And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind.
- x – x - x
“What do you calculate there is to worry about?” Tron asked. He himself didn't look worried, or angry; just faintly surprised, and Yori wondered how he could fail to process that his behaviour could be interpreted as...illogical. “You saw Flynn,” he went on enthusiastically, “you talked with him, you were touched by him just as I was. I thought you were with me on this, Yori.”
“I'm always with you, Tron. I'm just saying that I don't understand. Meeting Flynn seems to have affected your functions.”
“Of course it has! But only for the better. There's nothing to be afraid of. I was touched by a User – how can I carry on as though nothing's happened?”
Tron's smile was so bright and blinding, she had to look away from it. His circuits glowed and pulsed. She placed a hand on his chest, feeling the power racing through him, faster than it ever had before. Too fast. That worried her, too. What was happening to him?
“You're not the program I knew before,” she said, wonderingly. “You've changed.”
“Perhaps.” His tone was thoughtful; the smile remained on his lips, and a realisation came to her: he knew already that he was changing, becoming strange, becoming a stranger - and he did not fear it. He welcomed it.
Why couldn't she?
She made another attempt to explain. “Some of the other programs have asked me about you. They're curious about your output.”
“That's good. I'm happy to answer all of their queries.”
“Perhaps 'curious' was an incorrect choice of designation for their processes. They were...well, some of them were angry, and some seemed to think it was funny.”
“It's a joyous revelation,” Tron replied, cheerfully.
“I didn't say they were joyful, Tron. They think that – oh, they think that your code's become corrupted. They think your core functions are decompiling and you're on the verge of a catastrophic crash!” Her voice rose to to an unhappy, anxious pitch.
This at last appeared to get through to him. His face was very grave as he asked, “is that what you think as well?”
“No. Of course not. I believe in Flynn – and in you. But I think you should terminate this new function. I'm afraid of what they might do to you, to both of us, if you keep outputting these data to the system.”
Tron began to pace, hands clasped behind his back. He looked, for the first time, frustrated. “Everything I've told them is the truth. That a User came to the system and sacrificed himself for the good of all programs; that some day, he'll return to upgrade our functions, bring us the gift of enhanced processing speed and exponentially increased disc capacity. When that day comes, we programs will process the system the same way the Users do, and operate alongside them forever, in a world as much of our making as theirs. If the others can't see that, then I'm sorry for them, but I won't stop until every program on the system has heard the Word of Flynn.”
Yori sighed. This was exactly the sort of thing she calculated would get them both derezzed by an angry mob of Secular Programmists if Tron wasn't careful. “Did Flynn actually tell you he was coming back?” she asked.
“Not exactly.” Tron sounded a little defensive now. “But he will. Of course he will. And perhaps some of the others will come, too. Maybe even Alan-1, Yori!”
Yori said nothing. She didn't want to process what might happen to Tron's core functions if he ever got to touch his own User.
She shook her head. “All I'm asking is that you be careful. These upgrades of yours...they frighten me. They frighten all of us.”
“They don't frighten me,” replied Tron, firmly.
Yori looked up into his face, processed the way his eyes avoided meeting hers, how his teeth gnawed at his lower lip as he gazed into a future no other program could compile.
She found she didn't quite believe him.
- x - x - x
After his conversation with Yori, Tron left her to her work and returned alone to a datascape they often shared, an open space above which was nothing but empty sectors, stretching endlessly upward. Flynn would have said it was like gazing into eternity. Certainly it enabled clarity of processing, and Tron needed some quiet time to calculate, to – think. Reflect. Meditate. He had believed that Yori, of all programs, would understand what drove him to spread Flynn's legend throughout the system. Had she not herself been spared from derezzing by the User? Had she not felt the touch of his hands...and of his lips, the 'kiss', a beautiful and intimate gesture she had also shared with Tron? He felt a small touch of sorrow when he reflected that Flynn had given this gift to Yori, but not directly to Tron himself. Perhaps when Flynn returned to the grid, he would kiss Tron too.
Until then, Tron had the memory of other touches – Flynn's arm around his shoulders, for instance, the press of their bodies against each other, the brief, tantalising brush of their circuits as the User drew him close. Tron sat down slowly on a glittering, translucent cube, soothed by its uncomplicated smoothness. After a moment he shuffled backwards, drew up his long legs and crossed them, tailor-fashion. He rested his hands on his thighs, closed his eyes, concentrated on the memory of Flynn's touch.
Barely aware of doing it, he reached up to brush his fingers over the same areas of his body Flynn's hands – a User's hands! - had once blessed. He lightly stroked, then massaged, the circuits of his right shoulder, trailed across his collarbone to repeat the process on the left shoulder, moved to the back of his neck and pinched lightly. His own touch did not produce the same sensations as Flynn's, and yet the memory seemed to grow stronger, take on a power of its own.
Programs did not normally caress themselves in this fashion. Self-stimulation was deemed pointless; two participants, at least, were needed for the desired exchange of output. Was this what Yori meant when she called his behaviour strange? Programs were not supposed to create false data within their processors, either, and yet Tron was doing that as well, replacing his own bland touch with the electrifying one of a User he had known only too briefly.
Flynn would come back. He must come back.
Though he knew it to be illogical, that communication with Users did not and could not work this way, Tron tilted his head back, gazing up at what Flynn would have called the sky. He closed his eyes again and called to Flynn, the words spoken only within his own processor. Come back to us, he pleaded silently. You were our saviour, but you can be even more than that. You can be a creator. Come back and we'll build something new, something wonderful, together.
Logically, Flynn, whether he had returned to the world of the Users, or gone elsewhere to a place no program could ever know, could not possibly receive such a direction-less, unfacilitated communication. Nonetheless, Tron would persist. He would keep faith with the Users, spread the Word of Flynn, and wait for the Saviour to return. In the meantime, he would come here to communicate with Flynn in his own way; he chose to believe that Flynn could hear him, and if that was strange, well then, strange was good.
He held up his hands and clasped them together, pointing upward towards the place he processed – he imagined - the User's world to be. He would keep knocking on the sky like this, for a thousand cycles, if need be, until someone answered.
And while he waited, he would dream of Flynn, and of a system bright with the same beautiful, liberating illogic that the man himself possessed.
- x - x - x
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said "All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them"
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone