Today is the 30th anniversary of Tron! So, to celebrate, here's chapter 10 of Revolution. uvu

Enjoy! Again, please excuse any grammatical errors and the like.


"Well, that escalated quickly."

Sam and Quorra led Shaddox and his men outside the stadium, where most of the fighting was taking place.

"The others will keep Wisteria's army distracted," Quorra reassured. "Hope Jet and the others are okay..."

"Kernel's with them. Mercury's pretty damn strong. Jet's the only one I'm worried about... But. Jet's a stubborn idiot who doesn't know how to quit. They'll be just fine."

"Why don't we stay and fight?" a Rebel asked.

Sam shook his head. "This was suppose to be just a rescue operation. I know we've all ready lost a handful of men. Can't afford to lose anymore." He gestured the group around a corner.

Shaddox glanced at Sam. "Do you know how many causalities there's been?"

"Too many."

The group moved through a series of alleys before Quorra and Sam held back their hands, everyone stopping. The two peered out of the alley, into the open. A Recognizer was humming, flying low just above the street, herald by four rows of black guards and sentries. Sam pulled Quorra back, and they faced their companions.

"Looks like more reinforcements are on their way," Sam mumbled.

"Anyway we can elude them?"

Quorra shook her head. "The only way out is across this street." She pointed to the alley adjacent of them. "We're gonna have to risk it."

"How many are there?" Shaddox asked.

Quorra peered outside the alley, one second, five, pulled back. "From the top of my head," she replied, "I count maybe... twenty? Thirty? And who knows how many in the Recognizer."

Shaddox counted the heads of his men. "We can overpower them, definitely," he said, "but I rather we didn't."

"Why not, boss?"

"As Sam said," Shaddox answered, "right now, we cannot afford to lose anymore soldiers." He clenched his jaw. "We should split into two teams. One will handle the soldiers, and the others will head to the rendezvous point."

"That's a good idea," Sam agreed. He gestured the Rebels closer. "I'll take group one. Quorra, Shaddox, you lead group two."

Quorra frowned. "Are you sure, Sam?"

"I'll take forty guys with me," he smirked, "I think we can handle 'em."

"It's settled then," Shaddox said. "All who volunteer, step forward. Quickly, now!"

Though some were hesitant, it didn't take long before forty Rebels scuttled up and around Sam. Quorra gestured the rest over to her side. "Once we're out there, once we've got everyone engaged," Sam said to Quorra and Shaddox, "you make a run for it."

"Shouldn't one of us come back?" Shaddox suggested.

"Just get to the rendezvous point," Sam ordered, "and, if we're not there in fifteen minutes, send another group in. Not to fight, but to pick up any survivors."

"Fifteen minutes, Sam," Quorra insisted, thrusting a finger against his chest, "no more, no less."

Sam smiled. "Trust me. I doubt we'll take that long."

"Always so smug, you."

The sound of the soldiers and Recognizer were closing in. The two groups separated, Sam moving ahead of the rest. He looked down the street; just a few yards. He glanced back to his men, held up a fist. They waited with baited breath, quickly equipping their weapons. After everyone was settled, Sam looked to Quorra one last time. She nodded, and so did he. Sam then threw his fist forward.

The sentries came to a sudden halt at the loud roaring nearby. The Recognizer halted with a small jerk. A split second later, Rebels led by Sam came pouring out of the alley, running at the guards with weapons raised and discs flying. The guards instantly recovered from their shock and charged after them.

The two forces clashed, knocking each other over. Sam's scanned the group, the number of people; he pushed and punched soldiers away as he ran through the crowd. He tapped the shoulder of six Rebels as he passed, and they pulled back from the fight to follow him. The Recognizer was rumbling, heading for the skies. It was nearly ten feet off the ground before Sam pounced, just barely gripping the edge of one foot. Two of the six Rebels jumped on as well; they quickly reached out and took their comrades' hands, pulling them up with them with some effort and strain.

As soon as all six Programs were on the Recognizer, they proceeded to climb up its length, heading for the cockpit inside. The Recognizer was thirty feet off the ground now, floating above the battle below. Sam stopped to look down; the soldiers were all occupied. He turned his eyes to the alley, where Quorra and the others were watching him. With an affirmative wave of his hand, the second group darted out of the alley and across the street, heading for the rendezvous point.

Sam peered up into the invisible flooring of the Recognizer. He could see nine guards inside, all growling at him. Yanking the disc off his back, he bashed it against the floor. It took a few repeated hits before it finally yielded. With one final slug, the floor cracked open into a hole. A guard reached out to grab Sam; Sam pried his fingers off the front of his suit, took him by the wrist and yanked. The guard shrieked as he was pulled out of the hole, increasing its size, and sent flying down to the ground almost sixty feet away.

A Rebel screeched as a soldier managed to thrust his light bo from out of the hole and into his side, derezzing him. His remains hit the face of the Rebel beneath him; with a gasp, the Rebel's grip slipped, sending him falling. Sam cursed, but kept climbing, letting the remaining Rebels deal with the guards. He headed up toward the cockpit before the Recognizer gave a powerful lurch to the side. It dislodged another Rebel, as well as the guard trying to pry him off. Sam felt his body jolt and fly back; his fingers scrambled before he got hold of the Recognizer again, clinging tight.

Sam crawled up and over the screen of the cockpit. The pilot screamed at him, yanked the Recognizer aside again. Sam pounded at the glass; his foot slipped, sending his legs dangling over the side of Recognizer. He looked down, a Rebel fighting disc to disc with a guard hanging out of the passenger hole.

Suddenly, the front window of the cockpit flipped open with a flash of light. The pilot bent forward to look down; Sam grabbed his face with one hand, pulled him out and over his head. The pilot choked on his cry, catching Sam's foot and hanging on. The User grunted, the extra weight loosening his grip. The pilot continued to scream obscenities, as the Recognizer now mowed uncontrollably through the clouds.

"Get off!" Sam cursed, shoving his heel repeatedly into the pilot's face. The bastard held on tight, however. The Recognizer was getting closer toward the ground, about to crash; before Sam could think of shaking the pilot off, the Rebel hanging nearby tossed his disc, slicing the pilot in two. As soon as he was nothing but scraps of data, Sam grunted and pulled himself up into the cockpit, his muscles aching with strain. He rolled over the console and steering wheel, hitting the ground.

It took Sam a moment to collect his wits before he pushed himself back on his feet. He threw himself over the steering wheel; the shriek alerted him, and when he looked up, the Recognizer was about to crash into the street. "Fuck!" Sam grabbed the wheel and yanked it back with all his might; the vehicle groaned and gears hissed as it was abruptly pulled back. He could hear muffled cries, hoping to God it was the soldiers falling out; kept pulling back the wheel, teeth grit, neck muscles tense, fingers knuckle white and shaking. The Recognizer shook and rattled violently as the edge of one leg scraped along the ground, dragging apart gravel for a good ten feet. Sam winced, more so out of embarrassment. With another lurch, the Recognizer finally lifted back off the ground, soaring upward, until Sam was practically about to fall over on his back.

Once high enough, Sam thrust the wheel forward, forcing the Recognizer into a straight position. He paused to breathe, wiping sweat from his forehead. He glanced down at the console. "Okay okay you know how to run this okay okay," he muttered breathlessly to himself. His fingers ran over the command console, its red and yellow circuitry instantly turning blue and white. It only took a few seconds and some tweaking before the Recognizer settled on smooth auto-pilot.

Sam massaged his temples. "I need a drink," he grumbled. He went to look out the window, see if his companions were still clinging to the Recognizer. However, the hatch door to the passenger cabin below swung open, and a sentry climbed in. Sam whirled around, meeting shocked gazes.

Sam cracked a smile. "Your flight's gonna be a little delayed."

The guard shrieked and charged.

Whipping off his disc, Sam met the guard half way. Their weapons clashed, back and forth, the two working around in circles. Sam stumbled, nearly falling into the open hatch door. He chanced a look down; only a few guards, one currently duking it out with a Rebel. The sentry jumped forward, the two working a circle around the small cockpit. Sam continued deflecting the Program's staff with his disc, neither injuring the other.

The guard struck Sam upside the shoulder. The User went stumbling with a pained growl. He quickly deflected a second attack, pushing the guard back. He looked down, spotted the hatch door again. The Rebel poked his head through the door, watched the two with wide eyes; when Sam spotted him, he mouthed something and gestured him over. Sam blinked, nearly risking another hit; however, he soon understood what the Rebel was suggesting. He nodded and then threw himself at the guard, slicing his chest.

Sam continued mindlessly flailing, forcing the guard to back up, farther and farther. Once near the hatch door, the Rebel grabbed the guard's ankles. The guard looked down, surprised; when he next looked up, Sam knocked the staff out of his hand. The guard attempted to move, but the Rebel held him firmly in place. Sam then thrust his disc into his face, and the guard derezzed with a small gurgle.

Sam stepped back, stumbled, and fell tiredly against the wheel. He inhaled, exhaled, wiping more sweat from his face. The Rebel once again poked his head through the hatch door, grinning ear to ear.

"That was fun," he chirped excitedly.

Sam gave a breathy laugh. "But let's not do it again, okay?"


III


Kevin's crew had just arrived the moment Quorra and Shaddox's group reached the rendezvous point. Quorra watched as the Fighter landed next to their ship. She ran to the door; it opened a second later, Vulcan's blank face right in hers.

Quorra squeaked and jumped back. "S-Sorry," she apologized with a small titter.

Vulcan moved aside, and Kevin climbed out of the ship. "Good to see you made it, missy!" He reached out, patting her shoulders. He looked to the others nearby; upon spotting Shaddox, he beamed. "'Dox!"

Shaddox grinned crookedly as the User leaped out of the plane and ran over to give him a big hug. "Nice to see you too, Flynn," he chortled, hugging back tiredly. "Kernel didn't mention you in his message, but I knew - I sensed you were here. That you never quite left us."

"Can't keep a good man down. Not even death!" Kevin let him go and stepped back. "I'm glad you're still with us, buddy!" he said. "I was worried you were a goner."

"Not yet," Shaddox said, "and hopefully, not for a long while." He waved over his men. "Programs, this is Kevin Flynn. I don't think you need a proper introduction."

The Rebels were all bright-eyed and gaping at the sight of the famous User and Creator. "Autographs come later," Kevin snickered, throwing up his hands. "Right now, we need t'get you boys an' girls back to Divide!"

"Yes, sir!"

Quorra helped the Programs into the ships. Kevin turned back to Shaddox, his smile weakening. "Linx...?"

Shaddox frowned. He shook his head.

Kevin looked away, wilting a little. He took a deep breath, forced back on his smile. "Well, at least you made it out okay," he said and patted Shaddox's arm. "We're really gonna need your help, and all the help we can get."

"We are expecting more, including Sam, within fifteen minutes," Shaddox added. He glanced around. "Where are the others?"

"Kernel, Mercury, and Jet are raiding Wisteria's weaponry. Said they'd be here soon. Tron's on the battlefield." Kevin winced. "Hey, is Sam all right? Was he wounded or anything?"

"Not that I noticed."

Kevin sighed with relief. "Good," he said, biting the corner of his bottom lip, "though, uh, maybe some of us should go get him and the others." He laughed. "Before they come crashing down from the - "

"Watch out!"

The roaring howl of an engine smothered Quorra's warning. The two whipped around, just as the giant Recognizer covered in Programs came crashing down. Its legs hit the ground with a loud tremble, sending up glass and gravel. Shaddox quickly caught Kevin before he could fall over. The Recognizer's engine quieted as it settled; everyone looked up, still wide eyed.

The Programs attached to the outside of the Recognizer climbed and jumped down. A few more crawled out of the hole in the second compartment. Shaddox quickly went to greet them, checking for injuries. The cockpit open with a thud, and Sam popped into view.

Kevin exhaled loudly, touching his chest. His heart was beating a mile a minute. "Boy," he breathed, smiling weakly, "I just came back to life like a day ago, I'd rather not die of a heart attack so soon."

"Is this everyone?" Shaddox asked, pointing to his men loading on the ships.

Sam shook his head. "No," he said, "a few couldn't fit. 'Bout ten of 'em. But they're on their way. Made sure they weren't followed."

"Why don't you let Quorra take the Recognizer to pick up the stragglers?" Kevin suggested.

"I'm gonna head back to the battlefield, see if I can find Tron and anyone else still on the battlefield," Sam replied. He crawled back into the cockpit.

Kevin fussed. "You be careful! With the way you're driving..."

"Yeah, well, you had me worried sick, too!" Sam sat back in the pilot's seat. "Next time, call and check in, okay?" The cockpit door flashed and closed, and soon the Recognizer was humming and rumbling again, lifting slowly off the ground.

Kevin watched the Recognizer disappear into the dormant storm clouds. "Just like his mother," he murmured, gave a small 'pfft'. "Always nagging."


III


Tron wasn't sure if it was his mind or eyes playing tricks on him. His coding - his coding was still catching up, still suffering from minor glitches and memory relapse. This could all be an illusion, a trick; he'd lost control, and the anger - the anger was making him see things.

It was impossible. Completely inconceivable.

Yet, it was highly possible, and the more he thought about it, the more likely it could be.

Tron suddenly felt extremely dizzy.

"Yori?"

Her voice pulled him back to the surface, drowning in his confusion and shock. Tron swallowed a lump tight in his throat, staring down at... Wisteria? Yori? She had her face, her beautiful face, though it was ruined with the darkness her blue, blue eyes harbored.

"Yori... You're Yori," Tron breathed, his chest constricting.

Wisteria blinked, then frowned. "I know no one by that name," she said firmly. She slowly gathered to her feet, but Tron did not move. Disc still pointed now at Wisteria's abdomen. "Perhaps," she hummed, pushing golden hair from out of her eyes and face. She smiled wickedly, something that was not part of Yori. Not the Yori he knew. "Your programming is glitching again?"

In a flash of light, Yori moved; Tron saw a flash of black and gold slip past him. Whipped around. Wisteria had recovered her disc, arm thrown back. Before she could attack, Tron raised his hands and disc, in a show of surrender. "Wait!" he shouted.

Wisteria wrinkled her nose, but kept still. "Are you surrendering, Tron?" she asked. "Finally realized you're fighting a losing war, have you?"

Tron frowned, his bright eyes pleading. "Please, just listen to me, for just one moment," he begged. "I don't want to fight you. I... I don't know what happened to you, but..." He swallowed again. "I know it's you, Yori. It's not a glitch in my coding."

Wisteria snorted. "Just what are you trying to pull?" she snapped. "Because it won't work!" She threw her arm forward, disc flying at Tron.

Tron quickly moved aside; the disc flew past him. He jumped aside again as it returned. Wisteria caught it with a low growl. "If you're not going to fight me, Tron, then I suggest surrendering," she ordered.

"I will not surrender," Tron insisted, "but I will not fight you." He took one cautious step forward. "Yori, whatever's wrong with you, I - Kevin can fix - "

"Shut up!" Wisteria spat. She tossed her disc at him again, only for Tron to bash it aside with his own. "I am not Yori! I am Wisteria! And I am your enemy!" She snatched her disc mid-air and charged. Tron used his disc as a shield as she dove her weapon against it. Wisteria pushed, trying to break through the barrier. Her eyes flickered when she met Tron's pitiful gaze, and it only further infuriated her. With a grunt, she stepped back, slicing her disc along Tron's.

"If you won't fight me and you won't surrender," Wisteria snapped, "then do us both a favor, and derezz yourself."

Tron shook his head. "Listen, Yori - "

"I am not Yori!" Wisteria shrieked. She came at him a third time, and for a moment, he seemed to be fighting back. Though all his maneuvers were defensive. Pausing a moment, she deliberately slipped, allowing an opening for Tron. It would only result in a small wound, but she had to test him - He knew there was an opening, but he didn't take it. Wisteria scowled with disappointment and disgust, bashing her disc repeatedly against his. "Is this how you wish to die, Tron? A spineless, delusional imbecile?"

Tron knocked her disc away. "He did something to you - Clu did," he said, blocking her return attack. "Just like me - just like me, he corrupted your coding," and oh God, the sickness and anger at the idea of Clu having put Yori through the same pain as him... "Listen to me!" He shoved her back, disc against disc. "The reason we've been so hesitant, the reason we're acting so strangely around one another - it's because of our bond, Yori! You recognize me on a subconscious level, I know you do!"

Wisteria sliced her disc across his chest, ripping apart more armor. "You expect me to believe such nonsense!" Her disc screeched against his. "You are trying to play me for a fool! What do you take me for!" She turned, throwing her weight against Tron, shoving him back. Reached for his disc. "How dare you insult my intelligence with your flimsy attempts at - !"

Tron dropped his disc. The act shocked Wisteria enough to pause her attack for his other hand. Suddenly, his fingers gripped her arm and pulled her against his chest. Her eyes widened, circuits flaring with indescribable emotions. Tron held her close, though his hand was shaking. Breathing, he closed his eyes, her hair soft against his cheek. "Please," he whispered, voice strained, "please remember me, Yori."

Wisteria felt a ripple run through her circuitry. For a moment, her entire being was engulfed with a sensation that both felt familiar, yet alien. Her circuits flickered, their bright orange and yellow softening into something calm. Her fingers loosened around her disc, eyes lidded.

"Tron," she whispered in a quiet rasp.

Tron said nothing, just held her.

"You're so pathetic."

Tron grunted as her elbow thrust into his gut. She yanked her arm free, whipped around. A moment later, she had him locked in her arms, slamming him back into a suplex. Tron coughed, his single shaky hand and broken arm rolling himself onto his back. He opened his eyes, peering up into Wisteria's dark glower. Her disc burned in her hand.

Tron stared at her a moment before shaking his head. "Go on then," he murmured, closing his eyes, "kill me."

"I intend to," Wisteria snorted. She lifted her disc. Wound her arm back. Aimed for his throat. Tron kept his eyes closed, did not move an inch, did not fight back. Wisteria readied herself, frown pulled back tight. A second past, then another; five seconds, ten seconds, and yet she did nothing. Disc still ready to kill, but her arm frozen in place.

For whatever reason, the way Tron laid there, accepting defeat, looking so... calm... As if he knew she wouldn't hurt him... Wisteria grit her teeth, brows furrowing. The disc shook in her grip. It was as if she were physically unable to kill him. The very idea seemed almost wrong. His head was tilted back, displaying his throat; he was baiting her. Here was her chance to finish him off, to take out one of the key players in this game. With Tron dead, the Rebels' chance of victory would drop considerably.

And yet.

The disc's circuits softened with a hum. Tron slowly opened his eyes. He looked up; Wisteria stood board straight now, disc back at her side. "I refuse to kill you like this," she spat. "At least make your death something honorable. At least die with some dignity."

Tron frowned. "I won't fight you, Yori, no matter what you do, no matter what you say."

Wisteria's fists clenched, the leather squeaking in her grip. "If that is how you feel," she said, darkly, "then I will not be the one to kill you." She raised her arm, a holographic image of Rome popping open from her wrist.

Rome looked shocked. "Wisteria!" he cried. "You're alive!"

"What is the status of my men?" Wisteria demanded, keeping her eyes locked on Tron.

"Oh, it's a total mess! While we've taken out a number of Rebels, we've also lost a good amount of our own men. Not only by the enemy soldiers, but that strange monster, too; it's killing and destroying everything in sight! Not to mention, I've been unable to get in contact with Malvir, and it seems a few others have been having the same problem."

Wisteria growled at the mention of her treacherous second in command. "Nevermind him," she said coldly, "what is the status of the Users?"

"Edward and Crown? They ran off. We don't know where to. Probably the portal. Just got word that there were more of those strange energy fluctuations in the tower. And a few Rebels - Kernel included - have managed to break inside; we're not sure why, but they've taken out all the guards they've come in contact with. But besides that, most of the Rebels have retreated after rescuing the captives!"

Wisteria grit her teeth. "Keep fighting," she ordered, "kill every Rebel on sight. Send a group to tail after anyone who escapes; tell them if they don't come back with the location of the Rebels' base, then don't bother coming back at all."

"Y-Yes, ma'am. As for - "

"Make sure Kernel and his men don't leave the tower!" Wisteria interjected. "As for the Users... Kill the female; she's too dangerous. Send a group after their portal; make sure no one gets in or out. If you intercept Edward and any of his colleagues," her eyes darkened, "kill them. Take no prisoners."

"As you command. What about Malvir and - "

Wisteria snarled, "I said forget Malvir!" She looked back at Tron, still remaining put. "I need you to send a group of six - no, make that eight - to these coordinates." She half-grinned. "I have Tron in my custody."


III


Octet flew high above the carnage and chaos. He knew when it was best to stay out of the way, intervening only when necessary. Still, he tried to keep an eye on the place. "What a mess," he scowled at all the ruin and spilled data. He flitted and took higher to the skies, spotting a Recognizer on the horizon; it was about to crash before clumsily taking off again. He just hoped everything was okay with Sam and Quorra's group.

The byte continued flying around the stadium, like a vulture waiting to feast on the remains after it was all over. Most of his comrades had retreated, once Sam announced the prisoners were freed. Some stayed behind to keep the guards from following. Good thing, however, that not many of them managed to get past the Rebels; Octet was sure those who managed to pursue the prisoners would not get very far, either.

Most of the battle took place now between the black guards and... Octet wasn't sure what to call them. They seemed to appear out of nowhere in droves. Fighting Rebels and Wisteria's guards attempting to attack Edward and his employees. "Bugs?" he murmured, tilting his entire body; watched the DataWraiths mow through their enemies, only for those who died to just... poof. Disappear. Strange form of deresolution.

The monster that was once a User was causing most of the ruckus and damage. Though she seemed a mindless beast hellbent on destroying everything around her, she did not attack the strange Wraiths. Left them alone, as if they were almost her comrades. Speaking of which, Octet buzzed after Edward and Crown, fleeing from the scene. He stayed a safe distance; didn't want to get shot with that Z-Lot that was ensuring them a safe getaway. They still had guards tailing them, but they were careful as not to get too close either.

Octet thought about chasing after the Users. Locating their portal. However, just as he contemplated flying in a little closer and out of the clouds, he spotted a strange, but familiar flick of color and life outside the stadium. Octet froze, spun around.

A mountain of debris from the stadium separated the city from the battlefield. Very carefully, very uneasily, a small creature hustled and slunk about, full of curiosity. About the size of a small animal, eight legged, green with a cycloptic eye - "A bug?" he murmured, turning a soft blue. He tilted again, watching the inquisitive little creature. Although gridbugs were quite common on the Grid - and any system for that matter - it had been nearly a cycle since Octet last saw one.

The gridbugs were rampant shortly after Clu's destruction, the re-integration between Clu and Kevin causing major data malfunctions and glitches. The 'bugs practically gushed from the fresh ruins in dozens. Still, they were exterminated quickly; it took nearly a cycle to wipe them out, and as the months dwindled, so did their numbers, until finally a 'bug would only show itself once every week or two.

A year of absolutely no gridbugs, and now, out of nowhere... Octet flitted side to side. The twinkle and flashing of his colors caught the 'bug's attention. It blinked at the byte before quickly scuttling off, down an alley into the city. "No way, no way," he grumbled. His tiny body constricted; then, with a grunt, he popped out a small bit. "Follow that gridbug," he ordered, "see where it goes."

The bit turned blue. "Yes," it said, then took off.

A gridbug was the least of his troubles right now, but it was always best to tie up loose ends no matter the situation. However, this cost him dearly - Octet remembered what he had been doing before spying on the spying gridbug. He twirled; Edward and Crown were nowhere in sight, most likely having reached their portal and returned to the real world by now.

"Frag!" Octet whined. He leaped back and forth, shifting between blue and red. "Frag frag frag!"

Octet quickly calmed himself. Right, right - It was about time he met up with the others anyway. Octet flipped around and headed back for the battlefield. The User monster was still fighting, but there were less of the DataWraiths now. Still no sign of Tron or Wisteria - he prayed Tron finished the crazy broad off and was back at the rendezvous point.

Octet hummed as he flew toward Wisteria's fortress. He slowed down until he floated before the massive viewing window of the middle tower. Could not seen within; supposed it was a one-sided window. "Hurry up, you guys," he grumbled, idling at the window.

Inside the fortress, guards were pursuing the intruders. Mercury and Jet had separated from Kernel, the two evading trouble so far.

They walked quickly and cautiously down an empty corridor. Mercury was ahead, checking the hologram projected from her disc. "Should be coming up to the weaponry next turn," she said, looking up. She closed the hologram, disc clutched like a blade to her chest.

Jet took a deep breath. "Let's just get the weapons and go," he grumbled. "This place is starting to make me uncomfortable."

Mercury smirked. "Don't pass out on me, User."

The two turned the corner, moving into the next hall. At the very end, the door to the weaponry. Two guards had been posted there, waiting; just when the two thought they had it easy, a flock of guards emerged from around another corner, standing between them and their goal. The guards silently raised their discs and swords.

Jet looked to Mercury. "Well, I mean," he said, shrugging, "we knew it wasn't going to be easy, right? But I'm still disappointed."

From what Mercury could see, at least the guards weren't carrying any guns.

With a flick of his hand, the rod in Jet's hand lit up, releasing a discharge of energy. Mercury and Jet ran into battle; the guards quickly separated, forcing the two into a circle. Mercury and Jet quickly threw themselves back to back, moving in a constant circle, weapons at the ready. Without another word, the guard's commander threw a hand forward; his men charged.

Jet thrust the edge of his prod into the first guard's stomach, stopping him; quickly thrust it between his legs and, with a grunt, hefted the flailing guard up and over his head. The first guard soared above the others, crashing out the window with a scream. Mercury slashed her disc left and right, deflecting a double attack from two discs. Managed to knock the disc from the second guard's hands, shoved away the the third; she stomped forward, breaking away from Jet momentarily, thrusting the second guard's own disc through his throat, holding the third guard back. Turned and quickly used both discs to fight now.

Jet struck his prod against the fourth guard's sword much like a blade. They bounced against one another, one hit after the other after the other. Jet threw up his leg, kicked the fourth guard's hand; the katana hit the floor, and he shoved the prod into the fourth guard's face, electrifying and derezzing him. Mercury had just finished the third guard before a disc came flying at her. She slapped it aside with the third guard's disc, then tossed it. The fifth guard caught his disc, only for his deceased's comrade's to take out one of his arms.

They continued moving in circles, trading off opponents. Just as the sixth guard swung a blade over Mercury, Jet was in her place, deflecting it with his prod. When Jet was open for an attack, Mercury spun around, decking the seventh guard in the face before finishing him off.

Despite being outnumbered, the two had taken very little damage. Jet had been hit in the shoulder and knee, and Mercury suffered from a cut along her cheek and blow to her abdomen. Still, it was nothing compared to the damage they had inflicted; they'd taken out nearly half their attackers.

As Jet turned his prod around to use as a he shield, he peered over his shoulder at Mercury with a smile. "Hey!" he laughed. "We make a pretty good team!"

Mercury grabbed a guard's hand, twisted it. Shoved him at another. "You're just now figuring that out?" she chortled.

Jet's face turned pink. The prod nearly fell from his hand before he quickly swung it upright again. "Y-You think so?" he stammered loudly.

"Think what?"

"That we're a - we're a great team?"

Mercury grunted, kicking away a guard. "Yeah?" she said, sounding confused but hardly distracted. "I thought it was - " She gasped when the guard she kicked grabbed her leg, yanked her onto the floor. She pulled her foot free, pushed herself up; wide eyes regard the guard about to slam his disc through her chest -

Jet threw himself over the Program, using his prod to deflect the disc. He shoved the guard back and off, before standing again and thrusting out his weapon. A volt of energy hit the guard's head; helmet cracked with a snap as the guard fell over. Jet quickly scanned the area; three guards left, slowly backing away. The guards stationed at the weaponry door remained firmly in place.

Mercury sat up with a grunt, adjusting her helmet. When she looked up, Jet was holding his hand out to her with a big smile. "Obvious?" he finished for her. Mercury blinked then laughed; she took his hand and he pulled her back on her feet. The two turned to face the remaining guards.

Their leader, standing in the middle, snarled something, pointed left then right. The guards at his side took off, practically running up the walls. Jet and Mercury turned to follow. The guards threw both their discs. Mercury and Jet quickly shielded themselves, giving the leader of the group a chance to jump in between them. Jet screamed with pain as the commander's disc tore into his back, cutting deep into his flesh. Blood splattered, hitting Mercury. She gasped, wide eyed, before the commander shoved her down.

The commander planted his foot against her solar plexus, pinning her down. Mercury growled, went to slice off his leg with her disc; he kicked it out of her hand with his free foot. Exchanged disc for katana. Jet quickly forgot about his pain; turning, he saw the guard bring his blade down on Mercury. For a moment, the world went silent, dread overcoming the User; he went to help his comrade, only for the remaining guards to quickly latch onto his arms, forcing him back.

Mercury watched as the blade lowered, reflected double in her glassy eyes.

"Mercury!" Jet screeched, struggling in the guards' arms. He threw himself forward, heaving. "Mercury!"

Mercury closed her eyes. The warmth of the blade dangerously close. She raised her hand, grabbed the side of her helmet - With a shriek, she ripped off her helmet, quickly using it to block the katana. It cut clean through the helmet, data sprinkling between them. It was a surprise enough, just enough, for Mercury to reach up and grab the commander's wrist. He tried to pull his hand free, but she held on tight; he refused to let go of the blade, hovering near Mercury's face but unable to get any closer.

The commander snarled and lifted his second foot; twisted around just enough to shove his boot into her throat. Mercury gasped; even as his heel dug into her throat, she refused to let go, one hand still holding back the killing hand, the other now grabbing and clawing at his boot.

Jet felt a surge of fury break through his fear. Watching her struggle, he could see she was weakening. Mercury managed to meet his gaze, her eyes tired, but determined, teeth grit and bared and all her force pushing the commander back to keep herself alive. Hot rage swelled in Jet's chest; he felt it burst just as he yanked one arm free of a guard's grip. Nearly cost pulling it from his socket, but the adrenaline kept him from feeling any pain. He quickly punched the second guard in the face, successfully freeing himself. Didn't waste time with them; gathered his prod from the ground and ran at the Program holding Mercury down.

The commander looked back at Jet's furious cry. Watched the prod swing before connecting with his neck. The combined strength and energy cleanly knocking his head off his shoulders. It went flying, burst into data once it hit the ground. The body remained firm, standing upright, convulsing; with another snarl, Jet thrust his prod through the headless corpse, shattering it completely.

Jet quickly went to handle the remaining soldiers. Took one down with ease; however, with his back turned, the remaining guard advanced. He screamed as Mercury threw her disc, bisecting him just as Jet turned to realize he was there. Didn't miss a beat to quickly run to Mercury's side.

"Are you okay?" Jet breathed, feeling a little dizzy. He knelt beside her, helped her to a sit.

Mercury groaned and rubbed her throat. "Yeah," she rasped, eyes squinting. She gave Jet a somewhat forced smile. "Mmokay."

Jet grinned, instantly relieved. "Good," he murmured, "good..."

"We were hoping they could take care of you for us."

Mercury and Jet felt their muscles stiffen; they quickly looked up, down the hall. The guards at the door were smiling, having not even moved an inch.

"Fine job they did, huh?" Jet sneered, wiping off his face.

"We have to give them credit," the first guard said. A second later, he and his comrade were cocking a pair of guns. Mercury groaned. "They will not die in vain, however."

"What are you gonna do with those BB guns, huh?" Jet snorted. He hoped maybe, just maybe... "I'm a User." He smirked. "That shit don't work on me."

The guards tilted their heads. They looked to each other, then back at the User and Rebel. "Then certainly there is no harm to you if we see for ourselves," the second guard gibed.

"But your friend will certainly die."

"Too bad."

Mercury screamed as the guards each fired a shot. She moved just in time to miss the first blow, pushing Jet over from the second. She burst to her feet, running at the guards. They quickly turned both guns on her, fired; Mercury jumped aside, the bullets of Z-Lot just an inch off from grazing her arm and hip. They fired two more shots, but she dove forward, rolling along the ground, before leaping up and standing between them. The guards looked at her, shocked.

Mercury twisted around, threw her back against the first guard; grabbed his hand, hoisted it up. Gun pointed at his comrade's head, she squeezed, forcing the first guard to pull the trigger. The second guard derezzed instantly. The first, and now last, guard managed to wrench his arm free, shove Mercury off; she stumbled before flipping, landing on her feet and swinging around. The guard pointed his gun -

Jet slammed the prod into his hand, destroying it; the gun hit the ground with a loud clak. Jet punched him in the jaw once, twice, forcing him scampering backwards. One final hit to the face, and the guard was thrown through the window.

For a few precious moments, the two stood there in complete silence, breathing, steadying themselves. Outside, the cries of battle flooded in through the two broken windows. Jet swallowed and thrust his prod into the ground, using it for support to lean on. Mercury checked the extent of her injuries on her disc; nothing too worrisome. She quickly placed it back in her plug, ignoring the tremor in her hand, before moving over to the guns lying still on the ground.

Mercury squatted, eying the strange weapons. She reached out a gloved hand, slowly - "Don't!" Mercury jerked back, looked up; Jet was waving her away, looking tired. "Don't touch it," he grumbled, "we don't know what it'll do. Might backfire."

"Shouldn't we at least take one?" Mercury suggested.

Jet bit his bottom lip. "I want to, trust me... But it's still too risky."

"Can we... Can we pick it up with something else?"

Jet thought a moment. He glanced at the door to the weaponry. His eyebrows lifted. "Maybe..." He quickly moved to the control panel on the door. The code itself was easy to hack, given Jet's experience, but it was practically nothing against his User skills. He need only punch in a couple buttons before the lock gave out. The door shimmered and disappeared in a flash of light. Jet carefully poked his head inside, checked for any signs of life.

"We're clear."

Mercury followed Jet into the weaponry room a moment later. It was filled from top to bottom with various weapons, most of which Jet had never seen before. His eyes twinkled. "Yeah," he chortled, picking up a handful of light katana batons, "I think we hit the jackpot."

"We should find something to put the Z-Lot in."

"Oh, right right."

Though most of the weapons were pretty standard, there were plenty of them. Mercury and Jet separated, taking on different ends of the room. Jet found discs that could split in two; Mercury found a baton that generated an energy blade shaped like a scythe. They continued digging through the treasure, collecting what they needed.

"Looks like we got a little more than we bargained for," Jet noted, nearly knocking over a pile of identity discs. "There's no way only the two of us can carry all this crap out."

"Kernel should be here soon."

"Kernel's a big guy, I'll give you that, but I doubt he'd - "

"Think I found something!"

Jet dropped the batons in their pile as he ran over to Mercury. He looked at the door as he passed it, down the hall. Still empty. "What'd you fi - " He turned his head back just as he bumped against Mercury. She was bent over some boxes, her rear pushed against his stomach. It took him a moment to realize what position they were in, and that his hands instinctively grabbed at the Program's hips when they hit.

Mercury glanced at him from over her shoulder. "Mind backing up?"

Jet's face turned rosy red. "S- Sorry!" His hands flew up into the air as if he had touched something hot, and he practically jumped back five feet.

Mercury chortled and stood upright, turning back around with something in her arms. She went to speak before she noticed the blush on his face. "Are you okay?" she asked, pointing. "You're turning colors."

Jet scowled. He rubbed his warm cheeks. "I, well, I - " He quickly pointed at the Program. "Well, so are you!"

Mercury blinked. When she looked down, a few of her circuits around her waist and hips were a soft violet. Instantly, this turned more of her circuits a blushing purple. "I- It's nothing! Just - just show's I'm tired, um, s'all..." She quickly cleared her throat, a User gestured she had picked up, and held out the object in her hands. "Do you think this will work?"

Jet swallowed and stepped forward. He took the large translucent box from her hands. "What is this?" he asked; it felt weightless.

"Prison cell," Mercury answered. "They come in a variety of sizes. Usually, bits or bytes are contained inside. This one, for instance, is used to hold maybe fifteen bits or five or so bytes. And given the right amount of pressure..." She reached out, pressing her hand against the box. Just enough for it to release a zap of electricity inside. Jet nearly dropped it, jumping. She quickly took it from his hands. "Harmless to us, but possibly fatal to its tiny prisoners..."

"So, you suggest we put the guns in there?" Jet pointed to the cell. "Use that to scoop it up with, too?"

"I guess so?" Mercury shrugged. "We might as well try. If the gun backfires, at least it will destroy the cell. Not us."

Jet smiled lopsidedly. "Well... Let's do it, I guess."


III


"Y-You have Tron!"

"Yes," Wisteria said, "and I believe he'll be quite useful, as far as information goes." She glared back at Rome's face. "Now! Dispatch my orders, and get that group here as soon as possible!" With that, she cut the transmission, the hologram disappearing in a wink. She gave a frustrated noise as she pinched the bridge of her nose.

"You won't win this, Yori," Tron said, "no matter what, you won't find the base. Your guards won't make it. Kernel's too strong - besides that, he's got the aide of a User."

"You need not concern yourself with my problems," Wisteria snorted. She fluttered a hand. "While your comrades may have rescued the prisoners, my army has still taken a considerable amount of your men. In the end, you left with less soldiers than you originally intended to gain." She smirked. "As for Kernel and this so-called User - you give my men such little credit. Rome may not know why they're inside, but it's obvious - they plan to raid my weaponry." Wisteria laughed, hand on her hip. "They're going to find it won't be so easy. I venture if security doesn't kill them, the guards posted at the door's surprise will. They've been equipped with their own Z-Lot, you see."

Tron narrowed his eyes. "I won't let you hurt them."

"Or you'll do what?" Wisteria guffawed. "You refuse to kill, let alone fight me!" She shook her head. "No. As long as your scrambled coding makes you think I'm this... Yori, you won't lift a finger against me. And since you insist on going out like a coward," she looked aside, "you can enjoy a painful, sound beating from my guards before they derezz you nice and slowly." Wisteria flicked hair from off her shoulder, turning up her nose. "That is, once I'm finished bleeding you dry of all the information I need."

"I don't intend to be your prisoner, Yori," Tron disagreed. He pushed himself to his feet, but Wisteria hardly felt threatened. "Because I'm going back," he said, giving her a firm look, "and you're coming with me."

Yori widened her eyes. A split second later, she grinned and broke out into pearls of laughter. "Oh, surely you jest!" she snorted. "Taking me to your base, are you really that daft? You're making this somuch easier for me, that I'm actually missing the challenge!"

"If I have to take you back by force, I will," Tron said. His expression and tone lightened. "You need help, Yori. You're... You're sick. You've been brainwashed. Kevin can help - "

"Stop- "

Tron grunted as his back hit the cold floor. A second later, Wisteria was straddling his hips, one hand pinning down his chest, the other holding her disc against his throat. "- Calling me Yori," she finished in a deep throated growl. She pushed the disc harder against his neck, drawing bits of data. "I try my best not to comply with my enemy's wishes, but you're getting very, very close to me killing you right now."

"Let me ask you something then," Tron said, remaining relaxed. He knit his brows together. "What do you remember of your life before you started working with Clu?"

Wisteria sneered. "I was an engineer."

"What was your job? Where did you live? Who were your friends, your closest companions?"

Wisteria squinted. "That's none of your business," she grumbled.

"Is it because you can't remember?" Tron demanded. "What is your first memory, Wisteria? Your first memory coming online. The last memory you had before Clu took you in."

Wisteria said nothing, but... Her first memory was shaking Clu's hand as he welcomed her aboard his army. She tried not to think about it, but yet... She never really thought about her past, actually. She never had any reason to. "I had a life before I joined Clu," she insisted. In her coding, she felt like she did - felt like she had a whole life before then. Yet when she tried to conjure the details, nothing came - the more she thought about it, the more her head began to hurt, as if digging and prying would only cause her pain.

"What life, Wisteria?"

Wisteria opened her eyes. Stared directly into Tron's. Felt that rush run through her system. It was hard keeping his gaze; she felt almost... ashamed. And that hesitation, that strange, ambiguous hesitation, that kept her from killing Tron not only once, but twice earlier... Tron could see it. She knew he could see it. He could see right through her insecurity and confusion, as if she were made of glass; this sickened and disgusted her, just enough for Wisteria to quickly end all second guessing and doubting.

Wisteria bent forward, until her lips nearly brushed with his. Tron's body shivered beneath her, and she was painfully aware she shivered as well. "You will die, Tron," she whispered in a soothing voice, "maybe not by my hand, but I will be there when your time comes. I will make sure you beg and scream for mercy before they finish you off."

Tron did not react. "No," he said, quietly, "because this is not how we end."

Suddenly, Tron's weight knocked against her's. The force enough for Wisteria to drop her disc from his throat. He flipped her over onto her back; before he could secure her in place, she threw her legs around his hips in a tight lock; one arm flew to lock around his head, free hand pushing them over, until Tron was once again on his back. Tron bucked, knocking her off; she flipped into a handstand, back onto her feet. Tron rolled, popped up face to face with her; he blocked her fist with a forearm, jerked his head aside from the blow. Before he could twist her arm behind her back, Wisteria threw herself back, yanking Tron along with her, before swinging her heel into his hip.

Tron released her and Wisteria jumped back. Charged and swung a fist, decking him in the jaw. He ducked for the second blow, pouncing to tackle her waist. With an oomph, she fell over, head bouncing painfully against the ground. She wrapped her legs around Tron again, attempting to roll him over, but he quickly pressed his knee into her stomach; one hand pinned down hers, his forearm holding down the other.

The two laid there, panting, staring, face to face.

"Are we done?" Tron asked, brows quirking.

Wisteria looked over Tron's shoulder, before she gave a bitter sneer. "Not even close."

Tron could hear their footfalls. He chanced a look back; people were running toward them.

"What are you going to do now, Tron?" Wisteria snickered. "You're outnumbered."

Tron squinted as the group moved in closer. When he noticed their colors, however... "Those aren't your men, Yori," he mumbled, and slowly climbed off her, "and they're not mine, either."

Wisteria blinked and pushed herself up into a sit; she looked to the approaching group, now stopping only a few feet away. Her eyes widened with shock.


III


"What is taking them so fraggin lo - eek!"

Octet shrieked when the window suddenly shattered; he flew back before any of the data shards could impale him. He instantly turned from red to blue at the sight of Kernel staring up at him from the hole he made. "You're taking your ti - " Octet fell silent, flickering, when he spotted one of those strange creatures swung like a rag doll over Kernel's shoulder. "What are you doing with that?"

"I got questions, its got answers," Kernel grumbled. He nodded outside. "Send in Cyber. I'm about to go collect the others."

Octet bobbed in the air. "Yes, sir!"

Kernel watched the byte take off before turning. He headed back out of the room, keeping his eyes peeled for guards. He'd all ready taken care of most of them. It seemed the guards situated inside the fortress were not equipped with those strange guns; just those out on the field. His map showed the place was empty, save him and his comrades. Judging by their blips on his radar, they had broken into the weaponry some minutes ago. Still, he had to keep a look out, one hand holding down the DataWraith slung over his shoulder, the other clutching tightly to his disc.

Kernel had made his way to the final floor, where he would meet up with Mercury and Jet. Just as he stepped out of the elevator, the Wraith on his shoulder gave a violent jolt. Kernel jumped aside; the Wraith fell onto the floor with a painful grunt. He stared at the strange creature as she groaned, rolling onto her back. As he went to apprehend her, she quickly sat up and threw herself back a few feet.

"What are you - why am I here!" the Wraith shrieked, studying her hands. "I should have returned to HQ!"

"I don't know what you are," Kernel growled, reaching down and easily taking her by the front of her electric purple and silver suit. Her glowing eyes widened. "But I want some answers." He pulled her face to face, his circuits burning hot against her cheeks. "Tell me what was in those guns. Tell me where you come from."

"I- I can't!" she cried. "I'll - I'll be fired - !"

Kernel tightened his grip, and she squeaked. "I don't know what you mean by 'fired', but I can guarantee I'll see you suffer something much worse if you don't answer me."

The Wraith swallowed. "I... I..." She widened her eyes again. "I wasn't... I was in stasis! I fell into stasis!" She scowled. "Mister Baza said it was possible, that if I wasn't careful I would - but I didn't think it'd happen. Just a glitch, just a stupid glitch, couldn't have..." She then realized the Program was staring at her with murderous desire. Slowly, a grin spread across her face. "I'm sorry, Mr. Program, but I can't help you."

"You want to stake your life on that?"

The Wraith giggled and gave his fist holding her by the suit a pat. "Maybe next time?" she purred. Her eyes lit up, and she spoke too fast for Kernel to stop her. "Execute failsafe dot e - x - e!"

Kernel grunted as the Wraith in his hand was suddenly engulfed in light. Jumping back, he threw his disc. The light and Wraith disappeared, the disc cutting through air where she once stood. Kernel stared at the empty space a moment. His reptilian face fell. "Ah," he growled, hand flying up and easily catching his disc, "frag."

Kernel gave the area one more look over before continuing onward. It didn't take long before he turned into the corridor where Mercury and Jet were waiting. "All right," he said, looking out a window, "the ship should be..." As he turned his head back, his words trailed off, and he stopped, until he was standing right in front of his two comrades.

Jet and Mercury were squatting together; Mercury held open a containment cell box, Jet clumsily using a lightcycle baton to try and push one of the guns inside it.

They stopped what they were doing to stare up at Kernel, who stared back. For a moment, it was very quiet, and then - "Do I even want to ask?" Kernel growled, folding arms over his chest.

"We're trying to get one of the guns in the box without touching it," Jet explained. "You know, just in case it backfi - "

Much to Jet and Mercury's horror, Kernel reached down and easily picked up the gun. Stood and placed it in the box. He explained before they could start flooding him with questions: "Don't worry. I held one earlier. The gun itself isn't dangerous." He pointed to the bulbs containing Z-Lot. "Just the ammo." He glowered at Jet. "As a User, I'd think you'd know this."

Jet sighed. "Look, this world, all this stuff, all these... people? Yeah, no, I may understand how some of this stuff works, but not all." He wagged a finger at the gun. "Hell if I knew what Dillinger's kid did with that! He had to program the gun out of something, you know? So he might have sabotaged it to self destruct or something in case it fell in the wrong hands." He snorted. "It's a completely logical, rational thing to do, and a completely logical, and rational suspicion to have. So, yeah, I accept your apology."

Kernel glared at Jet. Slowly cocked an eyebrow. Jet stared back, jaw clenched tight.

Mercury ran a hand through her short, spiky hair, sighing. "It's been a very, very, long - "

The bow of the Light Fighter crashed into the window, shards of data flying everywhere. Mercury and the others scampered away, shielding themselves from the debris. They looked up a moment later, as the cockpit door shimmered and opened. A young Program popped her head out and grinned.

"Oops," CyberPunk giggled, adjusting her visor, "hope they got insurance? Whatever that means..."

Kernel growled, feeling throbbing pain in his circuits. "Just... Start loading up the weapons," he ordered. Four others gathered out of the plane, helping Mercury, Jet, and Kernel load up the weapons. Kernel kept an eye out for any intruders from down the hall.

Jet dropped a few batons in CyberPunk's hands. "What's it like out there?"

"Awful, man," she scowled, shaking her head, "talkin' real bad jazz goin' down, y'know?"

"How are Sam and the others?"

"Sam and Quorra made it back to the rendezvous point with Shaddox and the remaining prisoners. Kevin's with them." CyberPunk grunted as she hefted a large box of discs into the plane. "We got some causalities, but from what I heard, ain't so bad, I guess." She paused as Mercury walked past, carrying the two Z-Lot guns in the containment cell. CyberPunk pushed up her visor and widened yellow eyes. She gave an impressive whistle. "Looks like you got hold of some of the real mondo hardware."

"Hopefully we can use them to our advantage," Jet said. He turned to the female Program again. "How's Tron?"

CyberPunk shrugged. "Haven't seen him. But it's so messy out there; couldn't see much of anything. Hence why I sorta made a rather hard landing..."

Jet frowned. He quickly pushed aside his concern. "He's Tron," he said, chuckling, "I'm sure he's just fine."

Kernel turned from his radar. "Hurry it up, scripts!" he shouted. "We got ten corrupts heading our way! You got three kilos!"

Jet sighed and looked to Mercury. "The work of a hero is never done, Jet," she said and dropped another energy bazooka in his arms. "Not until our last stand."


III


There were six DataWraiths, each sporting guns loaded with the Z-Lot.

"Who are you?" Wisteria demanded. "Do you work for the Users?"

The DataWraith leader stepped forward, gun aimed at the female Program. "Boss sent us to take care of you," he said.

Wisteria growled. "Your boss won't get very far. My men - "

"Are dead," the DataWraith sneered. "We got to them before they got to Mister Dillinger and Mister Crown. They're back in the real world, now, gettin' ready for the big show."

"The big show?" Tron echoed. "What are they planning?"

The Wraiths all chuckled. "Why," the leader snickered, "announcing himself as the new leader of the Grid, of course."

"What!"

"Are you so surprised? You two were playin' each other like a fiddle. Only Mister Dillinger won. As we say in our world, 'sucks for you'."

"I won't - I refuse to allow that pompous User to take my place," Wisteria hissed. As she went to stand, the Wraith moved in closer. Tron twitched, as if to jump between them, before the Wraith stopped.

"Now, now," the leader snorted, "just stay still. You ain't got no chance in Hell fighting us." He cocked the gun. "Not with these babies."

"What does Edward want with the Grid?"

"What does any man want? Power!" another Wraith laughed.

"And you two happen to be standing in the way," the leader said, fingering the trigger. "Once you're taken care of, we'll finish off the remaining Rebels, as well as your User buddies."

Wisteria narrowed her eyes. "How does Edward think he will win over the loyalty of my army? They don't trust Users. They won't follow him."

"Like I said, he has his ways."

Tron took a step forward. Guns instantly turned on him, and he raised his arms. "Look," he said, and slowly moved to stand in front of Wisteria. "Wisteria's powerless. If you let her go, you can have me. I'm the real threat." Wisteria hissed with disapproval. "Spare her, kill me."

"Why should we?"

"If you let her live, I'll take you to the Rebel base."

The DataWraiths were quiet. The leader looked between his men. They considered it a moment; he turned back to Tron. "We can't trust you. And besides, we've all ready got guards tailing your friends. We don't need you."

"They won't make it. Trust me."

"Doesn't change the fact we can't trust you."

"This is getting nowhere," Wisteria spat. She stood up behind Tron. "You're not providing me with any useful information, so I've no more reason to question you."

Tron grabbed her arm as she stepped around him. "Yori - "

Wisteria pulled herself free and continued toward the group. "Now, do me a favor, and back off," she said. "I tire of this nonsense."

"You tryin' to get killed here?" the leader hissed. He aimed the gun point blank at her head.

"That would imply you're a threat."

The leader growled. "Well, the Z-Lot don't lie, lady." He pulled the trigger. Tron gasped as he leaped forward, pushing Wisteria down alongside him; both missed the blast. Wisteria shoved Tron away as she gathered to her feet, ran at the Wraith leader. He cocked his gun, firing again; this time, hitting her in the shoulder. She grunted as she was tossed back a few feet; her yellow/orange circuits flickered green momentarily, and then she stood upright, sneering at the shocked DataWraiths.

"Buh," the leader babbled, looking at his gun, "yer suppose to be - "

"Guess you didn't get the memo then."

Wisteria snarled as she punched the leader's face, his head jerking aside with a small snap. He flew to the ground. She decked the second Wraith, in the gut, pushing them over. A third Wraith jumped on her; she quickly flipped him over her back and onto the ground. Turned to ram her elbow into the fourth Wraith's face. The fifth scampered back, clumsily shooting the Program in her foot. Wisteria fell back in pain, but quickly made the most of it, throwing up her second foot to undercut the Wraith's chin. The Wraith gasped and fell over, hitting her head hard enough to knock her unconscious and disappear.

Wisteria turned on her knees, ready to get up. Suddenly, she felt a painful blow to her lower back; she fell forward on her belly, face smacking the ground. With a groan, Wisteria slowly propped herself up, cast a weak glare over her shoulder. The DataWraith was right behind her, gun pointed at her head, pulling back on the trigger -

The Wraith shrieked as the disc bisected him in half. Instead of falling into a pile of data, he disappeared with a flash of light. Wisteria looked back; Tron caught his disc, swung his arm back to slice the throat of the recovered, advancing Wraith. She, too, disappeared in a wink of light. Wisteria looked beside her at the low mumble; one of the Wraiths was reaching for his gun. Wisteria jumped to her feet, kicked the gun away then swiftly kicked him in the head

Only two of the DataWraiths remained. The leader fired his gun at Tron. Tron quickly rolled from the blow, tossing his disc and slicing off the Wraith's arm. The man shrieked and fell back. The final Wraith looked at his one-armed boss and, glancing back at Tron and Wisteria, quickly made a run for it.

Wisteria cursed. "No you don't." She reached for her disc, throwing it at the fleeing Wraith. It scalped the top of their head, enough for the Wraith to flash and disappear. Wisteria reached for her disc as it returned -

"Fuckin' bitch!"

The one-armed DataWraith jumped forward, intercepting the disc. Without another word, he squeezed it hard enough to snap. Wisteria shrieked as pain suddenly hit her like a ton of bricks. The DataWraith sunk his fingers into the exposed wiring and codes, tainting it with his viral energy.

"Stop!" Wisteria cried, grabbing and shaking her head. "What are you - !"

Her vision went black. Suddenly, thousands of images poured through Wisteria's mind, playing like a movie on fast forward. Memories she recognized, others she did not, and waves of pain and sorrow rattled her system until the world around her was spinning out of control.

The Wraith had nearly snapped the disc in half. Before he could finish it off, Tron's disc cut off his second arm. The Wraith didn't even have the chance to scream; Tron's second disc cut off his head, and the Wraith disappeared like the rest of his companions. Tron caught one disc at a time, flipped them back together.

Tron quickly picked up Wisteria's disc. The circuits were glitching orange and white, a huge crack down the middle. He winced before he hurried to Wisteria's side. She was on her knees, heaving forward and shaking.

"Yori!" Tron gasped. He fell to his knees in front of her, placing her broken disc in its plug for now. He pulled her against him with his one hand, nuzzling his face in her hair. "Shh, shh, it'll be okay," he whispered over her moaning. He had to get her off the field. Had to get her back to base. Surely the others were waiting on him now. "C'mon," he whispered, giving her a soft tug, "can you stand - ?"

Tron went stiff as the cold barrel of a gun pressed against his ribs. Wisteria slowly sat up, meeting his gaze. He was shocked by what he saw; her blue eyes were brighter than normal, and a vein of data streaked across her right temple. She was still shaking, but kept the gun firm in his side.

"I have to thank you," Wisteria croaked, "for saving my dis- ah!" She grabbed at her head with a painful grimace. Tron went to comfort her, but she gave him another hard nudge with the gun. "Don't touch me."

Tron wanted to cry. Wanted to shake and hold Wisteria. He wanted to make her realize, make her remember who she was. Yori, she was Yori. This wasn't her; Yori was a good, gentle, wonderful person. This Yori who despised and loathed him - Tron felt as if whatever progress he had made was crashing down all over again. He could live with the sins he committed, but to be hated by the only person he ever, truly loved and adored...

Wisteria swayed to her feet, still hunched forward. Her gun pointed at his face. "One shot, just one shot," she murmured, swallowing dryly, "and you're nothing."

"Yor - "

"I wouldn't pull that trigger if I were you."

Wisteria did not turn around; the corners of her agitated frown twitched. From behind her, Sam held his disc to the back of her neck.

"So, how about you put it down?" Sam ordered.

"Sam," Tron said calmly, "don't hurt her."

Sam cocked a brow. "Why not?"

Tron licked his lips. Wisteria still had her gun on him. "She... She won't kill me," he reassured, "and she..."

"You get any closer, User, and I will shoot," Wisteria said lowly. She looked back at Sam from the corner of her eye. "Even if it risks my life, I'll kill him. I've nothing to lose."

"You're lying," Sam stated.

"She is," Tron agreed.

Wisteria rolled her eyes. "I thought one of you was bad enough."

Tron stepped forward, but neither Wisteria or Sam moved. "Put the disc down, Sam," he pleaded, "she won't kill me. She's - "

"If you don't shut up and make your decision," Wisteria hissed, "then I'll make it for you."

Tron shook his head. "Sam... Please," he said softly, "let her go."

"Tron, she'll - "

"She won't kill me."

Sam stared his friend straight in the eyes. He looked so... miserable. Upset. Yet convinced, and sincere. He knew what he was doing. Sam hesitated a moment, studied the back of Wisteria's head. She remained completely in place; he wished he could see her face, however, wished he knew what was going on.

"Try anything," Sam grumbled, withdrawing his disc, "and you won't even make it five feet."

Wisteria, however, kept her gun pointed at Tron.

Tron nodded to the left, toward the city. "Go," he murmured.

Wisteria said nothing, did nothing. Sam looked between them both, ready to use his disc if she did not retreat. For a while, Tron and Wisteria stared at one another in complete silence. Their eyes remained locked; nothing, not the living, breathing, chaotic world around them could step between them. Tron with his single hand down at his side. Wisteria with her gun aimed at his face. Sam, debating stepping in, and yet... He could feel the tension, as if something immense had happened between the two. As if there was a history between them that he could never possibly understand.

After what felt like an eternity, Wisteria lowered the gun. Kept her eyes locked with Tron's. "You'd be wise not to follow me," she growled. Sam stepped aside as the female Program then took off, disappearing into the nearest alley and the shadows of the tall buildings.

Sam slowly turned back to Tron. He frowned. "What happened?" he murmured.

Tron bowed and shook his head. "No time to explain," he said. He looked up, completely masking the hurt and pain with a solemn, professional expression. "Where are the others?"

Sam wanted to press Tron for answers, but knowing his stability... "Everyone's at the rendezvous point. Quorra, my dad, Shaddox, Kernel's team. I hijacked a Recognizer and came to get you." He pointed to the Recognizer hovering nearby, half hidden behind a building. "We're waiting for you."

Tron nodded. "Right," he said, and glanced at his arm missing a hand. He shut his eyes and exhaled. "Right, let's go."

The two then took off, side by side, just narrowly avoiding Rome and eight other guards running onto the scene.


III


"We have to go back! We have to get Eva - !"

Edward turned, silencing Seth. The two stood in the fCon basement; Esmond watched from nearby, hesitant to speak. Seth was obviously livid, pacing. Edward remained calm as always, however.

"I had Esmond send more DataWraiths to help her."

"What can they do?" Seth barked. "She needs to be taken out of the Grid this instant!"

"That's not an entirely good idea, Crown."

Seth glowered. "Oh? Why not?"

"I've just been informed that doing so may possibly jeopardize her life."

Seth looked horrified. "What? How?"

"She wouldn't reconfigure currently," Edward explained, arms folding over his chest. He moved to the multiple monitor screens. "It may be impossible all together."

"It's not impossible," Esmond spoke up. The two glanced back at him. He cleared his throat and shuffled to a stand. "The Z-Lot is a virus, after all, and I'm sure if we create an anti-virus program that successfully removes any traces of the Z-Lot abnormalities in Eva's coded DNA -

"An anti-Z-Lot virus," Edward interjected, chuckling. "Never thought I'd need that."

"It's worth a shot."

Edward studied Esmond. Looked to Seth, who seemed all for the idea. He pursed his lips. "All right," he said, "but on one condition." He adjusted his glasses. "The program will only be used on Eva. Once she has been... 'fixed', I want the program destroyed. If Flynn's group got a hold of it, it could mean disaster for all of us."

"What's to say Flynn can't manipulate any Z-Lot in his possession anyway?" Seth countered. "You're good, Dillinger, but Flynn's better."

Edward smiled. "Have a little faith in me, won't you?"

Seth sighed loudly. "Fine. Enough of this. We can deal with this later," he insisted. "We need to take care of Eva now."

Edward turned back to Seth. "Ah, yes, well," he said, "Esmond has the idea. A temporary program that will wipe Eva of her Z-Lot reprogramming should do the trick." He raised a hand before Esmond could speak. "However, you are to present your work to me before you attempt anything." He chuckled. "I mean no offense, but we all seem to be having a few trust issues here lately." He turned his gaze on Seth, who frowned and looked away.

"You don't have to worry about me, boss," Esmond reassured, winking. "I happen to like my job. I won't take any chances if it means losing it."

"Very good."

Esmond headed back to his office, leaving Seth and Edward alone. They shared a moment of silence before Edward approached the portal. "Thorne informs me that the Rebels have retreated, and the guards are outnumbered. I'm going to give the DataWraiths another ten minutes before we call them back. I sent a team of them after Wisteria; if they do not report in by the ten minute mark, then automatically disengage every avatar system." He touched the portal gently. "After that, we regroup. Let the Grid cool a while; let the reality of the situation its people are in really sink in."

"And Eva?"

"Thorne will take care of her," Edward reassured, though he sounded like he could care less. "He's going to use a glitch Esmond mentioned, able to lock a program, even a User, into temporary stasis. Neither here nor there. Supposedly it happened to one of the Wraiths in battle earlier. The process will be painless; she will simply sleep."

Seth felt only slightly comforted. "Then what?"

"Well," Edward said, sniffing and again adjusting his glasses, "we cleaned off the chess board of its old game." He looked into the single eye of the portal digitizer. "So now we set up a new one."


T/B/C


A/N:

CyberPunk is a character from Tron 2.0

And Hell yes, next chapter is a breather, swear to God I need the break. %D