"I could think of better ways to spend my day."
Aaron pushed the vandalised unit out of his way, pausing to wipe the sweat
from his brow as he did so. "It's half past eleven and I'm starting to feel
the heat...did they wreck the air conditioning in here as well?"
"No idea, but I will check." Cynthia got to her feet, crossing the studio
to the control panel. "No. It is merely switched off. Here."
She keyed in a few digits. "Is that better?"
"Will be." Aaron grinned. "Thanks, Cyn. I don't know why we're still here,
anyhow. Most of this isn't salvageable and Aunt Phyl has already been on
the phone getting new parts on order. She'll probably decide to re-fit the
whole main studio, so why we're harvesting scrap metal is beyond me."
"I think it's the principle of the matter." Cynthia looked grave. "I cannot
comprehend this. It is a random act of spite...I still don't understand spite
very easily, but if you really think it is Daisy behind it, why did she
attack the Misfits' manuscripts and not Nancy's? She just tossed those aside
as if they were nothing...presuming it is a she and the person the cameras
caught entering the studio was the culprit and not an innocent intern."
"I'm a bit foxed by that also." Aaron admitted, twirling his screwdriver
in his fingers as he considered. "And there's something else weird, too.
I asked Mom if she'd seen the videos, when you took Nancy back home to tell
the others. The security tapes? She said she had, and they'd been fuzzy and
unclear. Like there was some kind of interference on the tape or the camera
itself was faulty. But I took a look at both the camera in question and
the tape before and after the girl appears. Seems fine."
"Perhaps it was just defective tape. Some sections can be that way."
"Or somehow the person who broke in here used something to distort the
camera." Aaron pursed his lips. "But that's just stupid, isn't it? It would
have to be an inside job, if that was the case."
"Noone knows where the security cameras are except you, me, Mom, Aunt
Phyl, the top execs and the security staff. The others know they're there,
but not where exactly they're positioned. You know Aunt Phyl has been mental
over security since the fire and Copper's abduction. The whole pass key thing
is proof of that."
"I find your logic flawed." Cynthia looked thoughtful. "If we follow the
hypothesis that someone stole my pass key from me at Connie's Corner last
night - when I admit it would have been perfectly possible for them to do
so - then they must be someone of intelligence. And anyone of intelligence
breaking into this building would plan for security equipment on the off
chance that it would be there. Did the girl on the film look for a camera?"
"No, she just walked right in, I think."
"So it's unlikely she knew - or cared - where the surveillance was. She'd
taken enough precautions to block it out." Cynthia shrugged. "And even if
Daisy is not smart, did not you and Nancy say her cousin Margot is?"
"Smart, yes. Technical? No...but I imagine there must be someone on Starlight's
payroll capable of designing a device like that, and Margot does have the
reins at the moment." Aaron tapped his screwdriver on the unit. "You're right.
Your scenario makes sense. Except for the motive. Why would Daisy attack
"Maybe she intended to destroy everything but was disturbed. Or perhaps
whatever Jetta said to her last night bothered her more than we knew. Perhaps
one of the security staff saw something - Phyllis has not spoken to the
night staff yet."
"But we know where Daisy was last night."
"No. We know where she was while Connie's Corner aired. Quite a different
"I suppose so." Aaron sighed. "And since Aunt Phyl doesn't want to excite
a scandal by bringing in law enforcement, I suppose we'll never know. These
things do seem to happen to us, don't they?"
"They do." Cynthia agreed. "If I didn't know better, I would imagine Stefana
having a hand in this."
"Cyn, Stef isn't attacking Jewel any more." Aaron reproached. "She gave
me her word, and besides, Diablo are still in Europe till the weekend. That's
a pretty good alibi."
"It is, and I did not mean to suggest I suspected her." Cynthia looked
contrite. "I too believe that particular rivalry at an end, though I am wary
of her returning to America in light of the reward placed on my whereabouts.
Stefana is very fond of money, and she knows a great deal about me that I
would rather she did not."
"I'll talk to her, I promise." Aaron said softly. "Though if she was going
to out you, I think she'd have done it by now."
"I don't know. This is a great financial incentive."
"Well, like I said, I'll talk to her."
"This weekend brings another problem." Cynthia was troubled.
"It does?" Aaron paused in what he was doing, sending her a confused look.
"What kind of problem?"
"Jerrica's funeral." Cynthia responded quietly. "It takes place this weekend.
I spoke with Kimber about it just yesterday."
"Oh. I see." Aaron's expression softened. "Will you go?"
"Yes, I believe I will." Cynthia nodded. "It will be a challenge for me,
but I feel it is my duty to attend. I am a Benton, after all. And she was
"Would you like some company?"
"Aaron, I would appreciate that more than anything." A look of gratitude
and relief flickered across the hologram's face. "I was not sure how to ask."
"Well, you don't need to. I'll come." Aaron assured her. "Just let me
know the time and the place. Funerals aren't things you should go to alone,
and even holographic mainframes need a friend once in a while."
"This holographic mainframe needs a friend far more often than that."
Cynthia said ruefully. "But thank you. It makes it less frightening a prospect,
to know I won't be attending by myself. I believe my emotions are in check
and under my strict control. But from what I understand, funerals are very
emotional occasions. It may be that they get the better of me."
"And noone will be surprised if you cry, you know." Aaron told her gently.
"Even if you weren't close these last years. I think you've as much right
as anyone to be there and to say goodbye. So that's settled. We'll both go
to pay our last respects to Jerrica, and then maybe you'll feel some closure
on the subject."
"That is my hope, also." Cynthia nodded. "One door closes, another opens
- is that not the saying?"
"Something like that." Aaron agreed. "And we better get back to work.
If Aunt Phyl comes in here and finds us sitting cross-legged on the floor
yapping, we won't be her favourite people for a long time to come!"
"Agreed." Cynthia's eyes twinkled faintly and she got to her feet, hauling
one of the broken amplifiers out of her way. "If nothing else, burying pain
in work is easy."
"Not always wise."
"Perhaps not for you. For me it is a welcome release." Cynthia shrugged.
"So let's do it."
* * *
* * * *
Well, so all was quiet.
A slim blonde figure slipped between the rows of parked cars, pausing
for a moment to check her reflection in one of the wing mirrors before ducking
carefully beneath the chassis of a big blue porsche. Reaching into her pocket
she frowned for a moment, then produced a pair of shiny pliers, bringing
them up before her gaze thoughtfully for a moment, then carefully disconnecting
the brake cables, one by one. At length she sat back, disposing of the pliers
and pulling herself out from beneath the car.
A smile touched her face.
"Misfits, accounted for. Rory Llewelyn...pleasant driving, my dear." She
murmured softly, patting the car door almost fondly. Glancing around to make
sure nobody was watching her, she pulled a nail file from her pocket, carefully
inscribing something in the paint. As she did so, however, she knocked against
the car, sending the alarm sirens wailing out across the parking lot. Cursing,
the girl dropped the nail file back into her pocket, fleeing the parking
lot and disappearing into the shadows of the building as security guards
headed out to explore the source of the noise.
"Llewelyn's damn car again!" One of them exclaimed. "If that thing goes
off one more time this week..."
"He needs to get his alarm fixed." Another agreed. "Goddamn squirrels
set it off!"
"Never seen a squirrel driving a porsche, Fred." The first man joked.
"I suppose we'd better look the heap o' junk over, just seeing as it's the
boss's ride. But seriously, I didn't come to Rebel Records for this."
"Me either. I'm thinking I was better off at the Donut Shack." Fred rolled
his eyes. "I...hey, Dave, come take a gander at this!"
"What is it?" Dave hurried to join him. "Oh brother. Old Llewelyn ain't
gonna be amused when he finds someone's used his precious new baby as an
"What's it say, anyhow?" Fred squinted at the scraped paintwork. "Can't
see a damn thing without my glasses."
"Blind as a bat, you." Dave snorted. "Though I don't think it's a whole
word. Just some letters. S...T...A...R...L..."
"Starl? What's that supposed to mean?"
"Beats me, but I guess we better tell Mr Ego that someone's been at his
car." Dave grimaced. "Think he'll shoot the messenger?"
"Dunno. You be the messenger and if he kills you I'll know the answer."
Fred said ruefully.
"Reckon we should check it over? See if anything else has been touched?"
"Nah. Get him on the case. He can trot it down to his insurance company
and they'll fix the paint." Fred shook his head. "Come on. We better go
report it. After all, you know how tetchy he gets if he doesn't know about
everything as soon as it happens."
"You ain't kidding." Dave agreed fervently. "Okay, let's go...hey, we
got time to grab a coffee from the machine on the way up? I missed my break."
"On the way down." Fred shook his head. "Come on. Sooner we do this, sooner
we get the hell out of his office."
"Okay, I'm with you, buddy. Let's go."
As they left the carpark, neither man was aware of eyes on them from the
shadows. As she drew herself once more into the light, a slight chuckle escaped
"It will do." She decided. "Enough for him to understand. And this was
just for fun, anyway. Just for fun..."