6/18/2013 New Note!: I recently commissioned some artwork by the extremely talented LePeru (or LP, or Nizah) on LiveJournal/AO3, the fourth (and last) of which is in this chapter. I mirror my stories on AO3 so I won't lose them (without the notes, so if people get tired of reading my dumb Notes, but don't think my story is a complete waste of time, you can read it there 'commercial free'), so I'll be linking to the art on that one directly (possibly embedding it if I ever figure that sort of thing out; yes, I'm surprisingly dumb with computers for a Tron fan). Last I knew, though, there were issues involved with writing out page URLs on this site, so hopefully this works (if not, please tell me, and I'll try to fix it). archiveofourown works / 844518
The pictures are linked with: chapters 3 and 4 for the first one, chapter 6 for the second, chapter 7 for the third, and this one (9) for the fourth.
Notes: A lot has happened since I last updated. The biggest thing is this: the place where I (am still...) working is closing, and since that news was delivered to all of us, it has been utter chaos. They've been running me (and my mother) ragged in preparation, completely turned my work schedule upside down, and just generally left me feeling sick and anxious every chance they get. It's somewhat ironic, in that I had been planning on getting a new job, but now I don't really get to do it on my own time. So I've been scrambling, trying to get new glasses while my insurance still exists, so I can try and get a driver's license, so I can work elsewhere. Blah.
On a more positive note, I've finally seen Uprising, now, and can I say it was a bit surreal seeing things on there, and thinking about my story, and comments I've got on it in reference to the show. I enjoyed it, a lot more than I thought I would. It made me sad, watching it and knowing they'd stopped the show after that season.
Story-related news, now. Well. There probably isn't anyone reading this anymore, but here it is, a chapter almost exclusively in Tron's perspective, and the introduction of the first original character (if you haven't read it, there's some information I put in Memory 4 – the creation one – that's relevant to the OC, sort of). I'm sorry it took so long to get out, but Tron's perspective takes so long for me to write, and as a note to anyone who's also reading my Avengers crossover story Unfamiliar Skies (WT): I have (probably foolishly) signed that story up as an entry for marvel_bang on LiveJournal. As such, I have been (and will continue to) split my time between writing it, and my other stories, but will not be posting any of it (I'm hoping the added pressure will help me finish the story faster, and if it works, it'll be out sometime at the end of the year with art; if it doesn't look like I'll be able to make it before their deadlines, I'll drop out and post what I've got – I have so many little thoughts and plot points in my head about it that I'm worried about my ability to get out a coherent beginning, middle, and end to the story fast enough, because it could easily become as big as Antivirus).
I've commissioned some art for this story. As soon as I can, I'll post links or something to them here, and on my secondary posting location (AO3), and possibly tertiary posting location (LiveJournal, though only a small portion of them have been backed up there; yes, I'm a bit paranoid about losing my story data). When I do this, I'll also be going back and posting my current versions of all chapters of Antivirus (I regularly reference/reread previous chapters to make sure I try to keep some sort of continuity, which results in a lot of periodic, little edits and adjustments that I don't usually bother with re-uploading for; eventually, it equals out to a lot of little differences, so I eventually re-upload to keep everything current), so there's that.
I will get back to SMB just as soon as my brain lets me; I've been in progress on the next chapter for so long now, but my brain is just not cooperating. Sorry.
thegreatwhitewolf – I'm glad you've enjoyed the story so far, and I hope where it's going won't disappoint you.
RealisticFantasy (or should I call you BB?) - I'm glad that I haven't offended you off my silly little story yet, and I selfishly hope that that doesn't change anytime soon. I'm sorry I've been so slow at getting this chapter out.
Still no beta but me, so don't be afraid to post suggestions or commentary. I can't guarantee I'll listen (I'm a stubborn little snot), but I'll appreciate the honesty. As far as my brain goes, no news is definitely not good news.
Sam Flynn was a User of many talents; Tron knew this to be true, between the threat assessments that Rinzler had made of him, and his own more recent – and regularly updated – evaluations. He was capable at a variety of tasks.
Flying a lightjet was not one of them.
"You've gone too far, pull your right leg back inward 3.7 centimeters, and rotate your left hand 12 degrees forward – yes! Stop there! And now the other... There, yes! Objective complete, now hold that configuration until we're close enough to land, and you'll be fine." Tron grinned a little under his helmet – in place once again in accordance with first generation lightjet operator safety protocols, but this time he was in control of himself, was capable of removing it again upon landing – and adjusted his own flight course, drawing even with Sam on the User's left.
'Tactical formation analysis not optimal; User Sam Flynn has limited experience with piloting lightjets, none of doing so during combat. Lateral positioning optimal – dominant sides outward, equal altitude levels. Forward placement 68.24% tactically advantageous. Insufficient. Possible increase of 13.1% through advanced forward placement of 10 meters.'
"And how much longer is that gonna take?" Sam shouted across the distance, making several abortive attempts to glance over at the program which were ultimately canceled due to the User's preoccupation with holding each of his limbs perfectly still.
'Would this action draw attention to Sam's inexperience, though, and generate resentment? Memory search keywords 'Rail' 'Serif' 'compatibility conflicts'.'
"Approximately 114.2 microcycles."
'… Calculating probability.'
Due to the User's helmet being transparent, and covering only part of his face, Tron could easily see Sam 'roll' his eyes, though they didn't actually go anywhere; User colloquialisms were almost as perplexing as their generators. "... Assume that I'm not very familiar with Program to User time conversions – how long is that in minutes?"
'Who are we going to be engaging in combat, anyway?'
'… Canceling calculations. Process priority list updating, done. System-wide error resolution now increased two values on priority list. Processing time interval conversion, done."
"In User minutes, 58 as of... now."
Sam turned fully to look at him then, somehow conveying blankness and frustration simultaneously, "An hour."
"Approximately, ye- stop!" Too late; the User's posture had shifted when he turned to look at the program, translating into a hard turn to the left, which Tron had to push his own lightjet into a dive to avoid.
'Collision avoided by 29.6 centimeters.'
'That was too close. Perhaps the direct approach will work better.'
"Sorry! I totally didn't mean to do that. Are you okay?" Sam seemed to have corrected himself into a wobbly, but mostly straight path. He was slowly descending, though, which necessitated a quick implementation of Tron's new plan.
He'd fallen behind by this point, so he pushed his lightjet into overdrive, despite the additional drain on his power levels, and rose until he was coming up fast on the User, from a short distance above him.
"Try to hold as still as you can unless I move you." It was the only warning he was giving.
'Lightjet indicating optimal operational capacity, cleared for inversion.'
With a series of expert adjustments, he twisted his lightjet upside down, then locked the forward controls, just in time to pass close overhead to Sam's lightjet. As he passed, he reached downward, physically manipulating the User's legs, then arms into the correct flight positions. As Tron passed, he glanced back to ensure Sam's posture was holding, before reaching up to retake control of his own lightjet, shifting upright and back into formation.
Sam was staring at him.
"You let go – of your jet – and you didn't crash or swerve like a drunk person," his tone was almost accusatory.
Tron blinked, then tilted his head to one side in confusion, "Of course not; I locked the flight controls."
"You- … You can lock the flight controls?" Sam clarified through his teeth, which somewhat hindered his understandability, but not to such an extent that Tron couldn't determine what he said.
"Flight control locks are part of every lightjet's standard code. Some modified lightjets have had the code removed to accommodate other features, but only rarely as it's comparatively small, and a useful safety feature in the event of mid-air collisions, damage to steering inputs, engaging in disk combat, or rendering aid to a pilot without the full suite of piloting upgrades."
Sam took longer to reply than his usual, "... So why can't I use those locks to fly to System Utility 5 without nearly crashing myself or you every five minutes?"
'… Question purpose unclear, cross-referencing vocal tone... Memory search keywords 'trick question'...?'
"... Is your lightjet damaged?" There were times when Tron had believed that he'd come to understand Users, but clearly, whatever insight he'd once possessed was out of date.
Approximately 1050 cycles out of date.
"Nevermind; how do I lock the flight controls, while I'm still level?"
He was actually turned 0.37° to the left, but the difference would not throw him off course enough to miss their destination, so Tron refrained from correcting him, "Would it be easier if I showed you?"
After two loops around Sam – one pass to show him how to lock the forward controls for his hands, then the rear controls governed by his legs – Tron settled back at the User's side for the flight.
They were approximately 5.708 microcycles from their destination at their current speed when Sam spoke again.
"Do you blame him for what happened to you?" The words were nearly lost to their relative distance and the wind noise related to flight, and not for the first time Tron regretted the ways Users were limited in their abilities to communicate.
"My dad. Do you blame him for what happened to you? ...You know, that night Clu took over."
Tron looked at Sam quizzically, but the User's face was kept carefully turned away from him.
'He didn't attempt to defend himself.'
'That's what I was meant to do.'
'I told him to.'
'He never attempted a rescue.'
'He thought I was derezzed.'
'He was supposed to be my friend.'
'… He was supposed to fix me.'
'...I wasn't worth it.'
'And now I never will be.'
"No, I don't blame him."
There must have been something he failed to screen out of his tone, because Sam looked at him then. He hesitated, then opened his mouth to speak, so Tron quickly interrupted him. "There's System Utility 5." He nodded at the squat, all-black cube that housed the entrance, just tall enough for a program to stand within. "You need to unlock your controls in order to land."
The User looked down at the jagged, rocky Gridscape surrounding the building, "There's no where to land without killing myself!"
Even though he knew it was pointless, he tried once again to upload a copy of his piloting upgrade at the User, and once again, his attempted transfer found no matching input to connect with; he sighed. "Unlock both your forward and rear flight controls, and follow me down. At approximately 6.096 meters above the ground, 'unlock' your forward flight controls again and lean backward until you reach a vertical posture; if your lightjet drops below 3.048 meters before you do this, it will automatically begin to disengage for a combat drop, in order to allow usage of the baton as a weapon, or cable. You have insufficient experience for the latter form of dismount, so I advise using the former to avoid damaging yourself." He paused for a moment, calculating, before adding, "Or the lightjet."
A particularly defiant look crossed the Sam's face, and Tron began calculating the possible necessary actions he would have to execute to prevent the User from crashing full-speed into a configuration of raw data, or tumble into a crumbling heap of User-voxels – blood, skin, bone, and other types of that particular subset of data – but luckily, considering that his initial calculations were unacceptably low about success, Sam screened off his initial reaction, and in place of it executed a disgruntled nod, "You're the expert."
'Statement accuracy by User Sam Flynn currently 99.7%, due to lack of active programs.'
'What is the adjusted percentage after factoring in all programs upgraded with piloting suites not verified as derezzed?'
'Right. Adding entry to priority queue: download and integrate archived data 'humility'.'
'Existence of data source unknown; operational status of archive unverified.'
'… Right. Time to correct that.'
Decision gate reached, he tipped his lightjet downward, obviously demonstrating his previously outlined actions for the User's benefit; the lightjet's frame flared briefly as he 'unlocked' the already unlocked controls, engaging the landing sequence and reversing the forward controls' thrust output. He leaned backward sharply, adding his own force and momentum to tipping the craft nose-up, and subsequently pointing the rear thrust output – insufficient by itself to keep the craft aloft, but with force enough to slow the lightjet's descent for a soft landing. Both thrust outputs automatically lessened as Tron lowered closer to the ground, and he gave a last flourish – 'flapping' the lightjet's wings in a fashion that Flynn had once remarked as bird-like, though he'd never seen a video file he could use for comparative data on the subject – as the rear controls retracted, allowing him to step down through the newly open space to the ground, while the rest of the craft folded away into the baton.
He stood still, allowing his low energy levels to redistribute now that he no longer had to power the lightjet, moving only as much as was required to shift his visual input to watch Sam's landing; there were brief pauses in the motions and no attempt at embellishment that he attributed to unfamiliarity with the actions, and he had a minor stumble at touch-down, but overall Sam showcased a User's adaptability, and landed well.
He had a logged directory of memory files of various programs with the piloting upgrades performing far worse on their first landing. And their second.
'Administrator CLU logged under five attempts.'
'Then he made himself a special lightjet to compensate.'
Aware of the User custom of positive reinforcement, he walked over to Sam and briefly clapped him on the shoulder, carefully avoiding contact with open circuitry in accordance with program custom and propriety, "Well done, Sam; that was a well-executed first landing." So saying, he started navigating over the rocky terrain to System Utility 5's entrance nearby.
Sam's response, "But that was my third time landing.." carried tonal qualities flagged in connection to the entries for 'talking to myself', and 'thinking out loud', so he did not generate a reply.
Sam caught up with him as he drew level with the entry point of System Utility 5, the second System Utility 'accessible' to any programs; Users could access all of them, from outside, but any contact with lower than System Utility 3 in-system and he calculated the possibility of destroying the whole Grid as... very high.
"It's so small," Sam remarked, casting a dubious look between the program and the entry point, "The entire history of the Grid and the archive of pretty much all information on the Grid is in there?"
"Unless it was destroyed, yes." he replied simply, reaching out to the point his sensors indicated as the door lock, though it was hidden from his basic visual input until he touched it, whereupon it lit a pale white-gold, and the doorway rezzed open.
The door lock was working, and he could see the dim lighting of active standby inside.
"Yeah? Then let's go." Evidently, his audio output had connected with his calculating processes prematurely; he'd have to schedule a diagnostic for his next available downtime. Sam walked ahead of him into the dim, empty space, then turned to face him, almost synchronized with the doorway rezzing closed again.
"Uh... There's nothing in-," the User's protest cut off as the elevator floor panel lit up, and swiftly lowered them deep into the foundation of the Grid.
"You guys sure like your elevators!" Sam shouted at him over the rushing noise of their descent.
"Would you prefer stairs?" he replied when they were approximately 2.9451 kilometers below the Grid's surface.
"... No." the User replied as they began to slow, glancing upward. "Feel like my ears should pop, though."
He puzzled over how Sam's audio inputs would suddenly become outputs until they came to a stop, and his priority list rearranged.
The blue light of a security scan swept down the elevator shaft to the two of them. He registered the chirp of a passed scan as the light shifted to white, and the archive doorway opened.
The archive was larger than the last time he'd been here, which stood to reason as it grew to accommodate the amount of information being stored within it, and his last visit – as himself – had been approximately 1250 cycles ago, before the tensions between Basics and ISOs required the majority of his focus and uptime. And downtime.
His assessment was paused prematurely as he struck out to block the single-baton staff swinging at Sam's distracted head. He registered the User turning to the movement with a surprised jump back, but didn't turn his focus away from the program deeply scanning him.
[You're damaged,] the textual ping registered clearly in Tron's systems, and the program-to-program communication form soothed something inside he'd calculated as just the ache of repairing damage.
[You've reset?] There was an impression of hopefulness to the text that was unsuccessfully screened. The staff creaked in both of their grips.
[Yes.] He offered a tentative smile, and loosened his hold in time to be caught up in an embrace, which mindfully avoided both of their circuits, even Tron's deactivated ones.
"Uh, Tron?..." Sam murmured uncertainly.
[Hello Jin.] Tron suffused the belated greeting with positive regard, and stepped back, glancing back at Sam and drafting introductions.
Immediately, the archive-keeper program had his staff held threateningly again, while the User stared, eyes open abnormally far, skin almost as pale as a program.
Sam stared past the staff in his face to the program wielding it. White-gold circuitry on a white suit, male proportions, and a soft gray tunic with a hood, pulled up to cast shadows over eyes that glowed like two points of golden light. He seemed perfectly operational.
… But he had no face!