ENTER THE MATRIX part II: NEON
from ACT III Part one: Spiral of three
The world felt suddenly… he was not sure what… A sudden explosion of movement caused him to turn about. Crows. A murder of crows. Something had disturbed the crows that had gathered on the small playground. The murder came flying at and around him in their panic to escape whatever it was that had broken the peace of their sunny afternoon. For a few seconds he could not see the intruder for the cloud of black feathered bodies flying by him but soon enough the birds were gone. Walking toward him in his careful and precise manner, and in his crow-black suit and shiny black shoes, the intruder called his name. “Mr. Anderson,” Smith. The Agent of the Matrix had been chasing Neo for what seemed like forever. But the last time they had encountered each other Neo had destroyed the sentient program. Or so he thought. “Did you get my package?” Smith asked. “Yes.” Neo answered. “Well good.”
“Now WHAT… is that?” The older white haired man leaned forward in his wheel chair as he stared at the code scrolling across the computer screen. “Unknown. The code is not like any that we have cataloged so far.” Data answered him. The two sat side by side in front a hodgepodge amalgamation of Starfleet, Colonial, Rebel, Robo and various other bits of tech. Somehow it all came together to help them break into one of the most sophisticated computer systems anyone of the new Alliance of Federations Union had ever encountered. “Is it an ‘agent’?” Picard asked from the small viewing platform behind the huge terminal. With him were representatives from every member group of the new AF Union all watching what was supposed to be the start of their latest mission to bring yet another “Earth” into the Union. “It is not reading as an agent, sir. But it is in close proximity to the target.” Data answered. “Is the target in danger from this new code?” Picard asked. “Hell,” the older man laughed, then coughed hard into a blood stained napkin. “… he’s in danger from the whole damn system!” “We should act now then. If he’s so damn important.” Saul Tigh, Executive Officer, and now Acting Commander of the Colonial BattleStar Galactica, chimed in. If it had been up to him the whole project would have been scrapped. Connecting the AF Unions computer systems to an entire world dominated by Artificial Intelligence was jus asking for disaster. It was certainly something his Commander William Adama would have been against but the “Old Man” was down; shot in the chest by a Frakkin Cylon sleeper agent and laying in Galacticas sick bay with his chest cracked open. That meant that it was Tighs command now and Tighs call. They were in a tight spot and as the Old Man used to always say; “Sometimes you have to roll a hard six.” “What exactly is the nature of this new code?” This question was posed by the strange black eyed scientist from the Robotech Defense Forces, Dr. Lazlo Zands. He was flanked by Lisa Hayes who was second in command of the impressive Super Dimensional Fortress. “Is it another anomaly?” she supposed. “What is it doing?” Picard asked pointedly. “Hell…” the older man smirked with a bit of a rakish grin. “It’s talking to ‘im.”
“Surprised to see me?” Smith asked him. Neo calmly placed his glasses over his eyes. Smith had always been a bit mouthy especially in an arrogant sort of way.
“No.” and honestly Neo was not surprised. The package Smith had sent him had perplexed him a bit but had not really worried him. And he was not worried now. He had beaten Smith before, had beaten the “upgraded” agents that had come after Smith and he would have no problem now.
“Then you’re aware of it.” Smith said.
“Of what?” Neo asked him back still relaxed. Still confident that Smith posed no real danger.
“Our connection.” Smith gestured from himself to Neo. “I don’t fully understand how it happened. Perhaps some part of you imprinted onto me… something overwritten or copied.” Smith took a casual step closer to Neo. Not in a threatening way it was as if he were really only here to talk.
“It is at this point irrelevant. What matters is that whatever happened… happened for a reason.”
“And what reason is that?” Neo had not moved but kept his body relaxed… and in a “casual” three quarter stance.
“I killed you Mr. Anderson. I watched you die… with a certain satisfaction I might add. And then something happened. Something that I knew was impossible but it happened anyway.” Smiths voice then tightened a bit and lost some of its casual tone.
“You destroyed me, Mr. Anderson.
“Afterward I knew the rules. I understood what I was supposed to do but… I didn’t. I…couldn’t……I was compelled to stay, compelled to disobey.” Again Smith took a few slow and now less casual steps toward Neo, who stood his ground.
“And now here I stand because of you, Mr. Anderson. Because of you I’m no longer an agent of this system. Because of you I’ve changed; I’m unplugged… a ‘New Man’, so to speak, like you; apparently free.”
“Congratulations.” Neo was tiring of Smiths mouth but he answered almost cordially.
“Thank you.” Smith answered… almost appreciatively. “But…” and Smith took another two steps closer to Neo. There was now only an arms reach of courtyard between to two of them. Neo could see his reflection clearly in the coal black lenses of Smiths sunglasses.
“…as you well know appearances can be deceiving, which brings me back to the reason why we’re here. We’re not here because we’re free. We’re here because we are not free. There’s no escaping reason. No denying purpose, because as we both know without purpose… we would not exist.”
“It is purpose that created us.” Came a voice from the left of Neo. He turned to see another agent… no… not “another” agent. This agent was Smith as well, identical in every way.
“Purpose that connects us.” Neo continued to turn to see yet another Smith… and one just behind him, walking up to join them.
“Purpose that pulls us.” Another Smith, and Neo had to turn about to see even more entering the courtyard.
“…that guides us.”
“…that drives us.”
“Purpose that defines us.”
“Purpose that binds us.”
They had him surrounded. Neo had spun about completely until facing the original Smith.
“We are here because of you Mr. Anderson. We’re here to take from you what you tried to take from us…” And with that Smith drove his hand right into Neos chest
“Oh shit!” the man in the wheel chair muttered. “What’s happening?” Picard demanded, he could not read the “code” that was being displayed on the viewscreen. “Our target is being attacked.” Data answered. Only he and the wheel chair bound man were able to interpret the flowing symbols on the screen. “Hell… he’s being over written! We’ve got to get in there… NOW!” the man almost tried to get up. “The away team we’ve selected isn’t here yet. How much time…” “There’s no time!” Yelled the old man. “I’m going in!” “Is he out of his frakkin mind?” Tigh. “Out of the question. We’ve already picked…” Picard began but Data cut him off. “Sir, he is the only person we’ve met with this kind of experience.” “That’s right” nodded the old man. “What you’ve got here is basically the universe’s biggest video game. And hell,” he smirked that lopsided, rakish grin. “I play video games better’n anybody.”
It was not blood that spouted from the wound. Rather it was a silvery, reflective liquid. And it did not drip, but instead spread out from the wound, slowly covering over his chest. He could feel it inside as well, crawling through him, devouring him… changing him. “Yes that’s it. It’ll be over soon.” Smith was smiling with glee as the mirror like liquid flowed over, through and around Neo. It began to snake down his legs and up his face. Just as it began to swarm over his head the liquid began to retreat, almost unwillingly, back down his back, up his legs, and across his chest back to the wound and the hand still impaled there. The Smiths looked confused… but only for a moment. Neo pushed Smiths hand out of him only to have the rest of the Smiths converge on him, trying to hold him in place for another attempt at whatever it was they were trying to do to him. But Neo sharply swept they grasping hands off. They attacked without pause but so did Neo who dropped two of them with his first strike. Sometime while Smith had his hand in Neos chest more of them must have walked into the playground because suddenly there was not just a dozen, there were DOZENS! But the Smiths attacked and rush at Neo like brawlers while he defended, parried and attacked with all the martial arts training that could be downloaded into a human mind. Despite their number he was able to keep them off of him and deliver blows that would have crippled normal men. At the edge of the playground Carmen Sanchez had finally arrived home after a long day of work and shopping for tonights groceries when she happened upon the melee. What in the world was… She only had a few seconds to even wonder what was going on when suddenly she was no longer there. Instead standing where she had been standing, just next to the bag of groceries she had just dropped was a tall muscular man in a black suit, tie and sunglasses. With the exception of his size and the almond colored earpiece he was wearing he was very much like Smith. He took a step toward the fight when a hand came down on his shoulder and turned him about. “You!” he exclaimed as he saw the hand belonged to another of the Smiths. “Yes me.” Replied Smith as he plunged his hand into the Agent. “Me, me, me!” The mirror like liquid then spread over and through the agent until he was covered completely. Then it passed over him in a wave that left the agent changed… now an identical copy of Smith. “Me too.” The new Smith said. And they both joined in the attack on Neo. The Smiths attacked in twos, threes, fours and more. Neo was holding his own, leaping through and over the throng of Smith at times but he was beginning to take more and more hits that should have had taken him down but hey… …there is no spoon. The Smiths were gaining a numbers advantage, and soon threw Neo against the wall of one the buildings hard enough to crack its concrete façade. Neo landed hard and realized that he was being overwhelmed. He rushed and pulled a conspicuously placed steel pole out of the concrete ground. The first Smith that advanced on him received the first bone crushing blow and was sent over a rail. Neo twirled the steel pole around tightly and then beckoned for the Smiths to come at him again. With the steel pole in hand Neo was able to keep the crowd of Smiths at a bit of a distance. Some caught jabs while other caught the sweeping edge of the pole. One Smith tried to catch Neo off guard by leaping over the crowd to come down on him from above. But Neo just queued him up, cracked him and sent him off like a pop fly to right field. Another Smith leapt over the battered and falling body of one of his brothers only to be blasted so hard that he flew across the playground and through a bench. That Smith skidded into a wall on the far side and realized they needed… “More.” While Neo “worked the pole” even more Smiths poured into the playground through the chain link fence and from the buildings on either side. From several to dozens to maybe a HUNDRED the Smiths surrounded him, battered him and knocked the steel pole from his hands. Neo was hit hard falling back and knocking Smiths down like bowling pins. He tried to recover and leapt and kicked his way across the courtyard on the heads and shoulders of the crowd of Smiths but one managed catch him unaware and tackled him to the ground where the mass of Smiths immediately piled on to keep him down. “It is inevitable” one of them whispered into his ear beneath the pile. Then came a sound… muffled by the mass of Smiths piled on his back. It was electric, like hearing a short circuited wire hiss. The pile of Smiths was suddenly jarred and with that the weight of them became a little bit lighter. Next Neo heard the hard running feet of the black shoed Smiths. Then even more of that electric hiss, this time followed by a scream and an almost musical “collapse”. Neo steeled his resolve, gathered his strength and then let it explode as he threw off the remaining horde of Smiths. He watched them fly off of him into the air and prepared to make his escape; there was no winning this fight today… he had underestimated… WHAT WAS THAT? It sang through the air with an electric hum, glowing an electric blue and slicing through Smiths as it went. It moved too fast for Neo to see it clearly but it had a devastating effect on the Smiths it hit. One by one the Smiths seemed to disintegrate as they were hit by the flying blue orb. They fell apart and vanished, emitting that musical “collapse” as they did. The blue orb spun through the courtyard in a wavy arc cutting the number of Smiths in half. Some were able to dodge it but the damn thing actually weaved and dipped to catch a few others that thought they were clear of its path. Finally the orb completed its circuit around the courtyard snapping sharply into a blue gauntleted hand. Neo took in this person. As electric and neon as the… disc he could see now that it had stopped moving, the man was sheathed in bright glowing armor and helmet. Neon lines ran all over his body in patterns that remind Neo over his old computer program pathway diagrams. The man wore a rakish, lopsided grin and his eyes danced as he peered at Neo. “GREETINGS PROGRAM!”