There was nothing like being caught between a rock and a hard place to get the blood pumping. For Corporal Decker and the refugees from Kansas Bunker nothing was further from the truth. Above them hovered an Aerial Hunter Killer with its massive gun emplacements pointing directly at them and ready to deliver their devastating payload to the humans ducking for cover below. Behind him in the doorway to the base stood a humanoid hunter killer that looked like it’d been through hell. A red eye glowed like blood from the damage to its face as it held a gun on them. The mechanized voice of the Flyer echoed in the background demanding that they surrender immediately or they would be terminated right then and there.
Decker thought over his options as quickly as he could. Rumor had it that the sniper rifle he carried could take down an Aerial HK if you hit it in the right places. Namely you had to take out the engines as quickly as you could. In the crossfire people would undoubtedly be hurt or killed as he tried to slay the hovering beast. There was also the, unlikely, possibility of his missing the target. Then there was the option of shooting at the machine coming up the stairs behind them. If he hit the skin job in the right places it could be taken out quickly and they could run back into the base. Though that brought about the risk of the HK signaling Skynet for reinforcements and then he’d have an entire garrison to fight rather than an HK and a single endo. In the distance the sound of another engine could be heard meaning that something else was coming.
Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Though the Corporal never got to make the choice. In the blink of an eye six plasma pulses flew passed the human’s head at so close a range that if he had moved even a millimeter his head would be gone. At first the man thought that it was meant to be an attempted assassination but the targeting software of the machines wasn’t that bad. Then he saw what was hit. Two of the pulses slammed against the starboard VTOL engine of the HK while another two hit the one on the port. It dawned on him who fired the shots.
It was the machine. No human was that precise firing from a free hand. The machine started to list among the heavens and spun out of control. It fell from the sky and hit the ground with a loud crash that sounded like a thousand trains passing by. Before Decker could move the machine had come up the stairs and pushed him out of the way. It brought its Plasma Rifle down to its side and pulled the trigger. More and more of the blue plasma pulses ripped out of the rifle and struck against the head of the flying machine. The red eye sensor spider-webbed and broke out like crystal. It kept firing until the head looked like the liquid metal of one of the Series One Thousand Infiltrators. After the rifle began to click it continued holding it with a single hand and put it in a relaxed position. In a boxy way it pivoted on its pelvis and then turned toward the group.
Decker stared into the eyes of the machine. One was a comforting cool blue that was reassuring while the other was as red as the fires of hell. A metal skeletal skull rapped with eviscerated flesh looked back with a demonically permanent perfect smile. The infiltrator had massive damage to its sheath, but it was clear why. It was caused by the Resistance but not during this battle. This was one of the reprogrammed infiltrators that fought on their side. Everyone knew about these machines and Decker had had dealings with them before, however this was the first time that one of them had saved his ass in a fight. That still didn’t mean that he liked the damn thing and didn’t want to see it as a pile of scrap, though he couldn’t stop himself.
“Your gratitude is not required,” said the machine without a change in tone or pitch. “My program does not permit me to allow a human to be harmed if I am in a position to prevent it. I am programmed to follow your commands so long as they do not violate my orders not to harm humans nor myself.” It looked in the sky and saw the incoming transport. “A vehicle is approaching. Identify Friend or Foe protocols have not yet been uploaded to my neural network.”
Grabbing his rifle this was the human’s time to shine. He brought it into position and pointed it at the incoming vehicle. The sound of a rotor was a shocking surprise compared to Skynet’s typical jet engine based transports. As the rifle scope honed in on the target the blue screen determined specifics about what he was looking at. It wasn’t a Skynet based craft, it was human made (specifically the United States of America) and had Navy designations painted on the side of its hull. The blue-green craft broadsided and the door to the cargo section slid open. A massive .50 caliber machine gun slid out of the emplacement bringing him to instant alert. Then a flare went up.
It was a Resistance signal. Zooming in the rifle he got specifics about what he was seeing on the screen. There were two people identified as being inside the transport. One male and the other was a female. He made out their appearances – this time wanting to be sure because it could still be a trap. The first he recognized as being Private Wise of Major Young’s squad. Decker rubbed against the trigger preparing to pull it when he spotted Major Young standing nearby holding a sinister looking plasma gun. This time he looked at her wrist and saw the pass card bracelet General Connor had issued them. It was them.
“It’s Major Young!” Decker couldn’t hide his excitement at what he saw. “She’s alive.” Hopefully his original thoughts when the doppelganger arrived would still be in play. The helicopter managed to set down and the two came running over with their weapons slung over their shoulders. When Earl saw the damaged TripEight near the refugees he lifted his weapon and held it on the machine.
“Stand down, Private,” Decker said in a drill instructor impersonation, “He’s on our side.” The minute the Major was in range his hand shot up in salute. “Corporal Decker,” he said, “Awaiting orders.” It was shocking that the machine did the exact same maneuver.
Cameron Phillips – playing Allison Young – repeated what she saw. “It is good to see you again,” she looked at the others, “It is good to see you all!” It stepped forward closer to Corporal Decker, “Status report.”
“We were invaded by two SkinJobs pretending to be you, Ma’am,” admitted the sniper. “We were fooled into believing that they were you and your droid William. When they were held back they attacked the Hammerhead Bunker checkpoint and killed the two soldiers there. Then they broke into the facility and they’re trying to get to the central chamber. I don’t know anything else.”
“That’s why you should always check these ahead of time,” The replica lifted her arm and displayed the shimmering bracelet. “Where is John?”
Decker shook his head, “I don’t know. I haven’t been inside the base yet. I was assigned to the Crow’s Nest but I thought that I could be more help here. I was trying to cut off the one that looked like William but I found these Tunnel Rats that needed evaced. I couldn’t just leave them there to die if the Machine came for them.” He hated admitting it to a superior, “If it hadn’t been for that Scrubbed unit over there I wouldn’t have got them out. He blew that HK.”
“You should have blown him,” mumbled Wise looking at the battle scarred weapon of mass destruction. “One less machine in the world would be good for all of us.”
The skinjob spoke, “I am programmed neither to harm humans nor to allow humans to be harmed in my presence.”
“You say that now, Stubby, what about tomorrow?” Insulted Wise.
The TripEight didn’t play any longer, “I am at your disposal, Major, how may I assist?”
Cameron was not stupid. Reprogrammed Skynet units were very dangerous for any infiltrator on assignment because of the sensor arrays that were included in their standard hardware load. The fact that her true nature wasn’t revealed yet was simply dumb luck as humans would say. Best to keep it from her. “You and Corporal Decker will proceed with these humans to a safe location nearby. I will send someone to collect you when our mission is complete.”
The Resistance sniper had to protest, “Ma’am, with respect, you need me in there. You need as many soldiers as you can in there. One machine is dangerous, two are a catastrophe.”
“If I had needed assistance I would keep the Skinjob with me and utilize him against the machine in hand to hand combat. Since I have assigned him to you that should show that I am not in need of further assistance. Private Wise and I will be fine.” Major Young’s double broke him down.
Not one to disobey orders, “Yes Major.” Decker turned toward his group and his unofficial second in command in the form of Riley. “Let’s move.”
“Good luck out there Stubby,” Earl said to the Triple Eight as it left. The sounds of servomotors propelling the cybernetic organism forward echoing in the night air. He lifted the gun up and pointed it at the back of the machines head, “You know I could still take it out.”
“Unnecessary,” she said, “We must continue. Proceed.”
Earl smiled and took point, “Oh the wonderful life of a grunt.” He started forward down the stairs and kept his gun at the ready. Skynet was here, he could feel it, and this time he’d be ready. It wouldn’t be like their attempts to escape from the 900 Series. This time when the fight came it would be the machine that prayed for death, not him.