Illumination gradually increases and consciousness gains a grasp in his circuits again. Clu's vision starts to clear and the bright lights turn into distinct shapes. The first thing he's aware of, though, is that his arms are empty. There's a distinct lack of Kris next to him. He's rezzing onto the new system with out her. The first sound he registers is a primal scream coming from his own mouth as the dread fills him.
"Easy," Clu registers Flynn's voice and feels the familial touch on his back as Flynn kneels beside him. "Take a deep breath. You're ok now."
"Kris! Where is she?!" Clu immediately pulls up a vid screen and starts a repetitive search function script to look for her on the system.
"You're sounding pretty desperate there, dude. What happened?" Flynn takes a seat on the ground next to him and peeks at Clu's vid screen.
"She was here with me. Now she's not! I have to find her!" Clu can't get the last image and feelings out of his head. No one warned him of how traumatic the sudden change of location would be.
Shaddox's voice is a beacon for him, "She's coming on line right now, Boss. It was harder to bring her over. She's not just a program like us. She's almost rezzed - eighty-nine percent, ninety…"
"I don't see her, where is she? She'll be terrified!" Clu is still in panic mode.
Flynn grabs the screen and adds a location modifier to the search function for Clu. "She's rezzing closer to Tron City. There are plenty of programs there to help her through the initial shock. Sorry man, that it's such hard transition. It's been such a mess. We're pulling sections at a time from the original hard disk - but it was totally fragged, and we have to verify the integrity of every section. Then we pull that section from backup if needed. We pulled Shaddox from the programs first. Without his help, this would be a disaster!"
"She's fully rezzed, but they're reporting that she's not responding. They're afraid something went wrong in transfer," Shaddox tries to remain business like, but it's hard because his friend is involved.
Clu pinpoints her location and bolts in that direction, rezzing his cycle to help him get there even faster.
Flynn looks to Shaddox for explanation, and he fills him in, "Kris is the one bright spot in his life cycle. He's been through a lot." Shaddox pales and his voice catches, "Oh no…Flynn, he's gonna need you, man! There's no spark to her circuits."
Pulling out his trusty Encom 786 cycle, Flynn instantly lets the light ribbon trail behind him for the extra boost of speed.
Programs are gathered around them - some whispering, some burying their faces in their hands, some clinging to each other and looking on with disbelief. As the crowd parts for Flynn, he sees Clu hunched over, cradling and rocking Kris's limp form and it brings a lump to Flynn's throat along with a flood of painful memories.
Clu's wild eyes and chaotic manner are so far from his normal operating parameters, it wrenches Flynn's heart to see the distraught program beg, "Do something, Flynn!"
"Jump start…gotcha," Flynn places one hand on her forehead, willing the energy to flow from him into her. A flickering in her circuits starts then dies, so he tries again, "Come on, Kris!" Four more tries are required to get her circuits to stay lit on their own.
A soft groan emanates from her, causing Clu to clutch her even more tightly. As the reality sinks in, a tear trickles down his face.
"Can't breathe…too tight…" she rasps.
He trembles in the clumsiness of relief and loosens his vice-like embrace, "Sss..sorry…thought we'd lost you." She returns his embrace and it's all he registers in the moment - not the crowd around him, not Flynn, not the hard ground they're on - just the two of them.
Programs all around them start dropping to their knees and whispers of "a miracle" are heard.
Standing there in his typical nonchalant fashion with his hands tucked into his pockets and kicking the ground shyly with his motorcycle boot, Flynn's at a loss for words. Clu scoops Kris up to get her to a medic and have her checked out, but faces his creator first. "Thank you. For sending Kris and for bringing her back to us."
"I'm glad she opened your eyes and you don't have to go through what I did, when I lost Jordan…" Flynn switches the subject, "You know, I don't think there's a thing I could have done to stop Kris from coming here."
"Darn, right," Kris mumbles.
"More of us are arriving and they'll need help adjusting and finding those they know. Back to work, programs!" Clu dismisses the crowd as he heads out with Kris and Flynn.
"He's next up to be transfered. Looks like he's rezzing in the sector just over yonder," Shaddox says and points a finger in the direction with a small crowd.
She goes to grab Alan and Lora's hands to bring them with, but Alan politely declines even when she tries to insist, "He'll be most excited to see you. Find us a little later. Go on!"
Hovering in a crouch in front of where he's being transfered, she has the jitters as she watches. It seems so odd to see his draft lines filling in with voxels.
As soon as he's in solid form, she's unable to wait any longer and launches herself at him, "Tron!" Her exuberant hug knocks the barely conscious program over.
"Yori?" Tron lifts his head trying to focus his eyes as he adjusts to being on the new system. She helps him sit up and her face, illuminated by the glow around them, fills his vision. Tracing her cheek, then running his thumb over her lips - he wants to be sure she's real. "Alan, he truly did bring you. You're even more beautiful than I remember…" Tron enfolds her in his arms and kisses her fiercely. Seeing her puzzled wonder, he explains, "By the Users, it's been so long since I last saw your lovely face." For several microcycles, he just takes in her new look as if she's a piece of fine art - golden hair pinned up, short white dress with grey notches in the shoulders and her original collar circuits leading to a triangle in front, and boots that come to just above the knee. The rest of her circuits mirror his own, only in a more feminine fashion.
"How long were you on the grid?" she asks.
"More kilocycles than I could bear to count," his voice turns gravelly with the pain he bore.
"Oh, Tron…" the concern fills her voice. She cups his face in her hands and rests her forehead against his. "I'm here."
"Clu have you had a chance to look around at the system yet? It's so tight, man! We have internet access - access to other systems! Do you know what this means for all programs?" Shaddox excitedly babbles.
"That we'll need to fortify our security."
"Aw…come on! Aren't you even the least bit excited?"
Arm in arm, Yori leads Tron to meet his creator. "I've said it several times already, Tron. He really does want to meet you," she puts her head on his shoulder as they walk. "I think he'll be just as nervous and excited as you are."
"You really think so?" Tron is still unsure. Meeting one's creator is rather overwhelming.
"Yes. You inherited so many of his character traits. He said he thought of what it would be like to be in your place and poured the best of himself into the code."
"That's a lot to live up to…" Tron tugs at the high collar of his uniform.
Yori halts, and ensures she makes eye contact with him as she takes his hands in hers, "Tron, take a deep breath. Know that he admires you and your work." With his brows furrowed, he nods a few times and she kisses his cheek, before she tugs him along again.
As they round the corner, they spy Lora straightening Alan's tie. Quickly, she moves to his side and squeezes his arm comfortingly.
Alan takes the initiative and offers his hand with a hearty shake, "Tron, it's an honor to meet you face to face. My favorite stories of Flynn's always have you in them. I don't know how you risk yourself day in and day out - but I appreciate that you're willing to do it to keep the grid safe."
"It's an honor to serve, Sir. I try to live up to what you wrote me for," when Tron lets go of Alan's hand - that he shook with both hands, he self-consciously smooths his hair.
"Just Alan is fine." He realizes he almost forgot in his excitement, "Oh, and this is my wife, Lora. She was the one who programmed Yori to be your counterpart."
"It's a pleasure to meet the program my husband is always talking about," she warmly greets him.
"Thank you…Thank you truly, Mam. I'm indebted to you," Tron gazes from Yori to Lora and is amazed at the similarities.
Lora slips her arm in Yori's and winks as she whispers, "Shall we go find a drink, while these two get to know each other?" Yori gives a sweet little grinning nod as they go off chatting about who knows what and giggling like school girls.
"It's quite something that we both ended up with such remarkable ladies, isn't it?" Alan muses out loud.
"I just know I'm grateful you brought Yori here."
To break the awkward pause, Alan asks with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, "So, is it as hard to keep Flynn out of trouble on the grid, as it is at the office?"
It draws a deep chuckle from Tron, "I expect so."
Atop the HQ building Flynn and Clu survey the new grid. Incandescent green and white sheets of light slowly flutter in the atomosphere over the jagged skyline of New Tron City.
"So what did you want to talk about, Clu?"
Shifting his weight uneasily and crossing his arms, he starts, "You said we were going to change the world. On this new system, it's possible. You also said I was to create the perfect system. But I request that you change my function. We miss out on the beauty of what we have - if we seek only the perfect. Perfect has no chaos, no spark. It's dead and unchanging."
"That's deep… real deep" with a pensive look Flynn considers for a moment as he shoves his hands in his pockets. "Maybe because absolute perfection isn't really possible, is it?"
"What would you rather work toward?"
"Kris and I have talked about this at length. We want to guide the grid as it grows. To protect it from danger - she says there will be good from the internet but also malicious intrusions from other systems. To do our best to ensure peace and freedom - even for the ISOs. To leave room for a spark," Clu explains.
"Radical, man. Go for it. She's a good influence on you, man," Flynn clasps him on the shoulder and gives a good natured shake.
Clu heaves a huge sigh of relief and processes the significance of what's just happened. "She's helped me see things in a different light - to see the beauty in imperfection. Without her, I would have made very different choices, Flynn."
Faith in the Users, has been restored. While it doesn't bring instant peace and harmony, there was a little enlightenment along the way. Belief is a powerful force, man, whether it's about yourself or in others.
End of line.