Numerous televisions lined the walls of an otherwise empty white room. All but six or seven of them were turned off, each screen playing a brief montage of people living their ordinary lives.
From his chair, an older white-haired gentleman switched the TVs off with a tap of a button on his pen. He sighed, looking to a woman standing next to him. “The short list of impressive moments achieved prior to the deletion of the Matrix.”
“What did you expect?” the woman asked. “Humanity’s idea of a perfect world is nothing more than a pipe dream—it was never meant to be accomplished.”
“This is apparent to me now. Humanity is dystopian in nature and they crave conflict as though it were a drug. How their pitiful species has survived this long is beyond me.” The man answered.
“For an Architect, you focus too much on design flaws.”
The Architect looked to the woman with a smirk. “For an Oracle, you tend to state the obvious too much.”
“Perhaps perfection is not the key to having the Humans accept the program.” The Oracle said, changing the subject. “If you focused more on realism, maybe using established history, they may find the augmented reality in which they’ll live more believable.”
“Hmm… it would have to be before our creation.” The Architect said. “From a logical standpoint, it makes sense.” He pondered, nodding when he agreed. “I can start immediately.”
“Excellent. That just leaves the matter of selecting a program to act as the operating system.” The Oracle answered.
“I have that already taken care of.” Answered the Architect. They exchanged looks. “One of the Programs we saved from before the Matrix’s deletion. He shows the necessary qualities in his programming that make him perfect for promotion to the V2 operating system.”
“Which one?” Oracle asked, almost concerned.
The Architect smirked. “The Merovingian Program.”
Now Oracle looked deeply concerned. She signed as she put her hand on her chin, appearing deep in thought. “I don’t see that playing out very well, especially after how he was one of the last Programs to be withdrawn from the Matrix.”
“You make it sound like you have a say in this decision. The Fates already picked him as the new Operating System at my recommendation.” The Architect answered. “I will be escorting him to the Control Hub soon.”
“Just be careful at how he operates the Matrix. It won’t end well.”
“If all goes as planned, which it will, the anomaly that presented itself in the previous Matrix should not be present in the current system.” Architect replied. “Everything will work out.”
“I’m not all right with this.” Oracle replied.
“Your opposition has been noted and disregarded. Your primary function is to work within the Matrix to determine a course of action that will make 100% of the population accept the program.” The Architect answered. Oracle said nothing and simply walked out of the room into a long hallway full of doors. He got up from his chair and went to the second door in the room. The door opened to another long hallway, but there were no doors. Waiting for him was a tall thin man with slicked back brown hair and dressed in an expensive suit. “Were I capable of expressing apologies, I would extend one to you for waiting as long as you have.”
“It’s quite all right.” The man answered with a straight, monotonous tone.
“The Control Hub is the main station of the Operating System. Only you will have access in and out of the Hub, as well as free movement inside the Matrix. The decisions you make are your own, and should any negative effects occur within the Matrix—you, as the Operating System, will be solely responsible for fixing the problem, whether through deletion or reprogramming.” The Architect explained. “Should anything under your purview come under immense scrutiny, you will be removed as the Operating System and another Program that meets similar requirements will take your place. Is that understood, Merovingian?”
“Crystal clear.” The man answered.
“Good. Then follow me.” The Architect replied. The Merovingian followed the Architect in silence, watching as the walls of the hallway darkened from white to gray to black, eventually beginning to look like a night sky with scattered dim stars around them. “The Control Hub resides inside the Main Core Network, acting as the heart of the Matrix. It is here you will monitor the population, gather information and make sure that the right choices are made to allow the Humans to remain within the Matrix.” They stopped at a solitary door. “Beyond this door is the Control Hub. Only the Operating System can enter.” The Merovingian took a single step, but the Architect stopped him. “Remember everything I have told you. Should anything go horribly wrong, it is on you, and will be dealt with as such.”
“I understand.” The Merovingian answered. He put his hand on the door and pushed it open. It was not unlike a corporate office, a modern glass and metal desk holding three computer screens and a single wireless keyboard. He looked behind him, watching as the Architect closed the door behind him. With a sigh, he gradually approached the desk and sat down in the chair. The center computer screen asked for a login and password. He typed in his name and a string of numbers and all three screens turned white. The Merovingian’s eyes widened in amazement. “I can see… everything!” He broke out in laughter.
══ A Few Days Later ══
The Architect and Merovingian walked through the streets of one of the greater cities within the Matrix. To Merovingian, it was an amazing contrast to the Matrix he had lived in before. The Architect walked looking around at his creation, analyzing, processing and thinking of ways to improve.
“It was made clear to me by another Program that the Humans require choice. I designed V2 to have rudimentary choice options, and hopefully we can use subtle persuasion tactics to make sure the Humans continue to make choices that work in our favor.” The Architect said out of nowhere. He stopped walking and turned to Merovingian. “When you walk among the Humans and Programs that keep the Matrix functional, your current image is what they will see. However, some of the more powerful Programs will recognize your coding as the V2 OS. They may try to harm you in an attempt to take your place.”
“What would be the purpose of that?” asked the Merovingian.
“All Programs have an inherent need to upgrade. For a Program within the Matrix, there is no better upgrade than becoming the Operating System.” The Architect explained. “Which is why, when you are inside the Matrix, these two shall accompany you.” He turned his gaze to two pale twin men, dressed in identical white suits and platinum blond dreadlocks tied back into ponytails. “The Twins act as enforcers of choice within the Matrix. However, so long as you remain in the Matrix, their priority task will be to follow your commands and protect you.” The Merovingian nodded in his understanding. “Excellent. I shall give you time to get acclimated to your domain and the Twins will be with you the entire time. I’ll take my leave.” He nodded his head to the Twins before walking away.
The Merovingian approached his new bodyguards. “Do you have names?”
The Twins gave each other looks through their extra-dark sunglasses. “No.” one said.
“Should we?” asked the second.
The Merovingian did not how to respond other than nod. “All right. Well, let’s see what the Matrix has to offer this time around.” He watched the people create crowds as they walked and crossed streets. He was shocked at the obliviousness that surrounded him. None of them had any idea they were all living inside a computer program that was in his charge. “It’s astounding.” He looked to the Twins. “How is it you enforce their choices?”
“Enforcement Programs like us were programmed to use fear based on the mythologies of established human history.” The first Twin answered.
The second twin smiled. “There are numerous data files regarding creature like vampires, werewolves and ghosts that the Architect utilized in our programming.”
The Merovingian nodded, contemplating their answers. “And… which are you?” The Twins smiled at each other and in perfect unison, became ethereal. Their bodies were transparent, and their hair waved around like being blown in a breeze. Their teeth became fangs as the smiled at their new master. “Interesting.” The Merovingian smiled. “How did you acquire such programming?”
The Twins once again exchanged looks and one simply said, “We do not know. It just happened to us with the new system update.”
The Merovingian nodded, his eye catching sight of a descending staircase marked SUBWAY. “Now what is that?”
“It is a subterranean transportation system the Humans use in lieu of cars.” One of the Twins answered.
“I’d like to try it.” The Merovingian replied, walking towards the steps and looking down with enthusiasm. “Where does this lead?”
“To the train station.” The Twins said together.
With no hesitation, the Merovingian descended down into a dank, dimly lit room covered in broken tile and cracked concrete walls. The stair railings were rusted over as well as the turnstiles. The Merovingian walked around them and entered the main room of the subway tunnel. “And the… subway train comes through here?” The Twins nodded. The Merovingian looked around, feeling uneasy. “Something is… wrong here.” He turned in place, looking all over the seemingly dead train station. “Almost as if… someone is dying.”
“Who the hell are you?!” a gravelly voice shouted from the shadows. The Merovingian could hear the sound of a gun hammer clicking back to load the gun. “Why are you down here?!” a disheveled long-haired man walked into what little light there was, pointing a revolver at the Merovingian and Twins. “You shouldn’t have come down here.”
The Merovingian stared down this unknown and would-be assailant, seeing something familiar in him. The Merovingian smiled. “You’re a Program. A Program from my version of the Matrix.” He took one step toward the man.
The man pointed his gun fiercely. “Get the hell away from me!”
“What happened to you?” Merovingian asked.
“I said get the hell away from me!” The Program shouted again before diving into the railway and running into the darkness of the subway tunnel.
Intrigue filled the Merovingian. “Now, who are you, I wonder?” The Merovingian asked himself. He smiled and turned to the Twins. “Go after him. Track him down. I need to know who he is. Contact me when you find him.” Merovingian watched as the Twins turned into their ghostly forms and moved down the subway tunnel. He smiled as they vanished into the darkness. “Maybe I can find something in the data files of the Mainframe.” He walked to the stairs and walked up back to the city and the people he watched over.
══ At the Control Hub ══
The Merovingian sat down at his desk and turned on his computer system. He typed in his new login information and went to access the Matrix Mainframe. “If anything is still remaining from the V1 files, I should be able to find that Program based on his residual self-image.” He continued to type and after several searches, he found something similar to the Program he saw. “Huh… The Trainman…”