Chapter 18: What Is The Matrix?
I opened my eyes the next day and got up out of bed, I looked at the time and then at Isaiah. He was still fast asleep; I decided not to wake him and got dressed for the meeting. I quietly walked out of the room and into the city streets. I made my way to the elevator and went to the dock. I entered the main Command Center and walked to the meeting room. I got there to discover that the meeting hadn’t started yet and there were several others waiting inside the room for Commander Locke to arrive. I recognized a few of them, Captain Niobe of the Logos, Captain Soren of the Vigilante, Captain Thadeus of the Osiris, and Captain Mifune’ was there as well. Several other unfamiliar faces were there; Morpheus was nowhere to be found. I leaned against the wall and put my head down to wait for the commander.
“How fares the newest Captain in the fleet?” I heard in a deep voice. I lifted my head to see Captain Thadeus standing in front of me with Niobe alongside of him. I smiled to greet them.
“I’m doing great I’ve almost got a full crew on the Navras,” I said in response, “We’ve had a few close ones but we made it back in one piece.” Captain Thadeus put his hand on my shoulder.
“Glad to hear it, we’ve all had our close calls, but we will always pull through, you can always count on that.” I smiled at him and he dropped his arm back to his side. Niobe smiled at me and reached out her hand.
“I don’t believe I had a chance to welcome you to the fleet,” she said. I shook her hand and smiled.
“Thank you Niobe your hospitality means a great deal to me, I look forward to when the time comes for the two of us to fight side by side.”
“As do I.” Just then the commander walked in and stood at the head of the table.
“Alright people let’s get this meeting started,” he said sternly. Each of the captain’s took a seat at the table.
“Alright Captains what are the latest reports on the machines?” Captain Soren glanced at me then looked at Locke.
“They have been stepping up their patrols lately, where there was only one patrol before there is now four or five,” he said.
“Captain Soren is right, the machines are stepping up their patrols almost three and four times as much as they used to be,” said Niobe.
“They must be trying to keep something under wraps. The tunnels are crawling with them, it’s absolutely insane,” said one of the others. I sat forward in my chair.
“I can’t speak for the rest of you but in my personal experience, the machines seem to be getting smarter. Their A.I. seems incredibly more efficient than it was when I was first freed. They seem to be getting faster. On our way here yesterday, my crew and I couldn’t keep the sentinels off, we wouldn’t have lasted another minute.” Commander Locke looked at me strangely for a second.
“You think they are getting faster?”
The meeting dragged on for seven hours and still was not over yet. Isaiah sat in the room and waited for Brandan to come back when there was a knock at the door. Isaiah got up and opened the door to see Tarra standing in the doorway.
“Hi, mind if I come in for a visit?” she asked.
“No not at all, come on in.” Isaiah stepped aside and Tarra walked in, he closed the door behind her. Tarra sat down on the bed.
“So is Brandan still in that meeting?”
Tarra had a surprised expression on her face.
“Wow still, how long does it run, do you know?”
“No he never told me, but he was long gone when I woke up.”
“Holy shit, seven hours with Deadbolt. That would drive me crazy.” Isaiah sat down on his side of the bed and lay down.
“I didn’t sleep very well last night, how did you sleep?”
“I slept better than what I thought I would but still, it wasn’t all that great. Why didn’t you sleep well any particular reason?”
“Actually to tell you the truth, it was something that Dan said to me that set me a little uneasy.” Tarra looked at Isaiah seemingly confused.
“Really, what did he say that bothered you?” Isaiah looked at Tarra, she was waiting for his response with the look of worry in her eyes.
“When we were in the elevator yesterday going to meet you guys he told me that if you weren’t here then he would go back to the matrix. You’re the only thing keeping him here,” Isaiah explained.
“Danny isn’t going anywhere because neither am I, trust me don’t worry yourself about it, it won’t affect his performance in or outside the matrix. I won’t let it.” Isaiah nodded and looked away.
“If you say so, I’ll leave it up to you.”
Tarra looked at the time.
“Do you want to go for a walk or something, maybe grab a bite to eat?” she asked. Isaiah thought for a quick second.
“Sure we might as well, Brandan is going to be a while anyway.” Isaiah stood up and walked to the door. “Let’s go.” Tarra followed him and they walked out the door together. “There’s a really nice place over on the fifth level to eat they have the best salad ever,” said Isaiah.
“You know this city better than I do so lead the way.” They made there way to the elevator and stepped in there were several other people already inside heading in the same direction.
“Cool this shouldn’t take very long at all,” said Isaiah as the doors closed. The elevator started to climb the levels and the wait began.
“Good afternoon young ones, how fairs the new ship?” They heard a female’s voice from behind them and turned to see who it was. The woman was Asian and she looked familiar to Isaiah from the christening of the Navras, it was Cho Wei, the first officer of the Osiris.
“It’s great never been better and yourself Cho Wei?” asked Isaiah smiling.
“We are doing as good as ever since Neo came along, we have freed so many minds,” said Cho Wei happily.
Meanwhile back inside the meeting room.
“That plan will never work!” said Captain Thadeus standing up. “To go inside the core network is suicide. There is no way two crews can destroy two of the main network points they’re too heavily protected.” I looked at Thadeus and then looked back to Commander Locke who looked rather annoyed at Thadeus’ outburst.
“Captain sit down please,” he said, “This mission will be difficult yes but not impossible.”
“I think it’s possible, with the proper planning and determination,” said Niobe.
“Do you want to be the one to do it?” asked Thadeus. Niobe looked at Thadeus unshaken with courage in her eyes.
“I will have no problem doing it I put complete faith in my crew.”
“I also have another mission for you Thadeus . . . Someone needs to patrol junctions 400 through 550 near the surface of the earth.” I looked at Thadeus and back to Locke.
“I’ll do that if you won’t Thadeus,” I said to him. Thadeus looked at me for a second.
“We can’t send a newbie Captain into the front lines of the surface.” I shrugged my shoulders and looked away slightly annoyed at being called a newbie. Commander Locke looked at me.
“What do you have to say about all of this Captain Brandan?” asked Locke.
“Being inside the core network is suicide like Thadeus said, but I think my crew and I could do it once we get a full roster,” I said confidently, “Niobe would you mind accompanying us for the trip?” I smiled at her and she smirked back at me.
“Anytime kid, anytime,” she said nonchalantly. I raised an eyebrow at Locke.
“Well what’s it gonna be?”
Isaiah and Tarra had just found the place Isaiah was talking about. They were sitting at the table waiting for their food, they had just ordered and were expecting to wait for about twenty minutes based on the people that were in the restaurant.
“Gosh I’m so hungry and I just realized it now,” said Isaiah.
“It’s amazing how hungry someone can be once they actually sit and think about it, huh?” Tarra laughed.
“Hey where’s Dan at anyway?”
“He said he wanted to stay in the room in the training program for a bit to get his driving skills up to snuff. . . god, boys and their toys.”
Isaiah smiled and took a drink of his water. Suddenly the intercom of the city became active.
“All members of a hovercraft crew please report to you respected ships in forty-five minutes,” said a female voice.
“Looks like we’ll have just enough time to scarf this down and get the hell outta here,” said Tarra.
Back inside the meeting they were beginning to come an understanding of how things were going to be gone about.
“Great then it’s settled,” said Locke, “Thadeus you take the Osiris and gather scans of junctions 400 through 550. Niobe, you will accompany Brandan and his crew until they have a full roster, after which you will report back to me and start the attack on the core network. Captain Soren, I want you to take the Vigilante and keep an eye on police and agent activity inside the matrix, but be careful and stay as safe as possible.”
As each of us were given our mission we walked out of the room together. Niobe and I were followed by Thadeus and Soren.
“Thadeus good luck on your mission and be careful,” said Niobe looking back at him. Thadeus nodded.
“Same to you Niobe.”
“Soren stay safe, don’t let your guard down.” Soren smiled at me as I glanced back at him.
“Don’t worry about me kid, just look after yourself.”
“I’ll be fine.” Niobe smiled at me and then at Soren.
“After all I am going with him remember,” she said.
We walked in silence for a few short minutes and went our separate ways to our own ships to brief our crews on the situation.
I walked on board the Navras through the lower entry port and went to the conference room. The others were all there waiting for me in there chairs. As I entered, the room went silent.
“So what’s the word Captain?” asked Parker. I sat in my chair and looked at each of them individually.
“Captain Niobe and her crew are going to help us free Tabatha and Saba, then when we have a full roster we’re going to report to Commander Locke for further instructions on our upcoming mission inside the core network. We’re leaving as soon as Colin becomes trainable, which should only be another day. We’re probably looking at tomorrow afternoon as our departure time.”
“Now have you decided to train Colin yourself, or are you going to get one of us to do it?” asked Isaiah.
“I will do the training myself. But for now that’s all unless you guys have any questions.”
Colin had just opened his eyes for the first time since his body had been restructured. He was lying in a bed in a large open room with several other beds lining the walls. There was a young woman at the side of his bed setting down a tray with some kind of food on it.
“Excuse me miss, but where am I?” he asked. The woman turned to face him startled by his voice.
“Oh umm, hi,” she said in a somewhat ditsy voice. Colin perked his eyebrow at her ditsyness and slightly shook his head.
“I’m sorry, you startled me. You’re in the recovery ward, you just had your body rebuilt pretty much, how do you feel?” Colin sat up slowly.
“I feel decent I guess. So is someone going to explain what this is all about? The last thing I remember clearly was the escape from the police?” The woman shrugged her shoulders slightly.
“Your captain will be here soon to tell you the rest of the story just open your mind and be willing to listen. . . But for now just enjoy your first real meal, it’s a salad made from the freshest vegetables in Zion.” The woman passed him the tray.
“Thanks what’s your name by the way?”
“I’m Anna, I’m the head nurse here in the infirmary.” Colin nodded his head.
“Cool so I guess I’ll be seeing a lot of you then.”
Anna smiled and walked away from him as he picked up his fork and started to eat. It wasn’t long after he had started to eat he saw Brandan enter the infirmary and talk to one of the nurses. They had a short exchange of words and the nurse pointed towards Colin, obviously showing Brandan where he was. Brandan walked through the mass of beds and made his way over to Colin and sat down at the foot of the bed.
“How are you feeling Colin?” he asked.
“I’m feeling good man.”
“Have you tried to walk yet?” Colin shook his head no, he hadn’t even thought to try and walk.
“No, I haven’t.” Brandan looked around to find the nurse, and waved her over.
“Nurse could you get this man a something to wear. Just regular crewman clothing will be fine.” The nurse walked out of the infirmary to get some clothing and returned shortly with a regular crewman outfit. She gave them to Colin and he put them on.
“Come on I’m gonna show you around the ship, and by the way. . .” Brandan said.
“What’s that?” I looked Colin directly in the eye giving him a very sincere look.
“Welcome to the real world.” Brandan stepped back and extended his hand to Colin, he took the offer and Brandan pulled him to his feet. Colin was wobbly for a few seconds.
“Whoa,” he laughed, “I feel all wiggly ‘n’ shit.” Brandan smiled and walked away.
“Come on you have a lot to see.”
Meanwhile back on board the ship Isaiah and Parker were working with several technicians, preparing it for the long hall and making sure it would have several back up energy packs.
“Have all the system scans been performed yet or have you even started yet?” asked Parker seemingly impatient.
“Sir we’re working as fast as we can but we’re having a few small problems,” said one of the technicians.
“What kind of problems?” asked Parker.
“I don’t know sir it seems that you guys might have picked up a minor virus from the matrix. The computer can’t seem to trace it.” The technician had a puzzled look on his face.
“Why can’t we trace it?” asked Isaiah.
“Well right now the virus is in stealth mode because it isn’t large enough yet to do any damage. If we find it now, I’m sure you won’t have any trouble with it, but if you can’t find it then it might attack the system when you’re inside the matrix, and that would be fatal.”
“Well I know that,” said Parker, “So how do you suggest we find it, the ship needs to be ready for tomorrow afternoon.” The technician thought for a second with his hand on his chin, he looked at Isaiah.
“Well you could theoretically find it inside the construct program somewhere if we sent you into the core computer of the ship.” Parker looked at Isaiah expectantly.
“Do you think you can do it?” he asked.
“I’ll do it, hell it has to be done right? Jack me in man.” They walked to the broadcast zone and started to hook Isaiah into the machine.
“Now once you get in there the virus could be anything, we’ll give you the antivirus as soon as you enter. It’ll be in the form of a gun,” explained the Tech.
“Ok, is there any chance that virus will infect me?” asked Isaiah.
“As far as we know, no it can’t but we have installed a firewall on your jack so that it won’t let any attachments to your program into your body.” Isaiah nodded as Parker finished strapping him in and had inserted the needle.
“Alright Isaiah I’m gonna send you to the ships motherboard, I’ve set it up to look like the Navras inside. Remember the virus could look like anything so be careful.”
“Ok, I’ m ready when you are.” Parker hit the enter key and Isaiah loaded into the construct program.
The construct program loaded up slowly, it looked different then usual, he could tell there was something wrong with the computer. The construct program was changing colors from white to blue to green and on. His cell phone started to ring and sounded digitally distorted, he picked up.
“Isaiah I’m sending you to the motherboard,” said Parker. The reception on his phone was extremely highly static and it was hard to hear.
“Ok send me there now,” said Isaiah in an echoed voice. Isaiah looked around as he loaded into the computer core of the Navras. Suddenly he was standing in the broadcasting room again, he looked around and decided that he would check the other rooms in the ship.
“Alright virus, look out because the cure is here.” Isaiah cocked his gun that he assumed was the antivirus, it had been loaded directly into his hand.
Isaiah walked over to the computer core and typed something into the computer, a map of the ships motherboard came up on the screen he typed in a system scanning code that he had been told about some time ago. The viral locator system began to work and one of the rooms on the map of the Navras began to flash red.
“Ok there you are.” Isaiah stood up and ran out of the room. He dashed through the rooms going through the bridge, on his way by he noticed that it looked like they were in the tunnels based on the computer. He kept running and entered the last room it was the medical bay. There were no lights on and about 80% of the room was shrouded in an eerie darkness. Isaiah hit the light switch and the lights came on. There was a large crouched over dark figure in the corner, he crept closer to it and reached for his gun. When suddenly the creature attacked him unexpectedly, its eyes were a blood red and it looked like Brandan. Isaiah jumped out of its reach and kicked it in the face knocking it backwards.
“Foolish human you will never beat me.” Isaiah began to attack with his hands hitting the virus high and low.
“We’ll just see about that!” Isaiah struck the virus repeatedly seemingly weakening it. It fell to the ground and Isaiah quickly drew his gun and pointed it, he pulled the trigger hitting it several times with the weapon. The virus began seizing on the floor and light began to shine through the holes that the bullets had made, it disappeared shortly. Isaiah took out his phone and dialed the operator. “Parker mission accomplished pull me out.”
His surroundings changed to that of the construct program that was completely back to normal. Isaiah closed his eyes and he was uploaded back to reality.
“Problem solved,” he said as Parker pulled the needle from his neck.
“Yeah kid it looks like you got it.”
Meanwhile Brandan and Colin had just entered the dock and were slowly making there way to the Navras.
“Man why am I all shaky like this?” asked Colin, “And why the hell am I so skinny man this really sucks.”
“Colin it sounds hard to believe but this is the first time you have actually ever used any of your muscles. You’ve never even moved before.” Colin walked slowly beside Brandan. “Your going to be starting your training tomorrow as we are lifting off, we’re going to free Tabatha next and I would like you to be ready to go before that.”
“Ok throw it at me whenever you’re ready man, you know I’m always up for a challenge right.” I nodded my head at Colin’s enthusiasm, this was why I new he would be a great addition to the team. His willingness to be forever better than before would be his strength. We walked up to the Navras and enter through the cargo bay.
“Welcome to the Navras, this is my ship, it’s a hovercraft. This is the main tool in the war against the machines, we are all soldiers.” Colin looked at me strangely seeming confused.
“So what year is it anyway?”
“No one really knows that answer for sure, but all your life you have been lead to believe that it is the 21st century when it’s probably safe to say it’s closer to the 23rd century.”
“How can that be? I don’t get it.”
“That’s why I am going to show you.” We walked into the broadcasting room where Tarra and Dan were helping monitor the equipment checks.
“Hey Captain, how’s it goin?” said Dan smiling.
“Just fine,” I said smiling back, “Can you guys get two of the jacks ready for me I’m going to show him something.” Tarra looked at Colin and smiled as she started to ready two of the chairs.
“Hey Colin, how are you coming along?”
“I’m doing great, learning some pretty weird shit though.”
“Yeah we all went through it though,” said Dan getting the other machine ready. I walked over and sat in one of the chairs.
“Tarra, get him loaded in.” Tarra walked over to Colin, placed her hand on his shoulder and guided him over to the other chair. Dan and her both worked on getting him jacked in I hooked myself up and waited for them to plug in the connector. Tarra had just finished strapping him in and picked up the needle.
“Alright now this is going to feel a little weird.” Tarra shoved the connector into Colin and loaded him in. She loaded me in second.
Colin opened his eyes shortly after feeling the sharp pain in his neck and he was in a massive white open space. He did a full turn around not seeing anything or anyone, when suddenly Brandan appeared.
“Where are we?” asked Colin.
“This is the construct program, it is our loading program. From here we can load anything, clothing, weapons, even vehicles. It is from here that we jack into the matrix,” I explained.
“The matrix,” Colin whispered, “It does exist.” I pushed a button on the remote in my hand and a television appeared a picture of the city on the face.
“This is the world as you know it, the world as it was at the beginning of the 21st century.”
“Crazy man, that’s fucked. I don’t know if I’m buying that.”
“It is now closer to the 23rd century actually. The world now is not quite as great a place as you are about to see. I hit the button again and the surroundings of the construct program changed to the vast wasteland. Welcome to the desert of the real.”
“How did things get like this?”
“At the turn of the 21st century all of mankind was united as one, as we marveled at our ability to play god, we gave birth to A.I.”
“Exactly Colin, and that artificial intelligence gave birth to an entire race of machines. We don’t know exactly who threw the first punch but we blackened the sky. At the time they had only one source of energy, the sun, and we believed that if we blocked out the sun they would soon die off. But we were wrong. . .” The scenery changed again to that of one of the power plants. “The machines found all the energy they would need. The human body puts out more bio-electric energy then a 120 volt battery and over 25,000 BTU’s of body heat. There are fields that span for thousands upon thousands of miles where humans beings are no longer born . . . we are grown.” The construct program changed as I spoke to the disturbing images of the fields. Colin had a look of disbelief of his face. “I know what you’re feeling right now. I didn’t want to believe it either until I saw it with my own eyes. I watched them as they liquefy the dead so they could be fed intravenously to the living. Standing there I came to realize the answer to that question that until now you were never asked. What is the matrix?” I looked at Colin who had a believing look on his face as he stared blankly at the images of the construct program.
“Control,” he whispered.
“Exactly the matrix is a computer generated dream world, built for one thing to keep us under control. In order to change a human body into this.” I held up a coppertop battery to Colin. Colin had an angry look on his face as he grabbed the battery.
“How do we stop this?” I smiled at him.
“We are all soldiers in an ongoing war, each person plays his part, tomorrow you will learn how you are going to help us out in the training program.” I shook Colin’s hand. “Welcome aboard.”
They pulled us out of the construct program and we were back on the ship.
“Tarra tell Isaiah and Parker that I want the ship ready to go at 1200 tomorrow.” Tarra smiled and nodded.