Fanfiction: Phoenix Burns: The Zion Files (The Matrix)


Author’s Note: This is the beginning of an idea born out of a thrown-together roleplay of my husband’s and mine when we were dating. 🙂 It’s not done and I don’t know if it ever will be.

Phoenix Burns

~From the Zion Files~

Panel 1

Bleak, dank, cold. The world as it really was. The Nebuchadnezzar whirred and hummed its way through the entrails of the Desert.

Deep within its bowels, a glow of hope resided as Morpheus piloted the ship. Home. “Zion, this is the Nebuchadnezzar requesting shield disablement and docking placement.”

Within the last human city, engineers worked expertly, a short redhead responding to the request. “Nebuchadnezzar, this is Zion. You are cleared for docking at the north gate. Shield and battlements disabled. Bay 20. Door’s open. Beds are made. Welcome home!”

The captain smiled. Home.

“Come on, people! Move it!” Tank hurried his crewmates, leaping the last few steps, his footfalls ringing on the metal floor as he descended from the upper deck into the core.

Trinity chuckled as she hefted an old, burnt-out EMP pack onto her back. “Calm down, Tank. We’ll be out of here soon. Zion’s not going anywhere.”

But Tank would not be subdued. He was, after all, “good, old-fashioned, homegrown human”, born right here in warm old Zion.

Neo helped Morpheus load up some equipment to be repaired while they were docked. Morpheus could tell that the young man was nervous; it was obvious in his frame, carriage, even speech.

‘It’s only natural,’ the older man thought. Neo had never been to Zion before, it would be his first time seeing the city, and the city’s first time seeing him…the One. Reports were already flooding all over Zion; some believed whole-heartedly, others did not. Some just did not know, those who had lived long enough to see many try and fail, try and fail. They just did not know.

Neo was still adjusting to his new self, learning what he was and was not capable of. It had only been three months since his resurrection and he was discovering that, emotionally, he was still fully human. And so he felt fear.

Morpheus plunked a strong hand on Neo’s shoulder as he moved to lift his bag. “It will be alright, Neo. There is nothing to fear. This is home.”

Neo gave a sort of weak smile, the pale skin at the corners of his mouth barely crinkling, as though even his muscles weren’t sure what to feel or do.

Gears clunked and clanked as the ramp of the Neb lowered, allowing her crew to disembark. Morpheus was at the head of the troop but was soon overtaken by Tank, who could not contain his excitement and ran on ahead to greet his family. Neo and Trinity trailed behind somewhat; there was no rush. They had time.

As they exited the docking level and came out into the open of the city, Neo glanced around, in utter amazement of the metal structure that was Zion. The floors of dwellings went up and down forever, the warm glow of light flooding even to the corners. Feet could be heard above and below, children running along the skyramps, playing tag and greeting family and friends. Neo also heard something that made his heart stop: laughter. It echoed over, under, and around him. It was beautiful!

Trinity smiled as she watched Neo survey their home, the last one—the only one—humans had left. Morpheus walked head of them, down the sky-bridge of the 102nd level. Suddenly, Neo found himself very confused for Morpheus’ arms were suddenly full of a young lady. After a hearty hug, they began to walk off arm-in-arm.

Trinity stopped when Neo didn’t move to follow her. “What is it?”

He pointed vaguely. “I didn’t know Morpheus had a wife.”

“She’s not his wife,” Trinity replied gently, “She’s his daughter.”

“Daughter?”

“Ensulieka is the child of two friends Morpheus had when he was still plugged into the Matrix; he’s kept an eye on those friends all these years. Ensulieka showed extreme promise and so, with the consent of the Council, he freed her and adopted her when she was brought here.”

Just then, Neo saw another individual approach the two. “Captain Morpheus, the Council requests your presence immediately.”

“Of course,” Morpheus turned, casting an apologetic glance at Ensulieka.

“It’s all right, Morpheus. We have time,” she smiled and made her way over to Trinity and Neo as he left with Captain Rahim. “Can I help you two with anything?”

Trinity smiled quietly, shifting her weight. “No, I think we’re good, Ensulieka.”

“So this is Neo,” Ensulieka held a hand out to him. “It’s a pleasure and honor to finally meet the man to whom my father has dedicated his life.”

Neo simply nodded, not sure what to say as he shook her small hand. There was a strength to her grip that reminded him of his mentor.

She was a girl no older than Mouse had been before he died, with long, jet black hair that was straight as a pin, skin like caramel and chocolate, and hazel eyes with more green than anything else. She was dressed simply in a soft, flowing shift that ended about midriff with long sleeves, a sort of silverish color, and a long skirt of wine, much like Morpheus’ shirt. Perhaps she had made his clothes for him; one never knew. Her hair was bound back by scraps of cord and yet looked attractive. The length of her hair and clothes effectively hid the plugs in her arms and head. She possessed a grace and countenance that much belied her years; just like Morpheus. One could tell that he had raised her.

Just then, a loud voice called. “Neo! Neo! Wait up!”

Both Neo and Trinity grimaced. “How did he know we were coming?” she muttered.

The young man running towards them was Neo’s first save, a boy they had all come to call Cable, but whom the crew of the Neb still called “Kid”. He was energetic, eager, and worshiped the earth Neo walked upon. They had had to get another ship to bring him back to Zion, just so they could have some peace and quiet. He was worse than Mouse on his most annoying day.

Ensulieka smiled. “I’ll take care of this.” She quickly brushed past them. “Cable, I am so glad I found you. Look, I have something that I need you to look at…” With that, she grabbed his arm, leading him away from Neo and Trinity.

“Yeah, Ensulieka, but…”

“It’s just a little thing and I could probably fix it myself but I would really like you to take a look at it for me; I’d like an expert’s opinion.” she quickly babbled on.

“Expert? Me?”

“Of course, silly boy. Who’d you think I was talking about?” Behind her back, Ensulieka gave Neo and Trinity a thumbs-up before she led Cable around the corner.

Neo smiled. “She is definitely Morpheus’ daughter.”

“That’s what everyone says.” Trinity agreed before leading him on to what would become their home.

Panel 2

‘These doors had no concept of quiet built into them,’ Ensulieka thought as she stepped out onto the bridgeway in front of the home that she shared with Morpheus. But it was all right; her father slept like a rock.

All was peaceful in Zion, everyone having bedded down for the night. The lamps that burned above everyone’s doorway in the dark reminded Ensulieka of what she had been told the stars really looked like once upon a time. Quietly, she began to sing,

“Sleep now, peace overwhelm…let all who rest be safe and warm. Sleep now, Zion. You are free…”

Her voice resonated and lifted in the metal ensconced atmosphere of the city, wafting in through windows and door cracks—the lullaby of the free world. She had made it up as a child and sung it every night ever since. Many of the people in Zion had grown up hearing it each night.

“That’s beautiful,” a voice sounded as her song ended.

Ensulieka turned to find Neo standing there. “Oh. Thank you, Neo.”

“I’m sorry, did you want to be alone?”

She smiled gently. “No, I’d like some company.”

He came to stand at the railing with her.

“So, do you like Zion?” she questioned after a small silence.

Neo leaned on the railing, glancing down. His mind spun, his emotions humming and tumbling. What was he supposed to say? That he loved it here? It was so different. Everything was. Finally, he turned his head towards her, saying the only thing he could think of, “Whether I like it or not, this is home.”

Ensulieka nodded but said nothing; she knew the length of adjustment time was different for everyone. She just smiled as she and Neo stood there in silence, watching as the lights flickered.

A knock came on Morpheus and Ensulieka’s door early the next morning. There stood Rayleena, one of the nurses of Zion. “Captain Morpheus, forgive the early intrusion but is Ensulieka decent? I need to speak with her.”

“Certainly; she was just fixing breakfast,” Morpheus replied, opening the door and admitting Rayleena.

“Rayl, is everything all right?” Ensulieka asked, turning from the table.

“We need your help at the infirmary. One of the young men had an accident on one of the ships; we’ve had to amputate his right lower arm and he is in very low spirits. Will you come, Ensue?”

The young woman smiled. “Of course. Morpheus, if you don’t mind?”

The captain smiled gently. “Not at all. Go on, Ensulieka. I will see you at Council.”

Smiling in return, Ensulieka left Morpheus to his breakfast and hurried to the infirmary level with Rayleena. “So how did it happen?” she asked as they walked.

“He was working on the Horizon when it was attacked by Sentinels. This young man was working one of the rear guns but one broke through the hull and crushed his right arm beneath the gun. There was nothing that could be done to save it. But the poor boy is very depressed. Perhaps you can help him; you are such a good nurse, Ensulieka.”

The young woman smiled. “I’ll do my best, Rayleena. I can’t promise anything but I will try.”

Soon, they arrived at the infirmary level and Rayleena led Ensulieka to where a young man rested. He lay on the bed, his face turned towards the wall. His right arm rested on his stomach, bandaged at where his lower forearm, wrist, and hand would have been. Ensulieka noticed that he was absent-mindedly scratching the truncated arm but he said nothing in response to Rayleena’s greeting.

“This is Ensulieka; she is Captain Morpheus’s daughter and one of our nurses here.”

Again, no response.

Ensulieka placed her hand on Rayleena’s shoulder to silently ask to be left alone with him. Rayleena nodded.

“Good luck, dear.”

When Rayleena was gone, Ensue sat down next to his bed, her eyes taking in the details of his condition. His arm was bruised from the amputation, the bandages weren’t long from needing to be changed and his eyes were shadowed, as though he hadn’t slept in days.

She didn’t say anything for a long time but just sat there, pulling a shirt of Morpheus’s out of her bag to mend. Silence reigned in the room until finally a voice broke it.

“I don’t need you feeling sorry for me.” His voice dripped with bitterness, anger.

“I don’t.” Ensulieka replied, pulling another stitch through in the shirt.

The young man turned to face her. “Then why are you here?”

Ensue lowered her needle and thread. “I’m here to help, if I can. Give you some company perhaps.”

He stared at her for a moment, seeming to take in her features. Ensue simply returned his gaze, not looking away and just letting him look. Then he spoke again.

“Are you really Morpheus’s daughter?”

She smiled. “One might say that. He adopted me when I was freed from the Matrix; he knew my parents on the inside. So, yes, in a way Morpheus is indeed my father.” She lifted the shirt to begin mending again.

“People say that he has found the One,” he said after a while.

“Yes, people do say that. Morpheus says that, too.”

“But you don’t believe it,” he replied sardonically.

“I’m not sure; I make no judgment. As far as I am concerned, Neo is no less or more of a person inside than the rest of us, no matter what his abilities may be. He is still human and in need of friends.” Ensue pulled another stitch.

“What did you say your name was?”

“Ensulieka. But you may call me Ensue,” she replied, raising her eyes with a smile.

He was silent for a moment, as though turning her name over in his mind. Then he spoke again, “I’m Fix.”

“Fix…nice to meet you.” Ensue smiled and continued her mending.

Over the next few days, Ensue spent her mornings by Fix’s bed, either mending or reading. In a few weeks, he began to recover very well and soon there was talk of his being reassigned to another ship. But who would have him with his disability?

Morpheus was also speaking of leaving again. And this time…

“…I want you to come with me.”

Ensulieka almost dropped her needlework. “I beg your pardon, Morpheus? You want me on the Neb?” She shook her head for a moment. “But why?”

Morpheus sat next to his adopted daughter. “Ensue. No one can lift people’s spirits like I’ve seen you do. And, right now, that’s what this crew needs…as well as another good nurse.” A small smile flitted across his face. “Also, I’m going to need your help.”

“With what?”

“With Fix.”

Again, the poor girl almost dropped her stitching. “Fix? Are you planning on taking his assignment onto the Nebuchadnezzar?” she questioned her father.

“I am,” was Morpheus’s reply. “He’s a gifted young man, Ensue. I’m sure you’ve noticed it. His disability will not keep him sidelined forever. Rayleena says that he is improving greatly and strengthening his left hand and arm. I think he would be useful to us.”

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