As the blond stormed across the front lobby of Rebel Records, she heard
a voice call her name. Turning on her heel, she glared at the speaker.
"What?" She demanded. "If you are just going to tell me again how Riot
is simply absorbed with his project, I don't want to hear it! I can't run
my life like this - if he's not going to be reasonable and at least let
me know when he needs me, how am I supposed to do anything for this company?"
"Shh-shh." Sophie crossed the lobby, putting a hand on her friend's shoulder.
"Not here. Outside."
She gestured to the car park. "Let's drive. It is not good to yell and
scream in front of the security people."
Ingrid's expression became obstinate, but the Frenchwoman's grip was
firm, and she steered her cross friend through the big double doors. Unlocking
her car, she gestured for Ingrid to get in, and in mute silence, Ingrid
did as she was bidden.
Sophie cast her a thoughtful look, then got in the driver's side.
"Explain." She said softly, strapping herself in and pushing the key
into the ignition as her companion did the same. "I told you not to try
things with him. That's no way to get Riot to listen."
"There was a time, you know, before you even knew him, when he listened
to people." Ingrid muttered.
"Really?" Sophie's eyebrows shot up into her fringe. "I was of the opinion
that Rory considered himself perfection, and anyone's different opinion
was therefore imperfect. Am I wrong?"
"I meant he listened to Rapture and I." Ingrid glanced out of the window.
"Where are we going?"
"Chais pas." Sophie shrugged carelessly. "Per'aps the beach. Somewhere
quieter, where we can talk without people staring."
"Do you think I care what those silly little people think about what
I said?" Ingrid demanded. Sophie shook her head.
"Silly little people have ears and mouths. They speak to Rory." She said
with a shrug. "And this is not a conversation I think he should hear."
"What do you mean?" Ingrid looked suspicious. "Sophie, what is all this
A tiny smile touched Sophie's lips.
"I asked you first to explain what 'appened." She chided. "Why did you
go to him? Or did he come to you?"
"I went to ask him if he could tell me what he wanted me to do for this
stupid compilation. I have another big offer on the table from a film company,
and I wanted to see if I could take it up." Ingrid said slowly. "He said
that he doesn't know, he'll tell me when he knows and that I should wait around
for him to decide. That seemed to be it."
"He is your employer."
"I might have known you'd be on his side."
"Did I say that I was on anyone's side?" Sophie's eyes widened innocently.
"Non, mon amie. Je n'en ai dit. But this loss of temper is unlike you.
It is not good for business."
She flicked on the indicator, pulling off the freeway onto a side road.
"So. If Rory has not been able to give you an answer, will you accept the
"I intend to. It's his problem then."
"D'accord." Sophie became thoughtful. "Tell me, Minx - are we in danger
of you leaving Rebel Records permanently?"
Ingrid looked startled.
"That is what I mean."
"I won't quit." Ingrid shook her head. "I'm a Stinger, and whether I
like it or not, I won't have that kind of media surrounding us. Enough
bad media was around the Holograms when Jerrica died and we all found out
about Rio and that woman."
She shivered. "I knew he had no taste. Jerrica and then Vivien Montgomery?
"I agree." Sophie nodded. She pursed her lips. "And per'aps, if the company
were to take a more...well...femenine touch?"
"You mean you take it over?" Ingrid's eyes opened wide. "March in there
and take control?"
"You read more into my words than I have said, my friend." She said flippantly.
"I rely on Rory for my green card...or do you forget?"
"I can't forget." Ingrid sighed. "I rely on him for mine, too."
"And now I see why you won't quit." Sophie's clever face took on a look
of comprehension. Ingrid shrugged.
"As much as the other reason." She acknowledged. "So what are you suggesting?"
"Just that you and I, we're both smart people." Sophie responded. "And
yes, sometimes Rory too easily forgets it. Maybe a little lesson in how
useful we are would set him straight. If we were to...I don't know...more
easily control things, little by little...till he was in no position to
Ingrid eyed her friend carefully.
"You must have been a big catch for the French police." She said at length.
"Do you always think that way, or just when it suits you?"
"My whole life." Sophie laughed. "I do miss those days, too. But listen.
I have a good amount of control at that company, if I choose to exercise
it. Rory lets me have it, because he doesn't think I ever will. I don't
think he believes I know how. He doesn't know that in France, Jacques and
I took over and cleaned out three big companies in Paris without being
caught, and that I have as good a business brain as anyone - I did all the
numbers, and all the public negotiations."
"But if Rory gets wind of this - or if anything should go wrong, I want
your word in bond that my name won't be put forward. I would be deported
- my history would speak against me and it would destroy everything I've worked
hard to build up here. I would make sure you did not get into trouble...so
long as you protected me, too."
"We're Stingers." Ingrid shrugged. "There will be no trouble, and there
will be no betrayal."
"Then we have a deal." A grin spread across Sophie's features. "And so
we must start to think of the best way to take control, in a subtle, un-obvious
"Well, if we had control of the computer network, we could have control
of all his files without leaving a fingerprint." Ingrid said carefully. "He
puts an awful lot onto his mainframe these days."
"I think he spends more time with it than with any human being."
"I won't disagree." Amusement sparked in Sophie's eyes. "And I think
it's a good idea. But I do not have those passwords. He has not even written
them down. You understand technology more than me - is there another way?"
"I doubt I could do it." Ingrid shook her head. Then her eyes narrowed.
"No. I couldn;t...but maybe I know someone who could! Sophie, leave that
to me. If we want that system cracked, I know just the acquaintance to do
"Cynthia, is the fax machine working now?"
Across the city at Misfits Music, oblivious to the events at the rival
company, Jetta Pelligrini pushed open the door of the office, casting the
technician a questioning look. There was no response, and Jetta frowned,
tapping on the door.
"Cynthia? Are you on this planet? Can I send a bleedin' fax or do you
expect me to walk on water to flippin' London to deliver it by 'and?"
"Huh?" Cynthia looked up, startled. Then she frowned. "I'm sorry, Ms
Pelligrini. I was quite lost in my thoughts, I'm afraid. The fax machine?
I have located the error and have re-calibrated it. It should work fine
now, and stop sending your faxes to Tokyo when you want them to go to New
"That's a good thing." Jetta rolled her eyes. "Wretched inventions are
supposed to make life easier. Technology's all very well, you know, but
when it breaks down it causes twice as much work."
She cast Cynthia another glance.
"An' 'adn't you better be goin'? It's almost seven an' you've been 'ere
since before I was this morning. Don't you sleep like everyone else?"
"I was just about to leave." Cynthia offered a smile. "Thank you, Ms
Pelligrini. Good night."
"Night, Cynthia." Jetta raised her hand in a wave, heading across to
the fax machine. Cynthia slipped out of the open door, heading slowly down
the corridor towards the lift. Around her she heard the voices of the cleaners,
laughing and joking, and occasionally she was passed by the odd executive
or intern working late. A few she greeted with a vague smile and a wave,
but once inside the lift car, she sank back against the panelling, closing
Jetta's words echoed in her head.
"When it breaks down it causes twice as much work." She murmured. "Am
I breaking down, though? It's true that my projection has been off recently.
But I have been working hard. Very hard. Especially since Jerrica died. And,
well, Aaron and I did all that experimenting with my geographical inhibitors.
I did take that drive out of Los Angeles to San Diego the other weekend,
just to prove I could do it, and sample another city. Maybe it's all too much
on my circuits. I don't know. Whatever it is, I have to snap out of it."
She slid her projector off her wrist, glancing at it.
"The thing is, if it's simply a projection malfunction, why is it that
I have so many inconsistencies in my databanks all of a sudden?" She wondered.
"I remember coming to work this morning. I remember very clearly the conversation
about the fax machine, Pizzazz's temper, the Jewel girls going to the office,
and Syl talking about a girl's night. But where I went at lunch, or what
I did? I have no recollection. Perhaps it's more than simply a glitch. The
only other time I've had lapses in my memory is when that Techrat man infected
me with a virus. And yet, I feel no other ill effects. Just...so very worn.
Worn and tired."
"I should speak to Aaron." She decided aloud. "He would know what to
do. But I intrude on his married life so much already. Since he and Copper
tied the knot, he's spent far too many nights performing emergency repairs
on my mainframe, or trying to enhance my capabilities. It's not fair. Copper
doesn't complain because she's sweet and we're friends. But I know what
happens to a pairing where the partners work too much apart. I will not
be the thing that divides another marriage."
She shook her head.
"No. I will not resort to that yet." She decided, as the lift reached
the ground floor, and the big steel doors slid back. "Nobody knows my circuitry
as well as I do, after all. There must be a simple explanation why I'm
having this problem, and I'm sure I can reach a conclusion without disturbing
She stepped out into the lobby, glancing around her for someone she knew.
"I wonder if any of the others are still around, or if I'm getting a taxi
home. It's such a nusiance, having to make sure my projector gets home
so noone gets curious about it. It would be so much easier to just shut
down for the night, but I..."
She stopped dead as a barrage of disconnected images flashed across her
processors, paralysing her movement for a split second. For just that instant,
the whole of Synergy's data banks seemed to be flooding her sensors, then,
as quickly as they had come, the pictures were gone. Unnerved, Cynthia glanced
around her to see if anyone had witnessed what she had, but the security
guard hadn't even glanced up from his paper, and besides him there was noone
else in the lobby. She closed her eyes briefly, trying to retrieve the files,
but even as she did so she knew they would no longer be there.
"That's twice in an hour." She whispered, glancing down at her hand as
she caught a flicker in her projection. "I need to get home. I'm tired...I'm
confused. My circuits are hot and bothered and I need to rest."
She hurried across the lobby and out of the front doors, pausing in the
carpark as she hunted for a familiar vehicle. As she did so, she caught sight
of a shadow across the way, half concealed by bushes. As she watched, she
thought she saw the faint outline of a woman, watching her with intense blue
eyes. There was something unnatural about the figure, and despite herself,
Cynthia had to look away. When she glanced back, the figure was gone, and
she frowned, shaking her head as if hoping to clear it.
"Hallucinations." She muttered. "I am tired. This is ridiculous! I need
to defragment my memory. I have bits and pieces everywhere and they're obviously
jamming up my optical units!"
A voice made her jump, and she swung around, seeing Copper watching her.
At her expression, the drummer frowned.
"What's eating you?" She asked softly. "Because something is, isn't it?"
"I didn't know you were still here - you startled me." Cynthia said quietly,
crossing the tarmac to join her friend. "It's late. I thought Jewel had
"We did." Copper nodded. "But I realised I'd left my sticks here when
I got home, and I was just getting them. I was about to leave when I saw
you come out of the building. Do you need a ride?"
"A ride would be most welcome, Copper. Thank you." Cynthia nodded her
head, though her gaze kept flitting back to the bushes. "It's been a long
day and I'm tired - I need to defrag and shut down."
"So no girl's night tonight, then?" Copper asked. Cynthia shook her head.
"Tomorrow would be better." She admitted. "I'm literally spent."
She cast a final glance back at the bushes, but there was no sign of
the figure now. Copper touched her arm.
"What are you looking for?" She murmured.
"I thought I saw someone I knew." Cynthia shrugged. "But I think I was
"Someone you knew? Other than me?" Copper was confused. Cynthia nodded.
"Yes." She agreed absently. "Someone I was acquainted with so very long
"I see." Clearly Copper did not see. She pulled her keys from her pocket,
unlocking her car. "Are you sure you're quite all right, Cyn? You sound
frazzled...and on edge."
Cynthia made no reply to begin with, climbing into the passenger seat
of Copper's car and pulling the door shut behind her.
"I suppose it's silly." She said at length. "It just startled me. Seeing
who I thought I saw...well, it's impossible."
"Impossible?" Copper cast her a quizzical glance, putting the car in
gear. "Why so?"
"Because she's dead." She said at length. "It was Jacqui Benton I saw
in the bushes, watching me."
PART ONE: MEMENTO MORI
Prologue: Emmet's Task
Chapter One: Discontent
Chapter Two: Jewel In Session
Chapter Three: Mirage
Chapter Four: The Contact
Chapter Five: Le Klub Kool
Chapter Six: Sullivan
Chapter Seven: Cracks
Chapter Eight: Illusion
Chapter Nine: Jacqui
Chapter Ten: Marissa Demands
Chapter Eleven: Stefana's
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE
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 www.teenangeloutsiders.com!
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.