Tron slowed his bike down and stopped a few meters away from the program. "Identify yourself," he said in his most commanding voice. After being away for so long it would be best to establish some sort of authority. He wondered if any programs would even remember who he was. He could only guess how Beta had kept the programs in line.
The lone program merely give Tron a once over before lowering his gaze to the ground.
Tron frowned and got off this bike. "Program, answer me!" He said as he approached. When he was about 3 feet away, the program looked up. A crooked smile broke out across his face and his dark eyes flashed red. In a moment he pushed off the wall and swung a fist.
It didn't take long for Sam to find Beta's light trail, but it was a bit difficult to keep up. She was flying down the roads at top speed and taking sharp turns. Even with all of his experience, Sam couldn't risk smashing into a wall at the speed Beta was going.
All he could tell right now was that they were weaving through the city. It didn't look like Beta had any specific destination in mind. Sam had to wonder if he hadn't messed anything up when he fiddled with her disc.
Sam's thoughts were interrupted as Beta took another sharp turn, followed by another. Now they were following the wall that surrounded the city. After a few minutes of just traveling against the wall, Sam took the chance to match his pace with Beta.
This time her light cycle was different from the one she used when they first met. This one looked similar to his father's, but was not enclosed. Instead it was open and almost completely black with only a few thin circuits of light decorating its body. Even her cycle helmet was different. It wasn't like the full cover helmet he himself wore, or the strangely shaped ones Tron and Quorra had worn. It technically wasn't even a helmet at all, just the same visor and headpiece that she wore all the time, only the visor had been tinted black. It matched the strange lighting of her suit.
"Beta, what's going on here?" he asked when he pulled up next to her.
"There's a strange program roaming the city. When I attempted contact everything went slow." She replied, scanning the area before her. "I need to find it before something happens."
"Are you sure it was the program that caused it? I fixed a few bugs in your system when I rebooted you." Sam saw her grip on the bike tighten out of the corner of his eye.
"Thus far I have not encountered any issues when dealing with problematic programs. I cannot recall it clearly, but that program was not a standard inhabitant of Tron City."
Sam must have had struck some sort of nerve. Beta's tone seemed almost insulted, and Sam had more or less insinuated that her status as a beta program meant that she might be unreliable. He didn't mean it that way… but it came out that way.
"Uh, if it makes you feel any better Tron is out on patrol somewhere." To Sam's ear it sounded more like a question. And it kind of was.
"I know." Suddenly Beta turned dark. The ribbons of light on her suit, on her bike, and in her hair went black.
With the roar of her engine, she revved up her speed and shot off before Sam could get in another word.
Tron nimbly flipped as the rogue program brandished a strange spear-like weapon. It had only been a few seconds after the initial attack when Tron activated his own disc. The strange weapon was something new. Standard programs weren't able to use modified gear unless they were game participants or city sentries. Even then Tron had never seen something like this. It almost looked like a weapon from Flynn's world.
The program smirked and ran forward, using his speed to jump to the air. Reaching the peak on his leap he swung his weapon in an arc and Tron quickly leapt out of its path. The moment the spear met the ground something strange happened. The ground cracked and shattered, pixelating a few times until the impact area turned black.
His opponent merely grinned at the damage and lifted the weapon to rest on his shoulder. It was a brief rest, as he slowly began to stalk towards Tron.
Separating his discs, Tron immediately took aim and let one disc fly. In a one swift movement the rogue program spun his spear and deflected the disc, sending it the ground and skidding away. In a flash he was rushing forward, spear pointed directly at Tron's chest.
Definitely not a good place to get hit.
Flipping back, Tron studied the programs fighting style. The spear was an extension. It had a far reach and was easy for him to wield. Tron wasn't sure what type of combat would be best, but mid-range seemed to be out of the question unless being stabbed is part of the plan. Long range would be tricky since the spear could deflect his discs without being damaged. Close quarters might prove to be efficient with both discs, so long as the sheer size of the spear makes movement difficult.
Too much speculation, not enough data.
First things first: get his other disc.
Sam was lost.
Without Beta's light trail to follow he was fucking lost.
"This is mildly embarrassing." He grumbled. "Next chance I get I'm going to write up some sort of GPS function."
He sped up and followed the city wall. Since Beta went dark and took off, it was all he could do. Hopefully he'd be able to circle the city and catch something.
The explosion of light about 2 miles away was probably what he should've been looking for. Revving up his bike for more power, Sam raced ahead to get his answers.
This program fought well. It was different from anything he'd seen before. It was fast and nimble, and very fast to learn Tron's fighting style. That spear was what was kept Tron from getting any closer. The program wielded it expertly, using it to maintain distance, parry, and still attack. For Tron to win, he'd have to somehow get it away from him.
His options were to take it by force, knock it out of his grasp, or somehow have the program throw it. None of the options were too pleasing.
Not that is mattered. All too suddenly the program was thrown to the city wall and exploded into a blinding light.
Beta immediately skidded by side and watched as her lightcycle shattered into pieces against the wall.
"Stay away." She warned and she cautiously stepped forward.
"Beta! Tron!" Sam screeched to a halt behind them. "What's going on here?"
Before either of the Protectors could answer, the sound of shattering pixels caught their attention.
From the wreckage of the lightcycle the rouge program emerged. He was worse for wear, dead pixels falling away from his body, and he began to laugh. He stepped forward, and with every step he took the pixels came back one by one. However, they weren't forming his original body. Instead they expanded beyond that.
Beta readied her disk and took her battle stance as the transformation completed. "Get. Back." She warned once again, keeping her eyes trained on the centaur-like beast in front of the group. "It's a Trojan Horse."
The Trojan continued to laugh and raised its spear, charging at Beta. Immediately she reacted and rushed forward, deflecting the spear but losing her own footing.
"Trojan horses look like that?" Sam and Tron rushed forward to offer their aid, but the beast reared up. The threating hooves kept the two at bay while Beta stood.
"I said GET. BACK. If this program runs wild then it'll find and open a door into the city. You must avoid it or you'll be knocked out." Beta's disk flew through the air but was merely deflected and returned to her.
"I know what a Trojan horse is!" Sam yelled as he and Tron dodged another hoof.
Without warning the malware reared up once again, cackling into the sky, before taking off in a gallop along the wall. Before Sam could react Beta was already chasing the beast on foot.
"Sam, we must go after them. That program is fast and Beta lost use of her lightcycle. We must apprehend it before it finds the door and opens it." Sam was already on his bike and ready to go as Tron mounted his own.
Despite her extra speed Beta was no match for the horse without her lightcycle. There had to be another way to catch up. Jumping onto a nearby awning she took to the roofs. She needed the altitude to help keep an eye on the wake of cracked black tracks the horse left behind.
"I was programmed for protection. There has to be something I'm missing. I am a beta… there's something I should be testing…"
And it clicked. In a burst of speed leapt from the rooftop.
Tron and Sam caught up to the malware in no time, but Beta was nowhere to be seen.
"We didn't pass her did we?" Sam asked as they slowed their speed slightly, trailing behind the horse in order to monitor its movements.
"No. I would've received an alert. She has to be somewhere…"
Before they knew it two strips of light flashed from the top of a building before striking the malware in its side. Upon contact the circuits of Beta's suit lit up and she sent the program and herself to the ground.
Immediately the two boys skidded to a stop and dispersed their vehicles. Beta lay a few feet from the Trojan and carefully stood- a gash of missing pixels from her arm.
The Trojan was up in a matter of moments as well, his entire left arm missing.
"Beta! How did you-"
"I said stay back!" She ran forward and the Trojan took off once more. "No!" she screamed, as the chase was on once again.
Tron was already by her side as she clicked her disk back into place. "I will handle this, there's no way you can chase him down on foot."
"Do not underestimate me Tron. I may be under your command, but I was designed to fight just like you." Beta took off in a run once again but something changed. Instead of simple boots, her shoes altered themselves. In a flash a pair of skates pixelated soon Beta was long gone.
"Ok, what the hell was that?" Sam asked as Tron watched in surprise.
"We must catch up." Tron merely replied. And they were off.
Speeding along the wall once again it was only a matter of time until they caught up with the pair.
Beta was skating ribbons of light around the Trojan, corralling him within the confines of light prison by jumping and twirling all around. But the Trojan would not back down; instead he slammed his spear into the makeshift gates.
Sam and Tron exchanged looks, nodded, and deployed their own light trails. Carefully, yet speedily, they circled the horse and replaced the netting Beta created. But soon enough, they ran out of room and the light walls became too dangerous.
The Trojan continued to shatter the walls, bits and pieces of pixels of him breaking away upon contact. By this time Beta had made her way to the top of a nearby building. Tron and Sam watched as she jumped, her body curling into a tight spiral and unfurling just in time to land kick straight to the Trojan's head.
But it wasn't enough. Beta didn't expect the shaft of the spear to slam into her own side, sending her crashing to the ground. Glass-like pixels littered the floor as she slid across and finally came to a stop- just before hitting a lightwall.
The Trojan reared up again, ready to smash Beta into derezzed bits, but was immediately grounded by three lightdiscs severing one of his hind legs. Tron and Sam watched as the program flailed, unable to break into the walls of light and their disks now beyond their reach.
Lightcycle mounted, Sam immediately began to rewrite data and add a gun of sorts to the vehicle. In moments he was blasting shots through the walls to give Tron access.
Beta, however, wasn't done yet. As she stood, pixels fell from her side like a cascading waterfall. Skates ready, she charged forward and dove to the ground. As she slid across the floor she swept her leg upwards. The resulting ribbon of light easily severed another leg.
As that one shattered Tron swooped in and pulled Beta away from the remaining flailing limbs.
"I'm not done yet!" She yelled as she wretched her arm from Tron's grip.
"Beta, I will finish this." He said firmly, eyeing his discs on the other side of the flailing beast.
But Beta took no heed, instead disconnecting her own disc and charging forward on foot. Tron immediately tried to follow but instead watched in shock as the Trojan brought up his spear once again. In retaliation Beta leapt and broke he disk into two halves. Now dagger-like weapons, one half deflected the spear threatening to smash her into the ground, and the other sank into the Trojan's face. The two crashed to the ground in an unceremonious heap.
Everything was quiet. Beta's heavy breathing mixed with the sound of broken glass as she withdrew the blade.
All at once the Trojan Horse shattered and Beta slumped over the pile of pixels.
"Hey!" Sam yelled as he and Tron dashed to her side. Half buried in the remains of the malware, Beta merely gazed up at the two with a wary look on her face.
"I told you… I could handle it." Beta let out a heavy sigh before beginning to haul herself up into a sitting position with Tron's aid, bits and pieces of her own mixing into the pile below.
"You were foolish. How could Flynn have programmed you to act so recklessly?" Tron carefully looked over Beta's injuries. Gashes of her body were torn away- she shouldn't technically even be able to function. "You're lucky you weren't derezzed by some of these hits."
Sam kneeled and held out his hand. "Disc." Beta simply fused the halves together and placed the disc onto Sam's outstretched palm. "I'm going to have to start some repairs here. It's too risky to move you right now. I can't believe you have this much non-essential data…"
In a matter of moments Sam had Beta's very being on display, carefully fixing the masses of red error codes.
"Non-essential data?" Tron asked, watching Sam tap into the disc.
"It means that she can take more hits. If she isn't hit anywhere important… she can still function. She could get an arm or leg cut off and she'd still be able to move, think, and process… that's why she hasn't derezzed with all of these injuries" Beta simply leaned heavily against Tron, eyes dimming slightly. "I think that you actually have that feature too. It may be why you were able to survive the Sea of Simulation."
Tron searched his programming for evidence of such abilities. It made sense… the blow to the neck from CLU should've ended him in the first place, but he somehow survived. His memory bank was still a little fuzzy at the time, so he couldn't accurately analyze the situation. A moment more of searching and he found it: the non-essential data destruction. In the event he was injured, so long as the attack was not fatal, he would still be able to function.
"Luckily most of this non-essential data is easy to replicate: its a lot of cosmetic and mobility stuff. A reboot should fix her up, and when we get back to the arcade I can run more tests and do some backups." Sam carefully clicked the disc onto Beta's back and all of her circuits flickered off. A moment later they glowed white, and the broken bits around her injuries began to close.
"She needs more experience." Tron watched as the pixels expanded. "She was almost derezzed."
Sam looked up from the healing process to stare Tron in the eye.
"Did my dad really tell you what she truly capable of?"
So here I am over a year later. I apologize but it looks like updates are going to be sporadic. I've been very busy since I graduated from community college last year. I've since started at a university and have also gotten new jobs. All of this keeps me pretty busy (and I also try to make room for a few anime cons) so I end up writing a few things at a time at like 3am…
But at least we're getting somewhere! After this, some of the story will start to pick up. I just needed to lay down some groundwork.
Thanks for reading!