Story Summary, Chapter 8.1.1 (7/12-7/18) by Rarebit
Cypherite spies discovered that Zion has been constructing a new city, situated in a vast complex of natural and artificial caverns far beneath the Earth's surface, protected by a combination of heavy sediment layers, EMP devices embedded in the rock, and live EMP fields powered by geothermal energy. The Machines declared this base, popularly termed "New Zion," to be a violation of the truce, and revoked Zion's privilege of recruiting humans who reject the Matrix simulation.
Machine forces moved swiftly to neutralize Zion's systems within the Matrix, achieving rapid early success. Zion operatives found themselves under attack by Agents anywhere outside of the Richland slums.
E Pluribus Neo began examining possible ways in which they could strike back at the Machines, possible outside of the simulation itself. Concerned lest Zion fall to the Machines, the Kid offered to assist Zion hovercraft, under fire from hostile Sentinel patrols.
The Merovingian threw a party, gloating over the possibilities for profit opened up by the return of the war between Zion and the Machines.
Zion attempted to put an emergency firewall system in place to protect their network interfaces from the Machines, but the Machines quickly bypassed the new System, and inserted viral routines into the Zion network, impairing their communication system.
As a fall-back plan, Zion established a temporary network uplink, that they could use to get data directly out of the simulation.
The Machines began attacking Zionite extraction points, seeking to prevent Zion from "unplugging" more humans from the pods.
The Merovingian stole tunnel mapping data from Zion, and used this information to keep the General's Sentinels from being found by Machine patrols in the Real. The Merovingian informed the General that he must stay within certain designated areas, or be shut down by an override command.
In the Matrix, the Merovingian verified the allegiance of other powerful Exiles, including Yttri, Amber, Cerulean, Madame T, and the Auditor. The Exile named Synn insisted on more protection from Agent intrusion.
Cypherites continued stealing information from Zionite data clusters, despite increased resistance from Zion.
MXO story summary, chapters 8.1.3-8.1.4 (7/26-8/8) By Rarebit
Zion managed to get sensitive broadcast control data out of the simulation thanks to intervention by the Merovingian, who sent Beirn to stop the Machine Agent threatening Zion's uplink portal. With the preserved data, Zion was able to keep their broadcast control system essentially intact, although because it is now shared from ship to ship, their hovercraft must rise closer to the surface to send signals into the Matrix.
Zion finally tracked down Daelyn, a Cypherite spy who'd been smuggling information to Veil. The Cypherites, however, obtained the address of a Zionite recruiting official from a potential Zion recruit, killed in a crossfire with Zion defenders. The Machines captured the official, and then the high-level recruiting data to which he had access.
Meanwhile, a flight of Sentinels dispatched to probe New Zion's defenses were deactivated by hidden EMP charges. The Kid, pointing out the danger to even Zion's new city, urged Niobe to consider opening a direct offensive against the Machines in the Real, but Niobe did not seem inclined to consider such a gamble.
The Merovingian, besides taking a little time to discipline the unruly Murasaki Exile, Synn, became increasingly curious to probe Machine capabilities. An attack by the Twins and operatives at a leading Downtown company, Metacortex, provoked only a relatively meager Machine response. Deigning to question the Oracle, the Frenchman was told that "power isn't everything," and was prompted to look around for himself.
Questioning the Morpheus simulacrum, who reiterated the widespread story of a Machine civilization powered by humans trapped in pods, combined with a form of fusion, the Merovingian was struck by the lack of key factual data to support the story.
Armed with lists of potential awakening subjects captured from Zion, the Machines aggressively pursued Zion extraction and recruiting operations. One bluepill in particular, Navin Manohar, was arrested, terminated, and replaced with a specially prepared bluepill, one partially overwritten by a Machine program. After being reconfigured by operatives to resemble the original Mr. Manohar, the overwritten bluepill was sent back to Manohar's residence.
E Pluribus Neo, attempting to save as many compromised potentials from the Machines as possible, confronted and eventually extracted Rachel Dunkirk, friend of a woman named Sarah Edmontons, who had disappeared from a hospital several years earlier, apparently walking out under her own power despite having been on life support machines for over a month with almost zero brainwave activity.
MXO story summary, 8.1.5 (8/9-8/15) by Rarebit
Zion strove to save their compromised recruiting teams and potential awakening subjects from the Machines, with some success. The Machines, however, gained information on the location and configuration of the Zion mainframe when they tricked Zion into attempting to extract a subject who had secretly been overwritten with a Machine program designed to exploit a security hole in the red pill trace program.
The Merovingian had Raini and Silver questioned about fusion and biological power generation; the questions stemmed from Morpheus' account of humans in the pods and the Machine energy source. Information gathered made the Merovingian question the efficiency of the supposed Machine system of a form of fusion combined with humans as energy-generating devices, and he determined to learn the truth for himself by sending the General's Sentinels to scout the fields and pods.
Ghost had a run-in with Pace while on a recruiting mission; Pace hinted that "your program is compromised," and that she was visiting other Zion potentials.
The Cypherite controller, Veil, and Cypherite operatives strove to counter Zion's recruiting efforts with bluepills, and succeeded in putting a number of potentials "back to sleep" with the pills, although one had to be fed the pill by force.
Malphas and several operatives won back a feather from Seraph, stolen by Seraphim. Malphas explained that Seraph's feathers were stripped from him as punishment for his betrayal of the Merovingian, in the days when he served the Merovingian as an enforcer.
Niobe came close to losing data she was attempting to rescue from Machine capture, but E Pluribus Neo operatives saved her from Machine forces in the nick of time.
The Merovingian held a "peace party" for all operatives in Tabor Park, but turned it into a bloodbath after tempting redpills from all organizations into close proximity with cake, dancing, and Ookami.
MXO story summary, 8.1.5 (8/16-8/22) by Rarebit
The Exile leader Dame White was involved in some wheeling and dealing, first getting a new Exile program that controlled animal emotions stolen from her by Persephone, the Effectuator, and Merovingian operatives, and then tipping off E Pluribus Neo that the Merovingian might have access to detailed information on Machine power lines in the Real, in exchange for information they gave her, obtained from Cypherites, about a mysterious "Mr. G."
As it turned out, "Mr. G." was Itarrot, a long-missing Cypherite officer. Having serious RSI trouble due to fried systems on his hijacked hovercraft, Itarrot was found and rescued by Cypherite operatives, and restored to his old position on Cryptos' hovercraft, "The Blue Dreamer."
The Cypherites also rescued the crew of the Solstice, held by Zion since trying to defect to the Cypherite cause. Cypherite operatives staged a party in Club Sphinx, handing out blue pills as a distraction, while a team of high level Cypherite operatives broke into the Zion outpost where the crew was held, and liberated them.
Zion and the Machines clashed in the Zero One construct, as Zion conducted a desperate search for a Machine hacker who was threatening a vital Zion system. Despite efforts by Machine operatives and Agent Pace, Zionite operatives managed to locate the hacker and disrupt his efforts. After this success, the assembled Zionites attacked Agent Pace en masse, temporarily damaging her RSI and forcing her to retreat from the construct. Ghost warned, however, that Zion's systems were still under heavy Machine attack on multiple fronts, and that it would be vital to get all of these systems transferred to the safety of Zion's new city.
Next: Chapter 8: Episode 2...