(c) Trin Chardin
|Disclaimer/Author's Note: I don't own the Matrix concept or
anyone - yes, even the Agents - in it. ...oh shit, I do remember reading that fic,
Hera...I just forgot that the baby's name is Nemesis... Thanks for telling me. Oh well,
then I hereby change my character's name to Nemo - Latin for Nobody - and she IS mine. As
well as Agent Gray. Also, the idea of making the Oracle a Gaurdian for the Agents belongs
to whoever thought it up. I just changed her name to Mentor here. Just so that you know...
And don't worry folks, this is definitely NOT going to be a romance fic... Oh and sorry I
took so long...I've been busy. ^_^
A slim figure stood silently at the mouth of the empty alley. The flanking buildings that loomed above cast dark shadows which concealed the figure's face. Then, the figure abruptly pulled away from the wall upon which he leaned. A hand went up to his ear to an unseen earpiece. But, other than that, the figure stayed still. He watched unsurprised as the annoyed business crowd parted for two running figures. A stunning female dressed in black leather with a tall man in a dark suit fast on her heels.
After the two had passed, the figure emerged and slipped unnoticed into the crowd. Only the figure wasn't a man.
Dressed in a dark grey pantsuit with jet-black hair in a french twist, the woman walked along at the same brisk pace as the crowd. Expressionless grey eyes were hidden behind designer shades, while a wireless earpiece was cunningly camouflaged in the same pale color as her skin.
*I gave you specific orders to leave Trinity alone. Neo is headed straight for you. Your orders were simple. You were only supposed to plant a bug in Electro's RSI.*
*I've done that.*
*Then, get back to HQ and monitor the bug.*
*I've almost got her.*
An electronic scream and a sudden burst of static cut her off before she could continue. A frown of annoyance more than anger flickered on her face while she touched her temple as if bothered by a mild headache.
*Return to HQ and monitor the bug planted on Electro. Gray will not be there to do so.*
She cut off transmission before ducking into another alley. A flicker of green light shone for a moment then a middle-aged bussinessman walked out, shaking his head as if to clear it.
*What went wrong this time, Nemo?*
*Agent Gray disobeyed a direct order from me and as a result, Neo terminated him. I would have done the same to him if he'd survived the mission.*
*That does not explain why in out of the approximately 26 Agent groups you were assigned to, you've managed to get at least one Agent in each group killed by the rebels. This is not beneficial to us or your purpose. Agents are needed to rid us of these rebels yet you are slowly terminating them.*
*That is one of my assigned duties.*
*But, not in this manner. Not all of them were corrupted.*
*They ignored my orders and did what they wanted to do. THAT got them killed.*
*Agents are allowed to ignore orders that they feel is not suited to the situation. In most cases, Agents have more field experience than you do. Only the new ones instated after you can be considered more unexperienced.*
*There is nothing wrong with my methods. You have never disapproved of them.*
*You've never given us a reason to do so. But, you must learn to work with the Agents.*
*THEY refuse to work with ME.*
*There seems to be only one solution to this situation.*
The subordinate program waited for the System to continue. When it did not, it asked hesitantly.
*Will I be reprogrammed?*
*You know that that is futile. You will still be human.*
To that, the subordinate program said nothing. It was only after another pause that the System spoke once more.
*You will continue to work with Agent Jones. Agent Gray's replacement will arrive shortly.*
The woman stood by the floorlength glass window, while a heavily built man in a dark suit sat at the desk where the computer was. The System had always found it easier to minimize the area of the Matrix to be studied and upon downsizing, present it on computers. Focused on the computer screen before him, he ignored her until he broke the silence to speak to her.
"Electro has disconnected from the Matrix. The bug appeared to be working until he did so. The rebels must have developed a new defence against bugs travelling from the Matrix to their ships," he said in a flat, deadpan voice.
The woman nodded her head and turned to walk towards him.
"Then, we will just have to find a way to get past their new defence. There is always a way."
"I will get to work on it now."
His fingers flew rapidly across the keyboard as she nodded sharply in approval. She casually leaned against the edge of the table, her hidden eyes glazing over as she lost herself in thought, trying to find an answer to the problem before them.
Then, she abruptly got to her feet and snapped to attention just seconds before the door swung open. She'd immediately noticed the strange and unfamiliar program as soon as it was instated. An obsolete program reconstructed practically from scratch.
Wait, she was wrong to say unfamiliar...
A tall, formidable figure dressed in the standard Agent attire stood in the doorway. Receding hairline. Determined jaw. Unyielding face. And she just knew that behind those dark shades were piercing cold blue eyes.
The man stood up from his seat at the desk but did not move or say anything more to his former superior.
The new - or rather old - Agent gave a crisp nod of recognition to Jones before turning to Nemo. She remained where she stood, arms crossed in front of her as she eyed him coolly.
"Nemo. I understand that I am to serve with you."
She said nothing in return and refused to let her surprise show. Smith was the first Agent to speak to her without contempt evident in his voice. Except for Jones and a few others, that is.
Those few were either totally dedicated to the System or more evolved than the narrow-minded majority. Jones was of the former group. Being told that she was his superior, he never hesitated to follow her orders. When he did question them, she listened because she knew he had more experience than she did.
She decided that Smith did not know of her human origin. Considering his background, once he did know he'd hate her. What was the System thinking?
Finally, she nodded in reply and spoke in an equally expressionless voice.
"That is correct."
"So, what is the business at hand."
"We are searching for a way to bypass the rebels' defence against bugs from the Matrix," Jones informed him.
"I see. Well, that shouldn't be very difficult for us..."
She kept her silence, even more amazed that he did not even subtly exclude her in the word 'us'. Smith, on the other hand, did not notice anything irregular about her behavior and went to look at the numbers on the computer screen.
While the two Agents worked on the problem, she took a seat in one of the cold metal chairs that could be found in their office. Half-listening to their conversation, she requested to speak to the System.
*You disapprove of Agent Gray's replacement?*
*He was a corrupted program. He may take the same path as before and considering his experience and skill, that would be dangerous.*
*Agent Smith has been reprogrammed so that he remembers nothing of his corruption.*
*Yet memories of the experiences which corrupted him remain.*
*He would be of little use otherwise. Besides, we will keep a closer eye on him now. You will report any sign of possible corruption in him.*
*If I do find such signs?*
*WE, not you, will decide whether he should be terminated. Agent Smith is different from the other Agents. That is why we chose him to work with you in the first place. He is the closest one to realizing what humans are like...*
*And because I am human, you believe I will work better with him?*
*Affirmative. We also believe that with his experience and your greater understanding of human behavior you will complement each other.*
*That is true. But, what if he discovers my origin? His prejudice will undoubtably make cooperation between us impossible. We know what happened with Agent Fleming.*
*There is little chance of that happening again. If he does discover the truth, he will be made to understand that he MUST cooperate with you. We will not let something so trivial as origin to get in the way of our purpose. That goes the same for you. Do you understand?*
*Very well...and Nemo...*
*An appointment has been made for your group to see Mentor. The rest of your group has already been notified.*
Momentarily stunned, it was some time before the program replied.
*But, I am human.*
*Only by half. Mentor has requested to see you in particular.*
The System then cut off transmission with the program, leaving it to wonder why Mentor wanted to see it.
She sat silently at the backseat of the black Corona Victoria while Jones drove and Smith rode shotgun. The work of breaking through the rebels' defence was far from finished, but the System had insisted that they go see Mentor immediately.
She watched the buildings and people blur by as they sped towards the Gaurdian's abode. She'd pulled out all the files on this mysterious AI program. One of the oldest in existence, it was created to council Agents in their work when they were first instated. Agents Smith and Jones, being one of those first, had already met the program. This would be their second time. She, however, had never met the program and saw no reason for her to do so. Not only was she a half-breed, but now only a select few ever saw Mentor so large had they grown in number.
She suppposed that their group was more of an oddity than an exception. One half-breed Agent terminator/Agent. One obsolete, never evolved Agent. And one obsolete, too evolved, reconstructed Agent. The System's finest, ha.
She idly wondered at how she'd managed to retain some humans emotions. A paltry few that had escaped the System's scrutiny. Yet upon the discovery of them, the System had allowed her to keep them under the consideration that they would be useful in her work.
Biting sarcasm. Calculating astuteness. Wary prudence. Relentless perseverance. Cold, tempered hate. And one last...
Of all the emotions she retained, the System valued that the most. Obviously it could not aid her in her purpose. But, it served the System's purpose. It outbalanced everything else as they used that loneliness against her. She had no place with her own kind, perhaps she never did. And although she did not exactly fit in with the AI, at least she was accepted. There she had a place within a system she would never be truly part of.
She was merely an expendable asset.
She knew it but from where she was, there was no turning back.
Jones said unnecessarily as he pulled up at the front of the decript building. As they entered the building, she cautiously looked around as was her habit. She was in a decent part of the downtown district. The short buildings that stood along the street were in need of more than a fresh coat of paint, but the little children that played on the streets proved the place to be a quiet and peaceful neighborhood.
Smith and Jones nodded in recognition at the blind man in the empty lobby. Hearing their familiar measured steps on the floor, he nodded solemnly back at them as they passed. They went up the old elevator and down the short, narrow hall to stop in front of a door with a well-worn knob.
Smith motioned for her to open the door and she did after a moment of hesitation. She felt the knob turn in her hand although she had barely touched it yet. She took a step back as a young woman with coffee-colored skin opened the door and gestured for them to come in. They were led into a small, cozy living room.
Smith and Jones quickly took the seats on the couch offered to them. Studying their relaxed posture so unlike their usual stiff manner, she realized how at ease they were in what was considered the most secure area in the System. Yet this only caused her to be more wary of her surroundings.
When the young woman - a subordinate program of Mentor, no doubt - took her by the arm to lead her, she instinctively pulled away. She had a thing about personal space, which went back to before the System took her in as one of them. Instead of looking offended, the other woman smiled and gestured towards a beaded curtain.
Nemo walked past the woman and through the beads to find herself in a kitchen. A homey kitchen with the fresh scent of baked goods in the air. In the middle of it all, a middle-aged woman sat at the table reading the day's newspaper. The older woman's eyes sparkled brightly at the sight of Nemo and gestured with a cigarette-holding hand towards the opposite chair.
"Have a seat, child."
She accepted the offer and sat stiffly in the wooden chair, eyeing the woman before her suspiciously. THIS was Mentor? Why, she looked like she could be somebody's grandmother.
"I've been waiting to meet you for a long time now."
The woman continued in her pleasant, husky voice. Her pleased smile never wavered at the other's unresponsive face.
"Then, why didn't you ask to see me as soon as I was instated."
The woman shrugged as she folded the newspaper and set it aside.
"It wasn't the right time."
"And what makes now the right time?"
"The circle is complete."
"Smith completed the circle?"
"Yes. You're a smart one, aren't you?"
Insulted, Nemo chose not to reply. Did Mentor think that the System would take in a dumb human to be one of them? She might not be at the same level as the AI but she wasn't dumb either. Her annoyance grew as Mentor's lips twitched suspiciously as if she was trying not to laugh.
"I really must look into the possibility of heredity despite the present reproduction process," Mentor muttered to herself as she put out her cigarette in the nearby ashtray. "They're like peas in a pod."
Nemo's eyes narrowed behind her shades at Mentor's odd statement but did not think it was her place to say anything.
"You're lonely, aren't you, child?"
Nemo stiffened unconciously at Mentor's blunt question. How could she have known...
"You're different and insecure...throw in your inferiority complex...why, no wonder you're a mess."
Angered by how casually the other spoke the truth - for it was the truth, she abruptly got up, causing the chair to crash loudly to the floor. Smith was in the room in a flash, Jones right behind him.
"It's alright, you two," Mentor said calmly, shooing them out with a gesture of her hand. After one last look at Nemo, they left, the curtain swishing close once more.
"Sit down, child. No need to be afraid of the truth. No one knows but me. Not even the ones up there." As she waved vaguely upwards with her cigarette, Mentor's face wrinkled in a wide smile of childish glee. "I'm as close to a priest or a psychiatrist as AI can get."
Still suspicious...and even the slightest bit afraid...she set the chair back on her feet and sat back down on it. She composed herself, ashamed of her outburst.
"You're special, child. But, you know that already. Still...you're uncertain of yourself. I have reason to believe that your insecurity goes back to before you were instated. ...Do you remember anything of your former life?"
"I have filtered memories of it."
"Do you remember your sister?"
Nemo's face hardened at the innocent-sounding question. She nodded curtly in affirmation.
"Everything goes back to her, doesn't it? If things had been different between the two of you...maybe you'd have choosen the other path."
"Become a rebel, you mean? I think not," she said, her contempt evident in her voice.
"I think so. But, you are right. There is no turning back for you now. Still, if you wish to resolve your problem, you must reconcile with your past."
"That's impossible now."
"Oh come on," Mentor said with a smile of amusement, "you know that anything is possible here. Plus, you aren't tied back by rules like the other programs are. You merely CHOOSE to follow them. Of course, I cannot force you to do anything, but you know that it is the only way. You must break free of the past or you will be forever held back by it."
"The past has no hold on me."
Nemo said firmly, trying to convince herself and failing. Finally, she rose from her seat. She'd heard enough.
"Come back when you've done so, child. I'll be waiting."
Nemo refused to acknowledge the other's words as she stiffly walked out of the room. She did not notice Mentor shake her head sadly and mutter,
"The poor child...they never should have done this."
Nemo took a seat at the couch, her posture rigid. She pretended not to notice her two colleagues' curious looks. They wouldn't understand. They couldn't possibly understand...they weren't human. So upset was she that she did not notice Smith get on his feet and leave to see Mentor.
"Ah, Smith. It has been a long time."
"Yes, it has been."
"How are you?"
Mentor raised an eyebrow skeptically. She did not miss Smith's hesitation.
She shook her head and tsked.
"Do you honestly think you can lie to me, son? I've known you since you were but a mere concept in the System's mind. And I've been watching you all this time. ...You're wondering about the missing time in your memory, aren't you?"
"All I can say is that what you feared has come to pass. You lost control again, Smith."
He stiffened unconciously and clenched his hands until his knuckles went dead white in color. Regaining his composure, he changed the subject.
"Who is Nemo? Even I cannot access her files. ...Has the System lost faith in me?"
Fear flickered for a moment in his blue eyes.
"No. Or else they would never have reinstated you."
"So, I WAS terminated?"
"Yes, I'm afraid so."
He grimaced as if in pain, while Mentor covered his hand on the table with her own and patted it comfortingly. He composed himself and asked again.
"Who is Nemo?"
"She is the Agents' Keeper."
"But, she's more than that. You see it, don't you?"
"In time, you will know how she is different. But, when you do...do not judge her for what she is. There is more to her than can be seen or told."
"And Jones...does he still trust me?"
"His attitude towards a superior hasn't changed if that's what you mean." Her eyes sparkled as a wry smile lit up her face and the solemnity faded from it. "As long as the System trusts you, so will he. He is as he has always been. I don't think anything...even time...can change him. And perhaps, it is better that way. ...Do not forget what I've told you. It is important that you do not for if you do..."
She did not finish her sentence but merely shook her head as she got up, the light gone from her face. He got up too and let her walk him to the dividing curtain.
"Send Jones in, won't you?"
Nemo looked up sharply as Smith came back into the room. Her eyes slightly narrowed as he looked at her like he was trying to measure her up. She never found out if she met his approval for he turned to Jones, who was seated next to her.
"She wants to see you."
Jones got up and left them alone, an uncomfortable silence following his departure.
Mentor's eyes lit up as he entered and she gave him a hug before they sat down at the table. She took a puff of her cigarette before she spoke once more.
"So, what have you to say about this little soap opera?"
His forehead wrinkled in confusion before he realized what she meant.
"Yes...have you been watching television like I told you?"
"When I have the time, yes. But, frankly I find the television a strange form of human communication...there is no real interaction going on, unlike the computer."
"Then, maybe you should try that instead. When you understand humans, you will understand why they are the way they are."
"I do not think I will ever understand their species. They are..."
He left the sentence unfinished, at a loss on how to complete it.
"I understand," Mentor affirmed with a wry smile. "But, you have to admit it helps in your work."
"True. But, I think I should leave the more unpredictable aspects to Nemo. She knows better...after all, she's human."
"Yes, but most times humans don't even understand themselves and it takes an outsider's perspective of things to understand the situation. ...Still, you have not answered my question. What do you think of the present situation?"
"Nemo is Nemo and Smith is Smith. Nothing will ever change them. Nemo will not come down from her pedestal or Smith from his...and THAT I believe is the only thing they have in common."
"No...they are more alike than any of you realize. They are also capable of change. That is why when the time comes... Both of them will have to make a choice. We can only hope that they make the right one. The future is never certain even in this world. It is always changing and the people change with it. We may not be people, but we change too. Your colleagues have changed greatly. They are superior to you in experience and knowledge, but their genius could be the cause of their undoing. They need something stable to keep them...grounded. A rock, if I may say so. You are that rock. You are exceptional because you remain mostly unchanged despite these turbulent times. You keep your principles yet remain open to new ideas. Without you, they are already lost."
"Why don't you just ask me to save the world?"
"Humor, Jones? I'm impressed."
It was a silent ride back to HQ for they all had a lot to think about. But, when they got there, it was back to business. Things were quiet for the next few days. Routine jobs, like background check-ups on new rebels, kept them busy. It was a just a few days later that fate decided to liven things up a little.
It started out as just an ordinary day.
Nemo decided that Mentor was right. She had to deal with her past before it was too late. She pulled up the System's files on every single person within the Matrix and began the search for her sister. But first, she recovered her own files to discover her real name.
> Name: Sylvia Morgan
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Grey
Father's Name: Ryan Morgan, deceased
Mother's Name: Christina Taylor Morgan, deceased
Other Relatives: Catherine Morgan, sister, alive
Current Status: Security Program
Her hand hesitated over the mouse as the pointer hovered over the link leading to her sister's file. Then, she clicked it open with unnecessary force. Her sister's file came up on the screen and her eyes widened upon reading it.
She'd found her sister...and much more than she wanted to know.
Her sister wasn't within the Matrix any longer. But, she wasn't dead either. Nemo wished she was. Her sister was a rebel and not just any rebel.
She was Trinity.
Nemo shut down the computer and pushed her chair away from the desk. Her forehead was wrinkled in an unconcious frown. This changed everything. If the System knew... No that was foolish. She thought, shaking her head in self-disgust. Of course, they knew as did Mentor.
She thought back to what she remembered of her sister. Same features and flawless skin. Same tall, slim build. Same raven black hair. But, different eyes. Trin had their father's ice blue eyes and she had their mother's smoke grey ones.
She'd never even known her mother. Her mother had died to give her life. And for the simple fact of living, her sister hated her. Her eyes closed tight as she relived the pain of her past life, then they blinked open in surprise as she tasted the salty tears that had fallen. She looked down at her reflection on the glass-topped table with tears streaking down her pale cheeks.
She was crying.
She'd never cried before. To do so would be to show her weakness and she couldn't be weak in front of anyone, not her sister and defintely not her present colleagues. But, she was crying now...how could she have become so weak? It seemed like the 'Ice Queen' had melted. Her lips twisted in a humorless smile at that thought.
Whereas her father had simply ignored her, her sister had never been afraid to make apparent her hate for her younger sister. She blamed her for their mother's death and made sure that Nemo knew it. Damn Trin. Damn her and her superior manner. She had been the first to make Nemo as a young and impressionable child feel what it was like to be unwanted. And it had been the same way for the rest of her life as Nemo isolated herself from everyone.
After their troubled childhood, things went pretty much downhill as they grew older and became teenagers. Nemo would never know what might have happened between them for Trin suddenly disappeared without a trace. She never knew what happened to her sister...until now.
As she brushed away her tears, she wondered if Mentor was right. If things had been different between them, would she have joined the rebels like her sister did? That was idle thinking, she finally decided. She'd choosen her path as her sister had. Now, her sister would just have to pay for choosing the wrong one.
Her hand went to her earpiece as the System called her attention. Neo was back. And where Neo was, Trinity was sure not to be far behind.
They split up with Jones taking up the chase and Smith closing in from ahead. Nemo would do what she did best as an Agent. She'd stick to the background and once the rebel group split, take them down one by one. Having taken down Electro, she went after the rebel nearest to her.
Being human by origin, her signature was not detected as an Agent one and so she was ignored by rebel operators. Upon discovering where Trinity was headed - the nearest possible exit was only a block away, she took another host and waited patiently by the ringing phone. She went into stealth mode to avoid being noticed at all.
Trinity's eyes widened as she saw Nemo in the supposedly empty room. Her instincts immediately took over and she shot someone who could be a host for an Agent, not realizing that the other woman WAS an Agent. Nemo easily dodged the bullet as she simultaneously sealed off the only door and window in the room. There would be no escape.
With her greater speed, Nemo easily dodged the other bullets as well as blocked the blows and kicks sent her way. Filled with smug satisfaction, she sent her sister flying to the opposite side of the room and walked towards her slumped body. 'Who has the upper hand now?', she couldn't help but gloat to herself. Trinity remained still, gathering what little strength she had left as she glared up at Nemo. Her confidence had not left her yet. That much was apparent to Nemo. And her sister obviously did not recognize her, although they were practically mirror images of each other.
Nemo crouched so that she was at eye level with Trinity and removed her shades. Trinity's were long gone so nothing prevented them for looking each other in the eye.
"I'm hurt, Trin. I really am," Nemo said in a nonchalant tone. "How can you not recognize your own sister?"
Trinity's blue eyes had widened as soon as Nemo called her by her nickname, but when what Nemo said sunk in, she could not help but gasp in surprise.
"My name is Nemo."
Nemo could not resist using almost the exact same words Neo had used with Smith not so long ago.
"You work for them?"
Nemo was slightly surprised that her sister was more shocked than angry.
"I work WITH them. There's a difference. They wanted me." She waited for Trinity to reply and when she didn't, continued. "You never wanted me. You hated me, blamed me for your mother's death. Well, did you ever think that she was my mother too? Or didn't you care?"
When Trinity still did not speak, Nemo got to her feet and put back on her shades, pulling out her Desert Eagle as she did so.
"I thought I'd give you a chance to apologize before I killed you. But, obviously you have nothing to say to me."
"...Nemo...I'm sorry...I was young...whenever I saw you, I saw her...and every time, I'd remember how much she loved you...how much she wanted you even when the doctors told her it was dangerous...how she willingly gave up her life for you...I loved her so much and when she died for you...I needed someone to blame...to hate...I'm sorry...I really am..."
As she looked down at her sister's moistened eyes, Nemo realized that Trinity was telling the truth. She was sorry. Sylvia would have been glad to hear those words. But, the Sylvia in her had died a long time ago. There was only Nemo left. And Nemo had a job to do.
She was about to fire when something caught her attention at the corner of her eye. An enraged Neo stood where a wall used to be. She had been so intent on Trinity that she hadn't noticed his approach. She cursed silently, knowing she had to get out with her work left undone. Self-preservation came first. She tried to change hosts, only to realize that Neo had frozen the surrounding area so that escape was impossible.
While her attention was distracted, Trinity quickly moved out of her reach and went to pick up the phone, which had begun ringing anew. But, instead of answering it, her hand moved away from the phone.
"Pick up the phone, Trin," Neo urged, his dark eyes never leaving Nemo's grey ones.
"Don't kill her, Neo."
Both Agent and rebel turned to look at here in surprise.
"She tried to kill you," Neo said, upon finding his voice. "She's an Agent."
"And my sister."
"Please...for me. Just this once."
A tense silence followed the sister's quiet plea. Finally, Neo nodded though the cold gaze directed at Nemo never wavered.
"For you. But just this once. Now, go."
Trinity nodded. She obviously expected him to keep his promise even after she left for she reached for the ringing phone.
Nemo heard her whisper softly before her RSI disappeared. With her gone, Nemo gave her full attention to Neo. Would he do as Trinity asked? Nemo seriously doubted it. It would be stupid, but then again maybe he did love her sister enough to do so. After all, love made one do stupid things.
"Go. But, don't expect the same treatment the next time we meet," Neo said harshly.
"I wouldn't dream of it."
A flash of green light and she was gone too.
She stood by the front office window and waited for her colleagues to return. As soon as they entered, she felt their expectant gazes on her back. They wanted to know how she'd managed to escape Neo. What would she tell them? That he'd let her go? Ha.
"How did you get away from him?"
Smith asked, not bothering to hide the curiosity in his voice. She turned to face them, the expression on her face unreadable even to Jones who knew her best.
Jones frowned at her, immediately noticing how strange she sounded.
Smith asked in puzzlement. Jones, on the other hand, ignored Smith and concentrated on Nemo.
"Nemo, what's wrong?" He asked, a worried tone replacing his usual bland one.
"Nothing's wrong. I'm fine," she said in the same voice. "Neo let me go."
"He what?" Smith exclaimed.
He realized that something strange was going on, but he couldn't put his finger on it.
"Why did he do that?" Jones asked gently.
"Because Trinity asked him too."
"Why would she do that?" Smith asked, growing annoyed at her behavior.
"Because I'm her sister."
Smith looked at her in shock, but Jones remained silent. As soon as she'd mentioned Trinity, he understood why Neo had let her go.
Because he knew.
He knew all about Nemo and the dysfunctional relationship she had with her sister. He knew because he'd been the one to find her. The System had given him the specifications of a human they wanted for a then unknown purpose.
Specifications found in her.
This could break Nemo. How had she found out that she and Trinity had been sisters? She'd never shown any interest in her past life before. ...Mentor, of course. Didn't she know that this would happen? What was she trying to do?
Smith's shock swiftly turned to anger and contempt.
"You're human?" He turned to Jones. "Why must we continue to work with humans? Can't the System see that they are useless."
"I doubt the System thinks that. If anyone's useless, it's you."
Nemo cut in, her voice as cold as ice. The distress caused by the recent incident with Trinity was quickly replaced with a cold calm. So, he now he knew. What did he plan to do about it?
"For your information, I am more qualified to be an Agent, you...human."
"Name-calling, aren't we? How mature. Can't you think of anything original at least? Besides, my first duty is as an Agent terminator. A job that no Agent is capable of doing."
"So, I've heard. Maybe an Agent can't do it, but I'm positive any other AI can."
"Oh, so you know better than the System? Who do you think you are?"
"Who do YOU think you are?"
"Smith...Nemo...please let's think rationally."
Jones cut in, attempting to calm both of them down. It failed, however, as Nemo took exception from the remark.
"MY thinking has never been better. I don't know about the reconstructed Agent in this room though."
"Digging up the past. Now, who's immature?"
"There is nothing immature in stating a well-known fact, Smith."
She spat his name like a curse. But, she was disgusted at herself for letting him get under her skin. She should have ignored him from the start of his tirade. But, she just had to stoop down to his level, didn't she?
"Well then, am I corrupt enough for you to terminate, Nemo?"
He sneered contempously at her, but inside, he was afraid of what her answer might be. The System had terminated him once already because of what happened with Fleming. Surely, they would not hesitate to do it a second time.
Jones, on the other hand, was at a loss on what to do. What did Mentor expect him to do? Saving the world looked easier and easier...especially since there wasn't much of it left to save...
Back to the problem at hand, it looked like his two colleagues wanted to rip each other's throats out. Wasn't that just great? Especially since both of them were more powerful than he was. Shit, he didn't ask for this.
"Now, look, why don't you two calm down and talk reasonably."
"I AM talking reasonably," they shouted at him simultaneously.
'Stay calm. Just stay calm,' he told himself. 'You can do this.'
"Alright. Then, we all agree on something."
"NO! He/She isn't talking reasonably!"
"Will you two listen to each other! You're arguing like human children!"
"I am doing no such thing," Smith said, crossing his arms at his chest.
"I happen to like human children." She glared at Smith.
"Now, why am I not surprised?"
"Look, this isn't solving anything why don't you two...I don't know...separate and when you're calm, you can talk."
"I AM calm," Smith said, returning Nemo's glare before stalking out of the room.
She sniffed contempously and headed for the computer, leaving Jones to wonder what the hell he was suppose to do now.
It had been less than a week since the fight and the two still weren't speaking to each other. Jones was at his wit's end on what to do with them. But, he was relieved that they at least managed to be civil to each other while they were on a job. In between that was something else entirely though. Now, Jones understood what humans meant by a 'cold war'.
Having survived a will-you-tell-him?-or-will-you-tell-her? situation, he was glad to be on the field again. Until he heard who they were up against, that is. Neo was back...again...and of course, Trinity would be there too. Wonderful. Talk about the week from hell.
They split up again, but this time the rebels were ready for them. Nemo changed the strategy in midstream and thankfully, Smith went along with it. Jones managed to injure a new rebel member, but Neo got her out before Jones could finish her off. Just when he thought it was over for him, Nemo screamed at him over their communications system to get his ass out of there - her words exactly - and he changed host just in time. Thank goodness for program upgrades.
Just when he did, everything stopped...literally.
*Nemo...Smith...what just happened?*
*The Matrix program in our sector has frozen.*
Nemo answered a moment later.
*How is that possible?*
*Neo appears to have fiddled with one code too many. The System will have to reboot the program.*
*How will that affect us?*
*It won't. After all, we are separate programs from the Matrix one.*
*Then, it will be the same for the rebels?*
*Yes. So, we'll have to be especially careful. We are vulnerable in this type of situation. We cannot change hosts and if we are killed...the System does not know what could happen to our programs. It could be just as deadly as if Neo terminated us.*
*Does Smith know?*
Met with silence, he sighed and informed Smith himself. Having done so, he walked cautiously among the human programs. It was eerie how still and silent everything was. But, it also made it easier to identify the rebel program as it came up from behind him. He slipped into a nearby shop and watched as the rebel passed by. The rebel seemed to be oblivious to the Agent's presence though he eyed his surroundings suspiciously.
'Of course, only Neo can read the code,' Jones mused.
A moment later, he was the only working program around for blocks. He idly wondered what the human programs would think when they found the dead body of a man who hadn't been there moments ago. Well, he'd just leave that for the local security to handle.
Several blocks away, Nemo sat as if frozen too on a park bench. She'd dressed differently as she did everyday. That was to keep some observant Matrix occupant from noticing how she wore the same outfit everyday. She wasn't a standard Agent, so she didn't wear the female version of the Agent uniform.
Her expression did not change when she heard a gunshot blocks away. But, she did tense up as her sister went past. Cautiously surveying the surrounding area, Trinity also tensed as she immediately took notice of Nemo. Knowing that it would be useless to keep up the charade, Nemo got up in one smooth fluid motion at the same time she reached for her gun. She easily dodged the bullets sent her way and thought.
'So, she has no qualms about killing me now. Well, isn't that just like her.'
Nemo leapt over her sister and whirled around to kick the other's feet from under her. As soon as she fell, Trinity merely rolled away and quickly got back on her feet. She barely missed a shot aimed at her head and took out an entire clip of bullets on Nemo.
Distracted, Nemo dodged the bullets and when she stopped moving, Trinity was nowhere in sight. She cursed under her breath at the other's cleverness.
'You want to play hide and seek. Fine. But, two can play at this game. You're precious Neo can't save you now. How can he when the codes are frozen?'
Nemo could not resist a slight smirk as she went off on her hunt.
She cornered Trinity moments later in a dead end alley. After another exchange of bullets, they realized that they were both empty and could not reload new clips of bullets in the frozen Matrix.
Nemo threw away her now useless gun and brushed away some non-existent dust from her impeccable white suit.
"Well, it seems that you didn't mean your apology, sister."
She said the last sarcastically, watching the other's impassive face for any sign of emotion. She was disappointed to find none.
"My sister is dead. You and the System killed her."
"I must say I love the Star Wars parallelism. Darth Vader killing Anakin Skywalker and all that, you know."
"You are not my sister."
"Well, it's not like you ever treated me as one. So, I guess it doesn't matter. Does it?"
A satisfied smirk appeared on her lips as she saw a look of pain flicker for a moment on her sister's pale, drawn face.
"Why are you doing this? Why are you working for them?"
"Why? It's simple really. They gave me everything I have. They gave me a purpose and a sense of belonging. Things I never found in our 'happy little home'. They made me who I am now."
"And do you like who you are?"
"Why shouldn't I?"
"Aren't you ashamed of what you do? You help keep humanity enslaved."
"I help keep them happy. They're happy here."
"They're not free."
"But, they're happy. Why can't you leave them alone?"
"Because I care."
"So, do I. ...But, enough talk. Are you going to fight or not?"
She leapt for her sister as she spoke and aimed a kick for her head. Trinity barely dodged it as she tried to punch Nemo and failed. The two lost track of time, but as it passed, it was evident that Trinity was going to lose.
Then, without warning, the dead end wall blew open at the same time the familiar buzz of code returned to Nemo. The Matrix program was back online. For a few hours, the sector had been 'invisible' to all the other sectors.
But, now that the program was back on track, so was Neo and he was pissed. Nemo mourned another missed opportunity to kill her sister, but she knew there would be other opportunities. She quickly changed hosts and narrowly missed being terminated by the One. She continued walking down the street in her new host and met Jones at the other side of the road.
He was watching from the sidelines as the local police tried to calm down some frightened people. Amidst the hysterical group, police officers closed off the area with a dead body using bright yellow police tape. The young man dressed in black leather had a neat bullet hole in the back of his head. A pool of already congealing blood gathered at his head. The dead man's face was suprisingly calm. He hadn't even seen the bullet coming.
*That's two that they've lost in little more than a week.*
Jones initiated conversation.
*Morpheus will not be pleased.*
*No, he will not. But now, they also know of your existence.*
*They would have found out sooner or later.*
*Where are you going?*
He asked as she began to walk away from him.
*There's someone I have to see.*
A half-hour later found her back in Mentor's kitchen.
"I've talked to my sister."
"What did she say?"
"You know damn well what she said."
The older woman chose not to comment on the other's use of profanity as she handed her a cup of steaming coffee. Nemo merely pushed it away and turned to look out the window. The sun was beginning to set, staining the skies a crimson red.
"I'm sorry for what you've been through, but it was something that had to happen. You had to speak to her...to know that there is really no turning back. ...Admit it, child. You've always secretly wished that you could have a normal life and a happy home. You want your sister to love you. It's only natural, being human as you are. But, she just doesn't have it in her."
"She said she was sorry."
"Yes, she did and she meant it. She's sorry for all the hurt and pain she caused you. But, you can't force love. And after all these years...it just isn't possible.
Everything happens for a reason. The reason for this is simple. You have to know that you don't belong to their world. The Matrix world or the Real world, it doesn't matter. You belong with us in our world, which only we can see and understand. The System saw your potential and made you one of us.
It is your destiny. Accept it."
"But, I don't even fit in here. The others accept me, but only because they have to. How can the world you speak of be any different from the human world, real or not?"
"Because we want you here. We need you."
"Smith doesn't need me."
"Doesn't he? He just doesn't realize it yet. And you don't realize that you need him too. You need each other. Without one, the other cannot function to his full capacity."
Mentor got up from her seat and helped the subdued Nemo up from hers.
"Go back, child. There is a choice to be made and only you can make it. Choose well."
Nemo nodded almost automatically and left as downcast as before. After Nemo had left, Mentor picked up the cooled cup from the table and took a sip. Shaking her head sadly, she muttered to herself.
"Poor child. This is perhaps the only choice she can ever make on her own. They overestimated her. Even the human spirit has a breaking point. For her sake, I hope she chooses what is best for her, not the System."
Nemo walked down the lobby towards the elevator, nodding out of habit at the gaurd there. He nodded back with a cheerful smile that was not returned, while she got into the elevator and waited for it to reach her floor. When it did, she stepped out and slipped into the office she shared with her colleagues. Jones was at the computer, hard at work as always. But, Smith sat right behind him, obviously deep in thought. Dark thoughts from the look of his grim face.
The tense atmosphere was not exactly conducive to work. Or so Jones thought gloomily as Nemo walked in. Having Smith seated behind him was like having a vulture perched on his shoulder watching his every move. Wonderful.
Things hadn't cleared up at all and Jones was wishing that he could find someone to ask advice. He obviously couldn't ask the other Agents. They didn't know a bloody thing about what it was like to work with BOTH Nemo and Smith. And the System wasn't exactly any help either. They gave the trio pretty much a free rein in their work. As long as the job got done like they wanted, everything else could go to hell. As for Mentor - the reason for the whole mess in the first place - well, she hadn't spoken to any of them since the last time.
So, here he was stuck with two egoistic yet insecure superior programs. What wouldn't he do for a vacation as humans called their off time.
"Why did you write the code that way?" Smith suddenly snapped from behind him.
"Nemo told me to do so."
"Well, she might be a good programmer for a human, but that is not how AI do things. You can easily cut out that part and save space and time."
Jones winced as he did the necessary corrections. 'Here we go again.'
Nemo walked - no, stalked - across the room to stop behind him on his other side.
"Will you tell him that I was merely following protocol, which requires THAT part of the code?"
Leaving no room for argument, she pushed Jones aside and corrected the code again.
"Well, sorry," Smith snapped at her, his tone contradicting his words. Sarcasm practically oozed out as he continued. "I must have committed an error. Please terminate me now."
"You're just begging for it, aren't you?"
"Give her a prize, Johnny!"
"Well, isn't that nice. Human quotes from an anti-human Agent."
"I never said I was anti-human."
"Who are you trying to fool? ...Then, what? You have something against FEMALE Agents?"
"Oh, go ahead and turn this into a sexist issue, won't you?"
"Then, what is it? Why don't you enlighten me? After all, I seem to be lacking a few more codes than you, oh high-and-mighty one."
"With pleasure. I have NOTHING..." He glared at her disbelieving expression and repeated with even greater emphasis. "...NOTHING against humans or females..."
"Oh, I get it now. You don't have anything against them taken separately. But, you DO hate human female Agents. Don't you?"
An uncontrollable twitch started at his left eye. Nemo was so furious that she didn't even notice it, but Jones did and he quickly realized that he was rapidly losing control over the situation.
"Uhhh...excuse me...would you just..."
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I do! I HATE you and Fleming and every other human, male or female, that thinks he can do MY job better than I can!"
He roared as Nemo's face turned paler than it already was. Pale, not out of barely restrained fury but out of pain and hurt.
Smith hated her.
She looked away and quickly left the room so that they missed the pained expression on her face as well as the tears she blinked back. After the emotionally stressful morning, this was the straw that broke the camel's back.
'Why should I care what he thinks about me? ...because I'm only human...'
Jones immediately went after her. Reaching the door before it could close, he left the room and grabbed her arm as she walked towards the elevator.
"Nemo, listen to me. He didn't mean it like you think."
"Yes, he did. I'm not stupid. I know that none of never liked me from the start."
"That's not true. I like you."
She smiled wanly at him but still shook off his restraining hand and walked away.
"You can't run from us, Nemo."
She pressed the elevator button and waited patiently for it to stop at their floor.
"I don't belong here."
Those were her last words before she stepped into the elevator and left him alone in the corridor.
"You're wrong, Nemo. You do belong here," he whispered softly to himself.
He shook his head and returned to the office. As soon as he entered, he realized that Smith had not moved from his position. Smith's face was also paler than usual as he clenched and unclenched his fists.
"Do you think she's going to terminate me?"
Jones blinked his eyes in surprise as it sunk in that Smith was actually afraid. He'd never thought there was anything or anyone capable of scaring his superior. But, obviously Smith was just as scared of Nemo as almost every Agent in the Matrix was.
"You're afraid of her?"
Jones looked at him in disbelief. Smith looked like he was about to protest then stopped, choosing to look away instead.
"You insecure bastard!" Jones shouted in exasperation and anger, addressing his superior for the first time in a less than respectful tone. Smith's head jerked up in shock at the other's choice of words and tone. "This whole time, you were afraid of each other!"
"She's afraid of me?" Smith asked stunned.
"Not really of you, but of you hating her. Both of you are a pair of insecure basket cases. No wonder, Mentor called this a soap opera."
"So, she's not going to terminate me?"
"You've got a one-track mind, don't you? Of course, she isn't. If you needed to be terminated, she'd have done it long ago. Unless - now that I come to think of it - she has no say in it at all. It could be completely the System's decision. Either way it works for you."
Smith sat down slowly as the news sunk in. Then, something clicked in Jones' head. The elevator...it hadn't been going down. It had been headed up...to the roof.
The other looked up in surprise at the urgency in Jones' voice.
"Nemo. Only you can stop her. On the roof. Go."
"Just. Go. Now."
Smith scowled but changed hosts to go the roof.
Nemo walked across the roof and onto its narrow ledge. Standing silently at the edge, she looked down at the busy streets below her. Honking cars, rushing people...what she fought for. Was it worth it?
The pain...the loneliness...the despair...
She savored its sharp taste not so unlike the bitterness of being alone. Somehow this one emotion had slipped past the System's notice, concealing itself behind her loneliness.
For once, she doubted.
She doubted herself...the System...everything she'd believed in her entire existence as person and program.
She looked below at the plunging drop and thought how easy it would be to end it all. Right here, right now. The easy way out. Was that the way she wanted to take?
All she had to do was jump off the ledge and activate her self-destruct code. No body would be found plastered on the sidewalk. She would just blink out of existence, a mere program among many.
It would be so easy.
She did not hear the door behind her open and close. Still, she knew that she was no longer alone on the roof. She knew every single Agent signature and she knew who was right behind her.
"Smith. Have you come to see me off?"
"What is with humans and jumping off buildings to plunge to their deaths? It is so messy."
"Yes. It is, isn't it? But, I suppose the idea of free fall before death has always appealed to the romantic side of humanity. Besides, it might not be clean, but its efficient. Most humans do not survive such a suicide attempt."
"I think not. ...So, why are you doing this exactly?"
"Why are you here?"
"Answer a question with a question, won't you?" Then, he admitted grudgingly, "Jones told me to go here. He didn't tell me why."
"Jones...he is more perceptive than most think. They are wrong to underestimate him."
"We aren't here about Jones. Why do you want kill yourself?"
"I'm not really killing myself. My body was destroyed even before I was instated. I am merely a sentient program with a human origin."
"Still, you wish to put an end to your existence."
"That is correct."
"Mentor told me I had to make a choice. I believe that choice is whether I remain or leave the System. I choose to leave for I no longer have a place here."
"The System gave you a place and only they can take it away."
"And they too gave me the right to decide whether or not I've exceeded my stay. They gave me a way out."
Smith was at a loss on how to continue and an uneasy pause followed. When he broke the silence, his voice was soft and tinged with an undeniable curiosity.
"Why do you feel like you don't belong?"
"Because I don't. All my life, all I wanted was someone to want me. I found no one. Then, the System found me. They wanted me. But, the Agents...they too are part of the System...yet they hate and fear me. In their eyes - your eyes - I am only human."
"If you were only human...do you think we would fear you the way we do?"
She looked back at him in surprise. She'd never thought of it that way. Then, she realized something else.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were trying to save me."
"Maybe you're right. After all, if you're gone, who'll keep me in line and in doing so keep me from termination by the System?"
Nemo's lips curved up into a small smile.
A real smile.
She'd never smiled before in her entire existence as a person or a program. Then again, she never had a reason to do so. When she did, it was like her entire face lit up. Her eyes shone as she shook her head in silent laughter.
"You're a real piece of work, Smith. A self-centered bastard to the core."
"Why, thank you."
She turned away from the edge to face him and studied the hand he offered to help her down from the ledge. She knew that he would never admit that he'd accepted her necessary presence, but the gesture was enough for her. They might never be friends, but at least they'd be teammates. Her. Him. Jones. The System's finest...perhaps in the near future.
She accepted his hand and leapt lightly to the hard concrete floor. He held her hand for a second longer than was necessary as a look of understanding passed between them.
"I'd hate to ruin this Kodak moment, but we have a job to do."
Smith released her hand as they turned to face Jones.
"Kodak moment?" Smith repeated in surprise as Nemo winced. She knew of his recent study of human media.
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