A narrative of my encounter with C.L.U. 2. The administrative program for the grid and the most powerful, sentient, non-human being to ever exist. I'm writing this down in the hope that I can piece together what really happened.


I had stumbled into his world, not knowing where in the name of all creation I was. After I was given a disc and some sort of uniform, it went black. When I woke up near the water, all hell was breaking loose. The only thing I knew was that I was in a flood. It wasn't rain, but something alive and it would soon overtake me.

Like a gold beacon lighting the way, I saw him fighting back the tide not far from me and making his way in my direction. Disk flashing as he drove off wave after wave. If I could just make it up there, maybe I could get through this. I tried to mimic what I saw him doing, and made some progress. But I fell to a strong crest. As the flood covered my head, my single thought -'Get the hell off of me!' took shape as an explosion. It sent the rush away from me for the moment it took for him to reach me and grab the ladder to pull me up into the ship hovering overhead.

"Whoever you are, thank you," I manage only a whisper when we're safe aboard. But I hope the kiss on his cheek speaks gratitude for me. Why isn't he trembling from the adrenaline, like I am? And not a lock is out of place in his feathered back hairstyle.

"Darlin' you're not from around here. Are you?" His head tilts, but his cool demeanor remains right down to his ice blue eyes.

I just shake my head 'no'. What could I possibly say when I haven't the foggiest where I am, with out looking like a complete moron?

"I am *very* happy to see you," he gives an ever so slight smile that offsets his sharp jawline, and he tucks his hand under my chin with an familiar self-assured ease.

My guard goes up, instantly. I suppose I should expect that not all reactions to a peck of gratitude will be humble ones. Most guys I know would stammer over a kiss on the cheek.

As if he can tell what I'm thinking, he soothes, "Don't worry yourself. So...who do we have here?"

"Grace. Grace Nolan. Who are you?" I take a step back involuntarily. One of his underlings - clad in all black with a few hints of red and face covered with a helmet, enters the room.

"My name is Clu. You may refer to me as Your Excellency," he states matter-of-factly. Turning his attention from me, he snaps his fingers and nonchalantly issues the command, "Disk." The dark figure steps up behind me and removes my disk without even a word, handing it to his leader. Clu opens the contents and partially turns his back to me.

"I…I was told not to remove it. Give it back," I answer with less gusto than I'd hoped.

The view is only partially blocked, as I try to see what he's doing. Absorbed in the contents of my disk, he reviews my memories. One of my more private memories he seems particularly amused by - but keeps his reaction silent. It makes me feel queasy. Then he replays the memory of my entry into this place. Why would he care about that? Quickly he races through my entire life, and my disk is returned to its dock.

"No worries, Grace. I just had to inspect it," he dismisses my earlier concern. "Now why are you upset, Darlin'?" he queries as he sees my tension and moves toward me again.

"With all due respect Your Excellency, that was quite invasive," I finally muster a little courage.

"Duly noted. You should know it's standard procedure. No need for alarm. Though, you would be wise to not let just anyone have access to it. It can be dangerous." He tucks a wisp of my shoulder length brunette hair behind my ear, as if nothing is out of the ordinary in the gesture.

I'm not sure if I should be comforted or creeped out right now. But I don't look away or flinch.

"Good. You have spunk." He circles to inspect me then gives a signal to his lackey. "Take her upstairs."

I stiffen at that last phrase, and glare at Clu.

"My dear, he's going to show you to your quarters. He's had a rough day. Don't make him growl," he chides.

With one last wary glance at Clu, I follow.


Retrospective:

They say hind sight is always 20/20. In my case, only a few parts are crystal clear. I'm not sure how much of it all I've been able to fully comprehend. But I do know, I shouldn't have been grateful for him saving me. I should have run like hell.