Chapter Ten: A Cunning Plan
Jetta swung open the door of the Gabor mansion, shock registering on her face as she recognised the singer, quickly followed by relief. "Thank the lord...I've 'ad enough of livin' with Roxy!"
"Shut your face, Jetta." Roxy appeared in the hallway behind her, as the singer and her companion made their way into the house. "So you decided to come home, huh? 'Bout time."
"Daddy wasn't well enough to travel till today." Pizzazz said with a shrug, a tiny smile touching the corner of her mouth. "But the Misfits are back in business now!"
"Perhaps not." Jetta eyed Roxy, then, "The only thing Roxy an' I are agreed on is that we're sick of bein' harassed an' bossed by Riot. You gotta make a choice, Pizzazz - it's been nothin' but abuse from them since you left!"
"Don't tell me what to do." Pizzazz bristled. "In any case, it's taken care of. I got things all figured out, so quit your complainin'."
"What do you mean?" Roxy demanded. "What you cookin', Pizzazz?"
"Get in the lounge and I'll tell you." Pizzazz ordered. "We gotta have a Misfit huddle about this, anyway. Daddy and I have been talking business...and you should know by now that I usually get what I want."
"The magazine?" Jetta asked.
"Nope, think bigger." Pizzazz grinned, dropping down on the sofa as her companions gathered round expectantly. "How does Misfit Music sound to you?"
"Like old news." Roxy replied morosely.
"Well, how about if it weren't such old news?"
"You mean your Dad's gonna fund another company?" Jetta looked interested.
Pizzazz shook her head.
"No. Better." She replied. "He's putting up the funds to buy back our company...it's just down to us to find out a way to convince Eric and Riot they have to sell it. Whaddya reckon? Can we do it?"
"Are you for real?" Roxy's eyes opened wide. "Rad! With Misfit Music back in action, there'll be no more stupid support gigs or harrassment from Riot...we gotta do it!"
"But we need a way to persuade them first." Stormer pointed out quietly. "Pizzazz reckons that if we can get a copy of the financial records of this place we can pick holes in Eric's administration enough to have an embezzlement case against him if he doesn't agree to sell to settle his and the company's debts. Harvey's sent one of his executives in to find the financial records as discreetly as possible."
"Our problem is Riot." Pizzazz agreed. "He's too canny to be tricked and too damn arrogant to be intimidated. We need a plan...something cunning. Something that's gonna get him right where he lives."
"Well, either money or status would work in that case." Jetta put in laconically. "Somethin' to dent the image of 'im or 'is dumb band. Do we 'ave any dirt on the Stingers?"
"Not as far as I know." Pizzazz frowned. "Which means we gotta find some, doesn't it?"
"Perhaps we oughta go pay a visit to the office." Roxy's eyes twinkled. "See if we can help out at all, dontcha think, girls?"
"Works for me." Pizzazz nodded her head. "Bout time I went and paid the old place a visit, anyway. Is Riot about today, does anyone know?"
"He an' Eric got some stupid meetin' in San Francisco or somethin' with an agent or representative or God knows what." Jetta pulled a face. "'Is girls are about, mind you...probably filin' their nails in some corner someplace, waitin' to pounce."
"Well, that's tough on them." Pizzazz got to her feet. "Daddy went to his office to give instructions to the executives there regarding this, but then he's coming back here, since he's meant to be recouperating. We're going to Stingers Sound to find out the evidence we want...if we all go, then two can take care of Minx and Rapture - Roxy, you an' Stormer get shot of them, huh? And Jetta and I will find what we need."
"Why me?" Roxy pouted.
"Cos you're too dumb to read." Jetta told her. "What use is it gettin' someone who can't spell 'cat' to 'unt through documents, huh? Duh!"
"There are other ways to get dirt on people." Roxy snapped back.
"Nah, Jetta's right." Pizzazz said as she scooped up the keys to the Misfit van. "This time we're into paperwork. There has to be something in the Stingers' contracts...or relating to their files that we can use. I know well enough where Eric keeps those files, and he's too much of a jerk not to shut all the most damning stuff away for private use. I say we ransack his office...you game?"
"With you all the way." Jetta nodded. "Let's go."
"What do you creeps want?"
Rapture greeted them with some suspicion at the door of Stinger Sound. "I thought you were playing nursemaid in Washington, Pizzazz. What happened? Couldn't your groupies here cope without you?"
"Can it, Rapture, we're here on business." Pizzazz told her curtly. "Outta my way. I've better things to do than talk to you."
"Well, if you came to grovel to Riot over Saturday, he's not here." Rapture said smoothly. "He's still in a pretty sticky mood over your no-show, as it happens...he's meeting with legal people today in San Francisco in the hopes of bringing you girls to heel."
"Oh, is he?" Pizzazz looked thoughtful. "Well, thanks for the wakeup call, Rapture. I'm sure we'll all be good little Misfits now." Her tone was laced with irony, and Roxy smirked.
"Move." She instructed, forcibly pushing Rapture to one side. "This is our company too, you know, and we got every right to be here."
"It's our company. You just work for it." Rapture snapped back. "Minx and I are busy, we're writing proper music, if you know what that is. You better not cause any hassle!"
"We're only 'ere to settle some business of our own." Jetta told her smoothly. "Now be a good girl an' let us alone, will ya? You go bury your 'ead in your writin'. We ain't 'ere to cause a fight, we're just 'ere for our own music needs, now we're all back together. In case you 'adn't noticed, we've gotten behind with work for the new album since Pizzazz an' Stormer 'ave been away...Riot won't love you if you 'old us up more."
Rapture fixed Jetta with a suspicious look. Equals in intelligence, the Stinger was not one to take Jetta's words at face value, and she was too shrewd to know that the carefully worded speech concealed the real reason for the band's sudden visit. Still, she was keen to get back to her own work, for she had little time or respect for the Misfits or their music, so she shrugged.
"Well, I suppose it's a first that you are working." She said disdainfully. "Just don't bother us, all right? We're busy."
"We wouldn't dream of it." Pizzazz purred. "Come on, girls. We can practice upstairs, out of their way."
Rapture watched them head into the lift, a frown on her face.
"Something's up." She decided, heading back down the corridor to the studio where she and Minx had been working before the rather noisy interruption of the Misfits' arrival at Stingers Sound. "I don't like it when they're all upbeat...it means there's something sneaky going on." She pushed open the door of the studio, meeting Minx's questioning gaze with a grimace of her own.
"The Misfits?" Minx asked, in her delicately accented tones. Rapture nodded.
"Who else makes such a racket coming to work?" She asked dryly. "It's them all right."
"All of them?" Minx raised a perfectly styled eyebrow. Rapture groaned.
"Yeah, unfortunately. They said something about their new album and practicing upstairs."
"Well, that's a first." Minx smirked, shrugging. "Riot will be glad at least that they're back under his control."
"I don't know..." Rapture frowned.
"What is it?" Minx looked surprised.
"I'm not sure. Can't put my finger on it." Rapture said slowly. "But I know when someone's trying their best to play manipulator, and Jetta was trying it on out there. Something's not right with this...they're all upbeat and happy about coming to work, not moaning and complaining about it like they usually are. And put that with Riot's mood when he got back from DC on Friday..."
"It was not pretty." Minx acknowledged. "I have not seen him that angry in some time."
"I'm beginning to wonder what happened in the capital." Rapture admitted. "When he went to see them. It was strange enough that Pizzazz didn't come back for the concert, considering how ditzy she generally is over him - he usually has to snap his fingers and she comes running."
"True." Minx looked thoughtful. "What do you suppose we do, then?"
"Well, I don't think that letting the Misfits run riot upstairs is a good plan." Rapture replied with a sigh. "So it looks like we're putting our writing on hold."
"Sure." Minx flipped the switch of her keyboard to 'off', getting to her feet. "I needed a break, anyway, and it might be fun to catch them getting themselves into even deeper trouble." She smirked. "I want to see Riot pull their contracts up in front of them and fine them for breaching their agreements. That would put them in their place."
"Agreed." Rapture nodded. "So lets go make sure we catch them red handed, huh?"
She moved to the door, turning the handle, then frowning.
"I can't open it!" She exclaimed.
"What?" Minx moved over to the door, trying it herself. She muttered something in German, then, "Those Misfits! When will they grow up! They have locked us in!"
"Typical." Rapture groaned. "Stupid babies, playing kids games. And now I know something is up." She glanced around her. "What have we got to pick the lock with?"
"Your hairgrips?" Minx suggested.
"Good idea." Rapture admitted, slipping one of the said grips out of her long curly hair, and bending it out of shape. "They should know by now that just locking the door doesn't keep me in...I've been picking these locks since high school!"
Minx looked amused.
"The Misfits are not clever enough to think of that." she replied.
Outside the door, unknown to the Stingers, Roxy and Stormer had stationed themselves, ready to intervene should the two girls manage to get free from their prison. It had been Roxy's idea to fasten the door, since the key had been carelessly left in the lock, and Stormer, never one to relish direct confrontation had quickly agreed.
"They're mad as heck." Roxy reported, after listening at the door for a moment. "But they ain't getting it open."
"What if they try to pick the lock?" Stormer asked.
"They are." Roxy replied with a grin. "But I didn't grow up livin' rough in Philly for nothing. If you can't lock your door and keep it locked people will take anything you got in your squat, an' we didn't have enough to lose it. So we got to jamming the lock on the inside at night."
"Well, we used gum." Roxy admitted. "But I ain't got any with me. Still, I can improvise..." She reached into her pocket, pulling out a lump of plasticine.
"Where did you get that?" Stormer demanded, as her friend carefully jammed the lock. Roxy laughed.
"Well, I kinda thought we might need to keep Minx and Rapture at bay." She admitted. "So I figured it might be best to have something just in case. That should hold 'em long as we need...come on. Let's go see what Pizzazz and Jetta are up to."
"Okay." Stormer nodded, marvelling as she did so at her friend's impulsive ideas. She has missed Roxy's unpredictable nature in Washington.
"What are you doing up here? What about Minx and Rapture?" Pizzazz demanded, glancing up from the pile of folders she had scattered over Eric's desk.
"Taken care of." Roxy said simply, dropping into Eric's chair. "Locked in the studio downstairs. They won't get out for a while."
"Well, you better be right." Pizzazz snapped. "The last thing we need is more trouble...Daddy doesn't need to know exactly how we get Riot's agreement to sell, all right?"
"Got it, chill." Roxy shrugged. "Was no trouble. Was it, Stormer?"
"No...very simple." Stormer agreed. "Have you found anything?"
"Well, we've been through Riot's file and there's nothing there that we didn't already know...and 'alf the planet already know." Jetta frowned. "Pizzazz 'as Minx's and I got Rapture's 'ere...but I can't find anythin'. For someone so good at dodgy dealin' Rapture don't even 'ave a criminal record!"
"She's too clever." Stormer crouched down beside the sax player, picking up a loose sheet of paper. "What's this?"
"Oh, that's just some contract formality. Spells out their deal." Jetta replied. "Somethin' to do with proceeds from the new album...Riot's 'andwritin'. Basically another way to spill as much money from this damn company into the Stingers' pockets."
"Can't we do 'em for that?" Roxy demanded. Jetta shook her head.
"No." She said darkly. "It's all legally documented...we can't find a loophole."
"There's enough to get to Eric, but so far the Stingers seem to be infuriatingly on the level when it comes to business." Pizzazz sighed, pushing Minx's folder aside. "It's all in there. Contract, financial agreements, yada yada. Nothing that any of our files don't have."
"Wait a minute!"
Stormer's eyes opened wide, and she reached for the discarded folder, flicking through it.
"What?" Roxy stared at her. "What is it, Stormer?"
"I just had an idea...it was something Pizzazz said when we were in DC. It made me remember." Stormer replied, her words not enlightening anyone. Pizzazz frowned.
"What do you mean, something I said?" She demanded, her expression betraying a hint of anxiety.
Stormer paused in her hunt to meet the singer's gaze.
"Minx isn't American." She said quietly.
"A work permit!" Pizzazz exclaimed, snatching the file back from her junior. "Oh! I didn't think of that!"
"Does she have one?" Stormer asked. Pizzazz rummaged in the folder, then shook her head, her expression jubilant.
"She doesn't!" She replied triumphantly. "Brilliant, Stormer! We can have the witch deported if Riot doesn't cooperate!"
"Yeah, an' then 'e'll 'ave me deported back to Britain an' all." Jetta said darkly, putting her hands on her hips.
"Nooo...he won't." Pizzazz dropped the folder on the desk, moving over to the filing cabinet and pulling out a second folder, handing it to the Briton with a slightly sheepish look. "You got one."
"What?" Jetta opened her folder, her eyes almost falling out of her head as she registered the official document. "But...Pizzazz, this is dated to less than two months after I joined this blinkin' band! Were you ever gonna tell me about this?"
"No." Pizzazz admitted. "But you see, you're legal. You wouldn't have gotten in and out of the States so easy otherwise."
"The Stingers went to Greece." Stormer objected.
"Yes, but Eric paid off the officials, that'd be my bet." Pizzazz turned her attention back to the finances. "There's a big payout here on record for 'general promotions'...I bet that's bribing them over Minx. Without Daddy's connections, Eric can't hope to get a permit for her but he probably told her - and Riot - that it was handled."
"And it ain't." Roxy responded. "So what do we do?"
"I can't believe you never told me about this." Jetta shook her head in disbelief, handing her folder back. Pizzazz looked uncomfortable.
"Well, the topic didn't come up." She said awkwardly. "Like it matters, anyway. You're legal and Minx ain't...that's the important thing." She sat down on the corner of the desk, retrieving Minx's file. "Hm. I think it's time I had a talk with Riot about this...but no. I'll wait till Daddy has control of the rest of the company in his sights. No reason for Riot to think we've discovered this illicitly. I'd guess that Eric handles the contracts mostly, and that's why Riot hasn't seen this before. Come on, lets get these back in the cabinet, let the gruesome twosome out of their prison and shoot out of here. I gotta talk to Daddy and then I'm going to go wait for Eric...once that's under my control, there's no stopping this company regaining it's former glory. Misfit Music, here we come!"
Chapter One: The Magazine
Chapter Two: A Phone Call
Chapter Three: Washington DC
Chapter Four: Harvey Gabor
Chapter Five: Answering To Eric
Chapter Six: Breaking Down
Chapter Seven: Riot
Chapter Eight: A Change Of Luck
Chapter Nine: Harvey's Proposal
Chapter Ten: A Cunning Plan
Chapter Eleven: As It Should Be
(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)