The Terminator Chronicles: Second Chance

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by nx1701g, Jul 22, 2009.

  1. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

    Jun 26, 2001
    2001 - 2016
    The next update will come within the next two - three days. I have read over your comments and will refer to them with upcoming entries.
  2. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

    Jun 26, 2001
    2001 - 2016
    The smell was the worst part of going home. No matter how many times he entered the tunnels beneath Los Angeles the putrid odor that greeted him always made John Connor think about running back into the wasteland to deal with more machines. Allison had assured him that you adjusted to it and that after a while you didn’t really notice it anymore. As they crawled through the broken storm drain it didn’t take much for him to realize that Allison had the same grimace he did.

    “Thought you got used to it?” He asked as he pulled the brittle metal bars back in.

    She titled her head and brushed her hair behind her head, “You do; it just takes time. I’m not there yet either.”

    “I hope that day comes sooner rather than later,” he heard her booted foot connect with the rung of the ladder. He followed her, “That smell could make a rat gag. Not that I’m complaining; at least it’s warm.”

    “You complain? Perish the thought of that,” Allison climbed down to the sewers and stepped onto the ledge. “John Connor doesn’t complain, he leads in an emo way.”

    She couldn’t see but he was rolling his eyes, “Then why am I behind you?”

    “Beauty before age? Put your best foot forward?” She joked but it wasn’t funny.

    John followed as they searched in near total darkness for the small doorway that led home. The dark wasn’t by choice or necessity, it was a result of fate. Many of the survivors they’d uncovered had assumed that the darkness made it harder for the machines to find them or to break in. The truth was the opposite. They were in darkness because they hadn’t found any ways of keeping the tunnels lit. It was hell on all of them because the machines themselves did find their way down into the conduits beneath the city every now and then. Hydrobots had been known to swim through the muck every so often. One of them got poor Ortiz after he’d come home from a raid on a Skynet supply convoy only days ago.

    Living in the sewers wasn’t really something that John hated because he always had a feeling that he’d one day be living in them even if they’d won and Judgment Day had been prevented. Connor had always assumed that he’d be living in the muck trying to stay off the grid. If there was one thing that Sarah Connor had drilled into him it was that he needed to stay protected; he needed to keep himself out of any databases and especially away from a computer. Where better to do that than underground with the rats? Now he lived with rats and the last survivors of the human race in tunnels that were just really big bomb shelters.

    Though the designers never really intended these tunnels for the purpose they were drafted into. While they were planning the Raid on ARTIE, as they joking called it, Derek had told him about the future a bit while they were getting ready to break into the tunnels beneath City Hall. He told him the history and how they were built as a means for the employees of City Hall to escape if the Soviet Union ever launched a nuclear war. When the bombs fell and Skynet brought about that disaster from the darkest nightmares of the Cold War, they fulfilled their original mandate and then some. Derek had taken Kyle and, together, they lived inside the conduits with a handful of other survivors instead of using them to escape. Instead of moving on like so many of the survivors they were still there.

    Allison slammed her fist against the metal slab in the secret knock that they’d devised. “Young – Peek-a-boo 1138.” It was the stupidest pass code that John had ever heard, but it was a pretty clever one if you thought about it. How could a machine ever come up with that nonsense? How could a human? Allison Young was good with nonsense though and she was good at being chatty. It was amazing how different she was from Cameron. Allison was just an ordinary person who preferred to have honesty and open dialogue about things; she loved life and embraced every moment. She could be a little bit too talkative at times and asked more questions than Cameron ever did, but he’d welcomed those facts about her. She was a shock to his system after so long with his guardian. Cameron how could you kill someone like Allison even as one of Skynet’s many minions?

    They walked through the door and the pack of dogs ran right up to them and started to sniff them vivaciously – almost knocking Allison over from their excited jumping. Allison ran her hand along the lead dog’s head and John just stood behind like the loner of the pack. He always liked dogs but tried to keep his distance from these ones. They were soldiers, guardians, not pets. The door guard – Andre Sumner – nodded politely to welcome them back to their makeshift home.

    John had got to know Andre pretty well since he’d come to the future. Derek had spoken highly of Andre in the past and it was strange for John to finally meet the genuine article. In some respects the two men were entirely different people because of their experiences, but the base was still the same. Andre had grown up in the remains of Louisiana on the Bayou. He’d migrated west and had been rescued from an HK patrol by Kyle. Just like in the reality where Connor created the Resistance, Kyle invited Andre to join them. He was good with a gun and he had a natural talent for survival and those were qualities that made him a necessary addition to any war. It was funny though how important Sumner had been, or at least could have been if given the chance. When Kyle Reese first went back to save the life of Sarah Connor, Andre Sumner made the trip too but there was an accident. Sumner died in transit and never materialized in 1984. Kyle actually looked for him for a moment or two after he arrived, but found only the darkness. John would give him a second chance to be a hero and sent him back to help Derek Reese during his recon mission looking for Andy Goode’s Turk. In that world he was killed by a machine that had replaced a Program Specialist in Los Angeles’ husband. He wondered what this particular Sumner’s fate would be. He wondered what destiny had in store for himself.

    “Kyle wants ta see ya, John,” he said with his thick accent.

    “Wonder what that’s all about?” Cameron’s doppelganger asked no one in particular.

    It was Sumner’s voice than answered her hypothetical, “Dunno. Nobody tells me nothin’. I just play doorman.”

    “We’ll have to change that soon,” Connor had wanted him on the battlefield with him for a while now. John knew that the man could handle the tin cans and was meant for more than this.

    Allison kept playing with the dogs but interrupted, “Anyone else out there tonight?”

    “Just Mason and his team,” the guardian informed. “They’ll be comin’ in soon enough.”

    Cullen came by carrying his plasma rifle for the changing of the guard and greeted the team with a grunt. The battle weary Connor nodded to him in as nice a gesture as he could muster then returned his attention to his friends. “Guess I better go see what Kyle wants. Maybe he’s found a chocolate bar and wants to share?”

    “Keep dreaming Connor,” Allison shot back at him. “More likely he wants you to shine his boots.”

    “Wouldn’t surprise me,” John headed down the tunnel to see what Kyle wanted. His finely attuned senses spoke volumes. Behind him Allison headed off to the mess to get something to eat – scraps of bread most likely because that was the only thing on the menu – and Sumner joined her from the sounds of it. The flames coming from a gutted television set kept him from hearing what Cullen was up to, but he did hear a chair slide out.

    As he passed by another tunnel’s intersection he heard something skittering about behind a partition. While walking a small child popped up and point a toy gun at him that looked like a phaser from Star Trek. On instinct he slid the gun’s barrel toward the child, but his senses grabbed hold and reminded him that this wasn’t a threat. It was just a girl who was playing a game trying to pass the time. He made clicking noises like his plasma rifle in role play and the girl fell back behind the wall like a duck in a shooting range.

    A broad smile took over John’s face at the girl’s antics. It was sad that she was trapped in this world as a victim of circumstances that came about before she was even born. That little girl was hunted, prey for a tin can that wanted her dead because she was flesh and bone. John hoped that a world would one day come where that girl didn’t have to live in such fear. As a Centaur patrol rolled overhead (shaking the ground as if it’d been an earthquake) he had a bad feeling that day would never come. It would never come for any of them.
  3. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

    Jun 26, 2001
    2001 - 2016
    Kyle Reese stood in the center of what was once the Emergency Command and Control Center for Los Angeles County staring at an old fashioned paper map. It was a stark contrast to the broken down world that they all lived in. Most of the equipment was broken, the papers and files in tatters, but this map was pristine. It was as if it’d just been freshly printed and delivered to the table straight from the cartographer; in many ways that was what had happened. The image was just as perfect – clear and crisp – but there was writing scattered throughout the map in various points. Different icons and circles were placed at strategic locations over the topography and the text looked like it’d been printed by a machine instead of being written after the fact. Kyle just kept staring at it like it was the key to buried treasure.

    “You can’t be serious,” challenged Derek Thomas Reese from the raised platform at the rear of the room. “It’s a trap; pure and simple.”

    Kyle studied the map like an historian reading a Gutenberg Bible, “I really don’t think so, brother. We’ve gotten messages like this before. They turned out okay and gave us some of our greatest victories against the machines. Avila Beach comes to mind.”

    “That wasn’t because of some damned mysterious benefactor or anything like that. That was because of some good old fashioned humans sticking their boots up the machine’s asses. Those papers came in handy, but they were far from sure fire wins for us.” He leaned against the railing and applied a bit more weight to it than he normally would. “They’re playing us. The machines have been playing a game and basically giving us a few minor victories and supplies and crap that they really don’t need anyway. Kyle I’m telling you this is a trap.”

    “Don’t you think I’ve thought of that?” He held his index finger below their current location and ran his other hand to a point labeled Topanga. “But this is too important to pass up. If Skynet’s planning to wipe us out for good this might be our salvation. This bunker in Topanga Canyon is supposed to have one of Skynet’s most advanced weapons hidden there and it’s lightly defended.”

    Derek pounded his hands into the railing, “Because it’s deep in Skynet occupied territory! Why put an army around something that’s in the middle of the heart of your territory?”

    “Goddamn it so are we!” There was fire in his eyes as he looked back at his brother. “What isn’t Skynet occupied territory these days? Where don’t they have the advantage over us? We’re dying, the machines are winning, and we need to find at least one last victory and this is it. We’re in the heart of Skynet territory and we’re going to fight them. We both made a promise to fight and that’d what we’re going to do.”

    “I don’t trust these plans,” he said, “and I don’t trust the source. Why is he so secretive? Why doesn’t he reveal himself to us?”

    Kyle smiled defused, “Whoever said it was a he?”

    “How the hell would you know? I don’t think SHE has shown herself to you either,” the older brother taunted with a hint of anger in his tone. The fact that they had never seen this benefactor, this philanthropist, had always struck him as odd. It’d always made him certain this was a trap.

    “Never said she did,” behind Derek the older door opened and John Connor stepped over the threshold and joined them. John was one of the most gifted soldiers Kyle had ever met in his entire life; and he literally fell out of the sky to join them. He almost had a career that ended before it started though. When he appeared he stole Kyle’s coat and slid it on over his naked body for cover. He was found a few minutes later wrapped up in it like a blanket as he tried to avoid one of the dogs. Fuller tried to blast him, Derek teased him about wearing the coat, and Kyle just let him keep it.

    John stood next to Derek and rested his hands on the railing, “You asked to speak to me?”

    The younger Reese nodded, “Yeah I did.” He turned back to the table and motioned for Connor to join him, but Derek just stood there like a statue watching them. “Derek you’re gonna want to see this too. I have a feeling that this is something you’re going to need to know about.”

    “I’ve seen enough,” he spat back at his sibling. “I have other things that need my attention.”

    Kyle peered over his shoulder, “Nothing as important as this. Get your ass down here because this is something that you’re definitely going to want to see.”

    The older Reese boy rolled his eyes but relented with a loud and angry sigh. He joined his younger brother and (unknown to him) nephew at the table. Kyle pointed out several of the locations circled on the map. Even though this was a briefing, Kyle hid part of the truth from John despite his knowing of the boy’s so called destiny. “We intercepted these plans from one of the machines in the area recently. It was transporting these to a Skynet outpost near Baja. These are detailed schematics and plans for a Skynet Processing Node recently built and activated in Topanga Canyon. This base has a supposed doomsday weapon that’ll win the war for the machines if they get it online. We’re going after it.”

    Looking at the plans John kept his poker face. “Topanga Canyon?” He asked astonished. “There’s not a damn thing there that’s important.”

    Just as Kyle was holding back vital information so was John. Topanga Canyon was one of the most important battles that the Resistance ever fought according to Derek and, in a way, Kyle. Not long after his Uncle Derek had introduced him to the younger versions of themselves, Derek had told him about what he’d found out from General Justin Perry about the mission where Kyle was declared missing in action. The Resistance attacked a small Skynet outpost in Topanga Canyon after stealing the information regarding it and a doomsday weapon from the processors of a Series 800 infiltrator that they’d reprogrammed. There they found a fully operational Time Displacement Sphere and all the required technology to travel both forward and backward in time.

    How could they have obtained this information was a question that plagued him? No one in the refugee camp that Kyle was running could even pass for a computer user except for maybe John and he hadn’t used a computer since he jumped forward in time. There were no scrubbed infiltrators being used by any human that he knew of and, honestly, John couldn’t remember having ever seen an infiltrator in the three years that he’d been here. The dogs in this reality weren’t used to sniff out machines, they were used to find humans and get them to safety from the machines. The Series 800 endoskeleton did exist though and it was an exact match for what was beneath the skin of Uncle Bob. What delivered these plans? Skynet wouldn’t send paper copies of anything and backups could just be made digitally. Could it have been Catherine Weaver or John Henry that did this? John still hadn’t found out what happened to her after she disappeared on him after they arrived. Was she secretly helping Kyle and what was his version of the Resistance?

    “These seem to suggest the exact opposite,” Kyle Reese responded to his accusation. “Whatever’s there this machine was delivering these plans somewhere and it was important enough that Skynet wanted a hard copy backup.”

    “Yeah it was delivering them somewhere. To us laying a trap,” snorted Derek in contempt.

    John had to play it up, “I’d have to agree. The machines are planning something for us. They want us to go after this… whatever this base is because they haven’t been able to find us. They probably want to see our numbers and get us all in one place so we’re easier to kill.” He couldn’t oversell being against this idea because he was, honestly, all for it.

    “If that were the case why didn’t they just send a swarm of endos in and kill us all? We destroyed this one and they know where their machines are. It’s been over four days since we got these plans and we haven’t been attacked yet that I know of,” pointed out their makeshift leader.

    “What about the Series 7T that I just hunted down?” It was a fair question.

    Which Kyle had an answer to, “It was already harassing us long before we got these plans, Connor. Plus there was something else that was just as amazing as those plans with the machine that Skynet would want a backup for.” He pulled a file folder out from beneath the chart. He opened the manila folder and a schematic diagram of the 800 Series rested on top with a scattering of pictures beneath. “These were there too just waiting for us like presents under a Christmas tree. Full schematics of the Eight Hundred Series.”

    “A lot for a lowly machine to play courier for,” John pointed out. It was possible a machine really did take these to an outpost to be backed up, but he knew something was being kept below the surface. The truth was being hidden. “Something you want to tell me? Like where these really came from maybe?” John looked at the file. All of this seems a little bit too convenient for us to recover from just one machine.”

    Derek answered with a voice laced in sarcasm, “Thank you.”

    “I’ll tell you the truth on a need to know basis,” Reese flipped over the photo and a blurry image of a man was on the next page. John recognized it immediately. “This is what I’m worried about though.” He showed the photo to both Derek and John, “This man is a machine. Skynet’s found a way to make skin for endoskeletons. With this technology we’re defenseless. The machines can stroll right passed our forward guards and can position itself deep inside our defenses until the time it called to strike against us.” Kyle let out a long breath and stared at John, “But you knew that already. Didn’t you?”

    John shot his head in Reese’s direction, “Excuse me?”

    “When you first appeared you mentioned this very fact,” Kyle reminded.

    Derek chimed in, “That’s right. You screamed at Fuller that you weren’t metal. Later you warned us about a lot of different machines that would be coming. This was one of them wasn’t it? The skin-job?”

    John smiled, “The timing’s about right. My mother always told me that they’d be coming in 2027. Here we are and here they are right on time.” He picked up the photo and studied it, “This is a Cyberdyne Systems Model One Oh One. He’s not the only one though. There are more. A hell of a lot more. Some are tall, some are short; some are fat, some are thin; some have long hair, some have short hair.”

    “Enough,” Derek had had enough of it. “So you’re telling me these things can look like people now and they can come in basically every shape, size, and color?”

    “Yeah,” John nodded, “Sometimes they even walk alike and talk alive.”

    Kyle looked at his brother Derek, “Double security. We need to keep an eye out for these things.”

    “Like that’ll do any good,” the older Reese walked toward the exit and held his hand on the handle. “You have any bright ideas for sniffing these things out since they can be literally anyone?”

    “Good choice of words,” John answered him. “Dogs. Don’t ask me how but they seem to know humans from machines. Using them can help.”

    The younger Reese tried to lighten the mood despite it being so dark, “Just don’t bark up the wrong tree.”

    “That’s not very damn funny.” The older Reese opened the door, “Man’s best friend indeed.” He left the room to shore up their defenses leaving Kyle and John behind.

    It didn’t take a psychic to tell where Derek Reese fell on the side of this mission. John leaned against the side of the table and stared at the doors long after his uncle had left the room. He let out a long breath and shook his head, “He’s got some strong opinions about this doesn’t he?”

    Kyle peeked at the closed doors, “He’s got strong opinions about everything these days, but I’ll deal with Derek. You just worry about this little gift of ours. What do you think of it? You were holding back; never do that in my presence.”

    At least he knew where he got that little piece of his personality from. John hated people that held things back, especially important things. Like this mission, for example, the fact that Kyle or Derek had neither one said specifically where these files came from was an important omission. The source was need to know in Kyle’s eyes and John didn’t find need to know acceptable in this case. This wasn’t his Resistance, but as dwindling as their numbers were everyone needed to know as much as they possibly could about what they were facing and how to stop the machines. Everything was need to know.

    Would he feel the same way if he were in charge making the big decisions?

    “I think this is something that we need to do,” John revealed looking again at their chart. “Not because Skynet has some sort of weapon there, not because it could have the mother lode of supplies, we need to do this because of our men. For their morale.”

    The other man looking at the chart scratched his face, “Why’s that?”

    “Because these twenty-one people are for all we know what’s left of humanity. They need some sort of victory against the machines and, even if it’s a small one, they need to think that it was something far greater. They’re losing hope, they’re losing energy, and they’ve given up. They don’t think Skynet can be defeated.”

    Reese nodded, “I wish I could say I didn’t share their outlook. But I swore on my father’s deathbed that I would fight the machines and I’d survive. Derek made the same deal so we’re both going to fight until the machines have killed us or we’ve killed them. I agree with you. The men need some sort of victory because they have given up and they don’t think Skynet will ever die. We need to show them just what our determination can pull off.”

    “I wish I knew what was inside that base though. You’re supposed to be the Great John Connor. Do you know anything about this base?”

    For John need to know was again in his corner. The question was what would he answer?

    Leaning over the table and looking at the map of Topanga Canyon he shook his head and made sure his poker face was stable, “I wish I knew, but this is beyond me.” Behind him a red strobe light started to flash and an alarm wailed throughout the cramped confines that had been their home for so long. The machines had found them and were coming.
  4. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

    Jun 26, 2001
    2001 - 2016
    Hope everyone enjoys my latest additions to the story. This is also by 25,000 post to the Trek BBS.
  5. kes7

    kes7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sector 001
    You're doing a good job with the characters, Kyle's intensity and John's propensity to live in his head and hold things close to his chest, particularly.

    I like Allison, and she's a great reminder of what Cameron really is or was ... they're so different.

    Thanks again for continuing this story!

    PS Wow, 25,000 posts -- that's a whole lot of posting!
  6. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 11, 2008
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    An excellent continuation. Like Kes7 says, it provides a neat contrast between Alison and Cameron.

    The sequence where John played shooting back at the little girl could have worked badly, as a lazy copy of a scene from the first movie. In practice though it served as a reminder of the similarities between John and his father.

    Keep it up!
  7. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

    Jun 26, 2001
    2001 - 2016
    I've begun work on the next chapter and I'll probably be posting on Saturday evening, Sunday morning.

    One of the things that always struck me about Summer Glau was she always plays characters that are a bit too guarded and quiet. I was reading recently an interview with Joss Whedon where he was talking about Summer joining Dollhouse and how he wanted her to play a chatty character. When I rewatched the scenes of Allison's interrogation from Allison from Palmdale I thought about it and Allison really is a lot like the opposite of Cameron. She's really interesting to write for and this is the second time I've got to write for her. She's more fun now because the Series Finale gave me a lot of material to work with.

    The hardest character to write for though is Derek Reese, but it's not the character that gives me trouble. Derek is a typical soldier at first, but he has more layers to him than just that. He's technophobic, cynical, blunt, sarcastic, ruthless, and at times; borderline psychotic. What scares me is everytime I write the character I don't hear the character; I actually hear my older brother. They're the same person in many respects; both soldiers, both hate technology, it's hard to write for him at times because it reminds me of him so much (my brother is on his third tour of duty in Iraq). I don't plan to use Derek all that much, sorry to his fans, because of this and because I wrote for him very often in Terminator: Survival Instinct.

    As for 25,000 posts. It amazes me too. That's even with a two year break from the BBS where I didn't post a thing.

    That was one of the harder scenes to write and, honestly, I went back to it about half a dozen times to rework little pieces of it. I almost didn't even write it in because I didn't want it to be a carbon copy of the scene, but I realized just how much potential it had. In The Terminator Kyle did it and probably didn't think about what he was doing; for John there's more to it. He knew about the machines and he wasn't able to stop them. This will be touched upon again once or twice. One thing about when I write you never know what little things could end up being incredibly important to the story.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2009
  8. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

    Jun 26, 2001
    2001 - 2016
    Update: I've got the base of Chapter 3 written, but I'm not going to be posting it until later Sunday evening now as I want to polish a few things with it before actually submitting it.
  9. Admiral_Young

    Admiral_Young Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Feb 27, 2002
    Outstanding so far NX...I'm going to have finally read your other two Terminator stories as well I'm interested in how you're going to incorperate the alternate universes characters into TSCC and how you treat Katherine Brewster.
  10. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    I am liking this but question: Who is "Los Angeles' husband?" I didn't get the line.
  11. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

    Jun 26, 2001
    2001 - 2016
    Sumner was part of the Resistance team sent back during Season One alongside Derek Reese. Skynet had sent back a terminator to protect the designer of a program called ARTIE (Barbara Chamberlain). To facilitate its mission it terminated the woman's husband and replaced him. Sumner was killed when Sayles revealed himself, by accident, as stalking Barbara Chamberlain. Vick followed them to the Safe House and terminated each of the team members and waited for Derek Reese.

    Season One: Gnothi Seauton
    Season One: Vick's Chip
  12. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

    Jun 26, 2001
    2001 - 2016
    Katherine Brewster, believe it or not, features prominently in Survival Instinct.

    I'm still revising some things and adding others. The next chapter should be up tomorrow.
  13. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

    Jun 26, 2001
    2001 - 2016
    Derek Reese didn’t pretend to be an educated man, but one thought that always kept popping into his head these days was from his high school biology course. It was his freshman year of high school – little did he know it’d also be his last – and he had a course load from hell filled with little courses that he really didn’t want and really didn’t need. There were of course courses that he liked, like Shop and Physical Education, and then there were the courses that he hated, like History, Home Economics, and Biology. So far the only course that had helped him was History. It was all because in his last year of school he did a project on what would be his home in the future: the underground tunnels between the buildings of Los Angeles. Home Economics was worthless (who cared about baking cookies when you had to eat rat for dinner) and Biology, so far, had been useless except for one key little factoid that he could never forget. An organism must learn to adapt if it is to survive.

    No one could say that humanity hadn’t learned that biological imperative. Every day of life in this new world was filled with finding newer and cleverer ways of surviving to live just another day. Humanity got smarter, but so did the machines. Because of their own mistakes, mankind made the very creatures that would supplant the human race as the dominate form of life on the planet. Derek hated that. The survivors were paying for the mistakes of their parents and now humanity was about to die because of it. The refugees were finding less and less survivors and more and more machines that wanted to kill them during the patrols. It was like something out of a horror movie fed nightmare.

    Now the machines had found a way of striking a more destructive blow. No matter who you were or what you did if you found a living human you were excited and you felt better than ever before. It was this very fact that led to Skynet adapting yet again. Skynet started to get creative and started putting machines wrapped in rubber onto the ground with the express orders of killing as many humans as possible. For a while it worked, but only from a distance. The further away you were the more likely you’d think that the rubber skinned bastards were real people. When you got close you’d see that they were the exact opposite. The rubber was good, there was no disputing that, but it looked fake the closer you got and it withered away within days revealing the metal skeleton beneath the surface. In the beginning Skynet was tricking people left and right, but humanity adapted. Humanity changed.

    Then, apparently, so did the machines. Skynet took all the information that it had from the Series 600 and made a new endoskeleton. They brought forth something more deadly than ever before. It created these infiltrators - if Kyle’s source was to be trusted (which Derek doubted). It couldn’t be true. How could skin be grown just for metal? What made it live? Did these infiltrators eat to keep the skin alive? Did it smell real? Did it sweat, have bad breath, and bleed? It was a ludicrous idea. It just wasn’t possible. There was no way what so ever that it could be true. Machines couldn’t have a living component.

    Nevertheless, the machines had proven that they were constantly trying to find ways to improve themselves. If it were true that’s exactly what they’d done. They’d made people, but that was impossible too. No matter how advanced the machines became they would always lack that spark of life that made a human a human. They’d never love, they’d never be afraid, they’d never feel anything. They’d always lack that one little piece of person that separated man from machine. The metal bastards could never have that. They’d never have a soul, but did anyone have one of those anymore? No one was innocent; no one was a good man or woman, not even kids these days could claim innocence for their crimes. They’d all lied, they’d all cheated, and only a few had been lucky enough not to have to murder to survive. If they had souls Derek knew with every fiber of his being exactly where he and the rest of humanity were going to end up. Truth be told it couldn’t be much worse than the world he already lived in; if it existed at all.

    While he walked down the old cinderblock corridor he heard the doors open in the distance and the dogs started to bark in frenzied agony. His first thoughts made him wonder what the hell they were barking about so spiritedly. Then his mind reached the point where he realized they were just excited to see new faces (like the rest of them always were). That was when John Connor’s words returned to him and replayed over and over in his mind. Dogs could tell friend from foe. Then he heard that old familiar sound. People screaming as a plasma rifle spewed its deadly payload.

    Another scream this time with a single, deadly phrase, “METAL!”

    “Protect the children!” Another yelled.

    Derek pulled the phased plasma rifle from his back right as he saw it approaching. It was a man, or at least he thought it was a man, who looked unlike anything Derek had ever seen before. He was tall and powerfully built; too powerfully built for someone growing up on scraps of food and garbage. His face was the same quality as a magazine model and was without a single blemish upon its porcelain like skin. Kyle’s mysterious informant had been right about it. This machine did look human. Everything about him looked like he was made of flesh and blood not a heinous mix of steel and flesh. On a battlefield he would’ve had one thing giving him away. The gun he carried was certainly not standard issue for a human or even something that the fittest among them could ever dream of wielding. It was the size of a minigun, but it was far more deadly than the already destructive weapon. A minigun fired bullets, this was firing beams of concentrated plasma at speeds far greater than a human mind could count.

    Derek held out his diminutive in comparison plasma rifle and returned fire against the machine. It was of no effect. He scored several direct hits against the chest of the metal monster, but it didn’t even step back or flinch. A hit that would’ve knocked a six hundred on its ass ten feet away was just brushed off by this new foe. In the blink of an eye the enemy repositioned itself and pointed the barrel right at Derek’s chest. Pushing his body to the limit he jumped just as the machine pulled the trigger. Dozens of pulses slammed into the wall where Derek had just been drilling holes through to the other side but somehow missing him entirely.

    “Goddamn metal bastard,” Reese cursed as he hid behind the broken wall. The machine kept walking forward while Derek planned his next move. More and more plasma bursts slammed into walls and, sadly, people during Reese’s moment of indecision. Plaster rained upon him like fresh snow as the onslaught continued around him. He was better than this. Why was he letting the machine make him look like a fool?

    Getting back to his feet he pointed the gun and pulled the trigger only to find that the tin can wasn’t there anymore. It’d moved on but where was it going? There were only a few key points that it could track down if this machine followed standard Skynet tactics. So far everything about the automaton, despite its resilience, was following the beaten trail. The power center was fitted with the emergency generators that powered the base so they’d be high on the target list to allow for an invasion. The barracks were another source because the machine could kill a lot of people there – not that there were many to begin with in the first place since the evacuation was just sounded. Then there was command and control: his brother Kyle. That had to be it. The machine would go for his brother. It only made sense.

    Reese vaulted over the barrier and started running down the hall. He had to protect his little brother; the rest of them could take care of themselves.

    Allison Young was famished though that was a feeling she’d gotten used to during the long years of the War Against the Machines. To even getting a moment to eat with her friends and, dare she say it, family was welcome to her after having been on patrol for so long; though, even getting the time to eat alone was something she rarely had time for. She was always busy with some task or another. Whether it be planning an operation, running patrol, or playing nursemaid to her wounded comrades she always had something on her plate. Now she was just grateful to have some food on that plate.

    The meal could’ve been a bit larger, but beggars certainly couldn’t be choosers and she was happy with what she had. Their cook of the day, Timms she assumed, had been able to make some bread and, somehow, someone had caught one of the stray deer that’d escaped from the Los Angeles County Zoo and had survived for so long. A part of her hated that a living, breathing, being had given its life to sustain her. The other side of her body was crying out for some sort of nourishment. After a silent apology to the creature and thanking it for its sacrifice, she bit into the wonderful sandwich she’d made. Her years of stockpiling made her hold back from gobbling the food up like a pig; yet her stomach cried for more. As she went to take another bite both her stockpiling and stomach were overrode when the alarms began to sound.

    “Has ta be another drill,” Andre Sumner tried to reassure her as he set down his dirty piece of bread. “Da machines haven’t been able ta find us so far and I doubt they did today. We’ve been to smart for dem.”

    “Don’t be so sure,” she answered him. “This is a day of firsts after all. The first day any of us have had some meat in years other than the rodent variety. Plus, there was no drill scheduled for today. I would’ve known.” As well she would have. She had often helped Derek, John, and Kyle prepare the invasion scenarios.

    Andre thought about making a comment about meat, her, and John Connor - their supposed messiah - but he held his tongue as no to provoke his beautiful friend. Instead he got up from the table and extended his hand to help Allison get up from her side. “When we make it outta dis one I’ll hunt you down a cow and make ya a hamburger. Dat way you get more meat on your skinny bones.”

    “I’m sure you will,” she sighed and got up from the table. “Not like any of us have anything better to do. I hope Kyle doesn’t,” she shut up midsentence when she heard it: the familiar whine. She looked at Sumner who was just as on edge as she was. She had to ask but his face all but screamed in confirmation, “You heard it too?”

    Sumner flipped the safety of his rifle to the off position and started down the hallway with Allison mere inches behind him. Neither of the two had had formal military training of any sort; though, a lifetime of running away from thinking machines had given them a degree from the school of hard knocks. Now they rivaled any of the soldiers from before the fall of mankind. Allison, however, had made a tremendous mistake. Thinking she was ‘off duty’ she’d left her weapon in her cabin when she went to eat. All she had by her side was her Glock 17 pistol. Not that it’d do much good in a fight if Skynet’s army was invading other than giving an endoskeleton a battle hardened look. Pistols and non plasma weapons were mainly used to defend against other humans and that was the extent of their usefulness. You could, sometimes, take out lesser drones but that was with a hell of a lot of luck.

    The two soldiers slowly made their way down the long corridor keeping their backs flat against the wall as they walked. The less exposed the better off they’d be in a firefight. Both of them scanned the cramped confines looking for anything that was out of place. They hoped that if there was something that was missed that the other would pick up on it and compensate for the other’s failing. That wouldn’t happen today. During the drills they’d both done this hundreds of times and they knew what to expect and pretty much when to expect it. Today they just got the chance to put what was once theory into practice.

    Theory became more real the moment they reached the front door. Only minutes ago they’d both left here and it was a secure port in the storm. Now it looked like a tornado had ripped through it tearing it to shreds. Bodies lined the floor with their cauterized wounds still giving off an acrid smelling smoke that billowed upward. A stray plasma pulse ripped into the masonry above them and caused light chunks of plaster to rain upon the ground. The dog kennel where Allison had been playing what felt like seconds ago with her four legged friends brought only sorrow as she looked at their lifeless bodies. Allison felt sick to her stomach looking at all the carnage around her and she wanted whatever did this to pay. How could anything, including Skynet, kill defenseless people and innocent animals?

    She already knew the answer, but never had it hit this close to home. Every day before this they’d always been able to escape before the machines got this far that they struck in what they felt as safety. When the Series 7T Hunter Killer was destroyed they’d all assumed that it was over and that they’d somehow held back the machines for just another day. They’d even convinced themselves that they wouldn’t have to move and that the machines would move on assuming that the humans had left in fear. That was their mistake and now several living, breathing people had already paid the price for their failure.

    It wasn’t over yet though. In the distance she heard the sound of a plasma rifle being discharged. The steady, repeated sounds were oddly like the notes from a song. Allison missed music. Her mother had been a teacher and an accomplished pianist. Her home as a child had been filled with Chopin and Beethoven. Now music only came from their guns. A bittersweet symphony if there ever were one. She looked at Sumner who stood with his rifle pointed up the small set of stairs before them.

    “We need ta get goin,” he reminded. “That machine’s still down here killin’ our friends. We have ta help dem.”

    Allison was in no position to argue. As she was bending down to grab the rifle of Cullen that was when she saw it. Through the open portal to the outside world the peaceful serenity of the water was being disrupted. Ripples and waves spread through the water like a tidal wave was coming for her, hunting her. Metal fins protruded up from the muck filled dankness and then she saw it erupting upward like a dolphin coming out to play. This wasn’t a playful animal. A hydrobot leaped from the water and came right for her with metal pinchers clamping shut over and over. Somehow she moved right in the nick of time and missed its sharp claws by mere inches (the metal fingers had slid through her hair as she dove cutting away part of her brown locks). She turned on her back and emptied the clip of her pistol into the machine that flopped around like a fish out of water, but she knew it was already too late.

    The machines could talk to each other, it was a long held theory that was confirmed when John joined them, and this robotic hunter had undoubtedly already sent the messages home. Its big brother was the first wave and this little guy told her that more were on the way and helped to point out the door. She looked to Sumner and he was already running to the door having reached the same conclusion that more would be coming. Right as he started pulling they could hear the repeated firing of machine guns in the distance. Andre had been lucky just as she had been. The bullets managed to miss hid head, but only barely as he struggled to pull it inward. He slammed down the bar sealing the old pressure door; nevertheless, both knew the truth. They were out of time. Skynet had found them and was striking harder than ever before.

    Instead of signaling the already active invasion alarm this time she sent another message. It wasn’t her place to make this choice, but there was no alternative. Holding down the control stud the alarms suddenly changed. The new message that each of the survivors, each of her friends, was hearing told them that the situation was untenable. The soldiers of Skynet had come for them and this time there was no defending their home. They’d have to run through the emergency escape tunnels to one of the prearranged safe zones. It was the only way that they’d be able to survive.

    Slamming the spent Glock into the holster around her leg she picked up Cullen’s plasma rifle. She flipped the switch putting it into live mode and checked the shot levels. With a full clip of 99 shots in the pulse rifle she started through the antiquated tunnels looking for the nearest escape hatch. As she struggled to keep up with Sumner – not to mention remember her training as it slid like sand through her fingers – she had one thought cross her mind. It wasn’t a thought about herself. The thought wasn’t about her training or where she’d go when she escaped from her hell bound home. Her thoughts were about one man.

    “John where are you?” She said in a whisper so low she wasn’t even sure Andre could hear.
  14. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

    Jun 26, 2001
    2001 - 2016
    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.
  15. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

    Jun 26, 2001
    2001 - 2016
    I hope that everyone enjoys these two updates.

    Chapter 3
    Pages: 10
    Words: 5,981
  16. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 11, 2008
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    Enjoying it so far!

    Some good action sequences there.
  17. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

    Jun 26, 2001
    2001 - 2016
    ^ Thanks.

    I plan to put up the next entry over the weekend.
  18. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

    Jun 26, 2001
    2001 - 2016
    First apologies for not posting the entry over the weekend. Family drama.

    I have the next chapter about 90% completed and should post it within the next day.
  19. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 11, 2008
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    Understood mate, no problem.

    My own attempt at writing has taught me that these things never seem to go as fast as you want them to!
  20. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

    Jun 26, 2001
    2001 - 2016
    The shrill alarms were giving John Connor a headache. In the years that he’d been stuck in the future war on his search for Cameron’s processor he’d gone through so many evacuations that he’d lost count of them. Sometimes they were preemptive escapes out of fear that Skynet had found them; other times they were exactly like this: running firefights to the escape tunnels with the army of tin cans closing in from behind. No matter what the circumstances behind the evacuation orders they were always calamities.

    He couldn’t imagine what they were like before he’d arrived though. When he first appeared in the future with the shape-shifter he was taken to the outpost that Kyle’s group was operating out of. For fear that Skynet may have located them via spy satellite; they decided to move to an alternate site from the main one. Back then escapes were a lot harder and far more complicated during an evacuation (and not only because he was new to this reality). There were no emergency escape hatches that people could get through – no tunnels other than the main one into and out of the base. There wasn’t even an alarm to signal the evacuation orders and it had to be done by word of mouth. The first thing that John did was worked with Kyle and Derek to build escape tunnels separate from the main ones that they could use in emergencies. They were simple, made by throwing up walls and blocking paths, but they were effective. That one little suggestion enhanced the evacuation efficiency; the alarms nearly doubled the survival rate. Now building those tunnels was the first thing that they did no matter where they were living; planning the evacuations were the second. It was morbid but it was the only way to stay alive.

    There was also a better division of labor since John arrived. It was true that it’d be better for a team to be making sure that anything that could risk their safety be destroyed, but that just wasn’t an option with more advanced machines coming from Skynet factories. Now, since they split up to accomplish key goals, they could cover more ground and keep the essential tasks going even if one were disrupted. Normally it’d be Kyle who was making sure that the secret documents got burned and that the mainframes were destroyed, but that wasn’t the case today. Today he’d left that task to John, not that John was complaining. It gave him a few minutes to flip through some of the more restricted documents that even he hadn’t seen. Kyle’s mysterious benefactor had been busy; there was a lot of crucial information here about a variety of subjects ranging from endoskeletons to improving the efficiency of the power cells of the plasma rifles.

    As he threw several of the files into the oil drum filled with flames he wondered just who that benefactor was. No one had seen him, her, or – quite possibly – it. John had a few theories about who could be behind their gifts, not that he’d share. Catherine Weaver was the biggest possibility, if she were still active which she probably was. John Henry was another likely choice, but John wasn’t even sure if he could still be functional either. For being built to serve as an AI to fight Skynet he wasn’t doing the best damn job in the world. Humanity was losing this war, but maybe he really was only out to help the mysterious other faction? Then there were a few human possibilities. James Ellison could still be alive or maybe Savannah Weaver – she was probably taught and prepared by Ellison after Catherine escorted John to the future. Then there was one name that still came to him and flashed over and over in his mind.

    Sarah Connor: mom. Could his mother still be alive and fighting the machines today? Kyle never met her in the present or the future from what John knew. Cameron told him that his mother died of cancer in the original timeline and that was why they jumped through time in the first place. Did she succumb to cancer in this reality too or was she still out there somewhere? Why wouldn’t she reveal herself if she was? Why wouldn’t she try to find him? It couldn’t be her; though, silently, he hoped that it was her. He could use the help and her experience. Hit mother was a fighter so if she’d somehow survived this he probably wouldn’t be surprised by it.

    Especially right now. In the distance he heard the sound of more plasma rifle discharges echoing through the sandstone and cement halls. He should have expected something like this to happen especially now that they were planning an attack. It only made sense that they’d be attacked this close to the offensive against Topanga Canyon - it happened in every other timeline so why would this one be any different? He’d long theorized that the timeline was constantly trying to right itself despite the constant changes caused by the temporal incursions both on Skynet’s side and the Resistance’s. Time was trying to find a way to fix itself and a lot of the things that he’d heard about through stories still seemed to happen even in this upside down timeline.

    So why would Topanga be any different? The story and the players were the same; just the characterizations were different. In the original timeline John was trying to keep the power systems online while the machines invaded the base and Kyle was making sure that the mainframes and classified materials were destroyed. The locations were even the same. They were in tunnels underneath what was once called Pico Tower – a high-rise hotel. The first machine sent in was an infiltrator that targeted the leader of the base (in the original timeline John; in this one Kyle). The machines were coming in from all the available entrances they could find. It was almost exactly the same.

    Right as he finished up burning their files and setting up the demolition charges around the mainframes he heard a noise at the door. Diving he rolled and crouch walked to the central table. He pulled his rifle from the smooth tabletop, disengaged the safety, and pointed the barrel at the door. The young soldier kept his finger on the trigger and kept his finger ready to strike. He wanted to be ready to pull the trigger if the machine came in from the other side. Deep in the recesses of his mind he wondered which infiltrator Skynet would use this time (he never learned the style used in the raid). Would it be Uncle Bob? The machine sent for Bedell? Rosie? Carl Greenway? Was it going to be any of a slew of other possibilities ranging from all shapes and sizes? Could it even be Cromartie – well Cromartie before he was taken over by John Henry?

    The shape came through the door. John pointed the rifle at the head and got ready to pull the trigger, right when he realized who it was. It wasn’t a machine - at least he assumed that it wasn’t because he’d yet to see a machine wearing the face of Derek Reese. He moved the plasma rifle to a resting position and got back to his charges. Derek had other plans, he wanted to question Connor.

    “Where’s my brother?” He asked without delay.

    John had heard about Derek’s continued quest to find out more about Kyle following the Mission to Topanga in the other reality from Cameron. He’d even lived part of it while Charley tried to save Derek after he was shot by Vick Chamberlain. Back then Derek had demanded answers from John even as he lay bleeding on the kitchen counter from his wounds. John knew the futility of trying to lie to him about something that was so important in Derek’s mind; in all their minds. Family was truly important even now.

    “I really don’t know. He was going to the Generator Room to make sure that it was defended during the evacuation. He asked me to…”

    The older Reese screamed, “And you let him go alone?”

    “I really didn’t have a choice,” Connor answered him as he activated the timers. “I had to make sure that these files and the mainframes were destroyed so that Skynet didn’t know what we’re up to.”

    “Face it,” Derek shook his head incredulously, “Skynet already knows everything. How else could it’ve found us? We too every precaution…”

    This time John interrupted him, “And sometimes the machines just guess right. This time they guessed right; so we need to make sure that everything that could lead them to us is destroyed and then we need to get the hell out of here.” He tried not to tip his hand too much to let Derek know that he knew more than he should. John looked at the countdown, “And we only have thirty seconds left before we get entombed a thousand feet below the surface if we stay in this room so we need to get the hell out of here! Let’s go get Kyle…”

    The explosion was hard to mistake. John and Derek shared a look then they ran for the door. The only room in the entire base that was designed to be destroyed was the control room, which John had just set the detonators for. That meant that somewhere else in the base someone was in a hell of a lot of trouble and both knew exactly where that likely was. The machine had changed its attack plan. It was after the power systems and that had to be where the explosion came from. That was where Kyle was.

    They both ran as fast as they could for the source.

    Maneuvering through the emergency escape tunnel was like trying to navigate through a maze blindfolded. The whole tunnel was as dark as the night sky and the ground was broken up from years of weathering and misuse. A putrid smell, like rotten eggs but worse, made its way through the air and assaulted their nostrils. Every few minutes the ground and walls would shake as a Hunter Killer tank rolled over the streets above them with its massive treads. Even though the tunnel gave them some protection and all they could hear were the sounds; Allison imagined the sick sound of the skeletons of their fathers and mothers breaking under the weight of the colossus. It wasn’t the first time that it happened, it probably wouldn’t be the last, and like every time before her eyes let loose a single tear of sorrow.

    Ahead of her Andre Sumner and Eduardo Timms were helping three children down the long pipe, but both of the men stopped to check on her. Sumner shone the flashlight, one of the last working ones in the world she theorized, in her eyes. She shielded herself with her forearm trying to block out the blinding light as best she knew how. Normally she’d want the light; right now all she wanted was to be in the dark. She wished she had never been born into this.

    “Get that damn light out of my face!”

    “Just checkin ta see if ya back tere lil lady,” it was of course Andre with his distinctive accent and speaking style. She knew that he spoke normal English, avoiding the accent and words of the land where he grew up from time to time, but this wasn’t one of those times. Timms grinned from ear to ear like the Cheshire Cat, the latest in his line of flirting looks.

    Holding onto her rifle tightly she made her way up to them over the cracked cement, “I’m not a little lady that needs two big strong men to keep her going; I don’t need anyone. Whoever told you I was was lying to you so just get that thought outta your heads.” She dropped her hand and looked at Timms, “That goes to both of yours.”

    “You’re not my type,” Timms said back to her hoping that the kids didn’t understand what she was saying. He didn’t care if they did, but he hid his embarrassment. She was the first to refuse him in a long time. They didn’t have many options after all.

    “And you’re not mine,” she said looking him dead in the face then she remembered that the kids were there. Timms had quite the reputation among the survivors as being what they would have called a player a lifetime ago. He didn’t seem to get over the fact that they were dying; he just hopped from bed to bed and didn’t care about the consequences. One of Allison’s friends had killed herself after seeing him with another woman.

    “Let’s keep moving before the metal starts following us,” she ordered without any real authority over them.

    Sumner agreed, “Best idea I heard in a long time.”

    They continued on their march toward the escape. The kids were doing remarkably well considering the circumstances, but kids were better survivors than even the adults in this world. Kids could adapt quickly to new situations; adults had a bit more trouble with change. Kids weren’t blowing their heads off after the fall of man – adults were left and right. Those kids were now they adults and taking care of the next generation. Some of them were even losing that gift of adaptation.

    Allison herself was only a kid when the bombs fell. She was three years old when Judgment Day came and she wasn’t even with her parents at the time. She had been in the care of their kindly old next door neighbor Mrs. McCluskey because her mom and dad were both at work. She was eating, something better than garbage probably but she barely remembered, but she could remember seeing the mushroom clouds in the bay window. They hung over Los Angeles and, to her young eyes; they were prettiest things that she’d ever seen. Mrs. McCluskey had a harder time with it, frantically moving and trying to get things together. Allison never cried out for her parents, never even cried once during the storm, but she silently worried about her mom and dad not understanding what had happened (all she wanted to know at that moment was if they saw the pretty cloud). A short time later Mrs. McCluskey passed away from the stress – a heart attack most likely – and Allison was left alone at the age of three to fend for herself.

    As the group came to the Y-shaped intersection she stood for a moment to regain her bearings. It was pretty clever of them when they came up with the escape route. If you went to the left you’d end up back at the base near the entrance, but if you went to the right you’d come out at the intersection of Third Street and Cameron in about half a mile. There was another intersection shaped like a fork. If you stayed on the right path there were booby traps and detours that you had to know how to navigate through. The one in the middle led to a massive drop off that would kill you. Then if you went to the left you’d be able to get to the escape tunnel. The machines could never navigate through these jury rigged tunnels, well they could but it’d probably take some time, so they needed whatever advantages they could get. Allison took point and led them through the tunnel.

    They didn’t get far before all hell broke loose. About two hundred feet down the long corridor another Hunter Killer patrol rolled over the streets above them. This time the ground shook and buckled, which was made worse when they heard the explosion. It shouldn’t have done any damage, but the explosion rocked the foundations of the tunnels. Rubble and debris fell from the ceiling and separated Allison from the rest of her group. She turned back and started clawing at the garbage; there had to be at least three feet of debris separating her from the others. She kept clawing at it trying to free them, but it was a worthless gesture. If only she’d had her rifle she could’ve blasted away the field. They couldn’t follow her; there was no way they could maneuver through the junk. They’d have to loop back around to the other side. If they were alive of course.

    Allison was torn. She could help free them but risk being captured by the machines, or she could keep going down the corridor and escape. There were points where she could possible loop back around and, if she were lucky, she could get to them, but there weren’t many of those options ahead of her. There was just too much debris blocking her path to her friends, to the children. Looking down the dark corridor she knew what she had to do. Instead of running to her freedom she ran to the intersection that led back to the base. Her legs pumped as fast and as hard as she could make them go. She passed the turn that would lead to freedom and raced to the far end that would loop back giving her the chance to rescue the others. She rounded the corner and fell back on her butt. Looking up she saw a vision of hell light up before her. Twin red eyes started to glow and they focused in on her. The machines had found the escape tunnels and they were lying in wait, just waiting for the refugees to try to escape. She apologized silently and started down the exit conduit, praying for her friends and her own survival.