Chapter Fourteen: Fire!
"Is this it?"
Jetta gazed up at the tatty old building, her nose wrinkling up in disdain. "Nice, Clash. Real nice."
"That's it." Shana confirmed, checking the address on the piece of paper once more, then folding it, slipping it into her pocket. "I'll bet you anything that's where they are."
"It looks a dump." Video shivered. She, Raya, Chimera and Rio had joined in Shana and Jetta's visit to the block of flats Buzz Montgomery had carelessly let slip about, for Rio had, after a couple of hours hard work managed to replace the earrings' faulty projectors and produce an image of Jem that had satisfied Roxy and Jetta and relieved the Holograms. Chimera nodded her head.
"My sister wouldn't be caught dead in a dump like this if it were by choice, so I'd say they're tied up." She observed. "Do we have something sharp, in case we need to cut ropes?"
"I have a penknife." Rio nodded his head. "Well, what are we waiting for! We gotta get in there and look!"
"Rio's right." Shana nodded. "I say we pair up and go in in twos...that way it'll be quicker."
"Well, I'm game for that." Chimera grabbed the nearest person, Raya by the arm. "Come on, Raya, we'll take the left hand side of the building and the left stairwell, okay?"
"Fine by me." Raya agreed.
"Okay, then Jetta and I should take the right, and you and Video the centre, Rio." Shana suggested. Rio stared at Shana quizzically.
"You want to pair with Jetta?" He demanded.
The Hologram and the Misfit exchanged looks.
"We're a team." Shana said at length.
"At least till Pizzazz and Jerrica are safe." Jetta agreed. "We're used to each other's company...if we wanna find them quickly it's best we stick with what we know."
"Okay, then lets get moving." Video said, pushing open the door of the building. "Let's see if we can't find them."
Once the pairs had split up, Jetta and Shana headed off along the corridor to the right hand stairwell, carefully creeping up the steps and checking each apartment as they reached it. As they got to the sixth floor, Jetta frowned, wrinkling her nose again.
"Can you smell smoke?" she asked. Shana paused, sniffing.
"Maybe." She agreed. "It does smell like someone's burnt the cooking or something."
"This building is meant to be empty. That's why Clash is using it." Jetta reminded her. Shana frowned.
"You're right." She agreed. "Then I wonder what the smell is?"
"I'll tell you what it is." Jetta's expression became one of consternation and she grabbed her companion by the arm, pointing. "Look...flames."
"Fire!" Shana's eyes opened wide. "I guess the electrics in this place finally gave out - probably the first time they'd been used in so long. Oh, we have to get them out of here!"
"I'm right with you." Jetta said grimly. "Come on. Quicker we go up an' search, quicker we can get out in one piece."
"I'll second that." Shana nodded, and gritting their teeth they headed onwards up the stairs.
On the tenth floor, in the initial panic of spotting the fire, Jerrica and Pizzazz had headed in separate directions, both aware that Zipper and Clash were also both loose in the building, and neither knowing quite how to proceed. The flames had begun to engulf the top of the stairwell too, and, in a panic to avoid being burnt both girls had headed up or down a flight of stairs, losing touch with one another completely as they struggled to find a way out.
Jerrica paused at the top of the steps leading into floor 11 to catch her breath, glancing around her for any sign of Pizzazz, but she could see no trace of the singer anywhere through the hazy, smoke filled air.
"Pizzazz?" She called, but there was no reply, and through the wisps of grey she thought she saw Zipper ahead of her. Startled and afraid she turned tail, fleeing back down the steps and even negotiating the dangerous stairway, stepping down between the two lines of fire that had begun to climb the walls. Holding her breath as best she could, she kept going till her visibility was almost zero, fighting to get to the other side of the fire.
As she did so, she almost ran headlong into Chimera, who caught her with an exclamation.
"Jerrica!" Raya cried. "Oh, are you okay?"
"Raya?" Jerrica struggled to see her friend through the thick smoggy air, but her eyes were already stinging and watering too much for her to focus, and she gave up trying as between them the two girls led their third down the stairs as fast as they could.
"We're almost outside now, you'll get plenty of air then." Raya assured her as Jerrica began to cough.
"The whole place is gonna go up." Chimera observed with a frown. "I hope Jetta and the others have found Pizzazz and have gotten well clear."
"They're not out here." Raya reported, pushing open the door as they lead Jerrica to a safe patch of grass, well away from the danger of being crushed should the building fall.
"Well, I'm going to call the fire department." Chimera decided, heading across the road to a nearby phonebox. "If they come out, Raya, make sure they get well clear, okay?"
"Should I go in and look for them?" Raya asked. Chimera considered, then shook her head.
"No...no sense in risking more people than have already been." She said finally. "Give them a moment or two, Raya...then if they don't show we'll both go look together."
"Okay." Raya nodded, sitting down on the grass beside Jerrica. "I hope they come out soon."
Back inside the building, Jetta and Shana had paused at the top of the steps to the eighth floor, finding it more and more difficult to breathe in the smoky atmosphere. Frowning, Jetta pushed open the door of the stairwell, peering out into a mess of smoke and teasing flames that had engulfed the corridor between them and the abandoned apartment.
"It's like a bonfire." She reported, her voice husky and dry. Then, "Wait a minute! I 'eard somethin'!"
"What was it?" Shana frowned, listening.
"Someone callin'! Hush, listen!"
Sure enough there was the sound of someone calling a name though the voice was too indistinct to recognise or understand.
"Someone's on the other side of that door, an' I'm gonna find out who." Jetta set her teeth, pushing open the door fully and disappearing through before Shana could stop her. The Hologram rolled her eyes, quickly following suit so as not to lose track of her companion.
"'Ello?" Jetta called, as best she could for smoke. "Anyone 'ere?"
There was a pause, then an answering call, and Jetta's frown deepened.
"Pizzazz, is that you?" She demanded, pushing open a door and peering into the apartment itself.
"Jetta, watch out!" Shana exclaimed, pulling her companion back as the doorframe collapsed around her. Jetta bit her lip at how close she'd come, but quickly got a grip on herself.
"Ta, love. I owe you one." She told the Hologram quietly. Shana shook her head.
"No." She responded. "But we do have to find Pizzazz, or whoever it is on this floor before more collapses."
"I'm with you there." Jetta agreed, coughing and covering her nose. "It's awful thick, mind you."
"There...look!" Shana hissed, pointing to a shape coming towards them through the smoke. "It's Pizzazz!"
"About time you guys showed." The singer's voice was hoarse and she was clearly struggling for breath, but she still managed to muster a sharp remark.
"We gotta get out of here." Jetta grabbed her bandmate by the arm, taking Shana by the other and pulling them back towards the stairwell at speed. Though all three were choking, blinded and breathless by the smoke, they persevered till they reached the ground floor, pushing the door open and stumbling out into the fresh air, their clothes and skin grey with smoke and dust.
"Shana, Jetta!" Raya hurried to greet them. "Pizzazz! Oh, are you all right? Are you all all right?"
"We're alive, ducks. That's enough for now." Jetta remarked grimly. "'Ere, where are Rio an' Video?" She coughed. "God that smoke's bad stuff. It's awful in there...ain't they out yet?"
"No...Chimera and I were just thinking to go in and look." Raya replied.
"You'll never get through." Shana shook her head. "The fire is getting worse...all we can hope is that Rio and Video are on their way down now. We've no way of getting in contact with them to tell them the rest of us are safe." She glanced across at Jerrica, offering her a smile. "Boy, am I glad to see you."
"And I you." Jerrica said dryly.
Pizzazz grabbed Jetta's arm, pulling her over to a space away from the Holograms, and indicating for her to sit down.
"We don't need the likes of them." She said huskily. "What you doing here anyway?"
"We worked out Clash had something to do with it, and her Dad gave away 'er usin' this place." Jetta said. "'Ere, 'ow come you were roamin' loose in there? We all thought you'd be tied up."
"We were. We were making our escape." Pizzazz replied. Then shock filled her features. "Oh God...Clash! She's still in there, an' Zipper too!"
"Not a lot we can do about it now, love." Jetta said matter-of-factly. "More important Video an' Rio get out than Clash...she brought it on 'erself."
"Guess she did." Pizzazz nodded. "But it don't look good if she dies, Jetta."
"You could've died, and where would the Misfits have been?" Jetta demanded. Pizzazz coughed.
"I dunno how well I'll sing tonight, if the show goes ahead." She admitted. "I need a drink."
"And a bath. We both do." Jetta said dryly. "'Ere, look...it's Video an' Rio! They made it out!"
"And they have someone else with them." Pizzazz squinted. "Who is it? I can't see properly yet."
"Clash, I think." Jetta replied. "An' she looks to be out cold on 'em, too."
"Well, let Video deal with her. I've had enough of her." Pizzazz decided firmly.
"Haven't we all?" Jetta rolled her eyes.
Across the grass, Jerrica had assured an anxious Shana and Raya that she was fine, and had gotten carefully to her feet, greeting Rio with a joyful hug.
"I thought I'd never see you again!" She exclaimed. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine." Rio kissed her gently. "And so are you, thank goodness. We've all been so worried."
"What about Clash?" Jerrica glanced across the grass at the still form that Video was bending over.
"Out cold, but alive." Rio said. "Video wants to take her back to her apartment, see if she can get any sense out of her, and I told her I'd give her a hand."
"Doesn't she need a doctor?"
"No...I think she fainted from shock more than anything." Rio replied. "Don't worry, Jerrica. She'll be fine. At least until you girls stick the nail in where all this is concerned."
"I'm not taking action against her." Jerrica frowned. "She was right about one thing - I can't. But Pizzazz might."
"Oh, that reminds me." Rio reached into his pocket, pulling out the earrings. "I believe these are yours?"
Jerrica stared at them, taking them carefully, then casting Rio a confused look as she slowly put them on.
"But...you...you know?" she asked softly. Rio nodded.
"Kimber told me." he admitted. "The earrings got broken and they needed someone to fix them to protect Jem's...your identity, and the computer too."
"Are you mad?"
"I was at first, but I love you." Rio told her gently. "And I don't like that you lied to me, but I guess I haven't always been fair to you either over Jem. So I guess I forgive you. What do you reckon, shall we start over, and keep Jem out of our private life?"
"Works for me." Jerrica smiled, relieved. "Thank you, Rio. I love you too...and it's a weight off my mind now you know." She glanced around her.
"Where is everyone else, anyway? Aja and Kimber...where are they?"
"Chasing up other leads. We gotta let them know you're safe." Rio grinned. "And, if you and Pizzazz are feeling up to it, there's a show to prepare for as well."
Jerrica smiled, linking her hand in his.
"Bring it on." She said firmly. "Jem's ready to rock."
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)