As humanity began winning more and more battles in their guerilla war against Skynet a clear change in the balance of power was beginning to shine through. Realizing that the humans would be able to evade capture and termination with more and more ease because of their ability to burrow below ground, Skynet decided that it was time to leave behind the Hunter Killers and begin production on Humanoid Hunter Killer models. The initial designs were easily taken down, but with each loss Skynet learned more and more. The new data and studies of the captured human prey had opened up new avenues of attack. This was to Skynet’s distinct advantage.
After a while the Series 600 endoskeleton was created. Despite its mammoth size, at first the unit had its advantages. However, the humans began developing countermeasures and seeing through its rubber skin disguise. Not long after Skynet was back to the drawing board looking for a new option for a humanoid killer. The Series 700 was the result but that gave birth to one of Skynet’s grandest designs: the 800 Series Infiltrator. The perfect replica of a human, it could penetrate their defenses without effort. It would then install itself in the most advantageous spot and lay waste to any humans that it encountered until either its objective was met or it was destroyed. With all the research that Skynet had conducted when designing its premiere weapon of war the destruction was rarer than the coltan used in its construction. Utilizing the genetic information left behind in the research of a Doctor Fleming the ultimate key in the puzzle had been solved and Skynet was able to upgrade these units further with their own flesh and blood. They were perfect creatures.
Though, the humans found a way to sully Skynet’s creation. Somehow they learned how to capture members of the 800 Series and convert them to willing followers of the cause of humanity. How they could do this was hard to fathom for the supercomputer. An endoskeleton could rip the head off of a human in one point eight seconds; how could they get that close? As time passed through more and more of its children became forced deserters into the Resistance’s cause. Rather than scrap the entire proven line of infiltrators, Skynet opted instead to make some modifications to their designs. A short time later the Series 850 was born inside a lab deep within the Mojave Desert. Bulked up to deal with their fallen brothers and sisters, the 850 could handle extreme punishment and still keep coming. Though it was too late for the design in a sense. The older models still proved effective in combat against them.
Skynet was losing its perfection and it needed to find a way to recapture its former glory and the humans were the way to do it. The Machine Supercomputer started capturing humans and conducting its own brand of a draft using them as the meat for the grinder. It wasn’t hard. Through the research into humans that it had conducted (as well as their collected medical libraries) Skynet had more than enough data to conscript a new army. There were many deaths, but the Infiltrator 950 was worth it. As they waged war against old friends, the machine intelligence was still going forward. This time with a machine designed to take care of its wayward children specifically.
The T-888 series was a compact version of the tried and true 800. Despite being smaller, it had improvements in every way. New sensors, augmented tactical computers, faster processors, improved strength, and enhanced durability. If humanity could bring it, the Triple Wight could take it and spin it. There were no Achilles Heels, no defects to exploit, and with Project Angel’s research they were perfect killers capable of looking like a man or woman without needing to appear like a bodybuilder. They were capable of terminating other machines with ease, including members of their own class as needed. Though they fell at times as well leading to a self destruct mechanism if tampered with in some of the newer models; that was why they were a stop gap until the locked access 900 Series could be completed.
All though were subservient to what would become the true representation of the spite that the machine intelligence felt. The T-1000 was born from the hatred that Skynet felt toward all humankind. Capable of changing its appearance and forming weapons from its own body, it was a true weapon of mass destruction. So much so that Skynet had come to fear the T-1000 rather than embrace it. The prototypes were left, but they were needed elsewhere. The T-X was to be the last in its long line of infiltrators – a blending of the stability of the endoskeleton and the functionality of the mimetic polyalloy – but they were years from being viable.
So Skynet was forced to rely on agents of the past in this final battle. Cromartie and the Model 101 ran full speed toward one another and collided with an ear shattering boom. Machine arms slammed against one another with the force of a runaway locomotive. Their bodies moved in a well choreographed dance of a battle. Both machines knew what the other was thinking, both were pooling their information from a central combat file locked away inside their processors below a one inch think reinforced steel structure. As one would make a move to attack the other would counter it with a perfect deflect. The ballet between them continued on and on in repeated movements. As one would switch to a new attack pattern the other instinctively switched to the same pattern. The adversaries were perfect in their assault against each other. They really were perfect creatures.
Cromartie’s hand came up into the face of the other machine like a striking cobra in a punch that would have killed any human it collided with. The opponent simply ignored what would have been a killing blow and threw a similar punch at his opponent. The dark haired skinjob deflected and stepped back before a connection could be made. Scanning the environment it found and started swinging a fire extinguisher against its opponent in a wide arc. The extinguisher collided with the upper torso of the human allied machine and knocked it back. It had its own defense already lined up. A massive punch slammed against the middle of Cromartie’s chest sending the other machine flying into a nearby bank of consoles. It fell to the deck reading an electrical discharge that threatened to disable its systems. The discharge barely missed him causing the machine to simulate gratitude at avoiding a two minute shutdown where the other machine could have done whatever it wanted without any defense being possible.
The Resistance Droid slammed a wrench against the corner of Cromartie’s head where the chip lay perilously close to the surface. Numbers scrolled through the chip in a replica of pain – so much so that the Skynet Droid recoiled in pain. Blood rolled from the open wound. The other was doing so much better in this attack than Cromartie would have anticipated. Normally the Resistance was forced to wipe much of what was in their database to get them controlled when reprogrammed. Cromartie remembered this fact well. Only a short time ago he had been one of these servants of John Connor’s whims. Thankfully Skynet restored him from that indentured servitude. With quickness he was back on his feet and grabbed hold of the other machine by the neck. Grabbing onto the stomach of the foe, Cromartie flipped him into the air.
Somehow the other rebounded. He ran forward and punched four times in the face then kneed Cromartie in the chest. Diagnostic systems registered the impacts with each one and offered repair options. Though each of them would degrade combat effectiveness as the system attempted to mend itself. With the way things were going even a one second delay could be disastrous. Utilizing an ancient form of martial arts, one that was at the end of the list of combat training, Cromartie hoped to recover the edge. Leaping into the air he kicked at the other machine and knocked it flat on its back. Landing next to his head, Skynet’s soldier slammed its foot down and narrowly missed the other cybernetic organism. It did a similar maneuver to Cromartie’s previous and tried to body slam him. This time though the machine was prepared. It pulled at the back of the Model 101’s neck and tried to expose the hydraulics. If it could rip them free this would be over now.
The T-101 didn’t like that and threw him away like a rag doll. Cromartie landed on one of the Transporter Consoles and smashed it inward with his bulk. Their battle was joined again. The Skynet Unit dodged a punch and used the stability of its brother to lean to the side and deliver a series of kicks against the chest plate. Still holding onto the arm it swung around and delivered a similar hit to the back. Damage control circuits cried in pain on both weapons of war. It picked up the other one handed and threw him toward the same bank of panels it had thrown him into seconds earlier. When the T-101 arose it was on fire. Cromartie used this to his advantage and started the fight anew. Punching at the head assembly the sound of it cracking could be detected by his auditory sensor suite. Using human kidney punches it tried to get to the power supply. Utilizing its legs the scrubbed Triple Eight kicked Cromartie away and into a wall. It got back on its feet quickly.
As the Model One Hundred One came for another attack that was when the newer model determined its best avenue for success: the humans. It rolled just in time to avoid another impact from the other machine and came within a foot of one of the workstation terminals. It grabbed the primitive and made it into a shield to protect against the attacks of the other machine. Cromartie knew the programming well, this one couldn’t allow a human to come to harm and that was exactly what Cromartie was doing. It held the human by the neck and stared at its opponent. Red eyes flashed and were met by a repeat from the light haired opponent. With incredible speed the Skynet machine threw the human toward the main chamber’s massive drop. Rather than continue the assault against his former brother, Model 101 ran passed to rescue the human. This was the edge it needed.
The optical scanners of the Triple Eight were the best available to a Skynet assassin. The protocols searched everything they passed over for a suitable weapon for what was being planned. On its first sweep it found what it was looking for. It ripped the metal safety bar free from its place and held it like a professional track star readying the javelin for a throw. It ran behind its cousin as it tried to rescue the human that hung for dear life on the edge. In the span of five seconds it was right on top of its cousin holding tightly to the metal rod it held in its hand. The targeting computer analyzed the situation in trillionth of a second and told it exactly where it needed to strike. With so much force that it could have pushed the entire rod into the ground Cromartie ripped into the other machine with the metal bar. The hyperalloy combat chassis groaned from the stress as the HUD of Skynet’s Killing Machine told it exactly what it needed to do and how much pressure it needed to apply. The other machine, while holding onto the human with one hand, tried to fight back to no avail. Cromartie pulled the bar away and threw it aside. As the machine tried to save the human, the Skynet demon reached in and removed the power supply of its adversary. It looked between the two and calculated its options. It didn’t terminate, rather it tossed the power cell aside and walked away. It would not destroy such a worthy opponent especially since it was powered down. The auxiliary circuits were a concern, but they would need another minute before they could restore the machine to working order. If it opted to attack with a diminished power supply it would be over though in seconds. Cromartie would have a significant edge with the Model 101 only having a 17.5% chance of success.
It pulled the human up one handed and stared into its eyes. A quick scan revealed that the human had suffered five broken ribs, a fractured wrist, and the musculature was strained. Adrenaline production was at dangerous levels signifying an initiation of the humans flight or fight response. From the appearance of the human flight was the preference. Cromartie didn’t care about the human unless it denied the request he had to make. It pulled him within an inch of his face and spoke with a perfect voice.
“You will assist me,” the machine said.
“I will not,” he spat in Cromartie’s face. There was blood among the spit that rolled down the skin. Perhaps Cromartie’s initial assessment was incorrect.
The skinjob extended his arm fully and held the human over the drop off. “You will assist me or I will terminate you. If you assist me I will allow you to live.”
When offered with a situation that would benefit them in the long run almost eighty-three percent of the time the humans would accept the offer that supplied them with the greatest advantage. Through the pupil dilations, skin temperature, and motor response Cromartie had his answer. It pivoted its arm and then dropped the human just inside the catwalk. “I require you to activate the temporal transporter. I can then proceed from there on my own.”
“And you’ll let me live?”
The machine was already walking to a first aid station and scanning through the contents. “Yes,” it answered in holophrase. It didn’t need to watch the human to know its actions. Through the sensors it could detect the keyboard clacking as the bubble tech typed. The faint electronic hum of the transporter filled the chamber. While the device readied itself the machine pulled a vial from the cabinet filled with rubbing alcohol. It poured the liquid onto the wounds and let the damage repair systems handle the rest of it. They went white from chemical reaction then the skin instantly reformed itself where it had once been open. One of the other technicians mumbled in shock at seeing Cromartie restored to perfection.
“The device is ready!” Yelled the technician over the roar of the transporter.
The restored skinjob didn’t need the human to tell it that. Disrobing as it crossed the small catwalk that was hastily installed the machine stepped into the middle of the chamber as it filled with energy. Completely naked it threw the pants it had worn toward the control dais only to have them disintegrate. It wondered, for a moment, if the bullet it had fired at the Resistance Soldier upon entry into the chamber had suffered a similar fate or impacted the target. Then it got back to business.
A metal plate rose from the floor after Cromartie crouched inside the white circle. It began to spin around him at an incredible speed – becoming faster than what a mortal man could see. On its HUD the mission priorities replayed focusing on destroying John Connor and his mother Sarah Connor in the year 1999. It interfaced with the primary computer processor and – utilizing the Skynet backdoor – set its delivery date. A blue electrical field surrounded the battle droid as the transporter engaged. Beyond the field the machine it had disabled stirred to life and came up on its two feet. It stared through the field watching him. Cromartie sent it a salute by flashing his eyes red which the other returned. Seconds later the winner of the battle was gone. The machine powered back down.
As the Transporter restored its power save mode the doors to the chamber opened once more. Through the portal came Major Allison Young and Private Earl Wise carrying their rifles at the ready for whatever they saw inside. One of the technicians recoiled and dove back below the computer station in an attempt to hide. The other, the one who had just beamed Cromartie to the past, broke down to his knees begging them not to kill him for his crimes. The infiltrator just stood there in a stance like a zombie as its systems tried to mend. The power cell of the machine was sitting perilously close to falling off the ledge and into the abyss below.
“Looks like we missed him,” muttered Earl Wise as he looked around the room. “Not to mention a good party. Your handiwork I take it tin can.”
“I was unable to stop the T Triple Eight from utilizing the temporal transporter. It has proceeded on its mission,” said the machine with a thick Austrian brogue. “We will have no way of knowing what its mission was or the time period to which it travelled.”
Cameron Phillips – impersonating Allison Young – was happy that her mechanical brother had succeeded in his mission; nevertheless, she needed to keep up appearances. “How could you have let it escape? We have no idea what kind of trouble its causing back whenever it went!”
“Excuse me but time period? What is this?” Asked a bewildered Wise.
“Skynet developed temporal transportation devices,” reported the Model 101. “This is one such model of Temporal Displacement Equipment. We captured it during a mission and brought it back to this base using conscripted Series 600 labor and a reprogrammed Aerial Hunter Killer. We have not tested its theoretical limits; nonetheless, we believe them to be indefinite.”
Earl looked at the chamber, “So you’re saying it’s a time machine?”
“In that case why doesn’t Connor just send everyone back to take out Skynet in the past? Why all this mucking around in the future!” The Private was pissed that they were living a life in hell when they could just go back in time and stop this before it happened. Let Skynet have this world, they could have the past and make a new one.
“Temporal science is not easily understood,” explained the Bubble Tech who had been cowering. “Plus one transport takes a lot of power. I think that the machine – that looked like a member of your team mind you – was sent here to destroy it in his transport. But he was out of time. Bob was coming back online and would have fought him again. He had to leave when he did.”
Wise just stared at the open chamber, “We’ve heard about William and a replica of Major Young being here. We’re going on the hunt to find it.”
“I will accompany you.” The tin can with the ripped face offered.
“Negative,” interrupted Major Young, “if I am not interrupted by my scout I am keeping you here incase the replica of me comes here to use the transporter. She may attempt to double back and destroy it in Cromartie’s stead.”
Bob nodded, “Understood. I will follow General Connor’s original directives and remain here.”
“Where is John?” Asked Allison/Cameron.
The damaged tin can looked at her for a moment, “I am under orders not to reveal his location.”
“I am giving you an order,” she called upon Young’s status in the base hierarchy. “Tell me where he is!”
“I am not authorized to answer your question. Orders issued by General Connor supersede orders issued by lesser ranked personnel. Yourself included.”
Time to appeal to the emotional side, the female automaton pulled on the slider that activated the Plasma Rifle. Pointing it at the infiltrator’s head, “Please. I love him.”
It was the Bubble Tech that stopped her. He pushed the gun away, “It’s okay, Bob, the Major and General Connor have been screwing each other for months. Everyone knows about it. General Connor’s in Emerald City. They thought it would be best to keep him there under guard.”
“Understood,” said Cameron knowing the meaning. Emerald City was from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. According to intelligence reports it was a favorite of General Connor. “Thank you,” she added.
“Just save John,” said the Bubble Tech, “He’s our last hope.”
As Allison/Cameron stood at the door she pivoted her head back into the chamber. With a smile she said, “I know.”