The lights came up, the red light on the camera winked on, and the host smiled her thousand watt smile.
"Welcome back to Weekday Live, I'm Katie Pettit and we're talking with Jerrica Benton, Head of Starlight Music."
Jerrica was in her forties, but looked like she was in her twenties. Her short blond hair was casually bobbed and she wore a polo shirt with the Starlight Music logo on it, jeans, and old sneakers. Her lean slim body, the product of a lifetime of dance and rigorous exercise was casually relaxed in the comfortable easy chair and one hand balanced a mug of coffee on her knee. She certainly didn't look like the head of the most legendary music company in music history.
"So, Jerrica," Katie said. "Before the break, you were telling us about the benefit concert Starlight is putting together." She glanced down at her notecard. "'Give Back', its called."
"That's right, Katie. Give Back is to raise money for Keel Academy, named after Howard Keel, the late DJ who gave many bands and artists their start. The goal behind Keel is to provide an intensive six month 'boot camp' for aspiring artists worldwide." There was something odd about the way Jerrica said the word artist. Like it was something sacred. "What we've done is approach the top performers in the business, and asked them to give back to the next generation by donating their time and skill in the form of performing at Give Back in exchange for the free press and good will."
"You say they're performers, but really, they're artists."
Jerrica's smile was razor edge thin. "A matter of personal perspective. My father established Starlight Records on the principle that there's performers, and then there's artists."
"And all the Artists are at Starlight?" Pettit's tone was light, but there was something under those words. Something sensed instead of heard.
"Of course," Jerrica said just as lightly, and an chuckle was heard from the audience. "I kid, of course." She thought for a moment. "A performer is someone with talent who's in the business for the money and only the money. An artist does it because its passion. My father claimed true artists are the ones who work nine to nine jobs and then go sing in nightclubs for nothing." She grinned. "I'm a bit more liberal then he is." A few people guffawed. "Despite his views, Starlight was founded on the commitment to finding the few artists who want to combine their passion with a job. That want comes through in their music and people respond to it."
"And what about Jem? Was she an artist, or a performer?" The hate was stronger now, almost evident, but Jerrica simply smiled.
"I was wondering when she'd come up," Jerrica said dryly and sipped her coffee as the crowd tittered. "Jem was unique. I've heard some call her 'Euterpe Incarnate', after the Greek Muse of music, but really, that's kind of silly. But yes, she was an artist, because underneath the glamour and glitter, fashion and fame, Jem was all about the music. There was nothing else once she stepped up to the mic. Both in concert or the studio" Something passed across Jerrica's face, too quick for the conicous mind to register. "Nothing at all."
"Well she was certainly a sensation. She exploded on the scene in the early eighties and stayed on top for five straight years. All albums certified platinum within the first day, her singles straight to the top of the charts. Concerts sold out." Pettit paused. "Some say Starlight forced some of the Holograms' rivals out of the bisinuess. How do you respond to those accusations?"
Oh, yes. Hate pumped through Pettit's veins, as real as blood.
Jerrica shrugged. "Every artist and performer has critics. Even the president can't so much as sneeze without his opponents analyzing it to death. Were Jem and the Holograms sucessful? Yes, beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Did they engage in deliberate sabotage of other groups, like the Misfits were found to have done here and there?" Here, Pettit's jaw clenched almost imperceptibly. "No." Jerrica smiled. The casual person would have seen the smile. The observant might have taken note of the clean, evenly straight teeth. But a true scholar of human expression would have seen a shark, boring down on its prey while disgused as a tuna. "In fact, such tatics were frowned on by my father, and are frowned on by me. They're cowardly, abhorrent, and the last resort of the talentless."
The notecard in Pettit's hand crumpled as Pettit's nails punched through the cardstock and into her palm.
Hate. Pure, unfiltered hate. None of it showed on Pettit's face or in her voice, but she hated Jerrica Benton. Oh, how she hated her.
Jerrica smiled winningly and sipped her coffee.
"So where is Jem now?" Pettit asked. "Presumably you're still in touch with her, if only for business. Even with residual royalties, she must be making money hand over fist."
"I haven't seen Jem since the night she vanished," Jerrica said. " And I can't say anything more then that. Jem insists on her privacy to this day. In fact, it's in her contract. Literally. I can't even tell you her actual hair color unless I and Starlight want to get sued for breach of contract." She grinned. "And while I can't speak for her lawyers, I know mine would rather perfect their golf game."
The audience laughed and Pettit chuckled. "Good point." She glanced over at the crew as one of them made the wrap it up signal. "So, Give Back, Central Park Halloween Week. Seven days, twenty-four hours a day solid music to raise money for the Keel Academy. Jerrica, thanks for coming on the show."
"Always a pleasure, Katie," Jerrica replied.
"Weekday Live, I'm Katie Pettit. Have a great day."
The lights came down, the house lights went up, and the two women left the stage.
Once back stage, the hate came out.
"You really think you're funny, don't you, Benton?" Pettit hissed as she stomped up to where Jerrica was accepting a water bottle from a Chinese woman. Like Jerrica, she too wore a Starlight Music shirt and jeans. "How dare you bring up the Misfits?"
I was making a point, Phyllis," Jerrica said, turning to face the other woman. "I don't take well to being effectively ambushed."
"Of course not," Pettit replied. "I could have brought up the rumor that Rio was boinking Jem every time they went on the road together. Of course, she was banging Eric on the side as it was."
White-hot fury flashed across Jerrica's face and the Chinese woman leapt between them. An act of bravery or insanity, depending on one's view of the world.
"Woah! Down, Jerrica! Back. Off."
"Let me go, Aja," Jerrica snarled. "I'm not going to hurt her, just rearrange her face a little bit."
"No." Aja was stronger then she looked and she pushed Jerrica back. "Rearranging faces is bad." Aja flicked a glance back at Pettit. "Even if it would improve her looks."
"My point exactly," Jerrica said. "I'll be doing her a favor."
"Bad, Jerrica. Fighting is bad." Aja thought for a moment. "You do this, it will kill Keel."
That got through Jerrica's rage and she stepped back a few more steps. "Yeah. Right. Right."
Aja nodded and patted her back. "Good. Let's go." With that, the two women walked away without a backwards glance.
Katie Pettit, once known as Phyllis Gabor, watched them go, her teeth clenched in hate. Then, she spun on her heel and stormed off to her office.
Years ago, Jerrica's father had purchased thousands of acres in California's Russian River Valley, intending to retire there. He'd named the estate Starbright, but had been murdered before he could do anything else with the land.
After the death of her husband Rio, Jerrica decided to move Starlight's headquarters from Los Angeles to Starbright as well as make it her home. Since the estate went from the coast up into the hills, there was plenty of land. Most of it remained undeveloped, but some of the land at the coast was fully used.
The main house was really several houses around an open courtyard that looked over the ocean.
The largest of them was the main house, naturally, but its first, second and third stories also served as Starlight's headquarters. The fourth and fifth floor were apartments for Jerrica, her daughter, and Jerrica's sister Kimber.
The other buildings were offices, housing for the main house's caretaking staff or guest suites.
Other houses belonged to the rest of the Holograms, or the families of Starbright's year round staff. Further on, dormitories for other people who lived on the estate for one reason or another, laundry, cafeterias, workshops, recording studios, and so on. There was even a helipad for the company's luxurious private helicopter. The jet was kept at San Francisco International in a private hanger.
The estate also boasted a winery, a small orchard, and most people kept vegetable gardens.
And of course, facilities for the small fleet of cars, trucks, and limousines. Such as the one that carried Jerrica and Aja from the helipad to the mansion's front door.
From there, the two women entered the private elevator that whisked them up to the fifth floor.
"Welcome Home, Miss Jerrica, Miss Aja," said the middle-aged man who was waiting for them when the doors opened. He wore a button down shirt with black trousers and comfortable shoes. He held himself with the quiet competence of a man perfectly content with his trade. He'd also served as the Benton family's major domo for over thirty years. "We were all very impressed by your performance, Miss Jerrica."
"Thanks Simon," Aja replied. "Is Kimber around?"
"I believe Miss Kimber is in her office," Simon replied.
"Good." Aja gave Jerrica a measuring look. "Jerrica, I need to go talk to Kimber, why don't you change clothes and Simon will bring you some tea."
"Okay," Jerrica said, and headed off down the hall.
"Would Miss Jerrica be requiring the special blend?" Simon asked.
"No, Simon. Regular Herbal will be fine, thanks."
"Very good, Miss Aja," Simon said and followed Jerrica. Aja re-entered the elevator and sighed. "I'm to damn old to play nursemaid."
Jerrica may have been head of the company, but the real power at Starlight Music rested in the very capable hands of Kimber Benton. Barely into her thirties, Kimber, the youngest of the Bentons, was a musical prodigy. As much as Jem had wowed audiences, Kimber had written the songs that had taken the Holograms to the top of the charts time and time again.
Entering her office, one's eye was drawn to Kimber, whose bright red hair, even tied back, still drew the eye.
The office itself was almost sterile, with only copies of the gold and platinum records earned by Starlight artists over the years and a Thomas Kinkade painting on the walls. Clearly this was a place of business, and successful business at that. No schmoozing, no stroking of egos. Kimber Benton tolerated no tomfoolery. Not on the clock. She sat behind her desk, hands pressed together as though in prayer, dark blue eyes cold and focused
Next to Kimber's desk, a woman with dark hair, sunglasses, and dressed in a suit sat making notes on a handheld as Kimber stared down a young man in designer street wear. He was big, and buff, with a firm square jaw, and sultry eyes that were presently widened in terror as Kimber ripped him a new one.
"And in short, Terrence," Kimber snarled. "If I hear one more peep from the staff about how you won't sing a note because 'the honeys ain't got enough fly', I will personally throw you out of this company with my own bare hands."
"Y-you can't do that," the man stuttered, somehow mustering a scrap of defiance. "I'm Jay EzStreet. I'm hot! I make this joint billions!"
"You're a talented kid my sister found singing for pennies on the streets of Philly last year," Kimber shot back. "Jerrica may be the head of Starlight, but I sign the checks. That includes yours. So if you so much as step one foot out of line, Terrance, I promise you that you'll be back on Philly's streets so fast, your head will spin."
"Will be informed of just what a pain in the ass you are."
His courage broken, the young man pressed back in his seat unconsciously baring his throat in a gesture of submission. "Yes, ma'am," he squeaked.
"Now get back to the studio and cut that album. The next thing I want to hear out of you is that voice of yours on the radio. MOVE IT!"
He practically tore the door off it's hinges in his haste to follow orders.
Kimber leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes, passing a hand over them in a gesture of weariness. "God save me from entitlement jackasses," she growled and looked at Aja. "Well?"
"Better then we thought," Aja said, removing a small canister of pills from her pocket and tossing them on the desk. "Didn't need to give her any, and she had the crowd in the palm of her hand within the first minute. She probably could have done it on her own."
"I'm not about to have a repeat of London," Kimber snapped. "Five years later, and that PR nightmare is still being brought up. One of us goes with her. Always. Syn?"
The woman in the sunglasses assumed a look of concentration. "Ratings for the show climbed twenty-five percent compared to the their last ratings spike, which was Madonna in two thousand one and forty-five percent overall. Internet speculation is as expected, with Ebay and Amazon traffic at a five percent climb in musical memorabilia. Starlight music stock is up three points and still rising with speculation predicting a six point cap for today. Our own carefully released rumors about a return appearance by the Holograms appear to have taken no root and are being supported only by the "hardcore" group of the fanbase. Nonetheless, searches for Jem and the Holograms or variations thereof are presently at three percent of Google's total search traffic and rising."
"Good, good," Kimber actually smiled as she tapped her fingernail on the desk. She pursed her lips and then nodded. "Thanks, Aja."
"Don't thank me," Aja said. "Kimber, are you sure this is a good idea? Not Keel, what Jerrica's planning."
"No, but we're going ahead with it any way."
"Lovely," Aja said and rolled her eyes. "I gotta get back to the house. I'll see you tonight." She gave Kimber a half wave and left the office.
Kimber swiveled her chair for a few moments and then looked over at the woman in the chair. She had removed her sunglasses, revealing twin pits of blackness.
"What is it, Kimber?" The woman wasn't even real, nothing more than a projection. Her name was Synergy, the world's only true artificial lifeform.
"I'm not trying to pry, Syn," Kimber said, but Jerrica spends more time with you then the rest of us. How is she really? Can she do this?"
"She believes she can," Synergy replied, "and I believe in her."
I wish I did," Kimber said bitterly. "I don't know how you do it."
"I was built as an experiment," Synergy replied. "Doctor Benton died without even realizing what he'd done. Jerrica gave me purpose, a reason. Morality aside, I owe what I am to Jerrica, and nothing can change that."
"Even given what happened?"
"Yes. The choice was Jerrica's alone. I admit that I was fearful of being shut down or neglected, that my existence was solely at Jerrica's whim which is why I aided in her delusion, but I believe I did the right thing. She needed it, Kimber. You don't realize how badly."
"And it nearly killed her," Kimber said. "Syn, I love you, you're part of the family, but sometimes, I wish she'd never found you."
Synergy inclined her head. "I am not offended, Kimber." Then she vanished.
Kimber inhaled through her nostrils and then exhaled through her mouth. "Right," she muttered and hit the intercom. "Whose our next contestant, June?"
"Louise Dermont of the Northern California's Women's League is awaiting an audience about Jay Ez Street's last album, and then you're meeting with Gary Stuey of Starlight London for lunch."
"Dermont? Wasn't she-"
"Yup, that one."
Kimber's expression was too feral to be called a smile. "Send her in."
New York City, Central Park.
Jerrica resisted the urge to pace and instead stood just off stage and watched the crowds. All was well . . . so far.
It had been twenty years since she'd stood on a concert stage for any reason and she ignored the gut destroying ball of fear and nerves that threatened to send her to her knees.
With a practiced eye, she weighed the mood of the crowd, judged the lighting and the time.
Almost absently, she stroked the star earrings she wore. They were decorations now, but it helped center her, prepare her.
She raised her eyes to the lights. There were almost forty of them over the stage. Only five were actual lights. The rest were the secret of Starlight's success and Emmet Benton's legacy.
"Everything is green, Jerrica," Synergy's voice said to her through the earpiece. "I've finished the final checks. All green."
Jerrica nodded as onstage, KISS brought the house down.
"That's the last set, Ms. Benton." Malcom Cobb had been with Starlight for as long as Jerrica could remember, he'd been stage manager for the Holograms and their chief roadie. He'd retired years ago, but Jerrica had asked him to come back for the concert and he'd jumped at the chance. "My boys are ready to start breaking down the set. Say the word."
Jerrica listened as Simmons razzed the crowd and then took a deep breath. "Clear the wings, Mal."
"Right," Malcom said and pressed the button on his radio. "All right, boys, show's-" he broke off as he realized what she'd said. It was an order he hadn't heard in twenty years. "Ms. Benton?"
"I said clear the wings," Jerrica repeated.
"You mean . . .?"
Jerrica gave him a tight smile. "One last time. Get the choir prepped, would you? Set things up the usual way."
"Hot damn!" He exclaimed and pressed the talk button on his radio. "Clear the wings and block off the east half of backstage, then empty it . . . do it, Sam. Nobody should be back there but the Holograms. "Then get your asses out front. You youngsters are in for a treat." He clicked off the button and squeezed her shoulder. "Break a leg, Ms. Benton."
He turned and walked away. Jerrica looked at his back. "How long, Mal?"
"Since day one, ma'am. Never told a soul." He walked off and she could hear him barking orders over his radio.
On stage, The host, a local DJ and nationally known comedian, gave her a look and she signaled him to handle things for five minutes as the roadies went to work.
Then she went backstage and joined her friends.
"All clear, Ms. Benton," Malcom said as he shut the heavy door leading to the rest of the backstage area. They were alone.
"We must be insane," Kimber said to the silence.
"It's not like we're out of practice," Raya said.
"I'm not worried about us," Kimber said, looking directly at Jerrica.
"I need to do this, Kimber, I owe them that much."
"Then let's do it," Aja said. "Starlight?"
"Starbright!" they shouted in unison.
Then more waiting.
Outside, Jerrica knew, sound and lights would be blinking in confusion as they followed orders and switched their hardware to computer control and were left with nothing to do.
The Holograms moved up to the wings and Jerrica took a deep breath. "Lens check?"
"Green," Synergy replied. "I have full control over lights and sound. Your suits are also green."
Jerrica nodded and made the signal to the host who smoothly shifted to her introduction. She touched her left earring. "It's showtime, Synergy," she said.
She walked on stage, still weighing the crowd and took the mic.
"Good evening, New York!" she said. "My name is Jerrica Benton and I'm the head of Starlight Music. I want to thank each and every one of you. Those of you here in New York, and around the world. The money raised here tonight and this past week has exceeded every possible expectation. Monday morning, we break ground on Keel Academy." The crowd cheered. "Now, I'm sure you're all tired, but if you could stick around for just a few moments, I'd like you to meet some old friends of mine." Behind Jerrica, the children's choir filed on stage and stood on the bleachers. She watched the faces of the crowd turn to confusion. Here and there, some of them figured it out. "Some of you already know them, some of you only know them from videos. But since videos never match the real thing and we all know it, it's time you met the real thing. Ladies?"
The lights went down and then came up on the choir. Deep bass tones wafted out of the speakers, setting the mood: Something was happening.
In Jerrica's vision, she could see exactly what the audience saw, the microcircuitry in her contact lenses feeding her video from the cameras in the crowd. Synergy was working her magic.
Emmet Benton had not only created Synergy, but also a graphics engine that made it possible to create holograms that were impossible to tell from reality. Synergy had spent the past twenty years improving the process and the engine and her own hardware.
Under the holograms now being generated from both the projectors overhead and the ones built into the bodysuit she wore under her clothes, Jerrica stood on stage invisible to everyone and even the cameras (all digital) didn't see her, Synergy manipulating the video in real-time to hide any tell tale signs.
This was the secret of Starlight, their ability to generate explosive effects, live and in the studio and nobody knew.
Jerrica took her position at the mic, and tried to stay calm. There was no turning back.
Behind her, the choir sang, a wordless melody that spoke of loss before falling silent and marching off the stage as the Holograms came on and took their places at their instruments. The crowd began to murmur excitedly.
Facing the crowd, the girls clasped their hands before them and bowed their heads as though in prayer.
All the lights went down, save for just enough to illuminate them in dusky red. One by one, sparkles appeared in the air, drifting over the crowd and the stage, wafting towards the microphone, vanishing into the floor.
The bass built, the crowd was silent. Jerrica could see them wondering, sensing that something was happening.
Then, rising out of the stage, a giant diamond, glinting in the light. In her ear, Syngery counted down from ten.
'Can I do this?' Jerrica thought to herself. 'It's been twenty years. What if I mess up?'
"Three, two, one!" Synergy said and Jerrica flung her arms wide.
The diamond shattered and Jem stood on stage, arms outstretched, head tilted back towards the sky. Her bright pink hair wafting in an unfelt breeze, the pink shirt and black pants with the pink high heels sparkling.
For one moment, just one, New York City and the world was silent.
Jerrica felt the beginnings of a panic attack.
Then, they roared. It was a roar of joy, of approval, of welcome. A roar that almost knocked her off her feet. All her doubts vanished as she tasted their joy, their sheer energy.
Jem snatched the microphone from its stand and sang.
It was one in the morning in Central Park, everybody was tired, nobody cared.
But Jem, a tireless dynamo, wasn't. As the last song of the fifth encore came to an end, she replaced the microphone in its stand and smiled.
"Thank you! Thank you all of you. I see new faces and old ones. Thank you." Jem took a deep breath, steadied herself and when she spoke it was with Jerrica's words. "Twenty years ago in L.A. I vanished., The show I was to perform never happened and . . . and you all deserve to know why." She gripped the mic to give herself strength. "I had a nervous breakdown. My recovery took a long time and much of that is a blur. When I had a grip again, I discovered that I could no longer sing in front of people." She held up her wrist, baring it for the world, showing the scars that ran down it. "As you can see, I didn't care for that at all. Looking back, I could have come forward, continued in some other capacity, I see that now. But . . . but back the, this, and all of you, was my life and without it, I felt as though I was nothing."
The crowd roared again and Jem wiped away tears.
"But then, I found someone. He gave me a reason to live again, taught me to live, and love. He's no longer with us, but I and our daughter still think of him, still miss him."
"I'm not crying, damnit," Kimber muttered.
"None of us are," Aja said. "We all miss Rio."
Jem gazed out over the crowd. "For all the joy she's given me and that I'm so proud of her I could burst, I missed this, and all of you, but Jem isn't who I am anymore, maybe never was. I've had a great deal of time to think, to consider, and . . . what I'm trying to say is, this is goodbye." Her hand came up, fingered the neon pink of her hair. "Under the glamour and glitter, all the fashion and fame, I'm a woman. A mother. I get pissed off at the prices at the grocery store, for God's sake!" Jem grinned. "I got all excited the other day over a coupon for a can of creamed corn. Hey, a buck forty is nothing to sneeze at, you know."
The crowd laughed.
"But jokes aside, I knew that I had to put on the wig one last time, be Jem one last time, because I love her as much as any of you and if she's gotta go out, I say do it right and go out with a bang!"
On impulse, Aja struck a note on her guitar, the crowd roared and Shana did a short drum solo.
Jem let the cheers go on before she raised her hands and got silence. "If I could give each and every one of you a hug, if it were possible to thank you individually for all your support and love, I would, we all would."
Kimber began playing soft notes her keyboard, the beginnings of a song.
"I have to go now, but before I do," Jem said, "I'd like to sing one last song. Twelve years ago, my daughter and I were on a plane, and she fell asleep. As I watched her sleep, I thought, as all mothers do, I suppose, that she looked like an angel. I even imagined wings, curled around her like a blanket. Then, I picked up a pen and wrote this song on the leg of my jeans. It's called 'Angel Wings'."
The High Note
Special to the Times
Two nights ago, on Halloween in Central Park, Jem returned and if anything, her time away only improved her. Every note was perfect, every step poised and confident. In the space of four hours, Jem proved why she ruled the charts in the eighties. Running the range from hip-hop to hard rock to country, Jem and the Holograms gave their audience something for everyone.
For those too young to remember, Jem was the big mystery of the eighties music scene. A brilliant performer, she and the Holograms ruled the charts and were involved in many adventures worldwide, which only added to their appeal.
Then, one night in L.A., at what was to be the biggest show of her career, Jem vanished. Holograms keyboardist Kimber Benton announced that the show was canceled and audience members would be getting a full refund.
Two years later, Starlight was in the toilet. CEO Eric Raymond had run the company into the ground. But then, Jerrica and Kimber Benton led a buyout, forcing Raymond out and rebuilding Starlight as not solely a record company, but the go to effects company of the world, specializing in on stage effects for concerts. Then in the 90's, they started producing artists again.
But the questions remained; Where was Jem? Why did she never return? Was she alive? An investigation into Starlight's records only revealed that she was listed as "retired". All further questions were forwarded to Starlight's own media reps, who remained close-mouthed.
A later civil suit by a fan club in Houston in an attempt to force Starlight to open its files on Jem for public perusal was thrown out in a preliminary hearing by a judge who ruled that doing so violated Jem's privacy and Starlight's integrity.
But still, the questions remained and many pointed to the odd two year absence of Jerrica and Kimber Benton as proof that, as some claim, that Jem was Holograms manager Jerrica Benton, and that Jem was nothing more than a rich girl's dream.
An intriguing theory, one must admit, but which begs the question of how such a stunt would be pulled off. There are many photos and tapes of Jerrica and Jem together in public, not to mention Jem's height and more pronounced figure, which makes such ranting easily and quickly dismissed.
Finally, two nights ago, Jem answered many of the questions. That night in L.A., she'd suffered a nervous breakdown. Her recovery was long and left her a shell who could no longer sing in public. So, she moved on, married an oh so very lucky man, and had a daughter.
But she couldn't leave music behind. She knew she had to come back, just once more. So she did. It took her twenty years, but it was worth the wait, even if in the end, she was only back to say goodbye.
Then she sang one last song, and faded away, but as she did, she answered one more burning question; She's a blonde.
Some might say that we're owed a look at the real Jem. That the woman underneath the wig must come forward and let us get to know her. I disagree.
I believe that Jem needs to stay a mystery. To know who she truly is ruins her, makes her less appealing, and in the end, ultimately cheapens her. Even what she told us in Central Park was general. She could be anyone in America, or perhaps she's Canadian, or Australian, or British. There's no shortage of widowed mothers in the world, even ones with blonde hair. So let her be.
After all, a mystery is only fun until it's solved.
I have to go pack now. Next Monday, Jerrica Benton will be donating Jem's wig and some of her truly outrageous outfits to the Smithsonian and while I doubt Jem will be there as Jem, something tells me she'll be there as herself.
I'll save her a seat.
I wrote this years ago and have been tinkering with it ever since. I'm still not completely happy with it, but with the revelation in Jem and the Holograms Truly Outrageous #24, I decided it was time.