Quin Firefrorefiddle > Contentment


My name is Starlighter, and Iím a number of different things. Iím a mother to my children, and a wife to my husband. Iím Head Librarian, here in Zion, Iím a friend in my circle, small as it may be.

I was on a ship, many years ago, fighting in the Resistance. But when a woman gets pregnant, she gets kicked off. Simple story. I miss the excitement occasionally, but not too often.

My husband, on the other hand, is a different story. If the father of the baby wants to be involved in the kidís life, heís kicked off the ship too. There are a lot of single mothers in Zion, but we look after them carefully, so they do okay. We need as many children as we can get, after all. Repopulating Earth will take awhile.

My husband wanted to be involved in our childís life, but he couldnít leave the ship, he couldnít leave the fight, he couldnít leave the Resistance. You see, my husband is Morpheus, and he was going to find the One. So I live here, with our children, and heís on his ship, the Neb, looking for the One. Or he was.

Theyíve found him. Theyíre bringing him back. Switch, Apoc, Mouse, and Dozer died. So did Cypher, but he wasnít like the others, he wasnít close. Now we have different reasons not to miss him, though.

My firstborn, Quill, she and Tank have always had a special relationship. Yes, heís seven years older, but heís also the only man Iíd trust my first daughter to leave the nest to. Heíll be kicked off the ship in a year, when he turns 25, heíll come back to Zion and build a life, and wait for her to serve her five years (three years to go, and sheíll leave meÖ), and then they can start their life together. It will be a long wait, but I donít think heíll mind too much.

My first two sons, the first and second of the triplets, Bit and Bot, they had such a friendship with Apoc. He had just the right sense of humor to go along with Bitís, and their pranks were often absolutely ingenious. But he was able to calm him down when necessary, and he was always stable enough for Bot, our quiet genius.

My second daughter, Byte, the youngest of the triplets, had such a crush on Mouse. I had always thought of him as a punk kid, but he was just beginning to grow up. So he still created his fantasy women, yes, but he was beginning to realize that they werenít everything. I wasnít ready to trust him with my second daughter yet, but maybe someday. If he had grown up into the man he could have beenÖ. If he had only had that chance.

My next child, Clip, my third daughter, she had a really good relationship with Switch. It was healing for both of them. Clip has never been that popular in school, she refuses to play the head games most of the children play, and has a habit of speaking her mind. Iím willing to bet she got that from me, since Morpheus has always been able to control exactly what came out of his mouth. And Switch went through the same thing, in the Matrix, and also out, until she met Apoc.

Dozer always had a great thing going with the younger children, he would have made a wonderful father someday. And Trinity has always been one of my best friends, and has always been Morpheusís best friend. Other than me, of course.

But now they have found Neo. And soon, in a year or two, when he doesnít need Morpheus around all the time, anymore, then Iíll get my husband back. One month a year isnít enough. Iíll deal with it, I always have, but it isnít enough.

We met decades ago. I had just been unplugged, he was a member of my ship, a couple years ahead of me, no longer a rookie, but not the legend he would become. He hadnít gone to see the Oracle yet, there hadnít been time, and he wasnít seen as somebody particularly important. There was no hurry to get him there.

I asked him about his name, once. Mine had just come from a part I had in a play, years before. I liked the idea of lighting the stars up every night, so I kept it the name, it was what I called myself, and eventually, when I really got into hacking, what others called me.

All that Morpheus said when I asked about his name was that life always felt like a dream to him, while he was still in the Matrix. It wasnít until years later I found out about the gang, and why they had called him that. He kept his name as a reminder, that anybody could put someone to sleep, like he used to, what he got the name for, but it took real talent to help them dream, like he does now.

At first, he was just another crew member. We werenít particularly close, he was always self-training. He had to be watched to make sure that he didnít overdo it once he figured out how to run the training programs without an Operator. We all thought that weíd spend all our lives on the ship, in the Resistance, since we Unpluggeds didnít have an age limit like the Freeborns. Zion needed to be kept running, and the number of Freeborns was just about right at any given time. The Unpluggeds could be put to good use, of course, but there were enough Freeborns already living there by then to run the place, thatís all that really mattered.

One night, a few months after I was Unplugged, he found me sobbing on my bunk. I didnít miss the Matrix, I liked my new life, and it had more meaning than my Matrix life did. But I wasnít complete.

You see, Iíd never been first on anybodyís list. My mother had always been matter of fact about it. She loved me more than anybody, but she had her own life to live. Dad, on the other hand, liked to pretend that I was the most important thing in his life, which made it all the harder to realize that really, there was nothing important in his life, other than him. I loved my mother, but I lost all respect for Dad shortly after she died. A few months later, I was Unplugged.

And now I had a new life, and I was really helping people, and learning important things that would really apply to my life, and being treated like, well, not an equal, I was still a newbie, but nobody doubted I would be equal to them, given a little time.

But there I was, sobbing my eyes out on my bunk, because even though I had a group of friends here, that was all they were. And you try telling an 18 year old that you can go through life without being in love sometime. Good luck.

He said later he had wanted to see if I was ready to go have dinner yet. Some of us were going to eat together before having a combat tournament in the Construct. He came in and saw me, and quietly closed the door. He walked over to my bed and sat down next to me, and opened his arms.

I had never felt so safe. So enveloped. So secure. There I was, sobbing my eyes out in the arms of this guy who I was going to have to face day in and day out for the next several years, absolutely wrecking his one shirt that didnít have gaping holes in it, and honestly, I was enjoying it.

How screwed up am I?

No, donít answer that.

And he just held me, like that, for several minutes, occasionally rubbing my back lightly, not making a sound. Breathing slowly, in and out, with his quiet control.

After awhile, I calmed, my tears slowed to a trickle, and I could breathe without it hurting, if still a little raggedy. For a little while I actually tried to fake crying, because I didnít want to leave the circle of his arms. But that didnít work.

He kept his arms around me, but pulled his head back a little. He looked into me with those eyes of his, and softly asked if I wanted to talk about it.

And it all spilled out. The years of constant humiliation and rejection by my classmates in the Matrix, my parents, my royally dysfunctional extended family, all of it. And how even now, happier than I had ever been, I still didnít feel complete. I went on and on, for at least quarter of an hour, and he just sat there and held me, and listened, not making a sound, just quietly breathing.

And by the end, I felt better. I was relaxed, and I knew that even if he didnít understand all of it, he knew where I was coming from, what was missing, what I needed. I was content.

I had shied away from asking anything of him. We were friends, yes, maybe not close friends, but I trusted him. Youíve got to trust your shipmates, after all. I will of course admit that I noticed he was attractive, but that wasnít the basis for anything, so I didnít really pay much attention to it. When I needed a good daydream or fantasy, I called up the memory of guys from the Matrix, they were safe, they couldnít find me now, I didnít have to deal with them anymore.

When I was done with my rant, though, he pulled back his head again, and locked eyes with me, just looking at me for several moments. Finally, just when I was starting to get nervous, he spoke.

ďCan I help?Ē

My eyes got wider, and I just sat there. I didnít know what to do with that, I was 18 and had never had to deal with guys in that way before. But he must have seen something in my eyes other than the fear, and he kissed me. Soft, gentle, giving so much and asking almost nothing in return. And that was when I knew. Knew that somehow, he was the one that was going to make me really live, really enjoy life to the fullest. That he would complete my life. Complete me.

And he has. And soon, I will have him back from the Resistance.

And I will be content once more.

End of Transmission

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