The Matrix: Revolutions?
I don't know what time Hakuin woke me up this morning, because I don't have a clock in my room. In fact, the meaning of time seems to have changed since I was unplugged. The dates on these journal entries, for instance, have no correlation to relative time whatsoever -- I write these words two days after my last entry, but the software records it as five weeks later.
Alas, I have bigger fish to fry. My internal clock -- the only real source I have, aside from the feed from Zion's atomic clock -- said it was five AM when Hakuin pounded on my door. I followed him onto the bridge and found Ramb, Kelvin and Tera waiting for us.
"What's up?" I asked.
"We need to go inside," Hakuin said. "Are you ready?"
I was. I'd spent the last day in comprehensive training -- advanced sabotage; weapons use and repair; self defense. Tera had also insisted that I go through a program called TaxiBeads, so named because it teaches the user to have his ass. It's mostly running and hiding from Agents.
Still, I didn't think we'd go in so quickly. "I guess so," I said. "What's the rush?"
"There's someone who wants to speak with you," he said.
"Her name is Delphi."
Thirty seconds later we were standing in a dark room beside a ringing phone. As with the training programs, we were dressed in a self-conceptual imaging apparel system -- basically, dressed as we most want to be dressed. I had a loose, dark green shirt and black pants. The others all wore similarly crisp attire, complete with long coats and sunglasses. I could feel a gun tucked into my belt.
Ramb picked up the receiver. "We're in," she said. We left the building and climbed into a black sedan in the parking lot. Tera drove; Hakuin rode shotgun.
The world seemed shiny and bright -- like the contrast was turned up too high. We drove through the streets of the city I live in. Or used to. I watched the buildings go by, lost in thought, then turned to Ramb. "Who is she?" I asked.
She paused. "Delphi is a coordinator," she said. "She's kind of a hub for the resistance."
Kelvin gave her an off glance, then looked away. I looked at him. "What?" I asked.
He grinned. "Delphi," he said, and lingered.
I looked at Ramb, who shrugged. "What?" I asked again. "You mean the oracle? She's an oracle?"
"You saw the movies," Kelvin said. "We get help from some unusual people sometimes."
I threw my hands up. "Those are a myth," I protested. "A legend. You said yourselves that they had changed some things and made others up."
He shrugged. "Still . . ."
"Oracle is quite a term," Ramb said. "Maybe we could say . . ."
"You mean to tell me she can see the future?" I asked, cutting her off.
"In a manner of speaking," Hakuin said.
"What does that mean?"
"It's not prophesy," he said. "It's logic. Look at it this way: On the Go board, you decide where to play by reading out the board position, right? Okay, so what is that? You look at what's there and make the most educated prediction about how things will turn out, given a series of optimal decisions." I nodded. "So," he continued, "imagine this war as a very large game of Go. Delphi, then, is the best among us at reading our global board position."
Kelvin nodded. "She has a way of seeing things that's extremely sophisticated. It's kind of a meta-grand scale."
"So why does she want to see me?" I though of Neo, and how the Oracle had wanted to meet him, to see if he was The One.
"She wants to meet everyone we unplug," Ramb said simply. My heart dropped a bit.
We passed a minimall, then slowed down. I looked at the house beyond it, and noticed a sign out front as Tera pulled into the driveway. "Oh hell no," I said. It was a fortune teller.
"It's a front," Tera said as she killed the motor. She looked at me in the rearview. "Think logistics. How do you meet regularly with a group of oddballs, discussing global population dynamics and future events, and avoid raising suspicion? If the machines are listening -- and it's never a bad assumption -- they'll decide it's all just talk."
"I'd like to go on record as being extremely skeptical," I said.
"So noted," Hakuin replied. "Let's go."
I followed them inside and found exactly what I expected to find: purple drapes, gaudy chairs, and a table with a deck of tarot cards on it. A bell sounded as we entered, and a voice called from a back room: "Be right there!" Seconds later, a middle-aged woman with braided black hair and a dark complexion came through a beaded curtain. She wore a flowing red and black robe.
"Good afternoon," she said as she emerged, but she cut herself off. "Oh, it's you." She looked at Hakuin. "I thought you were going to call." She pulled the robe off to reveal a much less mystic-looking white t-shirt and black jeans.
"There was a car following us for a while," Hakuin said. "We didn't want to risk it."
Delphi flung the robe over her shoulder and approached me. "Psychle," she said.
"That's what they call me."
"I'm Delphi," she said. She studied me, then said, "how long have you been out?"
"Two weeks," Hakuin said.
"What do you think so far?" she asked me.
"It's like nothing I've ever seen," I said.
She smiled. "C'mon," she said, turning toward the back room. I glanced around.
"You're not coming?" I asked the others.
Hakuin shook his head. "It's for you," he said.
"Besides," Ramb added, "we've heard most of it already."
I followed Delphi through the curtain, down a hallway, past several closed doors, down a short staircase, and into an office; it was exactly the opposite of what I expected. To begin with, it was huge -- the size of the entire main floor. On the north wall was the largest map of the world I'd ever seen. It filled the entire wall, easily forty feet, and was strewn with messy notes, push pins, and writing in many languages. The other walls contained maps of each continent, similarly decorated.
She sat behind a desk with a computer keyboard and monitor. On a table beside her sat another laptop, glowing into the dimly lit room. A pair of lamps illuminated the area around themselves.
She gestured to a folding chair facing the desk. "Sit," she said, and held out a pack of cigarettes. "Smoke?" I shook my head. She shrugged and lit one. "Yeah," she said, inhaling. "I can't think of a way to be cool or rebellious or rockin', so instead I just smoke."
I glanced around. "Okay," I said.
"You never saw that PSA."
"I don't watch much TV."
"Not even The Simpsons?"
"Well of course I watch The Simpsons. Give me a little credit."
She smiled and ashed. "I'm waiting for the first," she said. "So far everyone who's come out is on board. I'm just waiting, though. I'm sure there'll be someone eventually."
"Look, I don't want to be rude, but . . ."
She waved her hand. "Okay, sorry. You want to know why you're here." I nodded, and she did the same. "What had Hakuin told you?"
"All about the war," I said. "Soup to nuts."
She let out a long, slow plume of smoke. "Yeah," she said. "I've never been sure about that word."
I scowled. "Nuts?"
She smiled. "Wars are fought for power," she said. "For land, for resources."
I shrugged. "If the fight lasts long enough, it becomes a war. Doesn't matter what it's for."
She nodded. "Yeah, I guess." She tapped a finger. "I still don't know if it fits."
"Besides," I continued, "It is for power, isn't it? The machines have power over us and we need to get that power back."
She paused and stared past me. "Sort of," she said.
"What we need," she said, leaning back -- the chair leaned with her -- "is a revolution."
"Like the one Neo led."
She raised an eyebrow. "You've seen the footage."
I nodded. "Part of the history, they told me."
She moved her head back and forth. "I guess," she said. "But there's as much myth as truth to be had there."
"That was my impression."
She nodded, and drew deeply on her cigarette. "What Neo caused was a ceasefire," she said. "The Oracle made it happen, as a way to save Zion."
I scowled. "You think the Oracle was trying to save Zion?" I asked. "She told Neo she didn't know if it could be saved."
Delphi nodded. "That's true," she said. "She didn't know. But she was willing to try, for the sake of the ceasefire."
"The Architect called it a peace."
"The presence of peace is more than the absence of war," Delphi said.
"'It's the presence of justice,'" I replied.
She sat back. "You've done your homework," she said. "So you see why that war didn't result in a revolution. It didn't change the fundamental issues -- it just eliminated an annoying thing that got in the way."
"Exactly. And yet in a way Neo's action was revolutionary."
"How so?" I scowled. "That doesn't make sense. Either it was or it wasn't."
She exhaled a cloud of smoke. "What is a revolution?" she asked.
"It's 'not a dinner party,'" I said.
She smiled again. "Impressive," she said. "King and Mao."
I shrugged. "Actually, I got that one from a t-shirt."
"It can't be so subdued," she continued. "'It's a violent seizure of power.' Actually, there's some discussion to be had on the necessity of violence, but that's a discussion for another time. But you're thinking very literally, and inside a certain set of assumptions."
I blinked and waited for her to continue.
"Think of a wheel," she said. "As it revolves, it goes through a revolution. Every cycle works the same way -- each revolution brings with it a change: either distance or energy or time or all of the above. Social and political systems work the same way. The revolution is once around the cycle, and you can't expect that everything will change; but the point is, something has to, or else it's just a reform."
"So what changed after Neo's war?"
"The machines had to relate to us differently," she said. "They realized that coexistence was necessary. So that met the main requirement for a revolution."
"The purpose of a revolution -- a real revolution -- must not be power alone, but ultimately the raising of consciousness for all involved."
"Because that's the only way you'll achieve the real changes needed; so that the cycle of death and destruction can finally end."
"So who will lead us in the next revolution? Is there another One on the horizon?" I felt my nerves accelerate again.
"No," she said flatly. "The One was a construct for that place and that time. There will be no saviors for our uprising. We shall have no saviors except ourselves."
"But Neo could do things the rest of us couldn't do."
"Perhaps," she said. "But I don't buy the idea that there's one person who will come from the heavens and rescue us all. It's not about looking for that one person, and pinning all our hopes on him. It's a struggle we must endure as equals, with justice among us as well as ahead of us. Neo's story is important and inspiring -- but like I said, there's as much legend there as logic." She extinguished the cigarette and pulled open a drawer. "For now, we work strategically. Find weak spots. Attack vulnerabilities." She withdrew a brown envelope and handed it to me. "Read this in a safe place," she said. "When you've all consumed it, destroy it."
I took the envelope and started to open it. She came quickly around the desk and grabbed my arm. "Get up," she said. "You and the others have to leave now." She jostled me toward the stairs.
"What?" I asked. "What's the problem?"
"There are agents coming," she said.