"...Everyone, let's hear it for Diablo!"
"Whew, that was a rush!"
As the five piece group left the hot lights of Dean Stacey's set towards
their dressing room, Luca Ranieri cast a grin at his companions. "We were
really rocking the show this morning. I don't know about you guys, but I
feel like we've been on a really good run recently. Don't you think? Like
everything's clicked together?"
"We're always good." His sister Stefana shrugged her shoulders. "The world
are just realising it. That's all, Luca."
"No, I think Luca has a point." Madeleine Dacourt, Diablo's singer pursed
her lips thoughtfully. "And honestly, Stef, I think it's down to you. Since
you...well, since you started to focus on the band one hundred percent, you've
been playing like nothing else. People already seem to flock to you - now
you're being hailed by everyone as the next bigshot guitarist in rock music.
Don't tell me you hadn't noticed."
A drole smile touched Stefana's lips.
"I'd noticed." She said simply. "But I don't want to rub it in that the
rest of you wouldn't be half the act you are without me. You know, modesty,
and all that."
"Steffi, the day you learn modesty is the day I learn Chinese." Clayton
Blake, the group's British born drummer said ironically. Stefana swiped
him on the arm.
"Shut your face." She ordered. "It's true. Deal with it."
"I just like the buzz of performing, when everyone knows we're into our
music." The final member of the quintet put in dreamily, slipping an arm
through Clay's as they reached the dressing room door. "Knowing that something
I wrote is big news is a kick."
"Knowing something we've performed is big news is a kick and a half."
Stefana agreed. "Hell, who needs drugs? The high's right here!"
"I'm glad you think that way these days, sis." Luca cast her a wink, swinging
open the door of the dressing room. "And Mad probably has a point about your
focus. You are a damn good guitarist, and the practice you've put in of
"Nothing better to do with my time." Stefana said ironically. "I'm still
paying you off for that credit card bill, Luca, so I can't exactly hit the
town and go wild."
"You're almost done with that, though." Luca reminded her. "And I appreciate
how quick you've paid me back, actually."
"Better the money goes to you than sits in my pocket and tempts me to
spend it on other things." Stefana said matter-of-factly. "I'm not taking
speed, but it doesn't mean I don't think about it, or that I don't have
moments I'd like a quick hit. The longer I don't have money, the easier it
is to keep away from it. When I go back to having my full income again, that'll
be the challenge. But I've been looking through stuff on the internet about
holiday homes in Italy - I figure that I can tie up my money in something
that means something, that way...and not have the temptation hanging around."
"Well. Wisdom from Diablo's devil." Clay's eyes twinkled with amusement.
"Are you telling me you've grown up, Stef?"
"Not on your life." Stefana poked out her tongue. "There's still plenty
of fun in me yet. But I'm serious, Clay. I've been there, and done that,
and I'm steering well clear now. It's not cool any more. I've had enough."
She slipped her hand into her pocket, pulling out her cigarettes and her
"Since we're at a loose end, I'm going out the back for a cigarette."
She said unecessarily. "Since last time I smoked in here I set off the sprinklers
and ruined a decent jacket. The car will probably be here soon, anyhow, and
you know how Rory the jerk feels about me lighting up in his limos."
"It might have something to do with the burn marks all over the back seat."
Marissa giggled. "He didn't take that well. But sure, Stef. We'll get our
stuff together and meet you out the back, okay?"
"Already gone." Stefana shrugged. "Later!"
Once she was gone, her bandmates exchanged looks.
"I never thought I'd say this about Steffi." It was Clay who broke the
silence, dropping down into an empty seat. "But she's really giving us everything
now, and it's paying off bigtime. Sometimes I wondered if she gave a damn
about Diablo at all. Guess I know the answer, now."
"Steffi always cared. More than any of us, sometimes." Marissa said pensively.
"She has a whole back catalogue of clippings in her room, dating right back
to our first performance in public, Clay. Just when she was taking the speed,
it distorted her way of thinking and made her act up. Now she isn't, I guess
her brain's on a more even keel. I don't say she isn't still trouble when
she likes - but she's doing her bit for the band and that's what matters."
"Stef has a scrapbook?" Madeleine's eyes opened wide. "Really?"
"Not a scrapbook. Just a sheaf of papers." Marissa shook her head. "Actually,
I don't know if she even knows I saw them. They were hidden under her pillow
with her credit card statements and because I was tackling her about her
money at the time, I didn't really mention it to her. It's probably better
you don't...just in case she's funny about it. You know how she is."
"It's kinda sweet though." Luca remarked. "That it matters that much to
her. I wish I'd kept a few more of our early clippings, to be honest...just
to compare with now. Maybe she's got the right idea."
"Well, if it keeps her occupied and out of drugs, I say we don't complain."
Clay shrugged his shoulders. "I've never had more respect for the kid than
I've had since she jacked the speed in, and that's the honest truth. These
last few months haven't been easy on her but she's dealt with it. That takes
"It does." Marissa nodded. "I'm glad Aaron managed to convince her to
speak to his friend, whoever she was. She's helped a lot."
"Stef likes her secrets." Madeleine said with a shrug. "But you're right."
"Do we think Stef still is crushing on Aaron, by the way? I mean, since
he's a married man and all, and she's sober?"
"I think she still likes him a lot." Marissa nodded. "But I think since
she sobered up, she's accepted that he's taken and that they'll just be
friends. At least, I hope so. I haven't heard her cussing out Copper in
a while, so I think it's settled down."
"Those pills have a lot to answer to." She added. "But at least she realised
in time what they were doing and stopped it. I feel like we got the real
Steffi back, and I'm glad to have her. I'd almost forgotten what she was like
At the back of the studio, oblivious to the conversation inside the dressing
room, Stefana had found a secure area of the rear car park to light her cigarette,
leaning up against the redbrick wall as she exhaled a lazy cloud of smoke.
"You played a good set this morning."
A voice made her start and she turned, glaring at the speaker.
"What do you
want?" She snapped.
"Stefana, I'm hurt." The young man sent her an amused grin, pretending
to tip his hat. "I thought we were such good friends, too."
"Friends? Hah." Stefana flicked ash in his direction. "Darren, you blackmailed
me and threatened to expose me in the gutter press you write for if I didn't
give you the scoop you wanted. Some friend. Go to Hell, and take your paper
"Consider my heart broken." Darren McMillan laughed, not noticeably perturbed
by her hostility. He raised a cigarette. "Will you at least give me a light
for this? I left my lighter in my car."
"Which is all of ten feet away." Stefana snorted, handing her lighter
over nevertheless. "And you didn't drive all the way over here to ask me
for a light."
"No, you're right. I didn't." Darren lit his cigarette, tossing the lighter
back in her direction. "This isn't exactly a social call, much to disappoint
"You're a reporter. Social isn't in your vocabulary, except as part of
social." Stefana snapped. "What do you want this time? Spit it
out and stop playing games with me. I've had more than enough of your company
to last me several life times, so make it quick."
"It's nice to see you again too, Steffi."
. I've told you once." Stefana blew smoke in his direction.
Darren rolled his eyes.
"Fine. Stefana." He said, holding up his hands in a mock surrender. "Whatever."
"So why are you here? Just to upset me? Or something else?"
"Something else." Darren settled himself against the wall beside her,
and Stefana drew away from him, eying him with wary disdain. "I had a tip
off from my friend at the Federal Lab late last night, and it got my interest
buzzing. Have you read a paper today?"
"I don't read papers. Particularly not since I met the trash who writes
"Well, let me show you today's front page headline in the Tribune, then."
Darren fumbled in his back pocket, pulling out a rolled up copy of the paper
and handing it over. "And tell me what you make of it."
"I don't care what you write, so long as it's not about me." Stefana snapped.
"The FBI are nothing to do with me, and..."
She trailed off, her eyes widening as she caught sight of the headline.
"Mystery computer disappears once more." She murmured. "Synergy
"Yes. Synergy." Darren nodded his head. "I wrote the story, but I don't
know the half of what's going on here. My source told me that last night,
someone broke into the lab, took the computer from storage and left. No
prints. No trace. Nothing. Not even a broken window. Just a reprogrammed
electronic lock and an empty storage unit."
"And this has what to do with me?" Stefana thrust the paper back at him.
"I told you. The Feds are nothing to do with me."
"No, but you led me to Synergy once." Darren pursed his lips, eying her
contemplatively. "And I wondered if you could do it again."
"Meaning what, exactly?" Stefana stared.
"Meaning, what do you know about the disappearance of this damn machine?"
"You think I took it?" Stefana's eyes could not get any bigger. "Look
here, buddy, I'm a rock musician! I'm not a sneak thief!"
"Really?" Darren raised an eyebrow. "You didn't ever break into Jewel's
backstage and take bits and pieces from them, then? I recall a theft backstage
at one of Jewel's shows where Copper's datebook disappeared - and then she
was run off to Vegas by some nutter. My sources told me you had something
to do with that...were those sources wrong?"
"Where do you get
all this information?" Stefana exclaimed. "If
you know everything, why don't you know where the damn machine has gone,
"I'm hoping you might tell me." Darren took a drag on his cigarette, flicking
ash onto the ground. "Because as you can see, it has your MO."
Stefana's eyes glittered angrily, and she dropped her cigarette to the
floor, grabbing Darren by his shirt collar and pushing him up against the
"Really. I didn't know you liked me so much." Darren seemed amused. "Hit
too close to home? We've been here before. Last time you threatened to take
me out, I countered. I could counter again. Scandal is my business, and I
still know all those things I didn't print about you before. Don't I?"
"Oh, you are slime." With a sigh, Stefana released her grip. "Look. Whatever
happened at Jewel's gig, that was before I sobered up. I haven't done anything
like that of late, and nor would I. It suits me fine, having that bunch of
wires locked away and it's not my problem if it's been stolen."
Darren eyed her carefully, then,
"You didn't know anything about this until I jumped you this morning?"
"Nothing." Stefana shook her head impatiently. "So write about that, Mr
"Cynthia Benton. Your friend. Jerrica's sister." Darren inhaled on his
cigarette, dropping it to the ground and stubbing it out with his heel.
"I doubt it." Stefana shook her head. "Cynthia doesn't need that junk
any more than I do. Who'd want burnt out bits of metal anyhow? We took you
there, you got your story, we got on with our lives. Deal with it, okay?
Whoever took Synergy from the FBI, it wasn't me and you won't find out who
did take it by harassing me."
"You know, I believe you." Darren sighed. "Which is a big pity, in all
honesty. There's a bigger story in here somewhere than just a theft, and
I thought you'd be a lot more useful."
"Sorry to disappoint." Stefana was scathing. "I don't exist just to provide
you with news, you know."
"No, but you are generally somewhere near the action." Darren winked at
her. "It was worth a shot."
"Well, if you're done taking wild stabs in the dark, I think that's my
car, and I see the others." Stefana said darkly. "Drop dead and leave me
alone, else I'll tell Rory you're harassing me and he'll get legal on you."
"Rory Llewelyn wouldn't care, if it meant publicity for him and his company."
Darren said carelessly. "And I heard he's all wound up with this compilation
disk he's doing, anyhow. Though I spose you wouldn't know about that, would
you - since Diablo have been shunned from it?"
"Shunned?" Stefana bristled. "Give me a break. We're too bigtime for his
little compilation and that's pretty much what he said about it, too. Watch
your step, McMillan. I've about had enough of you and I'm not someone you
want to make an enemy of."
With that she turned on her heel, stalking off across the parking lot
to join her emerging bandmates.
"Was that that Tribune guy?" Luca cast her a frown as she joined them,
and Stefana shrugged her shoulders.
"Yes." She agreed. "And I told him to drop dead. He seems to think that
Diablo have been cut from this compilation disk of Rory's, and he's always
looking for a scandal to print, so I told him Rory said we were too bigtime
for it. Let him chew on that. He's a creep."
"The further away from us he stays, the more likely he'll keep all his
limbs." Clay said darkly. "I haven't forgotten what he had printed about
my family, or about Mari and me. He has some nerve."
"He's a reporter. They all have nerve." Stefana shrugged her shoulders,
but inwardly her mind was still on the bombshell Darren had dropped. "Enough
about him. Let's go!"
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
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their interpretations to Christy Marx and the other writers of the Sunbow
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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.