Accessing archived Data…
With Beck's Help, Tron recovers from his injuries…
Tron stared down the corridor at the group of black guards charging at him, "Good news... I'm healed," he smiled, "Bad news...I'm healed."
...But it comes at a price…
"Clu repurposed you," Beck stared at Cutler as his grid line changed from blue to orange.
"Clu showed me the light," was Cutler's reply…
...Beck watched as Cutler's lines flicker between blue and orange. There was a flash and they steadied on orange as Cutler began laughing at Beck. Cutler was still holding onto the bomb so, with Regret, Beck let his old friend go and watch as he plummeted down the shaft and exploded…
….The Uprising gains new members…
"From now on, we protect each other." Mara stood, disk ready at the head of the programs from the garage. Other programs were igniting their disks as they all stood to face Pavel and the sentires. "Tell your boss, we're down letting one program fight out battles."
"Welcome to the house of pain," Zed said, smirking.
"The Uprising has begun," Tron said as he and Beck looked on at the scene.
...While Tesler receives news of a special guest.
The image on the tablet came into focus. As it did so, Tesler's angry expression changed to one of terror.
The Uprising Begins: Part 1
Beck Tron stood atop the pile of Super Recognizer wreckage, watching as Pavel and his battalion fled the crowd of armed programs from Able's garage. Beck turned to look at Tron and saw he was smiling.
"Hey, I didn't know you could do that."
Tron looked at him, cocking his eyebrow, "Do what?"
"You know," Beck grinned, "Smile." Where normally the older program would have frowned at the remark, his smile endured.
"This is something worth smiling about," Tron gazed down at the crowd of programs, most of whom were still watching Pavel and company run to their recognizers. After a moment, though, the smile faded to be replaced by Tron's normal serious scowl. "We can't stay here, Pavel may be a coward, but when he comes back, he'll have company." That was the Tron Beck knew, always thinking on the positive side.
"What about them?" Beck motioned to the group of programs below them.
"They'll have to come with us, they're fugitives now, there's no getting around that." They began making their way down the heap of rubble when Tron added, "Beck, you should tell them."
Beck stopped, "Zed and Mara? That I'm the renegade?"
"All of these programs," Tron turned to face Beck, "They stood up for you out of trust. They just gave up everything for you and the Uprising. If you want their help, you need to show them trust in return."
Beck couldn't argue. He, Mara, Zed, Link, everyone from Able's garage, they were all in the same boat now and if this was to work, he needed to be honest with them. When the two had descended the wreckage heap, the garage's programs had docked their disks. There was a lot of panicked whispering spreading through the crowd, but as soon as Beck and Tron entered, there was dead silence.
Tron stepped up, "Listen, I thank you all for standing up to the Occupation. I've been search of programs like you for a long time-"
"Who are you?" came a shout from someone in the crowd. Tron was wearing his black grid suit with the grid lines switched off. He derezzed his helmet, revealing his face, "I'm Tron."
There was more whispering, but the same program shouted again from the back of the crowd. "Then who's that?" a program in the back was pointing at Beck, still in Renegade white.
"He's a friend." Tron addressed the crowd, "Clu betrayed me and left me with injuries that prevented me from protecting the Grid. So I found him," he motioned to Beck, "He's been fighting in my place, but now," Tron's face hardened with resolve, "I'm back."
Beck was about to lower his helmet when Mara stepped forward cutting him off, "We're with you Tron, we'll take the fight to Clu!" At this there were cheers from the other programs, but Tron raised his hand for silence. Beck kept his vizor up.
"There will be time for celebration later, but now we need to get out of Argon." Tron scanned the crowd of programs, "You're all fugitives now and we need to get to safety outside the city. Pavel will be back with reinforcements and we don't want to be here when he is."
"Where will we go?" This time it was Zed asking.
"I have a base, far in the Outlands. With help I'm sure we can expand it to accommodate all of you," There was a large roaring sound in the distance, Tron, Beck and everyone turned to look out over the bay, there was a fleet of Occupation ships headed towards the city lead by a single, solitary yellow cruiser. Tron's scowl deepened, "Clu."
He turned back to the garage's programs, "There's little time, grab what belongings you can and a light cycle, you aren't coming back here so this is your last chance to take something with you." Tron turned to watch as Clu's fleet approached Argon, gaging the time until they landed. "We have fifteen micros."
Tron waited outside the garage getting programs organized as they came out with their belongings while Beck, still in Renegade white, stood in the center of the garage directing programs to get their things as fast as possible.
"Come on go. Go!" Beck yelled to a couple of programs who were hurriedly stuffing their packs with items. Beck, in addition to getting programs packed and ready to move, was grabbing as many light jet, cycle, and vehicle batons as he could. There was no sense leaving anything behind for the Occupation to use. The two programs he had spoken to had finished up and didn't need any prompting to head outside where Tron was. Beck watched them leave and did a visual sweep of the garage, checking for any last programs. He saw some lights moving around upstairs in the locker room. He was about to go up when he also saw that the door to Abel's office was open. Beck walked over to see Link standing alone in front of Abels desk.
"We have to go," Beck said.
Link stood there for a long moment before replying, "I can't."
"We don't have a choice," Beck replied, his voice urgent, "any minute now, this place is going to be overrun by Clu's soldiers."
Link turned towards Beck, "Even though Abel's gone, this place is still home. I don't know if I can leave it."
Beck sighed. He couldn't tell Link, but the same feeling had hit him. "You'll come back here someday," Link looked up, "That's what we're fighting for so that we don't lose anything or anyone else." Beck put a hand on Link's shoulder and steered him toward the door, "Come on." Link simply nodded and left, leaving Beck alone in Abel's office. Beck paused for a moment looking around the room. The garage was his home too. He'd spent plenty of time at the hideout, but to know that he could never come back hurt. It was like loosing Able all over again. He ran his hand over Able's circular desk remembering all the older program had done for him, for everyone at the garage. Beck's eyes were drawn to a shelf in the back room; there was a single white baton on the shelf. He picked it up; it was Abel's ENCOM 786. The sight of it lifted Beck's spirits a little, glad that Pavel, during his brief tenure at the garage, hadn't taken it with him. He tucked it into his own pack before heading to the door, where he looked over his shoulder one last time. He took it all in. Then he left.
Upstairs in the locker room, Zed was cramming as many wrenches, tools, and spare energy canisters as he could into his pack. With a final shove, he got everything inside, slung it over his back and made for the elevator. On his way out, he saw Mara packing her things in a separate room.
"Couldn't hurt to help," He thought. "Need a hand?" He asked walking up to her.
"I think I got it," she said, but her hand fumbled, dropping an energy canister. Luckily, Zed caught it before it smashed to the ground. He gave it back to her. "Oops."
"You alright?" Zed asked, he saw her hands shake as she closed her pack up.
"No, but not in a bad way," They began walking toward the elevator, "It's just Able's death, and Tron and the Renegade coming here, and now we're going with him… " She heaved a sigh, "It's just a lot to take in."
"Well, you did want to meet the Renegade," Zed tried to think of something to lighten the mood, "is he as handsome as you thought he'd be?"
"Who?" Mara asked confused.
Zed frowned, clearly she didn't get the joke, come to think of it, a lot of people didn't get his jokes, "You known, when the Renegade first showed up, you thought he'd be handsome."
"Oh yeah," Mara remembered, "I mean he is tall and strong, but to be honest, I was really hopping he'd be Tron himself."
"I always said he wasn't Tron," Mara elbowed him, " What? I did. Though to be fair, he's not so bad"
"Really," Mara almost sounded sarcastic, "That coming from the guy who built a weapon to derez him."
"That was before I got to the know the him," Zed joked, "once you meet him in person, he's not as terrible as you'd think."
Mara laughed which made Zed smile, "What did you do with that weapon anyway?" she asked.
Zed pointed to his pack, "Beck and I took off the main EMP drive component a couple cycles ago. I'm bringing it with us, it'll be handy if we run into recognizers."
Mara suddenly stopped, her face filled with worry. "I mean I changed it so it won't derez the program," Zed said apologetically, thinking it was something he said, "It'll just stun them."
"Zed," Mara looked at him, "Have you seen Beck?" Zed stopped in his tracks. He hadn't. The two looked at each other, then sprinted towards the elevator.
Back on the ground floor, most programs were ready to go. Tron would take the lead with their light cycle caravan as they made for the Outlands, with Beck bringing up the rear. Beck was just getting the last few program set up when he heard his name called.
"Beck!" Called Mara from across the garage as she and Zed ran towards him.
Beck braced himself, this wasn't the best way to tell them, but here it goes. "I can explain-" but he was interrupted by Zed.
"Have you see our friend Beck? We can't find him anywhere."
Caught off guard, Beck's mind raced for a response and choose one at random, "I think I saw him up by Tron," he managed to say, his visor still on. Both Zed and Mara sighed in relief.
"Well if he's with Tron, that's the safest place in Argon right now," replied Zed.
"Time to go!" came Tron's call from across the garage. The three made their way to the rear of the caravan just as the dozens of programs broke their batons and revved their light cycles; the sound of a thirty plus ion engines filled the garage with a loud hum. "Move out!" Tron shouted and with that the mechanics of Able's garage left for the last time.
High above Argon's skyline, Clu's flagship accompanied by dozens of recognizers, fighters, and battle ships cruised into the city limits. On the bridge stood Clu himself, gazing out over the city. It was smaller than he'd remembered it. Flynn and him had been there many giga-cycles ago. How apropos he realized, to have been here with Flynn, and to have returned to reunite with Tron. The thought brought a brief, malicious smile to his face, but only for a moment. Looking out the viewport, he saw a squadron of local light jets heading to escort his flagship into dock. His mind ticked in irritation when he realized their formation was off. The sight didn't phase him or make him visibly angry, his demeanour was too cool for that, like a pool of still water. But he made a mental note of the imperfection to remember during his evaluation of General Tesler.
He heard light methodical footsteps behind him. "What is it Dyson?"
The keen faced program that served as Clu's righthand man answered, "Half a milicycle until we dock with Tesler's war ship." When Clu didn't respond, he asked, "Something wrong, sir?"
Clu's eyes were fixed on the city ahead, intent on finding all the other errors that may lurk in its iridescent streets. In answer to Dyson's question, Clu simply replied in a perfectly level voice, "We have work to do."
Far below on the landing pad, General Telser stood with a steely gaze fixed on the approaching yellow flagship. Beside him stood his two commanders, Pavel and Paige. Tesler hands occasionally glowed with anxiety, a fact which didn't escape his two subordinates.
"Are all the preparations ready?" Tesler asked gruffly, he was not in the mood for mincing words.
"Yes, sir," Paige replied.
She caught Pavel smiling at her before he said, "Actually, I'm afraid not sir."
"What do you mean, Pavel?" Tesler nearly growled at him, still keeping his eyes bent on the flagship. "If anything goes wrong, I am holding you two personally responsible."
Pavel smile widened. This was his chance to toppled Tesler literally face to face with Clu. With mock worry Pavel said, "There is still the issue of the Super Recognizer, sir. If it was sent by Clu and it's now destroyed…"
Paige picked up the question, "Clu will ask how it happened, sir."
"Mechanical failure is what happened," Tesler replied in an attempt at a calm voice. He pried his eyes from Clu's ship to face his two commanders, "I don't want any, and I mean any mention of the Renegade while he is here." He straightened up so that he stood almost a foot taller than either Paige or Pavel. "Is that understood?" His tone made any answer other than 'yes' a bad idea.
"Absolutely, wise commander," Pavel replied.
"Yes, sir," Paige replied simply.
"Good," Tesler turned back to watch the ship land, "because I don't want to-"
"Sir!" came a shout from across the platform as a black guard raced toward them.
Tesler's hands flared red in irritation, "What is it?!"
The blackguard, undaunted, came up to the trio, "We have reports, sir, of the Renegade near the recognizer crash site," the guard continued, oblivious to the intensifying glow of Tesler's gauntlets, "What's more, other programs seem to have grouped up with him and are trying to leave the city on-" That was as far as the black guard got before there was a hole in his chest from Tesler's fist. The guard didn't even have time to utter a yell as Tesler ripped his hand up through the guards body, derezzing the rest of him rapidly.
After a tense moment, "General," Pavel spoke up, "if I may, I'll take care of this." He threw Paige a mischievous smile.
"Actually," Paige interjected, "I would like to be the one to do this General. I owe the Renegade for framing me," she added coldly thinking back to her brief time the Renegade had her memory altered. Although Pavel scowled at Paige, in his head he couldn't help but feel satisfied that his plan was working.
"Go," Telser waved her off with his hand, adding, "And Pavel, get someone to clean this mess up." He shook the derezzed, blackguard's voxels off of his boots.
The two left Telser standing on the landing pad as they went back inside Tesler's ship. They had to take an elevator down to the hanger. As soon as the elevator doors closed, Paige slammed Pavel into the wall. "I know what you're doing," she rolled her eyes, "Trying again to undermine Tesler in front of Clu."
Pavel pushed her off and casually readjusted his uniform, "I'm shocked at you Paige. Thinking I would try to subvert our great leader General Tesler."
Paige wished there was a window in the elevator so she could push him out of it, "I know you Pavel, and whatever you're up to, I'm going to make sure it doesn't work."
In a flash, Pavel grabbed her shoulder and shoved her against the elevator doors, "I gave you a chance Paige, we could have worked together, but you insisted on sticking it out with Tesler. Well his time is up, and you'll have no one to blame but yourself when you take the plunge with him" There was a small ding, indicating they'd reached the ground level. "I believe this is your stop." Pavel smiled as the elevator doors he was holding Paige against opened and she fell backwards onto the floor. "Good luck on your mission." Paige got to her feet and nearly punched Pavel in the face when the doors closed again, blocking her off. Paige stomped off, trying to focus on her assignment, unaware of a small EMP stuck to the back of her disk.
To anyone standing along the road, the company of cycles that blew past were nothing more than blurs of light. The roar of engines echoed off the buildings as Tron, Beck and the programs of Able's garage raced towards the city's edge.
"Stay in formation!" Tron shouted over his shoulder, "We're almost there!"
In the back of the group was Beck serving as the company's rear guard. Surprisingly, they hadn't met much resistance along the way other than the occasional sentry on patrol who was either too scared to engage their large group or was run over by the swarm of light cycles to end up battered and bruised. Up ahead, Beck could make out the tall light poles that signalled the city limits. "Nearly there," he said to himself.
In an instant everything changed. The road ahead suddenly became blocked by an orange Occupation barrier and several tanks. Dozens of black guards filed onto the roof tops while still more rezzed their light cycles and barricaded the way. The din of the their engines was overshadowed by the rumble of recognizers coming in behind. They were trapped.
The programs began to slow down, panicking. "Keep going!" Tron yelled as he sped up. The other programs after a moment's hesitation, followed; they trusted Tron. The group shot towards the barrier.
The black guards were unnerved, "They're not slowing down!" one shouted.
"What did you expect," another replied, with a tinge of awe, "That's Tron," he pointed to the lead cycle ridden by a program in almost all black.
"How do you know that?!" exclaimed the first guard. His question was interrupted as a disk blew past him, grazing his helmet. The disk expertly hit the cannon of one of the tanks causing it to swing wildly to the left, blasting a hole into a nearby street. With a new opening in the barrier, the program in black lead the group of cycles through the hole into a side street, completely bypassing the Occupation forces.
"That's how," replied the first guard.
Back with the garage's programs, they all had fallen into a single file line to fit in the side passage. "We'll head back into the city, there are several pipe lines that lead under the barrier into the Outlands," Tron was shouting over his shoulder, "That's our ticket out."
"What did he say?" Link called from the middle of the pack, but he was drowned out by the several light jets and recognizers the screamed overhead.
In response, Tron simply yelled to everyone, "Stay close to me!" The narrow corridor opened up onto a main freeway. Tron made a hard right and the Uprising made for the city center.
"And as you can see we have everything in order." Telser was leading Clu and Dyson on a tour of his flagship. He could feel the two's eyes examining every last detail of every ceiling, wall, and floor. Thus far, Tesler had actually been pleased with the exhibition, his men had done a literal perfect job in maintaining the ship's spotless appearance. A wide door opened and the trio walked through, "And this of course is our hanger. Every light jet, recognizer, tank, and cycle accounted for." He was feeling satisfied that nothing was amiss when Clu quietly walked past him. He didn't say anything, didn't make a sound, Tesler couldn't even see if his face changed because of his helmet. There was an eerie lack of tell about what Clu was thinking, he just always seemed calm. Tesler hated that. It kept him second guessing at every turn, never certain if what he did pleased, disappointed, or even affected Clu at all.
The Ruler of the Grid stopped at the hangar opening and looked out at the skyline. From the flagship's perch, Clu could see the whole city sprawled out before him. Tesler had the feeling that Clu was trying to peer into every nook and cranny of streets below, searching for errors. It was slight and Tesler saw it only because he was looking for it, but after several minutes, Clu's shoulders stiffened slightly; he didn't like what he saw.
"Tesler," Clu's tone was laid back, "You've got a fine city here." He just let the comment hang in the air like a fishing lure. Tesler couldn't figure out if it was a hook or genuine.
"Thank you," Tesler said, but added, joining Clu in his vigil, "Although there is still some work to be done. As you can see the colosseum is still incomplete, though operational."
"Hmmm," was all Clu replied with, "why the delay?" Nothing had changed, Clu's voice had remained calm, amiable.
"We've had to divert some of the resources for construction towards security."
"Because of the the Renegade?"
Clu's voice was smooth, friendly, dangerously friendly. Tesler's mind was racing, focusing so much on coming up with an answer that he didn't notice the technician waving him down from the other side of the hangar. There was a commotion and Tesler turned to see what it was. The technician had tried to approach Tesler and Clu, but the honor guards, black guards with yellow chevrons on their arms, stopped him before he got very far. He had begun protesting saying he had urgent news for General Tesler and that was what got Tesler's attention.
"Release him" He stomped over to the tech, standing well above him. "What is it?"
"The Renegade and the other rogue programs have turned around and headed back into the city," the technician fumbled.
"So there are other programs too?" pierced Clu's level response.
"I assure you," Tesler turned around, trying not to look panicked, "I have already sent my best, my finest officers to deal with the situation."
One of the honor guards stepped up, he addressed Clu, "Shall we lend assistance, sir?"
"No, sir?" the honor guard asked confused, not the only one surprised by Clu's answer.
"No," Clu turned to the city view again, "Let's see how this plays out, after all, we have our 'finest' men on the job."
Everyone gazed out over the metropolis streets. Except for the technician. He had meant to tell Tesler something else too. On top of the rogue programs, an identity disk in storage had been stolen. But he thought better of the news and decided to relay that information later, when Tesler wouldn't derez him on the spot.
Zed was scared. Actually, forget scared, he was terrified. The Recognizers that were chasing them had been joined by a squad of light jets. Searing energy bolts rained down on the Uprising's convoy. Zed had watched as the Renegade, or Tron's friend, or whoever he was, had leapt off of his light cycle and tackled one of the light jets head on. He'd wrestled control from the pilot and had used the hijacked jet to draw some of the forces off their back. There reason Zed was terrified is he had just seen the Renegade get blasted out of the sky and crash into a flaming heap.
The shots from the fighters was getting too close for comfort, "Not that they'd ever be comfortable," Zed thought with grim humor. He and Mara were bringing up the rear, blindly following the programs in front of them as they in turn followed those in front of them and so on until it was just Tron. He alone knew where they were going.
High above in the front recognizer stood Paige, her eyes set like a steel trap on the group of cycles below. They were not getting away from her.
"Squads twelve and eleven," she yelled into the PA system, "take out the front runner." Six light jets accelerated toward the head of the light cycle group and took aim at the lone black program at the front.
Tron saw them, "Hard right!" he shouted as he fishtailed his bike around a corner that almost lead in the opposite direction. The sharp turn caught the pilots off guard and they had to regroup, but they'd be back. They needed cover, Tron thought, but the tunnel entrances were still several leagues away. But then he saw it. Rising up from over the rooftops was a single solitary white jet trailer. "Beck."
Beck, who had had a devil of a time with the ejector seat on his other light jet, was barrelling down on the group of fighters. In one fell swoop, he took out four of them as the other two pulled back to the recognizers. He was lucky he had thought to take all the vehicle batons with him after leaving the garage, otherwise that crash would have been the end of the Renegade. Well it was already the end wasn't it? With Tron back, he wouldn't need to wear the white suite any more. A twinge of nostalgia ran through his mind, but before he could give it another thought, the two remaining light jets along with scores of others came straight at him.
"If this is my last day as the Renegade," Beck smirked as he throttled his engines, "let's give them something to remember me by."
Pavel stood on top of the tunnel entrance, his twisted smile growing wider as the chase got closer. In his right hand was a trigger switch and he thought, "Oh poor Paige," with no sympathy at all.
Paige glared out at the Renegade's jet as it took down fighter after Occupation fighter. Nothing they threw at him had any effect and where normally she'd have admired such skill, even just a little, today was not the day to be soft. "Move," she order the sentry at the door.
"Ma'am, where-?" But Paige simply shoved him out of the way. She climbed into the airlock, feeling for the jet baton strapped to her leg. This was personal.
Beck could see the new orange light jet rez up and take off from the top of the recognizer, but more importantly, he could see who was flying it. Beck inwardly groaned. He wasn't going to shoot her, deep down, he still had faith, still thought there might be a chance for Paige. The scream of energy bolts coming from her light jet made one thing clear, she wasn't about to give him a second chance. He pulled into a dive and she followed. "Good, better me than Tron," he thought. He flew low and began weaving in and out from under the pursuing recognizers, hoping to lose her. Though not quite as graceful, she kept pace with him easily, continuing a steady stream of fire all the while. His next thought was to force her jet down, but there was no way to out maneuver her at this altitude without getting shot out of the sky. Well, actually there was one the chase away from the recognizers, Beck pushed his jet to the max, trying to put as much distance between him and Paige before he made his move. The move, in theory at least, was to recompress his light jet mid flight, turn 180 degrees then rezz the jet again so he would be facing Paige. He took a deep breath and pulled the collapse trigger on his controls. It worked! He was flying through the air and had even managed to spin around without any problems, only he was also spinning along his side axis. He was facing the opposite direction, but parallel to his shoulders he was just rotating in a circle.
He almost lost his baton fumbling for it, but he managed to press the rez button again, only the light jet was now also spinning around its side axis. The corners of Beck's vision began to go black as the spinning got to him. In desperation, he slammed the throttle switch. The jet slowed to a stand still, hovering in the air. Then it began to accelerate, faster, quicker, rocketing forward in the opposite direction.
Paige had little time to react. The Renegade's jet was ever so slightly above her's and coming so fast that she had to dive steeply to avoid hitting him. Unfortunately, there wasn't a whole lot of space between her and the ground. And so her maneuver which spared her a collision with the Renegade, smashed her jet into the road beneath them. For a long moment, she just lay on the ground, still. Had she any idea how worried the white jet above her was, she would have laughed. Eventually Paige picked herself up, brushing the now disintegrated remains of her jet off of her. Beck breathed a sigh of relief. Satisfied she was alright, he turned the nose of his fighter back toward the chase.
But she wasn't out, not yet. She glared at his jet for a second until the passing light cycles snapped her out of it. She was standing in the middle of the road after all. But she had to get back to the chase. She looked around at the oncoming traffic and got an idea. Paige had to time it just right. The next cycle coming along was abruptly stopped by her arm clotheslining the rider.
"Hey!" the rider managed to say, still a little out-of-it from the hit Paige had given him.
"Sorry," Paige replied, revving the confiscated cycle and falling in pursuit of Tron and the garage's programs.
Pavel watched as the chase neared the tunnel entrance. His thumb was itching to flip the switch, "Not yet," he remarked to himself, "not until they're close."
"We're getting close!" Tron shouted over his shoulder. He could see the tunnel opening up ahead. Up above, Beck's light jet was doing work on the Occupation chase party, already he'd already taken down four of the pursuing recognizers.
Mara and Zed weren't faring too well though. As they closed in on the tunnels, a stray shot from the light jets above had grazed Zed's light cycle. It began to wobble back and forth rapidly. Mara had pulled up beside Zed, "Get on!" she yelled. Scrambling off his precarious bike, Zed leaped onto Mara's cycle just in time to see his own veer widely off to the left and smash into a building in a shower of voxels. The Occupation fighters were now peppering the Mara and Zed with shots, Mara was doing her best to dodge them but the road to the tunnel entrances was narrow, giving her limited room to maneuver. Because she had picked up Zed, Mara's bike was lagging far behind the group, making them easy targets.
"At this rate," Zed thought to himself as the light bolts rained down around them, "we'll be derezzed long before we're inside the tunnels." But then he had an idea. He took off his pack and pulled out the EMP drive. If he could give it enough power, he could shoot down some of the light jets, not derezzing them, but rendering their engines inert. It was worth a shot at least Zed shrugged as he hurriedly began assembling the drive components.
"What are you doing?" Mara shouted over the din of incoming fire.
"You'll thank me later," Zed replied. He had gotten it assembled, the thing was ugly with a long barrel and a trigger handle at one end. A shoulder stock was mounted in the back and around it were the energy canisters Zed had taken from the shop.
"Done," he shouted, "Get ready!" he called to Mara.
"Got it," she replied, then added, "For what?"
"This," the EMP drive's internal shaft began spinning as it pulled energy from the canisters. Zed had turned around and was Looking down the muzzle, trying to keep his sights on the Occupation light jets swirling around, but they were moving too fast. But why focus on the jets, Zed realized, when there was a big fat recognizer right in front of him?
He pulled the trigger. The resulting force jerked Mara's light cycle forward, but Zed didn't notice because as the shot from the EMP cannon hit the recognizer, instead of turning off, it had sped up. At first Zed thought he had somehow given the Occupation ship a speed boost, but as he watched he realized the increase in velocity was uncontrollable. The recognizers got faster and faster, flying over the programs heads until it careened into a nearby building.
"Yes!," Zed thought, "but it may need some work."
Up ahead, Tron eyed the tunnel opening, they were less than a league away. He looked behind him, all the garage's programs were accounted for and even Beck was still with them, fending off Occupation air support.
Tron turned his head at the loud sound of a engine and saw a single orange cycle shoot out of side street. Its rider's helmet looked as it it had two small ears in the back. It was Paige and she was gunning for Tron.
"Paige!" Tron yelled as he dodged her disk.
"Whoever you are, this is the end of both you and the Renegade!" She pulled up next Tron and was swinging madly at him with her disk. Tron had drawn his as well and was parrying her blows.
"We're not your enemies, Paige!" He yelled fending her off.
"I don't care, you hurt innocent programms! You people are trying to destroy the Grid!"
Tron could see her face underneath her visor, it was filled with determination and anger. But also saw a good person underneath her visage of hate, he saw the person Beck had seen, someone who could be turned, who could be made to see the truth.
He deflected another of Paige's attacks, but instead of retaliating he reached behind his back and docked his disk. Paige stopped for moment confused and Tron seized the opportunity. "We're on the same side, Paige," he lowered his vizor, revealing his face, "I'm Tron, the rumors are true."
Paige stared, eyes wide, "He's Tron? But Tron's dead," yet clearly here he was in front of her. Had the Occupation lied to her? She didn't have much time to think as with her lapse in attention she had lost control of her bike and was heading straight into a wall. Paige came back to herself just in time to leap from the bike before it exploded in voxels as it hit the wall. She picked herself up and watched as the group of programs raced past her, but all she could think was, "Tron is alive…"
They were all closing in now. Pavel could see everything from his perch. The Renegade's group of light cycles were seconds away from the tunnel entrance with the Occupation forces not far behind. He could see Paige on the side of the road, just standing there. He was waiting until the Occupation forces were right on top of her.
Zed was shooting down as many light jets as he could hit. Already he had gotten five and and between him and the Renegade they had cut the Occupation chase team in half. The EMP cannon drained one energy canister per round and he was down to his last one. "Let's make it count," Zed said as he trained the cannon on the leading Recognizer.
High above, Beck was flying circles around the other light jets, doing his best to keep them off Tron and the other programs. He was doing a loop when he saw how close the Uprising was to the tunnels, "Just a little bit longer."
Tron and the other programs were a stone's throw away, "Come one, come on," Tron said.
Zed lined up his shot with the Recognizer and was charging the cannon.
As he fired, Pavel, who had been watching, flipped the trigger switch.
Paige was still standing in shock of her revelation when she heard a loud beeping coming from behind her. She reached back and pulled out her disk. Stuck to it was the EMP.
"Oh no," she said in horror. Then everything happened at once. Zed's EMP cannon hit the recognizer causing it to surge forward at amazing speed, smashing into the tunnel entrance. The collapsing debris began to seal off the tunnel and Tron tried to race past it. But just as he got close, the EMP on Paige's disk went off, knocking her out and disabling everyone's vehicles. Tron and the Uprising's light cycles died on them and they had to screech to a halt as the tunnel entrance sealed shut.
Things were worse for Beck. When the EMP went off, he was still high in the air. With no power, the light jet began hurtling toward the ground. The jet wouldn't even compress back into a baton or let Beck eject. Beck watched as the ground came up to meet him and in a last ditch effort, he pulled his disk out and cut himself free. The jet smashed into the ground and Beck had just enough time to deploy his wing-shoot so as he would shatter into voxels upon hitting the ground which he did with a solid thud.
"Need a hand," Beck lay on his stomach, the wind knocked out of him. He looked up to see Tron proffering a hand. Beck took it and got to his feet.
"Good news is I'm still in one piece," Beck quipped.
"Really?" Tron knelt down and picked up pieces of Beck's faceplate, "Seems you landed in quite a few pieces."
Beck felt his vizor, or rather were his visor was. There was now just a hole in his helmet so anyone could see him. The rough landing had shattered his face plate.
"Tron!" Mara came running over the hill, "Tron, Zed's hurt, he's-" she stopped at seeing Beck.
Beck sighed, this was not the way he wanted to tell them. "Surprise," Beck said.
"You're the Renegade, Beck?" Mara stared at him dumbstruck.
"You can talk about this later," Tron interjected. He turned to Mara, "You said your friend Zed was hurt?"
Mara seemed to snap back to reality, "Oh, eh, yes. He's over here." She led them threw the dust and rubble of what had been the tunnel entrance to Zed who lay sprawled out unconscious with a large gash across his chest. Other programs were strewn around the ruins of their escape, most seemed to be fine except for a few that had been caught in the collapsing tunnel debris. Tron and Beck pulled Zed out from under some rubble and set him against a wall.
Beck knelt down to look at Zed, "This isn't good. We're mechanics not medics, we need to get him help."
"The Renegade, eh I mean Beck," Mara looked embarrassed, "He's right, we need help."
"They have a problem with that," Tron replied gravely. Emerging from the settling dust and smoke were the orange lights of dozens and dozens of Occupation soldiers. At the head of the group was none other than Pavel.
"I'll give you a choice," Pavel's nasally voice echoed in the tunnel ruins, "You can die now, or at the games!" His eyes suddenly focussed on Beck who stood there in Renegade white. "You!" was taken aback, "A mechanic? A mechanic was the Renegade?!"
"That's your problem Pavel," Beck called back, "If one mechanic could take on the whole Occupation," he gestured to the garage's programs who had gotten to their feet, fingers itching for their disks, "think of what all of us could do."
The the orange soldiers began moving forward, closing the circle in on Tron and the programs from Able's garage. Pavel undocked his disk, "I'm going to enjoy this."
I know this was long but there was a lot that had to happen with. I know action isn't the most fun thing to read (ironically) and the long fighting sequences admittedly got away from me. But the next part is going to be much more character driven as Mara, Zed and Beck have to come to grips with Beck's alter ego. Speaking of characters, Part two will feature the return of some of my favorites from the series.