There are moments in every girl's life when she stops and wonders whether
she's made the right choice. And, I have to admit, after having seen Sadie
disappear through a wall, I was beginning to have second thoughts myself
on our onslaught of the Starlight Mansion. For a moment I just stared at the
place Sadie had been, and then, very slowly, I got up my nerve to touch the
wall, realising as my hand slipped through it that it was not a wall at all,
but an illusion.
"Synergy!" I breathed, hesitating, then stepping forward into the non-existant wall and towards whatever lay beyond. Sure enough, Sadie was crouched on the floor of what appeared to be a small room, and, up against the far wall was an all too familiar purple contraption, the monitor bright with activity as two large pixellised eyes gazed from one of us to the other, as if trying to work out what was going on.
"You are intruders." A voice came at length, and the tones were reassuringly familiar, if lacking in some of the playfulness that we usually associate with our Cynnie. "You should not be here. Intruders! Intruders!"
"No!" Sadie exclaimed, shaking her head. "No, please, we're not here to cause trouble! In fact, we didn't mean to be here at all, only..."
"Only you brought us here." I finished, not quite knowing what else to say. Synergy stopped in her tracks, turning the large pixel eyes on me with some obvious confusion.
"I brought you here?" She asked slowly. "I do not understand. You are not known to me."
"I'm Sylvina, and this is Sadie." I ventured. "And you probably won't believe us, but we're friends of yours. Only...only we know you in...in the future. You in the future brought us here from 2015, you see, and..."
"From the future?" Synergy's eyes could not get any bigger. "I can find no data to compute with such a possibility."
"It sounds crazy, but it's true." Sadie said beseechingly. "Really, Synergy, we don't mean you or the Holograms any harm. We're not here to blow Jem's secret or make life difficult for Jerrica. We didn't come here of our own free will and, well, we were looking for Stormer of the Misfits. She and Syl are..." She bit her lip. "Well, blood-related."
I opened my mouth to explain the precise nature of the relationship, but Sadie cast me a glance, shaking her head. I frowned. Surely we needed to win Synergy over by telling her the truth? Both of us knew from our own experience that the mainframe was no fool.
Synergy seemed to be processing what Sadie was saying. At length she spoke.
"What do you know of Jem and the Holograms?" She asked quietly. "And who are you? I do not feel that you have explained yourself to me. I should alert Jerrica, unless you can satisfy me that you mean us no harm. There are children in this house, after all."
"The Starlight girls, I know." Sadie nodded. "This is a house for foster girls. And as for what we know, Synergy, will you believe our story if we tell you that we know Jerrica is really Jem and that she uses her alternative identity to raise money for the Starlight girls? That you are the secret behind Jem's identity, who projects holograms and creates Jem's act? You were built by Jerrica's father."
"This is true." Synergy acknowledged. "But it does not tell me your purpose within the Starlight Mansion. Why do you seek Stormer? She does not live here."
"We heard a rumour that Stormer wants to become a Hologram." I said quietly. "And she can't, Synergy. She really can't! Everything from where we came from relies on her staying with the Misfits! It's really, really important that we speak to her and try and convince her that she should be with them. Please believe me! I don't care whether Jem is Jerrica or on telling anyone you're here or anything like that. We're not here to steal and we don't want to hurt the girls. I just want to find my mother and..."
"Your mother?" It had just slipped out, but Synergy was too smart a machine not to pick up on my words and the genuine emotion in my tone. Her eyes narrowed thoughtfully, then slowly she projected a holographic image of Mom into the room, casting a glance between it and me for some time. Then, in a flash of purple light, the image vanished.
"You do bear some resemblance." The computer admitted. "I can see the likeness. But in order for me to believe you are Stormer's daughter, I must believe that somehow you have travelled in time. More, I must believe that you know of me in your time, and yet you are the daughter of someone who aligns themselves with the enemy. It is hard to compute."
"Not so very hard." Sadie said softly. "In our time, we're a musical act, just like Jem and the Holograms. You help us to put on our stage shows, like you helped Jem and the Holograms to do theirs. And it's not odd that Syl should know of you, even though she is Stormer's daughter, because..."
"Because the Holograms and the Misfits called a truce in 1989." I put in, hastily scanning my memory for anything else that I could tell her. For a moment I debated mentioning the Jem Memorial and the end of the Holograms, but quickly decided against it. After all, we were reliant on the goodwill of this computer, and angering her with stories of Jerrica's betrayal would not help our cause any. "They put aside their differences and became friends."
"Friends?" Synergy's lasers flickered thoughtfully. "That is an event I would like very much indeed. Jerrica and the others spend too much time concerning themselves with rivalries and not the things that Emmet would have considered important to them. And you believe that if Stormer returns to the Misfits now, all will be well and end in friendship?"
"Yes." Sadie nodded her head. "But if she doesn't, well, she'd never have met Syl's Dad and Syl would never have been born. And the Misfits would have died out before they should, and...oh, lots of other things that are important wouldn't have happened. So I know it's mad and it seems unbelievable, but we really are here for that reason. Honestly we are."
I opened my mouth to agree, but then Sadie's words struck me and I stared at her in horror.
"God, you're right!" I whispered. "If Mom doesn't go back to the Misfits, she won't be at the company when Dad comes to it...and so she won't meet him. And Anna and I won't exist. Oh God...what am I in the middle of? Sadie, we have to get Mom back where she belongs! Otherwise we could go back to our Los Angeles to find that I don't exist!"
I was really starting to panic, now the full implications of things were laid out in front of me, and instinctively Sadie hugged me.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to frighten you." She said apologetically. "I thought you'd already realised. I mean, I thought that was part of the reason you were so mad about finding her."
"No...I just didn't like seeing her upset." I spoke numbly, my mind in a whirl, and Sadie cursed.
"I'm sorry." She said again.
Synergy's lasers flickered again.
"It defies my logic and I cannot find any reason why, but I believe you." She said slowly. "I believe your distress is genuine and I would like to think that the Holograms and the Misfits might yet call a truce which does not require one band to queen it over the other. I believe Los Angeles would be a happier place for such a truce, and that it would benefit the girls I call family far more than this ongoing and dangerous rivalry. Yes, I would like to believe that you tell me the truth. I feel that you believe what you say, if nothing else."
"Will you help us?" Sadie begged.
"I am not sure how I can." Synergy admitted. "Stormer does not know of my existance. It would be a great risk indeed if she did."
"Mom could be trusted with your secret." I said quietly. "But we just need to find her. We got the impression that she'd spent a lot of time here recently, working with Kimber on a record. Is that true?"
"Yes, it's true." Synergy agreed. "Kimber often speaks to me and she has told me much about her project." She frowned. "I am concerned that if I help you bring Stormer back to the Misfits, I will distress Kimber in the process." She admitted. "She has her heart set on Stormer joining the Holograms. She has spoken to me of it several times - most recently this morning. Indeed, she and Jerrica asked my advice on what would happen about my secret, should Stormer choose to join their side? I confess I am not yet sure."
"She can't join the Holograms." I said adamantly. "She can't!"
"Shh." Sadie hushed me. "Synergy, we saw Stormer in town this morning and she seemed unhappy. I know you haven't spoken to her, but have you had that impression from what you have been told?"
"She seems a troubled soul." Synergy agreed. "I do not know how she feels one way or another, only that she appears fond of Kimber and it is a friendship that has proven good for both of them. That is the limit of my knowledge, I am afraid."
"One more thing, then." Sadie seemed to be thinking a lot more clearly than I was now it had come to the crunch, and I was glad of it, because my mind was still very much in a crazy spin over the possible repercussions of us failing. "Has Stormer stayed here?"
"She has, but she is not currently." Synergy responded. "The risk of her discovering me is great."
"But she can't be with the other Misfits." I frowned, forcing myself to focus on the matter at hand. "So where is she?"
"She is at her own home." Synergy responded. "A house owned by herself and a brother, I believe."
"Do you know where it is?"
"One moment." Synergy's printers whirred into life, and spat a small piece of white paper out. Sadie bent to pick it up.
"It's an address." She realised. "This is where we might find her?"
"I would expect so." Synergy agreed.
"Thank you." Impulsively I hugged the mainframe's monitor - as well as I could for it's awkward shape, and Synergy laughed.
"In return I ask two things of you." She said, amused.
"We'll do whatever you ask." I promised. "What things?"
"Firstly, you must tell noone of this conversation, or that you have discovered the secrets which Jem, the Holograms, the Starlight Foundation and my safety rely on." Synergy spoke solemnly. "They carry a great responsibility, and you must not let anyone in this time learn of them."
"Easily promised." Sadie nodded. "And the other?"
"You must leave the Starlight Mansion now, quietly and quickly." Synergy told them. "I have helped you but you do not belong here, and Jerrica relies on me to protect her home and her charges from harm. I would not like your presence here misconstrued."
"We're gone." I grabbed Sadie by the arm. "Like, right this second!"
"Wait." Synergy flashed her lasers one more time, and a door appeared in the far wall. "This is an entrance I keep covered for my own protection, both inside and out. But you may use it. It leads right out onto the main road...and away from prying eyes."
"Thanks, Synergy." Sadie grinned. "Come on, Syl. I guess we're going to go pay your mother a house call, see if she's home!"
"She'd better be home." I muttered, following her out of the door. "Because if we don't find her, I might already be living on borrowed time!"