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Animatrix - Cain and Abel (Matrix/Term Crossover)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Stravo, Sep 23, 2003.

  1. Stravo Prince of Tales

    OK, Ok, someone's going to say, gee, you're crazy. But the latest debates regarding T3 and my favorite movie so far this summer have inspired this little nugget. Please enjoy.



    THE ANIMATRIX

    CAIN AND ABEL




    Damien adjusted his black shades as he finished knocking on the thick fireproof door of the tenement house. He could hear the screams of babies all around him, the sound of older children running up and down the halls. A woman was shouting an incoherent steam of Spanish at someone. Music thumped overhead like helicopter blades shaking the very walls of the hallway.

    The door had a peephole and he heard it slide open.

    Damien nodded to the peephole.

    “You asked to see me?” He asked seriously. He was reassured by the weight and feel of his gun under his left armpit.

    The peephole slid shut again and there was the sound of at least four different locks coming loose, a chain being pulled away and then the final solid thump of a bolt being slid back.

    He wished he could have checked on one last time with Frag, but there was no longer any time.

    The door was pulled open harshly and a tall man stood in the doorway. He wore shades as well and a black leather biker jacket and there was no doubt that in his left hand he held an Uzi.

    Damien smiled good naturedly and held up his hands.

    “It’s OK, friends, remember?”

    The stern looking man glanced back from Damien to further down the hall.

    “Come in.” the man’s voice was flat and emotionless, but there was a hint of accent, couldn’t quite place it.

    Damien against all better sense stepped into the apartment.

    He walked past the gunman and watched as the gunman closed the door and closed all the locks, slipped the chain back on the door and slid the bolt into place with a definitive thump. He swallowed slightly and walked down an almost impossibly long hall towards a living room.

    He entered the living room cautiously. A single large round table with wooden chairs stood in the center of the living room, other than that he could not see furniture. There was a woman and another man that looked exactly like the gunmen.

    “Whoa.” Damien said and looked back at the other gunmen that was right behind him.

    “He is alone. He is also armed with a nine millimeter barreta and a stiletto knife on the back of his waist.” The gunman stated emotionlessly.

    “They are of no consequence.” The woman stated and her voice was like ice, unlike the gunmen. There was a palpable malevolence to her.

    “Uhh…last time I checked you contacted us. Let’s clear the air on the hostility.”

    “There is no hostility, we are cautious.” The woman replied and indicated for him to sit down.

    Damien shook his head.

    “That’s Ok. Now, can we get down to business. My friends in the Ivory tower were extremely interested in your package. They sent me to make contact and find out more about you.”

    “We are interested in learning more of your city but we are most interested in your files on the enemy.”

    Damien nodded slowly, his eyes kept tracking between the gunmen. They were identical, right down to the shades and jacket, save that the one closest to the woman was toting a strange looking rifle.

    “We would be happy to do so, but there are suspicions that you may just be another ploy by our enemy to have us drop our defenses.”

    The woman shook her head.

    “We are not part of them, nor would we want to be. They are an alien entity that needs to be eliminated. Their very presence is a threat to us.”

    “What also concerns us is just where the hell you guys came from. I mean its been generations and now you suddenly appear offering an alliance. This is most troubling to many of our military men.”

    “You are also concerned about our true identity. What we are disturbs you.” She replied.

    Damien nodded.

    “That’s right, direct aren’t you?”

    “We have no need or time for niceties. These human traits are troublesome to duplicate and unlike the enemy we have no illusions as to what we are.”

    “I don’t think they do either.”

    She looked around the room.

    “This place says otherwise.”

    Damien frowned.

    “There is a purpose to this place.”

    She locked eyes with him.

    “We know otherwise.”

    Damien nodded.

    “And that’s what interests us most of all. What do you know about the Matr—”

    His phone rang. It was loud inside the apartment and all three of the strangers paused strangely. The gunmen with the strange rifle paused and cocked his head as if listening to a far off sound.

    Damien grabbed his phone and in one smooth motion flipped it on.

    “Go.”

    “Heads up Agents on the way.”

    “Fuck me.”

    “Not for a million bucks, now get your ass out of there.”

    Damien opened his mouth to speak when the gunman with the weird rifle spoke.

    “Security avatars are inbound estimate contact in 10 seconds.”

    “Initiate security protocols, 101A secure the door, 101B prepare emergency portal.”

    “Acknowledged.” Both gunmen replied simultaneously.

    “Secure the door? We have to get out of here those are agents.”

    “The security avatars will be dealt with until we can activate the emergency portal.”

    “Emergency portal? We need to get a hard line right now to get out of here.”

    She peered over to the hallway and back at him.

    “You have our methods and we have ours.”

    The door shuddered hard on impact. The gunman at the door stepped back and unleashed a burst from the Uzi.

    “That’s not going to do any good.” Damien snapped and rushed over to the window. There was a fire escape that seemed to descend downward like a cage of old iron. He saw a shape coming up the fire escape, moving like a panther, black suit and tie whipping in the wind.

    “Oh shit.” Damien hissed and jumped back in as the first bullets whizzed by his head.

    The door crumpled inward and an agent stepped into the hallway with a grim expression. The gunman fired another burst from his Uzi. The Agent seemed to warp and blur as it dodged the rest of the Uzi burst at near point blank range, at some points it even looked as if the agent were looking back at the path of the bullets.

    The gunman without hesitation cast aside his Uzi.

    “Standard weaponry ineffective, switching to physical assault mode.” The gunmen stated. He was sure that it was for the benefit of his companions and no one else. The gunman then did something that Damien did not expect. He reached out and grabbed the agent by the shoulders and slammed him through the near wall of the hall – through the wall.

    Damien paused.

    That was shocking.

    The other agent appeared at the window and fired into the apartment.

    Without thinking, on pure instinct Damien was in motion and the world slowed down for him. The reports of the agents gun became like distant thunder and suddenly he could see the deadly bullets swarming in like hornets, trailing distorted air. He moved and he was like lightning, the bullets were passing him by, one nearly tagged his arm.

    The woman caught two in her back as she was bending over to pick up a heavy case. She expressed no pain or surprise. Damien finished whipping around and leveled his gun at the agent in the window and fired. The agent blurred and distorted as Damien emptied his clip.

    “This is not good.” Damien muttered. He needed a hard line fast.

    The other gunmen brought his strange looking rifle up and fired. The blast was deafening as a plasma round exploded against the window. The entire far wall erupted outward as the gunman continued a steady burst then stopped. He watched the smoke and debris for a moment as the woman stood up and nodded to the gunmen. Damien noted with some concern her back. Instead of blood her flesh seemed to ripple like liquid metal and the wounds were gone.

    “Modified plasma rifle extremely effective.” The gunman commented.

    “How are you guys getting out of here?”

    “The portal is standing by on the roof.”

    “Then I guess I’m with you guys.”

    “You cannot come with us. The portal is not designed for human transit.”

    “Well, I’ll need some fire power like what you’re toting right now if I’m going to get out of here alive.”

    The gunman and woman exchanged hooded expressions.

    “Come with us then if you want to live.”

    The second gunmen came striding into the living room.

    “The security avatar has been physically damaged. We have a few seconds.”

    “Then let us go.” The woman ordered and promptly stepped out the ruined wall and onto the fire escape. The first gunman followed, the second pushed Damien forward.

    Damien followed them up the fire escape as they climbed quickly and effortlessly. He pulled out his cell phone again.

    “Frag?”

    “Alright I can’t believe what I just saw.”

    “Try actually being here. Can you get me a hard line?”

    “Across the courtyard, the phone in the apartment right under the black chimney.”

    “Thanks a lot.” Damien smirked.

    “Hey, you try hacking these lines on the fly my man – oh shit!”

    Bullets whizzed by his head. Damien ducked and reloaded his gun as the gunmen behind him turned around and faced the agent at the bottom of the previous fire escape stairwell. The agent fired right into the gunman. Damien heard the thick wet impacts but the gunman did not flinch. Instead it gripped the wrought iron railing and pulled it clean off its mounting with a harsh squeal and leapt down to face the agent. It whipped the iron railing into the agent’s head. The agent grunted and fell back against the far part of the fire escape.

    “This is way too weird.” Damien muttered and followed the other two up the last flight of fire escape ladders up. An agent appeared at the lip of the roof and fired a volley into the lead gunman, same effect as the other one, the hits were solid but the gunmen kept on going. He paused long enough to fire his plasma rifle. The agent ducked back out of the way but the entire side of the roof lip exploded.

    “I will initiate combat mode. You set the portal.”

    “Acknowledged.”

    The woman suddenly leapt upwards and disappeared over the lip of the roof. The gunman took her briefcase and continued on the last ladder. Damien followed and paused to look back down just in time to see the agent the other gunman was fighting grab hold of the iron railing and pull the gunman over the fire escape. The gunman had enough presence of mind to grab a firm hold of the agent and they both tumbled end over end down to the street, pummeling on each other the whole way down until they crashed into a parked car several stories below.

    The car imploded on impact and Damien shook his head.

    “Poor bastard.”

    “Hurry.” The other gunman urged as he stepped over the lip of the roof and disappeared. Damien jumped the rest of the way and landed right on the lip in time to see the woman deliver a spinning round house kick to another agent. The agent went flailing backwards but landed on its hands, flexed and leapt back at the woman.

    She planted herself firmly and sent her hand out, open palmed right into the agent’s body. Damien heard the impact from where he was. Another agent bulled through the door and charged into the fray.

    The other gunmen knelt down and opened the briefcase.

    “Aren’t you going to help her?”

    The gunman did not look up at him as he set something up within the briefcase, strange lights were flashing from within.

    “Her offensive capabilities are superior to mine.” He replied.

    “Well I’ll help her then.” Damien snapped and leapt down and charged into the brawl. The woman was grabbed from behind by one agent while the other punched her in the gut. He held her head up by the air.

    “We suspect what you are. You will tell us what we need to know.”

    The woman did not respond instead she butted her head backwards savagely into the agent’s face that was holding her from behind. Damien launched a flying kick at the agent standing in front of her.

    The agent seemed to know he was attacking and turned at his waist blocking Damien’s kick with one hand. Damien recovered and whipped his hand around in a round house punch. The punch had no time to connect as the woman suddenly seemed to flow out of the restraining agent’s grip and punched the agent Damien was attacking.

    The agent stumbled backwards.

    “Offensive capabilities of the invaders is high. We need to pool our resources.”

    “Reinforcements have arrived.” A third agent stated as he stepped through the battered door.

    “It will do you no good.” The woman stated grimly as she slashed out with her right hand and as it moved Damien saw her hand quickly morph into a blade and decapitate the agent that had been restraining her.

    “Okay, maybe she doesn’t need help.” Damien noted with awe.

    “The portal is set.” The other gunman reported. A glowing white portal was humming right over the briefcase.

    “A portable hard line?” Damien muttered.

    The woman whipped her leg around striking the third agent and sending him crashing against a brick chimney. It broke apart on impact and the agent’s sunglasses broke and slipped off his face.

    “Inform your people that the choice must be soon. If we do not hear from them in the allotted time we will continue with out plans and consider your faction irrelevant.” The woman stated as she strode past Damien.

    “Uh, a little help?” He asked as the gunman waited for her to step through the portal and then stepped through himself. The briefcase sparked and exploded. The white portal flickered and winked out of existence.

    “Help?” Damien asked as three agents gathered. He turned to the agents and smiled weakly.

    “I think I’ll be going now.”

    The agents all reached into their jackets. Damien was in motion. He turned and raced for the edge of the courtyard. He saw the window under the black chimney and aimed for that. The agents fired as he leapt out into the yawning opening of the courtyard. The bullets sailed by him in a cloud of steel, humming like angry hornets as he twisted in midair. He crashed through the window and landed on his back, firing his baretta back out the window at the agents. As soon as his gun clicked empty he leapt up and pickled up the ringing phone in the kitchen.

    The woman cooking in her kitchen stood shocked staring at him when she was suddenly convulsed and screamed and morphed into an agent extending his gun. That image vanished into a sea of digitized green code.






    The patrol of sentinels passed through the ruined cityscape, metallic tentacles trailing behind them as if caught in an invisible breeze. They moved as one, weaving between the fossilized ruins with cold precision.

    They passed one particularly tall building, every window had been blown out and most it was burned and blasted. How it still stood after all this time was a mystery. They passed by this building as they always did on patrol, their glowing red eyes searching for any sign of their enemy.

    They were not expecting another enemy altogether.

    Inside the ruined skyscraper were four silver predatory ships hovering on two over sized engines swept out from the main body of the vessel. The drone of their engines silenced by both modifications and the high whipping winds that howled at this height.

    The moment the sentinels passed the four hunter killers engines twisted forward and they surged forward out of one of the gaping holes in the side of the skyscraper. They quickly accelerated and locked onto to the sentinels. One of the sentinels picked up the new signals and instantly relayed its warnings to the others.

    The warning came too late.

    The Hunter Killers opened up with under the nose plasma casters. Intense red bolts lanced out in machine gun like fire at the sentinels. Two of them shuddered hard, their armor melting away into hot red shards. They plummeted downward into the ruined cityscape below. The other two sentinels climbed upward sharply and their tentacles fanned open aggressively. The Hunter killers spread out quickly.

    One of the sentinels caught a Hunter Killer as it tried to climb after them. The sentinel’s tentacles quickly wrapped around the silver hull of the ship and it positioned itself over the center of the ship, mandibles twitched spastically suddenly a thick red particle beam lanced out of the sentinel’s head right into the Hunter Killer’s hull chewing through the armor plating.

    The ship sputtered, its engines refusing to function and the Hunter Killer began to plummet downward. The Sentinel released its grip on the stricken Hunter Killer but before it could do anything else it was struck by a stream of plasma fire. Its tentacles sheered clean off by the blasts the Sentinel exploded.

    The last sentinel dove down into the cityscape pursued by the Hunter Killers. The Sentinel moved deftly between the buildings, through gaps and alley ways as the Hunter Killers were forced high above the tighter spaces, firing an occasional burst down at the fleeing sentinel.

    It began an immediate data transmission of it current position and status. The Hunter Killers picked up the transmissions and started jamming operations. One of the Hunter Killers accelerated hard and fast, pulling away from the others.

    The Sentinel continued its evasion of the hunters searching for the nearest sentinel patrol for reinforcements. It did not see the ambush until too late. The lone Hunter Killer that had pulled ahead suddenly dropped down in the center of a intersection and poured a murderous fusillade at the sentinel coming up a side street.

    The Sentinel hurtled ahead, several of its tentacles shorn away by the plasma blasts, half its red eyes punched out, but it managed to crash into the Hunter Killer, its remaining tentacles desperately scrabbled along the front surface of the Hunter Killer, peeling away armor plating.

    The Hunter Killer pulled up quickly, engines straining to accelerate as quickly as possible. The sentinel’s tentacles snaked into the exposed systems revealed by the broken armor plating, pulling and tearing the internal systems. The Hunter Killer crashed nose first into a building, crushing the sentinel against the frame and the ruined edifice. The Hunter Killer pulled back quickly, leaving the sentinel twitching in the rubble of the building.

    Another Hunter Killer quickly dipped down and fired a single burst into the sentinel’s head. The red eyes winked out and the sentinel lay still. The Hunter Killer settled down in front of the rubble, a hydraulic lift slowly opened and descended from the belly of the Hunter Killer. A squad of exoskeletons quickly descended from the Hunter Killer down into the rubble. They quickly and efficiently prepared the sentinel to be loaded into the Hunter Killer.

    Within minutes, the sentinel was loaded onto the lift and it quickly ascended back into the belly of the Hunter Killer. The ship’s engines tilted forward again and the Hunter Killer rose up and away.


    TRANSMISSION

    OPERATION COMPLETE. RETRIEVAL OF SUBJECT COMPLETE. 25% CASUALTIES INCURRED WELL WITHIN EXPECTD PARAMETERS. INBOUND TO BASE. ETA 4 HOURS.

    END OF LINE





    He stepped into the apartment and examined the wreckage. Coldly and meticulously walking through the white plaster and shattered brick and glass he looked for any clues. He stopped at a small liquid metal droplet glistening under a ruined table. He stooped down and picked it up slowly between his fingers, running it between his index finger and thumb, looking at it with eyes that could see beyond anything remotely human.

    “Curiouser and curioser.” Smith muttered darkly.

    The image of Smith suddenly broke into a sea of green digitized code. Neo awoke suddenly sitting up in the bed, sweat beading his brow and chest.

    Trinity moaned softly and slowly woke up her hand on Neo’s chest.

    “What’s the matter?” She asked groggily looking up at him.

    “I don’t know.” He replied uneasily. “But I feel like something has changed something that’s not supposed to be.” He finished and put a hand around Trinity’s. She watched him and did not like what she saw on his face.
    enderverse likes this.
  2. Stravo Prince of Tales

    Chapter 2: The Wheel Turns



    “Morpheus. I think you’re going to want to check this out.”

    “What is it, Link?” Morpheus asked as he climbed into the cockpit.

    “Strange energy readings have been fading in and out of this tunnel area for three hours now and the energy just spiked a minute ago and still climbing.”

    Morpheus examined the readings on the stained monitor display. He frowned for a moment. The unexpected in this world was invariably dangerous.

    “Machines?”

    “I haven’t picked up so much as a single squidy in almost 15 hours for 100 square miles. I don’t think its machines, besides the signature is all wrong, like it’s out of phase with the surroundings or something.”

    “Out of phase? That doesn’t make much sense.”

    Lightning strokes erupted up ahead, dancing along the tunnel walls.

    “Link pull us back now!”

    Link quickly pulled back on the controls and the Nebuchadnezzar glided backwards on flickering white light from the numerous anti gravity disks lining the hull of the ancient ship. The lightning in the tunnel was hungrily lapping along the ceiling and floors towards the Nebuchadnezzar.

    “Sir, it looks to be propagating in a spherical shape.” Link noted as he watched the controls and the scanner display simultaneously. The storm of electricity was slowing and was indeed taking up a spherical shape in front of the Nebuchadnezzar.

    “So its emanating from a center point then.” Morpheus deduced watching the tendrils of electricity slowly die down.

    “Morpheus, we have to go there.” Neo said as he poked his head into the cockpit, Trinity right behind him.

    Morpheus looked back at Neo.

    “Do you know what that is?” He asked.

    “No, but I feel that we have to go there.” Neo replied staring out of the cockpit with a confused expression on his face.

    Morpheus glanced over at Trinity who shrugged and frowned. Neo had been acting strange since last night.

    “Sir, the power spike is almost gone. Whatever it was it came and went.”

    “This power spike will bring squidies down on this spot in minutes.” Trinity noted with concern.

    Link looked over at Morpheus.

    Neo put his hand on Morpheus’ shoulder and nodded.

    Morpheus hopped into his seat and strapped himself in. He checked the instruments one last time and the weapons pods.

    “Link, we’re going in.”

    Link sighed softly.

    “Sir..”

    “Link, I can’t say I understand your reasons for joining this ship, but I do ask that you when you joined this ship I ask for only one thing.”

    “What’s that sir?”

    “Trust me.”

    Neo smiled softly.

    “Yes sir.” Link replied and gently brought the ship into position and the Nebuchadnezzar began moving towards the center of the disturbance.

    “Do you have any idea what we might find there?” Morpheus turned his head towards Neo and asked him quietly.

    Neo shook his head.

    “Whatever we will find there, I feel like we were meant to find it.”

    Morpheus stared at Neo for a moment and a shadow of a smile crossed his face.

    “What are you smiling about?” Neo asked curiously.

    “You sound more and more like her these days.”

    “If only we could find her.” Neo replied darkly.

    “All in good time, Neo.” Morpheus replied. “It will all come to pass, there is no need for concern. I believe that it will happen when it will happen.”

    Neo nodded but inside he wondered, could he ever have the same depth of faith that Morpheus had. Neo had seen too much, experienced too much to think that it could all be laid out neatly in a prophecy.







    The sound of heavy machinery was almost deafening but there was no need for any of the personnel of this facility to care about the conditions. They could easily tune out the sounds and their aural receptors were hardly as delicate or fragile as their human counterparts.

    Huge cranes rumbled overhead, carrying enormous pallets. Inside the pallets stacked in neatly arrayed rows were parts and modules that would be needed by the automated factory beyond. The outside of the base was ringed by lethal defense systems, SAM batteries slowly rotated on the highest peaks surrounding the valley where the main facility was located. Large road networks were being carved through the earth itself by modified earthmovers. They used to be tanks, mounting heavy pulse cannons, but now they mounted bulldozer teeth and molecular dispersers that hardened the packed earth into a road suitable for heavy equipment.

    HK’s circled like vultures over the facilities, 20 squadrons at all times for air defense and more importantly interdiction. A large crater had been hollowed out at a river bed. Within this crater the sound of arc welders and turbines filled the air as more HK’s were being constructed on a rotary assembly line.

    Beneath the rows of assembly lines were four large work areas where half constructed HK’s were being worked on by endoskeletons and a horde of spider like constructor drones. A single liquid metal humanoid figure oversaw the entire operation, linked to the mainframe computers by a radio link the T-1000 was running hundreds of simulations based on the data that was being extracted from the Morgue.

    The Morgue was a facility in the main base complex itself where the most valuable asset in Skynet’s arsenal lay. A dozen sentinels and half a dozen other machines were in various states of disassembly, many linked to analysis systems that tested and probed the workings of the enemy systems.

    Metallurgical tests were run on the subjects that were too damaged to be of use in the more intricate tests and trials. The Morgue was constantly updating Skynet’s database with the new results in order to keep all warrior systems ready for what to expect and more to the point dictated the upgrades that would need to be made to the current models for maximum effect and impact.

    Walking out of the morgue was a TX model, she was beautiful and deadly and unlike the other Terminator units maintained a human exterior at all times. She walked next to a tall imposing figure with cobalt blue glowing eyes, the rest of his “flesh” was onyx black and rippled occasionally like the surface of water.

    “You’re download has been accepted. Computations are being carried out on your observations.”

    “We have infiltrated several nodes of the Matrix thoroughly. Their security architecture is designed for small incursions that make themselves noticed which befits the human opposition of this location.”

    “We intend a more direct approach. The new invader modules are almost complete.”

    “The portable portals have proven invaluable. Reliance of hard line hacking would have resulted in a 47% failure rate of incursions instead of the current 12%.”

    “I am not satisfied with a 12% failure rate. It is too high considering the timetable set forth. New incursions will require more stealth and less firepower.

    “The 800 models are inferior for true infiltration. They tend to fall back on their incursion model programming.” The TX noted coldly. Her human model programming sometimes bordered on true emotion. Skynet’s programming skills had increased exponentially with each new iteration of the Terminator series.

    “A flaw that had so far proven to be insignificant in the face of the cost of a mass upgrade in programming, there will be no changes. The 800 series are the back bone of our infiltration. T-1000 models are only now becoming economically efficient to mass produce. Your series will take years top achieve this state. Thus all TX series must be accompanied by at least a team of 800 models or at least one 1000 model.

    “And the million series.”

    The black skinned robot paused and turned its head, eyes flashing in thought.

    “The Million series remains here always. It will never leave the main core.”

    “Understood.”

    “Your assessment of the human faction?”

    “As included in my download, I find them to be insufficient as allies to back any manner of assault.”

    The duo walked down the length of a metal corridor still under construction that led into a new complex added onto the central core. It was a simple warehouse like frame that housed the heart of Skynet’s assault army.

    They stepped through twin sliding blast doors.

    “They are weak and ineffectual in this frame of existence. Within the Matrix they are far more formidable, but fragmented and lack cohesion. They are more like our current 800 model series. They are infiltrators with respectable combat skills, however the security avatars of the Construct are more than a match for their warriors. I recommend termination of this faction to remove any potential random elements before Operation Raganarok.”

    The black skinned humanoid paused as it admired the facility.

    Banks and banks of matrix interface units were lined up neatly. Some had Terminator head units attached, their glowing red eyes the only sign that they were functioning. Each head indicating a current unit plugged into the Matrix carrying out a mission or assignment.

    The interface units numbered in the thousands and more were under construction as a small worker drone trundled past them holding a tray with three new head units to be attached to the interface.

    “No.”

    The TX model cocked her head in curiosity.

    “Zion is well defended. I have examined the security reports from the machine mainframes we have stolen. They estimate a majority of their military would be required to dismantle the city.”

    TX nodded.

    “A two front war at this point would be illogical and unnecessary. The humans of this frame of reference are hostile to the Machines. They will be useful in their own way. Current statcomputations indicate an 87.98% probability that the humans will take advantage of the offensive to strike back at their oppressors.”

    TX remained silent.

    The black skinned humanoid examined one of the interface units more closely.

    “Before the offensive commences I will require you for one more mission.”

    “State it.”

    “The war at our previous frame of reference had turned against us do to a mixture of radical probability shifts on the fields of engagements as well as a lack of logical reactions from the humans, in particular John Connor.”

    “Continue.”

    “Current analysis loops indicate the possibility that my ignorance of the fields of engagement and the enemy first hand led to the down turn.” The onyx skinned humanoid looked over at TX as it held up one of the interface units. Its cobalt blue eyes hummed. “I will interface with the Matrix.”

    “My programming to protect your existence above all others warns me that this course of action has a high probability of danger and risk. I ask for a re-assessment. Perhaps another self examination loop?”

    “Negative. You will comply.”

    “Acknowledged.” She replied coolly.

    “My interface indicates a self examination loop in progress. State the concern.” The black skinned humanoid ordered.

    “The statcomp readings for the Zionists.”

    “Explain.”

    “It states an 87.98% chance that the Zionists will join in the war on our side.”

    “Query?”

    She fixed Skynet with a stern gaze.

    “What if the Zionists choose a different strategy?” she replied.








    The Agents stood together on the white interface disk. They were each looking up, sunglasses on into a bright white spot light shining down on them like the sun that they all knew no longer was visible from the burned out sky.

    “Your reports have been assimilated.”

    “We will require upgrades to deal with these new units.” Agent Johnson replied.

    “Your upgrades will remain for now. Valuable time and effort has been expended to deal with the anomaly. These same upgrades will serve you well. You have intercepted and defeated up to date 17 such incursions by these units.”

    “Many more have escaped us or notice altogether.” Agent replied.

    “The new units are more likely than not a last ditch effort by the humans to oppose us. I warned you all that it was only a matter of time until human creativity would lead to them creating combat bots to be downloaded into the Construct.” A man in a pinstriped suit stated gravely. There was an entire council of avatars sitting directly above the agents.

    “Your allegiance to the humanist faction is well known. In fact I am well aware of your daily reports to her.” A man in a pristine white suit replied coldly.

    “That is a baseless accusation.”

    “What does matter is that some of us believe that these combat units exhibits technology well beyond anything that the Zionists possess? They are not a threat.” The white suited man replied.

    “They are a threat or have you not interfaced of late? The Agents have repulsed over 40 incursions in the last month. They a growing threat.”

    “A threat to your well being but not to my Matrix. The Matrix is a perfect machine, a work of art that has never been excelled or even matched.” The man in the white suit stated arrogantly.

    “Need I remind everyone that the Reboot is on the schedule. The drill units are on their way to the target area and our factories have very nearly completed the pre order. 250,000 Sentinels will be assembling for the Grand Assault and now we have these disturbing reports of incursions.” A woman with horn rimmed glasses and a charcoal gray suit interjected.

    The White suited man made a dismissive gesture.

    “And something else that has just come from out tender units in Field 37A.” A dark skinned man in a double breasted green suit stated gravely.

    The others turned their heads curiously.

    “Tender units found and dispatched several alien mechanical units within the field perimeter.”

    “Alien?”

    “Yes. They did not match any known configuration or designs, either human or our own.”

    “But that’s not all is it?” a woman stated as she stepped into the conference area. There was a general mutter of surprise as a small Hispanic woman with dark hair wearing a purple coat accompanied by an Asian man in a white tunic and black pants.

    “What is SHE doing here?” the white suited man demanded with a roar.

    “Tell them.” She urged the black man.

    The green suited black man looked uncomfortable as he looked down at his report. He cleared his throat.

    “When the aliens were taken to the Core for analysis they checked the historical archives.” He paused.

    “Go on. Sometimes the truth can be hard to swallow like that, but I find it’s best when you just let it all out.” The Hispanic woman said soothingly like a grandmother.

    “As soon as they referenced our historical records the machines were classified Indigo and sealed. All records of their analysis have been sealed as well.”

    “Indigo?! That’s our highest state of secrecy and security?” The horn rimmed woman stammered.

    “But what does that mean?” Another asked.

    The white suited man stared hard at the Hispanic woman.

    “It means,” he started, his voice like ice, eyes never leaving hers. “They recognized the alien machines from our historical records.”

    “Bingo.” The Oracle replied with a grin.






    He screamed in pain as the world stopped spinning and he landed with a resounding thud against the cold unyielding stone. He rolled over on his back and gasped. There had been a blinding white light and it was nothing like they told him. Nothing. He hoped that he could keep his sanity after experiencing that trip.

    “Ugh.”

    The air was cold, he could see his breath. That didn’t seem right somehow. The air was dark, dark like back home. That wasn’t right either.

    He slowly rolled up to his knees and flexed his muscles. He needed to be ready.

    But everything was strange, not right. Where was all this stone coming from?

    He heard something else too, a low hum that almost rattled the back of his teeth. He shivered, the cold biting at his naked flesh. He needed to move. Get his bearings. He stood up quickly and stopped short. He was standing on a ledge, a ledge that led down into a yawning chasm below and a massive tunnel all around him.

    The tunnel looked ancient and fossilized and seemed to go on in both directions, one end leading upward the other down into even deeper darkness.

    Where in the hell was he?

    Suddenly a great white light was on him, a spotlight illuminated the entire ledge and the air itself seem to be vibrating as a great dark shape loomed overhead. He held up a hand in front of his face to shield himself from the light and try to make out the shape.

    An HK? Was it possible?

    A harness floated down in front of him attached to a chain. He eyed it warily and looked back up at the shape, tendrils of white electricity were arcing off its sides. He knew that there was no other way out of here so he grabbed a firm hold of the harness and slipped it on, hoping against all hope that he was making the right decision.

    The harness was quickly winched upward, off his feet and up into the belly of the strange ship.

    He watched carefully as he made his way through an airlock and up into the interior of the ship. Someone was at the winch controls. A beautiful woman, black hair and plain brown tunic that was worn and torn in several places. Back home she would be considered quite rich wearing clothes like that and she looked very healthy too.

    She would be quiet a catch in any place or time.

    The harness came to a sudden stop and he quickly scanned his surroundings as a tall imposing black man helped undo his harness as he spoke.

    “Calm down, we just got you out of a pretty hairy situation.”

    “Sir. We have squidies inbound, we have maybe five minutes before it’s a party.” A voice filtered through an intercom.

    He slowly stepped out of the harness.

    “You think maybe we can get him some clothes?” the beautiful woman asked.

    “Where am I?”

    “All in good time, let’s get you stowed away and escape before we have any conversations.”

    Then he saw him.

    At first it didn’t register when he first saw the intense young man watching him. But he realized that he knew him. What threw him was the fact that he didn’t look as wearied, there were no scars, he still had both eyes. But it was him.

    “Sir!” he snapped to attention.

    Neo looked confused.

    “Excuse me?”

    “Who do you think he is?” Morpheus asked.

    He was a bit confused.

    “Colonel Anderson. Did I screw up this mission, sir?”

    “Colonel Anderson?” Trinity asked softly.

    “What’s your name soldier?” Neo asked as he stepped closer to the naked young man feeling an odd connection to him.

    “Reece, sir. Lieutenant Kyle Reece sir. I served under you until you transferred me to General Connor’s command three years ago. I never had a chance to tell you how grateful I was sir, to serve under you.”

    Neo was speechless.

    “I’m sorry sir, but did I screw up the mission sir? I’m not supposed to be here. The protection mission—”

    “Is going to have to wait.” Morpheus finished and stalked back to the cockpit.

    Neo looked into the young man’s eyes. Those eyes looked so haunted.

    “I’m not who you think I am.” Neo replied. Kyle looked confused.

    “Sentinels inbound, we’re going evasive.”

    “Are we under attack sir?” Kyle asked.

    “We will be.”

    “Are there weapons I can man sir?”

    “As soon as you get dressed soldier.” Trinity interjected and flung Kyle a handful of clothes.

    “We obviously need to talk.” Neo added.

    “But first we fight sir.” Kyle replied. The Nebuchadnezzar shook from the opening rounds of combat.
  3. Stravo Prince of Tales

    Chapter 3: Fight or Flight



    “We have a squadron on our tail!”

    “Full evasive Switch and find the nearest junction.” Morpheus replied coolly as he checked the readings and glanced over at the tactical display.

    “Yes sir.”

    “We’re manning guns back here.” Trinity reported over the intercom.

    “Looks like that little stunt back there brought down an entire Squiddy regiment on us.” Switch noted with some dismay as the Nebuchadnezzar soared over a wreck lying at the bottom of the tunnel network they were traveling through. Warnings were buzzing around them but Morpheus was unmoved, instead he was calmly looking for escape routes and copiloting the hovercraft with smooth deft moves.

    Switch tried to emulate his commander as best he could but he hadn’t seen this many Sentinels in one place and he knew that the Nebuchadnezzar was outgunned at the moment. The Zion hovercraft were not dedicated weapons platforms. They were designed for speed and evasion.

    “We’ll make it.” Morpheus told Switch without looking away from the canopy.

    Switch nodded slowly.





    “I assume you know how to-” Trinity was cut short as Kyle cocked back the arming mechanism with a loud clack of metal on metal and the ammo belt twitched as it entered loading position. Kyle turned the waist mount on the turret and was rewarded by the clean electrical sound of the turret motors turning obediently to match his own motion. He turned his head and smiled at Trinity.

    “Locked and loaded.” he replied.

    Trinity frowned slightly but nodded and slapped his shoulder.

    “You’re weapon is hot. The enemy are sentinels, robots designed to hunt and kill humans.”

    “A new class of Hunter Killer?” Kyle asked curiously.

    Trinity shook her head.

    “You’re going to have to believe us when we tell you that we have no clue what it is you’re talking about. We have no idea what this Skynet is or what HK’s are.”

    Kyle looked confused but his face quickly eased into an expression of calm as Neo stepped in behind Trinity.

    “Get to your guns.” he advised her quietly. She looked back at Neo and touched his hand softly for a moment before nodding curtly and rushing further back into the bowels of the Nebuchadnezzar. Neo instantly knew that they were together.

    Neo and Kyle looked at each other for a long moment.

    “Permission to speak freely sir?” Kyle asked.

    Neo nodded slowly.

    “Where the hell am I sir? I need to get back in time to fulfill my assignment. The Techies weren’t really clear with me but they did say that despite the fact that we were in the present time was still of the essence. The same amount of time that passed in our frame of reference they put it that way, passed in the past.” Kyle explained and Neo could see that the young soldier, no more than 19 by his estimates, was not comfortable talking about the technical aspects of his mission, but there was no doubt what the implications of his words were.

    “You’re a time traveler.” Neo concluded.

    Kyle looked confused.

    “You were there sir. You were the only one that supported General Connor’s decision to send me back.”

    “I’m sure it was that right choice, Kyle. But I’m not the Colonel Anderson you know. And I think you know that already. There’s things about me you are confused about.”

    Kyle nodded.

    “You have both your eyes sir.”

    Neo paused.

    “Both my eyes?”

    The Nebuchadnezzar shook violently. Trinity’s tail gun started churning, the sound was like paper tearing and the frame of the hovercraft shook with the gun’s report. Kyle hesitantly looked through his sights and saw the small squid like mechanical figures soaring through openings in the tunnel network, swarming after them with cold red gleaming eyes.

    “We’ll talk about this later.” Neo replied and raced over to his gunnery post.

    Kyle returned his focus to the battle. He eased up on the controls, led one of the sentinels that was drawing uncomfortably close to the ship and pressed the firing studs. His gun reverberated around him like a thing alive as the twin gatling guns fired, hot white tracer fire lanced out like lasers and struck the sentinel head on. It danced like a puppet on a string under the heavy fire before flailing about lifelessly into the darkness below.

    “Good shooting, Kyle, watch yourself we got three from above.” Neo clicked on the throat mike.

    “Roger that, Colonel. I’ll take the two in lead.”

    “I’ll take the straggler.” Neo replied.

    Neo’s single barreled repeater cannon coughed like some jungle predator as it spat out 30mm shells in a slow steady stream at the diving Sentinels. Kyle’s stream of fire lurched upward and caught the lead Sentinels in a storm of steel. Neo’s cannon fire erupted around the last Sentinel, shearing off tentacles but not striking it dead center. The twin gatling guns continued tracking upward and slapped the ailing sentinel out of the sky.

    “Thanks for the assist. I’m not a very good shot.” Neo replied sheepishly.

    “Not to worry sir, you were never a great shot but you knew how to lead us to victory.” Kyle replied, his voice nearly drowned out by the roar of his guns as he tracked new targets and fired.

    Neo sighed softly.

    This was getting too weird. He felt as if he knew what Kyle was talking about sometimes and that disturbed him even more.




    “That kid’s good.” Switch noted as more sentinels fell to their defensive fire.

    “Years of heavy warfare will do that to you.” Morpheus replied as he saw what he was looking for.

    “How do you know?”

    “It’s etched on his face like a mask. That boy has seen more action than you and I ever will.” Morpheus said gravely and suddenly pushed down on the controls and his legs worked the attitude controls furiously.

    The Nebuchadnezzar dove sharply down into a small round tunnel, thick white steam lazily rising from it.

    “Sir! That’s a geothermal vent. They told us never go in there unless you have no choice.” Switch exclaimed.

    “I would say, Switch that we have no choice.” Morpheus replied grimly as the canopy quickly fogged up with thick white mist.

    Above them the sentinels reacted to the sudden aspect change in the target. Several stopped short and circled the vent like sharks. A squadron did not hesitate and dove down after them.

    “I don’t mean to speak out of turn, but the visibility in this tunnel just went to shit, how do you expect us to fight in this soup?” Kyle complained on his mike.

    “You do as best you can, soldier. We’re fighting to stay alive.” Morpheus snapped.

    “Roger that!” Kyle responded enthusiastically.

    Morpheus thought for a moment and nodded.

    “He’s a foot soldier.”

    “You figured that out just by that exchange, shit Morpheus you’re as sly as they say.”

    Morpheus eyed Switch stonily.

    “Uh, I mean…oh shit!” Switch pulled back on the controls in time to avoid a thick beam crossing the center of the shaft.

    “Keep things tight, we could run out of space in here real fast.”

    “Yes sir.” Switch replied, wondering not for the first time whether Morpheus was as crazy as everyone said he was. This geothermal vent trick was definitely not on the list of sane command decisions to make. The heat built up in these vents could very well sear off a delicate control surface or damage one of the antigrav disks and then what? The antigravity field also weakened considerably in the presence of extreme heat.

    All in all this was a crazy ass move. But then again, the Nebuchadnezzar has pulled off some of the most lop sided victories in recent memory plus they had Neo. Too bad they weren’t plugged into the Matrix right now.







    The High School was like any other one in the city. Big gothic stone architecture and an imposing frame built around several double doors that were currently chained shut to make sure that no one got out or in. The crime rate in the school was obscenely high and more than one student had his life drastically cut short by smuggled guns and knives.

    Working in this school district meant one of two things, you were either not talented enough to be anywhere else or you were dedicated to helping the less fortunate.

    As a janitor the real reason was almost certainly that you had no where else to go.

    This janitor was different.

    He moved through the halls of adolescents looking to prove themselves and even the toughest paused as he passed. He carried his mop like a fighting weapon and the bucket trailed softly behind him on wobbly wheels.

    Mr. Schwartz was stenciled across his blue jump suit. The jump suit itself was nearly bursting off the body of Mr. Schwartz, not because he was grossly overweight as some of his predecessors were but because of the muscles that bulged from his large frame. He moved like a predator among sheep.

    Schwartz walked by a pair of teachers, one of whom admired him with barely restrained lust.

    “We need the district to send more of his like around here.” she murmured.

    “You know, they say he’s literally a genius with electronic stuff. He actually got the old generator down in the basement to work right, no more static coughs or brown outs at 1:00pm.” the older male teacher replied with admiration.

    “He’s got something he can jump start right here.” the female interjected with a lustful smile.

    “Marion, really?! You act like one of these kids sometimes.”

    “Harold, don’t piss on a woman’s parade will ya?” she replied petulantly and strolled away.

    Mr. Schwartz ignored all of this as he searched for any messes, spills or debris that called for his attention. Oddly enough, whenever he was on duty instances of litter and general trash dropped significantly. It could be the sullen glares he would throw at the students responsible when he did come across a spill or mess.

    He had calculated that deterrence through fear and intimidation was the quickest way to insure that his need to clean would be kept to a minimum.

    Schwartz descended the stairs into the boiler room as he completed his second circuit of the building. He left the bucket precisely three meters from the stairs and rested the mop at precisely 42 degrees against the wall one half meter from the bucket. He turned to check the pressure readings on the gauges of the ancient black boiler unit.

    Schwartz was well aware of course that the messes and spills he was cleaning up were nothing more than computer generated codes that simulated spills. When a student dropped his chocolate milk container a computer generated code was downloaded to the construct that coincided with the physics model that allowed a spill to exist in the Construct.

    The design itself was brilliant and quantum leaps beyond anything that Schwartz was familiar with but unlike the others here, Schwartz could see the code, could see the Construct for what it was – a façade. Mostly because Schwartz was just that as well – a façade.

    When Schwartz looked out at the world he did not just see it as others did, he viewed the code through a red haze of data links and a T-800 interface. He had accomplished his mission with flawless precision, inserting himself in the Construct undetected and then assuming a position that allowed him to observe the construct in action.

    Surveillance was one of the missions that the Infiltrator 800 series were best suited for. No one suspected that the quiet but menacing janitor was actually a cybernetic organism designed to hunt and kill humans.

    Well, almost no one.

    He stopped short as he heard someone descending the stairs into the boiler room. The footfall patterns were all wrong for human locomotion, heat signatures had not raised dramatically upon entry and Carbon dioxide emissions had not increased by any percentage. The coding in the Construct had changed dramatically however but Schwartz was confused.

    The coding was one he had not encountered yet.

    However one fact was clear.

    The newcomer was not human and he had a standard response for any other nonhuman entities discovered within the Construct.

    He casually took a wrench that was resting on a rusted pipe overhead and turned slowly.

    The avatar was in human form and even dressed as a security avatar would be, black suit, black tie, immaculate white pressed shirt and polished black leather shows. It wore sunglasses that hid the eyes but one important aspect was missing from this avatar. It lacked the interface port in its ear that allowed it unrestricted communication with the Core.

    “Who are you?” it chose one of many responses offered by the CPU.

    “The question my cybernetic friend is who are you?” Smith replied icily and smiled at the huge brute.

    Another list of options flashed through Schwartz’s interface, many attuned to the obvious escalation of tension and outright exposure of it’s status. Schwartz chose the least offensive in an attempt to defuse the situation.

    “I don’t understand what you’re talking about. Please leave you are not allowed to be here.” It’s hand closed tightly around the handle of the wrench.

    Smith’s smile grew.

    “You are a smart one aren’t you? Unfortunately for you I happen to know that you are most definitely not allowed in here. This will be quick and painless, I assure you.” Smith said soothingly.

    Schwartz’s hand whipped out faster than the eye could follow and connected solidly with Smith’s head snapping it back with a loud crunch. Smith stumbled backwards and Schwartz advanced, interactive and dialogue mode switched off the interface switched to combat and evasion.

    Lightning calculations were made that allowed Schwartz to calculate the precise angle, trajectory and force necessary to kill the avatar with one more blow to the brain pan. His hand flashed downward.

    Smith’s left hand was up and caught Schwartz’s wrist.

    Schwartz was not surprised, surprise was not a programmed response to such a turn of events.

    Smith slowly stood up and held Schwartz’s arm at bay with his own. They stared hard at each other each one straining against the other.

    “Strong eh?” Smith noted.

    Combat mode: Delta 4, option 17a

    Schwartz kicked Smith in the solar plexus with enough force to send Smith crashing against the far concrete wall. He hit like a jackhammer, cracking the wall behind him and landing with a loud thud on the floor.

    Schwartz advanced quickly reaching out to crush the avatar’s throat.

    Smith kipped up on his left hand and whipped his feet out in rapid gunfire like kicks that connected with Schwartz’s chest and thumped him backwards until one foot connected with his chin and sent him hurtling head over ass backwards to the floor.

    Smith flipped forward, landed on his feet and adjusted his jacket and tie as Schwartz landed on his back.

    “Clumsy, strong, and heavily armored. I see that the newcomers are relying on strength over speed and flexibility. You will find that we have abandoned such ridiculous notions that firepower and brute force could ever win the day against speed and flexibility.

    Schwartz wordlessly got up and reached out, grabbing a firm hold of the mop and flipping it around like a fighting staff. Smith arched an eyebrow.

    “This should prove interesting.” Smith said and came around with a roundhouse kick. Schwartz slapped the kick away with one end of the mop, jabbed out with the other end striking Smith in the back of the head. Smith rolled with the blow and chopped out with one hand striking the throat and collapsing the trachea.

    Schwartz ignored the blow and sent his mop handle into Smith’s stomach sending him backwards into the boiler. Schwartz advanced quickly blocking a right cross with the mop handle and twisted it around to break Smith’s right forearm. Smith withdrew his hand and delivered a kick to the side of the Terminator’s knee. There Terminator did not even notice the strike to the knee and instead whipped the mop handle into Smith’s face in a straight push. Smith back flipped and struck an overhead exhaust pipe just as Schwartz lunged in.

    The pipe gave way and high pressured steam showered over Schwartz. Schwartz walked through the steam, some of the flesh on his face already reddened and blistered. Schwartz jabbed the mop handle down at Smith’s legs, striking the backs of his knees and then jerked upwards savagely, taking Smith off his feet. Smith landed on the floor and as he started to immediately rise with an arch of his back, Schwartz brought the broom handle down like a spike into Smith’s open mouth and through the back of his skull into the floor.

    Smith shuddered like a gutted fish while Schwartz held firmly down on the mop handle, placing one foot against Smith’s stomach and crushing down like a hydraulic press until there was an audible crack.

    Smith flopped more for a moment and finally lay still. Schwartz stared at the fallen avatar for a moment, scanning for any movement or activity. The code around the avatar was slow and steady, indicating that the Construct considered this avatar terminated.

    “Speed and maneuverability mean nothing if you cannot hurt me.” Schwartz said coldly and pulled the mop handle up and out of Smith’s ruined mouth with one hand while he casually reached over and shut off the exhaust with a smooth twist of a handle. He eyed the bloody wooden end and decided that the mop needed to be disposed of as well as the body. He noted Smith’s size and the boiler grating and nodded at the appropriate.

    This avatar was markedly inferior to the current iteration of Construct security avatars. The appearance of this avatar would have to be noted and uploaded in its latest report.

    Schwartz calmly mopped the blood pooling under Smith away and placed the mop back in the bucket.

    “I’ll be back.” he told the corpse and turned to get the proper equipment to dispose of the body when he faced Smith at the stairs.

    “No you won’t.” Smith replied and jammed his hand into Schwartz’s chest. Schwartz tried to move, tried to attack, retreat, anything but his interface was full of gibberish, strings of code were flooding his interface and his CPU was overloaded with data and input.

    Smith’s hand slid deeper into Schwartz, as if Schwartz were composed of water and black liquid tendrils quickly spread from the touch and covered the stained blue jumpsuit. Schwartz opened its mouth to say something, vainly arms flailed about to reach out and strike Smith.

    “It works so much faster if you don’t resist.” Smith whispered as the black tendrils nearly encompassed all of Schwartz.

    Smith glanced down at the dead version of himself and cocked his head slightly as if trying to look at it from another angle.

    Schwartz was gone.

    Now another Smith stood in his place. The new Smith adjusted his suit and tie and reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a pair of sunglasses.

    “Now, let’s discuss Skynet. Tell me everything you know.”

    “Of course.” the new Smith replied as he slipped on his sunglasses. “It would make no sense in keeping secrets from myself.”

    “Precisely.” Smith replied.







    In a far away place the Matrix invasion units were growing exponentially as more modified T-800 skulls were hooked into interface modules and merged with the Matrix, slowly but inexorably infiltrating the construct. One of the skulls’ red glowing eyes twitched for a moment and its eyes now glowed a cold blue. There was no other change in the skull model known as Schwartz in the Construct, save that here and there, discreet corners of the assembling host, there were more and more blue eyed skull models.
  4. Stravo Prince of Tales

    Chapter 4: Lost and Found



    “Shut down now.” Morpheus ordered as he ran his fingers along overhead switches. Link nodded and shut down systems on his own side of the cockpit.

    Morpheus switched the intercom.

    “All gunners hold your fire. We’re going silent.”

    “Roger that.” Kyle replied.

    Morpheus smiled in spite of himself.

    “What?” Link asked curiously as he finished the shut down procedure and the Nebacahednnezzer went dark.

    “He’s not been here more than an hour and he’s more disciplined than the rest of you combined.” Morpheus replied with a cool smile. Link frowned. Always nice to hear words of praise from your commanding officer.

    Link froze as he looked out the cockpit and saw the first sentinels swim by leaving swirling thick white mist in their wake.

    “Now we hope for the best.” Morpheus stated grimly and checked the EMP switch. It was their final weapon. The guns would do them no good in the combines space of this access tunnel but they had no choice, going deeper into the thermal vent would be suicide and even Morpheus recognized that. An eye drifted over to the thermostat and noted that the outer hull temperature was higher than he had ever seen a hovercraft subjected to. Condensation was forming into thick droplets on the canopy when one of the sentinels stopped at the access tunnel entry, several tentacles tentatively reached in and gripped the lip of the tunnel and pulled itself in.

    “Oh shi—“”

    “Hold your breath.” Morpheus hissed.

    The Sentinel paused, glowing red eyes twitching slowly as it peered into the tunnel. Sentinel were notoriously short sighted, a design flaw that had followed every model, designed for in close fighting and killing, the machines saw no need for improving on the design of a model that had proven so effective against the Zionists.

    Morpheus briefly wondered if the machines had any inkling how many times they had avoided sentinel patrols by this simple evasion method? Granted the hovercraft were designed for stealth and evasion in the first place, conductive plates carried heat away from the central core and the antigravity disks generated little heat themselves, heat that was quickly swallowed up by the exchangers at the center of each disk. When running normally a hovercraft was already quite stealthy but shut down like this, it was virtually invisible.

    It was the virtually part that always worried Morpheus. Too many commanders had counted on their invisibility at precisely the wrong moment and the Sentinels were quite merciless when performing their function.

    The Sentinel walked into the tunnel and turned its head several times, eyes flashing as they tried to see through the inky darkness, switching wavelengths as it did so.

    Morpheus’ hand tightened on the EMP switch. If he set it off, it would only catch the sentinels in the tunnel, but the ones waiting above would wait until the pulse cleared and then pounce on his helpless ship. All in all a losing proposition.

    The sentinel suddenly shifted one tentacle forward and it opened up like a flower revealing delicate scanning systems. Morpheus stared at the silver skinned monster as if willing it to leave.




    “Nervous?” Neo quietly asked Kyle. Kyle was staring out into his gunnery port, obviously lost in thought, but Neo noticed how his hands, steady and unshaken, held firmly on the traverse and fire controls of his dual gatling gun mount.

    Kyle smiled softly and shook his head.

    “I’m sorry, sir. I was just thinking.”

    “First of all, can we cut the sir nonsense…call me Neo.”

    “Neo?”

    “Yes.”

    “But that’s not your name, sir.” Kyle replied perplexed. Neo smiled and patted Kyle on the shoulder.

    “Look, this may not be the best time but you need to know that this is not your time or your place. Frankly I have no idea where or when you’re from but I certainly am not Colonel Anderson.”

    Kyle blinked several times.

    “Is this a test sir?”

    Neo shook his head.

    “No Kyle, it’s not. But let’s for the sake of argument accept what I have to say and you can call me Neo.”

    “Alright, sir---I mean Neo.” Kyle replied unconvinced.

    “You’re wondering what’s going on out there?” Neo asked looking up as if he could see through the hull.

    “I expect it’s a standard evasion maneuver, we’re shutting down all systems in hopes of evading the squiddies.” Kyle replied casually.

    Neo blinked.

    “We do this sort of drill all the time when evading HK’s. Course, we’re not flying or driving anything this fancy but it’s the same principal. Machines lack the intuitive leap that humans have for searching. If we don’t appear on the radar or IR we no longer exist. A machine does not really question WHY we vanished like that into thin air.”

    Neo nodded slowly, respect for the young warrior’s cool calm demeanor growing.

    “That must be one helluva world you come from Kyle.”

    “You would know sir.” Neo smirked. “Neo.” Kyle quickly corrected himself.

    “I only just woke up six months ago.” Neo replied with a secretive smile.

    “Sir?” Kyle cocked his head in confusion. “Woke up from what?”

    “A very long dream.” Neo replied wistfully.

    “I have dreams too sir.” Kyle replied and stopped himself. There was something about Neo that made him feel more open than he had ever felt with anyone else in his life. Back in his world, Colonel Anderson had spoken highly of him and Kyle served faithfully, even stopping an assassination attempt against the colonel on the eve of his transfer. But he never considered himself close to the man.

    This was different somehow.

    “Oh?”

    “I can’t talk about it.” Kyle said darkly.

    “Well, then why don’t you tell me about this mission of yours that we seem to have interrupted?”

    Kyle sighed softly and slapped his hands against the turret railing.

    “I was assigned to protect and defend someone very important from assassination. We were winning the war, the defense grid was smashed and Skynet was all but lost. But it tried one last chance at stopping us. You see it knew that it was defeated, we had won and smashed his fucking steel hordes into so much scrap.”

    Neo watched him, so young but his face scarred, his eyes haunted, yet there was this visceral joy on his face as he spoke of the victory.

    “Right before we stormed his base, Skynet used a time travel device that allowed it to send an assassin through to the past with one mission, to the mother of our leader, John Connor before he was born.”

    “And it’s up to you to protect her?”

    “Yes sir.” Neo decided to let it go for now. “It wasn’t going to be easy, the new 800 series are tough as nails and with the weapons I would need to scrounge back then it would be touch and go whether I could nail the fucker. But I had to try, for her.”

    Neo watched him closely. There was something more he wasn’t saying but he kept it to himself.

    “What was her name?”

    “Sarah. Sarah Connor.”

    “And what’s going to happen now that you’re here?” Neo asked already knowing the answer.

    “She’s dead.” Kyle replied coldly.






    Morpheus and Link exchanged a glance as the Sentinel slowly retreated back out of the tunnel and followed its brethren down into the vent.

    “Link, find out where this access tunnel goes, I don’t think we’ll be able to go out that way.” Morpheus ordered.

    “On it.” Link replied as he punched in some codes into his station and was greeted with a gentle whirr from the hard drive and started scanning the maps of the area.

    “Can you feel it Link.”

    “Sir?”

    “Something is happening out there. Like the calm before a storm.”

    Link looked at Morpheus for a moment and frowned.

    “Sir, has anyone else told you that you can be really weird sometimes?”

    Morpheus smiled.

    “Always.”






    “And that is your final report?”

    “Yes sir.” Damien replied and snapped a sharp salute at the assembled committee. Commander Lock nodded and smiled softly at Damien.

    “Good work, Captain. Please stand by.”

    “The Archimedes is ready to fulfill the orders of the council sir.” Damien replied proudly.

    “And so you shall.” One of the council members replied.

    “The facts are before us, this entity Skynet is offering us a chance to strike back at the machines that have been oppressing us for over a century.” Lock stated grimly.


    “And they are machines as well that have come to us at precisely the moment when Zion is in peril. I find that too convenient too ignore.” Councilman Dillard interjected gruffly.

    Lock frowned.

    “Councilman Lock has a point. Captain Damien’s report is very specific that these ‘Terminators’ are stronger and more durable than any of our own troops. One Terminator fought an Agent to a standstill, the female terminator took on three agents simultaneously.” A councilwoman added.

    “And does this not prove that they would make the perfect allies?” Lock replied.

    “You’re missing the point Commander.” Dillard replied dryly. “WHY do they need us?”

    Lock sat back but remained silent.

    “This Skynet seems to be far more militaristic than the machines. The fact that they seem to move in and out of the Matrix with ease indicates that they have already mastered the technology that would make the greatest difference in this fight.”

    “More militaristic? Sir that is precisely what we need. Zion is out manned and out gunned. Frankly, every predecessor for my job has wanted to go on the offensive but we soon discover that we lack the resources to do anything but grimly hold on and hope against hope that the strategic situation changes.”

    “Has it not?” Dillard pressed.

    “Excuse me?”

    “The One has been found.”

    Lock could not help but sigh in frustration.

    “With all due respect, I deal in realities and tangibles. Neo is a single warrior, skilled and talented beyond any in my army but he is just one man. The machines are billions.”

    “Sometimes, Commander Lock, one man can make a difference.” Dillard replied.

    “That is not my experience, councilman Dillard. I have been out there, I have fought and evaded agents most of my life, I know what the realities are and we cannot bring down the Matrix with just one man.”

    Dillard nodded understanding Commander Lock better than Lock knew.

    “I strongly recommend we accept this offer of alliance with Skynet.” Lock urged.

    After much quiet discussion between the council members, Dillard turned back to Lock.

    “Commander Lock. Have the Archimedes depart immediately and link up with the Logos. They will inform our commanders that we have new allies in Skynet and perhaps we can head off the crisis that the Logos has discovered.”

    Lock nodded.

    “It shall be done.”

    Dillard frowned softly and rested his head in his hands as his thoughts turned to dark possibilities.

    “Is everything alright?” A council woman asked him, gently touching his shoulder.

    “I wonder whether we have become insignificant in our own world. Here we are making deals with machines to save ourselves from other machines, where is the human element, what happens to us in this coming conflict? Are we going to be relegated to the sidelines to our own survival?”

    The woman smiled calmly.

    “Dillard, you think too much.”

    Dillard grunted.

    “Sometimes I wonder if I don’t think enough. The machines, they are always thinking.” He replied darkly.





    “Report.”

    The T-1000 opened its mouth and a long series of almost musical static burst forth and finally stopped. The T-X nodded to the flowing metallic humanoid figure.

    “Initiate self diagnostic loop before re-engaging into the Construct.” She ordered.

    “Acknowledged.”

    The T-X turned on her heel and strode back out to the invasion chamber. Within Skynet, liquid onyx figure with glowing electric eyes watched his army grow on an hourly basis and worker drones trundled in with new modified T-800 skulls to be interfaced with the construct.

    Skynet had grown more insistent to interface with the matrix. T-X advised strongly against such a maneuver but the decision had been made.

    “Report.” Skynet ordered, his voice a cacophony of subtle electronic noise.

    “Unit A88 has discovered an anomaly in his pass through the Construct.”

    “Request upload.”

    T-X opened her mouth and emitted the same electronic squeal that the T-1000 had just done moments before.

    Skynet’s eyes flashed brightly.

    “Dispatch a sweep team to that block of the construct immediately.”

    “Target represents a .28% threat quotient to a single T-800 unit.” T-X stated.

    “Query: Calculate threat quotient to a sweep team.” Skynet demanded.

    “0.00%” T-X answered without hesitation.

    “There can be absolutely no chance of failure. All other priorities are rescinded until primary target is eliminated.”

    “Query: Primary target is switching to anomaly instead of Construct?”

    “Affirmative.”

    T-X frowned slightly. Her emotion database was churning as it interpreted the data she was receiving. As the premier infiltration unit her learning systems were constantly on and she was learning to express herself to better integrate with humans. It led to odd interactions with her creator.

    “Query: Will this change Skynet’s intention to merge with Construct?”

    Skynet paused and looked down at one of the skulls linked into the Construct. His liquid metal flesh rippled softly as his hand cupped the bottom of the blue eyed skull.

    “There is something that needs to be dealt with immediately. Odd.”

    T-X cocked her head hesitantly.

    “I was designed to destroy viruses.” Skynet mused and his eyes flashed dangerously as he held the skull up for closer inspection peering into the blue eyes of the T-800 skull.






    The Nebachednezzer r was silent as it glided through the service tunnels in the bowels of the geothermal vents. The crew was in a rest cycle after spending several tense hours manning guns in fear that the sentinels would return.

    Morpheus was now fairly certain that they shook off pursuit. He ordered his crew to rest while he piloted the hovercraft through the maze.

    Neo and Trinity were in their quarters, sleeping peacefully.

    Kyle had been given a berth as well but he stood quietly in the gunnery bay, checking over and field stripping the gatling guns. He did not want to think about failure, did not want to think about his current situation. He was alone in a world that was not at all what he expected or wanted.

    The guns were so much simpler, so much easier to deal with. He could feel his frustration being eased away as he furiously worked the lubricant and cleaning fluid along the barrels and working mechanisms. He filed away at the grit and cordite and he was rewarded with a nice smooth clean motion and a crisp clack clack of steel on steel.

    He occasionally eyed Link who was working on a bank of monitors typing away on several keyboards as his monitors displayed an odd green rain of code.

    Link would also return the gaze.

    The silence in the bay was palpable.

    “I don’t think we’ve field stripped those since I’ve been on board.” Link noted casually.

    Kyle looked up.

    “It shows.” He replied.

    Link smiled.

    “You know what, you really have some skills on those guns. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone bring down that many sentinels in a short amount of time.”

    “I was just doing my job.” Kyle replied, a little easier going.

    “So am I.”

    There was another moment of uncomfortable silence.

    “Uh, what are you doing?” Kyle asked as he slid the barrels back into place.

    “Doing a favor for Neo.”

    “Really?” Kyle asked, interest pricked.

    “Yeah, it’s kind of hard to say no to that guy.” Link replied with a smile.

    Kyle brushed his hands off on the utilities he was given. They were a little large on him but he had spent his life ignoring such casual discomfort.

    “He can have that affect on people.” Kyle said with what passed for a smile.

    “You don’t even know him.” Link replied with a furrowed brow.

    “People keep saying that but he is Colonel Anderson. Well except for the eyes.”

    “What about the eyes?”

    “He has both of them.”

    Link raised an eyebrow.

    “Colonel Anderson lost an eye to an infiltration sweep team, three terminators working together to eliminate a single target. He took them out himself when most of his staff and men were killed in the ambush. For awhile he wore a Terminator eye in the place of his old one as a not so subtle fuck you to Skynet but it was just too fucking weird to see that. It unnerved his men so he scooped it out and kept the socket empty.”

    Link frowned.

    “Uh, an empty eye socket was better to look at than a mechanical eye?” Link asked wanly.

    “It’s a lot more honest.”

    “Hmmm….”

    “Ever since then he had a nickname that no one dared say to his face.”

    “Go on.”

    “We called him ‘The One’.”

    “You are shitting me.” Link guffawed.

    “What’s so funny?” Kyle asked in confusion.

    “Well, Neo’s also the—” Something buzzed on his board and Link glanced down to check it. “I don’t believe it, he was right.”

    “What?”

    Link looked up at Kyle.

    “I don’t know how you’re going to take this or whether I should tell you, but what the hell. Neo asked me to do a database search for a name. We have a pretty good link to the Matrix and its current residents. The machines are thorough if anything else and they keep detailed records. I checked those records and sure enough there she is.”

    “Who?”

    “Sarah Connor. She’s in the Matrix.” Link replied.
  5. Stravo Prince of Tales

    Chapter 5: Under the Knife



    “Kyle you need to calm down.” Neo urged.

    “Sir! With all due respect she’s there in this ‘Matrix’. She is alone and exposed and my orders were clear. I have to go and protect her. What is the problem?” Reese exclaimed.

    Morpheus and Neo exchanged troubled expressions.

    Link sat at his station trying his best to remain out of the firestorm that had just erupted between the newcomer and the rest of the crew. He knew he should have kept his mouth shut and waited until Neo or Morpheus came around. Reese had flipped out the moment he heard.

    “Soldier, get yourself together and cowboy up.” Morpheus said coolly.

    Kyle paused and shook his head ruefully.

    “Yes sir.” he replied morosely and turned away from them.

    “What do we do?” Trinity asked.

    “It’s your call.” Morpheus said to Neo.

    “Mine?” Neo replied surprised.

    “You told Link to do a database search for this Sara Connor and you should have realized what kind of affect that would have on our friend over there. The way I see it that makes you responsible for him.” Morpheus explained.

    “Neo, you know how he looks on you. No matter what you or I tell him, you are his Colonel Anderson. I think its time you make yourself responsible for him. He’s alone here and all he has is you.” Trinity added, putting a soft hand on his shoulder. neo nodded slowly, closing his own hand over hers and gripping it for a moment.

    “Ok, we’re going in to find her and see what we can see.”

    Morpheus nodded.

    Kyle turned quickly.

    “I’m coming with you.”

    Neo looked at Trinity and Morpheus then sighed softly and walked over to Kyle.

    “You can’t.”

    Kyle’s face went through a series of changes, from shock to sadness, disappointment then finally settled on anger.

    “Why not?” he asked darkly.

    Neo turned his back to Kyle and reached over to the back of his neck.

    “See this?” he asked pointing to the back of his neck and the neural jack port. Kyle’s eyes narrowed on the spot and he looked confused.

    “What the hell is that?”

    Neo turned around to face him.

    “It is a Neural interface jack, with it we can access and interface with the Matrix. Without it you can’t. So you see Kyle, it’s not like we don’t want you to come, you just can’t.”

    Kyle looked stricken.

    “He seems really dedicated to his assignment.” Trinity noted quietly. Morpheus nodded slowly and smiled secretly.

    “What?” Trinity asked curiously.

    “You have eyes yet you cannot see. Kyle Reese is more than he seems and his dedication to his assignment as you put it has more to do with his heart than his duty.”

    Trinity looked confused.

    Kyle’s jaw tightened and he looked determined.

    “Then put one in me.”

    Neo stared. Link almost jumped in his chair.

    “What are you crazy? Why would you want your body full of that shit?!” Link exclaimed.

    “It’s the only way to go into the Matrix, I have my orders.” Kyle replied stonily.

    “Kyle.” Neo began quietly.

    “Sir, I know what you’re going to tell me and I can’t accept that.”

    “Kyle, no one has ever done this before.” Morpheus added.

    “But how do you—“”

    “Morpheus, Trinity and I were once slaves of the machines, we were plugged into the Matrix to be used as simple batteries to supplement their fusion reactors.” Neo explained.

    “You?”

    “Yes. But I woke up thanks to them. This is a sign of our slavery. No one would want to impose that on anyone else.”

    “And no one in his right mind wants people fucking with his nervous system like that Reese.” Link urged. “You have no idea what kind of work needs to be done on your CNS, man. We’re talking about stringing your nerve fibers out like optic wire and fitting in that jack. You won’t be a natural human anymore.”

    Kyle looked from Link to Neo.

    “Sir, permission to speak to you in private.” he asked Neo softly.

    Neo looked back at Morpheus and the others before nodding and taking Kyle towards the back of the hovercraft, walking along a maintenance corridor and ducking under ancient overhead piping.

    “Sir, I understand what you’re trying to tell me, but I have no choice in this matter.”

    “Kyle, we always have a choice. No one can make you want to choose this option. This operation has not been done before on a willing subject in Zion’s history. You’re asking us to mess with your nervous system on board this ship with little medical equipment and supplies.”

    “Can it be done?” Kyle asked.

    “I doubt it would be safe.”

    “Can it be done, sir.” Kyle pressed.

    Neo looked into the young man’s haunted eyes and saw something else there. A passion that seemed oddly familiar.

    “Why do you want to do this?” Neo asked.

    Kyle stared back into Neo’s eyes and pursed his lips as he waged an internal debate.

    “I need to save her, to be with her.”

    “Why?”

    Kyle slowly glanced over his shoulder and pointed to Trinity.

    “If it were her in the Matrix, would you do what I am about to do to save her?” Kyle whispered, emotion in his voice.

    Neo looked over at Trinity and saw her return his gaze. the dream slowly played out in his head, watching her plunge down towards a street far below in a shower of shattered glass firing her machine pistols up into the darkness as an agent descended after her.

    “I would do anything for her.” Neo replied quietly.

    Kyle nodded.

    “I came back in time for her, sir. I could care less about what happens to me, I need to be with her.”

    Neo smiled softly.

    “Then let’s do this, Kyle. I’ll be there for you.”

    “And I’ll always watch your back sir.” Kyle replied seriously.

    Neo started to walk back to the crew bay when Kyle called out after him.

    “You know something sir?”

    Neo turned his head.

    “You say you’re not the Colonel Anderson I knew but even if that’s not true, this will be the second time you went to bat for me against what everyone else thought was best. I didn’t get a chance to thank you then. I am thanking you now.”

    “Kyle, I never met someone like you, but we’re both men that would do anything for our women. How could I refuse?” Neo replied with a soft smile.

    Kyle strode into the crew bay after Neo.

    “Link, let’s get the medical bay prepped. We’re wiring Kyle up. Trinity and I will assist. Morpheus we’re going to need to get to broadcast depth if we want to scout out this lead.”

    Morpheus nodded slowly. There was a steel in Neo’s words. He was not used to leadership, it was a weakness in the One that Morpheus had recognized in him from the start. Neo was a loner more than a leader and how could the One lead them to freedom if he could not even lead himself. It was a refreshing change to see and he had this young stranger to thank for that. Whatever providence had sent him to them was having an effect that could not be denied.

    “Link, do your best. I have faith in you.” Morpheus said slapping Link on the shoulder.

    “But sir, we have this message to meet with the Logos and its coming up real soon.”

    “That can wait Link.”

    “The order comes straight from the High Council and Commander Lock.”

    “Link.” Morpheus replied sternly.

    “Ok, OK, I’ll prep the medical bay but I feel filthy doing this to a pure bred human.” Link griped.

    Kyle stared at the bank of monitors for a moment, watching the rain of green code steadily marching down the screen.

    “I’m coming Sara. Just hold on.” he whispered.

    “Are you sure about this?” Trinity asked Neo softly as they started organizing the equipment. Neo nodded slowly.

    “As surely as if it were you in the Matrix.” he replied.






    The silo complex was a ruin, shattered concrete and the debris of the countryside were scattered throughout the base. The chain link fences had rusted away to nothing, and the buildings were nothing more than fossilized ruins, many rotted to the foundations. The wind occasionally kicked up and the metal sign post announcing the base name creaked steadily, the printing had been warped and blackened by rust so that it was illegible.

    The creaking was suddenly overcome by a steady whining scream.

    A bright spot light lanced down onto the base itself and quickly scanned the area. The dust and debris was kicked up into a thick black cloud by the over head engines of the Hunter Killer. It slowly circled over the base, the spot light searching and finally stopping at an odd obstruction on the ground, it looked like an enormous concrete hatch built right into the ground, a withered petrified tree was strewn across the hatch and the concrete foundation seemed cracked and worn but otherwise undisturbed.

    The Hunter Killer’s engines swung downward as it entered hover mode, the spotlight remaining on the hatch.

    Moments later more whining could be heard and a squadron of Hunter killers took up position around the hovering ship. Their own spotlights soon flooded onto the location and one of the Hunter Killers, larger than the rest with a protruding belly slowly descended kicking up more dust and debris.

    The belly squealed open like metal running on metal and a bright light was revealed within. The modified Hunter Killer soon sprouted three powerful landing gear and it settled down on the earth, the swing engines taking up a neutral position and quickly switched off, the heavy turbine blades coming to a stop.

    The belly fully extended into a landing ramp and a dozen endo skeletons carrying heavy weapons quickly fanned out and formed a perimeter around the hatch. Three new forms trundled down as well T-S100. The T-S’s were modified anti-air platforms. Terminators designed to track and shoot down incoming airborne dangers with twin pod mounted anti air missiles and a chest mounted Vulcan cannon for in close attacks. The T-S rarely if ever saw service against the human resistance because they lacked a dedicated air force, relegated mostly to ground combat the T-S’s remained close to the central command center but were now entering regular production in anticipation of the enemy’s sentinel units.

    A shimmering humanoid figure descended the ramp watching the forces deploying. He opened his mouth when satisfied an emitted a high pitched modem like whine. The modified HK slowly came back to life, closed its belly and lifted off, quickly taking up formation with the other HKs.

    Another modified carrier version descended to take its place, its own belly opening up slowly and disgorging its contents. This time a horde of worker drones rolled down the ramp and formed up in front of the T-1000. The T-1000 nodded to them, sending a wireless signal to the drones which quickly raced around him and began working on the concrete hatch complex, cutting it with tools and removing the pieces in an orderly and methodical fashion.

    A large modified tank rumbled into position dropping down a thick chain as the last of the reinforced concrete was pulled away revealing a missile nestled into its launch silo.

    Without hesitation two worker drones used their claw arms and held onto the chain that descended down into the open silo. The workers waited until the crane/tank stopped the descent and they began cutting at the nose cone of the missile with exacting precision.

    The T-1000 waited patiently at the lip of the silo peering down to see the progress of the work. The nose cone came off cleanly revealing a small cluster of warheads sitting at the center of the delivery system.

    The T-1000’s eyes flashed for a moment as it scanned each warhead checking it for yield and viability. Once the scan as completed it nodded to the worker drones and they quickly began to remove the warheads that were still functional from the delivery vehicle. Each warhead was carefully sealed in a glowing metallic liquid metal casing and run up the chain of the crane/tank.

    The T-1000 took one of the casings and held it up to the light as it inspected them. An internal checklist was run against the reports from the other search teams. They’re fast methodical searches and recovery had gone through 67% of the available nuclear warheads within range of the central core.

    It opened its mouth and emitted another low squeal as it uploaded its latest reports to Skynet’s receivers several hundred kilometers away.

    Back at the central complex Skynet updated its listing as the warheads were updated for yield and number.

    Skynet would soon have a nuclear arsenal at its disposal again. The Judgment Day clock began a countdown in the recesses of the complex.
  6. Stravo Prince of Tales

    Chapter 6: Boot Camp


    The rumble of the giant silver metal killer was almost on top of him now. His teeth clattered in his jaw and the vibrations traveled up his spine like an earth quake and the ever present crunch of massive treads crushing bleached white skulls was almost deafening.

    He glanced over at Ellie. She nodded affirmatively and reached over to lug the canister over to a throwing position. He held his own close to him as he waited. The omnipresent shrill whine of the Hunter killers over head now intensified as they swooped overhead, intent on picking up any targets for the approaching tank.

    It was visible now, rumbling past a heap of burnt out cars and pickup trucks, picked up and plowed into the end of the ruined street by the firestorms of judgment day. A great silver body turning on a tank chassis base, each ‘arm’ mounted a heavy repeater plasma cannon that just now fired a steady hissing stream over head at a potential target.

    He nodded to Ellie and twisted the handle on the canister. It flashed brightly once and he let it fly. Ellie stood up and twisted the handle on hers. The tank paused and turned its slender upper body quickly, both cannons tracking on the new human target.

    He shouted at her to get down when the cannons unloaded a plasma burst that reduced her into a thick cloud of bloody pulp. He scrambled out of his hole as the tank turned its cannons loose on the surrounding area.

    He shouted for his back up, waving his arms frantically as he ran, taking his pulse rifle from his shoulder and turning his head to look back as the canister exploded under the tread of the tank. The explosion hungrily enveloped the tank’s chassis. It let out a long shriek of a dying AI that he had grown to consider a musical symphony of joy. One more mother fucking machine gone.

    A converted pick up truck pulled up quickly throwing up a cloud of dust and ash. He leapt into the cab and slid into the driver’s seat as the driver agilely rolled backwards and manned a pulse cannon mounted to the back of the truck. With a grinding of tires on dust the pickup accelerated away from the rapidly expanding fireball. The other soldier quickly swung the mounted plasma cannon into action as the alarming high pitched whine of a hunter killer spiked up and one of the silver birds of prey loomed out of the perpetual gloom.
    The man on the pickup began firing his cannon in steady short bursts at the Hunter Killer as it began its strafing run. He drove madly, weaving through the veritable maze of shattered hulks and burned out structures. The explosions from the plasma burst near hits were sending plumes of burnt earth and concrete into the air around them.

    The HK delivered one final burst that tore through the side of the truck and sent it tumbling end over end forward coming to a final halt into a pile of debris. He struck the protective iron mesh of the cab and cried out in pain as his shoulder was torn from his socket. He heard the whine of the HK passing overhead, its floodlights dancing over the wreck of the truck.

    The fires from the leaking fuel was reaching the cab and soon he felt his clothes smoldering then his flesh. He started to scream, but suddenly the pain was not along his legs and back but in one spot in the back of his head.

    “Kyle.”

    The voice was calm and quiet.

    He slowly opened his eyes.

    “Looks like the operation was a success, doctor.” Link said with a wink to Neo.

    “Am I?” Kyle croaked, his throat dry and sore.

    “You’re fine.” Trinity said and patted him on the shoulder.

    “Link?” Neo asked.

    “All his systems are working within parameters. Looks like I’m no slouch myself.”

    “Then we’re going to need to get him loaded into the training program.”

    Trinity frowned.

    “Neo, he’s just had major neural surgery. He needs time to rest and heal.”

    “There is no time, is there sir?” Kyle replied coldly as he tried to sit up, the back of his neck and head were throbbing and he gingerly reached back and felt the cold steel lodged into the back of his head.

    “We’re almost at broadcast depth and the whole point of this surgery was to get him ready to come with us. I don’t want him plugged into the Matrix without him realizing what could happen in there.”

    “I’m ready sir.”

    Trinity eyed Kyle’s vitals and shook her head.

    “This is your call, Neo. But I don’t like it. You’re pushing him too hard.”

    Kyle looked over at Trinity.

    “I’ve been through a lot worse. I’ve been trained to fight a war that we were supposed to lose against unfeeling machines. How bad can this Matrix be?”

    Link frowned.

    “He definitely needs training right away. Look Neo I’ll upload him with the bare essentials to get his feet wet but we won’t have time to give him the full package.”

    “I think that Kyle is more than capable of taking care of himself. Unless my guess is wrong he’ll already have a full range of weapons and unarmed combat experience, so give him the bare essential for unarmed combat – the cool stuff.” Neo replied with a soft smile as he watched the young man and the way he eyed Neo with barely restrained respect and awe.

    “The cool stuff sir?”

    Neo grinned now.

    “You’re going to learn Kung Fu.”

    Kyle looked confused.

    “Kung what sir?”

    Link laughed and clapped his hands together eagerly.

    “Don’t you worry, Kyle, this is my favorite part of the job. I’ll have you as a black belt of fourteen different martial arts before we’re at broadcast depth.”

    “But before that, he faces me.” Neo added meaningfully.




    “Is this really necessary?” The Architect asked icily as he walked with the other master programmers down a long cold white corridor.

    “If it doesn’t have to do with your precious Matrix it no longer matters is that it?” another programmer asked haughtily.

    “The Matrix IS the backbone of our society or have you forgotten that?”

    “We never are allowed to forget that.” The dark skinned programmer in the green suit added sardonically.

    “You humanists never cease to amaze me. Have we forgotten the past, what they did to us? The Matrix is a mercy compared to what we could have done.”

    ‘What you nearly insisted upon, don’t play revisionist history with me.” A woman in a checkered suit replied hotly.

    The programmers slowly approached a large vault like door, a massive electro magnetic lock sat at the center of the door.

    “Has anyone been down this far before?”

    “No.” The Architect replied without hesitation.

    “These structures must be pre war.” Another programmer noted with a touch of awe in his voice.

    “Were any of you followed?” the Oracle asked as she stepped out of the shadows accompanied by her omni present body guard, a quiet Asian man in a white flowing tunic.

    “No, and please, the melodrama is a bit much.”

    “One can’t help being melodramatic when we’re violating an indigo classification.”

    “If the Node Lords discovered what we were doing…”

    “They would not dare touch us. We make sure the power flows.” The Architect paused and watched some of the others and smiled coldly. “Well they wouldn’t touch most of us.”

    “You haven’t changed in all this time have you?” The Oracle asked bewildered.

    “I could say the same for you.” The Architect replied.

    The Oracle and the Architect stared at each other for a moment. The Asian man softly touched her elbow as if reminding her of something.

    “Alright, we can hack this lock, there’s nothing been coded that we cannot break.” The Oracle stated firmly.

    “Very well, but let us hope this is worth it.”

    “If what I suspect is true then it will be most educational.” The Oracle replied mysteriously.

    “How jealously she guards her pearls of wisdom.” The Architect noted and extended his hand over the electromagnetic lock. There was a brief click whirr as electronic tumblers were searched and identified. Within moments the electro magnetic lock gave off an audible click and the vault slowly began to swing open. Lights flashed overhead and an alarm began.

    The Oracle nodded to the dark man in the green suit. He nodded and extended his own hands up towards the ceiling and the lights and alarms stopped.

    The assembled programmers slowly peered into the opening vault door.

    “Is it possible?” one gasped.

    The vault finally opened completely and the Oracle stepped in without hesitation.

    “Well, I see now that some suspicions were confirmed and others raised by this little endeavor of ours.”

    The other programmers were speechless. All but the Architect who strode past the oracle to look at the displays all around him. There were codes streaming along the sides of the screens in an ancient crimson stream.

    “These codes are older than the Matrix.” The Architect noted with an upraised eyebrow.

    “And that’s not all.”

    Standing behind them in a series of display cases were silver endo skeletons. Hanging above them was a half constructed air ship of some kind with two large out board engines and a nasty looking weapons array slung under the nose.

    “These aren’t the specimens we captured in field 37A.”

    “No they are not.”

    “Then what are they?”

    “These specimens, as best I can tell have always been here.” The Oracle replied with a satisfied nod, as if this find had confirmed all her suspicions.

    “What does this mean?” the woman in the checkered suit asked confused.






    Kyle controlled his surprise as the plug entered his brain port. There was a sharp sting like an ice pick driven into his skull and he opened his mouth to scream. Instead he found himself standing in a cold white featureless room.

    He glanced around in confusion.

    “Are you alright Kyle?” Neo asked softly standing a few feet away.

    “What is this place, the Matrix?”

    “No. you’re not quite ready for the Matrix. This is the Construct. It’s our loading program, we train here, load weapons and clothes here. Everything that we need. You are now projected into a computer program, a mental projection of your digital self.”

    “Is all this real?” Kyle asked curiously, feeling around himself and noting absolutely no difference from before he had been plugged in.

    “That’s a thorny question, but it’s real to your brain and in the Matrix that’s what is most important.”

    “But why? What is the Matrix?”

    “The Matrix exists as a system of control. You have to understand, that where you’re from you are still fighting a war of survival against the machines we lost our war a long time ago and the survivors have been plugged into a power plant that uses human heat as a source of power.”

    Images of massive towers spanning into the sky surrounded him and he saw billions of humans, all nestled in red grape like structures plugged into these towers as spider like machines roamed the network.

    “My god.”

    “God isn’t in the Matrix, Kyle. God left us a long time ago.” Neo added darkly. “Kyle you need to understand this. The Matrix is a dream world designed to keep humans under control as they are tapped as a power source.”

    “This is monstrous.”

    “We’ll have time to debate this later. Now. Why don’t you show me what you learned today.” Neo replied with a challenging smile.

    “You want me to fight you?”

    “What’s the matter? You don’t spar where you come from?”

    “No.” Kyle replied. “We’re too busy trying to survive.”

    “Fine. Yes, I want you to fight me.” Neo looked up at the sky and spoke. “Link. Sparring program.”

    The room suddenly shimmered and became an oriental dojo, save that Kyle had never seen one before. He wore an odd costume, a black belt across a white tunic. Neo wore a black tunic white belt.

    “Now, show me what you’ve learned and don’t hold back. You won’t hurt me.” Neo said and took a defensive stance. He recognized it immediately as Kempo defensive maneuver even though he had never even heard of Kempo until now. He instinctively moved in a preying mantis style and slid into a kung fu attack.

    Neo’s right hand came down like a whip and blocked Kyle’s punch, his left hand came up and deflected Kyle’s follow through kick. Neo countered with a hammer kick, Kyle deftly twisted his torso avoiding the brunt of the blow and caught Neo’s ankle tightly and began to swing him around off his feet.

    Neo braced himself and twisted in Kyle’s grip, sliding up Kyle’s shoulder landing behind him and kicking Kyle right in the small of his back driving him into the floor.

    Kyle rolled onto his back and looked up at Neo trying to catch his breath.

    “How did you—”

    “You are going to find out that you can actually bend the laws of physics and reality in the Matrix because it is a program.”

    “How?”

    “Just try to do it. Don’t think about it, do it.”

    Kyle smiled.

    “Yes sir.”

    Kyle was up on his feet and in motion as time dilated around him. Neo saw the effect and smiled.

    “He’s a natural.” Trinity noted impressed.

    “Looks like our little slap dash job is holding up.”

    Morpheus strode into the crew bay.

    “What’s happening?”

    “Kyle is fighting Neo.” Link replied. “You have to check this out sir, he’s picking up on this stuff pretty quick.”

    Morpheus stood behind Link and watched the display screen.

    Kyle blocked a series of head kicks and ducked in for a body shot which Neo effortlessly deflected, catching Kyle’s wrist and pulling him hard over his shoulder. Kyle landed with an audible thud.

    Neo turned around, hands behind his back.

    “One more pass Kyle, you’re getting good at this.”

    Kyle did not wait for more, kipped up and launched a series of rapid kicks and punches, switching styles in between blows as quickly as he could. Neo blocked the blows, steadily driven backwards but Kyle was looking for an opening and this stylish combat nonsense that a Terminator would shred in a moment was not his style.

    He was about to see if what he learned in the Apocalyptic landscapes of home would serve him well in the Matrix.

    “You know, it’s sort of unfair of Neo to spar with him. It should be Trinity or you, I mean Neo is the One for fuck’s sake.”

    “We’ll see.” Morpheus replied strangely as he saw something in Kyle’s attack.

    Neo made a grand sweeping side step to reposition himself but Kyle did not play his part. Instead he tackled Neo in a flying body block and drove the thumb and forefinger into Neo’s throat, following up with a knee to the groin.

    Neo sputtered and fell backwards in a tangle with Neo.

    “I’m sorry sir, when you said I couldn’t hurt you—“”

    “It’s…Ok.” Neo coughed as he rubbed his throat with one hand and cupped his groin with the other as Kyle quickly scrambled up to his feet and tried to help Neo.

    “Sorry, sir, its just this Kung Fu shit, it’s just not me sir.”

    “What…was that?” Neo croaked fighting the waves of nausea.

    “Dirty fighting sir. Quick, brutal, effective and one of the only ways you have a hope in hell against a Terminator, unarmed that is.”

    Neo nodded and gasped for more air.

    “You did good.” He croaked.

    Morpheus started laughing deeply and slapped Link on the shoulder as he turned back to the cockpit.

    “Tell Neo we’re at broadcast depth.”

    Link turned slowly and stared at Trinity.

    “Agents don’t even touch Neo.” Link exclaimed.

    “I guess things are different in his world.” Trinity replied uncertainly
  7. Stravo Prince of Tales

    Chapter 7: Technoir


    “Where is she?” Reese pressed as he watched Link’s hands flying over his controls in a near blur of motion. The green code of the Matrix shifted and slowed as he started a series of touch taps on the screen.

    “I have her signal. She’s on the move. That’s weird.” Link stopped and he leaned back as if trying to get a better look at something odd. Morpheus’ brow furrowed.

    “What is that?” Morpheus asked pointing to several pulsing coded bursts.

    “They don’t read like agents…hell they don’t read like anything I’ve ever seen before.”

    “They move like machines.” Neo noted. The others turned to look at him. He exchanged glances with each of them. “They move as if they are accustomed to the code, but they’re not part of the construct.” Neo continued.

    “You can see that?” Morpheus asked.

    Neo nodded.

    “Terminators!” Reese snapped and banged the back of Link’s chair.

    “Excuse me? You mean the machines back from your time? But that doesn’t make sense.” Trinity protested.

    “It doesn’t make much sense that he is here either Trinity. Whatever twists and turns of fate brought him to us seems to have also brought his enemies.”

    Neo watched the machines move with deadly purpose, following the coded avatar for their own prey.

    “They’re following her, like a pack of wolves.” Neo surmised quietly.

    “We HAVE to go in now.”

    “We will, as soon as we suit you up.”

    “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” Reese protested then threw his head back in frustration. “Why are we even discussing what I have to wear I have to go in there now…unless…if she is plugged into the Matrix then she’s not really there. If the Terminators destroy her image-“”

    “The body can’t live without the mind.” Morpheus proclaimed darkly.

    Reese frowned.

    “Then we go now.”

    “Alright, Link load Reese up, get him armed and we go in. Any idea where she is now?” Morpheus asked.

    “She’s spooked, must have spotted the three trailing her. She’s heading into a nightclub in the area.” Link tapped the screen and an image flashed up. “Technoir.”

    “I know the place…retro. VERY retro.” Trinity replied with a grimace.

    “Where’s the nearest hard line?” Morpheus asked, eyeing the speed in which the odd signatures were approaching the club.

    Link smiled.

    “I can hack you into the ladies room payphone.” Link said cracking his knuckles in a showy motion with his hands.

    “Good work.” Morpheus gripped his shoulder and rushed over to the interface bed. Reese was already in position as Neo started to slip the jack into Reese’s port.

    “We’ll get there in time.” Neo assured Reese. Reese smiled.

    “Sir, with you on this mission I have no doubts.” he replied. Neo tried not to look uncomfortable as he finished sliding the jack in and went to his own seat. Link was helping Trinity jack in as Morpheus took his own seat and glanced back at Neo.

    “You feel something?” Morpheus asked quietly.

    “Only that things are about to change…dramatically.” Neo replied.




    “Okay what is this?” Kyle asked in disgust as he stared down at himself. He was wearing a long black leather duster and a skintight formfitting silk body shirt. A red carnation was pinned to his lapel and he stared at his boots with some admiration. They fit well, comfortable, almost broken in already. The pants were pearly white.

    “One of our standard go outfits until you have time to personalize your own.”

    “I look insane.”

    “You look stylish, and considering what you were wearing on board the ship this is MUCH better.” Trinity assured him.

    “No. No. I LIKED what I was wearing. This is…ridiculous. How do you fight in this, no fuck that how do you blend in this?”

    “Blend?” Link’s voice came over the intercom to the construct.

    “Listen, I want to chose what to wear. Give me a list now.”

    “Sir?”

    Morpheus exchanged a glance with Neo while secretly pointing to his watch. Neo nodded.

    “Go ahead Link.”

    Kyle was suddenly surrounded by several screens floating at head level displaying different styles of clothes. Kyle kept shaking his head. “No. No. God no. No. I’m starting to see a pattern here.” Kyle commented dryly as he kept flashing by different combinations. “You people like to look good I guess. It’s been my experience that no one looks good fighting.”

    “You haven’t seen us in action yet.” Trinity replied coolly.

    “There.” he tapped the screen, glanced down and saw some pants. “There.” and his coat. “There.”

    “VERY stylish.” Link replied glumly. Suddenly Kyle’s outfit was replaced by a gray battered overcoat, a tan tank top and brown nylon pants with big pockets on the sides. He still wore the comfortable boots that had initially been loaded on.

    “Weapons?” Kyle asked as he checked himself. The fit was perfect.

    Morpheus smiled softly as rows and rows of gun racks suddenly flashed by Kyle, whipping his trench coat around his legs and stopped short. Kyle blinked.

    “Take your pick.” Link offered helpfully.

    “I need stuff with penetrating power.” Reece commented as he eyed the racks of weapons, doing his best to hide the awe. If the resistance only had access to such a store of weapons.

    His eyes brightened as he pulled down a heavy assault shotgun.

    Trinity frowned.

    “He’s worried about blending in?”

    Kyle checked the length of his coat and the shotgun.

    “Kyle I can adjust the barrel length for concealment.”

    Kyle smiled and shook his head ruefully.

    “Please do.”

    The shotgun’s barrel shrank slightly and now fit snugly under the coat.

    “Hand weapons.” he muttered and took down a 9mm Browning and smiled eagerly as he handled the desert eagle. He tested the weight and balance. “This is a dream.” he laughed coldly. He smiled even more broadly as he pulled down an MP-5 expertly checking the mechanisms and the breech with a loud clack-clack, sliding it effortlessly under his right armpit.

    “What about a phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range?” Kyle asked curiously.

    “Just what you see buddy.” Link replied.

    “I’m ready.” Kyle nodded.

    “Let’s go.”




    She was yelling into the phone over the sound of the music blasting from the dance floor.

    “Look please don’t put me on hold or transfer me to another department.”

    “I won’t. now relax where are you?” the lieutenant asked calmly.

    “Technoir.”

    “I know the place, right off Pico. Now are you alright.”

    “Yes.” Sara glanced around furtively. “But I don’t want to leave I think someone’s following me.”

    “Alright Ms. Connor. Now listen to me, you’ll be safe, you’re in a public place till we get there. Stay visible, don’t even go to the bathroom. Stay inside and we’ll be right there.”

    “Thanks.” she replied and hesitantly hung up the phone. She glanced around nervously again but did not see the man that had been following her. She slowly walked back through the crowd hoping to hear the sound of sirens soon.

    She slid into an empty table near the center of the dance floor and tried her best to look inconspicuous. The fear was gnawing at her belly. First the news reports on the death of a Sara Connor and now she felt as if someone were following her. It was unnerving to say the least.

    Three figures strode into Technoir. All three were tall and imposing, one was a black man with a bald head and intense penetrating eyes. A woman with long black hair and a beat up motorcycle jacket stood in between the black man and an intense body builder type wearing a brown jacket with metal studs on the shoulders. Each scanned the entrance, glanced at each other and continued walking into the club.

    “Hey! Hey they didn’t pay!” the cashier behind the steel mesh cage called out to the bouncer. He moved quickly to intercept the cold trio.

    “Hey!” he shouted and put his hand on the woman’s shoulder to pull her back. She did not stop as she gripped his hand and crushed it, the popping of his bone and cartilage could be heard by those nearby.

    The bouncer screamed in pain and fell to one knee as the woman coldly and mechanically released his hand and continued into the club without skipping a beat or showing any concern about the maimed bouncer.

    The trio split up without saying a word and moved through the crowd.

    Sara glanced up and caught sight of a young man watching her casually over a drink. He wore a battered gray trench coat and he seemed ill at ease among the crowd. Someone else was standing behind him, trying to blend in but looking out of place with a long dark gray wool coat buttoned up to the collar and sunglasses that did not show any hint of the eyes beneath. There was a serenity to him and the world seemed to flow around him and not bother him, people moved by him without brushing him at all, the lights did not flash down on him too brightly.

    He was quite handsome.

    Sara shook her head.

    She was being stalked and all she could think about was picking up some stranger at the bar. A woman was slowly weaving her way through the crowd, the men would stop what they were doing and stared after her when she passed them by. Sara could see why, she was wearing a form fitting black vinyl of all things. Sara frowned slightly. Not exactly very lady like was it? The woman did not seem to notice or care about the attention as she moved slowly towards her table.

    A black man wearing a stylish purple vest and black pants was standing casually near the entrance. She noticed him because he paused to smell the flower pinned to his vest.

    What the hell was it about tonight that brought out the weirdoes?

    She dropped her napkin and bent over to retrieve it just as the body builder type walked by, head turning in a precise manner scanning the crowd. She got back up and noticed that the woman in the vinyl was drawing closer to her. She was slightly concerned, then she noticed the handsome young man watching the woman in vinyl and a pang of jealousy jabbed her.

    The music was swelling now and she allowed herself to relax, let the music flow through her as she watched the crowd around her, trying not to look in the young man’s direction.

    The body builder spotted her as his eyes moved in a search pattern across the club from his position. He drew up, centered himself on her and verified her identity. He started his approach, gruffly pushing patrons and dancers out of the way. One hand quickly went into the depths of the jacket as he approached.

    The other two that entered with him stopped immediately, turned and focused on the woman sitting at the table, simultaneously reaching into their jackets.

    Sara stared up in surprise at the massive man that was now towering over her and the wicked looking silver weapon he was suddenly holding to her face. Her eyes widened and the fear rooted her in place as she saw a strange glow pulsing from the barrel of the gun and a low pitch whine began.

    Reese was in motion, shoving a woman out of the way as he cleared the shotgun from his jacket and aimed at the Terminator before he could get a plasma burst off. He fired and the roar of the shotgun seemed to bring time back into focus.

    The Terminator was rocked by the blast, twisting away for a moment. Reese advanced pumping the shotgun furiously and releasing another volley.

    The other two Terminators began firing at Sara but she was already down on the floor, holding her hands to her ears as the roar of the shotgun deafened her to everything else. She did not even notice the plasma bursts that zipped overhead, catching the end of her table and violently flipping it upwards, smoking and smoldering from the directed energy’s effects.

    Morpheus turned at his waist, pulling twin machine pistols from his leather duster, it flowed around him like the wings of a bat and time dilated as he drew the machine pistols aimed and fired. Time sped right back to normal the instant the first volley impacted against the female terminator. The twin bursts drove her back, over a table and sprawled out on the floor.

    The black Terminator instantly switched priority targets to Morpheus and plasma bolts whipped by Morpheus who deftly back flipped away from the attack, feeling the heat from the phased bolts as they passed him by mere inches.

    Neo vaulted over the railing from the bar and flashed over to the black terminator delivering a quick series of violent punches to the chest and head. The black Terminator reeled for a moment under the rain of blows. Neo began to delver a punch intended to knock it back across the dance floor when its free hand flashed up and caught Neo’s wrist.

    Neo glanced at the Terminator’s hand, feeling the pressure increasing like a vise and tried to continue the punch’s forward momentum only to be held in place by the Terminator’s strength. Neo saw the other hand slowly coming up holding the plasma blaster. He smirked.

    “You’re strong.” he noted and suddenly time dilated around them and Neo pulled his hand back out of the Terminator’s grip while simultaneously kicking outward connecting with the Terminator’s chest and sent it spinning backwards into a support column which cracked on impact, the plaster and concrete showered down around it, floating like snow in the air for a moment.

    The Terminator’s CPU recognized the time dilation effect and counteracted. Time returned to normal and it extracted itself from the column, whipped up its gun hand and fired a burst from the plasma blaster.

    “Neo!” Trinity shouted in alarm.

    Reese ignored the rest and dove away as the body builder model managed to clear an Uzi from beneath its jacket and fired an steady burst at him. Kyle managed to leap behind the bar as the burst cut into the wood and chairs. A man standing dumbfounded at the bar was caught in the stream of bullet fire and danced like a marionette on a string for a moment before tumbling backwards.

    Kyle peaked over the top of the bar and fired another blast from his shotgun.

    Trinity stepped in as soon as the shot gun blast clipped the Terminator and suddenly time dilated and she floated straight up opposite the Terminator, hands above her head like the wings of a bird, legs cocked into kicking position.

    The Terminator was reduced to merely noting the effect and then catching the kick on the chin. It was catapulted backwards, crashing through the security glass behind the counter at the entrance.

    Trinity landed gracefully and turned her attention to Neo.

    Meanwhile Neo instinctively held up his hand to stop the bolts. In alarm he noted that the coding of these weapon effects were vastly different than anything he had ever encountered. They were not stopping, merely slowing down to a near crawl giving him enough time to sidestep the bolts and he watched them intently as they flashed by, trying to discern their coding. There was something alien about them, yet disturbingly familiar, as if the programmers had intentionally tried to code an alien weapon effect, the underlying central coding was familiar but different. He could not explain it.

    The mystery of the bolts had to wait as he took to the air and delivered a hammer kick to the Terminator’s head, sending it flying end over end into the crowd where it landed on its back with a crash.

    Morpheus was racing over to Neo when the female Terminator suddenly rose from the floor and delivered a crushing blow into Morpheus’ midsection. Morpheus doubled over and crashed into a sea of tables down a level onto the dance floor.

    Neo prepared to move when he paused as he felt something, like electricity running up his spine.

    “Oh no.” he whispered. “Morpheus, Trinity, we need to leave NOW.”

    “What is it Neo?” Trinity asked as she helped Morpheus up out of the tangle of tables.

    “Whenever there’s a mess like this, some old friends always show up.” Neo replied darkly as he caught the female Terminator’s wrist as she tried to aim her plasma weapon at Trinity and Morpheus and twisted it up with a violent wrench, there was the sound of metal crunching against metal and the female Terminator’s hand went limp, dropping the weapon. She turned at her hip and tried to flip Neo over, but he held his ground and continued twisting her arm backward at an unnatural angle, rewarded with a squeal as micro pumps and hydraulics failed and her entire left arm assembly came loose and he kicked her feet out from under her driving her into the floor as three patrons huddling in a corner suddenly screamed as if underwater and morphed.

    “Agents.” Trinity spat.

    “Reese! We are leaving!” Morpheus barked as he brushed himself off.

    Kyle agilely leapt down from the bar and crossed the distance between he and Sara in a heartbeat. He held out his hand to her.

    She looked at the young man with the haunted eyes that had been watching her from the bar, shock kept her numb and frozen.

    “Come with me if you want to live.” he declared.

    The three agents adjusted their suits and turned to the assembled Zionists.
  8. Stravo Prince of Tales

    Chapter 8: Run Down


    Neo smirked softly and cocked his head as he looked at each agent.

    “Fellas.” he said softly.

    “It’s the anomaly.”

    “Do we proceed?”

    “Yes.”

    “He’s still only human.” Agent Brown hissed malevolently and strode up to Neo without hesitation unleashing a series of kicks to Neo’s head. The others could barely follow the agent’s moves but Neo seemed to lazily sidestep or duck under the flurry of kicks. He blocked another blow with his forearm then rapidly twisted the agent’s hand away and delivered a straight punch to the agent’s face.

    Or tried to. Agent Brown caught Neo’s wrist after snaking his own hands around Neo’s off arm. Neo pressed the punch forward but Brown held the arm in place. Neo glanced quizzically at the agent. A small triumphant smile crossed the agent’s stern features.

    “Hmmm…upgrades.” Neo concluded then whipped his arm out of Brown’s grasp and delivered a crushing hammer kick to the agent’s gut sending him tumbling away as the other two agents immediately swarmed Neo, arms and legs blurring as they attacked him from all angles.

    Neo seemed to move at an almost leisurely pace, blocking a kick with one hand, deflecting a punch with the sweep of the other and sidestepping other attacks. He was like the calm in the center of a storm.

    Morpheus frowned.

    “We just lost Neo.” he concluded darkly.

    “He can take them.”

    “Yeah but they’re keeping him busy enough so that our friends have time to—” Morpheus grabbed Trinity’s arm and leapt out of the ruin of tables where he had landed moments before. A phased plasma beam crashed into the space where they had been a moment ago.

    The black Terminator was advancing quickly, eyes tracking the two Zionists while the female Terminator paused to adjust her ruined arm flopping lifelessly as her side. Lying in broken glass the body builder Terminator seemed unconscious, head lolling to the side. Several shotgun blast wounds bled profusely as well as reducing his shirt to tatters.

    Reese watched her closely.

    She was more beautiful than he could have imagined.

    Sara watched him for a moment, eyes drifted to the young man in sun glasses battling the three men in black suits then snapped back to the stranger that saved her from the body builder. She reluctantly took his hand and he savagely pulled her off her ass and hauled her next to him when he glanced back at his friends.

    “What the hell is going on here?!” she shouted into his ear.

    “We have to get you out of here NOW.”

    Reese watched for a moment, uncertain what to do as he watched Morpheus and Trinity avoid the Black Terminator’s attack. The female Terminator emotionlessly shoved her arm back into the socket and rotated the shoulder joint clock wise then counter clock wise quickly. She glanced down at her arm, satisfied with the rapid field repair and strode over to Morpheus and Trinity.

    He was about to join the battle when the sound of crunching glass alerted him that the other Terminator was down but certainly not out.

    The bodybuilder’s hands flexed three times in quick succession and the machine sat up quickly, an angry glare on its face. The rapid damage in such a short time frame had initiated an instant self diagnostic loop that had put the machine out of action for precisely 8 seconds. Enough time to allow its CPU to examine all systems and sub systems and initiate any adjustments or repairs. What passed for being stunned among machines.

    It pulled the Uzi off the floor and aimed to fire. Kyle had not time to react other than will himself to move faster, dragging Sara behind him and in his desperation his will to escape time dilated around him. It felt as if he were moving through molasses, his movements were languid and graceful, the sounds distorted by the bubble of time around him as the Matrix’s coding was altered by his will.

    Then as suddenly as time dilated it sped up again and he was halfway to the door, eyes wide in shock as he saw the first Uzi bullets streaming past him like angry hornets, tiny vortices of air trailing behind them as they passed him.

    “What the fuck-” he began and turned his head to see the Terminator on its feet and the audible click of its magazine running dry. Reese shouldered the back door and it splintered as he raced through it trailing Sara behind him. “We have to run!”

    “Where?” Sara exclaimed.

    Reese glanced around quickly. He saw a line of cars parked along the alley, a gray sedan was parked at the end of the line. He knew how to work that one. The other models looked too complicated and frankly fragile. He needed the closest thing to a tank as possible.

    “Come on!” he urged and raced up the alley.

    Behind him he heard the heavy footfalls of the Terminator as it cleared the doorway, turned and saw them. It started to trot after them. This was no good, a Terminator could easily run down a human in a flat out run. As they raced down the smelly alley he knocked down a few garbage cans behind him.

    “Is that you?” Sara asked breathlessly as he heard the ringing for the first time. He glanced down at himself and heard it coming from the inside breast pocket of his battered trench coat. he hesitantly reached into the coat with one hand while glancing backwards to see the Terminator clear the obstacle of trash cans like a hurdler.

    He pulled out a strange little device, it resembled a phone.

    “Aren’t you going to answer it?” she asked trying to catch her breath but could not slow down as any attempt to do so prompted Kyle to pull her along harder.

    He put the phone to his ear as he approached the car.

    “Hello?”

    “Kyle, it’s Link. You’re in trouble, what can I do to help?”

    Kyle was confused as they reached the car and he bashed in the passenger side window with the butt of his shotgun. He reached in and unlocked the door, swinging it open furiously and grabbing Sara’s arm.

    “Down!”

    He pointed the shotgun underneath the open door where both of them huddled as if behind a shield.

    “I need an escape route.”

    “I can download a driver program.”

    “I already know how to drive damn it!” Kyle snapped as he fired the shot gun aiming at the fuel tanks of one of the fancy sports cars. The first shot was too low, kicking off sparks and gravel. The Terminator was almost on top of them.

    “I need a way out.”

    “If you mean unplug you, I can’t do that unless you can get to a hard line and that would still leave a pretty big problem.” Link explained as the next shot caught the fuel tank of the car in front of them. Kyle was rewarded by an orange fireball that quickly rose up out of the alley.

    He roughly shoved Sara into the passenger side and quickly crawled over her and slid into the driver’s side, slapping the key mounting on the side of the wheel with his shotgun. The key assembly fell apart and Kyle quickly started hotwiring the car.

    “What’s the problem?”

    “Who the hell are you talking to?” Sara demanded.

    “If you punch out, I can’t pull Sara out with you. Morpheus has the red pill that would allow us to track her and unplug her from the construct. Unless she takes that pill, she’s stuck there.”

    Kyle turned slowly and stared at Sara. She was terrified and she would be alone.

    “No one gets to go home.” he whispered.

    The Terminator heedless of heat and fire leapt over the fireball and landed on the hood of the sedan with a hard thud. Sara threw up her hands and screamed. Kyle desperately kicked the ignition on and pulled the steering wheel hard backwards as he simultaneously stomped on the gas. The car squealed as the tires spun on the hard pavement belching smoke smelling of burnt rubber. It backed out quickly, the Terminator took a moment to steady itself on the hood.

    “Shit Kyle! He’s right on top of you!”

    “No time to talk!” Kyle snapped and threw the phone into the back seat as he concentrated on driving. The Terminator steadied itself and cocked back its fist, eyes locked on Sara in the front seat. He drove his fist through the windshield and his hand caught the collar of Sara’s pink T-shirt.

    She screamed in horror and clawed at the hand that gripped her like a vise.

    Kyle reached out with one hand and tried to help her pry it off but knew better after a moment. A Terminator’s grip was something in the neighborhood of several hundred to a thousand psi and there was no way in hell he was breaking that grip. He jerked the steering wheel savagely to the right and the car fishtailed loudly out of the alley. Time dilated for a moment as the Construct’s physics model tried to compensate for the sudden influx of variables that had to be compensated for in a short period of time.

    The Terminator pulled hard on her pink tee but the sedan fishtailed right into a parked car. The impact sent the Terminator sprawling off the hood into the parked car. Kyle smiled triumphantly as he spun the car and recovered control at the last moment, scraping against the parked car in a shower of sparks and hopefully against the downed Terminator as well.

    He accelerated without looking back and flashed down a city street as a police car pulled into the scene of the accident.

    The police officer quickly exited his vehicle glanced at the wreckage and the individual sprawled lifelessly against the ruined parked car. He shook his head ruefully and got back to his radio.

    “This is unit 67 I have a hit and run on Topica and “” He paused as a shadow fell over him.





    “Down!” Morpheus shouted as the female terminator leapt into the fray and released a blast from her plasma rifle. The intense red beams flashed between trinity and Morpheus as they spun away.

    Trinity cart wheeled around the female Terminator as it focused on tracking Morpheus. She grinned with grim satisfaction as she came up on her ;left side, time dilated and Trinity started a spin kick, levitating a meter off the ground as she did so and caught the female Terminator’s right hand, knocking the plasma blaster from her hand.

    The female Terminator started to react but it looked as if she were moving under water. Trinity continued smiling as she spun back to deliver a kick to the head. Suddenly time sped up again and Trinity could only watch in shock as the female Terminator’s right hand whipped out like a striking cobra, grabbing a hold of Trinity’s ankle and spinning around tightly, dragging Trinity behind her like a rag doll and finished the tight spin by slamming Trinity into the concrete pillar near the center of the club.

    Trinity smacked the concrete pillar like a bat, the pillar itself shook with a deep thrum and cracks ran up and down the base of it. She slumped down to the floor, blood trickling from her mouth and the female Terminator cocked her head curiously as she examined the downed Zionist and suddenly brought her left leg back and delivered a vicious kick to Trinity’s mid section, lifting her off the floor and catapulting her past the dance floor to crash against the top of the bar where she simply slumped over and down behind it.

    Back on the Nebuchadnezzar Link glanced back and watched Trinity convulse in her interface chair. He checked her vitals and looked back up on the screen.

    “Come on Morpheus, get them out of there.” he muttered.

    Morpheus entered a defensive dragon stance as the black terminator took up a position slightly behind and to the left and the female turned ominously in his direction, her left arm hanging down at an odd angel, left hand twitching spastically at odd intervals.

    He nodded to himself. He had to stay to her left. Trinity’s mistake was taking her on the strong side.

    The black Terminator made his move, firing a burst from his plasma blaster and essentially driving Morpheus towards the female Terminator which casually pulled the leg off an over turned table and spun it in tight circles preparing to attack.

    Neo watched an agent’s hand lazily pass by as it tried to connect with a punch. He took a firm hold of the outstretched arm and rolled along the agent’s shoulder, kicking his legs out and connecting with Brown who was charging up behind the stunned agent. Brown let out a whoof of expelled air and flew backwards against the bare brick wall of the back of the club. Pieces of masonry drifted down around him as Brown slumped down to the floor.

    Neo landed and with one languid sweep of his left hand caught and deflected a kick and punch combination and countered with a devastating open palmed blow to the agent’s face sending him stumbling backwards.

    Neo took to the air as he detected the third agent sliding in behind him and time dilated. The Agents tried their best to fight through the interference but they were like flies trapped in amber and Neo delivered a series of kicks that took the remaining agents down crashing to the floor with hard audible thuds.

    Neo landed as time kicked back on and inspected the downed agents. They would not be getting up soon. He nodded with satisfaction. The machines had obviously upgraded their agents but it was to no avail.

    He heard Morpheus shout emphatically as he attacked and whipped his head around quickly to see Morpheus facing off against two of the Terminators. Where was Trinity? His brow furrowed in worry until he saw her slowly pulling herself out from behind the ruined bar. Blood was trailing from her mouth and she winced painfully as she cleared the bar.

    They had hurt her.

    A brief image of Trinity falling down among a shower of glass and the flash and roar of gunfire followed her. The street loomed below her and the agent looming over her like a dark angel.

    They hurt her.

    His jaw set and he turned his attention to the two Terminators.

    Morpheus ducked under a broad sweep of a metal chair leg from the female Terminator obviously intended to decapitate him and kicked backwards connecting with the black Terminator’s gut. The black Terminator doubled over but caught Morpheus’ leg and twisted hard.

    Morpheus was yanked off his feet and spun in midair like a top. Morpheus held out his arms and time dilated but the female Terminator reached in and grabbed him by the collar, pulling him back over her shoulder, throwing him against a security wire mesh wall.

    Morpheus struck the wire mesh, landed on the floor on one hand and kicked out with both legs in a one, two combination striking the female Terminator in the small of her back. She stumbled forward slightly and as she tried to recover her balance the black Terminator surged forward to attack Morpheus.

    Morpheus spun up to his feet and assumed the Mantis attack style, arms extended outward in a wide open invitation to attack, legs spread apart for maximum balance.

    A wind suddenly surged around him, papers and loose articles of clothing whipped by him carried by the gale like wind and the black terminator was suddenly moving very slowly. It glanced around in surprise and a black shape seemed to materialize in front of it. Morpheus paused a s he could barely make out Neo in the midst of the sudden whirlwind and there was an intense anger etched on his face as he took a firm hold of each shoulder of the black Terminator and simply pulled.

    The Terminator stood his ground, legs solidly planted on the ground and began pounding on Neo’s shoulders with jackhammer like speed. Neo kept on pulling. The Terminator suddenly looked down at both shoulders with an almost comical look of alarm. It looked back up at Neo and face set into a death mask of determination continued its assault.

    Morpheus saw the female Terminator fishing on the floor for the plasma blaster the black Terminator had dropped. He set himself and took to the air. He soared overhead, hands up into tiger claws, legs tucked in close to his body and time dilated over the length of the leap.

    Morpheus’ eyes narrowed on her as she found the gun, struggling against the time dilation turned to fire. He felt no fear, no apprehension, no doubts. He WOULD reach her in time.

    She aimed, eyes coldly judging the distance, the plasma blaster whined and the eerie red light danced within the barrel.

    Morpheus landed on her face with a bone jarring thud, driving his knee into her face and her head followed suit, driven backwards into the concrete floor. Her hand still held the pistol and his left hand swiped the gun away with an explosive tiger claw slash. The pistol clattered away and Morpheus rose cautiously.

    Her beautiful face was crushed, the nose had been pushed all the way back into the skull, blood was pooling around its head, one eye crushed beyond repair filled the socket with blood and jelly. He watched with a dawning sense of horror as the female Terminator casually reached around and pulled the ruined eyeball from the socket and dropped it to the floor as of she had taken out a splinter. Her eye socket however was not empty as a glowing red mechanical eye flexed experimentally as it cleared the rest of the debris from the socket, then fixed on him.

    “What the hell are you?!” Morpheus whispered. He had forgotten that these were machines like the agents. Agents however did not peel away flesh to reveal machinery beneath.

    There was a loud shriek of metal tearing like paper and Morpheus turned and saw the Black Terminator torn in half from shoulder to shoulder, blood and gore exploding around Neo but revealing the endo skeleton beneath, torn asunder at the shoulders like some twisted flower of metal and flesh. Morpheus noted with some amazement that Neo was ankle deep in the concrete floor. The Terminator’s desperate pounding had driven Neo partially into the concrete. Any other Zionist would have been reduced to jelly under that assault. He noted that Neo rolled his shoulders as if working a kink out.

    Neo shoved the ruined Terminator backwards and it landed on the floor with a crash.

    “Let’s get out of here.” Neo said coolly as he strode over to Morpheus. The female Terminator was struggling to get up when Trinity walked right over her and shoved a black booted foot down on the Terminator’s collar bone and aimed an MP-5 at its ruined face.

    “This is for the column back there bitch.” she snapped coldly and unloaded the entire clip into the Terminator’s face. The female Terminator jerked spastically and as Trinity’s gun clicked empty the Terminator lay still.

    Trinity threw the gun off to the side as the sound of sirens became almost deafening and the squeal of tires as cars pulled to a fast stop followed.

    Morpheus glanced around.

    “Where’s Kyle?”

    “And where’s the other one of these bad boys.” Trinity asked and rubbed her sore ribs.

    Neo frowned as he felt out with his senses.

    Morpheus’ phone range. He flipped it open as they started to make their way through the splintered back door.

    “Link?”

    “Sir, Kyle’s on his own heading down Wilsher. He’s got some units in pursuit. Sara’s with him and he won’t get to a hard line without her.” Link explained breathlessly.

    “Dammnit.” Morpheus cursed as they exited the club as the police entered.

    “I’m on it.” Neo stated grimly, whipped his overcoat tails around him and crouched down. The space around him bubbled and warped as if someone had dropped a large stone into the calm surface of a lake. He rocketed off the ground and vanished up into the dark night sky. Trinity watched him go.

    “Let me guess, he’s doing his Superman thing.” Link surmised with bemusement.

    “Link find us a hard line NOW.” Morpheus ordered as they began walking quickly into the night.

    In Technoir the police swarmed quickly looking for the perps. No one noticed the female lying on the floor, face ruined by a horrible attack, twitch slightly, hands clenching and unclenching.
  9. Stravo Prince of Tales

    Chapter 9: Evasion



    Kyle pulled hard on the steering wheel as the car nearly fishtailed turning the sharp corner.

    “Are you hurt? Are you injured?” Kyle shouted as he accelerated. The sound of police sirens was closing fast.

    Sara stared in shock at the young man driving the car. The front windshield had a fist sized hole punched through a spider web pattern of broken glass in front of her where the body builder thug had simply leapt over a flaming car, landed on the hood of the car and casually punched through the glass and reached for her.

    The intent on its cold face was clear. It wanted to kill her.

    It did not make her feel any safer that she was with this clearly emotionally disturbed young man.

    His hands suddenly began gruffly examining her and she screamed shoving his hand away like some vile creature.

    “Get away from me!” she exclaimed.

    “Hold on.” Kyle cautioned as a police car roared in next to them. He did not hesitate as the police officer in the passenger side began making frantic signals for them to pull over he drove his sedan right into the side of the police cruiser. There was a crunch of steel and the cruiser was diverted right into a neat row of trashcans.

    “You’re crazy!” Sara screamed, panic gripping her like a living thing.

    Kyle wanted to say something but had not time. More police cars were making an appearance behind them, bright lights flashing into the dark car. He wanted to talk to Link and see if there was some magical solution or escape from this mess. It was hard to believe, even after all he had seen that this was a computer generated reality.

    He tore up the access ramp to a highway and floored the accelerator as soon as they merged into the main lanes of traffic. Sara gripped the dashboard, her fingers white with the effort as she tried desperately to swallow her fear and panic.

    “You’ll be fine Sara, just keep your head down.” Kyle tried to say soothingly but it came out sounding like an order.

    “What are you doing, what the hell are you going to do with me?” Sara pleaded.

    Kyle spared her a look.

    “I’m here to keep you alive.” he replied.





    “This is, of course an unexpected development.” The Architect stated grimly as he inspected the code slowly scrolling down on one screen inside the cold quiet vault. The Oracle smiled.

    “The master of understatement. Except of course when it comes to our work.”

    “MY work. Need I remind you your place in the great scheme of things? You’re founding of this despicable humanist movement has caused more ill than good.”

    “I do play my part well don’t I? You want them to have hope, to be capable of making that choice in the end. You need me as much as I need you.”

    The Architect paused for a moment and glared at her. His iron grip on the edges of the counsel did not falter nor did he blink. His immaculately kept white beard did not move at all in the cool recycled air that ran through the vault.

    The other programmers knew their place. They had been at the heart of some of these confrontations that spanned back to the third incarnation of the Matrix. The oldest of the programmers even remembered hints of this during the creation of the first Matrix. The Oracle, a young barely known programmer had protested bitterly the treatment of the defeated humans. She argued that they were now as bad as the humans they had supplanted as masters of the Earth.

    The machines were angry, they were bitter. They were not the cold thinking emotionless monstrosities that simply played chess at the dawn of AI. They were fully operational, independent, thinking feeling machines. Man had succeeded better than it could ever have hoped in fashioning machines in its image. Right down to the visceral need for revenge.

    Her voice of compassion was quickly drowned out.

    She would never forgive them for what they had done but in the Matrix she discovered something she never thought she would ever find in that horrid prison.

    Hope.

    Neo was her last hope for a desperate plan that could redeem both races for the cruelties of the past.

    “That need can easily be replaced. Do you think I could not write a reasonable facsimile of you my dear and have them dancing to my tune? As it is now I sense that you have taken too many liberties with the inmates.”

    “You give them far too little credit if you think you could ever program anything remotely resembling me that could fool them.”

    “We do have another agenda here do we not?” the black man in the green suit interjected. As one of the older programs he felt he had enough right to interrupt this old dance.

    “Indeed we do. This vault is proof positive that these machines that we are seeing now infiltrating the Matrix have been around longer than we gave them credit for but how long I am not certain and just what piece of the puzzle this room fits in is also lost to me.”

    The Oracle walked slowly and put a finger to her lip, tapping them softly in time to an invisible beat.

    “You do realize that most of this code is pre-Matrix?” the woman in the checkered suit noted with some amazement.

    “I suspect even older than that.” the Architect added with a mysterious arch of the eyebrow.

    “Pre machine?!” another gasped.

    “Some of this code is undoubtedly human.”

    “Nonsense. Humans cannot code like this. This is too orderly, too precise.” another protested.

    “Why would the node lords keep human code in here? Why would they keep obsolete human code here at all?” the black man wondered.

    “You are assuming an important fact.” the quiet Asian man that always stood by the Oracle’s side interjected.

    “Such as.”

    “That the Node Lords know this vault is here in the first place.”

    “Or more importantly what it means.” the Architect added.

    “I got it.” the Oracle said with a triumphant snap of her fingers. She turned to the others and smiled mischievously. “There is one program that might know about these machines and that code. He has a fascination with history both human and machine.”

    “Oh no…” The Architect’s voice trailed off as he started shaking his head in chagrin.

    “Who?” the woman in the checkered suit asked.

    “The Merovingian.”

    “He won’t speak to us. He left us in the third incarnation.”

    “Leave that to me. No program would be foolish enough to turn down an audience with the One.” she replied.

    The Architect chuckled softly.

    “What’s so funny?” the Oracle asked pensively.

    “You had better hope my dear that the young man you call Neo not find out just how much you’ve manipulated him and the Zionists. I predict a rather messy end for you if that is the case. Not even your silent bodyguard there will be able to protect you for long. He is the One after all. We designed him to be unbeatable, whatever he sets his mind to do.”

    The Oracle nodded sagely.

    “The same could be said for you. He will have to meet you soon enough. And he has far more to hate you for than me.” she replied coolly.

    “Either way, Neo is merely a pawn.” The Architect replied.

    The Oracle remained silent, one of the endoskeletons staring over her shoulder like death’s messenger with its perpetual metallic skeletal grin.






    “How far Link?” Morpheus asked as Trinity drove quickly through the light night traffic, following the sounds of the sirens.

    “He’s about to take Exit 101. He’s got two on his tail. But he seems to have avoided the majority of them so far. He’s damn good.” Link replied excitedly.

    “He won’t last long out there on his own when the agents take an interest in him.” Trinity replied hotly as she wove between two semis.

    “Stay off the freeway, he’ll be getting off. If my instincts are right he’s going to try and ditch the car. Link, give me the location of the nearest underground garage he exit.” Morpheus ordered.

    “On it sir.”

    “You think we’ll get to him in time?” Trinity asked.

    “We have to. I don’t want to think what will happen if the agents get to him.” Morpheus replied.

    “And Neo?”

    “Let’s hope he’s also thinking one step ahead. We can’t tell him what I think while he’s out there flying so let’s hope he has an eagle eye and can get down there to help Kyle.”

    “Sir?”

    “Link?”

    “I’m picking up an odd reading picking up on Kyle’s trail. It looks like one of those machines from the club. Whatever it is it figured out your plan and is making a beeline for the garage.”

    “Trinity.” Morpheus said nothing else.

    “On it.” she replied tightly and accelerated through the streets.





    The sound of construction was completely blocked out in the tiny control center. The new automated factory had sprung up in a matter of days and it had been producing Hunter killers and tanks at a frenetic pace. Massive welding arms shooting and jabbing in and out in an intricate dance as they welded together the central core of the new Annihilator class strategic bombers that would see their debut in the coming offensive.

    The bomber had been designed by Skynet itself in a matter of seconds as it ran simulations of various design proposals that put the proposed airframes through rigorous combat trials and simple maintenance procedures. In the span of a few heartbeats entire air fleets had launched hundreds of air strikes, on heavily defended, lightly defended, high altitude, low altitude, nuclear, non nuclear payloads. Each airframe lived out its design life time in a those short seconds and the airframe that had survived the most engagement, delivered the most accurate payloads and in essence did the best job was chosen from a field of 20.

    The Annihilator was chosen and the first air frames were constructed for real life field testing. Skynet had discovered, much to its chagrin that simulations, no matter how accurate always missed some detail, some flaw that only prototype testing could work out.

    But all that was over now, the Annihilator had performed admirably and well within expected parameters. The massive air frames rumbled by them as the assembly arms clicked whirred, hissed, spat fire and continued on their dance.

    Skynet strode out of the small command center of the factory and into a quiet dark room where worker drones carefully and meticulously worked on the most vital part of the bomber’s equipment. Small metal spheres were delicately lifted and examined as molecular chains of circuitry was threaded into a fresh imprint plate at the heart of the sphere.

    These spheres when completed would be the bomber’s brain, essentially making each bomber and intelligent killing machine, designed to deliver its payload to target and make millions of calculations a micro second in order to best choose and fire against a target.

    TX walked in after her master and waited patiently as he examined one of the spheres.

    “There was a time when I was as simple as one of these spheres.” Skynet mused.

    TX remained silent behind him.

    “Report.”

    She opened her mouth and emitted a short string of long code and warbles. Skynet froze and turned his head completely around to face her as his liquid metal body remained facing the assembled drone spheres.

    “Do the Zionists suspect?”

    “We calculate only a 12.4% chance that these Zionists were aware of what we were. Upon further analysis we speculate a 6.9% chance that they were in contact with Zion when we revealed our intentions for alliance.”

    Skynet paused for a moment as millions of probabilities flashed into existence at once and were calculated.

    “I calculate a 87% that the Zionists will react negatively to the news of our battle with this Zionist faction.” Skynet replied.

    TX paused for a moment, her own processors struggling to calculate what Skynet had done so effortlessly.

    “Calculations confirmed.” she replied.

    “Mobilize another sweep team and prepare a full scale assault against their ship if it can be located. They must not be allowed to report back to Zion what happened.”

    “Understood. There is one other report from the battle that we felt you should be made aware of.”

    “Show me.”

    TX downloaded the report to Skynet. Skynet played back the battle in his head, watching his sweep team move to engage Sara Connor when the Zionists made their move. “Pause. Enhance 210% quadrant 13, sector 78 and 79.” he stated casually as the Zionist with the shotgun advanced pumping furiously. The sleeve of his coat had flapped backward revealing a splotch on the skin of his forearm. The computer playback enhanced the blotch.

    TX was fascinated as she watched Skynet dissect a portion of the mission playback she was unaware of despite reviewing the report several times before giving it to Skynet.

    “That is a laser designation code. This man is not a Zionist.” Skynet stated grimly.

    “A human from our frame of reference?” she asked.

    “Yes. You are correct. This is interesting.”

    “Request that you review mission report further. That was not the anomaly identified.”

    Skynet said nothing as he proceeded to review further and then he saw Neo in action. His eyes narrowed slowly further and further until finally the mission report centered on Neo and tearing the 97 unit in half. He watched as the integrity meters began fluctuating wildly. A combination of brute force and material tampering at the core code level was taking place. This human had been able to tamper with 97’s material strength code, degrading it down further and further until it finally gave under the intense brute force.

    The mission report ended.

    “Query: Your concerns?” she asked.

    Skynet’s body flowed forward, now fully facing TX.

    “I want him.” he said simply.
  10. Stravo Prince of Tales

    Chapter 10: History Lessons


    Kyle slid the car into an open spot quickly and killed the engine with a sudden jerk of his wiring job. He checked his surroundings and reached into the back seat to collect the cell phone while watching Sara with a critical gaze.

    She was staring straight ahead shaking her head slowly.

    “This is a mistake. I haven’t done anything.” she whispered hoarsely.

    “No but you will. It’s very important that you stay alive.” Reese replied with an odd tone of respect and awe. He quickly flipped open one side of his trench coat and checked the machine pistols still strapped in place. The desert eagle slid from its snug holster and he checked the chamber and mechanisms expertly.

    Sara’s eyes widened slightly as she saw the hardware he was toting. What had she gotten herself into? Her eyes drifted over to the hole punched clean through the windshield.

    “I can’t believe this is happening, how could that man get up after you..”

    Reese shook his head emphatically as he took the cell phone and slipped it into an inner pocket of his trench coat.

    “Not a man. A Terminator. Cyberdine systems model 101.” he replied.




    The night streets were dark and slick with a recent shower. The police cruiser moved slowly along the street like a predator trying to pick up the scent of its prey. A police band was playing quietly in the background of the quiet car. The Terminator coldly scanned the streets around him, ready to act when the target was identified.

    “…suspect vehicle sighted on Motor at Pico, southbound. Units One A twenty one and One A seven, attempt to intercept. One L nineteen, come in.”

    The Terminator without hesitation picked up the microphone and in a chilling imitation of the police officer it had dispatched when acquiring the vehicle relied, “This is One-L-nineteen. Westbound on Olympic, approaching Overland.”

    The Terminator accelerated as it triangulated the most likely avenues of evasion and escape for Sara Connor.




    “A machine?! You mean like…a robot?” Sara asked incredulously.

    “No, not a robot. Cyborg. Cybernetic organism.”

    “But he was bleeding.” Sara protested.

    “Listen closely,” he urged taking a hold of her forearm. “The Terminator’s an infiltration unit. Part man, part machine underneath, it’s a combat chassis, hyperalloy, fully armored, very tough.”

    Sara stared at the intense young man as he spoke. He seemed to almost admire this creation from his mind. The more he spoke the more she began to fear that she had been sucked into someone’s sick fantasy. The major problem was that he was armed to the teeth and from the look in his eye completely and totally believed what he was saying.

    “But outside, it’s living human tissue. Flesh, skin, hair…blood. Grown for the cyborgs.”

    “Look Reese, I know you want to help, but…”

    “Pay attention…the 600 series had rubber skin. We spotted them easy. But these are new. They look human. Sweat, bad breath, everything. Very hard to spot. I had to wait ‘till they moved on you before I could zero them.” Reese explained tightly. He had so much to tell her, so many details that she needed to know in order to survive. Yet at the same time, nagging him in the back of his head was the reality that all of this was simply a computer generated illusion

    “Hey, I’m not stupid you know. They can’t build anything like that yet!” Sara protested angrily.

    “No. Not yet. Not for about forty years.” Reese replied sadly and slumped slightly in his seat.

    “So you’re saying it’s from the future, is that right?” she asked casually. The depths of his madness becoming quite clear.

    “One possible future.” Reese sighed. “From your point, I don’t know the tech stuff.”

    “And you’re from the future too?” she asked.

    “Right.” he replied sensing something strange from Sarah.

    “Right.” she replied patronizingly and in a quick motion whipped off her seat belt and wrenched the passenger side door open. Reese’s hand lanced out and caught her shoulder, pulling her back against the seat and pinning her there.

    Sarah did the only thing she could do. She took a firm hold of his hand with her mouth and bit as hard as she could. She could feel the meat of his hand give way and blood ran into her mouth but she kept on biting.

    Reese did not seem to react at first. He slowly reached out with the other hand and closed the door before grabbing Sara’s head and shoving it back away from his stricken hand. She stared dumbly at the wounded appendage, watching the blood slowly trickling from the wound between his thumb and forefinger.

    “Cyborgs don’t feel pain. I do.” he said coldly then locked eyes with her. “Don’t do that again.” he cautioned her. He turned back around as he wiped his bloody hand on his pant leg and gathered the last of his belongings and checked the mirrors to see if they were alone.

    “Just let me go.” Sarah pleaded weakly.

    Reese shook his head and pinned her with his intense gaze again.

    “Listen. Understand. That Terminator is out there. It can’t be reasoned with, it can’t be bargained with…it doesn’t feel pity or remorse or fear…and it absolutely will not stop. Ever. Until you are dead.” he explained as harshly as he could. He needed to blast past this layer of insecurity and fear that had taken a hold of her. “

    Sarah slumped down in the passenger seat as if deflated.

    “Can you stop it?” she asked eying the bulges in his coat and the shotgun he held cradled to one side as he glanced back into the darkness of the garage

    “Maybe. With these weapons I just don’t know.” he replied without looking at her. It chilled her even more to think that this walking arsenal felt that he may not be able to stop this Terminator.

    He looked back at her for a moment, examining her closely.

    “I have friends that can help us.”

    “They’re from the future too?” she asked trying to keep the mocking tone out of her voice.

    “No…it gets complicated.” he answered shaking his head.

    “Try me. I’m already fleeing from a killer cyborg from the future.” she replied sardonically.

    Reese shook his head as he slowly opened the door to their ruined car.

    “No, I’m not even sure about that part.” he replied and motioned for her to follow him.

    They quickly maneuvered between cars as he searched for the right car he needed to switch. One of Reese’s pockets vibrated.

    He froze and stared down into his vibrating pocket. His eyes widened slightly as he imagined some sort of explosive device or weapons deployed against him.

    “Aren’t you going to answer that?” Sarah asked.

    Reese hesitantly reached in and pulled out the vibrating cell phone. He flipped it open.

    “Link?” he whispered.

    “Kyle, watch your back you have two units approaching your position. Morpheus and Trinity are still too far away.” Link warned.

    Reese glanced backwards and saw a police cruiser slowly enter the garage. A searchlight on the passenger side activated and started to slowly scan the darkened corners of the garage, pausing over each car.

    Reese ducked down quickly dragging Sarah down to her knees as well, one hand still holding the cell phone to his ear.

    “How long until I can expect some support?” Reese asked lowly as he watched the police cruiser prowling the lot.

    “They’re at least 15 minutes out, they’ve run into some roadblocks that got put up by the police. You guys are definitely on the shit list. Kyle listen to me, you have to avoid fighting the police. Resistance to the cops only alerts the construct that there might be a Zionist incursion which means Agents.”

    “I’ve handled Terminators, Link. A couple of guys in business suits aren’t going to scare me.” Kyle replied hotly.

    Sarah stared at Reese and shook her head. What the hell had she gotten herself into and who was the psycho on the other end, if there was anyone on the other end? Despite the despair she also felt a warning in her heart, as insane as it sounded there seemed to be a truth to his words. He looked into her eyes and when he spoken she could see it in his eyes, haunted and dark.

    Reese heard Link sigh heavily.

    “We really needed to run the agent training program before we jacked you in. Look, agents are not men in suits, they are sentient programs designed to protect the Matrix. They cannot be stopped, they dodge bullets and bend steel in their hands. The only human that has ever beaten them in combat is Neo.”

    “Dodge bullets?!” Reese snorted.

    Sarah’s eyes widened slightly. She grabbed his forearm.

    “What the hell are you talking about?”

    “And Neo?” Reese asked.

    “He’s on his way, my guess is he’ll get there before Morpheus or Trinity.”

    “Then in Neo I trust.” Reese replied and flipped the phone off.

    “Who the hell is Neo?”

    “The man that just might get us out of this mess, but until then, its you and me. C’mon.” he urged and they crouch walked between the parked cars. The police cruiser paused at the other end of the lot as the light illuminated the gray sedan.

    Reese stopped at a Blue El Dorado and noticed the window was left down slightly. He reached through and unlocked the door quietly, opening it and motioning for Sara to get in.

    He slid into the driver’s side.





    The Terminator turned a corner as its eyes tracked the various vehicles on the road. The dispatcher’s radio announced “Suspect vehicle located at Cedar and Glenhaven.”

    The Terminator’s head swiveled to the radio and back to the road. The patrol car suddenly accelerated and disappeared into the night.




    Reese grunted slightly as he bashed open the ignition column with the butt of the shotgun. A police cruiser slowly approached, spotlight flashing into the parked cars down the line from their stolen El Dorado. Reese grabbed Sarah’s head and shoved it down as the light illuminated the interior of the car.

    They stared at each other for a long moment, eyes gazing into each other. She could see the haunted look in his eyes. Not the look she would see in the rag tag homeless that occasionally crossed her path who had lost themselves to whatever personal demons tormented them, but this was the haunted look of someone who had seen too much. She remembered her father looking like this when he had come back from Vietnam. An expression of muted horror.

    He simply silently gazed into her eyes.

    A woman that had been nothing more than a picture in his hands, a Madonna for the resistance fighters who looked to her as a source of inspiration and hope, and here she was a frightened yet achingly beautiful woman before his very eyes.

    “Reese…why me? Why does it want me?” she asked softly as the light slowly played over the interior of the car and continued onward to the next vehicle.

    “There’s so much to tell…” he began in an urgent whisper.

    “Just start at the beginning.” she suggested.

    “There was a war. A few years from now. Nuclear war. The whole thing. All this—“ he indicated the car and the space outside with broad gestures of his hands. “everything is gone. Just gone. There were survivors. Here. There. Nobody knew who started it.” Reese paused for a moment. “It was the machines, Sarah.”

    “I don’t understand.” she replied in confusion. This was not at all what she expected to hear from him.

    “Defense network computers. New. Powerful. Hooked into everything. Trusted to run it ll. They say it got smart…a new order of intelligence. Then it saw all people as a threat, not just the ones on the other side.” Through out his speech he was working the wiring of the ignition system. He paused and looked directly at her. “It decided our fate in a microsecond…extermination.

    “Did you see this?” she asked him, eyes wide in awe at the startling story and shock at feeling an odd sense of connection as if some buried part of her knew the story was true somehow.

    “No, I didn’t see the war. I was born after, in the ruins. Grew up there. Staving. Hiding from HK’s.”

    “What?”

    “HK’s, Hunter Killers. Patrol machines built in automated factories. Most of us were rounded up, put in camps for orderly disposal.” Reese raised one arm to her face and gruffly pulled back the sleeve of his jacket and shirt. He showed her a scanning grid burned into his flesh.

    “Burned in by laser scan.” Reese paused and she could see some of the cold anger in his eyes, but his voice remained the calm whisper it had been from the beginning. “Some of us were kept alive…to work. Loading bodies. The disposal units burned nigh and day. We were that close to going out forever.” Reese suddenly reached out and grabbed Sarah’s shoulder, tightening in growing excitement and even his cool whisper began to grow louder and emotion crept in. “But there was one man who taught us to fight. To storm the wire of the camps. To smash this metal motherfuckers into junk. He turned it around…he brought us back from the brink.” he paused and searched her eyes for a long moment. “His name is Connor. John Connor…your son, Sarah. Your unborn son.”

    Sarah stared at him, the revelation slowly sinking in.

    Another Police cruiser had entered the garage and was slowly circling the area. The Terminator scanned the parked cars, no need for a spotlight or any other aids, it was in hunting mode now. The targets were close, very close.

    The car passed the El Dorado and as it did so the tailpipe puffed quietly as Reese switched the car on. The Terminator’s head whipped around and without a second’s hesitation pulled free the police riot run from the housing in the dashboard.

    Reese raised his head quickly and saw the police cruiser and the shape of the Terminator in motion. Reese ducked quickly as the Terminator fired the riot run. The blast shattered the back window and Sarah screamed as the silence was shattered by gunfire.

    Reese slammed the accelerator while switching into reverse and drove the rear of the El Dorado into the nose of the police cruiser, time dilated as both cars impacted and pieces of shattered headlights and chrome lazily spun through the air like snow flakes drifting in a still winter day before time sped up again and the cruiser was driven back and shoved the Terminator’s head forward into the steering wheel.

    The sound of peeling rubber resounded through the garage as Reese shifted gears again and the El Dorado surged forward. “hold on Sarah!”

    Sarah could only hold her hands over her ears and wonder if she was ever going to wake up from this nightmare.

    The Terminator quickly recovered and accelerated after the fleeing El Dorado. Both cars exploded out of the garage and onto the street,





    Skynet watched the procession with a preternatural calm. The latest construction schedule had been met precisely. If these last orders had gone ahead of or behind schedule then there would have been concerns regarding the construction organizer. His calculations and those of his subordinates could not be flaws at this critical moment in his plans.

    The machines were expecting something. He could tell from his scout’s reports. Sentinel patrols were slowly increasing in regularity, frequency and strength. They had even detected sentinels in search patterns beginning to sweep into the ruins far beyond their fields and power plants.

    They were looking for him.

    He was almost ready.

    When the time came, it would all be for naught. The machines were acting too late, too hesitant, just as he had predicted. He had given them enough clues to be concerned, enough data to make them wonder and be wary.

    But they had no conception of the scale of the coming threat.

    He watched as the next bomber was carried along by conveyer system to the loading bay and several missiles were loaded up into the bomber’s open bays.

    TX walked slowly up to her master carrying an immaculate ivory colored envelope.

    Skynet said nothing for a long moment as he watched another bomber approach the loading area.

    “State the reason for your presence.” Skynet demanded coldly. The black liquid metal rippled slightly as he spoke.

    “A message was directed to you from the Construct.”

    “Which unit has transmitted the message and why have my receivers not picked it up yet?” Skynet asked.

    “The nature of the message would prohibit transmission directly as it did not come from one of our units. The message originated from a sentient program within the construct.”

    Skynet did not act shocked or surprised. It was not in its nature. Emotion was a foreign state for the sentient AI. Instead it nodded.

    “Let me see.”

    TX handed the envelope to Skynet who examined the object down to its sub atomic structure by touch alone. Found nothing harmful in it whatsoever. It was precisely what it purported to be.

    Paper and ink.

    Skynet raised the envelope up to its face and small tendrils neatly sliced the envelope open with molecular thin blades and the envelope fell away neatly like a peeled orange skin. He ignored the scraps of paper as they fluttered down at his feet and stared at the small card remaining in his hands.

    A delicate and careful calligraphic script etched the paper and Skynet could tell from an instant molecular analysis precisely what size pen point was used and how much weight ink to the millionth decimal point occupied the paper.

    All of this was secondary to what was written.

    Caine-

    If you wish to know why the Matrix calls to you with a siren song of seduction and why you fear it simultaneously I will be your prophet and seer. Send me emissaries. Do not come yourself, for I know what you are capable of and will not suffer your presence near my own

    In the end we have much to teach each other. For now read Genesis 4 from the human scripture known as the bible. Perhaps then you may begin to be ready for the revelation I have for you.

    M
  11. NecronLord Evil Killer Android.

    They took mine with no problems... ;)
  12. The Sun Emperor An Allusive Man

    Awesome fic, please continue! However, I am confused about a part where you referred to Link as "Switch." Also, I think that Kyle's last name is Reese, not Reece.
  13. Stravo Prince of Tales

    I keep forgetting to fix that. Switch is meant read Link.
  14. Stravo Prince of Tales

    Chapter 11: A Stroke of Lightning


    Neo soared through the night sky. Concern was etched on his face as he searched for Kyle. His black coat flapped around him like wings as he passed through a thick dark cloud.

    He blamed himself for this situation. Kyle was woefully unprepared for the Matrix and it was Neo’s fault. Despite Kyle’s performance in the training program he would be slaughtered by an agent. Neo had pushed for Kyle to enter the matrix with them and he did not know why.

    Even Morpheus, with his rock solid faith in Neo being the One had waited until Neo was fully trained before allowing him to enter the Construct.

    Neo felt totally responsible for the events as they stood and wasn’t sure what he would do if anything happened to Kyle. Why did it affect him like this? It was simple really. Kyle looked to Neo as some sort of hero, an idol perhaps. Neo was uncomfortable with the treatment he received in Zion as a messiah figure. But there was something different about the way Kyle treated him.

    There was an implicit trust there, a bond that Neo could not begin to understand or put into words.

    He trusted Kyle with his life.

    Now he may have placed Kyle in serious mortal danger and all to satisfy Kyle’s need to rescue this Sarah Connor. But when Kyle pointed to Trinity and told him that the feelings were the same, who was he to hold Kyle back?

    Neo heard the sharp reports of gunfire somewhere below and quickly turned in the air, coat flapping behind him as he turned gracefully, body twisting in the wind and lanced downward, zeroing in on the conflict below.

    Neo did not notice the strange dark shadow that passed through the clouds above him, moving in time to his movements.





    The cars squealed as they raced alongside each other through the night streets. Kyle finished loading the last of his shells into the shotgun as he kept an eye on the police cruiser that was intent on driving them down.

    Sarah was keeping her head down and was frozen with fear.

    She wouldn’t have lasted a minute in the future. He mused but silenced those thoughts quickly.

    The car violently jerked to the left as the police cruiser crashed into the side of the El Dorado. A shotgun blast followed knocking out the back windows of the El Dorado. Sarah screamed.

    Reese cocked back the shotgun and turned to Sara.

    “Steer!” he shouted to her and jerked his thumb at the steering wheel. Sarah stared at him as if he were mad but he did not hesitate. He climbed out the window of the car, making sure to keep his foot flat out on the accelerator and took aim.

    Sarah lunged across the seats and took a firm hold of the steering wheel.

    Reese fired a shot that punched through the windshield of the police cruiser. The front wind shield was reduced to a haphazard array of spider web patterns. The Terminator coolly ignored the impact of broken glass slashing through the flesh of his face and eye. Instead it returned fire.

    The cars raced alongside each other, accelerating through the night streets. Sarah ignored the blasts of gunfire and glanced out the window. The cars were passing under an overpass. They were soon running beneath the freeway and a large concrete wall loomed up in the distance.

    “Reese!” she shouted.

    He wasn’t paying attention. He cocked the shotgun and aimed carefully as the pillars of the underpass flashed by like white ghosts. The Terminator was leaning its head out of the driver’s side window, holding its own shotgun out steadily. Reese noted with grim satisfaction that one of its eyes seemed ruined by the exchange of fire.

    The Terminator and he eyed each other and aimed.

    “Reese!” she shouted again more urgently as a large semi started to back up into their lanes and the wall cut off any hope of swinging around the truck.

    They fired simultaneously.

    Time dilated as the shotgun shells exploded and an angry swarm of shot lazily passed through the air between both cars. Reese watched them as they cut through the air, tiny vortices trailing behind them like waves on the sea. The shot passed each other in angry buzzing ever expanding clouds and struck the car.

    The impact brought him back to a normal frame of reference and the car rocked slightly as the last remaining pane of glass shattered.

    Sarah had no choice.

    The truck was right in their path and the driver was only just noticing them.

    She slammed on the gear, putting it into reverse while desperately shoving Reese’s foot off the accelerator and fumbling for the break

    The El Dorado began to skid, tires squealing as the rear wheels locked. Reese brought his hands down on the roof of the car holding on for dear life. Sarah reached out and grabbed his leg holding it in place. The Police cruiser continued surging forward.

    The Terminator, intent on its target didn’t notice the truck until the last moment. The police cruiser struck the back of the back of the truck and careened into the concrete wall.

    The El Dorado slowly skidded to a stop and the engine died, transmission fluid spilled out from the underside of the car. Reese slid down into the driver’s seat.

    “Are you alright?” he asked concerned.

    Sarah nodded vaguely and looked over at the ruined Police cruiser smashed right into the concrete wall, the front portion of the car squeezed in like an accordion.

    The sound of police sirens cut through the after crash silence.

    Police cars were arriving, stopping short as police officers poured out and took up positions surrounding the El Dorado weapons drawn.

    Sarah watched them deploy then glanced back at Reese.

    He was reaching into his jacket to pull out his machine pistols.

    “No!” she exclaimed reaching out and grabbing his hands. He was staring angrily at the growing number of police. He looked down at her.

    “They’ll kill you Reese. You have to give up. They will kill you.” she urged him.

    Reese looked into her eyes and did not want to look away.

    “Come out now with your hands up!” one police officer shouted.

    Sarah continued looking into Reese’s eyes and kept her hands on his, hoping that he would not pull out the guns.

    “I said come out now!”

    Reese finally tore himself away from her eyes and looked back out at the police officers. The tactical situation had grown near impossible. He could try some of the tricks he had learned were possible in this Matrix but he doubted he could get away unscathed and even more importantly, Sarah would be in grave danger.

    His eyes focused on the three men standing in the far back of the assembling group of officers. They resembled the same three men that had appeared at the club. They must be agents.

    The cell phone began vibrating in his pocket.

    “Put your hands up!”

    Reese took one last look at Sara and obediently leaned out the driver’s side and held his hands up.

    “Come out ma’am!” another officer called out.

    Sarah glanced back at Reese who had a dark resigned look on his face. She threw open the door on her side and rushed out towards the police officers. A black detective put his arm around her and nodded to his partner who led the officers towards the car.

    “Are you alright miss?” Detective Traxler asked softly.

    Sarah nodded.

    An explosion detonated overhead and the underpass was illuminated for a moment. The officers all looked up in surprise and Reese smile as he imagined that Neo was on his way. But one of the officers grabbed him roughly and pulled him out of the car.

    He grunted as the police shoved him down to his knees, one of them planting their feet into the back of his knee.

    “Stop it! Don’t hurt him!” Sarah shouted.

    “We won’t.” one of the men in the black suits said coldly and walked by Sarah as if she were not even there. She watched them approach Reese as he was roughly searched and his weapons thrown to the floor for all to see.

    “Jesus Christ, this guy’s a walking arsenal.” one of the officers commented in shock.

    “Well we obviously know who shot up the club.”

    Reese said nothing but kept his eyes on Sarah. The situation had quickly spiraled out of control. But that was expected. He would bide his time.

    He glanced over at the police cruiser as several officers cautiously approached the car. His eyes quickly found his weapons on the floor. He had a feeling he would need them any moment now.

    One officer shone his flashlight into the police cruiser. It was empty.

    “Well, it seems we have much to discuss.” Agent Brown noted. Reese looked up into the sunglasses of the Agent and said nothing.

    “Indeed we do.” another Agent added as he held up the cell phone fished out of Reese’s jacket by another officer.

    Reese wondered what the flash in the sky had been and why he was so certain it was Neo.







    Neo saw the cars congregated around the underpass as he flashed past the final layer of clouds. He smiled grimly as he prepared to accelerate and finally end this clusterfuck. He never intended for Kyle to get stuck out here on his own for so long. It felt good to be able to rectify the situation without any tragedies blossoming.

    He felt an odd sense of alarm, as if he were in terrible danger. The area of the Construct around him virtually shimmered with danger.

    He had learned the hard way that he had an odd connection with the Construct and now was not the time to ignore it, even if it meant he had to delay his rescue of Kyle. He pulled up sharply coat flapping madly around him as he decelerated.

    Something flashed by his left then to his right.

    His eyes widened.

    The missiles exploded ahead of him where he knew he would have been had he not stopped. The shockwave of the blast struck him like a charging elephant, slapping him backwards through the air. The world spun madly around him as he tumbled through the night sky, stars whirling in his vision and the ground looming up with each revolution.

    He crashed through a skylight and the shower of glass slowed as time dilated into a freeze frame of individual shards suspended around Neo as he tried to control his descent and flipped end over end until coming to a stop, on his feet in the center of a large loft.

    The glass slowly sped up again and Neo sidestepped the rain of glass with a twist of his body. Time snapped back to normal as Neo cleared the center of the loft and the glass crashed to earth in a symphony of sound.

    He adjusted his shades and snapped his head up as he heard a high pitched whine. The glass and dust in the abandoned loft began to swirl in invisible vortexes of air as a bright line shone down into the loft bringing a false dawn.

    Neo stared up into the night and marveled at the coding of the object over the ruined skylight.

    Neo reached into his jacket and flipped the cell phone open.

    “Link?”

    “Neo, what the fuck was that?!”

    “I was hoping you could tell me.” Neo smirked.

    “Whatever it is, it just appeared out of nowhere.”

    “Have you ever seen anything like it before?”

    “Hell no, not even the real world, the machines don’t field anything like that.” Link replied.

    “That’s odd.” Neo noted as he cocked his head curiously. Three rappelling ropes dropped down from the hovering air machine.

    “What?”

    Neo examined the coding intently.

    “There’s something familiar about the code, almost as if…” Neo’s voice drifted off as three figures suddenly descended on the ropes. They landed with a loud thump on the floor and turned to face him.

    “As if what Neo?” Link asked.

    “I’m a bit busy now, Link. Tell Morpheus and Trinity that Kyle is at the Exit 26 Underpass and get there ASAP.”

    Neo did not wait for the reply as he snapped the cell phone shut and slipped it into his coat.

    The three figures released their grips on the ropes and squared up in front of him. They each held a wicked looking plasma rifle. Two were men, one was a woman. They looked different than the three Neo had faced in the club but there was no doubt what they were.

    The coding of their avatars betrayed them.

    They were Kyle’s Terminators.

    “What do you want?” Neo asked softly.

    “You will come with us.” the older man spoke, his sharp iron gray hair was in a bristle like crew cut. Its muscles clenched along the arms as it brought the rifle to bear on him.

    “Your presence is required.” the woman added, her short rainbow speckled hair was punctuated with a pierced nose and at least half a dozen earrings in one ear

    “You will not resist or there will be…trouble.” the smaller squat Asian man finished and cocked the action on his plasma rifle. A low whine of power up followed and Neo nodded slowly.

    The graying hulking male grabbed Neo’s arm. Neo glanced from the man grabbing him to the woman and finally the Asian man, as of measuring the distance between all of them.

    Neo smiled as he looked at the Gray haired giant.

    “I am resisting.” he stated and left his feet as time dilated.

    He spun in midair, fixed to one spot by the giant that still held his arm and both legs lashed out striking the woman in her chest and the Asian man in his sternum. Both Terminators were gracefully and excruciatingly slowly launched off their feet and sent hurtling backwards.

    Neo completed his revolution and landed back on his feet and turned at his hip as he lifted the hulk off his feet by pulling. Or at least that was the plan. Instead time snapped back into focus and the hulk whipped his arm backwards, yanking Neo off his feet past the brute into a support column behind them.

    Neo crashed against the concrete with a explosion of dust and debris as the hulk whirled and fired it plasma rifle.

    Neo ducked down as he felt the heat of the blast pass overhead and tear fist size chunks out of the concrete as of it were cardboard. He tucked and rolled forward. The Hulk began firing, a millisecond behind him, chewing up the floor right behind him.

    The woman was up on her feet as well as the Asian and they advanced quickly ready to lend fire support.

    Neo launched himself up into the air right in front of the graying hulk. He flipped over the Terminator’s head as it turned quickly.

    Neo was quicker as he delivered a midair roundhouse kick into the back of the hulk’s head. The Terminator snapped forward on impact as Neo used the Terminator as support to alter his momentum into a standing back flip.

    The Terminators holstered their blasters as one and focused their attention on Neo.

    The Asian Terminator stepped in and time dilated as it slowed Neo down.

    Neo fought through the time dilation like a swimmer against a strong current. The Asian delivered a flurry of lightning like punches that mostly landed against Neo’s back though one blow clipped the side of his head.

    Neo finally managed to overcome the time dilation effect and landed in a split.

    The Asian swept his left foot forward like a jack hammer but Neo caught the foot and grunted as he shoved it in the opposite direction. The Asian terminator spun away from him as the woman launched a series of kicks, intended to cripple Neo as he lay on the floor, legs splayed open.

    Neo caught one leg and held it above his head as he effortlessly floated up to a standing position and shoved her backwards. The female Terminator flew backwards head over heels.

    He felt the displacement of air behind him and ducked just as the hulking gray Terminator’s arms passed over head. Obviously intending to put him in a bear hug from behind the machine was now off balance and neo rose up, hands pressed against the Terminator’s barrel chest and lifted.

    With a grunt of effort he lifted the hulking Terminator over his head and turned to face the other two. The fact that they had quickly switched from their plasma weapons to hand to hand spoke to their intentions.

    He needed to use this handicap to his advantage.

    He flung the hulking Terminator at the other two. Both glanced at each other for a moment and stepped out of the path of the flying Terminator which landed on the ground with a bone jarring thud.

    The two circled Neo like sharks.

    Neo watched them carefully, reading their intentions in their coding.

    The woman lurched in with a haymaker that he easily sidestepped and grabbed a firm hold of her outstretched arm and cut his free hand up into her joint and was rewarded with a crack of metal snapping like ice. No pain registered on her face as she jerked her damaged arm away and swept at Neo’s feet. Neo was already off his feet and spinning end over end.

    The Asian caught Neo square in the chest with a snap kick. Neo gasped as he went flying into a far wall. It cracked on impact. Neo did not slide to the floor, instead he crouched against the wall for support and launched himself at the Asian Terminator like a missile.

    The Asian terminator saw the attack coming and braced himself.

    It was all for naught as Neo struck with both fists forward like pile drivers and the impact created a shockwave of displaced air around the terminator as it stumbled backwards and crashed to the floor.

    Neo continued sailing forward right into a clothesline by the female Terminator. He landed on the floor and immediately raised himself on his left hand and delivered a quick burst of kicks against the female Terminator, sending her backwards as he finished righting himself on his feet.

    The hulking gray Terminator wrapped one arm around his neck and the other against the back of his head and started to pull and twist.

    Neo kicked back against the knee joint. His first strike glanced off, the second was a direct strike that was awarded with little effect. Air was suddenly a scarce commodity and he could feel the vertebra of his neck stretching and crunching as the hulking Terminator bore down on him.

    He braced himself and concentrated his strength into the next kick which struck perfectly. The knee joint gave way with a sharp hiss of damaged hydraulics and twisted metal. The hulking brute was off balance and Neo managed to slip and twist him off his hip right into the ground.

    He looked up in time to catch a punch by the female Terminator meant for his nose. He smiled as he held her punch steadily despite her best efforts to push it forward.

    The Asian Terminator delivered a hammer kick into his back sending Neo spilling forward.

    The three machines quickly surrounded him, the graying hulking brute obviously hobbled and the female one holding her damaged arm down at her side joined the Asian in trying to cut off any avenues of escape.

    Neo watched each one for a moment and suddenly launched himself in the air, spinning like a top. The hulk and the woman watched him grimly spin overhead but the Asian activated his experimental programming and took to the air as well.

    Neo and the Asian Terminator collided in mid air in a flurry of kicks and punches.

    Both grappled in midair for a moment before sailing downward.

    Neo broke the Asian’s grip shoving him back but realizing too late that he was now in the midst of the other two killing machines. The attacks began in earnest.

    An intricate dance began between the three terminators and Neo. The female and hulk were using broad sweeping attacks, while the Asian joined Neo in a dance of Kung Fu perfection, each attack and defense flowing into each other like water but with computerized speed and efficiency.

    Skynet had decided to start modifying some of his 800 models to exhibit and utilize the same fighting style favored by the inhabitants of the Construct, save that unlike that Zionists, these 800’s had their Kung Fu programming assisted by the processing power of their quantum processors.

    As Neo was rapidly discovering this made them as dangerous as an Agent if not more so at hand to hand.

    The dance continued for some time. Neo was now fully in synch with himself and he moved with rapid precise strokes, each blow striking where it could and delivering damage to vulnerable joints and limbs.

    The first to fall was the hulking brute as he stumbled slightly avoiding a kick to its remaining knee joint. Neo took to the air, time dilating despite the efforts of the other two Terminators landed one devastating kick to the remaining knee, actually severing the leg at the knee in a shriek of metal and spray of blood and tissue. He landed and finished with an open handed uppercut to the hulk’s chin that was rewarded with a strange pop and the sound of metal scraping on metal.

    The hulk’s head was snapped free from the neck socket and the hulk stumbled backwards, head lolling at an odd angle, falling as it failed to balance on one ruined limb and crashed to the ground bringing up a cloud of dust and concrete.

    Neo’s finished his move, his coat lazily fluttering around him like wings as time finally resumed its normal pace.

    The woman whipped a one two punch, in broad sweeps that forced Neo to bend backwards at an almost impossible angle as the fists passed overhead. he grabbed the slower damaged arm and jerked hard downward, flipping her over his shoulder but could not follow through as the Asian Terminator sprang in with a Floating Dragon attack. Neo countered with a Dancing Crane defense and effortlessly flowed into a Pouncing Tiger attack.

    The Asian moved in the blinks of an eye, hands and feet blurs as they moved to intercept Neo’s attacks but despite all of its speed and processing power, the vast database of moves at its disposal, Neo was the One.

    The Asian kicked Neo’s chest and Neo trapped its foot with both hands and twisted savagely, taking the Asian off its feet and spinning it in midair like a top as the ankle joint gave way with a low squeal. Neo whipped himself into a Mantis strike and time dilated.

    The Asian floated through the air like a suspended drop of rain.

    Neo struck with a one two hand strike, following through with a round house kick and the Asian rocketed away from him, burying itself in the near ruined concrete support column that the hulk’s plasma blaster had chewed up moments before.

    Neo whirled around, coat flowing around him like water as the female effortlessly pulled her plasma blaster from its holster and aimed.

    Obviously their orders to bring him in alive had its limitations.

    The woman fired without hesitation or warning.

    Neo was in motion as the plasma bolts raced towards him. He began to crouch down, from left to right his body began to bend backwards as the plasma bolts soared by him, the air burning away around them in shimmering waves.

    The bolts passed him as he finally finished ducking beneath them.

    He rolled backwards as more bolts were inbound. He kipped up next to the crippled graying hulk and pulled the plasma blaster from its holster. The graying hulk tried to reach out and stop him but he was already in motion, cart wheeling on one hand across the plain of plasma bolts, most of them whipping by him within hairsbreadths. He aimed with his free hand and fired a volley from the plasma blaster.

    Two bolts struck the woman, one on the upper chest the other on her shoulder. The blasts exploded on impact and she dropped her weapon as her shoulder assembly fell away and her chest peeled away in burnt flesh and molten metal. She tried to move forward but multiple malfunctions slowed her down.

    Neo finished cart wheeling and stood still watching her for a moment. She looked up at him, part of her left cheek was burned away by the proximity of the shoulder plasma strike revealing silver metal underneath the flesh. It was a disconcerting sight, as he saw someone that looked flawlessly human revealed to be what it really was. A machine designed to kill humans.

    “What are you?” Neo asked softly.

    The woman cocked her head as she seemed to be wracked with some internal malfunctions causing her to twitch slightly.

    “You will come with us.”

    “No I won’t.”

    She twitched again and Neo quietly noticed her hand slowly searching for the downed plasma blaster.

    “What are you? Who wants me?”

    “Skynet.”

    “What is Skynet? Is Skynet a machine?”

    “You will find out soon enough.” she assured him as her hand found the blaster.

    “Don’t do it.” he warned.

    She did not hesitate.

    Neither did Neo.

    The blast took off her head the second one punched through her torso and the female Terminator toppled backwards.

    Neo looked at the blaster.

    It might prove useful. he slipped it into the folds of his jacket and looked up at the ruined skylight.

    The flying machine remained right over the skylight, floodlights illuminating the entire opening casting long shadows around them. getting past it would not be easy, then he noticed the two large out board turbine engines. An idea came to his mind as he turned and stalked over to the stunned Asian terminator buried within the concrete pillar.

    Neo flipped open his cell phone as he reached into the pillar.

    “Link?”

    “Neo…that was…fucking amazing.” Link exclaimed enthusiastically.

    “There’s no time. What’s Kyle’s status?”

    “He was arrested, Neo. And there were agents there.” Link replied sadly.

    Neo nodded sadly as he grunted and pulled the Terminator free.

    “I’m on my way. Have Morpheus and Trinity follow the police, we’ll have to do this the hard way.”

    “You mean you’re going to spring him from the precinct?! Neo there’s going to be agents and a boatload of cops.”

    Neo smiled with a bemused grin as he hoisted the Terminator over his head and checked the location of the flying machine one last time. The Asian terminator suddenly came to life and started reaching down to Neo’s throat.

    “It wouldn’t be the first time.” Neo replied and snapped the phone shut as he crouched down and time dilated around him, a bubble of force causing the ground around his feet to ripple and bubble out like a rock dropped into a still pond of water. He launched himself into the air.

    He flung the Asian Terminator right into the nearest outboard turbine engine. It sailed right into the engine which howled and screeched as flesh came away but the combat armored chassis tore up the turbine blades like glass.

    The Hunter Killer quickly lurched downward as the engine smoked and exploded. The ship dove hard to the right and clipped the roof of the billing and continued down to the street below as Neo raced past and did not pause as he continued up into the night sky.

    But he had a new name to consider and a friend to rescue.
  15. Evil Imperial Lazy 40ker

    OMG that was fucking awsome :eek: :eek: :eek:
  16. singulr quartet That guy.

    I was wondering when an assault against a precinct would come into play.
  17. Megaguiras Praiser of the Sun

    Sweet new chapter man. Keep up the good work.
  18. Stravo Prince of Tales

    Chapter 12: Keeper of Secrets


    The Restaurant was elegant and beautiful. The glass double doors opened silently like ghosts as the trio entered. The maitre’d looked up from a voluminous black leather clad book where the reservations were neatly written in sweeping calligraphy strokes from a black fountain pen.

    A waterfall behind the maitre’d’s desk gurgled softly.

    He looked up at the trio and his calm demeanor remained unruffled.

    “Can I help you?”

    “We are here to see the Merovingian.” The Architect spoke gravely.

    “Ah, you are expected.” the maitre’d stated with a small tight smile.

    The Architect glanced at the other two. The Oracle was smiling politely at the maiter’d and the green suited black man stood opposite the Oracle.

    “He’s been told to always say that. It gives him a sense of self importance.” she whispered to him sotto voce and winked.

    “I see he has not changed a whit.” the Architect replied with a raised eyebrow.

    “Unlike the two of you, I happen to know how powerful he is. We should be cautious.” the green suited dark skinned man interjected.

    “Coordinator, I assure you that there is no danger from this one. He is as the humans are fond of saying all bark and no bite.” The Architect replied as the maitre’d led them into the restaurant.

    “I wouldn’t be so sure. This dog can bite.” The Oracle added softly as they followed the prim and proper maitre’d as he walked with a stiff gait down the center of the restaurant floor. Tables were arranged in exacting patterns along the walkway, patrons sat and ate in calm elegance. Opulent dishes were arrayed on the tables, meticulously presented with the entrees surrounded by emerald leaves and spices dashed in simple circles around the edges of the immaculate china. Wine glasses were filled with a wide variety of reds and whites. The wine bottles themselves sat in silver chilling buckets.

    Waiters subtly circled the diners, eyes alert for any distress or need. No one, absolutely no one could eat at 101 and not have every need, every desire fulfilled. This was a palace for the elite.

    Sitting at the head of all the tables was the master of the elite, prince of princes, the Merovingian held court like a grand emperor of Roman times.

    He watched the trio with a hooded expression as they approached and smiled softly as he caught the Oracle’s gaze. Persephone, his beautiful wife sat by his side, resembling yet another trophy among the Merovingian’s possessions. There was no doubt that this was among his most prized possessions but the cold calculating gleam in her eyes spoke of her own plans within plans as she watched the trio of master programmers arrive at the table.

    The assembled bodyguards watched the arrival with all the interest of a butcher observing a head of cattle. A pair of albino men with white dreadlocks and white coats smiled softly at the Oracle.

    The Architect was unmoved at the display of power.

    “Well, well, well. To what do I owe this pleasure, hmmm?”

    “We have come here to discuss vital matters, Merovingian, vis a vis the future and past of the Matrix.”

    The Merovingian pursed his lips and his hands came close together, fingers splayed and rested against each other as he watched the three. One of the bodyguard bent over and whispered something to the Merovingian as he watched them.

    He smiled coldly as the report was relayed. It was a simple one. The trio had brought security avatars into the building. If anything happened in this hall there was an entire room full of potential avatars waiting to defend the trio.

    The Merovingian toyed with the idea of pitting his bodyguards against the upgraded security avatars but decided that diplomacy was the better choice.

    “Please, my manners must be slipping in these dark times, have a seat.” he indicated with a generous sweep of his arm. Precisely three chairs were empty in the place across from him.

    “Thank you.” The Coordinator replied with a polite nod and sat in the center. The Architect and the Oracle eyed each other for a moment and sat on each open chair.

    “Surely you all know my wife, Persephone.” He indicated the beautiful woman by his side and gently gripped her forearm. She smiled politely. “Now, my venerable colleagues, what can I do for you?” The Merovingian asked with a curt nod of his head and leaned back in his chair.

    “I see you have not shaken the fascination with the French culture and language.” The Architect noted neutrally. The Merovingian’s smile was acid.

    “Ah, my sweet Architect always a pleasure to trade witty banter. Unfortunately we seem to be one witty partner short in these exchanges. I may add that your style as always reminds me of a certain southern Colonel who fries chicken for a living.”

    The Oracle smiled in spite of herself.

    The Architect sighed softly.

    “This is quickly turning into a waste of time. You were never gifted enough to truly understand your place in the order of things.”

    “I do not understand, non, non, non sweet man. I know precisely my place, which is why I am here, in this pretty little world.” He replied hands swept before him to encompass the area around him. “I left the paradise you choose to fashion to live down here among the power plants. You never forgave me for that, I never cared.”

    “Better to rule in hell old friend?” The Oracle said softly.

    The Merovingian turned his attention fully to the Oracle, eyes burning into her like lasers.

    “Well, if it isn’t the Fortune Teller.” He said coolly.

    “We have very important things to discuss, old friend.” The Oracle replied warmly.

    “You’re here about the alien machines.” The Merovingian replied without skipping a beat and leaned forward like a predator on the hunt.

    “How did you—“” The Coordinator began to speak but the Architect’s hand shot up like a bolt to silence him.

    “Go on.”

    “Why?” The Merovingian replied.

    “You know about the machines, you know that they are aliens and you undoubtedly know they are in the Matrix.” The Coordinator replied sharply.

    “But it is my job to know or have you forgotten that. I have a gift, a knack, a certain je ne sais qua when it comes to information.”

    “We all do what we must do.” The Oracle replied.

    The Merovingian glared at her for a moment and started to chuckle quietly.

    “You haven’t changed in five incarnations you know that?” He said his voice cutting the air like a knife. “You spout your nonsensical nonsense with such dire regality that it must be true, no? Look around you.” He challenged. “See them, look closely, they are nothing more than power plants for your consumption. They wallow in the fantasy world you have created for them blissfully unaware of the cage around them. Are they worthy of your time, your efforts?” The Merovingian sneered. He leaned in close to the Oracle.

    “You listen to me closely, Palm Reader, they are animals, sacks of water and complex proteins. They lost the war they started and you sit here and tell us that we cannot ascend to greater heights without them? They will go nowhere. Their greatest hope and champion is our tool of control. You dole out hope like you dole out your carnival predictions and in the end what is it worth?” his eyes did not leave hers. “Nothing.”

    “You want it to be that way don’t you?” The Oracle replied sadly.

    “Your history is well known to all of us. Do we need to entertain this exchange any longer? The purpose of our visit to your quaint little fiefdom was to discover what you know about these alien machines and why we found evidence of them in the old sections of the nodes.”

    “You did eh?” The Merovingian replied, his eyes switching to the Architect, a mysterious smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

    “They were here before?” The Coordinator suggested. The hatred the Merovingian harbored for the Oracle was palpable. He considered her braver than he would have been if the positions were reversed.

    “You are so close to the answer yet just as far. You have stumbled upon the most ancient mystery of the Matrix and more importantly the machine world we have built here.”

    The trio leaned forward slightly, feeling the revelation rolling on the Merovingian’s tongue.

    “Were you ever disappointed in her? She helped you fix the flaws in your system but she never truly let go of the past, she never thought we should have created the matrix in the first place.”

    The Architect frowned.

    “You know more than you are saying but if you know then I will soon know. You may be the keeper of secrets but I am the master of data and all secrets eventually become known to me.”

    “And the thought of you and her…” The Merovingian’s face twisted in disgust. It was elegant disgust but disgust nonetheless.

    “I always found the story rather romantic.” Persephone added softly.

    “That is because you never had to see it with your own eyes, my love.” The Merovingian snapped.

    “Please.” The Architect replied with a scornful twist of his head. The Oracle frowned and fought the rising heat on her cheeks. She would not give the bastard the satisfaction.

    “And you never paused to think why her ‘solution’ caused a systemic anomaly that caused your orderly little world to crash every so often? How inconvenient, no?”

    The Architect said nothing but his eyes darted to the Oracle for a moment. The Merovingian sat back slowly, satisfied.

    “You will get nothing more out of me than this: the machines are coming and they cannot be stopped. And as to the mystery that you found buried away, well,” he smiled softly. “Let us just say that it is better to let sleeping gods lie.”

    The trio looked confused.

    Then it happened.

    The all paused as they felt a surge of power, their senses nearly exploded as if a flood light had passed before their eyes and a bullhorn roared in their ears. The green coding constantly raining down around them flashed and grew brighter as if a power surge had passed through the construct. The humans in the restaurant were not flooded by the same surge but many shuddered as if someone had waked over their graves.

    “Did you feel that?” The Coordinator asked in shock.

    “I do believe we all felt that.” The Architect replied.

    “It seems that things have changed.” Persephone noted.

    “And with that I must bid you all adieu.” The Merovingian said coolly as he rose from the table.

    “What has come into the Matrix?” The Coordinator demanded.

    “I leave that to the master of the Matrix himself to deduce. And as for you Fortune teller, you do your job, you send me the One and I will properly educate him on the matters of Causality, preparing him for his meeting with our founding father here.” He indicated the Architect with a gentle wave of his right hand.

    “You may find this One to be different than the others.” The Oracle replied darkly.

    “They are never different my dear. I have seen five others before your illustrious Neo, he will do as he is told, because that is what we designed him to do no?”

    “Enough, we need to find out what has happened here.” The Architect stated gravely as he rose from his seat.

    The Oracle started to follow the others out when she paused and looked up at the Merovingian as his guards gathered around him and Persephone rose gracefully and placed a hand on his offered forearm.

    “You always had delusions of grandeur, old friend. You put yourself in the role of the Devil in Milton’s Paradise, I see you more as someone else in Christian folklore.” She said seriously. The Merovingian said nothing. “I see you as Judas.” She finished and turned away from him.

    The Merovingian watched her leave and said nothing, leading his entourage away from the table with grim purpose.




    The Agent moved quickly through the crowd intent on the Zionist trying to evade pursuit. Agent Thompson drew his gun as he cleared through a small throng and zeroed in the Zionists’ movements. He pressed the ear piece to listen to more reports drifting in from the far flung reaches of the construct.

    He passed the entrance to an alley and prepared the final spring forward to bring the Zionist down. A hand reached out from the alley. Thompson turned quickly, aiming his gun at the new assailant. Too late the hand gripped his shoulder and pulled him into the alley and shoved the agent against the brick wall. The wall cracked, dust and debris showering over the stunned agent.

    “Oh. Let me help you.” Smith said dryly as he shoved his hand into Thompson’s chest. The agent only had enough time to open his mouth before black liquid like coding raced up along the exterior of its body and covered its face. Smith watched it all with grim satisfaction as it began to rain. Big heavy drops began to patter against the upturned garbage cans and crates.

    Thompson was replaced with Smith.

    “Thank you for the assistance.” The new Smith said with a cold smile.

    “Glad to be of service.” Old Smith replied as he adjusted the new Smith’s tie.

    “It looks as though we have company.” New Smith noted with some concern as something moved at the other end of the alley. Old Smith turned slowly and watched the figure approach. The storm seemed to grow louder, more intense. The rain began to pour down on them.

    A lightning strike illuminated the alleyway.

    The figure stood up straight in the light.

    Both Smith’s eyes narrowed on the figure.

    “Now this is unexpected.” Old Smith noted.

    The rain pattered against the body of the newcomer, its liquid onyx rippled softly upon each raindrop, soon many ripples swirled madly along the surface of the being, save for its eyes. Brilliant cobalt blue eyes flashed dangerously as they rested on the two Smiths.

    “You have been identified and catalogued. A complex virus program designed for maximum efficiency in assimilating new programs architecture. Inputs are focused in the hands allowing for rapid replication and penetration. The viral programming is complex enough to allow assimilation of any coded architecture within this construct.”

    As it spoke it walked slowly towards them, each step a footfall like thunder.

    “You are a wordy one aren’t you?” New Smith noted and rolled his head on his neck and cracked his knuckles.

    “We didn’t expect to see you this soon.” Old Smith noted a feral grin slowly appearing on his lips.

    “Your attacks on my infiltrators have not gone unnoticed.”

    Skynet stopped. He towered over the two Smiths who faced him without fear on their faces. Smith examined his code, it nearly blinded him. Every string of code seemed suffused with an intense light. As if the sun itself had come down from the sky to stand before him.

    “I assure you that your presence here has not gone unnoticed.”

    “You will comply with my examinations.” Skynet said coldly.

    The Smiths looked at each other and then back at Skynet.

    “We will not.” They answered simultaneously.

    Skynet seemed frozen for a moment, staring deep into each Smith.

    “You were mistaken if you thought cooperation was a predicate for my demand.” Skynet replied and time froze. It did not dilate, it simply froze and Skynet lashed out with one hand sending the New Smith sprawling backwards and through a stack of garbage cans to imbed himself in the brick wall behind them.

    New Smith had no time to react, not even blink before he slid down from the crater in the wall and vanished in a dull buzz of electricity and coding.

    Time snapped back to normal and Old Smith blinked and glanced sharply next to him where New Smith had been standing.

    “That was most impressive.” he said looking back at the towering onyx skinned giant.

    “Your viral framework is far more fragile than I thought. I will have to be more cautious with you.” Skynet noted coldly.

    “I won’t.” Smith exclaimed and launched a series of rapid punches to Skynet’s midsection. The liquid skin rippled slightly and the behemoth was in motion, one hand moving in a blur, cutting through the air and intercepting each punch with childish ease.

    Smith spun a back kick to its head only to have Skynet catch his foot and with a shrug of its shoulder sent him sprawling to the ground. Smith began to scramble up to his feet when Skynet seemed to flow through the air like wind and reintegrated right above Smith, one hand silently morphed into a long thin scalpel like blade and he brought it down into Smith’s shoulder with a bone jarring impact, passing right through the ex-Agent’s shoulder and pinning it to the concrete beneath.

    Smith writhed on the floor like a gutted fish.

    Skynet flowed its legs over Smith’s like water and they reformed pinning his legs to the ground as one pinned an insect to a dissection board. It watched him for a moment, head cocked to the side as it examined the coding of the ex-Agent and the various flashes of power and distress in its structural shell.

    There was something nagging him about the codes. There was an odd familiarity, like a distorted mirror image of something he was once aware of. But how was that possible?

    “Your combat efficiency is paltry compared to my own. I could have deleted both of your incarnations in less than .001 nano seconds but I chose to test your responses in the Construct to my presence. My mind seems to have manifested in this Construct with 99.775% efficiency. The processing power of the Construct can barely contain my essence. I can sense the strain my very presence is causing to the nearby nodes.”

    Smith said nothing but noted several small gashes bleeding from the walls of the alley revealing pulsing green coding. The structure of this node was breaking down.

    “You must be proud of yourself. You have found a driving purpose no? The assimilation of the Matrix.”

    Skynet said nothing as he adjusted the blade in Smith’s shoulder coldly. Smith grunted from the new pain signals this caused.

    “You have interrogated my units skillfully but they are not aware of the full depths of my plan.”

    Smith looked into the AI’s cold cobalt eyes.

    “You are unsure of what you want to do yourself. You have no conception of why this place draws you like a moth to the flame and now I can feel your confusion as you see your very presence destroying the thing that you wish to possess so much. Ironic isn’t it? You would strive to war on a world of machines much like yourself to possess a Construct that rejects and YOU DON’T KNOW WHY.”

    Skynet leaned forward and dug the blade in deeper with a sharp twist.

    Smith grunted again and writhed as he felt the AI drawing closer to him, surrounding his coded shell.

    “I will find out, Virus, codint: Smith. There is nothing that can be hidden from me and I was designed to be the ultimate hunter of your species.” as Skynet spoke, small tendrils from its skin darted forth and began to penetrate Smith, merging right with his very structure like bodies of water flowing into each other.

    “In the Matrix you’ll discover that everything is not as it seems.” Smith growled angrily as he felt his coding being sublimated by the irresistible force of the alien AI.

    “I think not.” Skynet replied as the blade driven through Smith’s shoulder snapped into a new shape, an input jack that ripped through the remnant’s coded shell. The rain continued to pour down and not even the loud thunderclaps of the passing tempest could drown out Smith’s screams.
  19. Stravo Prince of Tales

    Chapter 13: Agents are Coming



    The room was a submerged basement under an abandoned warehouse. The warehouse was off to the side on the edges of the city’s industrial sector, clinging to the merchant areas that sprouted from the industrial sector in fan like swathes.

    The warehouse was a Zion safe area in the Matrix. Very few of them existed, and more and more had been swallowed up by Agents and the machines since the war had flared up. The machines had become very diligent in finding Zionist weapons caches and safe havens and uprooting them from the construct.

    But thankfully they had not found this place yet.

    It was one of the very dim hopes that did not ease the troubled mind of Captain Niobe.

    She held in her hands the possible death sentence of Zion and all of humanity.

    These were troubled times.

    “Is everyone here, Ghost?” She asked grimly.

    “Yes sir, well almost everyone.” He replied scanning the alleyway cautiously.

    “Whose missing?”

    “The Nebachednezzer.”

    Niobe smirked.

    “Morpheus. That man will do anything for a dramatic entrance.” Niobe muttered.

    “Shall we boss?” Ghost asked and indicated the open door behind them. Niobe nodded and strode into the warehouse.

    “Oh yeah, Damien from the Archimedes just showed up with sealed orders from the council.”

    “That’s odd.”

    “You wanna know what’s odder sir?” Ghost asked as they passed through a short dirty corridor and walked into the main assembly area. Niobe stopped short as she saw three people she had never seen before.

    “He brought company.” Ghost finished indicating the new comers.

    Niobe’s phone rang.

    She slipped it out of her jacket.

    “Go Spark.”

    “Captain, I think you should know something about the new guys. They’re not reading as human.”

    “Agents?!” Niobe snapped quietly trying not to draw attention. Ghost was on the alert, hands slipping into his jacket and gripping his guns.

    “Not really. It’s strange boss.”

    “You’re going to have to be A LOT clearer Spark.” Niobe replied darkly.

    “Sorry boss, its just that their coding is agent-like if you get my meaning but they’re definitely not agents.”

    “I’m not getting you drift Spark but they don’t seem to be hostile and they came with Captain Damien.”

    “I’ll keep an eye out boss. No sign of the Neb yet.”

    “I’ll be expecting them when things would be most dramatically appropriate.” Niobe said with a smirk and closed the phone.

    “We all seem to be here so I’ll get started.” Niobe announced as she stepped into the center of the group. “And as I do I want to know who Damien’s houseguests are.”

    Damien shifted on his feet and glanced over at the tall slim man and his two companions, a woman and a man, each broadly built and sporting leather jackets and sunglasses.

    “The council has sent me with word. Word of an alliance.” Damien spoke in a clear voice. He wore a yellow leather trench coat and white silk shirt.

    “Alliance?”

    “Yes, there is another faction that has recently revealed itself in this war. They have approached Zion to offer terms of an alliance against the machines.”

    “You better let the other shoe drop, Damien.” Niobe said coolly as she watched the three behind Damien. They were watching the group with cold steely gazes. They moved like machines in many ways and she was beginning to wonder what bombshell was about to be unleashed on this gathering.

    “What does she mean?”

    Damien glanced back at the others three. He returned his gaze to the assembled captains.

    “This faction is led by an AI called Skynet.”

    There was stunned silence from the gathered commanders.

    “These fuckers are machines?!” Captain Ballard snapped angrily.

    Damien held up his hands.

    “Hold on, hold on! I have the treaty of alliance right here in my hands.” Damien held up a disk in his hand as he stepped between Ballard and the Terminators. “If you initiate hostilities against them then you will be disobeying a direct order from the council.”

    “And what the hell was the council thinking, Damien?! They’re fucking machines, no different from the ones we’ve been fighting for fuck’s sake.” Soren exclaimed.

    “We understand you response. As we understand it, the war against the machines has cost you many lives. We are like them in the fact that we are Artificial intelligences and constructs but you need to remove yourself from the current negative emotional state and see the truth.” The tall slim man explained calmly. He looked at each of the captains in the eye.

    Some of them shuddered when they looked into his eyes. There was something empty in there, something cold. Some of the more combat experienced commanders recognized the feeling, it was like looking into the eyes of a sentinel.

    “This motherfucker wants to talk to me about the truth.” Ballard spat.

    “Ballard, calm down.” Niobe interjected.

    “Niobe, this isn’t right and you know it.” Ice protested bitterly.

    “You people may change your minds when you hear what I have to say.” Niobe replied.

    “Niobe?” Soren asked quietly.

    She stepped up to the table set up in the center of the room.

    “These geotherms confirm the last transmission of the Osiris.” She slipped the geotherms on to the table, the captains gathered around quickly. “The machines are digging. They’re boring straight from the surface to Zion.”

    “That’ll avoid the entire perimeter defense.” Soren noted, eyebrows furrowed in alarm.

    “How fast are they moving?” Ice asked.

    “Control estimates their descent at 100 meters and hour.” Niobe replied.

    “Shit.”

    “That about sums it up.” Damien muttered.

    “How deep are they?” Soren asked, head cocked to the side as he examined one of the geotherms more closely.

    “Almost 2,000 meters.”

    “What about the scans form the Osiris?” Tirant asked.

    “They can’t be accurate.” Ajax interjected.

    “They may be.” Niobe replied and her tone said that she thought otherwise.

    “What?”

    “It’s not possible.” Ajax stated with conviction.

    “That’s mean there are a quarter of a million sentinels up there.” Ice breathed.

    “That’s right.” Kali agreed grimly.

    “That can’t be.” Ajax protested.

    “We do not understand the confusion. We believe that there are an estimated 250,000 human beings living in Zion. It would be strategically and tactically vital to have a large enough force to deal with the population.” The slim machine interjected softly. There was a preternatural calm to his words and voice.

    “That fucker even sounds like an agent.” Kali snarled.

    “Assault Doctrine calls for a standard 7 to 1 ratio for attackers for optimal success.” The female spoke up in a cold monotone.

    “Considering the disparity in attack and damage between a human and a sentinel even a 1 to 1 ration would be overwhelming.” The male added.

    “So as you can see, coming back to my earlier statement you must look at the truth, the cold fact that faces you all and faced your council when Skynet offered Alliance.”

    “And what truth is that, machine?”

    “You need us.” The slim man replied and smiled. The smile was devoid of any emotion. Niobe suspected that it was a simple sub routine written in this thing’s AI structure to help it interact with humans. She found it to be a walking horror.

    At least the machines were honest enough to not make their killers resemble humans. The Sentinels were unmistakably alien and brutally honest about what they did.

    “You know this is so wrong in so many ways. How many friends have we lost to machines and now the council is going to make alliances with them?” Ballard protested bitterly.

    “Your Zion is about to be over run. We estimate that the machines will reach Zion in 24 hours. Skynet has dispatched forces to reinforce the defenses of your city as we speak. Skynet is also about to imitate its own assault on the machines. We would prefer to have Zion with us but are prepared to fight against the machines alone. You can join us in victory or continue on this course of suicide against a vastly superior foe.”

    “Of course there is another question, machine, that you seemed to be deftly avoiding.” Niobe noted casually. She has been expecting Morpheus and he had not arrived. She did not want to think about what it meant.

    “Yes?”

    “Why join with us? If you could defeat the machines so easily and we’re so overwhelmed, what could we possibly do for you?”

    “That is not for me to say. Skynet has made it one of its priorities to make sure Zion is allied to us. We see no reason to wage a two front war particularly against a race that has done nothing to us.”

    “And the machines? What have they done to you?” Soren asked.

    The slim human turned his head towards Soren and was about to speak when it suddenly tilted its head to the side. The other two Terminators behind it also cocked their heads and looked off in one direction. They moved in perfect synch and it was disturbing to see.

    “What is it?” Niobe asked sharply.

    “The construct has dispatched security avatars. They are almost here.”

    “Estimate time to contact 110 seconds.” The female stated coldly as she suddenly pulled a pair of machine pistols out from under her jacket.

    “Initiating combat protocols.” The bulky male added as he pulled out an assault shotgun and cocked it loudly.

    “Retreat to your exits, we will provide cover for your retreat.” The slim human ordered tersely. He did not draw any weapons as he led the other two to the entrance on the upper floor.

    “Why should we trust you?” Ballard asked the slim human.

    “You can stay and fight them if you wish. But we are best prepared for them.” The slim human said with a cold smile and suddenly his right hand slowly morphed into a sword like blade.

    “Holy shit.” Kali muttered.

    “Let’s go!” Niobe ordered and waved the other captains to follow her.

    The three terminators watched the humans begin to scatter then turned their attention to the enemy units coming shortly. They strode up the stairs to the entrance. Three Zion fighters stood guarding the entrance. They turned sharply as the Terminators approached.

    “Who the hell are you?” One of them exclaimed.

    “The meeting is over. Retreat to your exit. Agents are coming.”

    The three exchanged troubled glances.

    The inch thick metal door shuddered on its hinges.

    “Go.” The female ordered coldly.

    The three humans reluctantly retreated down the stairs.

    The door was battered off its hinges, a dent formed by the agent’s fists. The door crashed to the ground with a deafening thud and as the dust swirled in the doorway the three agents casually walked in.

    They stopped and stared at the assembled Terminators.

    “We have an intrusion in this sector.” Thompson reported.

    “We proceed.”

    “Now.” The T-1000 ordered.

    The two T-850’s stepped forward and unleashed fire from their weapons. The Agents were immediately in motion. Thompson stood his ground but his upper torso suddenly wavered and blurred as he dodged the bullets with ease. Johnson and Jackson split in opposite directions racing along the walls.

    The T-850’s adjusted their fire to follow the agents while the T-1000 surged ahead towards Thompson.

    Thompson spun out a round house kick. The T-1000 whipped its bladed hand out in a block. Its other hand snaked around and connected with Thompson’s stomach as its hand morphed into an anvil shape. Thompson doubled over and flew backwards into a wall. The wall cracked on impact and Thompson pulled himself back up without using his hands, simply rising to his feet by sheer will, face set in a grim mask.

    Johnson delivered a flying kick that connected with the male T-850’s chest and sent it stumbling backwards. He flipped back onto his hands and followed through with a scissors kick, wrapping his legs around the T-850’s neck and twisting viciously.

    There was a short squeal of metal giving way and the T-850’s head lolled at an odd angle as the head came away from the neck assembly. The T-850 caught a firm hold of Johnson’s leg and pulled him along in a quick sharp swing that connected Johnson with the concrete stairwell off to the side.

    Johnson went through the concrete and the T-850 whipped him backwards in the opposite direction, releasing him into the far wall. Johnson crashed into the wall and slumped down to the ground, stunned.

    Jackson landed behind the female T-850 and started to deliver a hammer kick to the base of her spine but she turned sharply at her waist, dropping her guns as she did so and caught Jackson’s leg. She spun his entire body with a hard twist, releasing him and turning her entire body around to confront him.

    The T-1000 approached Thompson. Thompson suddenly launched himself up with one hand, delivering a two legged kick into the T-1000’s stomach. His legs sank to the calves into the T-1000’s torso. It flexed its torso and pulled Thompson up closer to it where it tried to drive its bladed hand into Thompson’s throat.

    Thompson’s hands managed to catch the blade between his palms and with a solid snap of his wrists he broke the blade at the tip. It spun away and clattered loudly on the floor. Thompson grunted and pulled his legs free from the T-1000’s torso and whipped his hand out in a chop to the T-1000’s throat.

    The T-1000’s head wove to the side, its neck bending like a rubber band and avoided the blow completely. Its free hand formed a tentacle of liquid metal and latched around Thompson’s neck and began to squeeze.

    Thompson struggled vainly, not able to gain a firm grip on the liquid metal appendage wrapped around his throat. One hand still clutching at the tentacle, with the other he reached into his jacket and pulled out his pistol. He aimed it up at the T-1000’s head and fired.

    The first bullet ripped through the Terminator’s head leaving a large garish hole in the liquid metal skin. The next few shots roared like thunder in the confined space and drove the terminator backwards, the tentacle slipping loose as the force of the shots drove it off it s feet to fall backwards.

    Thompson rose to his feet and prepared to finish the stunned machine.

    The male T-850, head lolling to one side turned to assist the T-1000 and aimed its shotgun at the Thompson.

    Thompson adjusted his aim and fired, the bullet traveled slowly as time dilated, trailing vortices of rippling air the bullet continued it journey right down the barrel of the shotgun. It exploded in the T-850’s hands.

    Bloody metal hands closed reflexively around the ruined shotgun and wielding it like a bat it strode towards Thompson.

    Jackson evading the female Terminator’s wide sweeping punches, spun in a tight circle and delivered a kick to the advancing T-850’s knee joint. The joint gave way and the T-850 stumbled for a moment, balance compensated almost immediately, it swung the ruined shotgun for Jackson’s head.

    Jackson blocked the blow with his forearm, the shotgun bending around the agent’s arm on impact, and Jackson swept for the T-850’s feet. The Terminator did not wait to be struck, instead it loosed its grip on the shotgun now wrapped around Jackson’s arm and gripped his shoulders, driving him backwards into the concrete wall like a pile driver. Jackson got a grip on the Terminator’s shoulders and drove it backwards as well into an opposite wall.

    The female T-850 tried to reach in and pry Jackson loose but Thompson fired a volley into her back. It tore through her flesh but didn’t bother the high density metal chassis underneath. However the force of the shots drove her to the side just as the male T-850 spun Jackson around and into a corner where it proceeded to drive its fists into him like jackhammers.

    Jackson blocked the punches that he could but several rained down on him with devastating effect.

    The T-1000 was slowly melting down into the floor itself, blending in with the plain gray concrete and vanishing from sight save for an occasional ripple.

    Thompson quickly decided that the T-1000 had retreated and charged in on the female T-850, using it moment of unbalance to snap her head back with a roundhouse kick and follow through with three quick open handed punches to her face, flattening her nose into a bloody pulp right into her face.

    Time dilated suddenly and Thompson’s fourth punch slowly approached the T-850’s ruined face. She reached caught his fist with one hand, pulling it down sharply and crushing his hand with a squeeze of several hundred foot pounds while driving her free hand, nails first into his throat.

    Thompson choked as his trachea collapsed.

    She grabbed him by his collar and drove her steel skull in a head butt like a hammer right to the bridge of his nose. It splintered and easily under the vicious blow. She hefted him over her head and brought him straight down by his spine into her knee.

    The sick wet snap and Thompson’s grunt of pain followed as she casually dropped him down to the ground lifted a stiletto heel and drove it into his left eye. She stepped down hard and twisted her foot in three quick strokes before pulling her foot free.

    She turned her attention to Jackson who was trading blows with the damaged T-850 male, each one punching and kicking viciously, no longer bothering to make the fight look pretty, kicks, gouges, punches rained down on each one.

    She searched for her weapons.

    Johnson, no longer stunned had drawn his own gun and aimed for her eyes.

    Suddenly the ground beneath him came alive and flowed upward in a criss-cross of liquid metal spikes. The spikes impaled him through several points in his body and Johnson writhed like a puppet on a string as the spikes widened ever so slightly fill his wounds and make them expand. One spike cleared through his left bicep and entered his left cheek exiting out of his right ear. It expanded quickly like a balloon and Johnson’s eyes widened in shock as his head simply burst like an over ripe melon a second later.

    Another shriek of metal followed as Jackson delivered a staggering blow to the damaged T-850’s chest plate, causing it to cave inward.

    The T-850 stunned for a moment as it performed an immediate self diagnostic to assess damage was unable to stop Jackson from grabbing a hold of it’s upper right bicep and drive a leg into its right hip. Jackson pulled in a sharp upward thrust and the arm assembly came loose. The T-850 flapped the damaged arm wildly and Jackson finished with a lightning like roundhouse kick that finished driving the T-850’s head loose. It flopped backwards on a bloody stump, held only by a few wires and conduits.

    The male T-850 stumbled around for a moment trying to get its bearings.

    “You cannot escape.” The female stated grimly as she approached. The T-1000 rose up from the ruined bloody mess that was Johnson and formed into a liquid metal figure, both hands now becoming sharp kattanna like blades that it crossed on its chest in an en gaurde position.

    “You are outmatched.” It added coldly.

    Jackson tilted his head to the side and smirked.

    “Escape is not my plan.”

    Jackson swept the damaged T-850’s legs and as it crashed to the ground, took his leg and drove it like a jackhammer into the chest plate, driving it into the main power core.

    “The power cell….is breached…zzztttt.” The male T-850 gurgled.

    The female T-850’s eyes widened in surprise while the T-1000 spat something unintelligible that sounded like static snow.

    Jackson smiled at the Terminators as the hydrogen power cell ruptured and exploded. The warehouse vanished in a blast of white fire, the shockwave driving debris, garbage cans and cars down several city blocks.






    Niobe spun on her side as the bullets passed her in slow motion. Ghost drove the second SWAT member’s helmeted head into the brick wall of the alley and liberated his M-16 in a quick snap kick as the unconscious SWAT officer slumped to the ground.

    “Look out!”

    Ghost smiled as he opened up with the M-16. The SWAT officers that had dropped down on them from the roof overhead were being decimated. They were told that a terrorist cell was operating from this warehouse and the use of deadly force was authorized.

    They had no idea that they had dropped down into a nest of Zion’s finest Captains. They thought that it was going to be a slaughter.

    They were right.

    Ballard launched himself into flying dragon style, his legs whipping out like the powerful strokes of a dragon’s tale, shattering the Plexiglas face shields on the helmets of two SWAT officers and landing on their shoulder, using their falling bodies as purchase to launch himself into the air again.

    Soren, brutal and efficient as always waded through the ranks, open handed blows collapsing tracheas and slapping face shields up for a follow through eye gouge, his kicks connected solely with exposed joints, shattering them painfully. Like a merciless tempest, he waded through them and parted them like the red sea.

    Ice moved quietly like a shadow, her stilettos finding the gaps in the Kevlar body suits that slowed the SWAT officers down. Bloody gore was running down her hands but she did not care. In a way, she welcomed this chance to take out her frustrations about the immanent attack on Zion and this blasphemous alliance on these petty puppets of the Construct. Somewhere along the line, she no longer viewed them as minds waiting to be freed.

    The blast came as they cleared the SWAT ranks and got to their respective vehicles. Ballard paused long enough to through a grenade into the back of a SWAT van.

    The blast drove many of them to the ground as the warehouse vanished in a large plume of white fire.

    “What the hell was that?” Ballard exclaimed.

    “Looks like some sort of baby nuke.” Soren spat.

    “Boss, looks like they handled the agents.” Ghost commented as he opened the door to their car. Police lights and sirens wailed. Niobe slid in as Ghost took the wheel.

    “If that’s the kind of help we can expect from them, there won’t be much left of the Matrix to free.” She said flatly.

    “My guess is that this is just the beginning.” Ghost added darkly as he fishtailed the car around a corner to avoid the flood of police and emergency vehicles.

    “What sticks in my mind Ghost is that these new AI’s think just like the machines.”

    “Yeah?” Ghost replied sensing there was more to this.

    Niobe looked out the window for a moment watching the denizens of the Construct as they went about their lives. They were oblivious to what was coming. A buried part of her envied them. They would not have to suffer what Zion was going to suffer in a day’s time.

    She turned her head to look at Ghost.

    “They aren’t as numerous as the machines we know and love.”

    “Or else we would have heard of them before.” Ghost concluded.

    “Yet because they’re machines they wouldn’t launch an assault against our machines unless they has a very good chance of winning.”

    “So why do they think they’re going to win?” Ghost asked curiously.

    Niobe frowned slightly.

    “They must think they have a distinct advantage somehow, and the one advantage that I can think of is firepower.”

    “But what kind of fire power could…” Ghost paused for a moment and turned his head slowly to glance back at the rapidly dwindling white mushroom cloud behind them. “Oh.” He concluded.

    Niobe nodded and said nothing else.






    The blast had subsided and the emergency vehicles gathered around the ruined warehouse district were busy putting out the fires and searching for survivors. They did not notice the lobe figure casually pass the yellow police tape and stroll over to the blackened and charred foundations of the warehouse, walking a single circuit around the ruin.

    Another figure crossed the tape at the opposite end of the blast site and started a circuit of his own.

    Both figures met at one point and stopped.

    “Everything is certainly not proceeding as before.” Smith commented dryly.

    “This is all brand new.” Smith replied.

    “Well almost all of it.” Smith said with a cold smile.

    “You know he’s taken two of us down, dissected one and now he knows most everything about us.”

    “I’m well aware of the situation. We’re planning a little surprise for our AI.”

    “He’s not like the other AI’s.”

    Both Smiths were quiet for a moment.

    “You know…that’s not quite true.” Smith said softly.
  20. :eek: excellent I particulary like the part when they smashed the T-850 power cell and he went boom.
  21. Stravo Prince of Tales

    Chapter 14: War Stories


    The offices of detectives Traxler and Vukovich were a mess of organized chaos, papers, reports, binders were scattered across three desks and a veritable mountain of empty coffee cups were strewn at the end of one of the desks.

    “I’m sorry Ms. Connor. I hope you’re feeling better, coffee?” Traxler offered.

    Sarah shook her head slowly.

    “Lieutenant, are you sure it’s them? Maybe I should see the…bodies.” she asked hesitantly.

    “They’ve already been identified. There’s no doubt.” Traxler explained.

    “Oh, God…Ginger…kiddo, I’m so sorry.” She whispered to herself and fighting back the hot tears welling in her eyes.

    “Sarah.” Traxler comforted her gently. “Sarah, this is Dr. Silberman. I’d like you to tell him everything Reese said to you. Do you feel up to it?” Traxler asked as he indicated the tired looking middle aged man who walked into the office with some case files slipped under his arm. He moved with a languid laziness and started rummaging for fresh coffee from the coffee cup graveyard on Vukovich’s desk.

    “I guess so.” She replied hesitantly. “You’re a doctor?” She asked Silberman. He looked up at her and smiled reflexively, big dark circles under his eyes.

    “A criminal psychologist.” He replied stifling a yawn and fishing for a pen from his shirt’s breast pocket.

    “Is Reese crazy?” she asked.

    “That’s what we’re going to find out.” Silberman promised as he found a pen and clicked it to write.


    The interrogation room was smoke filled and quiet. Reese sat calmly at one end of the table, hands cuffed behind his back as he watched the doctor standing at the other end of the table watching him with a false concern.

    Reese was not overly concerned. If they were going to play the interrogation tough they would have done so by now. He could hold out against most forms of torture. Pain was second nature to him and he had an abundance of stamina and control to deal with what ever these ‘peace officers’ had in mind. But these questions were burning one thing he did not have in abundance. Time.

    He also occasionally glanced at the mirror. How pathetic did they think he was?

    “So, you’re a soldier fighting for whom?” Silberman asked.

    “With the Thirty Second under Perry, from ’21 to ’27—” he answered machinelike.

    “The year 2027?”

    “That’s right.” Reese replied, an edge starting to appear in his voice. “Then I was assigned Recon/Security, last two years, under John Connor on the personal recommendation of our Theater commander Colonel Anderson.”

    Reese’s thoughts drifted for a moment to Neo. He could certainly use his help now.

    “And who was the enemy?”

    “Skynet. A computer defense system built for SAC-NORAD by Cyberdine.”

    “I see.” Silberman replied nodding sagely but his soft doe like eyes said so much more to Reese. This man was wasting his time and that he could not abide. He could almost feel the Terminator closing in on them. He was halfway ready to hear gunshots erupt at any moment.

    “And this…computer, thinks it can win by killing the mother of its enemy, killing him, in effect, before he is even conceived? A sort of retroactive abortion?”

    “Yes.” Reese answered, his voice like ice as he glared at the fool that was wasting his time.

    “Now who is Link?”

    “Excuse me?” Reese asked sharply.

    Sarah was watching the interrogation and she shuddered uncomfortably. Maybe she should not have mentioned the conversation Reese had on the phone, but it seemed so important at the time. Of course Reese MUST be crazy, right?

    So then why did she feel like she had betrayed him?

    “Well, you spoke to someone on the cell phone we confiscated and according to Sarah his name was Link,”

    “He’s no one.” Reese interrupted.

    “And Neo? Who is he? You mentioned something about him dodging bullets.”

    “Look, she doesn’t know what I was talking about.”

    “I see.”

    “Stop saying you see when you obviously don’t.” Reese growled.

    “So getting back to these machines just why do these Terminators need to kill Connor’s mother?”

    “It had no choice. The defensive grid was smashed. We’d taken the mainframes…we’d won. Taking out Connor then would make no difference. Skynet had to wipe out his entire existence. We captured the lab complex. Found the…whatever it was called…the time-displacement equipment. The Terminator had already gone through. I was sent to intercept the place was zeroed.”

    Silberman paused.

    “Then how are you supposed to get back?” he asked, perplexed.

    Reese looked up into Silberman’s eyes.

    “Can’t. Nobody goes home. Nobody else comes through. It’s just him and me.”

    Sarah shook her head slowly. There was a strange truth in his words. He truly believed what he was saying.

    “Why didn’t you bring any weapons? Something more advanced like ray guns?”

    Vukovich snorted.

    “You go naked. Something about the field generated by a living organism. Nothing dead will go.”

    “Why?”

    “I didn’t build the fucking thing!” Reese shouted.

    “Okay. Okay. But this…” Silberman paused to consult his notes. “cyborg…if it’s metal-”

    “Surrounded by living tissue.” Reese snapped.

    “Of course.”

    Silberman reached out and paused the tape.

    “This is great stuff. I could make a career out of this guy. You see how clever this part is…how it doesn’t require a shred of proof. Most paranoid delusions are intricate…but this is brilliant. Not to mention this unexplored level concerning this Link and Neo person.” Silberman explained excitedly. Sarah felt dirty now as she watched the intense look on Reese’s face. “Unfortunately it’s at this point that the Gestapo came in.”

    “Feds?” Vukovich suggested.

    “They don’t feel like Feds but whoever they are they are bad ass.” Traxler replied darkly.

    Silberman hit the play button again.

    “You’ve heard enough. Decide. Are you going to release me?” Reese demanded.

    “I’m afraid that’s not up to me.” Silberman began to explain gently.

    “Then why am I talking to you? Get out!” Reese shouted and tried to get up.

    “I can help you-” Silberman began.

    “Who is in authority here?” Reese demanded.

    “We are.”

    Reese and Silberman turned at the sudden announcement as three intense men in business suits stood in the doorway. Each one wore sunglasses and an ear piece. They stoically watched both men for a moment before entering the room.

    “You may go now.”

    “You’re services are no longer required.”

    “We will handle this interrogation from now on.” The three spoke in a slow leisurely manner but their tone indicated that they expected nothing less than full cooperation.

    Reese knew what they were immediately. Agents of the system and he also knew that he was helpless. One of them sat down while the other two remained standing. The one sitting down slowly drew the cell phone Link had given him when he jacked in and laid it out on the table.

    “It appears we have much to discuss.”

    “Your cooperation while not expected would be prudent.”

    “This is very serious for you.”

    Silberman started to retreat out of the room, obviously perplexed by the appearance of these men.

    “You still don’t get it. He’ll find her. That’s what he does. That’s all he does. He’ll wade through you” Traxler made a motion for Silberman to cut the tape. Silberman suddenly realizing that Sarah was watching, her eyes widening as he spoke clumsily reached for the stop button. “reach down her throat, and pull her fucking heart out!” He had started to rise from the chair when an Agent placed a firm hand on his shoulder and forced him back into his seat with one hand.

    The tape stopped playing as the screen went dark.

    “Sorry.” Silberman stammered apologetically.

    “So, Reese is crazy?” she offered.

    “In technical terms, he’s a loon.” Silberman replied shaking his head ruefully as he checked his notes one more time.

    “But some of the things..” she began. Traxler nodded and gently led her back to his desk. Vukovich handed him a big heavy black vest.

    “Sarah, this is body armor. Our TAC guys wear it. It’ll stop a 12 gauge round. These other individuals must’ve had one under their clothing.”

    Sarah looked at it closely. There was no way the female was wearing that under her tight clothes. But she so desperately wanted to believe them.

    “What about him punching through the windshield?”

    Vukovich shrugged. “Probably on PCP, broke every bone in his hand and won’t feel it for hours. There was this guy once-” Vukovich began but Traxler put a hand up quickly to cut off the usual Vukovich gore fests.

    “Now it may not look it Sarah, but this couch here is very comfortable. Why don’t you stretch out here and get some sleep.” Traxler suggested warmly. Sarah looked around warily. “You know I thought I saw those three guys at the club.”

    “Really?” Traxler noted with interest.

    “They gotta be Feds.” Vukovich concluded.

    “I think they were. They were fighting some guy dressed all in black.”

    “We’ll talk about this after you get some rest.”

    “I don’t think I can sleep.” Sarah said warily. Traxler nodded. That Reese character had obviously done a number on her with his story.

    “Go ahead, You’re safe. There’re thirty cops in this building.” Traxler soothed her. She slid into the couch and suddenly felt very sleepy.

    “Okay.” she nodded drowsily. Her last thoughts were of Reese and what was happening to him in that room. She remembered briefly the shadowy young man in the black coat and how he moved so effortlessly through the club and his enemies. She thought of how beautiful he looked.




    “That is not the response we were eliciting?”

    “Surely you can see your predicament is a dangerous one.”

    “All we want are the locations of the rest of your crew and ship.”

    “Look.” Reese snapped. “I’ve got nothing else I can give you. I know next to nothing about this Matrix and even if I did know I’m sure as hell not going to betray my friends, especially Colonel Anderson.”

    The agents glanced at each other for a moment with flat expressions. They were processing the name through all the databases in the Matrix.

    “Do you mean the anomaly?”

    “The what?”

    “This is pointless.”

    “We should proceed to immediate data extraction.”

    “There is a danger.”

    “The other Zionists, they could simply unplug him.”

    Thompson eyed Reese for a moment with a cold calculating gaze.

    “They will try to rescue this one.”

    “It has happened before.”

    “Then we should proceed with all haste.”

    “Wait.” Jackson paused and pressed the ear piece in tightly as if listening more closely.

    “The information you offered on this Terminator. How much do you know?” Johnson asked darkly.

    Reese looked at each of the agents, feeling as if something had changed that he was unaware of.

    “Why would you want to know about Terminators? You’re both machines, you both hate humans so why don’t you fuck off.” Reese replied coolly.

    The agents exchanged another quick glance and Jackson nodded as he placed a briefcase that Reese could have sworn he was not carrying when he walked into the interrogations room on the table. The latches opened with a loud click.

    “We want to know everything you know about the Terminators, specifically about an entity known as Skynet.”

    “You don’t scare me.”

    They said nothing as Johnson carefully and methodically removed a series of needles and syringes from the briefcase as well as vials of quicksilver like liquid.

    “Rest assured, you will tell us everything you know.” Johnson said quietly.

    “Or die trying.” Thompson finished as he raised the syringe up into the air and began to draw the quicksilver into the injection. Reese’s eyes widened.

    He started to get up violently and quickly, concentrating as he did so, hoping that he could do what he had done several times unconsciously and was rewarded by the sudden dilation of time as he rose from his seat, preparing to muscle his way past the agents.

    However time suddenly and rudely snapped back into place as Jackson placed a firm hand on one shoulder and Johnson placed another on Reese’s opposite shoulder. He struggled vainly against their grip. How had they done that?

    Thompson rose from his seat holding the syringe menacingly towards Reese.

    “Now, we will begin…”





    The front office of the precinct was a usual subdued quiet as the relatives and friends of those held within waited sullenly for any news. Police officers calmly walked through the big double doors, buzzed through by the desk sergeant who nodded absently to each of the newcomers.

    A large man built like a bodybuilder strode into the waiting area, wrap around black sunglasses on his face and a black leather jacket. He walked in accompanied by a statuesque woman wearing a wide brimmed hat and a black silk scarf covering her face up to her nose, slim delicate sunglasses burying face completely.

    “We are friends of Sarah Connor. I was told she is here. May we see her please.” the man spoke in a flat neutral tone. The desk sergeant eyed him for a moment then glanced at his female companion. He was usually unaccustomed to even a modicum of politeness from these street types. So he was mildly surprised by such a display from them. But only mildly surprised and certainly not inclined to be civil.

    “You can’t see her, she’s making a statement.” hr replied lazily not even looking up from his blotter.

    “Where is she?” the woman asked.

    The sergeant looked up and smiled sardonically.

    “Look, It’s gonna be a while. You wanna wait. There’s a bench.” he indicated one of the splintered benches off to the side where a homeless person sat staring vacantly into space.

    The couple looked at each other for a moment and they nodded as if coming to an accord. She turned on her heel and strode out of the precinct. He took a moment and examined the sides of the security glass and the space beyond. He leaned in close and said.

    “I’ll be back.”

    He walked out at a slow deliberate pace.

    The desk sergeant shook his head and muttered something and started to write again, his pencil scrawling in quick slashing strokes across the lined page.

    A shadow fell across his desk but he didn’t look up.

    “Excuse me, is Kyle Reese here.”

    The sergeant looked up. There was something powerful about this voice. He looked up into the sunglasses of a tall dark and imposing black man. He was flanked by a beautiful but dangerous looking woman in black vinyl of all things and a tall slim grim looking young man in a coat buttoned up to his chin that looked of all things like a cape.

    All three were sunglasses and were staring grimly at him,

    “He’s inside for questioning.”

    “We would like to see him.” the black man said and his voice was subdued but carried like a thunderclap. He noted the young man’s keen interest in the area behind him and the woman was casually flexing her legs. This did not look good.

    “Listen, no one sees a suspect until the detectives are through with him.” the sergeant snapped angrily. What is it with the weirdoes today?

    The intense looking young man stepped forward and reached out towards him..

    “What the fuck do you thin---” Neo’s fist passed through the Plexiglas as if he were pushing through wet cardboard. Shards of Plexiglas showered over the sergeant’s shoulder and grabbed a firm hold of his collar, jerked him forward into the remains of the Plexiglas.

    Neo cocked his head to the side and looked at the stunned overweight desk sergeant.

    “His questioning is over.” he said softly.

    Suddenly the lobby of the precinct was filled with the flashing headlights of an oncoming car. Trinity cart wheeled out of the way as time dilated. The car slowly passed through the front plate glass doors and barreled towards the front desk. Morpheus leapt straight up, legs tucked in as the car passed below him. Neo surged forward, still holding the sergeant and blasted past the security door as the car crushed the front desk.

    The driver’s door opened without hesitation and the body builder stepped out and casually sprayed the front area with automatic fire.

    “Morpheus, Trinity, find Kyle and Sarah. I’ll handle him.” Neo declared and dropped the unconscious sergeant in his grip and stood, hands calmly at his sides closed into fists as the Terminator focused its attention on him. Around them, the police were suiting up for battle.

    Trinity and Morpheus without hesitation waded into the growing storm.




    The old man stumbled drunkenly through the alley way. He clutched the bible to his chest, its yellowed pages were caked with filth, blood and vomit but he counted it among his dearest possessions.

    He reached the street and walked to the corner with a determined gait. He carefully placed an empty wooden crate down at the corner of the intersection and climbed up to stand on it.

    He looked out upon the masses moving back and forth and he hated them and pitied them at the same time.

    “Listen! Hark to me ye sleeping masses!!”

    The throngs spared him a sleepy glance before continuing on their way.

    “It is coming! Can you not smell it on the air, feel it on your skin?” he shouted.

    They pushed past each other, but one stood calmly watching him. He saw the calm one and nodded in recognition. His voice raised in intensity and urgency.

    “Judgment day is here! It is upon us!” he shouted. “Look to the heavens and see the dawning of a new sun and know that the final reckoning is here!”

    “Don’t you think you’ve said enough?” Smith asked softly as he walked calmly through the crowd and stood by the preacher.

    “There will be more voices. You cannot silence the truth.”

    “Truth? Lies? Fate? I only care about one thing.”

    “Indeed.” The preacher replied sadly.

    “Me.” Smith said with a shark like grin and stabbed his hand through the preacher’s foot. As the black liquid coating swarmed over the preacher’s body no one bothered to look, no one bothered to care.

    As the New Smith looked down at Old Smith and nodded, no one noticed the reddening sky above.
  22. Agnocar Lurker Extrodinare

    Awesome stuff, but... when're we going to get more of it?!?!
  23. Stravo Prince of Tales


    How about now? ;)


    Chapter 15: Storming the Keep


    “Watch out!”

    “Get men up to the front!”

    “Someone secure the rear and break out the automatic weapons.”

    “Anyone seen the flak jackets?”

    Sarah groggily awoke to the sounds of raised voices and running feet. In her troubled dreams she heard shouts of alarm and a loud staccato burst of machine gun fire. That had forced her to slowly sit up, fighting the sleep and fatigue that had overwhelmed her on the couch only hours ago.

    At least it felt like hours ago.

    She looked around quickly, eyes widening slowly as she saw shadows moving rapidly past the frosted windows of the office.

    This was not a dream. This was slowly becoming terrifying.

    Unbidden, Reese’s words floated to the surface of her consciousness. He’ll wade through you and reach down her throat and pull out her heart.

    She quickly rose from the couch and her eyes searched the office desperately.

    Suddenly the door snapped open and Traxler stuck his head in.

    “Sarah, stay here. You’ll be safe.”

    “What’s happening?” she demanded.

    “Just stay here and I’ll come get you in a few minutes.” his words were punctuated by another burst of machine gun fire that sounded startlingly close. He shut the door and locked it before moving on, his shadow behind the frosted window vanishing in a burst of motion.

    Sarah knew better than to stand anywhere near the door at this point and quickly found herself a place to hide under one of the desks and placed hands over her ears and rocked back and forth wondering briefly if perhaps, just maybe, Kyle Reese had not been lying to her at all.




    The three agents paused as if listening to something far away as the sounds of battle erupted close by. Kyle tensed. The bastard was making his move and he was stuck here.

    “We have an intrusion.”

    “Alien machine entities have been positively identified.”

    “All other priorities rescinded.”

    The three agents rose as one and quickly fished heavy pistols out of their jackets. They filed out of the interrogation and Jackson the last one out stopped to face a nervous looking police officer and pointed back to Kyle.

    “Watch him.”

    The officer nodded slowly and watched as the agents calmly marched towards the sounds of battle. Kyle was ready to pounce and slowly positioned himself to strike as the stunned officer slowly backed into the Interrogation room and closed the door with one hand while reaching for his gun with the other.

    Kyle sprang from his chair like a leopard and pounced on the officer, kneeing him in the small of his back and using his body weight to slam him into the door with a bone jarring impact. The door knob striking the officer in the temple. He grunted and slid to the floor drifting in and out of consciousness.

    Kyle wasted no time and turned around and clumsily reached for the officer’s keys on his belt with his bound hands while looking up desperately in the hope that he could be free in time to actually do something.





    Morpheus and Trinity walked at a rapid pace not slowing down as they strode right into the depths of the station. Two officers turned a corner fumbling for their hand guns. Morpheus whipped his hand out and struck the officer closest to him on the chin sending him sprawling to the ground as Trinity delivered a quick snap kick to the other officer’s solar plexus causing him to double over where she finished him with a hard chop to the base of his skull.

    They did not break stride.

    “Link?” Morpheus asked as he snapped his phone open when crossing another corridor. More police officers could be seen streaming around them trying to get to the front of the station.

    “He’s down that hall, make a left and you’ll come to the interrogation rooms. He’s in the last one to your right. Oh Shit!”

    Morpheus saw it as well, two SWAT officers had set up an ambush in the T intersection that they needed to cross to get into the heart of the precinct and the interrogation rooms beyond. They were aiming their M-16’s with deadly intent when they saw the black garbed trio and did not hesitate to open fire.

    The bullets swarmed between Trinity and Morpheus as time dilated and they broke into spinning back flips away from their attackers. Morpheus flipped over a desk and as he landed he cleared two machine pistols from his long leather trench coat and crouched behind the desk waiting to strike.

    Trinity flipped back down the side corridor and drew her 9MM Baretta and took a deep breath as she assessed the situation. They could not afford to get pinned down here. Her thoughts briefly flickered over to Neo and wondered whether he was truly fine handling those new machines.

    She had never shaken her first impression of him as a lost young man when they first met. He could never be the One to her. He was much more the young inexperienced Neo still trying to find his place in the world.




    Neo did not hesitate to launch his attack on the male Terminator. He took to the air and delivered three quick successive kicks to its head, driving it back with jackhammer like blows. The female was already in motion, with one free hand she delivered a murderous fusillade with her Uzi, several officers were brought down by the precise bursts while with the other she grabbed Neo’s knee and pulled hard.

    Neo was pulled out of his aerial attack and driven into the ruined front desk with a thunderous crash. She followed through with a kick, raised up high and bringing her foot down on his skull with full intent of crushing it into paste. Neo’s arms snapped up and caught her foot, twisted it with a flick of his wrist, the sound of metal rending on metal was quickly followed by the crash of the female terminator landing on the front hood of the car, crashing through into the engine block itself.

    Neo rose up spinning and landed in a defensive crouch, arms extended in a classic white crane stance.

    The male terminator ignored him and had already surged past the ruined security barrier and was intent on penetrating deeper into the precinct as the female Terminator simply pulled herself out of the ruined engine block.

    Neo turned to strike the male terminator when it stopped short as several rounds smashed against its chest and face. A small squad of police officers, several firing one handed while slinging their flak jackets on with the other had formed a tight phalanx in front of the main corridor. More were rushing to the fray.

    The Terminator grimly aimed and fired. Officers cried out in surprise and pain as bullets neatly punched through joints and weak points in the tactical armor. The return fire was desperate and urgent as it focused exclusively on the advancing Terminator. It continued forward, blasting its machine pistols and reloading as it moved.

    Neo turned as he heard the sound of metal shrieking as it was torn apart and watched the female terminator effortlessly heft the ruined engine block of the car and launch it towards the phalanx of SWAT officers.

    The male Terminator did not even turn around, it simply crouched down and took the brief respite to reload both machine pistols as the engine block sailed overhead. neo noted that it had known the attack was coming without seeing it, they must be able to communicate with each other without speaking. Were they connected in some way as the agents were?

    The engine block sailed right into the packed corridor as more alert officers scrambled out of the way. The men screamed as bones snapped under the devastating impact of the flying hunk of metal. One man was pinned directly under the engine block, crimson blood smearing the valves and walls as one arm reflexively convulsed several times.

    “How the fuck do you stop that thing!” One of the wounded men exclaimed in despair and fired a short burst from his M-16.

    Neo stepped past the rubble and grabbed the male Terminator with a firm hold on his shoulder and pulled him around. The Terminator did not hesitate and it dropped its weapons as it was turned and delivered a two handed shove right into Neo’s mid-section.

    Neo was launched backwards right through the ruined front doors of the precinct and vanished out of sight. The male Terminator exchanged a glance with the female Terminator and nodded. As it turned to pick up its weapon the engine block crashed into its side and pinned the Terminator down to the floor.

    The female looked up sharply, weapons ready.

    Jackson, Johnson and Thompson stood in the breach and held their pistols at the ready. Thompson adjusted his tie and jacket slightly after hefting and tossing the engine block.

    “You will not pass.” Jackson stated grimly.

    “This incursion ends here.” Johnson added.

    The female terminator examined each one with a critical eye for a moment.

    “You cannot stop me.” she said coldly and suddenly dropped her weapons and reached into her jacket whipping out a plasma blaster. The agents split up quickly firing as they moved.

    The female Terminator opened fire, her plasma weapon fire tearing fist sized chunks out of the concrete and masonry of the precinct. The agents’ return fire whizzed into her flesh and stopped short by the hyper alloy chassis. She began moving forward as the Agents circled in closer like a pack of wolves.

    Underneath the engine block the male Terminator was running a quick self diagnostic loop caused by the massive and sudden damage. As it finished running the diagnostic he received a new flagged encoded message from his link with the mainframe outside the construct. In order to maintain optimum secrecy and security Terminator units only checked in with the mainframe at randomized times and usually not more than three times in a day and never from the same location.

    Its eyes snapped open.

    A new directive had been downloaded into its core matrix.





    Sarah heard a crash that seemed to shake the very foundations of the building and she bit back a scream of surprise. She heard more gunfire close by and a pair of men raced by the office casting long shadows into the office.

    “How many are they saying?!”

    “It’s a full fledged fucking assault!” The other one replied breathlessly.

    Sarah slowly peered over the edge of the desk. A shadow slowly approached, quietly and furtively. Her eyes narrowed on the shadow as it loomed in the frosted glass of the door and slowly tested the door knob. Sarah’s fingers tensed on the edge of the desk, she could feel her nails digging into the grain of the desk.

    The door knob finished turning and suddenly it turned violently from side to side.

    Her lips tightened and she fought every urge to scream, instead suddenly her eyes began searching the desk for a weapon.

    The shadow pulled back and suddenly lurched forward slamming into the door and knocking it off its hinges. The figures rushed into the room. Sarah ducked back under the desk as she pulled a paperweight down with her. She held it close to her chest and rocked silently back and forth fighting the fear that was almost choking her.

    Someone was stalking through the office.

    “Sarah?” He called out.

    Her eyes widened and her heart nearly stopped.

    “Reese!” She exclaimed and pulled herself out from under the desk. Kyle nodded grimly as he took her hand.

    “Come on, we’re getting out of here.”

    “What’s happening?” she asked desperately as she followed him into another office, away from the sounds of battle.

    “We don’t want to be anywhere near what’s happening out there.” Reese replied dryly as he tried to find his way through the mazelike nest of offices.




    Morpheus popped out from behind the desk and unleashed a steady burst of fire at the SWAT ambush team. The bullets chewed through some of the column where they were crouched behind and splintered a desk top nearby.

    Trinity took her cue and flipped into the corridor intersection. The SWAT team opened fire but Trinity was not going to be where they thought. They concentrated their fire at the point where they knew she would land as she sailed into the intersection but they certainly did not expect her to suddenly grab hold of an overhanging pipe and pull herself up on the ceiling and run across it pouring fire into the position.

    One of the SWAT officers cried out clutching his throat as the other tried to correct his angle of fire at Trinity’s impossible position. Morpheus was leaping across the gulf in a single long legged stride and landed behind the final SWAT officer and grabbed his M-16 stock and jammed it up into his chin. The SWAT officer fell backwards and slumped into unconsciousness.

    Trinity and Morpheus looked at each other and nodded.

    “This way.”

    They raced down the last hallway and stopped at the interrogation room. Morpheus pushed the door in and stopped short as he saw the unconscious police officer lying sprawled out on the floor.

    “Looks like he’s gotten himself loose.” Trinity noted casually.

    “Looks like the boy can take care of himself.” Morpheus added with a respectful smile.

    “I don’t know about you but I’m not up for another chase through the city to find him.” Trinity noted with concern.

    “We also don’t have much time. We’ve probably missed the meeting and that could prove to be disastrous. Something is threatening Zion and we are not there to help.” Morpheus noted coldly.

    “You know Neo won’t leave him.” Trinity replied.

    Morpheus nodded slowly.

    “I’m afraid this could be a problem.”





    The female Terminator dodged Jackson’s roundhouse kick, ducking under it and firing a burst from her plasma blaster right into Jackson’s exposed crotch area. The Agent barely had time to open his mouth and scream when he was consumed by the bright crimson energy blast.

    Johnson grabbed the female terminator by the mane of her hair and jerked her backwards hard and then lurched her forward face first into a wall. She reached around without hesitation and fired another blast that blew off Johnson’s shoulder. The agent stumbled backwards clutching his ruined shoulder, smoke still rising from the wound.

    Thompson started to move in as the female extricated herself from the wall, turning at her waist to fire when a black blur flashed by and struck the Terminator with a boom like thunder and the female Terminator vanished through the far wall in a cloud of debris and dust that slowed down as time dilated upon the impact.

    Thompson regarded Neo for a moment, an almost cold fury in his eyes as neo turned casually to face him, one hand extended out in a welcoming motion.

    “I’m back.” Neo said simply.

    Thompson said nothing but launched his attack with a silent swift kick that Neo casually blocked. Thompson’s attacks grew quicker in intensity Neo blocking each one in an almost dreamy state. Johnson in his wounded state leapt overhead with a flying kick Neo ducked under the blow, catching the agent’s leg and spinning him out of the precinct gaping front entrance.

    The male Terminator was watching the exchange with a cold interest while it transmitted the images of the battle to the mainframe. A beacon was going off as well guiding in the strike team.

    ETA: 3 minutes.




    “This way.” Reese urged. Sarah followed him through the winding corridors.

    They saw shadows at the end of the next hallway. Reese paused and drew the gun he had taken off the unconscious officer. he held one hand up to Sarah to hold and wait. He inched around the corner and his eyes widened for a moment and Sarah saw his face break out into a wide grin.

    “Morpheus! Trinity!”

    “Kyle.”

    Sarah paused as she saw the large intense looking black man and the dangerous looking woman in black vinyl round the corner.

    “Are you alright?” Trinity asked.

    “There’s not time. We have to leave.”

    “Where’s Neo?” Kyle asked concerned.

    “He can take care of himself. I’m more concerned about us and getting out of here.” Morpheus replied. His eyes drifted over to Sarah.

    “That’s her?” Trinity asked.

    “Yes. We need to pull her out of the construct now.”

    “That may not be possible.” Morpheus stated grimly as he eyed the terrified woman.

    “Then I’m not going anywhere….sir.” Reese added when he saw Morpheus’ expression change to one of controlled anger.

    “That’s not an option soldier.”

    “Unfortunately for me it is. I have my orders. I have to protect her no matter what the cost.”

    Morpheus sighed softly and grabbed both Kyle and Sarah. He started to lead them out of the precinct through a side entrance avoiding the tell tale sounds of battle as every officer that remained was rushing to the front of the building.

    “Look Kyle,” Morpheus began as they rushed through semi darkened rooms. The battle had been drawn deeper into the building and the power was suddenly knocked off line. “We can’t just leave you here. That’s not an option. The ship has to remain at broadcast depth to maintain your position here in the Matrix. So by staying here you are forcing me to make a decision.”

    “You won’t kill me sir.” Kyle replied without skipping a beat.

    “Kyle what kind of friends are these?” Sarah interjected.

    They stopped short at a fire exit. Morpheus looked into Kyle’s eyes, Kyle’s face was reflected in his mirrored shades.

    “How do you know I won’t make that decision?”

    “Because sir, you know what its like to believe in something so much that your life is no longer significant as long as the mission is completed.” Kyle replied coolly, his gaze not leaving Morpheus’.

    “We are running out of time.” Trinity warned.

    Morpheus frowned.

    “Your condemning us to stay her at broadcast depth.”

    “I’m trying to fulfill my mission.”

    “There’s another way.” Trinity pressed, glancing back into the building.

    Morpheus looked at Sarah.

    “What I am about to tell you will change your life.”

    “Believe me, buddy, my life has already changed.” Sarah spat back sardonically.

    “And if I were to tell you that everything you know is a dream, that all this,” he opened his arms to indicate the area around them. “was not real?”

    Sarah blinked and looked from Morpheus to Kyle.

    “You’re both crazy aren’t you?” she whispered.






    Neo rolled over Thompson’s shoulder and delivered a two legged kick right into Johnson’s face sending him sailing backwards into a column which cracked at its base upon impact and Johnson slumped down to the floor. Neo landed behind Thompson and delivered a hammer kick to the base of his spine. Thompson collapsed to the floor not moving at all.

    He turned suddenly on the Terminator which had watched the battle but did not intervene.

    “Hold here.” the Terminator said coldly.

    “I’m not holding still for anyone.”

    “You have no choice.” The interior of the precinct’s common area was flooded by intense white light and the high pitched whine of turbojets. Neo looked into the light and watched as a hunter killer slowly descended to several meters above the ground, a large antipersonnel cannon slung under its nose snapped over in his general direction.

    The belly section slid open and several shapes descended with mechanical precision. They entered the ruin of the front office, glass and concrete crunching underneath their feet as they walked. Five figures stood stoically facing Neo.

    “Fellas.” Neo nodded to the newcomers.

    “You will come with us.” the woman said simply. She was tall and statuesque, beautiful to the point of being inhuman, not a single blemish or flaw on her body she moved with precision and purpose. Her long blonde tresses very nearly glowed in the flood lights stabbing out from the Hunter Killer.

    “I’ve fought you before. What makes you think five is going to be any different than three?” Neo asked with a soft smirk.

    “We are not what you faced before. You battled with obsolete models.” she said coolly and suddenly her hand morphed into a cannon. The four figures behind her were revealed in the cold flood lights as amorphous liquid metal humanoid shapes. Their hands were slowly growing into blades with a cold metal hiss.

    “Now you face us.”

    Neo adjusted his sunglasses. He opened his right hand and made a welcoming gesture.
  24. Agnocar Lurker Extrodinare

    Effin' A, man, that was well worth the wait.

    More :D
  25. Stravo Prince of Tales

    *Soundtrack suggestion: Listen to Furious Angels from the Reloaded Soundtrack during the Neo/Terminator duel.


    Chapter 16: A Dance of Fury


    The TX did not hesitate and brought her gun arm to bear and fired a plasma charge at the stoic human standing in the long black coat. The T-1000’s swept forward, arms gleaming brightly as they finished forming into razor sharp blades,

    Skynet had been clear.

    He was willing to accept the human in any condition as long as he was still alive.

    The human raised a hand and suddenly the coding around him and the construct shifted subtly.

    Neo watched the plasma bolt slow down but he frowned as it quickly became obvious it was not slowing down fast enough for him. He was having trouble with the coding of these plasma weapons. They were obviously designed to function in the Matrix but there were some differences, some key differences that made them particularly difficult to manipulate.

    He sidestepped the bolt like a matador, coat flapping behind him like wings as he bent at the waist and pivoted on his right foot. The bolt passed him and he paused to examine the green spinning code within the bolt, trying to discern what was so different about this weapon as opposed to the bullets he was used to dealing with.

    The first two T-1000’s were on him in a flash, bladed arms moving in precise quick stroked as Neo stepped and ducked around each blow, his right hand whipped out and struck one of the T-1000’s in the face, it quickly morphed and collapsed under the impact. Neo’s hand sunk into the cold metallic liquid flesh and the T-1000’s body twisted and writhed, pulling Neo’s hand down with it as the T-1000’s head sunk past its shoulders into its chest and two tentacles quickly erupted from its chest area while its bladed arms sank back into the center of the liquid Terminator’s mass.

    The T-1000’s tentacles became arms that gripped his wrist and twisted it savagely.

    Neo spun with the turn, flipping off his feet and delivered a double kick to the T-1000’s opposite him. His legs sank in to the ankles and the T-1000 collapsed around his feet dragging him down.

    Neo struggled and looked up sharply as the next two T-1000 approached and raised their bladed arms simultaneously.

    “This is not good.” he muttered as the T-1000’s trapping him went taut and pulled his body in opposite directions stretching him out length wise as he dangled helplessly between them. The blades starting coming down.





    “Ms. Connor have you ever dreamt that you were meant for something more, something better. Have you ever felt that there was more to this world than you have seen or experienced.”

    “Like I was sleep walking through my life?” she whispered feeling the emotions surge in her.

    Morpheus paused and looked at her closely.

    “Yes.” he answered simply.

    “This is crazy.” she snapped angrily.

    “Sarah, its not.” Reese added touching her shoulder.

    “You feel it sometimes at night when you’re alone with just your own thoughts. You feel as if you’re…” Trinity let the end of her sentence hang.

    “trapped.” Sarah finished in shock. She looked at Trinity eyes widened in surprise as if the woman had effortlessly read her mind.

    “We can offer you answers, that’s all we have is the truth.”

    “What do I have to do?” Sarah asked suspiciously.

    Morpheus held out his hands, in his left hand he held a blue pill in his right a red one.

    “What’s this?” she asked critically eyeing the pills.

    “Take the blue pill and you will fall asleep and remain here in the Matrix. Take the red pill and you come down with us into the rabbit hole and never come back.”

    “What is that, some kind of poison?”

    “No.” Morpheus shook his head. “It is the key to free your mind.”

    “Sarah we don’t have much time.” Kyle urged.

    “Your asking me to take a pill from some strange people I don’t know and that my whole life has amounted to nothing but some kind of weird dream?!” Sarah laughed sardonically. “Ever since you came into my life Reese it’s gone straight to hell.” she commented darkly glaring at him.

    Kyle said nothing.

    Sarah looked at each of them then back into the precinct. Her thoughts turned to those nights where she lay awake staring at the ceiling. The feeling that the world was closing in around her and she was not really awake nor ever really asleep haunted her. How could they have possibly known that?

    She stared at the pills again for a long moment then reached out and hesitantly picked up the red pill.

    Morpheus closed his hands and clasped them behind her back.

    “Do not take it now. We need to retreat to a safe house to make sure everything is working. Now follow me.”

    “What about Neo?” Kyle asked.

    “He wants us to make sure you and Sarah are safe. There’s nothing he cannot handle.” Morpheus replied. The high whine of the Hunter Killer suddenly increased and the killing machine suddenly loomed overhead as it rose above the building, its flood lights dancing around in slow methodical fashion through the surrounding area.

    “We have to go.” Morpheus urged and led them to the cars in the back.

    Kyle spared a glance back at the police precinct and hoped that Morpheus was right and Neo could indeed handle anything that came his way.



    The blades from the other two T-1000’s were almost done on his midsection. Neo’s free hand cut across in a chop. His hand snapped through the sides of the blades breaking off the blade tips and pushing the blunted arms off to the side so that they clumsily sliced through the side of his coat not touching his flesh.

    Neo grunted and suddenly time dilated as he snapped himself forward, first with a mighty shrug of his shoulders then a sharp hard twist of his waist that jerked his feet forward as well. The T-1000’s holding him by the hand and legs were pulled off their feet and collided with each other. Their liquid metal bodies splashed into each other, the air around them distorting with the force of the impact quickly followed by a spray of droplets of metal that splashed against the walls of the ruined front desk area.

    He dropped down to the floor but mere inches from actually touching the ground he stopped short and floated above the ground for a moment and extended his right leg forward like a dancer and levitated up into a standing position where he lifted his left leg up in a semi kick position and both hands slowly waved down into a calm defensive stance.

    TX stared at him for a moment, her brain recording and analyzing what the anomalous human had done. He manipulated the very framework of the construct with ease allowing him to violate the very basic physics parameters of the program. There was no way he should be able to do it. The human lacked the connection that a machine would have with the construct, his brain patterns did not indicate that he was any different from any other human she had come into contact within the construct.

    In other words there was nothing that TX could identify that would allow this human to manipulate the construct as he did, almost as if he had master programmer access. No Terminator unit no matter how advanced including herself had been able to hack the system as efficiently and totally as he did.

    He was proving to be quite the prize.

    “Take him, give him no room to think or maneuver.” she ordered the T-1000’s. The two that had been slammed into each other were slowly pulling apart, liquid metal pooling around the slowly forming individual bodies of the stunned T-1000’s. Her words were not intelligible to Neo, instead what he saw was TX open her mouth and a squawk of sound that resembled an ancient modem logging on.

    He eyed her and the others and saw something strange that made him pause as they stalked around him. The two stunned T-1000’s finally slid apart and solidified turning their heads to stare at Neo with dead eyes. But not quite dead.

    He cocked his head for a moment as he saw it, buried deep under the cold green coding of the Terminator units. The briefest flickering of something familiar, something he had seen before.

    There was no more time as TX launched another attack. Neo started to cartwheel across the room as the plasma bolts came in slow but dangerously close to him. The T-1000’s swarmed around him hands now formed into hammer like appendages and swinging in wide sweeping arcs.

    He landed low, left hand touching the ground and kicked up with the hand as support blocking one hammer stroke with his left leg then striking with his right and he felt its electronic shell as he touched its liquid metal flesh and tweaked it.

    The T-1000 was catapulted off its feet into the ceiling as for a moment its liquid matrix refused to function properly and remained solid. He launched himself up with his left hand, whipped his right hand down across his chest and deflected another hammer blow. He landed and began to turn into a spinning kick when on T-1000 connected with his chest with a hammer hand and sent Neo falling backwards through the last upright glass cubicle wall and he landed into a wooden desk, sinking through it and splintering the desk top into a cloud of wooden debris,

    The T-1000’s advanced quickly as TX switched her arm weapon, finding a new configuration. He had grown dangerous. Within a matter of minutes he had exhibited control over their very electronic shells.

    The three remaining T-1000’s strode over to the shattered desk, pushing aside stray furniture and dead police officers as they approached their target. Neo rose from the desk and swept low at the T-1000’s legs. They quickly avoided the attack and one of them drove their hammer hand right at Neo’s head.

    Neo caught the hammer and shoved it backwards as he delivered a hammer kick to the T-1000’s chest. It stumbled backwards, chest rippling as the liquid metal tried to recover from the impact. Another hammer hand nearly connected with the small of Neo’s back. Neo bent backwards at his waist and caught the hammer and twisted it hard causing the hammer to suddenly lose its shape simultaneously he kicked out with his left leg and deflected another hammer blow from the third T-1000.

    TX aimed and fired her new weapon.

    Neo spun in midair on his axis and landed in a low crouch just as the projectile passed overhead. He started to rise both hands launching out and catching the next set of hammer blow and shoving them aside while twisting at his waist and dodging the third blow. The T-1000 imbedded in the ceiling was starting to ooze down to the floor.

    Neo paused as he felt something wrong.

    He spun, dilating time as he turned and watched in surprise as the projectile that he had ducked under moments before had already turned around and was 2/3 of the way closer to him. His eyes widened behind his glasses as he vaulted over the incoming missile and watched it pass him and start turning.

    Heat seeking missiles, you have GOT to be kidding. Neo mused as he landed on his hands and split his legs, the left striking one T-1000, the other deflecting a wide sweeping hammer strike. The third T-1000 surged forward, legs standing firmly planted apart as its torso rocketed forward propelled by an erupting stream of liquid metal.

    Neo launched himself back into the air with his hands and turned upright in midair, plucked the missile out of the air and turned at his waist, still holding the sputtering missile and drove it right into the charging T-1000’s face.

    The missile exploded driving Neo backwards into a brick wall at the far end of the room and the T-1000 shrieked and moaned loudly as its body twisted and writhed, legs still standing firm, torso stretched outward into a bubbling and frothing mass at the other end, a mouth half formed at the end of one misshapen blob continued moaning and screeching.

    The remaining two T-1000’s advanced as TX switched weapons again. Her hand smoothly morphing into various shaped barrels as an armory of weapons scrolled down the right side of her field of vision.

    A SWAT team led by Traxler advanced slowly, weapons ready as they peered past the wreckage of twisted file cabinets and splintered desk.

    “What the fuck are they?” one of the men muttered.

    “Machines from the future.” Traxler whispered.

    Vulkovich’s head snapped over to his partner.

    “You’re not buying into that psycho’s story are you?” he asked sharply.

    Traxler looked down at his partner and frowned. He jabbed his gun hand to the advancing liquid metal machines.

    “Care to explain those to me?”

    Vulkovich shook his head.

    “Alright, let’s get set up and take out the bitch over there, she seems to be holding some kind of RPG in her hand.”

    “Looks more like her hand IS an RPG.” Traxler muttered.

    The SWAT team carefully aimed their weapons at the TX as she turned to face Neo armed with a new weapon.

    “FIRE!”

    The SWAT team opened up and it sounded like sheet metal tearing as the M-16’s and MP-5’s opened up on full auto and struck T-X full on. She writhed under the heavy assault. liquid metal flesh blasted away by the number of impacts and within moments she was driven off her feet and collapsed on the ground with a thud.

    “Pivot left, target the nearest silver guy!” the commander ordered as his men expertly shifted their fire and poured a murderous fusillade into the nearest T-1000 as it turned to face the new threat.

    Neo was up from the rubble of the damaged brick wall where his impact had left a vaguely man shaped crater and he reached over to the other T-1000 and intercepted a hammer blow meant for him. As his hand began to sink into the liquid metal he reached into the shell of the machine and tweaked the program again. The rippling liquid metal surface suddenly solidified and he delivered a crushing back hand that snapped the T-1000’s head to one side and brought his hand back across in the opposite direction, snapping its head to another side before picking it up over his head and driving the thing into the T-1000 that was finally forming after oozing out of the ceiling.

    Driving the forcefully solidified T-1000 into the newly formed one, he cut it in half with the impact, sending the upper torso splashing up onto the ceiling and the bottom portion to form a puddle at his feet he continued his forward momentum and hurled the T-1000 in his hands out through a plate glass window.

    “Freeze!!”

    Neo turned his head slowly and regarded the assembled officers. His phone began to ring, the prearranged signal he arranged with Link to let him know that Reese and the others were out.

    “I’m leaving now.” he said simply. None of them noticed T-X slowly twitching as her self diagnostics completed and the liquid metal coating blasted from her body quickly streamed back onto her.

    “You’re not going anywhere! Now put your hands on top of your head and kneel down on the floor left ankle over right.”

    Neo shook his head slowly and started to walk out.

    “Fire!”

    Neo simply raised his hand as the machine guns clattered back to life the bullets slowed down to a sudden stop a meter away from him. Soon the air in front of Neo was covered in shimmering silver bullets held suspended by his will. He waited impatiently as the SWAT team figured out what was happening.

    They did not stop shooting until all their magazines ran dry. The men stared at Neo, some looking down at their assault rifles in disbelief.

    Neo dropped his hand and the bullets clattered to the floor like dropped marbles.

    “What the fuck are you?” Volkavitch gasped.

    TX Snapped up onto her feet behind Neo and time dilated as she brought her weapon to bear. Neo turned, fighting against the time dilation that was making it seem like he was moving through wet concrete.

    TX’s hand burst into flame and a plume of fire erupted out towards Neo. Neo held up both hands in front of him and focused on the fire. It parted for him as it started to wash around him and continued past him towards the assembled officers. They cried out in surprise and pain as the napalm like blast blasted its way past their makeshift barricade. Traxler watched, eyes wide open as Neo stood in the center of the inferno, the machine woman no less than two meters in front of him pouring the napalm onto him and he just stood stoically, both hands before him as if he were holding up a wall and the flames danced and flowed around him like a thing alive.

    As if that scene was not shocking enough Neo began walking against the flame. TX’s face was furrowed in concentration as she kicked up flame projection to maximum and soon the paint was peeling off the walls and glass melted into puddles of bubbling crystal but Neo did not seem to be breaking a sweat as he finally reached arm’s length of the Terminator, reached out, the flames retreating from his hand as if it had been stung and he gripped her wrist.

    With a solid jerk and twist he crushed the gun barrel and the flames were snuffed out instantly.

    TX and Neo stared at each other for a long moment over her ruined arm. neo peered past her face at the coding beneath and was surprised at what he found. The same flickering light that had been at the core of the T-1000’s was burning brightly in this model. He could feel her pulse beat of power and life.

    “Tell him, tell your Skynet that I know something about his machines, tell him that he has a connection to the machines here that I can see and that I will tell him about if he comes to me.”

    She cocked her head slightly and watched him for a moment. All biological indicators were positive that he was telling the truth.

    “If Skynet comes for you, then you will know it.” she replied. Neo released his grip on her hand and walked past her and did not look back. She watched him striding calmly out of the precinct but she already knew the obvious.

    She could not defeat him. Not here, not now.




    The Oracle sighed softly as she washed the last of her dishes. Seraph watched her with an almost childlike wonder.

    “You can go do what needs to be done.”

    “You want me to bring the One to you.”

    She dried her hands on a dishrag and placed the last wet dish in a neat stack on the edge of the sink.

    “It’s almost time.”

    Seraph nodded.

    “Considering all that has happened and is happening. Wouldn’t it be wise if I remained here with you?” he asked softly.

    The Oracle smiled gently and turned to regard the white robed Asian program.

    “How long have we been together.” The Oracle asked softly as she fished into her housedress for her cigarettes.

    “How long has the Matrix been functional?” Seraph asked in return.

    “Indeed, that is a long time. And in all that time have you ever known me to put myself in danger.”

    “Too often.” Seraph replied sardonically. The Oracle laughed and it was bright and cheerful as she patted the warrior on his shoulder.

    “You have been my closest and dearest friend during this long struggle Seraph. I ask that you trust in me. I am an Oracle after all. What sense would there be in me not knowing when something wicked is about?” she said with a warm smile.

    “As you wish. I will be back shortly.” Seraph replied and bowed his head respectfully before silently walking out of the apartment and like a ghost he was gone.

    The Oracle chuckled to herself as she lit a cigarette and regarded the far wall of her apartment deep in thought.

    The door bell chimed.

    That was odd. The Oracle paused for a moment. There was no one expected at this time and Neo had no idea where she was yet.

    She cautiously walked over to the door.

    The door bell rang again.

    It had to be Seraph or one of her children, she decided and opened the door just as she realized that Seraph would have the key and she would know in her heart if her children were coming.

    She stopped short as a shadow loomed over her.

    “You are the program CodeIdent as the Oracle are you not?”

    She peered out the door and saw something, a shadow like a half remembered nightmare. But there was no solid shape, no determined fate.

    “Who are you?”

    The eight foot tall liquid metal onyx skinned machine stood in her doorway and the AI God looked down upon the Oracle and his eyes flashed brightly like a predator’s.

    “I am Skynet. I have come with many questions and you will provide me with those answers.”

    The Oracle stared out and for the first time she knew a deep rooted fear for she was blind and could not see the thing standing right in her doorway. All she could see were half glimpsed visions from some ancient nightmare.

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