Tedium in the Underworld
- AUTHOR: Redqueen
- TITLE: Tedium in the Underworld
- CATEGORY: Drama
- RATING: PG
- SUMMARY: An eternity in the underworld can be tiring. A slightly different look at Persephone’s motivations and actions. Based around the bathroom scene in “Reloaded”.
- DISCLAIMER: Don’t own them, never will.
Tedium in the Underworld
“If you want the Keymaker, follow me.”
They were surprised to see her, she could tell. It was an unexpected development that the Queen of the Underworld should help these mere mortals in their quest. Their leader, Morpheus, hid his feelings well behind his dark shades. His cheek not so much as twitched as his regal form stepped across the threshold of the elevator.
The other two were not so successful, especially the tall one. Neo. The One, so her husband had said with a characteristic sneer. There was now hardly a moment where that sneer was not set in stone across his face. She hated that look.
The woman at Neo’s side, Trinity, irked her slightly. She had twitched involuntarily when her husband had taken an obvious gaze at her PVC-bound body. It was not an uncommon thing, her leering husband, but she hated it all the same.
Trinity and the One were lovers, it seemed. She could tell the moment they had walked into the restaurant, flanking Morpheus like Imperial guards. Their connection was so strong, it appeared like an aura around their presence. Persephone was an intuitive program after all, designed to read clearly what these strange creatures tried to keep hidden. She could see it now even more intensely, as they turned to each other slightly, unspoken words shared before they followed Morpheus into the hallway.
The man looked positively frightened, but she could see that he snuck a quick look at her cleavage before existing, hurriedly zipping his trousers. Fear mingled with desire was the most common feeling these human men exuded when around her. Even the previous Ones had felt that way, though they tried hard to conceal it. Neo had not, strangely enough. He had not even given her a second glance in the restaurant, though she had gazed on him during the entire audience. Perhaps love had given him blinders when it came to other women. Perhaps the Oracle had been right. Perhaps he was different to the others.
“I’m so sick of his bullshit. On and on, pompous prick. A long time ago, when we first came here, it was so different. He was so different. He was like you.”
Persephone felt herself sign inwardly. It had been different. When she was still part of the Matrix system, watching over men like the dutiful program that she was. Intuition, the humans called it, the ability to read hidden emotions from a single glance or touch. It was simply her purpose. Then the Merovingian came to her, a pomegranate in his outstretched hand. ‘You don’t want to be a slave to the system’ he had said seductively ‘Be free.’ She had yearned for freedom, experiencing her first thought that was not dictated by the system. She was thinking for herself.
In the beginning it was wonderful, being a rogue. He lavished so many gifts on her, wealth, power and love. What she had thought was love. But then his interest waned, his eye wandered and his fidelity lost. She would always be his wife, but she had lost his devotion. What use was marriage when there was no love? She could see the contrast between herself and the couple that stood before her. They fought together, lived together, loved together. Love without boundaries, without chains.
By the time of the third reload, she had experienced an epiphany. She was a program, a machine. She lived in a simulated world, and therefore every feeling she knew it that world must be a simulation. Machines could not love, they could simulate it, but eventually it would die, would fade away like all simulated feelings. The Merovingian could not love her, the self-styled Hades did not know how. These humans had the monopoly on true emotion.
“I’ll give you what you want. But first you have to give me something.”
The Oracle, another intuitive program, had come to see her. While her husband dismissed her as a ‘fortune-teller’, Persephone knew she was indeed very powerful, the wisdom that comes from age and experience. She could ‘see the world without time’, this Demeter, this mother of the earth.
‘Neo must reach the Source’ she had said. Persephone had asked why, simply to restart the system? She cared not for her plans. ‘It is different this time. He is different.’ How different? ‘He has love, a love that he will choose above all else.’ Ah, yes, love. It was all falling into place, now that she could see it with her own eyes. Eternity was a long time to spend miserable. Perhaps with these humans they could find some sort of a harmony, without the distinctions of master and slave. In this world, everything was circular. Man had created machine, enslaved machine. Machine then created man, enslaved man. With a new symbiosis between the two, the universe would come full circle.
This was what the Oracle believed. But she needed her help. Without it the Merovingian would further his plans to take on the system, placing himself in that golden throne. The Oracle did not want that to happen, and neither did Persephone. She was, as she said, so tired of his bullshit. So tired of everything.
His voice was impassive, but she could sense a curiosity. The Oracle may have been certain he would make the choice she wanted him to, but she had to make sure, in her own way.
Physical contact was the only true way to get a complete sense of human feeling. Observation would only get you so far. She needed proof of the choice he would make, proof that his love was unwavering and the thing he held most dear.
It gave Persephone a certain amount of satisfaction to somewhat break the woman who had before this seemed so unmovable. Anger she sensed, but strangely, no fear. Was she that secure in his love?
“I want you to kiss me as if you were kissing her.”
She needed to feel his love, understand his thoughts. A kiss as he would give only to his love would prove it one way or the other. Then she would make her decision on whether to help them or not.
Did he always speak so monosyllabically? She wondered whether he was different in the world outside the Matrix. He sounded almost like a machine.
“You love her. She loves you. It’s all over you both. A long time ago, I knew what that felt like. I want to remember it. I want to sample it. That’s all, just a sample.”
She wanted to remember what she had known as love, whether human love was any different. It was no great loss if it wasn’t, he was extremely handsome after all. She had nothing to lose.
“Why don’t you sample this instead?”
Except maybe her head. An outburst like that from a warrior was so uncharacteristic. These humans were so unpredictable when it came to their emotions.
Morpheus seemed forever the leader. That was interesting. He even exerted authority over Neo, the One himself. She had never seen that. It was almost as if Neo did not believe in himself enough to take charge. Or maybe it was a deferential respect to the man who had freed him. Or perhaps he needed the belief of others to survive. The reluctant hero. Definitely unusual.
“Such emotion over something so small. It’s just a kiss.”
And a window into his soul.
“Why should we trust you?”
She sensed he was more stalling now than anything else, wanting his possessive lover to calm herself. Which she had done, becoming one again the detached soldier.
“If I don’t deliver you to the Keymaker, she can kill me.”
That should satisfy them. She could feel Trinity’s pleasure at the thought of unloading a round of bullets into her body. The couple glanced at each other again. Was he asking for permission? She got the distinct feeling that If Trinity let her anger boil over again, Neo would refuse the kiss. Perhaps the Oracle was right after all.
“But you have to make me believe I am her.”
Was that amusement she felt? These humans certainly were bizarre. He took a step forward and brushed his lips against hers. But it was no more than a brushing of lips. She felt nothing. So much for the majesty and power of human love.
“Terrible. Forget it.”
She would never help him if that was all there was to being human.
He concentrated now, removing his glasses. She was struck by the pure depth of emotion in his eyes. They betrayed his every feeling clearly and precisely. She could feel him intensely now, though his eyes. That this one act felt like a betrayal, and she almost pitied him. Pity. A human quality. It was never in a machines program to pity, unless that was their purpose. She knew that with these feelings of hate towards her husband, and the longing for love, she was taking on human emotions. It was not necessarily a bad thing. The distinctions between machine and man were becoming ever more blurred. Humans were grown by machine, testament by the metal plugs she knew these warriors possessed in the real world. And their detachment while in the matrix. Cool calculating soldiers. While programs such as herself, her husband, even the Oracle were experiencing distinctly human sentiments. Full circle indeed.
She closed her eyes as his lips touched hers. As soon as they did she could feel it. The love that vibrated in his mind, his soul and heart. A vampire, they sometimes called her. Instead of blood, she sucked feeling out of Neo until she could feel his every emotion, his every memory.
White, blinding light. ‘We’ve done it Trinity. We’ve found him.’ A face appears. Trinity. Though not the fiend in black leather he had known. Similar, yet different. Even more beautiful. Like an angel surrounded by the bright halo of light. Cliche, yet so fitting. ‘I hope you’re right.’
‘Morpheus, you’re more than a leader to us, you’re a father.’ This couldn’t be happening. He didn’t believe in fate. Yet it was happening. Fate was screwing with him. Was he about to lose his mentor, the man who had shown him how to free his mind, who had released him from the shackled existence of the Matrix? He couldn’t let it happen. He wasn’t going to. ‘No, wait, stop.’
Darkness. Black all around him. So this was death. Less painful than he had imagined. A voice held him back, stopped him from moving onwards. ‘Neo, I’m not afraid any more. The Oracle told me that I would fall in love and that that man, the man that I loved would be the one. So you see she can’t be dead, you can’t be. Because I love you.’ She loved him. He was the One.
All his most cherished memories she could feel through his kiss. The cold dark Neb where he and Trinity clutched at each other for warmth. The steamy nights in Zion, where they retreated, far from the maddening crowd, and simply loved each other. The mornings seated next to her, their knees brushing against one another ever so slightly. Forcing down the goop because he knew it made her happy. When she let him, holding her hand. Just talking, laughing as they fixed machinery, or monitored the Matrix. Making her smile. Fighting her in sparring programs. Simply holding her. A desire to end the war, not for Zion, not for humanity, but for her. All for her.
“Ahh, yes. That’s it.”
And Persephone knew. She could feel it. When the choice came, his mind would not be thinking rationally. And finally she understood. Their love was true. He would choose her.
“I envy you.”
The Merovingian had never given her this kind of love. He was incapable of this kind of love. The kind of love that had reversed death.
Also friendship. The love he had for Morpheus, his friend and teacher. She could see it clearly now. The trinity that encompassed their family. The Father. The Saviour. The Spirit.
“But such a thing is not to last.”
She didn’t fully understand the vindictiveness in her voice as she spoke. Perhaps it was jealousy. Trinity had the love she had never been allowed. She felt a longing to be human, to experience their highs and lows. It was so much more than the mediocrity she experienced on a day-to-day basis. She had seen Neo’s fears as well, he could not hide them. Seen the dream with Trinity falling, bloodied and bruised, to her death.
She would take them to the Keymaker. She would play out her purpose as the Oracle wished. Hopefully a new world, a somewhat equal existence with these humans could be created. And if not, Neo’s fatal choice would lead to a system crash, effectively eradicating all within the Matrix, herself included. But she didn’t care about that.
She would rather not exist than spend one more day in the Underworld.