It's weird, After all the the chaos of the last month or so, it's as calm as it ever was. We have blue sky, no wind and the birds flying over the city as if nothing has happened. There's an unofficial truce on, the Merv, Machine and Zion operatives might be in under orders to eliminate each other but those orders are being ignored. It's like Christmas in the trenches.
I don't get it, did my contact win? Is everything back to normal? I hope so. For four hours I walk round the whole of the mega city. I've recently gained access to all of the nodes so there's not an agent in sight. It's strange that it's so quiet. I walk round Central park into Park East, ignored by everyone as if I'm a ghost.
It's then all hell breaks loose.
"Zion Alert." It's broadcast in the clear.
"We are receiving reports that the recursion instance of the Matrix has crashed. As of this time there is no machine activity near either new Zion or the old zion ruins. All operatives are to be on their guard. It's obvious that the machines have had some kind of power failure and we pray for the blue pills."
"MindX?" I call up the captain's link.
"Yeah, I heard." Comes the reply. "I got nothing on this. I'm putting the rest of the black code on alert and called up people who haven't been online for years."
"I guess it's keep your eyes open."
The Connection re-establishes itself.
"Get o..r t. ... Om..a M.n! P..k .p p..k..e. R.n to M..a C..t..l. D..'t s..p, JUST RUN!!"
The connection drops.
I kick in my speed ability and make for the Kalt Chemical Headquarters in the centre of Park East. This building is a front for the Machine HQ. The original HQ was torn down and rebuilt as this one, but the hallway is the same. I burst in and see the metal dector's, the security guards and tactical security goons. I race straight past them all before any of them can loosten a shot.
I get up to the elevator and hit floor 80. thirty seconds later and I'm on the roof, in the corner is the Omega man. A program which collects oddities from the matrix. Things that have fallen through the cracks. But when I see Him I know something is really wrong. He's only half there and fading by the second.
"Operative, I have one item for you, no charge." He says.
"erm ok. Any instructions?"
"Yes, Get out at Mara Central. No other hardline will work with this package."
"That it ?"
"No, look behind you." His RSI fades completely.
Oh Crap, Please not HIM.
I slowly turn round and there, just as I was warned, is Smith, walking towards me, gun raised.
"You probably could have chosen a better time than this to come back."
"It was inevitable that I would return." That Monotone voice makes my fists itch but I keep calm.
"You did that on recursion?"
That threw him. He wasn't expecting that. He cocked his head to one side as if listening to the wind.
"No, why should I be bothered by recursion?"
"Because it's crashed."
"That is such an inconvenience." He didn't sound bothered.
I could see something form behind him. A red mist of Matrix Symbols, slowly spreading out form the point he arrived.
"So you're not doing that then?" I say pointing behind him.
Smith turns and observes the expanding red symbols. Behind them, there is nothing but inky black.
"No, No, NOOOOOOO!" Smith yells, and shoots into the nothingness. "Not Like this, NOT LIKE THIS!"
But it's too late, the red symbols slowly cover him. He manages to turn round and he looks me straight in the eye. I've seen the terror on red pills faces when they're RSI is Deleted, but that's nothing to what happens to Smith. I almost feel sorry for him as he melts away in red. Almost!
Aw Pants. I've just seen the expanding cloud reach the stairwells. I look over the edge at the eight story drop. Ah, what the hell. I jump.
I've never hyperjumped this high and for this long, but it doesn't break my legs and I'm able to start running. I glance round and see the red sphere expand and engulf the Kalt building. Everything is going, the buildings, the exiles and the Bluepills. If my contact is right, then the hard lines are down, which means Subway trains. The closest is in the historical District.
I kick in my desperation ability and my running speed increases. I'm outpacing the red but will I have enough distance by the time I get to the yellow line?
I call up the Captain.
"It's happening here. Park East just imploded! The only hardline working is Mara Central! Get everyone out."
It's getting hard to breath as I race through the park in the centre of the Historical District, the Train station comes into view. I glance behind me to see a wall of red devour the city. I run down the steps and make thanks to any god who's listening, as there's a subway car ready to go.
I jump in, the door's shut and the car speeds it's way to tabor park.
"Zion alert!" Another broadcast in the clear again. "We have reports of the collapse of the vector instance. In addition syntax is collapsing as we speak. All Zion Operatives are to evacuate using the Mara Central Hardline."
At least Mind got through to Tyndell. The car's stop at tabor park and I get out. I run up the stairs and look towards Downtown. It's gone, the Sphere has made it to the bridges, it won't be long before it gets here. I kick in every trick in the book, every ability. I'm jumping over the highway when I notice how much faster the red sphere has become, it's going to be close.
I land in Debir Court and allow myself a second to say goodbye. It's the last time I'll ever see the place. Then I start running again.
I get up to the hypercube monument, there are redpills dancing and cheering but with a shriek, they all freeze and curl up into a physically impossible ball. I'm trying to resist and even though I can feel my limbs beginning to contort, I throw myself
round the corner and into the hardline. The Red is so close it can almost touch me.
I jack out and into our loading area. Mindx and Pool are both there.
"Close one." Mind says
"What about the others round the monument?"
MindX looks over at Pool, who shakes his head.
Xenin calls up. "Hey Dfire. What's that new file you brought with you?"
We Jack out to look at it.