Chapter Three: Chez Diablo

"I don't believe it."
Stefana Ranieri cast her brother a look of disgust, tossing the offending magazine into a chair and perching on the windowsill. "Since when did Jewel rate enough to get on The Public Eye? I thought that show only covered the big names in showbusiness!"
"Jewel are big." Her companion, Diablo's frontman Luca pointed out to her with a shrug. "Anyhow, Stef, is it really important what Jewel do? You've had a total bee in your bonnet about them almost from the off. How many times do I need to tell you, we're not rivals!"
"No, in your case, you're bed partners." Stefana spat back at him. "What's the matter, afraid that if I'm hostile you won't get any more special favours from Topaz, huh?"
"Oh, for heaven's sake, not this again." Luca rolled his eyes. "Topaz is not the issue here and you know it. If I didn't know better, I'd think you were jealous of everything they've achieved, you know. They've been in this game longer, and..."
"No they damn well haven't!" Stefana interrupted, glaring at her brother. "I was fourteen years old when Mari, you and me began messing about in the garage with guitars and keys and all that, and you know it! And we've worked damn hard since we met Clay and Maddy and formed Diablo! Jewel are a manufactured band! They've no grit or determination that got them where they are, just an obscenely rich backer with poor judgement of talent! So don't tell me that Jewel have been around longer than we have!"
"What's all the noise in here?" Madeleine Dacourt pushed open the door of the salon, casting the two siblings a frown. "I was trying to call my aunt, and all I can hear is Steffi shrieking."
"Forgive me interrupting your touching family banalities." Stefana snapped. "But this is more important. Jewel are gonna be on The Public Eye! You any idea the publicity that'll get them?"
"I don't much care." Madeleine said levelly. "What I do care about is speaking to Tante Regine...preferably today, because we need clothes rather urgently if we're going to play Connie's Corner on Friday night."
"What're we gonna have, handmedowns?" Stefana narrowed her eyes. Luca sighed.
"I'm sorry, Maddy. Stef's not in the mood to be reasonable." He said slowly.
"She never is." Madeleine responded quietly.
"You take that back!" Stefana grabbed the singer's arm, then, as something occured to her, she stared at her companion. "Hang on a minute! Tante Regine? Clothes? You mean in Regine Cesare?"
"Wow, she has a brain in there after all." Madeleine looked amused. "Yes, Steffi. You knew I had family in Los Angeles. I just haven't had any chance to speak to her, that's all. But when Rory found out that we were blood related he told me to get in touch with her straight away...said he was sure she'd help us out with a fab new look."
"That classy enough for you, Stef?" Luca shot Stefana a grin, noting her shell-shocked expression with amusement. "Shana Julian and Regine Cesare are the most sought after designers in the state."
"So if you're done spatting, I'd better go see if I can call her." Madeleine added. "Okay?"
"Go ring her." Luca told her, seeing that his sister was for once beyond speech. "If she's as nice as you say, I'm sure she'll be glad to help us out. If our album is gonna be a big hit, we have a lot of promotion to do, and Rory's right when he says that we need something special for the album cover and Connie's show. So don't you fuss about Jewel, Steffi. Diablo have plenty going on. Don't get it into your head to go down there and cause a scene - that's not the kind of publicity we need."
Stefana's eyes narrowed in anger, but then, as an idea occured to her, she smiled slowly.
"I promise there will be no scenes." she said quietly. "At least, I can't vouch for what those showoffs might do on camera, but I certainly have no mind to be an extra in their pathetic little documentary."
"Good. Keep it that way." Luca looked relieved, but Madeleine eyed the young guitarist with a suspicious look, noting the glint in the girl's eye.
"She's up to something." She mused, as she headed out into the hall to try calling her aunt once more. "Maybe I'd better keep an eye on her, make sure she doesn't blow everything before we even begin our album campaign!"

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

"Can I get you a coffee, Ben, since you're not filming right now?"
Topaz sent the houseguest a grin. "I might as well, since I'm doing some."
"Sure, why not." Benjamin shrugged, grinning. "You know, you girls are very down to earth. I think the viewers will identify with you in the way you really do lead a normal life behind closed doors."
"Well, of course." Copper sat down at the kitchen unit, reaching for a biscuit. "I think we'd go mad otherwise. I just hope we don't make boring viewing."
"Trust me, I'm getting some great footage." Benjamin assured her. He glanced around him. "Where did Syl and Nancy vanish off to? They were here a minute ago."
Nancy's probably snuck out the back to the studio to write. She likes her privacy." Copper responded. "Dunno about Syl."
"Out by the pool, in her new bikini." Topaz grinned. "She said she's determined to get a tan, even in Feb."
"Well, it is California!" Benjamin laughed. "I assume Sylva is intending to make an impression on the viewers, huh?"
"Born show off." Copper giggled. "In the nicest possible way, though."
"Yeah. We'd not be without her." Topaz agreed.
"I suppose I should gratify her intentions and go film her then." Benjamin suggested with a wink. Copper nodded.
"She'd love you." She agreed. "Thanks, Topaz." As the singer handed out coffee.
"No probs." Topaz responded.
"To be honest, though, I'm more intrigued by the idea of filming Nancy as she writes." Benjamin admitted. "I know that she'd probably never forgive the intrusion, but it's that kind of thing the viewers want to see. The real Nancy."
"The real Nancy doesn't like to come out and play for strangers." Copper frowned. "If you want to film her, Ben, she won't get angry, after all, she knows the deal of this as much as we do, but..."
"I know." Benjamin nodded. "Well, I'll think on it. I'll film her once before the week is out, I think. I..."
"Hi, people."
At that moment the door of the kitchen swung open, and Cynthia, one of Jewel's most significant stage organisers entered, casting smiles around and eying the stranger with curious interest. Few knew that Cynthia was really a holographic simulation produced by a sophisticated mainframe Synergy, hidden in the basement, but as they saw her, Copper and Topaz exchanged looks of consternation. Both had forgotten about Cynthia and the security risk the exposure of her secret could pose.
"Hi." Benjamin offered the newcomer a smile. "Benjamin Rayner, and you?"
"Cynthia." Cynthia returned the smile warmly, shaking his hand.
"Cynthia what?" Benjamin looked curious at the lack of last name, and Cynthia's expression became amused.
"Benton, I suppose." She said neatly. "But I prefer to keep my links with the notorious Starlight Music as quiet as I can, since I work for the opposition. I help with Jewel's effects...may I ask your role?"
Briefly Copper explained, and Cynthia's soft violet eyes became clouded.
"Oh, I see." She said, frowning.
"Something wrong?" Benjamin eyed her keenly. "If you're worried I'll scandalise what you just said about Starlight Music, don't. I'm not filming, and in any case, Jewel are my subjects in this project."
"Oh, it's no problem." Cynthia got a grip on her composure. "I just was unaware that you were to be here."
She sent Copper a pointed look as she did so. "Well, I think I'll go outside, soak up some February sun. It was nice to meet you, Benjamin."
"Ben, please." Benjamin corrected. Cynthia nodded, smiling.
"Yes, of course." She agreed. "Copper, wouldn't you like some sun too? You look rather pale."
"Go on, Copper." Topaz had noticed the glint in the hologram's eye. "I can keep Ben company, and we might come out ourselves soon - remember, he wants to film Syl."
"Well, okay." Copper shrugged, getting up and taking her mug of coffee, following her friend reluctantly outside.
"I didn't know Jewel kept such pretty roadies." Once he and Topaz were alone, Benjamin took a sip of his coffee, grinning.
"Oh, she's more than a roadie. Between her and Aaron, we have an act." Topaz responded. "She takes care of all the lighting effects, and Aaron the equipment. They're both irreplaceable."
"Well, I've learnt since I've been here that Aaron is dating Copper...the whole of America will soon know, in fact, after his impromptu visit last night." Benjamin set his cup down. "What about Cynthia? What's her story? She involved?"
"Involved? Cynnie?" Topaz stared at him as if he were mad.
"Did I say something odd?" Benjamin looked confused.
"Oh! No, no of course not." Topaz hurriedly pulled herself together. "I just never thought of Cyn dating. Her work is pretty much all important to her."
"A career chick, huh?" Benjamin cast a glance out on the patio, where the hologram was clearly haraunging an uncomfortable looking Copper. "Why is she so bothered about me being here? I mean, she doesn't live here, does she?"
"On and off she does." Topaz said vaguely. "She...stays here a lot. We're very close to her."
"I see." Benjamin pursed his lips, contemplating. Then he got to his feet, reaching for his camera.
"Well, I suppose I'd better go and preen Sylva's vanity a little." He joked. "If nothing else, though, the male viewing public will go for it, trite as it sounds."
"I don't think this is one of Syl's more femenist moments." Topaz looked amused, but there was still anxiety in her expression and her blue eyes kept flitting to the dispute on the patio. Benjamin shrugged.
"Well, it makes good TV, and I guess that's what matters." He responded. "Jewel have the image of being babes of rock and roll, and the film I got of you and Syl in dressing gowns and slippers this morning kinda nixes that, so I guess it's only fair to balance it out a little."
"Okay, I guess so." Topaz laughed. "But I don't mind if my slippers go public. I'm kinda fond of them, and they're a big part of me."
"See, that's what I like about you girls." Benjamin grinned. "You don't mind being real for the camera."
He led the way to the patio door, swinging it open and abruptly ending the heated conversation. Cynthia, her anger seemingly melting away cast him a smile.
"I'm going to go and sort out the programming for the new light sequence Aaron wanted." She said with a shrug. "Goodbye, Ben...see you, girls."
With that, she swept away back into the house, leaving Copper looking sheepish.
"Guess Cynnie's camera shy." She said quietly. "I'm sorry, Ben. We were outta line not to tell her you were coming."
"It settled now?" Benjamin asked lightly. Copper shrugged.
"I hope so." She said, though she sounded uneasy. "You have the camera...are you going to film then?"
"Yes...oh blast!" The presenter cursed. "I left the battery charging in the lounge when Topaz offered coffee. I won't be a second."
Before any of them could stop him, he was gone back into the house.
"Is Cynnie really mad?" Topaz murmured. Copper nodded.
"She is, rather. I guess I understand why." She replied. "We should have warned her."
"I know, but we all forgot." Sylva swam to the side of the pool, having heard everything. "It'll be all right, though. Cyn's clever, she'll think of a cover and he's here a week, that's all. Besides, he's nice. He's not a sleazy tabloid geek."
"True, but he's here to get any footage he can." Copper sighed, sitting down on the poolside and dangling her feet absently in the water. "I dunno. I hope we haven't taken a huge risk, girls."
Inside, Benjamin had located the missing battery and had just finished putting it back into his camera when he caught sight of Cynthia out of the corner of his eye. The hologram was heading towards the steps that led down to the basement, and she seemed totally unaware that he had even seen her. Determined to make amends for his intrusion into her world, and also more than a little curious as to what she could want down there, he abandoned the camera on the lounge floor, heading after her as she swung open the door, disappearing down the dark steps. Without a second thought he followed her.
"Cynthia?" He called.
"She's ignoring me, or she didn't hear me." He decided, frowning as he carried on. "It's so dark down can she even see?"
Fumbling in his pocket for his pencil torch that he carried everywhere, he switched it on, waving it about until he located the light switch. Soon the basement was bathed in light, and he glanced around him, expecting to see the hologram.
But the basement was empty.
Frowning, Benjamin took one or two steps forward, eying the huge stacks of boxes with some suspicion, as if afraid they might fall on him if he placed a foot wrong. Carefully he peered around them, but there was no sign of the elusive lighting engineer.
"Cynthia?" He called again, looking for a second way out as he did so, but he soon realised there was none.
A chill went up his spine.
So where had she gone?
He had watched her walk down the steps into the darkness, but she was clearly nowhere to be found.
But people didn't just disappear...
Did they?

Chapter One: The Idea
Chapter Two: Benjamin
Chapter Three: Chez Diablo
Chapter Four: Cynthia and Ben
Chapter Five: A Motive
Chapter Six: One On One
Chapter Seven: A Cryptic Note
Chapter Eight: The Intruder
Chapter Nine: Cynthia Explains
Chapter Ten: Stefana's Plot

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!)

Sirena's music is based mainly on the music of Republica's album 'Republica' and Garbage's albums 'Garbage' and 'Version 2.0'.