There's a little bit 'o swearing...Mouse isn't dead. He has a cousin named Myste who is not pleasant. She has visions of things that will transpire in the Matrix...The Agents are up to no good, can Morpheus and the others stop them before it's too late?
Matrix and its pre-copyrighted characters are not mine (this being,
of course, Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, Tank, Mouse, and Agents (even tho
I gave them colour-coordinated names)). The rest (Myste, Spoak,
Talon, Cara, Cortex, Rizzo, and some other minor players) are mine,
ALL MINE! This storyline is also completely original - at least I
hope it is!
enjoy, feedback is appreciated. It gives me this nice glowy feeling
inside to know I have fans. =8-)
to clarify, visions and/or dreams are now in bold.
now, on with the show!
2 : Reality Lost
morning, Myste." Morpheus grinned at her.
no such thing as a good morning, Morpheus."
came up with that greeting should be shot." Mouse conceded with
pair had been called for a meeting in one of Zion's many conference
rooms. No, Trinity, and Tank were already present, and Trinity had
already fixed Myste with that utterly displeased look when she
entered with her cousin. The look seemed to be there, no matter what
Myste had done. Trinity could not be angry that Myste was late
because there had been no set time for arrival. Plus, she had not
been alone. As usual, Mouse had been the slow one, and Myste had
waited for him.
Myste thought. "So, why are we here?"
face went serious, as he put his last thoughts in their proper place.
"As you all know, the Matrix has changed." he began,
looking at each member of his team in turn. "The Machines have
turned this alternate
reality into a nightmare for all the people trapped inside. It
started with the bombing of the apartment building," he gazed
directly at Myste. "And it has escalated to the point where the
Batteries are kept barely alive in labour camps, with the Agents
averted her eyes. She had known that this would happen; had seen it
in one of her visions. That it had come true made her feel as though
the realization of the vision had somehow been her fault.
keeps asking about you, you know." Mouse's voice broke into her
What?" she kept her voice low because Morpheus was still
explaining the Matrix situation to the others.
Mouse whispered in response.
about you. He really wants to see you."
shrugged, and they both returned their attentions to Morpheus.
- so our mission is to find and free the six people on the list I
have been given."
have tracker chips, like Wiley did." Myste put in.
that is what we have assumed as well." Morpheus nodded in
won't all submit
themselves to Myste's brand of debugging." Neo stated.
very true. We were lucky with Wiley, that he was so - "
minded." Myste finished his sentence for him. "I could
have killed him."
wuz tykin widchoo." Mouse teased her in Wiley's Southern accent.
up," she elbowed him in the stomach, as Morpheus chuckled.
could not help laughing. He had visited the newcomer many times
since his recovery, and Myste was the only thing he ever wanted to
discuss. Mouse was always quite content to share their conversations
with his cousin, and as a result, Myste refused to accompany Mouse on
any such visits.
see how." Trinity muttered under her breath. She asked
Morpheus, "When do we leave?"
not quite travel ready yet. He still has a few...misconceptions, but
we're straightening him out." Tank grinned.
about what?" Myste asked, praying it was not her.
he doesn't understand how the whole 'freeing the mind' thing works."
wants us to free his friends." Mouse simplified.
can't do that."
Trinity reminded him.
what I've been trying to explain to him." he nodded. "But
he misses Libby. He wants to go back for her."
could prove quite difficult." Morpheus said.
entire town was obliterated in the Reconstruction." Tank
responded gravely. He hated giving out bad news.
Wiley know?" Tank shook his head at Mouse. "Well, someone
has to tell him."
put his hand on the the boy's shoulder. "Do you think...?"
he let the unasked question hang in the air.
eyes went wide. He knew what it was. Do you think you
could do it? Tell your new friend that everyone he knew is now dead?
"I can't do that to him." he shook his head. "I
think it would be easier on him if you told him yourself. He knows
you now. And news like this should be given to you from someone you
worked his jaw, hoping to find an answer from Myste. She shrugged
apologetically. "Yeah, okay." his voice was low, solemn.
did it happen? He's gonna ask me that; when did it happen."
looked to Tank, then answered, "About three months ago."
Mouse stepped back, ducking out from under Morpheus' arm. "How
could you not tell him sooner? That was ages ago! Like right when
the Reconstruction first started!" he yelled angrily.
was in no condition to handle news like that, Mouse." Tank
protested. "You now that."
dropped his gaze to the floor.
Neo cut in. "What do we do in the meantime?"
turned to face him. "I want you and Trinity to go into the
Matrix, and scout out one of our six targets. Her name is Gator, and
she's only twelve. Her mother was freed recently, and she's losing
it without her daughter. Questions?"
Sir." Trinity answered, though she seemed displeased with the
assignment. Since when are we a search and rescue
when do we leave?" Neo posed his query.
soon as possible, if you don't mind."
good to me." he grinned, looking over at Trinity, who
involuntarily smiled back.
like everyone here has a mission except me." Myste stated.
but you're wrong." Morpheus smiled. "I need to talk to
eyebrows went up in surprise.
Mouse," Talon greeted him as she rounded the corner.
are you doing up here?"
to visit Wiley." he stuttered. He always stuttered when he
talked to her. She must think I'm such a loser.
smiled at him. "How is he?"
I think. He talks more. A lot more, actually. Sometimes I think
he'll never shut up, but, uh, I don't mind listening."
does he talk to you about?"
um, mostly his Matrix life. That's all he has to talk about. And
Myste. He really likes her."
okay," Talon shook her head. If there was one person in the
world she hated, it was Mouse's cousin.
she's different when you know her." he defended Myste.
Suddenly, he was not nervous talking to Talon.
sorry, Mouse. I'm sure you're right." they gazed at each other
for a long time, before Talon decided she had better go.
see ya around." Mouse replied, as she walked casually away from
him. He watched her go, then stared at the door in front of him.
"It's now or never." he sang quietly to himself, then
mus' be thinkin' Ah'ma nutcase." Wiley shook his head,
chuckling. "Ah mean, Ah'm tellin' ya 'boot Libby 'n ow much Ah
misser, but Ah keep askin' 'boot yer cuzin."
I don't think that, Wile." Mouse shrugged. He had been avoiding
telling Wiley about Libby's death for the past half hour. He really
did not know how to go about doing it. He could not just blurt it
out, but so far that was the only method he could come up with.
yer bein' awful kwat." Mouse slowly met Wiley's gaze. "Is
Wiley, there's something I have to tell you."
cuzin's a lesbian. Dang, I knew it!"
opened his mouth to refute the statement, thought for a minute,
concluded that Myste would definitely have told him something like
that, then shook his head. "No, no, that's not it. It's - it's
mah Gawd! She ain't - she's awrat, ain't she?"
stared at the floor, cursing Morpheus and the others for talking him
into this. "She's dead, Wile." he said quietly.
stared at Mouse, shocked by the news. "W-when?" he
- " Mouse decided to stretch the truth a little bit. "I
don't know." He met Wiley's wild eyes briefly, but could not
bear to look at him for long. "The Machines have been changing
the Matrix. It's not the way you left it. The Agents have turned it
into one big slave camp. From what I've heard, it's all desolate and
ruins and stuff."
wut y'all've heard? Y'ain't been there?"
Morpheus won't let me go in. I don't really think I want to go in.
Not with the way it is now."
Mawse, kin y'all skeedawdle fer awal? Ah need ta be alone fer a
Mouse got up from the floor. "Sure."
if you - "
jus need ta be alone, Mawse. Ah'll be awrat."
nodded, then left Wiley to his thoughts.
okay?" Myste sat up on the bed, closing the book she was reading
over her finger to keep her page.
looked up, surprised to hear her voice. He shrugged. "How did
it go with Morpheus?"
How did it go with Wiley?"
he flopped down beside her. "I was kinda hoping that he was so
hung up on you that it wouldn't really bother him about Libby."
yeah," he sighed, looking up at Myste. "Whatcha got
furrowed his eyebrows. "One of Morpheus' antiques?"
she shook her head. "This one's mine, I found it fair and
replied continuing the rhyme.
Myste, you didn't go alone did you?"
else was going to go with me, Mouse? You were away, nobody else
gives a rat's ass what I do."
you ever wondered why that might be?" he asked, expecting a
punch in the nose as her answer.
narrowed her eyes at him. "I don't have to wonder. I'm not
stupid." Mouse raised one eyebrow at her. "What you want
to know is why. Why am I such a bitch to everything that requires
oxygen to breath?"
actually, what I want to know is why you're so afraid to get close to
this is my ship, the Typhoon."
Trinity told Neo, smiling proudly.
he looked up at her, smiling back. "I had no idea you had your
not as fancy as the Neb, but it's just as useful for the same
purposes." her smile broadened. "That, and this one's
sure it has a few more advantages than the Neb."
caught the suggestive look in his eyes. "A few," she
conceded mischievously, as he took her in his arms. She unlocked the
hatch, and they went inside.
lay on her bed, alone in her darkened room. She did not know the
exact time, no one could, but she knew that it was late because the
lights had been turned down for the night all over Zion.
rolled onto her back, unable to get to sleep. What I want
to know is why you're so afraid to get close to anyone.
Mouse's words kept running through her mind, keeping her awake. Who
would have thought he was so perceptive? Oh, wait, she
chided herself, I knew he was. Myste
smiled to herself in the dark. That was the reason she was so close
to her cousin. He was the only other person who got her.
mind wandered, and she found herself wondering about Wiley, and how
he was dealing with the news of what had happened to Libby. She had
no idea how long the two had been going out, but if he was taking it
as hard as Mouse had said, they must have been close, too. Myste
remembered a few short months ago when she had almost lost Mouse, and
the hopelessness she had felt. Not that anyone else knew this, of
course. They all believed that she was stoic, that she did not care
about anyone or anything. Well, that wasn't true. She did care.
it," she decided, sitting up, "I give up." she pulled
an extra shirt over her head, then left her room.
sat quietly, listening to the report from Babble. The report was a
recording, made three days previously, about the current state of the
Matrix. She had been killed by agents on her way to an exit. how
they had known that she was there was a mystery that was being looked
into. Myste swore that she had not foreseen the tragedy, but she
wished she had. Babble was a good friend, easy to get along with,
and greatly missed.
felt he owed it to Babble to free her daughter, Gator. He had lied
to Neo and Trinity so that they would not question his intentions.
eyes stung, and a tear rolled down his cheek. Babble was only one of
many who had died recently die to the new form the Matrix had been
horrible, Morpheus. Why did they do this?" Babble's recorded
voice sounded close to tears.
he answered her. "They did it because of us."
the dark-skinned teenager yelled at the blonde girl behind the
boulder. he looked back over his shoulder at her. She seemed frozen
in her hiding place. He sped back to her, calling, "Come on,
Trace! We gotta go!" he grabbed her by the wrist, trying to
pull her to her feet.
can't, Rizz." she barely managed to whisper. "I can't,"
eyes went wide as he saw the blood flowing out of a wound in her
chest. "Who did this to you?" he felt tears in his eyes as
he choked out the question.
don't know him." Tracy rested her head on Rizzo's shoulder.
did he look like?"
looked up into his eyes, and reached her hand to touch his cheek. "I
did he look like, Trace?" he pleaded, knowing that he was going
to lose her and that there was nothing he could do.
shades, hair slicked back, and thinning out on top, if you catch my
drift." she managed a wink and a slight smile.
he tall or short or - "
than me." Tracy found his hand, and held it, closing her eyes.
felt her shudder in his arms. "No! No, don't leave me, Tracy!
Please! Please..." he kissed her forehead, holding back his
hard, blunt object struck the back of Rizzo's head, and he lost
opened his eyes one at a time, then closed them against the light.
awake." a voice replied from somewhere.
about time." a different voice sounded bored. Or angry.
am I?" Rizzo tried opening his eyes again, then sat up.
safe," the first voice belonged to a blonde-haired, blue-eyed
girl his age, maybe a little older.
he gasped hopefully.
sorry, we couldn't help her." the girl shook her head sadly.
know who you are, Rizzo." the other voice belonged to a gruff,
portly man that must be in his forties, Rizzo guessed.
furrowed his dark eyebrows in confusion. "How do you know me?"
we've been watching you for years." the man muttered.
like stalking?" he scoffed.
Cara laughed. "More like...looking out for you, watching your
back, that sort of thing."
so you're good
stalkers." Rizzo swung his legs over the side of the cot he was
perched on. He felt for the first time the tiny throbbing in his
ankle. "What the hell?" he examined the spot curiously.
man held out a jar for him to look at. "You were being 'looked
out for' by the bad
stalkers, as well."
opened the jar and took out the small, square piece of metal. He
held it between his thumb and index finger. "Who are you
alone, or us collectively? Or were you talking to the tracer we
removed from your ankle?"
of the first two."
The Underground, respectively." he answered.
The Underground doesn't exist." Rizzo dropped the tracer back
into the jar, and shoved it back at Cortex.
saved you from an Agent." Cara spoke up. "He would have
Agent. They're these guys that wear suits, and they keep us under
their shoes like vermin." Cortex explained grudgingly.
arched his eyebrow skeptically, then remembered Tracy's description
of the man who had shot her. "Which is the one whose hair is
regarded him uncertainly.
specific, please." Cortex prompted.
all she told me: suit, sunglasses, going bald on top, kinda tall..."
Rizzo's voice trailed off, as he realized how hopeless figuring out
exactly who had killed Tracy really was.
could be Grey." Cara turned to the older man.
sounds like Smith, but he's dead."
always the possibility that this new agent has been programmed with
Smith's physical appearance." she speculated.
draw out the One." he agreed solemnly.
watched the two speculate back and forth, wondering what the hell
they were talking about. They kept at it, like he was not even
knows how many of Smith's attributes they put into him." Cortex
was deeply troubled by the prospect of another Agent Smith running
around the Matrix.
can't program people." Rizzo finally broke into their
Rizzo, there is so much you don't know about this world around you."
Cortex smiled grimly.
is with them." Agent Maroon 438-6E reported.
have removed the chip." Agent Grey 641-2B shot back testily.
makes no difference." Maroon replied. "They will remove
them all eventually." Grey remained silent, trying to decide if
Maroon needed another upgrade. "It still functions, Agent Grey
641-2B. We have their exact location. Has Agent Brown given any
indication as to our next step?"
about talk of an Oracle?"
gives the Outsiders help."
We will prevail."
I send a team after - "
yet. Let them educate the boy. He will prove useful eventually."
if he doesn't?"
on, Sleepyhead." Myste shook Mouse violently, trying to get him
out of bed.
already said no." he grumbled. "We can go in the morning."
you get mad at me for going alone, but when presented with the
opportunity to tag along you'd rather sleep. Explain."
can't all be insomniacs, Myste." he covered his head with the
pinch your ear again." she threatened.
you dare." he hissed, peeking up over the edge of the linen he
was attempting ot sleep under. "Why do we have to go now? Why
can't it just wait?" Myste shrugged. "Morpheus will kill
us if he catches us again."
that what you're worried about? Oh, please. Hey, I can take
Mouse could not think of any more excuses. "I don't like it
down there." he finally admitted.
was taken aback by this. "You've never told me that before."
he averted his eyes. "I know."
sighed, "So, what do you want to do instead?"
laughed. "Alright, fine. See ya in the morning, Mouse."
she got up off the edge of his bed.
he called after her inquisitively. She did not stop walking. "You
won't go, will you?" but she had already closed the door behind
waited for the two giggling girls to pass her before emerging from
her hiding place. She turned the wheel on the hatch slowly, trying
not to make it squeak so loud that it woke up everyone in Zion.
Myste heard the slight click, then pulled the hatch open. She
stepped out onto the narrow ledge above the ladder leading down to
the rubble, pulling the hatch closed behind her.
descended the ladder, jumping down from the third rung. The cold air
nipped at her face as she pulled the hood over her head. She took
her previous discovery from the depths below Zion out of her pocket,
a small flashlight that Mouse had designed a rechargeable power
source for. As she turned it on, she wondered how long before the
bulb burnt out; that was one thing she was not sure she could
shone the light around the rubble that stretched for miles in every
direction underneath Zion.
place you got here." Mouse said sarcastically.
thought you didn't like it down here? That you'd rather sleep?"
thought of you being down here alone was more motivating than it
should be." he muttered.
you," Myste replied sincerely.
Morpheus - "
Shmorpheus. He'll never know."
not what I was going to say."
was going to say that if Morpheus asks me to do some kind of work
that requires concentration, I'm blaming you for my lack of capacity
You?" she scoffed.
funny. I fixed that sucker for ya, didn't I?" he kicked a rock
down the tunnel. "So, what are we looking for tonight?"
shrugged, "Whatever catches our eye." she shone the light
around aimlessly. "Like that." the beam stopped on a
frayed piece of paper partially hidden by dust, ashes and dirt.
looks like a...map." she handed Mouse the flashlight. She knelt
down and carefully brushed it clean of the particles covering it.
map of what?" Mouse knelt beside her curiously.
stars, Mouse. The real stars." she answered quietly. She met
his gaze. "Come on," she got up, and ran back to the
hatch. "I won't keep you up any longer." she called over
chased after his cousin. She was already halfway up the ladder by
the time he caught up. "Damn, woman, what's your hurry? I
thought you wanted to look around down here?" he fiddled with
the flashlight until succeeding in turning it off. He stuffed it
into his pocket, and started climbing after her.
found something to hold my interest for at least a day." she
turned the wheel to open the hatch. "We can go back another
night. Besides, I thought you wanted to sleep?" she shrugged,
hearing the click.
handed her back the flashlight after she had re-locked the hatch
do you hate it down there so much?" Myste inquired as they
walked back to their respective neighboring rooms.
shrugged, "I just do."
she thought for a minute, trying to decide if she believed him or
that his cousin expected a better explanation, Mouse tried to deliver
one, "I guess it's just 'cause it's dark, enclosed,
forbidden...a reminder of the old ways that no one even remembers
anymore." he shrugged. "Why do you like
it so much?"
shrugged. "Because it's a reminder of the old ways that no one
even remembers anymore."
old days couldn'ta been that
great. What with being enslaved by the Machines and all."
but Mouse, that's the thing. We designed
the Machines." They walked on in silence. "I guess I just
wonder what life would be like if the Matrix had never existed.
These few antiques are all we have left."
watched his cousin open the door to her room. "Do you think it
was that much better?"
think it had to have been." Mouse nodded, unsure if he agreed.
opened his eyes to find Cara staring down at him. "Can I help
shook her head. "Can I help you?"
you didn't ask many questions during our explanation earlier."
shrugged, "I was listening intently to your story. I don't'
question people's opinions, I just store them away for further
what have you concluded?"
the Real World like?"
averted her eyes. "There's nothing worth going to the Real
World for, Rizzo. Everything's a shade of grey, we have to live in
ships or in Zion. It's not worth all the trouble Morpheus and his
kind put into Freeing Minds."
you seen it?" he sat up, and motioned for her to sit beside him.
no. Most of us haven't." she shook her head.
None of us here have ever been out. And that's the way we want it
we're slaves of these agents you told me about. There's gotta be
something that this Morpheus can do on the outside - "
he could change anything he already would have." Cara snapped.
watched her in silence, uncertain if he should ask her his next
question. He sighed, deciding it was not necessary to know.
if reading his thoughts, Cara prompted him, "Go on, ask me."
thought about it a little longer, before asking, "Have you ever
met him? Morpheus, I mean."
Morpheus?" Cara seemed to find the notion amusing. "No,"
she shook her head, "And I don't want either."
she pondered her answer, "Cortex met him. Briefly."
it went badly. That's all you need to know for now."
Cortex's voice boomed as he entered the room.
she got up to follow him out.
coming." he stated. "Help get everyone out."
nodded and Cortex disappeared down the corridor.
coming?" Rizzo demanded, carefully putting weight on his still
sore ankle. "What's going on, Cara?" he gingerly took a
few steps in her direction.
- " her eyes were wild with fear. "No time to explain. We
have to evacuate." she held the door open for him.
many - "
cut him off, "Do you know how to get out of here?" He
shook his head. "Okay, come on." she led the way down the
corridor, the opposite direction from Cortex. "We'll get
sectors three and seven clear." she was talking more to herself
than to him.
don't understand - "
Rizzo! Agents are coming! They'll wipe us out!" she
practically screamed in her panic. She started to jog, gradually
increasing speed until she was running as fast as she could.
Rizzo called after her, unable to keep up. "Cara, wait!"
he tried pushing for more speed, but the pain in his ankle was too
much, and he fell to the floor with a grunt.
Green 921-8L strode confidently down the long corridor in the
Underground's complex. A young man rounded a corner a few feet ahead
of the agent, who did not hesitate to shoot the other right between
his eyes. A wave of satisfaction passed through Agent Green as the
man's body dropped lifelessly to the floor.
White 149-2J kept pace with Green, and Agent Beige 654-8M brought up
agents had a painstakingly simple mission: Negotiate a truce with
the leader of the Underground with minimal casualties. Seeing how
fearful these Batteries were of the agents, the negotiations would be
had come to the conclusion that five casualties outlined the
to go before negotiations could not satisfactorily conclude.
three agents turned right. A young woman was giving instructions to
a group of batteries.
Green raised his gun, aiming for the back of the blonde's head.
White put her hand on his arm, shaking her head slowly. Information
passed between them, and Green lowered the weapon.
her." White stated in a low voice.
holstered his gun, so as not to appear more threatening than he knew
he was. "Cara Welles," he bellowed.
froze upon hearing her name. She had heard similar monotone voices
before. The man calling her name was an agent.
Welles," his voice seemed to reverberate all around her. "We
are required to come to an agreement between our two parties. An
agreement that will satisfy our respective sides."
turned slowly to face the agents. "What kind of agreement?"
she tried to keep her voice even.
that will result in peace between the agents and the Underground."
hours had passed, and from what Rizzo could gather, the negotiations
were drawing to a close. He pretended that he was not listening,
fidgeting with his sleeves, but really he was quite interested in the
talks taking place. It felt like a huge milestone, though he was
unsure why, or if anyone else shared his sentiments. Clearly Cortex
and Cara were relieved that they would not have to fight the agents
anymore, but Rizzo felt there was something else transpiring
underneath all this debacle.
this was over, he would inquire as to why the agents had requested
agent in charge - Green - stood up and shook Cortex's hand genially.
A human gesture. "I'm glad we have come to this arrangement."
are we all." agreed Cortex.
Green shook Cara's hand, then turned to Rizzo. "It was and
still is an honour to meet you, Mr. Phillips."
looked up into the stoic face, the outstretched hand awaiting a
response, wondering what the agent meant by that. Rizzo shook his
hand firmly, feeling all eyes on him. They were as confused as he
was. He made no reply.
now, we take our leave." Agent White said, getting up from her
appreciate this." Cortex told them honestly.
the agents had gone, Cara turned on Cortex, "Do you believe
he nodded, "Yes, I do."
Grey 641-2B was furious. As furious as a machine could be. "This
was not part of the
plan!" he yelled at Agent Maroon 438-6E.
was Agent Brown's modifications to the plan." Maroon replied
new information did not alter Grey's mood. "He should have come
to me first!"
would you like me to do about it?"
turned his response over in his mind, but decided there was nothing
his cohort could do. "We will watch this new development."
guided the Typhoon
through the underground networked tunnels. Neo was sleeping in one
of the adjacent rooms, and Tank was tinkering with the entry
equipment. The Typhoon
had lain dormant for months while Trinity had been on the Neb
as part of Morpheus' crew. It almost seemed to her that the ship was
happy to have her back.
I'm just happy to have it back,
joined her in the cockpit, grinning from ear to ear. "Everything's
in order, Trin. Whenever you're done flitting about, you can dock
us, and you and Neo can go in."
sounds good. Will you do that while I wake Neo?"
his grin broadened.
swear, Tank, one of these days your face is gonna get stuck in that
grin." she laughed, as she opened the door to Neo's room.
took up the pilot's seat, and navigated the ship into a smaller, less
used to tunnel for uploading his companions into the Matrix.
whispered softly into Neo's ear, "Knock, knock, Neo."
chuckled, opening his eyes, remembering when she typed those very
words on his computer. "Are you my White Rabbit?"
am anything you want me to be." she smiled down at him.
sat up suddenly, wrapped his arms around her, and pulled her down,
laughing, onto the bed with him. "Promise?"
eyes sparkled up at him, and he kissed her.
on, Neo. We have a mission to complete." Trinity pushed him up
had a mischievous look on his face as he got off the bed. "I
have every intention of holding you to that promise."
slightly as it connected to one of the outer tunnels.
looks like we can go into the Matrix." she said, not sure if she
really wanted to.
seagull glided overhead, casting a shadow over the soft sand. It
landed among the other birds on the beach, the sun gleaming off its
smiled at him over her shoulder, then ran laughing towards the
cluster of seagulls.
watched her, happy for this moment of peace.
turned back as the flock rose as one behind her, and he smiled. She
came back to him, took his hand, and led him closer to the water.
swept her up in his arms, and carried her into the ocean until he was
waist-deep, her feet just touching the surface. She clung to him,
expecting to be dropped at any moment, intending to pull him in, too.
tail end of a wave washed over them, and he let go.
splashed him, then flattened her hair away from her face.
sky clouded over suddenly, unexpectedly. The beach disappeared
around them, replaced by huge skyscrapers.
began to rain...
looked down at his new outfit, ratty old army fatigues. Trinity
flipped her dagger over in her hands. "It feels different."
Neo observed. "Don't you think it feels different?"
did not reply, as she sheathed her weapon. She put her hand around
the doorknob, and took a deep breath before turning it.
okay?" Neo put his hand on her shoulder comfortingly.
she replied flatly, opening the door wider.
sight that met them made their breath catch in their respective
throats. The land was mostly barren, small patches of trees visible
in the distance. The once majestic skyscrapers that remained were in
ruins, a few of the people using what was left of them as homes.
What was once a vast, industrialized utopia was now a desert plain.
closed his eyes, reaching his hand out to touch the silence that
surrounded them. Trinity watched in amazement as the building
flickered, then returned to its original form, untouched by the
changes inflicted upon the Matrix, a testament to the way it used to
smiled. "Neo, open your eyes."
did so. "Whoa, how - "
are the One." she replied easily.
followed her down the slight incline, and into the village of ruins.
a short distance away, Rizzo and Cara watched the two new figures
descend into the midst of the Underground encampment. Rizzo looked
to Cara for an explanation for what he had just witnessed.
she did not notice his gaze, her asked her, "Who are they?"
She still did not respond. "Cara?"
and Trinity," she said, her voice expressionless.
do they want?"
find out." she stood up and wove her way through the rubble.
Rizzo limped behind her, wondering if there was something in her past
involving the two Free Minds.
is everyone?" Neo wondered. "This used to be an
agents have everyone bunched together throughout the new Matrix.
Don't be surprised if we see one lurking in the shadows."
Trinity told him.
I aid you, Strangers?" Cara took on the role of naive leader.
She was not worried about being recognized by these two, her digital
persona was not the same as her real body.
looking for someone." Neo stated kindly.
froze where he was, still unseen by the visitors. He ducked behind
one of the slanted walls of a lean-to. He recognized that voice, but
who?" Cara inquired innocently, following them through the
shot Neo an 'I'll handle this' look, then said to the young woman,
"Don't worry about us, we'll be out of your hair before too
long." she tried to sound friendly.
stopped where she was, and let Neo and Trinity walk on without her.
She watched them with contempt, not noticing Rizzo standing beside
that she was not aware of his presence, Rizzo watched Neo in silence,
trying to remember where he had met him before.
expected, Mouse found Myste alone in her room, occupied with her
new-found treasure, the map of the stars.
you think I'll ever see them? The real ones, I mean." she
asked, hearing the door open and close.
sat on the edge of her bed, looking down at her sprawled out on her
stomach on the floor. "Don't get your hopes up." he
replied softly. "But if you do, come and get me."
felt tears sting her eyes, but she blinked them back. "Do you -
" she stopped herself, tracing a finger along Draco, then
started again, "Do you think we were better off not really
knowing about the Matrix? What it was, how it got there?"
are you talking about?"
you ever wish you'd chosen a different path?" she met his
knit his eyebrows together, watching his cousin, formulating an
answer. He could not believe that she was serious. In the end, all
he could muster was a head shake.
sat up straight, facing him. "Why not?" He averted his
eyes. "Aren't you tired of this, Mouse? Living in a tin can?
And when we leave this one, it's only to go into a smaller
tin can. What for? We don't benefit from this."
rather have stayed in?" he demanded. "Is that what you're
what being free has done to us, Mouse. What it's done to everyone
else. Even Morpheus knows that the agents changed the Matrix because
of us, to draw out Neo. Maybe we should just hand him over to them."
are you on?" Mouse fumed. "How can you say that? He is
our only hope for real freedom from the Machines!"
what is freedom, Mouse?" she gestured expansively around the
room. "This?" He could not think of a response. "That's
what I thought." she muttered.
got up, frustrated, and walked to the door. He reached for the
latch, changed his mind, then spun on his heel. "Myste, what's
going on with you? You've really turned on your bitch these past
couple of days. I don't think I can take it anymore."
stared him down. "You wouldn't understand."
waggled his finger at her repeatedly, trying to think of a comeback.
and then he slammed the door behind him, leaving his cousin alone
with her stubbornness.
lay on one of the mattresses in the recreation room. He was trying
not to think about what Myste had said. She was wrong, she had to
be. Of course they were better off out of the Matrix, especially
now. He had yet to go into the new version, and was hesitant about
it, too, but he was beginning to miss the distraction from the Real
World that the Matrix provided.
distraction...Interesting way of putting it.
he thought bitterly.
spotted Mouse in the corner, a small lamp at his side the only
illumination in the room. She decided to go in to keep him company.
She stood over him, watching him, wondering if he was asleep.
he barked, not opening his eyes. He hoped it was Myste, come to
just saw that you were in here," Talon said, "And that you
looked up at her smiling face. "I wanted to be alone."
she knelt on the edge of the mattress.
thinking about some stuff Myste said." he sat cross-legged, his
head on his hand propped on one knee.
what?" she moved over so that she was facing him.
just not been herself lately."
see, though I haven't - I wouldn't notice any difference."
tried to meet his eyes, but he refused to look directly at her.
"What did she say?"
over here," he took her hand and guided her farther into the
recesses of the cave, holding the burning torch in front of him.
you sure you know where your going?" she repeated her query.
absolutely know exactly
where I'm going." he smiled. "Don't you trust me?"
course I do,"
it is." he quickly turned to her holding the light away from
what he wanted her to see. "Close your eyes."
come on. you just told you trust me." She folded her arms
across her chest. "Just close your eyes. Please?"
finally complied, and he led her by the hand a few steps. He held
the torch up to the wall, then turned so that he would catch her
expression. "Okay, you can open them now."
sight that greeted her was that of paintings on the wall of the cave;
people gathering food, riding on animals, animals grazing in the
fields, animals inside homes, smaller people - children - playing
with the animals.
she breathed, tracing her finger along the backs of one of the
called a horse." he said.
did you find this?"
shrugged, smiling at her.
escorted Talon to her quarters, glad to have had the opportunity to
vent to someone about Myste. talking to Talon had been surprisingly
easy, after all the pressure he had felt just in saying hi.
pushed open the door, then turned to Mouse expectantly. "Do you
wanna come in?"
looked up at her, surprised by the offer. A grin spread across his
face, and he took her in his arms.
kissed as they backed into her room.
looked over at Trinity, as Tank set the bowl of gruel on the table in
front of him. They had been out of the Matrix for almost an hour,
and she had not said a word. He was not sure if he should push his
luck, or leave her alone.
did it go?" Tank asked, breaking the fog of silence that had
wasn't there." Trinity answered flatly, stuffing a spoonful of
the white mush into her mouth.
do you want to try again?"
tonight, later tomorrow? When?"
see how we feel about it later." she stated, fixing Tank with a
stared down into his meal.
up, Trin. He's just curious." Neo said softly.
she sighed. "I'm sorry, Tank. It's just...the state of
things." Trinity looked into Neo's eyes. "You can change
it, make it better. We saw that today." her smile was small,
nodded. "I don't know how I did it though." he chuckled.
will master your
abilities." Tank put in. "You just have to practice them
more often. Eventually you'll have 'em beat."
eventually." he repeated doubtfully.
reached across the table, and squeezed his hand. "You will,
Neo. I know you will."
stared into the bonfire that he, a girl named Gator, and the girl's
mother, Nia, had started. Night had fallen on the virtual world
around them, and the fire was their only source of light.
source of light, Rizzo thought.
That seemed odd to him somehow. He looked up at the black, starless,
moonless sky. Rizzo furrowed his eyebrows. This is wrong.
got up, still gazing at the sky, walking away from the fire.
Gator broke into his thoughts, and his confused expression fell on
her. "Whatcha lookin' for?"
- " he looked back up at the empty heavens above. "Has the
sky always looked like this at night?"
eyes followed his pointing finger. "Uh, yeah,"
you sure?" there was desperation in his voice. This was wrong,
he knew it was wrong. The sky was not
supposed to be pitch black.
always looked like that." the ten year old stated, becoming
uncertain herself. "Why? What's s'posed to be up there?"
searched his memory for the answer. Gator waited in the silence
between them. The only other sound was that of the crackling fire.
he finally breathed the word, as if expelling some long-buried
secret. "There's supposed to be stars."
felt a knot in her stomach. "What are stars?" she asked.
- they're..." Rizzo tried to recall what they looked like.
"They're these little pinpoints of light in the sky." he
explained, somewhat sadly. He should not have to explain what a star
is. "Don't you remember? There were zillions of them."
simply shook her head, and he sighed. "I'm sorry I don't
worry about it. Maybe I dreamt them." he replied, still sad.
He knew they had been there. What happened to them?
took his hand in hers, and led the way back to the bonfire, where the
others had emerged. One of the older men was playing a guitar and
singing an old folk song.
sang along, "Home, home on the range, where the deer and the
laughed. She was still young and naive. She had no idea of what was
going on around her on the larger scale.
released his hand, running to Nia. He sat beside cara on a blanket.
"Cute kid," she said.
he watched the girl babbling to her smiling mother. "I just
hope she doesn't get too attached."
exactly do you mean by that?" Cara asked, eyebrow arched.
come on, Cara, she's ten."
this she laughed. "Well, I'm twenty-one."
smiled at her. "Where have you been?"
maybe I was looking for you."
see. Well, maybe I was with someone else?" He feigned being
hurt by her careless comment. "I was talking with Cortex about
not really. Don't trust them, Rizzo, not for a second." she was
won't," he promised.
turn on us in a second, as soon as they catch Morpheus and Neo.
we're nothing to them, that's why they're keeping us like this."
do they keep us at all?"
an energy source for them."
not his people. They're free. The Machines can't use them at all,
they've lost control of them."
why do you want to stay in here, instead of being free?"
cast him a sidelong glance. "I told you, Rizzo, there's nothing
out there. Even if we are just energy sources, at least the Machines
leave us alone."
aren't you telling me?"
that's going to stay untold."
Meest," Wiley grinned cheekily at her. She rolled her eyes,
taking a spoon from the pile on the counter. "Haw's thuh grub
just like everything else around here." she muttered.
Ah seet wich y'all?"
have a feeling you're going to anyway."
y'all are th'only
person Ah know who's een here." he replied hopefully.
glare softened, and she sighed. "Fine," Myste carried her
tray over to a table. "Just don't bug me. And tell Mouse that
he can't ever say that I never do anything for him ever again."
wuz under th'impreshin y'all wuz mad at each other?"
glowered at him, not answering.
sat down, and Wiley watched Myste stir the bowl of nourishment in
front of her, not at all seeming interested in actually eating any of
gruel dribbled over the edge of the spoon and back into the dish.
"The last person I'd ever talk to about it is sitting across
Mawse werned me 'bout thees."
bein' hard ta git tohkin' 'bout stuff." Myste worked her jaw,
and Wiley could not decide if she was thinking of something to say,
or plotting revenge on her cousin. "Ah don't mand. Ah've got
thuh payshints." he flicked his eyebrows at her.
me." she griped.
betcha," he grinned at her.
was - "
Ah know." he met her green eyes openly. "Ah jis lak y'all,
Meest, an Ah wanna git ta know ya better."
arched her eyebrow. "Why?" she asked flatly.
thought about his answer, not breaking the locked gaze. "Cuz
y'all saved me, 'n Ah reckon Ah owe y'all fer it."
Ah fand y'all ta be dang hawt."
eyes went wide. No one had ever told her that before without
receiving a broken nose, but she could not believe who she was
hearing it from. "You do," she was skeptical,
disbelieving. The hick probably just wanted to get laid.
if his grin couldn't get any wider.
she thought bitterly. She wondered briefly if Tank was grinning like
a maniac as well. "What do you want from me, Wiley?"
effiction - "
don't have any sheep." she cut in.
don' want no sheep, Woman," he lowered his voice, trying to
sound sexy. "But Ah weel settle fer some sweet luvin'."
God," Myste got up, ready to leave.
she left him gaping after her. "Quit starin' at my ass."
she snapped. She passed Mouse in the hallway, but neither even so
much as acknowledged the other's presence.
sat in Myste's place across from Wiley. "Good to see you out
and about." he smiled at his friend.
ta be out 'n about."
nodded. "Have you seen Talon?" he asked suddenly.
A goofy grin spread across Mouse's features. "Oh, Ah see."
Wiley nodded in understanding.
uh, kinda disappeared this morning."
left me a note. Said she'd see me later."
don' think Meest'll wanna see me lader." Wiley shook his head
come around." then he remembered that he was mad at her. "And
if she doesn't, it's no big deal."
Ah lak her, Mawse. Ah lak her a lot." he observed Mouse's stern
expression. "Y'all ain't made up yet, huh?"
put his head in his hands. "Not yet,"
she hates him."
dunno. And I've given up trying to figure it out. She's so damn
frustrating. Run away, Wile, run far far away."
win 'er over."
fun trying." Mouse stuck a spoonful of white porridge in his
Rizzo called, pushing a board out of his path. "Where are you?"
tackled him, knocking them both laughing to the ground. "Right
tried to see behind him. "Where?" he called, as if she
were not sitting on top of him.
put her hand on his cheek, and gently forced him to look at her.
she kissed him softly.
there you are."
deep voice cut into their midst. "Cara, who were they?"
head snapped in Cortex's direction. "Who were who?"
said there were two strangers here yesterday."
them." she got up off of Rizzo, much to his dismay. "Neo
One? the One was here and you didn't tell me?" he demanded
he was," she nodded, as Rizzo stood up.
did they want?"
think they were scouting."
whom?" She shrugged. "Well, you'd better figure it out.
The agents will be here in a couple of hours, and they expect
did they - "
doesn't matter. What matters is that they know, and they're on their
way over. I don't want any trouble from them. They've never
bothered us before, Cara, and now that we're co-operating I'd like it
to stay that way."
I don't have anything to tell them. The One was here, he looked
around, he left. That's what happened."
inclined his head slightly, and said, "Well, that's better than
nothing." and then he left.
stared after him. "Now what the hell am I supposed to do?"
scouting?" Rizzo asked.
looked down at him. "The people on the outside - Morpheus'
people - they come in here and take out those Morpheus considers
worthy to be- " she made quotations with her fingers, " -
free. Sometimes they are taken against their will, especially the
kids. They don't know any better."
He takes kids?" Cara nodded. "What about their parents?"
She shrugged. "That's not right." he shook his head.
"How do they decide?"
shrugged again. "I couldn't tell ya, but I don't care to know,
either. I just know that I have to stop them. We
have to stop them."
nodded uncertainly. Cara shook her head, then went out into the
blazing outdoors that created no heat, and had no visible source.
followed her, scanning the sky again. What the hell is
going on?The sun,
where's the sun? He decided to
ask Cara about it later.
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