This is... technically ficwork. For a longer fic. This will be most or maybe all of a chapter for Extraordinary Voyages, a fic I'm... not very far into. It'll get worked on (clearly), though I'm probably updating Letting Go first.
That said, this is very far into the story. So. Uh. If you plan to read all my fic and have a deep and abiding hatred of anything remotely spoilerish, probably don't read this. It can stand alone, but... *shrug* Dunno.
And oh gods is this a rough draft. Very, very rough.
The blue and white pierced through the burning orange shadows.
Rinzler stared down as the user tensed, pushed up in a turn. His companion was already on her feet, beam katana extending from a short baton as her disk flared to life in her left hand.
It had been a long hunt.
He dropped forward, hand pushing against the wall as he tumbled down, limbs uncurling, loose as he dropped to land in a crouch. He straightened slowly, hand raising to draw his disks.
He split them, and the edges flared to life, singing sharp and high as his circuits pulsed in anticipation.
The fight was his. He hunted, he searched, obeyed Clu as he always would. There’s nothing else. There never was.
Battle was an order, but it was more. It was motion and skill and life, the surging thrill of combat, of victory, functions pushed and tested to the edges of his being. Disks and limbs in fluid challenge as he pressed his opponents, pushed them and broke them until their light shattered and went dark.
In the fight, he could be perfect.
The blue-white program stared at him. She knew.
A short step, positioning slide, and she stood in front of her companion. Useless. Weapons raised, gaze fixed on Rinzler as his head dipped, noise rippling across the short distance. Her mouth opened, face a mask of cold tension.
Unauthorized access: memory—
Warning: corruption potential—
His functions were stalled, furiously looping—disks dug into palms as pain surged through his system, crackling sharpness edged with guilt, failure (reprimand, punishment). The targets were moving, speaking (“Are you crazy? I’m not leaving you!”—words cutting through him, he tensed with shame—why?). He needed to move, to act, directives clear, but he stayed frozen, coiled stillness, staring unseeing ahead. He was close—so close, so near—locked up with restrictions and knowledge and need and he could—
A blue-white disk filled his vision, and Rinzler dropped low, felt the heat of it pass overhead.
Redirect: combat functions—
The fight was what mattered.
A disk rose to contact the blue-white weapon as it returned from behind; it deflected at an angle. Its wielder was moving already, darting forward, blade raised as her ice-blue eyes flickered across the open ground. Rinzler waited, allowing her to close (skilled combatant, a challenge), disk flashing up to turn away her first strike.
She cut from the side, stabbed frontwards, and he twisted away, ducked under and lashed out in return, forcing her back. Satisfaction rumbled through his vocalizer. She was fast. Skilled. But her circuits were dim, already beginning to flicker with exhaustion. Her lips drew back in a grimace.
This fight was his.
A shout from the side and Rinzler turned in time to see the user pull back and fling his weapon, a white streak cutting through the distance. Red-orange circuits twisted in quick motion as Rinzler flicked a disk off in return. They collided halfway, and the user yelped, ducked the too-fast rebound and turned, waiting as his weapon hit the far wall and came back.
Rinzler tilted his helmet, reached up… then dropped his hand as movement registered in his periphery. The disk shot by, crashed against the female’s upraised blade, staggering her and foiling the strike. He snatched the red-white ring from the air without looking, turned to strike in dual motion, disks lashing out on either side of the beam katana as she tried to parry, trapping it between them before he leapt, body twisting through the air as the motion wrenched the weapon from the blue-white program’s grip. It skittered across the ground, collapsing to a slim baton.
He landed on his hands, disks flat against the floor as he leaned, kicked out with both feet. A sharp breath tore from his opponent’s throat, and she fell to the ground, sprawling out ungracefully on her back.
She pushed up (too slow), fist pressing unsteadily on the smooth blackness below as her eyes met his defiantly. No fear, only anger and frustration that belied the weak glow of her circuitry, the faint lag of her movement. Her other hand raised, caught her own disk as it returned at last, but it wasn’t enough, not now, not like this, and Rinzler raised his weapons as he stood above—
No, he didn’t pause, didn’t stop, wouldn’t stop like this, not ever. A snarl ripped through his sound as Rinzler spun, turned towards to user who ran at him, the shouted word turning to a yell of battle as a white edge swung towards the orange program. Rinzler leapt back from the strike, sliced out in counter; the user jerked sideways, nearly falling as he dodged the blow.
It was battle then, motion and quickness and fluid grace as Rinzler lashed out, countered, ducked and dodged and turned as combat subroutines flickered from processing to action. It was right, it was simple, straightforward, correct. This was what he was made for.
This was wrong.
The user was slow, ungainly, moved in jabs and hacking swipes he could bypass with ease. But Rinzler’s movement faltered, response time lagging just enough to keep the prey out of reach. The female program had rejoined the fight, and she was a better challenge; he should end her—but the user was a distraction, a hindrance. Rinzler should end him—finish the game—but it wasn’t a game, not here, not now—but he was toying with the user.
He had to be.
His noise was a roar, uncontrolled fury flowing from his empty throat as he glared out at the opponent. Face twisted with frustration, the user glared back, mouth turned in a faint grimace. Rinzler kicked low and connected; his opponent stumbled and he flashed in to follow up with a disk across the midsection. But the motion lagged (not glitching, not again, Clu fixed that) and he traced a faint line across the Disk Wars suit, nothing more. The user rolled back, got to his feet, blue eyes wide with alarm, exhilaration, relief—and the other opponent struck from behind, but Rinzler deflected without looking (she was lagging too now, energy low enough to shut down most programs).
It’s his fault.
He wasn’t to derezz the user. Clu had been specific—wound, disable, capture. Rinzler could destroy the accomplice, shower her data to the floor in a heap of glittering blue-white. But the user was the source of the disruption, the failure (sickening, wrong), the glitch in his systems as he hesitated, froze—noise a vicious growl as he stared with hateful rage at his tormenter—
blue eyes wide—
Redirect—combat functions, priority directive.
Fight the user. (error: users)
The fragments shattered with a wrench as pain surged through his systems. Overriding, unbearable, blinding, and he froze, spasmed, locked up, only the automatic priority of his directives keeping him on his feet, his disks in his hands. He couldn’t process, couldn’t move, couldn’t see through the crackling agony as his systems jolted, froze, searing punishment preventing function, preventing shutdown, and the user was there—his fault—
An arm lashed out savagely, unseeing, disk meeting resistance—solid, thick, it wouldn’t break, but tore, sliced open—and a cry broke through the silence. Visual flicked back online; the user was falling back, hand on his arm as his weapon dropped, white edge going dark. A shout came from Rinzler’s other side, the program’s voice raised in panic. But Rinzler’s systems snapped back into alignment—this was right (wrong). No more questions, no more queries and restrictions and glitching hesitation, and he stepped forward to finish it because that was what he was, all he was (all he had left).
Redness dripped down his disk.
Liquid clung to the edge. Fell to the ground in crimson spheres, fragmented to smaller drops on impact. It glistened. No light of its own. Blotting out the white (blue-white) edge of his weapon, spreading as his hand tilted until it crossed the orange ring, sizzled off the circuits on his hand as they flickered.
He was shaking.
It was wrong. Repulsive, sickening like viral proximity—this was something that should not be.
Stop, it needed to stop—he needed to stop, what was wrong with him? It was no virus, no true contaminant—it couldn’t hurt him. Rinzler knew that. He did.
How do I know that?
Another ripple of pain tore through him, and he felt his lips draw back, teeth baring in a snarl of frustration as his mouth shaped a scream it would never loose. Throat tight but empty, silent—always silent, no words, no voice, he wasn’t meant to have a voice.
He lashed out behind, catching the program’s strike as he spun, shoved brutally and slashed in for derezz. She staggered back, dodged his disk but missed the foot that kicked out, knocking her back. She hit an orange-paneled wall and fell hard, hand clenching against the ground as her lights flickered—blue-white/dark, blue-white/dark, eyes wide as she struggled to keep running.
The user reached for the dropped disk, but Rinzler was faster. He kicked it aside, closed and struck down as Sam_Flynn tried to struggle to his feet. No standing, no fighting, this was over—the user rolled aside, redness staining the ground in his wake. More wrongness, another twisting shiver through his code, lost in the errors and failure and stabs of pain, but it didn’t matter anymore.
He would make it right.
He landed squarely as Sam_Flynn tried to sit up—the user gasped, coughed as Rinzler’s weight knocked him back, pinned to the floor. A disk at his neck, and he froze, looked up in helpless anger. The arena again, but no questions now.
He would finish it this time, drive his disks into the user and end him, hurt him, make him stop. The face screwed up in tense anticipation, blue eyes fixed on his own invisible gaze with frustration and defiance and something else, something wrong—
He had commands, directives, and there was nothing else, no choice, no need for choice, no need to hold back. Clu knew the user, knew what he was, what he—
What I am—
The disk was frozen, poised, burning blue edge at the user’s throat as Rinzler stared down.
I can’t remember.
Sam Flynn stared back.