* This is my first ever fanfic so I'm kind of experimenting at the moment. May I just say that I have borrowed things like shifting and requiring from the brilliant Agents stories by Stormhawk (hope that is OK). I own nothing - I am just borrowing this universe! *

It was a hot, sunny day without a cloud in the sky. Everywhere birds were singing, children playing; it was a day to be enjoyed and to have fun outside. At least it was if you were human.

Smith sat rather dejectedly on the park bench, watching the people having fun. The weather programming of the matrix had created a brief heat wave and the humans were making the most of it. Everywhere he looked there were humans - playing football, having a picnic, children on the swings. And there was no need to kill any of them. Unfortunately.

The rebels had been very quiet recently, with no known activity planned. Why not, he thought. Why can they not just come out so I can kill some of them? There was no work to be done back at the agency so he had shifted out to this park in the middle of the city. Part of him hoped that if he sat out here long enough trouble, in the form of rebels, would find its way to him. Still, watching the useless humans might give him ideas on how to rid himself of them more effectively.

Despite his appearance several people had made moves as if to try and join him sitting on the bench. A brief but intense stare soon persuaded them otherwise. Smith had required a half eaten tuna sandwich that he placed next to him on the bench, to give the impression that he was on a lunch break. There was no need to attract more attention to himself than necessary.

In a way he was on a break, he reasoned, removing his earpiece. Disconnected from the mainframe he could relax slightly, away from the prying of his fellow agents. With nothing immediately presenting itself to be dealt with, Smith sat there and mused on ways to trap rebels and extract the codes from them so he could destroy their puny ships and "city".

The agent was so immersed in thoughts of destruction that he almost did not notice the cat. It had been sleeping in a flowerbed a short way from the park bench, but had awoken to the unmistakable smell of tuna. After stretching and yawning, the cat made a beeline for the tuna sandwich. Without so much of a glance at Smith it lightly hopped up beside him on the bench and sniffed at the sandwich.

The agent was somewhat perplexed. Obviously his programmed "vibes" of authority did not work with animals. The cat began to eat his sandwich. Accessing his files Smith discounted his first impulse, which was to shoot the cat, as an overreaction. He decided on a less severe course of action.

"Go away." he said to the cat, making a shooing gesture with his hands. The cat glanced at the sudden movement, but evidently decided that a tuna sandwich was a prize worth standing its ground for. Well it was not as if he was actually going to eat the sandwich, Smith reasoned, so he decided to tolerate the presence of the animal. Also the cat was a pure code program like him, not sentient of course, but not like the unclean human vermin either.

After the cat had polished off the tuna from within the sandwich, it cleaned its face with its paws and then settled down beside the agent. This particular cat had a "friendly" subroutine, which meant that it took to humans (or agent programs who resembled humans) very easily. Not sure how to respond to this affection from the cat, Smith brought up the files for the program.

Cat: a small domestic carnivorous quadruped that preys on mice and is persecuted by dogs. It is credited with nine lives and always lands on its feet.

The nine lives credited to cats was a myth, Smith was aware, but it hinted at something further. It was said they had nine lives because of their amazing ability to walk away from life-threatening situations. This combined with an ability to twist in the air and always land on their feet suggested that cats had been programmed to bend some of the rules of the matrix. This required further study.

Smith required an animal carrying container and placed the cat inside. He then shifted back to his office. Examining the cat further he noticed a collar and a nametag that read "Fluffy". Only a human would label a creature with such a sickeningly sentimental name. The cat, now grooming itself while sitting on his desk, had as a result of its random colouration subroutine been created a grey tabby colour with white paws and a white bib. It could almost resemble a suited agent, Smith thought to himself with half a smile, before returning to his research.

Picking the cat up, he dropped it upside-down onto the carpet of his office floor from a height of about 1.5 metres. The cat landed gently on its feet. It certainly did seem to twist in the air in a similar fashion to some of the rebels who had learned to "bend" some of the rules of the matrix. It was likely however that the cat program had been written to include this talent, more in the fashion of agents. Smith required a saucer of milk for the cat and placed it on the floor.

Accessing further files on human pets in general, Smith began to form some theories as to why domestic animal programs had been written in the ways they had. First there were the small creatures such as mice, hamsters, goldfish. They were written to be attractive to humans in the matrix by making them small and giving humans power over their programmed lives. Humans were given the illusion of control by owning them. Dogs were popular because of their slavish devotion to their human owners, again giving the illusion of power.

Cats however did not fit into this theory of human pet programs. This cat did not react to him with fear, as it did not recognise his programmed authority. Cats did not respond to owners with the loyalty and devotion of dogs for this reason, and they were not controllable like smaller animals. Instead cats had been programmed with powers beyond those of the plugged in humans, abilities to bend the rules and an almost disrespect for authority. They were creatures to be admired by humans - humans who were subconsciously aware that they were trapped would recognise the talents that cats had and would respect them for it, and wish to be like them.

Thinking about this theory further Smith realised that would-be rebels would be most likely to have this strong subconscious desire, as they were more aware of their situation than the general masses. If he was correct then they would be likely to own a cat. Analysing 100 rebels previous "lives" in the matrix 85 of them had owned a cat - a far higher proportion than average. Now idly stroking what Smith was beginning to think of as "his" cat, the agent began to form a plan.

Before long many hackers, loners and other typical rebel targets completely failed to realise that their cats were becoming much more interested in their computers. Certainly none could have possibly thought that their pets had had their programming altered slightly so that mainframe and agents would see and hear what their cat could, so they could keep surveillance on rebel targets. Some more important targets received cats as presents from friends, and they thought it was cute that their new cats liked to watch them on the net, occasionally batting at the cursor on the screen.

Smith had been tempted to keep "his" cat. He had gone so far as to require some cat toys for it, before he fully recognised what the other agents would think of it all. Too human. It would be especially bad to show too much interest in a cat after filing a report about the connection between cats and rebels.

There was a phone number on the back of the nametag, and the agent shifted with the cat to the location. The garden had gnomes in it. Smith shuddered. Not wanting to explain what he was doing with their cat he required a dish of tuna and left it and the cat on the doorstep before ringing the bell and shifting away. Since Smith had only had the cat for a few hours, Fluffy's owner had not been aware that he was missing. She was just quite confused as to how he had got a hold of a dish of tuna and rung the doorbell. She realised cats had powers but this was too far!