Rory Llewelyn glanced up from his desk, meeting the gaze of his elegant
blond companion with a questioning smile. "Do you have some good news for
"Of course." The woman laughed, taking a seat with the ultimate nonchalance
and returning the smile easily with a playful one of her own. When she spoke
her words were tinged with a faint gutteral tone, which seemed to add even
more to her other world sophistication. This was Ingrid Krueger, once 'Minx'
of the Stingers, Rebel Record's chief songwriter and one of Rory's oldest
"Would I ever let you down, Riot?"
"I'd hope not." Rory responded smoothly, reaching into his desk drawer
for a folder, and placing it on the table. "This contact of yours, he's interested,
"He will do whatever I ask of him." Ingrid looked amused. "What is it
precisely that you want, Riot? All you told me on the phone was that you
needed the best computer specialist I knew, but not for what purpose. Will
you confide in me your plans?"
"It's very simple." Rory flicked open the folder, extracting a newspaper
cutting from the Jem Memorial Concert some years earlier. "You remember this,
"How could I forget?" Ingrid took the cutting, smoothing it out and skimming
over the details. "Jerrica Benton finally given her just deserts in the most
public venue possible. We could not have planned it better had we ever wanted
to, Riot...but what of it now?"
"What this is about, is that thing." Riot tapped the picture, and Ingrid's
deep blue gaze turned to focus on the grainy picture of the 'ghost'
of Jem. "The machine which projected that hologram and took everyone by surprise.
Though there were many searches for it once the concert was over, noone
found it." He grimaced. "Even my own man had no luck tracing it. A computer
like that is a dangerous thing, Minx, and more, the cause of humiliation
time and time again for the Stingers when we came up against Jem and her Holograms.
There is nothing I would like more than to locate it and put it out of action,
once and for all."
"Granted, but if we cannot find it, how can we destroy it?" Ingrid returned
the clipping with a delicately manicured hand, fixing Rory with a quizzical
look. "My friend does not find computers, he works with them, and many other
gadgets besides. What have he and I to do with this?"
"Yesterday morning, my dear Minx, I had some interesting news dangled
before me." Rory said quietly. "You remember, I think, that I hired that
young idiot Stefana to do my dirty work where Jewel were concerned?"
"Yes, yes." Ingrid nodded impatiently. "But what has she to do with anything?"
"She claims to have located the machine." Rory responded. Ingrid stared.
"She does? Have you proof?"
"Not hard proof, but some evidence nonetheless." Rory replied. "Stefana
claims that the machine is in Jewel's possession. Do you see how perfect
this is? Jewel are using it to help them with their stage show. If we could
somehow get into this computer's system, mess with it's hard drive...have
you any idea of the chaos we could cause for that band? And worse...we could
destroy it altogether!"
"And that is where Techrat and myself can help you." Ingrid's pretty face
took on a look of comprehension. "I see now. It is a tempting suggestion,
Riot, that I must admit."
"Do you think it's possible, though? Your friend...Mr...Techrat or whatever
he calls himself, can he do it?"
"I would think there'd be nothing easier." Ingrid said silkily. "You have
to understand, Riot, that Rapture and I used his technology more than once
during the eighties to thwart the Holograms. The Misfits too, I believe,
used his knowhow and he was in the pay of Eric Raymond many a time."
"The Misfits knew of him?" Riot demanded sharply.
"Yes." Ingrid shrugged. "But time passes, people forget. And in any case,
if your plan is what it seems to be, we will have little to do with the Misfits
at all. The target, after all, is Jewel. Is it not?"
"True." Rory nodded. "But it's best to be safe. I know I can trust you
to be discreet, my dear, but I think it best that I do as Stefana herself
suggested, and keep those in the know to a select few. That confounded girl,
of course, must be kept abreast of what's going on, if for nothing else but
to keep her under control and in my pay. Sometimes she's a nusiance and a
half, Minx, but if she is correct on this matter, it will be well worthwhile
my time enlisting her assistance."
"Troublemakers are always useful." Ingrid reflected. "What says Sophie
to all of this?"
Sophie Devereux was Riot's partner at Rebel Records, and a character with
a chequered past, for convictions for fraud and deception in her home country
of France had led her to flee to the United States many years ago under an
assumed name. With Riot's help she had secured her status in America, and
led a seemingly blameless life, but underneath the sweet, innocent surface
lurked a mind well equipped to con and manipulate. It was for this reason
that Riot had allied himself so closely with her, for sometimes, he acknowledged,
two heads were better than one.
"Sophie is in agreement with me, that it is too good an opportunity to
pass up, but must be treated with care." He responded now. "Listen, Minx.
Jewel are apparently utilising the computer in a slightly more original manner
than Jerrica did. From what Stefana tells me, the machine manifests itself
as a hologram, who masquerades as a member of their backstage crew. It is
this way that they manage such sophisticated stage show lighting...and yet
noone has ever suspected what is really going on."
"The hologram at the Memorial was very realistic." Ingrid remembered.
"Do you have a name to associate with Stefana's claims?"
"Yes. Cynthia Benton." A wry smile crossed Riot's face. "I did some digging
around, and there is little to be found on this girl. I've not located a
birth certificate, and her given age - according to my spies at Misfit Music
- is twenty seven, the same age as the year Emmet Benton allegedly built his
Synergy machine, according to that article I showed you. Not only that, but
the name she has given herself..."
"Yes, I see it. Cynthia sounds much like Synergy and Benton is an obvious
boast of her true heritage." Ingrid looked impressed. "Clever. Pity it isn't
too clever for us."
"Indeed." Rory smiled. "Minx, what I want you to do is this. Get your
friend to prepare a computer virus, something so potent that it will knock
out an ordinary mainframe computer within a matter of minutes. This machine
we're dealing with is no normal computer, it's survived undetected for many
years and it's capacity must be incredible. The stronger the virus, the better."
"Very well." Ingrid nodded her head. "I will talk to him tonight." She
smiled. "And within a short time, you will have your virus."