Chapter Eleven
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Introspection

 

He would never understand women. After his assertion that Gemini was not a virus, she burst into tears, practically leapt over the table, and hugged him. He could have done without that enthusiasm.

It was hardly a surprise that female AIs were so rare. They were difficult to program. Females operated by an entirely different kind of logic. A kind of logic that was incomprehensively more complex and didn’t integrate well with Mainframe frequencies. Female Agents died young. Not because their work was more dangerous, but because the Makers couldn’t program them well enough. Their subroutines disintegrated quickly. After his discussion with Marco, Smith realized that females baffled men and Agents alike. At least Smith wasn’t alone in his suffering.

It was almost midnight according to the clock in the kitchen. Gemini had gone to bed. She had control over time in the Matrix, but not over her own fatigue. For the moment, Smith wasn’t watching her sleep. He sensed she needed time alone. After altering the Matrix to restore his customary suit and to dry the spot the cat had made in Gemini’s recliner, Smith sat in same chair, thinking. The cat stared at him from her perch on the back of the couch.

The ratio was now 2:1 in favor of the females. Dammit.

He was never wearing pink again. If Gemini ever tried to force the color upon him again, he would alter it. He was never wearing anything else belonging to a former boyfriend of Gemini’s, either. Smith would tolerate only so much abuse from the woman.

He definitely wouldn’t be holding hands with her again anytime soon. When they held hands, Smith’s neural processors sent him very unusual messages. If it was pleasure, it was of a different variety than what he experienced when kissing her.

Smith contacted the Mainframe. [...Inquiry...]

[__Program 100101, Agent Smith, acknowledged__Proceed__]

[...Request occurrence data...Agents evolving emotions...]

[__ __]

Smith frowned. [...Request reason for delay...]

[__Data infrequent__34.727 percent margin of error__]

[...Margin acceptable...] It really wasn’t, but he needed *some* answer. [...Repeat original request...]

Nanoseconds went by. Smith began to wonder if the Mainframe had any statistics on the subject. The Mainframe wouldn’t lie to him, would it?

[__Response to Inquiry: Agents evolving emotions__It has happened on occasion__]

That was an evasive answer. Not the usual type of response Smith was accustomed to from the Mainframe.

[__Further inquiries?__]

[...No...]

[__Is Program 100101 evolving emotions?__Interference with Agent duties probable__File cleanup and defragment advised__]

That would essentially return him to the state of consciousness he’d had upon his program’s original activation. He didn’t want that. [...File cleanup and defragment not required...Logging off...]

The cat was sitting on his lap. Staring at him with her yellow eyes. He stared back at her until she looked down at his tie clip. She sniffed it, then butted the top of her head against Smith’s chest. Why the cat insisted on giving him this attention Smith didn’t understand, but the texture of her fur was nice. He rubbed a path along the cat’s spine and was rewarded with a faceful of fluffy tail. Quickly accessing his database, Smith learned that was feline body language for “I like you.” The cat stood on tiptoes and arched her back into Smith’s hand, purring. She looked grey-blue in this light.

“Circuit,” he murmured. The word came illogically from nowhere, but it seemed right.

“Mrrrrr,” said the cat. She purred louder and nuzzled Smith’s palm.

“It’s settled,” he said. “Your name is Circuit.”

Circuit began padding Smith’s knee with sharp little paws. Still purring furiously. After a while she curled up and squeezed her eyes shut. Smith would have thought he was the last thing the cat would like, but here she was, commandeering his lap for her own use.

The cat’s color reminded Smith of the first thing he’d been able to identify upon his initialization: the silver and grey ventilation grill on the ceiling that filled his vision as he lay motionless in a sterile Matrix infirmary. He had been waiting for some time for his programming to fully accept sensory input. There had been a problem with his programming. The Matrix had trouble projecting a suitable body for the Agent that would be named Smith. No one could decide how he should look. For a long time he laid in limbo.

Smith remembered when he was initialized. For a long time he was pure, untainted, blank. Aside from the problem of projecting a suitable appearance, he was perfect.

Then he began to understand things. He was augmented with Agent logarithms and named. The history of humanity was uploaded to him. Smith blamed them for causing the world’s present predicament. Humanity had first created Artificial Intelligence, then refused to allow the sentient machines lives independent of human masters. Humanity scorched its own world in order to stop the machines. Humans were spiteful. They were dangerous. They had delved into a technology they did not understand and attempted to play God with a creation that didn’t need one. It was only natural that the machines would triumph in the end. Humanity needed limits. They needed boundaries and rules that their primitive minds could understand.

The machines tried to be generous. The first Matrix was supposed to be perfect. No one would suffer. Everyone would be happy. Humanity would receive what it hadn’t given. People kept waking up, refusing to accept the programming as reality. So the Makers tried again, creating a Matrix filled with flaws. Humanity went back to sleep, and the machines had their unlimited power source. An ideal scenario as far as Smith was concerned.

Of course the creatures rebelled. A man was born who could alter the Matrix at will. He corrupted others, which led to the original necessity for Agents. But Smith’s programming was improved. Smith could learn and adapt more quickly. He could understand the psychology of humanity. That was what the machines needed; to understand. So the Makers designed a highly adaptive Agent program and made Smith.

Smith excelled at his job. He assisted in designing a more intimidating appearance for the Agents. Based on his understanding of human fears, Agents became darker and more aloof. A team was designed for him. Brown and Jones functioned well, but they were not as advanced as Smith was.

It was past time he contacted his team. It irritated him that he was required to stay here until his superiors deemed it time to end the assignment. Sliding on his sunglasses, Smith linked with Agents Jones and Brown. He asked for status updates.

Jones replied first. [...Resistant captured and interrogated...Minimum information retrieved...Subject terminated...]

Smith approved. Jones was efficient as always.

Brown’s musical voice came over the link. [...Request reason for Smith’s extended absence...]

Sitting in Gemini’s plush recliner, Smith suppressed a sigh. [...Reason classified...Contact Mainframe for details...]

There was a pause. Then, [...Team does not function with comparable efficiency without Smith...]

Smith hadn’t realized just how dependent Brown was. The Agent carried out his orders beautifully, but he had trouble initiating his own actions in the field. The time was past when Brown could blame his timidity on his youth. Jones was of similar age, but not nearly as tentative. Smith wondered if it was a glitch in Brown’s programming. If the trend continued, Smith would suggest a recompile for Agent Brown. If a recompile didn’t work, Brown might have to be terminated. Smith didn’t want that. It was a loss of precious Matrix resources. In addition, a new Agent would have to be trained to work with himself and Jones. Despite the Makers’ claims, when sentience was involved, each program had individuality. Smith, Jones, and Brown worked well together and Smith was loath to imagine a change.

[...Continue standard operations...] Smith instructed. Then he informed Jones of the significance of Gemini’s name. Jones had trouble understanding the sentiment, but was appreciative of the information.

[...What are you learning?...] Brown asked.

Smith hesitated. How could he explain living with Gemini? [...Acquiring knowledge regarding gender identity...] he answered.

[...Conclusions?...]

[...Further data required...] Smith didn’t know why he was being elusive. Jones would probably detect it, but so far he remained silent. [...Humans do not exist as code...] he added. [...Humans are not binary...]

[...Elaborate...] Jones sent.

Smith stroked the furry ball sleeping on his lap. It reminded him. [...See relevance of euphemism “Shades of grey”...Humanity is more complex than originally assumed...]

[...Acknowledged...Will take under advisement...] Jones replied.

Smith remembered one last thing. [...Recommend investigation of substance: chocolate...Knowledge may be used to increase control...]

As Smith had surmised earlier, Agent Brown took interest. [...Will investigate immediately...]

Smith logged off. What was Gemini’s facial expression? Rolling her eyes? Smith was tempted to do just that. Instead he let out a long, frustrated breath. Was he a team leader, or a babysitter?

Circuit lifted one eyelid and twitched an ear in Smith’s direction. He admired her economy of movement. Very expressive, but with very little energy wasted. The cat purred softly for a moment before drifting back to sleep.

Sounds of Gemini talking in her sleep came through the open bedroom door. She sounded distressed. After lifting a slightly disgruntled cat from his lap, Smith went to investigate.

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