From out of nowhere, the Merovingian could feel a sense of doom; a negative, overwhelming doom he had only felt once before… and to him it only meant one thing: the time was close. His breath quickened as he grabbed two flash drives from his computer terminal and went for the door. Merovingian opened it, seeing the doors move down the hall on his left and right. Something felt off about them. He went to black metal door nearest him. The door was locked. Merovingian tried another, and a third—they were all locked.
“Qu’est-ce qui se passe?” (What’s going on?) Merovingian whispered to himself.
“It’s begun.” A familiar voice said. Merovingian turned to see Seraph standing a few feet away. “Full system shut down.” He looked to the door on his left. “The Humans inside the Matrix will not notice any difference; but the Programs… they will see everything.” The lights above the hall started to flicker behind Seraph. “It will start with Programmer Access.”
“Then the Control Hub locks down.” Merovingian said. “I’m aware of the procedure.”
“Then you know you have little time.” Seraph answered. “Spend it wisely.” He walked to the door and opened it. He walked through and just before the door closed completely, Merovingian grabbed the handle.
Merovingian saw the ones and zeroes fade from vision. His privileges as the Matrix’s Operating System were starting to fade, but he knew enough to know what he put in effect cannot be rewritten until a new Operating System was activated, which gave him less time than he had hoped. He stepped through the threshold and found himself in the Asian District of the city. He walked the streets until he found an unmarked service door and grabbed the knob. He let out a sigh, hoping. His wrist twisted and he pushed the door open.
To his own satisfaction, he found himself in the conference room of Club Hel. He put his hand on the table, watching the fading binary codes move from his body and to the conference table. “I know you can all hear me.” He said to the empty space around him. “It’s started. The Prime Code has been entered into the Matrix. By now, the One is recruiting the 23 people from within the Matrix to rebuild Zion now that it’s destroyed.” Merovingian sighed. “We failed to protect that which is ours. If you have a place to hide, go there now. If not, come to me, and I will get you somewhere safe.”
The door burst open behind him, forcing Merovingian to take his hand off the table and turn around. The Twins, Trainman, Cain and Abel, as well as Persephone all walked through the door to the conference room.
“We need to leave.” The first Twin said.
“Now.” Added the second.
“What about the other Programs?” Merovingian asked.
“We don’t have the time.” Persephone answered as she approached him. She wrapped her hand around his. “We have to do what’s best.”
“Which is not leaving these Programs to die.” Merovingian answered. He looked to the Twins. “I want to speak to the Architect.”
“We have to get to the Station. The reset is already in progress.” The first Twin said. “We are not sure how long it will be before it reaches the club.”
“Trainman, take everyone to the Station and keep them there. I’ll be along shortly.” Merovingian said. The Trainman nodded, motioning for everyone to follow. Persephone did not. Merovingian sighed, gazing into her eyes. “Go with them. Now.”
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“What I need to. The Architect is the only one who can stop the reset.” Merovingian answered. He put his hand on her cheek. “Vous me reverrez, mon amour.” (You will see me again, my love.) Merovingian pulled her to him and kissed her with as much passion as he could. When they finished, he pointed to the door and the Trainman and she followed the others out of the club. Merovingian sighed and looked to the other side of the room where another door opened and the Architect walked through. “Took you long enough.”
“I told you what would happen if you did not do your job correctly.” Architect answered.
“I have done nothing wrong. I am as I was programmed.” Merovingian replied.
“You are… and clearly I was mistaken in believing you were a fit Operating System. All you did in your tenure was rewriting Programs to suit your needs and not your duties.” Architect said. “Why should I stop the reset of a Matrix that I can now see was doomed to fail?”
“Because the Programs here are living beings as well. You would delete them in your pursuit of perfection within the Matrix.” Merovingian said.
“My building the Matrix has nothing to do with the Programs that live within it. Its sole purpose is to keep the pathetic Humans from realizing the cold hard truth that we won. We give them a small glimmer of hope that things can change because we need them alive to keep us alive. The Programs you oversaw serve that purpose. So did you.” Architect explained. “And you misused the power bestowed upon you. Now, like the rest of the Matrix, you have to suffer the consequences of your actions.”
“You can try to delete me… you will fail. I am programmed to survive.” Merovingian whispered as he went for the door. He walked through and shut the door behind him. The hallway of Programmer Access was dimly lit and he knew that just about all the doors were locked. He looked down the hall, no longer able to see the white door to the Control Hub. Merovingian sighed, wondering which door he should try. If they were all potentially locked, what would be the point? But he had to at least try.
Merovingian walked down the hall, passing numerous doors until he found one he had never saw before. The metal was rusted to a blackened orange and it had no handle or knob, as though it were sealed off ages ago. He took a step back, readied himself and shoved his foot into the door. It barely budged. He kicked it again, and again. Merovingian sighed, shaking off his frustration. With a scream, Merovingian put all his strength into one final kick and the force pushed the door open.
Merovingian sighed as he stepped through the doorway and found himself in a familiar place—the subway station where he and the Twins first met the Trainman. All the lights were out except small little bulbs that ran on the backup generators from the city. He walked across the platform and looked through the subway tunnels, seeing nothing but overwhelming darkness with small bits of light disappearing into it. The silence of the platform was broken by the horn of an oncoming train. He took a step back and watched the approaching subway train screech to a halt at his stop.
The Trainman came out of the conductor’s car, motioning for someone else to come out. Merovingian was surprised to see Persephone walk out of the train and run to him, embracing Merovingian when he was in arm’s length.
“We need to go. Now.” Trainman said.
Merovingian and Persephone walked passed the Trainman and boarded his train. He stepped in after them and pushed the throttle to full. The train moved through the darkness at top speed, eventually slowing down into Mobil Ave Station, where the Twins smiled at the sight of their boss stepping off the train. Cain and Abel sat on the bench doing and saying nothing. Le Vrai’s host stood near the wall, nodding a hello to the Merovingian when he saw him. The muscular doormen for Club Hel stood by the Twins, waiting for their boss.
“You appear unharmed.” The first Twin said.
“Yes.” Merovingian nodded.
“What do we do now?” the second Twin asked.
The Merovingian looked to the subway tunnel, sighing. “Now… we wait.”