This took longer than I hoped. Unfortunately, I've just started going back to uni, so that doesn't always leave time to write. Still, I'll do what I can.
Accessing archived data...
After Tron miraculous recovery...
..."Good news: I'm healed," said Tron as he activated his staff. "Bad news: I'm healed."
With a yell, he launched himself at the approaching Black Guards...
...Beck gains the help of several new allies...
..."From now on, we protect each other," said Mara, standing in line with the other programs from Able's Garage...
...The Renegade deactivated Tesler's disc, and attached it to his hip. "You'll be branded a traitor for helping me," he said.
"I know," said Paige. "Which is why I'm going with you..."
..."Ada, you're coming with Beck and myself," said Yori. "We're heading to Tron's hideout in Argon..."
...And makes a surprising discovery...
...Ada rolled down the top of her right sleeve, revealing a hexagonal mark with a small T shape under it.
Beck gasped. "An ISO?"
"You're still here?" Beck asked as he approached the occupied healing chamber, and the program standing beside it.
Paige nodded. "Until she's awake and out of the healing chamber, Yori is my responsibility," she said.
"How is she?" Beck asked as he looked over at the tank.
Yori was unconscious, and was being suspended from the roof of the chamber by two straps, one under each armpit. Her blonde hair surrounded her face, bobbing in the white plasma. Yori's circuit lines were glowing brightly, as was the dark blue triangle and semi-circle design on her chest.
"Her injury is almost healed, and her energy levels are almost back to normal," said Paige. The medic program glanced at the display on the wall, and she adjusted the plasma levels slightly. "She should finish rebooting and wake up soon."
Beck nodded, and glanced around the room. "Where's Tron? I figured he'd want to be here for Yori."
"I forced him to leave," said Paige. "I didn't need him distracting me while he worried about my patient."
Beck chuckled, then cleared his throat. "I, uh, I guess, in that case, you'll probably want me to leave, too... right?"
Paige shook her head. "No, you can stay," she said. "I'm just didn't want Tron watching over my shoulder for two hundred microcycles."
"Oh," said Beck.
There was an awkward silence between the two programs, which Paige eventually broke.
"Um, Beck?" she said. "You know how we had those dates a while ago?"
"Yeah," said Beck as he nodded slowly, not really sure where this was going.
"Your feelings for me... was it a lie, or were they real?"
Beck swallowed nervously. "Uh-"
"I'm no expert, but I'd say his feelings were real," said a new voice from behind them.
Beck and Paige spun around to face the new arrival.
"Tron?" said Beck.
"How long have you been standing there?" Beck asked.
"Long enough," said the old security program, clad in the black version of the white grid-suit he gave to Beck.
"What did you mean," said Paige "About what you just said about Beck's feelings?"
"Well, before he went on that skydiving date with you," said Tron, "he had about nine monitors up, and they all had videos of his fights with you. Beck claimed that he was, what was it? Gauging his opponent?" Tron looked at Beck, and Beck was staring at the floor, clearly embarrassed.
"He also claimed that it wasn't a date, and that he was just gathering intel," Tron continued with a smirk. "He said that while he was checking his reflection to make sure his hair was fine, mind you."
Paige giggled, and Beck rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "Someone derez me now," Beck muttered.
A soft moan from the occupant of the healing chamber caught the attention of the three programs. Paige tapped a button on the nearby console, and released the straps holding Yori. Yori slipped through the permeable wall of the healing chamber, and Tron caught her as she fell. Yori opened her eyes, and blinked a few times as her eyes adjusted. She looked up at the program holding her, and a smile lit up her face.
"Tron," she whispered as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Yori," Tron began. "I was so worried about you. I thought-"
Tron was cut off when Yori pressed her lips against his. The old security program promptly shut up and kissed Yori back. Tron's hand strayed to Yori's shoulder, and Yori moaned in pleasure as Tron began to run his fingers along her circuit lines.
"We should give them some privacy," said Paige.
"R-right," said Beck.
The two younger programs left the room in something of a hurry. As the door closed behind them, Paige spoke.
"Beck? You do... like me, right?" she asked.
"Um, y-yeah," said Beck, rubbing the back of his neck in embarrassment. He then clamped his mouth shut to prevent himself from saying something embarrassing or stupid.
Paige smiled. "I'm glad to hear that," she said. "I like you too." Paige then covered her mouth as she yawned. "I'm going to get some rest. It's been a long millicycle."
Dyson activated the holoprojector and knelt before it. The air shimmered as Clu's yellow-trimmed robes resolved through the static.
"Dyson," said Clu. "It's about time you checked in. What's happened in Argon?"
"Quite a lot," said Dyson. "Very little of it good."
"Let me guess," said Clu. "Tron's causing trouble?"
"The Renegade is, yes," said Dyson. "As far as I can tell, Tron is currently not the one using the white suit."
"Interesting," said Clu. "Wonder what Tron's up to?"
"I believe he's training the other programs he has recruited recently," said Dyson.
"The ones from that mechanic workshop, right?" said Clu. "What was it, Able's Garage?"
"Yes, sir," said Dyson. "If Tron is training his new recruits, that would explain why the Renegade has been active in Argon, rather than Tron himself."
Clu nodded. "So, what has the Renegade done recently?"
"The Renegade has commited three major acts over the last few millicycles," said Dyson. "As you know, the first was his recent, and last, fight with Tesler, just before you arrived in Argon City."
"Yes," said Clu. "That was when Tesler identified the Renegade as one of the programs from Able's Garage."
Dyson nodded. "While I haven't been able to confirm which program from the garage is the Renegade, I do have a suspect. However, I am hesitant to update the Renegade's warrant without solid evidence."
"So who is this suspect?" asked Clu.
Dyson tapped a button, and an image of a male program flashed into existence between them. "His name is Beck, Dyson said. "He was a competitor in the Games alongside Cutler, and Cutler believed he was simply one of Tron's contacts. However, he has been noted to have constantly been taking time off work, and these abscences correspond with the Renegade's appearances."
"Circumstantial evidence at best," said Clu. "Still, it's better than nothing." Clu paused. "What were the other two crimes the Renegade has commited?"
"The second of the Renegade's acts was one we anticipated," said Dyson. "He infiltrated the flagship and stole Tesler's identity disc."
"I noticed that you removed Tesler's permissions from our network," said Clu. "Did you plant the tracking device as well?"
"I did," said Dyson. "However, things did not go according to plan."
"What went wrong?" Clu asked.
"When the Renegade arrived to steal Tesler's disc, the disc in question was in the possession of one of Tesler's lieutenants, Paige."
"I know about her," said Clu. "She was the only survivor of the Gallium Massacre... and I'm guessing she must have discovered the truth behind the massacre."
"I believe so," said Dyson. "The Renegade escaped with the disc and hijacked a light-copter. When I launched a pursuit force, a program jumped out of the copter and activated a light-jet and engaged the pursuit force, which means that the copter was being flown by a second program. During the pursuit, the copter was damaged and crashed in the Outlands. Voxels were found in the crash, and forensic analysis indicated that the voxels were from a female program's right leg."
Clu nodded. "Paige has been trained to fly light-copters, and her medical programming would give her the knowledge to repair an amputation like that. I assume she's also missing?"
"That is correct, sir," said Dyson. "The Traitor is now a wanted program."
"Good," said Clu. "What was the last thing the Renegade did?"
"As you know, one of the programs repurposed by the Mobile Repurposing Unit before it was destroyed was tasked with infiltrating the Bismuth Rebels," said Dyson. "The spy contacted me when he learnt that the Renegade was meeting with the group's leader. He was discovered and derezzed, however, his disc was recovered by Occupation forces that were dispatched to the meeting place."
"What happened to the rebels?" asked Clu.
"Six rebels were derezzed during the ensuing conflict," said Dyson. "Three were captured, and three managed to escape. One of the escapees was later caught in Argon. The two who have not been captured are the movement's leader and her second in command."
"The escapee you caught, what was he doing in Argon?" asked Clu.
"He was here to try and make contact with the Renegade," said Dyson. "Amusingly, he was picked up for breaking curfew of all things."
Clu chuckled, before growing serious again. "What have you done with the captives?"
"The captives have been transferred to Argon, and have been sentenced to participate in the Games," said Dyson. "I've also dispatched some of my forces to reinforce the small garrisons in Purgos, Bismuth and Gallium, and have ordered Coliseums to be constructed in those cities as well."
"Excellent work, Dyson," said Clu. "However, there is still the matter of the two escaped programs."
"Yes," said Dyson. "They managed to evade our patrols in Bismuth, and may have made it back to wherever Tron is hiding. I also have tentatively identified the leader of the Bismuth Rebels."
"Really?" said Clu. "Care to let me in on the secret?"
Dyson nodded, and held a disc out in front of him. "This disc belonged to one of the derezzed rebels, and this image shows the Renegade with two other programs."
The holographic image hovered above the disc, and Clu leaned forward to get a closer look.
"I don't believe it," said Clu. "Is it possible someone is using her emblem for anonymity or to foster rebellion?"
"I doubt it, sir," said Dyson. "I've examined the discs of all the derezzed rebels, and in other meetings with their leader, she has used a black suit with minimal circuitry. I believe she may have revealed her true identity to the Renegade during their discussion, then during the panic, only rezzed her helmet and forgot to alter her suit."
Clu grimaced again. The white suit, combined with her unique triangle and semi-circle design, could only mean that the leader of the Bismuth Rebels was none other than Yori, a program from the Old System, and Tron's lover.
"I thought she was derezzed when the I/O Tower was destroyed," said Clu. "Wonder how she survived?"
"The program in charge of destroying the Tower was Tesler, sir," said Dyson. "Since he's dead and we no longer have his disc, it's hard to know for certain. However, I believe his report may have been mistaken."
Clu sighed. "This is not good," he muttered. "If Yori's alive, then that'll give Tron more reason to fight me..."
Dyson cleared his throat. "Sir, pardon me for asking, but did the upgrade disc arrive at the capital safely?"
"Hm? Oh, yes, it got here a few millicycles ago," said Clu. "We've begun to analyse it, but with Shaw dead and his disc unrecovered, we don't have much information on how it works, or how to create more."
"I see," said Dyson. "Any luck so far?"
"Not really," said Clu. "All we know about it is how it affects a program physically and mentally. We'll have to find a way to counteract the mental affects of the upgrade disc."
Dyson nodded. "Is there anything you need me to do?"
"Be careful," said Clu. "Tron's physical wounds have been healed, and now that he knows Yori's alive, he'll begin to recover from his emotional wounds as well. You're one of the best programs I've got, Dyson. I'd hate to lose you."
"Thank you, sir," said Dyson.
"And remember, if, for any reason, you consider it no longer possible to bring Argon under your control, you have my permission to level Argon City."
"Understood, sir," said Dyson. "Argon, out."
"So, you're the ISO Beck found?" asked Dash.
The female program in question halted, then turned to face Dash. Behind Dash stood his friend Copper, and a few other programs from the Garage were behind the two males.
"Yes," she said. "And my name is Ada. I would prefer it if you used it."
"Is it true what they say about your kind?" Dash asked.
"I don't know," said Ada, a hint of anger in her voice. "What do 'they' say about... my kind?"
"Well, they say you crawled out of the Sea of Simulation with no programmed purpose, you overcrowded the cities and nearly caused the system to crash, you attract viruses and grid-bugs to you like crazy..."
As Dash spoke, he was completely unaware that Ada's hands were slowly curling into fists. Copper, on the other hand, did notice.
"Uh, Dash?" he said, trying to get his friend's attention before he dug himself in too deep.
"You can corrupt programs and turn them into ISOs, you can kill Basics just by touching them," Dash continued, completely oblivious to Copper's warnings. "You ruthlessly murder any programs who discover your secrets-"
With a yell, Ada launched herself at Dash, her fist flying towards Dash's face. A hand reached out and grabbed Ada's wrist, stopping her in the middle of her attack. Yori stepped between Dash and Ada, and Tron relinquished his grip on Ada's grip.
"Ada, I know you're upset by everything Dash has said," said Tron, "but attacking him is only going to make it seem like what he's heard is true."
The ISO glanced at the floor, her anger only kept in check by the fact that she knew Tron was right.
"And, Dash, what you've heard is almost all wrong," said Tron. "Everything you think you know about the ISOs is propoganda and fear-mongering spread by Clu." Tron paused, and turned to face the gathering crowd. "Clu wants you to hate the ISOs, so he spreads lies to make you fear them. Then, you feel grateful to him for removing a threat that never existed. He's manipulating you, using your fear to control you."
"Yeah, well if Flynn hadn't spent all his time on the Grid pampering the ISOs, maybe he would've noticed that Clu was trying to take over and-ungh!"
Dash was interrupted when Yori punched him in the chin. Dash fell backwards, but Copper caught him.
"I would appreciate it if you didn't insult my friend," said Yori. "I know that Flynn dedicated more of his time to the ISOs than he did to Basics. He wanted to understand the ISOs; he wanted to know how they came to be, the details of their code, everything that made them who they were... because they were a complete mystery to him, and Flynn wanted to solve that mystery."
Copper helped Dash to his feet, and Dash rubbed his jaw gingerly.
"While I won't deny that Flynn made mistakes, and he wasn't without flaws, he still tried his hardest to help us," said Yori.
"Yeah, but... the ISOs did cause problems with the system, didn't they?" said Dash. "I mean, there were power failures all the time, gridbug outbreaks every few millicycles..."
"None of that is justification for genocide," snapped Tron. "And I know that Flynn was preparing to fix those problems from the User World. He just never got around to it because of Clu's coup."
Tron sighed. "Look, the Users aren't perfect. They struggle, and they make mistakes, just like every program on the Grid, ISO and Basic alike. Flynn was not some all-powerful being who knew everything that happened on the Grid. He had powers most programs don't, and he built this system from the ground up, but he wasn't perfect."
"Even when you take all that into consideration, he is still a better leader than Clu ever was," said Yori. "Clu doesn't care about what other programs think or feel. Anyone who disagrees with him is either turned into a mindless drone or sentenced to die in the Games. He's no different from the Master Control Program from the Old System."
The silence that followed was eventually broken by Tron. "Dash, I think you owe these two ladies an apology."
The program in question blinked a few times. "Huh? Oh, y-yeah," Dash said. He cleared his throat before continuing. "I'm sorry about what I said about the ISOs," he said sincerely. "It was pretty stupid of me."
"Apology accepted," said Ada.
"And, uh, I'm sorry what I said about Flynn upset you," said Dash.
"No, I'm the one who should apologise," said Yori. "You were right; Flynn should have done something. He should do something now."
The programs gathered began to disperse, heading back to their rooms, or over to rooms that were still under construction. The only two programs left were Tron and Yori.
"You've changed," said Tron.
"No," Yori said bitterly. "The Grid changed. I survived."
Tron walked towards Yori and wrapped his arms around her. Yori sighed, and rested her head on his shoulder. The two old programs simply stood like that for a while, thankful that they were both still alive.
"Hey, Beck, you all right?" asked Mara.
"Yeah," said Beck, fiddling with the parts of his light-cycle's motor. "Just tuning my bike. Gives me time to think."
"What were you thinking about?"
Beck sighed. "Everything, I guess."
"Do you want to talk about it?" said Mara.
"I guess it'll be good to finally get some of this off my chest," said Beck. He shut down the multitool, and the parts faded back into the cycle. Beck glanced up at Mara, and noticed she was biting her lip.
"Go ahead and ask," said Beck.
"Why? Why didn't you tell us? Why didn't you tell me?"
"I was trying to keep you safe," said Beck. "I thought that if you didn't know, you wouldn't get caught up in this mess." Beck sighed, and ran a hand through his hair. "You can see how well that went."
Beck held up a hand. "I know, I should've told you. I just... it was supposed to be a secret. Even if programs didn't believe I was Tron, they still knew I was fighting for them."
Mara was silent for a few seconds before speaking again. "Tron told us that he was injured, which is why you were the Renegade. But he never explained how he recovered."
"Well, Tron wasn't just injured," said Beck. "Dyson did something to Tron's code to prevent his injuries from healing completely. During his recent fight with Cyrus, Tron's injuries began to get worse. That was when that super-recognizer arrived."
"What was that thing, anyway?" asked Mara.
"Did Tron tell you about repurposing?" After seeing Mara nod, Beck continued. "That super-recognizer had a repurposing unit in it, and repurposing Tron was the only way to save him."
"But... wouldn't that have just made him one of Clu's soldiers?"
"It would have if I hadn't interrupted the process," said Beck. "A program's old code is cleansed before Clu's code is added in. If the process is interrupted after the cleanse, but before the new code is installed..."
"You could save someone from being repurposed," said Mara.
Beck nodded. "That's exactly what we did. We were lucky that thing arrived when it did; any later and Tron would be dead."
The two mechanics were silent for a bit.
"What is Cyrus' problem, anyway?" Mara asked. "Why does he want to destroy the Grid?"
Beck rubbed his wrists unconsciously, exposing the glowing scar lines burned into his skin. "I don't know," he said. "He didn't tell me much when we first met, and Tron's not talking about it either... not that I blame him."
Mara gasped. "Beck! Your wrists..."
Beck glanced at the scars on his wrists and grimaced. "I got these from when I first met Cyrus," he said. "Remember when Able sent me to Gallium, but I couldn't get through because of a storm?"
"Yeah, you were gone for a while," said Mara. "I guess that was when you ran into Cyrus."
"Not intentionally, that's for sure," said Beck. "I wanted to get to Gallium as soon as possible, so I decided to try and go around the storm. I went off-road, and ended up near a pool of energy that seemed to be attracting a lot of lightning strikes. I got too close and fell in."
"Sounds like the only person to blame for getting into that mess was yourself," said Mara.
Beck shot an annoyed look at Mara. "Anyway, once I fell in, I found out that for some reason, the energy didn't reach all the way to the bottom. It was suspended above the bottom of the pool."
"How is that even possible?" asked Mara.
Beck shrugged. "I don't know. Anyway, there was this weird doorway thing at the bottom of the pool. When I got close, Cyrus grabbed me and pulled me in. It was even weirder inside there. Cyrus called it compressed space. Anyway, he lead me down to the bottom, which is when he revealed that he'd converted his prison into a massive EMP, but he needed two programs to power it. I was strapped to a chair on top of the bomb, and the straps burned these marks into my wrists."
"Obviously, you managed to escape, or we'd all be dead," said Mara. "Did he ever say why he wanted to destroy the Grid?"
"He... did mention something," said Beck slowly. "He said he didn't believe we programs had free will because we're, well, programmed to follow the directives we have when we're rezzed."
Mara was silent for a short time. "You know what? Cyrus sounds like a complete hypocrite. He's the one who chose to destroy the Grid. I'm pretty sure that wasn't in his programming."
Beck sighed. "To be completely honest with you, I have no idea what's wrong with him. All I know is he's completely insane. Any trace of the good program who saved Tron all those cycles ago is long gone now."
"Next time I see that bit brained son of a glitch," Mara said, "I'm putting my disc through his head."
"Not if I get him first," Beck muttered darkly.
Mara looked at Beck. "I thought you didn't derez programs," she said.
"Normally, I don't," said Beck. "But for Cyrus, I'm willing to make an exception. Because of him, Able's..." Beck stopped, and tried to swallow the lump in his throat. "Able's..."
Mara threw her arms around Beck's shoulders and hugged him. Beck stiffened in surprise, then relaxed into the hug as tears began to roll down his cheeks.
"I know," said Mara, her voice cracking. "I miss him too."
"All right, Yori," said Tron. "Run the simulation."
The featureless expanse of the training room began to change as glowing lines filled the air. The space between the lines began to fill as the simulation loaded.
"Rendering: Arena Battle," said the disembodied female voice that was standard across the Grid.
Tron glanced over at his new sparring partner. Paige's circuit lines were still the orange-red of an Occupation program, which Tron found slightly surprising.
"Why are we doing this?" she asked as the floor beneath them became the glass-like material that formed the surface of a Disc Arena.
"I want to see how well you can fight for myself," said Tron. "Don't hold back."
"Wasn't planning to," said Paige, rezzing her helmet as she reached behind her back. She drew her disc, but did not activate the cutting edge, and Tron did likewise.
"Begin," said the computer, and the two programs charged at each other.
Paige threw her disc at Tron as she charged, and Tron smacked it aside with his own disc. Paige's disc ricocheted off the walls and came flying at Paige's back. Paige leapt into the air, spinning around to catch her disc. With her disc in hand, she continued her spin, and used her momentum to deliver a powerful slash at Tron. Tron stepped back, and Paige's disc sliced through the air in front of his face. Tron thrust his disc at Paige's head, but Paige brought her right arm up and used her elbow to shove Tron's attack aside. She then followed through with her left arm, punching Tron in the gut. Tron staggered back a few steps and smirked.
"Not bad," he said, rezzing his helmet. "Not bad at all."
"There's plenty more where that came from," Paige said.
She charged forward again, stabbing with her disc. Tron ducked under the blow, and flipped her over his shoulder. Paige grunted when she slammed into the floor, but she recovered quickly. Paige lifted her legs up, and trapped Tron's neck between her shins. She then brought her legs down, flipping Tron over her. Tron hit the ground hard, and Paige used the brief respite to scramble to her feet. Tron rolled to his feet and threw his disc at Paige. Paige held her disc in front of her, and Tron's disc bounced off, flying back at Tron. Tron caught it as he ran towards Paige, and thrust his disc at Paige. Paige blocked with her disc, then retaliated with an attack of her own.
"What's going on?"
Yori glanced over her shoulder as Beck walked towards the holographic display.
"Tron's testing your friend Paige," she said. "I understand she used to work for the Occupation."
Beck nodded, and rubbed his left arm unconsciously. "Yeah, she was Tesler's right-hand woman for some time," he said.
"So why did she decide to change sides?" asked Yori.
"She hasn't told me the full story yet, but I''m pretty sure Ada was involved," said Beck. "Paige and Ada recognised each other, and Paige said that she knew the truth about what happened in Gallium, and that she didn't blame the ISOs anymore."
"Gallium?" said Yori, frowning slightly. "I remember hearing that two ISOs supposedly massacred every program at the Gallium hospital several cycles ago. I thought it was just rumors."
"I've heard about it, too," said Beck. "I guess the massacre did happen, but it wasn't committed by the ISOs."
"Which means that the Occupation must have done it," said Yori. "Wouldn't be the first time Clu blamed something he did on the ISOs."
"Why does Clu hate the ISOs so much?" Beck asked.
"Flynn designed Clu to create the perfect system," said Yori. "The ISOs didn't factor into that perfection, so he's always tried to remove them from the system."
"What's so bad about the ISOs?" asked Beck. "They don't have a directive when they're rezzed, but considering that pretty much everyone here is acting outside of whatever directives we had, that's not really something we should judge them by, is it?"
"You're right, we shouldn't judge them for that," said Yori. "But Clu believes that perfection can only be achieved by following your directives. Any program that doesn't is either derezzed, repurposed or sent to the Games."
"That can't be the only reason Clu hates the ISOs," said Beck. "Because if it is, that's rather petty."
"Clu has several other reasons," said Yori. "The system had a few near-fatal crashes that occurred as the ISO population grew, and the ISOs were crowding some of the cities. However, the thing about the ISOs that really angered Clu was their ability to self-replicate."
"Self-replicate?!" Beck asked incredulously. "You mean they can create more of themselves?! Like grid-bugs or viruses?"
Yori shook her head. "Flynn said it was more like how Users self-replicate, rather than viruses. He even compared the young second-generation ISOs to his son, Sam." Yori sighed. "Flynn was absolutely fascinated with the second-generation ISOs... so fascinated that he began to neglect the Basics he created for this system."
"What do you mean?" asked Beck.
"Flynn's obsession with the ISOs, along with all the things he mentioned he was trying to balance in the User World, left him preoccupied," said Yori. "He barely spared a thought for the Basics when he was here, and he always focussed his attention on the ISOs. That's why he didn't notice what Clu was doing until it was too late."
"But... Flynn created us," said Beck. "Why would he leave us to fend for ourselves?"
"The Users aren't as all-powerful as you think, Beck," said Yori. "I've seen Flynn perform acts that would be considered miracles, but for all his power, he was still as flawed as any program."
"You sound kind of bitter," said Beck.
Yori sighed. "I can forgive Flynn for not seeing what Clu was doing. That is understandable. However, I can't forgive him for not doing something after Clu came to power."
"That doesn't make any sense," said Beck. "If the stories about the Old System are true, then he could stop Clu with a snap of his fingers."
"I doubt it would be quite that easy, but he could do it," said Yori. "And yet he's abandoned us, left us at Clu's mercy." Yori sighed, and shook her head. "If I ever see Flynn again, I'm going to knock some sense into him with the blunt edge of my disc."
"Remind me never to upset you," said Beck.
Yori laughed. "You already have," she said. "I slammed you into a desk when I realised you weren't Tron, remember?"
"Oh. Yeah, that," said Beck. "Not something I want to go through again."
"You won't," said Yori. "Unless you give me good reason to."
Beck swallowed nervously, and Yori laughed at his obvious discomfort.
Tron slashed at Paige, and Paige jumped back. She responded by shoving her disc at Tron's chest, holding it horizontally. Tron leaned back, and as the disc passed over him, he shoved his arm through the center of the disc. He pulled his arm back and yanked Paige's disc out of her hand, and hit her in the chest with his inactive disc. Paige was knocked over, and grunted as her back hit the floor.
"Winner: Tron," said the computer. "Would you like to play again?"
"End simulation," said Tron. The ground beneath them flickered, and the Disc Arena faded out of existence, replaced by the white expanses of Tron's training room.
Paige sat up as Tron docked his disc. The security program collapsed his helmet and tossed her disc back to Paige. She caught it and returned the disc to its dock. Tron walked up to her, and held his hand out to her. Paige took his hand, and he pulled her back up to her feet as she collapsed her own helmet.
"Nice work," said Tron. "I haven't fought anyone as skilled as you in some time."
"Thanks," said Paige. "I had a good teacher."
"I noticed you haven't changed your circuit lines," said Tron. "Why is that?"
Paige shifted from foot to foot uncomfortably. "My time in the Occupation is part of who I am," she said. "It's a reminder of everything I did as a part of the Occupation; everything I want to atone for."
Tron nodded. "I never thought I'd end up saying this, but I believe you," he said. "I'm willing to give you a chance."
"Thank you," said Paige.
"Don't thank me just yet," said Tron. "You still haven't earned my full trust yet. Admittedly, helping Yori did earn you some trust, but I want to make sure your intentions are really what you say they are."
"I understand," said Paige, sounding slightly downcast.
"Humor an old security program," said Tron. "Besides, I've been betrayed too much in recent cycles. Trust isn't something I'm good at any more."
"I see you two are finished," said Yori as Paige and Tron exited the training room. "How'd it go?"
"Paige is good," said Tron. "She's about as skilled as Beck is."
"Is that a compliment or an insult?" Paige asked.
Tron chuckled. "It's a compliment. There are only a few programs who can give me a good fight. You and Beck are among those few."
"Tron's not so good at the whole 'compliment' thing," said Beck. "But he's still a good teacher."
"You were a fast learner," said Tron. "There's not a whole lot more I can really teach you."
Beck practically glowed with pride. "Thanks," he said. Beck reached behind his back and drew his disc, and began to twist off the white bottom half when Tron held up a hand.
"Keep it," he said. "You've earned it."
"Really?" Beck asked. "Are you sure."
Tron nodded. "You're the one that's been inspiring the programs of Argon. Even if they don't believe you're Tron, they're still willing to stand against Clu's regime, because you showed them that it's possible. All I did was help you."
"I..." Beck began before he choked up. "Thank you," he said as he docked his disc. Beck's outfit rippled as the white suit replaced his normal black one, and Tron's insignia lit up his chest.
Tron placed a hand on Beck's shoulder. "You're a good friend, Beck. I'm proud of you."
Yori smiled. "I knew that the User believing idealist was still hidden away somewhere beneath that shell," she said.
"Haven't had much reason to be hopeful, recently," Tron said as he walked up to her. "But that all changed a few millicycles ago when you came back to me."
Yori blushed, and the two programs hugged. "I missed you, too," Yori said.
Paige moved over to stand next to Beck. "Tron thinks pretty highly of you," she said.
"Yeah," said Beck, rubbing the back of his neck. "I didn't realise how highly until just now." The mechanic program sighed. "Taking on his identity for real, though... I'm not sure I'm ready for that burden."
"You won't have to do it alone," Paige said. She reached out and held his hand in hers. "I'm here for you."
Beck glanced down at their intertwined fingers, then back at Paige. "I'm glad to hear that," he said.
"Stealing my line, now?" she said playfully.
"Well, I was hoping you wouldn't realise that," said Beck.
The two young programs laughter was interrupted as Yori and Tron walked up to them.
"Paige, I wanted to thank you for saving my life," said Yori. "Tron and I will stay here to help train the new recruits and coordinate your work in the field. I also wanted to give you this."
Yori drew her disc and held it out in front of her. There was a brief whine as Yori twisted the bottom half of her disc off, and Yori's grid suit became a solid black, retaining her normal circuit lines. She held the bottom half out to Paige, and Paige accepted it and attached it to her own disc. When Paige docked her disc, her eyes flashed briefly before a wave of white rippled across her body. In a few seconds, her grid suit had been replaced with Yori's, and the deep blue triangle and semi-circle design flashed brightly.
"Good luck out there," Tron said. "Tron... and Yori."
Things between Beck and Paige were going to be a little awkward for a while. Fortunately, Daddy!Tron is there to break the ice, and embarrass the crap out of poor Beck. And were Tron and Yori about to do the program equivalent of you know what? I'll leave that one up to you. ;)
I've noticed that I have something of a trend to have at least one scene involving the villains. I guess I just want to show what they're planning to while our heroes are doing their thing. I've also seen a few fics where Clu bombs Argon out of existence when he arrives. I figure that he'd probably try to use different tactics to bring the city in line. After all, with more programs alive, he can rectify more into his army. Of course, bombing the city is still a viable back up plan, but is it one that will see use...?
Kevin Flynn kinda screwed up real good on the Grid. While I certainly don't think he's evil or irredeemable, he did do some pretty stupid things. He practically ignored the Basics in favour of the ISOs, he didn't tell anyone about the Grid (even though if he did, it probably sounded like he was high or something), and though he says he tried to fight back in Legacy, all the evidence suggests he spent all thousand cycles of Clu's rule sitting in the lotus position in a cave with Olivia Wilde.
Speaking of cycles, timekeeping on the Grid is something that bugs me. In Legacy, Kevin says that a millicycle is about eight hours. Zuse later says that Clu has been searching for Kevin's disc for a thousand cycles, and the context seems to imply that a cycle is the Grid equivalent of a year. Kevin Flynn was missing for twenty years, which would then suggest that one year in the analogue world is equal to fifty cycles on the Grid. Furthermore, a millicycle would be one one-thousandth of a cycle, making a cycle eight thousand hours. For comparison, a year in analogue is 8760 hours. However, the way cycle is used in Uprising seems to refer to a work day rather than a year, but that may just be slang. Also, microcycle is also fairly commonly used. In context, it is used as a substitute for a minute. A microcycle is one one-thousandth of a millicycle, which makes a microcycle about half a minute (28.8 seconds to be exact, but who's counting?). Ah, the power of math.
Now Paige is now starting to be accepted by Tron. He does have trust issues after all the betrayals he's been through, but he's also going to be a much happier program now that Yori's with him. I'm trying to bring back some of the idealistic security program we see in the original film, although he's never going to be quite the same after all he's been through. Dyson left more than physical scars on Tron...
And Paige is now wearing Yori's suit. I figured it would be somewhat appropriate, since Beck and Paige, as the two most experienced programs in the Resistance beside Tron and Yori, are going to be doing most of the field work until Mara, Zed and the others are ready.
Speaking of which, Beck and Paige's first adventure as a team will take place next time, in a story called Corruption, in which Argon is quarantined for a virus outbreak, and Beck and Paige try to figure out why a virus broke out in Argon and how to stop it from spreading.