In The Name of Lynch

-Family Plot-

The family gathered together at the dinner table. Oliver had gone into town earlier that afternoon and had picked up a couple scallop pies which smelled wonderful as they were placed upon the table. Fresh peas
with pearl onions and a green salad had also been set before them.

Sitting next to his granddaughter, Bryce got permission from Claire to cut up the child's food for her.

"Have you ever had these?" he asked Charlotte, indicating the scallops.

"Scarabs?" Charlotte blinked.

"I think a scarab is a kind of beetle," Bryce told her, smiling. "These are called scallops. But that was pretty close."

"Sca..." Charlotte tried. "whoops?"

Bryce laughed. "That's okay. The important thing is that they're yummy."

"Yup." Charlotte agree. "Ummy!"

"But you have to wait a moment. We don't want it to be too hot, right?"

"Right." Charlotte said with a smile.

"I'll take it from here, pops," Claire said. "I believe you have something important to discuss with everyone."

Bryce blinked. Did she know about him and Jenny. Then he remembered the reason they had all been brought to this little dairy farm.

"Oh, right. The ratings war."

"What did you think I meant?"

Bryce glanced quickly at Jenny, which nobody missed. "Something else." he said, mysteriously. "But let's talk about the network war first. While I was in cryo, connected to the Network 23 mainframe in the form of the Cat9 artificial intelligence program, I noticed a growing correlation between the ratings patterns of the top networks and the levels of violence within the community."

Murray listened patiently for the end of Bryce's sentence before asking "Do you actually need to breath?"

"Of course," Bryce told him. "That's how we make words, Murray. Air passes the vocal chords which vibrate and- "

"Hey, professor!" Edison called from the other end of the table "Let's get back on track, okay?"

"Right!" Bryce called back with a smile, even though the table wasn't that long. "The patterns also matched a rising sale in a variety of items which are not weapons per se. We all know that actual weapons, firearms, etc. were made illegal to produce about ten years ago. There are those who still have them, but nobody makes the bullets any more. So they're basically collectors' items or museum pieces. However there are certain common items that can be used as weapons."

"Such as?" Theora inquired.

"Well, first off are the items that don't need to be altered. Kitchen knives for example. Forks are slightly less effective, but can still hurt. Hat pins. Small but effective for use in blinding an opponent if you're skilled enough to use them in close combat. Chains. Belts. Things of that nature."

"So what are the things that can become weapons if altered?" Marlene asked.

"Glass bottles can be broken and used as cutting weapons. Or they can be filled with explosive chemicals."

"Molotov cocktail," Murray noted.

Bryce gave a nod and continued. "I heard of one person who was modifying old 45 records into throwing stars. I'm not sure they'd be completely effective. I think they might be too flimsy. But it is a worrisome thing all the same."

He waited for all this to sink in. Then continued.

"All these things point to a full scale war between the viewers. And it's very possible that the networks themselves will take sides in order to retain viewer loyalty and support. They may even encourage their sponsors to make ready-made versions of those items which are being converted."

"But that's illegal!" Theora said in a shocked tone.

"Old saying," Murray replied. "All's fair in love and war."

"So what do you recommend?" Edison asked. "We can't use a visual narcotic to pacify everyone. They're illegal."

"I know," Bryce replied. "Plus it wouldn't work. Video narcotics work on a different emotional trigger than the one that produces the need to commit violence. At best you'd end up with, to use an example, gentlemen who shook hands while stabbing each other. A literal civil war you might say."

Claire picked up a few peas that Charlotte had knocked onto the floor.

"It's okay, dear," Sadie told her. "I'll sweep after dinner."

"No, I'll get it," Charlotte promised. "She's my daughter so her messes are my responsibility."

"Go on, Bryce," Theora encouraged. "Do you have any plans as far as how to deal with this?"

"It's my understanding that Max hasn't been broadcasting much while I was under."

"He was pining for you, I suppose," Edison suggested.

"Something along those lines," Bryce agreed. "Anyhow, I think we should reintroduce Max to Network 23's viewers. I'm hoping that their almost religious belief in him will make them listen to what he has to say about the foolishness of an armed ratings war."

"So, why did you gather us together?" Oliver asked.

"Because there is a strong chance this won't work. I couldn't gather your entire families unfortunately. I had no idea how many people are in each one, so there was no way to..."

"You don't have to justify yourself, father," Ai told him. "The rest of our families are not your concern. Only we are your children."

"Thank you," Bryce replied. "Sadie has no more room here if anyone wanted to call their adoptive families into town. But we can look for a house that might be big enough."

"There aren't any, I'm afraid," Oliver said. "But if we can pool together enough funds, there is a construction company in town that can build one."

"You thinking of the old abandoned McMillan spread?" Sadie asked. "We'd also have to buy the property. I think the city owns it."

"That's be tricky since we're only here as temporary residents," Edison pointed out.

"We'll put the building in my name," Oliver decided. "I've got a solid reputation in the community and local citizenship so it shouldn't be a problem."

"So that problem is potentially taken care of. Now there's one more thing we have to deal with," Bryce added, giving Jenny a warm smile.

~Here it comes,~ Jenny thought, smiling back.

"Jenny and I had a rather long discussion this afternoon,"

"While the rest of us were working," Murray chimed in.

"Hush," Edison told him. "This sounds important."

Bryce nodded.

"Thank you, Edison," he agreed. "It's extremely important. Anyhow, as a result of our rather extensive discussion, we decided that it would be a good idea if we got married."

"Bryce! That's wonderful!" Theora laughed. "Congratulations!"

"What about how outsiders will perceive your age difference?" Murray asked, concernedly.

"To use a phrase I learned from the Network mainframe, screw 'em," Bryce said, shocking Murray.

"That was in the mainframe?" Edison asked, surprised.

"One of Censor's triggers," Bryce replied.

"Are you planning on a big or small wedding?" Claire asked.

"We haven't really thought about that," Bryce admitted. "What do you think, Jenny? Shall we just have it with those who are here now or wait until their adoptive families arrive and have it then?"

"I'd like a big wedding," Jenny replied. "It'll be a lot of fun. Plus it will be a wonderful way for all the families to meet."

Bryce smiled.
"A brilliant reply from a brilliant lady," he agreed.

"I'll take Jenny into town to find a gown," Sadie told them. "Edison, you Murray and Oliver can work the farm for me. And Oliver. Don't forget to call your boss and let him know you won't be in for a few days."

"Right, thanks!" Oliver said, after swallowing the last bite of his dinner.

Sadie and Theora cleared off the table, then brought in a mulberry pie and some cookies.

"Looks like it's pie night," Edison said, cheerfully.

"I know it's not a very popular kind," Sadie admitted. "So for those of you who don't want mulberry pie there's fresh chocolate chip cookies."

"You want to try some pie?" Claire asked her daughter "Or would you like a cookie?"

"Cookie," Charlotte replied.

Claire took a cookie and broke it up for her little girl.

Charlotte looked over at Jenny with a curious expression. "What's a webbing?"

"A wedding?" Jenny said. "Its a special party where two people who like each other a lot get to spend the rest of their lives together."

"That's nice," Charlotte decided, happily.

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