THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT

Author's Note: So here you have it. My first attempt at a Matrix fic. I've barely read anything, so if my concept is similar to yours, it's not that way on purpose. Let me know and I'll do what I can to make it different. Constructive criticism is welcomed, but please be kind.

Disclaimer: I don't own The Matrix or any of its characters. If you recognize pieces of dialogue, chances are those aren't mine either.


PROLOGUE

-We made it.

-You said we would.

-It's unbelievable, Trin. Lights everywhere. Like the whole thing was built with light. I wish you could see what I see.

-You've already shown me so much.

-What is it, Trinity? What's wrong?

-I can't come with you, Neo. I've gone as far as I can.

-Why? Oh, no. Oh no, no, no.

-It's all right. It's time. I've done all that I could do. Now you have to do the rest. You have to finish it. You have to save Zion

-I can't. Not without you.

-Yes, you can. You will. I believe it, I always have.

-Trinity... Trinity. You can't die. You can't. You can't.

-Yes, I can. You brought me back once, but not this time.

The fight, seen through eyes blinded by grief. Pain. Blinding pain. Then darkness. Images swam, thoughts, sensations…pieces of life. Pieces of consciousness. It was almost all dark at first, then as time went by—he had no idea how much, for time had no meaning in this place—there began to be flashes of light now and again.The glittering gold of the machine city, the city of light. The lightning that had lit up the sky that night when it seemed the worlds had converged. A scruffy looking black cat sat in a patch of early morning sunlight, washing itself. Its eyes shown green, bright green, too bright to be real, but then of course this wasn't real. It couldn't be real. The sun did not shine in the real world. The cat yawned, and its throat seemed to expand somehow, swallowing the world.

There were bluish sparks in the darkness, the sparks of something dying. A dying machine, a damaged ship. The Logos, he realized, consciousness suddenly filling with the heaviness of dread. He was back here again, this awful place, except now he could see. And though he knew this wasn't real, couldn't be real, it was that much more terrible.

The control panels were shattered, coolant leaks spattering glowing liquid into the corridors. It was a broken vessel, gone before its time. Like so much in this useless, meaningless war. He tried desperately to escape the dream, if that was, in fact, what this was, could not bear to see the lifeless form on the floor among the wreckage. But there was nothing he could do. He was utterly helpless against the assault. He wondered for a moment if this was hell, but then he saw, and there was nothing else but pain.

He could not believe that she was truly gone. She had been there always, from the very beginning, never letting go. She was the voice of reason, the inspiration, the very cause itself. She was never afraid, even at the very end. If it had not been for her, he would not be here now, crouched amidst the wreckage. And if he had never come along—well, he simply could not afford to think of that at the moment.

A few more seconds passed, then he pushed himself up to his feet, holding onto the wall unsteadily. The smoke was still rising, even half an hour after it had happened. It seeped out of and into everything, engulfing the entire room, and for a moment he thought he could feel it saturating his pores like poison. The filth and pollution that had become the common byproduct of years of war. He ran a hand across his eyes, over his forehead, brushing back strands of sweaty hair, and wiping the hand off on his pants at last, violently, as if trying subconsciously to wipe away the shell of grief that was rapidly hardening around him. He closed his eyes hard, wincing at the sting of dust and chemical residue, wishing that when his vision cleared again, it would tell him that he had been wrong, that this was not real.

When he looked down again, he saw the same thing as before—his greatest fear—her body lying there among the wreckage. It seemed to him suddenly that in death she was more beautiful than ever. She had been freed at last from the monumental exhaustion and anxiety of the war. For a moment he felt something almost akin to jealousy; he had wished for such release for such a long time he could hardly remember a time when the longing hadn't been there. He thought for the briefest second of giving in, of lying down beside her and never getting up again, but then he remembered his promise.

There were people waiting, thousands of them, for him to bring this war to an end. To free them, like he longed to be freed. He could not break that promise. Even in his grief-shattered state, he was a soldier first.

The image blurred, as if with tears, though he could still feel nothing. It dissolved into the familiar green code before his eyes, streaming down like rain, engulfing everything.

And then suddenly—

Light. White light. Blindingly, painfully bright light.