RATINGS WAR 2030

by Elegant Butler

Chapter 5:

"Bryce," Murray pointed out as Edison followed Mink. "Airport security will never let Edison leave if Network 23 tells them Edison stole Max. How is he going to get back home?"

"Don't worry, I've got it all figured out," Bryce said, smiling wryly at what he was planning to do. "Just let me talk to Bruno and Mink when you get there."

Blank Bruno wasn't as physically spry as he had once been, but his mind was as sharp and alert as ever.

"Ah, Max," he said, as he hooked Max's box up his power grid, "nice to see you again. There you are. Drink up. We'll have you all charged up and ready to go in an hour or so."

"Bryce said he wants to talk to you," Edison said.

"How is he," Bruno asked as he connected Edison's vidicam to his vu-screen. "I heard he was awake. Must be weird for him to be so young when his friends have all aged so much."

"Not to mention the kids that were created from the DNA samples," Edison replied. "He's even got a granddaughter."

"And she's absolutely delightful," Bryce chimed in. "Okay, now. As soon as you're both finished gossiping about me I'll fill you in on what you need to do."

"We're listening," Bruno said with a chuckle. "What's your plan?"

"What swims like a duck and used to make cake?" Bryce riddled.

Bruno grinned widely. He knew the answer at once. "You think it's safe? It hasn't been used since before the war."

Bryce nodded. "Just get Edison there. And bring anyone along you think you can trust and who's up to the task."

"What's he on about?" Edison asked. "And what hasn't been used since the war?"

"You'll see," Bruno told him. Tapping at the keyboard, he soon had another Blank's face on the screen.

To Edison's confusion, Bruno sang a single verse of London Bridge.

"We'll meet you there," the woman on the screen said, "What's the theft this time?"

"Something big," Bruno hinted.

Edison kept the vidicam rolling the whole time they were traveling in the rickshaw.

Murray and Theora watched as the scene went by, sometimes accompanied by a jarring motion as the rickety old vehicle went over a bump or potholes.

"Four thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire," Bryce sang quietly the first time this happened, earning an odd look from the others. "Okay, you should see it just around the next corner."

Theora and Murray looked at the view from Edison's vidicam in confusion as the rickshaw took the corner.

There was no airport there. Nor was there a helipad.

"I don't get it," Murray said. "Bryce are you sending Edison to take a ferry to an airport? I'm pretty sure their security has been alerted."

"Edison, turn your camera seventy-two degrees to your left," Bryce instructed.

Edison turned the camera, then stopped.

"You have got to be kidding me," he said, taking his first look at what was going to get him back to Tasmania.

"What's he looking at?" Murray asked, able only to see a few small sailboats and a dinghy as well as a pirate ship replica which was ornately decorated. Then he caught on. "Does that thing even sail? I thought it was just a standing replica?"

Bryce turned to face him. "It was until the Battle of London Bridge during the last world war. The British navy commissioned it as is and transformed it into a fully functioning battleship."

"But wouldn't the equipment the used be traceable?" Murray inquired.

"They never added any modern equipment," Bryce explained. "In fact, they took out all the stuff that was. They wanted an authentic pirate ship so they could sail wherever they wanted without being detected. Naturally they kept up it's appearance to make it look like a fun cruise rather than a counter-assault when they launched it."

As they spoke, Edison, Bruno, and Mink got off the rickshaw. Bruno went to pay the driver, but he shook his head.

"I'm coming along," he told them. "you guys are going to need all the help you can get with that."

The girl whom Bruno had spoken to arrived a moment later with four of her friends.

"Okay, we're here," she said. "Now show me what we're taking."

Bruno pointed to the pirate ship.

"This," she told him with a grin that would've made a Cheshire cat jealous, "is going to be fun."

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