A Man Named Derek Reese
San Francisco, California
The Golden Gate Bridge
May 5th, 2027
"Drama is life with the dull bits cut out." -Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980)
"It takes two to speak truth - One to speak, and another to hear." -Henry David Thoreau
Allison Young could remember the night like it was yesterday. The area where she and her group of survivors had been staying at had become a hot zone.
Skynet had turned its cold, electronic eye on the survivors near the Palmdale. Those few people left that could remember what her what her life was like before Judgment Day.
The homeless survivalistic gypsies had survived by slowly raiding hundreds of old buildings with canned goods, in the areas most likely not to be radioactive. Rusty cans were ok. Bulging cans meant botulism and death.
That and you ate coyote or rats when you could find them. You ate cockroaches and other edible bugs too.
Survival had a funny habit of making you do things you never thought you would. A hungry stomach could rob you of your dignity quickly.
If you didn't move in armed groups, others would rob you of much more than your basic dignity. There were people that would take advantage of you anywhere you would turn.
Some would steal everything you had. Some would rape and kill you.
Some of the truly twisted were said to even kill and eat other people. There was a rather terrifying expression of "Long Pig" for such often whispered out of complete fear.
That was humanity. In the world of 2026, humanity was the least of your problems.
Worse was an army of machines under the control of Skynet. The mechanical bastard thing that had torched the world.
Against any crazy or evil human being you stood a chance. You might kill them.
Against the demonic metallic things that Skynet came at you with, the truth was simple. No civilian stood a chance.
When the T-888s and the HKs came, it was the end. The metallic skeletons might as well have worn the black robes that often symbolized the ancient reaper image they represented. Allison Young and the others knew they were dead.
No human that lived in the modern world prior to Judgment Day could know the absolute certainty of this one fact. Civilians survived by staying off of Skynet's radar. Once the demonic machine knew where you were, you were dead.
So no human living prior to Judgment Day would know what it was like to have the Resistance come to your rescue that day. How mythical or religious an experience it was to one of the lucky few.
On that day, for Allison Young, it was nothing less than the hand of God. One moment, she and the others were being cut down as they ran.
In an eye blink, the situation changed. They rounded a hill and came face to face with over a hundred men and women charging right at Skynet‘s forces.
In truth, it was something the survivors had never seen before. The Resistance charged the invincible foe without fear.
They charged at the mechanical enemy in an absolute fury and without hesitation. There were no words to describe what that meant to see in people who had only known fear and despair.
Firepower that Allison had never knew existed blasted into the demonic metal figures. It tore them apart as if they were nothing more than flesh.
The machines were stupid flesh at that. They never moved or adjusted to the onslaught.
Allison hid from the oncoming firefight and felt the ground as it pounded. Explosions rocked the ground and the air vibrated from the sheer force of all the noise. Smoke filtered in from every direction, that and the smell of burning metal.
In seconds that seemed like hours, the fight was over. Every last Skynet unit had been reduced to burning junk. The Resistance was there picking up the wounded and the dead, both their own and the civilians.
When the 132nd told the survivors they were moving them to a safer location, no one protested. The platoon commander rode with the group, his oddly quiet brother riding beside him.
They learned the Resistance platoon had been tracking that group for days. It had been a capture group, something much worse than a quick clean death. The Resistance had happened upon the survivors by sheer chance and lucky timing.
When the forty other survivors had their chance to say thank you, Allison got her chance. Something sparked the first moments she locked eyes with this Lieutenant Reese.
So she asked him for his name. He simply replied, “Derek.”
There was something in his mannerisms that let her know something else as well. Those silly stories that her mother used to read to her weren’t lies at all. Knights in Shining armor really do exist.
She spent the rest of the ride talking to him. She was tired of running, of living on garbage. She'd do anything she could to help. She wanted to be one of those people who lived without fear.
Derek had said something about a small group of willing volunteers. People who would be looked at to help the civilians and who might join the Resistance one day if they chose.
Derek said each officer in the Resistance had been given one mark and only one mark to give to someone they truly trusted. It was a gift bestowed from John Connor himself.
Derek said he had been looking for someone worthy of that honor. As Derek handed it over, Lieutenant Reese said he had just found his.
It was the simplest thing in the world that little bracelet. In the world that had existed before Judgment Day, it would have been an item in a dollar store. In truth, it couldn't have meant more to Allison Young if it had been made out of diamonds.
Derek Reese was the first person to see something special in her since mom died. Again, mom had been right, there really were Knights In Shining Armor out there.
Allison knew that now. She also knew that she had just found hers…
Cameron blinked. The random memory had been overwhelming and inconveniently timed.
Derek Reese looked forward off of the Golden Gate Bridge using the enhanced binoculars that Catherine Weaver had provided for the mission. Everywhere he looked there were machines.
Derek quipped, “Well, it certainly looks alive.”
Cameron countered, “It shouldn’t be. Humanity blew it up twice in 2018.” It was another overwhelming sign of everything being wrong.
Derek wondered, “They rebuilt it twice in one year?”
Cameron replied, “No, it was blown up in two timelines. Skynet moved onto other project areas. I was never built in a timeline where it still existed.”
Derek inquired, “What is it?”
Cameron answered, “The San Francisco Central Defense Zone is an early factory area and central computer hub. Skynet’s control of the air, sea, and roads around it made it an important structure for its earliest army construction. This is the birthplace of the first T-600, T-700, and T-800 models.”
Derek inquired, “So it’s still a major hub?”
Cameron theorized, “Unlikely, Skynet will use any facility. However, Skynet tends to see everything like a chess match. It won’t place critical importance in something it now sees as a sacrificial pawn.”
Derek stated, “I don’t know much about chess.” He was lying, doing that thing with his eyes that Allison always recognized.
Cameron gave Derek the Sarah look. She simply said, “It was part of your upload.”
Derek returned a look of absolute hate. For some strange reason, Cameron found a great amount of comfort in that.
Cameron inquired, “Any nausea, headaches, or dizziness?”
Derek simply said, “No.” He of course said so with dried blood still slightly smeared out of his nose.
Cameron stated, “I’m your doctor. You really need to tell me these things.” She also meant the look to say, you're the closest thing humanity has to a leader now. You aren't expendable.
Derek retorted, “You are metal. You can go to Hell.”
Cameron replied, “For the record, I don’t agree with the process. It’s an unnecessary risk.”
Derek returned, “I’ll repeat you can go to Hell. We didn’t have years to get up to speed.”
“Yeah and we don’t know what effect using nanites to write coding into a human mind is going to have. You aren’t a computer. You can’t just download information into your brain at that speed.”
Derek and the others did however. John Henry made the unforeseeable suggestion of treating them like machines.
That they could use nanotechnology to physically write the information into the cerebral cortex of each volunteer. Thus, they could turn them from untrained troops into Tech Com soldiers in a day.
It was dangerous. It was stupid. It was playing God.
There were days Cameron really hated John Henry. That was one of them.
Each was uploaded with years of mechanical and combat training. Most of which had been paradoxically taught by Derek or the first John Connor that Cameron had known.
Fake memories giving them the correct information for field operations. Things that soldiers in the field in 2027 would have known in Cameron’s time.
The experiment was a success. Every participant learned the download’s with a ninety six to ninety eight percent efficiency test. The rest could be physically taught to fill in the gaps later, so theorized John Henry and Catherine Weaver.
Cameron's take was completely different. These glitches could get people killed. A person uploaded with a flying record might not know how to land on a certain surface. An explosives disposal program could omit a critical step from a bomb disarm. A medical program could make you forget a critical step in an operation and it could cost someone their life.
The experiment also caused a variety of strange physical changes in the subjects. These included headaches, nosebleeds, and high blood pressure. In one case, it caused an epileptic seizure.
The short term effects seemed to be dying down. Any long term effects would have to be seen. The whole thing set Cameron's teeth on edge.
The first participants were Derek Reese, Kyle Reese, John Connor, and Allison Young. People that were completely irreplaceable should they die. That Allison forcefully volunteered to do so while pregnant made the process twice as unnerving.
It was a full day later before Cameron had let Allison out of her sight. There had been two lives on the line with that completely unnecessary and ill timed gamble.
Of eighty seven survivors, twelve had decided to fight. Sixteen wouldn’t have been able to since they were children. However, the other fifty nine seemed content to simply roll over. Again, it was the lack of fire in their eyes that Cameron didn’t know how to deal with.
Derek’s placement as group leader had at least lead to some positive reaction. At least, that had been a step in the right direction.
Cameron refocused on the moment. She watched to make sure all the steps were followed, just as she had watched his driving program.
Derek placed the transmitter on the main fiber optic cable crossing the bridge. There were no errors.
The pair passively scanned the massive transmissions entering and exiting the facility’s satellite feed. Skynet had never updated the systems on the facility side.
Eight thousand six hundred and fifty four survivors were listed inside. They were clinically reported as doing well. Cameron accessed and processed the information.
One genetic code stood out above the rest. Cameron felt the ghost of a little hand in hers as she read it.
It was more mix up from that computer merger. Yet another thing that had overwritten as if it was her memory.
That wasn’t her memory. That wasn’t her little girl. The daughter had never actually told Cameron that, "Mommy, your lap is cold."
Cameron and Derek moved away from the scouting operation with two vital pieces of information. One, there were an appreciable number of survivors in need of rescue at this facility. Two, one of those people in need of rescue was Savannah Weaver…