[ Human Agents ]

(c) disclaimer:

Author of this story is The Mistress of the Sands;
the original is here: The Realm of the Shifting Sands
Please visit her site for more Matrix fan-fiction and other great stuff.
I just placed her story here because I like it and I'm trying to provide all possible credits&links to the author ;)

 

The Matrix Fan-Fic: Human Agents

(c) The Mistress of the Sands

      "Miss Adams." Samantha looked up from her computer to see Agent Brown standing in the door to her tiny office.
      "Yes, Agent Brown?" Samantha picked up her dangling earpiece and fitted it back into the shell of her ear, listening to the steady stream of information it provided while waiting for an answer from her superior officer.
      Brown took two steps into the office and placed a fat, dark green file folder on Samantha's desk. All he said was, "Deal with this," before he turned on a polished black shoe and walked calmly back out of Samantha's office. She watched his black suited form disappear around the corner before picking up the folder and opening it. On top was a picture of of a young woman. Samantha sat down and pulled her chair up to the desk to begin reviewing the file. Under the picture was a copy of a birth certificate. The girl's name was Tracy Simmons, born in 1982 in a small town not far from the city. Turning to the next page, Samantha saw that while the girl had low marks in Kindergarten -- a handwritten letter noted that the girl didn't "play well with others" -- her marks had steadily improved as emphasis was removed from socializing and group work and placed on pure academics. A few pages later, Samantha learned that Tracy was now a candidate for valedictorian, having achieved a GPA of 4.5 since her freshman year in high school. Now a junior, she was involved in her student government -- on dance committee -- Samantha noted -- and had enrolled in several extra Advanced Placement courses, bringing her GPA up to a 5.0. On the surface, it looked like she was the perfect teenage girl. She even volunteered at the local retirement home on weekends and -- Samantha found the personal life sheet -- often did chores that her two younger brothers were assigned.
      Turning that page over and placing it on the small pile of read documents that had begun accumulating on the open cover of the folder and saw why the Agents wanted the girl dealt with.
      The first thing on the stack of paper clipped documents was a picture of what was most likely the girl's room. Posters of modern stars and movies were visible in the background. Samantha saw posters of Uma Thurman, Jim Carrey and Val Kilmer. She looked at another picture that showed an extension of the view the first had and saw posters for Gattaca, Interview with a Vampire, and Conspiracy Theory. Arrayed on the numerous desks in both pictures were six or seven of the latest computers with some odd looking attachments. Samantha suppressed a smile when she saw the X-Files mouse pad. The next page was a document listing all of Tracy's shell accounts, followed by a list of break-ins at high-tech computer companies -- through the internet, of course -- that had a partial IP number trace completed. The numbers match those of the various shell accounts. A detailed list of information stolen was next, amounting to millions of dollars worth of state-of-the-art blue prints and software code, but even that would not set the Agents on this girl's trail, it was what she'd done with it.
      The last page contained in the folder Brown had given her outlined what Tracy had been doing with her stolen information. Up until about a month ago she'd merely broken almost all laws concerning information theft, but then she started making something with her information and had managed to speak to Morpheus.
      Somehow, Tracy had managed to plug herself into a primitive virtual reality program she'd pieced together from her stolen code and had managed to partially break out of the Matrix. Her activities had caused several glitches that Samantha and her team had been hard pressed to identify and deal with but had baffled them no end. It irked her slightly that the programmed Agents had once again solved with apparent ease something that had caused no end of trouble to their human counterparts.
      Samantha's team had only just reported their failure to locate the source of the glitches yet again to the Programs -- that was what they called the Agents who were sentient programs, as opposed to the humans they'd trained since a young age to do all the things that needed doing while the Programs were out dealing with someone from the Outside or other -- and she was relaxing in her office when Brown tracked her down. He'd probably been trying to contact her on her 'piece earlier, but since she'd had it out he'd had to come personally. If Samantha didn't take care of the Tracy Simmons thing in an expedient manner, she'd be getting more than her share of hell from the Programs.
      Samantha realized that the glitches were probably what had attracted Morpheus' attention to the girl. A tapped phone line showed that she'd received a call from outside the Matrix, but the caller had hung up before a trace could be completed. Apparently it was just coincidence that that line had been tapped, or so the report implied. Not for the first time, Samantha wondered if perhaps the Agents had sent her team on something they were already quite aware of, and for how long they'd been sitting on the answers.
      However, she could definitely understand why the Agents wanted the girl taken care of, so she strapped on her gun, picked up her sunglasses, and left her office. She was about to round the corner, following the same route Agent Brown had taken, when she snapped her fingers and walked back to her office. Tossing the file in the trash, she pressed a button on the underside of her desk and watched the file disappear from the open basket before walking around the corner to the elevator, on her way to deal with a young girl named Tracy Simmons.

* * *
      Tracy squinted at the tiny soldered bits of metal, wondering which solder had come loose. The computer chip had been working fine until she dropped the equipment it was in that morning in her rush to get to school. That afternoon when she'd tried to use her makeshift machines, she'd only gotten a few flickers before smoke started pouring from one of her computers. She'd finally traced it back to this chip, but hours of staring at tiny pieces of plastic and metal had taken their toll. Even looking through her powerful magnifying glass, the wire connections looked blurry and indistinct. Tracy rubbed her eyes and squinted through the large magnifier, but the blurring remained.
      Sighing, the dark-skinned girl stood up and stretched, glancing at the clock. She'd been at this for a little over three hours without pause. The rumbling in her stomach persuaded her to eat something before attempting to force her tired eyes back into service.
      Tracy strolled down the hall to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. The light spilled out, illuminating not only the contents of the refrigerator but the girl standing in front of it considering what to grab as a snack. Finally settling on a can of Coke and salami, cheese, and cracker sandwiches, Tracy grabbed the salami, cheese, and Coke from their assorted compartments. Absently pushing the refrigerator door closed with her hip, the laden teenager sat her bundles down on the countertop.
      A cabinet produced the Ritz crackers and Tracy began slicing salami and cheese for her snack. She layered a slice of salami and cheese onto the Ritz crackers she'd set out on the counter top. When she had enough of the little open faced sandwiches to fill a small plate she put the ingredients back where she'd pulled them, grabbed her plate and soda, and headed back to her room.
      Tracy sat down in front of one of her computers that she hadn't been using for her virtual reality experiments and logged onto the internet to check her e-mail while nibbling on her snacks. Halfway through downloading her e-mail the computer froze. She swore and wiggled the mouse just to see if it would move. It didn't. She hit escape, but that didn't help, either.
      For my next experiment, I'm going to discover how to fix computer crashes, Tracy decided as she bent down to find the power key, but a change in the display on the monitor stopped her hand mid reach.
      At first she thought that there had been a power outage, but all the lights were still on and the fan inside the computer was still humming quietly. Then she thought that she'd waited out a temporary program conflict, but dismissed that theory when it didn't explain why the screen in front of her had gone black. Before she could consider another theory, her computer began ordering her around.

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, MABON

      The words appeared on the screen as though someone was typing them, one letter at a time. Tracy set the Coke and plate down and wiped her suddenly damp palms against her jean-clad thighs.

THEY'RE COMING FOR YOU, MABON. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, NOW

      "Who?" Tracy felt a little silly talking to a computer, but the computer had started the conversation, one that was getting creepier by the moment. "Who's coming for me? Who are you?" Tracy wondered if she should type her questions, but the computer seemed to hear and understand her, because it responded to her questions.

YOU DON'T HAVE TIME. GET OUT NOW

      Tracy opened her mouth to ask her questions again, but the computer continued writing, stopping her questions in her throat where they congealed into a cold lump of dread.

TOO LATE, THEY'RE HERE.

      The screen went blank just as the doorbell sounded.

* * *
      Samantha glanced her watch and checked back with the master computers. Tracy was supposed to be home, but the house was quiet and no cars were visible in the driveway. She debated ringing the doorbell again, but the faint sound of slow footsteps coming from inside the house stopped her. Samantha unclipped the buckle holding her gun in its holster and waited for Tracy to open the door.

* * *
      Tracy's heart leapt into her throat at the sound of the doorbell and hadn't returned to its proper place in her chest ever since. The front door seemed to loom before her menacingly and she tried to be quiet while approaching it. Tracy's actions reminded her of something straight out of Scream, but she pushed that though from her mind before she began scaring herself. It seemed to take forever to reach the door, but when Tracy closed her hand around the doorknob things stopped being slow and rocketed into fast forward. The doorknob turned and the door opened before Tracy realized she'd forgotten to look through the peephole to see who it was.
      "I'm here to see a Miss Tracy Simmons."
      Tracy felt very foolish when the dreaded person at the door turned out to be a mere slip of a woman dressed sharply in a man's black and white three-piece suite, complete with tie. Tracy saw her reflection smile in the woman's mirrored sunglasses.
      "Oh, hi, that's me. Sorry for the wait, I was in the back room." The woman nodded and turned to look at something off to her left, exposing a wired radio earpiece. Tracy gulped, her smile fading. Only big time security guards where pieces like that... or government organizations with lots of initials. The woman turned back and Tracy plastered a smile on her face. "How can I help you?"
      I have a matter of some importance to discuss with you. May I come in?" How did one refuse to let the feds in, Tracy wondered or the CIA. She nodded, swallowing convulsively, and opened the door wider, stepping back to slow the woman to pass. Tracy closed the door behind her and whispered a prayer to whoever was listening that this wasn't about the information she'd stolen.
      The woman went straight to the closed door of the study. She seemed almost to know her way around the house, Tracy observed as she followed her into the overly formal room. The mysterious visitor say in the large, leather chair usually occupied by Tracy's father and seemed to fill it more with presence alone than Tracy's six-foot-four father ever had with sheer size.
      She felt a moment of irritation at the fact that this woman had the gall to act like she was the master of the household when she gestured for Tracy to take one of the stiff-backed chairs on the other side of the desk, but she quickly quashed the feeling. The last thing she wanted was for her loose tongue to get her into more trouble than she was already in.
      Tracy sat down and folded her hands in her lap, twisting one of her rings around her finger. The woman across from her removed her sunglasses and took her time folding them and stowing them in the breast pocket of her suit's jacket. When she finally looked up from her task, Tracy noticed with some surprise that she had violet eyes.
      "Miss Simmons," Tracy jumped at the sound of the woman's voice. "Before we start, is there anything you would like to tell me?"
      "Like what?" Tracy winced at the tremor in her voice and cleared her throat, shifting in her seat.
      "Has anything unusual happened lately that you might want to let me know about? Have you had any contact with persons who could possibly be dangerous? Anything at all that you might like to get off your chest before we begin." Those violet eyes seemed to be trying to see into Tracy's mind when the woman spoke. Tracy glanced down at her tightly clenched hands, seeking a respite from the woman's piercing gaze, before replying.
      "How could I have anything to tell you when I don't know who you are or why you're here? Are you with the FBI? CIA? NSC? Secret Service? Are you some kind of security guard?"
      The woman seemed to smile at Tracy's questions, but the expression was so fleeting that she couldn't be sure.
      "You must have done some pretty bad stuff to think people like that would be after you, don't you think? But no, I'm none of those. Forgive me for not introducing myself. I'm Agent Adams." Tracy waited for the Agent to elaborate and tell her who she worked for and why she was here, but apparently the woman didn't see the need for it.
      "Agent?" Tracy asked the question she was waiting for the Agent to answer on her own. "Who do you work for and why are you here?" The pointed question was out before she had a chance to stop herself. Tracy hoped her tongue hadn't gotten her into trouble with this mysterious Agent.
      "We know you've spoken to Morpheus. He is a dangerous criminal. I'm here because I want you to help me catch him." Agent Adams' words froze Tracy in her tracks. How did this woman know about that strange phone call? Tracy had personally scoured the phone lines afterwards for taps and traces and had found none. She hadn't told anyone about it, either. "We know a lot about you, Tracy, including the fact that with all the stolen information you're the closest anyone's ever come to creating virtual reality. What we don't know, however, is if you will help us."
      Tracy swallowed, thinking the Agent must have read her mind somehow. She had to swallow several more times before she was able to speak.
      "Are you planning on charging me with anything, Agent Adams?" She smiled at Tracy's question, probably trying to look reassuring. It didn't work, Tracy thought. It had the opposite effect, in fact, making the Agent look incredibly sinister.
      "Only if you don't cooperate with us about Morpheus, Tracy. If you do help us catch him, we'll erase all your high-tech robberies from the records. If not..." The obvious threat in the Agent's words angered Tracy.
      "Look," she began, "If you're going to arrest me, just do it and stop playing these games. I've never even heard of Morpheus and I'm computer illiterate. So either arrest me or get the hell out of my house!"
      Agent Adams' expression didn't change at Tracy's outburst. She just nodded at something only she knew and slowly removed her earpiece. Standing up, Adams leaned over the desk, placing her hands flat on the smooth wood top and bringing her face mere inches from Tracy's. She paled as the Agent's jacket fell open to reveal a gun in a shoulder harness.
      "No, you look, little girl. You're in one hell of a lot of trouble, and cooperating is the only way you're going to get out of it and return to the life you've got here. Do you understand?" The Agent's voice was low and urgent, as though she was trying not to be overheard, but Tracy was never one to give into threats.
      "Whatever. I know my rights. Either read them to me or get out of here."
      "I'm offering you one last chance to get out of this with some hope of returning to the life you have now, Tracy. Take it, please."
      The girl's only answer was to get up and open the door for the Agent.
      "You have no idea what you're doing, Tracy."
      "Oh, I have a pretty good idea," Tracy replied. "I'm kicking you out of my house. Now leave."
      Agent Adams shook her head and put her earpiece back in.
      "I'm bringing her in," was all she said before pulling out a pair of handcuffs. "Tracy Simmons, you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law..."

* * *
      "Damn!" Morpheus turned away from the monitors displaying their lines of Matrix code, pinching the bridge of his nose to quiet the headache threatening to erupt. "They got to her first. Why couldn't she have cooperated?"
      Trinity put her hand on Morpheus' forearm in a comforting gesture. "You know as well as I do, Morpheus, that if she was the kind of person to cooperate you wouldn't have contacted her in the first place. It was just a no-win situation."
      Morpheus sighed and smiled sadly at Trinity. "I know, Trinity, but she was just so gifted! She created virtual reality in a world who's programming language probably didn't even allow it! Imagine what she could have done out here."
      Tank shook his head. "Yeah, she would have been a real help against the machines since she's so good with them and all."
      Morpheus shook himself, trying to think of something besides the loss of Mabon. "So, how is our watch on Neo going?" he asked Trinity. She seemed to have a special interest in Morpheus' candidate.
      Trinity's face pinkened slightly before she replied. "He's coming along. Cypher's watching him right now. Morpheus nodded, staring off into space. "Do you think Cypher would mind if I took over his watch?"
      Morpheus' eyes focuses on Trinity and he smiled. "I don't think he'd mind too much." Trinity nodded and reached over Tank's shoulder to pick up the microphone and tell Cypher she was taking her watch a few hours early.

* * *
      Samantha glanced over her shoulder, waiting for the operator to pick up.
      "Operator," the young female voice on the other end of the line sounded as though she were trying to cover up some emotion in her voice.
      "Pickup a new battery in twenty minutes. Don't be late. If it's returned it will be destroyed." The cryptic message was the standard one Samantha used when delivering a hunted hacker to the humans outside. The machines were pretty slow at deciphering spoken code, so it was all she used when talking to anyone outside the Matrix.
      "What? Who is this? You must have a wrong number." Samantha shook her head and realized why she didn't recognize the voice. It must be a new recruit, perhaps from Zion.
      "Tell the captain. You're closest." The woman on the other end went quiet and Samantha hung up barely five seconds before the time needed to trace a call. Just in case I missed something, she told herself. Once again furtively checking for people, Samantha strode quickly down the hall to her office where Tracy was waiting, her loose earpiece swinging from the collar of her shirt.

* * *
      Zephyr turned to Balthazar, the headset now dangling around her neck. "That was odd."
      "What was, Zephyr?" Balthazar turned from repairing the seat cushion on one of the chairs to look at the newest addition to the Arganot's crew.
      "We just received a call from inside the Matrix, but none of our people are in." A puzzled frown created two tiny creases in Zephyr's brow as she spoke.
      "What did they say? Was it just a wrong number?" Balthazar gave his full attention to Zephyr, setting down his tools and coming to stand next to her, watching the monitors for anything out of the ordinary.
      "I don't know, it might have been. The woman on the other end said," Zephyr paused and began reciting her recent conversation from memory. "'Pickup a new battery in twenty minutes. Don't be late. If it's returned it will be destroyed.'"
      Balthazar's normally ruddy skin paled. Quick, Zephyr, figure out the quickest way to the machine's power plant from here. There's someone being unplugged and we're the only ones on their way to pick him up."

* * *
      Tracy twisted her hands in their cuffs and looked around the barren room for a means of escape. Normally, running away from the law wasn't something she'd do, but Agent Adams hadn't given her any proof that this wasn't some company's idea of revenge for her numerous thefts. Police, she could handle, but Tracy didn't want to get in the way of private security.
      Tugging sharply against her bound wrists, Tracy felt one of the cuffs slip down her hand. It felt loose, almost loose enough to slip her hand through if she didn't mind losing some skin. Never one to be squeamish, Tracy yanked hard against the loose manacle and felt the stiff metal ring painfully scrape its way off her hand. Bringing her hand around in front of her, Tracy saw that she had indeed lost some skin; the sides of her hand were scraped raw and bleeding.
      A noise in the hallway made the girl jump, thrusting her hands behind the chair and setting the now malleable 'cuff to its loosest setting before slipping it onto her wrist to give the impression of being bound. Just in time, too, for no sooner had she completed her impromptu camoflauge than the door opened and in walked Adams and an average sized man dressed exactly as Adams was, and who nevertheless towered over the petite woman. Every detail of the pair's clothing was the same down to the tie clip and wire piece snaking over and into their ears.
      The new man walked to a point behind and to one side of Tracy and stood there, almost at attention. Agent Adams took up a similar stance in front of Tracy.
      "Ms. Simmons, I'm going to give you another chance. I realize you might not have had time to think your decision over back at your house, so I'll ask you again. Will you help us capture Morpheus?"
      In answer to the Agent's question, Tracy slipped her hand out of the loose 'cuff and and swung the hand with the dangling pair of bracelets still attached at Adams. The woman stepped back enough to avoid a punch so fast that Tracy almost didn't register the motion, but the loose 'cuff on the end of Tracy's wrist cought the Agent across the face. While Adams was off balance, Tracy leapt up and lunged for the door, but not before a strong hand closed over her shoulder and shoved her back into the chair. She looked up to see who had acted with such lightning reflexes to keep her from leaving and cringed when she saw the cracked sunglasses and open cut on the face of the woman towering above her. Agent Adams radiated such a presence in her anger that she seemed much taller than she actually was to the shaking Tracy, and, from the look on her face, Tracy didn't doubt that she would need to see a doctor when the Agent was through with her.
      "I'll take that as a no. Agent Brown." Tracy saw the man come into her field of vision, the same non-expression on his face. "I'll take care of her. If Jones or Smith ask, we won't be getting a new addition."


      Brown seemed to pause, and Tracy thought he looked speculative, but it was hard to tell since his face moved to little. However, she thought she detected a slight shift in his features as he regarded the scene before him. If the Agent did have his doubts, he didn't let them keep him long. Jones exited the room and closed the door behind him with an almost inaudible click, much too soon for Tracy's comfort.
      Agent Adams didn't move for a long moment after the door closed, but something must have reminded her of reality, for she began moving so suddenly that it made Tracy jump. The Agent moved in a blur, releasing her hold on Tracy and removing her earpiece before walking over to the wall and feeling along its unbroken surface. Deciding to take her chances, Tracy got up and lunged for the door again, gaining a gold on the doorknob and twisting it desperately. Feeling it begin to turn, Tracy breathed a sigh of relief, then froze in panic and denial when it stopped short, its motion arrested by the presence of a lock.
      "Oh yeah," Tracy heard the distracted voice from behind her. "The door's locked."
      Feeling near to tears, Tracy let her forehead rest against the cool off-white paneling of the door and fought back her rising panic and depression. It occured to her that this entire ordeal could have been something straight out of Conspiracy Theory for its almost surreal quality, and almost laughed as hysteria began to set in.
      Tracy heard a soft grinding sound behind her and turned to see a portion of the wall swing open, revealing an elevator.
      "Come on, girl, we haven't got all day." The Agent matched actions to words and came forward, grabbing Tracy's hand and pulling her towards the elevator. Once inside, she hit the button for the roof. The elevator's doors closed and Tracy frowned as it began moving down, rather than up. She directed a confused look at her captor, but the Agent had donned the same non-expression as her counterpart, Agent Brown, and Tracy couldn't read anything from her face.
      "You know, you're very lucky I'm the one who caught you, Tracy Simmons. If it had been one of the others or even the normal human law enforcement, you would be in a lot more trouble than you are now." Tracy had jumped when the Agent first spoke and now regarded her with amazed incredulity.
      Lucky? Tracy thought. I'm lucky to be arrested?
      "Yes, you are. You'll see why."
      Finally the elevator stopped and the doors opened, revealing a shadowed room full of odd looking equipment and dusty furniture. Three other people were standing posts at various contraptions, dressed the same as the other two Agents Tracy had seen so far. Gee, she thought, they must have been real embarassed when they got to work today and realized they'd all worn the same thing. The others all nodded to Adams as the somber woman stepped from the elevator, tugging Tracy behind her. She heard a whoosh as the elevator doors closed. Tracy glanced back and couldn't find the seams in the wall that should have revealed the location of the elevator she had only just abandoned. A strong hand on her back guided Trinity to a sleep chair next to a busy console and one of the men seated behind it. When Adams had Tracy seated to her satisfaction, she was handed a syringe filled with a bright red liquid. Before Tracy could object, the woman had swabbed her arm and injected the content of the syringe directly into Tracy's blood.

* * *
      Samantha handed the now-empty syringe back to Agent Johns, picking up and attaching electrodes hooked to the various machines to a slightly dazed Tracy Simmons. The girl blinked rapidly and shook her head, looking around the room with a slightly glazed expression on her flawless face.
      "Wha... What's going on? Who are you people?" Tracy's voice rose in pitch as the trace program took hold and began distorting her perceptions of the Matrix around her. "What's happening to me?" This last was broken up to the point that it sounded like her voice was digitally garbled and had a strange ring in the background. Simon Johns must have her location already. Samantha leaned forward and grasped the girl's chin, pinning her with an intense, violet-eyed stare.
      No matter what, don't come back, or we'll have to kill you." There was only enough time for Tracy's eyes to widen in shock at Samantha's words before her residual self image dissapeared from the Matrix.


This is going to be an Add-on story, but at the moment I haven't finished adding my fragment, so please don't send fragments for this story until I've finished my part. I still have a lot more to type.

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