Walking the Path
Trinity looked up from her work. Neo was standing there. He moved to her – smoothly, swiftly. He spoke, ‘Morpheus wants us to go in.’
Glancing sharply at Neo Trinity spoke, ‘What? It hasn’t been five weeks since Vad-’
‘I know, but the new potential? Morpheus thinks the Agents are on to her.’
‘Damn it.’ Trinity stepped up from where she had been welding part of a metal wall together. Taking Neo’s hand she went with him to the Core where the rest of the crew were gathered. Her eyes glanced over them – Neo, Tank, Mega and Healer – before finally coming to a rest on their trusted leader, Morpheus.
Morpheus spoke, ‘Tank, start loading up the program. Healer, you stay with Tank. You will need to assist her when we bring her in.’
‘You’re bringing her in already?’ Trinity was surprised. It was unlike their leader to bring someone in without making contact first. Morpheus seemed to guess that.
‘Neo shall contact her first Trinity, in much the same way you contacted Neo. But then we must hurry and bring her in during the same visit. We are running out of time.’
Time for what, Trinity wondered. Surely the Agents weren’t that close. Even if they were… She wondered what Morpheus wanted this potential for. Not even Neo knew.
‘Tank, load up the program. Healer, start plugging Mega in.’
Mega grinned. It would be her third time in the Matrix. She was still a newbie and was very glad that Morpheus had picked her to go on this important mission. Tank however, was not so glad. He didn’t say anything though as Healer plugged Mega in, then Neo and finally Trinity and Morpheus.
When the four were together in the dark, run-down motel room Morpheus picked up the phone. ‘We’re in.’
The shrill ringing of a phone woke Neemon. She almost started to shriek again until she realized that she was in her own bed. Cautiously, Neemon lifted her white singlet top to reveal her stomach. Nothing there…Weird…Neemon could of sworn that some Secret Service guy had done something to her stomach with a buggy kind of thing. There was no time to ponder on that thought though, the phone’s annoying noise jolted Neemon back to the present. She lifted it.
‘Neemon, this call is being traced so I must be brief. Do you still want to know what the Matrix is Neemon?’
Tingles of excitement ran up and down Neemon’s spine. ‘Yes’ she whispered in an almost reverent kind of way.
‘Then meet us at the back door of Wizard’s Takeaway on Leichester. Hurry.’
The line went dead. Didn’t go back to a dial tone, just nothing. Weird…But again there was no time to think things over. Neemon grabbed a heavy black jumper and dragged it on. She already had on her baggy tracksuit pants – Neemon practically lived in those. She stuck her feet in a pair of Nike runners and grabbed her well worn cap, shaking out her long hair before sticking the cap on. Leaving the room, Neemon turned towards Leichester and started to run.
Neemon had been pacing for several minutes before the long black car arrived. Well it appeared rather then arrived, or so Neemon thought. Her thoughts had not been anxious ones or fearful, but instead they had been elated, excited ones. Meeting Neo the world famous at the dance club had been great, talking to him on the phone was too. But now, she was about to meet Morpheus, THE Morpheus. Neemon didn’t know how she knew, she just did. Same as she knew she was about to find out the truth. Truth about what though? Neemon was almost surprised by herself. Usually by now she would be in her ‘sarcastic’ mode. Weird…Suddenly Neemon noticed the car.
‘Get in. My name’s Trinity. I think you may be bugged.’
What a weird nightmare…First I had dreamt that some chick in black leather, you know Hacker style black not Goth, had pulled out this evil looking metal thing and zapped me with it pulling out a bugging device. Yeah, you got it, some moron decided to tap my stomach. What the hell? Did they think my small intestine was going to divulge some HUGE secret to my gallbladder? Um right, did you say you were going to visit the Easter Bunny for tea tonight…I thought everything was ‘back to normal’ as I dreamt I met THE Morpheus, who gave me some major brain frying on the Matrix. He then offered me the truth, and as my goal was to find out the truth and prove that chick on Dawson’s, can’t think of her name, wasn’t going to hit onto Pacey – oh sorry, I’m off the track again. Well I don’t want to be fed any lies so I took some kinda red pill that interrupted my ‘input/output’ whatever that was. Well it was a dream right? So even if it was some kind of drug it couldn’t hurt me, right? Then as if that wasn’t enough I imagined or dreamed or REMed or whatever that an old cracked window had turned into some goopy, playdohey stuff that kept crawling up me as I suddenly hurtled into the real world.
That’s right boys and girls. It wasn’t all a dream as I had imagined. I had found the real world and man, was I ever going to pay for it.
‘Relax Morphdude.’ Neo was probably the one, the only one who could get away calling Morpheus that. But Neo was the One. Healer groaned at his own pun, it sounded like something Mega would say. Then he snapped to attention as Morpheus turned to him.
‘Healer, what do you think?’
‘Well she wasn’t quite too good at the beginning if you remember. She thought that it was another nightmare. After that she was slightly delirious and rambled. I would say that was her acceptance phase. But in line with her medical records in the Matrix, I would say that she will be fine now.’ Healer hoped that he was right. As a brand new Medic on the famous Neb, it was important that his opinions proved to be true. Healer would rather die then mess up before Morpheus. Or Neo.
‘Trinity, Neo come with me. Healer, please go and watch over Neemon. The rest of you may continue with what you were doing before.’ Morpheus turned and walked out with Neo and Trinity. Healer sighed and turned back to the infirmary. Life was often very hard on the Neb, so much harder then it had been on the Hosanna. But of course, Trinity, Neo, Tank and especially Morpheus probably hadn’t come to terms with Cypher’s betrayal. Neo and Trinity consoled each other but Trinity was taking it especially hard. Tank had found comfort with Mega and was trying to accept Dozer, his late brother’s death and was grieving for him which would be good for Tank, physically, emotionally and spiritually. But Morpheus spoke to no one and did not find consolation or comfort. That would be very bad for him. You had to let it go or emotions would dig into you. That was how basic psychology worked. If Morpheus had been anyone else but Morpheus Healer would of approached him and tried to get Morpheus to talk about it to relieve his anxiety, stress and guilt about it. But that was impossible. Again, Healer sighed then walked into the infirmary where Neemon lay.
‘Oh you get used to it. Or most people do anyway.’ The last part came with a sly grin. Mega had been in the Resistance for several years and still couldn’t read the Matrix coding. ‘What did the Morpheus want?’
‘A report from Healer, who was – as usual – falling to pieces over the Morphdude. Nothing from me. As usual. I’m just a little Mega, I need to grow up into a Giga. Oh yes, then he needed Trinity and Neo. As usual.’
‘Speaking of Trinity and Neo…’ Mega grinned as she made herself as comfortable as possible in the cramped space. She was always ready to hear some new gossip.
‘Hey Trin, what’s so funny?’
Neo frowned slightly, he didn’t like being left out of things, didn’t like Trinity keeping secrets from him. Then Neo chuckled to himself. He was overreacting. Trinity had already given him her biggest secret, the one that saved his life. He put his arms around Trinity, glad that he was with the woman he loved. Not loving her just because of her looks (not that he didn’t notice them) but because she had a strong, steady faith in him and because Trinity was simply just the missing part of him, what made him whole. Trinity had saved him from himself.
Damn it. What did that girl want now. I glowered at the figure of Trinity, a dark silhouette in the doorway to my room. Always coming to talk, always interfering.
‘Feeling better after your fight with Morpheus?’
‘Oh you like rubbing it in don’t you? You like rubbing in the fact that I can’t do jiu jitsu or Tae Kwon Do or combat training. Who cares? I’m a pacifist. You know, stop the wars, save the whales, Greenpeace stuff.’
‘There are no whales, Neemon. There are no trees left. And to fight this war, you need to be able to defend yourself. To stop the war you need to fight’ She had a point there. But I said nothing, it was better not to let Trinity know I actually listened to her at times. Seeing that I wasn’t about to respond Trinity continued. ‘You know Neemon, there was a person on this ship like you once. She didn’t let anybody get close to her. She didn’t talk much, she hid behind an impersonal, cold mask and concentrated on protecting Morpheus and me. She was a warrior Switch was. The best fighter we ever had.’
‘So what happened to her? For all her fighting skills she was still killed off by an agent? I guess not even she could defend herself, hey Trinity.’ I said this with the heaviest sarcasm I could, my voice was dripping with contempt. Then, I noticed Trinity’s face.
‘You know what happened to Switch, Neemon. We have already told you. A betrayer killed her Neemon, for absolutely no reason at all. There was no way Switch could save herself. And you know something else? Sometimes you go too far Neemon. Sure it hurts to be pulled out of a dream but you chose to wake up. So now you have to start sorting out some of your crap before you lose the only friend you have on this ship.’ My eyes followed Trinity’s back as she stormed out of my room. Thank goodness I had gotten rid of her. So why didn’t I feel happier? I hoped she wouldn’t come back. Then with a start I realized I didn’t mean that. I felt awful, she was right. I had no right to say that. I had known about Switch and I had purposely put salt in Trinity’s open, bleeding wound. Damn, I messed up at times.
‘Hey Tank…’ Mega sounded worried, unusual for her.
‘Something’s wrong with Trinity, I don’t know what. Neo and Morpheus are with her, they said for you to come.’
‘Sure. I’ll just finish this program.’
‘No Tank, they said right away.’ Mega now sounded close to tears.
Tank jumped up, something must be wrong if Morpheus didn’t want him to finish the program. There was nothing he hated worse then a job left undone. Tank followed Mega to Trinity’s room where Morpheus and Neo had gathered. On the bed lay Trinity who was shaking. Shaking with noiseless tears Tank realized. Neo sat on the bed next to her, his hand stroking her hair while he murmured low words of comfort to her. Morpheus’ forehead was wrinkled in worry.
‘What’s with Trinity?’ Tank’s voice was full of concern.
‘I don’t know. All we can get out of her is that Neemon said something. We can only guess.’ Morpheus was obviously upset.
‘And I don’t even want to guess. That girl has been nothing but trouble since she was freed. Never said a sincere word.’ Tank was almost yelling, he was starting to get angry. He loved Trinity like a sister and found it hard to believe that some new recruit had put her in this state.
‘But I don’t understand. According to the reports we have of her in the Matrix she was occasionally sarcastic but not like, well like this.’ Neo pointed the sobbing Trinity. ‘What could it be?’
Tank gave a short answer, almost spitting it out. ‘RSI’
Neo didn’t understand but Morpheus did. ‘Do you really think so Tank?’
‘Yes. There’s no other way.’ Tank was sure that was the answer.
‘I don’t understand’ the words came from a perplexed Neo.
‘In the Matrix, Neemon had a RSI, a Residual Self Image. Her own concept of her digital self. And in that image Neemon was not as nearly as cruel and sarcastic as her real self. That is why the reports showed Neemon to have only a slightly sarcastic tendency. In the real world, her real self, her real image has a different concept of that sarcasm and so makes it worse.’ Tank knew a lot about RSI even though he didn’t have one himself.
‘You sure about that?’ Neo could be forgiven for sounding doubtful.
Tank was calming down now. ‘Sure. I’ve seen it happen all the time. Even Trin there had the same thing happen to her. She was much less of a loner on the ship, especially when you came along.’ This went unnoticed by both Neo and Trinity.
‘So you’re saying that Neemon will always be like this?’
‘Not necessarily. All she has to do is control it.’ Tank sounded as if this was an unlikely occurrence. And Neo reflecting on Neemon’s behavior figured it probably was. What Neo didn’t know was that Tank had let out the fact when this RSI/real person problem arose, the case was that the personality trait lessened in the real world if it was an undesirable one or if the trait was good, strengthened in the real world. This was unlike Neemon’s case but Tank, in his anger, had forgotten that.
Morpheus sighed and turned back to where Trinity had fallen asleep on the bed. What next, he wondered. What next?
I had crept along to Trinity’s room to apologize. When I got there, I had found Trinity was on the bed crying, Neo comforting her, Tank yelling about something, Morpheus looking worried and Mega standing silently in the corner. And a quiet Mega was an unusual site. The whole crew was there except Healer who was no doubt cleaning the infirmary. Man oh man, did Healer have an obsession with the infirmary, and cleaning it. It was almost as big an obsession as the one he had with Morpheus and Neo. Almost. Anyway seeing everyone in Trinity’s room was either angry, crying, quiet or worried should of set off warning bells. I guess the batteries needed to be recharged.
I listened to Tank, his usually friendly voice snarling, ‘That girl has been nothing but trouble since she was freed.’ They were talking about me, I realized. My face flushed with anger. Or was it embarrassment? I hadn’t been that bad had I? I already knew the answer before Tank started talking about RSI and how that had made me a worse person outside of the Matrix. Stifling a sob, I ran. Just before I opened the door to my room I turned and found Mega was watching me.
Her eyes didn’t open but her voice came. ‘Neemon. You told me you were a pacifist, that you didn’t like wars. Well you’re fighting your own war Neemon. A war against yourself. And the sarcasm is winning, killing off the real you. I’m tired off watching that war Neemon, being hurt by it. We all are.’
I turned and walked away. I was tired too.
Mega stared thoughtfully at Neemon who was studiously eating her breakfast. For some reason, unknown to Mega, Neemon had laid off with the sarcasm recently. At the same time though, she had withdrawn into herself. Mega stopped thinking about her though as Tank slipped in beside her with his bowl of slime.
He grinned at her while saying, ‘You look like hell.’
Mega gave him a light punch in the shoulder before replying, ‘I was rather disturbed last night. My neighbours were noisier then usual.’ Mega gave a pointed glance to Trinity and Neo, who shared the room next to her. Neo blushed while Trinity, Tank and even Morpheus started laughing. Mega grinned, just as Tank had earlier. It was good to know that she could still make the gloomy inhabitants of the ship laugh.
Morpheus then spoke, causing the small room to break into silence. ‘Trinity, when you’re done take the ship up to broadcast depth. We’re taking Neemon to see her.’
‘See who?’ the quiet words were the first Mega had heard from Neemon in days.
Neo raised his eyes from his bowl and looked at Neemon. ‘The Oracle’.
Neo starting setting up Neemon’s recliner where she would jack into the Matrix for the first time. Tank sat at the computers, flexed his fingers, then started to type with incredible speed.
Trinity who was at her recliner suddenly noticed someone was missing. ‘Where’s Healer?’
The rest of the crew looked about. He was missing. That hadn’t even noticed. Neo finally answered, ‘Most likely in the infirmary.’
‘Hell, what is it with that guy and the infirmary?’ Trinity was shaking her head as she went to get Healer.
‘I guess he likes himself a lot.’ Mega said as she rolled her eyes. She then noticed Tank shaking with silent laughter. ‘Why are you…Oh’ Mega had realized that her comment could be taken more way then one. ‘Sicko’ she said to Tank. He was laughing too hard too reply. Now it was Mega who was shaking her head as she walked over to her own recliner.
Soon Trinity returned with an upset looking Healer behind her. Trinity had obviously had a few choice words to say to him. The laughter ceased and Mega could feel a nervousness in the room, one that she shared.
Mega never felt comfortable in the Matrix. Despite her superior combat skills and ability to break the rules, Mega still felt vulnerable, exposed. Mega watched Tank with a slight smile on her face as he connected the crew. Healer, Neemon, Morpheus, Trinity…herself.
I would never get used to the harshness of the pin entering the back of my head. I felt myself almost scream with pain as my mind was torn away from my body. I had had the slightest hope that entering the Matrix would be less painful then entering the training programs. No such luck. The others were used to it, why couldn’t I be. Oh yeah, that’s right. Like Healer had said, I was the ship’s reject. Bound to be different from them in every way possible.
Suddenly my eyes opened and I realized that I was in. I looked down at myself. Unlike the training programs where I had worn black, here I was in white. Dark white cargo pants, stark white singlet, and a creamy white bomber jacket. I looked up and saw that everyone else was with me with the exception of Neo. They all wore black. They all had shades and I didn’t. Oh great, once again I was different. We waited there silently for Neo to come.
‘What on…’ Tank frowned, his hands pausing momentarily over the keyboard. He had been about to put Neo in when his eyes were distracted by the Matrix code running across the main screen. ‘Oh shit.’
‘You can’t go in. There’s an agent.’
‘Like hell I’m not going in. They’ll need my help.’
Tank knew that Neo was right. He had to just hope that Morpheus would agree. Tank quickly turned back to the computer and started putting Neo in. ten the words were repeated. ‘Oh shit.’
‘You can’t go in. There’s too much disturbance at the hardline.’
Mega wondered where Neo was. Sure it took a long time for Tank to get people in when he had no help but this long? Mega hoped that Tank was okay, turning slightly so that the others couldn’t see her face. She had fear on it, fear for Tank. After hearing what happened with Cypher, Mega was scared for Tank. Very scared and she didn’t want the others to know. Then out of the corner of her eye, Mega saw a slight movement near the door.
She knew at once. ‘Agents’ And all at once the room exploded into action. Mega crouched then sprang up at the SWAT team who were with the agent. She aimed several hard kicks at one of them then grabbed his gun and shot him. Nearby her, Morpheus was doing the same. Trinity grabbed her own gun and started shooting, just as the SWAT team had the same idea. Healer gave a yelp and ran underneath the desk. Nobody even noticed Neemon who was standing by the hardline, not even the agents. Mega turned and punched another SWAT person, then kept moving not even stopping to notice him fall to the floor. She ran up a wall and flipped to land behind the agent who was fighting Morpheus. The agent started to turn in surprise.
‘Which little brat- ’ He would never finish his sentence as Mega shot him in the head. A crackle of green electricity ran over the body, disappearing to leave an old woman’s body there. Morpheus was saved from the sure death the Agent would of given him.
Mega then heard Trinity call out. ‘Mega!’ Now it was Mega turning to meet the silver gun that an agent held in his hand. A single click and Mega fell to the ground.
I ran over to Mega, and still I was unseen by the agents. Neo appeared where I had been standing moments before. Morpheus spotted him, ‘Neo get the hell out of here and take Neemon. Now.’ The words were frantic and screaming as Morpheus struggled to hold off another agent.
Neo shook his head, ‘Trin you go. They need me here.’ With that Trinity grabbed my wrist in a painful grasp and started to run at a phenomenal speed. I struggled, pulling my wrist out but I still continued to follow Trinity as we jumped between roofs, dove down staircases and flew into the night. Finally Trinity stopped. I did too as she turned to face me.
Neo concentrated, ignoring the noise of death and anger that surrounded him. The green lines of the Matrix came, giving out a slightly phosphoresce glow. He thought of Trinity, running to escape these agents and with a single cry, wiped out the coding that made up the agent fighting him. The room buzzed with the same green electricity Mega had seen earlier.
Tank shouted with joy as Neo destroyed the agent. He then turned to the silent figures of his crew that rested behind him. Tank wiped the blood off Morpheus’ mouth. Then he noticed Mega’s control screen. He noticed the long, flat line on it. ‘No’ he whispered. It couldn’t be true.
Healer walked over to Neo and almost fell before him. ‘Neo, that was amazing. The way you just turned the Agent into nothingness. You bypassed all the rules of chemistry, physics, computer programming. You will save the world Neo. I am so glad I am your friend Neo.’ By now Healer was practically dribbling over Neo, to the disgust of Morpheus and Neo. ‘You were so wonderful. I am proud to be called your servant. Oh Neo, I just love it. You’re our hero.’
Neo gave Healer a long, cold stare. How Neo hated Healer fawning all over him. Finally Neo answered. ‘And you’re our coward.’ Neo would not forget how Healer had run away from the danger when their lives were in trouble.
Healer gaped at Neo in surprise. What did Neo mean? He watched and sighed as Neo and Morpheus began to walk away.
Trinity stared at Neemon who was talking in a calm voice. ‘I’m tired of this war Trinity. I’m tired of fighting my own useless war. You think this bullet isn’t real?’ her voice was dangerously quiet as Neemon put the gun she held to her head. The moonlight glinted off it, bathing Neemon’s face in silver light. ‘No!’ screamed Trinity. She tried to stop her. It was too late. Neemon had pulled the trigger. Surprisingly, Neemon wasn’t dead yet. ‘Welcome to the real world, huh Trinity.’ Her eyes closed for the last time. Neemon had walked the path.
Epilogue ‘I just wish she had been able to see you. Maybe things would of turned out differently.’ Trinity’s words to the Oracle were tired ones. The Oracle paused, as if searching for something. She then found the words. ‘Trinity, I wouldn’t of had anything to say to her anyway.’