Chapter Twelve: Kimber's Dilemma
"You're quiet tonight."
Kimber turned, smiling faintly as she took in the speaker's features. "Is everything okay?"
"Oh, I don't know..." The redhead sighed. "Aja, I'm kinda torn between two things. I've been thinking about what to do about the whole Jem issue...and it keeps coming back to the same thing." She paused. "You still haven't had any luck in fixing those earrings?"
"No." Aja shook her head, sitting down on her friend's bed. "Here, I'm giving them to you since Jerrica's your sister and all. You should have them. I only wish I could've worked out what was wrong with them."
"Thanks." Kimber picked one up, turning it over in her hand. "It looks all right, you know. I wonder why it won't project the Jem hologram."
"I think there must be a loose wire somewhere, but I can't locate it, and I've tried my best." Aja frowned. "I'm real sorry, Kimber. I feel like I've let you down...you and Jerrica both."
"You did your best." Kimber put a comforting arm around the older girl. "Now we just have to figure out a plan B, huh?"
"Yeah, guess we do." Aja nodded. "We can't let Jetta and Roxy find out about Synergy. Too much is at stake."
"I agree." Kimber paused. "And that's where my dilemma is. I...I've been thinking about talking to...to Rio about this."
"Rio?" Aja looked startled. "Kimber, what would Jerrica say?"
"She'd say protect Synergy at all costs." A fresh voice came from the doorway, and the two girls glanced up to see Shana watching them. "We don't have a choice, Aja...Rio is the only one who might be able to fix the Jemstar earrings and project the Jem hologram. If we can't project Jem then who knows what might happen to Synergy?"
"That's what I'm arguing with myself over at the moment." Kimber admitted. "Whether Jerrica would be more mad with me if I told Rio the truth or I let Jetta and Roxy discover Synergy and the truth behind Jem. Rio will be angry, I'm almost certain of that..."
"What else can we do?" Shana squatted on the floor, her own expression troubled. "Listen, you guys. I've spent the last few days with Jetta and it's been an eyeopener in more ways than one. I never believed we could work together on anything, but we are, and I'm learning more and more just how clever she really is. If she doesn't already suspect then it's only a matter of time before she starts adding things up. We can't waste time."
"Roxy's cynical too. She keeps asking where Jem is." Aja acknowledged. "But what if Rio won't help us?"
"Rio loves Jerrica." Shana said sensibly. "He'll do it for her, no matter how hurt he is. So long as he's told in the right way..."
"Yeah, I suppose." Aja glanced at Kimber. "Kimber?"
"Well, when Shana puts it like that, I guess it really is all we can do." Kimber sighed heavily. "I suppose I'm the one who's got to do the telling, huh?"
"Well...Jerrica's your sister. Rio's practically your brother in law." Shana reasoned.
"I don't know about that." Kimber protested. She bit her lip. "All right. I'll speak to him tomorrow." She put the earrings down on the bedside unit. "As for finding Jerrica...what do we have?"
"That's what I came to talk to you guys about." Shana settled herself more comfortably on the rug. "Jetta spoke to Clash's Dad this afternoon, over the phone, and he wasn't all that helpful, but he did let slip something about her renting out an apartment in the south side of the city. He said it was something to do with a business project of hers...God only knows what he believes his darling's actually doing in Los Angeles."
"He's a doting father of the worst kind, from all Stormer told me." Kimber grimaced. "None too bright, but adores Clash and will do anything she asks of him."
"I think we all underestimated the extent of Clash's imagination and intelligence." Aja said grimly. "Just because she hasn't applied herself to anything like Video has doesn't mean she's not just as clever. I guess it isn't a case of like father, like daughter after all."
"What did Video have to say on the subject?" Kimber asked. Shana shrugged.
"Not a lot. She doesn't speak to Clash much, if at all." she replied. "She did say she'd help, though, if she could. Chimera too. Hey, did you know Chimera and Pizzazz were sisters?"
"Pizzazz has a sister?" Kimber looked blank. Shana spread her hands.
"Apparently." She agreed. "We all know that Mrs Gabor left when Pizzazz was small...I'd guess the relationship happened that way."
"Probably." Kimber nodded. "If Pizzazz's mother is anything like Pizzazz herself..."
"This isn't getting us anywhere." Aja interrupted. "We ought to get some sleep, all of us. Tomorrow will be here soon enough and we haven't the time to mess around."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It was early the next morning, and Kimber had decided to take advantage of the fact Rio had chosen to camp out over at the Starlight Mansion. For her own part, she had found it difficult to sleep, and had awoken earlier than usual as a result. More than anything she dreaded the reaction she felt sure would come from what she had to tell him, but, as they had agreed last night, there was nothing else to be done.
The road manager was busy poring over a map, marking off the places in the city that they had already covered, and he glanced up, smiling at her slightly.
"What's up, Kimber?" he asked. Kimber sat down beside him, eying his work with a frown.
"It's not gonna bring her back, you know." She told him. Rio frowned.
"Guess I know that, but it's better than doing nothing." He admitted.
"Well...I kinda have something else for you to tackle, if you're game." Kimber spoke hesitantly.
Rio looked startled.
"Sure...what is it?"
Carefully Kimber produced the earrings, setting them down on the unit.
"Those are Jerrica's!" Rio exclaimed, picking one up and turning it over. "Where did you get them?"
"Stormer found them in the hut where we think Jerrica disappeared." Kimber replied. "Rio, there's something important I have to tell you...so important that I have to break my promise to Jerrica to keep it a secret."
"What do you mean?" Rio looked confused, his eyes still on the earring. "Hey...this has wires..."
"Yes, it does. They're no ordinary earrings." Kimber spoke slowly. "Rio, how much do you know about holographic projection?"
"Not a whole lot." Rio admitted. "I wouldn't have imagined you to know much more about it, either, to be honest."
"I...don't." Kimber acknowledged. "But that's what these are - projection units built into the earrings by my father before he died. They...they contribute to our stage show, when Jerrica activates them. They're backed up by a powerful mainframe that Father built, only he never had time to patent her, and if the wrong people got hold of her all hell could be let loose."
"Woah, Kimber, back up a minute, you lost me." Rio set the earring down, fixing Kimber with a slightly bemused look. "Let me get this straight. Jerrica's earrings are really not earrings at all, but microscopic projectors? And these projectors form Jem and the Holograms' light show?"
"Yes." Kimber twisted her hands together.
"But how? Jerrica isn't even on stage when you perform."
"Yes she is." Kimber whispered. "Rio...Jerrica...is Jem."
For a moment Rio just stared at his companion, not comprehending, and, feeling awkward Kimber hastened to explain.
"It all began to try and get Starlight Music back, so we could support the girls." She began. "We needed a way to challenge the Misfits...and it seemed inappropriate to field Jerrica as our lead singer. I've always known she can sing - well, we've all known, in truth, but she was too shy about stepping out on stage as herself. So we asked Synergy's advice, and she suggested creating an alternate persona through her holograms. We went through a lot of different styles before Jerrica settled on Jem. Then we had to think of a name, and, well, that came from the car, because it had Jem on the front as it's emblem - it seemed appropriate somehow. Since Jem was a hologram, we called outselves Jem and the Holograms - and we had our act. We were so rushed for time to be ready for the Battle of the Bands in the park that we none of us thought to tell you what we were doing, and by the time we performed it was too late to warn you that Jem and Jerrica were the same girl. And then Jerrica was worried you'd be mad at her and break up with her if you knew she'd lied so we...we all kept the secret. I'm sorry, Rio. We didn't mean to lie to you, none of us did. It was just how things worked out."
Rio was silent for a minute or two, digesting all this. Then, in a sudden burst of rage he brought his fist down on the counter, making Kimber jump.
"How dare she play games with me like this!" He exclaimed.
Kimber edged away.
"Rio, she needs your help. We all do." She said nervily.
Rio folded his arms.
"I hate lying and I hate deceit...why should I do anything to help her?" He demanded.
"Because you love her." Kimber replied. "And you know, it hasn't been easy for her either. You liked Jem from the start and Jerrica was always afraid she was competing with someone more exciting than she was for your attention - only to make it worse, she was competing with herself. Synergy said that you only liked Jem because of your love for Jerrica not being fooled by a Hologram, but I'm not sure it helped her confusion any."
"What or who is this Synergy you keep mentioning?"
"The mainframe that powers the earrings. Only they're broken and we can't project the Jem hologram." Kimber bit her lip. "Rio, we're all sorry...so sorry for lying to you, but we didn't see anything else to do. And now if we can't project Jem in Jerrica's absense, the Misfits will realise they're the same person and who knows what'll happen to Synergy then? If it isn't too late already. Whoever kidnapped Jerrica - if it is Clash, like Jetta and Shana think it is - knows the truth and could use it at any time. But we've got to try, Rio. Synergy's more of a mother than she is a computer, Father programmed her to be that way. I'd hate anything to happen to her because of us."
"I do love her." He admitted. "And I suppose I've messed her over enough too, since Jem came on the scene. I should never have played with Jerrica's emotions by chasing after Jem like I did. I suppose we're both to blame, aren't we?"
"Maybe...but I think you're only guilty of being too much in love with each other." Kimber dimpled, looking relieved. "Rio, will you try and fix the earrings? Aja's tried but she can't, and you're so much better at electronics than any of us."
"I'll look at them." Rio agreed. "Man, I still can't get this into my head! If I weren't so worried about Jerrica I'd be more angry than I am...but I just want her back, Kimber. We can talk it through then...I just want to know she's safe." He scooped up the earrings. "And if I can make myself useful by tinkering with these, then I'll try, although I'll have to see the mainframe too, to know what I'm working with."
"Sure thing, follow me." Kimber grinned, linking her arm in his. "If the earrings aren't fixed, it's the end of Jem and the Holograms...so it's pretty important."
"I wouldn't do anything to jeopardise you girls for the world." Rio told her gravely. "Let's go."
Chapter Two: Deception
Chapter Three: On Tour With The Holograms
Chapter Four: The Next Stage
Chapter Five: Jem?
Chapter Six: Trapped!
Chapter Seven: An Unlikely Team
Chapter Eight: Laying Plans
Chapter Nine: Letter From The Desert
Chapter Ten: Jetta's Hunch
Chapter Eleven: Some Outside Help
Chapter Twelve: Kimber's Dilemma
Chapter Thirteen: The Great Escape
Chapter Fourteen: Fire!
Chapter Fifteen: Repercussions and Rock and Roll
Chapter Sixteen: The End Of An Era
(The Misfits and Holograms and other animated Jem characters are copyrighted to Hasbro Inc. All characters who do not appear in Jem episodes are my own creation. This story is copyrighted to E.A Woolley (2001)
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