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Lost World

Chapter Text

Smoke.

Smoke and ash.

The first thing he sees as he wakes. Wincing, he sits up as he hears yells and sounds of chaos all around him.

And running.

He hears running.

He turns to see no one through the smoke, but that doesn’t stop his breathing from becoming shallow as the feeling of panic rises in him.

He shakily gets to his feet before shaking his head.

How did I get to this?

That’s the first conscious and stringed-together thought he has. But as he tries to ponder, nothing comes before now.

What the_

“HEY!”

Gasping, he looks up to see a figure through the smoke, coming towards him.

What’s going on?

But his instincts set in before thought, and he finds himself running the opposite direction.

“HEY WAIT! STOP!”
But he doesn’t. He won’t. He races his way through the smoky world until he finds a door, halfway open. He looks back once before entering through it and into a world cool and dark. He turns back to see a tawny shade become a part of the building, fire starting. He hesitates.

Should I go back…?

He looks up again when he hears muttering to see a crowd has gathered and is gathering still. He looks to them all in confusion as they look to him and the fire, eyes wide. He catches the gaze of one person in the crowd, a man with graying hair. Something about him….he couldn’t figure out what….

The sirens make them break gaze. He turns to see a large engine followed by several smaller vehicles come towards the building. His breath catches and he runs.

Away from the fire.

Away from the man.

Away from everything.

And into the darkness.

 

 

Chapter Text

When the firefighters arrive at the scene, they douse the quickly growing fire and bring out a familiar figure from within. His hair is singed slightly and face red from the heat, but he still is able to bring everyone’s attention to him, even without meaning to.

“Tony!”

The dazed billionaire looks up to see Bruce break through the crowd and meet him. He gets to his feet and gives him a look and Bruce knows in an instant he isn’t forgiven.

“I’m sorry, Tony…I really am….”

“Oh yeah?” Tony looks down to his hands, red from the heat, “Should’ve thought of that before you broke contact with Natasha and disappeared.”

Bruce holds up his hands at about mid-section to try and imply peace, “The…other guy was in charge_”

Tony cuts him off with a look that implies they both know there wasn’t discord between the two men in Banner on that decision.

Both men are distracted from their staring vigil as a car pulls up to the scene and only then do they realize how silent the scene had become.

The car door opens and a familiar man steps out, dressed in black leather with a trench coat hiding weapons of the unknown sort to the two men.

“Hope I’m not interrupting anything.” Nick Fury says as he slams the car door shut and approaches them.

“Save it, Stark. I’m not here to argue.”

Tony closes his mouth, as he had opened it to argue, but then recovers with: “What are you doing here?”

“You made a building explode. I’m here to see if you left anything standing.”

Tony sighs in frustration, “Why does everyone think I’m so destructive, Banner’s caused more damage than I have….”

“That’s debatable.” Bruce says, remembering the most recent incident that had separated him from the others.

Fury ignores their comments, “There’s also been a detection of electromagnetic waves; not usual in a fire. So we need to find out what you did to make this happen.”

Tony glances at Fury, then the barely remaining door, “Then let’s go.”

“We’re not going in. Not yet.”

“Why not? Fury, the door’s wide open_”
“And burning, Stark. You have some apologies to make to the owner.”

“Oh the owner? Who would an old place like this?”

There’s a light upon them suddenly. All three men turn to see a car pull up. It stops and the lights turn off. Three doors open as three people get up, an older man from the driver’s side, a younger on the passenger, and finally, a young woman from the back.

Tony sighs, realizing two out of the three. If only he could’ve managed to stay out of their radar….

“Sam Flynn.” The younger man says, shaking the director’s hand. “CEO of Encom, and this arcade is under my name.”

 

Chapter Text

“Stark.” The older man says in a rough, low voice.

Stark turns his head away, “Bradley.”

Bradley nods before walking past him. Bruce holds out his hand, “Bruce Banner.”

Bradley pulls a hand out of his pocket and shakes Bruce’s hand, “Alan Bradley. You’re a doctor, yes?”

Bruce shrugs in a ‘more or less’ gesture. “I studied Gamma radiation.”

“Really?”

“Yeah…what about you?”

Alan opens his mouth to answer but Tony cuts over.

“He’s Mr. Chairman-of-the-board of the company that he almost ran to the ground.”

Alan turns to Tony slightly, “I didn’t run Encom to the ground. 1989 was a rough year for everyone in the company.”

“Oh yes, the budding bromance. With Flynn disappearing and all. I’m surprised you didn’t chase off after the Flynn_”

“You can show a little more respect when talking about Sam Flynn’s father.” The woman says, her piercing blue gaze burning into Tony Stark.

“I’m sorry…who are you?” The question isn’t aimed to be kind, and as she tilted her chin up to level with him, its obvious she didn’t take it as kind either.

“Quorra.” Sam Flynn sets a hand on her shoulder. She looks to him and then down.

“If you all are done chatting.” Fury gains everyone’s attention as he stands near the remains of the entrance. “We can go inside.”

The three newcomers exchange a look before joining Fury. Banner looks to Tony, sighs, and follows and not long after, Stark does the same.

“What caused the fire?” Sam asks as they enter the main area where many games are barely standing, burned very obviously.

“Stark said it was something electrical below the arcade_”

Stark?” Sam turns to Tony, “What were you doing here? You didn’t have permission to be on private property_”

“Chasing a lead.” Tony shrugs, “Although you do have some explaining to do….like the Shiva laser in the basement.”

What?” Alan Bradley stops and so does everyone else (Fury with a silent yet frustrated sigh).

Sam….explain.”

Sam sputters, trying to explain, but Tony saves him the trouble.

“I doubt he put it in there, since he didn’t seem to recognize the name. But he had to know it was there.”

“How would I know_”

Tony points and Sam turns and stops in shock.

On the back wall, a game is pushed away like a door to show a large hole where the wall surrounding the game was. The game itself is almost nonexistent and the lights surrounding it have been imploded. Yet it’s obvious what the words above the system say.

“TRON.” Quorra whispers, a mysterious look forming on her face as she gawks at the scene.

“Just past here is where I found it.”

Fury says nothing but leads the way down, pulling out a flashlight. The other follow almost silently.

Tony helps direct the way to the secret room past the door past the door with its warning of electrocution. Inside the room, the still-standing broad laser is untouched in front of the computer.

However, what catches them all off guard is that the laser is still running with a continuous electrical pulse racing out the end and forming a large space in front of the computer chair.

“What the_?” Sam starts, but shakes his head, “How is this possible?”

“What is it?” Alan asks, looking to him.

“The laser takes objects and transports them into the computer as code, right?”

Alan nods slowly, “Yes….”

“Well….it can take….people, too.”

Alan gives him the most confused look, “Impossible.”

“And yet here it is.” Tony says sarcastically.

Alan throws him a look.

“Where does it lead now?”

“The same place it always has, I suppose.” Sam says, growing close to the laser and examining it, “Inside the computer. The Grid.”

Everyone else exchanges confused looks with each other.

Everyone except Quorra.

“…The what?” Fury demands, still gripping the flashlight.

“The Grid. The inside of the computer. Usually the laser only sends people in and certain people out….but something’s wrong here.”

“What do you mean certain people?”

“None of the inhabitants are allowed out without someone from….here.”

“Inhabitants?” Bruce wipes his glasses before putting them back on.

“Yes. But now….”

“What about now?” Fury demands.

“There may be…a chance that some of the inhabitants have made it through.”

“How so?”

Sam shrugs, “Hell if I know.”

“There’s no proof of that, then.” Alan states, turning to him.

“That’s not exactly true….” Tony joins them, “When I came down here, I was alone. But after the computer exploded when I was….” He glances to Fury before reluctantly saying, “…looking, there were two other people in there with me and I don’t think any of you can teleport.”

“Two?” Sam turns to him, “Could you see their faces? What did they look like?”

Tony shrugs, though obviously shocked that Sam was approaching, “I don’t know. I couldn’t see them through the smoke.”

Sam is pale when Tony looks to him again.

“What?”

“That could be anyone…”

“Sam, could it be….?” Quorra looks to him and touches his arm.

“Could be.”

“Who?”

“There was one program_”

“Inhabitant.”

“_yes and we never saw if he survived. If he did and made it here…..” Sam turns even paler than what was originally thought. “We have hell on our hands.”

“Any suggestions on how to stop this?” Fury asks, crossing his arms.

“Bottleneck the laser. If we can stop the flow, we can make sure none of the other programs make it out. Then, we can track down the two that already made it out, and hope they’re not hostile.”

“And how do you suppose we get that track?”

“Maybe…” Bruce joins the conversation, “Maybe if they’re from within the computer, they’ll give off an electronic field, especially if the laser glitched during their transport.”

“They may also stick out very easily.” Sam shrugs, “They kind of glow.”

“How….never mind. I don’t want to know how you know that.” Alan sighs, shaking his head and pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Any idea how powerful they can be?” Bruce asks.

Sam shrugs, running a hand through his hair, “That all depends. Depends on who they are. If one of them is Rinzler….” Sam shudders, “we definitely will have a problem.”

“We’ll stop him if it is ‘Rinzler’.” Fury says in an odd assurance.

He turns to Bruce and Tony as the mysterious trio from Encom make their way back upstairs.

“Call Rogers and Romanoff. Tell them to assemble the team. If these programs are as big of a deal as Mr. Flynn says, then we’ll need to find them now!”

 

Chapter Text

The street light changes to a white figure walking and the small throng of people start across the pavement. Cars sit impatiently and once they pass, quickly continue on their way.

Most people don’t stop, don’t look back, for the sake of time and the fact that they have a destination in mind.

Except for one, near the back of the already retreating group.

From a distance, he could barely stick out. He’s tall, but at par with some men that he passes. In the time where fall is slowly descending into winter, he wears a hood on his head and his hands are stuffed into his sweatshirt pocket.

No direction is set in his mind. He follows the people in front of him and absentmindedly glances to the sky. It’s overcast, with only small signs of rain in the future.

People pass by him without a second glance, and when the people in front of him enter a large restaurant, he keeps walking.

The cold wind rushes by him and he shivers, stuffing his hands farther into his sweatshirt. He continues walking, eyes cast to the pavement. He looks up again as he turns onto another street and sees the burnt remains of the arcade.

LOOK OUT!”

The figure in front of him was thrown back into nothing and disappeared. He turns to face the swipe as it knocks him across the face and back_

He jumps and his eyes open quickly as someone hits his shoulder as they pass. Panting, his hands are twisted in his hair, in an attempt to steady himself. Slowly, he removes his hands from his hair and looks around, hoping no one saw him.

No one gives him a second glance on the almost empty street. The person who had bumped into him hasn’t looked back.

Then why does he feel like someone’s watching him….?
He glances back and in the darkness, swears he sees a gaze, paralyzing him and burning….

He turns his head away and begins walking past the arcade quickly. Sticking around will only cause more problems, so he doesn’t stop until he’s to the next block.

When he slows, he stuffs his hands back in his pockets.

He can see the sun setting on the skyline and the lights around him begin to glow. His sleeve slid back to show his arm had lines that glowed bright in the dark. Sighing as he notices, he pushes his sleeve back down to cover the lights. The sky continuously grows darker and he joins the darkness.


 

“Any sign of them?”

Two people look up from the computer, as the third continues to work, to meet the gaze of Fury.

“None.” The female answers, looking back over the worker’s shoulder, glancing at the screen. “It’s almost as if they disappeared without a trace…”

“Well what strength are you looking for?” She turns her head and her eyes narrow at the sight of the second man.

Dr. Banner clasped his hands together when she didn’t answer immediately. Of course she would be mad…he did leave them all behind_
“Anything unusual will pick up on the radar.” She finally says in return, daring to look him dead in the eye.

He looks down to his hands, “Perhaps…perhaps their signatures won’t be…off the charts. Check the average amount of radiation.”

“Average?” The worker looks to him finally, and Bruce could see the tinge of fear in his eyes at the sight of him. “But_”

“It’s going to be messy, yes. But hypothetically, you can trace the origin and tag them so we can find them. Yes?”

After a couple moments of silence, the worker nods and starts his new task. Bruce sighs, unclasping his hands.

“Romanoff. Rogers.” The two turn to Fury on his command, “Go into the field and take the team. If that doesn’t work, we’ll have to find them manually.”

“And how we will find them that way?” Rogers questions.

Fury looks back up to him as he had just turned away.

“According to Mr. Flynn…they glow. Now go.”

The two exchange a look, before nodding, and pass Fury. Romanoff doesn’t look back, but Rogers does to see Bruce look down and away from them and join the worker at the computer.

CRACK

The sound makes the man scramble away from the wall in a fright. He quickly blinks away the sleepiness, and his gaze flicks up to the man standing above him.

“This is private property. Beat it!”

The man cracks the stick against the wall again, and he reacts in a blur. His feet leave the ground faster than he can register and yet land smoothly once again. He turns back to see the man, suddenly not so intimidating, look to him in shock. Before the man with the stick can say a word, he’s already tearing away from the alleyway and onto the street, not looking back.

 

Chapter Text

Weeks had passed since that night. He had gone elsewhere, somewhere different each night as he walked around the city. Some of the strangers here were like the man from that night and had chased him off, screaming things after him. Others, though, had given him work, and when he finished, they gave him long pieces of green paper.

He learned quickly, though, that the paper seemed to be a form of trade. He would give a certain amount, and in return, he’d get something he wanted. One kind stranger had taken pity on him and helped him understand how to pay. That time, they had even bought something for him, and told him to eat it.

And he did. It was warm to the taste, and though he had recoiled at first, he found it satisfying. The stranger had watched him eat the whole thing rather quickly, and had to stop him before he ate the paper. They explained that what he had eaten was called a hotdog, a common thing for people to eat. The program took a liking to the “hotdog” and began to eat it whenever he could afford.

But lately, no one had asked him for work. Rather, they ignored him; walked past him as if he wasn’t there. He had asked multiple times, but they told him to read the sign. He would look to the sign, and all he would see where jumbles of symbols that didn’t make sense. He would express this, and they would chase him off.

On this day in particular, it was raining. This is the first time it had happened…well, since he could remember. The rain was cold, and plastered his jacket to the suit underneath and his skin. He hugged himself, hoping to keep himself warm, but was met with little success. He pulled up his hood, and it provided some protection to his face.

He needed somewhere to rest. With exhaustion creeping up on him with a yawn, and the rain sending shivers down his spine, he needed somewhere for the night.

There.

Glancing to either side of him, he ran across the street and stood under the overhang of the building. He rubbed his arms, shivering and his teeth chattering.

He couldn’t stay here. Not where he was in plain view. Someone would see him and run him off, and all he wanted now was to sleep.

He glanced around the corner to see a dumpster, with one of the lids flipped open, catching the rain water. Immediately, he rushed to the dumpster, and crawled underneath. The ground was wet, and some rain passed through the crack between the lid and the dumpster, but it was better than nothing.

Panting, he pulled his legs in close to his chest so his entire body fit underneath. He rested his back against the wall and held himself close. Despite the conditions, sleep overtook him immediately.


They started at dawn. The rain had barely stopped, and not many people were out and about. This was good for the four walking together. Though inconspicuous, none of the members wished to be noticed. A man, one with a hat on his head and thick rims over his eyes, and a woman with her hood pulled up, talked quietly. The other man, hands in the pocket of his jacket and shades on, looked to the left while a woman glanced the opposite way, fiddling with a bracelet on her arm quietly.

The man with thick rims and the lady with her hood pulled up held their phones next to each other, before the woman nodded.

“Looks like they’re ready.” The man said, pocketing his phone. “Let’s split up. Natasha, Wanda, you to take the east. Sam and I will take the west.”

The three nodded in response before Natasha and Wanda started off together. Sam and the man with the glasses started off the opposite direction. The man with the glasses pulled out his phone again.

“You getting anything?” Sam asked, glancing over to look at the screen.

“Nothing yet…”

He ran into Sam’s arm as it was suddenly held out in front of him. He looked up to look to Sam.

“I think I’m seeing something Cap…”

Cap looked to where he supposed Sam was looking. It was on the corner, near a shop that hadn’t opened yet. Slowly, he put his phone away, and peered into the darkness. He could see the trash, but hiding among them…was that a form…

“Could that be…?” Sam muttered.

Cap didn’t answer, but ducked under Sam’s arm and made his way quietly to the scene. The form didn’t move….perhaps it hadn’t noticed them. He gripped the edge of the dumpster lid that was covering the figure. Sam grabbed the other side. They exchanged a look and with a combined effort, flipped the lid.

The water splashed loudly. The figure, who’s head had been resting against the side of the dumpster, started as the water that fell between the crack hit them. They gasped, and their head snapped up to see them both. Cap, having been thrown off by the gasping and gaping figure, took a slight step back.

“W-what’s going on?” The voice was breathy due to the panting, but was loud enough for anyone passing by to hear. “Who are you?”

“Not important.” Cap recovered, “Who are you? What are you doing here?”

“I-I…” The person got to their feet, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know you’d be upset...I’ll leave I promise.”

However, Cap stopped the person and they froze. They were shaking, and Cap noticed that their clothing was drenched from head to toe.

“Were you out here all night?”

They nodded.

“Why?”

The person shook their head, “Nowhere to go. No one will take me.”

“Do you work?” Sam asked.

“Used to.” The person continued, “People have stopped taking me. I haven’t been paid in weeks.”

Cap looked to Sam, and gestured for him to follow.

“Wait here for a moment.”

The person nodded and Cap pulled Sam off to the side.

“This can’t be the program.”

“Cap, it could be.”

“Or it could just be a homeless man.”

Sam looked to the person, then back to Cap, “Deal breaker: does this guy glow?”

Both Cap and Sam looked to the person again. The person looked up to them, but then looked back down as their stomach growled loudly.

But they did not glow.

“No.”

Sam nodded, “Just a homeless guy then.”

“What do you suggest we do then?”

The person looked up again as they turned back.

“I’m sorry about that.” Cap held out his hand, “We thought you were someone else. No hard feelings?”

The person looked to the hand for a moment before cautiously taking it, “Not at all.”

The person’s stomach growled again, this time even louder, and they pulled their hand out.

“I-I’m sorry about. I should go…”

“Wait.”

The person stopped.

Cap glanced to Sam, then said, “How about we make it up to you?”

 

 

Chapter Text

“You didn’t have to do this.”

The person sat down. He had taken off the hood on his head when they had entered to show his hair hung low, and was disheveled. He didn’t meet the gazes of Cap and Sam, but rather seemed more interested in the table.

“Don’t worry about it.” Sam replied, “It’s the least we can do for scaring you.”

“I-I can pay…I promise…” The man began digging in his pocket, pulling out a crumpled dollar bill and some coins when Cap stopped him.

“No need to.” He pushed the dollar bill back into the man’s hand. “Keep it.”

The man slowly put the money back in his pocket, his gaze never leaving Cap. He seemed to have forgotten they could see his face, because his wariness was becoming clearer and clearer with each second.

Cap sighed quietly, and glanced down to the menus that were placed in front of the three of them.

“Go on.” He said, having glanced back up to see the man hadn’t moved.

The man stole a glance at the plastic menu. There were the symbols again. They were waiting for him, waiting for him to make a fool of himself. He didn’t want to touch, to look past to see what was next.

“Is…is something wrong?” Sam asked, watching the man flush bright red. The lights flickered above head once.

“I…” He lowered his voice, but his words were unable to be heard.

Cap’s eyebrows furrowed, “What?”

The man took another sigh, not meeting their gazes, “I can’t read it. I can’t.”

He was met with silence, and he didn’t dare look up to see their reaction.

He jumped, though, when someone scooted in next to him. He looked up as one of the men (Sam) picked up the menu.

“That’s okay. Let’s see if we can find something. I’ll read them out, and you tell me what you want, alright?”

The man seemed to realize he was staring, almost gaping, because he closed his mouth and quickly nodded.

Cap nodded and sat back, looking through his own. Or at least it seemed like it, with the way he had it propped up on the table.

The man looked up, no longer listening to Sam.

“Do you hear that?”

Sam stopped explaining the menu at his sudden question, “Hear what?”

Was he the only one hearing this? That couldn’t be right…

But now that he thought about it, this…buzz had always been there. Since that first night, it had been at the back of his mind. Was it really now just loud enough for him to notice?

“…Nothing. Must have just been me.”

Sam held gaze with him for a moment, before nodding and returning to the menu.

“Heard anything you like?”

“Um…” he chose randomly from what he remembered being said, “The eggs.”

“Sunny side up?”

“Sure.”

The man sitting across didn’t look up at that. He seemed to be staring at his stood-up menu intently. He tilted his head and the buzz seemed to be coming from there the loudest. Whatever the man was actually looking at…

“Steve.”

Both Steve and the unnamed man looked to Sam and the waiting waitress.

“What do you want?”

Steve straightened, “Just coffee, please.”

The waitress nodded, started off, and Steve returned to whatever he was engrossed in. His eyebrows furrowed slightly.

Steve.

The man jumped, and so did Steve, though no one noticed the former. The female voice called again and Steve stood, phone in hand.

“Sorry. I’ve got to take this.”

The man tilted his head. He hadn’t heard a ring or a vibration, but he didn’t argue as Steve went outside, the door closing loudly behind him.

“So…” Sam said after a long moment, “What’s your name?”

The man blinked, looking away from Steve (who was visible through the window), “My name?”

That was a question he hadn’t been asked before.

“Yeah. What is it?”

“I…”

What is my name?

“I don’t know.” He shook his head, “I don’t remember.”

“You don’t remember?” Sam looked to him, “You mean all those people you worked for never asked your name?”

He shook his head.

“Is there anything you would want to be called?”

The man shrugged, “I can’t think of anything.”

“Hm.” Sam frowned, then shook his head, “W-We’ll figure it out. My name’s Sam.”

He held out his hand and the man took it.

Sam…the named sounded familiar…but still…

He stopped and turned as he heard the woman’s voice again.

Steve have you been looking at the tracker?”

Steve’s voice came across as well.

That’s all I’ve been looking at. It doesn’t make sense…”

Wherever you are, one of the programs is there, too.”

I know. What doesn’t make sense is that there’s no one here except the workers, Sam, me, and…”

Who else, Steve? Who else is there?”

There’s a man we found…we’re pretty sure he’s homeless…”

Could he be a program?”

I doubt it. He didn’t glow…”

Still, we’re heading to your location. We’ll need to trace the signal and get as close as we can. We don’t know what we’re going against.”

Got it.”

The man looked up to see Sam was on his phone, not paying him any mind. He felt sick all of a sudden, like a weight rested at the bottom of his stomach. They were looking for someone, this…program, and they think it’s him.

Could it be him? He had no knowledge of being this program, but then again, he didn’t recollection of anything…

What would they do if they thought he was?

He wasn’t certain; all he knew was that more were coming. They were…tracing…

Out.

That was the sudden thought.

I need out.

And he didn’t question it.

“Excuse me.”

Sam heard him and stood, letting him pass.

“I’ll be back.”

“Restroom’s that way.” Sam pointed.

The man glanced to it, and then nodded, “Thanks.”

He went to the hallway and stopped as he heard the door open. He glanced back to see Steve return, followed by two women. Sam glanced up, then scooted over to let Steve sit next to him, as the women sat on the other side.

“Where is he?” Steve asked.

“He went to the restroom. He’ll be back in a moment.”

“Good.” One of the women sighed, but the man had stopped listening fully. He looked up, and at the end of the corridor, a door with a big, red sign above the way stood propped open, light spilling in. He didn’t need to read to know it was a way out.

“The program is somewhere in here.”

What?

“Where are they?” Steve asked after Sam’s hiss.

“Excuse me.” Another woman interrupted, and she got to her feet.

Footsteps echoed across the tile and the man quickly reached the door.

He froze as the footsteps stopped and there was a gasp. Part of him wanted to look back to the frozen women behind him. However, his adrenaline returned and he pushed the door open and ran out.

He had barely turned onto the street when the door to the restaurant slammed open and a woman was hot on his heels. Her hood had fallen off and her red hair was catching wind as she took chase.

He slipped past someone who had been slow to move out of the way, past a vendor, and into a group of people. Someone yelled at him as he pushed his way through.

A buzz was loud in his right ear, but he shook his head as he pushed passed the person who had been staring at their phone. They yelled something after him when he hit their elbow, but he didn’t stop to reply.

He turned left, and glanced back to see that the woman had disappeared, but that Steve was on his heels, Sam not far behind. He stumbled off the curb, and his ankle protested as his foot went to an awkward angle on him. Crying out, he stumbled and picked up his leg to continue running. With each step on his left ankle, a jolt of pain would make him take a shorter stride, only to compensate with his other leg.

Back up requested. Target is injured.”

He shook his head at the sound and forced himself to go faster, biting his lip.

The car horn made him snap around. As the car closed in at full speed, he covered his face with his arms.

The tires screeched and when the hit never came, the man lowered his arms. The car had stopped in place. The headlights were blinking and the radio’s bass shook the car as the driver inside screamed at the engine, slamming his fist on the dash. His eyes followed the scene a moment longer as he ran into the alleyway off the street. He turned left when the ground was suddenly careening towards him. Or rather, he was growing closer to the ground. He grunted at the weight on his back, but froze at the click and the push against his head.

“Don’t move.” There was the women’s voice again, the one from the conversation with Steve that he wasn’t sure how he heard. She moved the weapon, a taser, down to the middle of his back, “I will shoot this.”

“That won’t be necessary.” Steve said as the rest of the group caught up. Natasha looked up, met his gaze, and got off the man, still aiming her weapon at him. He didn’t move, but his gaze followed her, and he tensed as Steve took her place. She stood in front of him, her aim never leaving him.

“We can do this the easy way.” Steve proposed, the weight letting off slightly, “And you can come with us peacefully. We’ll ask you a couple questions, and then you’ll be on your way. Sound good?”

However, the man hadn’t been listening. Consumed by the buzz, his gaze followed his to the edge of the woman’s taser. If he planned this right….

“Sound good?” Steve repeated.

He started as the man’s shaky hand reached out towards Natasha. Electricity arced from the taser towards him. Her eyes widened as it made contact with his arm. But he didn’t scream. His eyes followed the arc down his arm and into his sleeve.

And Steve was too slow, as the man turned, his arm aimed at the hero now. The electricity blasted out and Steve was thrown off his feet, but was followed by the others to the ground. Panting, the man got to his feet, and past Natasha as she regained consciousness from her quick blackout when her head had hit the wall. Pain forgotten, he rounded the corner and entered a quiet district. He had glanced back and then grunted as he collided with a CLANG. He looked up to the shop and its metal bars he had run into. His hands gripped and shook them, but the blank TV screens only showed his reflection. He turned to run to find he was surrounded, surrounded at every turn. As they grew closer, his breath hitched and he backed up. The bars shook and he gasped at the touch.

Too close too close too close…!

Sam slowed, and his eyes widened as behind this nameless man, the TV screens turned on, one by one, and then began to flicker.

“Get back!” he called, and grabbed the other woman by her arm. He ignored her look and pulled her back.

But it was too late. The screens and glass shattered. Electricity traveled up the iron bars and through his hands. He let go of the bars as he noticed, looking to his hands as it continued through his form. The line at the base of his neck came to life. His sleeves flew up with the force to show his arms.

That’s what they had meant by they glow.

Indeed, the glitch must have done more than transport this program to their world.

It sparked off the program, who in turn looked back up to those watching him. Instantly, he raised his arm, and the electricity struck outwards, causing the team to fall. He started forward. Sam pushed the girl back and ran towards the program on his left side. He noticed and with wide eyes, turned. Sam managed to grab the program by the arm. However, he screamed and let go as when the program had tried to push him off, the electricity had transferred into his body.

“Wanda!” The other woman turned to Steve at his call.

“Do you think you can_”

“I….I don’t know!”
“Try it! You won’t know until you try.”

“We’ll distract him for you.” Natasha said from the other side of Steve. Wanda nodded, Steve and Natasha exchanged a look, and then started after the program. Natasha threw a rock she had picked up, and it hit the program’s arm. He turned to her, and the electricity thrummed with higher intensity as his eyes narrowed. She and Steve sprinted towards him. He gave a cry, aiming his arm at them. They jumped different directions to avoid the electricity. Sighing, he closed his eyes, searching for more…

And his eyes snapped back open with a gasp. It was leaving…leaving him!

He slowly turned to see the final woman. A red aura flowed from her fingertips, and her eyes were narrowed in concentration. The electricity was gathering into a large ball into between her hands. He felt so…weak.

He grunted as he tried to hold on to whatever he could, to protect himself. Her nostrils flared and she readjusted her hold, pulling in more. He fell to his knees, then, as exhaustion crept up on him, she stopped. He lay on the ground. So weak…so so weak….

His head had rolled to the side as the group surrounded him. However in the alleyway, he could see a form watching. It was fuzzy at best, and as darkness edged into his vision, the form turned and disappeared before everything went dark.

Forget the backup. We got him.”

 

Chapter Text

The harsh light pried his eyes open with a groan escaping the program. He paused, back still pressed against the floor.

This is not what I remember. This is not where I....

Then he remembered. The chase, the fight...

He needed out.

Yet as he sat up and tried to pull the electricity from the light above him, nothing reacted. Well, as he thought this, he gasped at the pain in his forearm. What was happening?

Comfortable?”

He looked up from his gloved hands to the voice. A man, who was flanked by guards, watched him. One of his eyes was missing, in its place was a black eye patch that seemed just as intimidating as the gaze his working eye held.

When the program didn't answer, the man approached, only for the prisoner to try and back away. He cried out again as he felt the squeeze on his arms. He glanced down to notice no clothing hid his suit from the view of others and so he finally saw the marks...no, scars up his arms fade back into the dark of the suit.

With each time you try to pull power from the electrical currents around you, the gloves will not only stop the flow, but give a firm reminder of just what your position is right now. So I would suggest you stop.”

The program's hands clenched into fists, but the pain soon faded, leaving a sensory stillness between the two as the program returned Fury's gaze.

Why am I here?” The program finally spoke, not breaking gaze with the director.

I think you know why.”

Not really.

The program didn't reply as Fury continued.

You are not supposed to be here.”

...Not in this room?”

Not on Earth.”Fury replied. “Not in what you call the User World.”

I don't...” (It sounds familiar but why...?) “I don't understand.”

Rinzler...” The man started but the suddenly tense program cut him off.

That's not my name.”

Then what is your name, program?

The program looked away at the growing frustration in Fury's voice. “I...I...don't know.”

So you claim to not be Rinzler but you can not give me any proof?”

When the program didn't reply, Fury continued, folding his hands behind his back as he stared down.

Tomorrow, we will come to a conclusion as to whether or not you are who you claim you're not. Whether you're Rinzler, keep in mind, we will find your accomplice.”

What accomplice?” Yet Fury was already turning away. The program got to his feet to follow. “What are you talking about-?”

The guards that flanked Fury aimed their weapons and the program stopped in his tracks. Fury glanced back once.

You weren't the only one to arrive in the User World.”

He continued out and the guards didn't lower their aim until Fury is behind the safety of the screen. They filed out after him, and the program is left standing in the center of the cell, watching the door close and seal shut. After a long period of silence, he looked away from the door to the rubber padded walls and the transparent screen that separated him from the guards and those watching him.

Fury approached these spectators after gesturing to the guards. They took positions on either sides of the door, weapons in hand.

Well, that went well.” Stark commented, arms crossed as he kept one eye on the program in the cell.

Fury ignored his comment. “We need him under maximum surveillance. An Avenger needs to be here at all times.”

Rogers nodded, but Stark protested.

Why? He can't overpower those gloves, or the screen.”

Stark, if he's who I think he is.” Fury set his jaw. “Gloves and a screen won't be able to stop him.”

 

Chapter Text

 

The sun is high in the air the next day as the Helicarrier docks. Sam Flynn stands off to the far side, the wind blowing back his hair as he stuffs his hands into his jacket pockets. The guards surrounding him don't flinch, weapons gripped tight as their gazes scan the world around them.

Yet all is quiet as the air carrier settles and the door extends to the waiting lot. After a second's pause, the escort approaches Fury, who waits at the top of the walkway.

Mr. Flynn.”

Sam nods, and the guards fan out behind the two. “You found one?”

Fury doesn't answer as the two enter the facility and the door latches shut behind them.

Is it Rinzler?”

Might be.” Fury says finally, nodding to Rogers as he replaces the escort.

You didn't just leave him in a cell, did you?”

Rogers, catching Fury's side glance, is the one to reply.

Mr. Flynn, the tightest security measures have been placed over the program. If he is Rinzler, he won't be escaping any time soon.”

I hope so.” Sam mutters. The other two merely exchange a look, but stay silent.

They approach the surveillance room. Romanoff glances up, but doesn't leave her crossed-arm position as Rogers stands next to her. They stay behind the director and the Son of Flynn. On the screen is the program's cell. It seems that in the past day, the program has barely budged from his hunched position on the slab of a bed. His eyes are cast down, and it is easy to see his hands occasionally clench his arms tighter as he tenses and his light spikes brighter before dimming again. Fury and the two Avengers are aware that Stark is watching the cell, armor ready to strike should the program try to fight...even if he has remained nearly stationary.

Sam is silent for a long moment, watching the screen, his frown growing with each second.

That's not him.”

The three turn to Sam, who for a long moment, does not move. When he does, he slowly turns to Fury.

That's not Rinzler.”

Sam turns his back to the screen, pacing away.

Well can you tell us who it is, then?”

Sam shakes his head. “I've never seen him before...perhaps Quorra would know...”

Quorra? Explain.” Fury approaches Sam, stopping him in his pace.

I'll go get her right now...” He begins to walk off but breaks off, and he suddenly blanches. He blinks for a long moment, then runs back to Fury.

You need to get this in the air and get far away from here!”

And why should I do that?” Fury's jaw sets as Sam runs his hands through his hair. “Withholding information is not going to help you_”

You don't think that if Rinzler, a killer who has been known to go to ends to capture his target, will suddenly ignore the presence of another program?” Sam shakes his head. “It's only a matter time before_”

Rogers notices that on the screen, the program's head snaps up, eyes wide as the ground seems to rumble.

GET BACK!” He pulls the two back as sparks fly from the screens and they are plunged into darkness. Those working begin to mutter in confusion, working to get back online.

Rogers lets go of the two before pressing a finger to his comm.

Stark what is your status?”

The only response to his words are static and he sighs. He glances to Romanoff as she flicks on a flashlight.

Let's go.”


The program freezes in his spot as the lights disappear. The glow of his suit gives off enough light for him to see the ground in front of him. He stretches out his legs to let his feet touch the ground.

His head snaps back up at the frantic yelling of his guard. He rushes to the screen, pressing his hands against it to see the guards had flicked on lights attached to their weapons and that Iron Man's suit had survived the blackout.

System restoring. F.R.I.D.A.Y notes as his suit whirs back to life and he approaches the guards only to see...nothing.

Scan the area.”

Scanning...

THERE HE IS!” One guard calls and they stumble back as a figure descends from the rafters to land in a crouch. He immediately gets to his feet, pulling something off his back. With a tug, the disc is no longer one, but two . A lethally orange light pierces the eyes of the witnesses and a rumble fills the air as the intruder steps into a stance.

Patch a call to the Avengers.”

F.R.I.D.A.Y obeys, but after mere moments, replies, Communications offline.

Great.” Tony mutters, and he throws out his hand. The pulse fires, and the intruder barely glances in his direction before simply moving out of the line of fire. He charges forward, and a guard crumples at the slice. The other one cries out, backing away as the intruder stalks forward, like a predator preparing for the kill.

Hey!” Tony fires again. The program is thrown off his feet, and he hits the screen of the prisoner's cell. The occupant of the cell backs away with a cry, but it can't be heard by either the intruder or Iron Man. Tony closes in, preparing to fire again.

Stand down.”

The intruder doesn't answer, the guttural noise growing with ferocity.

I said stand down!”

The intruder throws out his weaponless hand. Tony doesn't back away, but glances to his hand as he hears the repulsor power down.

What?”

System lockdown.

Deny!”

Access overidden. Shutting down...

The suit powers down and Tony can barely move before the suit refuses to move, leaving him stuck inside.

This is not normal....

The intruder no longer seems concerned with Iron Man, and he gets to his feet, picking up his weapons as he returns to his original pursuit. The remaining guard aims their weapon, only to find it unresponsive. The intruder docks his weapons on his back. His hands grasp the guard around the neck, and they try to pry his fingers off their neck. The intruder watches expressionlessly before tossing them aside. The guard's back hits the wall and they fall the ground with a limp SMACK.

The intruder turns to the door, touching the panel. Within moments, the door rises and he enters wordlessly.

The prisoner has backed and hunched into the corner, hoping not to be seen by whoever this is. However, his position seems to have the opposite effect, and the intruder makes a beeline to him. Something stirs in his chest, a feeling so familiar in more than one way. For a moment, he sees the figure in front of him, but his disks are lit with the threat of death, his head is cocked, and there is a low growl as he approaches.

No!” The program hits his back on the wall and the scene reverts to the disc-less intruder who still approaches. The intruder doesn't seem to be listening, as he reaches out and grabs the prisoner's arm.

The scream echoes through the cell and the hall as this intruding program grabs the prisoner's arm in a death grip and the power that courses through him at the touch makes the gloves squeeze his arm.

Shhh...” The other program utters, before pulling the prisoner to his feet. “Come.”

The prisoner goes quiet at the strained words of his captor, who takes the silence as the golden opportunity to drag the unnamed program out of the cell. There is no more protest from the program as he is pulled along, past Stark and the guards and down the corridor until the two's lights have disappeared around the corner.

Just as they disappear, the lights turn back on and Stark's suit begins to power back up. He turns his head at the sound of footsteps to see a large group running towards him.

Tony!” Steve stops in front of him as the suit unfolds. Tony stumbles out, shaking his head. “What happened?”

Intruder.” Tony breathes, shaking his head. “Program. They were able to freeze the suit in lock down before busting open the cell and making off with the program inside.”

What did they look like?” Tony glances to Sam Flynn as he approaches. When Tony doesn't reply right away, Sam presses on. “This is important! What did they look like?”

Tony shrugs as he struggles to recall. “They had orange lights on their suit...uhh...they seemed to be growling when they pulled out their weapons...”

How many discs?”

...Two.”

Sam freezes, then turns back to Fury. “It was him.”

Fury nods, having already noted this by Sam's reaction. “Any idea on why he came for the program?”

Sam runs a hand through his hair. “I...it could be anything. It could be just because he's a program, they could have been allies, or....” He breaks off for a long moment.

Rinzler is going to kill him.”


The grip on his arm remains deathlike as his captor ( rescuer? ) pulls him into an alleyway. He can hear the pursuit groups fanning out to find them.

However, the other program ignores the sound, fumbling with something out of the first's sight. A latch cranks and the grip tightens only momentarily before the former prisoner is dragged inside.

He is thrown, and he stumbles, gripping the spot on his arm where this other program had let go. The latch bolts them inside, and the prisoner steps back when the other program snapped towards him, the orange in his suit dimmer than before, but nonetheless present. He rumbles, stepping towards the program who is backing away.

Go away!” The program in blue calls, his voice trembling. “What do you want!?”

He cries out as his back hits a large counter. The program_Rinzler_ takes his chance and grabs the other program's arm, pulling them down. He is dragged down to a sitting position, and Rinzler pulls out his disc, lighting it up.

“Let go of me!” The program tries to pull out of Rinzler's grip. He tries to pry Rinzler's fingers off his arm with no avail.

Sit still! Rinzler's growl gains an edge before it settles again. The program obeys at the snap and Rinzler seems to sigh, before returning to his task. His disc hovers over the other program's arm for a long moment, hesitating. Then, the disc slices through the metal clamp on the former prisoner's arm, before doing the same to the other. He docks his disc before ripping the gloves off the other program's hands. For a long moment, the now released program doesn't say a word. Rinzler stands and begins towards one of the chairs collecting dust in the corner.

“Thank you.”

Rinzler stops for merely a moment, not looking back. Perhaps he nods, but the released program can't tell. Then, he continues on to the chair. He folds his entire body into the small seat, looking anywhere but the other program's direction. As he settles, the orange circuitry flickers to a soft blue and he sighs.

The unnamed program slowly stands and approaches. Rinzler notices, and lets his legs stretch out, his masked gaze not leaving the other program.

“Are you...” He hesitates, looking down, before continuing. “Are you Rinzler?”

Rinzler's growl heightens at the question, his circuits threaten to revert, and he looks away.

“Sorry.” The other program mutters. “They kept looking for a program by the name of Rinzler so I thought...”

After a long moment, Rinzler sighs, nodding. His mask flips off, but he doesn't look to the other program.

“I...” Speaking seems to come slightly easier as the growl fades to silence. “I am known by that name.”

“Known by? Do you have another name?”

Rinzler pauses. “...I don't know. I feel like there is another name...I was hoping you knew...that I knew you .”

The other program approaches, to where he can finally see Rinzler's face. The scene rushes to show the figure in front of him in stellar white in a bright room, standing to where he has to look down slightly to the other program.

Yet as the program shakes his head, the scene disappears with a bittersweet feel to replace it. Rinzler is still in this dark room, watching him. Waiting.

Tron .” The name is barely a whisper, but Rinzler responds to the name, straightening to let his feet touch the floor and to stretch out his back.

“Yeah.” The program continues after a moment, nodding. “Tron.”

Rinzler....Tron leaned his head back, nodding. “It feels right.”

“Good.” The program gives a small smile. A yawn overtakes him and he shakes his head. “I may...I may get some rest.”

Tron grunts and nods, and the program begins to walk away. However, he pauses at the question growing larger with each second. Should he ask...?

“Hey Tron?”

“Hm.” Tron opens his eyes as the program turns back to him.

“Do you know my name?”

Tron merely watches him for a long moment and the program looks down.

“I...It's okay if you don't. I was just...”

“Beck.”

He looks back up at the name. “...What?”

“Beck.” Tron repeats. “It seems...fitting.”

Tron relaxes again in the seat, not waiting for a reply. Beck watches Tron, and the smallest of smiles lights his face. “I like that.”

 

Chapter Text

    “No sign of them, sir.” One of the agents reports. Fury doesn't answer immediately, searching the weak screens in front of him as they struggle to not flicker.

    “Tracking's down.” Bruce calls, hair a bed-headed mess. He had been asleep at the time of the attack, and still struggles to calm his racing heart.

    “How long will it take to fix?” Fury demands to know. Banner shrugs.

    “I won't know the full extent until I get up there to fix it myself. Could take hours.”

    Fury bites back a sigh, and turns to the approaching footsteps. “You were able to locate the files?”

    Agent Hill nods. “Yes sir. I sent them with Mr. Flynn and a squad of our most competent guards to escort him home. Who knows if Rinzler would target him next?”

    “When will they be back?”

    “Mr. Flynn expects them to be back first thing tomorrow.”

    He figured as much.

    “Sir, we have also located that Thor has returned to earth. Should we notify him of the programs?”

    “Yes. Make it an all-points bulletin. We need to track down these programs before they cause any problems.”

    “Yes sir.” Agent Hill nods and makes her swift exit. Fury doesn't move from his spot, expression stuck in a thoughtful frown. He had already sent Stark to repair his armor, while Rogers and Romanov had begun the search into the night. Banner was beginning repairs on their trackers but by the time they are working to full capacity again, the programs could be long out of New York. If they catch on that quickly. Who knows when or how Rinzler got on board?

    Thor is an Asgardian. Perhaps he knows something about this...Grid that Flynn was keeping shut about. Perhaps he could help bring them back.


Someone is shaking him, making him start awake. He almost falls out of the chair, looking up to see Tron’s stern face.

“Get up, and hurry. This place will be busy soon.”

“What..?” But he obeys, slipping out of the chair to look around. The sun was beginning to rise, shedding a faint light closer to the entrance of what now is seeming to be a department store of some sort. Tron has disappeared, but when he begins to wonder, the older program returns, dumping the clothes on the low sitting table in front of Beck.

    “Try these.” Is all he says, as he heads back to inspect the clothes draped over one of the other chairs. Beck looks down to them with a frown, before picking up the black shirt. He examines it, before slipping it on over his head. The tag pokes into his armpit, so he tugs it off. When he stretches out his arms, he’s dismayed to find the sleeves don’t cover all of his circuitry.

    “Uh Tron…?”

    “There’s a jacket there too.” The older program replies without so much as turning his head, examining the pants he had picked out for himself.

    “Right.” He looks back down to his pile, and slips out the jacket before slipping it on. He examines his arms, his circuits now obstructed from view by the sleeves. Now that was better. Not only that, it was...comfortable.

    And now ...pants.

    As he picks up a pair, he notices Tron has already dressed and is now disappearing back into the racks. He tries not to pay much attention to it, but can’t help but wonder if he was to be alone again. Now that Tron had gotten what he wanted, surely this was only a final kindness before they went their separate ways.

    He frowns as he looks down to his pants, slipping them on. They’re slightly big, he notices as he lifts them up slightly by a loop. Surely there was some way to fix this…

    A belt. That’s what he had used last time. But where to find them….

    Still holding up his pants, he wanders into the racks, slipping past fabrics of different colors. They have to be around here somewhere….

    “Here.” He stops and blinks rapidly when Tron shoves something on his face. He drops his pants and they sag as he reaches up to the new object on his face. “This should help disguise you.’

    “What do you mean?” He asks, taking them off to examine them. Glasses? He’s seen many Users wearing them. “Do all Users use these as disguises?”

    “No, just you and Superman.”

    “Huh?”

    Tron waves it off, as if he’ll explain later. “Just put them back on.”

    Beck nods and puts them back on. Tron slips off again but this time, Beck chases after. “What are you doing?”

    “We need supplies, and this may be the best chance we have to get anything.” He picks up a large bag and begins to search for things he may find useful, before dumping them in the bag.

    “Do you need any help?”

    “If you want. Belts are back on the other side of the counter, by the way, so you can look there.”

    “How did you know….?”

    “You were holding up the loop when you walked over. It was obvious.” He parts the seas of clothing as he continues to search. “Now go.”

    Beck nods, and heads back to their waking place. To his left was the counter, helping to seperate the two parts of the building, and he goes to the other side. He can see and easily make a beeline to the rack of belts, snatching one off and slipping it through the loops as he wanders on. Now what would they need…?

    “Uh, Tron?”

    For a moment, it’s quiet and he wonders if he was loud enough. Within moments, though, he hears the older man, and it makes him jump when it’s closer than expects. “What is it?”

    “What exactly do we need all the supplies for?”

    Tron sighs, and his footsteps grow closer until he is right next to Beck. “Do you know where we are?”

“No.” Beck admits, then dares to ask: “Do you?”

Tron decides not to answer the question as he searches and gathers watches, a phone found in a cabinet among the objects Beck finds no real pattern or comparison with. “We’re not in the same city you were caught in.”

Beck stops following, blinking and brow furrowing in confusion at that. “We’re not?”

“No. I managed to sneak on and follow for a ways. According to a sign I saw, we were in Center City, which was in some...district of some sort called California-”

“Okay first of all, you could understand the signs?”

Tron decides to humor him, and nods. “I learned at night by listening in, and watching this small room of Users most every night…”

“I never could understand it.”

Tron sighs. They’ll have to figure that out later. “Point being is that I saw those things before I hid away, I could see that we left that location some time ago, and if we have any wish to figure out how we ended up in this User world as it’s called, then we need to get back.”

“Well, where are we now?”

Tron’s back is to Beck, but he still see his shoulders stiffen as he sighs. “I don’t know.” He admits with some hesitation. “But we’ll find out soon enough…”

He breaks off, whole form going stiff as he cocks his head.

“...Tron?” Beck goes quiet too when Tron’s hand latches around his wrist with a slight hush. Beck obeys, and for a moment all is silent….

Then Beck can hear the noise, and he turns to see the knob on a side door jiggle with effort.

“Come on!” Tron hisses and shoulders the bag, before tugging Beck along. He pushes the younger program in front of him as they hurry to the entrance they had used before.

Beck stumbles when Tron shoves him. “Keep going!” He says. “I’ll meet you around the corner.”

Now Beck may have only truly remembered Tron since his jailbreak, but something in him forces him not to argue and keep running. As he rounds the corner onto the sidewalk, he almost jumps in fright when the building they had come from begins to blare like a siren, and he hurries to cover his ears as people- Users- stop and gawk or pull out their phones. Someone grabs his arm, thus tearing his hands from his ears, and he looks up as Tron pulls him down a ways, until the siren is no more than a distant noise blending into the city routine.

“You alright?” Tron asks as he slows to a stop, and turns to the younger program. Beck nods after a moment of panting. Tron simply nods in return and looks around as Beck catches his breath.

“Did you do that?”

“What?” Tron looks to him with a frown before he understands. “I had managed to bypass the security while we were in there, but allowed it to resume its duty whenever we needed to escape.”

“How? How do you do or know any of this?” Beck breathes out, and there is the smallest of smirks fighting onto Tron’s previously neutral face as slips off the bag.

“I’ll teach you how, since I’ve had time to figure it out. For now, it’s your turn to carry the bag.”


Quorra sits propped up and curled into all the pillows in the hotel room as she steals light from the lamp to read. The tank top is comfortable sleepwear, and when it’s just her, Sam, and her books, there’s no need to hide the still visible mark and circuits, which had lately taken back to its habit of glowing more often now. She has faintly wondered off and on if it has any connection with Rinzler’s appearance in the User World. Often with a slight chill down her spine, she hopes not.

But tonight, despite taking off to New York with Sam as he goes to this...SHIELD to verify if they have caught Rinzler, she buries herself in an old favorite: In Search of the Castaways , by Jules Verne. She, of course, has read this one before. In fact, her newest current, one about the supposed theory of the beginning of the Universe that the Users inhabit, sits on the nightstand, her page corner folded to remind her of her spot. Sometimes, though, she has found it is easier to distract herself with a story that she knows cannot be true.

The knob’s click jerks her out of that world, however. She freezes, and instantly sets down the book the grab the jacket abandoned on the floor and crouch down in hiding as she slips it on, and hurriedly searches for some form of defense, and instead grabs the book that had been placed in the drawer before her arrival. It seemed heavy enough to where if that door were to open, and ( Users or God or whatever force is out there let it not be) Rinzler were to sneak in some with those same dangerously red circuits…

The door opens and Quorra shoots up with a grunt, prepared to chunk the book-

“Hey hey hey!” Sam holds his hand up in front of him, to stop her. “Don’t throw the Bible. It’s just me.”

She does stop at that, taking heavy gasps for air, before letting the Bible thump onto the bed. “You scared me! I thought you were…”

Sam doesn’t force her to finish her sentence. “I know.” He says, setting down his bag. “I didn’t expect to be back so late.”

She nods, and returns the book back to its drawer before sitting down on the edge of the bed. “So, was it Rinzler?”

Sam remains standing, running a hand through his hair as he closes the door and locks it. “No, it wasn’t. The program we caught wasn’t Rinzler...but we now know faintly where he is.”

“So this other program knew where Rinzler was? Did you recognize them, by the way?”

Sam shakes his head in response to both questions as he turns back to her. “It’s more like Rinzler found us. He managed to shut down all electricity, including security and footage, swoop in and steal the program we had found, and disappeared. When we questioned the people who witnessed it, all their descriptions matched Rinzler.”

“He stole the other program?” Sam nods to that. “But why?”

“That’s what we’re trying to figure out.” He comes back to his bag, and digs out the folder. “And they think you can help. Maybe you’ll recognize them, and we can figure out why Rinzler bothered to steal them away, as well as how dangerous Rinzler can be depending on what he does to the other program.”

He hands over the folder, and she takes it quietly, leaning back once again to steal the lamp’s light as she opens the file. Most of the pictures are grainy, as if zoomed in too much, but they surprisingly retain their color so she can make out the blue circuitry within the first photo.

“Well the blue circuits is a good sign for us. Means he probably never was apart of the Occupation.”

“That’s what I was thinking.” Sam agrees, but flips to the next photo, “But I don’t recognize the face.”

Quorra frowns as she takes this photo from Sam, and inspects it close. Something about it was familiar, as if they were a passing dream…

And then it hits her. It was many cycles ago, still on the Grid as she hid away with the elder Flynn. There had been an uprising of some sort from what she picked up when she snuck into the nearest city, before that outer city was destroyed by Clu’s forces, practically collapsing in on itself as the city paid for its disobedience. And one cycle, when she had been slipping through the crowd gawking up, she happened to glance to the screen to see that face , eyes wide in horror before….before…

“He should be dead.” She whispers finally. When Sam doesn’t answer, she meets his wide eyes. “From what I understand, this program was apart of the revolution, like a leader or something. He had been caught, and I thought that he had been executed in front of everyone so long ago, but how…?”

“Maybe he survived.” Sam answers finally. “It’s quite possible, especially if they didn’t show his...anyway, that could be why Rinzler took him. Maybe he thought it was unfinished business…”

Quorra’s eyes widen. “Then we have to go now. ” She begins to stand, “Before Rinzler…”

“There’s nothing we can do now.” Sam assures, grounding hands on her shoulders. “In the morning, we’re supposed to meet back up with SHIELD. Their tracking systems will be back up, and we can find out where they went, and bring them back again until we figure out how to get them back to the Grid. But there’s nothing we can do about it tonight.”

Quorra sighs. “Are you sure? There’s got to be something…”

Sam shakes his head. “The best we can do now is rest. I’m sorry to have worried you, but it’s best we both sleep now.”

And perhaps Sam found it easy, but Quorra could not sleep. She couldn’t even return to her beloved story, restless even as the sun rose over the city, hoping that if this Renegade were alive, his body or cubes were not strewn across an alleyway because of a vengeful soldier.