I've been wanting to try this for a while... just got around to it today. Thanks for the idea, J/Allronix.
I don't have iTunes, and my iPod only has my running music on it, so I used Pandora Radio instead, putting a few of my stations on shuffle. (I'm infamous at work for listening to music while I do things like filing, mostly because my coworkers can hear the Beatles, KMFDM, Vivaldi, Daft Punk, U2, Dropkick Murphys, Palestrina, Pink Floyd, and Bauhaus... sometimes all in the same day.)
Standard "I don't own any of these characters yada yada" caveats apply, and the additional one of: I have included Youtube links to each song. Some of these are metal, industrial, etc. If you're going to be offended by this, don't click. Shuffle today happens to have gone heavy on the metal/goth, and on Flogging Molly in particular, completely skipping my oldies station (hence the bonus; it finally got with the program on that front after I was done) so this hasn't got as much diversity in it as my station shuffle usually does. Disappointing, really.
Pictures of You
De-rez would have been better for him than this. He was so utterly lost to Yori that she almost didn’t know what was real anymore.
All she had left to live with were her memories. And memories could only take her so far… but she’d grasp at anything, now. Anything that could keep something of him with her.
Of course she knew who Rinzler was. Anyone who didn’t was a fool, or in denial, or part of that same dark, monstrous machine that led the entire system to this in the first place. She’d seen him one last time, before Clu took him for good. He’d escaped the first time. Not without damage, no. And not without the first threads of Clu’s attempts to reprogram him. But he was Tron, and he’d been strong enough to come to his senses and fight, to get away. But some of the repurposing had already taken place. He was fighting it constantly, and the effort left him depleted and weak.
But. He was Tron. Even though his circuitry was dimmer than she remembered in the happy times, he still rallied the rebels. Even diminished, he was still a bright light and inspiration to them, as he always had been. It was only when they were alone that he allowed it to show, the toll it took on him. How weary he was, how much he sometimes despaired. And she would just hold him tightly, and she would despair too.
It turned out that back then, she didn’t know what despair was. Not until he was taken from her for good. Not until everything that might be recognizable about him was forcibly and violently wrenched away, leaving him a shell of his former self. Literally. And she couldn’t even look at his face-- there was always that damnable helmet.
Every day, her memories kept her sane. They were all she could rely on anymore. And they weren’t much. But Tron couldn’t be gone completely as long as someone remembered, and she was determined that she wasn’t going to forget.
Fear was always the way dictators have ruled. Through the ages, the despotic and power-hungry have found that there is no better way to control the masses, besides misinformation. Kevin Flynn could have given the programs an entire history lesson… but there was really no need when they were living it for themselves.
Many a dissident can be controlled when they are reminded of what can befall them if they continue on their course of opposition. If threats to their personal well-being don’t work, danger to those they care about often does. Many of the human race are essentially cowards at heart. Derived from that race, programs are no exception.
There were those who opposed Clu. Of course there were. But their numbers diminished as they were captured and eliminated. And those willing to join their ranks grew fewer as they witnessed what the consequences would be. In time, there was no one left to speak out.
After a while, there comes an uncomfortable truce. The soul can adapt to even the worst circumstances. What was once considered unbearable becomes the status quo, the new “normal.” Despair and apathy set in as well. And once an oppressive regime gets a population to that point… they’re home free.
(No More) Paddy’s Lament
There was an eerie silence across the server now. Of the few left after the explosion, no one spoke about it. So there were no speculations or discussions about the silence. Was it because no one was left to cry out? Because of a vacuum filling a space that had once comprised violence? Because everyone was keeping silent in deference to all those who had been lost? Because they were all remembering?
Still, the programs pushed on, because there was nothing else to do. They didn’t think about the previous times. Those times were over. There was no more fear, no more uncertainty. Just survival.
The spirit is resilient. In the face of unspeakable sorrow, it finds a way to go on. Don’t think about the past—what’s done is done and can’t be changed, so there’s little reason to dwell on it. Force a smile. Eventually it will become real.
Bait and Switch
He looked out over the Grid. From his command ship, high in the sky, he could see for a long way. It was all his, now. Clu’s lips curled into a smile that was a corrupt mirror of that of his creator. No. Forget “The Creator.” He was no more. Now there was only Clu. And there would be changes. Oh, yes.
No matter what happened, no program ever forgot his or her directive. It was deeply a part of them. Clu was no exception. “You will create the perfect system,” he was told, and the moment he confirmed it—“I will create the perfect system”—it became like a vow. He wasn’t going to abandon that. And he would do whatever it took to achieve it.
Why was everyone else so short-sighted? Tron, Shaddox, Flynn himself. They claimed to want the best for the system, but they not only ignored its greatest threat… they protected that same threat! And expected Clu to do the same.
Not while Clu’s coding was still live. He would guard this system, he would fulfill his directive, no matter what he had to do. He was going to create the perfect system.
The Valley of the Shadow of Death
Kevin Flynn woke sitting straight up in bed, sweating. The dreams. The dreams, again. The ones where Jordan came to him. Part of him, deep down, knew they were dreams, even while he was experiencing them. Still, every time he hoped he would never wake up. His dreams were the only time he could see her again.
He’d thought he had his life together. He had the arcade, and his games. Later, he had the company. He could have women if he wanted them, but mostly he could keep his freedom. And then she showed up, and he realized what he’d been missing.
He had carried a torch for Lora for a long time. She disappeared from his mind when he met Jordan. An old college roommate of Lora’s, she’d just moved back to California after leaving a job in Boston that she hated. Alan had suggested the two meet… and, to use an old cliché, the rest was history.
They’d had three beautiful years together. Sure, they’d hit a small bump in the road the day the EPT showed two pink lines and they realized the birth control had failed, but they’d gotten used to the idea of being parents and soon couldn’t imagine a life without their son. A pair of free spirits were flexible and could change direction if need be.
And then it was all cut short. In one evening when Jordan didn’t come home, when the police showed up on the doorstep of their home, full of words about car accidents and apologies. And everything changed.
Now, left with a toddler, and his own memories and demons, Flynn felt like it was all falling apart. Until the nighttime, when he was with her again, at least in his mind. The only time everything was right, the only time he knew peace. But she could never stay, was always gone again too soon.
Some mornings he woke up with tears still on his cheeks.
Don’t Stop Believing
The server at Encom International was a large one. It was a company that not only used commercial programs, but wrote many of its own, specialized to its needs. And its programming team also created applications for other businesses and systems. This meant its software lineup was massive and diverse, from programs that had been in use for years to those installed in beta form on test servers before a final version was shipped off to a client.
There was only one man in the entire company who knew just what that microcosm looked like, because he was the only one who’d been there. The rest of Encom's employees went about their daily lives, having no idea what lay within their workstations.
But Flynn grinned to himself-- some day he'd be able to show them.
Face to Face
Siouxsie and the Banshees
So after everything… it had come down to this anyway. Flynn could’ve saved himself a lot of trouble if he’d just gone this route to begin with.
He and Clu were facing each other one last time. It was just Flynn’s luck… all of the lessons it had taken him a lifetime to learn, and now that he’d achieved some modicum of wisdom, it was all about to end.
Like the knowledge that a person could never eliminate one half of themself. And perhaps shouldn’t try. There was no easy way to excise one’s darkness. It had to be dealt with slowly, methodically. There was no lazy man’s solution.
He’d also learned that creating one’s own doppelganger wasn’t a good idea, either. The legend of a doppelganger was that sighting one portended death... and as it turned out in some twisted way, that was true.
Maybe he owed it to Clu. There was a lot he owed the misguided program... apologies, a way to make things right. Reconciliation. A second chance. He held his arms out to the program who shared his face.
There was the Sam Flynn the rest of the world saw, and there was the Sam Flynn deep inside. Somewhere in between the two was the Sam Flynn he had convinced himself he was.
It wasn’t his idea of a good time to do the navel-gazing self-analysis thing… so he didn’t. It was easier to perform the psychological equivalent of pushing the mess under the bed and into the closet.
His façade was a strong one. No one was getting through, which was just the way Sam liked it, or so he told himself. At the very least, it was safe, and he did like that
And if he couldn't look himself in the mirror sometimes? Well, he could ignore that and drink it away, too. One thing was for sure-- he'd be the only one who knew about it.
All he let anyone else see was that he didn't need anyone, ever. Sam was a good actor by now.
The Black Angels
He’d trusted her. The first individual here who had offered him some help… and it turned out she was probably the most false of them all. Sam snorted to himself. He should’ve known better. He was 27 years old, a natural cynic, and had been around the block a few times. You’d think he would be able to see past a pretty face by now. Still, he wasn’t sure it was that, so much as he wanted to grasp at anything that would make some sense here, someone who might be friendly.
Yeah, how well did that work out for you, Flynn?
he asked himself sardonically. Since shortly after the day his father failed to come home, Sam had learned to agree with the guy on that TV show: trust no one. Except today, against his much-better judgment, he’d trusted someone. Two someones, actually. And it had been a mistake both times.
Sam glared at the pair of programs who now smirked at him. “Playing all the angles, huh?”
Every Dog Has Its Day
Sam Flynn was Irish. There was no getting around that. So if he was sprawled on a reclining lawn chair on his back deck on a nice night, his third pint-glass of Guinness in his hand… well, no one would be surprised. The Flynns had a long, if not so proud, history of liking their liquor… and beer… and everything in between. His mother’s side of the family was Greek, and they were no slouches in that department, either, even if their poison of choice was more likely to be ouzo than Jameson’s.
Sure, and didn’t he have enough troubles to spend the rest of his life drinking them away? If you asked Sam, his consumption was pretty moderate, considering what he had to deal with. Drinking problem? Nah. It wasn’t a problem to him. He had the cash to bail himself out of jail after bar fights or bouts of “disturbing the peace,” he didn’t drive drunk (anymore), and he hadn’t fallen in the river yet.
Sam squinted at his nearly-empty glass appraisingly. Yeah, he could swing one more. As long as he could still both stumble to bed and remember to close and lock the door on his way in, he considered himself sober enough.
Flynn was always the fatalistic one. For all that he was often so happy-go-lucky, he was still the more cynical of the two of them. Of course, over the cycles, Quorra slowly saw him fade into more of that shadow. The change was gradual, and she might not have noticed except that she’d been keeping a journal for a long time.
She herself, though… well, she wasn’t entirely naïve, but she wanted to believe there were still good programs out there somewhere. Some day she would find them, someone who would finally make a difference. The Resistance still lived, even if their numbers were few. Some day, something would shake it all up, and things would change. If she just waited.
Flynn had a lot of books in his collection. Aside from the fanciful tales of Jules Verne, which told adventurous stories of a world she hoped to see some day, her other favorite book wasn’t a story at all. It was a diary, written by a young user, whose story was much like Quorra’s in that her people were systematically eliminated by a madman and she had to go into hiding. But no matter the horrors she’d seen… “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart,” she’d said.
Quorra tried to be the same way. When she didn’t want to believe it, she pulled the book out and read that passage again. The page was creased and dog-eared by now. But Quorra had to believe. It was the only thing that kept her sane through it all.
All Along the Watchtower
This whole racket was getting old. Pretending to be something he wasn’t, kowtowing to Clu all the time. It left a bad taste in Zuse’s mouth, one he eliminated with strong energy drinks far too often. But what else was he supposed to do? He’d learned the hard way that fighting was futile, so he gave up that life. Now all he wanted was to survive.
Well, he was surviving. He may not be enjoying it, but he was surviving. With the help of Gem. Not that she was his favorite, either, but she knew what he was about and was on his side, which was something. At this point, he’d take whatever he could get.
She herself was even more shady than he was. At least his problem was that he was jaded and tired. Gem was simply out for no one but Gem. He just made loyalty worth her while.
She caught his eye now.
“It’s happening. Just wait.” Wait. It was all he’d been doing for… how many cycles now? But she was right. Everything was about to change. He’d picked up a signal from a beacon he thought was long gone, one he’d received nothing from for years. But somehow, it was back in the city. A beacon that had belonged to only one program. And with other recent shakeups, he’d guessed who might carrying it. No idea where he’d gotten it, but Zuse would find out soon enough.
“Go on then,” he told Gem. She’d be best for this job, better than if Zuse showed up himself. “Find him.”
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