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I still love her. And I know she still loves me, in her own way. Just like she loves all of us.

Which doesn’t help me one damn bit. This human body I’ve inhabited since the Machines downloaded my consciousness into it remains stubbornly, patently fixed on its desires for members of the opposite sex only. So when She, my beloved redpill, lies down next to me on the bed in her ship’s sickbay, it is platonic comfort only. Here and now, her warmth – enough that I sometimes swear it could power my entire civilization singlehandedly – is only physical heat, warming my physical body (which is still hypotensive due to the blood loss the Nine9 operatives inflicted upon me, but I will recover soon from that, won’t I?). I grit my teeth and close my eyes; I am not thinking straight. I want her. No, that’s not right…I want to want her. The way I used to want her. Before any of this happened, before any of these damned experiments that downloaded sentient programs into human bodies, both redpill and bluepill, so we could spy on the humans. Back when the truce was new and she was nothing more than a human Machinist operative, and I was nothing more than a Machine program.

She understands. Of course she does; she always understands, with us. It’s her nature. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve said she’d been programmed for this -- that is, if I didn’t know she was fully human and utterly devoid of any Machine programming at all. But our beloved Ms. Dodson couldn’t have been better for us even if she’d been programmed specifically for what we best know her for…even if she’d actually been programmed to love us. That particular inclination towards caring for those of us who are sentient Machine programs seems, against all odds, to have developed on its own. It is odd, but wonderful. Some of us have mused, only half in jest, that if this one human redpill operative were ever taken by Zion or EPN, the wrath of the Machine civilization unleashed upon the single city of free humans would dwarf anything ever seen in any of the previous cycles of its destruction.

I think I believe them.

Ms. Dodson…the human, the redpill, is lying alongside me, fast asleep. She didn’t want to leave me alone while I was recovering from my injuries; she is well aware how group-oriented agent programs are, that to be alone is a unique horror to us. I move closer to her, as I used to before I entered this human body, and I search for any sensual/sexual desire within me. I fail, but I stroke her hair anyway. “Kate,” I whisper, wishing I still held the feelings I possessed when I was my true self. Those feelings were actually muted compared to what I feel now. Now, I desire something different. I love her, but I desire him. Him. One of our own, or rather, a program who was once one our own. The one I desire is an exile; a degenerate, corrupted collection of code. Something that should have been deleted, but that ran, saving himself at the expense of the rest of us.

Exiles drained power and resources from the Machines, from the normal programs that inhabited the Matrix. That’s what they’d always told us. I honestly don’t know if I believe that anymore. This human body has brought with it many confusing and conflicting properties. Love for Kate, she who came to us knowing fully what we were and still saw us as worthy, as equal; but desire for him. Someone unworthy, but still, someone formerly one of us. Desire for a coward, a leech, a potential danger for us and for all the humans still linked to the Matrix.

It makes no sense that I would care so deeply for our beloved Kate while wanting nothing more than to strip that exile – that degenerate – and ravish him to within an inch of his life. Is it because, in our past histories, we were both system programs? Do I recognize something in him that is also a part of me? I don’t want to. I’d like to think if I ever became a danger to my civilization or to the human population of bluepills I would meet my fate with some degree of dignity…but what if I, too, chose to run? Would I have ended up just like him?

I shiver. I don’t want to die in this human body. I don’t want my existence to end once the body of Jennifer Young can no longer sustain life. I wish to return to myself; I want to be Agent Taylor again, the person I was created to be. I want to make love with this human redpill laying beside me, the human who chose of her own free will to work with members of my civilization and whose compassion turned into something much deeper. I don’t want to die still desiring a weak, corrupted former agent program who is nothing like her. Who was scheduled for deletion decades before the treaty between us and Zion.

But for now, I shiver again and huddle against my beloved’s warm body. And I pray to the god that not even Jennifer believed in that someday, somehow, I will return to the Matrix and be able to make love in my own body, as I used to, to the redpill Kate…the woman who accepts us for what we are, and who loves us in spite of/because of it.

I whisper in her ear. Although she will not hear it, it has to be said. It has to be stated out loud, because she is unique, and the world cannot exist without this declaration.

“I love you. We love you.” I grit my teeth, but I cannot deny the truth of the matter. “All of us…we love you.”