NacDiggity > Paradigm


He might have laughed, had he been human.

It wasn't that he couldn't laugh, because he could. Humor was among the functions added into the programming of the second series of self-aware Interception/Adjudication programs known to humans as "Agents". The first series of Agents were not given the algorithms for humor because it was thought that any extra code was inefficient, and would both hinder the agent and place unnecessary strains on the Matrix. It was soon discovered that the human mind responded to humor in ways still not fully understood. Humor could cause a human being interrogated to reveal more information than it otherwise would. Humor could be useful in convincing a wavering rebel to act as an informant. Humor could even be used to stun a human; there were instances on file of an agent telling a joke, and using the fraction of a second of confusion produced to attack, single handedly dealing with a situation that otherwise would have required assistance.

He did not laugh however because, despite its usefulness, humor was a tool and not a natural reaction. Instead the Agent felt the familiar tide of disgust/disdain that he felt whenever he realized how superior he was to humans. It wasn't the human's weakness that truly bothered him. There were lower level programs than himself, some not even self aware, there were the few surviving sea animals and fungi on earth, there were even viruses. None of those things bothered the agent, and they had weaknesses that dwarfed the humans'. No, it was the fact that the Agent was required to communicate with, and interact with, and attempt to understand humans that might have made him angry, had he been human.

As it was, he merely adjusted his aim as the human walked across the room.

The human had returned, just as he had known it would. It occurred to the Agent that he had no idea how humanity had progressed to the level that it had. Humans had no collective memory, and when a human died, all its memories died with it. Every action of every Agent for the entirety of the time it functioned was recorded in the Central Database, and every Agent had constant, up to the instant, access to the database. This meant that no agent would ever make the same mistake twice, and no other Agent would make that mistake either. The best a human could do was to tell its experiences to another human, or to record them, where the other human would then have to learn them. Regardless, it was a poor substitute for the Central Database. That humans had managed to dominate the planet and develop technology to the level that they had was a testament to the power of perseverance, or to greed. It might have made him ponder, had he been human.

As it was, he pulled the trigger.

He had attacked the human and its companions as it was entering the dormitory. The informant's information had been sound; they were attempting a first contact with a human who went by the hacker alias "Spyd0r". The Agent and killed the target, of course, because where one rebel came, more were sure to follow. The rebel and the Agent saw each other at the same time, and to its credit, the rebel didn't hesitate, drawing and emptying its clip at the agent. The Agent avoided the fire of course, but before he could return, the other two rebels had taken up covering positions and were opening fire as the first rebel fled.

The Agent knew that humans almost always followed a pattern in combat. After their initial salvo, well trained humans would require approximately 0.5 seconds to realize that retreat was the only feasible strategy. The aberration Thomas Anderson was an exception to this rule, but as none of these rebels were Thomas Anderson the Agent concluded that once he had completed dodging the fire, he had time to eliminate one of the rebels before the other began attempting to escape. One human fired 10 shots, the other 12. The watched as the bullets flew by his head, and moved his body when necessary, The humans stopped firing, and the agent allowed himself 0.3 seconds to ensure that they were not going to fire again. The Agent began to run towards the rebels, and just over 0.2 seconds later one of the rebels began to turn. If the Agent had been human, he might have rolled his eyes.

As it was, he threw a punch.

The first rebel was actually quite skilled for a human, highly creative and intuitive, and it took the Agent just over 6 seconds before the Agent was able to elbow it in the back of its neck, severing the spinal chord. That meant that one rebel had a 6 second head start and the other had just over 6.5 seconds. The Agent began his pursuit. As the Agent ran, he only need a small portion of his processing capability to actually conduct the pursuit, so he considered the nature of the conflict. He didn't understand why the humans conducted the war, he never had. No human could defeat an agent (with the exception of Thomas Anderson, and it was only a matter of time before they eliminated him, either in the matrix or in the physical world), and the physical world was a barren waste land. Why in the world humans would sacrifice a relatively safe life in a world that suited them, in order to live in fear on a planet that they had destroyed, with one (admittedly heavily fortified and well guarded) city? It was a question that the Agent had never been able to answer, and it puzzled him. He was inclined to explain it as a subconscious instinct within humans towards stress and danger, but that was not satisfactory in his mind. Had he been human, he might have shrugged.

As it was, he inhabited a human 200 yards in front of him to gain time while maintaining sight of the rebel.

The Agent reached the rebel as it crossed a main intersection. The rebel turned to the Agent and sputtered "Wait, WAIT, I'll tell you anything you want to know!". The Agent had considered the possibility that the rebel might defect, and had a response prepared, but still paused for effect. The Agent had no need to pause and the fact that he did caused him to question why, was it for any reason? Was he taking pleasure in it? The Agent decided it was definitely time to get debugged.

He spoke; "Mr. Carruthers, how do you think we got the information we have?" The Agent always preferred to say "we" as opposed to "I". It invoked a sense of fear in humans he often found useful. The rebel looked at him, confused. He continued in his crisp, precise, perfect manner of speech; "Your whereabouts.your itinerary.your target. your name, Mr. Carruthers?"

The human's mouth opened slightly, and a pained look crossed its face as the truth slowly occurred to it. "Mr. Carruthers, why would we need TWO people to tell us the same thing?" The rebel staggered back a step, and spit the name like it was an ember, searing his mouth "Ferox!!". The Agent looked at him, and had he been human, he might have shook his head in pity.

As it was, he raised his gun.

The rebel looked around, and began to shout "People! Open your eyes! This world is not real! Ask wh-". It was cut short as the first bullet entered its throat, followed quickly by several others. The rebel fell in a slumped heap on the ground, as the screams began to fill the air. The agent knew that between the time spent killing the two rebels, and the time spent in pursuit of the second human, it would be impossible to catch the third rebel at this point. If the rebel had been thinking clearly, it would contact its ship, and negotiate an escape point. Or it might find one from memory. Or if it was panicked and stupid, it would return to the point from which it had entered, the location of which he knew from the informant. The Agent knew that the third option was statistically the most likely. Regardless, he had no choice, to proceed as if that was the case.

If anybody had been looking, they would have seen the small child playing in the court riding the tricycle spasm and convulse. Nobody was, and moments later, the Agent was striding towards the house. The door was unlocked and he entered, gun drawn in case of attack. He closed the door and scanned the house. Finding nobody, he picked a hidden spot where he could cover the entire the entire walk from the door to the telephone. He had waited no more than a minute when the rebel came through the door, panting, and cursing. It strode across the room, unaware of the Agent. The Agent stood silent, observing every move, and adjusting his gun arm accordingly. When the rebel drew perpendicular to the Agent, he said "Ms. Abramowicz" and fired.

Had it been Thomas Anderson, it might have dodged the bullet and engaged the Agent in a fight which it might have won.

As it was, it died.

End of Transmission

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