Before the fall of mankind Justin Perry had been a soldier. Enlisting not long after September 11, 2001, he’d seen dozens of conflicts some of which were kept off the pages of the history books. He was part of a specialized division that gathered intelligence in the Iraqi capital and was even poised to take out senior leadership members on more than one occasion. Each time, however, their leaders had pulled them away at the last second. When war was officially declared, however, there were no holds barred. Because of his abilities he quickly rose through the ranks and, eventually, he was able to attend Officer’s Training. The only problem was that he lost his field position with his new rank. Because of a number of factors, though, the military leadership opted instead to place him in a recruiter’s role in California. He didn’t oppose their decisions, it wasn’t his place, but with the return to Iraq he always felt that his services could be better suited on the battlefield. Then Judgment Day came. It was only by sheer happenstance that Perry had been able to survive. A constant survivalist, Perry had taken personal leave time to go on a hiking trip in the wilderness. He had from hunting for food when he heard the first reports come in through the radio. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing and assumed that it was someone making a joke. The hicks were probably broadcasting from some tent somewhere trying to get a rise out of people much like Orson Wells famous recitation of War of the Worlds from ages past. The then Captain was going on with his dinner when Judgment Day visited him personally. In the distance he saw the traces of a flash and the unmistakable boom. Rushing as fast as his tired body would let him; Perry climbed to a better vantage and looked out upon the ruins of what was once Denver, Colorado. The old soldier knew that he had to get back home to California to check on his family. Quickly gathering his things Perry stowed them in his Jeep and set out on the highway trying to get home. He didn’t go lower than ninety the entire trip from what he remembered and, when he got to his destination, he wished that he had. It would have kept his life in a semblance of normalcy. Against his own mind’s better judgment, Justin went to look for his family. The fallout was already starting to get to him, but he wouldn’t allow himself to run. He would stand up to any foe and give his life if there were even a chance. His training came in handy. He raided a local pharmacy – it was closed anyway – for potassium iodate pills and luckily found some (despite the pills not being normally stockpiled by civilian pharmacies). Food and water were stored in his Jeep just because he always had wanted to be prepared. He knew he didn’t have enough for the long haul, but six days was better than nothing. Traveling crosswind, though deeper into the heart of destruction, he headed toward home. His heart gave him hope, but his head was preparing him for the worst. Somehow though his heart had been right. His family had managed to survive and they were able to set out for safety. But the damage had already started for each of them. They couldn’t get different clothing because none was available. Showers were impossible in the muck and debris strew world they were living in. Hospitals were out of the question because they would be major targets toward the new enemy. But Perry knew there were still people out there. Every so often he’d spot an unmanned Predator scout in the air probably looking for survivors. The government would be setting up camps to help the survivors – if the government still existed that was. They had the potassium iodate so that would give them some protection at least temporarily. Though they had to get out of the ruins of LA. LA would become even more of a wasteland than it already had been. Most of the radio stations had been knocked out and the Emergency Broadcasting System had taken over the few that were still transmitting. The damage had been worse than just on the West Coast. The entire United States, Russia, Britain, and China had been hit by strikes coming from each of their neighbors. The southern hemisphere had been left mostly unscathed in the conflict, but there were no guarantees that it would remain that way. There were emergency shelters available to the survivors, but overcrowding was a significant threat. Luckily they were able to locate one of those shelters not long after his Jeep ran out of gas and died on the side of a desert road near an old gas station (ironically it was out of gas). Called Haven by its administrators, Justin and his family moved in and became leaders of the enclave. Perry himself even became the Head of Security because of his rank and position in the military. Life was as comfortable as it was going to get for them, and he was going to make the best of it. Not long after though rumors started circulating that the military had been reborn to fight against a new superpower that had emerged from the ashes of the world. Little was known about this mysterious Skynet – who would pick that name anyway for a government – but the Resistance was mobilizing to fight against it. Mysteriously he received a package from an old colleague named Corporal Luz Ortega urging him to find a way to the Darwin Research Institute in South America. Perry knew, deep down, that it was impossible though. He was needed here; even more so than the Resistance needed him. Eventually the war found its way to him. The administrators of the enclave, however, decided not to fight. They believed that peace was the only way that Skynet would ignore them and allow them to live. That was their mistake. Justin was ordered out of the enclave for his growing militaristic suggestions. His family supported him and wanted to go too, but he wouldn’t allow it. He hoped that they were right and that Skynet would allow them peace, but he knew that would never happen if he remained. He eventually found the Resistance and rose in the leadership of the devastated Los Angeles. The old soldier led his own teams against the machines for several years until Ashdown ordered an attack on the Skynet VLA in the Mojave region. He objected but his commander overruled him. They launched their invasion and paid heavily for it. His entire team was wiped out by a Skynet booby trap while he tried to rescue a group of hostages being taken by a Transport. Justin later learned the truth about what was going on. The Resistance had discovered a hidden control signal buried in the machine code that would bring them to victory against the machines. His heart hoped that it was true, but his gut told him that it wasn’t to be trusted. Perry opposed the invasion of Skynet Central, but the Resistance pressed forward anyway. It was their destruction. What was left of his group returned to Haven only to find it buried in rubble. Like the world he’d been devastated by what he’d seen, but he had a new mission to help the survivors to live. They pressed on making raids, building shelter after shelter, just surviving. They were like mercenaries fighting a guerrilla war and it was a war they knew they had no chance of winning. There were times he thought about eating his gun, but he also knew that he was their last best hope. In time the machines found them again, but they didn’t kill. Instead they took him and his people hostage and delivered them to an armed and operational Aircraft Carrier in what looked like San Diego. The machines experimented upon them, poked and prodded them like rabbits, but they fought and survived. More and more of his former allies were coming back different from their experiments. They weren’t broken, but they were more secluded and secretive. They almost looked and acted like zombies from the old movies. Perry didn’t understand, but he knew that it wasn’t a good thing. The machines had found ways to control them. Perry knew his time was almost up, but that was when they saw new faces running among the old cages that held them. Wearing rags and carrying guns that looked like they weighed more than the rescuers did, they swore that they were sent to rescue them. There was a younger man with them that they said was their leader. He looked like a kid, but he had a warrior’s serenity about him that Justin had seen only a handful of times during his career. He looked hurt by something that Justin didn’t know about, but he also knew that the boy before him was the prophesized leader that he’d heard so much about during his time with the Resistance. Not that he believed in it, but Perry knew this man was his superior. Now here they were in what was, in his opinion, one of the most important battles that humanity would ever face. Ironically their war against the machines had taken on a new life with their comrades in arms for this particular sortie. Machines themselves were helping them to invade this base and they were going to help the humans fight and destroy their own. The newly appointed General didn’t know if he trusted the machines, but he knew that they had little option available. If they were going to win they needed the machine’s help. So far they’d made good on their promise. Skynet’s forces had outfitted them with Phased Plasma Rifles that the Resistance could only dream of possessing. These weren’t the salvaged weapons that they’d been collecting but rather factory fresh and fully charged weapons capable of tearing machines to shreds. He would’ve liked to test that ability on one of his new colleagues, but General Connor had demanded that they remain in support of the metal bastards with them in the transport. Plus, they were cooperating. The Hunter Killer escorts had, from what he could tell, just fired on the base and that was something that he didn’t expect to see. Nor did he ever expect to see a machine protecting a human, yet the one called Catherine Weaver was sitting next to a girl that had been injured during the evacuation. The replica of the woman gently stroked the girl’s fire red hair, yet its face showed no emotion. Big eyes just watched the girl intently as she lay bleeding on the bench. One of his soldiers – Catherine Luna – sat to the woman’s side with her hands firmly on her rifle. If the skinjob tried anything she’d blow its metal face off. Connor finished detailing the plan to his people from the front of the cabin. The Resistance teams were splitting into three different waves during this engagement. Perry and his men were going to be heading to the Operations Command Center where they would disable the primary command systems of the base so that it could be taken. Perry and his men were going to be going into the Security Section to disable the internal security systems of the base so that the gun emplacements would work for the Resistance and not the machines. Major Barnes and his team were going after the factory and they were to destroy the production machinery so that additional machines couldn’t join the war effort against them. Interestingly enough, however, Connor hadn’t put Kyle Reese in a senior leadership position. Reese had been the leader of the enclave that had rescued Connor years ago and had proven his command abilities time and again. Rather than give him command over one of the squads he had Reese assigned as a Liaison between Perry’s 132nd and Connor’s command group. If you looked at it objectively it’d seem like General Connor was playing politics and putting his old boss to the side, but Justin could sense there was more to it than that. If Connor were a prophesized leader then maybe, just maybe, he had some inside knowledge none of the others possessed. Maybe. While he watched the door one of the machines – an impossibly tall battle unit that looked more like it was from a T-600 than one of the new Series 800 bastards – stepped in front of him. The bald headed machine looked down upon him with brown eyes and spoke in an unnaturally deep voice. “Statement: I have been assigned to your operational unit by my superior.” “Good for you,” the General answered through clenched teeth but saw General Connor flash him a glare. “You’ll be covering point.” “Statement: Orders confirmed,” it answered swinging its pulse rifle around effortlessly. Quickly the General’s hands scrambled toward his own rifle before his own mind reminded him of what was going on and put him back at as close to ease as he could possibly have. General Perry didn’t want to fight alongside of these machines, they would turn on him and he was sure of it, though he would follow his commander’s orders. Just like the good soldier that he was.