A/N: Trying to get back into the flow of things. Sorry if this one isn't too exciting.
Gem, that was all his mind really registered amidst the circling waves of light.
"What are you doing-" Sam had started saying after being so abruptly torn from his own thoughts by the Siren's sudden actions, the slender, white program positioned over him with that damn cane he was so tired of seeing, the bottom end still faintly coated in his blood from the earlier..'chat' he and Zuse had, as the program had put so lightly.
The portal light whited out everything before Sam could continue, there was nothing but black before the smell of the old basement office hit his senses, the feel of the hard, cold floor against his back, the lack of an identity disc and circuitry and a form fitting suit and-
And Tron wasn't here.
Not the time to think about it, he thought insistently, pushing his thoughts aside as his eyes stared up into white, trying to get a grasp at what had just happened.
The Siren moved quickly, before he could put any real understanding together, rising quickly to her feet with a similar swiftness to how she moved on the Grid, her eyes darting around like she was seeing the world for the first time. Well, technically she was seeing the world for the first time, Sam's world.
It's not how I had imagined.. Gem thought briefly, pulled out of her short lived wonder at the new world, the new colors, textures, even the new feel of her own body. Everything was so different, but in basic form so much was still the same as on the Grid.
"What the hell?" he let out, sitting up quickly from his position on the floor and staring up at the program a little wide-eyed, confusion written all over his face, feeling a little disgruntled.
Somehow, it didn't feel right having her here.
"Sam?" he heard Quorra's voice shout, dragging his eyes away long enough to give the ISO a brief recognizing, disgruntled look, her expression mirroring his own, "What's going on? Why is she-"
But before Quorra could finish, before Sam could give an answer, the Siren swung her recently acquired cane at the ISO after quickly discovering that the tool couldn't fire its blasts of light where she was now, opting for its other function as a weapon. Quorra was quick, still a fighter, still had her fast reflexes, but she couldn't dodge the swing in time, not with how surprised she'd been at seeing another program enter the 'real world' from the Grid, particularly when she wasn't given any notice. The cane hit her side with a good deal of force before the Siren swung again, aiming for her side once more while knocking her off balance with a kick to the side of her knee.
Quorra half fell into one of the file cabinets still left in the old office, filled to the brim with dusty, old scribbles and collections of his fathers' old data, though more of it was probably up to date than out of date, even given when he'd written and typed it all.
The ISO's other side hit the lengthy corner of the file cabinet hard and Sam could hear Quorra let out a strained sound, could even see the dust clouds fly off of the old objects from his position on the floor.
Sam quickly scrambled to get to his feet, not bothering to try and come up with any real plan, instead running straight at the Siren, wrapping his arms around her quickly and trying to grab her from behind, Gem letting out a protestant shout at the action. The Siren sent the end of the cane back into his stomach in a rough blow, and the User let out a breathy grunt at the hit, his arms loosening just a bit automatically at the unexpected pain spreading through his stomach, but it was more than enough for Gem to turn in his loose grip and hit him across the face with the handle of the cane before kicking him square in the chest with a heeled foot.
"Gack-!" he let out, hands instinctively moving to press against the new injuries, automatically taking a few steps back with the force. He kept his eyes on the Siren, however, never letting her out of his sight.
And he was glad he didn't, not with the hit Quorra landed.
The ISO had grabbed her large, hard covered book off of the desk and hit Gem square across the face with a shout of her own after she'd turned around, sending the Siren crashing unconscious into the flat top of the desk before sliding down and landing on the floor with a 'thud'.
"Nice shot," Sam grunted out, a half, triumphant grin spreading across his face.
"Jules Verne," Quorra said proudly, rushing over to him after a moment with a hand braced on her side, "Are you alright? What happened? Why is she here?"
"I don't know what happened. One minute I was standing alone in the portal and the next thing I know she's tackling me to the ground. She just barely managed to shove her way in before the portal sent me back," he answered, voice a little strained from the pain in his chest, standing back up straight on his feet as he spoke, a hand on his stomach, "She didn't give me any sign of wanting to come here. I didn't see it coming."
Quorra looked at him intently as he spoke, eyes turning back to the Siren after giving his words a moment of thought. "What are we going to do with her? She can't stay here, right? But we can't just send you back either," she said a little more calmly, trying to come up with the best solution for the new problem.
"I'll take her back," Sam said calmly after a few moments of thought, eyes looking over the Siren briefly before returning his attention to Quorra.
"No," he cut her off, expression turning a little determined, "It's..my responsibility now. She got here because I wasn't paying enough attention, I should take her back."
"..Are you sure? I could-" Quorra started, but Sam cut her off with a brief shake of his head.
"No, I'll do it," he said with a small, quiet, resigned sigh, straightening full with a small wince at the pain that shot up through his torso. She really got me good, on top of already having been through hell. Twice, he thought to himself, moving over to the Siren and kneeling down, reaching over and pulling her up with his hands, picking her up in his arms bridal-style.
"Don't you look dashing," Quorra teased, giving Sam a slightly cocky look.
He just cracked a smile of his own as he rose an eyebrow, giving the ISO a small shake of his head at the comment, walking back over into position in front of the laser. Quorra sat back in the chair at the desk, set the timer, and sent Sam back to the Grid, a little reluctantly, with a white flash of light.
They didn't realize they were being watched.
Alan had made his way down the dark passageway, taking the steps carefully with a hand constantly placed on the railing. He'd rounded at least two corners before he found another door, the only other door, since it was the only thing left at the dead end of the hall. The older programmer had turned the handle slowly, cautiously, unsure if it was even unlocked and what he was going to find on the other side of it if it wasn't. But, like the previous door, it was unlocked. He only cracked it open enough to get a small look inside the room behind it, but what he saw stunned him into silence, practically glued to where he stood at the sight.
He saw Sam, and his room mate Quorra, as well as another woman he'd never set eyes on before, dressed oddly in some kind of strange, formfitting white outfit. Whatever the case was, she looked foreign with how she was dressed, albeit a type of foreign he'd never seen before, and he'd seen his fair share. But, that wasn't what shocked him.
Sam disappeared before his very eyes, with the woman. Gone in a blink.
His jaw fell slack.
It was like some sort of disappearing act in a movie, except this wasn't a movie, and no one here was a magician.
Alan stood there for what felt like an eternity, just staring, brain trying to put sense to what he just saw, trying to understand, but he just..he couldn't understand.
So he finally pushed the door open and stepped inside.
Quorra's head snapped at the old, rusted squeal that came from the door behind her, eyes going wide at who had stepped inside, mainly that someone had stepped inside at all, but who it was just made it that much worse.
"Alan.." she trailed off, disbelief obvious in her voice. Oh no oh no oh no oh no what do I do? were her only thoughts, panic and a small case of adrenaline coursing through her. "What are you doing here?" she let out in a slightly higher pitch than usual, and immediately kicked herself for it, and what she'd just blurted out. Because that didn't sound suspicious, she mentally reprimanded herself.
"Quorra," Alan decided to start slowly, eyes glancing gradually around the room before returning to the young woman, "Where is Sam."
The ISO flinched, just barely, but she could tell he saw it, saw her back go rigid right with it. "Uhh.." she trailed off, eyes darting off to the side in thought, hoping to get an idea from her surroundings, "his bike!" She finally answered, eyes returning to the older User- man, her mind tried to correct. "I mean motorcycle! It broke down and he's out fixing it," she said a little too quickly.
Alan's face was carefully blank, eyes unwavering from her face.
It just made her even more nervous. She was terrible at coming up with lies on the spot with the few people that were close to Sam, and she could tell that the older User- man, her mind corrected automatically once more, wasn't buying it.
"I saw it, Quorra," Alan said slowly again after a few moments, "I saw the woman in white, too. They both disappeared," his voice dropped a little lower, expression serious, "Where..is..Sam."
Quorra stared back for what felt like an entire cycle, year? Later, she mentally scolded herself, eyes darting to the side, expression gradually turning from panicked to a little resigned, guilty. "You.." she trailed off, looking back up at the man, "You might want to have a seat," she suggested after finally coming to a conclusion. It took him a minute, but he finally did sit down over on the old, dusty couch, too focused on what had happened to mind the mess and the fact that the place hadn't been cleaned in roughly twenty years.
"Sam is..on the Grid. You see..about twenty years ago in your time, the Creator- I mean, Flynn, created a digital world in his computer system called The Grid.." Quorra started, eyes glancing at the laser timer briefly before returning to the man on the couch, I'm sorry Sam. There's no other choice, I have to tell him now.
He didn't move an inch or speak a word, eyes intently focused on the young woman across from him as she spoke.
He was back on the Grid. Back in the digital replica of the old arcade's basement. Back in his circuitry lined suit.
With a Siren in his arms.
Tron's gonna be pissed, he couldn't help thinking, letting out a long sigh before walking over to the door, making his way back up onto the main street.
Surprisingly enough, this time he wasn't alone when he left the cover of the arcade and walked out of the front doors. Someone else was there.
"..Tron?" he let out, eyes widening a little at the sight of the familiar program, a faint color rising to his cheeks as earlier memories resurfaced. Damn it! Now is not the time for that, he thought in frustration, expression turning serious, urgent.
Tron had been surprised, to say the least. First the Siren had tackled Sam into the portal light and then they were both gone, and he was stuck on the Grid, unable to do anything. It was rather frustrating. He didn't think Sam would have too much trouble handling Gem, but he didn't know for sure and it made his circuits course with anxiety. After the two had gone to the User world, he'd stood there for a brief moment, until the shock had turned to anger, urgent concern, and he'd ran back to Loreza to demand an explanation. She'd informed him of Gem's true goal, to get to the User's world, that she'd been aiming to ever since Zuse had heard the rumors surrounding Clu's 'invasion' plan. He didn't think she was lying, she didn't really have a reason to a this point, and while everything finally made a whole new level of sense, it didn't ease the way he felt. Not in the least.
After that, Tron had formed a light jet and took off to the old arcade Flynn had informed him of long ago. He'd stopped by the place a few times when Flynn had visited the Grid more frequently and had escorted him from the arcade to the city. He didn't know for sure if Sam would show up there or not, or if he'd even show up at all, but it was the only place he could go, the only thing he could do.
So he sped over.
And sure enough, after a while the beacon of light lit up in the sky once more, and Sam walked out of those old but familiar front doors, holding the object of his frustration in his arms.
"Sam-" he started urgently, walking over in quick strides, eyes shifting from anger at the Siren to concern at the User, "Are you alright?"
"I-Yeah, for the most part. What are you doing here?" Sam asked, expression turning a little confused, "How did you even know I'd be here?"
Tron paused once he was about a foot away, relaxing a little at Sam's response. "I didn't," he said after a moment, looking over at the portal light briefly before his eyes shifted to the front of the arcade, "Flynn told me to escort him from here at times. I didn't know where else to go," he answered, eyes glancing back down to the User in front of him.
Sam was quiet for a moment, half turning to look back over at the arcade, ignoring the pain in his torso as a slight smile formed on his lips at the program's words, the mention of his father. Wait..Tron escorted dad? he thought after a moment, eyes searching the name on the front of the building, expecting to find some sort of answer there, well, yeah, I guess that would make sense. They were pretty close, partners in making the Grid and all. 'Pretty close'... he trailed off in thought, Does that mean that Tron and dad also..? His expression turned a little unsettled at the thought before he realized Tron was saying his name.
"..the city. ..Sam? Sam."
Sam blinked once or twice before returning his attention back to the program in front of him. "Yeah?" he asked, eyes a little distant, trying to recoil from his thoughts.
Tron gave him a small, slightly concerned look before speaking. "I said we should take Gem back to the city," he repeated, expression serious and voice firm, "She was not supposed to jump into the portal, no program is supposed to. She should be taken to the city."
"What will happen to her?" Sam asked almost immediately. He wasn't the Siren's biggest fan, but that didn't mean he was just willing to openly kill- derezz, his mind corrected, her for wanting to see another world. That was part of the reason why he'd ended up on the Grid in the first place, in a round about sort of way brought on by his father.
"I don't know," Tron replied simply, "we'll decide when we get there," he finished, pulling a light cycle baton from the holster on his hip.
"..Wait, we?" Sam asked, expression turning openly confused, shifting the program in his arms a bit at her weight.
Tron just gave him a look that said 'of course'. "With Zuse gone and Gem out of power, you are the authority on the Grid, as it should be," the program answered calmly, "Flynn was once the authority of the Grid, as well. And I believe only a User is fully capable of returning order and balance to the city, peace."
"I'm going Quorra," Alan said firmly, fists balled at his sides as he strode over to the flat desk behind the ISO.
"What? Alan, you can't! You've never been there before, and it could be dangerous!" Quorra returned, expression alarmed.
"That's exactly why I have to go," the older programmer replied, stopping abruptly as the young woman positioned herself between him and the desk, the computer that could take him to Sam, "Sam could be danger, I can't just sit around when he could be fighting for his life! I have to go."
Quorra flinched slightly, but held her ground, feet planted. "But you don't know how the Grid works! At least Sam's been there before, three times now, he's already faced things you've never experienced or even seen before! He can handle himself-"
But Alan had stopped listening, forcing himself to reach around the girl, fingertips tapping the digital keys.
"Alan- Stop-!" Quorra tried, hands moving up to restrain the older man. But, it was too late, the laser wasn't hard to activate, and being as experienced as he was with computers, on top of the fact that he was more than a little familiar with the older system, he'd done what he was trying to accomplish.
The laser activated, and with a flash of white Alan was on the Grid, and Quorra was once again alone in the old basement room.
She let out a frustrated sigh. "Why does no one listen to me?" she let out a little loudly, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Wait wait wait," Sam said quickly, leaning back slightly, "I only came back to return her to the Grid!" he lifted the Siren slightly in his arms, "I didn't come here to take dad's place!" he finished, obviously uncomfortable with the idea.
Tron looked at him for a moment, eyes softening a little, "Sam..," he said a little quieter, "You can't keep running. The Grid needs you, you're the only one who can restore the order here, help guide the programs, rebuild TRON City to what it used to be, and make it even better."
"Just because I'm a 'Flynn' doesn't make me my dad!" Sam half yelled back, eyes widening briefly before quickly finding their way to the ground, staring at it intently for a few moments, "..I'm not him," he finished quietly, eyes closing slightly.
"No, you're not."
The User's eyes darted up at the words, eyes searching the program's face. It surprised him when Tron smiled, a gentle smile, a knowing smile.
"You are not Kevin Flynn, but you are Sam Flynn," Tron replied softly, stepping a little closer and reaching up with a hand, setting it reassuringly on top of Sam's shoulder, "A true User, one who is well suited for this world, one I know I will guide the city, the programs in the right direction."
"..How can you be so sure?" Sam asked slightly louder after a moment, eyes unwavering from Tron's face, trying to find the answer there.
The two snapped their heads in the direction of a new voice, startled at the sudden call, both of their eyes widening at who they found to be the source of it.
"..Alan..?" Sam asked, disbelief fully lacing his voice, expression mirroring his tone, "What are you- How did you- How-" he tried, his tongue practically tied in knots.
"..Alan-One," Tron said quietly after a moment, eyes focused on a face that was his own, yet, very much so, wasn't.
He was still in his suit and trench coat, like how Sam had still been in his jeans, jacket and t-shirt during his first trip to the Grid, and Sam could tell he was just as overwhelmed by his new surroundings. Everything so familiar yet somehow completely different.
"Sam, I'm glad you're alright. I-" Alan started urgently, but cut off once he got close enough, eyes finally meeting his own, or at least they looked like his. It was like looking in a mirror at a twenty-years-younger version of himself.
His jaw went slightly slack at the sight.
"You are.." he trailed off, eyes studying the face of the program. The two just stared at each other for the longest time.
Since no one seemed to be taking the initiative, Sam decided to untie his tongue and do the introductions. "Alan, this is Tron. Tron, this is Alan, or..Alan-One, as you seem to call him," he said after a moment, eyes darting back and forth between the two. It's just so..surreal, he thought to himself, a sense of deja vu practically overriding him.
"Tron..Tron," Alan confirmed to himself, eyes looking over the program, studying, trying to understand, trying to make sense of the newly learned reality.
"Alan-One," Tron said after a moment, his hand having subtly removed itself from Sam's shoulder at some point, "I am..very honored to meet you." There was a slight smile quirking up the edge of Tron's lips, just slightly, but for the most part Sam could tell that he was almost as overwhelmed as Alan.
"Uh..guys," Sam interrupted after a moment, gradually drawing both sets of blue-gray eyes in his direction, ..freaky, he couldn't help thinking, "I hate to be the buzz kill of your little party, but I don't know how much longer I can hold her." The User shifted his arms a bit, trying to gesture to the unconscious program in his arms, "I can't do this all day."
Tron seemed to snap out of his awestruck state at the gesture, lifting the light cycle baton a bit before turning away from the two Users, running a short distance before leaping into the air and materializing the vehicle, pulling up next to the two after a brief moment. The program sat up on his light cycle, moving his arms out and motioning for Sam to give him the Siren, removing the program's weight from the User's arms after he hesitantly complied. "..We should head to the city," the program finally said after positioning the other program in front of himself, eyes shifting back to Alan for a moment before finding their way back to Sam, "He'll need to ride with you."
Sam blinked for a moment before glancing at Alan, he almost choked trying to hold in the laugh at the older man's expression. Slack jawed and wide eyed, yet so obviously trying to figure out how the vehicle worked. That's Alan for you, he couldn't help thinking to himself, a light, dubious smile finding its way onto his face.
Sam repeated Tron's actions, materializing a light cycle of his own before pulling the vehicle up next to Alan, giving the man a grin. "They're even better when you're actually on one," he taunted, successfully pulling Alan out of his own awestruck state.
The older man gave a slow nod after a moment, hesitantly and awkwardly climbing onto the light cycle behind Sam, wrapping his arms around the younger Users' waist. "Hold on tight," Sam called back to Alan, leaning down into position and revving the engine a few times.
Tron couldn't quite keep the tinge of slight annoyance from rising in his circuits at the sight, though he couldn't quite understand why. Alan was his User, and had taken care of Sam, why did it bother him that they were close? Of course they would be. Sam himself said that Alan-One took care of him after Flynn was trapped here, he thought to himself, eyes focusing on the road as he took off, Sam following close behind.
Still, his eyes never fully stayed on the road ahead during the trip. Every now and then they glanced over to his side, at the two of them, his User and the User he'd grown fond of over their short time together, 'together'..he trailed off in thought, memory bank drudging up their time in Zuse's headquarters, shaking his head slightly before glancing up ahead, higher to the lightning in the sky as his circuits briefly tinted a faint shade of violet. I will have time to think over this later, he decided quickly, speeding off down the road to the lit city up ahead.
Sam Flynn..the programmer thought to himself, fingers tapping the table top's computer keys furiously, hunched over slightly, eyes intent on the screen in the desk, he shouldn't be the CEO of this company, he's too irresponsible and just as flighty as his father.
Ed Dillinger, or 'Junior', as some people had taken to calling him, which annoyed him if he were to be honest, but he kept quiet about it. He was staying after work, late after work, still working on the new program he was coding. Or, maybe it was an old program. He'd found the remnants of his fathers' old Master Control Program and decided to modify it, see if he couldn't adjust it, improve it to meet his own standards in the modern day era. Granted, he didn't like the idea of strictly using something someone else had created, so he rewrote a large majority of it, only using small bits and pieces from the original coding.
It was a side project, if anything, something to vent his frustrations into and work on until he was willing to leave the office and go home. He was already well ahead of his programming schedule, of course, he thought to himself, pausing briefly to push his glasses back up his nose. But, after a while it became more of a mission to complete it, to turn it into a tool he could possibly use to 'dethrone the undeserving prince'.
Sam Flynn must be removed from the equation, he finally concluded to himself, a slight devious smirk finding its way to the corner of his lips, and I will see to it that it happens. Soon.
His fingers continued to type in a flurry of motions, the clock on his desk marking the time well into the night.
I will take you down.
End of Part 1