There is anger fizzling through me. I am frustrated. It is the female program from the disc wars again. The one who is standing across from me in this huge and empty room with its too bright lights and worker's control panels.
Why does she stay with me -stay in my mind- like nothing else? She is impossible.
How can any program be correct in such an imperfect state as the one in which she came? Still, to have her any other way is a corruption, a glitch that must be rectified.
You are wrong, I think as I look at her. She is burning, orange and distorted.
Clu has changed her.
She is like them now. Like the swarm that works, that builds for him. There is nothing unique left.
I watch her.
Her hair is wavy, free, frazzled and pale. Silky blonde. Clu pulled it, loosened it out from that intricate twist at the back of her skull where she once kept it. Her bangs are in the way of those blue eyes.
She does not care. Does not notice. She is absorbed. By work. By the fear of me standing here. It is all she does, the working.
She does not speak anymore.
She used to. Spoke with passion, no fear. Spoke to anyone. To me.
She knew me. . . .
She had been right. Filling up the room with her presence. Tiny body, but strong. Little waist, wide hips, big eyes. Beautiful. She was always talking, fight fight fight, but with her mouth, not her weapon.
She was everywhere. . . everywhere in me. It is not an error. It is the truth. She. Knew. Me.
She was so impossibly different before. Too unique to destroy. An asset. I had known it always, more so with every increasing increment of time. I know few things this way. Events occur, and then are gone. unnecessary, unrequited.
But she stayed. She is always different.
Was. Was different.
Now she is the same. Broken. Convinced of nothing. She says only working words. Only stands at her control panel. Only obeys, obeys, obeys. . . . . . .
ERROR: RESTRICTED FILE. Why is it wrong to try and remember? I know that she is there, there in the files I am not supposed to know are inside me. But they are in me, part of myself.
No. They must be incorrect. Corrupted. Rinzler never remembers. Memories are wrong.
Still, I know that the memories will prove that she did not used to obey, to submit, that I-
Clu is never wrong. Never wrong. Clu knows perfection. Clu creates it.
Clu created me.
No he did not . . . There is another name. . .
Clu damaged her, I know this. I know it is his fault, that he made her into this thing.
She is a drone. She does as she is told, never, ever stops.
But she should stop.
She is tried. There is exhaustion in her eyes. Tired movements. She only lifts her arms because she is supposed to, lifts them to her control panel with such effort. She should not. She is too tired from working, always working. . .
Clu was wrong.
How can he be?
It is impossible. Clu cannot error. Clu cannot be wrong, cannot do wrong.
. . . but he DID.
This train of thought is complex and dangerous. Errors flash everywhere. It is too unstable. I ask myself things as I think. Things I should not ask.
What is truly right?
ERROR ERROR ERROR; but then I know. I know the answer. It is her. She is right.
I am suddenly close to her, when did I get here? She is so afraid, so incapable. She will not speak. And then, when she does, only about the work again. Her eyes are so wide, so scared.
Fury fills me.
You must remain as you were! No! No no no no no! You are broken. You are all wrong. Why did you let him do it? Come back. Back to yourself . . . come back, beautiful program.
Why do I notice this about her? So unnecessary. . .
I hear my anger rolling outside of myself. But she knows what I am thinking. I see in her eyes that she is so, so frightened, but that still, even broken, she understands.
She always knows.
She is nowhere, just permeating through me like a power surge, like she doesn't exist there, in front of me. She's inside of me. She is in a memory.
I have to fix her. Make her better. Bring her back. . .
I must find the memory to do it.
UNAUTHORIZED FILE. UNAUTHORIZED- ERROR. ERROR. WARNING-
The key is in the memory. My memory. I force it, push it, defy the limitations. It must open. It must.
I am strong. I have it now. I see hands, soft and white and eerie. . . they are gloved. I see her face. Those hands, (my hands?) hold her face, and she is so bright, her eyes awakening . . . she says a name. . .
ALERT: Unauthorized access to memory file-
The punishment comes.
The pain rips through me. Sheer agony. Everywhere. Everything . . . hot with the pain. Circuits burning. White light, can't see. Blinded. Anguish . . .
Her face is there, and then gone again. I can't move. There is too much pain, pain everywhere. It shoots down my arms, by back, my legs, builds in my head. I cannot shake it away. I am trying so hard to resist, but it is powerful. . .
But I have to. I must fix her.
All at once, it is fading. It stops.
I have triumphed.
I flex my arms, my shoulders, my neck, remind myself that I can move.
I have been digging my fingers into the control panel she has backed up against, my arms to either side of her. I pry them away, and I am standing again. Standing straight. I have found a strange clarity. I know what to do.
I will make her different again.
I make my arms move, I make my hands listen. I raise them up to her face.
Her jaw fits in my palms as if it were constructed just for this purpose. I can feel that her cheeks are warm beneath my thumbs. I am aware of her as I am never aware of anything, aware of her hair, her clothes, her skin. Aware of her energy pulsing beneath my touch.
Come back, I tell her, but I cannot speak. I never speak.
But I do not have to, it is alright.
I see her eyes, so clear, so pale, so gentle; I see in them that she understands. She feels my gaze. Her face, her expression, suddenly they become so . . . soft. She closes her eyes, so peaceful.
Look at me, I tighten my grip and make her look, you must keep looking.
The fans of blonde that are her lashes flutter. Again, I have prevailed.
She looks again.
All over now, she is turning blue. So strange. It is a dark blue, clear and vibrant. So different and old. I am warmed by the sight.
I hear my own contented humming. I hear, but cannot control the sound. It comes from deep, deep inside of me. It means that I am satisfied.
I can feel her improving, piece by piece. I know when it is done.
She is back. I fixed her. She is different again.
The weight that hung on me is gone, and I can go now. Everything is right again. I have done what is correct, and so I am leaving.
But then her hand is on me, and she is saying "wait." I stop and let her face me.
She speaks to me. Again.
She says "thank you."
As she does, her fingertips, so delicate, touch the mark on my chest, like she knows the pattern as I do not. I feel her energy in their gentle touch.
I do not want it to go.
But it must.
I snatch up my baton. I must do this last thing for her. In order to preserve her flawed perfection, I will help her go, though it is not what I want.
I trap her hands in mine, holding them so tightly.
Stay, beautiful program. Stay.
But I am already giving her the baton. Giving her escape. She will not stay. She will go, and she will live.
She brings my hand up, though. She is so strange in her gestures. . .
She puts her lips on my hand, presses her energy into my circuits with their softness.
What is she doing? It is . . . I don't know. It creates a sweet and bitter ache, deep inside me.
Have I ever felt this before? It is here now, because there on my hand, I have become like her. I am blue. Her energy is there, inside of my circuits. Her color. She leaves it in me, a gift from the sweet gesture of her lips.
And then she flees. She must.
I cannot stop looking at the color of the energy she left in me. I know, looking, that she will succeed. Clu will not hurt her anymore.
I am still looking. It is beautiful, the blue, that colored piece of her. Beautiful, and other things.
It is strange, and correct, and different . . .
It is perfect. Like her.
I will never forget.