SMSTSS 16: Tron Upgrade Edition 2.0! – By DS Wynne
Disclaimer: SM, R1/2, ST, Tron, OWoD and other properties belong to their respective owners.
Note: This is a three-part story.
Special Note: This story is a sequel to "Tron Upgrade Edition", but ties into the movie "Tron Legacy".
Sam Flynn looks at his mother with a bewildered look.
"My…legacy?" Sam asked. "What do you mean? Does this have to do with Dad's disappearance?"
"I don't know, hon," Usagi said, as she sat down on a nearby chair with a sigh. "Maybe, maybe not, but his work has always been important to him."
"Obviously," Sam said with a smirk.
"Sam, your father wouldn't have left you or his parents or me or anyone else," Usagi said.
"If you had married him, maybe he would have more of an incentive to stay," Sam said, as he gets up and paces about his makeshift home. "Because of him, I do what I am doing now."
"About that," Usagi said. "Maybe you should take responsibility for your life, and do something that isn't about you father."
"So, Alan told you what happened, eh?"
"He didn't have to," Usagi said, as she leans back. "I'm still a member of the board at ENCOM towers, remember? I just didn't bother coming in, and participated via remote while I picked up your groceries."
"Better productive use of time, I think."
"Ah," Sam replied with a smile.
"Not bad, but you could have done better by applying a level six encryption hack to keep ENCOM off point," Usagi said, as she rubbed the ears of Sam's dog "Marv" (French terrier).
"Didn't have time," Sam said. "So, now what?"
"Well, if Alan didn't tell you, this forces R&D to develop a genuine OS to compete with Microsoft and Apple. You have done ENCOM a favor by handing out the equivalent of a 'patch'."
"I didn't do it for ENCOM. I did it because I know Dad wouldn't ENCOM charging money for a substandard product."
"Which is why neither Alan nor I will get on your case about THAT," Usagi said. "But as your mother, I really wish you use other means to make a point."
"You're all that I have from your father, Samuel."
"Mom, don't," Sam said out of embarrassment. "But going back to my father…?"
"Right. Back in 1982, your father came across something…extraordinary. He discovered what very few people knew."
"And that is…?"
"That between the cracks of reality lays a place where the Mind and Space intersect. It is a place where information is real, and that reality has infinite possibilities. Ancient seers call this place, the Web of Faith. Some of us call it the Virtual Web. Your father and his ilk call it the Digital Web or the Grid, while those of your generation call it Cyberspace or the Matrix. But whatever it is called by those who have access it, it might as well be called Reality 2.0, because the place that your father discovered is another world entirely."
"You got to be kidding me," Sam said. "You're talking about a place within our computers?"
"Not just within the computer, but within every system of electronics and technology that is connected. Ancient seers managed to link minds to create a shared reality, using a rudimentary means of achieving, well, 'internet connectivity'."
"You mean, the Web of Faith?"
"You know about that?"
"Yeah, I do. I remember you leaving me for days on end, whenever Grandpa and Grandma were available to look after me."
"I might as well have been an orphan, considering how much time I was alone growing up."
"Oh, hon," Usagi said with a sigh. She hated herself with not being a full-time parent with her kids, which is why she was glad to accept the 'punishment' of not being able to have children anymore...at least, until she wins 'The Prize' that all Immortals strive for.
"If only you can know the truth about me."
"Then tell me the truth, then, Mom," Sam said. "And does it relate to what happened to Dad."
"Fine," Usagi said, as she turns away to put the rest of Sam's groceries away. "I'll tell you the truth, but let me fix you a sandwich."
"Hey, absentee mother or not, I'm still your mother, you know…"
Soon, Usagi and Sam arrive in front of "Flynn's", an arcade that hadn't been in operation in years. It was essentially in trust for Sam.
"I don't see why I have to get on the back on your motorcycle, with YOUR driving skills and all," Usagi complained.
"You could have taken your car, Mom," Sam replied, as he turns off the motor of his motorbike.
"Gods, it's hard to believe it's been years since I've last been here," Usagi said, as she looked at the building. She could see the neon letters with the name "Flynn's" spelled out in bold colors.
"Your father used to take me here to compete in gaming all the time, especially after you were old enough to come here."
"Why did you two not get married then?" Sam asked, as he unlocked the sliding gate to the arcade.
"We were…too involved in our own thing, I guess," Usagi said with a shrug. "Be we always made sure that one of us was around at least."
"So, what do you want to show me anyway?" Sam asked. "Alan at least told me that someone paged him from here."
"Sam, years ago, I managed to help create a platform that would allow people to exist virtually within Reality 2.0., first the Web of Faith with Suleyman the Great, and then the Virtual Web with Alan Turing."
"Mom, that's impossible. You would have to be ancient or something to be even believable about that."
"Then believe this, son," Usagi said, as she began to de-age physically…
"MOM?" Sam said with disbelief. Standing before him was not a woman pushing sixty years old, but an older, teenage girl with a weird hair-style and really long hair.
"What the hell…?"
"Language, young man," Usagi said with a wink, as she straighten herself out. "I'm still your mother, in spite of my youth."
"Fine, then…explain this?" Sam asked.
"Simple. I am the eternal Moon Princess, from old legends and fairy tales. I was around when humankind first made fire, and built their first cities. I have gone through many incarnations, including that of role of a 'magical girl'."
"Wait, YOU are 'Sailor Moon'?" Sam said.
"Among other identities, yes, I am. What, you're embarrassed all of a sudden?"
"I'm not sure," Sam said, as he rubbed the back of his head. "So, you're some kind of…superhero?"
"Yep. Started out of my career as an adventurer at the turn of the last century, then later as a full-blown 'mystery person' and 'superhero' throughout the last century. I'm still adventuring these days."
"So, that's why you and Dad didn't hook up?"
"Yeah, pretty much. I couldn't retire even if I wanted to, nor could I take the risk of some super-villain coming after you and you father to get to me."
"I guess that's why I've been so secretive about my life, I guess…"
"Well, I understand now, but it still hurts inside," Sam said.
"I apologize for everything, Sam. I just…I just wished that you could have seen the things that I have been witnessed to, both here and beyond normal human understanding."
"Yep, although I'm surprise that you have never heard of the Virtual Adepts."
"I have, but informally," Sam said dismissively. "One of their reps wanted me to sign up with their crew, and I was really thinking about it, until another one of their members accused Dad of being a phony, because he was the CEO of ENCOM. So, I declined."
"Well, not all the Virtual Adepts are jerks like that," Usagi replied. "Some you would come to like, actually."
"But I will say this: your father could run rings around even the best of their ilk, especially after what he did on his spare time."
"Alan mentioned something about a miracle," Sam asked. "Is this connected to his disappearance?"
"I don't know, my son. That's why we're here for clues…"
Upon entering the arcade, the sound of music from the band "Journey" could be heard…
"Totally '80s," Sam said sarcastically.
"Hey, don't knock the times," Usagi said, as she scanned the various machines. "Anyway, if I recall, your father's lab should be…there."
Sam looks down the aisle of upright video game systems. He recalled playing each and every one of them at different points of time, but stopped playing when his father disappeared. The last time he had been here was when the arcade was closed in the 1990s, when the gaming consoles systems really took off. Still, in the back of his head, Sam missed the arcade, because of what it represented: his father's joy of gaming…
"All I see is that 'Tron' game," Sam said.
"True, but what's behind it is our destination," Usagi said. "Come on…"
After down to the lower levels, Usagi and Sam find Kevin Flynn's computer lab…
"Whoa," Sam said, as he looked at the place. Much of the technology was advanced, in spite of the mounds of dust that covered everything…
"We made music together here," Usagi said, as she flips on the light. "Looks like everything is in order…"
"Why is there a laser there?" Sam asked.
"That is a digitizer, first invented by Walter Gibbs and your godmother Lora Bradley," Usagi said. "Your father and I made improvements on it since then, after I had a flux capacitator installed to jack up the power while controlling it."
"So that the local power grid wouldn't be affected, am I right?"
"Bingo. With this, one would expect your father's activities, as he created his own world within the Grid. In fact, all you needed was a tera-byte memory drive to create your own virtual world, and then use that to access all the other virtual worlds out there."
"Infinite number, I would reckon."
Sam looked at the drive, and then at his father's workstation.
"You think Dad is in the Grid?" Sam asked.
"He shouldn't. Before I shut this place down, I did a routine diagnostic on your father's station, and came up with nothing."
"Then what do you call that?" Sam asked, as he pointed to the touch screen computer workstation.
"Odd," Usagi said, as she and Sam goes over to consol. "The system shouldn't be on."
"I think I'll do a trace, if you don't mind," Sam said, as he dusted off the workstation with his hand, and sat down. "Let's see…"
"Why don't you input the trace subroutine in-"
"Mom, I know programming like the back of my hand." Sam said with annoyance. "You made me stay in school at Cal Tech, remember?"
"I remember," Usagi said with a smile. "I know how you think I meddle in your life at the wrong times, but having an education is important to me."
"Oh?" Sam said, as he half-pay attention to his mother.
"Yeah. They used to call me 'Dumb Bunny' when I was in junior high school, which didn't help matters due to my chronic tardiness. But after I graduated, I was forced to apply myself, and earned my degree."
"I thought you were around before civilization got started?" Sam said.
"I'm talking about my present incarnation."
"Ah. Well, the page did come from here, the algorithms are strange…"
As mother and son worked on the problem, they failed to pay attention to the activation of the digitizer…
"Ah!" Usagi said, as she held her head.
"Mom, what the heck just happened?" Sam replied.
Usagi managed to get her thoughts straight when she looked around.
"Oh, no," Usagi said with worry.
"Mom, what-?" Sam said, just as they saw a roaring light outside.
"We need to get on top," Usagi said, as she and Sam leave the facsimile of "Flynn's place"…
"I don't believe it," Usagi said, as she looked around the technological landscape. "But…that's impossible."
"Mom, where are we?" Sam yelled, as a flying craft, which was in the shape of an arch, appears over head. Neon orange lines the trim of the vehicle. It shines a spot like over Sam and Usagi, as it prepares to land.
"We're here," Usagi said.
"Where is 'here'?" Sam asked.
"We're in the Grid…"
Next Time: While caught up in the world of Tron, Usagi attempts to contact Ranma for help, even as she and Sam see a proverbial ghost from the past. See you soon…