|Fanfic: "Through a Diamond Sky" Part 2 of 14|
on Sunday, February, 26, 2012 12:50 AM
Jordan didn't know what hit her. The dingy arcade basement winked out of existence and this candy-colored kaleidoscope of patterns and shapes danced before her eyes for a small eternity – delicate lines and shapes not found in nature passed in front of her. It was beautiful, terrifying, and completely brain-shattering all at once. Finally, the whole thing went to bright white light as she found her body seeming to piece itself back together. Ungracefully, she stumbled a few steps and fell flat on her face. She hadn't felt this bad since she went two rounds on the roller coaster while drunk.
“This isn't Flynn.” The voice was male, and sounded vaguely like Alan, but had a slight electronic distortion. “But I'm not detecting any damaged code or malfunction.”
“He was working with Ophelia on a correction mechanism so that another User could be brought in the Grid with him.” The other voice was female, and had that same bizarre distortion. What kind of crazy Twilight Zone was this place?
There was a whining noise that sounded like a broken pinball machine, followed by another announcement from Female. “Notification from Flynn. He says the laser needs to cool down first. It will be five minutes before he can engage the firing mechanism again.”
“Five minutes?!” Male was clearly annoyed. “I kinda wish he told us what was going on or at least went through the beam first.”
“This is Flynn we're talking about.” Okay, whoever these two were, they knew her husband and his tendency to be a royal flake at times.
Jordan dared to crack open her eyes. She was lying on a cool surface that looked impossibly clean and smooth, made of no substance she could easily identify. Everything had sharp angles and strange, inorganic curves, like it was drawn in CAD software. Most of it was some uniform color, trimmed in lines of neon blue and indigo that reminded her of Las Vegas at night – inky darkness and too brightly-lit at the same time. She couldn't seem to raise her head, so all she could see of Male and Female were their feet, clad in black boots of a vinyl-type substance. Female's boots had a slight heel and indigo striping. Male's had only a single, small white dot just below the knee.
“I don't feel so good,” she admitted.
“Transport disorientation,” Female said. “You probably aren't used to it like Flynn is. Tron, she might need to lie down for a few seconds. Take her to the closest cot. I'll summon Clu. He'll probably want to see her.”
Wait a minute. Why did those names sound familiar?
Jordan was aware of being picked up and slung into a fireman's carry. The edge of something circular and hard pressed into the front of her torso. “Take it easy, User. No one here will hurt you.”
Her sense of balance still too shot to walk on her own and her head aching too badly to summon her pride, Jordan sighed and acquiesced to the stranger's hold.
She didn't know how long she was passed out, but when she woke up, the headache and dizzy feeling were gone.
The room was stark and bare, well past minimalist design; solid black walls and floors, a raised indigo area that seemed to be a bed (it was certainly soft enough), and a small window. It looked like a bad attempt at minimalist design or the worst aspects of modernism - too functional and uniform. Even a splash of color or a contrast in shape would make this room's design a thousand times more polished.
Jordan rolled off the bed and looked out the window. Wherever she was, it certainly didn't look like LA. An immense, glittering city of cobalt and turquoise lights gleamed in the distance. “What is this place?” she wondered aloud.
“You are looking at Tron City, capital and most populous sector of the Grid,” said a voice from behind her. Jordan turned to see a reedy-looking fellow with a shaved head. He wore something that looked like leather or vinyl, but there were no creases or folds anywhere. It also seemed to have a pattern of indigo-lit streaking – two circles at his waist and a thick stripe down the left side of his chest.
“And you are...?”
“Jarvis, assistant to the Tower Guardian. I'd heard there was a second User that made it to the Grid, but I hadn't expected anyone quite as...attractive.”
Jordan rolled her eyes, and was about to use the time-honored trick of showing off her wedding band to discourage that line of conversation. That's when she caught sight of her sleeve. She seemed to be wearing black elbow-length gloves streaked with cool white lines. The rest of her clothing seemed to be a sleeveless leotard with matching streaks of white curving from shoulder to ankle. The texture was vaguely leather-like. And what was strapped to her back?
“I apologize, but the Tower Guardian wanted to check you for damage before Flynn arrived,” Jarvis said. “In the process, you've been outfitted with proper attire and an identity disk.”
Glow in the dark, skintight vinyl catsuit is 'proper' attire? Someone's got a fetish. She pulled off the disk. Again, it was made of no identifiable material and looked like a glowing Frisbee. She handled it carefully, as the edges also felt absurdly sharp. “Any way I can see this 'guardian?'”
He was either oblivious to how ticked off she was or just pretending to be obtuse. Jordan didn't care either way. “Certainly, I'll take you to her.”
As she walked down the strange corridors of this 'tower,' Jarvis prattled on like a well-trained tour guide.
“This Input/Output tower was the first building constructed on the Grid. It overlooks the Sea of Simulation, a pool of matter and raw material our Creator uses to build and improve upon the Grid's infrastructure. At present, there are over twenty million Programs populating the system. Many of us, including myself, were ported over from the Encom mainframe...”
“Wait a minute, you're a computer program?”
“Yes,” Jarvis said matter-of-factly. “Didn't Flynn brief you before digitization?”
“I kinda invited myself here,” she said. It wasn't that much of a lie, but it was becoming clear that Kevin's side project was something much stranger than she even dreamed. “Didn't get briefed.”
“Ah, then I'll take you to the Guardian right away. She will be able to explain in greater detail,” Jarvis said. This guy seemed to be a born bureaucrat. She could easily see him behind the desk of the DMV or sitting somewhere at an IRS office, being perfectly polite and completely aggravating at the same time.
Jarvis led Jordan into a large, round room, still of the same inorganic, minimalist style. She started mentally calculating improvements she would make to the style. There was a difference between minimalist and being too sparse.
“Madame Guardian, our guest is awake.”
The Guardian was a female (or was that female-appearing?) Program wearing what looked to be a kaftan with indigo lines, including a thick yoke across her shoulders. There was a triangle pattern just above her breasts. Jordan had to squint when she saw the Guardian's face. Hell if she didn't look like Lora Bradley's long-lost twin.
“Greetings. I'm Yori, and I'm the Guardian for the Input/Output tower. Flynn told me that your designation is 'Jordan.' Is that correct?” The voice identified her as the one of the people...programs...whatever...that got to see her less-than-graceful entry to the system.
“Yes,” Jordan said, still rattled by the completely surreal situation. She thought she was just going to walk in on a cheating husband. She hadn't wagered on anything like this.
“I imagine you have a lot of questions,” she said. “Flynn certainly did when he first came over.”
“Well, that's an understatement,” Jordan said. “Were you the one who took off my clothing and strapped the Frisbee to my back?”
She looked apologetic. “Take a seat. It'll still be a while before Flynn's able to power up the laser again. I'll explain.”
It's an entire universe in there, one we created, but it's beyond us now. Really. It's outgrown us. You know, every time you shut off your computer...do you know what you're doing? Have you ever reformatted a hard drive? Deleted old software? Destroyed an entire universe?"
-- Jet Bradley, Tron: Ghost in the Machine on why being a User isn't necessarily a good thing.