Title: "The Call"
Rating: K/E (nothing offensive)
Prompt: How does Tron know his user is trying to communicate with him? He's not at the I/O tower yet... Where's the input coming from? Yet more magic voodoo in the Tron fandom.
The "call" was a feeling all Programs knew from the moment they rezzed into life, that pull of purpose and knowledge that no one had words to express because no Program needed to define the concept. Guardians like I-No and old Dumont explained it to newly-rezzed Programs:
"The Users write us in lines of code and threads of logic, and in the process, a tiny spark of their energy and spirit is given to us. This is what gives us life, and this is how we know them. It is through this spark that we hear them when they call, and we know that they have created us to serve them..."
Every Program felt the call differently, however. Ram described it as feeling like hands on his shoulders and a gentle tug. Yori said Lora-3's call was a feeling of intense curiosity, like being told to come over and share in a joke or discovery that was far too good to be ignored.
Alan-1's call was a hard, visceral pull toward the I/O Tower. Alan-1 had always impressed upon Tron the importance of his function, guarding the System and its inhabitants from harm, thereby protecting the Users from any threat that might come to them from his world.
When Master Control pulled him offline and into the Grid, the only thing Tron had left was his purpose and programming. In the confidence of their last communion in the I/O Tower, Alan-1 identified Master Control as a threat, and had entrusted Tron with the power to shut it down if necessary. He'd been taken offline before Alan-1 could tell him how.
It was amazing at all that he'd been able to escape. Ram said there was something strange about Flynn, but all Tron could see was this chaotic Program of unknown intent and function whose User obviously hadn't compiled him quite right. Still, Flynn's utter insanity had its uses. He did find that loophole that got them all out of the lightcycle arena. From there, the three of them had found the power pool and were greedily drinking their fill.
Tron had been deprived of energy for so long. Gladiators on the Grid were given meager rations of power, thinned out and sometimes tainted. They drank it because dying on one's feet fighting was preferable than dying on one's back from inanition and letting Sark's guards get a good laugh at your dimming lines. Drinking pure power after so long was another act of defiance in a system gone hopeless from Master Control's tyranny. An untainted spring was proof that the MCP's control was not total, that there were pockets and patches of the system hidden from even its oppressive view. Lying back to process the energy, the hope alone was as intoxicating as the rush of power.
Ram seemed as eager as he was, but the actuarial was, as always, more cautious and restrained about his intake, careful not to overfeed. Flynn seemed baffled by the spring, and Ram was gently encouraging him to take in more of the bright blue liquid.
What Program was compiled with that many gaps in knowledge and protocol? Who compiled Flynn to make him so powerful in his chaos and yet so ignorant of the basics? He'd already blasphemed by invoking the name of Tron's User to his face. That was a degree of familiarity this strange Program hadn't earned – not at the time, anyway.
Tron stared out over the wastelands and into the city, with its bright I/O tower. First, he would find Yori. She was useful and smart - she had to still be alive, and he would not account for any other possibility. The second thing would be to get to the Tower and hope...
That's when he felt it - the phantom hands on his chest pulling him to the Tower. This was a particularly strong call, and Tron felt it down to his source code and into his very spark - Alan-1 urgently needed him. Was this going to be the upgrade he had been praying for since Alan-1 imparted the secret? Would this finally be the knowledge to shut down Master Control's reign of terror?
"I feel it," he breathed.
Ram and Flynn looked up - Ram with curiosity and Flynn with puzzlement.
"Feel what?" Flynn asked. "You okay?"
Tron didn't have the time or inclination to indulge Flynn. If he was too glitched to understand the call, then he was too glitched to be of much use. He would learn eventually.
"Alan-1," Tron said in response, getting to his feet and already walking in the direction of the city. "Let's move out!"