"Through a Diamond Sky"
Rating: PG-13 (language, violence)
Summary: Jordan Canas knew her husband was carrying on something behind her back. What she hadn't bargained on was just what it was or how dangerous it could be.
Disclaimer: I am in no way, shape, or form associated with The Mouse or Mr. Lisberger, but they have my immense thanks as the 1982 movie helped greatly in keeping my sanity during the Comp Sci course from hell.
She could put two and two together. Boot camp had a tendency to cut down on your ability to tolerate equivocal statements. And after her fellow GI of a first husband got stone busted outside a "massage parlor" just off-base, there was no way in hell Jordan Canas was going to put up with that kind of bullshit a second time. First round was nightmare enough, and she earned her maiden name back after all that.
She thought Kevin was a different animal – computer company genius by day, but just a big kid screwing around around in an arcade by night – different enough to flirt up a storm over Matrix Blaster, different enough to hit City Hall within three months of meeting, already a month pregnant. Different enough not to be threatened by her being third-generation Army, already divorced, and adamant about keeping her last name. Thank God Sam was over at her parents' tonight because all hell was about to break loose.
What were you thinking, Canas? Just because he's not in Uncle Sam's good old boy club that he was any less liable to start looking elsewhere when it looks like responsibility is getting to be a raw deal?
She figured out the patterns – long hours, late nights, no accountability. She finally called Encom during one of those and found out that no one, not even Alan, had a clue where Kevin was, and while the teenaged employees thought they saw him at the arcade, no one was able to find him there, either. At least she could rule out his ex as the other woman. Lora had dryly offered rope, duct-tape, and her services in hiding the body once proof was offered. (Wonderful lady – didn't deserve to be stuck in DC on government contract.)
So, with one rented car and a fervent wish she hadn't traded her service rifle for a drafting table, she was following Kevin's Ducati from a discreet distance.
Well, he pulled into the arcade. Maybe whatever girlfriend (or boyfriend) he was meeting was seeing him in that old apartment upstairs. She parked a short distance away. Good thing LA also had plenty of places you could buy a cheap wig, oversized sunglasses, and tacky jewelry. She learned this trick from one of her bunkmates in the service with a very active "social" life. A little disguise work, being mindful of your tells, and keeping quiet - people tended to not recognize you.
At the same time, it was hard not to feel a wicked thrill about sneaking right in under everyone's nose and not being recognized, even by Steve McBird, the manager who saw her almost daily when she came in to pump quarters into Matrix Blaster to blow off steam.
Her eyes followed Kevin, still bounding around like some overgrown twelve-year-old through the patrons, sparing a glance at one machine or a cheer of encouragement for another player. Whoever he had waiting, Kevin didn't seem to be in a hurry.
Instead of heading up to the apartment, he ducked into what looked like a janitor's closet in the back. OK, Kevin was kinky. She knew that. It didn't quite seem his style, though. She waited for him to look both ways to make sure the patrons were engrossed in their electronic toys, duck behind the door, and lock it.
Of course, she had her own set of keys. He probably forgot that part by now.
That board meeting was a level of hell Dante hadn't managed to invent. Next quarter's earnings, they said. The Atari crash of 1983 has rendered computer games passe, they said.
Blah. Blah. Blah. Yeah, sticking it to Dillinger was a great idea. Taking over Dillinger's job had to be the worst idea. The only reasons he took it was because Walter Gibbs had needed someone he trusted in the position...
And he needed the kind of access it would take to set this up under everyone's nose.
Kevin yawned and shook off the fatigue. There was not enough coffee in the world for all this crap, but Clu would handle things on the inside while he attended to the annoying and ever-growing list of responsibilities out in the analog world. Grid reports, check in with Clu, verify that Ophelia was not trying to pick a fight with Clu, nail that gridbug outbreak in sector beta, verify Clu wasn't jumping to conclusions and accusing the Isos again...
Why did everything turn out to be twice as much of a pain in the ass as he expected?
He sighed and slid open the hidden door at the back of the closet. "You want something done right, Flynn...blah, blah, blah."
A little digging through the city's archives revealed an awesome fact about the old arcade building. It was a speakeasy in the Prohibition era – well-built and well-hidden. The place had more secret entrances than the Winchester House up north and the Feds only thought they bricked them all up.
Where once stood the biggest illegal distillery west of Chicago had been turned into a just-as-illegal experimental lab, set up in a room that used to store bootleg tequila. It was another level of hell just keeping the secret. Encom was trying to fuss with the correction algorithms to allow organic matter, including humans, to be teleported via the laser mechanism. As far as they knew, the process had been lost completely without Master Control to crunch the numbers.
Ophelia and Giles had figured out the corrections and presented the data during his last trip to the Grid. It had just become safe to transport a second human – no more than that. And there was still no progress on the calculations needed to bring an Iso to the analog world, much less a Basic. What made it all worth entertaining the headache was the idea of imagining Alan's face once he got a good look at Tron...
The door slid open and he started taking the steps down to the makeshift lab. Kevin paused on the third stair and waited – was that the sound of a door closing?
The noise of another Q-Bert falling to its death and Frogger being squished by a car drowned out the sound. Great, he was beginning to hear things.
With a sigh, Kevin uncovered the laser, checked out the parts and began running the safety check. Upgraded digitizing software running, pattern buffer online, countdown engaged..
Okay, deep breath...assemble your "Creator" dignity, remember to smile...
The jangling sound of a purse hitting the floor jerked him out of the chair. Then, he heard feet on the stairs.
Jordan was ripping the brunette wig off her head and tossing aside the sunglasses as she barged down the stairs. "Whose ass am I kicking after I kick yours, Kevin?"
"Jor...Jordan?" The laser countdown's engaged! "Stand back. Let me..."
"I've caught you red-handed, and I'm not giving you time to hide evidence."
Ohshitohshitohshitoh. "Jordan, stand back. It's for your own safety!"
"Worry about your own damn safety!"
The countdown was not stopping, and there wasn't enough time to reboot, no matter how good video games made his reflexes. "Jordan, it's nothing like that! Calm down for a second and let me -"
No good. Wife was still on the literal warpath and having flashbacks to that asshole in San Diego she divorced. Why did this have to happen right now of all times? She stormed into the room; clothing and hair disheveled, fists up, eyes blazing.
"I thought we had an agreement, Kevin. What are you doing?"
She never saw the laser. Unable to stop the firing or to get her out of the way, it nailed her square in the back. All he could do was watch helplessly as her body was disassembled a voxel at a time and pulled through the beam.