* I am actually writing this instalment of my insane ramblings at a sensible time in the afternoon, so I can't use the "this-was-written-at-3am excuse" for any mistakes/stupidity/lack of any humour whatsoever. Oh well. I still don't own anything, just in case you mistook me for one of the copyright owners who had suddenly developed a fixation on Koalas. *

***

It wasn't easy being a vicious marsupial, Jasmine thought to himself. There were still many people who held deep prejudices against koalas and campaigned to have them all locked up. They claimed that the marsupials were ferocious, man-eating creatures. This was true, and they also liked to devour tiny cute puppies and steal lollipops from small children. But that was no reason to be narrow-minded.

However his frustration directed at much of the human race was easily dealt with by viciously slaughtering a few members of it. He had just returned from hunting out more rebels, and was taking some time out to lick all the precious blood from his shiny fur.

"Excellent work, Jasmine. Soon you shall taste the blood of Mr Anderson." Agent Smith said, patting his favourite koala on the head as he entered the room. "Project Koala is progressing even more satisfactorily than I expected. Phase two is nearly ready to begin."

Jasmine looked up at the agent, but his "boss" didn't seem to be carrying any tasty morsels of rebel so he returned to his grooming. Smith absently patted the koala some more, gazing at the collar and nametag on its neck. He really couldn't go on calling the lead koala Jasmine. It was a completely unsuitable name for such a proud and fierce creature, plus it ruined his sequence of numerical designations. There was now no Koala One, which put his charts out of order.

"Why must you only answer to such a hideous name?" He asked. "Why could they not at least have given you a strong, powerful name such as 'Killer' or 'Mauler'?" Smith decided that he would not put up with it any more. He reached to unbuckle Jasmine's collar, which was bad enough on its own, being pink. Jasmine however seemed quite attached to his collar, and had other ideas. He snapped at the agent's hand before retreating up to the top of a tall bookcase in one corner.

Agent Smith was not going to be defeated by one of his own koalas. He got a broom and tried to encourage Jasmine down with a few not very gentle prods. This just resulted in the broomstick being mangled into toothpick-sized pieces. Muttering to himself, Smith stalked off to find a rebel he could turn into some koala snacks to tempt the uncooperative marsupial down. On top of the bookcase, Jasmine happily resumed his grooming and settled down for a long nap.

*

Not too far away, the Nebuchadnezzar crew were having a field exercise. Well that's what they called it, but it was basically a trip to the zoo with a bit of Neo koala de-sensitising thrown in. After spending the morning looking around at all the enclosures and debating which animal most resembled Morpheus ("It's got to be the hippo."... "No, I'm going for baboon."... "Quiet! I look like that majestic and serene warthog over there.") they were now preparing to approach Koala Korral - the koala habitat.

"Are you sure you are ready for this, Neo?" Morpheus asked, concerned. "You could always have another few sessions with the Kid..."

"No! I think he's ready." The Kid jumped in, hastily. He was still hobbling and had two black eyes from his last session as a koala substitute. "After all he is The One - he's Neo!!! He can make it."

Neo was quite anxious and shifted from one foot to another. He looked over at Trinity. "What do you think, Trin? Am I ready?"

Trinity rolled her eyes. "Neo, it's just a few koalas and they will be behind a fence. Unless they suddenly learn to fly they won't be able to get to you." Neo suddenly looked quite panic stricken at the prospect of flying koalas. Trinity threw her hands up in the air. "You can fly yourself! They won't hurt you. Now get in there."

At Trinity's stern order, Neo immediately headed towards the exhibit. He took some more deep breaths. It would be okay, he could do this. They would be behind a fence. He would be safe. The entrance was dominated by a large sign proudly announcing that this was "KOALA KORRAL - the largest collection of captive-bred koalas in the World!". Below that there was a notice saying "Join us in hand-feeding the koalas today!". That was not what Neo wanted to hear. He didn't want his hand fed to the koalas again.

He managed to walk through the entrance and into the building itself. The walls were covered with paintings of various cartoon koalas such as Blinky Bill and Bunyip Bluegum. Koalas wearing clothes - it was terrifying. One had a straw boater hat on, which made Neo shiver with horror. Then he saw it. The koala. It was attacking that small child! The foul beast was actually clinging to a small blonde girl's back, about to sink its fangs into her neck!

Neo summoned up all of his courage, and tried to block out the fear which threatened to make him curl up into a little ball and whimper like a small, lost hedgehog. Using all of his One-ish powers he leapt towards the girl and the vicious, slavering marsupial. He yelled a long, drawn out "Noooooo!" and pulled the creature away before it could rip open her throat. Wrestling it to the ground, he gripped it's neck and tried to strangle the life out of it. Then someone hit him over the head with an umbrella.

"What the hell do you think you are doing?!" Shouted the woman wielding the umbrella, hugging her crying daughter. It was about then that Neo realised he was strangling a fluffy, koala-shaped backpack. He tried handing this back to the little girl, but her mother chased him out of the Koala Korral, still waving her umbrella threateningly. The crew called Link to arrange an exit quickly, leaving before the chaos was noticed by the agents.

*

Back at the Koala Korral, Neo's ineptitude in dealing with the fluffy backpack had kept the visitors attention away from the koalas themselves. No one then noticed a particularly large koala, with particularly sharp and pointy fangs, climbing over the fence and escaping. This was probably for the best, since if they had noticed the koala they most likely would also have noticed the small camera it was wearing on its head. Koala Five, or Tulip, as his new collar proclaimed, had filmed the entire incident. This was then played back at the agent headquarters.

"Ahh yes Mr Anderson. You might be able to deal with a child's backpack but you will soon discover that my koalas are much tougher adversaries." Agent Smith said, watching the tape. "Good work Koala Five... What is that around your neck? Tulip?! Not another one! I will not have more of my koalas given sappy names. It completely undermines my evil plan." With that he left in a huff to go an order some black spiked dog collars, and nametags engraved with their official numerical designations. The koalas did not seem impressed when they arrived, and promptly chewed them into little pieces.

Smith glared at them. "Bad koalas! Fine, you can keep your flowery names. But officially you are still only assigned numbers. I am not going to keep re-doing my evil plan flowcharts." The koalas seemed happy with this, and celebrated by going out and killing several rebels. Said rebels did not seem keen to join in the party, but they didn't have much say in the matter.

*

On the Nebuchadnezzar, news came in of the further deaths.

"You shall have to face them some time, Neo." Morpheus said, looking grave. "We are finding it hard to get volunteers to go into the Matrix when they keep, well, getting eaten by koalas."

"I did okay with the koala earlier." Neo protested, defensively.

"Yes, but that wasn't actually real..." the captain pointed out.

Neo frowned. "Well I didn't know that at the time. It was a very frightening looking backpack, that little girl will end up traumatised."

"If she does it will be because of you leaping at her and trying to kill it." Trinity said dryly. "Look you need to get over your disturbing psychological issues now, before I try my own brand of 'therapy' on you which involves this pointy stick right here." She waved her particularly threatening looking pointy stick at him.

Neo gulped. "I'll try. Maybe it would help if I did some intensive work with the koala substitute?"

"That sounds like a good plan to me." Trinity said with a sly smile. "Oh Kid..."

The Kid hobbled in. "I'm here! Can I help Neo!!! somehow?"

"I think you can." Morpheus said, handing him the poorly constructed koala suit.

"Oh...Yay."

***

* Yes, well, there you are. Writing during the day doesn't seem to make a great deal of difference. Neo still hasn't faced an actual koala, I do intend him to eventually but at this rate it could take a while! Any suggestions for other flower-related Koala names, please do go ahead! *