Corporal Decker was not a happy man. He’d got to watch everything from the crow’s nest of a burnt out carcass of a long destroyed building. With only small obstructions through the smart scope the Corporal got to watch what he thought was Allison Young and her droid coming home after being missing for so long. While considering how this could change everything and maybe restore the faith John Connor by giving him something to fight for again other than those damned machines, what he’d heard on the radio squib brought that all to a crashing end. Everything in his life was like a train wreck and this whole sordid adventure was one of the biggest train wrecks in history.
The older sniper’s arms hurt like hell after rushing down the metal remnants of the building. As he rushed it wasn’t surprising that he’d managed to cut the hell out of his hands. Moreover his back was killing him from the heavy rifle that he had slung over it. When he selected his weapon for this little guard duty it was power over weight that won out in his decision. The .50 caliber sniper rifle had a hell of a lot of stopping power. It could take down an HK Flyer in some most cases and even blow the head clean off of an endo with a good enough shot. Nevertheless, the weight was that of a small child. As he had reached the boneyards at the base of the tower it was obvious that he’d pulled something during his rushed descent.
All of this though wasn’t what was bothering him. Sure his back burned like it was on fire, although he was a soldier in a war against intelligent machines. If something didn’t hurt on your body at least once a day then something was definitely amiss. What was bothering him was that he was pushing himself so hard to protect the damned John Connor. True the General was their leader and many believed him to be humanity’s savior, but Decker’s faith in his was rattled. Now the very power pack that he’d been saving to kill Connor was slung over his back for use against the machines.
Pushing himself through the debris strewn grounds he got to Hammerhead and pulled on the door. It didn’t budge (not even a centimeter) despite all of his energy going against it. When the remnants of the Army Corps of Engineers reinforced Hammerhead they sure knew what the hell they were doing. It was a mini fortress designed to protect against tin cans with reinforced walls and doorways. It was even capable of protecting against gunshots to the doors. With the base on lockdown his retinal pattern wouldn’t even be able to disable the security system.
That meant he had to explore other options. Half a mile away there was a tunnel based entrance that came into Kansas Bunker through the southeast tunnels. It was a hard run with the extra weight and his pulled muscle but he was more concerned with stopping those two machines than anything else. It took a moment or two for the Resistance’s best sniper to regain his bearings (he missed the crow’s nest at times like this) but knew he was in the right direction. Out of the corner of his eye he found it. It was nothing more than a whole in the ground with two makeshift doors covering them and random debris strewn about on top. Pushing himself he threw the rubbish aside and nearly ripped the doors from their hinges. The metal stairs clanked and groaned as he ran down them and into the small maintenance tunnel below.
“Oh no,” Decker said in a whisper when he found the door standing wide open. The last defense for Kansas Bunker: the base’s inner doors were reinforced just like those of Hammerhead with guards on the other side and patrol dogs sitting there waiting. None of that met him there. It was hard to believe, hard to imagine that they would retreat for any reason unless the skin jobs had gotten further than ever imagined they could. There were soldiers trained to take down these metal bastards and none of them thought it prudent to guard the door?
The Corporal had to be honest with himself: if he were in the same boat he knew he’d be doing the same thing. Leaving the checkpoint unguarded was a small price to pay when the devil was in your house mucking things up. Civilians be damned! As he ran through the base though and saw more and more people trying to hide in plain sight it became clearer to him though that there was more to this than just killing metal. If the civilians died here was he truly any better than Skynet? The machines had to die before their objectives were met, that was true, but if these people were killed then what was the point in still fighting?
He had to get them out. Decker didn’t want to save Connor anyway.
There was a young girl hiding nearby trying to keep still. Decker walked over to her and the first thing he noticed was her long golden hair and beautiful blue eyes. He knelt down next to her and felt the crushing weight of the sniper rifle pushing against his back. Like the machines the Corporal hid the pain. “Who are you?”
The girl was in shock but stammered out the name “Riley” to him. In the distance the sound of AP50 bullets being fired could be heard. There were screams that followed.
“Riley,” repeated the Corporal, “That’s a pretty name. Listen, Riley, we need to get out of here. Where are the others?”
“In the security rooms,” said the teenaged girl. “We were told to go there by the troopers when the alarms sounded. I tried to find my friend before I went there but I couldn’t find her. She’s a soldier and probably out helping to find this thing, but I wanted to see her. By the time I got back here they were already filled up and there was no more room for me. I couldn’t find a good place to hide but this corner was better than nothing. Maybe the machine will ignore me? Do you think it will?”
Decker knew that the machine would probably kill her without reason but lied to reassure, “It would probably let you go. Low priority target.” The last part was true. Tin Cans had an incredible sensor array that could give them detailed information with nothing other than a cursory glance. Going through a complex set of calculations in the span of a nanosecond it could tell if weapons were present, strength levels based on muscle mass, and even calculate the chances of termination and a time. No one really knew how the threat levels were gauged and what Skynet truly saw as a threat. The scrubbed Trip Eights and other machines hadn’t been able to divulge much of that information either. Not that they could though. When the machines were scrubbed that wasn’t an analogy, they had all but core functions eliminated.
Inside his head he remembered the layout of this section of Kansas. It was the farthest side of the base and furthest from the exit to Hammerhead. From the sounds of the fire and echoes the machine was pretty far away. He’d have time. Running down the corridor, and hoping that the girl could keep up, Decker pushed himself to the limit again. When he reached the security door he gave the secret knock that they’d all be taught to gain entry. It took only a couple of seconds for an answer.
Decker wasn’t accepting that answer, “I’m Decker – a soldier – I’m here to help you.”
When they opened the doors a part of him reminded him that there was probably someone in there with a gun. It was likely he’d be taking a hot one between the eyes in a second and, if so, all he could hope for was that someone would still get these people out. It would be ironic though to die trying to rescue his killer. The door opened and an older gentleman in surprisingly well appointed clothes stood on the other side. His skin was droopy and his face worn, although that description fit most everyone in the Resistance these days.
“Come with me if you want to live,” said Corporal Decker with brevity. That was exactly what the civilians did. Behind him as he ran, weapon pulled, were around sixty civilians that were just trying to live to see another day on this worthless lump of rock. It didn’t take long to get to the exit maintenance room and it didn’t take long for some of the most unfit of the group to begin to complain. Decker closed his ears off to them and instead paid close attention to the surrounding environment looking and listening for anything amiss. Beside him his young assistant, Riley, was holding onto the AP50 he’d handed her like it was gold. Normally the thought of giving a young teen a gun would have been taboo even today. Something told Decker that Riley could be trusted and handle herself. She wasn’t like the others and kids adjusted the best to all of this.
It was looking good for them. He and his ragtag group of refugees reached the exit without difficulty. The machine that was hunting Connor hadn’t come for them and they were ready to leave. Decker went first, having Riley stay behind to fire on any thing that came for them, to see if it was safe. He clanged his way back up the stairs and through the portal to the elephant graveyard that covered the Resistance’s hiding place. Stepping out into the dead air he unslung his rifle and started scanning with the intelligent scope atop. There were no endos or Centaurs hiding in the rubble, thank God, and the coast was mostly clear. If they ran as fast as they could they could get to one of the other bunkers and get back into hiding.
As the group came up the stairs a scream pierced the night air. Decker swung head and rifle around looking for the source but it hadn’t come from up here. The shriek had come from down below. Looking down the stairs as many of the men, women, and children tried to force their way out of the Bunker he saw it. A damaged skinjob stood at the bottom of the stairs with a Plasma Rifle in hand. He had parts of his endoskeleton exposed and one half of the face was ripped from place. A red eye locked onto him. It couldn’t get much worse.
Then the light of an aerial locked on. The renegades were surrounded with no way to escape. The door back home was blocked by one of those bastard endos. The world around them was guarded by a Raptor watching them like prey. They had no where to go. A mechanical voice echoed through the air.
“Surrender or you will be terminated.”