Act Three: The Voice and the Snake
The monitor was placed on the only table available in the room. It was just old circuits spliced and welded together with computer chips that would be considered by today’s standards to be bulky, clumsy, and obsolete, but its position in the heart of the room seemed to provide more meaning. It was a now a centerpiece, a symbol of something more.
A door was slammed shut and locked with a sharp twist of the handle. Those who now occupied the room, a seemingly identical pair of tall, drab suited men whose true identities were obvious to any Matrix-freed person who had the bad luck of crossing their path, systematically sealed off and secured every possible entry point in a matter of seconds.
Once that had been done, the Agents reverted their attention completely to the old monitor that one had carried in. The shorter of the two, Agent Jones, reached for the power switch tucked away in the back of the unit hesitantly. Something about the monitor was making him nervous, and he was not alone in this sentiment. Agent Brown also appeared to be apprehensive. To them, the monitor had always been a centerpiece, even before they had brought it to the room. It was a forbidden object.
Even though it was not plugged into any socket (Nor did it seem to have any external wiring of any sort), the off-white box of wires and silicon slates responded to whatever power source it was now feeding off of. The oversized fan started to spin endlessly to keep the thing from overheating, which made a horrible, obstructive sound that nothing could be done about. On the screen, an orange cursor appeared, and blinked a few times before the display changed again.
‘! ACCESSING CENTRAL MAINFRAME…CONNECTION COMFIRMED AT PORT LB-1020. NO THREAT DETECTED.’
‘! SCANNING MAINFRAME FOR USER 001…LOCATED.’
‘! BEGINNING CONNECTION…LOADING…’
The screen wiped itself clean in the blink of an eye, leaving only the blinking orange cursor again. The Agents exchanged fretful glances, not knowing what to expect.
‘Begin.’ The monitor said, or displayed rather. There was no argument from the viewers. They didn’t dare.
“The virus is affecting approximately 39% of the sector,” Agent Brown reported,
“Though there is no way to get a more accurate statistic due to the damage,” Jones continued monotonely, in the usual habit of one Agent finishing another’s sentence, “about one in five of this sector’s population is being affected,”
“As well as some outliers in various other sectors.”
“We are eliminating as many of the defective ones that we can find…”
“But some are still eluding us…”
“And those are rejecting the program. They’re waking up.”
‘We may be forced to eliminate the entire sector to prevent further loss of crops,’ appeared under the ‘Begin.’ For a moment, the Agents stood completely dumbfounded by the very suggestion. They looked around inadvertently at the world they were in.
Plain, greyish walls encased the spare room, but the window looked out to the architectural splendor that was practically dust in reality. Down below, on the streets, dozens, if not hundreds of people walked and lived. “Billions of people, just living out their lives…oblivious…” Agent Smith had once said. His voice almost seemed to be echoing in the room when they thought of his quote that seemed suddenly so appropriate.
The Agents were far from concerned about the well being of humanity. It was their own safety that they were concerned for. Nonetheless, they couldn’t imagine all that they were seeing gone, since imagination was beyond them. The notion of all they were now surrounded by being deleted kept repeating itself in their heads, like a question that could be answered, but whose answer was unacceptable.
If all of this was destroyed, and death was brought to thousands of humans that supplied the very source of life for machines, then the implications for their people ran the risk of being catastrophic. Both Agents would have normally pointed this out defiantly to their superior, even the somewhat erratic one who had once led them. They said nothing this time.
‘Yes.’ Answered the monitor, who had either anticipated such a reaction, or could read their minds. Whoever it was that was using it to have their voice and will heard inside the Matrix was truly the one in charge. They apparently had no qualms with mass murder of any species, including their own.
‘It would mean that many of us would have no power and would be shut down as a result. But, as the humans used to say, sometimes you have to cut off a limb to save the body.’
“…What are your orders?” Jones asked tentatively, feeling more uncomfortable with every passing moment. There was no point in debating about the subject, since they were in no position to question the decision.
‘Continue with the elimination process,’ the Voice said on the computer screen, ‘If a freed one tries to intervene, destroy them on sight.’
“And what of Neo?” Brown dared to ask.
‘I have been gathering data on this One since his appearance. My research is complete, and a plan to remove him is already in progress. He will not disrupt us for much longer.’
“How?” both Agents asked at once, a twinge of curiosity mixed with amazement escaping them. They had not been able to decipher any method to truly stop Neo. To even slow him down was more than challenging, as their last encounter had proven. He was the ultimate roadblock on the path to eradicating the rebels now, even superseding the need for Zion’s mainframe access codes.
‘We will use what has proven to be most effective against him.’
The expressions on the human facades changed in no time. This Voice was including them in the plans. It was a true honor. The confidence displayed by the orange pixels calmed their fears tremendously, though not totally. Their past concerns were quickly forgotten.
“And…if this fails?” Jones inquired.
‘There is always a backup.’
“We are at your service,” Brown offered, with Jones nodding in agreement.
But the Voice, or being, or whoever it was that was communicating with the Agents didn’t respond, too busy doing something else. The text along the screen was erased, and command statements began to replace the dialogue.
‘! ACCESSING CENTRAL MAINFRAME…CONNECTION CONFIRMED AT PORT LC-107. NO THREAT DETECTED.’
‘! ACCESSING CENTRAL DATABASE…CONNECTION ESTABLISHED.’
‘Get a host,’ the Voice asked in between commands. Agents Brown exited the room for a moment without a second’s delay, eager to escape, though unsure why a body was wanted. He came back with a man who appeared to be some sort of office clerk.
“What’s going on? I haven’t done anything! What the fuck?” he exclaimed to the deaf ears. Brown tossed him unceremoniously onto the ground near the monitor.
‘! ACCESSING MEMORY FILES…BACKUP DRIVE…SCANNING SECURITY CLEARANCE…GRANTED.’
“You guys are going to hear from my lawyer, and he’ll kick your sorry asses so high…”
Brown rolled his eyes at the poor victim’s rants, while Jones took no notice of him. He was more interested in what the Voice was doing.
‘! SEARCH IMPLEMENTED FOR PROGRAM FILES A-2274…LOCATED. PROGRAM A-2274 RESTORED TO LOCATION 12.25.588, AUTHORIZATION E100V122E8582. INITIALIZING PROGRAM…’
The most bizarre swirl of Matrix code began to appear in the room, a few feet from the central table. It seemed to be flying in from random directions and distances, one character at a time.
The man who was to be the ‘host’ watched the first few greenish characters climb up his sleeve before starting to freak out completely. “What the fuck are you doing to me? Stop it!”
The characters did not stop, but only increased their appearance in speed. They zoomed up every inch of the man’s body, and appeared to burrow into his very skin. It must have been painful, for the man was now screaming at the top of his lungs, crying out for his life and out of fear. Without warning, the voice pattern seemed to be filled with static, and then disappeared completely.
The entire process was quick; in under a minute the shape the characters were forming over the man’s body was unmistakable. A humanoid form…well built…wearing a suit…square-shaped sunglasses, bearing a slight receding hair line…and an earpiece to top it all off. As the colours that made up his skin tones and suit assembled themselves like a self-forming jigsaw puzzle, until the puzzle was complete, the man began to move.
Jones and Brown stepped away from the newcomer, afraid of what they were seeing. Rebirth is a concept machines never understood, which was why they ignored the prophecies of the One until it was too late. Now seeing the resurrection of their former leader was causing further confusion in their programs.
Agent Smith examined his hands curiously and then took a moment to look around and understand where he was. Slowly, all eyes fell on the computer monitor that had instigated all of this.
‘I have deployed sentinels to coordinates 15497.48736.805 to begin Phase One of the plan. Your instructions and an outline are being transmitted as we speak. I will contact you later.’
The screen went blank, and the monitor shut itself down instantaneously. The Agents didn’t notice or care at this point, for now their hands were to their earpieces as they received their instructions, listening intently. Smith’s normally sour face formed a grin that spanned his entire face, giving him the look of a child in a candy store. The other Agents were not as expressive, but equally as motivated as Smith. It was becoming like old times once more, and they were now convinced that they would win the war.
Only Jones seemed to have any doubts whatsoever. “She’s not actually serious, is she?” he said, though it was more of a rhetorical question than anything else.
“She’s never been known not to be,” Smith replied simply, still enjoying his suddenly bright new future. He was alive once more, forgiven of his past errors, and, most of all, free again to exact revenge on the man formally known as Thomas Anderson. His emotions were more obvious than those of the others. He embraced them now, instead of attempting to block them. That was the lesson he had learned in death, and he planned to never forget it. He also didn’t plan to let Neo forget him, ever.