- "Nobody died. How can you kill an idea? How can you kill the personification of an action?"
- "Then what died? Who are you mourning?"
- "A puh-point of view."
-- Cain, Elbis O'Shaughnessy, and Abel, in The Wake
There was precious little to do in transit. The Solar Sailer’s hum was nearly silent as it traveled through the grid-lined darkness, and Anon leaned against the observation railing as it flew. He could see the Sea from up here, bands of uniform lights hanging like stars in the sky.
Anon registered none of it.
All the beauty, and wonder of the Grid was overlaid with the same looped memory file playing over, and over in his processing. Tron. Flynn.Clu. Tron grabbing Flynn’s jacket, and telling him to go. Flynn ran, but Clu followed. The orange-lit programs converging on Tron where he stood as Tron dropped into a defensive crouch. Clu tossing Flynn to the ground. Tron fighting off four orange programs at once, derezzing two.
Clu looked up, then. Clu saw him pressed against the window, lagging with the horrified shock of what he was seeing. His User. His mentor. What should he do? How did it come to this?
”Stand down, by the order of Clu!” Anon had turned away then, combat subroutines kicking in despite his lag on a decision gate. He’d fought his way free…but Flynn, and Tron…
His hands tightened on the railing, and Anon felt a new, and unpleasant sensation curl through his code with such a strange mix of heat, chill, and such speed, he ran diagnostics to check for an error. They returned true, so he wasn’t glitching. What was it then? Glancing at his curled hands, the answer was supplied by some part of his processing he hadn’t been entirely aware of before; grief.
Quorra’s steps were light, but as the ISO stepped up beside him, her arms were crossed, and her fingers were digging as hard at her arms as his were in clinging to the railing. It did not take an actuarial to see they were both thinking of the same things.
“…It wasn’t your fault, you know. You did what you were supposed to do. You survived.”
Anon looked away from her, and his helmet shook slightly, from side to side, denying either the words, or the implication. Quorra bit her lip, and looked out across the Grid again.
Anon was about to leave the observation deck, and move back to the Sailer controls to check their passage, when Quorra pointed at the dark above them with an awed “Look!”
Anon looked up, immediately on guard for the possibility of a Recognizer. But he saw none. Instead, there were brilliantly colored banners of geometric lines waving lazily in the stillness.
He didn’t know what the function of these lights was intended to be, but he didn’t need to know the proper label to tag them as “beautiful” in his memory files. He tilted his head at Quorra, and pointed at the lights with clear question as to what their function was. Quorra shrugged, and grinned at him to indicate she didn’t know, and didn’t mind that she didn’t, either.
Quorra’s smile remained as she watched the Grid’s version of an aurora borealis dance, and weave in harmony with their surroundings. Her fingers were less tense, now, and her expression was lit with shifting colors; from blue, to violets, to an array of greens, and back again.
Presently, she spoke again, though she never stopped watching the colors drifting through their range of hues.
“…Radia once told me that derezz was just a means of returning to raw code, and energy. That nothing really ends. It only changes form.
So…maybe it’s better to remember that. Tron isn’t really gone. He’ll always be a part of the system.“
In silence they stood together as the Sailer passed under the dancing lights…and presently, Anon felt the unpleasant cold-hot sensation ease a bit. He would have been content to continue standing there, watching the new world as it unfolded around him, too. In his short runtime, he had seen much, but the lights were a reminder that the Grid was still a beautiful world full of awe, and splendor all around him. He wasn’t made to grind to a screeching halt when unknown variables presented themselves, after all. So, he shouldn’t let the unpleasant sensations tie him up in lagging loops. He was made to protect the Grid, to protect the programs within it, and to keep fighting. No matter how unfavorable the odds were.
That was his function. And Tron would want him to keep fighting, wouldn’t he? Anon squared his shoulders as the lights fell behind them, and felt stronger for it.
He would need to expand his functions to include Tron’s too. But that was alright, he would continue fighting for as long as he ran. And he would protect the Grid. He would remember, and he would fight, and would carry the memories of all those who fought as well with him. No one, after all, was written, or deleted in vain.