Max Headroom: Cybersoul

-Chapter One: Cybersoul -

Network 23 operated under a cloud of grief these days.

The ratings had been low for about a month. But this was an effect rather than a cause. The cause had been the untimely death of the network's youngest employee, Bryce Lynch.

It had happened so quickly that even those who knew about it from the beginning hadn't been able to properly deal with it.

It affected Edison's work greatly. The ace reporter had had to get used to the idea of finding many of the answers he'd always turned to Bryce for by himself.

It was impossible for Edison to not think of Bryce during work. They'd been an inseparable team; Edison, Theora, and Bryce. One could've almost called them family.

Edison hated the idea that he was not allowed to confront Dr. Buxton directly. The man had killed Bryce, after all. And Edison wanted revenge so badly he could taste it.

Cheviot had refused his request, however. Network 23's chairman had seen how badly he'd handled another friend's death about a month before and did not want a repeat performance.

Cheviot had finally hired a new head of research and development for the network. Though it was customary to hire a child or teenager, Cheviot felt an irrational sense of guilt about Bryce's death and had hired an older man in his fifties.

Max Headroom did not get along with him at all.

"So! So! So! Next time you feel the thirst of a lifetime, be sure to dry up and blow off the foam of a Zik Zak root beer." Max chirped, not really feeling it. "And speaking off 'dry up and blow'," he added directly to Cheviot. "You think we can get the guy who's sitting in Bryce's chair to do the same? He's a mum- mum- mummy for crying out loud!"

"John Harper is doing a fairly decent job," Cheviot pointed out.

"A fairly decent job of trying to undo everything Bryce ever did." Max argued. "He thinks that it's just childish junk. He has no idea what he's even doing."

"If you're that attached to it, I'll speak to him about preserving Bryce's work," Cheviot promised.

"Hang on," Max said, "He's trying to get into my file again."

Cheviot tapped in the code for R&D's vu-phone.

"Mr. Harper,"

"Good afternoon, sir,"

"Please leave the Max Headroom program as is," Cheviot told him "As well as any programs or items created by our former head of Research and Development. They are to be considered as legacy."

"Yes, sir," Harper agreed.

Cheviot disconnected the call then looked up at Max's face. "Well?"

"It'll do," Max decided. "For now."

Harper returned to what he was doing, however. Cheviot had to be a sentimental old fool to think that the work of a child could be any better than that of a fully grown and educated individual. In his mind, ACS (the Academy of Computer Sciences) was just a playground for child-nerds. And the networks relied too heavily on the little fingers that caressed their keyboards.

Cheviot had at least, Harper thought, been smart enough not to make the same mistake twice.

Harper was about to make another attempt deleting what he thought was extraneous data when the keyboard shocked his fingers.


"Serves you right!" Max said, though he himself was a little worried. If there was a problem with the system, it might fry his program. He looked at the system quickly, but there didn't seem to be anything wrong with it.

Harper tried again, only to get another shock.

Unplugging the keyboard, he replaced it with one that was up on a nearby shelf.

Another shock.

"For pity's sake," Harper shouted at the keyboard. "I just want to delete a bit of extraneous data from the system!"

"Extraneous data?" a voice said from the screen. "I find that to be incredibly insulting."

It wasn't a chip voice. Nor was it electronically synthesized. There was a breathy quality normally not found within the confines of a machine.

But that wasn't what caught Max's attention.

What made Max Headroom take notice was that it was the voice of Bryce Lynch.

-Chapter Two: Return of the Genius-

What appeared on the screen across from Max was not a computer-generated construct. Nor was it simply the image of a head and shoulders.

The screen was filled with a scene that looked like a mirror image of the Network 23 Research Lab. On closer inspection, Max released that it was not exactly a mirror image since all the labels were not reversed.

Bryce was seated comfortably in a swivel chair, in the air around him was the ghost of a screen. Symbols and numbers spun lazily about him. He reached into one barely visible equation near his left ear, extracted a few digits, and replaced them into another equally transparent one near his right elbow.

"There. That should keep him out of my system for a bit," he said, speaking directly to Max.

"I am the new Head of Research and…" Harper began

"Over my dead body," Bryce retorted.

"Exactly," Harper cut him off.

"Oh, that's right," the ethereal genius snapped his fingers. "I did die, didn't I?"

"Right. So, be a good little ghost and fly off to Heaven."

"Sorry, no can do," Bryce said, his fingers moving rapidly over the 360 degree keyboard as his chair spun slowly on an impossible axis. "Now, I can work with you, if you agree to accept me as being in charge and are willing to be cooperative. Otherwise, you're going to find it very difficult to get anything accomplished here."

"Fine," Harper said, defeatedly. He knew there was no way he was going to get the better of a coworker who was even a part of the network's mainframe than Max Headroom.

"Now, if you'll excuse me a moment," Bryce told Harper, "I need to speak to our boss. I just hope he can handle this."

Without leaving the screen he was on, Bryce duplicated the image to the Network 23 Boardroom wall screen.

"There was a minor error in the recent transmission software update," he said, casually, "but don't worry. It was fairly easy to correct from in here."

"Oh my God," Cheviot whispered.

"Bryce?" Lauren asked.

"How?" Cheviot wanted to know.

"Well, remember how I explained how the brain is a binary computer," Bryce began.

"But, you don't look a thing like Max Headroom." Ashwell pointed out,

"Of course not," Bryce told him. "That was a computer-generated replica of Edison's mind created by the computer. What you are currently looking at is what people often refer to as my soul."

"So this is your personal idea of Heaven?" Cheviot asked.

"I'm not sure if it's Heaven," Bryce admitted. "But it's a reasonably acceptable afterlife. I met the new guy. He seems okay. I think I can work with him. And you'll need someone there with me to take care of the physical projects."

"Will you resume your work with Carter's team?"

"Most definitely," Bryce agreed. "Now, if you'll put a medical team on standby, I'm going to go talk to Murray."

He winked at Cheviot, then faded from the Boardroom screen.

Chapter Three: Reunion

"You find anything on that guy who they fished out of the river?" Edison asked as he stood over Theora's control desk.

"Nothing," Theora admitted, her frustration showing. "Either he's just a Blank or they're hushing it up for some reason." She tried again. "Maybe we should ask Reg if he's seen him around?"

"His name is Nelson Dolohov," an impossible voice said from Theora's screen.

Theora turned and her jaw nearly hit the floor.


"What?!" Edison exclaimed, his eyes focusing on the screen.

The same image that Harper and Cheviot had each seen was now on Theora's Control screen.

"Oh my God, are we happy to see you!" Edison exclaimed, happily. "But how… you were cremated!"

"I shifted my mind… my soul actually… into the Network 23 mainframe." Bryce explained. "What you're seeing isn't a copy, but the original."

"But that's impossible!" protested Murray who had just joined them.

"Of course," Bryce agreed. Then with a wink he added. "So naturally it only took me ten seconds."

"It is you!" Theora laughed. "We missed you so much."

"Good to know," Bryce smiled. "I've got my old position back, so I can easily help you."

"What about Harper?" Murray asked.

"He'll remain to deal with the hands-on projects," Bryce told them.

"I'm sure he was relieved to hear that," Murray guessed.

Bryce nodded.

"Let's get back to this guy Dolohov," Edison said. "What do you know about him, Bryce?"

"He's new in the area, so there isn't much information. I was able to zoom in on the passport lanyard he was wearing and extrapolate some data from that. But other than name and place of birth, Neo Moscow, there isn't much to go on right now. Sorry."

"No need to apologize," Theora said. "That's more than we started with."

Bryce smiled.

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