Tron spent the next several days collecting intel only. He had to find out the general feeling amongst the populace; whether or not they bought the anti-User message that Clu had been trying to drill into their heads for over a thousand cycles, or if they still believed in the Users. Not surprisingly, it was nearly impossible to get any one program to admit to anything besides Clu's lies, because they knew it could very easily mean being betrayed to the regime and being shipped off to the Games.
It was a constant source of chagrin to Tron that the Games––which Flynn had redeemed from their initial brutality in the old days of the MCP––had been returned to their old state of kill-or-be-killed. And what sickened him even more were the enormous crowds of brainwashed programs who attended as eager spectators to watch the violence.
And Clu had had the audacity to label this system as "perfect".
Because the guard patrols were heavy even during the day rotation, Tron tended to frequent the sleazier sections of Tron City, where few programs asked any unwanted questions. He was repulsed by the squalor that many of the programs had to endure in those sectors, but recognized that there was nothing he could do about it.
Walking down an empty alleyway littered with trash and scattered data cubes, Tron approached a rather undesirable establishment that called itself a Club. In reality, it was a gathering place for programs who wanted few questions to be asked, and cheap libations and entertainment to be bought. Though the Grid was always dark, it was lit up by innumerable circuit lines that ran all throughout the system. This "club" was so dark inside that Tron could only tell bodies apart by their glowing circuitry as the bright lines floated around the dim room. The only real light to be found was shining over the bar, where a fat, slouching program–presumably the owner of this distinguished establishment–was pouring drinks.
Tron had come here several times in the past few days, but hadn't opened his mouth to ask any questions. He had come only to listen, to hear what the programs were saying. They generally had very little to say that was of any interest to him, but just once he'd heard a program mention "the Resistance" in passing, which had greatly piqued his curiosity. He remembered very well, back in the days when he'd been hiding out near Argon City, having a grand idea of forming a resistance to fight Clu. Apparently programs elsewhere had had the same thought, but had failed. Clu had hunted insurrectionist programs relentlessly, and had used Rinzler as his sword.
Pushing and shoving his way through the milling crowd of programs, as well as around the seats and benches scattered around on the floor which were impossible to see, Tron found his way to the bar counter.
"Oh, the new guy?" the bartender said gruffly. "What'll it be?"
Tron found it incredible that, in this light, the program could actually identify him as 'the new guy', and off-handedly wondered if this guy said the same line to anybody he didn't recognize. "Nothing. I want information."
The barkeep glanced around Tron, as if expecting to see the red glow of the guards somewhere in the mess of programs' circuitry shifting around in the room, but seeing none, he finally asked in a quite different tone, "What kind of information?"
Tron lowered his voice to match the barkeep's. "What do you know about the Resistance?"
The effect those two words had on the program was somewhat disturbing. He was a rather obese program with prominent jowls, and his face literally deflated, while his pale skin became even paler, if that were possible. "I don't know anything about those peace-disturbing creeps!" he protested in a hoarse voice.
"Don't give me that old line. It's written all over your face: you know something, so spill!"
"I can't!" the program whined. "I could get sent to the games!"
"I'm not with the Occupation," Tron answered, trying to speak in a soothing tone, though right now he wished he could just throttle the information out of the cowardly program. "I want to join the Resistance. I need to know how to contact them."
"Shhhhh!" the bartender glanced around again, visibly trembling with nervousness. "I can't say anything; it's too dangerous, and it's not worth my life!"
"Then direct me to someone who can give me the information."
The fat program chewed his lip, apparently thinking quickly. "There's one person who might be able tell you. Her name is Vala. She works for me as one of my–"
"Spare me the sordid details."
"…er, as a waitress. She hears about everyone and everything. Sit down somewhere, where it's not so crowded, and I'll send her to you. You'll know its her, when she comes."
Somewhere where it's not crowded?
The bartender scuffled away, presumably to look for 'Vala', so Tron was left with the almost impossible task of finding somewhere in the club that wasn't crowded. He finally found a spot near the back wall, where there was space for a couple programs to stand without being shoulder-to-shoulder with at least six more people. There he waited, wondering what made Vala so distinguishable, amongst the numerous other programs moving about in the darkness.
Then he knew.
Bright, brilliant green circuitry made its way through the crowd towards him, with a side-to-side swaying movement that could only mean a female program. And from the color of her circuits, she was either a very lucky Bostrumite, or a very bold virus. When she came within two steps of him, he noticed additional glowing green lines rimming her eyes, cheekbones, and her lower lip, so that a few of her facial features were distinguishable in their soft glow. She was, admittedly, a very beautiful woman.
"Hello, handsome," the program–Vala–said in a sultry voice.
She reached out her hand towards his chest, but Tron flinched away from her touch. He also had a strange sense of deja vu, as if he'd done this before. "Have we met?" he asked suspiciously.
"Oh, I think I would've remembered that," Vala answered, not at all bothered by his reaction. "Is it because I'm a virus that you don't want me touching you? I don't infect customers, I'll have you know."
"No, it's not that," he said, wincing from a sudden headache. "I just…had a strange feeling."
"A lot of programs have a strange feeling about me, but normally it's a different kind of strange feeling."
"I really, really don't care about that. I was told you might have information that I need."
"Perhaps…but I have to ask, are you absolutely sure about this? Because if I tell you what I know, you could very well be forfeiting your life. One thing I can assure you, if you plan on betraying the Resistance with this information, they will stop at nothing to hunt you down, even if they're completely destroyed in the process. They hate a traitor above all else."
"I would be honestly surprised if they didn't feel that way. Tell me."
Vala sighed. "All right. It's your life."