ARC ONE: NEW DAWN
Chapter Nine: Scheming
"I'm telling you, Margot. It was a real ghost!"
Daisy exclaimed for the third time. "She was right here! She told me she
was married to Emmet Benton and I swear, she looked just like the photo on
the stairs! It was her! Jerrica's mother's come back from the grave to haunt
"Daisy, shut up a minute." Margot cast her cousin a weary look. "Firstly,
there are no ghosts. Secondly, Jacqui Benton didn't die here and wasn't
buried here. In fact, if she was haunting here, don't you think someone would
have seen her once in the last thirty years?"
"Daisy, you're tired and this whole music company business is getting to
all of us." Margot ran a hand through her dark hair. "But listen. I had it
out with Aja earlier and I think I have things settled. She realises that
I'm capable of more than menial tasks, but she has her own man she wants to
bring in and she trusts him. He's wound up in these Teenangel girls I told
you about, and since one of them is Aja's daughter, I don't think I want
to take them on, at least not head to head. So I suggested that maybe I could
be responsible for your promotions and representation. She seemed to like
that idea, and it means I still have the same free reign I had before - only
over your career, not everyone's."
"But isn't that why you got the job here in the first place? To promote
me?" Daisy demanded. Margot sighed.
"Yes, partially. It seemed a good move for both of us." She responded. "But
for the time being we need to tread carefully. No going to Aja with your ghost
stories, okay? There are no ghosts in this building. Only a lot of changes,
and a lot of new people to get used to. And if we're going to survive, we
gotta work with that. All right?"
"I did see a ghost."
"I don't care. That subject is null and void."
"I mean it, Daisy." Margot held up her hands. "Things just got a whole lot
harder, so if you really want to be a big star in this state, you're going
to have to listen very carefully to what I tell you. All right? And no more
talk of ghosts. Understood?"
"All right." She pouted. "But I know what I saw."
"Fine, already! I'm done!" Daisy rolled her eyes. "So what's the plan? Just
sit on our butts doing nothing?"
"No, not at all." Margot shook her head. "I still have my key to Jerrica's
office, and I've made copies of a lot of her files over the last few weeks.
We still have a fair bit of power here, so long as we do it carefully. So
you'd better get practicing that song again. We're staying on schedule."
* * * *
* * * *
Aaron greeted his colleague with a grin. "And Stefana? Isn't this an unusual
kind of combination? Cyn, Aunt Phyl will go mental if she knows you brought
Stef here...and not that I'm complaining, but Steffi, why are you here,
"Stefana is not here." Cynthia said comfortably, sitting down on the floor
and indicating for Stefana to follow her example. "At least, not according
to security. They saw me enter alone."
"And I should give you this back." Stefana slid the watch off her wrist,
hesitating, then handing it back. "I felt like I had a time bomb on there
anyhow. I don't like this thing. It's not natural to change how someone looks!"
"No, but it got you in here." Cynthia seemed unperturbed. "Listen, Aaron,
Stefana came to me with some information. And after listening to her, it's
information I believe to be correct. It concerns my safety."
"Oh God, now who's after you?" Aaron grimaced. "Let me guess. The President?"
"Close. The Tribune." Stefana recounted the morning's events. "And Cynthia
thinks that there's a way to fool him into thinking he gets his scoop...but
I don't know what she has in mind. She hasn't told me, and it's starting to
really hack me off."
"It is a plan in the process of being constructed." Cynthia said smoothly.
"I must work off the rough edges before I can do anything more."
She glanced at Aaron. "Have you spoken to Jewel today? Do you know how Sylva's
car situation goes?"
"Yes, and they still have no leads. I think they're dropping it as the act
of a random nutter." Aaron spread his hands. "Syl's been onto the insurance
people, but they haven't told her anything much yet."
"I feel remiss for letting something happen to it." Cynthia frowned. "My
sensors have not been up to much lately."
"You've had a lot to deal with." Aaron said comfortingly. Stefana snorted.
"Excuse me, I didn't come here for you guys to have a social heart to heart."
She protested. "This reporter guy gave me twenty four hours. What can we do
in twenty four hours?"
"Plenty." Cynthia assured her. "Aaron, I need to know, do you still have
the bits and pieces you removed from my system when you repaired me recently?"
"Yeah. It's in a box down in the basement at Starlight Mansion. Not far
from your mainframe, actually."
"And what about older stuff...stuff from the original fix?"
"That's going back a bit." Aaron pursed his lips. "Any reason why you want
"Yes. Do we have access to it or did you junk it?"
"No, I kept it. I was afraid of it arousing suspicion at the junkyard."
Aaron shook his head. "It was at my apartment, but since Copper and I moved
into our own place I put it in our attic. It's in a big box."
"That is what I hoped you would say." Cynthia clasped her hands together
in delight. "Then my plan may indeed work."
"It might help if you fill us in on the plan." Stefana said pointedly. "If
Aaron and I are gonna be of any use whatsoever."
"Perfectly simple." Cynthia smiled. "Stefana, when we went to see Kimber
just now, she gave me a book. Do you remember me giving it to you before
we came in?"
"Yeah." Stefana fidgeted through her bag, pulling out the worn book. "Here.
What about it? How's a book going to help?"
"This is not just a book." Cynthia flicked through it. "This is a diary.
And to be more accurate, my father's diary."
"Emmet kept a diary?" Aaron looked taken aback. Cynthia nodded.
"Yes, and Jerrica had it till very recently." She agreed. "When I...I was
at Starlight Music a few weeks ago, I encountered Rose there. She had been
sent to retrieve it on Kimber's behalf, and she told me that she had it. I
am mentioned in it, you see, and it was hoped that taking it from Jerrica's
office might protect me."
"But now we're going to use it somehow to fool Darren?" Stefana asked. Cynthia
"Yes. You catch on fast." She responded. "It is this entry in particular
that might well be of use. I recall mention of it before...here."
She held the book out, and Stefana took it, skimming over the page. At length
she glanced up.
"Star Drive Through?" She asked. "Where's that?"
"It's a derelict building a little out of town." Aaron's eyes lit up with
comprehension. "I think I see what Cyn has in mind. You want me to get together
as much of the wrecked bits of your circuitry as I have, and take them down
to the Drive Through, don't you?"
"Yes, I do." Cynthia dimpled. "Emmet's diary provides the proof that he
removed me there to work on me in privacy. The FBI have already raided Starlight
Mansion, so your McMillan guy will not think that I am there. This is a logical
location, and supported by first hand testimony."
She patted the diary. "This."
"Oooh." A smile touched Stefana's lips. "You know, he might just buy it.
But hang on. There is still a problem. How would I have Emmet's diary?"
"You wouldn't." Cynthia dismissed this with a careless gesture. "I would."
"You'll bring him to me." Cynthia explained. "I'm Jerrica's sister, and
I will be the one to provide him with the final details about the computer.
He can believe we're friends, and that's how you know of the computer at
all. I will tell him that the story is his on two conditions - one, that
none of our names are mentioned in the telling of the article..."
"And two, the information he has on me is handed over and destroyed." Stefana
breathed. Cynthia grinned.
She glanced at Aaron. "Well? Is there enough stuff to convincingly present
"Maybe." Aaron pondered. "That building is a mess...probably not even safe.
It might be...opportune if, you know, some of a wall had come down on top
"Yes, I like that idea." Cynthia nodded. "It would explain why the componants
are so badly damaged."
"And there's no way they could, you know, rebuild a you from what's there?"
Stefana asked anxiously. Cynthia shook her head.
"No. They're melted or corroded beyond repair." She responded. "Aaron removed
them from my system when he first found me and got me operational again. But
they are custom made chips, many of them, and are inscribed with Emmet's initials
and the year, 1985. They will provide enough authenticity to make the reporter
believe he has indeed found the real Synergy."
"Well, I think it's brilliant, so long as we can pull it off." Aaron said
at length. "So I'd better finish up here, and head off home to see what I
can dig out. It might be better to take the stuff there under cover of darkness...and
Steffi, you shouldn't be any part in doing it. We don't know if McMillan is
having you tailed, and we can't risk him discovering this is an elaborate
"Or bugged. What if he bugged me in the lift this morning?" Stefana paled.
"You are not bugged." Cynthia said with a smile. "I have made sure of that."
"Let me guess. That's the other reason you gave me your watch to wear as
we came in." Stefana pursed her lips.
"Well, it is easier to check for alien signals on a person I am in close
contact with. And it occured to me that he might have thought that way." Cynthia
spread her hands. "But it appears he did not. So we are safe."
She grinned at Aaron.
"And tonight we'll move what's left of me into position. Then we'll see
how Darren McMillan likes his scoop about the fate of Synergy!"