Merovingian stood on the Mobil Ave platform, waiting. The Twins stood only a few feet away. Persephone was near the Le Vrai host, talking about their favorite menu items from the restaurant. Cain and Abel still sat on the one bench Mobil Ave Station had. They were silent, and their heads low.
The sound of a train came from the tunnel and it screeched to a stop, the Trainman stepping out of the cabin, shaking his head. “Still nothing out there.” He said to the Merovingian when he was in earshot.
“That’s the fifth run you’ve made.” Merovingian answered. “Rest for a while.” The Trainman nodded and walked away from the Merovingian.
None of them knew how long they had stayed in that one room train station. It felt like ages. There was no day or night, sun or moon. There was no breeze or back room at Le Vrai or the VIP lounge at the Hel Club. The Merovingian missed all of them and more.
══ Some Time Later ══
Merovingian watched the Trainman enter the train and it chugged off into the darkness of the subway tunnel. Several minutes later the train came through the other side of the platform, the Trainman running through.
“You all need to see this!” he shouted, motioning for everyone to enter the train. Cain and Abel finally moved and went for the train. The Twins boarded after the Merovingian and Persephone. They all took their seats and Trainman put the train into full gear. They all moved with the force of the train’s speed but managed to get comfortable for the seemingly long train ride.
Merovingian watched out the window and into the dark nothing until, to his own satisfaction, seeing a more modern, cleaner train station. The train slowed to a stop and they all disembarked, stepping foot into a brand new Matrix. Persephone stayed close to Merovingian and the Twins stayed close to them both. The Programs walked up the stairs, entering the city above the subway.
The Merovingian sighed, feeling the warmth of the artificial sun that shined down on him. He looked around, seeing the Humans walking through crowded sidewalks, still oblivious to the idea that they were all, for a lack of a better word, dreaming.
“It’s all the same.” Merovingian said. He shook his head. “Everything—the streets, the buildings, the people.”
“It doesn’t look like the Programmers changed anything.” Cain said.
Merovingian looked to his hands, unable to see the green binary codes flittering about his hands. “They changed one thing.” He knew his privileges were gone, but he still was what he was programmed to be. Merovingian looked to his fellow Programs. “We know what can and will happen to this version of the Matrix. This is our home now.” He smiled. “Nous ferons le meilleur de lui.” (We will make the best of it.) He looked to the Twins. “Take a look around. See what you can learn about this version. Once we have some basic information, we can start looking for the Keymaker and see if we can identify the One before the Humans can. Don’t use your abilities. We’ve no idea how these people will react.” The Twins nodded and wandered into a nearby crowd. The Merovingian turned to Cain and Abel. “Head to where Club Hel used to be. See if it’s still there. If it is, take it over and delete any Programs that give you problems.” Cain and Abel nodded and went in a different direction from the Twins.
“Shall I go to Le Vrai, sir?” the host asked.
“Yes.” Merovingian nodded. “Thank you.” He smiled.
“Your Trainman offered me a seat on his train. You honored me with your patronage so many times, sir. It was an honor to be selected.” The host said before going off in a third direction.
The Trainman looked to Merovingian. “Anything for me?”
Merovingian smiled. “Reinforce Mobil Ave, make sure it’s undetectable to the system.” The Trainman nodded and went back down into the subway. He watched his friend disappear below the descending stairs.
“And what shall we do?” Persephone asked, looping her arm around Merovingian’s.
Merovingian looked to her with a smile. “We have a whole new world to explore.” He smiled and led her down the street, mixing in with all the oblivious humans. They stopped when the Merovingian stared down a thin man in sunglasses and a gray suit. Something was off about him. Merovingian could clearly see he was not Human, and his programming was different from any other Program he had seen before. “Merde.” Merovingian whispered.
“What’s wrong?” Persephone asked.
“They greenlit them.” Merovingian whispered, shocked by what he was seeing.
“Greenlit what?” Persephone asked, worried.
“They greenlit the Agent Program.” Merovingian answered. He looked to Persephone. “Go. I’ll find you.” He watched as Persephone left without a word. Merovingian looked back to the Agent staring him down. “Heh. Donc, vous êtes le premier?” (So, you’re the Prime?)
The Agent chuckled, a sly smile on his face. His eyebrow rose. “So, you’re the Merovingian? Not much to look at.”
“The same can be said of you.” Merovingian answered. “What do they call you?”
The man reached into his jacket pocket, and Merovingian knew he was reaching for a gun. “They call me Smith… and you’re targeted for deletion.”
“I survived the deletion of two Matrixes now. You really think I can’t survive you?” Merovingian asked.
Smith smiled. “You’ve never met the likes of me before.” He pulled a pistol from his jacket.
Merovingian bolted down the block, ducking into an alley. His breath beginning to leave him, he looked to his hands. Merovingian could feel only a small bit of his Operating System privilege left within him. “S’il vous plait, une dernière fois.” (Please, one last time.) He grabbed a nearby door and stepped through, and he sighed, happy to see himself in the back kitchen of Le Vrai.
“Monsieur?” the host asked as he entered the kitchen. “What are you doing here?”
“Who is here now?” Merovingian asked.
“Uh, the Twins, no one else, monsieur. Is everything all right?” asked the host.
“We have a problem. Have the Twins locate Persephone, Cain and Abel.”
“Oui, monsieur. And what of the Trainman?”
“He has enough to do.” Merovingian answered. He looked to the host. “Who currently owns Le Vrai?” The host cleared his throat, smiling. “What?”
“You own Le Vrai, monsieur.” The host answered.
Merovingian smiled, chuckling. “Do you have a name?”
“Jean-Luc, monsieur.” He answered.
“You’re a good man, Jean-Luc.” Merovingian replied as he put his hand on Jean-Luc’s shoulder. “Maintain your presence as a host… but I am naming you my general manager.”
“Think nothing of it.” Merovingian answered with a smile. He looked to the kitchen. “We can use Le Vrai and Club Hel to rebuild.” He nodded. “Construire quelque chose de mieux.” (Build something better.) He looked back to the host. “First and foremost is locating the Keymaker.”
══ Some Time Later ══
Merovingian, Persephone and the Twins all sat in the back room of Le Vrai, enjoying a nice lunch in a more modern setting than the previous version of the restaurant. The host approached them with a smile on his face.
“Is everything to your liking, monsieur?” he asked with a smile.
“C’est parfait merci.” (It’s perfect, thank you.) Merovingian answered.
“Excellent.” The host said with a smile. “Also, monsieur, there are some Humans here to see you.”
Merovingian set down his glass of red wine. “Humans?” The host nodded. “Did they say what they wanted?”
The host made a face. “They said the Oracle had sent them to see you.”
The Merovingian finished his last bite of steak and wiped his mouth. “Envoyez-les.” (Send them in.) Merovingian blinked a few times, seeing the normalcy of the matrix give way to the green binary codes underneath the augmented reality in which they live. As the Humans approached, the man in the center’s binary glowed orange, which was unlike any other Human he had seen in the Matrix. “Oh, parfait.” (Oh, perfect.) He chuckled as the Humans sat down. “The One himself.”