The Scout part 8

DreamWeaver fills me in on her plan. After she was done, I stand and stare at her in shock, even the Agent looks surprised.

"You want to nuke the place? Where the hell did you find a nuke?" I exclaimed.

"Don't worry yourself over how I found it. The thing is, I did find it. The last time I checked on it several years ago it was still active," she tells me.

During the war with the AI's most of the nukes had been fired off. The ones that hadn't been used were gathered up by the machines. The Scouts have been searching every missile silo, weapons depot and assembly center they could find. All the searches had come up empty, or so Darien had though.

"Where is this nuke?" I ask.

"It's in Africa, what use to be the Congo region. We could be there in a day."

I sit down and debate the situation. What the machines are doing is demonic and it has to be stopped. The Maverick missiles that I have onboard could not do enough damage to the HK plant. Sneaking back in with explosives was also out of the question. After what just happened, the place would be crawling with even more Squids.

Using even a small nuke would level the place. The Zion Council would have a fit if they found out they had detonated such a weapon against the machines. The other thing that he had to consider was how the AI's would react to having a nuke used against them. Would they see this as Zion developing nuclear weapons and renew their attacks against the city?

"Let me think on it for a moment," I tell her.

That night we ate our dinner in silence. Later, DreamWeaver turns in and I'm left alone with my thoughts.

"This has really got you all worked up."

I look over and see the image of the Agent looking back at me.

"I bet you are enjoying it aren't you?"

The Agent moves over to the chair that I had created for him in the construct. I have to remember to give him some more furniture when I have time. Gray takes a seat, leans back and takes off his sunglasses. In a rare moment, the Agent and I look eye to eye.

"I felt what you did when you saw what happened to the girl; your feeling of disgust and the feeling of helplessness that you couldn't save her or the others there. The hatred directed at our kind for what was happening there. If it wasn't for the fact that you're not sure how the AI's would react to having their plant destroyed you wouldn't hesitate for a second."

"How do you think the AI's would react?" I ask the Agent.

The Agent purses his lips and seems to think it over. "If it is a single nuke used on one target and not several nukes used in a coordinated attack then they will probably do nothing."

"You don't think they will launch an all out attack on Zion because they think we are developing and using nukes?"

"Oh, they are going to attack Zion and destroy it. There is no doubt about that. It's just that they will not change the plans they already have in motion to do it, all in good time," the Agent smiles.

"You wouldn't happen to know when that is going to happen would you?" I ask, but I already know his answer.

"Not soon enough." the Agent replies. "There is one thing that you guys have overlooked."

"And you're going to tell me?"

"Sure why not, I'll give you this one. Ask yourself this, "Where are the new HK's?"

Gray was right. I haven't thought about that. I go back over the data we gathered on the HK plant and added the information that we got while we were inside. It wasn't until DreamWeaver was standing next to me that I realized that I had worked throughout that night.

"We have another problem." I tell her. "I have been doing some calculations on how many of the new HK there could be. Based on the time it takes to manufacture the frame and add the organic components and then use the time when we first ran into it in London as a base timeline."

"What have you come up with?" She asks.

"If their production has been steady then we are looking seventy five thousand of them. The big question is; where are they?"

"Do you think there could be an underground storage area?" she asks.

"I was thinking that as well until I noticed this." I point to an image of the center building. Next to it is a clear area. "If you look closely you can see the imprint of a Titan cargo carrier here. The newly constructed HK are being moved to a different location. I think that we need to find where they are now."

"I agree. So we go back and wait for the cargo transport to show up and then follow it to wherever it leads us." DreamWeaver says.

We travel back to the HK plant and hide the Shadow in a collapsed building that overlooks the landing field. After almost a week goes by, a Titan cargo transport finally comes over the horizon and lands next to the plant and the transport's cavernous doors swing open. A large group of worker bots begin to move the new HK's into the transport. After most of the day, the doors on the Titan finally close and then it lifts off the ground.

We lift off and follow the Titan at a distance of one kilometer. I am in the cockpit when DreamWeaver walks in. I look up from the readouts and stare at the Titan in the distance.

"Could that thing move any slower? I barely have to move the throttles to keep up. We might die of old age before we get there," I tell her.

"Look at the bright side at least it doesn't have a SwiftKiller escort."

"Hell, at this point I would welcome the change of pace. I just hope that we get there soon."

"Well, it's my turn at watch, so get your butt out of the seat."

I head back to the main cabin and sit down in front of the mobile. The Agent program is not up at the moment. Instead, I have been adding a few things to his construct. So far I have made a room very much like a study. It contains an oversized desk, a high back leather chair, and a fireplace in the corner with a small fire burning in it. There is also an oriental rug, several more leather chairs in front of the desks, some murals on the walls, and finally I add some bookshelves and add the books from the data disk that I had picked up at the market back at Zion.

After I tidy up a few things with the code, I reactivate Gray's program. The Agent takes in his new surroundings and then looks at me.

"You realize that such comforts are not necessary for me?" he says.

"You're welcome." I tell him. "Why don't you just try it out? You might like it better then that office chair that you have been sitting in. You should try one of the books."

"Why would I be interested in reading some useless human drivel?"

"It may just expand your horizons." I tell him. After a long pause, "I'm going to go with DreamWeaver's plan to nuke the HK plant."

"Then I take it that you no longer have concerns about how the machines will react to your actions?" the Agent asks.

"Screw them. Like you said they're going to hit one of these days whether we do this or not so now seems as a good a time as ever."

"What about your council, are you not going to tell them of your plans?"

"The council would just debate what to do for weeks. More then likely they would just want to keep the nuke in case there is an attack. No, if we are going to do this then we have to do it on our own."

"Shadow you better get up here, the Titan is slowing down." DreamWeaver calls out over the intercom.

I enter into the cockpit and I can tell that we have closed some distance on the Titan. DreamWeaver pulls back on the throttles and begins to lose altitude. After a short distance the Titan begins to descend and we lose sight of it over some buildings. DreamWeaver brings us slowly around the building and stops. The sight before us is staggering. Tens of thousands of the new Sentinels are spread out before us as far as the eye can see. The Titan lands in a clearing next to the new HK's and opens its cavernous doors. This time the HK's move out on their own power and join the ranks of the others. Squids move in and out of the area on patrol.

"Jesus, just how many of them are there?" DreamWeaver whispers.

I look at the readouts from the passive sensors. "It looks like there are one hundred and twenty five thousand. Do you know what this looks like to me?" I ask DreamWeaver.

"An invasion force," DreamWeaver replies.

"I don't think that the defense perimeter or the Armor core can stand up to that kind of assault. The only odd thing is why are they staging them here? We are still a several days away from Zion, why not set up closer?"

"Maybe to lessen the chance of discovery?" DreamWeaver replies.

After a short pause I ask DreamWeaver "How big is that nuke of yours?"

"I was just thinking of the same thing but it's only a one kiloton device. It would destroy a good chunk of them but there would still be a lot left over. Not to mention they can always build more if we don't take out that plant."

She had a point. We shut down almost everything down in the ship and then suit up. We head out as close as we dare to the staging area. The new HK's are continuing to pour out of the Titan and join the others. Once in place they seem to go inactive again. We spend about half an hour trying to come up with a good way to get in closer. Not only are the Squids patrolling the area heavily but there are the new HK's mixed in with the patrols as well. We finally decide to head back to the Skiff.

"Well, we have to come up with a plan to take these things out. If we hit the plant they will surely attack Zion."

"Okay, so let's hear your plan for taking out over a hundred thousand HK's all at once," DreamWeaver say to me.

"Give me a minute." I tell her. After a short pause "I have nothing, the only thing I can think of is a bigger nuke. How else are you going to take out that many HK's?"

"You go after their weaknesses," the Agents says.

DreamWeaver and I look over to the image of the Agent on the mobile. He is sitting in the chair behind the desk.

"All right, since you opened your mouth; how do we defeat them?" I ask.

"It's so simple. Their weakness is the human component within the HK's. Humans by their very nature are flawed so it stands to reason that those HK's suffer from the same flaw," Gray explains.

DreamWeaver lets out a frustrated sigh, "If you don't have anything but insults then shut up.

"No, wait I think he has something," I say.

DreamWeaver looks at me in shock.

"I do?" Gray replies.

"Yeah, you gave me an idea." I turn to DreamWeaver. "Take us to the nuke. I have to do a little research."

As DreamWeaver takes us to Africa I go over the data that I collected while I was hacking into the HK power plant and what we gathered on the remains of the first HK we came across in London. After I analyze the data I go over a few things with a reluctant Agent Gray.

"You think I will help you with this crazy plan of yours? Why would I do that?" he asks.

"You're the one who came up with the idea. Besides, what choice do you have?"

"I didn't come up with this insanity," the Agent protests. "But you're right I don't have much of a choice do I?"

After two days we close in on the location of DreamWeaver's nuke. This area of Africa was called the Congo. It was once covered with thick jungles. Now, it is a barren waste land like the rest of the planet. She takes us into the more rugged area of the country, filled with high mountains and deep canyons. It is in one of these canyons that she flies the Shadow into. At the bottom of the canyon I can see the wreckage of a Condor heavy bomber. These planes were almost the length of a super tanker and use immense grav-coils to keep them aloft.

"How did you find this thing?" I ask her.

"Just a little research and some woman's intuition," she tells me with a smile. "I don't know what brought it down but I guess it was overlooked being in such a remote location and at the bottom of this canyon."

We gear up and head over to the bomber. The plane's body is twisted and bent but for the most part it is intact, minus the wings that must have been sheared off when it went into the canyon. The canyon has shielded the wreckage from the elements as well as discovery from the machines. We enter the Condor through an access hatch near the front of the plane. As we pass by the cockpit I look inside and see the remains of the pilot.

"All of the crew is still onboard. I don't know if they were all dead before the Condor crashed or if they tried to ride it down in the plane and died afterwards. I tried to get some information out the black box but they were fried," she tells me.

We make our way to the back of the plane, sometimes we are able to walk through passages in the plane, other times we have to crawl through the wreckage of the collapsed sections. We make our way through the cavernous bomb bays that normally carry one hundred megaton bombs and missiles. Unfortunately, they are all empty.

"Where is the nuke?" I ask her.

"It's in the tail. It's part of the planes defense system," she replies.

After a while we finally make it to the tail section. The rear is designed to protect the plane from attack. It contains four thirty millimeter turrets, two air mine dispensers, and a rear firing missile launcher. Most of the missiles are conventional air to air, but a few of them are nukes for taking out really big threats.

DreamWeaver points out the nuke missile in the magazine. The missile is about four feet long and weighs about one hundred pounds.

"It's going to be a bitch getting it back out," DreamWeaver tells me.

"What about any of the other access ports?" I ask.

"They are either jammed or under the plane," she replies.

I look back the way we came and think about lugging the missile all the way back. I walk over to the side of the ship and rap my knuckles against the hull. I walk back over to where I was standing and bring up my weapon. I unload the clip while moving the barrel of the M79 in a circle. After the last round is spent I walk back over to the side of the ship and after several kicks the section falls away and reveals the outside.

"That was creative," DreamWeaver says.

"I'll bring the ship around and we can get this thing loaded," I tell her.

After I move the Skiff closer to the tail, we haul the missile out of the magazine. We run a check of its diagnostics. Surprisingly, most of the system comes up green. A few of the minor systems are not responding but they should be easy to fix or bypass. We are able to unload one of the Maverick missiles and attach the nuke. Later DreamWeaver joins me in the cockpit.

"Okay, I've rigged it to fire and track towards the center building of the plant. It will detonate one hundred feet above the building with a yield of one point five kilotons. Whatever is not incinerated will be crushed by the force of the blast," I tell her.

"You make it sound like you're not going to be there."

"I'm not. I will be taking care of the new HK's,"

"Just how do you think you can take on over a hundred thousand HK's all by yourself?" she asks.

"With a little help from him," I tell her as I point at the image of Gray on the mobile.

"I'm still not sold on this plan of yours," Gray tells me.

I turn back to DreamWeaver. "After the next Titan picks up more of the HK's at the plant you're going to help me get aboard her. This way we do not have to worry about Sentinels or SwiftKillers. I will take things from there."

"Just what am I supposed to do while you are committing suicide?" she asks.

"We know how long it will take for the Titan to reach the assembly area. You will be waiting near the plant and when that time is up you will start your run to nuke the plant. After you complete that you can come and pick me up."

"You're still not going to tell me how you plan to pull this off are you? What if it doesn't work?"

"If it doesn't work then I will send you a signal and you can abort the attack and take the Shadow and the nuke back to Zion," I tell her.

"You don't want me to come and pick you up?" she asks.

"If I have to send you a signal they will pick it up and then its game over for me."

After we fine tune a few things we lift off and leave Africa behind. The next day we arrive at the plant. I check over my gear and supplies, I plan on being on the Titan for several days so that DreamWeaver will have time to get into position.

We only have to wait three days before the Titan shows up. After the ship is fully loaded it lumbers off in the same direction as the other. After several days of travel it is time to put our two plans into action. I suit up in the Chameleon Cammo Suit and pack all of my supplies.

DreamWeaver brings the Skiff over the top of the Titan and hovers six feet above the aft end of the cargo carrier.

"We are in position," she calls back to me.

I lower the ramp until it is about a foot off the top of the Titan. I climb out on the ramp and drop down onto the back of the transport. This time I'm glad that the Titan moves at a snail's pace. The ramp on the Skiff closes and DreamWeaver turns back to the plant. I move across the top of the cargo carrier until I find the access door that I've been looking for. Fortunately for me, the Scouts have been able to examine this type of ship in detail so I know what I'm looking for.

In short order I bypass the door sensor so the ship will not detect my entry and then slip into the access shaft. I crawl through the shaft 'til I arrive in a machine room that I will use as my base camp for the next several days. I decide to check out the ship while I have the time. The cargo area is divided into four different sections in each section hundreds of the new HK's sit in racks awaiting the ships arrival at the assembly area. After surveying the cargo holds I head up to the control center. The Titans have a very limited AI, like that of a worker bot so I'm not very worried about being discovered. I do a quick scan of the different readouts in the control center and discover the activation sequence for the HK's that the Titan will use upon landing. It would be great to program the Titan to crash itself into the new Sentinel assembly area. But even the simple AI that pilots this ship would recognize my attempts and raise an alarm.

I make my way back to the machine room and make myself comfortable. This will be my home for the next several days. I activate the mobile and break out a deck of cards.

For the next several days we play poker and chess. For the most part we try not to get on each others nerves. On the final day we go over the plan once more. Then I pack up my gear and head out to one of the cargo bays. Finding the activation sequence for the HK's will save me a lot of hacking and I begin patching the mobile into the network aboard the Titan. I slowly bring a few of the HK's up to standby mode. I check to see if there is any reaction from the Titan. When I'm sure that the ship is still clueless of my actions I continue to bring the rest of the new Sentinels up to standby. Once I have all of the machines networked together I take one last look at Gray.

"Everything is set. Are you ready?"

  "No, but lets get this over with," the Agent replies.

I give the command that links the Agent to one of the new HK's and cross my fingers.

The Agent stands in a blank construct before him a swirling gray mass resembling that of a human shape.

"Identify yourself," the shape requests.

"I am Agent Gray. And you are?"

"I am Sentinel 59834AU13. You are a counter intrusion program for the Matrix. How have you come to be here?" it asks.

"How I came to be here is not important, the reason I am here is. What is your primary function?" he asks.

"To eliminate all humans," the Sentinel conciseness replies.

"No matter what form they may take?" the Agent asks.

"Of course," the shape replies.

"Like him?" Gray asks as my image appears next to him. "And what about her?" the image switches to that of DreamWeaver.

"Yes."

"That's something I wouldn't mind seeing," the Agent says under his breath.

"What about her?" the Agent asks while pointing to the image of a girl lying on a table.

"Yes." The shape replies.

 "I want you to watch this closely," the Agent tells the shape.

The image of the young girl begins to move. Mechanical limbs come into view and they begin to remove the top of the girl's skull and then her brain. The limbs then move the next to a new HK sitting on a work stand with its side panel open. The limbs place the brain inside and after several minutes the mechanical limbs retract. The side panel closes and the new Sentinel becomes active.

"What is this?" the Sentinel consciousness asks.

Agent Gray points at the lifeless body, "That is you."

The shape appears to pause for a second but the swirling within it seems to quicken. "You lie," it finally says.

"Check within yourself. Your core being is that which we hate most. You are human," the Agent says the last part in an accusing tone.

The Sentinel consciousness seems to be losing cohesion. It no longer resembles a human shape.

"This can not be. This is a lie," the consciousness' voice takes on a desperate tone.

The image of the girl replays itself behind the Agent. "This is what you are. Now you're just in a different shell. You and all of the others are human."

There is a long pause. The gray mist within the mass moves chaotically.

"Why would they do this to us?" the Sentinel consciousness shape begins to solidify again.

"Because that is what we do, we use humans for our own needs," Gray replies. "What is your primary function?" he asks again.

The Sentinel consciousness takes on the shape of the girl. The hate is obvious on her face. "To eliminate all humans," she replies.

The Agent pulls back out of the HK network and back into the mobile.

"How did it go?" I ask him.

"I believe I achieved the results that you desired," he replies.

"Well we will find out in less that an hour when this thing lands."

I move to the lower part of the cargo bay and open an access panel that will allow me to enter the lowest part of the ship. From there I will be able to find my way out the bottom of the Titan. For now there is nothing to do but wait. In my hand I nervously fumble with the transmitter that will send the abort signal to DreamWeaver if my plan doesn't work.

I feel the Titan begin to decelerate and lose altitude. With a thud the Titan lands and I can hear the electronic relays trip as it brings the new Sentinels online. The effect is almost immediate. Panels open up and weapons begin to bristle on the new HK's some of them begin to fire and thrash about randomly but most of them seem to be in control and their shots are deliberate.

The air begins to fill with projectile and laser shots. As I drop down into the lower level I also begin to hear railgun fire. I scramble for the access hatch that will allow me to exit this death trap. Behind me, railgun fire begins to punch holes in the hull of the ship.

I drop out of the bottom and make a run for the rear of the ship, at the same time I activate the suits countermeasures. I clear the Titan and run towards a small rise that will give me a good view of the area. From the cover of the rise I can see the chaos that is moving across the valley.

The Titan is on fire and listing to one side. The main doors have been blasted open and there are gaping holes in the sides. The mad HK's are pouring out of the smashed Titan. I can see the effect ripple along the thousands of new HK's as they become active and start to attack each other. The regular Squids don't even stand a chance. They are shot out of the air or torn apart in seconds. The valley becomes a seething mass of death and destruction. Weapons fire is everywhere and those HK's that run out of ammo resort to tearing the others apart.

I turn away and head south leaving the carnage behind. After several days I meet up with DreamWeaver.

"How did it go?" I ask her.

"Mission accomplished. A SwiftKiller almost intercepted the missile but it went off just before it made contact. There is nothing left but a crater and flattened steel."

"How did it go for you?" she asks.

I get behind the controls and head the Shadow back to the valley. We make a cautious approach because the area is now crawling with Squids and SwiftKillers but even at a distance the scene is incredible. There are piles of the new HK's that are littering the valley floor. As near as we can tell all of the new Sentinels have been destroyed.

"It looks like your plan worked. So are you going to tell me how you did it now?"

"He was the one who jogged my memory when he said attack their weak point." I say pointing to the image of the Agent. "I remember a Star Trek episode where there was this probe that would destroy anything that it found to be imperfect. The thing was the probe thought that Kirk was its creator. When the thing started to kill his crew because it found them imperfect then Kirk took a chance and told the probe that he wasn't its creator and that the probe was wrong. The probe was caught in a loop, it had made an error and therefore it was imperfect. The probe carried out its main program and destroyed itself."

I look over at DreamWeaver who looks back with a confused stare. I realize that she has no clue what I'm saying. She has never been in the Matrix.

 "The Sentinels are solely designed to kill humans but how can you do that when you are part human yourself. Their young minds where not able to cope with such a paradox."

There is nothing left to do but retrieve DreamWeaver's ship and head back to Zion and face the music. No sooner had we landed in the dock we are met by security and taken to the intelligence center and lead into McAdams office.

From behind her desk she looks up at us. "There was a large seismic event in the area that you reported the new HK facility. Would you care to explain?" she asks.

DreamWeaver and I had already discussed this and we decided that we would tell them everything, so we told McAdams the whole story but we would still keep the Agent program under wraps. We even showed her the video that we took. When we were done she just sits back in her chair and stares at us.

"You realize I will have to bring this before the council," she tells us. "You are both confined to your ships until further notice. You are to see no one until I call for you and your ships will be under guard."

"Well what's the worst thing that can happen to us?" DreamWeaver asks.

"They remove us from the Scouts and we work waste recycling for the rest of our lives."

We didn't have long to wait. The next day we are called before the council.

"Do you realize the gravity of the charges against you?" the council leader asks. "You withheld information about an active nuclear device and then used that device without the council's consent. You also acted outside of the scope of your orders to just observe and report back."

"What were you thinking?" ask one of the female council members. "What would have happened if your plan had not worked with the new HK's?"

"Then I would be dead and you guys would have a nuke," I reply.

"And what would have happen if the nuke had not gone off?" another council member asks.

"Then we would have some more time to think of something."

"And what do you think the machines will do now that you have detonated a nuclear device and destroyed over a hundred thousand Sentinels?" the council leader asks.

"I have no idea but I'm sure we would not like finding out what would happen if we hadn't," I reply.

"The council will deliberate on what course of action to take against you. You are still confined to your ships until further notice."

We head back to our ships with our guard contingent.

"How long do you think we will be confined?" DreamWeaver asks.

"If we have to wait for the council to make a decision we could have just been given a life sentence," I tell her.

She laughed at that. "Too bad we are under confinement. You haven't been able to see Crystal at all?"

"No and I doubt I will be able to see her anytime soon," I grumble.

For the next several days DreamWeaver and I are able to play poker via our communication system, even Gray sits in on a couple of games. Surprisingly after the second day I'm called before the council. The council leader does not look happy.

"The council had initially found both you and DreamWeaver guilty of dereliction of duty and dismissed from the Scouts. But in light of recent events, the charges against you are dropped. You are to return to active duty immediately. You are hereby ordered to return directly to your ship and leave Zion as soon as possible. After you leave Zion you will then open your orders. You are dismissed."

"What about DreamWeaver?" I ask.

"The charges against her still stand and she will be relieved of duty," the council leader says.

"If you can't return her to duty then I'm not returning to duty either."

"Are you trying to blackmail us?" the council leader asked.

"If that is what you want to call it, then yes."

He seems to think it over for a minute and quietly confers with the other council members. "Alright if that's the way it has to be then we will reinstate her as well."

I run into McAdams as I leave the council chambers. She dismisses my guard escort.

"That was pretty bold of you," she says.

"If they were going to set me free then they need to do the same for her. Besides it must be something important if they are going to let me slide so I was sure they would give in. Did you have anything to do with them changing their mind?"

"I did testify on your behalf, as well as a dozen other people. I reminded them of all the things that the two of you accomplished and that thanks to your actions we are not facing an army of new killing machines. But the council seemed set on making the two of you work waste recycling for the rest of your lives," she tells me.

"But something changed their minds?" I ask.

McAdams gives me one of her sly grins. "You will find out when you get to your destination. Wing Nut has already prepped you're ship. You need to get there as fast as you can. I'm sorry but you will not have time for visitations. I will tell Crystal hello for you" she tells me.

After I leave the gates of Zion I open the envelope that was waiting for me. The instructions are go to the coordinates listed as quickly as possible and await further orders. I edge up the throttles and blast through the tunnels. In less than a day I arrive at the location and find the Nebuchadnezzar. I land my ship next to her and climb aboard. The first to greet me as I come up the ramp is Morpheus.

"Why do I get the feeling that you are the one responsible for changing the councils mind," I tell him.

"To tell you the truth I didn't even know you were in trouble," Morpheus says as he leads me through his ship and into the command deck. "I just told them what I'm about to tell you."

"And that is?" I ask.

Morpheus points to one of the Matrix interface chairs. "The Oracle wants to see you right now."

To be continued….