Jacqui's Legacy: Part One

Chapter Six: Sullivan

It was nearly nine o' clock.
Ingrid glanced up at the clock that hung on the wall over her desk, dropping her nail file down onto the wooden surface and getting to her feet, hurrying to the window. To her satisfaction, Rory's car was not in it's usual parking space, and she allowed herself a small grin, grabbing her jacket and leaving her office. She slid her key into the lock with a click, pausing to glance at the black nameplate that identified her door from the eight or nine others on the floor.
"Ingrid Krueger." She murmured. "Composition. Well, Rory...maybe it'll be a little more than that when I'm done. It's about time you remembered what Stingers are capable of. You've become a corporate fat cat and that was never how we planned it. Time you learnt a little lesson."
Slipping her key into her pocket, she made her way towards the stairwell, oblivious to the fact that someone had been watching her from the end of the corridor.
"A late night." The figure mused. "Or something else? I must find this out."
As Ingrid reached the ground floor of the music company, she cast a cautious glance around her. Pushing open the door of the storage room, she flicked on the light, leaning up against the pale brick wall.
"Sullivan?" She called, in muted tone. "Are you here?"
"As ever, Ms Krueger."
A sallow-faced man emerged from behind a stack of old record sleeves, casting her an emotionless glance.
"Good." Ingrid looked satisfied. "Because I need your help. I have a job for you."
"I work for Mr Llewelyn." Sullivan's pale eyes did not flicker. "Working for you is not in my job description. I answer to Mr Llewelyn or Ms Devereux. Not to you."
"Then why did you bother answering my note, then?" Ingrid sounded impatient. Sullivan shrugged his shoulders.
"I never miss an opportunity to learn information." He said simply. "That's my job. Finding things out."
"Damn you, Sullivan, I need your help!" Ingrid ran her fingers through her thick fair hair. "This is your kind of assignment, and I'm a Stinger. This is Rebel Records, a Stinger company. Are you going to do what I ask or aren't you?"
"If Mr Llewelyn gives his endorsement." Sullivan seemed unconcerned by her frustration. "Is that all?"
Ingrid let out a groan.
"No, it's not all." She muttered. "Listen to me, Sullivan. Rory's word, my word...what's the difference?"
"My pay cheque, Ms Krueger."
Sullivan's tone of voice remained cool and disinterested. "I have other things to see to tonight, so if you cannot authorise my services..."
"Per'aps I can be of help?"
A fresh voice joined the conversation, making Ingrid start and turn.
"Sophie!" She exclaimed. "I thought you and Riot had gone home!"
"Rory did." Sophie shrugged her shoulders, an amused twinkle in her eye. "I told him I'd close up the company tonight. I noticed you didn't leave at six like you usually do, so I assumed you had important business after hours. I see I was right."
She cast Sullivan a warm smile.
"It is quite all right, Sullivan." She added. "Ms Krueger has my authority in this matter. Whatever she asks of you has Rebel Records backing, and you will be paid as per your usual agreement."
Sullivan's expression did not change, but he nodded his head slowly.
"Yes, Ms Devereux." He agreed. "What is it that I am to do?"
"Minx?" Sophie raised an eyebrow. "I think it's better that you explain to Sullivan precisely what it is we want. You much clearer on things than I am."
Ingrid's eyes opened wide, then a grin spread across her features.
"I suppose that I am." She agreed carefully. "Sullivan, it's like this. Rebel Records are...are very interested in acquiring the parts of Jerrica Pacheco's computer - the machine the FBI have locked up in their laborotory. It's very much in this company's interests to secure as much of that machinery as possible, for some independant examination. Do you think you can help?"
"I see." Sullivan pursed his lips. "You want me to arrange a break in at the Federal Lab, steal the relevant computer componants and deliver them to you here, at Rebel Records?"
"Something like that." Ingrid nodded her head. "You're good at being discreet - Riot's often said as much. You're the best man for the job - we don't want a trail leading back here."
"I never leave a trail." A slight smile touched Sullivan's thin lips. "And consider it a job done."
He glanced at Sophie.
"I will be paid as usual?"
"Yes, cherie, as usual." Sophie's dark eyes were glittering with curiosity at Minx's words, but she nodded her head. "You have my personal assurance."
"And we can rely on your discretion?" Ingrid pressed. Sullivan spread his hands.
"I am always discreet." He said flatly. "Tell me where to bring the machinery."
"Here. This room is as good as any, it's out of the public view." Ingrid decided. "And I can collect it there."
She smiled.
"And that's all." She added. "So, if you understand precisely what I'm asking you to do, you can go."
"It's understood, Ms Krueger." Sullivan nodded his head. Then, as silently as he had come, he was gone, leaving the two former Stingers alone.
Sophie cast Ingrid a questioning look, raising an eyebrow.
"Qu'est-ce-que-c'est?" She demanded. "Synergy? What is this, Minx? I thought we were hacking Rory's system - what has this to do with that?"
"The stakes have gone up." Ingrid grabbed her friend's hand, pulling her away from the doorway. Casting an anxious glance around her, she dropped into her own language, muting her tones.
 "Listen, Sophie. I went to see Techrat last night. You remember Techrat? He's had run-ins with Synergy before."
"I remember." Sophie nodded. "So?"
"So he's determined to build his own." Ingrid responded. "He's never the easiest of people to manipulate into doing what I want, but I cut a deal with him. He's convinced Jerrica's computer is still operating, and he's obsessing about it. If I can deliver to him the parts of Synergy the FBI have in storage, then he'll cut me - us - in on this computer he's building. Think of it. We know that Jerrica used her machine to project holographic images. We could ruin Riot's reputation without having to even touch him. No mess, no fuss - just concentrated and incriminating beams of light."
Sophie's eyes became big with excitement and she grasped Ingrid's hands tightly.
"Think of the possibilities, with a machine like that!" She whispered, in slow, careful German. "And as you say - no fuss, no harm done to anyone."
"Thank you for helping me tonight." Ingrid remarked, as they made their way slowly out of the storage room and across the main lobby. "It was a leap of faith - you didn't know my plans."
"No, but I trust you and I was curious when I saw you were working late." Sophie said matter-of-factly. "I thought it must be to do with our recent conversations, and Sullivan is stringently loyal to Rebel Records. He only takes orders from Rory or from me. That's always been part of the deal - why Rory trusts him."
She winked.
"Remember, I very rarely do anything here without Rory's approval." She added. "I'm not considered a risk, and I am a partner in this company. Rory feels that any order I pass on to Sullivan would be on his say-so."
"And tonight, we've used it to our advantage." Impulsively Ingrid hugged her companion. "So much to the good. You think Sullivan will pull this off?"
"Sullivan is a strange man, but he has never yet failed to do exactly as he's been asked." Sophie nodded thoughtfully. "Yes. If anyone can infiltrate the FBI and steal from their laboratory, I think it's him."
Her eyes sparkled.
"And considering the reward, it was definitely a gamble worth entering into." She added. "I have a feeling all of this might just be fun!"

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

"...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 late shows."
"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 lighter.
"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 real guts."
"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."
She frowned.
"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."
She sighed.
"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 before!"

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 with you."
"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."
"You're a reporter. Social isn't in your vocabulary, except as part of antisocial." 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."
"Stefana. 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 for them."
"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, huh?"
"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 wall.
"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 Hotshot Reporter."
"Would Cynthia?"
"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!"

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

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!
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.