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Old August 5 2009, 06:15 AM   #34
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Location: Aboard the Executor...
Re: The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

On any hunt there were always feelings that spread throughout your body. The most common feeling was one of excitement, the thrill of searching for a target. Then there was fear. What if the prey turned against you to fight? What would you do if the deer tried to nail you with its antlers or the bear swatted at you with its razor sharp claws? After that there was the possibility of boredom as it became more and more repetitive. For some sadness erupted after they’d killed their prey, but that only happened to some and not all. A whole slew of other emotions could spread throughout the body bringing it to a high better than any drug could ever do.

For the Infiltration Prototype none of these feelings had ever passed through its cybernetic consciousness. There were millions of considerations, calculations, but never once was it afraid, excited, remorseful, or bored. Some people would call it determined, but that wasn’t brought about through an emotion. Its determination stemmed from a very intricate computer program that ran its every movement, controlled its every action down to the very pressure that it placed in each and every step that it took. It wasn’t even fatigued by the massive Heavy Repeating Plasma Rifle that it was carrying which the average human could never dream of even lifting let alone walking with.

As it ascended the stairs it spotted another human, this one armed with a plasma weapon. The sophisticated tactical analysis software that Skynet had granted it calculated in the span of a nanosecond all of the vital statistics about the target from his height and weight to the risk level that the human brought to the machine. Armed as it was, with a confiscated Skynet Plasma Rifle according to a database comparison that took only a billionth of a second, the human was an actual threat to the automaton and had achieved a moderate risk level through the complex equations derived by the tactical software.

This still brought the cybernetic organism no fear. Hundreds of thousands of numbers scrolled through its systems as plasma pulses crashed into the torso assembly – one of which had hit a critical location and nearly caused catastrophic system damage to the power systems. The machine had already isolated the damage before the human had finished his attack and had selected an attack program of its own. The machine’s software counted the shots as forty-seven plasma pulses lanced out from the tip of the blaster and sped toward their target. Despite the impressive number of shots none had reached their designated target. Somehow he’d managed to evade each of the beams of plasma by moving faster than anticipated. For his size and physique the human was agile. If it were possible the machine would have been surprised.

But it wasn’t possible in any sense of the term. The infiltrator compensated and continued firing at the target even though he’d hid behind a small partition made of cement. It was of no consequence and would only be a momentary delay to termination. The weapon would simply dig through the makeshift fortification until it buckled and gave either a clear shot of the target or until the target was killed by a stray shot that made its way to him. Either way the Skynet soldier wouldn’t stop until its target had been wiped from the face of the devastated Earth.

Or, until Skynet deemed otherwise. As it fired another sequence of pulses an override appeared on its screens and the Series 800 infiltrator’s finger would no longer function. From a distance Skynet had ordered the machine to end its assault on this particular human and move on to another target. There would be no questioning of Skynet’s orders, no attempts by the loyal foot soldier to circumvent its commands and continue the chase despite the tactical grid explaining that the human would be reached with only an additional seven shots fired. Instead the machine’s arm lifted straight up pulling the colossal gun into a vertical position. It turned effortlessly and continued down another hallway scanning the scene as it moved. Auditory sensors, the most advanced Skynet had available, detected that the target had come to his feet, vaulted over the barricade, and even fired a shot into nothing since it had resumed its patrol.

The infiltrator was neither concerned nor curious regarding the alterations to its orders, but it had a query for its artificial master. Was it authorized to terminate now that the human had revealed itself? The automaton had calculated a high probability Skynet had simply wanted it to conserve its depleting ammunition rather than waste the last few precious shots and have to engage in hand to hand with the priority targets. Its question had a swift answer and, for a human, the response would have been astounding. The machine took it in stride. Skynet had denied the termination request without giving either a reason or even a hint regarding its choice. The hyperalloy based combat chassis with epidermal ablative armor just kept walking toward its next target.

Kyle Reese didn’t crave command and, in truth, he hated it. When he and Derek began letting people join them in Griffith Observatory after their father, Dennis, died he’d always assumed that Derek would be their leader. Derek was older, he was the more experienced one, and dad seemed to trust him to be a protector and leader. Their father was a great judge of character and knew what made a good leader. A soldier for all of his life, Dennis trained the next generation of soldiers and taught both of his sons how to lead both as citizens and as soldiers. Derek always seemed like the natural choice to be that leader and Kyle was a better fit to be the wingman. It wasn’t that he couldn’t do it, but he always felt his skills were better suited elsewhere. He was a soldier.

His brother Derek was a good leader, but as time went on he’d lost something of their father’s teachings. His older brother never lost the military training that their father had instilled in them nor his ability to handle a weapon (which some could consider the most valuable gifts). As time moved forward though he lost something of his faith in people; Derek lost the value of human life. He still knew that people were important and that they needed to survive, but he could also throw it out the door if it suited his needs. Derek became snarky, cynical, and paranoid. The only person keeping him grounded was Kyle and, for a time, the Australian Jesse that washed up upon the shore.

The community decided, after a mission where Derek lost nearly half of their group and didn’t seem to care one way or the other, that it was time for a new leader to take charge. The younger Reese always assumed that Earl Wise would take charge of their community because he’d been Derek’s second. Somehow though leadership progressed on to Kyle and, for four years, he’d led this community as they struggled to survive. He’d been intense at times as he felt the weight of the world on his shoulders; nevertheless, Kyle’d risen to the challenges that came to him; all the same they still lost people and it was always hard on Kyle. Still, he became the soldier that his father always hoped he’d be. He was dedicated, courageous, and honorable; though he remembered that people were the most important thing in all war. He hoped that his father was proud of him and of Derek.

Now, though, he found himself more worried about papers and their salvaged computer mainframes than the people of his community. He’d made a point of having several battle drills to prepare the refuges if they’d have to flee so he wasn’t extremely worried about their survival, but he’d have preferred to lead the evacuation himself. Instead he left that up to whoever had pulled the alarm and hoped that he or she hadn’t been killed in the process. His priority was to make sure that the power generators weren’t disabled because, if they were, then the evacuation would get a hell of a lot messier. John was back at the Command Chamber taking care of their systems to make sure that Skynet didn’t have anything of value; that Skynet didn’t know the source of their information.

Not that any of them knew much of anything anyway. For a while, surprisingly since John Connor came into their lives, every so often they’d find little pieces of paper that had vital clues on them. At first they contained little things like enemy troop movements or the locations of a Skynet supply and weapons caches. Then things became a bit more detailed. Specifics on weaknesses of certain models would be uncovered, blueprint diagrams (like the ones of this T-800) found, even the attack plan Skynet had detailed to attack one of the bunkers they’d established with Martin Bedell was discovered. Kyle had never admitted this but he thought he saw their benefactor once. He saw a young girl with hair the color of fire. He followed her into a dead end and knew that she ducked behind an overturned trash can. When he got to it there was nothing there. No girl, no nothing, just an empty bin. He never told anyone because he was sure they’d think he’d gone insane. Not that it was a far leap in a world of intelligent machines.

Though, they couldn’t risk Skynet finding out about the traitor amongst its ranks. That was why John had stayed back to take care of everything they’d acquired. The loss of the papers and hard copies was tragic, but the leaders of the community had memorized their contents enough that they were no longer needed. He would have preferred more time to go over the plans of Topanga Canyon and the installation there, not to mention the vital strategic data on the Series 800, but he had the gist of the contents. Normally he would’ve hung back to take care of the materials himself, but there was something about John Connor. There was something that told Kyle that he could trust the man to do what was best. It was a strange feeling to him. He’d known John for only a handful of years, but the kid felt like family to him to the point that he was just as important to Kyle as Derek. Kyle never understood why; nor did he understand why John seemed to feel the same way about him. They once found a small compound his mother had set up filled with supplies and John had even given him a picture of his mother that was among the stores.

The snapshot became Kyle’s lucky charm. Often when he was alone with the privacy of his thoughts he’d think of the beautiful Sarah Connor. He’d never met her that he knew of, nor would he ever, but, just like with John, he felt a connection. The feelings were unlike anything that Reese had ever felt before in his lifetime. Was it possible to fall in love with someone when you had only a picture? Kyle didn’t know and he didn’t dare broach the subject with John or Derek. Command was a lonely place; though, when looking at Sarah Connor’s photograph, he didn’t feel so isolated anymore.

As he stood inside the power generator room he checked the various readouts of their old, military surplus generator. Everything seemed to be working in perfect order. It was taxed to the limit, what else was new, but everything seemed to be perfectly okay. It was even freshly filled with reserves from their dwindling gasoline supplies for a few extra moments of power. He resealed the protective fence that surrounded it and headed off to the corner nearest the door. Sliding one of the crates away he pressed his back up against the wall and let his body fall behind it. He waited in silence going over his training.

Every living, breathing human had enough experience with the machines to know that they followed a methodical approach to their invasions and, despite their artificial intelligence, very rarely strayed from their program. The first stage always involved finding and destroying the power system – eliminating any resistance while underway. After that it would look for the command and control, specifically the base commander, and then terminate him; again killing any resistance while en route. After those two tasks were accomplished it would just perform a standard search algorithm and kill any remaining targets. It was stupid for Kyle to go to the very target before him on the list, but they didn’t have many options and their power systems needed to be protected. It was the right thing to do so that the others could escape.

As he checked his gun he heard someone, or something, at the pressure door isolating the power generator chamber from the rest of the base. The chamber had been sealed off from the rest of their home, but the door was opening. It was impossible for any human to get in there so he knew what was coming. As he peered over the crate he was behind his suspicions were confirmed. A massive man, at least it looked like a man, came through the portal and stared right at the power systems for several moments. His tattered clothes were stained with blood and metal glistened beneath the open wounds. Even his face hadn’t escaped damage. The red eyes, the hallmark of a Skynet assassin, shone brightly. It lowered its gun toward the generator. One shot from the devastating weapon would be more than enough to knock them back to the Stone Age.

Kyle had to stop it. He couldn’t let it win. From inside his vest he pulled a small grenade that they’d received, coincidentally, from the stockpile where John gave him the photo of Sarah Connor. He pulled the pin and threw it over the wooden crate toward the machine at the door. It landed right between the artificial life-form’s legs as the countdown clock played through in Kyle’s head. Three seconds passed and the enemy was just starting to comprehend what was happening to it. Before it could react the weapon exploded knocking the automaton back on its ass through the door.

Through the threshold Kyle heard something sounding like the growl of a panther. Within seconds the burning infiltrator had returned to its feet and was back inside the chamber. The flames of hell burned behind it and along the walls of the complex, but the robot didn’t care in the slightest. It merely turned its burning head toward him and stared for a second as it calculated an appropriate action; the software running the machine was telling the hardware the source of the grenade. The right arm assembly restored the heavy repeater to firing position and pulled the trigger. All that came was the clicking noise of an empty chamber. The explosion had destroyed the metal bastard’s gun. Reese was damn lucky.

Reese’s rifle, however, was another story. The human raised the gun toward the machine and pulled the trigger as quickly as he could. Pulse after pulse of superheated plasma spewed from the barrel and slammed into the burning contraption’s body. Some shots hit the chest ripping into it, others the skull assembly, a few hit the extremities. None of the shots missed, but none of them were the bull’s eye either. As Kyle pulled the trigger again the rifle clicked. It was overheated and the gun would need to cool.

In other words he was screwed. The mechanisms of the machine propelled it forward toward him and it closed the gap that had existed between them in the blink of an eye. Kyle started pounding against the endoskeleton with a crowbar until the enemy combatant finally was able to hold off his futile blows. It grabbed the crowbar in midair as it was mid-swing and ripped it from Reese’s fingers – blood coming from the human’s hand. The endoskeleton examined the crowbar for a moment and then bent it into a horseshoe shape. It threw it aside where it crashed into the corner as useless as before.

The left arm of the battle droid shot up and grabbed hold of Kyle Reese’s neck. With little effort it lifted him up off of the ground and held him suspended in the air as its program fed it new and commands. While he wondered what lay beyond Kyle imagined that there was a cartoon hamster inside the machine’s head running on its exercise wheel powering the thought process. It, at least, made it easier to accept the inevitable fate that would soon befall him. Kyle Reese was about to die and there would be no reprieve, no salvation, no escape from his ultimate destruction.

Kyle felt the cold steel grip of death close around his throat. Then the darkness surrounded him.
Thank the Maker...
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