Welcome to the Grid, Arty: Chapter 11: Rescue
As Tron, Beck, Artemis, and Paige sped through the streets on lightcycles, they noticed the battle between the lightjet and the Recognizers.
“Another visitor?” Beck asked Tron, as they stopped to watch the battle.
“That’s the Son of Flynn in action,” Tron said.
Then the lightjet crashed into the Recognizer, and the jet’s two occupants were abducted.
“And that,” Artemis said, “is our cue.”
“Let’s follow the Recognizer,” Beck said.
“And if it goes to Tesler’s base, we’re another step closer to our goal,” Tron said.
Paige was still somewhat disoriented, but she nodded and followed the group as they raced through Argon. As the Recognizer closed in on Tesler’s base, Tron took the lead with Artemis and Paige in back.
“It’ll be crawling with guards,” Beck said. “But we can take them on all together.” If I’m able to contribute, Artemis thought. I might be able to figure out throwing my disc, it’s nothing but angular physics, but direct strikes?
He drove behind and followed quietly.
Tron and Beck’s lightcycles screeched to a halt as four Sentries descended on them.
“Ready to do some quick coding?” Beck asked Artemis.
The two programs got off their lightcycles and pulled out their discs, but left them unlit. They parried the Sentries’ strikes, disarmed the guards, and tossed the discs to Artemis.
Artemis caught them awkwardly in both hands, then set the discs down on the surface of his lightcycle. His fingers flew and he recoded the discs, then tossed them to Tron and Beck, who were holding back the Sentries.
As the four discs snapped onto their owners’ mounts, the Sentries lightlines returned to white. Tron and Beck mounted their lightcycles and sped off before the ex-guards could recover.
Artemis and Paige followed, but soon after the battle was over, Paige spoke up.
“I think… I remember something.”
“Do you need to talk about it?” Artemis said. Look at me, going soft.
“I’ve seen Beck fight like that before, except I think I was the one he was fighting.” Paige weaved her lightcycle back and forth.
“Take it easy,” Artemis snapped. “There’s barely room for two lightbikes right here!” “All right then,” Paige snapped back. “I’m not sharing this space with you.” She gunned the engine of the lightcycle and roared past Artemis.
So much for being friendly, Artemis thought. He sighed, sped up, and struggled to balance the vehicle.
The only lightlines in this area, besides those of the bikes and their riders, were orange and yellow. The Recognizer Sam and Quorra were on still flew overhead, but the formation of other Recognizers made it difficult to track.
“The Recognizers are definitely increasing in number,” Artemis called out.
“I see the one we’re after still,” Beck said. “They’re all going to the same place, anyways.”
The space between buildings grew tighter. Orange, yellow, and red lightlines pressed in until the lightcycles could barely fit between the spaces.
“We’ll walk now,” Tron said. His bike disappeared and he sealed his helmet. Beck and Paige did the same, while Artemis could only dismount his bike and follow, face uncovered.
Great. I’m getting plenty of exercise today.
Finally, the group reached a small door tucked into the narrow alleys. “In here,” Beck said.
“Wait a millicycle,” Paige said. “This is where I worked after Tesler derezzed the other medics.”
“Yes.” Beck said. “Are you okay with going back inside?”
“You kidding?” Paige said. “Tesler will pay for what he did to the others.” She pulled out her disc and flicked its lights on and off again.
They filed into the building. The only noise was their footsteps on the dark floor.
“The Son of Flynn should be in the hangar now, but if we don’t hurry, they’ll take him to the ghost machine,” Beck said.
“Ghost machine as in it is a ghost?” Artemis asked. “Or…”
“It turns programs to ghosts,” Beck finished. “Who knows what it’ll do to a User?”
I for one do not want to find out, Artemis thought. As they continued to walk through the building, Artemis noticed blue-white tinted cubes on the ground. They contrasted sharply with the clean shapes of the room, and they were scattered randomly across the entire room.
Beck and Paige noticed the cubes as well. They even tried to avoid stepping close to any, but if Tron noticed, he didn’t show it.
“The only weapon that does this much damage belongs to General Tesler.” Beck whispered.
No one knew what to say after that. After what seemed like an hour, the group entered the red-lined doorway. The doors slid shut and Artemis became dizzy, in the normal way elevators cause dizziness.
“Be ready,” Tron said. “General Tesler is no ordinary program.”
“Neither are you,” Paige said. “I remember that much.”
The elevator doors opened, revealing a hangar with thousands of Recognizers docked. An escort of guards led two white lined figures out of one of the ships.
“There!” Artemis said.
The four climbed down a ladder and walked, hidden beside the Recognizers, over to Sam and Quorra.
They were not unnoticed, however. Some of the guards left their posts by the other two and stalked toward Artemis, Beck, Paige, and Tron.
“Cubes,” Paige whispered. She pulled out her disc, but Beck gently lowered her hand.
“We know a better way now,” he whispered.
The sentries turned.
“If you have anything you haven’t shown us when it comes to fighting,” Tron said, “use it now, Arty.”
Artemis pulled out his disc, threw it, and tried to make it hit the Sentry’s staff.
The throw covered all of ten feet, then clattered to the ground behind the Sentries.
“What was that?” one asked. He turned to look.
“Intruders!” the other Sentry said. They began to search the rows of Recognizers for other programs and carried away Artemis’ disc.
“I guess that’ll have to do.” Beck unsheathed his own disc.
The group moved over to Sam and Quorra and avoided the searching Sentries. When they’d gotten within earshot of the guards, Tron quickly ambushed them and took their discs, then gave the discs to Artemis and Beck.
“I’m no User.” Beck passed the disc to Artemis.
“You seemed eager to fix Paige’s disc,” Artemis whispered. He recoded both discs anyway.
Beck looked away and wouldn’t reply, but Paige took a step closer.
Artemis laughed, forgetting to be quiet. The Sentries with Artemis’ disc looked over.
“Get these to Tron,” Artemis told Paige. She nodded and took the discs from him.
Beck nodded at the oncoming Sentry. “They’ve got your disc. Want it back?”
When Artemis said yes, Beck took off running. Unwillingly, Artemis followed and hoped his minimal martial arts training would help.
Before Artemis had even arrived, Beck had already disarmed the Sentries and gotten Artemis’ disc back. He tossed it to Artemis.
“Try to keep hold of that, please.”
Artemis locked his disc back into his mount and fixed the Sentries’ discs.
Once all the Sentries had been recoded, Tron said, “Just leave the building. Don’t talk to anyone, don’t hint at what happened.”
The Sentries didn’t agree or disagree.
Once the former Sentries had gone, Beck pulled out a handle-shaped object and attached it to the cuffs binding Quorra and Sam.
“You brought a few friends, I see?” Sam said wryly.
“We wanted a fair fight.” Artemis watched as the cuffs became transparent and showed their wireframes, and Beck manipulated the inner workings. When he’d finished, the cuffs sprang open.
Beck tossed the tool into the air, caught it, and put it away. “You’d think Tesler would order more complex cuffs to hold the Son of Flynn.”
“Just call me Sam.”
“Tesler’s bound to figure out what happened,” Paige said. “Shouldn’t you, you know, fix his code before that happens?”
“We also only have three hours before the portal closes,” Artemis said. “And we’ll need time to get to it.”
Paige noticed Sam’s nose. “Wow, how did that happen?”
“Fight with a different general. I think it’s broken.”
“Can I see it?”
“Sure, knock yourself out.”
She walked over to Sam and placed her fingers on his disc. “I’ll need access to your disc.”
“Okay,” Sam said.
Paige opened Sam’s disc, checked his ‘code’, and deftly located the problem. “Yeah, you’ve got a fracture. I’ll give it a patch.”
Sam held still as Paige wrote a few new lines into his disc. A bandage appeared and held his nose still.
“There. Best I can do for a User,” Paige said.
“Let’s get going,” Tron said. “Tesler will fight us whether or not we’re ready for it.”
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