on Friday, December, 02, 2011 10:31 PM
The first thing Sam knew was falling off the chair. From the floor, he sat up and looked around. The arcade office… but was he back? Or was he still in the Grid version? No, he was back. He could tell by the quality of the light. He never thought he’d be so happy to see yellowish incandescent light pouring through the window, but he was. He also noticed why he had fallen off the chair—Quorra was sitting on the floor on the other side of it, looking far more confused than he was. They’d probably both appeared in the chair at the same time, and of course they didn’t fit. So she did make it through, he thought. He hadn’t been sure she might—he had no idea if programs, even Isos, could be digitized back to the outside world-- but he was glad she’d gotten here safely. He stood slowly, brushing dust off the seat of his jeans—he was relieved to find he’d gotten his clothes back—and offered a hand to Quorra. She was dressed in all black—it was a bit similar to Grid clothing, but more fitting to the world out here (and he was also relieved to see that she, too, had appeared in clothing somehow). She took his hand and got to her feet as well.
“Where are we?” Sam smiled.
“Welcome to my world.” Her eyes went wide. “This is my dad’s arcade.”
“He told me about this place!” she said. She touched the desk in wonder. “So this is what the system looks like from the outside.” Sam had sunk into the desk chair. Quorra turned and saw him staring straight ahead at the wall.
“Sam?” His tone was nearly dead when he said,
“I can’t believe he’s gone. Just when I found him again.” He wasn’t looking at her, so he didn’t see her expression change as she gazed past him. He went on, his voice heavy with grief. “I almost can’t wrap my head around everything that just happened, but all I can think about is that I found him, and I lost him again.”
“Uh, Sam?” He nearly kept speaking, wanted to acknowledge that she must be feeling the loss too, but something in her voice made him look up. He saw her staring, and turned to see what she was looking at. And for the second time that night… his whole world changed.
“Hey, kiddo.” Kevin Flynn’s voice was husky from twenty years of disuse as he spoke from the shadows at the back of the room. For a moment, Sam couldn’t move.
“Dad?” he said uncertainly, taking a step forward. Flynn just nodded. Sam covered the distance between them in three giant steps as he flew into his father’s arms.
“But… you’re dead. I… saw you…” Tears stung his eyes. Flynn shook his head.
“Guess not, man. I arrived about thirty seconds before you did. Remember, I told you, the first time… at Encom… how I got back out?”
“Maybe… that’s the way it works. Maybe users can’t die on the Grid. Or maybe it’s the nature of what happened—I jumped into the MCP, and then Tron destroyed it and it ceased to exist. When I re-integrated with Clu, I guess he ceased to exist, too. So maybe it has to do with getting kicked out of the system by an error. I don’t know.” He shook his head in slight disgust. “If I’d known that, I would’ve done it a long time ago.” Sam looked around warily.
“So… Clu. Is… is he here too?”
“No. He’s part of me again now, where he belongs. I know, now, that creating programs the regular way is just fine. You should never send a part of yourself out there--” he paused, then smiled and put a hand on Sam’s shoulder. “—unless they’re your own flesh and blood.” He stepped forward and hugged Quorra. “Q. You made it. I’m so glad. I wasn’t entirely sure… well, I never tried bringing a program out before. I wasn’t sure if Clu’s plan would have worked. But I couldn’t let him try.”
“So what do we do now?”
“Alan. You told me he’s still around, yes? I think it’s time we told him about all of this. I should have brought him in from the beginning. I don’t know what I was thinking… Yes, I do,” he corrected. “I was egotistical and wanted to do it all myself. And I wanted it to be perfect before I told him about it. I was on the verge of telling him… but I never got the chance.” He saw Sam’s raised eyebrow and explained. “One thing I learned in there—I had a lot of time to think, as you can imagine—is that you should always examine your actions, find your motives, and own up to them. It’s the only way you can grow, man.” He looked at the computer tower.
“I wonder what kind of damage was done during the reintegration,” he said. “Let’s pull everything off the server and shut it down and we’ll have a look later. I hope I can at least salvage Tron. Sam, do you have a disk of any sort? A three-and-a-half maybe, not a five-inch true floppy. Compact disc would be even better though, if you can get ahold of one.” Sam laughed.
“I can do better than that, Dad. Welcome to 2011.” From his pocket he pulled a little memory disc that fit into his phone.
“Nobody uses floppy disks any more, Dad.” Flynn stared at the tiny memory device.
“Radical, man. I have a lot of catching up to do, I see.” Sam grinned as he pulled out his phone and slid the card into the slot.
“Let’s see if we can figure out a way to hook this up to the system,” he said.
“Now what’s that?”
“Smartphone. Oh, I’m going to love introducing you to all of this new technology. Wait until you see what this thing can do. I think one of the first smartphones to come out was the iPhone, which Apple—“ Flynn cut him off.
“Apple’s still around, eh? Is it still Steve?” Sam nodded. “Ha, ha. I always liked him. Good for him. Making innovations, are they? I knew that guy would go far. Bright dude, man. They’ve outpaced that Microsoft twerp, then?”
“No, not exactly. But they’re growing by leaps and bounds. It’s not the same company Steve Jobs started in his garage, that’s for sure.”
Finally they figured something out. It took several minutes for all of the data from the server—however fragmented it might be—to load to Sam’s memory card. As he pulled it out of the phone and slipped the chain over his head, he thought about everything that was now on this tiny chip of metal, silicon, and plastic around his neck. A new world he wanted to explore further with his father. A childhood hero and epic warrior who had shown incredible strength and then given everything to save his friends. Nothing in Sam’s life would ever be the same again now. Sam headed toward the door of the office where his father and Quorra waited.
Flynn’s voice broke into his thoughts as they climbed the stairs.
“Call Alan, Sam. Get him over here.”
“Dad, it’s—” Sam checked his phone—“Five a.m.”
“Call him anyway. Tell him he’ll think it’s worth it.”
“He’ll think so when I tell him about you.”
“Nah, don’t tell him that yet. Let’s surprise him when he gets here. He’ll think you’re nuts if you tell him before.”
“Even better. I'll page him.” Sam did. “He’ll be here.”
“How do you know?”
“Come on, you know Alan. He won’t be able to stand the suspense. He’ll be here.” Flynn laughed.
“Right on, man.” Sam turned to Quorra.
“Quorra, will you wait outside by my bike? I don’t want to have to explain you just quite yet, until he has the rest of the story.”
“I’ll show you.” They all went up the stairs together. Quorra looked around the arcade—Sam and Flynn promised her a tour later—and then peered up at the sky outside.
“It looks a lot like the Grid,” she said. “I thought you said there was a sun.”
“Just wait, Q. There is. It’s nighttime right now.” She sighed impatiently. Flynn’s eyes lit up suddenly.
“Sam! This yours, man?” He walked over to the Ducati.
“Yeah.” Sam just stood back, smiling, while Flynn looked the bike over.
“Sweet! When you gonna let the old man take her for a spin? Since, you know, you busted mine and all.”
“I did not bust yours!” Sam cried indignantly. “I told you—” He cut off as he realized Flynn was joking, and then his smile was as broad as Flynn’s.
“Any time you want, Dad. Any time you want. Come on, though. I’ll let you look her over real well in proper light later, but let’s go back in if we’re going to meet Alan.”
“Quorra’s going to get to sit on that nice shiny machine before I will,” Flynn grumbled good-naturedly as the two Flynns walked back into the arcade.
“Lotta dust in here,” Flynn mused.
“Well, it’s been closed up for a long time, Dad.”
“What, nobody likes arcades anymore?”
“They’re archaic, Dad. These days everybody plays games on their own computers through the internet.”
“I do have a lot to catch up on.”
“Like you don’t even know… with the company too. Dad… well, I don’t know where to start. We’d better wait for Alan. Look, let’s really surprise him. Stay back here. Once he gets here, I’m going to take Quorra out and show her her sunrise. You and Alan can catch up while we’re gone, and then when we get back, we can get down to business. I imagine we’ll need to call a press conference at Encom, but I’m not sure you should make an appearance until we have more time to figure out what we’re going to do and how we’re going to explain this.” Flynn nodded. They heard footsteps enter the open arcade door.
“Haha, he sounds just the same,” Flynn whispered.
“Dad, shhh.” Sam walked around the side of the bank of games.
“You paged me?”
“Yeah. I need you at Encom at eight a.m.”
“What about the Board?” Sam smiled.
“You’re chairman now. I'm taking the company back, Alan.” He started to walk out the door, but turned back. “Oh, and you were right.”
“About everything.” Sam smiled again as he reached to the breaker box and flipped the “Flynn’s” sign on before he walked onto the street.
Alan watched him go. What had come over Sam? And why had Sam called him here, only to give him a few cryptic words and leave again? Who was the black-haired woman outside by Sam’s Ducati? Alan walked out of the arcade in time to see the woman get onto the bike behind Sam and they drove down the street. Alan gazed after them with a bemused smile before he walked back into the arcade. He sighed and shook his head. Leave it to Sam to ride off into the night with no explanation and leave Alan to lock everything up here.
Alan walked through the door; when he got past the glare of the streetlights pouring in, he stopped short. A bearded man about his age stood between the rows of games. Why did Alan’s heart skip a beat?
“Hello Alan,” the stranger said. Alan knew that voice. “Long time, man.”
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