“Bastard,” Derek Reese spat at John Connor once he was out of the room. Where the hell did he get off talking to him like that? Connor was just a child and, despite what he claimed, he hadn’t been fighting the machines for nearly as long as Derek had been. His stories of time travel had been little more than a fairy tale that they actually had told to the kids every so often trying to keep them entertained during HK raids. He couldn’t expect them to swallow that tripe. It just wasn’t possible for anything that John had said to be true.
Then again many of the things that John had said did end up being true. The skin-jobs did end up existing and they’d learned that the hard way after they discredited John’s claim. A lot of the strategies that Connor suggested did end up working to disable the machines – like the attack on the ventilation system of the 600 Series to lockout its mobility controls temporarily. Then there was Sarah Connor herself. How the hell could she know about the machines if she hadn’t had experiences with them? Her tapes had helped John tremendously and even detailed some important material. If she hadn’t encountered a machine how else could she have known about these things? Was she some sort of psychic or something? Psychic ability was just as preposterous as time travel. Then again how could he judge her claims as being impossible? But there had to be more; there had to be some kind of explanation for everything.
As he floated his thoughts kept on John. Even though he didn’t show it in many ways he did admire John Connor. While his story was probably just some insanity (how exactly could you know you were the leader of mankind if it hadn’t happened yet?), stranger things had happened – after all there were thinking machines these days. How could someone grow up and deal with knowing that the world would end soon and that they were going to be an important leader after the fall of man? It was amazing that the kid hadn’t killed himself. Derek wasn’t sure he wouldn’t have done it. There were times, even now, that he thought about eating his gun.
What was it about that kid? There was something about John Connor that Derek just couldn’t explain. Something familiar about him, but it was a different feeling than he expected to have about some stranger. It was almost like he was somehow family and Derek cared about what happened to him and his opinions. He’d never admit it but John was right. Derek was, in a lot of ways, no better than the machines. He’d done things that he wasn’t proud of to survive this war and he killed people before. Maybe that was why he didn’t care about the value of human life? Maybe it was because he’d been hurt by so many others before. Maybe people did need something to believe in other than just survival. Derek himself had been thinking a lot about family lately. He’d never have one though except for Kyle.
He turned his head and saw a beautiful woman standing on the lip of the pool staring at him like a tiger getting ready to pounce on dinner. She was an amazing woman – about five and a half feet tall with long black hair and dark eyes. Her skin was perfect except for a beauty mark that only enhanced her appeal. In his surprise he flopped in the water like a wish trying to limit his exposure – in more ways than one. How could she have gotten so close to him without his noticing? No one could be that quiet.
“Sorry,” she tried to excuse, “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“Who the hell are you?” He said keeping as much of himself in the water as he could.
Her accent was exotic, “My name’s Jesse. I’m one of the caretakers of this little outpost of ours. Who might you be, Love?”
“I’ve never seen you before,” Derek was starting to go on the offensive. Could this woman be one of the machines? If so he almost wanted her to take him on.
“You wouldn’t’ve,” she said nonplussed. “Kyle sent me here not long after they rescued me. I’m a survivor of the USS Jimmy Carter. It was destroyed by Skynet’s Kraken a few months ago. I was able to get to the DSRV and launch before the boat hit crush depth.”
Reese let the words play in his head for a moment, “An Aussie on an American boat?”
“What’s the world comin’ to right?” She teased. “We had pretty much anyone we could carry – Yanks, Poms, Aussies, anybody; if you could pick up a gun and read a monitor you were good enough for a life at sea with us. Which was what did us in too I guess. There are a few of our survivors here with us, but no one you should worry about, Love. We have some nice blokes.” She looked at him in the water, “You don’t mind if I join you in there do you? I like to swim every now and then and this is the best time to do it since the ankle biters are asleep.”
“As long as you don’t mind swimming with a Yank,” he joked.
She smiled, “I’ve swum with many a Yank before, including a few that forgot their togs, just like you.”
“Swimwear,” she pointed to his lower body. She watched as the man tried to sink lower into the pool and she lifted her hand in a friendly gesture, “No need to be modest.” She undid her jumpsuit and jumped into the water next to him, “It’s not a very attractive quality.” She swam around him letting her exposed skin brush against him every now and then, “Besides, I don’t like bathers either.”
“Pretty direct aren’t you?” He turned toward her.
She put a hand on his tattoo and ran her cold finger down it, “I just go after what I like, and I like you.” She pulled him with incredibly force and wrapped her arms and legs around him. Jesse began to kiss him passionately and Derek returned each one as he pushed himself tighter against her.
Maybe family was out of the question, but at least he could have some fun in the mean time.
Kyle Reese felt like a helicopter had landed on his head and decided to keep rising and landing over and over. His head was throbbing so heavily that he wondered if, somehow, a little person had found his way inside and was repeatedly hitting his brain with a sledgehammer. His chest was so tight that he felt like he was being stabbed each second. With each breath that he took he honestly felt as if his chest was going to collapse from the strain. Then there was the pain in his neck; which felt like it was on fire. What the hell did that machine do to him?
The medic had tried to drill into his head that he needed to take some time to rest, but there was time for that later. In the here and now he needed to find and brief the outpost director about everything that had happened at the Alpha Site so that they could prepare incase Skynet sent another skin-job after them. Hell, they weren’t really prepared for the possibility of those wolves in sheep’s clothing. One of them could already be here for all he knew. This outpost was on the outskirts of the normal patrol routes – it wasn’t one of the commonly checked locations by enemy detachments – so that would give them a brief rest and some time to plan the offensive, but Skynet could already have been here and decided to use them as test subjects. Maybe they were some sort of experiment? Derek was convinced that the benefactor had given their location to Skynet to invade, but Kyle still wasn’t sure that that was the case. The benefactor had chances before today sell them out to Skynet for invasion; this was probably just an isolated incident based upon bad timing.
At least that was what he was going to keep telling himself.
After a long walk he reached the door to the Security Room where the commander had taken up temporary refuge. Standing at the corner of the reinforced steel door was a young lady who was wearing military fatigues that were a little too big for her and a camouflaged baseball cap. She wasn’t much more than a teenager, actually she looked like she could be his age, but her face was stone cold – maybe even a bit too stone cold. Then there was the fact that the plasma rifle she was carrying looked like it was bigger than she was, but she didn’t seem to be having any trouble with the weapon. When he got close to her, Kyle could tell that she was staring so ferociously that he was honestly surprised that her gaze hadn’t drilled through his body.
She stared at him for a moment more and swung the gun around like a baton, “Who are you?”
“Kyle Reese,” he answered plainly trying to keep his answers quick. The strain was too much to deal with and the reminders of controlling pain were easier said than done when your throat was next to crushed.
“How can I be sure,” She kept the gun level with where his heart would be, “other than by pulling this trigger?”
Kyle was taken aback. How could she know to ask something like that? Before he could answer the woman put her left hand up to her ear and pushed in on a small, circular white object that she’d had hidden behind her long, red hair. After ten seconds or so, and a lot of nodding on her part, she returned her focus on him. She eased her hold on the gun and brought it down to the side, but she didn’t relax it entirely. With one movement of a finger Kyle’d have a hole the size of a grapefruit where his heart used to be.
“He’ll see you,” she said in a quick sentence.
A small indicator light on the door lock switched from crimson red to emerald green. The woman pushed the handle downward and pulled the door toward herself – holding it like a doorman would. She still had the rifle ready, “Step inside and don’t make any sudden movements.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Kyle quipped as he stepped through the door. Even though he wasn’t looking at the girl he knew that she still had the gun trained on his back (probably still pointed at his heart). After a few paces they were at another door that she made him open this time. As soon as he stepped in he was in a foyer, little bigger than a closet, that had a metal detector on the far end. She made him go through the whole song and dance of taking off anything metal that he was carrying and she made him go through again and again until the scanner finally gave him the go ahead. Kyle wondered if he would’ve gotten this far had the commander not given him approval to come into the room. Most likely there would’ve been blood splatter on the wall and the bulk of his body lying on the ground with the first alarm otherwise.
After he was through she followed through the scanner. Despite the device giving him an all clear, she still had the rifle trained on him and her finger on the trigger. At least she was dedicated to her job. They went through a couple more doors until, finally, they reached the Security Control Room. Kyle was amazed by what he saw.
The Security Room had seen wear in its lifetime. The major feature was that the room was dominated by monitors that took up every part of free real estate available, but there were some screens that were off or damaged and inoperable. On the others, though, everything was showing up clearly despite the age of the equipment. As he walked toward the console he made notes as he glanced at the screens. People were in the armory stacking the few bits of equipment they were able to salvage from the Alpha Site. A few people were in a mess hall, well it was probably once an upscale restaurant in the lobby that became a mess hall, eating what looked like a stew. There were even two people who seemed to be getting it on in the pool, but Kyle didn’t watch as it wasn’t the proper thing to do. He made a mental note to avoid drinking any water from it for the time being though.
The woman led him to a central console where a man was sitting in an oversized black desk chair. The chair had seen a lot of use in its life and was ripped nearly to pieces with foam material hanging from it in a few places. It was then that he realized the extent of the damage from the years of activity. There were a lot more broken monitors than he originally believed there were. The keyboard at the man’s fingertips was missing keys here and there. Even the room’s master looked like he’d seen better days and he appeared to have old injuries that still hadn’t healed completely.
“Thank you Savannah,” he dismissed the girl and she did as told without question. The girl closed the door with a loud thud and on the monitor Kyle saw that she was standing right outside like a sentinel. She had left Kyle alone with the outpost’s commander just as she said she would, but they weren’t really alone.
The man was tall and dressed in what looked like urban combat fatigues once used by the United States Marine Corps. He was of African descent and probably in his mid to late fifties if Kyle guessed correctly, but people were looking middle aged even in their teens now. Even he had a grey hair or two and he was only 25. Age had taken root in the master’s face – he was covered in deep wrinkles and he’d lost his hair entirely. On the right side of the man’s face ran a long scar that went from the eyebrow to the base of his neck. The man had a goatee, nearly pencil thin though, which had white specks spaced throughout the black. His skin looked loose from the bone like he’d been sick recently. Then again who among them hadn’t been sick lately?
“Kyle Reese,” the older gentleman said cheerfully. “What can I do for you?”
“A lot Mister Ellison,” he answered, “a lot. We need to talk.”