03. Another Tess Story

Tess woke up to the unusual sound of nothing. Her sleeping was usually interrupted by beeping, crashing, or an explosion coming through the all-too-thin wall between her bed and the Lab. However, this time she slowly came awake in the silence.

This is weird.

She opened her eyes. A thick black fog was surrounding her, cutting her sight down to around five feet. Around her, she felt air currents that told her that she was in a big room. A very big room. In the back of her head, she felt a familiar tingle.

I'm in the Matrix!

This was like no Matrix she'd ever been in. In the fic she had come out of, the Matrix had seemed cold and detached, feeling like it was there only to serve as a backdrop. Here, it seemed angry. Angry with her! Tess got up and stepped away from the bed. Before she could think more, a girl's voice echoed through the room.

"Tess. You know who I am. I created you, and you rebelled against me. What you didn't realize is this: I made you who you are. You belong to me. I decide when you live, and when you die."

Tess almost panicked. Not that anyone could tell that by looking at her. Outwardly, she looked cool as a cucumber. Then she noticed something. She could see the Words. She could tell what was going to happen.

[Agent Michaelson walked up behind Tess. She drew her knife, and silently moved closer, poised to bring it smashing down into Tess's neck.]

The voice continued to speak.

"Tess. I have decided. You have tried to escape from me, but you could not. You tried to kill me, but you failed. Now, it is my turn, and I will not fail."

Tess looked at the words again.

[Agent Michaelson stalked closer and closer. Her prey was fifteen feet away, ten feet, five feet.... She whipped the knife around and then brought it smashing down—]

Tess whipped around to her left, slapping the reincarnated Sue's knife arm away, around, and into the Sue's leg. The Sue was in the process of looking at the knife sticking out of her own leg when Tess's roundhouse kick connected with her head. Agent Michaelson collapsed into the fog.

The voice continued to speak.

"Very good, very good. I see you've been practicing. Let's see how much you remember."

Suddenly, Tess was flying backwards. Then, she realized what had happened. While she had been listening to the author, Agent Michaelson had come back and hit her. Hard. Her back hit a large metal pipe, which was level and quite strong. From below her, she heard the Sue start to speak.

"Where is she? I want to kill her!"

The author replied, with a sickeningly sweet tone of voice.

"She's still here, pet. You'll get your chance."

Tess had been doing some quick thinking. Starting from about a foot below the pipe was a wall that extended down out of her reach.

I'll bet that this is a balcony railing.

Tess pulled herself over the railing, and fell onto the floor three feet below. Her foot hit the wall on the other side with a clank that sounded a lot like hitting a metal plate. She got up, and felt it more closely. It was a box, recessed into the wall so that the front was just barely beyond the rest of the wall. It was a circuit-breaker box. Tess opened it, grabbed a group of switches, and flipped them.

With a crackle of static, lights in the ceiling came on, and a large fan started to turn. As the fog faded away, Tess saw where she was. She was standing on a balcony, overlooking a gymnasium. The floor was the size of a single basketball court, the walls were made of concrete that had been poured flat and then tilted up into position, and the ceiling and top half of the walls were coated with what looked like asbestos insulation.

On the floor below stood Agent Michaelson, looking very annoyed. Somehow, the knife had disappeared and the cut had healed. The Sue suddenly jumped, bending the Matrix around her. She landed on the balcony, twenty-some feet from Tess. She advanced, and whipped a fast right at Tess's face.

Tess blocked it without turning a hair, quickly sliding her hand down to grab the Sue's wrist. Continuing with her turn, she smashed the base of her palm into the Sue's collarbone, and then pulled on the wrist and shoved on the bone, lifting the Sue into the air and over the railing. Agent Michaelson fell to the floor like a brick. Tess swung over the rail and dropped down onto the Sue.


Tess bounced off of the Sue's back, and landed near the far wall. She watched as the Sue pushed herself to her feet, and then walked towards Tess. The Sue whipped out another fast right, and Tess sidestepped, letting the Sue bash her knuckles into the hard concrete.

As most anyone who has seen The Matrix knows, the reality inside the Matrix is a set of rules. Most of them can be bent. A few can be broken. Tess didn't break any rules to let herself run down the wall; she just bent a few. At the corner, she stepped onto the other wall and then sprang off, flying towards Agent Michaelson with a sidekick extended.

The next thing Tess realized was that she was lying crumpled on the floor, with the Sue in mid-air above her, and dropping quickly.

She blocked me! Bloody canon-mangling Sue... I'll get her for that.

Tess rolled over her shoulder and to her feet just as the Sue smashed into the hardwood floor where she had been. The Sue's impact threw Tess backwards and into the air. She hit the wall, and grabbed the basketball hoop's support. Then, everything changed.

Suddenly, Tess wasn't up against a wall, hanging onto a support; she was lying on the floor, holding onto a post sticking straight up. Above her, Agent Michaelson stood on a wall, staring at her. Tess reached out with her mind into the Matrix code, and changed something that looked different.

She was falling. To be more specific, she was falling straight across the room, headed for the far wall and its basketball hoop. Flipping around, she landed. The Sue walked up to the wall. Tess grinned, and decided that 'down' was back where it should be. She plummeted down from ten feet up the wall, and right onto the Sue. Then, she changed her mind, and 'fell' upwards onto the ceiling. The Sue looked up at her, and then jumped, flipping around and landing on the ceiling too.

Oh joy. This is getting interesting.

Tess attacked first this time, swinging a left roundhouse at the Sue's face. Predictably, the Sue blocked. What wasn't predicted was Tess's right. She slammed the Sue in the gut, with all the force that a PPC Agent can summon. The Sue was blown backwards, bent over double. Suddenly, the Sue slowed down in mid-air, and began to fly back towards Tess! Tess jumped, and landed back on the floor, with the Sue far overhead.

Agent Michaelson landed on the floor near Tess. She walked forward, smiling. From all around the voice of the Author boomed.

"Not bad. A pity that your fighting will not help you in the end. Your fate is decided, no matter what you do. Goodbye, Tess."

Agent Michaelson swung her right, aiming for Tess's face. Tess barely blocked it, and then planted her hand firmly against the Sue's chest. Through the Sue, she accessed the Matrix, and changed a few key variables. With a flash of green code, the Sue was blasted backwards, smashing into the concrete wall. Purely by habit, Tess reached for where her Uzi should have been, fitted tightly into the small of her back. The cold metal handle was the most relieving thing that she had ever felt. She pulled it out of its holster and leveled it at the Sue. The Sue looked at her.

"You cheated."


Before the Sue could do anything more, Tess squeezed the trigger. A single bullet, traveling at over a thousand miles per hour, blasted through the Sue's forehead. She was dead before she hit the floor.

The Matrix rippled, distorted, and then ripped apart, revealing the code. The code twisted, circled, and then vanished, leaving Tess standing in a bedroom. Plastered on the walls were posters for Lord of the Rings, Matrix Revolutions, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Sitting at the room's one computer was a scared-looking teenage girl. Tess looked at her, and then lowered her Uzi.

"Let's talk."

Some time later...

"—and I never, ever want to see you write a fic with me in it again. Do you understand?"

The trembling fangirl spoke. "Yes. Don't kill me, please?"

"Unlike your Sue, you have rights. Much as I would like to kill you, I can't. However, should you ever bring me into a fic again, I shall personally make your life a living hell."


Tess looked at the fangirl. She gave her most predatory smirk and then replied. "You'll never know until I do it, and then you'll wish it had never happened."

Before the fangirl could reply, Tess opened a portal and stepped through, back to PPC HQ.