Rating: R for language, violence and adult situations
Timeline: Directly following Session 26
Spoilers: The entire series (including the movie) and general Matrix info
Summary: Matrix x-over. Spike didn’t die; he was just unplugged. How will everyone’s favorite Bruce Lee-loving Space Cowboy deal when he is thrown into the “real world” without a net?
Disclaimer: There was once a girl who wrote a story about some characters and places that weren't hers. But she added this little disclaimer to make it a tad less illegal. (i.e. Cowboy Bebop isn't mine and never will be. Neither is The Matrix. As if you hadn't already figured that out.)
Feedback: Look! It's secret mail-mail from Mars-Mars! (i.e. I want any and all feedback. Good, bad, indifferent? Doesn't matter. Still want it. *g*)
Author's Note: Spike's going inside the Matrix for the first time since being unplugged! Wheeeee! It might have been a long time coming, but hopefully it's worth it! *g* And sorry for making you guys wait so long for this chapter. RL has been a pain lately, getting between me and my writing time. *grrrs at annoying RL* Not to mention the computer issues.... :(
Sorry to everyone that was hoping for more from the Jet/Faye/Electra angle this chapter. Spike decided to hog all the action this time around. But we'll get back to the crew on the Bebop next time. Promise. ;)
Finally, this chapter's title comes from a William Gibson novel of the same name. *g* Just giving credit where credit is due...
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
(The Second Coming -- W. B. Yeats)
Chapter 9: Mona Lisa Overdrive
Somehow Spike had expected the Matrix to seem different when he was finally allowed back in. He'd thought that he'd be able to tell instinctually that it was fake. But on the contrary, it felt more real than his life back on the Absalom. This was the world that he'd spent the first twenty seven years of his life living, fighting, loving and eventually dying in. And despite everything he'd learned and everything he'd seen since being unplugged, the Matrix still felt more real than anything else he'd experienced. He felt more at home in a computer program than he did in the real world. Did that mean he was royally screwed up? Probably. But that was alright. Spike was used to being classified as 'screwed up' so it wasn't as if it was anything new.
His current look *was* new, however. He stood in the middle of the street at Adams and 4th in all black -- tight, black leather pants, black mesh shirt, black leather duster, black boots and even black sunglasses - and he felt more like a freak than ever. Usually his blue suit and insane hair was enough to attract odd glances, but now he looked like a green-haired freak turned pimp daddy. Sunglasses at night? Whoever heard of that? All he needed was a huge, fake-gold medallion and a couple of piercings and he'd be all set.
Flipping open his cell phone, he waited for the tone and then Ginny's voice came through. "Operator."
"What the hell am I wearing?" Spike demanded as he made his way over to the sidewalk at a brisk clip, already heading for the techno club where Annie and the rest of the crew were staked out, unaware of the Agents in their midst. "Are these clothes some kind of freak programming glitch or do you take a perverse pleasure out of making me stick out like a sore thumb?"
Ginny's giggle annoyed him. As far as Spike was concerned, this was *not* a laughing matter. "Ginny..." he said in warning, his voice low.
The young girl pushed aside her amusement for a moment and replied hastily, "Trust me, Spike. Where you're going, you'll be one of the normal ones... practically conservative even."
Spike sighed as he saw the lights of the club just down the street. "Fine, but I'm trusting you on this, Gin."
As it turned out, Spike shouldn’t have worried.
The Dead Canary was practically bursting at the seems, it was so full of life. The pulse pounding beat that came from the music blaring out of the speakers hidden in just about every nook and cranny around the club made even Spike's teeth vibrate. It was hotter than hell inside, with people packed together so tightly that the dance floor resembled some kind of writhing beast composed of human flesh. And Ginny had been right. Spike's pimp daddy look was by far one of the more conservative ensembles in the place. As he made his way through the mass of people, Spike saw some outfits that were enough to almost make his eyes pop out of his head, which was saying a lot considering his ability to remain cool and unaffected in even the most extreme circumstances. Black leather was a theme, definitely. As was wildly colored hair and rather painful looking body piercings. One guy walked by with a real human spinal column complete with tailbone and wildly decorative fake-wings hung over the back of his clothing. Spike felt his eyebrows climbing up until they disappeared underneath his hairline. Suddenly he was quite glad that Ginny hadn't felt like making him blend in even more than she had.
With all the eye-catching garb present, it didn't take Spike long to start spotting the Agents. They apparently didn't believe in going undercover, seeing as they still sported their traditional black dress suits and sunglasses. There were four, just like Ginny had said, and they were spread out in different locations throughout the club. Spike slinked around among the crowds, his crazy looking hair actually helping him hide rather than hindering him for once in his life. Hiding in plain sight was one of the oldest tricks in the book, but that didn't make it any less effective.
As he watched the agents, he was able to easily locate all the members of Annie's crew by simply looking where the Agents were looking. Eli, Zeke and Dom were on the west side of the club, while Annie and Mac were closer to Spike on the east side. Neither group had spotted the Agents yet.
As Spike looked on, the Agents slowly began pairing up, which allotted two for each rebel group. Spike cursed under his breath. He'd hoped to get a little more time before the Agents made their move.
If this had been just another bounty hunting fiasco, he would have started targeting the bad guys and taken them out. But this wasn't normal, far from it. And if he started shooting Agents, not only would he lose the small advantage that the element of surprise gave him, but any Agent he shot would just possess one of the hundreds of other available human bodies present and continue with his mission. What he needed to do was somehow alert both of the Absalom groups to the Agents' presence and then get them all to split up and leave the club immediately, each taking a different path to the nearest available hard-line access, where Ginny was waiting just a phone call away. And he would stay behind to distract the Agents until the last possible minute, securing the group's escape. In theory it was a great plan, but in practice it didn't look like things were going to go as planned.
Ditching plan A, Spike began making his way to the closest group: Annie and Mac. Time for plan B. He would warn them and once they were on their way out the door, he'd make a big enough scene to attract the attention of both the Agents and Eli's group. And then he'd just have to hope for the best. As he elbowed his way through the crowds, Spike silently prayed that plan B would work. Because he didn't have a fucking clue what to do should he need a plan C.
He reached Annie's table and casually walked past them, trying not to attract the Agents' attention if at all possible. As he walked by Annie, he let his elbow nudge her in the back as he passed. "Don't turn around," he said, speaking out of the corner of his mouth. He had to practically yell to be heard over the music, which made being casual a lot more difficult. Annie, to her credit, was a pro. She recognized his voice immediately and her face didn't twitch a muscle. Nothing about her betrayed the fact that she'd just had quite a shock.
"What are you doing here?" she asked loudly, to be heard over the noise, though she kept her eyes trained on Mac the entire time, so that to most people it would look like she was speaking to the young blonde. Mac had spotted Spike by that point and quickly averted her eyes, staring silently down at the table.
"I'm not the only unwanted company you've got," Spike announced, casually lighting up a cigarette as he spoke, half turned away from Annie and Mac. "Ten o'clock and four o'clock, two suits per group."
Annie's eyes narrowed when she spotted them. "Shit."
Spike smirked. "I thought that'd be your opinion of the situation."
Annie quirked up one eyebrow, already slowly sneaking one hand underneath the table and pulling her gun out. She held it in her lap, ready for use at a moment's notice. "So, I'm assuming by the amount of 'smug' in your voice that you have some sort of plan."
Spike shrugged lightly, keeping one eye on the approaching Agents and the other on Eli's team across the room. "It's more of a rough idea, but it'll have to do."
Annie frowned but said nothing. However, Mac looked extremely scared and the gun that she clutched in her hands underneath the table was trembling. Spike was somewhat afraid that the kid was going to lose it before this was over. Which meant that the sooner he got her and Annie out of here, the better.
"You two head for the door but act casual about it. Don't tip the Agents off to the fact that we're on to them. The closest hard-line is at Harris and 6th. Ginny's on standby to get you both out of there as soon as possible."
Annie's mouth had compressed into a hard line. "What about Eli and the others?"
"I'll do what I can. He's a smart kid. When he sees the scene I'm about to make, he'll know something's up."
The older woman opened her mouth to voice an objection but Spike silenced her with a terse, "Shut up and get yourself and the girl the hell out of here, Annie. We both know I'm the best fighter. I have to stay behind; it's the only way."
Once he got a nod of confirmation, Spike casually began to walk away from their table, acting for all the world like they hadn't just been having a rather intense conversation. He tracked Annie's movements out of the corner of his eye and silently breathed a sigh of relief when, a few moments later, she and Mac stood up and began slowly making their way towards the nearest exit. Annie made it look like she was simply going for a stroll, not a care in the world. Mac was not as good of an actress, but Spike didn't have time to offer her any tips. The Agents had noticed their movement and two of them were changing course to intercept the women rebels.
Spike smirked and changed course himself, one hand already reaching inside his coat pocket. As his fingers wrapped around the cool metal grip of his gun, he smirked and carefully slipped in behind the second of the two Agents. He pulled the gun out and calmly placed it against the back of the Agent's head. "Sorry, pal," Spike remarked with a flippant grin. "But I can't let you leave just yet."
The sound of the gunshot was lost amidst the pounding music and the body of the Agent crumpled to the floor, a flash of odd colored lightning dancing over his features as he reverted back into the form of the person he had been occupying. The other Agent whirled around and aimed a gun at Spike, but the ex-bounty hunter was already in motion, spinning into a high kick and knocking the gun from the startled Agent's hand.
Spike saw Annie and Mac reach the door and slip outside, which was his cue to start *really* making a scene. Dropping into a crouch, he spun and knocked the Agent's feet out from under him, sending the suit sprawling to the ground. Leaping to his feet, Spike sighted and fired off three rounds into the large stereo system that sat onstage, which cut the music off mid-note and plunged the club into a shocked silence.
Just then, the Agent he'd shot in the head appeared before him, having obviously taken over a new body. Before Spike had a chance to blink, the gun was knocked from his hand and the other Agent he'd just kicked had regained his footing and had grabbed Spike by the neck from behind, attempting to strangle the life out of him. Meanwhile, Agent number 2 was pointing a gun at Spike's head, ready to shoot him should the whole strangulation thing not work.
Grinning wolfishly, Spike reached behind him and latched his hands onto the Agent's arms for support. Then, in a gravity-defying move that he was sure would have made even Bruce Lee himself proud, Spike kicked off the ground, one foot slamming into the second Agent's hand and knocking his gun away. Continuing with his upwards momentum, Spike felt the hands of the Agent behind him wrench free of his neck as he flipped over the sentient program's head and finally landed in a light crouch on the ground just behind him. Pulling two more guns out from underneath his coat - Ginny had packed him with a rather large arsenal for this job - he fired off four shots into the Agent's back at point blank range, sending the host body falling to the ground while the Agent presumably went to find another human to take control of.
Spike remained balanced on the balls of his feet, crouching low, his guns aimed at Agent number 2. "God, I love the Matrix!" he exclaimed, shaking his head in something that was almost glee. "I mean, *this* is my kind of fight, you know?"
"You don't stand a chance," the Agent informed him, his voice monotone and emotionless.
Spike smirked. "Hey, impossible odds are my specialty."
He fired off two quick shots, which the Agent dodged easily, and then leapt to his feet and began dashing through the crowd, which was in the middle of a full fledged panic. They'd apparently finally stopped zoning out on whatever drug was popular lately for long enough to recognize the sound of gunshots in their midst and were now on a mad stampede towards the nearest available exit. Perfect. It would be ridiculously easy for Eli and the others to slip away in the midst of all of this insanity. Not even an Agent could see everywhere at once, after all.
A hand latched onto Spike's shoulder and he whirled, his gun out, and barely recognized Eli's face in time to keep from firing. Spike frowned. Okay, the plan would only work if the others actually *left* the club. Morons. Didn't they recognize a distraction when they saw one?
"Spike, what the hell is going on?" Eli demanded. Dom and Zeke were close by.
Spike rolled his eyes in exasperation. "Isn't it obvious? I'm saving your ass. So you could do me a favor and actually leave, hence accomplishing the ass-saving portion of the deal."
Someone knocked into Spike from behind, which sent him stumbling forward. Eli steadied him with both hands on his arms. As they stood there, the crowd continued to go berserk around them.
"Where are Annie and Mac?" Eli asked, reaching into his coat and pulling out his gun as he spoke. Spike noticed Zeke and Dom already had their own guns out and had made a protective sort of half-circle around him and Eli, eyes scanning the crowds.
"They already left and you need to do the same," Spike replied. "There are four Agents here. The mission is being aborted."
"You can't fight four Agents on your own," Zeke called back over her shoulder. "We should stick together. Watch each other's backs."
"I work better alone," Spike replied, shoving Eli away from him. "Now would you three stop being so damn noble and start listening to me for once? You need to get out of here. This crowd won't hold off those Agents for long and I want you gone by the time they spot me again. Ginny has an exit ready at Harris and 6th. Now go!"
Eli shook his head. "No, I'm not leaving anybody behind."
Spike sighed. "Look, kid..."
Before he could finish his sentence a gunshot rang out and Eli's eyes widened in pain. Blood began to dribble out of his mouth and down his chin as he slumped forward. Spike caught him clumsily in his arms, gritting his teeth in anger at the sight of a large gunshot wound in the boy's back.
"Spike..." Eli muttered brokenly as his eyes rolled up into the back of his head and his body stilled.
"Fuck!" Spike yelled, dropping the boy's body and grabbing Dom and Zeke by the back of their shirt collars and yanking them back towards him. "Get the fuck out of here!" he yelled, shaking them for emphasis before releasing them. "NOW!"
Dom nodded and moved for the exit, his face pale but determined. Zeke, however, remained frozen, staring down at Eli's crumpled form in shock. "No..." she whispered, her gun dangling uselessly at her side.
Spike saw a flash of silver to his right and grabbed Zeke about the waist, diving for the floor just as another gunshot sounded nearby, barely missing them.
He leapt to his feet again almost immediately, dragging the unresponsive Zeke up by the arm, and began making his way to the door. He saw that Dom was almost there already. "Damn it, I'm gonna get you two out of here if it kills me," he muttered, continuing to drag Zeke along as he weaved back and forth through the crowds, keeping as low as possible to try and dodge the Agents.
They made it to the door right after Dom and Spike paused just outside the club. Tugging Zeke forward roughly, he shoved her into Dom's surprised arms. "Get yourselves to the exit. Harris and 6th. No questions, just go!"
Dom nodded and began herding Zeke along down the streets, sticking to the shadows as much as possible.
Spike turned and ducked back inside the club, noting with a grimace that the crowd had thinned out considerably. He spotted the Agents immediately. They stood around Eli's body, guns holstered, speaking into small headsets that fastened to their ears.
Spike decided to take advantage of their distraction and aimed a gun at the closest Agent's head. He fired off two quick shots, but the Agent somehow anticipated them and easily dodged. All four of the Agents, now alerted to Spike's presence, brought their guns up and started firing. Spike dove to one side, rolling behind the bar and quickly pulling out a second gun to replace the one he'd dropped while trying to get Zeke and Dom to safety. He waited for the gunshots to stop and then leapt to his feet, quickly firing off a couple of shots at the Agents before diving down behind the bar again for cover from their return fire.
"You can't win this fight," one of the Agents coolly informed him between shots. "Surrender now and your death will be quick, unlike the deaths of those you helped to escape tonight. They will die slowly and painfully."
Spike rolled his eyes. "You know," he called out flippantly, "I've fought every kind of criminal, from low life thieves to Syndicate overlords, and there's one thing that never fails. They all have to make that clichéd 'surrender and your death will be easy' speech. I mean, seriously, do you guys really think that anybody ever falls for that anymore? Because if you do, then you're even more stupid than you look. Which is saying a lot." He began crawling along behind the bar as he spoke, looking for something to help even up the odds, though what he thought he'd find behind the bar was unclear even to him.
He paused next to a silver canister used to mix drinks that had tumbled to the floor, spilling out an unidentified liquid on the ground. Picking it up, he took a sip of the remainder and then made a face, quickly spitting it back out. "Ugh," he muttered, grimacing, "Can nobody make a decent drink these days?"
The sound of crunching glass indicated that the Agents were on the move. Most likely trying to surround him. "Yeah, right," he muttered. "Like I'm gonna fall for that one."
Picking his guns back up, he paused, counted to three and then leapt to his feet and jumped over the bar in one smooth motion, guns blazing. He landed in a crouch and then sprung up, sprinting for the door for all he was worth and firing over his shoulder as he ran. He heard the sound of return fire but didn't spare even a second to glance behind him. One bullet flashed by so close to his head that it nicked his cheek, the resulting sting just spurring him on faster.
He made it to the door and dove toward the ground, rolling and bracing his hands on the ground in a psuedo-backflip, dropping his now empty guns and balancing on one hand while he used the other to pull out a fresh gun as he allowed his momentum to continue to carry him forward. Kicking his feet to the side, he planted them firmly on the door and then kicked off of it, flipping in mid-air and landing in a crouch just to the side of the doorway. Gunfire skittered across the pavement, almost nicking his boot heels, as the Agents gave chase, almost at the door now.
Grinning, Spike braced himself and then jumped straight up and, in an almost superhuman feat, latched onto the overhang of the roof with the hand not carrying a gun and flipped himself up onto the roof and out of sight just as the Agents rushed outside.
He watched as they rushed off down the street, no doubt assuming that he was already well ahead of them. Idiots. Sentient computer programs they might be, but excellent strategists they definitely were not. "Well, would ya look at me," he muttered with a smirk. "Thinkin' a hundred moves ahead. Jet would be proud."
Taking off across the roof at a dead run, Spike easily jumped to the next roof and continued on towards the predetermined exit point in that manner, roof hopping his way above the city streets and keeping an eye on the Agents as he went. They eventually split up, going off in four different directions to try and track their prey. But apparently the thought that he might be directly above them had yet to cross their minds because they never looked up once. Which didn't really bother Spike in the slightest.
He made it to the exit point in excellent time, managing to get there just as Dom and Zeke were arriving, the young girl being in a state of shock over Eli's death apparently having slowed them down somewhat. The fact that the phone receiver was dangling abandoned, gently swaying back and forth, just confirmed that Annie and Mac had already been here and were now safe aboard the Absalom. But Spike didn't turn on his cell phone to call and find out for sure. He didn't want any chances of the Agents tracing the call when they were this close to being out of here.
Spike jumped from the roof and dropped to the ground without making a sound, landing in an easy crouch with an almost cat-like grace. He watched as Dom picked up the receiver and hung it back up. The phone began to ring almost instantly and Spike grinned. You had to hand it to her, Ginny was definitely quick.
Dom picked up the phone and then handed the receiver to Zeke. "You first," he told her, watching with compassionate eyes as she took hold of the receiver in trembling hands. Eli's death had really done a number on her, that much was painfully obvious.
Spike stood up and took a step toward them, nodding to Dom in greeting when the boy noticed his presence. Zeke placed the phone to her ear and then gasped as she suddenly vanished into nothingness before their very eyes, no doubt waking up on the Absalom at this very moment. Spike couldn't help but grin in relief. At last, they were almost home free.
Dom hung the phone up as Spike moved to stand beside him. When it began to ring again, he shot Spike a grin. Then he reached out to answer it just as a bullet hit him in the back of the head and sent blood and gray matter splattering across Spike's face as the boy's body collapsed to the ground. Later, Spike would tell himself that at least the kid hadn't seen it coming. He'd died thinking that he was about to be home and safe and had never known what hit him. But for now, all he could do was lunge for the forgotten receiver where it hung dangling by its cord and ram it up against his ear. As the world around him slowly faded away in a sea of bright, green computer code, he dimly heard another gunshot and felt a flash of pain and then... nothingness.
Coming Soon: Chapter 10. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. Yes, I know, I'm evil. Heh. But you all still love me anyway, right? ;)