Chapter Twelve: Sylva's Voice

I could have throttled her there and then. First she'd brought us back to this time, then she'd inadvertently messed up what was going on and now it didn't look like we'd be able to fix it - not if we were to get home safely.
"But if we don't fix things, there won't be any home to get to!" I exclaimed. "You have to be able to do it, Cyn! We can't leave this half done!"
"Syl is right." Nancy nodded. "We've gone too far to back out now. Are you sure you don't have enough power to do this?"
"I did not realise how much I had used on camouflaging us in various situations today." Cynthia said, her expression anxious. "I can maintain Cynthia, but I am unsure I can maintain images over you and Syl while we speak to Stormer, and then get us back to the Starlight Mansion safely in time to get home. I don't know if I can hold out the full twenty four hours that I set my clock to allow...my watch has not got the same power that my mainframe has, and I have only the barest of connection to it."
"Wait a minute." Sadie snapped her fingers. "I know how you can do it, and get us back safely, too! You're being slow, Cynthia!"
"I am?" Cynthia stared. "What do you mean?"
"Spit it out, Sadie." Nancy demanded. "There's a way round this?"
"Yes." Sadie nodded. "When Syl and I went to the Starlight Mansion we...we found Synergy. We spoke to her, even. We wondered if that was why you brought us back here, because you remembered speaking to us and knew that we did."
"I have no recollection of any such event." Cynthia shook her head. "If I ever did, it must have been lost with the parts of my hard drive that were damaged. I had no motive to bring you here other than the one I told you."
"But what has this to do with anything?" Copper pressed.
"Cynthia is one of Synergy's projections." Sadie explained. "I know that her capabilities have been upgraded, but Cyn, isn't it possible for you to hack into the original Synergy's power to project the holograms inside Starlight Music?"
"How would she do that?" I wondered. "She can't project through walls, remember."
"Oh!" Copper let out an exclamation. "Oh, but I see what Sadie is saying! Stormer has gone to see Jerrica. Jerrica has the Jemstar earrings. Surely if you're in the same room as Jerrica, Cyn, you can hack the power of her earrings to maintain projections for all three of you! You don't need to be Phyllis, Jetta and Roxy all the time you're in there. Only when you're in view of Jerrica, Stormer and whoever of the Holograms are around. Don't you see?"
Cynthia's eyes lit up.
"I am stupid!" She exclaimed. "I had forgotten the Jemstar earrings! Of course, it would be no problem at all to hack into those circuits and use them to project myself. I know my own hard drive and I am perfectly able to manipulate it. Synergy was built to project thousands of holograms at once, not just one or two. She will be able to maintain us quite adequately."
"She? You refer to her as someone else." Sadie eyed her questioningly. Cynthia shrugged.
"That Synergy is not really me." She admitted. "Not any more. I am too changed from who I was then to who I was now. Cynthia is me now."
"But if you've been upgraded - and we know you have - how come you can't project so many images?" Sadie responded.
"I can." Cynthia shrugged. "Though it is hard through a battery powered watch that is operating almost 25 years before Aaron constructed it. When I project myself as Cynthia properly, I cannot project anything else. But I am perfectly able to do all that this Synergy can do. I just am not called on to do so very often these days."
She glanced up at the building, then,
"Syl, Nancy, we must move." She said. "Once we find where they are, I will tap into Synergy's signal and make us Misfits. With any luck, that will be all we need to worry about. I believe Stormer will be easier to convince than were her bandmates."
Well, heart attack over. At least, I hoped so. I made a mental note for future reference that 1980s Los Angeles was definitely not a good place for a restful vacation. Especially not if Cynthia was invited.
"When we get back to Los Angeles, you are so deleting this programme from your memory." I told her darkly. "Are we going in or not?"
"Yes, we are going." Cynthia nodded. "Though it will not be so easy to get past security without my holograms. We must have a ruse..."
"When Mama came to audition for the Holograms, she and my Grandfather brought flowers as a pretend delivery, because she'd missed the ending time." Copper remembered. "Could you pretend to be delivering something?"
"Like what? We've nothing to deliver. And we're in our nightwear again." Nancy glanced down. "That'd convince them."
"Well, then we'll just have to be sneaky and see if we can get in another way." Cynthia mused. I shot her a sidelong glance.
"Do you know of one?" I asked. Cynthia hesitated, then nodded.
"I do." She agreed. "I do not know if it is still part of the building in 2015 but in 1987 there was a rear entrance which Jem and the Holograms would use to avoid crowds when they had a lot to do and the press were buzzing."
"So what are we waiting for? Let's go!" I exclaimed. Cynthia pursed her lips.
"I do not know if it is ethical for me to show you a secret way into a company run by a rival." She said at length.
"Look, Cyn, this company is owned by the bitch who abandoned you and left you to die." Nancy said bluntly. "Have you forgotten that? Who's side are you on, huh? Who rescued you and looked after you and protected you when Jerrica was bored with playing computer games, huh? I thought she was no friend of yours these days."
Cynthia sighed.
"I am sorry." She said contritely. "It is being here like this - it confuses my sensors. I feel...less animosity towards Jerrica here, and more inclined to protect her. Of course, you are correct. I don't know what I was thinking...come on. It is this way."
"Do you think she's really working right?" I hissed to Nancy as we followed her carefully around the back of the music company. Nancy shrugged.
"Honestly? I don't know." She admitted. "She's getting more and more erratic, so her power levels probably are really suffering."
"I think it's more than just that." I pursed my lips. "Don't you? That this is her Los Angeles and she can't equate this Jerrica and this world with what's happened to her and the world she belongs to now. We don't have that problem - this world is alien to us. But it's not alien to her. This is the world she was created for. It's her territory."
"I had reasoned that, too." Nancy admitted. "But we have a job to do, so let's not talk any more about it, huh? So long as she remembers which side she's on while we're in there and doesn't decide to go all for Stormer joining the Holograms, we're okay. Aren't we?"
"I hope so." I muttered. "The idea of not existing after tonight really doesn't appeal to me, Nancy."
"Nor does it to me." Nancy grimaced. "And if she doesn't erase this program herself, Syl, trust me I'm going to find it and do it myself!"
"Not if I get there first." I told her. "Come on. Do you really think we'll convince Mom to go back?"
"You know her best. What do you think?" Came the reply. I frowned.
"I got the impression when Sadie and I spoke to her that it was what she wanted but that she didn't want to make the first move." I said at length. "So maybe. Cyn is right that it will mean something, having the Misfits come so far into enemy territory to do it."
"Do you think it wouldve come to them doing that of their own accord?" Nancy wondered. "If you'd asked me that when we were back home I'd have said yes right away, but having seen the Misfits as they were in the eighties..."
"I don't know. Maybe, but it might have been too late." I replied. "We know Mom is here and we know why she's here. So we have to do something, and fast!"
"This is the other entrance." Up ahead, Cynthia had paused, and we made our way over to join her, spotting the door as we did so, though it was cleverly concealed in the shadows of the building's annexe. "It is usually unlocked in the daytime, because Kimber was always losing her key. I expect it to be so now, if you wish to try it."
"Sure." I stepped forward, giving it a shove. Sure enough, it gave way, creaking open to reveal a long corridor, with a flight of stairs at the far end.
"We go up those, and then we will be on the second floor." Cynthia said practically. "Jerrica's office is on the top floor, but it seems more likely that they will discuss music in the main studio, which is a floor below that. If you follow me, I will take you there."
"That is why we're here, Cyn." Nancy pointed out dryly, as we made our way upstairs, pausing at the door at the top to ascertain that noone was about. Noone was, so Nancy pushed the door open, and we were in the heart of Starlight Music. I had never been here before, but I knew that this was the place my Aunt Aja had worked before she had been so badly treated, and I frowned. It seemed prettier inside than I had imagined. I suppose appearances really aren't everything.
"Syl, are you coming?" That was Nancy, and I realised I'd stopped dead. Sending my companions a sheepish smile, I hastened to rejoin them, as Cynthia led us through a maze of corridors and stairways up to the correct floor. How she remembered after so long away was beyond me. I guess there is something to be said for digital memory after all!
Finally she stopped outside a big white door. It was slightly ajar, and as we neared it we could hear the sound of excited voices.
"We're number one!" That was Kimber, I recognised her tones from the Starlight Mansion, and idly it occured to me what a kid she sounded. Certainly not responsible enough to take care of the Starlight Foundation.
"Kimber sounds like a total flake." I murmured. "How come she got the foster kids?"
"Kimber has a big heart and lots of love to give." Cynthia chided. "She was young in 1987 - barely twenty, if that. I do not recall exactly. She was easily excited and impressionable - time has taught her many lessons and she has grown up."
"Besides, Syl, you're a flake too." Nancy raised an eyebrow. "Yet Jack and Topaz trust you with their kids."
"I'm not a flake." I began, but Cynthia held up her hand.
"Shh!" She hissed. "We must not be detected. I must try and log into my own signal - be quiet while I concentrate!"
"Don't you have to be in full view of Jerrica to do that?" Nancy asked. Cynthia shook her head.
"There must be clear air between her and me, that is all." She replied. "I doubt I will be able to project more than my own voice, by the way, so if you must speak, speak as little as possible. Do not give them a chance to suspect you are not who you claim to be - Nancy, you in particular. You and your mother have very different accents. Open the door a little, will you? They are intent on their discussion and will not notice us."
"I hope you're right." Nancy muttered, but she did as she was bidden, opening the door so that we could see into the bright, spacious music studio. For the first time the Holograms became visible from our vantage point and I realised how spookily accurate Cynthia's holographic renditions had been.
"You can be a part of our music company, Stormer." That was Jerrica, and her words jerked me back to the matter in hand.
"Come on, Cyn!" I begged. "Hurry up! We'll be too late!"
"Shut up! I almost have it!" Cynthia snapped back, in uncharacteristically harried tones. "I told you, I must concentrate! My power levels are not at full capacity!"
There was a moment of silence, then Cynthia let out a sigh of relief as, before our eyes, her features changed into those of Phyllis once more. Glancing at my hands I could see wisps of platinum hair curling around my shoulders and I knew that she had done it. We were the Misfits - now it was up to us to save the group.
"How about joining the Holograms?" Jerrica and the others seemed entirely unaware that we were even there, and before we knew what she was doing, Cynthia marched straight into the studio, giving us no chance to do anything but follow her.
"Stormer!" She exclaimed, in Phyllis's voice but tones that verged on the desperate. The group at the piano turned, and Mom sent a confused look Cynthia's way, taking a hesitant step or two towards us.
"They don't really need you!" Cynthia continued. "Please, Stormer, come back to the Misfits! We need you!"
"Yeah, it's true." I added, noticing a mischievous expression cross Nancy's face as I did so. She nodded.
"Come back, yank." She added, in tones which were a perfect imitation of her mother's. I had heard her do it before, and had I not known it was Nancy beneath that holographic disguise, I could quite easily have sworn she was the real deal.
That creeps me out, by the way. The bare thought that Nancy could have acting potential in there is seriously worrying. But I digress.
There was a moment of silence, as Mom seemed to battle things out with herself. Finally, she turned back to the Holograms.
"It's true, Jerrica." She said at length. "You don't need me. But..." She glanced at Cynthia, and I was sure a look of compassion touched my mother's eyes.
"They do." She concluded. Relief flooded Cynthia's expression.
"You mean it? You'll come back?" She exclaimed. Mom pursed her lips.
"I will." She said slowly. "But you'll have to listen to me also from now on. I'm an equal partner. Right?"
"Oh, right. Right!" Cynthia agreed hurriedly. "Well...come on, partners. Move it!"
From the urgency in Cynthia's voice I wondered if she was having some kind of issue with her projection, and I began running over ideas in my mind for how we might explain our sudden appearance change to Mom once we reached the corridor. As it happened, though, Mom had no intention of following us right away, wrapped up in saying her fond farewells to Kimber and the others, and with some relief we sought refuge in the stairwell, as Cynthia's pictures flickered and faded away.
"We did it!" I exclaimed, punching the air. "We got the Misfits back together!"
"We did, but I am exhausted." Cynthia admitted. "My circuits are frazzled. It was more difficult than I anticipated to hack my own signal. I was obviously more security conscious then than I realised."
"But it doesn't matter. We worked things out between them." Nancy said with a grin. "Mom and the others will never mention our little meeting with them, because they'll think it's losing face to admit they conceded defeat. And Stormer isn't the type of person to rub this one in their faces. As far as we're concerned, we can go home and everything is fine. Right?"
"Yes, I hope so." Cynthia agreed. "And it is becoming late. We must gather the others and get back to Starlight Mansion, ready for nightfall. We must be in the right place at midnight, otherwise we shall not return to our world at all."
"Now I think I'm in a sci fi movie." I groaned. "Okay, Cyn. Let's cut outta here and tell Topaz and the rest that we've saved the day. Okay?"
"I'm with that plan...but I haven't a clue where the way out is." Nancy laughed. "Lead on, Cynthia!"
"With much pleasure." Cynthia said ruefully. "Believe me, fond as I was of this place and it's inhabitants, I am finding myself strangely looking forward to being back in our Los Angeles again, even if Topaz does give me babysitting duty for a month after this!"
"I'll suggest it to her." I teased, as we headed down the stairs. Cynthia grimaced at me.
"Thanks." She said darkly.
"Well?" Copper greeted us as we reached the main street. "What happened? Did you get in?"
"Did everything work out?" Sadie added.
"We did it." I nodded. "We so did it! Cyn was fabulous. Really persuasive. And Nancy..." I cast Nancy a sidelong look. "Did her Jetta impression."
"Well, Cyn said she couldn't project it, but I never had any trouble imitating Mom, and she was calling everyone yanks earlier." Nancy chuckled. "I couldn't resist it."
"I hope I sounded enough like Aunt Roxy." I admitted. "But they didn't seem to be suspicious, so I guess it was okay."
"It was fine." Cynthia nodded. "And now we would do as well to get out of this part of Los Angeles, before we change time again, okay? Back to the Starlight to wait for our time to leave. Understood?"
"Oh, we have no intention of doing any more time changing, Cyn!" Topaz laughed. "We're right behind you!"
As we reached the end of the street, I heard someone call my name and I paused, turning. Much to my surprise, Mom stood outside Starlight Music, and as I cast her a look of confusion, she smiled at me.
"I'm sorry to interrupt you - you and your friends must be busy." She said apologetically. "But I saw you as I came out and...I just wanted to thank you. Your visit made me think about a few things...and I think you were right."
"Did everything work out all right?" I asked softly. Mom nodded.
"Yes." She agreed. "I think it will be okay now, being with the Misfits and working with them on my music. I...have new hope that things won't be as difficult as they have been recently. You were right that I needed to give them a new chance, and I have. I love Kimber and the Holograms, but I feel like I'm really going home now."
"I'm glad." I told her, and impulsively I hugged her. "I know you're gonna be so cool because the Misfits rock."
"Well, thank you!" Mom laughed. "And maybe your group will be topping the charts too, soon enough! Did you record a single yet?"
"Well, we're working on things." I said vaguely. "We have a long way to go before we reach your league."
"I promise I'll watch out for you." Mom said sincerely. "I owe you that much, anyhow, for coming and helping a stranger in her hour of need. It's nice to know there are people like that in the music business still."
She smiled.
"And you have such a pretty name. Sylvina. It's unusual - I'm sure I won't forget it in a hurry."
This made my voice catch in my throat and I swallowed hard.
"My mother chose it for me." I managed. "She...thinks it's pretty too. And...and I know you won't forget me. Hey, who knows? Maybe one day we...we might meet up again."
"I'd like that." Mom dimpled, and in that instant I recognised the pretty, mischievous Misfit from the photo albums in Mom's spare room. "But right now I have to run and I'm sure you do too. I have so much to do if this Misfit album is ever going to get together!"
"Goodbye, M..Stormer." I offered her a grin. "And good luck, huh?"
"You too!" Mom winked at me. "Knock them dead!"
With that she was gone to her car, and I turned on my heel, making my way slowly back to join my waiting companions. As I did so, I could not prevent a tear from trickling down my cheek. It wasn't every day you met your mother like that...and what she had said had touched me.
"Are you okay?" Topaz put a hand on my shoulder, concern in her blue eyes. I nodded.
"Yeah." I agreed, wiping the tear away. "Just...Mom is so sweet, you know?"
"That's why they call her the sweetheart Misfit." Copper said wisely. I smiled.
"Yes. True." I acknowledged. "But I never knew this her, somehow. I mean she always was sweet when Anna and I were kids, but I never really thought about what she was like before she and Dad got married and had us and stuff. I realised I have a lot of things to ask her about now. That's all."
"Then maybe this trip wasn't a waste of time." Cynthia said gently. I looked startled.
"How do you mean?"
"Well, I admit it was foolhardy of me to experiment and bring you here." Cynthia looked sheepish. "But then, perhaps on reflection I am still glad that you came. If nothing else it's shown you how little problems can become bigger ones if you don't deal with them, and how important it is for a group to be committed and focused on their music."
"And inspired." Nancy murmured. "Which I actually think I am, now. I don't know why, but there's some kind of buzz in this place and seeing Mom and the others...made me realise what a phenomenally scary act the Misfits were. And Jewel aren't scary. We have bite sometimes, but I'd love us to record something with a real Misfit edge - a real bad girl track. I always wanted to be a Misfit when I was a kid and I didn't realise how little I knew about them and what they were really like. Doesn't anyone else think it'd be fun to record a real hard rock snappy, in your face number, just to wake everyone up?"
"Sounds cool to me." Sadie's eyes sparkled. "I'm picturing the music video already...Zoe will have so much fun with us if we're gonna be performing in leather and fishnets and..."
"And spiked collars!" I exclaimed, causing the others to laugh. "And we can do reallly heavy make-up and make ourselves look totally out of this world. Ooh, this is so cool! We've never tried to emulate the Misfits before. Not really!"
"So long as it's Jewel's sound with a Misfit twist, of course." Copper winked. "Remember, we aren't all Misfit kids here!"
"No, true." Nancy admitted. "But I have a bunch of ideas for a new song now, and I'm actually starting to be excited about getting back in the studio and working on it!"
"Me too." Sadie nodded. "So what are we waiting for! Let's get back to our Los Angeles and get to work!"

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen