[ Children Of The Night ]

 
(c) Tatiana Matveeva aka Inity Intel Inside
based on "The Matrix" concept by Larry & Andy Wachowski
English translation by Dmitry Rubinstain aka Lost Infidel
[read in russian]
[real-life photos on locations][series of illustrations by Zion]

Release 0.99

The distribution of this text is forbidden
as an act discreditating the Matrix ways.
          - Russian part Of the Matrix, agents

The distribution of this text is forbidden
as an act discreditating the Rebellion ways.
          - Russian part Of the Matrix, Zion
          


		     			  to: Konstantin (Agent Jack)


                                     Our words, they are insolent
                                     But we're convicted to a death;
                                     We have come way too early,
                                     Ğrecursors îf the Spring too slow.




	   	                                          D. Merezhkovsky.


[ Children Of The Night ]





I go upstairs and he runs hurrily towards me, a tall dark-haired young
man wearing glasses absently mumbling something and keeping a file with
notes in his hands.

The stairway is wide, but he hardly looks ahead. Just one more inch
and we could just pass near each other...


A folder fling out from my hands, a maelstrom of white pages swirls 
in the stairway opening. Several sheets fly down to a ground
floor, the rest lands right here on steps, for everyone to leave
a footprint of their boots on these white sheets: all philosophy students 
hurrying to second floor, all history students hurrying to a first one, 
and all applied math students running down to a ground one.

I watch all this nonchalantly, not knowing what will suit here better - 
smile or perplexity. I crouch down and begin to collect the sheets.

- I'm sorry, - he says to me. He crouches near me and starts to help me 
stacking the pages. - I'm Michael. Philosophy faculty, second term. 
Well, almost a third one. Will be, if I'll defend my termwork 
successfully, - his eyes point to his file.
I nod to a scattered sheets in reply. 
- Similar case.
I pick up a sheet, wondering what is it. It's a title page of my 
termwork. There is my name there, as well as my group and term number...
I pensively show this page to him in a response.
- "The Image of the Universe in Medieval European Culture"... - he 
reads word by word. - It's great... You're from History faculty, aren't you?
- Yes, I am.
We walk downstairs to a ground floor, collecting all scattered pages 
by the way. He weights a thick stack on his hand:
- You've much work done...
- I tried my best...
- But how do you think to sort all these sheets? There are no page numbers 
here...

I turn a sheet in my hands, then another one...

- Really... I forgot.
- "Insert - Page numbers", - he tells me touching his glasses. - Of 
course, if you use Word.
I decide not to elaborate on this.
- I constantly forget where to find this. I'll have to write them by 
hand...
There is a real sympathy in his voice:
- I'm so sorry. I was clumsy like a bear... Let's go find a table there 
in the cafe. We'll get your dissertation complete in no time. Everything
will be alright.

Everything will be alright. It even cannot be better...
I nod and follow him.

We sit in a corner, and Michael starts to sort pages with concentration.
I help him as I can. The work advances slowly, but finally it's almost 
done - and we both look satisfied. 
- Well, here you are. - Michael winks handing me the folder. - Some coffee?
Maybe tea or something else?
- Just a coffee.

He leaves for a coffee and I watch him. Here he is, queued up right 
behind the merry company of students-medics terrifying people around 
with their coarse jokes. They buy potato patties, a whole lot of them, 
and the barmaid slowly removes the price label from the stand. Michael 
is back here with coffee, bringing a sandwich for himself.

- And by the way, as to your work, - he says suddently. - While I was
sorting the pages, I notice some quotation... from Thomas Aquinas...
- There is not very much from him there, only in the very end...
- It was quoted by Merezhkovsky... There, in his book....
I listen with interest, but Michael has no chance to tell me what he 
wanted to. A slender figure appears at the entrance - a black-haired 
athletic-looking girl with very determined face. She approaches our 
table with her look filled with anger, jealousy and her offended dignity.
I don't pay attention to detais of their quarrel. Michael stands up and
they are arguing some time until she flushes and goes away banging the 
door angrily.
At last my new acquaintance sits back down and sips from his cup again.
- Marinka is so jealous, - he explains. - Just when she notices me 
speaking with any girl - and that's all, we'll have at least a week of
arguing and quarreling. It seems like she is unable to admit that I can 
just interact with many different people! To admit that I can speak with 
a girl not about something indecent... but just ask about a quote from
Thomas Aquinas... what a stupid jealousy.
- People like her should learn to control their emotions, - I say.
He agrees readily:
- There would be no harm in this for Marinka... But if she is stubborn 
in something it's rather hard to prove her the opposite. Well, there is
no sense to call her today, she would not even answer the phone.

- Don't take it too seriously, - I touch his shoulder. - Everything 
will be alright.

And I really think so. Everything is going on quite fine.

The silence lasts too long... that's bad. I need to say something...

I'm choosing the variant thoughtfully. NLP, psychology, dianetics, 
Young or Bern theories, psychoanalytics... they are readily rolling 
in my mind... but they're nonsense. This knowledge have no use here... 
it smells falsity... and I just want to interact with him!

- You're going by subway?

A flash of half-forgotten memories - like a dawn coming upon me, which
makes me happy. Of course! By subway... the University Embankment, Neva,
the Palace Bridge, a small garden left to a right hand side, and the 
Admiralty, a wide mouth of the Nevsky Prospekt, the main city artery...
the way so famiiar to all generations of St.Petersburg's students.

- Sure, by subway!
- The weather is fine... we can just go afoot. Would you?

And we grab our files with termworks and notes, leaving the cafe in the
History faculty building... it's a History faculty after all, although 
there are both Philosophy, History and several departments of Math also 
sharing this very roof, and there is even a couple of labs there, 
where medics and biologists are stuck with their microscopes and 
centrifuges...

The memories... what a strange, intricate cycle, they are merging with 
me... remove them.

I should be calm. There is no need for so many emotions... What was the
Merezhkovsky's book Michael have noted?

- I know only Merezhkovsky's poetry, - I say. - I particulary like this 
one...

I trudge along the slippy path
With reddish clay and feeble moss;
The Evening running down above
With all its warm, sweet-smelling breath...

A beautifil verse... I'm sorry I don't remember it to the end. Or do I 
do it already?

Merezhkovsky was a Russian poet, philosopher and writer belonged to a 
symbolists movement. His every work is filled with hyperlinks, hints and
hidden symbols...

- Poetry? Yes, I like his poetry too. What would you say on this?

We stand on the middle of the bridge and Michael says with eyes closed:

Fixing ou eyes towards the
Sky from East which is turning pale,
Children of Sorrow, children of Night
We wait for our prophet to come.
We are feeling the unknown
And with hope in our hearts,
Dying, we're sad about
Worlds which were never born...


I never heard this verse before... 
I like it.
"Children of the Night"?
I should save it to my memory.

We approach the Nevsky, entering the noisy and diverse river... people
hurry somewhere, cars rush near us... The evening sun lights the huge
poster hanging on the front wall of "Barricade" theater - it's situated
very favourably, everyone can see it even from a far distance...


THE MATRIX


These faces of Morpheus, Neo and Trinity are so vastly printed on many 
posters, banners, disc and tape covers, that I look at them indifferently
for a long time for now. They look at me and I look at them... beside them.
Why should I think of them? I should think of something what it right now 
and here...

Michael slows his step. 
- Wait... do you like "The Matrix"?

At first I even don't understand his question and stare at him in 
amazement. He nods towards the poster.
- Yes, - I respond carefully, keeping my smile inside me. - I like 
the Matrix...

- I watched it several times already, albeit on a tape... - he rummages 
in his pocket, taking something out. - Here is it... Marinka already 
took her offence anyway, I won't be able even to try to speak with 
her... - he shows me a couple of crumpled movie tickets on his palm. 
- It will be a pity if these tickets will be wasted... aren't you hurrying 
anywhere?

Two tickets to a "Matrix" with Dolby Surround is an inexcusable luxury for
a man with only allowance as his primary money income... of course, it will
be a pity if they'll get wasted... Irrational... and rationality is the
highest consideration. It worth seeing? I listen to my inner voice, but
it keeps silence and this means it will be my own decision.
- Surely, let's go see it...
- ... but don't tell Marinka about it, she'll be offended even more, - we
say this simultaneously and we smile.

He lets me inside the movie hall first and we sit. I put the folder with 
notes and termwork to my knees carefully. The lights go out and I see
again these incredibly familiar titles, a code lines flowing down slowly
like tears...
- I should like to know how these lines are read, - Michael says either to 
me or aside.
- Nothing special there, - I respond without turning to him. - Standard
disclaimers... "The distribution of this movie is approved as an act 
contributing to the Matrix ways. The distribution of this movie is 
approved as an act contributing to the Rebellion ways"...
I hear him giggling, putting his hand over his mouth.
- Great... It's from "Nocturnal Patrol"? I haven't read "Duirnal" 
one still...
- I have it as a file.
- Just a fragment?
- No, the whole one...

Each book is a file. Each book is essentially just a data pack, a set
of information, the difference is only in it's form of representation...

Someone hisses from behind. We silence.

There are two hours and a half ahead... What a sad irony, what a grin of
coincidences? Why is it this very movie in this very time?

...

The darkness is coming down already, and Nevsky Prospekt accepts us into
itself and embraces us with warm May evening.
- Going by subway? One won't dive underground right now...
- Yes. Let's go afoot? To the "Rebellion Square"...
- Okay...

He takes my folder away as we walk along.


- Have you noticed many place names in our city are somewhat rebellious? - I 
sligtly smile leaning my head. - "Barricade", "Rebellion Square"... 
- I should think so. It's Petersburg-Petrograd-Leningrad... The cradle of
revolition after all... - a smile lighten his face but he instantly becomes
pensive again.
- What are you thinking about? - I ask him. - About movie?
- Well, no... back there, in movie hall, I was thinking why do you never 
take off your sunglasses?

What could be the best answer for such a question?

- Is it better? - I ask taking off shades, screwing up my eyes and 
shaking my head, scattering my hair over shoulders.
Michael peers into my eyes for a short time...
- That's better... - he nods in contentment and puts the folder to his 
other hand. - You know, it's fun. Look, in that movie characters do wear
sunglasses even in a total darkness... even on their ship, despite there 
is no sun there.
- That's right, there is no sun there... well, it's there yet, somewhere
above the clouds... maybe. If humans haven't already sold it by pieces...


He understands what do I mean - I like to speak giving away hints, 
provoking the play of associations to my interlocutor, guiding him
to new and unexpected thought combinations, to a new situation of
logical links and interconnections... He accepts my game. And we begin 
to speak. I do guide the conversation, phrase by phrase, albeit Michael
thinks gladly he does this... I smile while predicting possible answers 
and deciding which quote or hidden hyperlink will suit the moment better, 
which thread of invisible links will take us to the goal...

- The movie is good... Somebody think it's just a primitive Hollywood 
action movie with computer SFX... and girls rarely like it. - Michael
says looking back to "Barricade". Neo from the poster is squinting at 
us with hostility. - Marinka doesn't like it much too... but I do feel 
something in it.

- You feel that all shown there may turn out to be the truth?
He looks scared a bit.

- No... Quite unlikely...
- But if it nonetheless should be?

- Then... such a reality... hmm, it seems like it is no worse than any 
other. I thought sometimes that we all are possibly victims of some 
extraterrestrial experiment, or maybe just non-playing characters on some
immense game server... it may be possible too. The problem with all this is 
that one cannot prove it for sure... just to see oneself?

- And you're sure you would not twitch a finger at your temple if somebody 
approach you on the street with a couple of pills? - I make merry over
him. - Here you are, by the way.

I push blue and red pills of "Duovit" out from the package to my palm.
- Would you?
- What is it? - a bewildered smile.
- Just vitamines... hm, confess you just wished to believe I would offer
you something weird? "Follow the white rabbit" and stuff?
- I don't know. - he takes pills from my palm. - Blue or red one?
- "Both", according to user's manual, - I laugh.

- Yeah, right, so is it, just when you're trying to believe, oops, and 
they got you shafted again... you always wish for something bigger, and every
time you find yourself still in this boring world.

- It's not so boring... of course, maybe it's not similar to the one 
shown in movies. There is little chance you'll notice someone jumping
from roof to roof, and if you hear the shooting you more likely would
keep that block aside from your way, not willing to check if they're 
saving one more Morpheus there, or is it just a mafia solving its 
problems... And if you'll see the man with cell phone on his belt heading
to a pay-phone booth, you'll hardly consider this amazing, especially here, 
in our Russia. But should it mean the world is boring? No way. Well... What 
is interesting for you?...

Russian philosophers of the early XX century and modern fiction. 
Richard Bach, Lukianenko and Castaneda... Hansen and ERA, Tolkien and 
Umberto Eco... what a diversed range one's interests could cover! I like 
to talk about something I'm attracted to, I don't need to evoke an
artificial interest inside me this way. I don't have to speak with 
inevitable smile about dull Assyrians which are making me depressed, 
or about ancient Indians, like I had to do last time. Or maybe the time 
before it? You have to pay for an art of being pleasant in conversation 
with headaches, throwing away the unneeded knowledge you have to fill 
yourself with. This is not the case now. We just talk. Just have our 
discussion going. People around look at us with smile, maybe thinking 
we're a nice couple... although we're even not holding each other's hands, 
and there is a name "Marina" inscribed deep inside Michael's soul somewhere, 
and deep inside my own soul there is... no, I won't think about it. 
Not now. Later. It's much better just to look again at the evening city 
and to think about its beauty...

We go down to subway and walk from "Rebellion Square" to "Mayakovskaya", 
where the passing trains are hidden behind the wall and only steely doors
are sliding apart and meet again with rumbling...

I think we should meet with Michael again some day... maybe even not once.
I already know his phone number, but I take the piece of paper where it
is hurrily written. And rigth when I put that paper to my pocket, I sense 
a haunting call... sudden as usual, and as usual at the moment I expect 
it least.

- I have to go, right now... - I won't Michael to see my face changing.
- May I see you off? - he tries to hold my hand.
- To where I'm going to? 
Not now, Michael... by no way now. There I'm going to...
- Maybe, but not this time. Later...

I jump between the shutting doors... and the air vortex brushes off the
train rushing by.



II


The black void is squeezing me like a grip. Several seconds are protracting
into eternity... Why, why is it right now? How can I say "no" when it is 
a part of my existense too? Just like this pain is.


The incoming information pack appears to me bulky and awkward. I wrinkle 
intrinictically while accepting it... and drop into the world just at once.

The monument of the Leader of World Revolution grins a sullen smile 
at me from above. Analysing location... but wait, I recognize the place
already. I always happen to be here on the sunset. The dark outline of 
small temple is a bit away... usually there are few people here, with 
the moments when people just arrived to Warshawsky train station are 
flowing like a thin stream to the nearest subway being the only exceptions...

Some shooting is heard not far off - a little old woman makes a sign of cross 
while passing by.

- Don't go there, my daughter... bandits there, hear the shooting... 
oh, Lord - she says to me. But I start and run beside her around the 
street corner... I see my target right there - a lonely pay phone booth, 
the one accepting coins, not cards, with the phone equipped with 
dialing disk, not buttons.

The phone begins to ring. Every time I restrain my desire to pick the handset
up and see what would happen. But the phone rings not for me... I can see 
already the one it rings for. The lad appears somewhere from the lane, he is
running unsteadily, puffing and panting, and his whole essence is now
concentrated to his last hope, to this phone call.

Just a single phone call...

- Not too fast, - I say.

It's enough to throw him into confusion. He stands still right for those
seconds required for a second Agent's bullet to reach him. 
So simple... so sadly.


My friend (I don't know how to call him. Collegue? Fellow? Nobody can 
express it with words on usual human relationships) approaches me. We don't 
need any greetings.

- One rebel managed to escape, - he says to me, and I understand it's 
a pity. - Maybe there is another entry point not far away from here.
I look to the Obvodniy Canal, reckoning up the city map. 
- I will be here on the next mission. Leave me this information. I'll look 
for this too.
- His name is Anatoly. He's one of operators on the ship and rarely visits
the Matrix, but if he does, his goal is always a destruction...
- I'll browse through it, - I interrupt him and feel a small packet of data
crawling in the labyrinth of my code looking for a place for it.

We both look to the body laid at our feet. The wind is stirring his 
fair dishevelled forelock, his unseeing eyes still look to the sky open 
wide with despair and perplexity kept inside them.

- He's just fifteen or so, - I say. - They in Zion are mad. They would 
give the arms to children soon.
- Children are first who are longing for a battle, - my friend replies.
- They are just following adults. Those who never was in the Matrix 
themselves. Those who would just sit in their bunker and spit orders, 
those not aware of life value concept.
- This is not quite correct, - he shakes his head. - Zion is longing for
the newcomers, for new potentials for being unplugged. We know they plan 
to bring the whole bunch of children and teens to Oracle for testing 
really soon.
- Children are easy to influence, - I respond. - We need only the deliberate 
choice.
- I was just seventeen, - my friend turns away. I don't respond. It's his 
own only. I won't touch archives of his old memories in his home directory 
even if he would offer me that.

He touches his earpiece - I understand his gesture too well. 
- Again... They never will be satisfied, - he says to me apologetically 
a bit. - I envy you in some way, Level 14. Albeit you're hard to understand... 
- Sometimes it's hard, - I don't argue. - See you...
Who knows when we'll see each other again?.. I don't know...

I listen to silence. I go away feeling the warm wind motions around.



III



An Internet-cafe, "Tetris". It's a portal too. A place where reality and
virtuality joins together, a blade edge they must walk on, those whose souls
we should test... I have some unclear past remembrances of this cafe. They
seem to be important and not very pleasant in the same time... I won't dig
up archives now. That past does not matter already...


The one being my current mission goal haven't arrived yet. 
I look around for some time.

A couple of girls stuck to the screen - the mIRC window is opened there, 
and new lines from some chat channel are flooding it rapidly, twitching 
slightly.
A guy intently downloading scientific articles.
A carefully dressed businessman browsing through the newscast...


I love to see how faces of people change while they're working with a
computer.

There is another lad, he shakes his head and starts banging his keyboard 
again sipping his coffee nervously. I look at him closely. He's looking 
for something, sending his questions to the electronic oracle of search 
engine again and again. But it does not favour him with answers very 
much - he just clicks one more link impetuously, but browser loiters for 
a while and spits out an "Error 404". More, more links to go... 

I feel for him. 

What a slow and irrational way of information retrieval... 
I used to use the same way once. 

To know what the "Server not responding" message means, to watch the dark 
modem lights pushing the "Reconnect" button furiously... To know the
incredibly joyful feeling comes when you find the sought-for at last...
To suffer when you can't connect out... 

Everything is gone.

Any information of the world... an entire network. Everything I would ever 
like to get... the feeling of being connected permanently... sometimes I 
wonder is it really this small I was longing for? But those who had come 
to me did know what to offer...

Now I do offer too.

I do search and I do offer. Not to anyone - only to those who approached the 
border, those feeling the instabilities and internal order of this world, 
those searching for answers, those not seeing a place for them in this 
reality, those hoping to meet a conductor, the one to lead them into 
labyrinths of new universes they're dreaming of while diving into the 
computer reality... Those who are looking for an answers in works of ancient 
philosophers, in oriental doctrines and european mystics, those remaining 
unable of being understood by others but still keeping to look insistently 
for their way...

Envoys from Zion come to such a people.
Or we do.
The question is just who gets to them first...


I have to do one more thing...

I pick up a telephone handset and dial a number. Several rings are heard, and 
here is it, Michael's voice.
- Hi! I thought you would not call me...
- I promised to - and I do. Guess where I am now? "Tetris" cafe...
- Hey! I live right next to it! May I come?! - he asks happily.
- Not now, I have some business here... Let's meet an hour and a half 
later... ok?
- Won't it be too late?
- No, quite the time... well, I'll wait for you. The cafe would be closed 
already, but I'll be waiting right near...

I drop the line, quite satisfied with the conversation.
And here he is, the one I came to "Tetris" today for...
His name is Oleg, and he doesn't look much older than 16, though he ought 
to be. Anyway, I feel something unpleasant looking at him. It makes me 
remember the rebel lad killed last evening.
I'm not quite sure we should call those like Oleg to our side - do we really 
have to do it?

But what if we won't?
Those from Zion would come.

They would teach to see people as possible enemies. Moreover, as real 
enemies. To forget everything that was here, in this world of humans, in 
the world we are guarding. They would teach to wield weapons, would imprint
martial art lessons into their mind. 
They would put them under the banners of Rebellion. Not giving them a chance 
to taste the usual joy of life, they would feed them with raw proteines 
blent with big words and throw them into the Matrix...
For them to find their death there. And maybe an Agent whose bullet will
break their lost life off, will be the only one to feel really sorry for 
them...

And this would be the real death. It may come only once...
I have dozens of deaths and hundreds of births behind me, it's unlikely one
can find a suitable words to express this... But maybe it's still better 
than to die like Zion strangers do? They cannot have any backups...


I talk with Oleg... not for very long time.
He was noticed long ago, we looked at him carefully... several "Tetris" 
employees work for us, they tell us about potential candidates...
We interacted with him then, quite long - in chat channels, via e-mail...
ensuring in some way he is ready for one of us to come.

I speak his tongue, the one he understands well. The things I tell him 
right now, I'm afraid, seem like an exciting adventure, a fiction movie
came to life for him. I feel pity of him. 
I think how strange it could be that several minutes later I will talk 
with one of us, not with this merry tousled boy - and he will be filled
with the same coldness and incurable sadness, the inevitable companions 
to the knowledge...

He glances at the screen with a stage of "Mortal Kombat" frozen in 
pause mode. The decision he's obligued to make seems like a fairy tale 
for him, he still doesn't feel its devastating reality, the deadly fight
on the border for him is still no more fearsome than adventures of
some painted characters saving the world on the computer screen...
If he could only know how serious is it.

- Ok, right, I really trust you and everything you just told me, but 
what I have to do now?
- You should just wish... just make your choice. Definitely. With your 
soul open wide. A fraction of a second would be enough. Many things in
our world depend on beliefs. It will be all right if you believe.

At least the first jolt, the first, still unclear wish makes sense...
Just agree - and you're opening the door already, no, you're already on 
the other side. And the knowledge will come later. They will give you 
everything you need, they will teach you to believe...

- I cannot make it through. - he looks at me either offended or 
distrusted. - Maybe I should swallow some pill?
- No, leave pills for rebels. You really need one?

I know you already felt it... the border between real and virtual, when 
the matter converts into thought... I won't be here now if you didn't...

I take the spoon from a cup of cold coffee.

- Look here, it's just like in the movie, - I give him a wink. - Try to
bend this spoon. Because there IS the one.

No hands. With your thought only... in the very moment your mind will tear 
off from your body, and the Matrix's virtuality will become your only 
reality... you will understand this.

And I feel it - a slightest change, a movement of code... I know this 
moment, know how it happens. It's different a bit, but as a whole... 
it's so similar every time. And every time I see it, I feel some strange 
nostalgia...

I hold Oleg's hand, knowing well it sometimes may be painless, but 
sometimes rather painful when a body already disconnected from 
life support hardware still has time to send its last scream of agony to 
a mind... just a first pain of many to come later...

I see the green lines being interlaced and rearranged, the symbols and 
digits flashing while in the Matrix the mind is being copied and 
modified on the fly. A blinding dot, a tiny program was just implanted 
into it - and this dot have so many things to hold within. It defines 
meanings and goals for your existence, it's your inner voice and 
thought that becomes yours, it's a key and a way to rebuild your 
personality, and this rebuilding is now in progress... maybe too fast, 
too abruptly. Whole routines and code chains are recombine, filling 
obediently the limits reserved for them... an information, a swamping 
flood of it - it's a required knowledge, the one to obtain a place for 
yourself in *this* world when you have yourself lost...

He's staggering a bit - I note his rignt hand twitches innaturally for a 
last time, it's a common thing when the control program integration is 
being tested. It will pass soon... that's all.
Decision is a key... and the transition doesn't take long. And there's 
no way back...
I won't catch his glance filled with understanding and sadness.
I help him to wear shades and to attach an earpiece - just a symbol...
almost a ritual, maybe. 

And when I got left alone I just stand there and wait...

I wait... for a response nobody can express in words, just one signal, 
just a single byte that would tell me everything is done right.

It arrives... and I have no doubts anymore.



IV


I listen to leaves' rustle, look high into the sky slowly covering 
with gray clouds. The wind was warm, but it becomes colder and colder; 
it seems like there will be a rain. I should check up a weather schedule
for this evening...

I wait for Michael to arrive, the one I appointed the meeting with. But by
no means for the man just appeared in front of me, although his arrival happens 
to be a curious coincidence. It's a pleasure to see a Zion envoy not pointing
a gun toward you at once. A rare occasion. It seems like Anatoly wants to 
talk with me himself...

He lingers not knowing how to start. Then he shouts something...
Huh! It's a surprise.

- I'm looking for my brother.
- And you decided to ask us for help, didn't you? This can be amusing. 
But we're not an inquiry office, mister Anatoly...
- He had to be right here, in the cafe, about a half-hour ago.
- I'm afraid watching over him is not a part of my duties, - I reply 
evasively, trying insistently to analyse all information I have at 
the same time... to understand what exactly does he want... but everything 
becomes just clear. He helps me with it.
- My brother's name is Oleg...

- Is he your brother of your own blood? - I respond with a question. 
- Were you born with one mother in Zion? Or were you grown inside 
the Matrix born in fetus fields? Why do you keep silence?
- He is... my brother. He is more close to me than anybody else.
- It's just a memories implanted by the Matrix according to your own
concepts.
- He is my brother, - Anatoly repeats obstinately.
- And you're, no doubt, sorry that he's now lost for Zion, - I say to him.

- He's lost... for... Zion... - he repeats this word by word... - What 
are _you_ talking about?

- You wanted to unplug him and take him to the ship - it's a fact. 
I don't think you would negate it. But Oleg had his own opinion on this 
matter.

- What can you... What can you understand?
Anger mixes with desperation on his face.

- Yes, he attracted our attention onboard there... Yes, he had... 
an aptitude... Yes, I had to have to guide him to the Oracle with others 
several days later, - 

It seems like he's ready to tell me many things, if not everything at all - 
I listen closely, anything told may prove to be a valuable information 
to us...

- I asked all those priestesses so many... so many times! I begged on my 
knees... not beleiving already... not beleiving I am able to persuade those
heartless... to let me to the Oracle... I begged, begged her to tell my
brother have no aptitude at all... To tell he would not be useful for 
Zion... Lord, I just wanted him to live. Just to live his own life. 
Not cursing himself for that foolishness like I do, not to be tortured with
a question was it worth for him to choose a blue pill or not... though
children are usually not being asked at all...

He silences for some time.

- I told her I will do anything she want if she will help me. "Do you want 
his mind to remain chained?" - she asked me. And one of her priestesses 
added: "Do you want your brother to remain just a battery for the 
Matrix?"... but how could I answer her after I did see the look our 
captain was watching my brother on the screen with?... I notice his arms 
clenching in fists.
- There are no women on our ship...

I could possibly feel a disgust, I could become indignant, raise my hands
to the sky and burst out with accusatory-sympathetical speech... a human 
could do all this. I just keep silence. I'm curious to know how Oracle had
answered him... I heard of her. The name of Oracle of Saint-Petersburg is
Valentina, and she lives in a tiny apartment near the Mariinskiy Theater...
We know that. The Matrix is aware of every Oracle. And it always keeps
neutrality with them...

He'll tell it now. His soul is overflowed with too many things - he needs
someone to share them with.

- She told me that my worries are shallow... and I should not worry... 
gosh, I just hadn't hit her right there on the kitchen forcing her to 
give me a promice... she said I don't understand anything, just like she 
always does... then she yielded at last... and it was her prediction...
that Oleg will not be suitable for Zion...

she should tell he has no aptitude, and he should not be unplugged...

- The last thing you had invented yourself, - I smile. - You had imagined 
the sequence of actions, but it was not the most optimal one. Howewer, your
Oracle was right. Oleg is not suitable for Zion anymore. You may relay her 
that she may add one more fulfulled prediction to her account.

My words, their fine fidelity, force him into an anger... along with 
bringing him the awareness of the things happened.

It's strange he didn't know that already... maybe he did, but he was not 
agreed with a rather simple fact - a man who did search and did touch the 
border... he could not return to his former everyday life. And it's not 
a requirement for him to join the Rebellion.

- He was not suitable for Zion... but you got him!

- Your brother made his choice himself. Maybe you deny his right to decide?

This cools him down a bit.

- May I see him?
- I have no information on his current location now. And I doubt it's 
rational to request it, - I reply coldly. - Maybe you'll meet one day.
Howewer, I cannot assure you that you will recognize each other. 
Personality changes were quite deep...
- We'll meet... I'll recognize... what have you done, bastards?! - he almost 
shouts. - You gonna tell me I will kill my own brother?
- The word "kill" is unsuitable here - all information on him is already 
built into the Matrix, - I understand that this hardly can calm. It's 
impossible to understand it not feeling it yourself... - A mind can perfectly 
live without a body in a form of program, but your bodies could not live 
without a mind...

- I cannot live with it, - he sighs broken-hearted.
Only human...

- You know the fact that Oleg was your brother is just remembrances given
to you by the Matrix, don't you? You teach that everything isn't real. That 
"The Matrix cannot tell you who you are". But this world of dreams and 
memories is too valuable for you... You're not suitable for Zion yourself, 
Anatoly.

- Stop it, - he responds.
But I see a spark of doubt in his eyes.

- We can give you new memories, - I say.

My voice becomes alien. It's by no means the things I would like to tell,
but... what a growing feeling that everything I do or everything I tell is 
not belong to me yet... it was only a feeling of accordance and harmony 
before. Now I feel my thougts are split - and this "doublethink" (as it 
was called in one novel... a quite good novel... with built-in 
"Approved for distribution..." signature) - this doublethink is leading
to a perfomance decrease. But I have no chance to carry out optimisation 
procedures now.

- A new memories... a new life. A family, parents, brother, love... just 
a life, a simple life, any one you would like. And you will never see an
envoy with a couple of pills at your doorstep. We can warrant you that 
for sure...

He steps towards me - makes a tiny step, not knowing to himself yet what 
does he want...

- Your crew is watching us from the ship, - I screw up my eyes. - I bet 
they're glad to see this.

- Everybody sleep onboard, - Anatoly shakes his head. - I come alone. - I 
notice him trying to squint at the phone booth not far away from us. 
- I had set up a timer...

- A timer fails occasionally, - I tell him.

He glances at his watch.

Time is always on our side... but now it seems like we are really 
short on it.

- A new life, a new memories,
// - why so fast?
- we can offer you...
// - No, these are not a words I wanted to tell...
- just in exchange to some information...
// - no, no, no way, why the...
- that you as a former ship operator...

- You bitch... - he screams in answer...
There is no more sparks of doubt, just a pure hatred.
Anatoly... I feel pity of you...
It was, well, quite interesting to talk to you...

He draws a handgun and begins to shoot in disorder... the broken glass 
scream around, I hear the windows of nearest houses closing shut, a 
baby crying in fear... I dodge a bullet, then another. In the way I was 
taught - it's a special art, like I'm dancing... I can even sense 
some music inside it:

[ I saw you dancing... 
 and I'll never be the same again for sure ]


It lasts a long moments, the time stretches and collapses around us. One
of his bullets scratches me. It exhilarates him, a success, a feeling of
triumph. He allows himself to relax a bit, forgetting that I still didn't
start to shoot in response...
I linger for inexcusably long time, but the understanding that time has 
come to have all this over already lives inside me.

- I'm sorry, - I say. - You really was unsuitable for Zion. You may
be ashamed or be proud of it, it's your own choice.

I love humans. I hate to kill. In this moment, giving myself to that very
feeling of doublethink, to that very instability, I wish to think that's
not me, only the Matrix is guiding my hand...


..........


V




A phone rings... a soft depressing sound. I pick the handset up slowly
and put it back carefully into its place.
I hear someone approaching me - a steps.
I turn around.

Michael is looking at me - particularly concerned and sorrowful in some way.
Then he glances at the Anatoly's motionless body.

- What if he had you killed? - he raises his eyes again.
- A restoration from backup, - I wrinkle a bit. - Rather unpleasant thing. 
We're set up to avoid it... if possible. I mostly succeed in that.
- Quite similar to the movie...
- Not very much. More prosaic...

A music reaches us from one of nearest buildings - a sad one, just like 
a cloudy sky above us, and the low chiming of electronic sounds recalling
impulses of raindrops. The music is crying... and I almost don't listen to
the words...

We are standing here
Exposing ourselves

We're being watched
and we feel our pulse

We look around
and change our pose

We start to move
And we break the glass

We step out
And take a walk through the city....

- And you're an Agent.
I smile.
- Yes, I am. I had chosen this side. Once... when I was still a human, -
I say the last words very softly, but not too soft for him not to hear them.
To hear... but my misgivings are shallow; Michael doesn't consider me as a 
program.
- You may make your choice too, - I tell him.

- Is this a reason you've come to me?

A silence inside me again. It seems strange to be on my own only... when 
suddenly there's no feeling of something watching over you... every such 
mission is like recovering for some time a piece of my independence I had
to leave behind. This feeling of freedom is dangerous, 'cause an odd strange
thoughts are starting to come to me. Yes, Michael, I was sent to call you.
Just like they were sent for me... but what a strange thing... I don't want
for you to make this choice now. I won't guide you into this world I belong 
to. Do you really need this happiness?...

I can offer you everything one may ever want...

Everything you want. I'm just a messenger, just a mediator, all I do is 
just making wishes true and offering the worlds.
But I don't think our life is the one you really need, the one worth to
forget the rest of this world... I think you should be neither with us 
nor on the Zion's side. You should just live you life...
But the Matrix don't think so.
If it could be my will to...
But I have none already.


The young man stepped into the hall of mirrors
Where he discovered a reflection of himself
Even the greatest stars discover themselves in the looking glass

Sometimes he saw his real face
And sometimes a stranger at his place
Even the greatest stars find their face in the looking glass

....

- What if you hadn't come?
- Zion envoys would come then. Sooner or later. It's important sometimes
who comes first...
We always come to those living on the edge... the edge between real and 
virtual. Those wishing to break the frame of their life, to break out of 
the reality that surrounds them - also having some great high goal for
this breakthrough.

- And the goal... is it really that high?
- "Is it worth it, Kay?" - I quote one more movie... by the way, also 
one of those "recommended" movies with "Distribution is allowed as an act 
contributing to the Matrix ways" label. - Although we have not so much time 
to think already. But this really worth it. I think so.

He made up the person he wanted to be
And changed into a new personality

A rain is dripping from above. I watch absently the ripped fabric recovering
over, feel the tiny code fragments, the pieces of a mosaic rearrange to heal
the wound left by Anatoly's shot. I feel an intricate burning sensation 
somewhere inside there while the structure of virtual flesh is being restored 
again.
Michael watches this too.

- Everything is of equal value. You give something, you get 
something... - I tell him. - I have no home. The words "work" or 
"vacation" are meaningless for me, there are another categories... I 
shouldn't think how could I keep myself alive and well. Everything a 
human needs - food, drink, sleep... it goes away... Everything is 
directed to keep the performance high.

There is also something one shouldn't speak about... anyway, how can one 
speak about it? One may only feel this, be this. How can one tell about 
a black silence, a squeezing pain when you're being recombined from pieces, 
to tell about short moments becoming an eternity, when you can speak with 
the abyss - and you have an endless treasury of knowledge open wide, all 
the knowledge gathered on the Earth by both humans and machines, a pure
ambrosia of information, a book of world's sources...

- And what do you propose me to do now? You... or the Matrix through you, 
what do you?
- Just to make your choice. You decide yourself. I'm just a messenger. 
You do choose the world you want to belong to...


// Radio Sender und H:orer sind wir 
(=We're radio transmitters and receivers)
// Spielen im :Ather das Wellenklavier 
(=Playing the waves-keyboard in the Ether) 


- And is this world not real anymore?
- It's real. The world is just like you want to see it. It's different
in every part of spectrum and from every point of view... You do look at
it the way you accustomed to see it from your very childhood. Through the
filters, through the glasses the whole system of human's knowledge about
this world put on your eyes... complete with the truth, fiction and 
conjectures, with an extra portion of your own theories and mistakes 
added into it.

- Well... how can one see the world without glasses?
- Just try it.

He says nothing lowering his head. I look down thinking my own mind. 
The treacherous _doublethink_ begins to overpower me again. It's a 
self-destruction leading to instability. I know already that I will
have to make corrections to this part of my personality, just to shift
several bytes around... but I can delay it; I'm afraid to modify myself 
now, not wishing to lose something that is making me myself, something 
linking this code pattern together... I'm afraid to experiment with 
these matrices of things-relations-feelings, it's so easy to make a 
mistake, to modify a parameter that may happen to be a key one later...
I know it's painful to edit your own soul - a trembling plexus of cycles
and subroutines...

A doublethink. I don't want Michael to follow me now. I plainly don't 
want it. I don't want him to join this war... Why does it happen he should
be with us or with *them*? I want to see him just like he is, a lonely 
thoughtful lad attending Philosophy lectures and wandering his evenings 
through near Neva or spending nights ahead of the computer typing in new
chapters of his termwork... I would not to take his gloom or his joy away 
from him, to drag him to new levels and open an unasked-for truth to him...
but I'm here because he did asked for it, ain't I? I'm able to think of this 
still... how can I tell him _not_ to follow me?


How can I tell it to others? To everybody I will come for some days?
How many times I wished to tell it already?

I vaguely feel that this is not a first time all these thoughts are 
inside me. It's like a deja vu... And they are back again, breaking 
through the modified program...

We keep silence for a long time. Then I feel the waves of code start to 
move, changing slightly. A greenish light of twitching streams...


I keep Michael's hand in my right one and take off my shades slowly with 
my left hand.
It's almost a ritual...
It's too much pain to look at the blinding brilliance of Sources.




Special thanks to: 
 - Kraftwerk
   for "Les mannequins", "Hall of mirrors", "Antenne"
 - Agent Jack
   for "Wonderland"



// 11.05-12.05.2000
// Inity. Agent Inity... if you want.





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