Matrix Comics: System Freeze (No. 2 from Vol. 1, Series 1)

Spoiler warning!

I recommend reading the original comic first, then coming back to this interpretation/explanation. While you can certainly read this instead if the comic seems too time-consuming to read, your experience will be more interesting if you read the comic first.

This comic reinforces the fact that agents can manipulate the Matrix in any way they wish. They can seal the mouth of Thomas Anderson so that he is unable to speak, they can turn a building into a parking lot instantly (see Animatrix: Beyond), and they can also do what you're about to read

Plot Summary

Fria Canning, a very good computer programmer from New York who is world-renown (and wealthy) from her work on artificial intelligence, is climbing Mt. Everest. She passes a corpse who has made Mt. Everest its "sepulcher". She says a prayer for the "mountain spirit" Chomolungma to welcome the man, indicating that Fria practices Hindu. 15 minutes later, she thinks about this man again as she falls 100 feet into a crevasse, injuring herself very badly. She knows she is sure to die, but doesn't want to die between glaciers, only to be "chewed up" and "spit out" at a lower point on Mt. Everest.

Fria sees a suited individual walking "through" the ice toward her. Thinking he is "death", she remembers Sherpa prayer flags as she notices how little color this man is wearing (she expected him to be more colorful).

He takes her hand and pulls her up, and she finds that she is no longer wounded. He introduces himself as Agent John Fine, and he says they (presumably Machines) admire her AI work tremendously, especially her Self program, which he says is "...the most revolutionary piece of artificial intelligence work achieved by any batt… any human." (He probably almost said "battery".) She says she feels like she has created something that is "more than the sum of her", which Agent John Fine agreed with, but with irritation in his voice. This makes it clear that machines are not solely responsible for their evolution: humans are helping them along in the process by offering creativity and inspiration that is perhaps not possible for machines. Knowing this is what I believe irritates Agent John Fine.

Agent John Fine offers for Fria to finish climbing Mt. Everest. Supposing him to be the devil wanting to make a deal for her soul, she refuses. When he walks away, her painful injuries return 100 times more painful than they were before, and Agent John Fine says he only wants something she would have done anyway: to finish writing the new AI program she began before leaving for Nepal. She accepts the deal, and with "no sense of transition", she finds herself back on the surface of the mountain at the base of South Col within sight of Camp Four. Fria concluded that her correspondence with the agent never happened: after all, she was climbing without bottled oxygen, concluding that her brain must have slipped into hypoxia. She arrived at Camp IV, where a Sherpa team had a dry tent and hot tea ready, and the next day she finished her climb, standing on the peak with "one foot in China and the other in Nepal".

Later, Fria is at home working on the new AI program. She can't concentrate on it, and for some reason, the code no longer makes any sense to her, perhaps because it brings back too many memories of her "hallucinations", or perhaps for some other reason. She concludes she cannot finish the program. Two days later, Agent John Fine knocks on the door and reminds her of the deal. She says she cannot work on her program, because it reminds her of... and then the agent finishes her sentence, "Of this?" Ice seems to come out of the agent's abdomen and mouth until she is completely surrounded by ice. The agent says, "We hate it when our batteries give out early", and Fria dies.

The final scene is a discussion between two coroners who are confused by the fact that Fria was found dead in her living room. The injuries are consistent with a fall that couldn't have taken place in her living room, and even more confusing, she died of hypothermia on a "perfect July day".

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