"I FIGHT FOR THE USERS."
In one story, a program named Rinzler remembered he was once named Tron for the microseconds necessary to ram his lightjet into Clu's.
In one story, he fell, and Clu went on to harry the users and the iso upon the I/O port's very threshold.
In one story, he drifted into the deeps of the Sea of Simulation, limp and flickering, as Kevin Flynn drew Clu into himself and Sam and Quorra escaped into the user's world.
This is not that story.
They were in the port. They were standing in the port, and the light from it cast the perpetual dark of the Grid into a near-blinding brightness, until the figures beyond were little more than ghostly shapes, and yet ... and yet -
"I'm not leaving you!" Sam screamed, voice strangled from more than just simple adrenaline, brushing clumsily at the hands restraining him. This can't be happening, we're right here, we're so close, you can't give up now Dad ...
Sam wanted to take the disc Quorra handed him and smash it into that gently smiling face, make his father realize that just because he got to say goodbye this time does not make a second abandonment easier or right. And when that doppelganger straightened between them, his father's face from that first abandonment hovering just before him, Sam almost did hurl the disc. Except Quorra's pleading clench upon his arm made him recall, just in time, that it was exactly what Clu wanted, and with teeth gritted to cage back a sob of frustration, he started to raise his arms ...
... and, suddenly, improbably, saw his father, his real father, abruptly flying through the air, right over Clu's form in an arc which ended in a skidding stop at the edge of the port.
Kevin Flynn rolled onto his back with a groan, blinking up at them with a bemused grimace. Clu, Sam, and Quorra likewise gazed down at him in equal confusion.
"What - " Sam's tongue came unglued first. But, as if it had been a signal, everybody was suddenly in motion - Clu lurching forward with a snarl, Kevin belatedly scrambling to get back on his feet, Quorra reaching for Kevin's sleeve, and some remote and thus far ignored corner of Sam's mind registering a strange stuttering growl rapidly approaching -
- just before something slammed into Clu's back, sending the program sliding in a snarling, tangled black mass directly for them.
"Dad, come on!" Sam snatched for his father's other arm as Quorra finally latched onto the older Flynn's elbow, the both of them hauling him backwards.
Kevin's feet kicked at the floor, looking oddly as if he was trying to push away from them instead, and Sam felt something cold clench tight around his middle when his father managed to half-twist out of his grasp and confirmed it with a gasped, "No, wait - ! I don't belong outside anymore, I have to stop Clu, I have to help - stop, that's Tron!"
Sam felt his insides clench just a little bit tighter, squeezing all the breath from him.
Tron. Tron, who, in the real world, had littered his childhood room with heroic poses and comforting night-lights. Tron, who, in the virtual world, had threatened and terrorized him and his father and countless other programs. Tron, who, in what Sam had thought would be his last moments, staring across empty air at a gleaming black helmet flanked by lightjet canons, had seemingly switched sides at the critical moment and slammed into Clu before the program could deliver the killing blow, buying them precious time to reach the tower.
Tron, who now clawed and fought and ripped at Clu just a few feet away, that distinctive click-growl all but drowned by the program's howls as Clu fought back with a look as if he would drag himself closer by his teeth if he had to. "Flynn!" Clu screamed, and where was Rinzler's - Tron's - vaunted prowess now as the helmet was snapped back by an elbow and the black tangle of limbs finally came apart, and oh god there was only ten feet between them now ... eight feet ... four ...
"Quorra!" Sam shouted, unable to tear his eyes away from that now-terrifying specter of his father's face from twenty years past, and he had to have faith that the Iso understood and was hauling Kevin back even as he thrust the disc high above his head because they were leaving right now -
It might have been his father's voice and a stray echo, or it might have been the same voice from two sources. Sam's vision whited out before he could decipher it, and only felt the muffled impact of bodies next to him before all other sensations were snatched away as well.