Disclaimer:: I do not own any characters from Tron. They all belong to Disney.
'You're something beautiful a contradiction
I want to play the game
I want the friction
You will be the death of me' – Muse, Our Time is Running Out
From my balcony, I gazed out into my world. The lights and sounds of the city were over powering yet somehow I felt detached. The sky churned in its sinister purple, blue, and black. Every now and again, it would set off an electrical discharge in the Outlands. Illuminating the far away mountains, for just a moment, before they faded back into darkness. A wind brushes softly through the city. I slowly close my eyes as I feel a few of my hairs tickle against my forehead. I can feel the air gliding over my skin. Moving around my solid body. Then, it was gone.
I did not fear death or deletion. I do not think I ever have. It has always been my objective that was put before myself. That was the way it has always been until now.
Now, I open my eyes and I see nothing but a dark box. Trapped in here for eternity. Then in one moment we will cease to be and nothing will matter. Nothing I ever did… will matter. The reasons for my creation feel as if they have become obsolete. But why has this happened? Does the fault lie with Flynn? His absence makes my inefficiency feel like a gaping hole. I no longer have the Creator to give me new directives. I was filled with such resentment that I thought him unfit to direct me or the rest of the Grid. So, I pushed him out and claimed his place. I did not want to admit that I needed him. My listlessness is my own doing.
My eyes trail downwards to watch the people on the streets. Just a myriad of color blending together. I cannot help but be reminded of how I do not feel a part of them. I suddenly feel fatigued and solitary. I retreat back into my domicile. The glass door slides behind me and shuts out the noise from the outside. My stark white room. Flynn's hideout reminded me of my own dwellings. It was discomforting to know how similar we really are, even in our taste of environment. I grow weary thinking about him all the time. Everything is a reminder of our separation and our connection.
I saunter to my couch where I sprawl myself, attempting to gain relaxation. Remaining stationary, I gaze through my floor into nothing. I felt restless; something jittered inside of my system that I could not understand. So I remained sitting, festering on my couch while staring through the floor.
My mind was continuously swarmed by thoughts of Flynn and thoughts of the ISO. Since her show of defiance in the cell, I have steered away from seeing her. I despised myself at the thought of being weak and her knowing about it. Her knowing that she can simply speak to me a certain way and I will shy away from her proximity. How did she do this to me? Programs fear me. She should fear me as well. I am not the one that is weak. It is her.
I begin to think about her large eyes. I think about the pale skin that peaks out of her suit at the neck and shoulder. I think about slowly running my fingers over these parts. Dipping my head to nuzzle her throat, latching my lips against the soft skin there.
I release a strangled growl, as my heavy palm collides with my forehead. My fingers curl like claws and the nails begin to dig into my skin.
I cannot stop thinking of her. I am weak. She makes me so. I can't help it or bear it.
My eyes trail upwards to see my reflection in the grand window. I see the distress on my face. The way I'm clutching myself accentuates my scars and makes me look maniacal and unkempt. My eyes fall away, unable to look at my pitiful image any longer. If it is even possible, thoughts of her fill me with more dejection than thoughts of Flynn.
Her words spin in a circle inside my mind, forever on replay.
I will never be yours.
The softness of her voice and the movement of her lips as she said this are forever burned into me. Why does it cause such anger?
I am CLU. Administrator to the System. I have brought this city to its peak. I have eradicated all imperfections. I defied the Users and made them fear us. I take what is mine. Who does she think she is to say such a thing to me? She is only a disgusting mistake spewed out by the Grid. A bug meant to squashed.
Look at what she has done to me. I am not myself anymore. I cannot even perceive who I am supposed to be.I need to stop this way of thinking. I need to divert my attentions.
My body slips away from the couch and onto the floor, where I sit rigidly with my legs crossed. I close my eyes and push away my poisonous thoughts. I concentrate on my body.
In and out.
In and out.
In and out.
In and out.
I can feel the energy circulating through me. From my chest, to down my arms, and where it tingles at my fingertips. Down my torso, passed my thighs and knees, to my toes. I can feel it pulsating out of the bottoms of my feet, branching out like roots across the white floor where it becomes part of my surroundings. It grows and grows and touches the walls, the furniture, the doors, and the windows. Overtaking every inch of my domicile and continuing it's spread outwards. To the floors below mine, to the streets outside, the buildings connected, the programs walking and touching that are transferring and conferring that energy. I can feel them all. A million feelings all at once and yet every one is distinct. My body is far away. There is only the circuitry of the System. There is only peace and stillness.
My steady breath falters. There it was again. Like a sharp hook snagging on to me. I cannot see it, but I can definitely feel it. It's… something foreign. It does not belong. I feel no trace of Flynn within it, neither my touch of recoding. I do not like the feelings it causes me. Dread is welling up inside me.
What are you?
I push deeper and deeper, attempting to identify its coding. Suddenly, a screech erupts in my head. I strangle out a scream as I clutch my head. It sounds like thousands of machines wailing and scraping and it's getting louder and louder, I cannot hear my own screams! It's about to split open my skull!
There is a hand grabbing on to my arm but I cannot see. My vision is clouded by bright red. There's a voice peaking over the wailing. They are shaking me. The sound begins to wade away, leaving only a low buzzing in my skull. I close my eyes again and I see the circuitry outline of a male program. He has my color.
The low, distorted voice of Voltas causes me to open my eyes. The red is gone. I can see myself in his opaque black mask. Pale and shaken. My circuitry glowing feebly. Everything is being sucked away.
Before everything else, sense of touch comes back to me. I can feel the soft object that I lie upon. I recognize the object as my couch. I become aware of the careless positioning of my body. The steady flow of energy within my body. Then comes my hearing. There are programs near me. My eyes flutter open. My vision turns in and out of focus. All around me, colors swirl in vague shapes of people. The room becomes sharper. There is a program leaning over me, in his hands is an I.D.
Mine. He's scrolling through its contents.
I shoot up from my lying position and snatch it from his grasp. The program releases a shout of fright and skips backwards. My disc surges angrily in my clenched hand as I raise it threatening over him.
I stop in my tracks and look over to see Merkury and Voltas.
"What's going on?" I demand.
"He was only trying to assist you." Merkury answered dully.
I clench my teeth down at the Basic before me.
"You dare view the contents of an Administrator's I.D.?" I ask quietly.
"No! I mean, I was only trying to repair you! I did not view anything that I, um-"
I do not know how long he had been within my CPU or what he may have seen or uncovered. My past actions, my personal thoughts, my private convictions. The image of the ISO is burned into my skull and I panic to think he may have viewed any of my shameful thoughts about her. I look into his dark eyes and watched his hands. My strike was quick enough that he didn't even have time to move them up in defense. Pixels broke and crumbled from his throat. He choked and staggered backwards into the wall. He stared at me as he sank downward. His body was nothing but cubes by the time it touched the floor.
"He saved you, CLU." came Merkury's voice.
I remain quiet as I return my I.D. to its holster on my back. He saved me. Saved me from? I recall my system crashing. That… thing. That presence that I felt and attempted to identify had a firewall. Powerful enough to shock my system and cause it to fail.
I close my eyes and I can still see the body outline and the glow of orange-yellow.
There's only one reason why a program would have my color. I slowly open my eyes and stare at the pile of pixels on the floor.
"Voltas. I want a full System scan completed by the next millicycle. Keep an eye out for irregularities, viruses, and unauthorized code changes." I softly commanded.
The security program's broad boots passed before my line of vision before he exited the room. Merkury eagerly approached me.
"Something has happened. What is it?"
I turn to the grand window and beckon her to do the same.
"Do you believe in the System, Merkury?"
I watched as a transporter flew by my tower, illuminating both our faces in a dark red glow.
"Yes, of course I do."
"Do you believe in the supremacy of programs?" I ask quietly.
"Always." her voice is strong in conviction.
"There are those that do not believe in these things. They will come and destroy all that we've accomplished. They will come to destroy me."
I turn towards the female to see a frown pulling at her lips.
"Gain the trust of the defected. Feed them false information. I will be out of commission for a short time as I recover from the episode I just had. Tell them it was because you attempted to assassinate me with a virus."
"I need you to become closer to them. They may be harboring a dangerous program. One that may be here to destroy me and subsequently the entire System. Do you compute, Merkury?"
She looked hesitant but gave the tiniest of nods.
"As you command, CLU."
I remember many cycles ago when Flynn explained what happens when Users die. They leak blood. It is their form of energy or life source. Then their bodies remain. He explained that they decompose. A process of the deceased becoming part of its surroundings.
I think of this as I watch the slain program's pixels. The small cluster begins to melt away into the floor. The energy becoming recycled and used for other purposes. I suppose this is our way of decomposing.
I begin to wonder what will happen when I become deleted. I do not like the thought of my energy being used somewhere else, or by someone else. I wish all of me, all of my essence, to cease to exist when my time comes because… it is mine.
My thoughts lead me into desiring the company of the ISO. No other program thinks the way I do about existence… only her. I suddenly become soddened with feeling of emptiness in my domicile. The compressing quietness.
I drop my head into my hands.
"You look ill."
I begin to hate myself from the pleasure that her voice causes me. Have I really been so lonely?
An eyebrow twitches at her concern, "Something happened that has left my system afflicted for the time being…"
"My system crashed and…" I trail off.
My eyes trace over her hanging body and the strange look upon her face."
While I was rebooting, I saw images. They weren't memories. I do not know what they were." I whispered.
The ISO frowns deeply at this.
"You had a dream. I've had them before."
A dream. Flynn always spoke of his dreams to me. I understood what they were without true experience. I do not like dreams. They are uncontrolled thoughts. The images that flashed through my mind were uncontrollable and I lacked the ability to halt them… Though however much I can deny it, I enjoyed the images I saw. It was after the fact, when I regained my consciousness and logic that I became disturbed and irritated.
"Flynn had always said that you were special. I'm beginning to understand why."
I give her a dark look. For some reason, Flynn's thoughts that I was a special or unique program did not comfort me. Rather, a caving feeling erupted in my chest and filled with anger.
"What did you dream about, CLU?"
An unpleasant smile slowly forms on my lips. "It was Flynn. Dead at my feet."
She squints at me through her thick, dark lashes. "You're lying."
The smile disappears and my face is left vacant. "We were talking. He was young again and everything was as it should have been."
Her face softens at my answer and I cannot stand it. My features scrunch into a scowl in return as I look away from her.
"You were not present. In fact, there were no ISOs at all and the rift that came between Flynn and I never occurred." I added in a spiteful tone.
"CLU." her voice is so soft. She is pleading me to look at her again. She repeats my name and I cannot help but stare at her from the corner of my eye. Her head is tilted in attempt to see more of my face but I do not give her the pleasure.
"Why did you trap him here?" comes her quiet question.
I close my eyes and withdraw a breath. "I've come to compute horrible User emotions, ISO." I begin in a tired voice.
I open my eyes. Slowly, the fabric of my gloves retracts into my suit. The cubes folding away to reveal my humanoid skin beneath. With my palms up, my gaze traces every line and groove.
"Just as worse as the feeling of having no real purpose, is the feeling of being left behind. To be forgotten by someone that you cannot forget."
My memories go on replay inside my head, making my old feelings tangible and painful. My fingers curl and my hands turn into violent fists. I can feel my round nails digging into my palms.
"He was going to leave and take the ISOs. He would no longer need the System or I. So you see, I didn't want him to leave. I didn't want to be forgotten."
I finally look at her. Those blue eyes that I cannot forget, they are now glassy. We just stare at one another. I do not know why I told her the truth. Maybe I needed someone to say it to. Why not her? A being that knew Flynn almost as much as I. A being that felt as much as I.
I feel as though my system is incomplete. I feel as though my body were hallowed. It must be in my stare because her eyes are becoming wetter and wetter. I step close to her and watch as the liquid overflows. A single tear travels down her face.
She is so strange to cry. She is not being hurt. She is not being torn apart by my words. She is crying because of me speaking about my feelings. I do not understand her.
I reach a bare hand up and wipe away the tear with my thumb. Her eyes close in a grimace as my palm brushes her cheek. Her warmth and energy sears into my skin. It strikes my brain with a nearly unbearable sensation.
Her doleful eyes reopen, more tears spilling out and onto my hand. I cannot bring myself to pull away from her. Her quiet crying creates a hum within my chest.
"Are you crying for me, ISO?" I ask in a gentle voice.
She says nothing, but tries to lie in a sad little shake of her head. It's that compassion of hers. The same warming and yet weak virtue that existed within Flynn. Any bit of violence and hostility I rain upon her, she readily forgives. I kill her friends, make her an outcast, rip her apart from her master, and chain her in a cell... And she cries for me. I am enamored by her empathy.
She simply stares into me. Pitingly, fearfully. I cannot stand myself and I cannot stand how she has made me feel. I am enraged in one moment and longing for her the next. My despondency is eternal. She does not want me to be this close to her. I can see it in her hopeless face.
"You were supposed to be nothing." comes my fervent whisper. "You've done something to me." my voice is stained heavily with my misery.
Her lips part as her head gives the slightest of shakes in her denial. My gaze follows the slope of her upper lip, down the soft plumpness of the bottom.
Would it be so terrible? Would it be such a calamity?
To want her as badly as I do?
When I look back into her eyes, I become trapped yet again. My own eyelids are heavier than I recall as I search through them. I am in the dark outer rim, swimming in passed streams of white ice. I swim into the orange spikes that guard her pupil. It is only present when I am close to her.
My thumb slides down from her cheek to rest on her bottom lip. My opposite hand coming up to rest gently on her neck. I dip my head downwards towards her. The orange spikes in her eyes spread like fire, reaching the ends of the iris. My color. Me. There is black poison slithering through my circuitry. My thoughts become darker and darker. My hand tightens on her neck.
I can feel her breath becoming shallower and shallower until my nose touches hers and her intake of breath stops completely. She whispers something. I could not hear it, but rather, felt the formation of the words from the breath that left her mouth. No, it said.
I look up into her eyes. Horror and fright are churning beneath the orange hue. I feel something coiling up in the pit of my stomach. The serenity I felt was replaced with spite.
"You see Flynn's eyes staring into your own? You cannot stand my face because it's his." I whisper vehemently against her lips.
I know then… I know what can hurt her more than anything. And that's what I want her to do. I want her to hurt. I want her to hate me, just like I do her. I do not want her to cry for me. I want her to curse my existence.
"Let me haunt you, ISO. In your coding, in the dreams that you have. Every time you try and think of Flynn's face, you will only be able to see mine."
My lips move against hers in a hard, rough manner.
Everything begins to feel far gone.
Her lips are so stiff in their reluctance. Though unyielding, I can still feel the velvety promises they have. The feel of her flesh against my own is annihilating me. Her voice reverberates in her mouth in her protests. I can feel it vibrating against my own lips. My fingers curl possessively into her dark hair.
I nip hard on her lip. Her quick intake of breath is all I need to plunge my tongue in. I am rough and unapologetic. Flashes of memories are leaking through. I see old friends and mentors. I see Flynn. I can hear his voice. There is electricity traveling between our lips. I can feel it shocking my tongue. It causes me to tremble. I tear myself away from her to cut off the connection.
There is color illuminating her pale cheeks as well as her lips. I feel intoxicated. I can feel her inside my head. Her electricity is thundering in my system. I dip my head downwards and breathe heavily against her ear.
Fear penetrates my mind as I twist myself around to the doorway. My chest thunders as I am pierced by Merkury's cold, calculating stare. The outside light filters around her, spreading across the floor like a bridge to where the ISO and I stood. There is a low, whirring of mechanical sounds as Voltas steps into view behind her. The fear awakens me and tears my mind from its cloudiness.
"What are you doing?" her voice cracks like a whip.