Chapter Thirteen: Revenge
"You want my help?"
Cynthia paused from where she had been connecting cables, turning to shoot Kimber a startled look. "What, already? The show does not begin for another half an hour, Kimber...what is the matter?"
"Come with me." Kimber said with a secret grin. "I have a little proposition for you, Synergy...if you're game. A little...mischief."
"Mischief?" Cynthia's soft violet eyes lit up with interest. "I'm always up for mischief, Kimber. But please, don't call me that in public. If a reporter were to hear..."
"I'm sorry. Force of habit." Kimber looked guilty. "Cynthia, then. Either way...how many of your projection units do you have here with you?"
"Enough for your light show, and Jewel's." Cynthia responded promptly. "Plus of course my watch...but I will power down my own hologram when the show starts and focus my energy through those instead. I want to do the very best for my friends, old and new."
"Well, how about you do a little bit extra for your friends, before the curtain goes up?" Kimber suggested. Cynthia frowned.
"The Stingers have been causing trouble for a lot of people since Rapture came back to Los Angeles." Kimber explained, as they made their way through the network of corridors to where the dressing rooms were situated. "I don't know if Copper has spoken to you about any of it, but I've had Raya in tears and I'm not going to sit back and let that happen."
"Copper? Raya? I don't understand." Cynthia looked puzzled. "I've been so busy, Kimber..."
"This is basically the story." Kimber quickly outlined events between Phoebe and the young Jewel drummer. "And of course, that kind of behaviour won't do. Then of course there was the little incident with the clothing yesterday - you did hear about that? Pizzazz just told me about it and she didn't sound pleased."
"Yes, I did know of that." Cynthia agreed. Her eyes narrowed. "So, the Stingers try to hurt Copper, do they?"
"It's not a nice way of doing it, either." Kimber responded. She looked sheepish. "I'm sure you remember my own feelings when Dad died...how badly I missed him. I don't think it can be much different for Copper."
"What do you want me to do?" Cynthia asked quietly. "These Stingers are bad, they need to be taught a lesson."
"Well, since Rapture is so keen on ghosts...I thought we might oblige her with one." Kimber dimpled, a mischievous sparkle lighting up her dark blue eyes. A slow smile spread across Cynthia's features.
"And that's where I come in." She deduced. "I think I understand you."
"I've spoken to Aja and Raya and Shana...it was Aja's idea to involve you, and then Raya suggested you might like to play ghosts again, after your fun at the memorial." Kimber responded.
"Should I be...Esteban?" Cynthia looked hesitant, but Kimber nodded.
"That's what Raya wanted." She agreed. "To shut Rapture up once and for all on the subject of the Santiago family. But I think you should make sure it's all right with Copper, first...after all, she might see this display, and I don't want to upset her."
"That's okay. I will ask her myself." Cynthia decided. "But what of Sirena and the Misfits? Stormer knows of me, but the others do not. And the Teenangels? I know very little of them, except that the guitarist is Aja's daughter."
"The Teenangels are first out on stage, and the Stingers follow them." Kimber replied. "I think that when the Teenangel Outsiders are playing their last couple of numbers, that would be the ideal time to strike. Aja's keen to watch Sammi play, of course, so it mustn't take up the whole set. We just want them freaked out before they play their set."
"And the Misfits?"
"We'll tell them that it's a computer simulation program you're working on, or something." Kimber shrugged. "It doesn't matter, really. They'll believe that more readily than they will believe the truth, and it's probably safer."
"Fine." Cynthia's eyes twinkled. "Then I shall ask Taylor to finish up my wiring arrangements for me, and go speak to Copper. With her consent, I shall become her father...and play ghosts one more time."
"Great." Kimber dimpled. "I'll go spread the news...this is gonna be one show that Rapture and those heartless Stingers are never going to forget!"
"I can't believe she's really gonna do this." Nancy murmured,
slipping into the slits between the curtain and the back of the preparation
area, where the Stingers were warming up ready to go on stage. "Play ghost
again, I mean."
"I'm looking forward to it." Copper admitted. "Call me vindictive, but I want to see that woman scared out of her wits. I gave Cynnie my photo of Papa so she knows what he looked like...the rest is up to her."
"The Holograms are better schemers than anyone imagined." Topaz put in softly, taking her place between Copper and Sylva as they concealed themselves to watch the show. "Put them and the Misfits together and pow! Dangerous combination."
"Dangerous on our own an' dangerous with 'elp." Jetta, who had overheard this said with a grin. "Since the 'Olograms 'ave been talkin' Cynthia into powerin' up 'er computer program and givin' us a ghost, we've been doin' a bit of work ourselves...puttin' pepper in Riot's stage water, an' switchin' the strings around on Rapture's guitar. It's gonna be a very interestin' Stinger performance tonight, one way or another."
"You guys rock." Sylva only just remembered to keep her voice down. "Mom, I can't believe how much fun it must've been to be a Misfit!"
"There's never been anything quite like it." Mary admitted with a smile. "Now shh...we don't want them to know we're here. Are the Holograms all here too?"
"Yes, we're here." Kimber squatted down beside her old friend, casting her a grin in the dim light. "And Emily's here too. It's kinda fun to be a team for once, don't you think?"
"Tisn't the first time ever." Mary responded. "Oh-oh...looks like something's up. Quiet all...I think we're about to see some computer magic!"
"Minx, have you seen my pick?" Phoebe's voice carried loud and clear across the practice area. "I swear I just put it down..."
"It probably fell on the floor." Ingrid did not even look up from where she was programming her keyboard. "Either way I have not seen it."
"Rapture, it's here." Sophie scooped up her drumsticks, indicating the unit. "It..." She broke off, and Phoebe sent her friend a confused look, which turned to surprise and then astonishment as she registered what had struck the drummer dumb.
"I need my eyes testing." Sophie murmured, shaking her head and turning away. "I imagine it...I work too hard. The pick is not really floating..."
"It...is." Phoebe looked thoughtful, moving slowly over to it. "I bet it's a trick by those silly Misfits, it's probably on a string." She reached to grab it, but at the last moment the pick swung away, looping up over Ingrid's keyboard and clattering onto the floor. Phoebe rolled her eyes, bending to scoop it up.
"How childish." She said, dusting it off. "Okay, I've got it. Let's play that one through again, huh? Just to be sure. Something still sounds off and I want to make sure my guitar is properly in tune."
"When you girls are done playing about, then." Rory picked up his microphone. "Sophie, pull yourself together. It was just a Misfit trick, like Rapture said."
"I'm fine." Sophie snapped back at him. "It has just been a long week. I'm ready when you are."
She tapped impatiently on her cymbal. "Well? Let's go! One, two, three..."
A strange voice echoed around the practice room, making all four of the Stingers and some of the spectators jump at it's suddenness.
Phoebe gazed around her, startled for a moment. Then she frowned.
"Haha very funny, Pizzazz!" She called out. "Grow up, will you? You can't..." She trailed off, colour draining from her face as, two feet in front of her, the figure of a man materialised, becoming more and more visible with each passing second. Ingrid let out an exclamation in German, stepping back from her keyboard, and Sophie let her drumsticks fall to the floor, struggling not to follow suit herself and fall from her stool.
Rory strode over to the figure.
"Look here, whoever you are, this is a private practice." He began crossly. He put his arms out to escort the man away, but his hands passed right through the apparition.
"My name is Esteban Santiago." The spectre murmured. "I am looking for Phoebe Asche..."
"Esteban Santiago?" Phoebe's eyes could not get any bigger and for once her usual snappish composure was nowhere in evidence. "But...but you're dead, you don't exist...you can't exist!"
"You hurt my daughter." The figure took a slow step towards the guitarist, causing her to shriek and run for shelter behind Sophie's drum kit. "You made her cry by using my name for your fraud and then you sabotage her band to stop them from playing. I am angry...you disturbed me."
"What is that thing?" Ingrid demanded, her voice full of apprehension.
"It's a ghost!" Sophie exclaimed in her native tongue. "He's come to get us for what we did to Copper!"
"Speak English, Sophie!"It's not a ghost. Ghosts don't exist." Rory said impatiently. "It's...I don't know what it is, but it's not a ghost."
At his words, the lights in the room flickered and died one by one, and the spectre seemed illuminated as he converged on the cowering Rapture.
"The dead are displeased with you." He murmured softly, pausing a bare inch from her shivering form and sending her a look of distaste. "You make many people suffer because you are greedy...I shall not forget. Nobody hurts my daughter...nobody upsets my wife. I shall remember...and one day we shall meet again." A slow smile spread across his features. "When it's your turn..."
With that the image faded away into nothing, and, shakily, Ingrid peeked out from beneath her keyboard.
"Is...is it gone?" She asked hesitantly. "Is it really gone?"
"I never want to see another ghost in my whole life." Sophie's hand went to her chest. "My heart is pounding like it will explode!"
Slowly Riot flicked on the lights.
"What did he mean...when it's my turn?" Rapture turned a face as pale as the apparition itself on her bandmate, terror clear in her eyes. "Riot, what is he going to do to me?"
"Rapture, get a grip, will you? There's no such thing as ghosts." Rory snapped.
"Then what was it?" Ingrid demanded.
"I don't know...some...some imagination, trick of the light...Dammit, I don't know what it was!" Rory exclaimed. "But it's gone and that's that."
"It was Esteban." Rapture spoke absently, getting to her feet. "He knows...he's angry. I've had enough of dabbling, Riot...I've had enough! I should never have messed with Raya or her stupid family!"
"Oh, for Goodness' sake, what's wrong with you?" Rory sounded impatient. "We..."
"Stingers?" A fresh voice interrupted them, making the edgy foursome jump. "You're on in two minutes...I was sent to call you backstage."
"Then let's go." Rory said quietly. "Rapture, stop quivering and act like yourself, will you? We have a set to play, forget about ghosts and all that nonsense. This is our moment...now let's show them what the Stingers can do!"
Once the band had left the practice area, the secret audience crept out of it's hiding places, and one by one burst into laughter.
"Oh, that felt good." Pizzazz said with a grin. "I don't know how she did it, but that was definitely worth the waiting for. Rapture's face!"
"Papa is avenged." Copper murmured, sending her mother a smile. Raya squeezed her daughter's arm.
"She won't bother you again." She said gently. "I think they got the message."
"Cynthia! That was fabulous!" Sylva exclaimed as Cynthia herself swung open the door, coming to join the group. "You totally rock, you know...that was better even than..." She blushed, trailing off as she realised who was present. Cynthia laughed.
"I enjoyed it." She admitted. "I don't like the Stingers, they hurt my friends."
"Well, Rory Llewelyn's ego got taken down a few pegs tonight, and judging by the sound from the stage, it's going down a few pegs more." Sirena looked amused. "Oh, I wouldn't have missed this for the world! I can't wait to get back out there and sing now! Noone is gonna forget this night in a hurry!"
Chapter One: One Jewel Down
Chapter Two: Fireworks
Chapter Three: Phyllis Steps In
Chapter Four: Esteban Speaks
Chapter Five: Consulting the Teenangels
Chapter Six: Rose Helps
Chapter Seven: Mending Ties
Chapter Eight: Misfit Reborn
Chapter Nine: Dean's Show
Chapter Ten: Sylva and Jack
Chapter Eleven: Sabotaged!
Chapter Twelve: Settling the Past
Chapter Thirteen: Revenge
Chapter Fourteen: Show Must Go On