by Elegant Butler

Chapter 4:

"I'm sorry, Theora," Bryce apologized the next day as he gave up on the link boost he'd been working on for nearly an hour. "Even with my skills I can't boost the link with Edison any more than yesterday. The only chance we're going to get as far as getting Max out of there is going to be by running a two-pronged attack."

"What do you have in mind?" Theora asked.

"I'll have to use one of the control computers to blind the Network. Once I do, Edison will have about ten minutes to get in, get Max, and get back out again. Assuming he doesn't run into anyone."

"Why ten minutes?" Jenny asked, curiously.

"That's how long it takes the security software to repair any changes made from an external source."

"It seems an awfully long time for a bug fix," Jenny noted.

"Remember it was Mr. Grossberg who ran Network 23 when I was hired. I didn't trust him not to use me and throw me out on the street so I made sure my backdoor password would be ignored long enough for me to wreak serious havoc if he did."

"I knew you weren't as sweet and innocent as you made yourself out to be back then," Murray muttered as stood there holding stuff. He looked ill at ease being a human shelf.

"Who me?" Bryce asked, taking on an angelic expression. Turning serious, he faced Theora. "Edison should be awake by now and getting ready to make his run. Once he's at the door, I'll run the mask program and he'll have those ten minutes we discussed earlier to get Max and get clear."

"Right. And if he doesn't?"

"Let's just hope he does," Bryce said, "because I can't think of anyone I'd trust to get him out of there who isn't in this room."

The monitor came up and after a moment, Edison's face appeared on the screen. "Okay, I'm ready. I'm just approaching the back where Network 23 tosses all their garbage."

"Right," Theora said. "Okay, Bryce can you get Edison in through the delivery doors?"

"Good idea, Theora," Bryce praised. "Hold on. I'm going to access my old system now."


"In order to get the doors to open, I have to make them think that a delivery is scheduled." Bryce's fingers flew over the keys, then he turned to Theora. "All go."

"Right, go on in, Edison. The door should be opening."

Edison squat-walked through the short delivery door, then stood up. "Now I know why they call it a delivery door," he remarked.

"Okay, stay behind the conveyor belt a moment," Bryce said, typing again. "Someone's coming to check the delivery. They won't see you and when they get back they'll find the delivery notice isn't there."

A man in his mid twenties examined the conveyor belt. For a moment Edison was certain that he would be spotted. Then, the man frowned and left, complaining about glitches and wastes of his time.

Edison let out the breath he'd been holding as he waited for the all clear.

"Okay, he's gone," Theora said,

"Cover program now running," Bryce told them. "Once you're at the lift, I'll run it express to thirteen. That'll give you a couple extra minutes. But I can't run the lifts too fast."

Edison dodged and ducked through the corridors until he made it to the lift. "Okay, I'm here."

The lift doors slid open and Edison walked in. A moment later, he was speeding, as lifts go, to the thirteenth floor.

Running to the Research and Development lab at the end of the corridor, Edison noticed the old Complaints Department door across from Bryce's old studio. He wondered briefly why he'd never noticed it before. He supposed it made a kind of sense now that he thought about it.

Once inside, he spotted Max's portable unit, and saw Max flickering on the screen. Realizing that Max didn't have enough power to make it back to the farm, Edison was looking for his power cord to use at Big Time or Blank Bruno's when two armed security guards rushed in.

"Forgot my hat," Edison told them, cheerfully, as he picked up the unit and began to run for his life.

The two guards gave chase, as Edison ran to the lift.

"This feels very familiar!" Edison called out as he ran with Max's box in his grip.

"Yeah," Bryce agreed with a grin, "But this time I'm on your side!"

His fingers traveled rapidly over his keyboard, allowing Edison lift access while making the magnetic locks on the stairwell does impassable.

Frustrated, the guards alerted the door guard. They could not let Edison Carter escape with the Max Headroom unit. Max knew too much about the inner workings of Network 23.

The door guard was about to stun Edison when an unexpected foot swept his legs, knocking him down and rendering him unconscious.

"We gotta get Max to Bruno, Edison" she said, indicating Max as she checked the guard's pulse. Seeing Edison's bewilderment, she added as she looked for a way to bind the security guard. "I guess I've grown up a bit since you last saw me."

"Mink?" Edison asked,

Mink nodded. "No way to tie him up. We'd better hurry before he finishes his little nap."

Edison adjusted his grip on the handle of Max's box, then followed Blank Mink away from Network 23.

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