CHAPTER ONE: Trials and Smiles

Rain beat against the narrow windows of Bryce's studio as he went over the events of Edison Carter's latest report in his mind. He wasn't thrilled with Edison at the moment. Cheviot's latest version of his contract was threadbare at best and didn't offer him a lot in the way of credits.

It was true that Bryce didn't have rental fees or other similar costs to pay, but did Cheviot really think he planned to spend his entire life living in his lab? With this thought distracting him, he decided that he'd had enough. He might not be allowed to jump to another network as he had planned, but that didn't mean he couldn't just quit.

"I really should talk this out with someone," he told himself. He tapped out the code for Jenny's studio at Network 66.

"Bryce," Jenny yawned. "It's really late. What sort of free advice are you seeking this time?"

"Well… I'm thinking of leaving Network 23," Bryce told her.

"Are you mad? Where on earth do you plan on going?"

"I don't know," Bryce admitted. "I'm just tired of being manipulated all the time. I think Cheviot believes that because I'm sixteen that I'm gullible or something. This new contract he made me sign is so insulting! Plus I'm not allowed to work for any existing network for the next ten years."

"What are you going to do for a living then if you leave Network 23? We were trained for Network service. We don't really know anything else."

"We could build our own network if we had the credits," Bryce confided. "But I think Cheviot suspected I might try that. He's not giving me much in terms of pocket money, so…"

"Well, I'd stay where I was for now, if I were you. At least until you find an alternate way to make enough credits to get out of there."

"I suppose you're right," Bryce sighed. "Thanks, Jenny."

"No problem, Bryce," Jenny said. "Can I go back to sleep now?"

"Sure," Bryce smiled. "Hey, are you doing anything after work tomorrow?"

Jenny raised an eyebrow. "Are you asking me on a date?"

"I'm not really sure I'd classify it as a date," Bryce said, cautiously. "But I thought we could just get together and head over to Big Time. Reg and Dom are holding a come-all party to celebrate being on air for three years."

"Sounds like fun," Jenny agreed. "What time are you picking me up?"

"The party's an all day event. But if you can manage to skip a day of work, how about at eleven AM?"

"I'll be ready," Jenny agreed.

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