Just A Dream...
Chapter One: Aaron's Experiment
"This time tomorrow we'll be home again."
Nancy Pelligrini glanced out of the window of the hotel room, her expression pensive. "I'll be glad to get back, I think. Back to what I know best."
"You sound philosophical." Her roommmate, nineteen year old Elizabeth Santiago observed, stretching out on her bed. "Jewel's finally secure again...what's got you so thoughtful?"
"Not sure." Nancy turned from the window. "I suppose I'm realising how close I came to losing everything I had these last few weeks. You don't know how good it feels to be back where I belong, Copper."
Copper smiled, nodding her head.
"Blade was bad for you." she observed. "But we're glad to have you back from that creep, Nance. And we did get some positives out of the split. Apart from realising how much we're worth to each other, we got Topaz."
"True." Nancy agreed. Topaz, or Aurora Stapleton was the band's newest member and of Canadian birth. She had met the group during their tour of her homeland, and when Nancy had decided to give up Jewel to chase after r&b icon Blade, Copper and the remaining group member Sylvina Martescu had invited Topaz to join the group. The Canadian had agreed in an instant, and, despite contract wrangles, it was now a four-piece Jewel who were returning to Los Angeles after concluding their tour of the Northern states. Topaz's joining had promoted much publicity and Jewel has found that, at the end of the day, they had not suffered too badly from the experience. It had been made clear to all, however, that eighteen year old Nancy was the backbone of the group, writing, singing and playing lead guitar, and none of them would ever take her for granted again.
Though she possessed a fabulous singing voice, Topaz was not a natural instrumentalist, but, as a mark of reconciliation almost, Nancy had offered to teach her to play bass guitar. Having a basic knowledge of how to form chords on an acoustic guitar, Topaz had soon picked up the idea and it had begun to add a whole new dimension to Jewel's sound.
"You girls coming out tonight?" Now Topaz herself stood in the doorway that connected the two rooms, Sylvina in tow. "Sylva and I were gonna go out, hit the town and have some fun to celebrate Jewel's success and my imminent arrival at Starlight Mansion...wanna tag along?"
"Sure, why not." Copper slid off her bed, sending Nancy an inquiring glance. Her roommate rolled her eyes.
"I can see I'm going, like it or not." She said resignedly. Never much of a socialiser and even more wary of men since her bad experiences of the past few weeks. Nancy often had to be coaxed to come hang out with her bandmates. This had often caused problems in the past between her and Sylva, since the latter was a born party animal and as much as home chatting to strangers as she was to her dearest friends.
"You don't have to come." Sylva herself put in now. "But we've done our last concert here, and we've nothing on the agenda till we fly out tomorrow afternoon. We might as well enjoy ourselves, and it's not as if we haven't plenty to celebrate!"
"I'm coming, chill!" Nancy retorted, reaching for her hairbrush and running it through her yellow streaked black hair. "Where are we heading?"
"Someplace to get food, I hope." Sylva observed. "I'm starving hungry!"
"There's this really neat li'l Mexican restaurant just across the road from the hotel." Topaz grinned at her. "I love Mexican food, even if I can't say the names of everything properly."
"You should come and spend a while at mine in Detroit." She said with a wink. "Mama makes the world's best tacos, when she can be coaxed to do it."
"I keep forgetting you speak Spanish." Topaz looked sheepish. "You don't have an accent, you see."
"Well, you speak French...or sing in it." Copper responded. "So you're just as multilingual."
"Not really. My French isn't fluent." Topaz shook her head. "Mom is French-canadian but we lived in an English speaking part and she insisted on speaking to me in English pretty much the whole time I was growing up, kinda in memory of Dad or something...I dunno. I'm probably nowhere near as good at French as you must be at Spanish." She grinned. "If we go for Mexican food, we're gonna make you order. Just promise not to laugh at me if I say the words all wrong."
"Promise." Copper winked. She checked her makeup in the mirror. "Okay, I'm ready if you guys are...shall we hit the town?"
"Definitely!" Sylva exclaimed. "Let's go find some food!"
As the four girls sat in the restaurant, enjoying their dinner, Topaz frowned, looking around her.
"Wonder if Phyllis got my paperwork straight yet." She mused.
"Bound to have." Nancy nodded. "Aunt Phyl has connections everywhere. Don't worry, you're not gonna be deported, you know."
"Hope not." Topaz grinned. "Not much to go back to Toronto for, after all. Signing on with you girls is a dream already. And I figure that the more I travel, the more people I get to meet."
"I could do without people of any variety." Nancy grimaced. "Especially the male kind, thank you!"
"Still thinking about Blade?" Copper asked her gently. Nancy shrugged.
"No, not really." She replied. "To be honest, I still don't understand what that was all about. I didn't know what in hell was going on in my head, and I hate not being in control of my emotions."
"You're repressed, that's all." Sylva shrugged, taking a sip of her drink. "You shut yourself away in your room to write music or whatever else and you don't have a social life. More you bottle up stuff, more likely it'll all hit you in one big bang."
"Like you know how I feel about anything." Nancy rolled her eyes. "Syl, you are the world's biggest flirt, I swear you are. You've chatted up every waiter at every restaurant we've visited since we began this tour, pretty much."
"She didn't chat me up!" Topaz protested, laughing. Copper giggled.
"I'd have liked to see that." She remarked.
"Stop it." Sylva protested, but she could not help smiling. "I'm sorry, Topaz, but I guess you're just not my type!"
"Aw, how could you?" Topaz pretended to be hurt. "What is it, don't you like blondes?"
"You two are impossible." She decided. "I was being serious! Every man Syl sees she plays games with."
"I can't help it if they all fall madly in love with me." Sylva shrugged, unconcerned. "I'm only eighteen, I don't wanna tie myself down to one guy yet, thank you."
"It still makes me laugh, how opposite you guys are in character." Topaz laughed. "Personally I don't mind a little flirting. Though..." She grimaced. "I'm not convinced that I have very good taste in men. My track record isn't very good."
"Oh? Do tell." Sylva looked interested. Topaz frowned.
"My last boyfriend Cliff got arrested on a drugs charge back in Toronto." She admitted. "He was a bit of a jerk, actually, but he was good looking and life was such a drag...I had to have something to do, right?"
"Woo, you like 'em wild!" Copper let out a low whistle. Topaz shook her head.
"Not really." She admitted. "It was a case of taking what was on offer at the time. In the dump of a place I was working in...well, speaks for itself, really. You saw the place."
"Yeah." Nancy grimaced. "I wouldn't have wanted your job."
"Me either, but it was better than nowt." Topaz shrugged. "I met you three there, so it had some perks."
"What about you, Copper?" Sylva turned her blue eyes on the redhead. "You never talk about guys much...what kinda man would you be after?"
"Me?" Copper looked startled, and a faint blush rose in her cheeks.
"I don't know...I..."
"Like hell you don't know." She retorted. "It's written all over your face, Copper! You have it bad!"
"She does?" Sylva demanded, staring at the older girl as Copper's blush deepened. "Tell, Copper! What's all this about?"
"Don't be dense, Syl." Nancy rolled her eyes. "Aaron. Who else?"
"Your brother?" Sylva gaped. "Copper, seriously?"
Copper glanced at her hands.
"Yes." She admitted. "Though I didn't realise that it was so obvious."
"It's not obvious." She assured her friend. "I'm just observant. I noticed how disappointed you were that he didn't come along on tour with us, and I noticed you mention his absence from time to time."
Copper looked sheepish.
"Well, you got me." She conceded.
"Wow, I had no clue!" Sylva exclaimed. "Do you think he likes you, Copper?"
"No idea." Copper replied. "Please don't say anything to him! We're good friends, and the last thing I want is to jeopardise that."
"I'm looking forward to meeting this Aaron guy." Topaz looked amused. "Nancy, he's your brother...what's he like?"
"Dopey." Nancy replied.
"She would say that, she's only his sister." Sylva dismissed her companion's words with a careless gesture. "He's nineteen, good looking, and a real gentleman...Copper has good taste."
"Yeah, well, you should know. You flirted with him enough." Nancy reminded her. Sylva shrugged.
"It's a game and Aaron knows that as much as I do." she said unrepentantly. "I'm not interested in settling down with any guy, I told you that. I'm just not a relationship girl. Aaron's more like a big brother to me these days."
"He sounds nice." Topaz oberved.
"He is." Copper nodded. "If I'm honest I'm trying to get up my nerve to talk to him, but it's real difficult without knowing how he feels about me."
"I think he likes you." Nancy decided.
"Yeah, but how much?" Copper sighed. "Oh, look at me, I'm hopeless, getting all goopy over a guy like this. Change the subject."
"Well, all I can say is that moving to California looks like becoming quite an enterprising event." Topaz's blue eyes twinkled. "Anyone for dessert?"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"I don't understand what I'm doing wrong."
Aaron Pelligrini sat back on his heels, a troubled look on his face. "Synergy, you know as much about mechanics as I do, give me a hand, will you? This is for your benefit, after all."
The holographic figure which had been idly levitating above him carefully touched down on the floor.
"I am sorry, Aaron." She said. "My knowledge of modern day technology is practically nonexistant."
Aaron frowned, adjusting another wire slightly, then stopping. "I'm afraid to meddle too much, in case I damage your circuitry irreversably." He admitted. "The last thing I want to do is hurt you."
"The figure laughed.
"You have rebuilt me once, Aaron." She chided him. "I have faith in what you can do."
"Well, I'm glad someone does." Aaron rolled his eyes. "Here, can you at least project me a hologram of your original blueprints? Then I'll know for sure which sections I can't risk touching. When I rebuilt you before, it was more luck than it was real judgement, and with your hard drive blown out there wasn't much to lose. If I screw up now I could lose you your entire memory."
"As you wish." The holographic figure disappeared, and blueprints materialised before him.
Aaron frowned, scrutinising them. Synergy was, if he were honest, the most amazing machine that he had ever laid eyes on. Built by Emmet Benton in the early 1980s, she had been designed as an aid to stage performances, but her abilities moved far beyond this and she has been the carefully kept secret behind Jem and the Holograms. After the 'death' of Jem, Synergy had proven surplus to requirement and had been both neglected and abandoned, until discovered and painstaking rebuilt by Aaron, circuitboard by circuitboard. Though the years had permanently scarred areas of her memory and her artificial intelligence, her function was almost one hundred percent of what it had been twenty years or more before, with several of her original worn parts upgraded to the newest model. Consequently, Synergy had never felt better.
Now Aaron had decided it was time to bring the rest of the computer's components into the modern technological world - her projection units, which had been the least damaged part in her original blow-out and which were therefore the least altered. Once the truth had come out about Jem's real identity, thousands of fans, bounty hunters and federal officials, not to mention the press had searched for the machine, but their hunt had been in vain, and, protected by her new friends, Synergy had settled into her new surroundings in the basement of the Starlight Mansion with relative ease.
The scarring to Synergy's data banks had had it's own costs. Her initial programming had broken down beyond help in many areas, and she was fully independant of any set commands these days, making her own decisions and operating when and where she wanted to. She viewed Aaron - and indeed Copper, too - as her friends, but not as either master or mistress, and in truth the wilder elements of her new free persona could be hard to tame.
Still, despite this, Aaron had set himself the challenge of the upgrade, determined to finish what he had begun some months before. His aim was simple - to convert her light projection units in order to allow her to project a solid hologram, one that could touch and be touched. Such an ambitious aim, inspired in part by his viewing of episodes from the British scifi spoof Red Dwarf that his mother possessed on dvd, would, he had calculated, commandeer much of her power resource and limit her other holographic capablities, like flight, but when he had suggested it to her Synergy had been only to eager to play along.
In theory he knew how to do what he wanted to do, but in practice he had not as yet located the correct connection.
He examined the blueprints thoughtfully.
"There has to be something that I'm not seeing." he mused. "This is your main projection unit, am I right?"
"Yes." Synergy agreed. "It connects directly to the central mainframe."
"And this is your secondary projector?"
"Right. So..." Aaron frowned, then snapped his fingers.
"Ah! I think...I think I might just have it." He picked up his screwdriver, unfastening the panel once again, and carefully detaching one of the wires.
"Tell me if this hurts." He instructed her. "I don't want to burn you out."
"I'm ready." Synergy replied. "Proceed."
"Right. Well. Here goes." Deftly Aaron unhooked the next two wires, attaching them to their new locations and shutting the panel with a click.
"There. Let's see if that does the trick." He remarked. "Not too uncomfortable, is it?"
"No, not at all." Synergy assured him.
"All right, then can you power up your lasers and give me some kind of holographic image?" Aaron asked. "It might take a moment or two for your circuits to adjust, but you should be able to shift between solid and holographic light now."
"Well, here goes." Synergy's lasers glowed red and slowly the image of herself reformed in front of her.
"That's the original, huh?" Aaron asked.
"Can you step it up a gear?"
"Attempting now." Synergy agreed. The lasers glowed again and the hologram was bathed in a pinkish glow, before fading completely. "Damn, I lost it!"
"Try again." Aaron instructed her, amused by her use of language. One of Synergy's pet pastimes was to learn 'proper human speak', as she called it, and occasionally she would drop startling and irregular titbits into the conversation, words and phrases that she had picked up from her teenage guardians.
Obediently Synergy powered up her lasers once more, projecting the original hologram. There was a whirring sound, as more power was applied, and bit by bit the pinkish haze that had enveloped the figure faded away to reveal the hologram in its new form. Gently, Aaron reached out to touch it, and the hologram took him off guard, grasping his hand in hers and laughing at his surprise.
"We did it!" Aaron realised. "We really made you project solid light! How much of your power is it consuming, Synergy?"
"More than fifty percent - I am unable to assertain an exact reading." Synergy replied. "But though my capabilities of projecting other holograms whilst projecting this solid image are limited, the strain on my resources is not too great."
"Well, then all we need to do is program into your memory a digital image to associate with your solid form." Aaron moved over to the keys. "Boy, will Copper and the others be surprised when they get back and see what we've been up to!"
PART FOUR: HARDLIGHT
Chapter One: Aaron's Experiment
Chapter Two: Cynthia
Chapter Three: Back To Work
Chapter Four: On Set
Chapter Five: Mind Games
Chapter Six: Sirena's Scandal
Chapter Seven: Zach
Chapter Eight: A Happy Ending
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.