MXO story summary, 8.2.1 (8/23-8/29) by Rarebit
Zion turned to Danielle Wright, the ex-Zionite and mastermind behind the elite "Wright Research" technology company, for aid in coding a new red pill program that would not be vulnerable to the exploit the Machines used to gather data on the Zion mainframe.
With their recruiting program in great danger due to Machine data captures, Zion continued their attempts to save compromised potentials from the Machines, staging a large distraction near the government building in Tabor West while a small team rescued two potentials held under System guard.
The Machines, having received indications that the General's Sentinels, directed by the Merovingian, were approaching the Fields and pods near the Machine city, began operations against the Merovingian with the aim of forcing him to recall the General. The Auditor was ordered to cease auditing Merovingian code, and the information-gatherer Hypatia, who has given the Merovingian useful information in the past, was arrested. The Machines met with less success when they tried shutting down the relay the Merovingian uses to communicate with the General, however, as they found that the Merovingian already had at least one backup system in place.
Machine operatives, finding that Zionite hovercraft had destroyed a scanning beacon used to return data on the Earth's depths, found an old human probe that could serve as a temporary replacement, and then located an exiled program capable of communicating with the probe. Agent Gray permitted the program to return to service in order to direct the probe. Gray also consented to the establishment of a ranking scheme in order to organize and motivate Machinist hovercraft operations.
The Merovingian received scouting reports from the General's Sentinels with estimates of the human population held by the Fields and pods near the Machine city. Together with data gathered within the simulation on birth and death rates, the Merovingian achieved a rough estimate of a possible total Matrix human population, but suspected that the figures were too low, not to mention incongruous, and said that they would have to continue their investigation until the numbers added up.
Finding the General hunted by Machine Sentinels on the Earth's surface, the Merovingian sent operatives to draw the attention of the Machines in the simulation by attacking important facilities across the city. Meanwhile, Merovingian hovercraft helped draw off Sentinels, and the General managed to escape detection.
E Pluribus Neo, considering a strike on the power lines leading from the pods to the Machine city, stole mapping data on the area from the Merovingian.
The Cypherites, feeling that the Merovingian was accessing information on the simulation that could be dangerous to the humans sleeping in the pods, investigated one of his information sources, the Coroner, who led them to data held by his nemesis, Hypatia. The data pointed the Cypherites to a hidden construct housing some of the General's Elite Commando programs, which the Cypherites defeated after a fierce battle.
Danielle Wright succeeded in creating a new red pill program for Zion, after some preliminary less-than-successful test runs. Forced to move her activities underground when the Machines discovered her work, Wright, finding Cypherites attempting to decode her encrypted jack-in signal, decided to leave the simulation for good, telling Zion operatives that there was work she had to do, but she could no longer do it in the city. She also rejected invitations from operatives and even Commander Lock to seek refuge in Zion's new city, saying that her goals differed from theirs.
The Merovingian launched a small urban terror campaign designed to dissuade the Machines from attempting to hamper his various information-gathering activities. Even so, Sentinel patrols around the pods and Fields on the Earth's surface forced the General to pull his forces back.
Meanwhile, the Merovingian discovered E Pluribus Neo's theft of the General's maps of the area around the Fields. Piqued, the Merovingian looked into the matter, and, finding that EPN intended to use the maps to conduct a raid on the power lines leading from the pods into the Machine city, conconcted an elaborate plan designed to pinpoint the position of the EPN strike force, and send this data to the Machines. This plot succeeded, and despite detonating strategic code pulse devices across the city to disrupt Machine communication, the EPN attack ran into an overwhelming Sentinel presence waiting for them at the power lines, and was forced to retreat without having reached their intended target.
Having resolved that matter to his satisfaction, the Merovingian turned his attention back to exploring the Machine power base, and used a modified red pill program to trace a bluepill's body to a previously unknown set of pods farther away from the Machine city.
MXO story summary, 8.2.4 (9/13-9/19) - 09/21/2007
Zion began distributing the new red pill programs to their recruiting teams, and to their allies in E Pluribus Neo, but this distribution met with opposition from Cypherites, and the Machines.
Investigating reports of Sentinels hovering suspiciously around the city of Zion, E Pluribus Neo, thanks to a bargain struck with Pepper, was able to capture Machine data showing that the Sentinels formed a thin cocoon around Zion--a nearly perfect spherical distribution. These Sentinels, however, would evade Zion or EPN ships, rather than attempting to engage them in combat, and the Kid expressed concern over what might lie behind this unexpected behavior.
The Machines investigated Wright's business, Wright Research, and found that they had worked closely with a small company, Argent Biometrics, specializing in encryption across biological interfaces similar to that used by Wright on her own jack-in signal. Discovering that Argent Biometrics was a cover company set up by the Exile, Silver, the Machines tracked, pursued, and confronted Silver, demanding the key to Wright's signal encryption, and threatening to delete all of Silver's research if he did not cooperate. Silver grudgingly handed over the required information.
When the Merovingian learned of Silver's deal with the Machines, he sent operatives, and Ookami, to punish Silver by wiping out several of Silver's labs in Camon Heights. Summoning Silver to Club Sphinx, the Merovingian angrily reminded him that no commerce was to be conducted with the Machines without his permission, and finally allowed operatives to delete the unrepentant researcher, saying that he could be restored from a backup copy, possibly after modifying his code to make him less intractable.
The General's Sentinel scouts, ranging further across the Earth's dead surface, reported more human pod clusters, arranged in a rough grid pattern, roughly 100 to 150 kilometers apart. Meanwhile, the Exile Sunshine was consulted, and estimated that, taking the cooling of the Earth's climate due to the perpetual storm clouds into consideration, the Machines might be able to use about 1/16th of the Earth's surface for pod clusters. Malphas calculated that this could mean the Machines have about 300 million people in pods worldwide, but the Merovingian felt that something still wasn't adding up.
Operatives tracked a powerful Exile program, called "Incidence 5.991" by the Machines, and found it using deceptive simulacra to retrieve data from hidden nodes. These simulacra were deleted without retrieving their data in time, but more nodes were believed to exist.
Information was sketchy, but available details indicated at least two nearly simultaneous acts of deadly sabotage in the old city of Zion, bearing similarities to past Cypherite attacks: a hijacked hovercraft rammed the main gate to the city's dock, and shortly thereafter, all communication with Zion Command was cut off, following what may have been a large explosion in the command facility.
At about the same time, the Machines were sending a virus directly into Zion's mainframe, using a device captured from Danielle Wright's lab near the Earth's surface, which the Machines located by tracking her broadcast signal, whose encryption they had unlocked. Wright herself, in her last known appearance in the Matrix, remained characteristically calm when confronted by the triumphant Machines; she collapsed, lifeless, as Sentinels dispatched her body in the Real.
Several days later, Ghost pursued rumors about the sabotage that had taken place in Zion, finding strong indications of Cypherite involvement, in collaboration with the Machines. Ghost warned operatives not to try reaching the old city with their hovercraft, as it was now entirely infested by Sentinels. A number of Zion hovercraft have been missing since the attack on the city; Zion's Commander Lock, present in Zion Command at the time contact was lost, has also not been found.
Reports to the Merovingian from the General's Sentinel scouts, ranging farther across the surface of the Earth, indicated regular arrays of small pod clusters in a loose grid-like pattern across the otherwise lifeless land. The only significant variation found was another large pod cluster and set of human-growing Fields over 6000 miles away, from which power cables led off into the distance; contact to the scount sending this report was lost, however, and the remainder were recalled to preserve them from Machine patrols. Merovingian estimates based on a compilation of recent findings placed the Matrix population at approximately 300 million humans; according to the Merovingian, these would scarcely provide sufficient power for the Machines' needs.
MXO Story Summary, 8.2.5 continued… (9/27-10/3) - 10/05/2007
With Lock still missing after the destruction of Zion's old city by the Machines, Captain Roland was promoted to Commander of Zion's military.
Fighting over the new red pill programs continued, with Machines working to keep the pills out of E Pluribus Neo's hands. A hard battle was fought between the two groups in Westview, ending with Machinists recovering some of the programs.
Zion, investigating Cypherite involvement in the attacks leading to the destruction of the old city, captured some data from the Cypherites, and decoded it after fighting to gain access to Cypherite computers. The data consisted of a brief message about Danielle Wright: "We found a neologism from Wright: Alphadecimal." Operatives began to investigate if this information could relate to any previously discovered details about the mysterious researcher.
A high-level Zionite fought off Merovingian operatives while complaining about having to find his way to Pillsen for Commander Roland. The Zionite was bald, muscular, wearing a green sleeveless T-shirt, arm tattoos and green glasses, but his name was unknown.
Machinists found Brenda Utley touring the headquarters of Wright Research in Vauxton. Utley hinted that her company, consumer products giant Pendhurst-Amaranth, may be interested in acquiring the research firm of the missing Danielle Wright.
The Oracle bumped into a few operatives of various organizations in Downtown, inviting them to an impromptu picnic in One Zero, where they discussed peace, war, and economics while munching freshly baked cookies.
Next: Chapter 8: Episode 3...