Who Is She, Anyway?

Chapter Four: The Stingers' Tour

  "Chimera, are you done with that backdrop yet?"
Mark poked his head around the stage door to see his young protegee lounging in a chair, idly sipping coffee. "Chimera! Aren't you taking any of this seriously?"
"Relax, worrywart, it's done." Chimera waved her hand dismissively at the stage. "All taken care of, so don't sweat it. Is Sakura here yet?"
"Yes, she just arrived here ten minutes ago." Mark nodded. "Honestly, you girls are going to be the death of me, I swear it. Between your attitude and Sakura's delayed transport you're turning my hair grey! Now, Eric and the Stingers will be here any moment for their pre-concert runthrough, so everything has to go according to plan. They also want to see the lighting, of course...I've sent Sakura off to look into that now, I only hope she has time to program in a sequence before they get here. This is important to them, because they've never done a live video in such a wholesale way before now, so we can't let a thing go wrong. They're a big name act, you know."
"Yeah, yeah." Chimera shrugged, reaching for her magazine. "Cool out, will ya? Everything went fine last night, no reason why it shouldn't today. And if these guys are such pros it should be a breeze."
"You are unbelievable." Mark shook his head in disbelief. "And impossible, too. Good luck to whatever group hires you to do their videos!"
"Mark, they'll need more than luck to get me." Chimera said nonchalantly. "Video Montgomery and Anthony Julian had better watch out, because I'm coming through!"
"If you put as much effort into your concepts as you do into your bravado and banter then you'd be there in a flash." Mark said dryly. Chimera gestured towards the stage.
"Well, you tell me what you think is wrong with that?" she demanded. "It's perfect!"
"And as usual, you know it." Mark laughed. "All right. I'll go and see if the Stingers are here yet. You know, I hope they do like your techniques, Chimera. This is the chance of a lifetime for you."
"I guess so." Chimera seemed unconcerned. "That Riot creep is an egotistical jerk and Minx is a whiner. Rapture seems the only one of the group worth my time to talk to."
"I saw you girls chatting yesterday. I'm glad you hit it off." Mark nodded. "Just don't offend Riot or Minx, will you? A lot rides on this!"
"Yeah, I know, relax already. You're turnin' into a broken record." Chimera rolled her eyes. "Go see if they're here and chill. You're one major bummer when you're like this."
Outside the venue, the Stingers had indeed arrived. Minx stepped gracefully out of the limousine, examining her pink painted nails for chips as she did so.
"This is such a bore." she observed. "Why do we have to come back here again so early? We do not perform till tonight, why must we practice now? We know our songs - we're not amateurs."
"Minx, not now." Riot chided her gently. "We're here to ensure everything meets our approval for tonight's concert...we cannot allow even the slightest imperfection, surely you know that by now. Everything must go like clockwork."
"Well, I still think it is unnecessary." Minx was not to be moved on the subject, as she adjusted her wide brim black hat and tucked a stray wisp of long blond hair behind her ear. "We are the stars, we should not need to be running around after them. Is that twit of a girl going to be here again today?"
"Chimera? I believe so, yes." Riot nodded, a frown crossing his face. Rapture grinned.
"Oh, I hope so. I think I can have a bit of fun with her, liven up the whole experience." she remarked.
"So what is the plan this time, Rapture?" Minx looked interested.
"She's just a kid...she doesn't know any better in this business." Rapture winked. "I think we can lead her all over the place without her realising we're playing her for all it's worth."
"I think it would be most...entertaining." Riot nodded, still smarting from Chimera's delicate snub the day before. "Yes. Tell us what you mean to do, Rapture. You know that you can rely on our complete cooperation, whatever you decide."

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"I don't think I've been to New York before, save for passin' through it on our way to some other place." Jetta glanced around her at the busy city streets, soaking in the life of the bustling metropolis. "What's the plan of action, Pizzazz? You know where they're playin'?"
"Yeah. Some club called the Sentinel. It's a big deal joint in the centre of town." Pizzazz nodded her head. "I'm in the mood to crash the place, if we can find it okay...guess we grab a taxi and see what we can see."
"Sounds like a plan to me." Jetta nodded her head. Roxy frowned.
"We just gonna barge in there?" she demanded. "What if Riot's there? Girl, you think we're lettin' you make eye contact with that creep?"
"Shut your face. It's all under control, so cool out." Pizzazz snapped. "And I don't care if Riot's there...we're here to make trouble, and don't you forget it! I didn't mean we were gonna simply crash it and let everyone see us...we're gonna be more sneaky than that. They got a big concert tonight, if my source is right...If we're sneaky we can mess it up big style."
"I'll go with that." Jetta grinned. "Doin' it on the sly works for me."
"How we gonna do it, though?" Roxy asked. Pizzazz shrugged.
"We'll think of somethin'." she returned. "Never heard of improvising, Roxy?"
"It's too long a word for 'er to manage." Jetta snorted. Roxy pulled a face at her foe, but by that time Pizzazz had managed to hail a taxi, so there was no time to pursue the quarrel.
"How far do you reckon it is to this place?" Jetta turned her attention away from her rival, glancing out of the window of the yellow taxi as they zoomed through the central streets of the city. Pizzazz shrugged again.
"Don't ask me, I don't know everything!" she retorted. "We'll get there when we get there, so quit fussing. It's starting to be like travelling with two elementary school kids, travelling with you two!"
"Well, takes one to know one." Jetta snapped back. Pizzazz glowered.
"Watch your mouth." she warned, and it was clear she was still smarting from Stormer's calm refusal to take any part in the trip.
"If Jetta just shut her mouth we'd all be a lot better off." Roxy put in from her corner. Then, "Hang on a minute, I jus' saw a billboard with Riot's ugly mug sprawled across it! Guess we can't be far off."
"How far to go?" Pizzazz leant forward to ask the driver, who smiled.
"Not far...just round the next corner." He told her, and with a flirtatious smile Pizzazz thanked him.
"Hear that, girls?" she said. "The fun is about to start!"
The Sentinel, they soon found, was indeed a big deal, for it was a huge building that stood out for miles among the surrounding blocks of businesses. Jetta let out a low whistle as the three Misfits made their entrance.
"It's blinkin 'uge!" she exclaimed. "Why doesn't Eric ever get us gigs like this any more! The Stingers are nobodys!"
"Well, they sure will be when we're done with them." Pizzazz responded. "Where do you s'pose Riot and his loser musicians are, huh? Last thing we wanna do is be spotted and blow our chance of having any fun. We don't want Eric onto us this early."
"Who cares about Eric?" Roxy put in. "Like we ever do as he tells us."
"Roxy's right, for once." Jetta nodded. "Like he could stop us."
"I don't want him hassling us." Pizzazz snapped back. "Or any of them, for that matter."
"Meanin' you don't want loverboy distractin' you from the task at 'and." Jetta put in shrewdly. Pizzazz grabbed her by the wrist, glaring at her.
"You make one more comment about Riot and you'll wake up in intensive care." she hissed. "I mean it, drop it, will ya? There is nothing I would like to see more than Riot and his floozies sinking down the chart quicker than the Titanic, so get that into your head!"
"Can't we just put her in intensive care anyway?" Roxy looked hopeful. Pizzazz shot her a withering look, releasing her grasp on the saxophonist's wrist.
"Enough! This ain't getting us nowhere." she said shortly. "We need to find the main stage an' see what's going down, see what we can tamper with. You reckon anyone's actually here?"
"I can hear voices." Jetta observed.
"Yeah, the ones in your head." Roxy snapped at her. Jetta narrowed her eyes.
"Cut it out, creep." she retorted. "Or it might be you on intensive care an' the bandages would clash 'orribly with your stupid hair!"
"Wanna bet?" Roxy raised her fists warningly and Pizzazz rolled her eyes. She put up her hands.
"Okay. Fine. That's it. I've had it with this fighting!" she exclaimed. "Either you stop yellin' at each other or you go back to the hotel and I'll do this on my own, but you're givin' me a headache and you're gonna give us away!"
Jetta and Roxy exchanged sulky looks, but Pizzazz's tone meant business, so they dropped their argument, turning their attention to the matter in hand.
As they progressed down one of the side corridors the singer suddenly froze, putting her fingers to her lips.
"I can hear something now." she murmured. "You guys?"
"I told you. Voices." Jetta shrugged. "Sounds like Eric an' Riot an' some girl to me."
"What Jetta said." Roxy nodded. "So they are here. Bummer! We can't trash their show if they're up on the stage! Guess we came here for nothing""
"Not necessarily." Pizzazz shook her head. "I just got me an idea. Listen. We can't go onstage, because we'll be seen. But if they're all in the main auditorium, we can slip backstage and meddle a bit with the fuses. No lights, no show. Brilliant or what?"
"I gotta 'and it to ya, it might just work." Jetta grinned. "An' even if it don't, it'll cause 'em no end of hassle tryin' to figure out what's goin' on."
Roxy crept up to the auditorium door, peering through the crack.
"They're messin' with lights and stuff at the moment." she reported. "Eric an' Riot are on the stage with Minx and Rapture...I can't see Rapture!" She paused. "No, wait, I see her. She's down the front of the hall with some girl I don't know and an old guy about Eric's age. That's all."
"Think they know we're here?" Pizzazz asked. Roxy shook her head.
"They're all too wound up in what they're doin'." she replied. "They just turned the main lights off, Pizzazz, they're swirlin' about stage lights...if we're quick we could turn out the lights on this show here an' now!"
"Sounds like a plan to me." Pizzazz grinned. "C'mon, let's see if we can get backstage!"
"I reckon that way." Jetta pointed to a door marked 'Private, Personnel Only'. "If you ask me the word Private is always a free invite into whatever place 'appens to be behind the door."
"My thoughts exactly." Pizzazz agreed. "Let's do it!"
Oblivious to the fact that they had intruders on the premises, Chimera was revelling in showing off her work to the Stingers, pride in her blue eyes as she eagerly discussed the layout of the set with Rapture. She knew she was a natural where design and creativity was concerned, and that she was capable of conceptual artwork that noone else could come near. It wasn't that she was conceited, but she knew she had a talent and she had never been afraid to use it.
Across the auditorium, in a little room to one side of the stage Sakura was testing each of her lighting circuits individually, taking her usual painstaking and thorough care of each one to ensure that, when she set the whole sequence in motion, nothing would go wrong. She knew how important this was for Chimera, and Chimera was practically a sister to her these days.
Sakura had always idolised Chimera, more than was perhaps good for her to do. She had been pulled into more schemes and plans to get top positions than she cared to count or remember, and the fast pace of life was not something she had ever gotten used to, but she knew that she and Chimera were a team and worked well together. It was this security that kept her going, even when things seemed beyond her. Sometimes, though, she wished she had her friend's tenacity.
She was extremely shy of the enterprising Stingers and had been only too glad to pull away to the secluded world of her gadgetry, where it was safe. They seemed so very important - how Chimera could act so naturally around them, she didn't know. Something in her heart told her that they were not nice people...there was a definite something she did not like about them, but she knew that they had the power to make or break both her and Chimera's careers, and, she supposed, that was what was important in the end. You didn't have to like someone to work with them, after all.
Or so Chimera often told her.
Sakura herself wasn't sure. She knew that she'd never work as well with anyone as she did with Chimera because there was noone else she trusted in so implicitly. But then Sakura was shy and retiring, and Chimera the one who knew the way of the world. Sakura usually bowed herself to her friend's judgement.
"Well, are you all ready to show Riot and the others the sequence you have mapped out in full?" Mark poked his head around the door and Sakura glanced up, nodding eagerly.
"Yes! Just one more to reconnect, so that everything works as it should, and there. Now I am ready when you tell me." she agreed.
"In your own time. They're ready when you are. Riot says he's most interested to see what all of these lights are going to be like in sequence, since they're all going to be picked up on camera, so he's looking for real quality colours and I told him that you'd have them for him, so give it all you got, okay?"
"I have done my best." Sakura flipped a couple of switches, paused, and then flipped another. "There. Now they will shine in their correct sequence together."
She stood.
"I would like to come too and see how they look from off the stage." she said shyly. "I want to know that the effects are good enough, so I know to make any corrections if I need them."
"Come on, then." Mark grinned at her, leading the way back into the main auditorium, which for a brief moment had been dark but which now had begun to swirl and sparkle with the complex sequence of lights and colours Sakura had carefully programmed in on Chimera's instructions. Chimera took care of the colour, Sakura the technology and the combination of both talents was breathtaking to watch. Even Riot was impressed.
"I must say, you are every bit the professional that Mark claimed you were, Sakura." he said in his smooth, relaxed voice. "You have understood, I see, how important it is for everything in the Stingers' performances to be perfect...this will suit us adequately well."
Sakura blushed at the praise, too shy and tongue-tied to respond with any coherance.
Chimera came up behind her friend, putting a congratulatory hand on the other girl's arm, and sending her a conspiratorial grin.
"Good job." she murmured. "We'll show them that we're no amateurs!"

In the bowels of the nightclub, the Misfits had found their way down to the main fusebox, and, with alarming ease, Roxy had prised open the cover, till the wires that were controlling the power in the building were exposed. Now the girls paused, eying their prize as they debated between them what course of action to take, and which wires needed to be cut.
"I say we cut them all." Roxy said finally. "Can't go wrong there."
"And if we electricute ourselves in the process, that won't 'elp our next tour or our next album." Jetta retorted. "We only wanna mess with the ones that control the lights. I wish it weren't so dark in 'ere, then we could see better what each wire was for!"
"Outta my way, let me see that." Pizzazz pushed Jetta aside, squinting at the panel above the wires. "Okay, I think I got it. I need something sharp."
"Here." Roxy produced a penknife, and Pizzazz took it, pausing for a moment, then deftly slicing the relevant wires, being careful not to put herself at risk of electricution. After her years in the Misfits, sabotage came naturally, and she knew only too well which wires were safe to cut and which were not.
There was an immediate sound of commotion from upstairs, and the singer smirked.
"That oughta fix them for a while." she remarked. "If they can find their way out in the dark, which I doubt, then they'll have a job fixing these wires up before tonight. I sliced 'em good and proper."
"How're we gonna get out?" Roxy asked.
"Simple." Pizzazz indicated the door. "There's a window down that corridor, we'll just go out that way. No problem, no fuss, and nothing but chaos behind us."
"Cool." Jetta grinned. "Riot'll be 'oppin' mad when he finds out what's 'appened!"
Roxy laughed.
"I wish I coulda seen the look on his face." she remarked. Pizzazz laughed.
"Noone could." she reminded her companion. "Not after we turned out the lights on their little show!"
"'E must be pretty steamed." Jetta agreed.
"Not half as steamed as I am."
A fresh voice cut through the conversation, making them all jump. "Who the heck are you guys, and what exactly do you think you're doing?"

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)