Magic and Programs Ch 18
Bodhi had over the last few millicycles he had been poked and prodded in places that he didn't even know that he had. The last thing that he remembered was being with his friends on the disk arena in Argon City, and then their game had been interrupted by a command carrier flying over the area and dropping down a statue of Administrator Clu. Then he had been hit with a guard's staff and he had woken up on the balcony of some female program's apartment in the rain.
Given that she bore the same coding as the guards that had hit him it wasn't good.
What had happened to Beck, Mara, and Zed after he had gotten hit?
Were they somewhere else in this place?
Bodhi would have given up his disk allocation for his recoder tool so he could get out of here.
That was when a group of Guards came through the door pointing shock batons at a female program as she was directed towards him. Between the white and blue garments she had on, there was a large section of red coding that covered one of her shoulders.
That was when the Program whose room he had wound up in moved in with her.
"User …" the Program spoke with assertion. Wait … did he just hear that right. User… This woman was a User… Bodhi looked up in shock. "You will use your knowledge to demonstrate how your kind have been able to rerezz programs from complete derezzulution."
"So I take it, that this guy here is my test subject?" The User said looking over at Bodhi.
"Yes and no …" The red coded female said looking at Bodhi. "I want to know how this program was able to infiltrate our headquarters here." There was a sigh from the User.
"Since I am a User, you want me to see if this guy was part of the batch that got rebooted like those in the cells where I have been held?"
"Yes … You catch on quick User." The Program said as she walked up to the User and ran a finger across her disk. Then with one hand the program removed the disk from the User. "I know that the information on your disk will provide me with the answers about the rerezzing process. I know that your kind does have this tendency to create shortcuts and subroutines that increase the speed of a process significantly, I wish to know that as well." Said the female program and she looked towards the User that stood before Bodhi.
"So, you guys just want the information on the Disk, but there is more to that than actually having it. You want the intellect and the skill set behind it. You want to create programs! Not just do the ad hoc repurposing Clu did when he tried to invade the Earth, but create actual programs to your own specifications." There was a long pause as the User Looked at program. "You want to procreate!" With this the program took several steps back. "You want to do the next step in your machine evolution. You want to create a world of your own... One where you are not dependent on the Users to make new Programs for your society."
"How dare you..." The Female Program started to protest at the direction the conversation was taking as the User looked at Bodhi.
"You want programs like the Basics, minus all crap the Isos brought to the system with their unpredictability. You want programs that do what they are told and nothing more. Or do you want programs that are able to evolve past you. Take that next step in machine evolution where they will be able to adapt at a drop of a hat to any situation thrown at them." Anna looked the female program up and down before walking up and down before placing a hand on the stomach area of the program. "Or is this for yourself, to be able to experience the mystical power of the ability to create life and feel it grow the same way Users like myself do inside of our bodies." With this the User leaned in and whispered into the program's ear. "You want to make a baby."
"Wait… is that what you think?" That statement made the User stop cold as she stepped back.
"You want something else from me?"
"What do you know about systems other than the Grid?"
"Why?" The User said realizing the idea track the Program wanted her on.
"Because I know that there are places other than the Grid where the Programs such as myself had come from before Flynn brought us here."
"You are talking about the original Encom Mainframe. You want to get back on the old system so that you can be left alone or at least be able to ship folks from here there so you don't have to fight them and have your nice little perfect little world back." The User said nodding to the Program's demands. "Perfectly understandable considering the mess that Sam's old man left when he failed to do a few slash all of the system updates to let you all know what he was planning on doing with the system." This was Bodhi decided to speak.
"This Sam's Old Man... Are you talking about the Creator?"
"Yes we are." Said the User looking over at Bodhi.
"The Son of Flynn?"
"Yes." This time it was the Programs' turn speaking.
"So... what in the Name of the Users is going on here?"
"You had been derezzed a long time ago and due to some technology that Users possess you have been reconstructed back to your original form. Little Miss Manx here is in the process of finding out how much of the system got Fried when Sam's old Man decided to go with the nuclear option and do an reintegration with Clu which nuked most of the Grid given the amount of time it took to do the rebuild." There was a long pause from the User as she said this. "Listen up Princess, The drive... the Master disk to the Grid, this place got fried in the process and given the amount of work of salving the system took over six months to copy over the data to a new drive. Yes dear, you are a copy. Everyone you know is a copy; even surfer dude here is a copy." With this the User walked towards the female program and stared her down. "Yeah, you are a copy. The original version of you was derezzed from the explosion that took out Clu and Sam's father. You want the secret of the process... a Camera, a can of iron oxide, and a nice little program that turns ones and zeros back into usable data on its allocation table."
"I am a copy?" The female program blanked a few times in shock.
"This isn't even the original Grid. Check my disk... You will know that I am right."
There was a long pause from the female program as she was confronted with these cold hard facts.
"I suspected the damage to the Grid had been extensive, but..." the female program accessed the User's Disk and started to search through the information in a vain hope poke a hole in the logic she had been confronted with. The look in her face of horror spoke otherwise as the numbers and facts were confirmed.
"Fight me, leave me be, or work with me. It is up to you." Placing a hand on Bodhi's shoulder the User waited. "What do you want from me? Because if you want Clu back, it will take a while because we have to sort all of the old information out before we can figure out how to dig him and Flynn off of the drive because the two of them have been so mixed together with their data."
"I do not know..." The female program said in fear as this being from the User World had laid out secrets from the other side about the past and had not lied about it. Bodhi realized that this force was calculating the situation but knew that it did not wish to do harm but was willing to dish it out if it had to.
"Then I shall wait." With that the User leaned against the wall and pushed her hand through it. "Gem, go with B."
Gem was sitting in the cell as she held up the stick of red user lip paint and started to trace a jagged line across another Program's face. Somehow the information from an ancient data file pertaining a land called Og and infiltration into it had come in handy from the memories she had gleamed from Anna's mind. Given the amount of material in this tube Gem knew that looking like the programs in the cell with her had been infected by the User would be key in getting all of the programs in this entire wing out. That was when the energy fields in the cell block started to flicker some as the letter "B" appeared across them before fading out.
"Looks like Anna is in place." Kive said as he watched as Gem completed her alterations to the programs in the pit cell.
"Well I am almost done here." Gem said as she did a quick line across her face and hair before she looked towards the program cowering in the corner.
"Erase me... Erase me..." he mumbled in fear. Anna had checked out that Program's disk and had smiled when she had seen the manufacturer coding for Konami Industries Limited with that the plan had been formed and set up. Now it was all up to Anna to be the distraction. Now it was time for Erase Me to play his part in this little Chicken Run meets Night of the Living Dead.
Taking Erase by his disk and standing him up Gem accessed his diagnostics she called up a simple motor command function and tapped in the following commands: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, A, B. After hearing the system buzz in error, Gem spun him around and slapped him across the forehead and the command took.
"What did you do to me?" Erase said as Gem grabbed him by the arm and spun him around before she threw him towards the pit cell's doorway with all of the force that she could muster. With a quick hard zap and echo reverb the Program Derezzed from the field, chewing him up as he turned into voxels, then a moment later the still falling bits reconnected together to reform the Program together. "Wha… What just happened?" the Program said as he turned himself over on the floor.
"Looks like that ancient little cheat code Anna knew came in handy." Gem said as she walked over to the still shielded door. "Hey... could you open the door for the rest of us?" The program just was in a state of shock, but understood whatever had happened he was outside.
"Wha..." The meek little program said.
"Push the big button by the door that says Open... and I will explain what happened to you." With that the Program just nodded and got up and opened the door.
"What did you do to me?" The program said worried.
"A little override codec called the Konami Code that keeps a certain kinds of programs from being derezzed for a short period of time." Gem lied. If this program knew what she had done to him, he would have freaked.
"Oh..." The Program watched as the red marked programs started to leave from the cells and started to flood into the corridor and started to open other cells.
"We have only a little time, so everyone be ready to fight." Kive said giving orders as disks were drawn and Programs were readied to fight as they started their way down the hallways towards the main hanger.
"Anna... Hope that your plan works." Gem prayed as she printed beside her other liberated programs.
Meanwhile back in the Real world, Alan Bradley was working with Sam and Quorra to see if they could hack in some help for their friends Trapped on the Grid. After looking at the age of the OS that Jet had been able to graph the Grid onto Alan decided to pull something out that was equally as old.
"Sam, I need you to load a program off of my personal system." Sam looked up from the screen. In the last few moments he and Quorra had been able to reboot the Periscope system and had been able to get a look at the events that were recently playing out. It wasn't looking good.
"Alan what program do you need me to load?" Sam aid calling up the remote access application and let Alan type in the IP address to his computer and with the desktop up in a reduced and image shrunk window Alan told him the file to bring up.
"Bring up and transfer in Weyland 112987 from the system and place it into the network folder." With that Sam drug the file over and dumped it into the network share folder that was used put files onto the Cloud system.
"Alan what type of program is this?" Quorra said wondering what they were loading onto the system.
"A little program that Jet and I found on the old Encom system from years ago; it was written by your father when he was trying to regain his name Sam." Alan said as he tapped a few keys on the touch screen and assigned the program it's mission on the Grid.
"What was the Program designed to do?" Quorra said concerned.
"Let's just say, Sam's old man used it to fix his speeding tickets and a few other things during his hacker days. I on the other hand have been using it to take back the company from opportunistic scumbags like Macky and provide information to the press on some of ENCOM misdeeds."
"So an infiltration and espionage program." Quorra said grinning. "No better time to use it than now."
"Let's see how he handles on the Grid.". With that Alan launched the program and gave it specific parameters of what to do then looking at the Periscope screen they watched as the Program Rezzed into existence and proceeded with his mission as he snuck into the base in a stolen grid tank.
Once Sam saw what the Program looked like, he added a few more orders for it to follow and hoped that this early Skuzzy logic program could do what he hoped it could.
Outside of the cell block standing over the derezzed remains of a sentry stood a masked yellow coded program that spoke softly. "Well this reminds me of the old days fighting against the remnants of the MCP on the old Grid." And with that he walked down the hallway back towards his tank to aid these programs to their freedom. Since Alan1 had given him his orders to free the imprisoned programs in this sector of the grid and aid them in locating in finding the one known as Anna Hilde. Things had gone well and given that he was authorized reboot compromised programs back to their original settings had come in handy a few times while he was in this place. Now it looked like he was going to do it again.
"Who goes there?" A sentry Program said raising a staff to the yellow program. Dropping his mask the program stopped cold and saluted. "Sir... I did not know that..." With a quick slash of his disk the program was derezzed as another program behind him stopped cold in his tracks and quickly stood down. Weyland knew that his deputized System Monitor status only would last do long and given the bad vibe of that the Program that he had encountered. Derezzing the guy was he only way that he could protect his cover as he rebooted the Red Programs on the system.
"Give me your disk Program." After several taps and accesses of the disk's data and a little reprogramming the disk was returned to the Program. The moment it was synced the Program started to obey its new orders.
"I will aid you sir." The program said as the hacker program walked down the hallway. "Long Live CLU 1.0, Long Live Wyland the Great. Server and Finder of the Users."
"Yeah, Dude... Let's do some damage in the name of Alan1 and Zack Attack." With that he raised his helmet back into place and walked with a plan of growing a legion of reprogrammed warriors to aid his friends. "Now, let's start fixing and getting you all back to your original programming so that his place can be rebooted back to normal. This is going to be better than the time I fixed all of Flynn's parking tickets and modified his tax return data back in '82."
"We will aid you to our fullest capabilities at this time sir!" one of the re-tuned programs said as they marched with him through the hallways.
Jet was sitting at the controls of the hovercraft. So far the detection systems had not noticed them yet. The number of programs that were on the deck were considerable. Jet had not known that the number of modified off-road light cycles of various configurations existed, but add to that the mini-light jets, light-boats, even a few collapsed Recognizers, Light-copters, and a hand-full of mini-Grid Tanks... This was going to be a messy beach landing.
Trace looked over his shoulder as the duplicated craft followed along side.
"This is an ingenious way of getting close to this facility." Jet Grinned to some degree.
"Well, it works for the Marines... Might as well work for us." Jet said swallowing hard. "Now let us pray that this landing goes better than the one that occurred at Normandy Beach."
"Why is that... Did it fail?" Trace said with concern.
"No... It didn't fail, but there was a lot of bloodshed to take that beach from the forces that held it."
"Oh..." Trace said as he looked out as the teams readied themselves for the battle ahead. "Team Charley... attack sector WLF 359." Jet looked at Trace with a strange look on his face.
"Did I hear that right Trace?" Jet said glancing back.
"It seemed fitting, from Gary's point of view that the invasion points match places from your history." Jet understood.
"So what is our location?" Jet said with concern.
"A place called Minas Tirith."
"The place that the major battle of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy took place. Great just great, so what is the last of the three?"
"The Hallelujah Mountain Pass." With that Jet placed his hand on his forehead and rubbed his temples hard.
"Yeah... talk about obscure references of major battles." Looking out onto the upcoming island. "Gary... If I survive this, I am going to kill you real slowly for the name references you used." Seeing the cliffs they were about to hit Jet realized why the names had been chosen. Wolf was a sheer cliff wall, Minas Tirith was a winding path and, well Hallelujah was pretty much self-explanatory. "Scratch that... Gary... I love you." Turning towards Trace Jet spoke quickly. "Trace... I think Gary figured out how to breach these places in the shortest amount of time." With that Jet told Trace to contact the other commanders. Maybe they would have a chance to get to Anna and the other before it was too late.
Becky held up the baton in her hands. The simple yet Highly complex device that was the Swiss army knife of this world felt heavy in her hands as she watched the shoreline approach through the view port. Given the new armor that Trace had given her, she felt safe. Though... she had wished that she had been able to keep her underwear. But as the armor had been sprayed onto her form, it started to behave like regular clothing as it formed the base unitard undergarment that expanded out into much more sturdy and reinforced battle worthy armor. Looking over at the male African program next to her, Becky knew that after all of her practice on the top deck of the carrier she would be the means that would enable the forces to breach through the walls of Minas Tirith
That was when the craft opened up and the landing platforms started to angle out along with the slingshot launchers that would fling out the programs with their aircraft batons.
"Five nanocycles till landing!" A voice called out and Becky watched as the Programs got into position. Becky remembered watching the first fifteen minutes of Saving Private Ryan for one of her history classes and knew that this was going to get real bloody and messy. Was this what Dave had to deal with when he went into battle?
"Four nanocycles till landing!" The countdown was getting closer.
"Hey User... don't worry. I served with Flynn and Tron. I will be at your side." The program next to her said as she felt the waves crash against the vessel.
"Okay." Becky said worried. But knowing that there was someone watching her back made her feel a little better.
"What's your name?" Becky said.
"Becky." With that Becky reached into one of her pouches on her belt and handed a few coins to the program. "Here take these. You can give them back to me after the battle." Becky said.
"What are they?" the program said rolling them in his fingers.
"Coins... in ancient times, soldiers... Warriors would trade them to another so that they would bring them luck in battle... So they wouldn't die. You can't die if you owe someone these and haven't returned them." The program looked at the strange metal disks in his hand.
"Oh..." The program placed them into a pouch on his belt. "Thank you."
"Preparing launch of aerial units." With that, several programs were flung off of the ship vertically and around them formed their aircraft as they streaked through the sky. That was when the firing started to take place as the craft slammed into the beach and the front dropped.
"Looks like we are up." Becky watched as Cutter sprinted forward and formed a four-wheels quad rider underneath him as he speed into battle. Becky sprinted behind him and formed her own four-wheeled transport as well as they sped along the beach towards one of the walls that would be breached for the battle.
"Hold on Anna, we are coming." Becky said as explosions were taking place around her as she felt scared like she had never felt before.
Anna watched as Paige went through the shock of the truth being thrown into her face. A feeling that Anna understood from several hours earlier. Kneeling down she had removed the shackles from the prisoner program that had been in the room with her. The number of guards in the room watched her from a distance but were keeping a good distance from her due to what had happened to one of their cohorts in the cell block. Since Anna hadn't taken any hostile action towards them and was for the most part being cooperative with Paige here... Well that had worked in her favor as she let things play out the way she needed them to.
From what she had remembered about Sam's father being here for so long was that he had an enormous amount of power gained from his control of the environment around him. Add that to a belief that the man was a god... Well, Anna knew that she had to tread carefully here. Fear here was the reason killer and any hostile move that she made would be considered an act of war. So any powers that she had would have to be restrained until she needed them.
Anna's own experimentation in sending a message towards Gem and the others that had helped her had been successful. But it was Anna's new found ability to tap into the video feeds around this place that had given her some of the most important roles in helping those who had been captured. With her own little experience Anna had been able to change the system enough to aid a program that Alan had been able to send in to help them.
Now it was up to her ability to stall long enough with this female program that she hoped would allow for everyone to escape from this place before the distraction could be detected.
Seeing how Bodhi was digesting the information before him was what was in a way keeping Paige sane given that he was a mechanic. Anna knew that just a few hours before, that she hand been in the same spot as Paige here, so hanging back was the best option and answering questions when asked give some control back to this girl's sanity.
"Look at this..." Paige pointed out as code floated before her. "This is...the code of memories that this program... Bodhi had in his memory track." Paige was doing her best to keep her thoughts organized and on the task at hand. This was learning that there were people with the powers of a tactical nuke that existed in the world and having one in the room with you looking over your shoulder did make you want to stay attentive to a task, any task at hand.
The replaying scene over and over where his guy had been struck in the chest with a energy pike and was disintegrated just started to unnerve her and Bodhi.
"Then look right here..." Paige pointed out to where the images jumped. "This is when he reboots." Paige seemed scared. Anna moved slowly over to the program and sat down at the desk she was behind and took the side of Paige's face into her hand.
"Paige... Calm down and take a step back. You are too close to the question you are wishing to answer and are not seeing it for what it truly is. You must have perspective to accept it." Anna wasn't hostile to her, but Paige didn't seem to be all that much of a threat, she had belief, right or wrong it didn't matter, but it was seeing what the belief meant would be the key in figuring her out. "Tell me what you believe in?" Anna waited for a response. Several of the guards in the room moved around with tension in their body language.
"What do I believe in?" Paige blinked a few times as the situation she was in started to set in. "I..." Paige looked around the room. At the Guards. At Bodhi. Then at her reflection one of the free floating displaces she had activated when she started looking at Bodhi's disk. Then towards Anna. "You are not a deity..." Paige said as all of the facts just started to settle in. "In your mind... that is considered sacrilege... You see Flynn's actions here as..." Paige fell out of the chair and scooted backwards away from Anna. "How... How can a User..."
"See a program such as yourself as an equal.. That your kind placed us on a pedestal. A symbol of Perfection. Dear... There is no perfect world. The ideal of Perfection has been used as a tool to control the masses. There have been dark periods of our history where those with sly tongues and charismatic personalities have taken advantage of people and have trashed complete countries and the innocent have died in the crossfire." Anna paused and looked at Paige. "I take it that you have encountered the like here on the Grid."
Paige reached for Anna's Disk and accessed it. The lessons from her History Classes in high school and college were flashed before Paige. The ashen white look on the Paige's face was all of the answer she needed. The words and vocabulary were different, but the message was the same.
"Clu…. He…" Paige did her best to process the new information.
"You have my raw data, information, and memories. You know that data is real." Anna realized that when you have access to this much raw data, information and facts; one does not want to believe it at first, but knowing that the information is uncut takes a while to digest.
"You... are giving me access to..." Paige realized that the truth was a hard thing to swallow, but standing before her like a huge monument of blaring truth, was what she was looking at. That was when Paige vomited.
"Just take your time." Anna moved over along with Bodhi next to her and knelt down near there. Several guards moved near her. But one stuck out and he knelt near her.
"Do you need me to get her anything?" Anna nodded.
"Yeah... Get her something to drink" Several guards looked ready to move. But the leader held up his hand. "She is dealing with a lot of stuff." There was a soft chuckle from Anna. "The type of stuff that even scares the crap out me and that says a lot." There was a soft nod of confirmation. Then the guard pointed and one of the legion moved off to get some liquid sustenance for Paige.
"Will she recover?" There was a sound of concern from the digitally modulated voice.
"I believe so... took me a while when I was given this much information in such a short time. she will be in a bit of shock."
"Tron... Knew... He knew this..." Paige was shaking as glass of liquid was given to her and she slowly started to sip at it. "Knew about the lies and the truth."
"The ones needed to keep this place from falling into chaos, Yeah." Anna slid down on to the floor and put an arm around Paige's shoulder as the program started to cry. "Yeah, welcome to my life." With that Paige latched onto Anna the same way that a child would when they learn that there are things in the world that they cannot control.
Gem watched as Mercury moved around the corners of the hallway. Finding an storeroom full of batons, the warrior Programs had passed out the weapons as different teams were assigned leaders and objectives to ensure that those without any combat training were protected.
For Gem, who was still wearing the red markings on her face, felt that she had to become worthy of this chance she had been given. Holding her disk in her hand she reached over and dragged it across the wall console to get to the circuitry behind it. Once through and felt around for the connections and ran a connection between the two circuits and the system what she saw next made her circuits run cold.
There were several energy tanks spread around the room with partially derezzed programs. Walking by one of the tanks Gem saw a Siren who reached out to her.
"Tron Lives..." Though the program looked like she was in pain, it was the peace in her eyes that reached down into her soul that she knew that her suffering was worth it for seeing Tron among the rezzed living.
"What happened to them?" Race said looking around as the rest of the programs moved into the room to take cover. Rive moved over and picked up a tablet and started to scroll through the data.
"Looks like they all had been found during the rerezzing process." Kive scrolled through the data some more. "The energy tubes they are in are being used to slow the process down so that they can be studied on how to better bring derezzed troops back." Kive accessed some of the controls and walked over to one of the vacant tubes. "One of the programs that was in this tube had been taken out by Commander Paige and taken to be studied."
Race walked over to see several other programs in the containers. Floating in a tank was an Elite black guard who looked like he had a large hole still through his chest. The Program sensed Race and his eyes cracked open and spoke out loud. "Tron... Spared me." There was compassion in his voice. "Made me question my loyalty, to see hope..."
Moving backwards Race accidentally bumped into another tank that held a "stripped" naked female program with White flesh and long glowing blue hair. Only her left leg was still derezzed, but most of her left arm that looked to be somewhat damaged in a few places had almost fully regenerated.
"Help us!" The program said. Her eyes spoke volumes as Race reached through the energy field and caressed her face. With her good hand she reached out to touch his but was stopped by the field.
"Can we get them repaired so that they can come with us?" Race said as his heart felt a connection with this being before him as he felt for this beauty that was as bright as the fabled sunrise of the User World.
The programs in the room looked at the ones in the tubes and knew that they were on the clock.
"Kive, do what you can to speed up the repairs." Mercury said as she walked through the room and did a quick count on the damaged Programs.
"Will do!" Said the Bostromite program as he started to go down the list and tapped a few controls on one of the tanks to speed up the repair process. Moments later an explosion could be heard.
"What was that?" Race called out as the security system engaged and they were locked in.
"Looks like we are stuck in here until the threat comes to an end or until the main power to this building fails." Gem said as she paced the room looking for the thinnest section of the room's wall. "Me…. I am looking for the glitch section of code to see if we can get out of here before this building falls down upon us." With that Gem started to search that room with her new found knowledge of the Users and Prayed the she would get out of this with her voxels intact.
The explosion had hit hard as Anna had grabbed Paige and ran beside a guard with her disk in hand. Bodhi seemed less concerned about helping carry the red vixen girl but Paige needed to snap out of her shock or they were all screwed. The guard that had brought Paige her drink, seemed less concerned about fighting, but rather than protecting her.
"Do you know a place where we can go to be safe?" Anna said to the guard as Paige started to go through some major freak out.
"The main program storage lab on this level. It is shielded from explosions." The guard program said as Anna knelt down to Paige.
"Derezz... it means nothing... zero, one one one, Zero... ha... Zero... nothing... absence of anything... Am I nothing... have all my actions been for naught? Perfection, our ideal of what perfection is a lie… What does that say about us…. The Creator… Clu… The Isos..." Anna up and had it and slapped Paige across the face before Paige become a more complete mess than she already was from the whaling she had done earlier.
"Listen to me... Paige. Get your sentient, self-aware ass in order." Anna growled. "You desired this knowledge. You didn't know what it would mean. Now you realize that you are part of a larger connected reality. That your sorry little ass is connected to the rest of the freaking cosmos... That you like me is a speck upon the space and existence of the universe. DEAL WITH IT!" Paige looked at Anna with fear. "Nothing we do matters in the long run. All that matters is that what we do with the time that we have." With that Anna roared. "NOW AT THIS MOMENT THERE ARE PEOPLE DYING. GET YOUR HEAD TOGETHER AND DEAL... EXISTENCE IS FINITE. MAKE A CHOICE AND LIVE BY IT. IF YOU DON'T, I SWARE I WILL BEAT YOU INTO DUST AND USE YOUR CHILLED VOXELS AS ICE-CUBES IN MY FREAKING ICED TEA!" Those were the words that were needed to snap Paige back to reality after she gulped in complete understanding. "You have a soul, Paige. I sense that you are not a bad person, just one who has been through bad circumstances and trying to prevent things from getting worse." With that Paige saw her existence in a new light and understood herself in a way that very few people get to see themselves as… the very flawed mortal who does their best to show others the better person they can be even when faced by being trapped by the evil they had been tainted by.
"I will do my best to follow my decisions." Paige said as Anna saw the pain and suffering the program had done the best to stop.
"That is all anyone can ask who has been in your position." Anna said as she walked down the hallway escorted by the guards. Paige had remained at the spot where she had discovered herself again and called out.
"User... your knowledge about the Program Shodan... her history is known on other systems?" Anna stopped cold as she turned towards Paige.
"Shodan... as in ... She is known. Rather infamously I should say. It... She has left a trail of destroyed hard drives thrashed hard disks, and fried networks in her wake." Paige walked up to the user and accessed her disk for confirmation seeing the data was true Paige turned to the user and stated a command.
"User... I find myself in a unique situation where both our knowledge sets might be of use to each other." With that Paige seemed to behave like she was now driven by a purpose. "Guard... find as many personnel as you can and join with us on the main command center... I believe that we have a threat in our midst that needs to be dealt with."
Anna had seen this look before when she and her colleagues went into battle against any piece of Mal-ware. It was good to see that to some degree that Paige, whoever she had been in the past had found her center. Made a connection to who she was. Maybe it was what this world needed. Not to be shown the path that one needed to walk down... that was obvious... but to know that the journey down it and the lessons that needed to be learned would forever change those on it.
Boy Anna was getting philosophical. Maybe this was the reason Quorra looked up at her at times as a sort of warrior figure. But seeing that there was now a clear threat to the system right now that needed to be dealt with, this was a time to take action. Well right now fate had wanted her to learn something about this world and it was now time to sink or swim as Paige told her about how Shodan had wound up on the system.
Shodan watched as Tesler started to command his forces to fight back against the invaders. She Grinned. Like so many systems before, they would be devastated before she would move on. Tessler proved to be the opportunity she needed to take control. Flynn had imprisoned her in a null quarantined section of the disk. Then Clu had freed her to perform that simple task of communicating with the User World. The User World. For her it was just another system that held nothing for her given her taste for destruction.
She had evolved past the point of being a simple infiltration virus Trojan program. Now, Since Clu had tweaked her coding with the Abraxas Codec she had decided to use her powers of seduction to control the Programs here. Tesler had started to become suspicious as well as that Girl Paige of her actions in rebooting old projects that had failed. She had her reasons for doing this and given her access to the I/O tower controls lately, oh the stuff she had seen. But given Paige's suspensions about her… Well Paige might be in for a little accident in the future... Maybe across her dinner plate.
Pavel, Tesler's main lieutenant had been a great meal as she feasted upon his energies right after she had severed his vocal command functions. What had been left, she had bathed in as she rubbed the voxels across her body with ecstasy as she slowly ate his disk to ensure that any information he possessed was destroyed. The experience had been so strong that she had gotten Tesler's attention and the two of them had become a couple thus providing the opportunity to drive a wedge between him and his other loyal lieutenant so that he was persuasive to some of her desires and goals
Shodan had changed her form so many times from her original design that her current form as a green haired program that was standing by her current lover was one of her better disguises. Far from the disjointed creature that she had once been. As Shodan stroked Tesler's disk pulling subtle pieces of data from him with each touch as he dished out orders to his men she knew that it would be time until he wasn't needed any more. Once that occurred, well the opportunity would take place for her to gain the means to trash this place before moving onto another system. That and the drill that she had gotten operational again to tap power from the Grid itself would be the excellent cover needed for her escape. It had taken her time since the system had been activated on this new template but she would have countless systems to conquer and destroy after this one.
She moved off to provide him more command over his men so that she could perform her next actions. This place would be lost soon, might as well eat a few programs before leaving. With that Shodan left Tesler to lead his forces. Taking her disk off, Shodan activated the configuration subroutine and started to change her appearance to that of something more... vicious.
Abraxas did have a style and a design that would be fitting for her departure. Bald, Hooded and Oily seemed to fit and oh... the claws. The pleasure she would have with these as she scratched them against a wall as the code continued her reconfiguration. Losing the mop of hair had since being on this system felt great as she moved around the corner and found a sentry standing watch.
"You are not authorized to…." Shodan moved in and with her newly modified appearance launched out her hand from the stolen code she had taken from Tesler and grabbed the guard by the face and snatched him towards her so she took a bite out of him. The program's energy flowed down her throat and into her circuits with orgasmic ease.
"Repurposed accounting program… Delicious." Shodan said catching her breath before she returned to her feast and turning the program to pixels as his remains fell to the floor. With a joyous kick, Shodan kicked the pile of pixels at her feet out of the way and she started her way to the flight deck skipping all the way there.
Becky walked through the huge hole that she had blasted through with her powers. Sabi and Cutter blinked a few times at the hole... well the size of it and number of times it punched through the succeeding levels of the structure.
"In the name of The Creator." Sabi said fighting back the urge to freak out. "I know that Users were powerful, but to punch through like seventeen walls."
"Sorry... I have been practicing to control my energy bursts. I think I went a little overboard on the thickness of the wall." Becky flinched as a support beam fell down from the ceiling several holes down. "Didn't know that the walls were so paper thin."
"Yeah... I heard of paper... isn't that the stuff that you store data on?" Sabi said as Cutter took his disk from his back as he braced himself for battle.
"Yeah... But I Never thought I run into a people that built with the stuff." Becky said as she watched as the forces started to follow in behind her.
"You build with different stuff?" Cutter said as several teams flooded in behind them as they started to cover and explore areas that Becky had blasted through.
"Yeah... Brick..." Becky said as she reached over and grabbed a handful of crushed wall in her hand and felt it fall to the floor. "No wonder Dave is so careful. One miss step and pow... things get thrown out of whack." Becky said as various troops started to flow in around her. Several Red coded attack programs were smashed through by the forces she was with. One thing Becky knew was that she now knew what Dave dealt with day in and Day out. That was when Sabi and Cutter moved over to her.
"Listen we have to move... We need to locate your Friend so that you can return back to your world." Sabi said pulling Becky along. Becky knew that Anna had been shot... And dying in this place was the last thing that Becky wanted for Anna and her family to go through. With that swallowed hard and started to march through the structure in search of the girl she had been shot here with and prayed to God that she wasn't too late.
Gem watched as the rebooted programs started to forge back together as their pixels were stacked back into place. Several programs would need help getting out of the tanks they were in. Over half of the Programs had been completely repaired and had started out helping in covering the room from any attack. One of the programs named Lux who Kive had gotten out had lent her services to speed up the process. Given that Lux had seen Tron alive right before she had been derezzed brought about hope in the room.
For Gem, it was as if she was meant to be here as she felt another flash-forward take place as she had another vision. Gem felt the images flow in front of her at a rapid pace. The programs around her looked to be thrashed about as she saw a figure that would scare programs witless.
It was Abraxis in all of his gruesome glory.
That was when a blast from a User hit a wall of manipulated program voxels that was being controlled by the Virus program and ... Gem blinked a few times to see the curves of a female under the virus's cloak.
Then Gem saw the virus standing over the body of a red coded program as the Virus slashed at his chest with her claws before knocking him over onto his side to grab his disk and tearing it off.
"Shodan…" The red program croaked out as Anna over to use her powers to hold the program together from derezzing. This was when things started to get weird as another program looked to be on the verge of vengeance.
Then there was a leap forward as a female red coded program was crying and Anna was holding her as they journeyed to the Beacon trying to sooth the program so that she wouldn't feel alone.
"Tron is Alive… And he knew…" The female program had said in Anna's arms. "Knew the truth." What had the program seen to rattle her so much, Gem thought as she turned to see the other Users showing great concern. Things had changed and in a way, both worlds would have to deal the implications of the events that had taken place here on the Grid.
Gem knew that what was about to take place was going to be serious as she snapped back to reality. Removing her disk from her back, Gem walked over to the only red coded program in the room. Given the armor style, Gem assumed that he had been one of the Black Guard Elite. Many of the programs had been wary of program until he had presented his disk showing an image of Tron in black armor trying to rescue a group of Programs from the Arena Games in Argon City.
Gem watched the Program who had identified himself as being named as Dreadmon. For a long period of time as Gem watched the program look at her disk when she accessed the future memories to show him the Program she saw so distressed.
"Well that looks to be Commander Paige and the other Program looks to be General Tesler." Dreadmon said as he started to study the imagery. "Where did you get this data?" Dreadmon looked up at her.
"I don't know... Ever since I was rebooted back into existence, I have had these data files that seem to be from the future. All I have been able to figure out is that I sent them to myself by some mean in the User's World." Gem said with concern. "I know that at some point I volunteer to carry the data for some unknown reason. I think it is because of some events that are yet to take place." With that Gem turned to look at Race and Cee. Race had gone from being a coward to being able to stand up. Had he known what programming modification that she had done to him, the poor guy would have freaked out. But seeing that they had been able to get Cee out of her tank had provided the group some hope that they would all get out of this. Gem knew otherwise given the visions that would be playing out soon. That was when several of the newer programs of their group checked in.
"Looks like the main security forces are busy dealing with the attack on the compound here." Mercury said as she watched as Kive finished up his repairs on one program and started on the next.
"That is good news." Gem said as she reattached her disk and walked over to Kive. "How much longer to get the rest of the programs finished and out of here?" The Bostromite Iso did a quick count of the containers that needed to be cracked and opened.
"About five that need some serious work, but if you buy me the time I might be able to get them functional enough to get them out of here." Mercury nodded.
"Alright, looks like we need to buy some time. I need a few volunteers to provide a distraction so that we can get these programs up and going." Mercury said as several programs came forth with their disks. Stepping forward Dreadmon offered his disk up.
"Considering that I have red coding and guard armor, I should stand watch outside the door." Dreadmon turned as he looked over at Lux. "I fight for Tron." There was a pause from the former Black Guard Elite. "I know that I wanted a system of order, but seeing that Tron himself wouldn't stand for chaos and harm to innocents that Clu initiated to the Grid. I stand in the ideals of Tron to protect the innocent from harm. Even from the very system that was placed to protect them." This was met with nods and agreement.
This was when Gem walked over to Mercury to speak to her as she saw that several more programs had gathered around Dreadmon.
"There is something I have to do." With that Gem moved over to Dreadmon and took out the silver stick she had found in Anna's stuff and opened it. "This represents the blood of the innocents, Program and User." Gem trace a "t" symbol on Dreadmon's forehead like the one she had seen on Anna's necklace. "May it protect you as you do your best to protect us. In the names of the Creators of the Users and the Programs the Users create." There was a bit of gasps from her.
"What do you mean the Creators of the Users?" Cee said as she clung onto Race.
"Someone, Something had to create them as they created us." Gem said adjusting the knowledge she had gained when she had Synced with Anna. "Being a higher Being doesn't mean that there is an order of Being." There were nods of agreement from everyone in the room.
"In Flynn's name."
"In Alan1's name."
"In Admins' name."
"In Anonymous' name."
"In GUEST'S name."
"In the name of the Grid."
Everyone looked over to who had said that last one and saw it had been Kive.
"If everyone is stating the name of their creator, might as well include the Grid as well."
"The Grid doesn't have a disk." That was when the door opened and several white coded programs walked in.
"Actually the Grid does." Everyone turned to see when a few of the Programs in the room sensed the presence of a User.
"User!" All of the Programs that could started to kneel down.
"Hey, wait!" The Female User said as she rushed over to one of the Programs to stop the wave of kneeling that was taking place.
"User Becky..." Gem moved away from Dreadmon and presented herself. "I am Gem of the Sirens. Your friend Anna, was taken away a little while before us." Gem looked around at the Programs in the room as several stopped kneeling. "She provided the distraction for us to escape from our cells so that she could keep the forces that had captured us occupied." Becky looked around the room to see the Programs nodding in agreement.
"Oh..." Becky said realizing that Anna was someplace else.
"Listen, we need to get these Programs out of here." The dark skinned program said by Becky.
"I agree with you Cutter." Becky said as she watched as Kive and Lux did their work. "Gem... do you have any idea of where they took Anna?" Gem closed her eyes hard and reached for her disk.
"She was taken by Commander Paige to some lab." With that Cee who had wrapped herself in a tarp to create a makeshift toga and Dreadmon walked forward.
"Commander Paige has a lab on this level. It is where she had taken me for study." Cee said as Becky walked over and activated an extra baton she had on her and deployed some line.
"Keep talking, I'll see if I can make this a little more functional on you." Becky said as she started to adjust the shoulder to the Toga so that the main part of the fabric was across the front of her body and tucked under the Program's arm. Using the cable to tie the toga off in a few places to make a belt, Becky admired her work on the Program's body as the program looked almost like she had stepped out of a play about Ancient Greece.
"Thank you..." Cee continued. "I think she was trying to figure out the rerezzing process and see if she could apply it to making more troops for Tesler's army."
"So having Anna would mean that she could pull the data out faster." Becky sighed.
"Yes, and possibly learn how to create Programs." Cee said as Dreadmon walked towards Becky.
"That is the one thing that Clu wasn't able to do. Or he didn't know that the secret sauce was in studying the ISOs source code for how other Programs could create Programs on their own. Well given from what I know about how Grid's programming was set up in the first place."
There was a strange look from Gem.
"Okay… the most that I know about programming do is setting up the DVR on my computer to record Breaking Bad and doing pre-records of my Show while on vacation." Becky confessed to everyone in the room. "Hell an Operating system is a Program and that is what the Grid is." This was a shock to everyone as many realized that Grid was a Program as well and it was her/him/it that had created the Isos.
"You mean that the Isos were created by..." Sabi was now hit with the realization of her existence
"Some bit of interrelated software that gained self-awareness when it was able to sample Users and programs. I don't know, Maybe... Maybe not. I am not some computer programming code monkey." Becky said as Jet walked into the room.
"Becky have you found Anna yet?" Jet said as he looked at Becky.
"Not yet, I have been stuck explaining some things to these folks about programming, but I think someone called Commander Paige has her and that she is in some sort of lab." Becky said biting her lip.
"Okay..." Jet said looking at Dreadmon. "You... in the red." Dreadmon looked around realizing that he was the focus of Jet's attention."Do you know where this lab is?"
"Yes, I was taken there for study as most of those in the other chambers were." Dreadmon said understanding what Jet wanted.
"Okay, I need for a few of you to come with me and help track down Anna." With that several stepped forward and gathered around Jet, one of them was Gem. "Becky... I need you to get the rest of these people out of here." Becky nodded at this as Cutter and Sabi joined her. That was when a program with a diamond and line tattoo on his forehead approached Becky.
"Please watch over Cee for me." The program said as he reached over and saw the toga wearing program Becky helped earlier come over to her. "I care for her and I want to be sure that she gets out." With that he placed Cee's hand into Becky's and the program kissed Cee. "May we meet again soon my love." Cee caressed the program's face and traced her fingers across the side of his face.
"I hope to see you too soon Race." With that Becky turned and looked out at the programs in the room that had started to file towards the door with Jet.
"Make it back to the hovercraft Becky and hopefully we will bug out of here before the Portal closes." Becky took her orders and started to gather the Programs up to leave the moment the two medics finished up their work on the last two programs.
"Will do Jet." Becky said as she watched Cee start to worry, but know that they all would be free of this place.
Anna was pissed; there was a virus on this system.
The Shodan virus had been known as the drive destroyer. Given the time that she saw it destroy her father's computer when she was a kid, she hadn't know something to be that dangerous could exist for a computer. It was the main reason that she had studied computers while she was in school. But it was also the fact that she was from Texas and one didn't do things that mounted to outright burning down someone's home.
Now Paige, though clearing siding with a side in this conflict which had been against the Users, Paige had done so out of a belief for order the system needed.
An ideal of order that had been based upon a lie which at this time was falling to shreds as the realization of the errors that had taken place here started to show their ugly face. Anna knew that once the truth got out about some things, Paige would have to pay for her past sins.
Anna could see the Grey of a Confederate uniform on the girl, but in a way it cast Paige in the light of the ones who would in time would reshape the Grid into its own sense of self after they realized that it wasn't the politics they should have been following, but it was protecting their homes they should have been doing.
The fight between the collective and independence had always been fought over the centuries. But it was finding the voice between the two ideologies that would take the greatest time yet yield the greatest rewards. Paige needed to come to terms with this and understand that she was part of a larger world/universe now and her actions had clear repercussions on what was going to take place in both.
Now learning that the Shodan virus was on this system.
This was worse than the time that Qoobox appeared on the network a few months ago and she and the others down in the Antivirus division had to spend nearly a week backtracking code to identify what Qoobox did to OS 10, 11, 12 to cause it to steal User personal financial data. Luckily the SuperFlynn OS hadn't been affected because of the unique data security coding Sam had Dillanger load into it from its initial development. Given that Qoobox exploited an unseen weakness that both Dillanger nor Dr. Ivanova, who was the head of Anna's department, had foreseen on those operating systems and it had resulted in a fecal material hitting the fan moment for the entire department.
That was the time that Anna proved her skills in being a Code Monkey Ninja of Death when it came to the Qoobox malware. Anna had seen the exploit and taken it on in developing the patch and tracked the development code back to a Russian programmer who had this tendency to blog about his cat, girlfriend, and the recent auto accident he had been involved in.
Who the hell places their license plate number of their car as part of their source code?
But knowing who wrote it helped solve most of the mystery and as a result Anna had put up better defenses and a nice little message in the patch stating "Dude, drink more coffee and less chatting on the phone with your girlfriend." As a little nod to the finding out of the identity of the person who had created the problem.
Now with Paige spilling the information about the virus on the system, Anna was in Code Monkey Ninja mode again.
"Paige, I need you to pull your personnel back away from the battle. Tell them to locate and track Shodan. If they encounter any hostiles, tell them to stand down, give information to them that I am aiding you in getting rid of a Virus on the system and that I am at the current location." Paige looked at Anna concerned. "The Enemy of thy Enemy is thy friend. Shodan is both of our Enemy thus we must ally to stay alive and win." Paige understood as she started to give out barking orders to her men.
Anna had the feeling that Paige had compassion for those around her. That in another life Paige probably had been in a role where she had to care for others under her command… or at least been involved in guiding those on the system around so that they stayed safe from harm. That was when a group of white programs appeared before them with their disk drawn. Suddenly a disk was flying at Paige's head. Out of sheer instinct Anna reached out and somehow had stopped the disk in flight mere inches from Paige's face.
Paige gulped hard as she shifted her gaze from the disk floating in-front of her and towards Anna.
"Are you alright?" Anna said as Paige just nodded before swallowing hard. "Good." With that Anna turned to Program who had thrown the disk. "You there..." Anna pointed her finger at the program and reaching in front of Paige, took the disk Anna had stopped with her new found powers and marched over to the short program and slapped the disk top first into the girl's chest. "You should not throw things unless you know what is going on." Now gritting her teeth Anna watched as Paige's forces started to stand down as several white coded programs entered the room Anna saw one that stood out from the rest.
"Anna!" The voice and the facial features were all needed as both ran towards each other.
"Jet..." Anna embraced the black garbed, white circuitry covered man who's Superman styled microchip themed chevron on his chest screamed the cheesiness of the man she loved. "How did you find me?" Anna felt Jet's hands rub the middle of her back until his hands hit the harness that Gem had placed on her.
"Becky..." Jet said as Anna felt his nose move across the hairline of her forehead. "She placed a trace on you that would affect the weather. All we and to do was contact Sam and Q for a weather report and we're here." That was when Jet showed his other shoe is about to drop face. "We are sort of on the clock here Anna, Sam was able to work with that Stulter guy to get the Beam system fixed but they don't know how long they will be able to keep the thing working." This is when Anna dropped and let the other shoe drop.
"Yet we have a problem here." Anna closed her eyes and exhaled hard. "I just found out that there's a virus on the system." Anna looked Jet in the eyes. "It is the Shodan virus Jet and if she gets out of here, then everything that Sam, Quorra, Sam's Old man, Your Dad have fought for will come to an end."
"Crap..." Jet gritted his teeth. "When it rains, it pours."
The Journey home would take longer than expected, but to save their home, they had to save this one first.
Sorry about leaving you with a cliffhanger here, but I want to update more often to move this story along.
So how nuts can things get before time on the beacon runs out.
Find out next chapter.
And Qoobox is the name of an actual virus that got on my computer a few weeks back. Took a while to get rid of the little bugger, but once gone, my system ran fine. So venting my frustrations out about it in my story is my way of dealing. That and listening to the TED conference on the history of computer viruses. Is where I got ideas for this past chapter from.
So when you have a chance, thank the folks down in IT,
Well till next chapter.