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Ghosts in the Machine

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Summary: Even virtual worlds need defending from the forces of darkness

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Movies > Matrix, ThepythiaFR1311,204082,32616 Jul 0616 Jul 06Yes
Disclaimer: I don't own anybody or anything - BTVS belongs to Joss and the Matrix to Larry and Andy Wachowski. I'm just borrowing the ideas to see how they mix.

Author's notes: This was just a little plot bunny that wouldn't go away ...

Now the dogma of the Ghost in the Machine does just this. It maintains that there exist both bodies and minds.
Gilbert Ryle (1900–1976), British philosopher. The Concept of Mind,

There are indications that the occasional glimpse of apparently supernatural beings within the Matrix are, in fact, the remnants of old programs, echoes of earlier attempts to bring the human population under control. Some of these programs appear to have gained a level of independence from the machines’ control; some, it would appear, are also viral in nature, passing their ‘infection’ onto the engrammic patterns of captive human minds. Like Agents, they can infect and ‘take over’ a human host. Unlike agents, however, it would appear that once they have done so, they cannot let go. The human soul is lost; the body eventually follows, withering away into death. All that remains are the ghosts in the machine.

‘Observations on the Matrix: notes collected by the Council of Zion’

e-mail to: Morpheus
From: ZionHacker
Subject: Vampire viruses and system control

Hey man. Heard you ran across some of those wild vampire types while you were jacked in the other day. Tough call – though I know you were wired to deal with it. Fact, I bet you kicked ass, right?
Thing is – I’m guessing the Machines let those things run around to help keep the guys down, you know? And I heard … well, maybe you heard this too … that there’s this special program they implement, so that they can keep infections from getting totally outta hand. Sounds kinda weird, huh? I mean, surely they could just send in a couple of Agents and shut down the corrupted segments – unless these vampire virus types can corrupt Agent software too …
Any way, I was sent in to liberate some system files a few days ago – and I found this whole restricted section labelled up ‘Chosen One’ Which I thought might interest you , so I totally ripped it.
Except it isn’t about the One at all; it’s some kinda operational code. There’s a systems upgrade with at least two functional subroutines that I managed to identify – one’s an avatar upgrade and the other is the spec for a whole new kind of Agent protocol. The upgrade looks kinda cool – but, man – I hope I never meet one of these ‘Watcher’ guys on the street. The average Agent is bad news, but these guys? The spec suggests that a full implementation would have system access. Which means they’d be able to work some of Neo’s kind of magic.
I’m attaching the file for you so you can check out. In case there’s anything in it you can use.
Keep flying.

e-mail to: ZionHacker
From: Neo
Subject: Vanpire viruses/system control

Whoa. That is some scary programming. We ran the Slayer upgrade for Trinity on her last insert; first off, we didn’t see any major differences – and then she ran into three Agents. Last time that happened, I barely got her out. This time she tore them into shreds almost before I could reach her side. Strange thing is, the upgrade only seems to work on women. I could see it in Trinity’s subroutines, bright as day – but when we ran it for Morpheus, it didn’t seem to take. Just sat there, like a bunch of redundant code.
Morpheus thinks he’s run into one of these re-protocolled Agent/Watchers before – but he couldn’t be sure. He and I are going to talk to the Oracle, in case she knows anything about this stuff.
Meanwhile, we’re running some tracing software to see if we can spot any of this code in action. If there are Watchers lurking somewhere in the Matrix we’ll find them.

Know about the Watchers, boy? Of course I do. They’ve been in the system as long as the demons have. That’s old programming, and I suspect the Machines have forgotten all about it by now. The way most of them have forgotten about me.
The vampires haven’t though. If any of them gather in too great a number, the Slayer protocol kicks in and takes them down. There’ll be a girl – just the average kind – and her avatar will get the whole package, including her very own Watcher, just in case she gets out of hand. She’ll hunt down the vampires and the demons and most of the other remnants too; she’s chosen, just the way you were Neo, although for her it’s a completely different kind of destiny.

Conversation between Neo and the Oracle.

e-mail to: Neo
From: ZionHacker
Subject: Rumours from the Dark Side

Picked this up in a couple of chat rooms and tried to chase it down before it vanished into speculation and rumour …
Seems the Slayer protocol has been activated, somewhere deep in the Matrix. Apparently it kicked in when some corrupted code crashed the core Matrix and brought some of the backup systems back on line. Rumour has it the backups are full of old code and viruses – a kinda ‘Hell dimension’ loaded with Trojans, worms and all kinds of ugly stuff.
Heard something else too – that the Slayer protocol has become compromised in some way. That there’s more than one Slayer and – get this – at least one Watcher has gone rogue. Gained independence and free will. I don’t know how true that is, but it’s certainly worth checking out. A free Agent – with some system access and influence on at least one upgraded avatar.
Good job they’ll be hunting vampires and not us, huh?

e-mail to: ZionHacker
From: Neo
Subject: Dark Side rumours

Looks like those rumours are true. We tracked the code you sent us to an isolated section of the Matrix the inhabitants think is a small Californian town called ‘Sunnydale.’ Seems as if there’s been some remnant code masking that backup activation you heard about – there’s corrupted programming being bussed in from archive memory and attempts being made to redistribute it right across the Matrix.
I say ‘attempts’ because very little’s actually getting out. There’s some leakage hitting LA, and evidence of some viral activity elsewhere, but its minor compared to the concentration in Sunnydale itself. There’s something big brewing there. If it does break through, the Matrix could well collapse – and thousands will die. I can’t let that happen.
We need to check out this rumour about the Watcher, too. Agents are bad enough. Free Agents are dangerous – and a free Agent with potential system access just doesn’t bear thinking about.
Morpheus, Trinity and myself are going for a direct insertion at the heart of the breach. Maybe we can contact the Slayer avatar, help her out – and then help her out.
You never know.
She might be some help to us, too.

Matrix primary system, Sunnydale sub-sector

Mayor Wilkins leaves his desk and goes to the window, looking out at his world with a smile, feeling the shift and swirl of the changes that are moving through him.
Over at Sunnydale High the Prom is in full swing.
In the main hall young people are gathered for their celebration.
Out in the courtyard the Slayer is busy dancing with hellhounds

And in the depths of the Library the phone rings …

The End

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