Part Three

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 us all!"
"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?"
Daisy sighed.
"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, exactly?"
"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 it?"
"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 smiled.
"Yes. You catch on fast." She responded. "It is this entry in particular that might well be of use. I recall mention of it"
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 Synergy?"
"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 of her."
"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 hoax."
"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!"

Chapter One: At The Funeral
Chapter Two: Stefana's Secret
Chapter Three: Nancy's Studio
Chapter Four: An Old Rivalry
Chapter Five: An Act Of Pique
Chapter Six: Darren Moves In
Chapter Seven: Daisy's Ghost
Chapter Eight: An Unlikely Team
Chapter Nine: Scheming
Chapter Ten: The Synergy Ruse
Chapter Eleven: A Legacy Reborn

The copyright for the original Jem characters featured in this and other stories by me belongs entirely to Hasbro and their interpretations to Christy Marx and the other writers of the Sunbow Jem series. Their future selves are based on concepts that are entirely my own and are not to be repeated elsewhere without due permission.
All other characters, including their likenesses, are copyrighted to myself as webmistress of Jewel's World from 2001 to the present day and are not to be reproduced elsewhere without permission.
The Teenangel Outsiders, Jesta, Flame, Ryan Montgomery and the future interpretations of Aja, Danse and certain of the other original characters are all or in part the concept of Gemma Dawn whose teenangel outsider fiction world is twinned with Jewel's World. You can visit her site at!
All events in the stories on this site are based on original ideas and are not rooted in any existing Jem fiction nor in any real life event or person.