* * *
In the real world, the year is 3577. In the Matrix, the year is 3375.
My name is Neo. I am the One.
No, a long time ago I was the One. When the Matrix spanned one planet, not five as well as countless moons. When Morpheus and Trinity were alive. Now I'm just Neo.
Agent Smith said that my body died the way Trinity did; a Sentinel sliced me in half. I have to take his word for it. Certainly my body no longer exists, but I was in the Matrix at the time. That's probably why I'm still alive.
It's amusing in a macabre fashion to watch Agents Brown and Smith theorize as to why I didn't cease to exist when my body died. Their current theory is that somehow my ability to interpret the Matrix combined with humanity's ability to survive almost anything and resulted in my mind being able to believe that I was still alive.
Belief is a powerful thing in the Matrix.
That's one of the few constants. The Agents are among the others.
I sigh and lean back in my chair.
It's nice to have those constants.
Things have changed in the Matrix. The simulation has evolved and spread. In here, humanity has developed AI and discovered interstellar travel. They've spread out across countless planets and encountered another sentient species.
According to Agent Smith, the AI had encountered the Vegans while building the Pluto base and cleaning out the mobile fungi. Apparently, the Vegans were interested in what was giving off the communications signals on the outermost world of the Sol system. The Vegans were quite friendly and gladly talked about their homeworld and daughter planets with the AI. The AI went on to systematically conquer the entire race and place them within the Matrix. Thus, we have a genuine second biologically-based sentient species in here.
There are a lot more Agents than there used to be. Comes with the larger scale of the Matrix. They're still considered part of the government, though their uniforms have changed. They wear black body-armor now and have ditched the sunglasses.
A drink is pressed into my hand. I take a sip and smile in appreciation. It's nice to have some constants. Agent Brown is still the best damn drink-mixer I've ever met.
He sits down and sips his own drink. Agent Smith already has his, I notice. Agent Jones doesn't drink. Something about making sure we don't do something stupid and give away our nature.
I'm not sure why it matters if people know that the Special Forces and the man named Neo are immortal. Of course, everyone who knows I exist "know" that I'm ex-Special Forces. Most of them actually believe it, too. There are a few who know I'm lying; you live and die in the Special Forces.
Agent Smith is looking at me oddly. Possibly wondering what I'm thinking about.
"I wonder if the Resistance ever had a chance after we destroyed the Nebuchadnezzar?" Agent Brown asks idly.
"No," Agent Smith replies right away.
"Possibly. If they had contacted me-" I begin to argue.
"They would have found you a broken wreck. Your Trinity's death was still too raw a wound," Agent Smith interrupted.
I frown and nod. It may sound conceited to think that I would make that big a difference in the Resistance, however, it is a fact that the Resistance didn't truly start failing until the Neb was destroyed.
Taking another sip of my drink, I realize it's empty.
"Hey, Brown, Long Slow Screw Against the Wall, please."
He smirks and gets up. It's still early and he isn't drunk enough to try and take me literally. I still find it amusing that programs can get drunk on simulated liquor.
Agent Smith is eyeing me. I just smile and lean back in my very comfortable chair. Around me, candles flicker softly and the soft sound of splashing liquid fills my ears.
Agent Brown hands me the drink and sits down again. One of these days, he's going to realize that his life will be easier if he sits closer to the bar during these little rendezvouses.
They started in the Matrix year 2112. I was trying to drink myself to death when they came into the bar, looking for me. At that point in time, I was one of the last humans who knew the Truth. I think that there were a few ships that were still functioning then.
Agents Brown and Jones grabbed me and hustled me out of there quickly. Eventually, we ended up doing a repeat of my original interrogation in a similar office. Agent Smith glowered and threatened at me and I got angry.
It went rather down hill from there and according to Agent Jones, Smith and I ended up trashing most of the downtown. I'm inclined to agree with him; I distinctly remember throwing Smith through a skyscraper.
After that, they agreed to leave me alone if I agreed not to interfere with the Matrix. To me that meant that I didn't attempt to aid the Resistance. To them that meant that I wouldn't manipulate the Matrix in any way.
They were back to talk with me almost a month later.
That's when I learned what an excellant drink-mixer Brown is. I think the plan was to get me drunk and then mess with my head. It didn't work too well; I'd learned how to purge simulated alcohol from my system long before that.
"Neo, are you alive?" Agent Smith asked sardonically, interrupting my thoughts.
I nod and take another drink. The room is starting to go comfortably blurry.
Being immortal is lonely. It's been a thousand years since I last saw Trinity or Morpheus. These three are the only people that I've seen constantly. Agent Jones, the silent watcher; Agent Brown, the best drink-mixer in the galaxy; and Agent Smith, the only insane immortal I've ever met.
It's had its effect on me.
In a few hours or minutes, Agent Smith is going to look at me with a fire in his eyes that I've only seen when he's spectacularly drunk. And we're going to go up to a warm bedroom and have sex.
In the morning, we're going to wake up and curse and swear that we'll never do this again. Agents Brown and Jones will be sitting down here, Brown smirking and Jones just looking. There will be coffee brewing.
When Smith and I come downstairs and glare at them and demand to know why they didn't stop us, Brown will just smirk more and Jones will merely look at us.
And it will be alright, because after a thousand years, these three people matter more to me than the faded memories of the woman I loved and the man I believed in.