Chapter Five: Le Klub Kool
"This was a good idea."
Sylva leant across the bar, resting her chin in her hands as she cast a glance around her at the busy nightclub. "Don't you think so? We haven't been out all together like this for the longest time."
"We hang out together all the time, Syl." Topaz cast her companion an amused look, taking a sip of her drink. "It's kinda what we do."
"I meant when we're not working, silly." Sylva grinned. "A night off just to have fun. I mean, you can't usually get rid of Hollie for the whole night unless it's a word engagement, for a start."
"Get rid of?" Topaz raised an eyebrow. "Nicely put."
"You know what I mean." Sylva shrugged unrepentantly. "I'm cool with this whole mother thing you do, Topaz - and you know I love the kid - but sometimes I miss the fact you and I can't just crash a club on a whim any more. You know?"
"Guess we all grow up." Topaz said philosophically, setting her glass down on the bar. "But I do know what you mean. It has been a while - and even single mothers deserve the odd night out."
"I was under the impression that you weren't a single mother these days, Topaz."
Cynthia pulled herself up onto a bar stool at that moment, casting both girls a smile. "I thought Daddy was very much a part of things."
"He is, but he's also in San Diego, and I had to get Kimber to take the kid tonight." Topaz looked rueful. "His hours are probably worse than mine. But you're right, Cyn. He is there...he is, well, interested. So it's not quite how it was before."
"Interested in you or in Hollie?" Sylva teased. Topaz laughed.
"Both." She returned. "Thankfully!"
"Le Klub Kool is busy tonight." Cynthia leant up against the wood panelling that separated the bar area from the main dance floor. "Obviously a lot of people got fliers."
"Guess so." Sylva dimpled. "Where are the others - or did you lose them already?"
"Not at all." Cynthia grinned. "Sadie tripped over her feet and dislodged the heel of her shoe, so she and Nancy have retreated to the restroom to try and fix it back on."
"Typical Sadie." Topaz giggled. "What about Copper? Don't say she went home without us?"
"Would I?" Copper herself demanded from behind them and the three girls turned to greet their fourth. "Not a chance! I might not live at the Starlight any more, but I can still come out and have a good time with the girls, so don't you forget it!"
She cast the barman a smile.
"Hi Adam. Usual, please."
"Sure thing, Mrs Pelligrini." Adam, the bartender on duty cast her a wink, obediently reaching for a glass. "I didn't see Jewel on the bill, so I guess this is a social visit?"
"Yep." Copper nodded. "A girls night out."
"Even celebrities need to chill occasionally." Sylva dimpled. "Hey, we ought to go find Nancy and Sadie. Nancy's hardly the queen of style, and I'd be surprised if she knows one end of the shoe from the other. Besides, if Sadie's snapped the heel, it's not going to be fixed that easily!"
"Okay." Topaz agreed. "Copper, Cyn, are you coming with us? Maybe we can help."
"Yes, if you like." Cynthia smiled. "Honestly, though, I think Syl is right. I saw the shoe after Sadie did her beautiful somersault, and I think it will need professional help."
"Sadie's funny that way." Copper scooped up her drink, paying the tab and following the others into the busy crowd. "I mean, she's not clumsy as a rule, but when she is, she is in extreme ways. It's like all or nothing with her."
"She's great entertainment." Sylva chuckled. "I guess it's the artist in her."
"How does that work?" Topaz demanded, as they reached their missing bandmates. "Artists are supposed to be eccentric - but not klutzy!"
"This artist is both." Sadie herself put in gloomily, holding out her shoe. "I think I'm going barefoot for the rest of the night."
"Well, that'd be the artist eccentricity, wouldn't it?" Sylva bantered. Sadie rolled her eyes.
"Tell me about it." She agreed. "But they were seventy five bucks, so I hope I can get this fixed in the city."
"Sure, I reckon they'll fix it." Sylva took the damaged shoe, casting an expert eye over it. "It's just come majorly apart, that's all - it hasn't broken down the middle or anything."
Her eyes danced. "Cynthia said you did a somersault."
"Very nearly." Sadie pinkened. "Thankfully only a few people saw it, though. And none of them were paparazzi, so it won't be in tomorrow's paper."
"Honestly, we can't take you anywhere." Topaz hugged her friend playfully. "And this is before you have one too many to drink!"
"I thought we had a general embargo on drunkenness tonight?" Nancy asked. "I mean, we are working tomorrow...and we do have a song to get down."
"Nancy, let me introduce you to this thing called a night off." Sylva rolled her eyes expressively. "We're not talking about the song until tomorrow...okay? And sure, we aren't here to get smashed. But we are here to let loose and dance and have a good time. So, get with it, huh?"
"Nightclubs aren't really my idea of a good time." Nancy admitted. "Unless I'm playing it, as a gig. They're smoky, crowded and full of drunk people dancing. I don't like all of that."
"I don't mind it, so long as we don't get mobbed." Sadie reached down to remove her remaining shoe. "There. At least I'm on the level now. And I don't even mind it too much when it's fans who track us down - but I have real issues with the press jumping on us when we're out on the town."
"Well, if you must put on a performance..." Copper winked at her. Sadie spread her hands.
"What can I say? I was born awkward." She said simply. She cast Cynthia a glance.
"You know, I think your projection looks a little better tonight than it has done in a while."
"I think so, too." Cynthia nodded. "I defragged my system last night, and it seems better today. At least, I have noticed no imperfections in my disguise."
"Did you tell the others about what you saw yesterday evening?" Copper asked. Cynthia looked startled.
"Yeah, she told us." Sylva shivered. "The spooky thing. Or rather she told me, and I told the others. Do you think it was a ghost?"
"No, it was not a ghost." Cynthia shook her head. "If you mean the Jacqui apparition, it was some trick with light. Electronic, almost certainly. A hologram...like me."
"A hologram?" Nancy's eyebrows disappeared into her fringe. "Someone's messing with Synergy technology?"
"Well, if that is what they are doing, they need to do a lot more work before they reach any kind of standard." Cynthia said dryly. "The projection was unconvincing - it was translucent and unstable. But it might well be that whoever tried to scare me yesterday was the same person as tried to destroy the studio at Misfits Music. It would have taken some technological knowledge to blur the cameras in that way, after all."
"But why try and scare you?" Copper wondered. "I mean, Misfits Music was the target then. You're no Misfit. Quite the opposite, really. You're essentially a Benton...why go after you?"
"Because I switched sides?" Cynthia shrugged helplessly. "This I am unclear on, but it strikes me that it was fairly common knowledge that I reacted badly to Jerrica's death. I had time off work and it was known that I was unwell for a time. I wonder if, by trying to make me see ghosts, this person thinks to send me back into some kind of mental collapse."
"Nice." Nancy grimaced. "Friendly stuff we're dealing with then."
"Indeed." Cynthia nodded. "But my intelligence is electronic and has already worked past the grief I felt at Jerrica's death. My brain does not work the way yours does, and once files are out of circulation, they are no longer an issue."
"In that case, they obviously don't know who you really are." Topaz said thoughtfully. "Because they're trying to elicit a human reaction from you. So that's something, at least. If we don't know who we're up against, at least we have a few cards up our sleeve that they don't know about."
"That was my thought." Cynthia agreed. "And after tonight I intend to do some checking of the Starlight Mansion and Misfits Music, see if I can find somewhere a remote projection unit was hidden last night. It cannot have been far from my own, to produce an image so close, but at the time I was too startled to think to scan the area."
"This whole thing is out of a science fiction book." Sadie sighed. "Let's not talk about this any more tonight, huh guys? We're enjoying ourselves and I'm making a prat of myself in public. Let's leave weirdos with sinister revenge plots alone for a while, huh? Like Syl said, this is a night off."
"Sadie's right." Copper nodded. "I'm sorry I brought it up."
"Well, with any luck tomorrow I will have more information." Cynthia reflected. She frowned, glancing at her hands. "But I think I spoke too soon about my projection. Look...the edges of my nails are starting to fragment."
"Freaky." Sylva breathed, peering at Cynthia's upheld hand. "It's like you've got light coming out the ends of your fingers!"
"I am composed of light." Cynthia said with a shrug. "But I am more concerned with how stable my appearance is. Perhaps I should switch off Cynthia and do a general check of my hardware. It might simply be a problem with the remote projector, but I want to be sure it's not a fault in Cynthia's template file."
"Cyn, this was supposed to be a girl's night out!" Sylva protested. "It's barely eleven o'clock!"
"Syl, Cyn relaxes in a different way from the rest of us." Nancy pointed out. "Though it's probably not a good idea to switch off in public, Cyn. Someone might see."
"Well, that is easily fixed." Cynthia slipped her watch off her wrist, handing it to Nancy. "Will you take care of this for me, and bring it home to the Starlight when you return? I will project myself to the door then switch myself off. Noone will find that suspicious."
"Sure." Nancy took the watch, slipping it onto her own wrist. "We'll see you later."
Cynthia offered her friends a smile, then, with a little wink, she was gone across the floor.
Nancy glanced at the watch.
"Do you think she's really okay?" She asked.
"How do you mean?" Sylva looked confused. "She's been better tonight than she's been in a long time, if you ask me."
"There's still crap going down at Misfits Music, and she and Aaron have way too much work on." Copper nodded. "But I agree, she seemed more herself tonight."
"No, I didn't mean in a personality sense." Nancy shook her head. "I meant with her projections and stuff. She was flickery the other day, and today she's leaking light. Do you think her projector might be out?"
"Well, if it is, she's the best one to handle it." Sadie decided. "And she has Aaron on hand if she needs a second opinion. Honestly, I think that in terms of componants, there's not much those two can't fix. It was her emotional state I was more worried about after Jerrica died. She has been preoccupied lately, and strange from time to time, but I think she's all right."
"We can't mollycoddle her." Copper mused. "She doesn't react to things how we do in some ways. I think Sadie's right, honestly. She did say she was past the worst of the grief thing now, and I tend to believe her."
She took a sip of her drink. "Do we know who the band are, by the way? They're pretty good."
"Some local talent." Sylva shrugged her shoulders. "They aren't bad, though."
"Not good enough to get a contract." Nancy tucked a stray wisp of dark hair behind her ear. "There are too many same-y bands in the area as it is. They won't get a second look."
"That's a gloomy way of looking at it." Sadie reproached. Nancy shrugged.
"That's how it works." She said matter-of-factly. "It's tough, breaking through in Los Angeles. Remember, I grew up with all this going on in the background. For every forty or so tapes Mom would bring home to listen to, one would be lucky to get a meeting. And even then, they'd have to be something special to go any further than that. Talent is one thing. Spark is another."
"There speaks our expert." Topaz looked amused. "But they're playing good tonight, so I suppose we shouldn't complain."
"I guess it makes it clear how lucky we all were, actually." Copper reflected, leaning up against a pillar and setting her drink down on the edge of a nearby table. "Getting our contracts as easily as we did. You could be working and working at this dream for your whole life and never make a mark. And yet we pretty much had it gifted our way. You ever think about that?"
"When you have connections, you have pull." Nancy said succinctly.
"I thought that Jewel weren't based on their family connections, Nance." Topaz's eyes twinkled playfully. "That's what you always tell the reporters."
"And it's still true. What I mean is, when you know people in the business it's easier to get noticed." Nancy shrugged. "Bottom line is, though, if you're not something special, even sleeping with the boss can't get you a deal. But the fact that Aunt Phyl heard me play meant I got my contract. I could've played a dozen things better than that, in honesty, but if Mom and she hadn't been in charge at Misfits Music, noone would ever have heard them."
"Being in the right place at the right time." Sadie mused. "And knowing the right people. It really is as much who you know as what you know."
"Why're we so philosophical tonight?" Sylva demanded. "It can't be alcohol...so what gives?"
"I guess that it occured to me how lucky we are, that's all." Copper looked sheepish. "I mean Jewel could've bombed - or we could've hated each other and split. It didn't wind up that way...and just spending the night out with you girls makes me realise how cool it is."
"Marriage has made her brain go goopy." Nancy grinned, giving her sister-in-law a playful nudge. "We may have had a helping hand getting the papers signed, but the rest of it is down to talent. Not luck."
"Not to change the subject, or anything, but did anyone notice that we're being watched?" Topaz frowned, casting a glance across the dancefloor. "There's a girl by the door staring at us."
"That happens a lot, though." Sadie objected. "What's the issue with this one?"
"Something odd in the way she's staring." Topaz admitted. "No, don't all turn around...that'll look really bad. But it's kinda giving me the creeps."
"I see her." Sadie pursed her lips. "She is a bit intense, isn't she?"
"Maybe she's just shy." Sylva shrugged. "You know, some fans don't know how to approach us when they see us in real life. Perhaps she's trying to work out how to do that."
She grinned. "She can't help that. I'm gonna go speak to her - soon knock the nerves out of her."
"Okay...but Syl, be careful, huh?" Topaz begged. Sylva raised an eyebrow.
"Be careful? She's not as tall as you or I, and she's certainly not bigger built. What is the problem, Topaz? She's just one girl and I'm not planning on fighting her. Just talking to her. Chill out - Cynthia's chat is getting you paranoid!"
"Maybe." Topaz acknowledged sheepishly. "But she looks creepy. So just humour me. All right?"
"Fine." Sylva rolled her eyes. "I'll be right back."
Before any of the others could speak, she headed off across the dance floor to where the petite blond was standing. As she approached, she cast the girl a smile.
"Hi." She said warmly. "Are you okay over here? You look a little lost."
The girl raised a pair of ice-blue eyes to her companion, pursing her lips. Then she nodded.
"I am fine." She agreed quietly, no emotion in her tone.
"Well, that's good." Sylva offered another smile. "The club is kinda crazy tonight - I wondered if you needed any help."
"Help?" The blue eyes widened, and the girl shook her head in a determined fashion.
"I don't need help from Misfit children."
The coldness of her tone made Sylva stop dead, staring at her.
"Misfit children?" She repeated. "What...?"
"Stupid as well as ugly, and totally devoid of talent." Now the girl smiled, but it was a mocking, hard smile and it did not reach her eyes.
"Hey, what is your deal?" Now Sylva was getting angry. "I came over here to be friendly. Who are you?"
The blond let out a low chuckle.
"I'm whoever I want to be." She murmured. "It all depends on the mood I'm in."
Before Sylva could respond, she was gone across the floor and into the busy crowd, disappearing from view. Sylva's brows knitted together.
"Weird." She muttered. "Topaz wasn't wrong. She was creepy. And I'd lay odds from the way she was speaking that I just found our blond saboteur."
"Syl?" Sadie's voice made her turn and she realised that her friends had crossed the floor to join her. "You okay?"
"Did you scare the kid off?" Nancy asked. Sylva shook her head.
"No." She responded. "Topaz was right. She was creepy. And I doubt her staring at us had any good attached to it."
"What happened?" Topaz looked alarmed. "What did she do?"
"Do? Nothing." Sylva spread her hands. "It was what she said. She called me a Misfit kid...said she didn't need any help from the likes of me, and said that we were stupid, ugly and devoid of talent."
"Oh, so not a fan then." Nancy rolled her eyes heavenwards. "God, I hate fanatics."
"If you ask me, there's more to that than a random crazy." Copper shook her head. "Didn't the note from the person who stole Syl's car mention Misfit kids?"
"It did." Sylva agreed. "And Misfits' Music's studio was wrecked - particularly the Misfit stuff. You're thinking what I'm thinking, Copper. I just spoke to our saboteur."
"But who is she?" Sadie sounded helpless. "I didn't recognise her - did any of you?"
"No. Never seen her before." Sylva sighed. "Though I got the impression I knew her from somewhere. I don't know how or where...just a feeling I got."
She rubbed her temples. "Do you think we should look for her? The bouncers here are pretty friendly to us - maybe they'd help."
"It's not their fight." Nancy shook her head. "It's ours. And we'll never find her in that crowd."
"Syl, you got the clearest look at her." Sadie remarked. "I have an idea of her features, and I could do a sketch of her, but if you could help me make it exact, I could give it to Alex. Maybe he'd know her. And we could ask Cynthia to run it through her databanks, too."
"That's an idea." Sylva's expression lightened. "You draw really well, Sade, and between us we can probably come up with a composite. That's a start, at least - we might find out her name and that's a big part of the battle."
"Well, if we find that out, we ought to pass it on to Aunt Phyl and Mom." Nancy observed. "It's their fight too - it's the Misfits being attacked, indirectly. If we think this girl is some kind of fanatical saboteur blaming them for Jerrica's death, they ought to know what's going on too."
"Let's see what we find first." Topaz said cautiously. "Phyllis is a bit like a bull in a china shop with things like this, and we might well be able to solve it without her."
"She said something else odd." Sylva mused. "I asked her who she was, and she said...oh, what were her exact words? She said she could be whoever she wanted, it all depended on the mood, or something."
"It all depends on the mood I'm in?" Copper demanded sharply. Sylva nodded.
"Yeah. That was it."
"That's a Hologram song." Copper grimaced. "She was taunting you. I think we're right, Syl. This is definitely the girl we want."
"Maybe we should head off home, then, and see if we can't put her to paper before Syl or I forget how she looked." Sadie suggested. "If it's all the same to you, clubbing with no shoes and a creepy girl on the loose isn't exactly relaxing."
"I second that." Topaz nodded. "Copper, you coming back to ours?"
"For a while." Copper agreed. "Should I mention any of this to Aaron?"
"I don't suppose it'd harm for him to know." Sylva shrugged. "Sure. Maybe he can help."
"Well, I don't see how." Nancy sighed. "We have a random blond. Any idea how many blonds there are in Los Angeles?"
"There was something about this one, though." Sylva frowned. "I'd know her if I saw her again. She had really piercing blue eyes...ice blue, and ice cold, too. And she was wearing a hat..."
Her eyes narrowed as she tried to remember. "There was something on it. Initials. Dammit...what were they?"
"Initials? Her initials, maybe?" Sadie looked hopeful. Sylva nodded.
"Yeah, maybe. It didn't look like a designer logo." She agreed. "More a personal monogram."
"Well, who would've thought Syl's huge fashion expertise would be so useful." Nancy grinned ruefully. "Try and remember the letters, Syl. It might be important."
"She was insulting me at the time." Sylva defended herself. "It's hard to concentrate on anything when someone's calling you names."
"Well, try anyhow." Sadie begged. "It might be the best clue we have."
Sylva fell silent for a moment, contemplating. Then, with an exclamation she clapped her hands together.
"Got it!" She cried. "The initials on the hat...I know what they were. JB!"
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 Warning
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.