Chapter Twelve: Nancy Remembers

"I don't know what more I can do."
Aaron sent a troubled glance back towards the direction of the monitor, then sighed. "I hate to admit it, girls, but I think this is beyond me. Whoever created it was very very good at what they's too powerful for me and it's too much for Synergy to fight back against. I think...I think we have to concede defeat."
"You're giving up?" Sylva stared at him in horror. It was that evening and the four Jewel girls, plus Aaron were gathered in the basement, surrounded by the wires and circuits and pieces of hardware that made up the big old computer. He had summoned them there shortly after eleven, his expression preoccupied, and now they knew the reason why.
Nancy sighed.
"I wish I could've helped further." She murmured. "I was so close..."
"Nance, Rebel Records are a ruthless bunch. I'm not surprised that the disk got broken." Aaron told her gently. Nancy shook her head.
"No, you don't understand. She broke it in front of me...It's my fault it happened."
"Who did, Nance?" Aaron sounded surprised. "What's this? I don't..."
"It's not important. What matters is Cynthia...Synergy...both of them." Copper interrupted softly. "Aaron, you're really sure you can't help her?"
"It looks that way." Aaron sighed. "See, whenever I touch even close to one of the virus' main program files it brings up a password screen. For the life of me I can't work out what that password could be. I don't even know who invented the virus. That's why I wondered who broke the antidote. Nance, if you could tell me that, it might solve the puzzle and I might be able to get in."
"It won't." Nancy shook her head. "The person who broke it didn't create it." She sighed. "It was...Stefana, Aaron. She...she broke the disk."
"Stefana?" Aaron stared. "But...does she know about Cynthia? Why would she do something like that?"
"Because she's a bitch!" Sylva exclaimed. "And I'm going to rip her head off when I next see her!"
"I'm sure it was a misunderstanding." Topaz sent her friend a meaningful glare, and Sylva flushed, falling silent as she remembered that they had all agreed not to involve Aaron in their private band disputes. "Stefana probably didn't realise how important the disk was, and was playing about. She doesn't know much about computers, after all."
"Topaz is right." Copper nodded. "Stefana barely knows how to turn a PC on or off. She'd never be able to devise something like this."
"I don't believe she would even if she wanted to." Aaron shrugged. "But that's beside the point." He sighed. "Accident or not, the disk got broken, and without it we're back to square one. I don't suppose you happen to know who paid for this, Nance? Rory Llewelyn?"
"Yeah." Nancy glanced at her hands. "Not that there's anything we can do about it. I mean, we can't take Synergy public, and it wouldn't do any good even if we could. Rory said to me that the virus might take at least a week to work, but it's way stronger than even he anticipated it to be. It's taken Cynthia out in just over two days...that's some virus. By the time we found anyone who could possibly override this it'd likely be too late. As it is Synergy's barely operational."
"So...this is it?" Sylva's blue eyes became wet with tears as she laid a gentle hand on Synergy's keyboard, idly fingering chords as she did so. "We're going to lose her? Dammit, isn't there anything we can do? Aaron, can't you guess the password? Surely if you keep guessing and guessing..."
"Syl, it could be anything." Aaron said gently. "I've tried every logical combination I can think of - Synergy's date of production, the current year, Rebel Records, and all kinds of other relevant terms. None of them are registering. Whatever it is must be something which is only known to the creator of the virus and not to anyone else. It's hopeless. I can't read minds."
"But Aaron...she's Cynthia!" Sylva exclaimed. "She's one of us...there must be some way!"
"It sucks, Syl, but we can't help her." Gently Topaz hugged her friend as Sylva's tears began to fall. "We all feel the same, really we do. And I know Cynthia knows that we tried our best and that we love her, but what can we do?"
"We...we could get hold of Aunt Aja, she knows about Synergy!" Sylva remembered.
"Aja is in England. By the time she got here it would be too late." Copper shook her head. "I know you want to help her out, Syl, but Topaz is right. We've done all we can. If even Aaron is admitting defeat, what can the rest of us do?"
"I vote we spend tonight down here." Nancy said sombrely. "I know she can't speak to us, but, well, if this virus is as virulent as Aaron says it is, it might be our last chance to spend any time with her."
"I think so too." Copper nodded.
"You won't be able to fix her? Not even when the virus has battered her system into shutdown? You can't reboot her?" Sylva asked.
"No, Syl." Aaron shook his head. "The virus clogs up all her available memory space and randomly shuffles and scrambles her files so that they don't recognise each other any longer. It wouldn't matter how hard I tried to reboot her, it wouldn't work unless we could clear out all traces of the virus. Unless I can break into the thing and work on it from the inside, there's no way I can possibly cure her."
Sylva fell silent, swallowing hard. Then,
"I'm going to miss her." She murmured. "For a computer, she had style."
"She's a very special friend." Topaz agreed. "We're all going to miss her, Syl." She sighed. "I don't know, sometimes you don't even remember she is a computer, behind all of her teasing and games and everything. It's not a matter of Jewel's lighting effects and all that...I just think it's so sad because she's only had a taste of freedom and real life, you know? For years and years she worked for Jerrica Benton, projecting the Jem hologram whenever Jerrica called on her to do so, and protecting the Holograms from harm. Yes, she experienced things but only second hand...she never had a chance to really live and see the world for herself. Since Aaron rebuilt her and fixed up her projection units, well, she's been like a real human being, able to feel and touch and go out and enjoy the world. I can't help thinking it's so unfair that it's all been taken away from her so soon."
"I don't think of her as a machine." Copper admitted. "She's always been as real a friend to me as any of you."
"Funny how much we've come to take for granted having her there." Nancy nodded. She sighed. "This sucks, you guys. It feels like we're holding a wake. Cynthia wouldn't want that."
"Cynthia would want to get better." Sylva murmured softly. "Ooh, whoever made that stupid virus is gonna get a kick in the head from me if I ever meet him. It's no better than, well, murder!"
"How long do you reckon she has left?" Copper glanced at Aaron, who shrugged.
"Difficult to say." He admitted. "Her processors are still running, I can still get a signal out of her program, but it's not good. A few hours, maybe? I don't know."
"I keep thinking that I should have done something." Nancy bit her lip. "I shouldn't have let the disk get broken. This is my fault."
"It's not your fault, Nancy." A faint voice echoed around them, making all of them jump, and turn, looking for the speaker.
At first she was not visible, but then, in the dim light they began to make out a grainy, faint, colourless image. She was see through and every so often the projection flickered in and out of focus, as Cynthia battled to retain communication with her friends.
"Cynnie!" Sylva exclaimed. "Have you...were you listening to us just now?"
"Yes, Sylva. I heard you." Cynthia's voice was barely more than a faint rush of air. "And I know it's true. I...I can't maintain this projection long. My watch isn't strong enough to do so without the full backing of my core program. I just...I just came to say goodbye, that's all."
"We're gonna miss you so much, Cyn." Now Copper was barely holding back her tears. "I'm so so sorry...We let you down."
"No you didn't. You tried your best." Cynthia shook her head. "I appreciate that." She smiled. "Nancy even fought on my behalf this afternoon. I...I suppose that's enough."
"Enough? What do you mean, enough? We couldn't help you!" Sylva exclaimed.
"I wanted to be like you girls so much." Cynthia murmured. "Be liked and respected by people and attain their friendship and their respect as if I were as much real as they were. I know that I did achieve that, if nothing else." She smiled slightly. "Knowing that you will all miss makes it enough. Perhaps I am more of a machine than I thought I was." She shrugged. "I don't know."
"Cyn, there anything you can tell me whilst you're here that might help me override this thing?" Aaron asked.
Cynthia shook her head.
"It's over." She whispered. "Whatever the password is, it doesn't relate to me, I cannot help you. I do not know the answer."
"If only I knew who had devised this thing, maybe that would give me some clue." Aaron frowned.
"Oh my god!" Nancy's eyes opened wide with surprise. "Oh God, I just had an idea!"
"An idea?"
"For the password!" Nancy got to her feet, hurrying across the basement to Cynthia's main keypad and keying in seven letters. "Oh god, it has to just has to!"
"Nancy, what are you talking about!" Copper came to join her. "If Aaron doesn't know the password...what do you mean? How can you know it?"
Nancy did not reply, and, with her heart in her throat she gently pressed the enter key.
For a moment there was silence, then, a message flashed across the screen.
It was simply two words.
Password Accepted.

Chapter One: Machinations
Chapter Two: Minx's Contact
Chapter Three: A Spy At Work
Chapter Four: A Bizarre Alliance
Chapter Five: Threat For Cynthia
Chapter Six: A Trap Is Set
Chapter Seven: An Unusual Morning
Chapter Eight: Investigation
Chapter Nine: Cynthia Breaks Down
Chapter Ten: Topaz's Plan
 Chapter Eleven: Crisis Point
Chapter Twelve: Nancy Remembers
Chapter Thirteen: The End

Copper, Nancy, Sylva, Anna, Blade, Raesha, Sirena, Topaz, Aaron, Sophie, Justin, Elliot, Rosita, Luis and any other characters in this fiction which do not appear in the animated Jem series are copyrighted to me (E.A Woolley) as of January 2002 <unless otherwise specified> and are not to be reproduced without permission ANYWHERE. Jetta, Pizzazz, Stormer, Roxy, Raya and all other original Jem characters are the copyright of Hasbro Inc, Sunbow, Christy Marx and the other writers of the Jem series. The future world of Pizzazz, Raya, Jetta, Roxy, Stormer, Clash, Synergy, the fate of Jem and her memorial are all copyrighted to me. The future world of Kimber and Shana is copyrighted jointly to myself and Gemma Dawn.
The concept of 'Jewel' is entirely my own, and any apparent link with any fictional or actual person or persons of this name is entirely coincidental. Equally the characters in this fiction are not based on any real life individual.
The concept behind the future world of Danse, Aja and Craig, the idea behind Jerrica's futureworld and the split of the Holograms is copyrighted to Gemma Dawn, whose Teenangel Outsiders fiction is directly twinned with Just a Dream. The character Sammi and any of the other Teenangel Outsider characters mentioned in this fiction are entirely copyright to Gemma Dawn and appear here only with her permission.
Pay her page a visit!
The concept of RayzaBlade is copyrighted to my sister Elena...^_^ (Yeah, blame her!)