Chapter 6: Will Rise, Refuses to Shine
My eyes open and are blurry. The only thing clear is a pair of striking blue eyes staring right at me.
"Am I dead?" I question, since it's the only explanation I could think of on how I got out of the water. "Why do my eyes hurt?" I ask while trying to clear them.
"It's because you've never used them before." a contralto voice answers. A brow accompanying a pair of eyes grows lopsided and slowly the whole picture is there. A familiar face looks back at me; it's Avalon.
"You!" I muster, barely able to move. "I'd rather die than be your experiment."
Her face quickly changes from a surprised look, to a sneer. "Is that what you think?"
Her eyes roll at me. Her countenance changes from surprise to her normal, and I could almost hear the change. Her voice is terse and gruff.
"You are awake now and out of the matrix. I'll take you to Morrigan."
Easily lifting me off the floor, over her shoulder, she carries me into the next room. I look around as she carries me like a sack of potatoes. All around me is metal, some kind of ship I've never seen the likes of. A spaceship in ill repair, if spaceships existed, but I'm learning that dreams(or nightmares) and reality seem to be converging. She ducks and enters a room filled with people, and for the first time I notice that Avalon and her team look like a bunch of homeless people. Their clothes are dingy and gray. They are either torn, or have holes in them.
"Would you mind putting me down?" I ask, a bit self conscious in front of a team of strangers.
As I am set down, she starts putting me into some kind of chamber. It's not very large. It almost reminds me of a metal recliner with an enclosure. They all stand beside one another, mustering up for introductions, or fiddling with the chamber I'm being put in.
"Thane! Welcome to reality." Morrigan smiles confidently, as if she is sure that I'd be thrilled.
I look around with a slight crinkle of my nose to the dark and dank reality.
"I know, I know. Your reaction right now is exactly that of every person that has made the same choice. Know this though; this is real. It isn't a machination of a machine. Everything you do from this point on is shaped by you."
I firmly wrap myself in my blanket as she continues with introductions. "This is my crew. Avalon you've already met." Avalon, a typical stoic warrior growls and rolls her eyes at me. I roll mine back at her. I think we've invented our own form of communication.
"Next to her are Zero, Javelin, Glyph, and Naja." Morrigan finishes.
I nod my greeting, as they all do their own half version of a hello. I take a short moment to look them over. Zero is tall and dark like Avalon. Ruggedly good looking behind his dark facial hair. Looking at him, I can tell that something behind that smile is something sinister.
Next to him, Javelin reminds me of a gangly teenager. A goofy grin spreads across his face as he stumbles to greet me.
"Hi! Finally great to meet you."
Confused, I only respond, "Likewise."
He shakes my hand up and down excitedly till I realize it's giving everyone an eyeful with every flap of my blanket.
"Oh! Sorry about that." He apologizes, as he casts his eyes downward trying not to look, and I struggle to swaddle myself in my blanket tightly.
Meeting them all in my birthday suit wasn't exactly what I had planned. Glyph and Naja chuckle at Javelin's antics, embarrassed for their friend, but appreciative of the comedic relief.
I look them over as well. Glyph is a tall built black man with an easy going smile and Naja is a slender pixie haircutted blond woman. All of them look like they've stepped out of a magazine cover. Well, except for their clothes.
"Exactly where am I?" I question, as everyone is still busy giggling.
"You are aboard our humble abode, the Hypatia. We are rebels of the human race; at least what is left of it." Morrigan answers. "I'll tell you more after your time in the chamber. Your body is atrophied, this chamber will restore you to what it would be if you had been using it and not been busy being a fuel source. Avalon, give me a call when she's done. Nice job by the way. You fooled us all, I have no idea how you did it."
"Did what?" I wonder out loud.
"I could have sworn you were a man. Yet, somehow I find you here on my ship with biological parts that beg to differ. That's quite a party trick you've got there."
Morrigan's smile is contagious, and her words are quite convincing. I can see why she has a crew. It is probably why I will soon become one of them. Sitting here now, I realize I have gotten myself into more than I ever bargained for. Sometimes you make your bed, and you'll just have to lie in it, even if that bed has sharp, sharp, rocks.
Her eyes were unsettling. Maybe it was the shock of finding out that she was a woman, or maybe it was that she seemed to get past my keen perception and judgement. I don't make mistakes. Correction-I hadn't made mistakes, I usually saw through any deception.
"Will I feel anything?" Thane asks as I close the chamber and begin configuring it for her.
"Do you ever stop talking?" I answer, trying to concentrate.
She blushes for a second. "Actually, no. Not really."
"I suggest you try. You won't feel much, mostly muscle twitches. I suggest you don't move unless you want lopsided quadriceps." I tell her, while laughing on the inside. I can see her eyes widen in mild fear. Naja spoils my fun when she starts the initiation sequence.
She yells loud enough for Thane to hear her, "She's just kidding you know. Don't mind Avalon, she seems like a cold heartless murderer, but really she's just a cuddly" Naja pauses, and I stare at her, warning her with my eyes of her potential miss-step, waiting for the end of the sentence. "Cuddly cold blooded killer." she finishes with a chuckle.
The hum of the machine gets to full speed, making any further conversation pointless.
Glyph comes up behind me and set his hand onto my shoulder. "Hey Avalon, I see you are establishing Alpha ahead of time."
"Shut it Glyph. Just doing my job." The steady whir of the chamber hums, but Glyph attempts to compete with it.
"So how do you think she managed it."
"Lots of ways Glyph. I could probably have done it if I had wanted to. I just don't really understand why."
"So you don't think she's the one?"
"I don't know, but really there is no sense in pondering over it. You know how many red pills we've gone through. Let's hope for the sake of humankind she is, but I really don't want to think about it."
"Yes, but how many of them were female, masquerading as male, in the matrix."
I harrumph and I think he gets the picture, since he no longer continues the conversation and heads for the chow hall. Unfortunately, Naja picks up where he left off.
"What are you afraid of Avalon, big bad scary love?" Naja teases.
She is lucky she is my friend, otherwise she'd have a bloody nose. She was the very first person I met from the Hypatia. She was my lead; like I was Thane's. Despite her religious beliefs, I get along with her just fine. Religion is fine for some people, but not me. I want to feel like I shape my world, not that I'm stepping on every footprint to slowly fulfil a destiny. That's not me. Love is not me. One does not carry out evil just because a lack of beliefs. One carries out actions because their perception of acceptability. That differs in each individual regardless of beliefs and sometimes in spite of beliefs.
"You know I'm right." Naja rattles at my cage more.
"You are not! Besides, how would you know."
"The gin told me." she grins annoyingly, and my point is made. For a religious nut, she drinks with reckless abandon and uses it as an excuse to make bad choices. "I went back to get you when Morrigan went to see the oracle. I overheard what she said to you."
"I don't believe the Oracle."
"You don't have to, but I saw you on the surveillance cams. I've never ever before seen you freeze in place like that. The pussy caught the proverbial tongue!" Naja teases vulgarly.
"I can't believe you just said that."
"Oh, gag me." I mock a retch to solidify my point, "On second thought, don't, I might enjoy it too much."
Naja throws a pencil at me and I snicker on my way out to meet Morrigan.
The chamber doors open. For a moment I'm unsure of what I should do. Since I don't see anyone around, I decide to stand up. I get out of the chamber and I finally feel like me. At least- what I perceived as me. My arms and legs work as I expect they should. Avalon soon enters the room, Morrigan closely following her.
"Hi! Feeling like yourself again?" Morrigan asks. She throws rolled up dingy clothes, just like theirs, to me. I don't catch them since I'm holding my blanket over me. She motions for me to hand her the blanket.
"Don't worry, I won't peek...much." She grins before turning around and holding out her hand behind her to receive the blanket. With the other hand, she twirls her finger at Avalon to do the same.
When they are both turned, I hand Morrigan the blanket and bend down to retrieve the clothes as she continues on her lengthy speech.
"You believe it's the year 1999 when in fact it's closer to 2199. I can't tell you exactly what year it is because we honestly don't know."
I am finished dressing so she begins walking and I follow her. "This is the main deck. This is where we hack into the Matrix." I look around and my nose crinkles in innate distaste. It looks like a dentist's office with a line of dark and metal chairs, surrounded by monitors and terminals. Morrigan has a seat on one of the dentist chairs and motions me to another.
"You wanted to know exactly what the Matrix is Thane? Sit back and Relax. This is going to feel a bit weird."
I watch as she takes her place on a chair. She calls out and I realize that Javelin and Zero are also in the room, typing away at a command line interface. "Start up the construct!"
They type away, still facing the monitors. I cautiously follow suit and watch as Avalon hooks Morrigan into the chairs and finishes plugging her in.
She turns to me next, and at first I hesitate, but Avalon gives me a look that tells me I better follow suit. I lay back and she proceeds to plug me in. She is finally at the last jack behind my head. As she connects it, a flash of light blinds me until a darkness consumes my thoughts. The darkness begins to feel like a rush of everything and anything; like late night thoughts invading and keeping you awake. I can't decide whether I like it, or if it is too overwhelming.
To be continued in Chapter 7
**Author's Note: A chapter for Silvermoonlight; who so kindly encourages me to continue :)**