felt safe again.

As long as I didn't stop to wonder -- how long has it been since he remembered? And why didn't he call me? And all that's happened in the past few months -- what does it mean, to me?

There's still more questions than answers, not the least of which is who did this to him, and why. And for me... I guess I still have to know if I can do this without him.

So... I called Jason again. It's like he's... haunting... the Shard. I need to help him. Need him to help me. Figure that's a kind of thing we can do together, like each of us can use the other to put the pieces back in place. Puck's been a help, too. And Kessa, and Mal, and Shock... so many friends. And you know? Maybe that's the way it should be, at least for now.

I'm not turning my back on a relationship -- I still need to figure out what's going on with Kid -- but in the meantime, the most important thing can be me. With my friends.

Does that make any sense?


Monday, February 06, 2006

From the Private, Personal Diary of Noelle Frost

Private recording of personal comm

Dear Diary -- it sounds funny to say "Dear Diary" rather than write it, but I'm not home, and not sure when I'm getting back there, and thought I should... I don't know... say something? Leave some record of my thoughts?

I'm in the Shadow Shard. I'm -alone- in the Shadow Shard, and it's... it is beautiful, in places. But it feels, well... cold, in the way that the Arctic never was. Not temperature wise. Solitary? Which is funny, I guess, given all the folks out here -- military guys fighting against the locals, plus the Crey and the Nemmies making trouble. And yet -- you can go for days without seeing another hero. And the communication is... spotty.

I got a message from Derek, from Star Breaker, the other day. I didn't realize he was some sort of telepath. Hard to hide my feelings when someone's talking right into my brain, and I'm talking back at him. I don't think I sounded as calm, cool, and collected, as I would have hoped. But it helped -- talking to a friend.

And then I thought... I mean... I found my old comm device, the one that Mal adjusted, from when Jason was being used by Crey, and we got a team together to help him find out what they were really up to, and that all worked out mostly... and anyway, I didn't know if anyone would still have their comm like that, but it worked better than the regular Alliance one for communications in the Shard... So I sent off a message.

To see if anyone hears.

If anyone's there.

Because everything... [her voice breaks] ... I can't do everything alone. I can't. And I need someone. I don't care if that means I'm weak. I don't care!

I feel like I've mourned Kid already, even if someone that looks like him is still walking around Paragon. And I long ago lost Streak. And Reese was never more than just a phase maybe, or a supreme example of being in the exact wrong place at the exact wrong time.

I need...

I need a friend.

Transmission cuts out.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

From the Private, Personal Diary of Noelle Frost

Dear Diary -

Huh. Well. Lots of stuff going on, and I just... fell behind, I guess. Sigh. Ok, recap:

Jason and Sabrina split up. Didn't see that coming. Reese flipped me off. Should have expected that. Kid still doesn't remember me. Almost used to that now. Mal and Nora still in each other's bodies. Think they enjoy it. Hype got named "Hero of the City." Totally deserved. Cassie left the Knights, and is spending more time with Sean, who I'm still worried about. Can't do much about it, though. Wish I could.

Seems like everything's... I don't know... changing, I guess. And I partly want to hang on to the way things have been, and partly want to maybe take a new opportunity to explore something different. Something new and exciting.

I'm working on something with Crimson, something big, but then, what isn't with him? Once I finish that up, though, I think I'm going to head into the Shadow Shard. That place spooked me so the first couple of times I went in, and I only got through it because of Kid, and later, Hang Time... Anyway, I think it's something I have to do for myself. If only to prove that I can.

Right. That's all for now.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

From the Private, Personal Diary of Noelle Frost

Dear Diary -

There's this image in my head, and I can't seem to shake it, nor make it any clearer. I think it's a clue, somehow. I think...

Reese asked for help the other day against Vanessa Devore, the head clownie. In the back of my head was this idea that maybe she could tell me something about what happened to Kid, like, ok, I know we haven't been able to get any information from any of the clownies we've arrested in the past few weeks, but this is the big cheese. And she's psychic. Big time psychic. I thought there was some hope that she'd know something.

We rushed into the warehouse in King's Row -- Reese, me, Puck Fair, and Dr. Rune -- and I tried to question every Carnie as we took them down. Nothing. Not that I really expected anything, but still...

Then we saw Vanessa. And with a little of that same recklessness I felt when i thought Kid was dead, I rushed her, though Reese and the others were right behind me. Through the frozen air that surrounded us, and layers and layers of ice, I just kept asking her -- "What did you do to Kid?" And thought I got nothing in response, except a dizzying headache. As she ported to the Zig (likely just to get out again, though I guess we just keep hoping that one day, an arrest will stick in this town), I kinda collapsed, my head buzzing. I came to a few moments later, and we cleared out the rest of the warehouse, and I made my way home.

The last few days, since then, I feel like there's been this itch at the back of my brain. Every once in a while, I get like this -flash- of something. An image of Kid, singing. "Love me tender," or "Suspicious Minds," or "Devil in Disguise." And there's a mask. And I think there's a woman, with face paint, forcing someone -- I can't tell if it's Kid or not. It just seems off.

And two words that I don't recognize - "vitiation" and "Mirabella." One is a name, I think, but the other -- I don't know.

I don't know anything -- whether this is just fevered hopes from a brain that hasn't been sleeping well since Kid "died," or something more. Did I get something helpful from Vanessa after all? Did this Mirabella do something to Kid? What's with the singing?

I should ask my friends. They've offered to help, and I just... didn't know what could be done, what I could tell them. But maybe this is something. Maybe...