-Chapter 5: -

Cheviot's face appeared on the vu-phone screen in the control room not long after. He was wearing a kindly smile on his face and his eyes sparkled in a grandfatherly way.

"I see our favorite little girl is here," he said. "How was school today, Bryce Jr?"

"It was okay," Bryce Jr told him. She wasn't sure she liked Cheviot. He seemed nice, but her Uncle Murray always seemed a little put off by the man's friendliness to his ward. She wandered off, disinterestedly, as Edison smiled. Only a kid like her could get away with giving Cheviot the brush-off.

Murray was certain that Cheviot was just trying to make certain that she would take her father's place when the time came. He didn't think it was necessary. Their current head of Research and Development, seventeen-year-old Jeremy Bowie, was rather good at his job.

Jeremy reminded Edison a little of Bryce, though he was a bit more emotional. He got along well with Max Headroom. The first day he'd come to work, he'd asked Max how Bryce had planned to finish a project that he'd wanted to pick up and complete. Max had liked the way the new kid had respected Bryce's wishes, and had bonded with him in friendship.

Jeremy also got along swimmingly with Bryce Jr, treating her like a kid sister ever since he met her when she was two at a party at Murray's house. Her birthday party, in fact. Murray had told everyone she liked to sing, and Jeremy had given her a children's cordless microphone with a built-in speaker as a gift.

"Uncle Murray," Bryce Jr asked. "Can I go see Bo?"

"I think he's busy working right now, hon'," Murray told her. "But you'll see him on Friday after school. Remember he promised he'd watch you while I'm in a meeting?"

"I remember," Bryce Jr agreed.

Bryce Jr stood by Theora's control desk, watching her work, while Edison headed back out into the field to cover the opening of a new Zik Zak restaurant.

Edison was happiest covering high-stakes controversial topics. It was what he was best at. But he also understood the importance of simpler stories. Especially human-interest pieces. They were good for ratings. And at least most of them weren't manipulative.

"Is that where we're going for supper?" Bryce Jr asked as the restaurant appeared on the screen.

"I guess we can go there," Murray said. "I don't know if they have a kids' menu, though."

"Can Edison and Theora come, too?"

"I can't," Theora apologized. "I promised my brother, Shawn, I'd go visit him and his family. But I'll tell you what, if your Uncle Murray says it's okay, you can come to my place for a girls' sleepover on Sunday and I'll drive you to school on my way to work. Is that okay with you, Uncle Murray?"

Murray pretended to consider it for a moment.

"Aw, come on, Uncle Murray?" Bryce Jr pleaded. Then, she sang "Please?"

Murray smiled. He loved it when she sang. "Okay. But you have to be in bed with lights out by nine. Right?"

Right," Bryce Jr agreed.

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