Theora Jones was blissfully dreaming of being whisked away on a white steed by her handsome Prince Charming when the annoying sound of her phone startled her from her slumber. She considered not answering – this is the first bit of rest she had gotten in almost two days. Edison had been covering a hot story on fraud in the Ad Market and they had worked non-stop until it aired. But what if it was Edison calling? What if he had another important lead and needed her at control? I'm getting too old for this she thought to herself as she reluctantly answered the phone on the twentieth ring. She was surprised to see Dominique on the other end. "Hello." She said groggily. Dom responded "I'm sorry to wake you Theora, but I'm afraid our boys have gotten themselves into a bit of trouble." Theora didn't know Dominique all that well, but she could tell the woman was worried. "Dom, what happened? What kind of trouble?" Dom shook her head. "I'm not sure. Reg called Edison to come and check out this group that's been recruiting young people from the Fringes to do "God's work." They left about four hours ago to meet one of Reg's more questionable contacts and I haven't heard from them since. I'm starting to worry." Theora thought about it for a minute and then realized she could track Edison. "Dom, it's OK. I'll just track Edison's link and we'll find them." She saw Dom's face fall as she held up Edison's camera. "I'm sorry, but he left it here." "Damn!" Theora smacked the table so hard she hurt her hand. "Dom where are you located? I'll be there as soon as I can." Dom fed Theora the route to her location and hung up. Theora dressed as fast as she could and jumped in her car. In 30 minutes she was knocking on the door of Big Time TV.
"That was fast." Dom said as she welcomed Theora in. "Well knowing our boys we don't have much time to find them." She walked over and picked up Edison's camera. "May I use your phone Dom?" Dom pointed her in the direction of the viewphone. "Bryce. Bryce. Pick up Dammit! This is important." She saw Bryce stumble on screen. "What is it? I was taking a nap." He stopped complaining when he saw Theora's face. "It's Edison. Seems he's gone out to play without any back up." "Typical." Bryce snorted. "What do you need from me?" "I have Edison's videcam here. Can you link me up to 23 and route it back here to Big Time? I need to see if I can locate him." "In a flash Theora. I thought you were going to ask me something hard." The computer screens at Big Time popped up with Theora's control screens. "Thanks Bryce. Now let's see if we can find Edison and Reg." She began searching where Dom had told her they went and could find nothing. Her fingers flew on the keys as she pulled up any cameras or satellites she could access. But in the Fringes there weren't many. "Shit!" She yelled as she stood up and began pacing. "Bryce are you having any better luck?" Bryce was almost afraid to answer. "Sorry. Nothing here either." Theora flopped down on a chair and covered her face. She looked up at Dom and shook her head. "Dom I'm sorry, I don't know how to find them. "
Max had been lurking in Bryce's studio watching the activity. He decided Big Time looked more exciting. He transferred him self over and popped up on one of the monitors. "C-C-Can I help. Help?" He said in his distinctive stutter. Dominique poured Theora and herself a glass of wine and smiled at Max. "Not unless you can grow legs and go looking for them." "That's it." Theora said as she jumped up almost spilling her wine. "Max. Go find Edison and Reg. Flit around all the TV's you can find in this area and see if you see them." She got back on the console and pulled up the grid she was searching to show Max. "Yes ma-ma-ma'am." Max sputtered before he zipped off the screen. Theora said a silent prayer to a God she wasn't sure she believed in for Max to find Edison – alive.
Max had been gone 10 minutes and still nothing. Theora was pacing so much Dom thought she might just wear a hole in the floor of the ratty old bus. But she had drunk enough of the bottle of wine not to care. Just then Max's voice came across the monitor. "Control. C-C-Control are you getting this?" Theora looked at the screen and saw the bodies of Edison and Reg in an abandoned building that looked like it was home to a few Blanks and more than a few rodents. "Oh my God!" She said as she traced Max's signal. "Dom, here's the route. How quick can you get us there?" Dom looked over Theora's shoulder at the monitor. She lit up a cigarette and headed for the driver's seat of the bus. "Hopefully quick enough." "Max. See if you can get them to answer you. Start taking to them." She whispered to herself. "C'mon Edison wake up. Give me a sign."
Dom was piloting the bus through the, for lack of a better word, streets as fast as it would move. Theora was being tossed around like a rag doll but she hadn't taken her eyes away from the monitor. Max was rambling on something about a parrot, but there was still no movement from either of the men. "C-C-Control, you better check these rate-rate-ratings. Looks like the audience is s-s-sleeping. Sleeping" "Just keep talking Max. We're almost there." She thought she saw Edison move his hand. There it was again. He did move. "Dom they're still alive. Can't you go any faster?" "Sure can honey. Hang on to something." Theora grabbed the table holding the monitors just as Dom made a hard right. But no matter how much she was shaken around, Theora was not going to tear her eyes away from the picture of Edison.
The pink bus screeched to a stop next to the screen where Max was now waxing poetic about car parts. "Glad-Glad you made it. I was run-run-running out of material." Theora barely heard Max as she ran over to Edison's side. Dom mirrored her movements as she approached Reg. "Oh Edison." Theora whispered as she picked up his head and held it in her lap. She could feel his pulse. It was week but steady. This gave her some glimmer of hope. She spoke more forcefully trying to drag Edison into consciousness. "Edison. Edison you've got to wake up. We have to get you out of here. Edison please." He started to stir and Theora tried to help him sit up. She couldn't contain her smile when he opened his eyes. "Aah." He moaned as he squeezed his eyes shut again. This time when he opened them he returned Theora's smile. "Hey beautiful. Did you get the number of that truck?" Now that she knew he was going to be OK, Theora lost her smile and became serious. "Edison, what happened? You could've gotten killed." She took a tissue out of her pocket and wiped blood from Edison's face. He reached up a shaky hand and wiped a tear from hers.
Theora realized she had forgotten about Reg when he spoke to her. "I'm sorry luv. This was my fault. I asked Edison to help me out and we got ourselves into a bit of a bother." He smiled and Dom shook her head. "Reg when aren't you in a bit of a bother?" She got up off the ground and dusted herself off. "I'm never going to get this dress clean." She mumbled as she headed toward Big Time. Reg got up and followed her. "Dom. Dom. Wait up. I'm sorry." His words trailed off as he followed Dom into the bus. Theora turned back to Edison. "C'mon we've got to get out of here.
Theora helped Edison to his feet and they walked over to the bus. "Edison." Theora scolded. "You never should have gone out without back up. You should have called me." Edison put on his best sorry little boy face. "Sorry, I didn't think this was anything to worry you with. I didn't even know if there was a story." Theora got even more frustrated. "Do you think the only time I would watch out for you is when there's a story? Am I only part of the job?" Tears formed in her eyes and Edison knew he really screwed up this time. She continued. "I was worried about you. I, Theora Jones, not control, was worried about you Edison Carter, not the story." She stormed off into Big Time where she downed the rest of the bottle of wine Dom had opened.
Edison sat on the step of the Big Time bus and hung his throbbing head. He had not meant to hurt Theora. She was so much more than part of the job to him. "She has to know that doesn't she?" he asked himself. He would make this up to her, but later. Right now someone had to protect those kids, and it looked like it was going to be Edison. He heard Reg behind him. "C'mon son. We've got to get going. It's not safe here." Edison smiled and patted his friend on the shoulder as he climbed aboard. "Well Reg. What do we do now?" Theora was looking at the monitors and ignoring Edison. Reg noticed and shook his head. "I think we call it a night mate." Edison got angry. "We can't do that and you know it. If that minister was willing to almost kill us just for asking some questions those kids can't be safe. We've got to expose this cult and save them." "But we don't know how to find them. They bloody found us remember?" Reg said as he threw up his arms in frustration. Edison smiled. "But now Theora's here. She can find them. She is the best you know." He gave her a wink as she finally looked at him. The wink had little effect -- she was still angry. "So what, now that there's a story here, you want my help?" Edison crouched down beside her. "No, I'm asking you to help as a favor to a friend. Because I need you." He squeezed her hand and she finally cracked a smile.
Theora knew Edison was sorry and that was the closest thing she would ever get to an apology. So she composed herself and got to work. "OK boys let's see if your holy man left a trail." She began searching securicams and satellite feeds until she found the vehicle that had left Edison and Reg for dead. She traced the trail back to a building at the very edge of the Fringes. "OK Dom, here's where we need to go" she said as she fed Dom the route. Reg was amazed. "You are the best Luv." He said as he kissed her hand. Edison sat down next to Theora and nudged her with his shoulder. "Thanks" he said followed by that killer smile of his. "No problem. It's my job remember." His smile faded until Theora nudged him back. She had a smile on her face and she winked at him to let him know she was only kidding and he was forgiven. Edison leaned closer and as usual Max popped up at the most inopportune moment. "Hi-Hi-Hi there." He stuttered. "Nice to see you awake-awake." Edison turned from Theora. "Hi Max. I understand that you found us. I am forever in your debt." Theora chuckled. "Yes, without Max, we'd have never found you." "Aw-Aw-Aw you're making me blush." Just then Dom called back. "We're close. I'll look for a place to hide this behemoth."
Dom parked the Big Time bus behind one of the numerous abandoned buildings in this part of the Fringes. Edison grabbed his camera and squeezed Theora's hand. "Reg, you feel like doing a little spying on the good shepherd?" Reg followed Edison out of the bus. "Right behind ya mate." Reg and Edison disappeared on the opposite site of the building and Theora's monitor lit up. "You getting this control?" Asked Edison. Theora could make out a group of teenagers sitting in a semi-circle around a man she assumed was this preacher they were tailing. "Got you Edison – recording." She answered. Edison zoomed in on the congregation and taped the sermon. "Children, go spread the good news of the Lord." Bellowed the preacher. "And make sure you bring back donations to continue the good works of our Church." They passed around a collection plate and the kids emptied their pockets of money, jewelry, and other valuables. "So that's the angle." Edison whispered. "Theora, this is just a pickpocket ring. Right out of Dickens." "Edison." Theora whispered back. "Get a close up of your preacher and I'll see if I can get us a name." Edison did as instructed and Theora ran the picture through various search programs.
Finally Theora got a hit. Their so called preacher was actually Randall Winters. He was a former TV Evangelist from Network 66 who was caught skimming profits and was cancelled. He tried other networks, but no one would give him a show. He seemed to disappear until about 3 months ago when this "First Holy Church of the Fringes" opened its doors. He took the name of Father Peter and began preaching the Good News to the young people of the Fringes. "Edison, you've got to see this." Theora fed the info to Edison's videcam so he could see it himself. "What a bastard. Using religion to trick these kids into stealing for him. We've got to nail him Theora."
Theora contacted the overnight producer and told him they needed to break in for a live report from Edison Carter. The producer refused until Theora threatened to wake up Cheviot to ask his approval. No producer wants to be the reason Ben Cheviot is awakened at 4 in the morning. So he gave Theora her slot and she geared up Edison. "OK Edison, you've got 2 minutes make the most of it." Edison picked up his camera and rushed over to the Church. "30 seconds Edison." He heard Theora's voice in his ear. He called out "Randall Winters" and the preacher turned around. Just then the red light on his videcam came on indicating they were live. "Randall Winters, I'm Edison Carter and we are now live and direct on Network 23. Would you like to tell us how you received that basket of generous donations for your Church?" Winters started to bolt, but Reg caught him and held him firm in Edison's view. "Mr. Carter, as you know, there are many individuals who support organized religion. We have donors from all over the city." Edison chuckled. "Yes, I'm sure you do, but do they know it? I've got tape from an earlier service showing your flock emptying their pockets of a number of wallets and handfuls of jewelry. Control run the tape." Theora did as instructed and Winters saw the images on a nearby screen. "Well my children do collect donations for our work, but I'm not sure where they get all the money from. I'm merely the pastor here." Winters had a devilish smile on his face and Edison had to really hold himself back from decking the guy. But just then he heard the sirens. "Well Mr. Winters, you can take that point up with the Metrocops." Edison turned the camera toward himself and signed off.
Reg and Edison climbed back on the Big Time bus and Dom kissed Reg on the cheek. "You did good boys." Dom and Reg went to the front and began to pilot Big Time back to where it was when Theora met Dom. Edison sat down next to Theora and put his camera on the floor. "Thanks Theora." He said as he kissed her cheek. She smiled and Edison though he might have seen the slightest blush come across her face. "No problem Edison. All in a day's work – or night's as it were." Theora yawned and Edison put his arm around her shoulders so she could lay her head on him. "You deserve a vacation. As soon as we get back, I'm going to talk to Murray. We should be due a few days off." Theora didn't miss the "we" in Edison's sentence. Perhaps a few days off might be nice.
"W-W-What about me?" Max came to life on the monitor. "Who do I see about a vacation-vacation? Hmm?" Edison and Theora chuckled and closed their eyes for the remainder of the trip dreaming blissfully of knights on white steeds and damsels in distress.