Just A Dream...
The Jem Memorial

Chapter Five: Aaron's Secret

"What exactly are we doing down here?"
It was half an hour later and, having escaped Sylva's clutches, the two young teenagers had headed down into the depth of the house, Aaron pausing to unlock the carefully padlocked door. He swung it open, reaching in to turn on the electric light and ushering her inside, following her in and locking the door once more behind him.
"Forgive the secrecy." He said with a sheepish grin. "I wanted to show you this."
"What on earth is it?" Copper eyed the computer curiously. Parts of its motherboard were still exposed and sections of its casing lay here and there on the floor.
"I found it when I was rewiring the house for you girls." Aaron led the way over to it. "It's at least twenty years old, Copper, the only date I found on it suggests it was manufactured twenty five years ago, and as for what it is...bizarre as it looks, it's a computer."
"Not like any computer I ever saw." Copper came to join him. "What do you suppose it's for?"
"You got me." Aaron admitted. "When I found it, it was activated, but I think that the years it spent inactive and without power did it more harm than good. It blew out sections of it's circuitboard and its been all I can do to replace them."
"And now?"
"Well, the electrics function, but the main program the machine was running is foxing me a bit." Aaron admitted. "Though I've located the memory and I've fixed it up as best as I possibly can, I can't get it to boot."
"What's so special about this machine? I mean it's odd looking, but why bother?" Copper knelt down at the computer's side.
"When I first stumbled on it, it startled me, and aroused my curiosity." Aaron replied. "Despite lacking any modern day remote camera or sensors, it detected my presence. More, it projected an image of my Aunt Roxy, just like I've seen her in photos of when she and Mom were Misfits. Also, the machine asked for Jerrica, quite insistantly - there must be some reason it was left here like this and I want to know what it was."
"What if it's dangerous?" Copper asked.
"Well, I'm game to take the risk." Aaron responded. "I'm curious to know what exactly it can do. I was hoping that maybe you could give me a hand in rebooting it's memory...I know some of the circuitry is warped still from the damp and I can't replace it without destroying the original programming completely, but it only covers a very tiny section and it should run even with that part damaged. The machine should be able to compensate."
Copper ran her fingers over the keyboard, eying the newly replaced monitor thoughtfully.
"I wonder what you are." She mused. "If it's linked with Jerrica then maybe Mama knows something about it...she's no mechanic but it's just possible that she saw it in operation."
"I did wonder that." Aaron admitted. "And if you want to phone her and ask it might be helpful. But for now, Copper, don't mention the machine to anyone else. I'm half afraid that if people find out we've some out of the ordinary eighties computer locked away in here they'll be more than a little curious to see it."
"Not even Nancy or Sylva?" Copper looked surprised.
"Not for the time being." Aaron shook his head. "I wanted your help because I know you like messing with computers...but the more secret we can keep it, the better."
"Well, okay." Copper frowned. "What exactly do we know about the main program?"
"Not a lot." Aaron rolled his eyes. "A large proportion of its microchips are custom made, and skillfully done, too. Many of them are engraved with the letters SynRG...which is something weird I noticed, since when I first encountered the machine it spat out a piece of paper with that on, as if it were trying to tell me something. I dunno...it's kinda beyond me at the moment. It doesn't appear to have an on-off switch, and I can't fathom why it refuses to boot for me. I've tried several different plugs and none seem to work."
"Weird." Copper looked thoughtful. "I suppose the power line in here works all right?"
"Yeah. I tested my stereo on it yesterday. No problem." Aaron agreed.
"Well, shall I call Mama and see if she does know anything?" Copper asked at length. "She should be hone today, I think...I don't think she's filming this weekend, and I wanna tell her Jewel's big news anyway."
"It might be useful." Aaron nodded, pulling his cellphone from his jacket pocket and handing it to her. "Here. To avoid causing suspicion upstairs."
"I'm sure that all this secrecy isn't necessary." Copper scolded him, keying her home number into the phone and putting it to her ear as it began to ring at the other end of the line. "But I'll humour you. Funny though that Mama never mentioned it, if she did know about it. She knows I like computers, and...Hola, Mama?" As the phone was picked up at the other end. "Mama, es Copper...Oh boy, do I have some news for you!"
She spoke in excited Spanish, all of which was like greek to the bewildered Aaron, and he waited impatiently for her to end the call.
There was a moment's silence, then Copper laughed.
"Yep, you've guessed it! Straight in at number one, Mama, can you believe it? Syl's convinced that we're stars already! It's a major buzz!"
She paused again, then, "Mama, can I ask you something? It's really Aaron's question but we figured that...yeah, that's right. Nancy's brother. Anyway, we both thought it'd be better for me to ask you. It's a question relating back to when you were a Hologram."
Another pause, and Copper grinned.
"You're not that old!" She scolded. "Well, the question is this. When you were living at Starlight Mansion, did you ever have use of a weird computer, or did you know such a thing existed?"
There was silence at the other end of the line, and Copper frowned.
"I'm sorry, Copper." Carmen got to grips with herself, speaking in the same fluent Spanish that her daughter had accosted her with. "Your question came as a bit of a shock, that's all. Yes, I did have some knowledge of a...a computer, as you say. I didn't realise that she was no longer under Jerrica's care."
"She?" Copper repeated.
"Oh yes. I'm assuming that you speak of Synergy." Carmen agreed.
"Syn..R..G...yes, I think I do." Copper responded. "Mama, what can you tell me about it? Aaron says it's been left here to decay for some time and though he's replaced most of the blitzed circuits, he can't get it to reboot."
There was another pause, then a sigh.
"I do not know how Synergy works." Carmen said finally. "As you know I have never been good with machinery. I suppose I should not be surprised that Jerrica abandoned her, considering her treatment of poor Aja...well, it would be in keeping, I suppose, with her other actions. But Synergy...I cannot believe it. She was like a mother to Jerrica and to Kimber, not to mention a dear friend to us all."
"You talk about it...well, her as if she were a real person."
"I know." Carmen agreed. "It is hard to think of her as mere wires and bolts, to be honest. She had a personality all of her own and was as true a friend as any human could ever be."
Copper's expression became thoughtful.
"What did she do, exactly?" She asked.
"She played a great role in the Holograms' stage performance." Carmen replied carefully. "I wish I could help you more, Copper, but I don't believe that I can."
"Well, it's something anyway." Copper sighed. "Gracias, Mama. Adios."
She terminated the call, handing the phone back to its owner and relaying the details of the conversation to him. Aaron frowned.
"I have to admit that the impression I got from it...or should I say her, was that there was some kind of advanced artificial intelligence in there someplace." He remarked. "And I suppose the affected gender I could easily have guessed, since there was a fuzzy image of a woman's face on the monitor when I first encountered her, though she was the strangest woman you'd ever see. What your mother says makes me doubly determined to get this thing up and running again. And if she's a stage show enhancement machine, perhaps she can even benefit Jewel's stage act."
"If we can work out why she isn't booting." Copper reminded him. "I have an idea, Aaron, but it's a bit bizarre, so promise that you won't laugh at me?"
"I'm game to try any ideas." Aaron responded.
"Well, Mama gave me the impression that Synergy - that's what she called her - had a personality as real as any human. Suppose when you found her, she'd been dormant many years and was unaware of the changes that had been taking place. It would explain her asking for Jerrica Benton, right? Not Jerrica Pacheco. But when you told her Jerrica was gone, it upset her somehow. Almost as if she's been programmed to assist Jerrica and Kimber, and now she felt herself surplus to requirement. Perhaps in her confused circuitry somewhere she didn't feel that it was worth her keeping up the fight to stay online, and she blew out her circuits accordingly."
"You're right, it is bizarre." Aaron looked sceptical. "A dripping pipe and dust caused her blowout and her corrosion, Copper. Not a broken heart."
"Well, at least it could be a reason why she won't boot." Copper laid a hand on the machine's main hard drive. "Noone likes to be betrayed by a friend. Maybe she doesn't want to be started up."
"So what do you suggest we do? Dress up as Jerrica in an attempt to wake her?" Aaron looked amused.
"I told you not to laugh!" Copper protested. "I'm serious. I think that her feelings are hurt. And I guess it hasn't helped to be called an 'it', either. We girls are very sensitive, you know."
"I'm sorry." Aaron grinned sheepishly. "But I'm having a hard time equating a computer, however intelligent she is, with that kind of emotion. Artificial intelligence is all a matter of programming and no computer is programmed with independant human emotion, certainly not one this old."
"Maybe they are." Copper suggested. "Plug her in, will you? I have a plan..."

Chapter One: Starlight Mansion
Chapter Two: Discovery!
Chapter Three: Zoe
Chapter Four: Top Of The Charts
Chapter Five: Aaron's Secret
Chapter Six: Sirena's Plan
Chapter Seven: Reboot
Chapter Eight: Some Answers
Chapter Nine: The Jem Memorial Concert
Chapter Ten:  Revenge
Chapter Eleven: Repercussions
Chapter Twelve: A Temporary Solution
Chapter Thirteen: Wild At Heart

Copper, Nancy, Sylvie, Anna, Blade, 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.