CHAPTER TWO: Appearances and Truth

The next morning, Bryce slipped out of his studio and made his way toward Network 66. He was walking by one of Zik Zak's clothing stores when Edison Carter spotted him.

"Hey!" Edison called to him.

Bryce took off running. Exasperated, Edison gave chase. Unable to pursue the young genius in the company car he was driving, he got out and followed Bryce on foot. Bryce kept running, quickly scaling a chain link fence.

"Well, I didn't expect that," Edison admitted as he, too, scaled the fence and continued his pursuit. "Bryce! Wait!"

Bryce detoured down a narrow lane. By the time Edison got there, he'd vanished again and the reporter wasn't sure which of the side roads he'd taken.

"Max," he said to the nearest TV set.

"You rang?" Max drawled.

"Any idea where Bryce is going?"

Max traced Bryce's route. "Looks like Network 66."

"Damn him," Edison swore. "Thanks, Max."

Before Max could say anything more, Edison took off. Not in pursuit of Bryce, but to retrieve the company car. Bryce, as far as he was concerned, could wait. He wouldn't tell Cheviot that the young genius had turned on them. But he wouldn't cover up for Bryce when Cheviot found out either.

"Sorry I'm so late," Bryce panted when he got to Network 66 to find Jenny waiting impatiently outside.

"I was about to give up," she scolded. "Why are you so out of breath? You oversleep?"

"I had to escape Edison," Bryce explained, linking his arm with hers and gently leading her away. "Let's face it, nobody is going to understand this. They're obsessed with their war."

"I know, Bryce," Jenny agreed as they made their way toward the Fringes and Big Time TV

"Have you thought about what you're going to do after this?"

"Well, I'm not too bad at singing," Bryce confided.

"You? A singer? Go on!" Jenny laughed, gently.

"No, really," Bryce told her. "While I admit I'm no David Bowie, I think I'm just as good as any other modern pop star."

"Hardly a stellar recommendation," Jenny told him. "But go ahead. Sing something for me."

"Here? In the open?"

"If you take a career as a singer, sooner or later you'll have to sing in the open," Jenny told him. "You may as well do it now."

"What do I sing?"

"You're a genius. Make something up."

After a couple of false starts, Jenny politely refraining from laughing, Bryce finally began to sing in a soft baritone:

There is a battle that will never end

A conflict that cannot be won.

A war in a theater that's ever-changing

Arms and combatants rearranging.

We are the children who arm the soldiers

We are the young ones who bear the scars

Minds like swords, we are the heartbreakers

What will become of ours?

He fell silent as the last words left his lips.

"That was great," Jenny said. "Do you have an answer?"

"Not really," Bryce admitted. "I just sort of made it up off the cuff."

"I hope you remember it."

"I don't think I can forget it," Bryce told her. "But just in case, maybe we'd better both sing it this time."

"I can'tů" Jenny protested.

"Please?" Bryce asked. "I'd love to hear you sing."

"Very well," Jenny agreed, and the two of them began to sing the unfinished song together as they made their way to Big Time.

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