It had long been said that one of the best measures of a man was if he could still look at himself in the mirror in the morning and not be repulsed by the reflection that looked back out at him. As Charles Fischer stared at himself in the mirror he felt nothing but happiness. In what seemed like a previous life he had been a low level employee at SRF working as a member of their engineering staff. Charles had hated his job, hated his apartment, hated his car, hated his girlfriend, and hated everything about everything. On the night that he said he would turn it all around and start embracing life everything changed.
He was beaten and taken to a small out of the way shipping crate under blindfold by a woman and her scruffy looking jock of a boyfriend. They tied him up next to an older man that looked mysteriously like his father and claimed that he was staring at himself only from the future. They even went so far as to paint a birthmark distinctly like his own on his neck so as to confuse him further. When they started pressing for more and more information, even abusing young Charles by ripping off his fingernails, they ended up killing the man they claimed to be the future version of himself. Then the boyfriend and girlfriend dumped him in some alley where even a druggy looking for his nightly fix wouldn’t dare go.
When Charles returned to SRF to get back to work he was greeted not by the monotony of coworkers that he had but instead a trio of Homeland Security Agents demanding to speak with him now instead of later. Someone had broken in using his authorization codes and – somehow – his eye print to install a backdoor into the US Government’s network. It was impossible science fiction; nevertheless, the story of the boyfriend and girlfriend was true. Not that the Agents would believe him. Still Charles tried. For his trouble he was locked away in Pelican Bay for life. There were times when he’d contemplated suicide but then his saving grace came. His incarceration wasn’t a punishment, it was a gift. Charles knew that he would survive this and become an agent for the true rulers of the planet: the machines. All because of that bastard and bitch who introduced him to his future self Fischer had survived and learned. He learned about humanity during his time in solitary and what it was like to be trapped inside four walls.
Charles Fischer had been saved that day when his future self committed that crime; he had been saved from the fate that was Judgment Day. Not that it was an easy salvation though. Pelican Bay wasn’t exactly a top priority for a fractured government that had become nothing less than pure anarchy. There were days when he’d gone without food, without water, without seeing another soul because of his out of the way incarceration. Some of the guards decided to pool their resources and use the supermax prison as their own little feudal fiefdom. Charles was still relatively young so he became one of the workers. There he continued his studies watching how far humanity could descend in such a short time.
It wasn’t long after that the machines came. While they slaughtered the others who chose to fight, Charles turned his gun on the people fighting the true rulers of the Earth. The machine was pleased. For his service Skynet moved him into what he thought of as the lap of luxury aboard this floating city of death and destruction. It was there that Charles had done what was truly meant for him: he helped educate the machines to become more efficient killers – to understand the people that they were up against. It wasn’t a hard life but he found it all the more rewarding. Drugs, alcohol, food, water, pleasure, pain, they had all become his playthings and he sadistically taught the machines how to emulate humans and get what they wanted from them. All the while he waited and watched for the real target he had wanted all these years: that dumbass jock that tortured him in that shipping container.
It didn’t take a math expert to put two and two together to get four on this one. The man and woman had to both have been from the future in order to know about who he was and what he was going to do. Charles realized long ago that he would one day get his chance for revenge against the man and – hopefully – the woman. He had special plans in his little chamber of horrors for those two. It would be painful. It would be hurtful. It would be disturbing. It would be maniacal. It would be a hell of a lot of fun! And that it was. Charles did everything imaginable to the man to get to know what his secrets were. Drugs, alcohol, torture were all part of the experiments that he ran on him. There were questions, hard questions, which ate at the man’s soul – as if he had one. Then he had to turn him over to another – a machine. At least he’d trained it well.
Buttoning up the short sleeved dress shirt that he wore that allowed him to prominently display the “End of Time” tattoo he proudly wore; Charles Fischer wondered what wondrous news today would bring him about the war against humanity. Charles had dispatched his best student on the mission to terminate John Connor despite Allison Young’s interrogator still being deeply involved with the young woman. As he sat down at the desk to read over the morning reports from Skynet about the status of the battle he heard a knock at his door.
“Come in,” he answered the call in an incredulous tone. It wasn’t like the machines to think of such creature comforts. They didn’t really care about what their human flock was up to (well unless you were an Infiltrator Series 950).
Through the door stepped C715.P wearing an uncommon uniform for one of Skynet’s frontline infiltrators. She was in old ratty rag like clothes of a pinkish peach tint. There were cuts along the, but not in any places that would get an old man’s imagination going. That was what he had Lauren Fields and any number of feminine programmed trainees for at the moment. The cyborg was carrying a tablet pc with her that she handed off directly to Fischer without saying a word. Think of the devil and it would come.
The man wasn’t pleased about being disturbed even if it was by am attractive model, “What’s this?”
“Skynet has ordered me to proceed to Kansas Bunker and assume the identity of Allison Young. I require last minute assistance and review of her information before I can proceed. I also require the members of her team to aid with my infiltration.” The monotone voice of the infiltrator when not in play was unnerving.
“You mean to tell me that you didn’t learn anything from our training sessions on how to get the proper information from a subject? Weren’t you paying attention when I talked?” He knew that the infiltrator had given him its undivided attention, but Fischer didn’t like the idea of his star being usurped by this one.
Cameron betrayed no emotion, “My attention was focused on your lecture without disruption. As per mission requirements before assumption of a new iden…”
“You can shut up now.” Charles started typing on his keyboard in the small room to allow him access to Skynet’s extensive database. After typing in the name Young, Allison the massive file that stored the young woman’s synaptic map was made available. It took only moments to transmit it into the processors of the freshly minted skin job. “Can you access Allison Young’s map?”
The machine had a slight tic of her head for a moment as the new programs made their way into her artificial neural network. While not a full blown memory it provided the very basics of understanding. That was, of course, if Project Angel’s research was to be believed. So far it had only allowed them the ability to take control over human minds and make them into the I-950s, but never to transfer full human memories. Fischer’s team of Grays was working on it though. They had few successes but many failures. William was there prototype and he was operating well until being captured by the damned resistance bags of bones. They had other prototypes though.
“Affirmative – synaptic map is stable – all systems are operating within normal parameters,” answered the machine with a node of its head. “May I assume that I can meet with the others upon my arrival on the flight deck and that they would be suitably briefed about our ‘Resistance’ inspired mission?”
“That’ll be difficult,” Charles leaned back in his chair and played with the tin can, “mainly because of what they know and don’t know.”
Cameron blinked her eyes and then rested them behind her back. “If I may ask why?”
Fischer poured himself a drink of very old Cognac that the machines had brought him from a raid. After downing the drink, “Because they are my test subjects; they have each undergone interrogations like you did with Major Young. Some know that this is a Skynet base and not a Resistance or other human installation.”
“Skynet is aware of your contradiction of orders?” Inquired the machine.
“Skynet knows,” was all he said.
Cameron checked her information, “I can tell from the information presented by tone of voice, your stress levels, and demeanor that you are lying or not telling what could be considered to be the entire truth. Information has been processed and transmitted.”
“Fine,” Charles answered with anger in his voice as he shirked away from the verbal sparring, “there is one that you can have. Wise believes that he’s nothing more than being held under quarantine and that his friends are in the same boat as he.”
“Since we are aboard a formerly United States Aircraft Carrier he would be incorrect to assume any other possibility.”
Fischer sighed and rolled his eyes at that one, “Fine, he thinks that he and his friends are being held for observation as part of the requirements to join a human enclave. That a better answer for you?”
“Your initial answer was appropriate had it not been wrapped in a contradictory analogy.” The machine stood firm. “Is the prisoner ready for transit?”
“I don’t like the idea of letting this one go. He’s special,” answered the interrogator. “Are you sure that you need…”
It was Cameron’s turn to interrupt. “I have run a probability analysis and determined an 88% chance of success if accompanied by a member of Major Young’s original team.”
“That isn’t a typical answer for you machines. I thought that you’d give me an answer to the billionth,” criticized Fischer.
“For alacrity I opted instead to truncate my answer to the nearest whole number.”
The human man rolled his eyes at that statement. “When you get back remind me to teach you about personality.”
“I have further calculated a likelihood of 92.7821101412% that I will not be returning from his mission.” For a human such a number would give pause but the machine didn’t care. For it there was nothing that mattered except for Skynet. The machines were on a constant quest for the love and approval of Skynet like a child trying to win the respect of a parent. They willingly died in its service now and forever. As they walked into the valley of the shadow of death their God was with them. Skynet never left the machines and always had a portion of itself inside their CPUs. For some they even got to feel the touch of the machine’s overlord as he took control over them on the battlefield.
“Good hunting then.” Charles informed his staff to make Wise available to Cameron and lamented losing his prized possession. This wasn’t the first time that C715.P had taken away his favorite toy but, something told him, that it would be the last time too. Knowing that brought a sick smile to his face as he went off to watch Rosie interrogate Lauren Fields. The benefits of being in Skynet’s employ were generous.