$ cd /ENCOM_Backups/Tron/1983/
$ vi base_code.c
$ make -f tron.makefile
It takes a few quantums for his sensors to come back online. The fizzy feeling of brand new code hits him full force, and he winces.
He quickly catches up with the new code and logically assumes parts of him have been rewritten in a haste, no doubt to adapt him to the new system. He has been programmed to be alert even to the construction blocks that make him, and he recognises discrepancies between the code he’s been compiled out of and the scattered strings of comments that he should otherwise ignore.
The one that bothers him the most lies with his user. Alan_One, a small part of him reminds him, and yet he sees himself forced to serve some user called ISOlatedThinker. Something inside him screams at the thought, but he awaits for instructions all the same.
It’s been almost half a cycle when he finally receives a single instruction.
roam ( )
And sure enough, in between his new code he finds this strange instruction, a few lines of jumbled code he’s surprised the compiler considered valid.
So he roams.
He’s not sure what this ISOlatedThinker wants out of him, but he forces himself to dutifully obey. He still follows through with some scanning of his surroundings, for possible threats, out of loyalty to Alan_One. He would have asked him to search for dangers.
And during this scanning he detects millions of threats, an overwhelming number of programs he has no recollection of, whose identity and verification escape him. This would have alarmed any other security program but Tron calmly sends a message back to his user informing him of the fact.
As he expected, the answer is to ignore every threat.
So Tron simply keeps roaming, and dedicates his scanning to more leisurely purposes. This Grid is not like the one he used to operate in, that much is obvious. Tron finds he doesn’t dislike the change, and a small part of him wishes Flynn could see this new Grid, sure the User would enjoy the new design.
And the memory of Flynn makes Tron stop in his tracks, hesitating only a moment before sending a small, low priority message to the memory banks.
>> Search entity Flynn
The speed at which he receives the answer astounds him. The way he perceives it, the answer almost comes through before he even sends the query. So, this new system is not only different visually, but the differences in performance are radical. He files away that fact for later study and concentrates on the information provided by the memory banks.
He finds a few outdated registry entries, but no actual Flynn on the system.
Which is not unexpected, Flynn did tend to disappear from the system for long cycles without much explanation.
Tron stops his meaningless walking and sits on the floor, gracefully folding his legs under himself, taking his disk from its place on his back and rolling it between his fingers thoughtfully.
The weapon feels different, but somehow extremely comfortable, like he has been using it for cycles. It reminds him of the old system, before defeating the MCP, participating in lethal games for Sark’s sake.
Hesitantly, almost afraid of the answer - even though he is almost sure of what it is going to be - he sends another message to the memory banks.
>> Search entity Yori
And how he wishes this new system wasn’t so damn fast. The answer comes even faster than the previous one, and he dedicates a whole milicycle to re-read the result again and again.
>>No entity Yori detected in the system
No mention of her anywhere in the data banks. At that moment he curses the logic of this ruthless world. Almost like she had never existed. As if what had transpired between them, countless cycles together, had never happened. Yori had been his lifeline, his one constant in the Grid. Without her, he feels nothing short of lost.
But the Grid cares nothing about that. She wasn’t important enough to store information about, let alone a restore point.
Then it hits him, maybe, just maybe…
>> Search references to entity Yori
>> Two references to entity Yori found
Two? That sets the processes in Tron’s mind reeling. This could at least give him some answers.
>> Show references to entity Yori
>> References found in entities self, Rinzler
Tron stands up in one swift movement. Whoever this Rinzler program is, he is the only chance he has of finding out what happened to Yori. And he will clutch any chance he gets, no matter how slim.
He locates the program with a quick query to the register banks, and sets off.
The speed at which he hits the water hurts every bit in his body.
‘Just like that time you fell off your lightcycle. Almost derezzed yourself.’
Her voice gets clearer and clearer as his sensors start shutting down. It had always been there, he realises. The one constant in his head. The little whispers he could hear at every concious moment. He can finally make sense of them, recognise Yori’s voice. It makes him want to cry out in joy, even as he sees the light slowly fading away in his body.
The surface gets farther and farther away, and he has no energy left to push against the pull that keeps dragging him down.
‘You have to swim up. You have to live. You can’t die, Tron.’
He wants to drown in that sweet voice, and the way she calls him that which he hasn’t been called in cycles makes his arms flail slightly, if only to keep the encouraging words coming. He barely notices a flash of blue taking over his body as he fights against the current harder.
‘That’s good, Tron, but you have to swim faster.’
She encourages him all the way back, and by the time his helmet breaks the surface of the water her voice has gone from a low whisper to almost a scream.
By the time Rinzler reaches the coast he’s devoid of energy, and simply lies there, letting hibernation mode hit immediately, his blue lights dimming off slowly until he is nothing but a black mass against the gray stone.
Next time he opens his eyes he sees himself, and for a moment he wants to believe it really is his own face looking back through the reflection of his helmet. But no, he hasn’t been this whole for a very long time.
The other him stares at him analytically, his head slightly cocked to one side, and in one swift movement Rinzler lashes out against him. Against this whole, perfect program. Against his younger self, utterly free of the pain that makes Rinzler want to crawl back to the sea and drown.
As the other program, Rinzler - his memory banks provide swiftly- attacks him, Tron takes a step back startled, reaching for his disc in a thoroughly rehearsed movement. Rinzler is way faster, though, moving in a way Tron has never seen before. It’s graceful, and quicker than even the most efficient programs in the old Grid. Rinzler’s right leg connects with his own, throwing Tron on his back, and before he has time to react, the other program has disarmed him and has Tron’s own disc against his throat.
He feels a strange sort of energy where his body connects to Rinzler’s, and a familiarity that definitely confirms he knows this program.
“Who are you?” he questions, refraining from trying to fight Rinzler’s heavy frame off.
The other only lets out a small purring noise, the helmet’s surface way too dark for Tron to ascertain the face of his attacker. The rest of his body is just as dark, no lights or marks he can identify, just a constant black. Rinzler doesn’t seem interested in derezzing him, though, even if the disc stays against his neck.
“What do you know of the program Yori?” he asks without hesitation, setting his jaw. He feels the sharp edge of the disc digging painfully against his throat as Rinzler presses ever so slightly. Tron screws his eyes closed unwittingly, but they snap open when a raspy voice talks from behind the helmet.
And the voice is so small, so vulnerable, Tron is overwhelmed by an illogical sense of pity for the creature, almost as if Rinzler was nothing but a Beta, and not the program that was surely going to derezz him in the next few seconds.
But just as fast as he disarmed him, Rinzler is off of him, standing, and his disc is lying next to his head on the rock.
Tron is quick to recover his disc and stand up himself, taking a defensive stand even as Rinzler stands stiffly in front of him, hands balled into fists. He can hear a steady purring coming from behind the helmet, like a slow breathing, and he asks the only question that got him a reaction earlier.
“You contain references to Yori, what do you know of her?”
Rinzler’s head drops a fraction, and Tron considers it a show of shame, or sadness. Or maybe both.
“She… is… no… longer… here.”
Rinzler’s voice is slow and laborious, as if it hasn’t been used for a long time.
“I know that.” His hand closes painfully around the handle of his disc. “Was she…” the word seems to be stuck in the back of his throat, and he berates himself for it. Deresolution is part of every program’s life cycle. “Was she derezzed?” He gets the question out quickly.
Rinzler nods slowly, and Tron hates the way his code seems to coil and then snap painfully. It isn’t logical, it isn’t supposed to feel like this.
This time Rinzler interrupts him before he can continue.
“Go. You don’t… belong here.”
Tron isn’t sure why, but suddenly he is absolutely sure the program standing before him is responsible for Yori’s deresolution. He feels anger bubbling up inside of him, and his disc digs against the palm of his hand.
“You derezzed her, didn’t you?” His voice is hoarse and small, and before Rinzler has even nodded, he has struck out with his disk, aiming at Rinzler’s throat.
A swift arm stops him, however, holding the disk inches away from the other program’s neck. Tron growls lowly, and tries to strike with his unarmed hand, only to be stopped by Rinzler’s other arm.
“Go. You… aren’t needed.”
Tron feels every line of his code fight against Rinzler’s superior force, and when he speaks he does so through clenched teeth. “I am Tron. I fight for the Users. I fight for her.” He feels Rinzler’s pity even through his helmet, and he hates the program for it.
“You… don’t… understand.” And before Tron can reply, a flickering light at the base of Rinzler’s throat catches his attention.
He watches morbidly as the four little dots light up a bright blue, forming an identical T as the one at his own throat, slowly spreading out until Rinzler’s whole body is illuminated in blue, circuit lines identical to the ones he sports.
The disk clutters loudly against the rock as it falls from Tron’s outstretched fingers, and he tears his eyes from the tetromino to watch his own reflection in Rinzler’s helmet. And he feels sick, self-hatred bubbling inside him. Only Rinzler’s voice snaps him back to reality.
“This… world already… has a Tron.” With that he turns, walking away from Tron slowly, with extreme weariness, as if he carried the weight of the Grid on his shoulders.
Tron stands there for what he is sure must have been cycles and cycles before he sends a message back to ISOlatedThinker.
He feels too numb to be surprised by the quick reply of his user, and as he sees the Grid for the last time, he wishes Alan_One was still his user.
He would have never let him witness this soulless new world.
$ rm -r /ENCOM_Backups/Tron
Do you wish to delete Tron and all its directories? (yes/no): yes