Private Maxwell Fahey wasn’t stupid, but he wasn’t a genius either. Growing up in a world dominated by machines you quickly learned what it took to survive and in this world Darwin’s survival of the fittest took on a whole new meaning. Though it was nearly impossible to stay fit when your idea of a four star meal was rat meat soup. Fahey was only an infant when the hellfire struck the Earth, but the searing light and fires had left him a permanent reminder. A neighbor family had found him in the rubble of the Fahey family home and raised him as one of their own. Why they had done it was always a mystery. Perhaps they took pity on him because of his youth, or maybe it was because his parents were killed. Max never bothered to ask why they did it. In a tale as old as time in this world his surrogate family was killed by the machine in the raid on Oregon Base. Max hadn’t been there to help them and blamed himself for their deaths. For retribution Private Fahey joined the Resistance. While in boot camp things didn’t go so well. Maxwell was more inclined to be a front line fighter according to the tests that the Resistance administered. Still though he felt he could have handled the career of a Resistance Officer and not been stuck in the noncommissioned personnel pool like one of the Dims that TechCOM adopted. A good many in the Resistance came to find him to be a sort of good luck charm though. As long as he screwed up that may have meant that the others wouldn’t. It was a cosmic joke to put him and Davis both out here to watch the frontlines of Hammerhead. Which would screw up worse? There was a betting pool going on below decks. But Maxwell wasn’t as stupid as people thought especially when it came to survival. When Rex started to bark he had his weapon ready in the blink of an eye. The AP50 was a nice little toy to have in the sandbox when metal was around. It may have been the standard issue sidearm but there was a reason for that. Namely the 50 caliber bullets made from depleted uranium that could rip into the bodies of the endos like a knife going into butter. A little older but still good in a fire fight, his M-16A1 assault rifle was ready if worse came to worse. There was only one real way to get to Hammerhead and that was through Death Alley. He hoped that Decker had a clear line of sight as he slid open the shutter to take a peek outside. The Elephant Graveyard was as disturbing as always. No matter how many times you saw it it still chilled you to your very soul. The burnt out cars and trucks that had been locked in traffic as the bombs exploded above had been moved by Resistance workers to form a mini maze to give a little bit more protection to give the metal some trouble when trying to get in. Even for Resistance soldiers the maze could be hellish to pass through. The bodies of the previous generation had been removed and given a proper burial at great risk to the Resistance forces. In their place were the remnants of the endoskeletons that had tried to invade previously - another warning to the mechanical monsters. As the dust began to scatter in the air, two figures appeared out of no where and went forward side by side. Using the rangefinder he’d been given he zoomed in on the two figures. The first was definitely a TripEight and looked like the one assigned to Major Young’s team when she went out. That meant nothing. There were hundreds of that skin type running around. Then a woman appeared next to the evil brute. She was wearing what looked like a standard Resistance uniform, but that again meant nothing. Skynet was smart and knew to make the battle droids infiltrate by appearing like brothers and sisters in arms. He recognized this one: it was Major Young. Before he could think he ran over to the door to release it for the Major’s return to the base. Flinging the door open the young noncom ran out of the base’s protective confines and looked around. He felt a sting against the back of his head and turned in time to see Captain Vance standing there staring him down. The Commanding Officer of Hammerhead looked like he could eat metal for breakfast and Private Fahey was the appetizer. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? We have procedures and codes about opening that door and you left it open like it was a goddamn twentieth century! You sure you’re not a dim because that was a dim thing to do. Keep doing stupid things like that and you’ll find yourself dead.” Maxwell pointed at the two figures coming closer, “I opened the door for them, Sir.” “I don’t care if you opened the door for Connor himself,” Captain Vance slammed his jaw shut as he saw the woman and man come into the light. He shut up, “Major Young, William?” The skinjob with masculine programming remained stone faced and stood in what was said to be guard mode next to Major Young. Her garments looked no worse for wear, but she seemed to have bruises covering her face and her hair was messed up. The damn metal bastard was perfectly normal from head to toe from what they could tell. Did those things ever not look like they were straight off the assembly line? Allison extended a hand to shake the Captain’s. “It is good to see you again, Captain,” said the leader of the missing squad. “I would love to stay and chat but I think that we need to get indoors before any endos come looking for us. My squad was attacked by a Harvester and a team of new Series 900 battle units twenty something miles from here. I think we lost them, but the rest of my team was killed. General Connor needs to be briefed.” Vance nodded in agreement, “No argument here.” The Resistance Captain motioned for his superior to step inside Hammerhead first and took up position behind the conscripted infiltrator. From inside Rex kept barking. “We sent out a search team for your team over a week ago and they never found you. I know that John has been especially worried,” Interrupted Maxwell. It was an assumption based upon his knowledge of Connor and Young’s relationship, but it wasn’t that much of a stretch. “John worries too much,” answered Allison. “We were all worried about you, Major,” chimed in Vance. The Captain looked at William, “We couldn’t have cared less about you though.” The cybernetic organism’s expression remained static. “Your opinion on my status is irrelevant. We must proceed into the base. Major Young requires rest following our fleeing of the Skynet strike group. We must also make our report to General Connor.” “Always about work with you isn’t it?” Taunted Josh surprised that the robot had responded. The dog growled and snarled as it looked at both Major Young and William. “It has a point,” replied Allison Young. “I must report to John.” Fahey tried to calm down Rex by petting him, “I don’t see why we should delay you any longer. Let’s get moving – if Rex here will ever calm down.” “The seeker unit could attract Skynet attention if the Series 900 endoskeletons continued behind us. I recommend termination.” “You would,” mumbled Max. “You and your kind hate ‘seeker units’ like Rex here.” “While I hate to agree with metal I have to agree again. It could attract attention from machines nearby if it does not stop soon.” Major Young looked at Captain Vance, “Captain, can we proceed?” Josh Vance nodded in approval of Major Young’s request, but he was somewhat perplexed by her suggestion of killing Rex. All of them knew that the machines were detected by dogs and dogs were in short supply these days. The Captain looked at her wrist, “I’ll need to see your arm, Major.” “What for?” “Your bracelet,” Private Fahey answered her. “We need to check it before we can let you in. Surely you remember the protocol. Same for you Tin Can.” The metal in their presence turned his head toward the younger private, “I am afraid that our bracelets were lost during hand to hand combat with the Series 900 endoskeletons in the sewer system. We do not have them.” “Surely you can override and allow us entry,” pleaded Young. “The bracelet was only a gift from my sister.” “Gold is very rare,” Josh said staring right at the Major’s brown eyes. “And what about the sentimental value for you? It was the last thing that your sister gave you before she died, Major.” Allison stared back at him with a tears forming in her eyes, “I know that! We were so worried about getting back that I.” The Captain undid the safety and pointed his AP50 at the Major’s head. “The bracelet was sterling silver. Who…” He didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence. In the span of a second Major Young’s hand had slammed upward and grabbed the barrel of the auto pistol and pulled it from the Captain’s hand in a fluidic motion. Crimson red blood dripped from the wound where she had ripped his trigger finger off with the gun. Captain Vance cradled his hand and stared down at the wound as blood rushed outward. “Metal!” Max screamed as he brought the gun up toward the TripEight and pointed it directly at the robot’s head. With the grace of a dancer moving to the melody of Chopin’s Nocturne in C Minor Major Young had spun around and taken the gun from the enlisted soldier. She tossed it to William who caught it one handed and pointed it directly at the noncom. He stood there dumbfounded staring down the barrel of his weapon. Vance stared up at what looked like his Commanding Officer, “Zombie bitch.” “Incorrect,” she replied coldly. “The correct term is Metal Bitch.” She pulled the trigger and the depleted uranium shell erupted outward from the gun and slammed against the soft skin between Josh Vance’s eyes. It ripped through him and impacted the wall on the other side. The blood spilled outward like a flood as the infiltrator turned and pointed her gun at the Private who was cradling his dog. It growled and barked at them as if pleading for help. Allison turned her head toward her companion, “You may terminate the human and the seeker unit, Cromartie. Then we shall proceed to our target.” “Understood.” Two more bullets cut through the still air. As the humans and their animal lay dead at their feet, the two Skynet Infiltrators carried on with the next phase of their mission. Despite their status as the underdogs in the conflict, the humans had proven themselves to be adept at weapon construction and defensive planning. That was more than apparent when it came to humanity’s homes. Resistance bases had incredible security arrays and Hammerhead was no exception. While only a forward outpost, it had direct connection to John Connor’s personal outpost: the Kansas Bunker. That made it a fortress. “I have detected human communications,” informed Cromartie. “The humans have been alerted to our presence. They are deploying squadrons to attack us.” “As was expected,” said the lead machine as she pulled the circuitry housing off of the wall panel housing the retinal scanners. “Running bypass. Contact Skynet, inform it of the necessity of the bracelets if we fail.” Her fingers manipulated the various wires and circuit boards that had been hidden behind the wall. The machine had experience with the technology because of her Skynet training. Most of it was based upon the reengineered components of her fallen cohorts. The machine completed her rewiring and stepped up to the scanner. It had overridden the numeric code, but the retinal scan was still required. A blue beam shot out from the scanner and went even with her brow. As the beams lowered her eyes turned electric blue; interfacing with and altering the perception of the retinal scan. A series of beeps came from the computer console and a red light turned green. The sound of the servomotors behind the wall releasing could be heard by her advanced sensors. With a loud sigh the doors slid apart allowing the two machines entry into the heart of the human’s defenses. Lifting their weapons they proceeded inward on their mission. At the landing they met their first taste of human resistance. A four man team of Resistance soldiers were in a staggered formation hidden behind wall braces. Each was armed with an AR510 assault rifle that they had pointed directly at one of the machines (two on each). When the soldiers their target though it gave the machines a momentary advantage against their enemies. As they stood dumbstruck staring at Major Young, the two tin cans pulled the triggers of their AP50s releasing the devastating payload into the chests of their enemies. The humans flew back with the repeating impacts against their bodies and died seconds later. Cromartie looked to his counterpart, “We must now separate to perform our assignments.” “Agreed,” answered the feminine programmed battle unit. “Our databases have full maps of his facility programmed into them thanks to your previous life. Proceed to the time displacement chamber and go back to carry out your assassination mission of John and Sarah Connor. I will proceed to find Connor in this time and execute him.” “Command confirmed,” the skinjob started down one hallway while Allison Young down the other. Neither of the machines would stop, ever, until John Connor was dead or they were.