Chapter 6: From Bad to Worse

Theora had the accelerator pushed all the way down as she sped from the hospital to Edison's apartment that night. Screeching into the parking lot, she slammed the door and stormed down the pathway, her eyes blazing with furry.

"Edison," she said, banging on his door. "Edison, open up!"

Edison wasn't in bed, but he had fallen asleep. He'd been sitting by the phone waiting for her to call him. It wasn't that late, but he'd been up late every night since Bryce had first gone missing, and it had finally caught up with him. Rudely awakened by the banging and shouting, he went the door and let her in.

"Theora- " he began.

"Twenty," Theora cut him off saying the word as though it were obscene.

Edison blinked. "Twenty what?"

"That's how many men attacked Bryce last week," Theora said, angrily. "They found twenty disparate samples."

"Goddamn it," Edison swore, angrily leaping to his feet. "Do they have any identifications?"

"Nothing a hundred percent positive," Theora told him. "They know the assaults didn't happen at the motel, however. At least not in the room where he was found. There was no evidence. At least not where they found him."

"They could've attack him in the bath. They'd be able to flush the evidence and nobody would've known better."

"The cops say the owner only saw one man go in or out of the place."

"Did they get a description?"

"They're questioning several men who fit a rough description," Theora said. "But, Edison, it's so flimsy it could fit half the men in the city."

Edison paced his apartment for several minutes, then picked up the vu-phone.

"Ah...Mr. Carter," a sly voice said on the other end.

Theora shivered.

"What's your range, Mr. Breughal," Edison inquired.

"I travel the fringes, and out as far as the river," Breughal said.

"What about around two hundred miles away?"

Breughal raised an eyebrow. "I'll bag in astronaut on Venus for the right price, Mr. Carter."

"Meet me at the ouzo bar tomorrow night at six," Edison said, hanging up.

"What was that all about?" Theora asked.

"Whoever is responsible for Bryce's attack probably knows that Network 23 has me on a leash. They won't be afraid of my threats. Breughal has no such restrictions."

"Meanwhile, Bryce has to stay at the hospital," Theora grumbled. "If he comes back to Network 23, he'll just be targeted again."

"Right," Edison stormed into the bathroom got dressed then came back out.

"Where are we going?" Theora asked.

"Out," Edison told her, storming out to the company car he'd driven home in during the previous day's rain.

Many minutes later, they were sitting inside the pink microbus that housed Big Time TV.

"So, where was he?" Reg asked once Edison had told her and Reg that they had finally located Bryce. The pair had been a part of the search ever since it had begun, along with Blank Bruno.

Edison felt they should be the first to know, before even Cheviot. He also didn't think Cheviot should know until they found out who'd been responsible. He didn't think Cheviot had done it, but if he accidentally said something around whoever had been.

Edison was almost positive it had to be an inside job.

"He was at a motel about two hundred miles away," Theora told them. "They took everything he had and left him stranded there. He was almost arrested, thank God the metrocops they called were an intelligent pair."

"So, where is he now?" Dom inquired.

"He's at the medical center," Theora said. "He was in pretty bad shape." She eyed Edison, praying he would not mention that Bryce had been apparently passed around like a pleasure doll.

"Can he have visitors?" Dom asked.

"Not yet," Theora apologized. "He's pretty upset. The doctors think its best if things are quiet and non-threatening."

"The real problem right now is that we don't know where to put Bryce once he's released," Edison explained. "Network 23 isn't safe until we catch whoever abducted him."

"You expect an inside job?" Reg asked.

"It had to be," Theora replied.

"So, who at your network has reason to want to get rid of Bryce?"

"I don't know," Edison admitted. "Bryce is a nice kid. He's always been helpful to me. Sometimes he takes a little coaxing. He hates when I interrupt a project he's working on."

Both he and Theora smiled at that one.

"Scientists," Dom remarked, a hint of fondness in her voice.

Reg raised an eyebrow but didn't comment.

"Remember the time when Peller…" Edison stopped. His eyes narrowed. "Peller. It has to be him."

"Simon Peller," Theora said. "I know he's a jerk, Edison. But do you really think he'd do something like that?"

"People like Peller don't like to get their hands dirty," Reg agreed. "He must've hired someone."

"Until we find out who, we need to keep Bryce somewhere safe."

"He can stay here," Dom told them. Reg and I will sleep in the van's seats and he can have the cot."

"Are you sure?" Theora asked.

"Yes," Dom said, her voice brooking no arguments.

"Thank you," Edison said in reply.

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