Who Is She, Anyway?

Chapter Two: Chimera

“Aren’t we done yet?”
A petulant frown on her face, the girl with the clipboard put her hands on her hips, sending a glare in the direction of her supervisor. “Mark, we’ve been here since ten o’ clock this morning organising the same stupid set – are we going to be here all night? And couldn’t we have at least waited till Sakura got here? She’s the technological one – I don’t see why we get stuck with the extra work!”

“Chimera, calm down.” Her companion, a man in his forties with greying hair paused in his arrangement of the stage backdrop, sending his young protégée a smile. “This is a big deal, you know. The Stingers are a big name band these days. This is a real good chance for you to get some valuable contacts in the music world. Isn’t that what you want?”

“Yeah, but I want them to like my art and my ideas, not my clipboard and pen technique.” Chimera retorted. “In any case, you shouldn’t be fiddling with the wires – you don’t know the first thing about electronic junk! I told you, wait for Sakura. Why all the hurry anyway? The first concert is three days away, there’s no need to panic!”

“You know as well as I do that Sakura won’t be in New York till the day of the concert. She’s still in Japan, sadly for both of us, and I want as much of this done as I can. And, since I only have one of my young hopefuls with me, you get to do twice the work, I’m afraid.” He grinned again. “Patience, my dear. You want everything to happen immediately without putting in any of the hard graft…but sometimes you have to learn to wait and take things slowly. Give me a hand with this, will you? There’ll be plenty of time to talk music videos later. I’ve a meeting with the band’s manager, Mr Raymond this afternoon – they’re coming to this place direct from the airport, and that’s why I want everything in place. We want them to see how professional we are…I’m hopeful that, if they like what they see, you might well get something out of this. Sakura too.”

“If she ever turns up.” Chimera rolled her eyes. “What a silly time to go to Japan anyway!”

Mark laughed. It never failed to amuse him how wildly different his two apprentices were. He had worked in the music video industry for many years, alongside big names such as Video Montgomery and Anthony Julian, and he always relished the challenge of a new trainee, with ideas and concepts brighter and better than the last. This time, however, his two young companions were more striking than usual. He had taken on the two girls for different reasons, Chimera because of her artistic flair and skill, and Sakura for her natural ability with all things technological. The two girls had been to school together for some years, and were, strangely, fairly close, although in personality they could not be more different.

Sakura, or to give her her real name, Kaori Ito was of Japanese-American extraction, with grandparents that still lived across the Pacific Ocean. She was soft-spoken, shy and gentle of nature, and though she had a mischievous streak deep within her, her anxieties and nervous disposition often made her draw back from acting on her wilder impulses.

Chimera, on the other hand, had no such inhibitions. She was petulant, opinionated, sarcastic and on occasion downright childish, but beneath the almost spoiled exterior was a girl of great intelligence and phenomenal ability, so much so that no matter how sulky or difficult she was being, Mark found it hard to remain angry at her. When she put her mind to it she was truly brilliant, her work verging on genius on occasion, but she would only work to her full potential if she felt it was worth her time.

Sakura was a slogger, Chimera preferred to coast.

But then, if Chimera wanted something, nobody would work harder than she could in order to achieve it. Her adopted name meant dream, and she had always been one to dream big. And once her mind was made up, there was never any shifting it. She was determined and self-confident, and Mark was sure she would go far.

It was a strange fact, he mused, as she reluctantly came to help him with the equipment, but Chimera was less easy to control when Sakura was away. The young Japanese-American had a soothing effect on some of Chimera’s more spoiled, petty behaviour, and Mark felt her absence keenly. She had gone to Japan to visit a sick relative the week before, and was not due to fly back for a couple more days – he only hoped that she would be back before the concert to oversee the special effects. Though both girls had been taken on as trainees and apprentices, he now thought of both of them as his equals in the profession, for their skills were more than equal to his own and he was a modest enough man to know that, despite her youth and professional inexperience, Sakura was infinitely better qualified to handle the gadgetry than he was.

In fact, if he was honest, even the word ‘computer’ gave him chills.
"When you said we were doing the Stingers tour I thought it'd at least be fun." Chimera grumbled now as she helped to shift a speaker into it's proper place behind the thin veil of the backdrop. "We've done nothing but this junk since we got here, I'm so bored I could scream!"
"Like I told you, patience." Mark looked amused. "You're young yet, there's no hurry."
Chimera put her hands on her hips in a typical displeased stance. She was the only daughter of a successful divorcee, who had used the money from her two divorce settlements to set up her own chain of nightclubs and therefore had no shortage of income. Chimera had always been used to getting what she wanted. Elizabeth Mayor had never been anything close to a textbook good mother, in fact some of her ideas had been extreme and irresponsible, but she had held faith with raising her child to be independant and strongwilled, something which the young girl had taken to heart. She knew that to survive in her chosen business she had to work hard, but also had to give off the right signals to the right people, and so she had learnt many important techniques in persuasion and coercion - but she was still spoiled and could still throw a major tantrum if the need arose.
Which in her eyes it often did.
It had been largely thanks to her mother and her connections in the world of showbusiness that either she or Sakura had come to be involved with Mark in the first place. Elizabeth had pulled strings - Chimera did not ask questions about how these thing came about, only that she accepted they did and that was that - and had gotten both girls several steps up the ladder from the beginning. Letting her daughter go to New York had been something of a bone of contention, for Chimera was sick of the confines of her home city, Chicago, and longed to explore more of the country, particularly when Sakura spent half her life travelling between the USA and Japan. And as usual, Chimera had gotten her way. She had joined up with Mark a bare six weeks after her graduation, and Sakura had joined the party not long afterwards. Her hopes for the future were high and she had absorbed a lot from her mother's fleeting acquaintances in the showbiz world. Her own father had been one such aquaintance, a whirlwind romance which had pulled Elizabeth away from her first husband and into a new and exciting life, sealed by a hurried and almost covertly done marriage. But it had not lasted, and two days after Chimera had been born, her father had left. She knew of him only by his name, Steven Mayor, lead singer of a wild seventies rock and roll outfit 'Cyclone', and had no feeling for him at all. He had died in a motorcycle smash when she had been nine, but it had meant little to her at the time, and even less to her now. All it meant was that she would be able to be herself in the media world now, and not just Steven Mayor's daughter.
It had been her concern over this connection that had caused her to change her name to a 'stage name', even though she had no intentions of being a stage performer. She had been christened Suzanne Elise Mayor, but these days only her mother tended to refer to her by her birthname, and she was happy enough with that arrangement. Chimera was, in a clever, concise way, a means to boast to the world what her talents were, something from a world that surpassed reality,  and she was determined to make that name even more high profile.
Sakura had adopted her nickname in a different way...it had been a childhood nickname given her by her grandparents, and she had kept to it. Whilst Chimera had no real concern for family ties, despite a strange kind of fondness for her mother, Sakura's were still very close.
"So when do this band get here, then?" The artist asked, pausing for a moment to critically survey the stage. "I sure hope this pays off, Mark. I don't like all this lifting stuff!"
"You don't like anything when you're in this frame of mind." Mark said dryly. "Listen, I think I can probably get more done without you here...you might as well go and enjoy yourself in the city for a bit. I know how long you've wanted to come here. So long as you're back here by eight, which incidentally is when the Stingers are due to arrive. I want you to make a good impression on them, and I'm sure you appreciate why, too."
"Yeah, yeah." Chimera rolled her eyes, tossing her clipboard down with a careless shrug. "I can take a hint - I'll get outta your hair. Would rather be shopping, anyway."
And with a toss of her head, she was gone.
Mark watched her leave, shaking his head slowly. It was all too clear to her that Elizabeth Mayor's desire for the spotlight had transmitted itself wholeheartedly into her daughter. Sometimes he wondered why Chimera was so set against being a stage performer herself, for she had the attitude for it.
In all truth Chimera had shied away from that kind of career move, in order to completely escape her father's ghost. And anyway, she was always happier when painting and creating than she ever would be performing...she knew that.
Shopping was one of her all time favourite pastimes, a true legacy from her socialite mother, and as she headed into the fashion boutique, whistling idly to herself, she was aware of people watching her. Inwardly she preened. Backstage crew she might be, but she knew when she looked good and had no qualms about flaunting it to all and sundry. It was nice, too, to be let loose around a city like New York, to not be treated as a child any more, but as an adult, free to make her own decisions. Elizabeth had always been overprotective about where she let her daughter go, but now Chimerahad gotten her own way, and she had always yearned to travel. New York was one dream come true, but California, where the Stingers were based was a total other ambition yet to be met. She knew that the west coast was the place for big names in show-business and it was a world she ached to belong to. Video Montgomery and Anthony Julian were both huge names in their field there, and she wanted to be on a par with them. So they had had a head start, but both were young, Video only a few years Chimera's senior, and anyway, Chimera had never been one to lack confidence in herself.
 As she selected and discarded various outfits with the air of one whose credit card history was often a very busy one, she examined herself in the mirror, smiling in approval at what she saw. She had been born with her father's piercing blue eyes and the untamed black waves of hair that had captured so many of his fans' foolish hearts. Her expression gave little away that she did not want to tell, she was good at protecting herself from harm, and she was a far more shrewd operator than her mother. Elizabeth had money, knew where to put it to make more money, but had executives to do the actual business work for her. She was wiser for having been burnt by Chimera's father, but she was still flighty and flirtatious with men when she wanted to be, and was quite the social butterfly. Chimera, though an able socialiser, was far more of the cynic, and she had learnt very quickly to ask questions, especially when evaluating people's motives.
It took a very skilled con artist to catch Chimera napping.
Where men were concerned, she had things down to an art. She had taken note of her mother's mistakes, and had been careful not to allow herself to duplicate them. She was not interested in a relationship, and prided herself on never having been in love. She knew her limits, and, more to the point she knew the limits of the opposite sex. She was wary and distrustful of their motives, and would never let them close enough to her to find out more than her name.
After a happy few hours shopping around the busy city centre, she hailed a taxi, returning to the studio with five minutes to spare and greeting a flustered Mark with her usual nonchalant smile.
"Panicking, Mark?" she asked sweetly.
"Not at all." Mark shook his head, but his look belied his words. "I'm glad to see you back, mind you. The car's gone out to pick them up from the airport, they're coming straight here to discuss a few technicalities before they check into their hotel. Apparently they're fairly particular about style and display, so the sooner we get their take on things the better it will be for us to adjust to them."
Chimera laughed.
"Anyone would think that you'd never worked with a big name band before." she teased him, dropping down into his director's chair.
"And anyone would think that you were an old hand at it." Mark retorted with a grimace. "I just want everything to be perfect, that's all. I'm thinking of you and Sakura as much as anything. This could be your big opening. With the talent you girls have, I can't afford to be lax. I want the best for you, you know that."
"I know, I know." Chimera relented, for despite their spats she was fairly fond of her supervisor. He had become something of a father figure to her, and though she liked to tease, she knew she wouldn't let him down. "Cool out, huh? My art and ideas speak for themselves. They'd be fools to turn me down!"
"I wish I shared your confidence in the world." Mark sighed. "Youth is a wonderful thing. Oh! I think I hear a car! That must be them! Come on!"
"I'm coming. Relax." Chimera returned, gracefully getting to her feet and trailing out of the room after her supervisor.
"Mr Robinson?" A man in a smart grey suit greeted Mark with a reservedly genial smile. "I'm Eric Raymond, we spoke on the phone. Allow me to introduce you to America's latest sensation, Riot, Minx and Rapture, otherwise known as the Stingers."
"It's a pleasure." Mark got his composure under control, his professional nature kicking in over his nerves. "And please, make it Mark. We're delighted to be working with you people, it's something quite special." He indicated his companion. "This is Chimera, one of the hottest young conceptual artists in the film business. She's going to be working on your promotional videos and set design with us throughout your time here."
"Charmed to meet you, Chimera." Riot, the group's arrogant lead singer cast his gaze over the young artist with his usual conceited smile. "It must give you great pleasure to work with such perfection as ourselves."
Riot had a magnetism where women were concerned, and it had taken the briefest of seconds to overpower even the independant Pizzazz. He confidently expected to subjugate Chimera with the same ease, but he was disappointed. Chimera's barriers were high were men were concerned and she was immune to even his charms. She fixed him with a strange smile, meeting his eyes with her own striking blue ones.
"I find it a pleasure to work with any successful rock outfit, since it's invaluable experience for me." she replied levelly, her tone genial enough, but carrying a warning to 'back off'. Riot looked slightly startled, then smiled.
"Why, of course." he drawled, his composure back in place in a second. "I look forward very much to seeing what you can do."
"How long are we staying here? I want to go to the hotel and change, I'm tired!" Minx, the band's keyboardist and a German native remarked at that point. "All of this is so boring!"
"Please, Minx." Eric shot her a dark look. "We're here to make sure everything is how you want it for tomorrow's opening show."
He smiled at Mark. "If you'd like to show us what you have set up..."
"Well, we can show you up to a point. My young technical whiz isn't back from Japan till tomorrow, so I'm afraid the lighting will have to wait till your practice runthrough tomorrow. I hope that won't be a problem. Sakura is one of the best in electronics so I can guarantee it will be worth the delay. We do also have the main stage backdrops and everything prepared for your approval."
Minx sniffed, tossing her head.
"Amateurs." She murmured to Rapture, who grinned.
"Don't worry." she returned. "If they're young and new to this then they're bound to be naive and easy prey. I think we'll find it worth out while to play along...we might find they're more fun than we expected."
"I hope you're right." Minx rolled her eyes.
"If you'd like to follow me, we'll show you what we've got." Mark led the way through to the main theatre and the new arrivals trailed after him, leaving Chimera to bring up the rear. Rapture, spying her chance to approach the young artist, cast the girl a smile, dropping back to talk to her.
"This must be a lot of fun for you." she remarked casually. "You must have a lot of talent to get such a break early on."
"Well, I like to think so." Chimera grinned, not realising that Rapture was a professional where manipulation was concerned and that her tone was deceptively sincere. "I think it's going to be neat, I'm sure there's a lot I can take from it."
"Perhaps there will be things we can take from it also." Rapture looked thoughtful. "Don't mind Minx, she's just tired from the journey, that's all. I'm certain we're going to enjoy working with you and your associates here."
"It's my first time with a big band." Chimera admitted. "But then, I tend to think that if you have it, you gotta flaunt it, however young you are. Don't you think?"
"Definitely." An odd spark came into Rapture's eyes as she nodded her head. "Well, if you need any advice or I can be of any assistance to you, don't hesitate to ask me. I'd be glad to help you out."
"Thank you." Chimera smiled. Rapture produced a perfect smile.
"The pleasure is mine." She purred, inwardly amused. Headstrong and wilful as she could be, there was a naivety about Chimera that came with her youth, and she intended to have some fun at the girl's expense before the tour was out...

Chapter One: The Misfits On Break
Chapter Two: Chimera
Chapter Three: Kimber's Proposition
Chapter Four: The Stingers' Tour
Chapter Five: Personality Clash!
Chapter Six: Writer's Block
Chapter Seven: Secrets
Chapter Eight: Betrayal
Chapter Nine: Chimera's Plan
Chapter Ten: Double Trouble
Chapter Eleven: Synergy
Chapter Twelve: As If Nothing Happened...

(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)