-Chapter Four: Flight to the Fringes-

Bryce Lynch wasn't sure how he'd managed to run as far as he had. As his specialty was computers and television, he knew very little about the human body, so he did not know that it had been an adrenaline rush that he propelled him for the last several miles.

What he did know was that he hadn't been really paying attention to where he was going. Having just killed a man in a fit of blind rage, something he had never considered before John Parker had re-entered his life, he had panicked. Now he was somewhere in the Fringes that surrounded the city. But which part he could not say. He had no idea if he was near Blank Reg, or Blank Bruno, or indeed anyone who could or would help him.

Edison wouldn't help him now. Bryce was certain he'd seen the events that had taken place in the main room of the studio. That he'd seen Bryce lash out with the razor, striking Parker's face more times than even Bryce himself could recall.

"I had to," he panted. "I had to do it. I had to."

"Had to what?" a familiar voice asked.

Bryce looked up and saw his old SysOp (which is what teachers were called at ACS) standing over him. Despite the fact that he had just been hoping to find him, panic welled up in him and he took off again.

"Bryce!" Blank Bruno called out, giving chase. "Wait! Why are you running away from me? Stop. Tell me what's wrong?"

They ran until Bruno had cornered his former pupil in an alley.

"You wouldn't understand," Bryce panted in fear. "I didn't have a choice. Cheviot took that away from me when he hired that fucking bastard John Fuckhead Parker ."

The Fringer raised an eyebrow. Bryce almost never swore, so the fact that he had just dropped the F-Bomb twice out in the open could only mean that the shit had just hit the fan.

"Bryce, deep breath. You're working yourself into a panic. Calm down." Bruno said. "Tell me what happened between you and this Parker fellow?"

"What happened? WHAT HAPPENED?!"

"Calm down," Bruno repeated.

"I killed him," Bryce said, slumping against the wall. "I killed him because I had to. I was all set to relax in the bath after a very long day at work. I thought Cheviot had listened to me and hadn't hired that ..."

"Bryce..." Bruno warned, not wanting any further swearing from the irate teenager.

"jerk," Bryce substituted. "I thought I'd be safe taking a nice bath. But I wasn't. Not by a long shot."

"Why didn't you want Cheviot to hire Parker?" Bruno asked. "Did you know him from before?"

"Parker had a criminal record," Bryce explained. "Guess what kind?"

"Sex offender," Theora guessed as she neared him along with Edison.

"He was released just recently," Bryce explained. "The metrocenter has this new program. They pair up newly released cons and felons with potential employers. Its supposed to break the cycle of crime or something like that. Problem is, they let the cons have a say in where they are placed."

"And Parker requested Network 23 to get to you. But why?"

"At first I thought he just wanted to kill me," Bryce admitted. "But I was wrong. He also wanted a repeat of his past performance."

"Please tell me he didn't rape you!"

Bryce nodded.

"But if he did that, why would Cheviot..."

"That didn't happen at Network 23," Bryce explained.

"How old were you when..."

"I was eight," Bryce said, burying his face in his hands as the first tears since that terrible night flowed down his face.

Theora didn't care that Bryce had just killed a man. That man deserved it a far as she was concerned. She hurried over to the sobbing genius and hugged him.

"We have to help Bryce," She told Edison and Bruno.

"We will," Edison promised.

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