Astra's next two weeks went by relatively smoothly. She trained, worked with the System, asked questions, some of which she was excited about, like how the System, the Grid, had an environment pack! She realized quickly the games that were connected to it, were the games that Flynn himself had wrote way back before ENCOM was run by him! And a few others that were decidedly new. Everything within ENCOM seemed connected to it, all of the games, various features and products that required Programs to run, like robot dogs for instance. She giggled at that one. They were cute! But it was once she had completed her training, that the real fun began!
"Ok… Let's see where you're coming from…" Astra almost whispered as her fingers flew across the keys. She had just noticed a bug in the system… As a matter of fact, it appeared to be many causing one big problem, and was trying to locate it.
Quickly, she located it and started to work on the problem, her typing speed starting to exceed her fastest rate! It was then, that she noticed… "Someone's already on it!" She looked surprised, then happy. She wasn't the only one who saw this! I wonder if it's that Program… Tron. She wondered as she worked in a competition against them. This was exhilarating for her! A real challenge! She had the most fun when she could test her skills! So, she started to type faster, a grin upon her lips as her fingers few faster than ever before across the keys.
It wasn't long before the bug was eliminated before she could really do too much on the issue and she leaned back, a frustrated smile upon her face as she stared at the screen. A little window was up showing all who were on the problem… The top flashing in bright blue. Tron.
She had only got 35.4% of the issue fixed before him and his team of Programs had eliminated the problem, Tron having done the most work. She shook her head and laughed. "Well, I guess I'll have fun beating you in the future mister." She said with a bit of a laugh.
"Oh?" A warm baritone sounded from behind her. "And what would you do if you beat him?"
Astra wheeled around shocked! Leaning against her cubicle opening was Trevon! All cocky, teasing smirk and all. He looked perfect, even his hair! He must've walked up… But how would he know when there was a System issue? She wondered. Must be coincidence. She stared at him for a beat and then spoke, a teasing smirk of her own upon her lips. "Probably throw a party." She teased him, just goading him on to ask to be invited… She wasn't sure if she would say yes to that, a thought that made her smile brighter.
Trevon's grin widened and he leaned in. "A shame he couldn't join a User party." He teased her.
Her eyes glazed over at that, the words resounding within her mind, as though a part of a memory… She shook her head and looked at him confused. "User?"
Trevon caught that look and looked at her quizzically himself for a beat before his grin returned full force. "It's a nickname I have for the people who work here."
Astra looked even more confused at that, then laughed. "It's cute. I guess it makes sense, that's what we're labelled as within the system." She shook her head, an uneasy feeling overcoming her. "I'm not sure how I feel about being called one though."
"What would you like to be called then?" He asked, a bit curious.
"Astra. All of my friends call me that." She smiled. It was an invitation, but she was a friendly, open person. Plus… He was fun to converse with.
Trevon's eyes softened and he nodded, standing up a bit. "Astra it is then." He stood up fully then, and walked into her cubicle, studying her screen. She looked a bit miffed at that and her eyes turned to the little window showing everyone's progress on the previous system error that had come up.
"Hmmm. You did well. But no-where near good enough to beat Tron." He grinned at her.
She huffed and crossed her arms, leaning back in her chair. "I will soon! That was just my first time! You should see how quickly I improve!" She teased back at him. Inwardly, she wondered why he had such a fascination with Alan's Program… Maybe it's because he was written by his Uncle. She thought.
He just stood up and laughed good-naturedly. "You do? Well! I bet he'll look forward to the challenge then!" His eyes seemed to glow with happiness.
Astra was taken aback instantly by that smile, the glow in his eyes capturing her like never before. I know that smile… She thought deep within her soul. Yet it was a thought she barely heard over her own heart, which seemed to race a mile a minute. She was instantly attracted to this man. As if she wasn't before, but her initial shock of his likeness to Alan had taken over before. Now she could truly appreciate him, and, he was absolutely radiant when he smiled.
Trevon's smile faltered as she stared at him. He stood straighter and crossed his own arms. A defensive gesture.
That kicked Astra out of her admiration of him and she blushed. "So will I!" She retorted with a cheeky smile, though it was a bit awkward. She didn't mean to offend him. I must've looked like a fool staring at him like that! She worried.
"Good." He said simply and turned to leave. "I'll have to watch your progress." He said with a bit of mirth in his voice, though, he didn't seem to have the same energy as before.
From then on Astra worked harder and harder to beat Tron to the punch, but every time, she failed and Trevon would show up right after to tease her! It became a game and they both became more lighthearted in their conversation. The whole office of cubicles became involved, exchanging bets every time they would hear "NOT AGAIN!" Coming from the lone cubicle that contained Astra. Chuckles would resound and she would just stare dumbfounded and frustrated at times, other times threateningly at her screen just as Trevon would walk up to her, a grin always upon his face and a twinkle in his eyes. Everyone believed Trevon just liked teasing the new recruit, he did do that often to the newbies, but as time wore on, he seemed to tease the whole of the office less and Astra more. Still, they thought the same. They seemed to have a good teasing dynamic.
One particular day lead to a particularly interesting encounter.
Light fell on a pale figure from the screen in front of her as the sound of typing filled the room. Brushing back a strand of long blond hair, she reached over, grabbing a water bottle from beside her. Sipping the last of the lukewarm liquid, she placed it back in its spot, never taking her eyes from the screen.
"It's been quiet today… Not many errors or bugs… Alan's Program is good…" She had to admit distractedly as her eyes scanned the information before her. "A little too good, he's always beating me to the latest big system problem. Well, mister… Not this time!"
No sooner than she had finished that thought, than her eyes caught a string of errors coming from sector 7. "Something's awfully adamant about taking this sector down… Let's see what you are, and fix this." She said quietly as her eyes narrowed in concentration and she got to work.
The information that flashed before her showed the area to be extremely buggy, code was becoming corrupt at an accelerated rate. This sort of thing didn't happen often. Heart pounding, she raced the clock to fix the issue. She had a feeling Alan's Program, Tron, would be on this particular system error, and she was bound and determined to make this day be the day that she finally beat him to the punch!
A short time later, the errors were gone halfway through her work. A frustrated growl sounded from deep in her throat as she pulled up a window showing the Programs who had been on the issue.
"You have GOT to be kidding me! AGAIN?!" Erupted from Astra as she sat up straight in her seat, startling several of the people who worked in her area. Snickers could be heard in the background along with "Every time..." and bets being passed around.
All of which were ignored by the enraged woman now scowling at her computer screen, which was currently showing the list of Programs that had fixed the issue she had been working so hard to fix before them, Tron being at the top of said list. "Just you wait mister!" She growls as she leans back in her chair, crossing her arms stubbornly. "One of these days I'm going to beat you!"
Her fingers hurt, though she refused to let on, she had really tried hard this time, and was pretty sure she had exceeded her maximum typing speed in doing so. Getting up, she decided a coffee and cinnamon bun were in order.
Still furious, Astraica headed for the break room while thinking up a list of ways to stop that Program from getting to the problem areas in the system before she did. I swear he did that just to spite me! She thought as she entered the room.
Happy to see some cinnamon buns still left, she grabbed one up, and made her way to the coffee machine. No sooner than she had punched in the number for a French vanilla cappuccino, than she hears a familiar voice from behind her. Unregistered to her, to the side, someone chokes on their coffee and quickly high-tails it out of the room, all while barely containing their chuckling.
"That Tron Program is really something else, isn't he?" Trevon said as he walked up to the popcorn bowl on the counter and leaned against it, popping a few kernels into his mouth, his eyes shining, that silly grin upon his lips, as always.
Turning around to make a retort, Astra huffs and rolls her eyes while growling deep in her throat, a frown tugging at her lips, though not quite reaching her eyes.
"He most certainly is! Something I'm going to either block out, or send to the moon!" She pauses. "Do you always have to show up when he bests me?" Her frown turning to a half smile while she reaches for her now poured coffee. She was teasing him. They both knew she enjoys their little teasing matches.
"And I'll never understand why you refer to Alan as "Alan-1"." She laughs lightly while gripping the cup. Though something pulled at the back of her mind each time he said it… It was so strange.
Sucking back a breath in pain, she quickly drops the cup as her already sore fingers burn from the extreme temperature of the water used to make her beverage.
Trevon was like lightning as he moved gracefully to grab the cup before it hit the ground! Astra's eyes widened in surprise at his speed and reflexes as her mouth dropped into an "O" in awe! She'd never seen him in motion before! Man he's fast! She thought. She couldn't help but blush, her attraction for him hitting her full-force. Is he always this impressive? She mentally berated herself and told herself that he wasn't "impressive" or "cute"...
Wait... Cute? Since when did... Oooo! That Tron! He's really messed up my thought patterns with being so... So... Frustrating! She thought as her cheeks flushed a bit brighter and her eyes left her coffee cup to meet his. She really didn't want to admit to herself that she liked him! Somehow, she couldn't manage to show her frustration over Trevon's kind words and impressive feat just then, she just hoped that her expression didn't reveal that first bit of information... A quiet, "Thank you." left her lips as she continued tell herself that he wasn't "cute" and being inherently frustrated about it.
Something about a man who can move always got her. He definitely seemed the best chosen for his job!
She watched him as he put the cup onto the counter where it could cool without harming anyone. She blinked. How can he stand that heat? She thought and looked up at him as he leaned back against the counter, completely missing her look and spoke. "Careful. Don't want to burn your digits. The system counts on them, even if Tron beats you to the punch half the time." He grinned, a laugh in his voice. "And it amuses me, to see a User trying so hard to best a computer Program. I thought they were written to make your life and your job easier. As for Alan-1, well, it's a childhood nickname." He smiled and went back to the popcorn, popping some into his mouth.
Astra had collected herself by then and nodded. "Neat." She smiled at him.
He looked at her incredulously and then laughed. "No teasing comeback? You must have a virus!" He teased.
Astra huffed and placed both hands upon her hips at that! "I just happened to think it was cute!" She blushed redder. "Besides, even you have to have some cute things about you." She teased as a teasing smirk appeared upon her lips and she poked his chest right in the middle.
He leaned in with a grin and almost whispered. "Cute?"
Astra blushed harder and removed her finger, nodding, then, leaning in conspiratorially and whispered back. "Cute."
He laughed and stood straight. "I've been called many things. Cute, isn't one of them!"
Astra stood as well and smiled, a hand upon her hip. "Well you are. So deal with it." She teased him.
"So tell me, what was your fix going to be? I'm curious." Trevon said as he leaned back against the counter and popped some kernels into his mouth.
Her eyes followed him as he went to the popcorn and popped some into his mouth. Her stomach rumbled lightly, she decided it was time for her to have something herself.
Leaning against the counter behind her herself, she takes the time to think as she pulls off a section of the cinnamon bun. Promptly she places it within her mouth and chews thoughtfully, licking her fingers clean after she swallows.
Trevon's eyes seemed to glaze over a bit at the gesture as he coughs into his hand. He'd never seen someone do that before. It made him… Uncomfortable, yet aroused for some reason. She probably doesn't realize it. He thought, she seemed a lot more innocent than most of the Users at ENCOM.
"Well..." She starts as she distractedly pulls off another piece of her cinnamon bun and stares off into the space in front of her. "I was currently working on fixing the area of damage." She pauses to look down at her torn piece of bun.
"After I had assessed what had been done to the sector, I was worried about any Programs that might have been affected and the general functions of that sector shutting down..." She looks up at him and points with her pastry-filled hand towards him.
"The first step was to block off the sector from the others so that they wouldn't become corrupt. Then I was to locate the problem, isolate it, and delete it while fixing the corrupt sector and Programs. Luckily there were no Programs that had become corrupt. I was just about to get to deleting the source of the problem when... It suddenly vanished." She finished while looking down and popping the pastry into her mouth.
Trevon's eyes watched her as she ate, a light blush of his own upon his cheeks. He looked away and went to get a coffee of his own. He nodded once he had returned to his spot by the popcorn. "You did well."
Astra swallowed as he went to get a coffee, and whether it was due to her already flustered state, or her attention being so focused on him already, she found her eyes following him. She really enjoyed watching him move… One had to appreciate what his job did to develop one's movements. She always thought his moves were graceful before, but now that she watched him, they were poetic! Every move he made seemed to have an effect on her!
This is really too much! First, he comes in here, gloating about Alan's Program, and now I'm suddenly finding myself attract… Wait, no. Stop. Do NOT go there or there is NO returning from it. She berated herself as she fought hard to control her blush, and therefore, her dignity. I am NOT going to sit here and ogle Trevon! He's the chairman's Nephew for crying out loud!
All too late, she caught herself staring and suddenly he was smiling at her.
He grinned and looked back at her again, taking a careful sip. "I'm sure someday you'll complete 75% of your solution before Tron beats you to it." He teased.
Determined, she stood straighter, defiantly pushing aside her feelings and thoughts towards this man and face him as though it were any other day. It worked… Until she heard his comment.
"Why you!" Mildly insulted, her mouth forms an "o" shape in mock outrage as she brought a hand up to swat him on the arm, a smile upon her lips the whole time as her eyes locked with his in challenge. Eyes sparkling, she grabbed up her coffee and crossed her arms as she rose her cup to her lips, smile intact. "I'll have you know that one day I am going to beat him." She said almost sweetly, as she rocks slightly from side to side a few times before taking a sip from her cup.
Trevon didn't flinch at the hit, in fact, he was impressed she had the courage to do it. He merely smiled, he liked her, it's the only reason he let her get away with it. It reminded him of a time long ago… He shook the thought off inwardly and leaned in with a smirk. "We'll have to see about that." His eyes practically sparkled. "There are always system errors to fix." He chuckled and stood straighter.
Astra lowered her cup and shook her head. "Oh I will! You can count on it!"
You can always count on me. Ran through Trevon's mind and his eyes went wide and pupils small. He blinked and smiled, though it had lost its energy.
Just then, an alarm sounded from within the break room! All break rooms were installed with them for when errors occurred within the System so that everyone could get on board to fix them.
Trevon nearly jumped from his spot. "Looks like we'll find out sooner rather than later. I have to go, Alan-1 is probably looking for me. Let me know how you do this time!" He grinned and left his coffee on the counter.
Astra nodded with a grin of her own as she rushed out of the room, lidded coffee still in hand.
Trevon nearly laughed, giving her the head start as he walked quickly from the room. Once he was down the hallway he started at a run himself.
On the Grid Tron walked up to the Programs in charge of locating System errors within his tower - Tron Tower, and barked. "Status report!"
A Program with short pink hair responded. "Gridbug resurgence in the same sector sir. There seems to be a nest in the Outlands not too far from that entrance!"
"Send a lightjet squadron to bomb it. I'll handle the rest with my squad." Tron said as he calmly started to walk over to the exit of Tron Tower.
The Program looked startled, even worried. "Sir, I would advise more urgency. These are Gridbugs we're talking about. A lot of damage can be and is being done in micros!"
Tron looked back over his shoulder and grinned. "I'm going to let the Users get to 75%."