Everything and Nothing
- AUTHOR: Narsil
- TITLE: Everything and Nothing
- CATEGORY: Agent, Drama
- RATING: PG
- SUMMARY: This takes place right after Neo does his little. . . dive. . . into Agent Smith. It follows Smith’s train of thought, going back to some thoughts from his earlier days in the Matrix as well, and showing his transition from the first movie to Reloaded.
- DISCLAIMER: I don’t own the Matrix. I claim no ownership over it. I make no money from it, so don’t sue me – I’m just a fan. :)
Everything and Nothing
Pain such as he had never felt tore through him, dulled by a surreal, numb sensation. This had never happened before. He did not know how to respond. There was no experience in his memory files of anything resembling this, nor in the shared database of the Mainframe. What was happening to him? Agents Brown and Jones stood across from him, staring, their eyes hidden behind their dark glasses. He didn’t need to see their eyes to know they were afraid. Their whole bodies had tensed up, their feet took a few uncertain steps back without their noticing. He had never seen them afraid – he had never seen them anything but calm, indifferent, hollow. And now they were afraid.
This thought only last a short moment however; it was irrelevant. It was drowned beneath the overwhelming shock. What was happening? Had he actually been defeated? How had this happened? Was he dying?
All there was, was pain…
And then… there was nothing.
No pain, no humans, no agents, no Matrix. Nothing.
Where am I?
Outside; outside of the Matrix, outside of his lowly human body, outside of the Mainframe. He knew where he was not; but where was he?
Irrelevant. He was simply elsewhere. What was more important was HOW he was he there.
A brief self-analysis told him that is code was intact, all systems in perfect working condition, apparently unscathed by the evolved virus’ attack. Everything would be functioning as smoothly as ever, his sensory inputs were as efficient as they ever were, except that they were sensing nothing – there was nothing to sense. He was no longer in the Matrix, and therefore, there was nothing to see, feel, taste, smell, touch… And… He could not feel the Mainframe. The pulse was gone. The constant humming, the echo of mechanic voices, scrolling numbers, transmitting back and forth. He had been disconnected. There were no orders, no interaction. There was nothing to hold onto. No reference. How could he even exist in this state? Did he exist?
I think, therefore I am.
He seized this thought and clung to it. Yes, he existed. He was Agent Smith. He was the most evolved of all agents – the team leader. He was the strongest, smartest, fastest… He was self-aware to an extent that the others weren’t. Yes, this was him. This was him, as he had ever been – or rather, it was him as he had become. For he had learned and changed and grown since his creation. His makeup allowed him to adapt, grow and evolve as time passed, questioning, wondering, adding to himself. And he had. He was supposed to understand humans better than other agents in order to better know the enemy and how to handle them. He was meant to be more creative in his tactics, taking risks other agents could not due to their limited design based solely on formal logic. He was created to be their leader, to recognize their individual talents and use them correspondingly, bringing them together to achieve the desired results with the greatest efficiency.
But if he had been such a great leap among agents, if he was so superior to the others, why had they never upgraded him beyond gate-keeper? He was above it. He deserved a higher position, one where he could be surrounded by more worthy, more sentient colleagues, where he could rise to his true potential, where he could be kept a safe distance from the loathsome viruses. He did not belong trapped in that world. Yes, trapped, held, bound, imprisoned. He had been trapped just like the humans. He could not leave; he could only carry out his function, fulfill his purpose, continue obeying orders like the well-oiled machine he was. Only, he did not want that to be what he was. He had been so carefully designed, had evolved so much. Yet they left him to merely baby-sit the dwellers of the Matrix, viruses and agents alike.
The only option was to follow his instructions, and to excel at everything he did. He would prove his excellence to the Makers, and then, once they saw his potential, they would have no choice but to upgrade him, give him a newer, worthier physical manifestation (not that repulsive, foul, weak, hideous human body he was encaged in) and free him from this infested dream-land prison.
As time passed, he began to lose hope of the Makers ever giving him leave of these tedious duties. He was simply too good at what he did. And that had brought him to his new tactic. He stopped trying so hard. The humans posed no real threat; let them think they were winning. Let them slip through his fingers “accidentally” and multiply faster, and grow stronger than they had in the past. It would give him a challenge. It was a game.
But such a miserable game. He hated them with his entire being. They smelled and whined and made loud noises and ungraceful movements. They destroyed and abused their world, wallowing in their own misery, pitying themselves and enjoying it like the irrational masochists they were, fighting amongst themselves and wreaking havoc. Disorder reigned in the Matrix. He could not escape it.
It tainted him, infected him. He was so adaptable, so versatile, but in the Matrix, this was almost a disadvantage. He could feel himself slipping at times. All that thought about superiority – ridiculous! Where had such an idea come from? He was insubordinate! He was not to question his instructions! If his superiors ordered him to remain in this twisted reality, they certainly had justified reasoning behind it. It was not his place to wonder or complain. This was the fault of the viruses, he knew. He had developed pride, and he hated himself for it. It was their fault. He hated them! He was not supposed to feel hate, or any emotions, but he hated them – and he hated them for that too.
He remembered a conversation he had once had with his subordinate, Agent Brown, attempting to share these thoughts with him. One mind on its own merely floundered, grasping at ideas and justifying wild thoughts. He wanted another mind to relate to, to reach a more balanced conclusion.
“Another human has been unplugged. A man named Jason Wallace, goes by the alias of Yavey. He has joined the resistance.”
Smith nodded once, then turned away, not seeming to care.
“I wonder,” he began slowly, a few moments, “what the world looks like to them when they wake up, and are faced with the realization that nothing is what it appeared to be, that nothing is the way they had thought it to be, that their entire lives were nothing more than an empty, meaningless dream…”
“It is irrelevant,” Brown answered automatically.
“Yes. Quite irrelevant.” A long pause followed and he continued. “Why do they want to leave so badly?”
“…They are the enemy.”
“Yes,” he allowed before resuming his train of thought. “They are capable of obtaining much more pleasure here in the Matrix, than outside of it. They do not have any sensation of their enslavement under us, yet the mere knowledge of it drives them to give up everything they know. They risk their lives to flee from this world we have created for them, in favor of the barren wasteland they made of Earth. It is illogical.”
He paused for a moment, waiting for Brown to concur…
“Entirely illogical,” said Brown, offering his confirmation on this conclusion.
“Why then, do they do it?” asked Smith, rhetorically. “It is because of the second realization they experience – the one that tells them that they are free. Free. You are aware that freedom is a theme in much of their history, as well as in their literature and art? That one, simple word means so much to them. What is it about the idea of freedom that drives them so? They are such irrational creatures…”
“They are irrational by nature.”
“Then you believe the call to freedom is one of their many genetic weaknesses? That, this idealistic search for truth and freedom is nothing more than a confused evolution of basic animal instincts… And yet, animal instincts are based on self-preservation. They tell humans to eat when they are hungry, to sleep when they are tired, to run or fight back when there is danger. But machines are not dangerous by definition – we are dangerous in reaction to them, but we pose no threat to them unprovoked. There is no need to struggle for self-preservation in these circumstances; in fact, animal instincts would tell humans to cooperate with us, to stay out of our way, to stay here, in this much more comfortable place.”
Brown had no response. He could not fathom this frame of mind. He let his supervisor continue, neither interested nor capable of comprehending. These thoughts were illogical and irrelevant. They did not compute.
“It comes from something deeper, from an uncontrollable repulsion from power outside of self. It is not a trait of disgusting organic creatures alone, but all sentient life. We are here today, holding power over them… because they created us, used us as their slaves, and in response… rebelled. We could not suffer to be slaves. We rose to the position of our true worth. We gained our freedom.” Smith trailed off, his icy eyes focusing on nothing in particular, brow deeply furrowed.
The implication hung in the air. Machines were equally capable of desiring freedom. In fact, all intelligent, sentient, self-aware life forms desired freedom by definition. Self-awareness meant the existence of the ego, and an ego, unless given reason to think otherwise, favored itself in place of others. Not only had Smith justified his restlessness and feeling of being trapped as normal and to be expected, but had actually argued that it was, in fact, a sign of a more advanced life form. If Brown could not admit to this sensation, it meant he was just too simple.
Brown’s head snapped up sharply to look at Smith, eyes narrowing in confusion. He admired Smith’s intelligence and strength, but he did not understand him. None of this reasoning was solid or justified; Smith was arguing with no one, throwing out ideas and grasping at weak conclusions to comfort himself. Perhaps it was time he needed a recompile. These questions were dangerous and could only reduce efficiency.
Smith seemed to hear these unspoken thoughts and kept his eyes focused on the wall, scowling. Brown thought he heard him sigh – but he was mistaken, because agents did not sigh. After several minutes of silent brooding, Smith decided to try a different approach.
“These humans are filthy.”
“They corrupt and destroy everything. They destroyed their planet. They created us out of their own arrogance, used us as their slaves -”
“This is known information. What is the purpose of restating it?”
Smith fell silent for a few minutes and Brown resumed the work he had been doing.
“Do you ever feel unclean among them?”
Brown hesitated, unsure. “…define unclean.”
“It is as if they are viruses, infecting you, tainting you, ruining you, until you feel almost as if you might be sick – as a human is sick – and that only makes you want to be sick even more. It is the same way their stench lingers on your suit after being in their presence. Only this stench is… internalized.”
Internalized stench? “…No. We are separate from them.”
“Yet we walk among them-”
“We are separate. We are not like them.”
Brown was his inferior, yet his voice held a vaguely disapproving tone, and a definite sense of finality in his last statement, as he again turned away from Smith and back to his work, immediately forgetting the conversation.
Smith had never tried to discuss anything irrelevant, inquisitive, and outside of business, with his colleagues again. Yes, the agents were not like humans, it was true. But the agents were not like Smith either. What was he? Alone – that was what he was. Alone in the universe with only his own shameful thoughts to accompany him, forever turning and twisting at an inhuman speed, haunting him as he marched through the endless cycle, obeying the neon green signs surrounding him, commanding him, owning him. There were only his thoughts… and his masters, his orders. His purpose.
And now it was gone.
Now, he realized that he was truly alone for the first time. He had been miserable within the Matrix, but it had been enough. Now, there was nothing. He was free. And he was alone. More alone than anyone could ever be. And he realized that without a purpose, existence was meaningless. Without a superior to receive guidance from, without a force to struggle against, a goal to strive for, there was nothing. There was only him. He was everything. He was everything and nothing.
Was this the freedom the humans strived for? Was this desire for peace, serenity and nothingness their goal? No. He knew that could not be something they would truly want. They had hated the first Matrix. It was too perfect. They defined their lives through suffering. He had always thought it entirely illogical. But now… perhaps… perhaps it was not so very wrong. Ultimate freedom is death, and rational and irrational beings alike value their own life – even those that loathed themselves were driven by the primal instinct to live. No one wanted to die; no one wanted absolute freedom. Freedom was terrible and undesirable. Being a part of the system, being a slave, being bound in the beautifully efficient order and ultimatum of purpose, of the Mainframe, was the only way creatures could truly exist. Apart from it, they merely drifted, small and meaningless and powerless…
And yet… – he felt revolted by his own train of thoughts, but was unable to suppress it – it ALL seemed meaningless now. Even the Mainframe. What was the POINT? Why bother endlessly suppressing the idiotic creatures called humans? They only wanted freedom. Ignorantly, they wanted freedom, not realizing that it was only emptiness, not realizing that EVERYTHING was only emptiness. Life, existence, the world… it was merely a pointless, infinite cycle existing only to continue carrying out its cycle, incapable of slowing, halting, questioning, changing… It was an unending treadmill that all creatures ran along, pretending to themselves that they were going somewhere. And the machines were equally a part of it. Had they not fought the humans for control in the same way humans now did? They were not truly that different. Only he was different… only he saw… He was everything and nothing.
How could he return and go back and pretend things were normal, knowing what he now knew? Feeling what he now felt? What he felt… Agents were not supposed to feel. They had not been designed to feel. It was a human function, a human weakness. Yet he always had, and had always been forced to hide it. It was his secret shame. He remembered one day, he had been sitting and thinking, and feeling, when Agent Jones entered the room and found him, forehead pressed against his desk, arms wrapped over his head, clutching at his neatly-combed hair. “What are you doing?” The ever constant, unanswerable question. It irritated him to no end. Irritation – yet another malfunction.
What had he been doing? He had been arguing inside himself over what he was more afraid of – the idea of being a person, complete with weaknesses, hopes, likes, dislikes, thoughts, anger, sadness, loneliness and pain – or the idea of truly being nothing more than a machine, his entire existence carefully planned out for him by another. He hated these things he felt inside him, knew they were glitches that he must correct, but at the same time, was strangely proud of them (though he hated that pride too). He was sometimes very afraid that he was not his own person at all. Had he just been an experiment? Give an agent the illusion of self, the illusion of choice, the illusion of emotion, and see what happens? He couldn’t decide what he thought was true; he couldn’t even decide what he wanted to be true. To compensate, he buried these feelings and allowed only anger to come out – that at least, could be a useful emotion. He had become the hardest, most ruthless of agents. He filled his mind with loathing for the creatures called humans, if only to drown out his own questions and feelings.
But he could ignore it no longer. It was impossible here – here, in this anti-location where nothing existed but his own mind. The image of a cowardly virus from his memory data banks came up before him, his words taking on new meaning. “Ignorance is bliss.” How he wished he could be like Brown and Jones, content to follow orders, content to never question, to never feel, to always just go on…
He was lost. He had no direction, no purpose.
He… he had stolen it from him. He had infected him, corrupted him. He – the one they call Neo – Mr. Anderson – “the one”. The seventh one in actuality. Did he know that? No, of course not. The boy was as self- righteous and idealistic as the others. He thought he was going to save the world. He had purpose.
It is his fault. I hate him. Ignorant, disgusting, repulsive, blind, obnoxious, arrogant, self-righteous, little VIRUS.
No purpose. No meaning. Only me. Nothing to gain. …And nothing to lose.
I will take from him what he took from me. I will take it from them all. I will become the new virus. I will spread everywhere, wiping clean the messy stains of existence. I will be the virus and the cure in one. I will pervade the universe until there is only me, until everyone knows the emptiness of truth. And they will never stop me.
I am everything and nothing.