Part One

Chapter Ten: Kimber

Well, so here he was.
Aaron cast a glance at his watch, pursing his lips then pushing open the door of his car, stepping out onto the concrete. For a moment he paused, gazing up at the big brick building. From inside he could hear the sound of children's voices.
"I wonder if she'll even see me." He mused, slowly heading up the driveway to the front door, and ringing the bell. "It's a long shot, but I need to speak to her. Even if this is a really bad time."
The door swung open at that moment to reveal a pretty blond woman in her early twenties. She cast Aaron a startled look. 
"I know you...I'm sure I do." She said. "Did you want to see someone specifically?"
"My name is Aaron Pelligrini. I work for Misfits Music - but I think you probably know me through my wife, Copper." Aaron held out a hand, and hesitantly, the girl took it. "I was wondering if Mrs Harrison was home."
A shadow touched the girl's features.
"Yes, she is, but this isn't really a good time to call." She said quietly. "You must have heard the news. Kimber hasn't taken it so good."
"No. I realise that." Aaron agreed soberly. "But that's partly the reason I'm here. I know she's probably very upset, and the last thing she wants is visitors, but I'm at my wits end."
"I'm not sure I understand. Is Copper sick or...?" The blond girl frowned. Aaron shook his head.
"No. It's to do with...with another relative of Kimber's. Cynthia. I need some advice." He smiled. "I'm sorry Miss, I don't know your name, but I'm sure Cyn probably would...she comes by here quite a lot on afternoons off."
"She does." His companion agreed, her tones gentle. "I'm April...Kimber's assistant. And I should have realised. I knew Cynthia worked with Copper. Is she with you?"
"I wish she was...but the news has hit her as hard as it's hit anyone." Aaron was grave. "I know it seems a lot to ask, April - but may I come in? I really need to speak to someone Cynthia calls family."
"Yes, of course." April stood back, allowing him inside the building. "I'll run up and get her."
She looked apologetic. "I'd offer you coffee, but things are a bit mad here at the moment. Kimber's daughter Rose has been a godsend since the news broke, and of course, there's Sean and I, but Kimber has a special bond with a lot of the kids...they see her almost as Mother, and well, they all know something big is up."
"It's fine. Really." Aaron smiled. "I don't want to put you under any more stress."
April flashed him a return smile, then disappeared up the stairs. Aaron wandered across the hallway, pausing to glance at a photograph on the wall. It was old and a little faded, but he could clearly make out the faces.
"Jem and the Holograms." He murmured. "And now it's really over. Jem is really dead."
A voice startled him from the top of the stairs and he turned, seeing Kimber tying her dressing gown around her waist. Her face was pale and her brow drawn into a troubled frown. He sighed.
"I'm really, really sorry to be bothering you at a time like this." He said softly. "But I wasn't sure who else to talk to. It's about Cynthia...I hoped maybe you could help."
"Cynthia?" Kimber looked startled, then comprehension flooded her features. "Oh. Cynthia. Of course."
She turned to April.
"Could you go make sure Rachael has finished her homework? I told her she could go out this evening if she'd done everything before she went." She said quietly. April nodded, disappearing back up the stairs, and Kimber came slowly down to join her visitor, gesturing towards a door at the end of the hall.
"Sean's office." She said. "We can talk in there."
"That sounds good." Aaron obediently followed her down the corridor, and into the little room. Kimber fastened the door behind them, taking a seat behind her husband's desk.
"What about Cynthia?" She asked.
"She's...kinda switched herself off." Aaron settled himself into one of the empty chairs. "When Copper told her what had happened, she seemed to go into some kind of fit. She's decided that without Jerrica there's no reason for Synergy to go on. We think your father must have programmed it into her somehow - and we're not sure how to lift it from her. You were close to your father...Cynthia always said so. I hoped you might be able to help."
"I don't know the first thing about computer systems, Aaron." Kimber's troubled frown deepened. "Are you really here to tell me that I've lost two sisters this week, not just the one?"
"We haven't given up on Cynthia yet, but her circuits didn't cope very well with the news." Aaron said gravely. Kimber bit her lip.
"No. I'm not sure mine did, either." She said softly, her voice trembling. Aaron sighed.
"I'm sorry to be here now." He said gently. "And I'm sorry for what happened, too. I feel really insensitive being here like this, demanding your help, but I didn't know who else to go to. Who else knew Emmet like you did...I didn't know."
"You don't need to apologise." Kimber managed a faint smile. "Synergy is more than a computer to me and she always has been. You have no idea what it was like, you know, to lose Mom so young and then Dad when I was just a teenager..."
She trailed off, spreading her hands. "When I needed parental advice, Synergy was always the one to give it. When Jerrica shut her away, it hurt me right to the core, but I didn't know what to do about it and I still feel bad about it now. That she wasn't there when I married Sean, and she wasn't there when Rose..."
She faltered, shaking her head. "But that's past. The bottom line is that Synergy is more than a machine. She's family. I know as Cynthia she refers to me as her sister, and Dad as her father. So it should be. So she always has been. I just wish I could help you more than I can. Dad never talked to us about Synergy before he died. We discovered her afterwards, when he left Jerrica those holographic earrings."
"Like the one Rose has." Aaron mused. Kimber nodded. She touched her necklace.
"And I have." She reminded him. "Though it's little more than a trinket now, of happier times in this city."
Her tone was edged with bitterness, and she sighed.
"We were just starting to put the last few years behind us. Just starting to be sisters again." She said slowly. "I think she realised that she'd made a terrible mistake with Aja...that things had never been what she thought, and..."
She stopped, her eyes widening. "Oh my, that's it! Have you spoken to Aja?"
"Aja? No, I haven't." Aaron frowned. "Why?"
"Aja knows more about Synergy than I do. She knew Dad too, he was almost her father in so many ways." Kimber grasped Aaron's hands. "You know that the Holograms all cared about Synergy like she was a real person, just like you and Jewel do. Go see Aja. Tell her what's happened. If anyone can help you bring her back, Aja can. I'm sure of it. She's done so much before...I should have thought of it right away. I guess with everything, I'm not entirely thinking right."
"It's understandable." Aaron assured her softly. "And I will definitely go and speak to Aja. Thank you, Mrs Harrison. I appreciate you seeing me today, with everything how it is."
"You can call me Kimber. It's my name, after all." Kimber assured him. "And please, Aaron, do everything that you can for Synergy. I mean it. I might be burying Jerrica in a week or two...I don't want it to mean I'm burying her as well."
"None of us do." Aaron said gravely. "And I'll do my best. I have been and I'll keep trying anything and everything."
He got to his feet.
"Thank you again." He repeated. "And...I really am sorry for your loss."
Kimber's blue eyes became sad.
"I don't think any of us realised what a loss it would be till it happened." She admitted. "Goodbye, Aaron. If...if you get Synergy to boot, tell her that...well, tell her she has one sister who still loves her, and who really does need her around. Not just in terms of Cynthia, coming here to help out on her days off. As the mother figure I really never had in anyone else. Will you tell her?"
"I promise." Aaron nodded. "So long as we get her to boot, I'm gonna make sure she knows how much we need her. How much we all need her to stick around, even if there is no Jerrica any more."

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

"Well, that was productive."
Raymond slipped into the driver's seat of his car, casting his colleague a glance. "Who would've thought the old guy would've been so easy to get information out of? Time must've softened him - he was never this pliable last time we saw him."
"The last time we saw him, his client was alive and being sued into the ground for the Jem business." Alex reminded him. "This is a little different."
"I suppose so." Raymond put the key in the ignition, starting the engine. "And at least now we know something more about the will and what exactly is what." He paused, considering. "You know, it's funny. I had her husband pegged to be really badly involved in all of this - after all, they mentioned the fights at Starlight Music, and he seems one hell of a weird dude, if you ask me..."
"We haven't tackled him yet. We've only had other people's testimony." Alex reminded him.
"We met him after the Memorial. That was enough for me." Raymond grimaced. "But anyhow, I woulda liked to have pulled him in over this, on some kind of inheritance deal or whatever. But this throws things in a different light. If that lawyer dude is right, and Rio Pacheco was the beneficiary of the missing will...then what has he to gain by destroying it and killing his wife?"
"We only have the lawyer's word for it that the will was that way, mind you."
"True, but he's usually pretty straight, even if he is a clam sometimes." Raymond pondered. "Now, this surviving will interests me, also. Not only because it was written in 1986, but because the main beneficiaries all just happen to be in Los Angeles at once. Kimber Harrison, Shana Julian..."
"And Aja Phillips, who just happens to be back in America after years away, with her husband and daughter in tow." Alex finished. "It does seem convenient. Though we should probably prove that Jerrica was murdered before we wade into a grieving family and start launching accusations." He paused, then, "It ain't the easiest thing in the world to lose a sibling suddenly. I think we should go gently here. If one - or all - of them are involved in this, then we need the evidence from the autopsy and the sweep of the car first."
"Okay. I guess I agree." Raymond sighed reluctantly. "With the will being so old, and all, I guess it's a possibility that they don't even know about it."
"It must be old. It doesn't even include all of the Holograms." Alex mused. "Carmen Santiago - also known as Raya Alonso - she's not mentioned in it, so it must've been done not long after Emmet Benton died, before they added their fifth member."
"What do you know about Jem and the Holograms and Carmen Santiago?" Raymond raised an eyebrow. "Closet fan?"
"No." Alex offered his friend a benign smile. "She's the mother of Copper, Jewel's drummer. And Jewel are the band..."
"Who your floozie plays for. Okay, with you." Raymond rolled his eyes. "Who woulda thought that would actually have come in useful in this case?"
"Well, sometimes it pays to keep the mind open." Alex laughed. "So what now?"
"There's something else in the will that interests me." Raymond admitted. "We're going back to the office to look out the file on Synergy."
"Synergy? That again?" Alex stared, fighting to keep the apprehension out of his tone. Raymond nodded.
"That will mentions special electronic stage equipment built by Jerrica's late father, Emmet Benton. You and I know that means the computer." He said quietly. "We should have thought of this before, you know. Jerrica didn't have it, and we swept Starlight Music and the Starlight Foundation for it. But we didn't think of Aja or Shana, did we? The Holograms were estranged...why would Jerrica have trusted it to them? But then, they weren't always estranged. Were they?"
"We don't even know how big this thing is." Alex protested. "Is it that easy to hide? That we'd walk right past it and not even know it?"
"Beats me." Raymond shrugged. "There's a lot we don't know about it, and that bugs me. I don't like the idea that there's someone out there with technology which may or may not be capable of killing a human being. Doesn't that bother you too?"
"Bothers me every day I see a kid on the street with a gun." Alex said laconically. "What's your point?"
"My point is that we have our first tangible proof that Synergy even existed. That the lightshow at the memorial was no one off, and that Jerrica wasn't stark raving mad when she spoke to us about it." Raymond said slowly. "It's in the will. It exists."
"Or existed. The will is old, Ray."
"I know that. But it's still worth looking into." Raymond grinned. "And this time, much more thoroughly than before. If it's out there, Alex...take it from me. I'm sure as hell going to find it and run every test on it the lab can think of."
"And what, you're gonna try a computer for the murder of Jerrica Pacheco?" Alex raised an eyebrow. "Providing it even was a murder, which, let's face it, we don't even know for sure yet?"
"Oh, don't be facetious." Raymond grimaced. "No. But if we assume one of the old Holograms has the gizmo, and that the original Holograms just happen to benefit from the only surviving will in Los Angeles...I'd say we've got ourselves a motive."
He winked.
"Wouldn't you?"

Prologue: 1990
Chapter One: Daisy
Chapter Two: Jewel's Show
Chapter Three: Cynthia's Dilemma
Chapter Four: Jerrica Acts
Chapter Five: For The Public Good
Chapter Six: End Of An Era
Chapter Seven: A Reason To Be
Chapter Eight: Loyalties
Chapter Nine: Starlight Music
Chapter Ten: Kimber
Chapter Eleven: Consulting Aja

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.