The Matrix: Birth of a Prophesy

What happens after Revolutions? Is there another Matrix, is there everlasting peace? What were the alternative storylines? What were other characters' stories? Deus Ex, City 01, Apoc, Switch, Merv... Let your imagination go wild in here, maybe even write the Matrix 4 script!...
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The Matrix: Birth of a Prophesy

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Cpt. Mills sat next Cpl. Vicks in the cockpit of the Juggernaut as they headed back to the city of Zion. Morale was at an all time low for the entire crew and the images that the ship's scanners were picking up did nothing to lift the spirits of the two pilots.

"Sir, I really believe that this is entirely too close. We'd better reroute our course now. Just be on the safe side."

"Hold on a minute, corporal. I just want to get a better look at this thing before we head in."

Cpl. Vicks glanced down at the three dimensional holographic display between the two of them. "Sir, I don't see anything but that sentinel army, still tearing away at the lines. If they find out we're here..."

"Just a bit further." The holographics soon brought the image Captain Mills was searching into view. "There it is."

Cpl. Mills cut his eyes over to the glowing red image that crawled through widened tunnels, a hand full of sentinels buzzing around the hulking mechanism like flies. It metallic mass moved through the tunnel with the aid of eight legs that extended from its body in all directions and carried the thing along the path being blazed for it. "What is it?" Vicks asked him.

"I don't know."

"Do the boys back in Zion have a contingency in the event that that thing makes it past the perimeter defenses?"

"One's still being formulated. Get us out of here."

The Juggernaut passed through gate three into the city's docking area and landed safely. The ship's crew gather up their things and prepared to unboard with the deceased body of Lt. Hornsby. Michael made sure that the still grieving Leena was off the ship before the body was unloaded, believing that she'd seen enough of that hurtful vision to last her a lifetime. Hopefully the next time she saw him it would be to say goodbye at his funeral.

Leena had hardly been speaking much at all and Michael had eased up on pushing her. He carried most of her equipment along with his as they moved through the dock. The added layer of security could be seen all around in the way of the beefed up number of APU's stomping all about. The crew hadn't made it very far away from the Juggernaut before they were halted by Commander Richard and a small squad infantrymen.

"Leena Storm." She lifted her eyes to him. "I'm here to inform you that you have a meeting with the Council at 1550. It would behoove you not to be late."

"Fine," she sighed. "Whatever."

"That's whatever, sir. Where's Cpt. Mills?"

"Still on the ship," Cpl. Tachery answered him. "He's waiting for you."

Once the Commander and his detail moved past them Leena wasted no more time hanging around the dock. "Hey wait up," Michael called after her when they made it out onto one of the platforms. Leena stopped and turned to him. "Are you gonna be okay? I can come over if you want."

"I'll be fine. Thanks."

Leena turned and started walking again until she made it to one of the elevators. She stepped on it, turned, and locked eyes with Michael before hitting the button for her level. Michael didn't like the look she gave him and he knew that fine was the last thing in the world she was going to be.

The Juggernaut had dock at exactly 1123. By 1540 Leena was outside of the Council's chambers waiting to be called in. Normally she'd be worried about what lie in store for her just beyond those door, but this time all she could think about was her loss and the conversation she'd had with the Architech regarding her origin and purpose. Lt. Hornsby had thought so much of her abilities and gifts. He'd really thought that her presence here was so significant. Leena wondered what he would think if he had gotten the chance to find out how very right...and wrong he really was. A gentleman stepped through the doors she sat next to and ordered her in.
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Leena stood in front of the members of the Council with her feet apart, her hands behind her back (one wrist in her palm), her head tilted slightly toward the floor with her eyes staring up at them from beneath a wrinkled brow. She listened to the men and women recount to her the incident that had taken place onboard the Juggernaut that had inevitably lead to the death of Lieutenant Hornsby in a manner that she felt was a little too formal for the occasion. They might as well have been quoting a mess hall to her. The briefing they had recieved from Captain Mills who had turned over a record of the ship's logs had been quite thorough. She just let her infuriated eyes float from one member to the next until finally she was finally addressed directly.

Pvt. Leena Storm," Councilman Gebrell spoke up. "It has come to our attention that Lt. Hornsby's extreme, if not reckless, endevor to head a reconnassiance into the matrix programming has been responsible for the loss of nearly a dozen lives and two hovercrafts. All of which may have very well still been at our disposal had it not been for this splinter cell. And now it has even been responsible for the loss of own life." She didn't say a word in defense. Just stared, locking her icy stare on each one of them in turn.

Councilwoman Haden continued. "Admittedly, there have been slightly few advances made in the exploration of the matrix system. But the loss that this city has incurred because of it has forced us to take the validity of the entire mission into question. Though the reconnassiance as a whole is coming under serious review it won't be halted as of yet...but your cooperation in it certainly will be." Leena swiveled her neck. "These are trying times," the Councilwoman went on. "Whether or not the exploration of the matrix could still yield profitable intell remains to be seen. However, your origins, abilities, and now your proximity to the death of the man who initially concieved the project has left us with no other option but to order your permenant removal. Now is there anything you'd like to add to the matter?"

Leena lifted her chin. "Yes. I'd like to say something." She made a quick scan over all of their faces. "It's not enough that he spent his life serving a cause that he felt would save all of you and died with the same intentions. Now you get to do him the honor of bringing his project, its intentions, under scrutiny?"

"You're on very thin ice, private," Gebrell said to her.

"My apologies, sir," Leena said through grinding teeth. "All the lieutenant ever wanted to do was help you. That's all I've want. Not a one of you has treated me like anything other than an unwelcomed guest ever since I set foot in this city, and now you want to relieve me of duty?" She hunched her shoulders. "I say go for it. I don't really care. It's your call."

The Odessus pulled into the dock and the crew unboarded. Lucas moved through the city watching the shivering citizens huddle into small groups in darkened sections and listening to the whispers they spoke of the looming doom and destruction that was rumored to befall them. He ignored the dismay and instead followed his stomach that lead him to his quarters, where he dropped off his equipment, and directly to one of the large bay dining halls nearby. It was a stone's throw away from Leena's quarters; close enough that they frequently found themselves in each other's company come various chow times. He'd hoped to find her here given the hour and though he had located the crew of the Juggernaut he failed to locate her presense.

"Have a seat," he heard a voice call up to him from one of the table. He spun around and caught sight of Michael who jabbed a fork down at the empty seat across the circular table from him. Lucas took him up on his offer. "You seen her yet?" Michael asked him.

"What her are you talking about?"

Michale shook his head as he chewed with a smile. "You're almost as bad as she is. I'm talking about Leena, rocket scientist. Who do you think?"

Lucas shook his head and dug his fork into one of the plates on his tray. "Not since we were inside."

"Well you should," Michael informed him. He looked up at Lucas and gave him a look that let him know he was more than clued in on the gravity of their relationship. "She's in pretty bad shape."

Lucas didn't even make it halfway through his meal before he decided to take Michael up on his advice. He banged on the door of Leena's domicile until she answered. Nothing else was going to get rid of him. She finally got that message. "You okay?" he asked her as she laid back down on her bed.

"Hornsby's dead," she told him, sliding her hand under the pillow her head rested on.

"I know that." Her eyes found his and he could read the surprise in them. "I asked how you were."

"Me?" Leena said. "I'm nothing. Part of the problem, if anything. Turns out Hornsby had it wrong all along. I'm just another cog in the machine. As useless as that chair you're sitting in."

Lucas only understood a fraction of what she was saying, but it was enough for him to sence the doubt that she felt regarding her own value. To the late Lt. Hornsby; the endangered populus of the city; the salvation of Zion; and him, in a way. "This chair I'm sitting in is the only thing keeping my ass from slamming into the ground in a very painful way. Useless? Nothing? I don't believe that. Hornsby didn't believe it. And I know that there's still something inside you that knows that you're here for a reason." Lucas stood up from his seat facing a still silent Leena. "You'll realize that in time." He turned and exited her bedroom.

When he stepped out onto the platform outside of Leena's quarters Lucas found Michael leaning against the wall with his right shoulder next to her door. He turned to him without words. "How did it go?" Michael inquired.

"Not too well," Lucas said, making sure to express his discord at his presense.

"I figured as much."

"You figure on anything else I should know about?"

"You better believe it," Michael said. "You here about the Council's decission to nix her from the missions?"

"And?"

"Well it was anticipated. Cpl. Tachery's working on a plan to solve this whole Maddox situation and we've got a few crews down to corroborate with the Juggernaut's operator. You think you can put a word in with the crew of the Odessus?"

Lucas raised an open palm. When Michael did the same they slapped the two of them together. "Tell Tachery he can count on the Odessus."

"I got your word?" Michael asked.

"Leena's out of the game...but that doesn't mean we are. The Odessus pulls out in thirty. Just tell me what to do."
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Michael paced the floor of one the communications room in the dock. He spoke into the headset strapped to his head while Cpl. Tachery who was sitting in the chair in front of him worked at the console. Michael tapped him on the shoulder with one hand to get his attention. "Alright, we got the Odessus, the Mariner, and the Cassiopeia all onboard. Now all we need is for you to tell us what you need, operator."

Tachery was more focused on the screens in front of him than anything that Michael was saying behind him. "I've got all of the equipment primed and ready to go. The only problem' gonna be coming by the software I need. Anybody with this level of tech stuff is more than likely going to have it under lock and key."

"That's what we're here for, Tach. Danger's our middle name. Hit me with it."

Onboard the Odessus, soon after reaching broadcast level, Lucas, Cordell, Gordozza, Tithe, and Mirian lay in their respective chairs and had the jacks inserted into the back of their heads. Tyrell, Caleb, and Marshall onboard the Mariner did the same. Once inside the matrix they set out to retrieve the software and data that Tachery said he would be requiring in order to mount an offensive against the program known as Maddox.

Inside an abondoned car garage, in a large room in the back, there was a telephone ringing on top of a dust covered desk. Mia reached down, picked up the reciever, and placed it to the side of her head. "We're in," she spoke into it.

Mia climbed into the passenger seat next to Casey while Jeremy lifted up the garage door. "You sure about this?" Casey said to his partner.

"That army is just shy of two days away and I'm sure you can imagine what's going to happen when they hit that gate."

"If," Casey corrected her.

"If there's a chance of us stopping this reaper creep...well let's just say it would be nice to go out with a win."

"The eternal optimist."

Jeremy got the door up and hurried into the back seat of the car. After peeling out of the garage they immediately headed for the Cybertech headquarter's building in downtown Megacity. Casey stopped the car directly in front of the steps leading up to the front entrance and the trio hopped out of the car and headed up.

"What kind of resistance do you think we're going to run into in there?" Jeremy asked.

"Doesn't really matter," Mia asnswered him. "I just need you guys to buy me five minutes with the building's main system. After that we head for the exit."

"Very comforting," Casey replied.

Once they entered the building the first line of opposition they bumped into was a receptionist in a security gaurd's uniform babbling something about an appointment. Casey made short work of him with a quick combination of punches that rendered him unconscious then joined the rest of his team in the elevator. The front gaurd had been taken care of, but unfortunately the security cameras in the building lobby hadn't been which was responsible for the small welcoming committee that was there to greet them on the 18th floor.

"Hold it right there!"

They heard the order, understood the command, saw the weapons that were trained on them, and Jeremy and Casey went for the walls while Mia went for her guns. Between the three of them they managed to make it past the six gaurds easily enough. Still they would have to hurry because more were certainly on the way. Mia took the cell phone out of her coat pocket and contacted the operator of the Cassiopeia for more specific direction to the terminal that she would need to access in order to retrieve the information she needed.

Her fingers raced across the keyboard and her eyes scrolled over the screen in front of her as her ears tried to block out the sound of gunfire that filled the room. Casey and Jeremy were holding there own and all that was left was for her to hold up her end of the deal. She nearly smashed the Enter key to pieces when she made her last key stroke and then she watched eagerly as the loading bar at the bottom of the sceen quickly filled up.

Mia snatched the disc out of the drive and joined her cohorts in the fight which had been going in their favor until a trio of Agents materialized over three of the gaurds. "Run!" Mia shouted. Neither of them hesitated, attempting to avoid the gunfire that the Agents sent their way after producing their weapons.

The stairs were the best choice and after taking 18 flights they reached the building lobby only to find that an Agent was now serving as receptionist. The three of them emptied their guns in his direction and hit nothing but the wall behind him. Their attack did, in fact, allow them a window of opportunity that was a chance to run for the glass doors that made up the building's entrance. The glass shattered to pieces as they ran down the steps toward they waiting vehicle. It was then that the bystanders walking along the sidewalks on both sides of the street began morphing into Agents and attacking them.

Their car had already began its transformation into swiss cheese by the time they made it inside and it only got worse after that. Casey started the engine, counting his blessings for that miracle, and ran the gauntlet down the street. By the time they made it back to the garage the telephone in the back room was already ringing. Jeremy was the first one through. When the reciever dropped Casey picked it up and placed it back on the hook. The ringing started almost immediately. "Out with a win, huh?" Casey said, smiling beneath his sun glasses. He pressed the phone to the side of his head and faded out. Mia replaced the phone and after it started ringing again she followed behind her crew.
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Leena looked at the city lights below her as she leaned over the railing, lost in thought, it would seem to the common passerbyer, but it was grief that consumed Leena and kept her silent as she took in the sight of the metropolis that she feared would soon lie in ruin. Her mind mostly lingered on the grave that lie somewhere in the depths of this city and was filled with a parcel that grown to most dear in all its animated glory. Lt. Hornsby was gone, she had realized yet again and, as with previous turns, a tear was produced and rolled down her cheek, stinging her skin along its path until it dropped to the depths below.

He was gone. She had been suspended from participation in the project that was of his design by the Council of Zion. She had failed him, and thus lost him in more ways than she could count. Another tear.

"Leena!" she heard from the distance. Turning her head from left to right, she saw no one with whom she could place the voice. "Leena!" it came again. And when she saw a child of no more than eleven years break out into a run directly toward her she knew she had had her culprit. He stopped running when he reached her side and took hold of the rail.

Leena wiped the wetness from her face with one rough sweep. "Hey," she said to the young lad, more concerned about her appearance than wondering why this juvenile stranger had approached her or how he knew her name.

"Leena, you okay?"

"Yeah," she lied. I'm just fine. Do I know you?"

His youthful face formed a look of surprise that stunned her for a moment. "What are you talking about?" he said to her. "You're the one that got me out of the matrix. That big pot of slimy goo that those robots stuck me in. I can't believe you don't remember."

"Of course I remember," Leena lied again. "I just meant that I had forgotten your name." She had been responsible for the release of so many souls from the confines of the machine power plant that they had all began to bleed into one another as far as her memory was concerned. She didn't know this kid from atom.

"My name is Kevin. When those guys in suits tried to take me out of that doctors office you came and kicked their butts," he said, shadow boxing with his fists. "Then you took me and I woke up."

Leena recalled the incident though, sadly, still not the person. She had followed Lt. Hornsby's direction so blindly that her obedience to him neglected to instill such an understanding to what he had been attempting to accomplish. Her grief was increased. "Right. Kevin. What exactly can I do for you?"

"I don't know. I just came over because I saw you and I thought you looked sad. I remember how you helped me and I just wanted to see if there was anything I could do for you. It's the army, isn't it? The one that those robots are sending here to come and get us. It's got me scared something awful."

Leena put her hand on top of his right shoulder and gave it a squeeze. "You don't have to be afraid of them." When he looked up at her she raised the fist of her other hand up in front of her. "They're going to have to get past us before they lay one metallic finger one you."

"You mean they're going to have to get past you," Kevin said. He hunched his shoulders. "Guess that's good enough for me." He moved away from her and broke out into a run across the platform. "See ya!" he called back to her. Leena turned back to view over the side of the railing and thoughts of Lt. Hornsby returned to her.

"Send the next arbitrator," Councilwoman Haden said as she addressed the attendant who immediately moved toward the door. She confered with the other members of the Council for a moment and then fell as silent as they all had after witnessing the entrance of the significantly large group of people that began filling their chambers. "What's the meaning of this?" she demanded to know even as the crowd continued to pour in among them.

Once the onslaught of attendees filed in at their last and the places reserved for seated individuals were filled with those that stood and overlapped onto the floor before the Council members, the attendant shut the door and the meeting got underway. "Do you care to explain yourself?" Councilman Gebrell said to the individual standing at the helm of the crowd.

"Yes I do," Michael said to him. "I'm here to petition for the full reinstatement of Pvt. Leena Storm into the matrix reconnaissance project. As is everyone you see here before you...sir."

Councilwoman Haden interjected with, "Am I to also understand that the entirety of this congregation is aware of how unorthodox and unappropriated a presentaion like this is?"

"It's as much understood as it is necessary," a voice from the crowd that filled the stands behind Michael spoke up. Pvt. Buxton of the Casus stepped out of the crowd and stood beside Michael. "And we're all here in the hopes that we can bring you to the understanding that Leena Storm is more of a necessity to us than you've taken into consideration."

"Leena Storm has been suspended from the reconnaissance program indefinitely," Haden informed the gathering.

"She saved my life," a man who appeared to be in his late twenties spoke up as he stepped into the aisle of the auditorium of chairs and moved down a few steps.

"Mine too," someone else said who remained anonymous.

"Mine too," another voice spoke up. then another...and another..and another.

"Leena Storm saved my life...by bringing me to the truth about it," another voice said. This one didn't originate from the scattered gatherings of hovercraft crews that littered the swarm. It came from one of the many citizens of Zion that had been personally freed from the matrix by Leena who had come out number to attend this meeting with the city's ruling body. That voice was soon followed up by who spoke the same message of greatfulness for their liberator.

"Begging the Council's parden," Michael continued, "but this is a war. And you've got what might be the biggest gun we have sitting on ice in her quarters. That machine army is knocking on our front door." Michael stretched out his arms and turned from left to right. "We're just here in the hopes that you'll grant us everything we need to beat it back. Everything," he said, dropping his arms back to his side as he faced the Council.

There was a momentary silence in the room. The faces behind the large table of higher ups glanced back and forth between the whole of them, whispering their individual takes on the matter, before they all turned back to the audience before them. The silence was broken by Councilwoman Haden. "Consider it done."
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Leena saw Michael walking in her direction on the platform in front of her and hurried to him. When she reached him she stood directly in his path and placed her hands on the side of his arms to stop him. "When's the Juggernaut pulling out?" she demanded to know.

"In about two hours," he told her. "Why?"

"Because I'm getting on that ship. You're taking me out with the rest of the crew and I don't give a damn what the Council has to say about it." Apparently she'd reconsidered her position on abandoning the project that her late mentor had entrusted her with, now choosing to honor his wishes as well as him just as he had originally intended.

Michael smiled at her and she looked at him strangely. "I don't think it's gonna be that hard getting you onboard the ship."

"Why not?" she asked, growing even more confused.

"You've been reinstated. The Council's resended your suspension."

"What do you mean? How?"

"Stop wasting my time with all of these ridiculous questions and go get your gear," he said to her still grinning. "I'll meet you onboard the ship." Michael removed her hands from his arms and walked around her, continuing on his way, leaving her to come to the realization of the true adoration that surrounded her on her own time.

Lucas leaped from the roof top he'd been running across to an accessible roof across the street. Tithe and Mirian were right on his heels. Unfortunately so was the Agent that pursued them. Mirian was the first to fall into his unrelenting clutches, or, rather, it was her long black ponytail that trailed behind her that did. The Agent pulled back so hard that he not only slowed her momentum to a grinding halt, but nearly took her off of her feet with the sharp tug. Mirian answered the ploy with a back spinning roundhouse kick over the top of his arm that struck her heel against his chin. She didn't stop there though, bringing the ball of her foot back across his face. The next side kick she threw into his ribs relieved her of his embrace. His presense was an entirely different thing altogether.

The buildings began to steak by her in a blur as Leena rushed through the cityscape. She made it to the rooftop in time to witness the trio being trounced by the Agent that they were barely managing to fend off. Leena clued him in to her presence with a clearing of her throat and when the suited man turned to face her she planted a right hook across his face that sent him down to the floor of the roof. She and the trio from the Odessus had to sheild their eyes from the flash of the Agent fading out of the deceased body. "Lucas. Tithe. Mirian. Heard you guys could use a little help," Leena said, entending a hand to Lucas and helping him up. They each fought the urge to loose all professionalism and show other how truely glad they were to see the other.

"And I heard you were back in the fight," Lucas replied.

"Yeah. It came as quite a surprise to me too."

"Then I guess this would be for you." He reached into his coat pocket and came up with a disc and handed it over to her. "Tell Tachery he owes us one."

Leena was on her way back to a land line when something occurring in the city below caught her eye and she went to investigate. She looked on intensely as the funeral procession pulled into the cemetary and the mourners took their place around the crated cargo that was unloaded from the back of one of the larger car. She could help but to think of Lt. Hornsby. That thought coupled with the premenition of the many graves that might very well be filled once the machine army reached Zion swelled her with sadness. Then there was that chill again.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" she heard a voice say from behind her. Leena didn't need to turn to know that person behind her, who had obviously been viewing the scene before her with a deep admiration, was none other than the night black, hooded image of the Angel of Death known to her as Maddox.

"It would take you to think so," Leena said to him. She could feel him move up beside her and it creeped her out to no end.

"I believe it is in you to share such a belief. It is only your fear that henders you."

"You think I'm afraid to die?"

"You're afraid of the loss. The fear of everything that will be stripped away from you in the end fills every inch of the air around you. I feel that a piece such an inevitability has touched you already. But I can offer you a remedy. You won't have long to suffer, child." Maddox reached his right hand up and placed it on her left shoulder. Leena was startled into a defensive posture. Maddox only laughed his usual sinister chuckle. She could see the grin spread across the lower half of his pale face, the only portion that was visible under the hood. "Don't worry, child. It is not your turn today...but I promise...it will be...soon."

Leena watched him turn and start on his way.
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Cpl. Tachery pulled the plug out of Leena's head and she sat up in the chair she was in, breathing out a sigh of disgust. "Tell me you got something in the way of killing this guy," she said to him.

Cpl. Tachery walked back over to his work station and took his seat. Leena slid out of her chair and moved over behind him, trying not to let the scolling code of the matrix feed steel her concentration. "It's a long shot," Tahcery said, capturing her focus entirely. "But it might be the only shot you're gonna get."

"Don't keep me in suspense, hot shot."

"I got to thinking...this Maddox guy can kill anybody he comes into physical contact with within the matrix reality."

"Tell me something I don't know. The Grim Reaper's jonesing for his old job back in a big way."

"The trick is..." Cpl. Tachery tapped away at his keyboards. "He's not really the Reaper, he's just a program. A program initiating the shut down of variants of another program." Leena looked on at the screens he manipulated in silence, waiting for him to continue explaining himself. "So if this guy is enteracting with other programs then a connection has to be made before the shut down code he transmits can take any effect."

"And this helps us how?" Leena asked him and eagerly awaited his response.

"With the scripts I've been able to acquire courtesy of associates wishing to remain nameless I think I might be able to get a code sequence running that I'll be able to insert into the RSI of an individual Maddox is trying to terminate. It'll make sure that the connection between the two remains a two way street, allowing time for the information he's transmitting to be blocked, copied, and beamed back to the source."

Leena cracked a smile. "Reaping the Reaper."

"No gaurantee that I can get it up and running anytime soon. And even if I manage to pull off such a miracle, the damn thing would take more than fifteen minutes to load into the individual facing off with the guy that could kill them in half the time it would take to blink. And even then I'd have to execute the activation command from here while the connection is intact. Know anybody up for the challenge?"

Leena let her head drop down like dead weight and hang swayingly lose in front of her chest. "No. Nobody I can think of." She lifted her head back up and looked down on the concerned look that Cpl. Tachery wore on his face. Considering everything going on right now it didn't seem too out of place, but she thought to inquire about its presense anyway. "What is it?"

"Commander Richard. He called all the ships in to port over an hour ago. The machines are closing in on the perimeter."

Leena had been aware of the crew's unanimous decission to not abandon broadcast depth until the matrix was secure and free of Maddox's impending reign before heading out of the city just as much as Cpl. Tachery was (a final tribute to the passing Lieutenant that everyone including Leena was surprised to see Cpt. Mills uphold), but the concern on his face told of the swell of worry he felt for all of those on their way back to the bullseyed mecca. This war had to be fought on two fronts, the virtual one and the real. They had all agreed to that fact. Cpl Tachery had been the first one Leena had seen show any sign of regret for the front they alone had chosen to turn their attention to. "So we're alone out here?" Leena said to him.

"Not quite. The Odessus is keeping us company...out in the tunnels. Don't know why."

"Lucas," Leena thought to herself. The operator still had an all too upsetting look on his face. "What?" she asked.

"It's starting."

Leena cringed inside. "Just keep working on that program of yours. If Zion lives to see another day I want it to a brighter one than this."

The lasers of countless sentinels bore a hole through the roof of an area of tunneling that allowed for a swelling mass of the robotic squid to funnel through into a gaping area that required no more cutting by them. It was wide enough. The path towards the walls of Zion was clear and dead ahead. The swarm darted off in the direction of the city, sentinels dropping through the hole they had created in an immense and neverending number that formed a slithering L as each one followed the mechanisms that came before it and moved toward their target.
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Commander Richard looked at the monitor that was spread out across the table top in aching anticipation. "They're almost in position, sir," he heard a voice say from behind him.

"Order the APU's into position. You can fire when ready Sergeant."

The horde of sentinels streaked forward down a tunnel, a tunnel lined with twin gunned cannons throughout the entire area. Approximately three miles away was Gate One that lead into the docks of Zion. The barrels of the cannons all began to turn and aim down the tunnel in the direction of the sentinels approach. When they opened fire the darkened tunnel flashed bright and the rounds they released from nearly every crevess and space around the circumference formed a force field against the machines that approached that held up quite formidably.

Inside of the dock hulking mechanical beasts were stamping their weighted feet as the humans inside moved them into position. Once there they stood firm and waited for further instructions.

The sentinels seemed to be at a stalemate with the cannon fire. Their numbers increased considerably but the onslaught of the numerous guns was massive and without pause. Occasionally a few sentinels managed to slip through the barrage and use their lasers to dismantle a cannon, but their progress was slow going.

More cannons went down and eventually it provided a gap in the gunfire that allowed for a small contingency of sentinels to slip through and increase the damage they were doing exponetially. Robotic squid fell from the air constantly and were instantly replaced, two for every one. Their advancement increased and soon small EMP's began going off in the tunnel, blowing gaping holes in the great snake that decreased the number of sentinels present and allowed the remaining cannons uneffected by the blasts to catch up with their work.

APU operators inside the dock stood in their positions for what seemed like forever listening to the faint echo of the siege taking place in the tunnel outside of the dock. Each contemplating the outcome of the events that would take place if the advancing army breached the gate.

Commander Richard leaned over the display monitor feeling the beads of sweat began to wet his brow. The sentinel's approach, however slow, was indeed just that, an approach. The way things were going in the tunnel beyond Gate One they were definitely going to reach the gate. It was only a matter of time.

The sentinels were being torn apart by the cannons and were advancing now only by the sheer grace of the numbers they had arrived in. Constant reinforcement was the only thing keeping them in the game. The cannons were dismantled one at a time. Two at a time. Three. Five. Six. EMP's went off and machanical squid dropped from the air. And then...there were no more cannons. No cannon fire. The sentinels were at the gate. One individual turned, opened an antennae on one of its tentacles, closed it, and started back down the tunnel from wince it came. Along with all the rest.

"What the hell are they doing?" Richard asked.

"Maybe it's the gate, sir," he was quickly answered. "No way they were cutting through it."

"Well I doubt they would come all this way just call it a day," Commander Richard barked.

In a matter of moments the tunnel was empty. There wasn't a sentinel in sight. Then the rumbling started and the massive mechanism for which they'd cut a swath through the underground maze for descended down into the tunnel and started toward the gate.

"You rang?" Leena said as she entered the core of the Juggernaut. She glanced over the faces of Michael and Ratcliff before moving over to Cpl. Tachery's station.

He held up a disc and waved it in the air beside his face. "It's Showtime."
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Leena climbed into the chair and looked up into Michael's eyes as he slid the plug into the back of her head. He looked worried. "You're not exactly inspiring me with a lot of confidence right now, you know," she said to him with a halfhearted smile, trying to ease the tension.

Michael looked down at her and put his hand on her shoulder. "You just come back to me in one piece," he said, giving her shoulder a squeeze.

"That's the plan."

"Once you're inside I'll start loading the program," Cpl. Tachery said from his station in front of the matrix feed. "Good luck."

Leena shut her eyes and when she opened them again she was staring out at the expanse of the cityscape from where she stood atop a very large building. She slowly let her head turn from left to right, looking at the streaming green code streaking across everything beneath her. She let her confidence build. Summond every ounce of strength and knowledge that she possessed. She was going to need it. It was now or never.

Leena crouched and sprang into the air high above the roof top she was standing on. She wrapped her arms around her chest in a hug and let her body twirl as it beganto streak back down the streets below at an ever increasing rate of speed. She barreled toward the awaiting concrete spinning and twirling and just before she hit she moved her feet into position beneath her. Hit wouldn't exactly be the right discription seeing how Leena had never exactly touched the ground. Her feet hovered mere millimeters above the street as she pulled herself to a sudden stop. With a single breath she lowered herself the rest of the way down and stood in the middle of an intersection feeling that much more confident about her abilities.

Leena stood there, seemingly unaffected by the traffic that swerved to miss her until it came to a stop altogether. She was now surrounded by a horde of honking horns and angry voices that protested her presense there in the street. None of it bothered her. She just stood there...and waited. And then...

"I trust that you're prepared for what lies beyond this life."

Leena turned her head and watched Maddox step off the sidewalk and start toward her. "If I were you I'd be more concerned with the here and now. Cause only one of us is walking away from this. And I vote me."
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Maddox flipped his hood back as he neared her, revealing the pale skin of his face and the pitch black strands of hair that was draped along either side of it. "Whoever said you get a vote."

He swung, missed, and the fight started. The fight that was going to determine whether or not mankind's presense in the matrix would be governed by what Leena had learned was the flawed reasoning of the system's programming or the certain and absolute reign of the threat of immanent death that Maddox was going to provide. Leena continued to swing punches and raise kicks that Maddox blocked and countered, finding the blows that he threw coming to the exact same fate of futility. That didn't stop neither of them from trying to tip the scales to their respective favors. Not even the sound of the approaching police sirens and the screeching tires of the squad cars managed to sway them from their mission.

"This is the police," was all Leena was able to make out over the grunts and groans emitted from her tussle with Maddox. The few blows he landed that managed to turn her gaze away from him allowed her to make visual contact with some of the many armed uniformed men leaning over the hoods and rooftops of the many police cars that were present and now blocking the street, taking aim at the brawling couple with their standard issue firearms. It wasn't until she felt a hand(one not belonging to Maddox) grasping at the her shoulder that she was truly able to let Maddox slip from her focus and place it elsewhere. She spun around quickly, gripped the officer's arm in a hold that pinned the limb between her arm and her body then delivered a series of left hands that eventually sent the man careening back over the hood of one of the squad cars and into a couple of his buddies before tumbling to the street.

Maddox was in her sights again almost instantly. The two of them stood there facing each other no more than ten feet apart. Even as the gunfire began to sound neither one of them flinched. The hale of bullets that streaked toward Leena's back made it no more than a foot away from contact before freezing in midair. When the policemen finally stopped firing she let the projectiles drop to the concrete, the whole time keeping eye contact with Maddox, enjoying the satisfaction of knowing that it was now apparent that neither of them held a fear of the weapons that the uniformed men possessed. It didn't seem to rattle him much and that did worry Leena a bit. The example of such power from her rolling off of him like water was starting to put a dent in the confidence was building.

She could feel it. She didn't even have to look. She could feel it just as clearly as Maddox could most assuredly see it, Agents materalizing over the images of a few of the officers and civilians surrounding them. Neglecting to pull their guns, they simply started on their approach. "How about a little privacy?" Maddox said, addressing Leena. He raised his right hand in the air and made a jagged claw with his fingers. A blinding white light began to emanate from his hand yet Leena was still able to take a squinting look at the glow. It soon burst into strands of lightning that stretched out into flickering bands of energy that extented out nearly five feet from where he stood. Leena took her eyes off of him and spun her head around swiftly in all directions, watching bodies drop to the ground. The Agents that were present flickered out of the bodies they were in and with no other living specimens in the nearby vicinity for them to occupy Leena turned her sights back to Maddox who was in the process of lowering his hand and found that now they were truly alone.

There must have been two dozen bodies. He hadn't touched any of them. Not a one. Not physically at least. Maybe he didn't have to anymore. Maybe he could shut down signals, however many he wanted, simply through will now. But she remained. Alive and breathing. Perhaps his power had yet to reach his summit. Perhaps. She could have very well only been alive courtesy of the same will power that had dispatched every lifeless body around her. Had it not been, she just hoped Cpl. Tachery was busy getting that code loaded up inside of her RSI. She didn't know how much longer she could hold him off.
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Leena made another run at him and Maddox made short work of her, planting a fist square into her chest and sending her careening back into the side of a parked car hard enough to shatter the door windows. She slouched down the side of the car until her butt was planted flat on the concrete. Her eyes slowly parted and she stared across the street at her pompous nemesis who seemed so pleased with himself that it sent a chill through her.

“You’re right to fear me, child,” Maddox said to her once his low chuckling stopped.

“Shut your mouth,” Leena demanded.

“For the day you’ve long dreaded is indeed upon you. I will no longer be denied!” Leena could hear the anger began to grow in his voice as he spoke more and more words through clenched teeth. “No longer be shackled by the restraints of an inane system!” Maddox’s arms bowed up beside and his voice grew louder and grittier. Leena looked down and saw a gap between his feet and the ground that began to increased ten fold with every word that he spoke. She turned her eyes back to the black figure felt her neck arching back as she trailed him. “You will me with no mercy! No regret! Without limits! And with a reach that will span this entire globe!” Maddox held his position forty feet above the ground. “The age of death is upon,” he stated more comely and looked down at Leena, letting his arms drop back down to his side. “And my reign is here.”

Leena wave her right arm hard across the air in front of her body, as if taking a slap at the wind and a car resting idly on the street was instantly picked up and flung through the air in Maddox’s direction. It slammed into him, sandwiching the black angel between it and the building at his back. “I could have sworn that I said shut up.”

The crushed metal heap fell back to the street below leaving an all to insulted Maddox at the center of the indention in the building concrete made by his body. “You’ll pay for that,” he said to her.

“Bill me.” Leena made it back to her feet but she didn’t stand. Instead she pushed off of the concrete and streaked through the air, not stopping as she collided with Maddox’s body and drove them both through the wall and into the building.

Michael alternated his eyes between the screens as he stared at the code that moved at a heated pace. He stood with his right elbow resting on top of his left wrist, slowly massaging his chin with the outside of his index finger and his thumb, seeming lost in meditation as he looked on along with Ratcliff, Sgt Degger, Gunnery Sergeant Weathers, and, of course, Cpl. Tachery. All of their concentrations were broken when the most dreaded of sounds stole their attention. “Shit,” Cpl Tachery exclaimed. His fingers instantly began typing on the keyboards at a record pace, the blaring proximity warming stinging his ears. “Their coming up fast from the rear. Christ, there’s gotta be about twenty of ‘em.”

“Two. Twenty. Until Leena gets back or flatlines…” Michael winced at Sgt. Weathers’ bluntness. “It’s them or us. Now you heard him people. Let’s get some bodies in those gun turrets and give those mechanical bastards the warm welcome they deserve.”

Michael walked over to Leena’s chair and watched her body jerk back and forth in reaction to the battle taking place in her mind. He gave her hand a quick squeeze and then went running off to engage in one of his own.

The eight arms that jutted out from the hull of the great beast in all direction carried it ever closer to the Gate One. With no cannon fire to hinder its pursuit it went about its journey unopposed. It was about the size of a full grown hovercraft only slightly larger. When it made it within twenty feet of the gate the legs supporting this mechanism came to a stop and held it in place.

The APU army inside the dock extended their guns at the gate after and order from the senior officer present. Inside the command center Commander Richard looked on at the display screen, sweat streaming down the side of his face in anticipation.

The mechanism in the tunnel just outside of the dock came to life. A portion at the front of the machine’s jagged hull began to spin clockwise, opening up a lens spanning the diameter of its entire body. The blacked eye that was now reveled began to glow red. Brighter and brighter until a beam exploded from it and struck the gate, nearly consuming its entire surface. The steady blast continued, heating the metal of the barrier between it and Zion to the point where a small circle of flames could be seen encircling the edge of the beam where it connected with the gate. Other metallic fixtures it the tunnel began to sweat and drip as the tunnel was slowly turned into a scorching inferno. Gate One began to drip and peel away, a very large portion of its surface now very bright shades of red and yellow. The beam stopped and the lens began to close. The gate was now a slick ooze of hot yellow metal and when the creature moved closer to it and brought up one of the legs beneath it, slamming it forward into the steaming mass, Gate One slip in half down the middle and swung open like a pair of welcoming doors.

The thunderous sound of the intrusion shook the dock like an earthquake. The APU’s opened up with their cannons as did the dock tower but the damage their ammunition did to the creatures hull wasn’t enough to stop or even slow its approach. It moved forward, out of the tunnel and into the dock, dropping a new leg to the further it made it inside the dock. It had four on the ground, two on each side, and the other four spread out in a fan behind, still gripping the tunnel for support. That’s when the creature began to return fire from the gun ports that lined its hull. It continued into the dock, crawling on eight legs like a gigantic mechanical bug, spewing cannon fire in every direction. The dock had broken out into a full scale war with this machine who’s back up was already on the way.

Michael sat in his chair with his hands stretched out in front of him, fingers working the triggers as he attempted to fend off the menacing images on the screen in front of him. He could remember always being fond of video games. This one he damned near dreaded. The only pleasure came from watching a vanquished sentinel drop after the rounds from the Juggernaut rattled its body and made its tentacles flail. Tachery hadn’t exaggerated the numbers at all. From Michael sat it might have very well been an understatement. Still, the Juggernaut twisted, turned, and sped through straight-aways just ahead of the pack. His thoughts constantly bounced back and forth between what had turned into an arduous journey for them and the task Leena was undertaking in the matrix. He didn’t know who to be more worried about.

The Odessus remained vertical as it slowly descended through a section of piping. A horde of sentinels streaked past the opening beneath the ship but it continued its descent. The sentinels were soon gone and once the Odessus made it into the tunnel it immediately started after them.
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Cpt. Mills was sitting in the cockpit next to Cpl. Vicks aiding him in piloting the Juggernaut when holographic picked up something else moving through the tunnel behind them. “What the hell is that?” Cpt. Mills demanded to know.

Cpl. Vicks glanced down at the hologram. “It’s the Odessus, sir.”

Cpl. Tachery received a call over the headphones that he was wearing. He knew that it wasn’t Leena. She had her hands pretty much full dealing with Maddox. He figured there could only be one other source. “Heard you boys had sentinel problem,” Tachery heard after picking up the call. It was Cpt. Peller of the Odessus.

“Yeah,” Tachery answered, still working at his keyboards and touching the screens all around him. “Think you guys can give us a hand?”

“Long as your troops try and keep a lid on the friendly fire I’ll see what we can do to thin that herd a little for you.”

“I’ll see to it they get the word. Just do what you can.”

The Odessus began closing the distance between it and the sentinels trailing the Juggernaut in the tunnels ahead of them. Tracking the hovercraft through the twists and turns that it made through the pipes, it wasn’t long before their cannon fire as they fended off the sentinels came into view of the gentleman sitting in the cockpit. Their presence hadn’t gone unnoticed either. One of the sentinels slowed and turned, opening its antennae just in time to be slammed into and knocked aside by the Odessus. “That’s right,” Cordell exclaimed from the copilot’s seat where he was stationed. “The Odessus’s here and were coming to party.”

Lucas made sure that the trampled sentinel was able to rejoin the chase by turning the barrels of the cannons he operated toward the disoriented squid and shredding it. “Stay away from her, you bastards,” he said to himself.

The two ships managed to avoid the other’s gunfire for the most part. There were a few nicks and scrapes on occasion but nothing terribly damaging. The Odessus was able to help thin some of the attacking sentinels that bombarded the Juggernaut. It even managed to distract some of the sentinels from their task completely as a sizeable number of the mechanical squid forgot about the Juggernaut, turned, and went after the Odessus. Cpt. Peller decided that that was as good as it was going to get for them and ordered the pilot peel off down another tunnel when they reached the next intersection. The Juggernaut would have to take it from there.

It was some sort of office building and a large room inside of it suffered their combat. There was no one inside. No one alive at least. So their only audience was the two of them. Seeing the bodies strewn across the desks and floor everywhere made Leena wonder just how many people Maddox had taken out during that little display down on the street and just how great his power truly was now. No matter. She planted a side kick to his chest, face, and then back into his chest again, sending him across the room and into a wall.

Maddox moved his head to the side and watched Leena’s fist break a hole it the concrete wall next to him with a smile on his face. Hers was scowled with intensity. She jerked her fist out, did a little spin, and slammed the side of her other fist into the wall, cracking it in a spider web pattern. Maddox had ducked that blow. “What’s the matter, my dear? Do you need to take a breather?” Leena swung at him two more times and hit nothing but air. “It’s no problem. I assure you. There’s no need for us to fight. After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. Let me send you on your way.” She threw a kick at him and he caught her leg. Twisting his body, he catapulted her up and out of the window behind him.

Leena soared upward leaving a trail of broken glass and debris behind her. She picked even more debris when she smashed through a billboard. Leena finally got her bearing and turning into the direction she had been thrown and with a shot increased her momentum dramatically. She blazed through what was becoming a purple sky thanks to the onset of twilight. The clear sky was already allowing a few flickering specs of starlight to be visible. She turned and saw that Maddox was gaining quickly. He hit her like a ton of bricks, forcing her body to accelerate at the same rate of speed that he was moving. Leena managed to spin around and get him off of her back and facing her. She clutched his black shroud and did a barrel roll, taking them both down into the maze buildings below.

Luckily the two descended into a long pathway that had no obstructions at the height they were traveling because the speed at which they moved began to increase tremendously. They struggled with each other, constantly taking swings whenever they managed to get a hand free, their blows either being blocked or missing altogether, rolling clockwise and counterclockwise as they fought. On one turn in particular Leena noticed that a fast approaching building up the street ahead was about to seriously intervene in their contest. Leena timed it carefully and a few seconds before they hit she rolled over on top of Maddox and pulled back on his shroud, hoping that his body would provide some shielding as she once again gave a push and forced them through the wall of another building. This wall was made of glass and this time Leena didn’t stop. She ground her teeth and forced him forward through wall after wall until they both burst out the other side of the building. Leena let go of him and watched him drop down to one of the rooftops of the smaller neighboring buildings a few blocks away. She dropped from the sky after watching him hit, landing hard on her feet, swelling with pride as she watched him stagger back up to his stance.
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“Now who’s the one looking like they need a break,” Leena said to the steely-eyed grimace Maddox was staring at her with. “What’s the matter? Not feeling very chatty?”

“There are many cases where death is considered merciful,” he said through gritted teeth. “I’ll see to it that your experience here this evening is one of them.”

He charged her. Leena fended off the opening of his attack, but Maddox soon took the upper hand, landing two crushing blows to her midsection before slamming an uppercut into her face that lifted her feet off the ground and sent the rest of her body high up into the air. She moved upward at an arc that saw her coming down well past the edge of the rooftop. Leena fell to the street, caving in the roof of the car she landed on fifteen stories below. Glass exploded outward all around her. The car was totaled.

Leena’s body ached all over and the look of her face showed it. She rolled off of her back and fell down face first to the street, increasing her physical agony. Raising her head and opening her once tightly sealed eyelids, Leena looked on at the image of Maddox standing on the street twenty feet in front of her. She did a push up and slowly brought herself to her feet. “You were saying?” Maddox said to her as she maneuvered to the center of the street.

A car screeched to a stop on the stretch of road behind her, the driver trying desperately to avoid a collision with the body of the young lady planted in his path. He brought the car to a stop quick enough, but had inadvertently avoided his initial intentions, in the form of Leena lifting her right leg and stomping it back behind her, smashing her foot into the grill of the car and sending it skidding back along the concrete thirty feet or so in expression of her growing anger. “It’s not over ‘til its over,” she informed her opponent.

“It’s a hard lesson, the one you’re about to learn.”

The sentinels that had managed to make their way, and attach themselves, to the hull of the Juggernaut immediately began activating the lasers attached to their underbellies and cutting their way through the protection that hid its crew. Once inside they would surely find soldiers bearing laser cannons awaiting their entrance.

The operator of one of the many APU’s that manned the dock screamed out in terror as he aimed his guns up at the metal claw of the eight legged mechanical creature that was being lowered on top of him. The claw smashed down hard on the platform and the firing ceased to be. At least from that contraption. Cannon fire continued to spill from steaming barrels all throughout the dock. The human rebellion tried desperate to fend off the attack from the mechanized arachnid, but their ammunition only managed to chip away at the beast’s hull rather than cause any major damage. The missiles that emanated from various cracks and crevasses, supplied by volunteer troops managed to do significantly more damage to the creature. Too bad it was a rarity that they actually made direct contact with the constantly crawling pest.

The slithering herd of sentinels that penetrated the exposed dock further distracted the resistance. The APU’s were overwhelmed. The mass of squids split their distraction between them and the stomping, crawling menace that bombarded them with cannon fire from every visible section of its hull. The APU corp. didn’t have much to worry about in the wake of the sentinel swarm even though a significant amount of their firepower was directed toward the mass that poured through the open gate. Very few of them attacked them outright. The swell of robotic tentacles preferred leaving the crawling arachnid to tend to its business on the dock, a small fraction of sentinels hanging back as the whole immediately made their way through the tunnel that lead away from the dock and into the city of Zion where their true quarry awaited. A flat, elongated rectangular section of the arachnid lowered and slid back, revealing the missile rack that descended. The rack was retracted and the panel slid closed after the creature fired off its payload at two APU’s manning a platform in front of it.

Michael squeezed the trigger on the laser cannon he held and watched the sentinel clutching to the fixtures all around it shudder violently and fall to the platform floor that it hovered above. Michael ran past it in search of the next mechanical enemy that had found its way past the jutting barrels and found its way inside the hull of the Juggernaut. He made his way back to the ship’s core just in time to spot a sentinel squaring itself up over the docile body of his very dear friend Leena Storm who was currently fighting for her life inside of the matrix. He considered it his personal responsibility to fight for it on this side of the looking glass and leveled his cannon off at the mechanism.

Squeezing the trigger, Michael watched the thing spasm its way to lifelessness as it dropped to the ground beside her chair. That’s when he felt it, a sharp blow strike him across the back of his right shoulder that knocked him to the floor. Michael rolled over and watched a menacing squid position itself over his body. The laser cannon he was once in possession of had been knocked clear and he was left defenseless to endure this machine’s awaiting wrath.

Leena suffered a crushing blow to the side of her face that was immediately followed up by another to the other side. The right-left combination punch by Maddox sent her tumbling down to the concrete, reeling from the jolt of the blows. “Let’s finish this,” Maddox said and reached his hands down toward her.

Leena caught both arms at the wrist, and kept the fingers attached to each probing vesicle from achieving their desired contact as she pushed back at his attempted breach of her person.

"We're going to finish this, alright," she said to him.
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Maddox pushed his hands harder toward her but Leena managed to keep them from touching her. Their struggle continued even as the two of them slowly began to leave the street, ascending into the sky above. Maddox’s hands then burst into an aura of blinding white light that stung Leena’s eyes and momentarily distracted her from her task of keeping Maddox’s hands away from her. His fingers closed in a bit on their target. Bolts of lighting extended from his hands and slithered over the surrounding buildings as they continued moving higher. With teeth gritted, Leena managed to part her eyelids and get a look Maddox, his strain matching her own. The lightning flickered violently and she could swear that there were moments when the face in front of her flashed between the one she recognized as Maddox and that of a menacing skull.

Michael looked at sentinel hovering above him and dreaded the fate about to befall him. The end of one of the tentacles spread out into a claw and drew back, poised to strike. A blast from Cpl. Tachery’s laser cannon hit it, sending jolts through the mechanism that sent it into a limb flailing spasm before dropping it to the floor next to Michael. He turned his head to the side and, near the point of hyperventilation, looked at the still cre3ature. “Get up,” he heard the operator call to him. Michael snapped out of his trance and did just that. In doing so, he got a look at the screens bearing the streaming matrix feed.

“Leena,” he said. Cpl. Tachery didn’t have time to respond. Instead he turned his cannon on the next sentinel he saw.

The pair had just cleared the highest rooftop and the force with which Maddox pushed continued to overpower Leena’s. And then…

He pressed his palms to her cheeks and she let loose with a roar of agony.

The images rushed through her mind so fast that she barely had time to make out many of them. The Oracle. The pink pod she’d woken up in. Lt. Hornsby. Seeing the city of Zion. Meeting Lucas. Being introduced to her crew aboard the Juggernaut. Rescuing Michael. The Merovingian. Maddox. Leena let go. She feared him no more.

“Tach!” Michael yelled out as the last sentinel occupying the ship’s core fell. The Corporal immediately dropped the cannon ran back to his work station. He dove back into his chair and after forcing his fingers to move at top speed across the keyboards he pressed the area on one of the screens in front of him that read Load.

Her eyelids were barely apart but even through the blinding light Leena was able to make out what looked like light green matrix coding streaming down his face. She’d fallen silent only moments earlier. There was no more fight left in her. All that remained was for her to await her fate. Now…it was Maddox’s turn to scream. Bellowing out his protest, the black angel released his hold on her and clasped his hands over his eyes and forehead as he yelled.

Leena dropped toward the city below. Never loosing sight of Maddox as she fell, Leena could feel no more images in her head. Instead she was now overwhelmed with a sense freedom that she’d never known before. Because now she knew. She knew that love was stronger than death even though it couldn’t stop death from happening. No matter how hard death tries it can’t separate people from love. It can’t take away memories either. In the end life is stronger then death. Watching the figure over her head dissolve into streaming green and white coding that fell from the purple sky and eventually evaporate into nothing, Leena Maddox no longer had a hold on her and the matrix no longer had her. It never would again.

Her body touched down on the street, cracking the concrete beneath her in a jagged pattern that extended outward from where she lay. A shocked and curious crowd began to gather around her as traffic came to a standstill. Leena lie there speechless. The murmuring voices all around her only managed to force her to turn her head from left to right, eyeing the crowd. The last thing she needed right now was to face off with an Agent. When she caught sight of a man speaking into a cell phone she lifted her left hand a few inches off the ground. The phone jerked away from his ear made a beeline toward her palm. Leena hung up his call and made one of her own.

“Operator,” Tachery said into his headset.

“Yeah,” she strained as if she were just roust from sleep. “Get me the hell out of here.”

“I got an exit coming right up for you.”

Michael pulled the plug out of the back of Leena’s head and walked around to her side. Even though her body still ached slightly, she gathered enough strength to pull him down into a hug. Michael helped her out of the chair and she had a chance to marvel at the sentinel corpses lying all about. She wondered about just how much of a struggle they’d endured while she tangled with Maddox. “Get up to Cpl. Vicks,” Leena said to Michael. “We’ve got to get back to Zion.”

Leena’s strength returned to her and she soon made her way to the cockpit, joining Michael, Cpl Vicks, and Cpt. Mills. They sped through the tunnels toward Zion and Leena felt a special swell of relief to know that the Odessus was in tow. It dissipated as soon as Cpt. Mills ran a holographic and found that there was no activity in the dock. There was indeed a very large foreign object inside, but no activity. The Juggernaut approached Gate One only to find that it was no longer in existence. Once through it, the crew in the cockpit shared a dismay at the condition of the dock. They were soon distracted from the wreckage and carnage when the Juggernaut fell under attack from…

“What the hell is that?” Cpt. Mills demanded to know as the image of the large crawling beast became clear out of the cockpit window. Their presence obviously brought the dormant creature back to life.

Cpl. Vicks began maneuvering the ship to avoid the cannon fire that poured out of the beast. The Odessus was radioed and warned that the Juggernaut was preparing to fire their EMP. Vicks scanned the dock for a place to set down that wouldn’t leave the ship open to take on the full wrath of the behemoth. The blast wave collapsed the creature and Leena shot out of the cockpit like a dart hoping that that wasn’t the only damage the EMP had done. Michael quickly caught up with her.

“Hey. Hey. Where do you think you’re going?” he asked her.

Leena slammed her fist against the mechanism that would lower the boarding ramp. “Did you see any sentinels when we came in here?” she said excitedly. “Where do you think they all went?” The ramp wouldn’t lower fast enough.

“What do you think you’re going to do, fight them all with your bare hands?” The ramp touched down and he grabbed her arm. “Wait!” She jerked her arm away from him and ran off toward the city.
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Post by syntax »

The Odessus made its way into the dock and sat down next to the Juggernaut. Most of the crew that poured out of the ship stood aghast at the carnage all around, but Lucas, along with a few others, headed straight for their sister ship. Once up the boarding ramp, Lucas ran into Michael, among others, who were currently in the process of arming themselves with laser cannons. “Where’s Leena?” he asked, staring at Michael but posing the question to anyone willing to offer him up an answer.

“She took off,” Michael said to him. Lucas required no further explanation after that. It was obvious where she was headed.

Leena leaned over the railing and looked down into the city that was filled with screaming voices. Her gut wrenched at the sight of the swarming sentinels that clogged the cavernous hole that the last free human civilization called home. Seeing laser cannons going off everywhere, Leena hurried down the platform to assist where she could.

“Come on!” Buxton screamed to the rabble of disoriented and panicked women and children he was helping to escort. “We have to get to the dock!” He let out a burst of white lighting from his cannon when one of the thousands of sentinels came a little too close to the crowd. His was one of three cannons that escorted the crowd. Their numbers had started out at seven and dwindled from there. When the crowd came across Leena Storm Buxton immediately sought to include her in their escape attempt. “Leena, come on! We’re getting out of here!”

Just then a sentinel picked off another cannoneer and sent the crowd into a frenzy. One panicked individual knocked Buxton to the ground as they made a run for it. Crawling for his dropped cannon, the sound of metal hitting metal distracted him and Buxton turned to see that a sentinel had landed on the platform behind him. It started after him and then suddenly stopped, as if it had collided with some invisible force field. It twitched violently then dropped to the floor. Buxton looked up and saw Leena standing over him. He clamored to his feet quickly and took up his weapon again just in time to see a pack of seven sentinels barreling in their direction from the opposite wall of the city. Leveling off his cannon, awaiting their approach, he was shocked to see that the only thing Leena raised was her hand.

She could see them. She could feel them. And their presence here in this city sickened her to no end. She wanted to destroy them all. Crumple their metallic bodies up in her clenched fists and discard them with all the regret of tossing a soda can in the garbage. Buxton never got a chance to fire his cannon. Before the sentinels could reach the platform they were standing on they froze in mid air, did the same dance that Buxton had witnessed the previous sentinel demonstrate, and dropped down into the abyss of screams. “Christ, woman. What are you?” Buxton said, gawking at her in utter amazement.

“Get them out of here,” Leena ordered, referring to the members of the crowd he was attempting to escort that still remained huddled together. She never let her eyes leave the twisting coils of sentinels that filled the air beneath them. She downed another pack before thoughts of heading down deeper into the city overwhelmed her. Leena didn’t make it very far before she became aware that there would be no need to take the fight to them. Below her she could see a sentinel halt its activities and turn in her direction. It opened up an antennae, closed it, and started in her direction. She awaited it gladly, along with many other sentinels that joined it in its pursuit.

Michael, Ratcliff, and Lucas stormed into the city past screaming citizen headed in the opposite direction, cannons blazing, trying hard not to be distracted by the hopelessness and uselessness of such an undertaking. The city was lost. Now the only problem was convincing Leena of the fact. Lucas pulled hard on her arm, looking over the edge of the railing at the snake of sentinels streaming up towards them, but Leena wouldn’t budge. “We have to get out of here! There’s nothing you can do!”

“We can fight them! We have to try!”

“Leena, it’s over! If we don’t leave now we’re dead! Now come on!” He pulled again and she remained rigid. The snake of sentinels shot up cavern past them and Lucas took his eyes off of Leena, the sentinels stealing his attention. When the snake curved over and headed back down towards them Leena jutted out her left hand. The snake hit a transparent wall and sentinels began dropping from the sky. Stunned beyond belief, Lucas didn’t know how to react. Soon the sound of laser cannons that filled in some of the background noise behind him ceased to exist and Michael and some of the others joined him in his astonishment. For a second there Lucas almost assumed that she might be right, but as the volume of sentinels increased and he turned an eye to Leena his initial instinct regained control of him again.

The strain on Leena’s person was unmistakable. The toll this fight was taking on her began to manifest itself in the form of the trickle of blood that began to emerge from each nostril on her face. Veins bulged everywhere and Lucas knew that he had to get her out of there before she killed herself. Wrapping his arm around her waist, he had to literally drag her with him as he retreated back towards the dock with the others. They dragged a trail of sentinels behind him as they moved, Leena still locked in a deadly battle of life and day with the creatures. They seemed to want to put an end to her just as bad as she’d sought their termination. The tunnel leading into the dock was becoming a tight fit for the fighting sentinels who found themselves having to crawl over the mounting corpses of the brethren as they strove to get to Leena. Soon the bottle neck shut tight and none could make it through.

Lucas could feel Leena’s body go limp in his arm. He turned and saw the sadness in her face as she wiped the blood away from her upper lip. Lucas took her into his arms in an embrace that was filled with as much comfort as it was fear. Looking at the clog of sentinels in the tunnel at her back, he could barely make out the sound of the cutting lasers peeling their way through the sentinel road block. He broke away from her and took her by the hand. “Come on. We have to hurry. That won’t hold them for long.” The couple ran the rest of the way.

Leena moved through the now extremely crowded hollows of the Juggernaut on her way to the cockpit. She had her arms hugged around her and tried not to look at the many worried faces that were jammed into every crevasse throughout the hovercraft. Young Kevin was among the faces that she past. Feeling that much more comforted, Leena continued on toward the cockpit. It was the only place with veritably any seclusion outside of her own domicile and that was no place that she needed to be right now with so much danger still afoot. Cpl. Vicks gave the igniter one last pump and to everyone’s delight brought the Juggernaut back to life. Leena could hear a few faint cheers emanating from the corridors behind her. They left the dock and the city of Zion behind them as they streaked through the tunnels on the Odessus’s tail.

Leena leaned back against the hull of the Juggernaut near the rear of the ship listening to the ensuing arguing that filled the section of tunneling they were in. The crowd that moved around outside of the ship had to constantly be reminded to lower their volume. Any number of sentinels could have been patrolling the area.

“I still haven’t heard any rational decisions about what we’re suppose to do now,” one of the citizens exclaimed.

“Just what I said,” Cpt Mills jumped in. “Between the two ships there should be enough food to sustain us for quite some time. Both ships are charged so there’s very little chance that we’ll get stranded out here before the machines clear out of Zion.”

“Say we do get back,” another quivering voice said. “What then?”

“We fight,” Buxton explained. He collected a lot of weary eyes. “What other choice do we have?” There were murmurs and mutterings all about.

“He’s right,” Cpt. Peller of the Odessus said.

“And how are we suppose to do that? Everything’s lost.”

“I’m not sure,” Buxton continued. “But I just saw one unarmed woman stand her ground against everything the machines threw at her and come back for more. And I believe that we’re only alive because of it. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I say we fight to keep it that way. Damn sure beats the alternative.”

Leena perked at Buxton’s mention of her and looked over the faces and people who had just suffered the greatest loss their world might ever know and saw many an affirmative nod at Buxton’s suggestion. Leena had asked the Oracle if there was a way of stopping the machine army and she’d responded by asking her to instead find a way of saving her people. Looking at this scene in front of her, Leena thought that she may have inadvertently done just that. By supplying them with the one thing they would need most of all during this time of struggle…Hope.

Leena walked along the sidewalk staring at the human beings that populated the street. Humans that had yet to be unplugged from the matrix. Zion would rise again and during that time she would be determined to do her part in aiding in its repopulation. In her lifetime she would sire five children with Lucas and free countless souls from the machine’s power plant. Upon her passing the Oracle would prophesize her return, deeming it would be an event that would hail the ultimate destruction of the matrix. Decades passed. Prophesy soon faded into legend; legend into myth; myth into fable, until ultimately the name Leena Storm was little more than an utterance heard in songs sung by passing children. Eventually her name fell from the lips of Zionites altogether as the population of the civilization swelled exponentially. The true facts of her existence were soon lost to time, but the ramifications of it lived on.

And one day, centuries beyond her time, someone would be born inside the matrix. Someone endowed with all of her strengths and abilities. Someone who might finally be able to bring this war to an end.

Leena stopped walking, crouched down, and with a hard push sent her body soaring through the sky above.

End
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Post by syntax »

The Odessus made its way into the dock and sat down next to the Juggernaut. Most of the crew that poured out of the ship stood aghast at the carnage all around, but Lucas, along with a few others, headed straight for their sister ship. Once up the boarding ramp, Lucas ran into Michael, among others, who were currently in the process of arming themselves with laser cannons. “Where’s Leena?” he asked, staring at Michael but posing the question to anyone willing to offer him up an answer.

“She took off,” Michael said to him. Lucas required no further explanation after that. It was obvious where she was headed.

Leena leaned over the railing and looked down into the city that was filled with screaming voices. Her gut wrenched at the sight of the swarming sentinels that clogged the cavernous hole that the last free human civilization called home. Seeing laser cannons going off everywhere, Leena hurried down the platform to assist where she could.

“Come on!” Buxton screamed to the rabble of disoriented and panicked women and children he was helping to escort. “We have to get to the dock!” He let out a burst of white lighting from his cannon when one of the thousands of sentinels came a little too close to the crowd. His was one of three cannons that escorted the crowd. Their numbers had started out at seven and dwindled from there. When the crowd came across Leena Storm Buxton immediately sought to include her in their escape attempt. “Leena, come on! We’re getting out of here!”

Just then a sentinel picked off another cannoneer and sent the crowd into a frenzy. One panicked individual knocked Buxton to the ground as they made a run for it. Crawling for his dropped cannon, the sound of metal hitting metal distracted him and Buxton turned to see that a sentinel had landed on the platform behind him. It started after him and then suddenly stopped, as if it had collided with some invisible force field. It twitched violently then dropped to the floor. Buxton looked up and saw Leena standing over him. He clamored to his feet quickly and took up his weapon again just in time to see a pack of seven sentinels barreling in their direction from the opposite wall of the city. Leveling off his cannon, awaiting their approach, he was shocked to see that the only thing Leena raised was her hand.

She could see them. She could feel them. And their presence here in this city sickened her to no end. She wanted to destroy them all. Crumple their metallic bodies up in her clenched fists and discard them with all the regret of tossing a soda can in the garbage. Buxton never got a chance to fire his cannon. Before the sentinels could reach the platform they were standing on they froze in mid air, did the same dance that Buxton had witnessed the previous sentinel demonstrate, and dropped down into the abyss of screams. “Christ, woman. What are you?” Buxton said, gawking at her in utter amazement.

“Get them out of here,” Leena ordered, referring to the members of the crowd he was attempting to escort that still remained huddled together. She never let her eyes leave the twisting coils of sentinels that filled the air beneath them. She downed another pack before thoughts of heading down deeper into the city overwhelmed her. Leena didn’t make it very far before she became aware that there would be no need to take the fight to them. Below her she could see a sentinel halt its activities and turn in her direction. It opened up an antennae, closed it, and started in her direction. She awaited it gladly, along with many other sentinels that joined it in its pursuit.

Michael, Ratcliff, and Lucas stormed into the city past screaming citizen headed in the opposite direction, cannons blazing, trying hard not to be distracted by the hopelessness and uselessness of such an undertaking. The city was lost. Now the only problem was convincing Leena of the fact. Lucas pulled hard on her arm, looking over the edge of the railing at the snake of sentinels streaming up towards them, but Leena wouldn’t budge. “We have to get out of here! There’s nothing you can do!”

“We can fight them! We have to try!”

“Leena, it’s over! If we don’t leave now we’re dead! Now come on!” He pulled again and she remained rigid. The snake of sentinels shot up cavern past them and Lucas took his eyes off of Leena, the sentinels stealing his attention. When the snake curved over and headed back down towards them Leena jutted out her left hand. The snake hit a transparent wall and sentinels began dropping from the sky. Stunned beyond belief, Lucas didn’t know how to react. Soon the sound of laser cannons that filled in some of the background noise behind him ceased to exist and Michael and some of the others joined him in his astonishment. For a second there Lucas almost assumed that she might be right, but as the volume of sentinels increased and he turned an eye to Leena his initial instinct regained control of him again.

The strain on Leena’s person was unmistakable. The toll this fight was taking on her began to manifest itself in the form of the trickle of blood that began to emerge from each nostril on her face. Veins bulged everywhere and Lucas knew that he had to get her out of there before she killed herself. Wrapping his arm around her waist, he had to literally drag her with him as he retreated back towards the dock with the others. They dragged a trail of sentinels behind him as they moved, Leena still locked in a deadly battle of life and day with the creatures. They seemed to want to put an end to her just as bad as she’d sought their termination. The tunnel leading into the dock was becoming a tight fit for the fighting sentinels who found themselves having to crawl over the mounting corpses of the brethren as they strove to get to Leena. Soon the bottle neck shut tight and none could make it through.

Lucas could feel Leena’s body go limp in his arm. He turned and saw the sadness in her face as she wiped the blood away from her upper lip. Lucas took her into his arms in an embrace that was filled with as much comfort as it was fear. Looking at the clog of sentinels in the tunnel at her back, he could barely make out the sound of the cutting lasers peeling their way through the sentinel road block. He broke away from her and took her by the hand. “Come on. We have to hurry. That won’t hold them for long.” The couple ran the rest of the way.

Leena moved through the now extremely crowded hollows of the Juggernaut on her way to the cockpit. She had her arms hugged around her and tried not to look at the many worried faces that were jammed into every crevasse throughout the hovercraft. Young Kevin was among the faces that she past. Feeling that much more comforted, Leena continued on toward the cockpit. It was the only place with veritably any seclusion outside of her own domicile and that was no place that she needed to be right now with so much danger still afoot. Cpl. Vicks gave the igniter one last pump and to everyone’s delight brought the Juggernaut back to life. Leena could hear a few faint cheers emanating from the corridors behind her. They left the dock and the city of Zion behind them as they streaked through the tunnels on the Odessus’s tail.

Leena leaned back against the hull of the Juggernaut near the rear of the ship listening to the ensuing arguing that filled the section of tunneling they were in. The crowd that moved around outside of the ship had to constantly be reminded to lower their volume. Any number of sentinels could have been patrolling the area.

“I still haven’t heard any rational decisions about what we’re suppose to do now,” one of the citizens exclaimed.

“Just what I said,” Cpt Mills jumped in. “Between the two ships there should be enough food to sustain us for quite some time. Both ships are charged so there’s very little chance that we’ll get stranded out here before the machines clear out of Zion.”

“Say we do get back,” another quivering voice said. “What then?”

“We fight,” Buxton explained. He collected a lot of weary eyes. “What other choice do we have?” There were murmurs and mutterings all about.

“He’s right,” Cpt. Peller of the Odessus said.

“And how are we suppose to do that? Everything’s lost.”

“I’m not sure,” Buxton continued. “But I just saw one unarmed woman stand her ground against everything the machines threw at her and come back for more. And I believe that we’re only alive because of it. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I say we fight to keep it that way. Damn sure beats the alternative.”

Leena perked at Buxton’s mention of her and looked over the faces and people who had just suffered the greatest loss their world might ever know and saw many an affirmative nod at Buxton’s suggestion. Leena had asked the Oracle if there was a way of stopping the machine army and she’d responded by asking her to instead find a way of saving her people. Looking at this scene in front of her, Leena thought that she may have inadvertently done just that. By supplying them with the one thing they would need most of all during this time of struggle…Hope.

Leena walked along the sidewalk staring at the human beings that populated the street. Humans that had yet to be unplugged from the matrix. Zion would rise again and during that time she would be determined to do her part in aiding in its repopulation. In her lifetime she would sire five children with Lucas and free countless souls from the machine’s power plant. Upon her passing the Oracle would prophesize her return, deeming it would be an event that would hail the ultimate destruction of the matrix. Decades passed. Prophesy soon faded into legend; legend into myth; myth into fable, until ultimately the name Leena Storm was little more than an utterance heard in songs sung by passing children. Eventually her name fell from the lips of Zionites altogether as the population of the civilization swelled exponentially. The true facts of her existence were soon lost to time, but the ramifications of it lived on.

And one day, centuries beyond her time, someone would be born inside the matrix. Someone endowed with all of her strengths and abilities. Someone who might finally be able to bring this war to an end.

Leena stopped walking, crouched down, and with a hard push sent her body soaring through the sky above.

End
I'm going back to the matrix and I want you to come with me.
-Duo

www.myspace.com/plotholes
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