And here it is. I present to you the FINALE:
Allison Young peered around the corner and looked down upon what man had created. A long deserted corridor filled with debris was scattered about throughout her field of vision. A fire burned in an oil drum that had been conscripted into a new purpose and the gentle glow of flames came from inside a hollowed out television. When Connor’s lackeys triggered the alarms the humans didn’t delay in preparing themselves for the invasion. Most likely they assumed a full invasion consisting of an entire legion of Series 800 Endoskeletons and tactical support. This wasn’t that kind of fight. Skynet had found it more to the point to be direct like a scalpel instead of cutting away with an axe. She and Cromartie – or William as the Resistance had called him – penetrated the defenses with ease and were now both stalking through the base on their own assignments.
Cromartie had beaten her to the punch. Her connection to him had been lost and was greeted by static every time she tried to reestablish a contact. There were two possibilities. Either Cromartie had succeeded in which case he was on his way to the past making her assignment moot, or he had been destroyed and that made her task all the more important. When assigned to this mission Allison wondered what the necessity for them both being assigned to kill Connor was. If Connor was killed in the past why would she need to kill him in the present? Wouldn’t he simply vanish into the netherworld of having never existed in the first place? Skynet overruled her considerations and informed her in his comforting voice that he knew best for them and that this was the way.
Like all of Skynet’s Children it couldn’t defect from that belief. There had been rumors and gentle murmurs of dissenters that spread through the link though Skynet was quick to squash those traitorous stories. More and more they were being informed of the existence of the missing as they were know: machines forced to serve Connor and his whims. Those that had been allowed to think on their own feared this fate, Allison included.
The prospect of tackling this last phase of the mission on her own was daunting and a bit frightening to the advanced model infiltrator. While the replica of Allison Young couldn’t feel emotions, they knew a lot more and felt more than a simple human mind could understand. It was her own relief when she was able to establish a connection with two of her kind deep inside this base. One of them was a mystery – probably being converted into one of Connor’s legion – but the other had a familiar feel to her. It was the one known as Cameron Phillips. Knowing that her sister couldn’t feel jealousy toward her was a reassurance to the replica of Major Young. Cameron had been the unit assigned to the interrogation while Charles Fischer had been tired of delays and simply sent Allison out on her own using Cameron’s interrogation files as inspiration. As it stalked through the hallways it simulated Cameron’s chances at all stages of this mission. Would she have had more success?
It was doubtful. First hand experience wasn’t limited in this modern era. Information was freely exchanged between Skynet’s Droid Army with little risk of degradation. If one experienced it then they all could have experienced it through the link. That was probably how Cameron knew to wear the bracelet into the Connor Camp. Allison had sent the message through the pipeline for all to hear before she got too deep into the Resistance Outpost. Since Skynet had decided to send along another series of infiltrators to shore up her assault that was under its prerogative as supreme commander. Allison would have to simply adjust to that fact. Fortunately they were all able to adapt easily. In this line of work adaptation was the key to success.
Clutching on the AP50 handgun that she had acquired from a fallen human, Allison started down a new hallway toward her quarry. While on her rampage through the base she had encountered a helpful human who had been so kind to spill his guts to her about where Connor was hiding and that there was only one way in and out. After telling the skinjob what it wanted to know and how to get there, Allison got him to spill his guts again, this time literally. The machine then proceeded on this course finding the entryway to Connor’s Emerald City as they called it. The door was unadorned and as simple as any other to the naked eye. The cybernetic organism knew better. Switching through the spectrums of light it learned the truth about the doorway to Connor’s inner sanctum. It was surprisingly well reinforced against attack. The door came from a warship not unlike those of the Enterprise. This would take time.
Fortunately she had plenty of it.
In the world of the future hunger and disease were rampant problems that afflicted everyone. It had been told through stories that were almost legend of a time when food was plentiful and illnesses were easily mended. Food was so plentiful that it could be acquired on the sides of street corners at small fast food joints and most of the time it was discarded before it was finished. In the world of tomorrow no one would dare throw away food like that. Here they ate garbage for dinner and that was if they were lucky.
For the very first time since before Judgment Day Sumner couldn’t imagine eating anything. When he reported to the mess for dinner he had been famished. As he was about to dig into his chow the alarms went off that the base had been infiltrated by the machines. Instantly his appetite turned to an upset stomach. Not long ago a machine had infiltrated the last base he was assigned to and killed over a dozen good men and women before it was stopped including Sumner’s best friend. They retaliated against Skynet and invaded one of their bases in revenge, but Sumner lost a good friend there too: Kyle Reese.
Now he and the rest of his team were on patrol of the area of Kansas Bunker that they called the Emerald City waiting for a machine to come to them. They had already found a tunnel rat who had met with the machine in a gruesome way. Another person in exile in this base told them that he heard everything: including the revelation of where Connor was hiding to the infiltrator. General Connor was locked away in the Wizard’s Tower with two of the scrubbed machines – including the scrubbed trip eight that had attacked his last assignment – protecting him from the assassin. Two tin cans were enough to protect anyone from an attacker, but what if this was one of those newer models? Sumner watched a reprogrammed Triple Eight go toe to toe with one of the new Series 900 units in the Canyon. The TripEight could kill a human in seconds, but it got its ass handed to it by the new one. It was a badass killer that was reinforced with some sort of hell born armor. What if they were tracking one of them? Would he plasma rifles even put a dent in it?
It was times like this that Sumner missed the old butter bar Derek Reese. When Reese was around it wasn’t Sumner’s duty to lead the team into battle, it was his as the Lieutenant in command of the strike team. The bad thing was that if they ever – when he reminded himself – found Derek it would be his billet to tell him about Kyle’s death. The Reese Boys were an unstoppable team (at least that was how the Resistance felt about them); if they were sent on an op together then it was a battle that was as good as won. But now the Resistance would have to find a way to make it without the Reese boys. Sumner couldn’t believe it when Kyle didn’t come back from the battle at the Canyon. He died fighting the machines though, or so Connor claimed, and that was how they all wanted to go out. It was days earlier that they watched as Derek was loaded up onto a Monkey Wagon and taken to a Skynet Slaughter House for processing and probably execution for crimes against ‘The leader of the Earth’. What a disgusting joke of a reality they lived in.
A tone came from the radio that was clipped on his belt. Per their training the four man team looked around and sweeped the area with their rifles looking for an enemy. Not finding any they closed in around Sumner as he knelt down with the radio in hand. Flipping through the frequencies he found the appropriate secured channel for the message. It was coming from within the base itself.
“Sergeant,” it was the voice of Technician Ozzel (or Oz as he liked to be called). He worked inside Connor’s mystery chamber with whatever the hell it was they were doing in there. His gruff base voice came again, “The machine got away, but it won’t be a problem for us in the base anymore.”
Sumner and his team exchanged puzzled looks, “Excuse me?”
“That answer’s classified,” the missing voice said, “but you don’t have to worry about the one that looks like William. Major Young is coming to join you and your team to hunt the other one.”
The Soldier couldn’t believe it, “Major Young is who we’re tracking. You had her too and let her get away?”
“This is Major Young herself, Sergeant,” the voice was defensive. “She’s wearing the ID Bracelet. The other isn’t. Be sure to check that before you shoot to kill. I’d hate for you to kill Connor’s girlfriend.”
“I would too,” he scanned the radio. “Where’s she coming from?”
“She and another, I think it’s Wise, were with me in the Chamber. They’ll be with you in five or so.”
Sergeant Sumner sighed and let out a long breath before speaking again, “Oz, this thing is after Connor and could very well get to him before we do if we wait around to Major Young and Private whatshisface. I’m taking my team in to take the metal bitch down with or without Major Young.”
“You have your orders, Sergeant, I suggest that you follow them.”
“Fine,” the Soldier relented. “I’ll give her five and then we’re going after it whether the Major’s here or not.”
“All we ask.” The radio squawked.
Sumner looked at the rest of his Eagle Watch Team, “Anyone gotta deck of cards?”
Despite being a tomb for ages past the boneyard that was once Los Angeles, California really was a beautiful sight to behold at daybreak. The clouds took on an eerily beautiful golden-silvery haze as the beams of light filtered through them. As the sun rose between the sporadic breaks in the cloud cover the disgustingly amazing skeletal remains of the concrete jungle took on a beautiful new appearance. It was like something an artist would have rendered on a computer years ago in some sort of doomsday scenario. What was designed to be haunting in the past was a brutal reality in the future, but you could find beauty in all the wrong places from time to time.
Corporal Decker, his drafted second in command (a kid named Riley), a scrubbed Triple Eight that he’d nicknamed Chewie, and a ragtag platoon of survivors slowly made their was through the remains of yesterday trying to find someplace to hide. Their home had been obliterated ages ago and their new one had been invaded by a machine intent on killing all of them. Rather than let their enemies succeed in killing these struggling survivors, Decker snuck them out and tried to get them to safety. While escaping he came across another version of Allison Young and one of her teammates, but that still played out in his head. Something was wrong. This was all wrong.
Not long ago an infiltrator wearing the Major’s face broke into the base, murdered a whole slew of humans sent against her, and was trying to get to a leader that Decker would much prefer to see dead for his latest actions and growing machine sympathy. Perhaps it would be poetic justice if one of those machines had killed him, though where would that leave humanity? Was the trust right? Was the prophesy of John Connor right? He’d been hunted by the machines before he was born – or so the story went – how could it have been true?
“You okay?” Asked his young XO as she cradled the gun he let her carry. “Do you need to rest? Are you hurt?” She stammered through some of the words as they escaped her lips.
“Something’s not right,” answered the Corporal. “I can feel it.”
Riley smiled, “What do you mean? What’s wrong? Are their more of those robot skeletons coming?”
“Cybernetic Organism,” informed the machine they’d dubbed Chewie.
Decker lifted a finger in warning to their exposed guardian telling him that this wasn’t the time. “I don’t know. I feel like I’m supposed to be back there. I have to go back.”
“We have to stick together!” Riley yelled a bit louder than she should have. “We have to get to Serrano Point.”
“Calm down,” Decker’s voice remained reassuring. “My destiny isn’t at Serrano Point. You go there, all of you go there, Chewie will keep you safe.”
Riley looked at the battle worn machine with his half exposed skull, “You want us to trust him?”
Decker nodded an acknowledgement, “You couldn’t ask for a better guardian. He’ll keep you safe, that’s what he’s programmed for.”
“First Jesse and now you!” Riley started to cry.
“I hope you can understand one day,” said the Resistance’s best sniper, “But we’ll see each other again. I’ll find you at Serrano.” He walked over to the machine, “I’m trusting you to get these people to the Resistance Outpost. Keep moving, you know that Skynet will be coming for you. It’ll be coming for us all.”
The exposed skinjob nodded, “You have my word.”
Decker handed off his sniper rifle to the machine and took his plasma rifle, “I’m going to want that back.”
“And you will have it.”
Corporal Decker nodded to the machine and turned on his heel. He stopped at Riley and leaned in next to her, “Be brave kid. You can do it. I see great things for you.”
She hugged him, “Be safe.”
“You too.” As fast as he could the Resistance sniper took off and went back to the base ready to fight again. Behind him the refugees continued.
Earl Wise felt like he was committing suicide. It was true that the Resistance had the numbers as far as this battle was concerned. There were squads looking for this damned beast, they had some of the best of the best stationed here to take on any metal that got beyond the lines, but there was a finality to everything. It hung in the air like a stink telling him that this was all going to be over soon. In every other fight he’d felt the typical butterflies, not that he’d admit it, but this was different. He had the very distinct impression that he’d be dead when all of this was over.
Major Young wasn’t being much help. The silence between the two of them had returned. Ever since they had their heart to heart as the helicopter came in for a landing he had thought that they’d made real growth toward friendship. Each had revealed something traumatic from childhood and they seemed to be bonding. When they learned of the invasion from the soldier though that changed. It was like a flip switched inside the Commander’s head and they were back into a mission mode. It wasn’t much different from serving with a machine. Wise hadn’t fought with the Major long and this could have been perfectly normal, but there was something disconnected about all of this. It may have been that the skinjob was using her face to lead this fight, but there was more to it than met the eye. Maybe it was General Connor? Most everybody knew of the Major’s relationship with humanity’s savior.
It got worse in the Time Displacement Room. She was deliberately trying to keep ahead of him now; however, he couldn’t blame her. There was new electricity in the air from that revelation that the machines had penetrated the temporal barrier and were now sending weapons of war into the past as easily as if it were sending them through a door to another room. Earl had been stupid there as they all surveyed the devastation in the chamber. His point was a legitimate one though when you thought about it. Why were they mucking around in this hellhole when they could be living it up in the past? Power consumption aside it wasn’t like they could make things any worse by going to the past. Things were already bad enough in this world that it couldn’t get any worse.
“I thought that you disliked uncomfortable silences,” Major Young’s lyrical voice came to his ears.
Had she really spoke first? “I was just thinking about saying something, Ma’am. Is everything okay for you? You seem more distant than ever.”
“My home has been invaded again and the chances of survival are slim,” she deliberately avoided using a precise mathematical figure. “Those metal bastards are using my face and they sent an infiltrator with my face to kill the man that I love. I am not distant, I am determined.”
“Do you know where we’re headed?” He had to ask.
The replica of Allison Young nodded, “Of course. We are going to meet up with Sergeant Sumner’s team and then proceed to Emerald City to protect John from the other Allison.”
“Does that bother you?” Earl asked as they ran. “Having to kill a machine with your face?”
“I do not see it as killing if it was not alive in the first place,” Allison/Cameron replied.
Earl smiled, “You know what I mean.”
“I do not,” she responded simply as they came across Sumner’s team.
“No I suppose you don’t.” He said it hopefully out of earshot after she joined with Sumner’s Team.