Tron's opened his eyes blearily to find himself staring up at a blank ceiling. He was lying sprawled out on the floor of a dark room, and every part of him ached.
Where am I?
His mind was still groggy as he came out of sleep mode, so for a few microcycles he was unable to understand why he was there. Then as his head began to clear, he remembered.
I managed to sneak past the guards and into the city last night. And I…I came here to hide out until it was safe. But why do I feel like there's more I should remember?
He sat up slowly, painfully, struggling with inexplicable disorientation. Tron shook his head side to side, trying to rid himself of the last vestiges of sleep from his brain. What is going on with me? I never feel this groggy after a sleep rotation.
A loud noise startled him to his feet. It was slightly musical, and he realized it had to be an announcement notice. The sound had been broadcasted so loudly he'd heard it loud and clear down in the basement.
"Attention, programs," said a deadpan, feminine voice. "Standby for a message from your benevolent administrator."
Tron hadn't really given thought to who Clu might leave in charge, and now he cursed himself for his negligence. There could only be one person…
Tron gritted his teeth as old hatred blossomed in his chest. He would recognize that smooth, heartless voice anywhere.
"I know the rumors of Flynn's return have many of you worried," Dyson said over the PA, a false note of compassion in his voice. "But fear not, these rumors are only rumors, and nothing more. They are being spread by insurgents whose only wish is to disrupt the peace that your beneficent leader, Clu, has bestowed upon you. I will urge you to inform us, your loyal guardians, of any signs of disloyalty in your fellow programs. They are nothing but a danger to us and to themselves, and must be reeducated, taught the error of their ways. That is all; thank you for your time."
You mean 'repurposed', Dyson. And I learned all too well what that means…old friend.
Tron woke up inside a glass-like containment chamber. He coughed raggedly, wincing at the sharp pains that stabbed through him from the deep gashes across his chest and abdomen. Weakly he pressed his hands against the walls of his slippery prison, slowly rising to his feet. He slammed his fists against the sides of the cylindrical holding chamber, but they did not even tremble.
He bent over, panting from exhaustion from just that small effort. The damage to his code was extensive and severely drained his strength, but was made all the more painful because of who had dealt that damage.
I was betrayed.
Betrayed by a friend. Tron shut his eyes tight as flashes of the terrible night replayed in his mind. Clu's turning hadn't been so much of a surprise–he'd seen it coming for many cycles–but Dyson's treachery had caught Tron off guard and struck him deeply. Tron couldn't believe that the one program he'd trusted in the most had chosen to throw in his lot with Clu.
It hurt to know that their friendship had meant so little.
Taking notice his surroundings for the first time, Tron was startled to see hundreds, possibly thousands, of tubes identical to the one in which he was imprisoned. And each chamber contained one program.
He recognized the program in the next chamber over as one of his subordinates. "Reeve?"
The other program didn't respond; his eyes were open but he stared blankly forward, expressionless. He clearly wasn't in sleep mode, but appeared to be in some kind of trance. Glancing upwards, Tron noticed that Reeve's disc was hovering over its owner, inside of some kind of device.
"Reeve! Hang tight until I can figure a way out of here!"
A dull, female voice rung out in the enormous room. "Initiating repurposing protocol. Standby for code extraction."
Tron didn't know what "repurposing" was, but he had a sinking feeling in his gut.
Reeve moved for the first time, blinking once and tilting his face up towards the disc that hovered above his head. His mouth dropped opened and hung slack as he reached slowly above his head with both arms.
"Reeve!" Tron called desperately.
But he could do nothing.
Nothing but watch as a stream of blue-tinted code laced out from Reeve's forehead, and a nearly identical stream of red code trickled down from the disc. The two data streams curled around each other as one entered Reeve, and the other was removed. Reeve's circuitry faded from blue to a harsh red as the new code was accepted into his body.
"No…!" Tron pounded against the walls of his prison, as if that could stop the violation of everything he believed in being played out in a grotesque display before his eyes.
Every way he turned, he saw them. Saw their faces, empty of expression, completely oblivious to the fact that they were each being transformed into mindless drones.
Their identity, their memories, their freedom…
Everything that Flynn had given them was being stolen away.
Tron collapsed to his knees, despair gripping his heart as he realized his complete and utter helplessness.
"Dyson," he whispered despondently. "What have you done?"
"Beck kept me from killing you last time," Tron hissed, feeling slight pleasure in allowing his anger and hatred to rage. "But he's gone now, and whose fault is that? This time, there is no one between you, and the hand of vengeance."