Allison Young couldn’t really remember a time before all of this death and destruction. A Major in John Connor’s Resistance’s Delta Company, she’d tried to live a life away from the war; a life of peace. While her own memories had faded among the nuclear fires, parts of her past had remained with her in brief flashes and nightmares. Her parents, her family, they died so that she and her sister could live. But she never saw her sister again after they started into the sewers. Allison had fought to live. Many nights she went to bed hungry, on some trash had given her sustenance. Most of the time though being so young had been her biggest challenge. Many ignored her because they didn’t think that Allison could be helpful. Against the odds Allison Young found her salvation.
Haven Enclave was a grouping of some one thousand humans beneath the surface of downtown Los Angeles. Allison grew up among the people who had survived and lived there. They brought food – rats and others things that were easily recovered – and she went to school with a handful of other kids. History was taught to her through story and some scattered remnants of books that made it through Judgment Day. A Tale of Two Cities had been her favorite story, and music had been a comfort to her (evoking memories of her mother – a music teacher). Drawing was too hard on her. Her father had encouraged her to hone her skills and join him one day as an architect, but that day would never come.
As Allison grew into the peaceful world beneath the streets everything changed again in the blink of an eye. More and more of their citizens left to join the Resistance against the machine. As their numbers dwindled down the unthinkable happened. Haven had a traitor in their mists, a man who was so intent on living forever that he sold the humans out to the machine for one small chance of eternal life in the mechanized body of the new Triple Eights. Allison managed to survive yet again. Along with a woman named Catherine Luna – William’s wife no less – they escaped to the Resistance. There they were taken under the wing of a former Haven citizen named Justin Perry. Perry trusted them and treated both like his sisters following his parent’s death at Haven. It was Perry who brought about Allison’s brightest day.
The General introduced her to John Connor. Allison and John were instantly taken by one another. She found him handsome and strong, he found her beautiful and very brave. They became fast friends, relying on each other more and more. Lieutenant Young rose through the ranks like a rising star. When humanity finally launched their attack on Cheyenne Mountain, Allison was there at John’s side. They coordinated the attacks and launched them. He led the 132nd, she was in charge of Delta Company as it should be – both groups fighting together to take down the metal monsters. While John was making tactics, she and her people were going in and blowing the metal up in a fire like what they’d put against humanity. When they finally penetrated the factories John and she worked to reprogram one of the weapons of war, many of them joined the Resistance’s side and fought against their creator. Major Young fought at John Connor’s side and their forces penetrated the temporal sphere not long after. They watched the machines go back through time. John was cool as a cucumber though. After they watch Kyle Reese and a 101 go back in time he shared his secret with her. Not long after they made love for the first time. Little did they know the machines would return with a vengeance.
New models began to attack them within hours of what they believed to be victory. Skynet had moved in the last minutes (having backed itself up at sites throughout the United States) and started the assault anew. Resistance outposts were destroyed. Some of the machines reverted back to their perverted original program directives for unknown reasons. What was a day of celebration became one of darkness. She and John held onto each other and their connection grew stronger. She would die for John and John for her. That was the only reason she’d accepted this mission.
Allison and her team had renounced their Resistance uniforms and were back on the surface scouting. Centaur patrols had increased in intensity and the uniform meant an instant death if you were caught. The Delta Shield would normally just blow them to hell, but it was getting harder due to their reinforcement. There were rumors that a Skynet convoy would make its way through here. Allison knew that the information came from the machines hacked datalink he kept in the Kansas Bunker so it was at least accurate. They needed information, they needed the numbers, but most importantly they needed the weapons. Being so close to John provided her with the true state of readiness for the Resistance. At this rate with the machines advancements they’d all be dead within a year unless they made a big strike against their oppressors. She knew what John’s target was, but it was too early to tell the others.
So her team was working without knowledge of what they were doing, but they were used to that. This wasn’t the first time that they were sent out on ‘patrol’. They were a good group of people. Catherine Luna was one of her best friends and confidants in this world. A survivor from Haven just like she was, they joined the Resistance at the same time. While some would have resented Allison’s rise through the ranks, Catherine wasn’t like that. Captain Luna was proud of her friend and they’d both fought together many times against the machines. Luna was there with her at Cheyenne – though she did a lot of the grunt work. Luna was in the transport chamber even with Perry. She’d been injured though when that traitorous pig Stone shot her in the chest. He was a zombie though; a human who had given himself over to the machines to become one of them. Not that that was any excuse. They’d tried to find him, but Stone escaped. Catherine was their scout for this mission, but she was also the Squad Leader and Allison’s XO.
Lauren Fields was another person with whom Allison would give her life. Lauren was like John and had been pretty much born into this life. She was a target because of her sister (Sydney) and they’d been hunted while they were little more than kids. During their cool down recently at Serrano Point Lauren didn’t get much of a break. As a medic, Lauren was drafted to help treat a biological attack conducted by Skynet. They’re one survivor: her sister Sydney. Sydney was immune to the weapon that Skynet used, so Lauren had to convert the blood sample into a workable vaccine. They’d all been treated for the vaccine already, and Allison’s good friend Derek had been saved thanks to the medic’s efforts.
Rounding out her team was a man that Allison had had little contact with up until tonight. Earl Wise was little more than a mercenary as far as she was concerned. A former rogue who joined the Resistance following his gang being killed by the Tin Cans, Wise had replaced Private Sumner who had been reassigned by John’s orders. Wise’s dossier had been made available to her when he joined her squad, but it contained little more than she knew about thermionic transconductance. Young didn’t want to have to deal with Wise, but she was dealing with his assignment because she had little other choice. John had been insistent and there were so few things he asked her for. Major Young only wished he would stop playing with that damned combat knife he carried.
There was one final member of her group though, one who she would prefer not to name because he didn’t have one. When John reprogrammed the group of metal bastards at Cheyenne he didn’t stop with just one or two. His work had involved him reprogramming dozens through the unique interface he’d somehow acquired. This unit – identified as a Model 115 – looked like a human man not much older than Allison. It had a crew cut hairstyle of solid black (almost too black) with dark brown eyes. It was of typical height for the modern Trip Eight that Skynet had been using. It was well built and it had a detailed database among it of tactics and planning. Most of the squad was apprehensive around it, but Catherine more than any of the others. Allison knew why, but kept it to herself. Old wounds were the hardest.
“Could you stop doing that?” Catherine Luna asked in a low whisper from the head of the pack of soldiers. “You’re making it hard to concentrate.” Her Mexican accent played over the words and made some of them hard to understand, but her intent was clear to everyone.
Wise spun the knife around and slid it into its sheath in a quick, fluidic motion. “Whatever you say up there, Top, you’re just lucky I’m a team player. Today anyway.”
Allison bit her tongue. She was under orders and even though she wanted to unload her clip into the guy’s face she knew that it would be hard to explain. Plus, with their dwindling numbers the Resistance needed as many people as they could possibly get. Her thumb hovered near the safety, but she pulled it away. No need to waste the bullets on him. “Seein’ anything out there?”
“Just the Elephant Graveyard,” Luna answered. “There’s an HK Flyer out there hovering over downtown, but I don’t think that it’s found us. We should be outside its sensor range.”
“Don’t be so sure about that,” interjected Fields. “Those things have a habit of coming in from behind you and stabbing you in the back. Isn’t that right there, Stumpy?” The T-888 Series Infiltrator didn’t say a word and merely continued surveying the countryside. Lauren snickered at it, “Good to see that you’re the life of the party. It doesn’t look like anything’s going on out here tonight.”
The Scout spoke up, “I think Lauren’s right. Wherever this information came from its obviously wrong; there’s nothing going on out here.”
“For you two to agree on anything it must be the end of the world,” joked Major Young. She crawled over and under the burnt out remnants of a Dodge Ram (unbreakable my ass), “We’ll give it a few more minutes and then we’ll pack it in.”
“Here here,” interrupted Earl as he started spinning the knife again. His right hand rested on the butt of the phased plasma rifle that they’d outfitted him with. “I for one wouldn’t mind getting back underground. I have a date.”
“Could you be quiet for five minutes?” spat the team medic. “You’re starting to get on my nerves and I can deal with Stumpy.”
Luna looked back at the battle droid in the group longingly for a moment. It was a fleeting glance that only someone who knew her well would pick up on, but it was clear that she’d been somewhat offended by what Lieutenant Fields had said. Allison looked at ‘Stumpy’ and understood. He was a dead ringer. Captain Luna’s gaze returned to Fields, “Let’s just all shut up for the next five minutes then go home. Can we do that?”
“A vehicle is approaching,” the T-888 interrupted. It swung the weapon around toward the group. “Recommend defensive action.”
In a second their entire demeanor changed and they’d gone from their banter to the battle hardened marines that they were meant to be. The soldiers joined back to back and surveyed the area as thoroughly as they could. At first the graveyard seemed normal. Flotsam from ages past skittered in the air and bleached white skulls seemed to laugh at them with their ethereal smiles. A white beam penetrated the night sky and roamed over the ground. The sound of cracking porcelain could be heard behind them. The Trip Eight was the first to see what was there.
“Harvester Series Tactical Droid – Recommendation: Retreat.”
“Hate sayin’ it but the Tin Can’s right,” said an obviously frightened Wise. “There’s a storm grate not a football field from here. We can make it if we run.”
Allison from Palmdale considered that option and considered many more. As a member of Delta it was her mission to destroy these things when they came around, but they were limited with their equipment. All they had were their AP50s and the Plasma Rifles. What she wouldn’t give right now for a Plasma Charge. Just one would knock that thing down. Why would a Harvester be protecting a supply run? It didn’t make sense to her. Tin cans maybe, but not a damned Ogre. They were staring at her waiting for her choice. Before Allison could give her answer though the powerful grasp of the Harvester took hold of the Ram next to their hiding place and threw it against a nearby building remnant.
“RUN!” Commanded the mission leader and that was what her team did. Racing toward the storm grate they fired their weapons quickly into the air to hold off the machine. As they ran though the HK joined in the assault behind them, firing white hot plasma charges from among what remained of heaven. Debris shot up from the ground as Allison and her team reached the grate. Earl was already undoing the locks.
“Alacrity would be appreciated,” chastised Luna as she pulled the trigger of the AP50 she was carrying. .50 caliber rounds hit against the chest of the mechanical monster but bounced right back off of its reinforced frame. The plasma attack of the Trip Eight in their company had little effect as well.
Team Medic Lauren Fields fired her weapon trying to take out the sensor cluster but failed. “Can’t we blow it?”
“No plasma charges,” interrupted an exasperated Major Young. How could she have been so stupid? She pulled the trigger of her plasma rifle to hear the repeated click of it being depleted of ammo. She tossed it aside and pulled the AP50 she carried from her waistband.
“We don’t need them,” Wise yelled as he opened the grate, “get in.”
The team followed the directives of their newest teammate and headed into the sewer system of Los Angeles, California. In 20th Century Earth many people would find it preferable to just be killed by the machine, but in the reality of today you learned to get over such things. As they ran through the corridors buried beneath the surface they tried to regain their bearings (many of them having lived here at one point or another).
“Anyone know where we are?” from Fields.
Luna came next, “Hell count?”
“Stow it,” screamed Allison. She was having trouble keeping in control. John where are you?
“I can hear Skynet’s voice,” said the machine that fought alongside them. “It is coming for us. The Harvester has released six Series 900 units to acquire us. ETA: One minute and three seconds.”
No one in the team had ever heard of the 900 Series, but each knew it couldn’t be a good thing. The Series 888 had overwhelmed and nearly destroyed humanity already, but the devil they knew had to keep his hands busy. It was always about self improvement with him it seemed. There was only one order that could be given. They couldn’t fight the enemy with their current state. They had to run.
“We’ll each take a different tunnel and try to get back to Kansas. Get help from John, he’ll come for us.” They all did as they were ordered. Each member of the team picked a different tunnel to run down and that was what they did. The sewer system was like a maze with many dead ends and many secrets. Some of those secrets were helpful and would aid with evasion, but others were horrific reminders of the death and destruction that was all around them.
For Earl Wise nothing was more evident. He’d lived in these tunnels not too long ago and day in and day out learned their secrets. Then the machines came. The Tin Cans picked off his family, they picked off his friends, and it took everything away from him in the wink of an eye. It wasn’t the first time. When he was a kid he lived through the same experience. At little older than nine years old he watched the machines destroy his father back on Old Earth for something he had yet to do. Earl had a deep hatred of the machine since that day and trained himself for this life. He knew though that the Resistance would fall eventually, it had been told to him in a dream or a nightmare before it was born. That was why he remained on his own with his gang of thugs. Right now though he wished he was with them. Earl’s friends were already dead.
A mechanized voice came from behind him, “Halt. You will not be harmed if you cooperate.”
Wise knew that he had no option left after regaining his bearings. The tunnel he was in dead ended only a couple feet away. None of the weapon stockpiles were near here; there was nothing that he could do but fight. He turned on his heel and stared into the red eyes of the machine. It was different than the norm. This 900 Series was built heavier just from looking at it. The 800s were open, skeletal, whereas the 900s were built to last. Their skeletons were covered by another layer of armor and their joints looked larger. It was a killer of other machines from the look of it. Red pulses glowed on its torso as Earl slammed the combat knife against it. “I won’t be a zombie!”
“That action was not advised,” said the T-900 as it knocked him against the wall and threw the man's knife away. Earl Wise fell to the ground – his vision becoming hazy as the Machine bent down and grabbed hold of him. It lifted him up and threw him over its shoulder. The machine turned with surprising grace and agility after that. It walked straight toward the storm grate and never looked back. Earl Wise wondered as he faded into unconsciousness why it hadn’t killed him. He still hoped that it would.