Survivor

He shouldn't have lasted as long as he had anyway. A little program like him, a mere actuarial program who still "naively" believed in the Users, wasn't expected to last, not on the Game Grid. But he had survived. He had survived through sheer willpower, through sheer belief that he could make it in such a harsh system and that he had a purpose and a User who depended on him. He wasn't the fastest, certainly wasn't the strongest, but he was cunning and tricky—a fighter in the truest sense; he would give the credit for that to his User.

So why, when he finally had something that was actually worth fighting for, couldn't he keep fighting? Fighting had been his life for so long, he had begun to forget about his past, about his former duties and goals. He was an actuarial program, yes, but he had become a gladiator and nothing more, even though he tried to hold on to what he had been, what he was made to do. So why couldn't he keep fighting, when so much more than just his puny, insignificant life, was on the line? Why was he letting himself become a liability when he could actually help?

Flynn's ramblings about the Recognizer he was stealing tore the program from his thoughts but did not distract him from the pain, a pain so great he already knew what was coming, knew that the future really did hold nothing for him. What had he been fighting for? He couldn't even remember as his fate slowly began creeping up on him…

He knew he had to keep fighting. He knew it was important, he knew there was something special about Flynn, something about him and whatever he was doing here that was worth fighting for; taking down the MCP which caused do much suffering was worth it, he knew that. But…at the same time…what was he? Did he really matter? How many programs had he seen de-rezz at his own hand as he fought for only himself? He was made to help people and yet…he was forced by the MCP to fight until deresolution entirely against his will, against his beliefs.

"Come here," he managed to say, his voice cracking at the effort. He needed to find out the truth, needed to know that his suspicions were correct. He had fought for so long for something that he believed in so fervently that may or may not actually be real. The Users, he knew because it was stored somewhere the very depths of his memory, were real. They had to be real. Who else would have created him? But at the same time…shouldn't they have saved him from this fate?

Flynn, as requested, came over to where he was lying and grasped him by the hands. Yet, he could hardly feel his friend's—could he even really be called that?—touch. It was inevitable, he knew, but he couldn't help but stare at his friend's—yes, he could be called that—face. He just knew there was something drastically different about him, and yet…It couldn't be, could it?

He knew what the others thought about him, knew what they whispered about him behind his back. He was labeled, for the longest time, as one who would quickly and inevitably succumb to the rigors of the Game Grid. He was also labeled as "crazy" because of his intense belief in the Users, a belief that helped propel him through each painful and seemingly endless cycle. When Tron came, everybody became interested in him, and nobody paid the "crazy" little actuarial program any unwanted attention ever again. The other programs were amazed at Tron's skills—something not at all surprising to him because he knew he was a security program—and were equally amazed at the fervor of his belief in the Users, at his dedication to his own and to his mission. Quickly, he was labeled "insane" by most but…he knew better. He knew Tron was right. Just some cycles it was hard to believe.

"Oh, my User," he managed to say, his voice coming out as a sharp, pained whimper. His voice trailing off all too rapidly, he added, "Users are Users, they…" but he couldn't finish the sentence, couldn't complete his thought. Users are Users, they…they don't exist in this world; they can't possibly come here…

He was sitting in the cell block, waiting for whatever game he would have to play, when a new guy was thrust into the holding cell next to his, protesting the entire time. Glancing over at him, he smirked; he couldn't help it. And then the new guy tried to engage him, tried to walk right into his holding cell, and he had to explain to the naïve fool that he couldn't do that…not there. No, there a program didn't have any freedom to do anything but fight and even that freedom was limited in some respects. But then the new guy said something quite odd, something about wanting to know what was happening so he could tell his friends what this "dream" was about. He didn't understand what he was talking about, but he replied anyway, his voice bitingly sarcastic, "You're a…guest of the Master Control Program." He knew even then that there was something different about this particular program, named Flynn he would soon learn, but he just couldn't figure out what it was.

The pain was growing, and he was growing weaker and weaker by the moment. He could almost feel himself losing his functions, losing everything that made him…him. Staring up at Flynn as his eyes began to glaze over, grow foggy with deresolution eminent, he asked the question he had been desperate to ask since the very beginning, a question that would confirm all of his beliefs, all that he had fought for…and would…eventually de-rezz for: "Are you a User?"

And Flynn only nodded…His circuits lighting up, he couldn't help but beam even though his deresolution was near, even though he wouldn't be able to witness what he now knew would be the downfall of the MCP. But…

What had he expected? Had a part of him expected the User to save him? Wasn't that foolish of him? After all, Flynn was a User which meant that he clearly had something far greater to accomplish while in the system than just saving him. He was an insignificant program in that quest, and he knew that all too well as he laid there on the floor of the Recognizer, staring at Flynn in wonder. In all his cycles on the Game Grid, nothing had prepared him for this moment.

Sometimes, Tron would talk to him about what the future might possibly hold for them. He became his friend when becoming someone's friend was more than a risk; it actually jeopardized your chance of survival. He would tell him about how, once he escaped the Game Grid, he would take down the MCP, would liberate all the conscripts. He couldn't help but believe him, listen to him as he sat in his cell, hoping that freedom could actually be realized like Tron promised. His words fed his belief in the Users, made him all the more fervent, made him believe that the Users could actually change things…that they could change this…that they could deliver him…

But could didn't mean they would…

He knew that now. The pain was beginning to grow overwhelming, consuming him entirely, and he wanted to scream, wanted to beg Flynn to save him, to deliver him like he always thought the Users would. He had wanted to help fight…he had wanted to fight when he finally had something worth fighting for…but he couldn't. Because he was about to de-rezz and nothing could save him. Not even a User…not even a User who had fixed a Recognizer through his seemingly magical powers…not even his friend…

But he was just a program, and he recognized that. He was made to serve the Users. And…he would serve them to the bitter, painful end. Even though he couldn't keep fighting, even though he wouldn't see a better life for himself, he would serve the Users to the very end; it was responsibility, his sole purpose. He knew that was all the Users wanted from him. And…It was an end for him, yes, but it was only a beginning for Flynn, for the rest of the programs trapped in a cruel, heartless system. It was a beginning… He had to keep telling himself that…

How many programs had he sent to their deresolution? How many programs had he seen de-rezz before his eyes—the screamers, the silent types, the pleaders? What did it feel like? Where did they go? He always wondered those things; Tron would sometimes laugh at him, at his naïve understanding that programs had to go somewhere after they de-rezzed. "They can't just disappear forever," he had insisted, knowing all too well that Tron would never side with him. "They have to go somewhere." Smiling at him—humoring him, he knew—Tron replied, "We're programs, Ram, when we de-rezz, we de-rezz. That is the end."

But why would the Users allow that?

"Flynn, help Tron," he managed to say, and he watched Flynn nod, the expression on his face pained and filled with sadness. Did he really care? he had to wonder as his circuits flashed red, slowly fading away into nothingness. Did he really care? But, in the grand scheme of things, the fact one User cared about him didn't matter. It didn't matter, and it wouldn't save him. He couldn't keep fighting—he had to let go and, as he did, he transferred the little energy he had left into Flynn, hoping it would be enough… It was over…

He shouldn't have lasted that long anyway. He was never meant to; survival wasn't a part of his programming, surviving the Game Grid wasn't what he was meant to do. But he adapted, he fought, and he survived, survived long enough to serve some minuscule—yet important—purpose in the grand system. He survived long enough to serve the Users…

And sometimes he wished that he had never been made…


Hey guys!

Hope you enjoyed my latest fan-fic! I know it was a little depressing, but I thought there was a lot there I could work with. Anyway, please tell me what you think. I love getting reviews! Oh, and I don't own Tron. Duh.

~Moore12~