I love The Matrix and have long toyed with an idea for a prequel. Instead of writing it like a regular story, I decided to try a scene in the style of an actual script, at least in part. I'll happily spoil the plot if anyone is interested enough to ask what comes next. Enjoy.
The film opens with the green running computer code from The Matrix trilogy, accompanied by the familiar opening score.
The closest lines of code bend and fold as we pass through them. The bends become simple geometric abstractions, each formed of countless tiny glyphs. The shapes morph into a flickering image of green neurons and synapses. We follow this line of neurons as it grows more elaborate, eventually revealing a floating brain. We take a lap around the brain and rise. The formless code rain that has been our background starts to morph. We continue to rise, and the last thing we glimpse before the diminishing code blurs together is that it's become a million molecular chains. We see only faded green. The score ends.
We hear typing. Then we pull back and recognize the green is a pixel on a DOS prompt. The computer screen is full of SCIENCE and scrolls quickly as new information is typed.
At the computer is a disheveled scientist, DR. HUMBOLDT - a woman in her early 40s, professional shirt and pants, wedding ring, short hair, tired eyes. She is alone is in a cramped office. The rows of other desks are empty, and there are no windows. A sign on the wall says 'Particle Accelerator Laboratory'. Dr. Humboldt has a mug of coffee dregs, a pill bottle, and a dead plant nearby. Her workspace and demeanor suggest she's been working feverishly for several hours. Everything is circa 1999.
Her phone rings. She lifts the handset. "Hello?" She sounds manic and sleep-deprived.
We hear a friendly man's voice. "How's everything going?"
Dr. Humboldt smiles. "You have no idea how big a fire you pulled me out of. There's so much to learn."
"Don't mention it. You do good work."
"I'm still amazed you were able to convince the board. Are you sure there's not going to be any fallout for this?"
"I just talked with the administrator. As long as you keep to the graveyard shift, he can run interference to cover your project for at least another month. I'll look after you."
There are footsteps in the hall. Dr. Humboldt drops the phone with a curse and rushes to shut down the computer.
The ADMINISTRATOR, a serious bureaucrat in a vest, walks in flanked by three SECURITY GUARDS. He asks, "Dr. Humboldt, what the hell are you doing?"
"Hey, John, I'm just, uh-"
"You had your funding cut a week ago. The entire floor's off-limits."
"Come on, John, I am so damn close to-"
The Administrator holds out a hand to shut her up. "Are you insane? Our department is liable for every unsanctioned minute you spend using this equipment. Worse, if someone learns you're running tests without a radioactive materials permit, we could all go to jail. Is that what you want?"
"No. I don't need this. You're done." He turns to a guard. "Detain her. Take all the notes on her desk to my office. I'm calling the police. "
Dr. Humboldt numbly lets a guard lead her out by the arm. She's too tired to register fear or despair. They enter a long, austere hallway - tiles and scuffed grey walls like any old lab. Only half the ceiling lights are lit. Faint shadows circle the pair as they walk through the dim. Halfway down the passage, we look over the guard's shoulder to the end of the hallway behind him.
For just a moment, a figure appears. A few lights flicker. When we see again, the figure is gone. The figure appears a moment later, much closer, then disappears. On its third appearance, it's yards away and already in a sprint.
The guard begins to turn, but an explosive flying knee crushes his face against the wall. The guard collapses. Dr. Humboldt flinches and sees a grinning woman with dark Arab features in a sharp black business suit, JINN.
Jinn holds a finger to her lips, then jabs her thumb over her shoulder, the 'Get out of here' gesture.
But Dr. Humboldt is frozen, mouthing wordlessly at the fallen guard. Soon the other two guards walk out of her office carrying boxes of papers. One sees their fallen comrade and yells in alarm. They drop the boxes and run.
Jinn shoves Dr. Humboldt and yells, "Go!"
Finally, Dr. Humboldt takes off, skittish, bumping against the wall until she can find her balance.
Jinn turns to the approaching guards and readies a stance. The guards reach her carrying wooden batons. The camera pan and tense music suggest this is about to be a full-sized fight scene. But no, contrary to the music, Jinn ends the confrontation in four brutal moves. No contest. Her style is more rough and direct than the typical Matrix hero Wushu but not rigid like the agents' kickboxing - she favors knees, elbows, and hard takedowns. Jinn pauses to check her work, the lights flicker, and she vanishes.
The administrator peers out the office door with a cell phone to his ear. The lights flicker on, and he sees the guards limp on the floor. The sight renders him speechless. After a moment, the voice on the phone asks him if he's still there.
Cut to Dr. Humboldt racing up a stairwell. We see there are several floors already below her. She passes B1, climbs one last flight, and reaches a door with a pushbar marked '1st Floor'. She barrels through and crashes into a grille barrier, the sort used to protect storefronts after hours. Its appearance stuns her already-stressed mind: that wasn't there before. She returns to the stairwell and rushes toward the next floor. But upon turning the corner, she sees that the stairs upward are blocked by another barrier. Dr. Humboldt steels her nerves, then climbs over the handrail. We have a vertigo-inducing view from above. She shuffles up the narrow edge of the stairs, hugging the handrail lest she risk the mutli-story fall. The lights black out on the way. She screams. When they come back on, she's hugging the rail for dear life and one of her feet has slipped off. She pulls herself back up and climbs over the rail, now past the barrier.
The 2nd floor door leads to a mixed work space - cubicle clusters interspersed with closed offices and open meeting areas. The floor is surrounded by windows, and we can see the nighttime lights of a massive city outside. At the far corner of the floor, Dr. Humboldt spies a green sign that says 'fire exit'. She races through the cubicle maze. Several turns later, she finds an unnaturally tall cubicle partition stretching across her path. Not hesitating, she enters a cubicle, climbs on a desk, and vaults awkwardly over, knocking over a filing cabinet as she climbs down. Around the next corner is a row of glass-walled offices. At the end is an incongruous brick wall. This time there's no way around. She hears a bank of elevators nearby 'ding' open.
We cut to a squad of security officers marching out of an elevator.
Dr. Humboldt turns and looks for another way. It's a Kafkaesque nightmare. Every time a path seems promising, there is soon some improbable obstacle.
Fortunately, the guards are equally baffled, if not more so. On one occasion, she is trapped between two approaching search teams and ducks into a cubicle. The guards get painfully near, but one sees a new brick wall and changes course to inspect it, loudly voicing disbelief.
Eventually, Dr. Humboldt reaches the fire escape and opens its door, but she finds yet another barrier grille on the other side. However, opening the door does trigger a fire alarm.
The guards rush towards the noise. Dr. Humboldt struggles fruitlessly to pull aside the barrier. She looks back as the footsteps get closer. When she faces the barrier again, JINN is on the other side.
Jinn reaches THROUGH the grille - the metal she touches turns to dust. She grabs Dr. Humboldt by the arm and tugs her into the stairwell. Several guards appear, but the person-sized hole in the barrier is filled again - the cloud of dust has collected back into metal.
We see an outside shot of a fancy research firm. Six police cars and a SWAT van are parked in the courtyard to flank the main entrance. A cluster of officers talk near their vehicles. Several teams are moving to circle the building.
Jinn and Dr. Humboldt rush out of a fire exit in the back of the builing. They are spotted by two officers in the distance who yell typical police stuff at them. Dr. Humboldt puts up her arms and starts to surrender, but Jinn pulls a handgun from her jacket - a common Glock - and fires two shots near the officers. They take cover against the wall and fire back.
Jinn grabs Dr. Humboldt again. Near the fire exit is a steep embankment leading to a secluded parking lot for a nearby shopping center. Jinn runs towards it. They duck under the guardrail and slide down to the asphalt. They hide behind a big van. Dr. Humboldt tries to ask something but Jinn cuts her off with a gesture. The two officers approach the embankment cautiously. Jinn reaches around the van and fires four blind shots in their direction. The police duck and retreat from the edge.
There is silence. Jinn guides Dr. Humboldt through a maze of cars until they are well hidden. Seconds later, the SWAT van races into the parking lot, screeching to a stop to block the only ramp. A SWAT TEAM hustles out: helmets, armor, rifles, and flashlights on their weapons.
Jinn gestures for Dr. Humboldt to be still. Dr. Humboldt is so far out of her element, so shell-shocked at this point that she simply goes with it.
The SWAT team fans tactically across the parking lot, cutting off sections and clearing them efficiently. They will reach the women in half a minute at most.
Jinn stares forward at nothing. She is taking deep breaths. A bead of perspiration runs down her cheek. As the SWAT team approaches, she holds Dr. Humboldt's hand and leads her forward in a crouch.
They are hiding in a square of cars, part of a long row packed with them. Incredibly, as a flashlight beam crosses near, THEY CRAWL THROUGH A CAR. The officer moves near to double-check what he thinks were his targets, but by then, the women are crouch-walking down the long row of cars, passing through each frame of steel and glass like it was mist. Ten cars later, they stumble into the open, outside the SWAT team's closing noose.
Jinn is dangerously pale and panting like a marathoner. Still, she moves forward towards the SWAT van, keeping low. They cross its headlights and one of the officers sees their long shadow. They yell and open fire.
But the women are only two steps from the open van door. They jump in. The windshield is hit with several rounds that make spider-web cracks, but it holds.
Jinn puts the stick in reverse, and it shoots up the ramp, brushing aside a parked police cruiser and stopping two lanes of traffic. She pulls a cumbersome J-turn and speeds down the urban street.
The SWAT officers lower their rifles and stare incredulously.
One of them hands a walkie-talkie to the officer next to him, "You tell them."
The SWAT van doesn't drive straight for long. It starts to zig-zag (clearly torturing the suspension with each swerve; the van is as nimble as a whale). The van cuts across a lane every few moments to side-swipe a vehicle. We see behind the van that each of these attacks causes a brutal pile-up. Intersections become instant junkyards and cars plow through storefronts. It's artful how efficiently the lone van is creating this vehicular mayhem. It seems to accomplish the worst possible disruption to traffic with every strike yet slips away unharmed. Each impact is so glancing that the van hardly loses momentum.
Several cop cars try to intercept it. The first few are cut off by sudden wreckage or wrecked themselves. Finally, one intrepid police cruiser manages to pull up behind the van and stay on its tail for longer than half a block.
Inside the cruiser, we a see a pair of cops. The driver is on the radio; his partner is loading shells into a shotgun.
Cop: "Dispatch, this is delta-three-nine following a speeding heavy vehicle causing multiple accidents on Donner Street. Subject is deliberately battering cars all over the place. Requesting help from any available units, over."
Dispatcher: "Delta-three-nine, disengage."
Cop: "I didn't understand that, Dispatch. Subject is putting lives in imminent danger."
Dispatcher: "I said disengage, delta-three-nine. Pull back immediately. A federal task force is incoming and they want all municipal units out of the area."
Cop: "There's no time."
Dispatcher: "You won't do any help on your own. Get out of there."
The SWAT van continues through these moderately busy streets, traveling fifty in a twenty part of town. We see inside the cabin. Jinn is driving with a slight smile. Dr. Humboldt is hyperventilating and clutching the door handle for dear life. Eventually she catches her breath, takes a moment to gather her nerves, then turns and asks Jinn who she is and what just happened. These questions are difficult to discern though the swarm of profanities. For a nerdy, middle-aged woman, Dr. Humboldt curses like a drill sergeant when she's angry.
Jinn waits calmly until she's finished then responds in a friendly voice, "You might want to buckle up."
We see Dr. Humboldt's baffled expression at this non-sequitur for about two seconds. As she points a finger and opens her mouth again, we cut outside to the SWAT van as it pulls a hard turn and crashes through the 'Closed' gate of a parking garage, scraping the low ceiling as it accelerates over the speed-bump.
Three turns up, the SWAT van glides casually into a row of parked parks, finally shuddering to a stop. Jinn climbs down and starts some light stretching: rolling her shoulders, twisting her torso, cracking her knuckles, etc.
Dr. Humboldt kicks open the passenger-side door and stumbles to the ground. She paws around like dry land was a new concept, then struggles to her feet.
Jinn turns and whistles, "Hey, lady. Catch." She takes a small plastic item out of her pants pocket and tosses it at Dr. Humboldt, who barely catches it to her chest.
Jinn says, "Alright, pop it and stick it. We have to go."
Dr. Humboldt looks into her hands. She's holding a capped syringe. The solution inside glows white.
Jinn: "Don't worry about veins or anything, just hit skin and we're golden."
Dr. Humboldt: "No! Are you demented?"
Jinn pulls out her handgun. "I'm armed. Is that good enough?"
Dr. Humboldt: "I don't know who you think-"
Jinn interrupts Dr. Humboldt by firing six rapid shots just to the left of Dr. Humboldt's head. Dr. Humboldt flinches and covers her ears. Her scream is muted by the report of the shots.
Jinn cups her hand around her mouth and yells: "Yeah, bullets are loud."
Dr. Humboldt looks back in fear and confusion. Her eyes are wet. We listen through her ears, and they just hear a ringing: Jinn's mouth is moving, but we can't understand the words. Jinn points at the syringe, then theatrically mimes a command by by poking the crook of her elbow with the barrel of her gun. Then she taps a nonexistent watch and spins her hand in the 'hurry up' gesture.
Dr. Humboldt complies. She uncaps the syringe, closes her eyes, and injects it into forearm. Jinn offers a sardonic grin and a thumbs up. Dr. Humboldt stops cringing and throws the syringe down in disgust.
Jinn: "Fantastic." She points at a nearby stairwell door. "Now double-time."
Dr. Humboldt merely starts to walk until Jinn fires again into the ceiling. They head off at a quick jog. As they move, Jinn ejects the magazine from the handgun and replaces it with a fresh one. They pass a broken security camera that was obviously smashed by someone.
They enter the door to another stairwell and Jinn points up. On the landing above, Dr. Humboldt sees a body, a teenager in a janitor's outfit, slumped dead against the wall. Dried blood is pooled across his clothes and the floor.
Jinn preempts Dr. Humboldt's reaction by shoving her towards a metal maintence ladder. They climb.
The roof of the parking garage is a vast square of gravel. Taller buildings loom over it on all sides.
Jinn marches Dr. Humboldt to the middle of the roof where a neon yellow circle is spray-painted and forces her to sit down inside the circle. Dr. Humboldt is crying silently and fails to make eye contact.
Jinn keeps her handgun trained on Dr. Humboldt's back and walks backward until she reaches the corner of the roof. There she stops, waiting with her weapon steadily aimed.
The roof is silent as the life of the nightly city goes on around it.
We close up on Dr. Humboldt. Several seconds pass. Then, in a fraction of a second, she turns rigid and looks at the camera with a terrified expression. Green code washes over her face. Her body bends like clay.
And in her place sits AGENT FLETCHER: the ultimate authority figure. Tall, dark, and chiseled, an expressionless white man in a green-tinted suit and mirrored square sunglasses like all agents of the system. His movements are unnervingly quick and precise, but stiff.
As soon as he materializes, Agent Fletcher tries to rise and turn, but Jinn opens fire with her handgun before he can stand. She pulls the trigger so rapidly that it sounds like an automatic, and her aim is true. But, even while Agent Fletcher's back is turned, he blurs and sways, cleanly dodging every shot.
Soon Agent Fletcher has turned and drawn his own handgun, a heavier 40 caliber beast, and Jinn's weapon is empty. He doesn't hesitate.
Yet each round passes harmlessly through Jinn, leaving only a misty cavity that reforms almost instantly. She wears a look of intense concentration during this feat, and her focus cracks before he finishes. The final two rounds wound Jinn, in the sternum and navel. The two holes in her suit don't bleed, but dust begins to seep out. Hunched over, she glares at him defiantly.
Agent Fletcher is indifferent and begins to reload. Before he can lift a new magazine, his world explodes.
Lances of machine gun and rifle fire strike down from every direction. We see muzzle flashes from high windows in several surrounding buildings. Incredibly, when the first cloud of gravel dust clears, we see Agent Fletcher's evasive blur is up to the challenge. He leans and ducks and steps in place, moving faster than ever before until his features can't be recognized at all.
We cut to a montage of the attackers: five woman, the MUSES, and a man, SEBASTIAN, all aiming down at Agent Fletcher in his conspicuous yellow circle. We see each of the Muses in sequence, and they are firing many different firearms: scoped hunting rifles, absurdly large anti-tank rifles, and tripod-mounted heavy machine guns.
The five Muses are dressed in urban tactical gear (e.g., camo paint, holsters, scarves, masks, boots, knee pads, webbing, vests, cargo pants, bandoliers, gloves), but each woman's outfit is personally styled with a baroque individuality typical for redpill teams in the Matrix. (perhaps one dressed punk, one neo-classical, one traditionally Japanese, etc.).
The one male shooter, Sebastian, has an outfit that's bland by Matrix standards: a simple, somewhat-tactical looking outfit and a longcoat. The only distinction is that his clothes are badly frayed, like they've been worn for decades and never mended.
All six of the shooters are wearing identical night-vision goggles. We briefly see through the eyes of one of the Muses, THALIA, who is lying prone and armed with two anti-tank rifles propped on stands. The goggles mute most the world to a dim grayscale, but the yellow circle on the roof of the parking garage is as clear as day, and Agent Sebastian's perfectly defined silhouette GLOWS WHITE like the liquid in the syringe. Jinn is less distinct, but she's visible in the corner as a rusty red.
The attack lightens as one-by-one the assailants are forced to reload. Agent Fletcher's evasions slow to a visible speed and he starts to shuffle forward, more like an insect than a man, putting his foot out ten times in the blink of a eye before committing to a step. In this flickering way he approaches Jinn. When the bullets finally stop he dashes forward, clearing the last twenty yards between them.
Jinn is now on her knees. She raises a hand to reveal a detonator switch. Jinn winks and hits the switch.
For a moment, we see a line of claymore mines buried into the roof. They detonate when Agent Fletcher is only feet away, and he is knocked airborne by the wall of steel.
Agent Fletcher crashes to the ground and bounces twice. His suit is shredded. Countless miniature ball bearings from the claymore mines as well as splinters of his former eye-wear are embedded in his otherwise untouched 'skin'. His body crackles with arcs of electricity. But then the electricity stops. Agent Fletcher rises again.
The delay is plenty of time for the firing squad to take aim. Agent Fletcher attempts to evade once again, but this finally starts to fail. Only rarely does a shot hit, but when it does, that limb briefly stops blurring. Finally, a shot collapses his leg and he falls to a knee, the rest of him still dodging with indifferent consistency.
A squadron of helicopters can be heard approaching.
While the Muses continue their massive barrage, Sebastian drops his scoped rifle and picks up an RPG-7. A warhead is loaded. He shoulders the tube and fires. The distance to target is so short, we only see a beam of smoke, then a ball of flame where Agent Sebastian stood.
The guns stop. Jinn stands and strolls over to the rocket-damaged section of roof. Bits of flame are still around. We see the form of a body from a distance. The only closeup is a discreet shot of Dr. Humboldt's charred hand with her wedding ring. The body attached to that hand stays off-camera.
Many black helicopters are circling now and searchlights are criss-crossing the area. SWAT teams are rappelling from the copters to the various buildings at the scene. Jinn raises a hand in farewell, then gradually turns immaterial as she sinks through the roof.
We follow between the six gunners while they leave their posts. As the authorities are heard marching and breaking doors on floors above, the six reach for old landline phones nearby. Sebastian is last; his door snaps open a moment after he disappears. The SWAT team finds only a phone off its cradle playing a loud dial tone.
Sebastian jerks awake in what looks like an antique dentist's chair. A clever mechanism automatically removes a cable from a port at the base of his skull. His chair is surrounded by metal trays and shelves, each filled to the edge with monitors, vials, a set of scalpels, exposed hard drives, coaxial cables, and devices unknown.
The Muses are already standing or sitting around the room. He is in the hovercraft CALPHURNIA. Every bit looks rusted and cramped like an old submarine. The space is dimly-lit from the glow of computers and a few flickering bulbs. A drop of moisture occasionally condenses and falls from the overhead pipes. Seven other chair stations like Sebastian's are arranged in an inward-facing circle.
Sebastian and the Muses are now wearing dirty, utilitarian shirts and tunics. When they see him rise, the Muses start speaking all at once. Sebastian doesn't make eye contact or respond to any of them. He moves to a work station and presses a button on a console.
"Log. Day forty-three. Test five is a success."
We hear Sebastian's voice and know he's the mysterious benefactor who first called Dr. Humboldt's office. The Muses continue trying to get his attention. He seems haunted and stares ahead into the camera as if they weren't there. Then he closes his eyes.
When he opens his eyes, the Muses are gone.
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