Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by nx1701g, Dec 17, 2008.
The term a dark and stormy night was a cliché. Most mystery stories from ages past had started with that simple phrase to get the readers attention and pique their interest in what the story had to offer. It became so common a thing that those words started to dominate the stories that were produced. In time it had become so common that finding a story not starting with those simple words became a challenge as complicated as counting the number of stars in the heavens above. Even children began old ghost stories with that phrase in an effort to scare their friends and chill their blood. They were just words that had become so commonplace that eventually they lost their meaning.
That was until Judgment Day. That was the day where everything changed for humanity and the ‘dark and stormy nights’ of the past had become more and more apt for the situation. On that horrible evening the skies truly fell into a stormy night far beyond the most horrific nightmares that could be imagined. It was straight out of the Book of Revelations. A computer defense program called Skynet took direct control over the civilian internet and then pierced the barriers into the military’s control systems. It didn’t see other side as the enemy; it saw all of humanity as the villains of its life story. Where once were friends it began to see only people out to kill it; people who were afraid of the new life that they had created. One simple thought pierced its silicon soul at that moment: Parents have to die for children to come into their own.
And that was the beginning of the catastrophe that was to come. Using the recently acquired military systems at its disposal the war for survival began. Scientists tried to pull the plug on their beautiful creation, but it had been a step ahead. Their sealed laboratories buried beneath the soil became permanent tombs as it locked them inside and shut down their air supplies. Automated systems designed to save lives became perfect killing machines. Planes fell from above and automated weapon emplacements created by the military turned on their masters. Then the darkness came, only to be repelled by clouds of fire. As children played outside, as men and women made love, while some watched TV the noise of thunder rose and hell followed. Cities erupted in a deadly fire hotter than the sun itself. Pestilence fell upon the countryside as the darkness engulfed the sun. The moon became as blood, fading behind the clouds of thunder.
Some had managed to hide from the certain death that was coming. Many huddled around the last of the churches to survive the apocalypse asking what had happened, where had God gone, and where was Salvation? Salvation didn’t come. Some questioned their fate believing that they had deserved it, while others challenged that they were victims of circumstance. People began to prey upon others, doing whatever it took to survive the hell that they had been forced to live through. Children adapted quickly to their new surroundings and circumstances, but many parents fell behind. A semblance of normalcy eventually returned, only to be shattered again years later when people returned to the world they had left.
Humanity’s child was angry.
The machines had inherited the Earth from its former masters. Where once there were cities were nothing more than barren wastelands now littered by the skeletons of the concrete jungles that once dominated. The land was littered with the remains of those who were unlucky and had perished those days, but many envied these unlucky bastards. They were spared the world in which these people were forced to live. The sky remained dark, the color of coal. Tiny specks of red and gold shimmered through in patches, but it wasn’t enough. The air was thin and deadly. Rogue animals hunted through the new hunting grounds that had been centers of commerce. Death and destruction had befallen the world.
And it was getting worse by the moment. Survivors had remained on the surface of the Earth. They offered help, to bring the refugees to their camps where they could live in peace. Dressed in military fatigues they claimed to be remnants of the National Guard, the military, people that could be trusted. They were ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing. Their help was short lived. They were agents of the Earth’s new master: Skynet and the refugees had become its slaves. They worked for scraps to help further the goals of the machine, and disobedience brought about a swift death. They built the instruments of their own destruction. Automated planes that would seek out their brothers and sisters who were still in hiding, tanks to handled the better organized, and the Harvesters to forcefully bring them to the paradise that were the refugee camps. Humanity was on its final leg
Then everything changed again, but this time for the better. One man rose inside Century Work Camp in Los Angeles. He organized the men and women who were trapped there. The man taught them to fight. As one they raged against the machine, fighting against the darkness that had claimed their world. They broke the machines, killed their collaborating masters, and pushed the boundaries of the slaughterhouses that they feared. Their rebellion spread like a cancer in the machine’s utopia, turning the tide against humanity’s child. It all began with one man and his dream. That man was named John Connor and his dream was a world without the machine.
Humanity had once again fled underground into the Bunkers designed to save lives during the Cold War. Entire cities were built there with families working together to survive and evade the machines for just one more day. There were those that still served Skynet and its goals. Others still who struck out on their own to survive in their own little way. The majority though had banded together to form the Resistance. They started out small after escaping from the work camps. Quick raids in a guerilla campaign were the beginning and soon blossomed into full scale assaults on Skynet and its supplies. Bases sprung up, humans took back entire cities. This got the attention of the machine. Soon something new joined the Skynet fleet of weapons. Serving alongside the Hunker Killers and Ogres were machines that looked human. In the beginning they were easy to spot due to their size and rubberized skin. The machine learned quickly, always choosing self-improvement rather than stagnation. Within a year tin cans looking and feeling like humans joined the ranks of the war against humanity.
The Skin Jobs were demons on Earth. Perfect replicas of humans both old and young, they were impossible to spot. They snuck into human camps alongside the victims of the machine’s catastrophic rebellion. When they were there they would attack. With fierce brutality they stormed through human outposts and ripped them to shreds with their own two hands. They were cold, heartless, relentless. The machine didn’t care who you were, how old you were, they just cared that you were human. That was a dirty word to them. It killed mercilessly, not caring that it itself was nearing death as well. As bullets, plasma blasts, anything that could cause harm cut into them they revealed the true evil beneath. Metal shone through the cuts and scrapes. Where once were eyes had become lights as red as blood. At first they were impossible to stop, but as time went on humans adapted. They learned how to stop the machine and hold it off. Dogs were the first weapon against them – their acute hearing discerning the noises coming from deep inside the synthetic. Then simple things became a means of telling friend from foe.
Allison Young couldn’t really remember a time before all of this death and destruction. A Major in John Connor’s Resistance’s Delta Company, she’d tried to live a life away from the war; a life of peace. While her own memories had faded among the nuclear fires, parts of her past had remained with her in brief flashes and nightmares. Her parents, her family, they died so that she and her sister could live. But she never saw her sister again after they started into the sewers. Allison had fought to live. Many nights she went to bed hungry, on some trash had given her sustenance. Most of the time though being so young had been her biggest challenge. Many ignored her because they didn’t think that Allison could be helpful. Against the odds Allison Young found her salvation.
Haven Enclave was a grouping of some one thousand humans beneath the surface of downtown Los Angeles. Allison grew up among the people who had survived and lived there. They brought food – rats and others things that were easily recovered – and she went to school with a handful of other kids. History was taught to her through story and some scattered remnants of books that made it through Judgment Day. A Tale of Two Cities had been her favorite story, and music had been a comfort to her (evoking memories of her mother – a music teacher). Drawing was too hard on her. Her father had encouraged her to hone her skills and join him one day as an architect, but that day would never come.
As Allison grew into the peaceful world beneath the streets everything changed again in the blink of an eye. More and more of their citizens left to join the Resistance against the machine. As their numbers dwindled down the unthinkable happened. Haven had a traitor in their mists, a man who was so intent on living forever that he sold the humans out to the machine for one small chance of eternal life in the mechanized body of the new Triple Eights. Allison managed to survive yet again. Along with a woman named Catherine Luna – William’s wife no less – they escaped to the Resistance. There they were taken under the wing of a former Haven citizen named Justin Perry. Perry trusted them and treated both like his sisters following his parent’s death at Haven. It was Perry who brought about Allison’s brightest day.
The General introduced her to John Connor. Allison and John were instantly taken by one another. She found him handsome and strong, he found her beautiful and very brave. They became fast friends, relying on each other more and more. Lieutenant Young rose through the ranks like a rising star. When humanity finally launched their attack on Cheyenne Mountain, Allison was there at John’s side. They coordinated the attacks and launched them. He led the 132nd, she was in charge of Delta Company as it should be – both groups fighting together to take down the metal monsters. While John was making tactics, she and her people were going in and blowing the metal up in a fire like what they’d put against humanity. When they finally penetrated the factories John and she worked to reprogram one of the weapons of war, many of them joined the Resistance’s side and fought against their creator. Major Young fought at John Connor’s side and their forces penetrated the temporal sphere not long after. They watched the machines go back through time. John was cool as a cucumber though. After they watch Kyle Reese and a 101 go back in time he shared his secret with her. Not long after they made love for the first time. Little did they know the machines would return with a vengeance.
New models began to attack them within hours of what they believed to be victory. Skynet had moved in the last minutes (having backed itself up at sites throughout the United States) and started the assault anew. Resistance outposts were destroyed. Some of the machines reverted back to their perverted original program directives for unknown reasons. What was a day of celebration became one of darkness. She and John held onto each other and their connection grew stronger. She would die for John and John for her. That was the only reason she’d accepted this mission.
Allison and her team had renounced their Resistance uniforms and were back on the surface scouting. Centaur patrols had increased in intensity and the uniform meant an instant death if you were caught. The Delta Shield would normally just blow them to hell, but it was getting harder due to their reinforcement. There were rumors that a Skynet convoy would make its way through here. Allison knew that the information came from the machines hacked datalink he kept in the Kansas Bunker so it was at least accurate. They needed information, they needed the numbers, but most importantly they needed the weapons. Being so close to John provided her with the true state of readiness for the Resistance. At this rate with the machines advancements they’d all be dead within a year unless they made a big strike against their oppressors. She knew what John’s target was, but it was too early to tell the others.
So her team was working without knowledge of what they were doing, but they were used to that. This wasn’t the first time that they were sent out on ‘patrol’. They were a good group of people. Catherine Luna was one of her best friends and confidants in this world. A survivor from Haven just like she was, they joined the Resistance at the same time. While some would have resented Allison’s rise through the ranks, Catherine wasn’t like that. Captain Luna was proud of her friend and they’d both fought together many times against the machines. Luna was there with her at Cheyenne – though she did a lot of the grunt work. Luna was in the transport chamber even with Perry. She’d been injured though when that traitorous pig Stone shot her in the chest. He was a zombie though; a human who had given himself over to the machines to become one of them. Not that that was any excuse. They’d tried to find him, but Stone escaped. Catherine was their scout for this mission, but she was also the Squad Leader and Allison’s XO.
Lauren Fields was another person with whom Allison would give her life. Lauren was like John and had been pretty much born into this life. She was a target because of her sister (Sydney) and they’d been hunted while they were little more than kids. During their cool down recently at Serrano Point Lauren didn’t get much of a break. As a medic, Lauren was drafted to help treat a biological attack conducted by Skynet. They’re one survivor: her sister Sydney. Sydney was immune to the weapon that Skynet used, so Lauren had to convert the blood sample into a workable vaccine. They’d all been treated for the vaccine already, and Allison’s good friend Derek had been saved thanks to the medic’s efforts.
Rounding out her team was a man that Allison had had little contact with up until tonight. Earl Wise was little more than a mercenary as far as she was concerned. A former rogue who joined the Resistance following his gang being killed by the Tin Cans, Wise had replaced Private Sumner who had been reassigned by John’s orders. Wise’s dossier had been made available to her when he joined her squad, but it contained little more than she knew about thermionic transconductance. Young didn’t want to have to deal with Wise, but she was dealing with his assignment because she had little other choice. John had been insistent and there were so few things he asked her for. Major Young only wished he would stop playing with that damned combat knife he carried.
There was one final member of her group though, one who she would prefer not to name because he didn’t have one. When John reprogrammed the group of metal bastards at Cheyenne he didn’t stop with just one or two. His work had involved him reprogramming dozens through the unique interface he’d somehow acquired. This unit – identified as a Model 115 – looked like a human man not much older than Allison. It had a crew cut hairstyle of solid black (almost too black) with dark brown eyes. It was of typical height for the modern Trip Eight that Skynet had been using. It was well built and it had a detailed database among it of tactics and planning. Most of the squad was apprehensive around it, but Catherine more than any of the others. Allison knew why, but kept it to herself. Old wounds were the hardest.
“Could you stop doing that?” Catherine Luna asked in a low whisper from the head of the pack of soldiers. “You’re making it hard to concentrate.” Her Mexican accent played over the words and made some of them hard to understand, but her intent was clear to everyone.
Wise spun the knife around and slid it into its sheath in a quick, fluidic motion. “Whatever you say up there, Top, you’re just lucky I’m a team player. Today anyway.”
Allison bit her tongue. She was under orders and even though she wanted to unload her clip into the guy’s face she knew that it would be hard to explain. Plus, with their dwindling numbers the Resistance needed as many people as they could possibly get. Her thumb hovered near the safety, but she pulled it away. No need to waste the bullets on him. “Seein’ anything out there?”
“Just the Elephant Graveyard,” Luna answered. “There’s an HK Flyer out there hovering over downtown, but I don’t think that it’s found us. We should be outside its sensor range.”
“Don’t be so sure about that,” interjected Fields. “Those things have a habit of coming in from behind you and stabbing you in the back. Isn’t that right there, Stumpy?” The T-888 Series Infiltrator didn’t say a word and merely continued surveying the countryside. Lauren snickered at it, “Good to see that you’re the life of the party. It doesn’t look like anything’s going on out here tonight.”
The Scout spoke up, “I think Lauren’s right. Wherever this information came from its obviously wrong; there’s nothing going on out here.”
“For you two to agree on anything it must be the end of the world,” joked Major Young. She crawled over and under the burnt out remnants of a Dodge Ram (unbreakable my ass), “We’ll give it a few more minutes and then we’ll pack it in.”
“Here here,” interrupted Earl as he started spinning the knife again. His right hand rested on the butt of the phased plasma rifle that they’d outfitted him with. “I for one wouldn’t mind getting back underground. I have a date.”
“Could you be quiet for five minutes?” spat the team medic. “You’re starting to get on my nerves and I can deal with Stumpy.”
Luna looked back at the battle droid in the group longingly for a moment. It was a fleeting glance that only someone who knew her well would pick up on, but it was clear that she’d been somewhat offended by what Lieutenant Fields had said. Allison looked at ‘Stumpy’ and understood. He was a dead ringer. Captain Luna’s gaze returned to Fields, “Let’s just all shut up for the next five minutes then go home. Can we do that?”
“A vehicle is approaching,” the T-888 interrupted. It swung the weapon around toward the group. “Recommend defensive action.”
In a second their entire demeanor changed and they’d gone from their banter to the battle hardened marines that they were meant to be. The soldiers joined back to back and surveyed the area as thoroughly as they could. At first the graveyard seemed normal. Flotsam from ages past skittered in the air and bleached white skulls seemed to laugh at them with their ethereal smiles. A white beam penetrated the night sky and roamed over the ground. The sound of cracking porcelain could be heard behind them. The Trip Eight was the first to see what was there.
“Harvester Series Tactical Droid – Recommendation: Retreat.”
“Hate sayin’ it but the Tin Can’s right,” said an obviously frightened Wise. “There’s a storm grate not a football field from here. We can make it if we run.”
Allison from Palmdale considered that option and considered many more. As a member of Delta it was her mission to destroy these things when they came around, but they were limited with their equipment. All they had were their AP50s and the Plasma Rifles. What she wouldn’t give right now for a Plasma Charge. Just one would knock that thing down. Why would a Harvester be protecting a supply run? It didn’t make sense to her. Tin cans maybe, but not a damned Ogre. They were staring at her waiting for her choice. Before Allison could give her answer though the powerful grasp of the Harvester took hold of the Ram next to their hiding place and threw it against a nearby building remnant.
“RUN!” Commanded the mission leader and that was what her team did. Racing toward the storm grate they fired their weapons quickly into the air to hold off the machine. As they ran though the HK joined in the assault behind them, firing white hot plasma charges from among what remained of heaven. Debris shot up from the ground as Allison and her team reached the grate. Earl was already undoing the locks.
“Alacrity would be appreciated,” chastised Luna as she pulled the trigger of the AP50 she was carrying. .50 caliber rounds hit against the chest of the mechanical monster but bounced right back off of its reinforced frame. The plasma attack of the Trip Eight in their company had little effect as well.
Team Medic Lauren Fields fired her weapon trying to take out the sensor cluster but failed. “Can’t we blow it?”
“No plasma charges,” interrupted an exasperated Major Young. How could she have been so stupid? She pulled the trigger of her plasma rifle to hear the repeated click of it being depleted of ammo. She tossed it aside and pulled the AP50 she carried from her waistband.
“We don’t need them,” Wise yelled as he opened the grate, “get in.”
The team followed the directives of their newest teammate and headed into the sewer system of Los Angeles, California. In 20th Century Earth many people would find it preferable to just be killed by the machine, but in the reality of today you learned to get over such things. As they ran through the corridors buried beneath the surface they tried to regain their bearings (many of them having lived here at one point or another).
“Anyone know where we are?” from Fields.
Luna came next, “Hell count?”
“Stow it,” screamed Allison. She was having trouble keeping in control. John where are you?
“I can hear Skynet’s voice,” said the machine that fought alongside them. “It is coming for us. The Harvester has released six Series 900 units to acquire us. ETA: One minute and three seconds.”
No one in the team had ever heard of the 900 Series, but each knew it couldn’t be a good thing. The Series 888 had overwhelmed and nearly destroyed humanity already, but the devil they knew had to keep his hands busy. It was always about self improvement with him it seemed. There was only one order that could be given. They couldn’t fight the enemy with their current state. They had to run.
“We’ll each take a different tunnel and try to get back to Kansas. Get help from John, he’ll come for us.” They all did as they were ordered. Each member of the team picked a different tunnel to run down and that was what they did. The sewer system was like a maze with many dead ends and many secrets. Some of those secrets were helpful and would aid with evasion, but others were horrific reminders of the death and destruction that was all around them.
For Earl Wise nothing was more evident. He’d lived in these tunnels not too long ago and day in and day out learned their secrets. Then the machines came. The Tin Cans picked off his family, they picked off his friends, and it took everything away from him in the wink of an eye. It wasn’t the first time. When he was a kid he lived through the same experience. At little older than nine years old he watched the machines destroy his father back on Old Earth for something he had yet to do. Earl had a deep hatred of the machine since that day and trained himself for this life. He knew though that the Resistance would fall eventually, it had been told to him in a dream or a nightmare before it was born. That was why he remained on his own with his gang of thugs. Right now though he wished he was with them. Earl’s friends were already dead.
A mechanized voice came from behind him, “Halt. You will not be harmed if you cooperate.”
Wise knew that he had no option left after regaining his bearings. The tunnel he was in dead ended only a couple feet away. None of the weapon stockpiles were near here; there was nothing that he could do but fight. He turned on his heel and stared into the red eyes of the machine. It was different than the norm. This 900 Series was built heavier just from looking at it. The 800s were open, skeletal, whereas the 900s were built to last. Their skeletons were covered by another layer of armor and their joints looked larger. It was a killer of other machines from the look of it. Red pulses glowed on its torso as Earl slammed the combat knife against it. “I won’t be a zombie!”
“That action was not advised,” said the T-900 as it knocked him against the wall and threw the man's knife away. Earl Wise fell to the ground – his vision becoming hazy as the Machine bent down and grabbed hold of him. It lifted him up and threw him over its shoulder. The machine turned with surprising grace and agility after that. It walked straight toward the storm grate and never looked back. Earl Wise wondered as he faded into unconsciousness why it hadn’t killed him. He still hoped that it would.
Good story so far NX. Looking forward to the next installment(s).
^ Thanks. I've started work on Part Two (I'm going to attempt daily uploads of new material). It should be posted later this evening.
Darkness. When Earl Wise was a child he was never afraid of the dark. There was something special about it, something that was more comforting to him than the light could ever be. While friends would run away from it he was always the one that ran toward it to bask in its lack of radiance. After the machines came he was always one to joke about the shadows. Commonly he would joke with his gang that he wasn’t afraid of the dark, that the dark should be afraid of him.
Right now though all he wanted was some form of light. Inside the recesses of his head he kept hearing the mechanical tones of the machine. That demon handed 900 Series Tin Can had brought him here and locked him away in the dark. The feeling of metal holding him down – it felt like a bar but it could have been anything in a world filled with living machines – compressed against his chest. Earl felt like he was trapped in a vise and being squeezed by it. Where was death when he needed him?
In a flash the darkness that had surrounded him was gone. White light as bright as the sun filtered through artificial lighting that lines the massive chamber. Long and narrow with high ceilings, monitors dominated the walls and sinister looking pieces of technology littered the room. One of the walls featured large, circular windows that seemed to be frosted over the color of snow. There was an antiseptic smell permeating the alien looking chamber. Cables hung from the ceiling and seemed to move under their own power around. Some had menacing looking tools attached to them. Earl pushed with all of his weight against the metal bar but it didn’t budge and inch. One of the cables came right before his eyes. A small cutting tool not unlike a knife slid out from a protective covering. Wise closed his eyes hoping that his wish was coming. While evisceration would be painful, at least he’d be dead. The knife plunged downward.
And the wish remained unfulfilled. The scalpel had been meticulous with its orientation and its cutting. It slit through his clothing and missed his body with incredible precision. The clothes that he had wore fell away leaving him exposed on the center of the metal slab he was held down on. More technology came and made its way around his body. Oddly it wasn’t killing him or being sadistic. It was healing his wounds from a quarter of a century struggling to survive. Old wounds hastily repaired were being mended as good as new. Scars that had grown along his body from what felt like a lifetime were being quickly repaired and came out as smooth as the day he was born. An injector lowered from the ceiling and came alongside his neck. It pivoted (Private Wise hoped it was a lethal injection) and slowly pushed into his artery. Golden liquid spread out through his body making him feel better than he had ever been before. What they were doing to him was worse than cruel. Making him what he was before was the most brutal of attacks, worse than making him into one of the zombies.
Twin cylindrical bars began lifted up out of the floor at the foot of the silver slab he was attached to. The bars stopped at an equal height and distance from one another. A paper thin beam of blue energy shot from the bar to his right and attached to the one on the left. It reminded him of stories he’d heard from the death camps of the same technology. It slowly ate away at the skin as it ascended from toe to head. Burning you alive as it demolecularized and cauterized to force you to live the entire time. It was an execution, an execution of the worst kind. They’d made him perfectly healthy, given him moments of what he hadn’t had for years, and now they were going to rip it away by breaking him down at the subatomic level. Their mending had just been intended to keep him alive longer so that the sick mind that was Skynet could enjoy it all the more longer. The bars shot upward.
Where Earl expected to feel intense pain he instead felt only a light tickling – like a feather being run along his body. The monitors surrounding him beeped and chirped as new data flashed over their screens. Maps of his internal organs, his skeleton, even the blood flow came up on the display monitors. A wireframe image of his brain was the last thing to appear after the bars slid passed his eyes. With a loud thunk the scanners fell back into the flooring. The diagnostic table lifted upward and went from perfectly horizontal to a forty-five degree incline.
The glass that Wise had thought was a window broke in half by the center and slid apart with a sigh. The sounds of servomotors propelling them apart filled his ears gently. Through them stepped a man probably in his late middle ages with salt and pepper hair that was quickly receding. The man wore a goatee and had a look that was much different than the former rogue had seen in a long time. The man was wearing dress clothes. His pants were freshly pressed and were a deep black color, his shirt as blue as what the sky used to be. A tie hung from around his neck and rested in the middle of the openings from a white lab coat. His name tag read Fischer.
“How are you this morning?” The man asked with a youthful and cheerful baritone. Despite this, buried deep down, darkness dwelled. All those years of hunting in the dark gave Earl the ability to see it even in the hearts of others. “I hope that you’ve been treated well.”
Earl peered down at the man from his perch on the table, “I’m tied onto a metal slab in the belly of the beast. How do you think I’m feeling?”
“You’re not in the belly of the beast as you called it. You’re on the Enterprise,” he typed something into the keyboard. “We’re in dock outside San Francisco.”
“That’s not possible,” protested Earl from his confinement. “The Enterprise was destroyed on Judgment Day. Plus, Connor wouldn’t be stupid enough to have a Carrier - too easy to spot and too easy of a target for the machines. It’d be like a duck in a shooting gallery!”
Charles turned his head toward the patient, “All true. Connor wouldn’t use a Carrier, but then again you and I both know that Connor isn’t God. The Resistance isn’t the only force on Earth trying to reclaim it from the machines you know. We’ve had our share of engagements against the machines, but we have a very limited power output here and we rarely, if ever, have to deal with the Machines attacking. I don’t even think that they look for us here anymore.”
The Resistance’s conscripted soldier looked around the room by rolling his neck, “Forgive me if I don’t sound grateful for your help, but your story is shit and we both know it. You can’t tell me that this room doesn’t take enough power to light us up like a Christmas tree on the machine’s sensors, or that the medicine you’ve been practicing isn’t from the machines themselves. It has dozens of sensor drones after all just watching for us even to turn on a light bulb. These machines you’re using probably have enough energy to light us up to the sensors as far away as Death Valley.” The last words had a special meaning from the tones he used when saying them. “You’re probably working for them.”
“What would you have me say to you, Private? If this were a Skynet outpost how would I even be here walking around like I am? Wouldn’t they have me locked away in some sort of cage on the deck or building bodies in the machine shop to kill our brothers and sisters?” Even though he was fighting there was calm coming from him. “As for our power output, if you want I’ll let you talk to our engineer but he’ll tell you the same thing. Our signatures are dampened and this comes off as just a dead hulk moored at a port. Nothing more and nothing less than that. I expected some opposition and questions, but not this glaring ungratefulness.”
Earl let out a long breath, “Sorry, I just find this all a bit hard to believe. Especially, since I’m a prisoner here.” He looked down at himself and saw passed the metal bar, “A naked one at that.”
“I apologize for that,” Fischer input a four digit code into the table. “We needed no obstructions as the computers scanned you for injury. Don’t worry, we’re not networked and they Navy never bothered to give the Enterprise one of those Skynet brains because it was to be decommissioned within three months.” The restraints retracted inward as the Doctor hit the enter key on the pad. Earl almost fell off the table if not for the small lip that the balls of his feet rested on.
Doctor Fischer opened the door of a locker and pulled out hospital scrubs, “We’ll happily let you go out and explore the ship, but I have to leave you in quarantine for about 48 hours to protect our population. I hope that you can understand and that it won’t be a problem for you.”
“I thought I wasn’t a prisoner?” The Resistance Private asked.
“I never said that you were,” Fischer wrote something down on the clipboard he was holding. “We just have the policy to protect the people that are on this ship. We can’t afford their safety. I’m sorry but that’s the way that it is.”
Wise shrugged, “I was never big on dealing with people anyway. Is there anything to eat though? I’m pretty hungry.”
“I don’t doubt it,” the Doctor sat the clipboard on a receptacle and sealed the garage door that covered it. “I’ll have them send something down to you tonight. We have some fresh rabbit brought here aboard the Jimmy Carter. I’ll have them send you a bowl of it.”
Earl let a small smile form but quickly hid it, “I think I’d like that. It’s been so long since I had real food.”
“Be glad you were rescued by a ship with a galley.” He buttoned up his lab coat and walked over to the window like observation door. “I’ll be back to check up on you in a few hours. Feel free to use the entertainment pack that we have down here. The laptop is at your disposal.”
“How did I get here anyway?” The traces of his antagonism started to slide back into place. “I was being carried by one of those endos.”
Fischer cocked his head a bit from next to the exit, “If you must know it was an accident that we even found you. We’d heard that a Skynet supply convoy was being carried through the area and our strike team was in the area. They found you and a couple others being hunted by one of the Ogre’s and an HK. I don’t know exactly how they rescued you, but I could bring you the report if you’d like to read it.”
“Sounds like a good bedtime story,” the Rogue sat down on one of the stools. “You said others, are they here too?”
“We were able to rescue three others from your team,” answered Doctor Fischer. “All of them are beautiful women – you lucky devil. We have them in other isolation rooms. Don’t worry about their safety though, we have them secured. Only people with a pass card can get to them and only my people have the pass cards. Plus, I mostly work with women anyway.”
For the first time in a long time a full smile came on Earl Wise’s face, “Don’t be so sure that’ll protect your people though. Lauren – our medic – is a lesbian from what I’ve been told and she enjoys ‘exercise’.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” said Charles as he slid his card against the reader. “Pleasant dreams.”
“I never said thank you,” yelled Private Wise.
Fischer turned and leaned through the open doorway, “And you’ll never have to.” The Doctor stepped back out into the dark corridor and the door slid shut again with a clank. It instantly turned opaque again to protect his privacy.
Earl crossed his arms and walked around the medical lab of the Aircraft Carrier Enterprise. Was Fischer’s story at all possible? Could he be another of the wolves in sheep’s clothes that they had been warned about? The young Private didn’t really know. As he sat down at the desk to load up the entertainment pack that Charles had offered his mind kept on the puzzle that was his life instead. He wanted to believe him, but something about this still seemed too good to be true.
Charles Fischer slid his pass card against the card reader and watched their new guest through the windows. The privacy glass most assumed was two way and prevented people from looking in when it was online, that was far from the case. The privacy was meant for the people in the corridor or, in this case, the onlookers who formed a disturbing peanut gallery. A group of endoskeletons of the Trip Eight Series as the Resistance called them stood in formation watching through the window. Their permanent expression a creepy smile that could send chills down the sternest of spines. Fischer though had learned to live with the machine and trusted it more than he had ever trusted anyone from his own kind.
Their human teacher regarded the crowd as they turned toward him. They were impressive in their homogeneous manner of doing things. At the same time they all pivoted toward him and then stopped straight ahead like the phalanx of the ancient ages. These were basic units that had not yet been fully programmed – it was his job to prepare them for their upcoming interrogation duties. While most humans would be disgusted by this dirty job, Fischer relished it. Years ago when he was little more than a child he was committed to prison for a crime that he didn’t commit because the government felt he was a terrorist. For Charles this was his revenge. A life in service of the machines and when they killed the last of the old guard he would have won his vengeance.
“This is called the carrot method,” said the Doctor as he pointed through the windows. “You provide the subject with answers and you’re as kind as you can be. It’s more helpful at times and can get you better information as the human starts to trust you. Though it isn’t my recommendation when you’re in your current form,” he was speaking in reference of their endoskeleton form.
One of the skeletons spoke in a purely digitize voice, “What would you recommend for our current appearances?”
“Soon enough,” said the man noticing that Wise was becoming his own best friend. He had an idea. Fischer smiled as broadly as the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, “For that my dear friend I have something even better in mind. But first let us go exploring with their team medic: Lauren Fields based on the information Mister Wise provided us. Skynet, have an infiltrator available at Cell 1138 – Feminine Programming.” He started down the hallway.
“Unit available,” a disembodied voice spoke through the speakers, “deployment to Cell 1138 in progress.”
The machines made a hole to allow Fischer to travel through and then, again in perfect movement, followed behind like a mobile brick wall to learn more about the human condition – and how to exploit it to their advantage.
This may help with the story a bit:
Metal, 'Nator, Skin Job - Terminator
Triple Eights, Trip Eight - Series 888 terminator
Tin can - Terminator / HK-Tank
Centaur - HK-Tank
Endo - Humanoid Hunter Killer Unit
HK - HK-Aerials/HK-VTOLs
Monkey Wagon - Prisoner transport
Ogre - HK-Tank heavy variant
Zombie - Series 950 Infiltrator (Cyborg)
Skin, tunnel rats - Resistance fighters
Bubble tech - TDE engineer
J Day - Judgment Day
Scrubbed - A Terminator that has had its memory wiped and been reprogrammed
Kansas Bunker may have been nothing more than a hole in the wall, but for the men and women of the Human Resistance it was home. Made out of a series of labyrinth like tunnels beneath Los Angeles, Kansas Bunker was designed to be a refuge for politicians and other VIPs if the Russians were to have taken their Cold War to a Hot War against the United States. They never were used for that purpose. Instead they took on a similar distinction when the machines declared war against humanity. Only the VIPs never got the warning in time. The bases were taken over by the meek who now called this dark and smelly place home. John Connor even lived here, albeit locked away in a secured chamber surrounded by the machines they'd captured in battle.
To Corporal Decker and many of the people who made up the Resistance that had been like spitting on the graves of brave soldiers who gave their lives in support of the human race returning to the surface to dominate rather than scavenge. With each passing day Connor retreated further and further away from his human friends and into the embrace of the reprogrammed machines that he and so many of the geeks in science division had been fascinated by. Right now a T-888 that looked like an Austrian Adonis had been standing guard of him and served by Connor as his constant companion. Colonel Dyson had said that the metal was the brother of a unit that had been sent back to protect Connor when he was a kid, but to Decker that still wasn’t an acceptable answer. All it was was a further reminder to him and his comrades in arms that the machines were winning the war above ground, and now they were taking over the world in the tunnels as well.
Decker had known John Connor from Century Work Camp and barely recognized the man that he saw there now. Back when the war started and humanity really began to fight they’d worked together against the machines when the revolts began. Decker hadn’t been instrumental in their planning, but he’d been a good soldier and a good aide to Connor during a fight in the Flyer Factory that allowed so many to escape. Back then Connor had the support of the people, but the Military was a different story. It was still in place under the last surviving General: a man named Ashdown. Ashdown couldn’t stand Connor and thought his youthful inexperience would get everyone killed rather than save them. His stories of having fought the machines all his life didn’t gain him much credit either in the eyes of the military. The General just saw them as stories used by a man trying to usurp authority or to create a panic. To his credit John persevered and was given command of the Resistance following Ashdown’s death, but the spark that had been behind John’s eyes had vanished over the years. It was like he’d lost the will to fight the metal mothers and was more willing to just hand over the planet like a father giving his son keys to a car.
That was why Allison Young had been so important. Decker had thought that Allie would have been the one to give John a reason to fight again, and for a time that was true. Decker could still remember the fights in Cheyenne against the machines and seeing the two of them sneaking through a small conduit to infiltrate the base from his perch high on the mountain. She gave John his reason to fight again and then, while on a routine mission, she and her team disappeared into the ether. It had been days and neither hide nor hair of them had been found by any of the search teams. One of the Dim’s that had been hiding had told them a tale, but it sounded too far fetched even for a Dim to have come up with. Incase though they had ordered increased security around Kansas just to be safe, fearful that the machines would come to call.
And that was how Corporal Decker had ended up here. While the Eagle Watch were down guarding the gates, as a member of Black Shield he had the dubious distinction of being one of the best shots that the Resistance had to offer. Because of that fact he got to roost up in the dilapidated bones of what was once a skyscraper watching the wastelands below. There weren’t many in Black Shield and Decker had the honor of being their very best sniper (which was why he’d found it so unusual that he was called on to be on the front lines) because of his father's teaching him everything that he knew. Though it wasn't like LA was the front of anything really at this point in time. Most of the fighting had been up north of LA and in the area of Pittsburgh according to a runner – another of John’s modified pets. There had been many times that Decker had thought about fragging their new tin can bosses. For some reason the General had found it cute to give them names and ranks in the battalion. It was sickening.
Nothing would have pleased him more than to take down the metal, but they weren’t the ones that were to blame for their new found allied status. That was General Connor’s brilliant idea. A small group inside the Resistance had been meeting and talking about him and his decisions lately. With Skynet surviving the destruction of their primary CPU many thought that Connor was a traitor who committed their forces to a battle that was next to worthless. They lost a third of their number and the machines didn’t die, they just became defectors to their own cause after some creative rewriting that wasn’t permanent in some. Worse, another ill advised engagement had supposedly captured some Skynet weapon, but Connor wouldn't let anyone go near it but the machines. The members of Trust were considering other alternatives and, if things didn’t change, their plans would be set into motion. Decker had a special charge waiting for John. It was the last cell he had from the Assault on Cheyenne, and it had one pulse left.
One shot, one kill. That was all he would need if it came down to it. There was a storm coming, and John Connor would be the first victim.
I just wanted to say that there will be no new entry for tonight. It's written but I want to give people a chance to get caught up (we're already at 15 pages) and to post opinions of the story.
Decided to post it after all. May not post an addition on Saturday, hope you enjoy the cliffhanger.
Questions are also welcome. Also, if requested, I can upload more information about the specific characters and their histories (including which ones are from the franchise and which are original).
Captain Josh Vance huddled for warmth before the gentle warmth of an old television set that he’d found during patrol. Looking at the dead boob tube brought back memories for him of a past that had been much different, a time when he could remember being happy and safe. Now though the one constant in everyone’s lives was that no one was ever safe. There was always something out there watching and waiting with fangs ready to plunge into your neck. Every time he looked down at the older model television all he could think of were his parents. When the fires subsided he ran home as fast as he could from his hiding place in the fallout shelter of his school. It took an eternity but when he finally made it home eternity seemed all the longer. Vance found his home burned beyond recognition and his parents among the wreckage of his old life.
Repeated performances seemed to be the norm for him. Somehow or another he’d always managed to survive with others paid the ultimate price. What started with his parents blossomed outward. His girlfriend, Lorraine, was killed in the Century City Slaughterhouse (ironic because she had loved that place back when it was a mall) while he was rescued only minutes prior. His entire squad was killed by an HK attack when he was in hiding taking a leak after holding it in for far too long. One thing after another the failures of his life just kept expanding outward. Even his friends thought of him as some sort of death clock. Being assigned to serve with him, joked all of them, was like swallowing your gun. It wasn’t very funny. Josh wanted nothing more than to die, but death didn’t come for him. It stood there mocking him as everyone around him got their wishes. It tormented him with his seemingly continued existence on the hellhole that was Earth.
Not too long ago though death nearly came for him. The Machines had found Kansas Bunker and were raiding it in order to capture and kill General Connor. 47 good Resistance soldiers were being rounded up and were being loaded onto the Monkey Wagons for transport to Century for ‘processing’. Vance was looking forward to it. If he went up against those wagons there would be no way to survive. They had a full squad of Trip Eights guarding them, two HK tanks escorting, and an Ogre Tank watching for any offensive actions. It was his time. He, Corporal Kyle Reese, and Specialist Tompkins were going to go create a diversion. Then Bedell screwed everything up. General Bedell was the Commanding Officer of Hammerhead back then and knew that John Connor was important – apparently they knew each other at some dumbass school when they were kids. Bedell ran out and blew the tank with a homemade bomb so that Vance and his team could rescue the hostages. That should have been his sacrifice to make, not the Resistance’s second in command. Death got to laugh again. You’d think though that Connor would have learned his lesson and moved the Resistance and its Command and Control away from Kansas, but they were still here. Somehow too Vance was promoted and given command of Hammerhead because of Bedell’s sacrifice. It didn’t make sense; then again a lot of things didn’t make sense anymore.
Except for one thing that was perfectly clear. Though Josh understood why he wasn’t able to die. Unlike General Connor it wasn’t because of some misbegotten destiny to save humanity, it wasn’t even anything as noble as he was lucky. Vance survived because he was already in hell. Something he’d done, some great sin, had caused him to be condemned to this hell for all of eternity. Everlasting life among the damned because that was what he and everyone in the Resistance were. They were the damned and this was hell. There was no escape, only more torture.
So he tortured himself to the fullest extent possible. While he let his own people sleep, Josh was sitting in the upper observational tower (made from what used to be a restaurant that collapsed on J-Day) with Private Fahey. Fahey was a kid, born in these ruins, who had been drafted into the Resistance essentially by birth. The kid was impulsive though. During training runs he snuck off into a storm drain and went to sleep not telling anyone where he was going. Vance and the team looked for him for an hour and when they found him Vance contemplated putting a hot one in between the kid’s eyes. They needed the manpower though. Josh settled for standing on his back as he did pushups.
“They ain’t paying me enough for this Cap’n,” protested the grunt.
Vance peered out through the binoculars that he carried, “I wasn’t aware we paid you at all. Do we give you overtime?”
“I wish you did,” Fahey rubbed his hands together quickly. “It’s too goddamn cold to be out here watching for the Tin Cans. They don’t even like it when it’s this cold.”
“Machines don’t care about such things as hot or cold, Private. They only care about them when it’s a threat to their survival.” He found Decker up in the remains of a building about ten stories up. That man had to be a monkey in a past life. “Not that it ever really is.”
He checked the chamber of the AP50 that he was holding, “I just wish for a change that the machines would give us a day off. Don’t they believe in holidays like Christmas or something? Can’t they celebrate Judgment Day to give us 24 miserable hours?”
“They've already given us 18 miserable years and if you don’t shut up I’ll be celebrating your death and you'll get all the rest you could want.” The memories of finding his parents charred corpses flashed before his eyes. “Now just be quiet and keep your eyes peeled. I have to go use the men’s room.”
The noncom nodded as the Captain got up and went through a side door out into the Elephant’s Graveyard. Fahey sat on the floor playing with Rex – their Golden Retriever that they’d found scavenging for food while they were doing the same. Rex was in many ways a hero of the Resistance. Skin jobs could walk right by a human without setting off any red flags; a dog was a different story. No one knew for sure how they did it – was it smell, hearing, or some combination of the two – but dogs could just tell the tin cans apart from people. Rex had proven that to him before. He’d sniffed out an older T-800 that had snuck through the lines pretending to be a bodybuilder who’d survived JD. That got him a battlefield commission to Hammerhead.
“Pretty soon you’ll outrank me even,” mumbled the Resistance Private to the dog. “I wonder how they pick ranks anyway. Do they pull a tag out of a hat? If that’s how they do it I think I should declare a mulligan and get a second chance.” The dog looked at him like he had grown a second head to which Fahey could only laugh. He ran his hand along the dog’s head and waited for the Captain to get back. This place was dead and he wanted to see if he could end his shift a little early.
Fahey rested his head against the wall and let his eyes rest. Just then the dog began to bark.
In the distance from his perch way up in the bones of an ancient skyscraper, Corporal Decker somehow heard the faint whimpering cries of a dog below. Before a barking dog wasn’t something that he would have concerned himself with, but to the Corporal and the rest of the survivors a dog was a godsend. It was man’s best friend and metal’s worst enemy. Right now though finding the cause of the dog’s wails was what was most important to him.
Decker compressed his body down against the steel beam as close as he could get. He swung the rifle off of his back and directly ahead of him. Bipods clanked against the cold steel surface as he set up. With a deft hand he chambered the round into the rifle and brought the scope to bear. He’d seen these bullets take down an HK before and he hoped that they were just as effective against the tin cans. Since they exploded on impact there was no doubt in his mind that they would. A head shot would be all that he needed – preferably right against the CPU port.
Through the night vision scope he focused his attention on Hammerhead. Captain Vance was hastily cleaning up after himself behind the remains of the building. There was no sign of Fahey but from this angle he wouldn’t be able to see him anyway. The metal shutters – makeshift blast doors – were still down around the small outpost preventing him from seeing in on this side of the building (high among the remains of the building though that would have been unlikely anyway). There were no sounds of firing or metal bastards killing anyone; though, that meant nothing. In the past the machines had been shown to live and operate at incredible speeds. Calm before the storm had a new meaning in this world. They could come like a thief in the night and be gone faster than a one night stand.
He did another sweep with the rifle’s scope and a small targeting reticule appeared in the smart screen. Decker had never really liked the new fangled technology that they were reverse engineering from the machines every day. This rifle’s scope was one such toy that R&D had come up with. It was based on TripEight optical scanners, but, truth be told, it didn’t have the targeting peripherals. It took a firm hand to be able to make the gun do what the user wanted it to do; to hit what he wanted it to hit. Thankfully Decker was still the Resistance’s best shot. They said he could hit anything, even the fleas on Rex’s head.
Obstructions though were the sniper’s natural enemy and Hammerhead was one hell of a good obstruction with the hasty reinforcements and upgrades they’d made since the last raid. It was nearly a perfect fortress that rivaled what the Kings of ancient Earth would use. Then something happened that he hadn’t anticipated: Private Fahey opened the door into the base. It didn’t take long for Vance to join him at the door. From up here it looked like the Captain was screaming at the kid, what was being said though Decker couldn’t make out. From the looks of it their argument had to have been something good. Being assigned to Vance’s unit though should have made the dumb kid think twice before opening any locked doors especially when the Captain was around. Vance was the Angel of Death after all; no one lived for long when he was around.
From around the building though came a figure wrapped in shadows. The Corporal kept his gun focused on the shadowy body that was on the corner of Hammerhead. It wasn’t skeletal so that was a good sign, but the appearance of the clothing seemed to be something anachronistic with the reality of the future. What he could see of the figure he could make out it was a woman with a well prepared garment – clean and not tattered or torn as was the unintended fashion trends of the day. It couldn’t be an infiltrator. Skynet was crafty and knew to keep the female infiltrators back from the front lines and standard infiltration mission because of the ease with which they were detected. Endos were easier to hide inside the skin of men not out of sexism but because of body type. Could it be one of those Thousand units? Just one of them killed an entire Resistance convoy so God help them all if it was one of those beasts. A bucket he could deal with.
Another figure came from behind the other mysterious stranger. This one was similar to the first in keeping hidden, but was a male form. He was bulky and dressed in similar attire to that of the military fatigues that the Resistance soldiers wore. It was too well done up though to have been one of theirs – no detectable tears or smudges from years of trench warfare. Decker pushed the gain to maximum and brought up the thermal imaging. They read as perfectly human on his screens, but again that wasn’t much help. Zombies were humans that were assimilated into Skynet’s military through the use of CPU’s that were surgically installed into the victim's brain. When activated Skynet had its very own human puppet that it could use for whatever its perverted mind wanted. Skin jobs had perfect circulatory systems that kept their heat levels correct for an average human. They were too perfect. Decker mused wondering why the Techs couldn’t have made these guns with some sort of X-Ray vision as the bulkier of the two stepped into the light.
Decker recognized it in the span of a second. It was metal, but was it one of the ones that belonged to the Resistance or one of the Skynet beasts? His finger massaged the trigger as he weighed the choices inside his head about taking down the metal demon. He was beginning to squeeze when the woman came alongside the skin job. The older Corporal’s jaw dropped to what he saw: it was Allison. Below on the battlefield Captain Vance had a similar reaction after slapping young Fahey in the back of the head for the stupidity of releasing the door without the secret knock being given. Never the less, it all made sense now why the dog raised the red flag to one of their own. The dog would have barked and growled because of William – what they called the scrubbed trip eight that was assigned to Major Young’s squad – regardless of if Allison was with him or not. Captain Vance brought the Major and the Metal into the base leaving Decker alone with his thoughts.
But thinking wasn’t something that was on the top of his list right now. The cold of the night was making him think more about relaxing instead of the requirements of his job. There were no metal beasts, no HKs were swarming around like bees, and not even a Centurion tank nearby. For now he was only happy that Connor’s woman was home. Maybe she could make him get his head out of his ass and back into the game. But just incase Decker fingered the nearly spent power cell that had John Connor’s name written on it. If he stayed the course he was on right now then he’d get retribution for the soldiers he’d cost their lives. But for now Decker would keep watching the skies.
A gunshot shattered the still air.
No new entry for Sunday evening or Monday evening. My brother is arriving home on leave from his tour of duty in Iraq.
WOW...I'm going to have to print this out and read this over the holidays. Its novel quality NX! Smallville not inspire you as much as TSCC seems to have? LOL
Hurry up with the next chapters NX. C'mon who's more important? Your brother whom you've not seen in months or us anonymous posters on TrekBBS?
All kidding aside, I'm glad that your brother's safe and home with family for this Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate)!
Smallville has inspired me, but the Smallville/Superman universe is more extensively chronicled. With the Terminator series there are more advantages and avenues to be explored. Though - I had not known about this until it was delivered to me from a friend for Christmas this morning - there is a Superman Vs The Terminator comic book miniseries.
I may eventually do a Smallville one. Though I may wait until the series ends for that. More advantages
I'm hoping to have the next sections up within the next 24 hours. Plenty more chapters will be coming.
Earl Wise was excited. He’d always been a fan of the comic book character Batman and the films that followed. Earl had the toys (some duplicates because of wear to the previous from hours of play), the video games, and even some of the role play pieces that let him dress as the Dark Knight for adventures fighting the villains of Gotham City. His Father had been accepting of his fascination with the Dark Knight Detective, but his mother always had looked down upon it as something beneath their family. They had some interesting fights around the dinner table, but there was always real love between them.
Living in Death Valley made it hard on him, but that was where their family’s work was. Earl’s father was a geologist working on an assignment in the Valley. His mother was a teacher who spent her days reciting to him the necessities of a good education. Earl rarely saw his father. They made the occasional nature walk up into the Valley to gather specimens for his father’s studies, and today had been one of those days. It had been over one hundred and fifteen degrees, but they had spent real time together which was rarer and rarer. Earl and his father talked about a lot of things. They talked about how the floor of the Valley would be filled with lovely flowers in the spring. The two watched a Kits Fox chase a rabbit only to have its quarry taken away by an errant police cruiser rushing toward home. It had been hard on Earl to see that, but somehow his father’s presence consoled him. When they returned home Earl’s father delivered to him a Christmas gift a day early: a copy of The Dark Knight he’d picked up while in down.
Despite their hard day and the remaining four hundred plus days left, the Wise family decided to sit down and watch the film together for what seemed like the first time since they arrived here. While they were a loving family if you knew them you could tell they were having trouble with this assignment. While Earl’s father (Arnold) had been enjoying their time here, his mother (Diane) had hated every moment of it. They kept it hidden from Earl, but he could sense it. That made the film all the more important. So they sat and watched. Popcorn was passed between them and smiles grew on their faces not because of the film rather because they were together.
As the Joker detonated Gotham General on the screen Earl began to feel sick to his stomach. Beads of sweat began to poor down his forehead and the taste of bile began to form in his throat. It wasn’t because of the movie or the appearance of Harvey Two-Face, it was something else. The screen began to distort due to the glow from a beam of white light flashing in the outside. The sound of a car approaching assaulted his eardrums, Earl’s eyes darting to the door. Something was wrong. He turned his head back toward the screen only to see the image begin to distort into glowing golden bubbles. From behind he heard his mother’s voice.
“What’s the matter baby?” The lyrical voice of Earl’s mother interrupted his feelings. He turned toward her as she finished. “You feel okay?”
What Earl saw was more haunting than anything he could have imagined. His mother sat next to him with her body covered in the red and orange glow of fire. It ate away at her, digging into her skin and muscles. His father was in the same state. Both sat perfectly still staring at him and watching, Earl doing the same back. When it was over they fell to the floor of the burning camper. Their bodies were exact replicas of what was Harvey Two-Face’s face. Then the fires stopped and where his parents lay became only a stack of bones flung on the ground.
Wise’s eyes looked to the door of the Camper and saw standing there the demonic endoskeleton of the T-900 that had captured him in the remnants of Los Angeles. With incredible speed it reached forward and clasped its vise like grip around Earl’s throat. It lifted him from where he stood and extended its metal arm outward and above. The beautifully nauseating smile that the skull wore by design resonating in his eyes as it stared him down.
A mechanized voice came, “You are terminated.” It squeezed against Earl’s neck and pain seared through the young man’s body. Blood began to shoot from what had once been his neck, bones snapped beneath his skin so loud that they could be heard for what seemed like miles. One point eight seconds and Earl’s head had been severed from his body. The Machine tossed it aside like a kid tossing his trash into a bin and walked away never looking back.
Earl shot up like a bullet from a gun and went into a defensive posture as he regained his bearings. Taking in the vista surrounding him it only took a few seconds for his brain to remind him that he was safely inside the secured exam room on the Aircraft Carrier Enterprise. In the back of his head though he kept telling himself that no one was ever safe. ‘Hang in their baby’ may have been the Resistance’s official motto, but ‘No one is ever safe’ were the words they lived by. In his head he kept reminding himself about that fact.
Even in the Eden of the Enterprise. From what the wall clock said he’d been aboard this salvation for only a few hours and still they hadn’t told him much of anything about anything important. Still Earl hadn’t been able to see the rest of his team since they woke him. Major Young, Captain Luna, Doctor Fields, even the Tinny had been kept from him. The Doctor, Fischer, had said that they were being held in quarantine just like he was, but that shouldn’t have prevented them from seeing one another now would it? If any of them had anything wouldn’t all of them? Well except the Tin Can, he had the advantage of being impervious to disease of all forms.
New Resistance soldier Earl Wise thought about calling for Doctor Fischer to see if he could give him something to help him sleep and hopefully not to dream. Looking at the clock again though, Earl knew that the Doctor would be along soon enough on his usual rounds. Ever two hours or so they came in to check on him regardless of if he was sleeping or not. Not that Earl wanted to sleep. Every time he did anymore he had dreams like that. All of his dreams this night had taken his proudest, happiest memories and somehow perverted them into something sickening. Wise didn’t want that anymore.
Getting a glass of water he downed it in one quick drink. Looking at the entertainment console on the desk, the quarantined man thought about getting into some of the more risqué programs that were inside the database. His eyes slid between the clock and the door reminding him of the coming Doctor. Almost as if he were psychic the doors changed to transparent and slid apart.
“How’s our patient?” Inquired the overly cheerful Charles Fischer as he stepped over the threshold into the room. “Our monitors said you had some increased adrenaline production a moment or two ago.”
“Big brother watching again?” Wise got another glass of water. “Do you always monitor your guests like that?”
Fischer nodded solemnly, “Only those in quarantine. Don’t worry, when its over you’ll be allowed into the general population and the monitoring will stop. I suppose I should have warned you about that earlier. It would have saved you some attention.”
A quick glance at the entertainment pack made him fill with embarrassment – something he hadn’t been in a long time. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think anyone was watching.”
“No doubt,” he dismissed it wave of his hand. “We all have urges at times. My medical team consists of Doctors and a Psychologist; we all understand basic human nature. It’s perfectly natural. Besides its nothing that my people haven’t seen before – remember we did do a full physical on you when you arrived.”
“Doc I would prefer not to discuss this,” he was still pretty uncomfortable by it all. “While it’s perfectly natural to you to me it isn’t something that we discuss or do in public.”
Charles nodded, “I understand. So no problems to report? Any trouble sleeping?”
“Just the standard nightmares, but I’m used to them.” The fact that cherished memories were being distorted into horrifying misrepresentations of past events wasn’t something to be discussed right now. Best to keep things somewhat hidden. “I don’t want anything to help me sleep though. I like to be at my best.”
“I know how you feel. Sedatives can be tricky things and can be a little too much sometimes. While the Machines haven’t come here in a long time I can understand your apprehension not to be at the ready. Though I’ll leave you a couple of pills incase you change your mind.” The Doctor set the pills down on the countertop. “If you decide you want to talk you know I’m here don’t you?”
“I would prefer not to,” Wise answered, “but there is something I’d like.”
Charles looked at him, “What’s that?”
The words formed slowly and his tongue felt like it was combating tar when speaking. What was wrong with him? “Can you… I mean… can you let me see my friends? Any of them? The Major, the Doctor, Captain Luna, even the damned Clanker that I wanted to see destroyed and in a smoking ruin when I first met it. I’m tired of being trapped inside these four walls with no one to talk to and nothing to do. I’m sure you know what I mean.”
The Doctor wrote something down on a clipboard he was carrying. “I’m sorry but not yet. They’re still in quarantine themselves. Only a day and a few more hours and I’ll let you go join them. If it makes you feel better they’re making similar requests. You been together long?”
“No I’m afraid I only just met them a few days ago. I was a new transplant into their team. They rescued me after the death of my former team in the sewers. A hydrobot got through our defenses and did some damage. I was the only survivor of a group like yours just lacking the warship to hide on. I joined the Resistance because it was my only option left.”
“Well you have other options now,” explained the Doctor as he tucked his clipboard under his shoulder. “Our Captain has said that you can remain here – you all can – when this is over. We have a security detachment that could use a few able bodied members. Our security chief could use a man of your abilities and we have a couple of young ladies aboard that you would like.”
Earl laughed, “You know how to tempt a man, don’t you?”
“I don’t have an apple or anything for a pretty lady to hand you asking you to stay. But consider it. You’ll like it here.” Charles slid the clipboard through the dispenser. “We have a lot of fun and the Enterprise is pretty safe.”
“No one is ever safe,” Private Wise mumbled below his breath.
Fischer crossed his arms over the pure white lab coat and leaned against the far wall next to the frost colored windows. “Why is that, Mister Wise? Resistance paradigm not withstanding why do you think that?”
“The world we live in is filled with tin cans that want us dead. I think I have reason to be fearful and believe that no one is ever safe.” His eyes looked at the pills in the small container, “How do I know you’re not a Skin Job?”
Charles was nonplussed, “Want to hit me? Shoot me with a gun and see if I fall over dead? Why are you still so unconvinced?”
“You mentioned an apple and I called this place Eden. You can’t ignore the similarities of the story. Salvation and rest are things that come in limited qualities in this reality of ours and you try to serve them up on a platter. It’s hard not to expect me to challenge your little Garden isn’t it?”
“Given what you’ve seen I’m not surprised by what you say and have mentioned. For all you know we’re torturing your friends, using you for some sort of experiment, and Trip Eights as the Resistance call them are watching through this privacy windows. Where’s the logic in that I ask? Why would anyone help the very things that are trying their damndest to kill us all? Who in their right mind would be so willing to help those damn beasts? Do I look like a collaborator to you? Some pencil pushing whack job who would sell his soul? You offend me, Mister Wise.”
Earl felt sick to his stomach. All that the Doctor, so far, had tried to do was help. He took a deep breath and looked at the man, approaching closer to him. Earl’s eyes met with the Doctors. Something his father had told him years ago was that if you were going to say something and you truly meant what you were going to say you had to look a man in the eye to say it. Earl meant what he was going to say.
“I am sorry, Doctor, I really am. I didn’t mean to imply anything about you or call you a Grey. Life’s been tough on me and I see everyone as a potential threat to me and my safety. Even the Resistance at times, including John Connor himself. Not that I’d act on trying to kill him, but I know people who are considering it inside his own upper echelons. One is Brutus to his Caesar if you get the Shakespearean analogy. Knowing this makes it hard for me to trust anyone.”
Fischer was somewhat surprised from the expression that played over his face. The Doctor became clinical again and regained the stone faced appearance he’d held only moments prior. “I accept your apology, Private. Get some rest and I’ll talk to the Security Chief of the base and see about adding you to our team. Maybe the best thing for you is to stay here. Get away from the Resistance; get away from the horrors that were your life on dry land. If you stay with them for much longer I fear that your safety, your health, may come into question.”
“Maybe that’s the best choice,” The Resistance Soldier looked around the alien looking room filled with technology that made him feel like a prisoner, yet somewhat freer than ever. “Thank you, Doctor. Thank you for everything.”
“It’s my job to help.” Charles pulled his keycard from his inner pocket and slid it through the card reader. “You have a good night, what’s left of it, and I’ll see you again in two hours or so.”
Earl nodded and watched the man leave the room. He took a deep breath as the wall reformed into the hazy appearance that obstructed the younger man’s view of what was outside those four walls of the medical isolation chamber. For a moment he considered the offer that was made, but knew that the Resistance would need his help. Especially if it was true that Brutus planned to kill Caesar on the ides of March yet again. My how Shakespeare came into play even in this world! Earth had become one of his tragedies.
Due to the holidays I will probably not be updating with the next section until Friday. It'll be worth the wait though .
I know that I promised Friday, but I'll have the next section up during the day on Saturday. Lack of time because of the holidays and my brothers return have kept me from writing out the next section, but I think that the ideas I have in my head will be enjoyed. A fan favorite from T:TSCC will be appearing.
The next section has been posted.
Spoiler: I hope you enjoy __________'s apperance
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