Chapter 1 - Pilot

THE UNTOLD RESISTANCE
Chapter 1: Pilot
***
Ashley Mears ran. He darted out of cover, clinging tightly to a small piece of cloth that stored the meagre scraps of food that he had collected, and launched himself from behind the wall into the ruin-strewn wasteland that used to be his home. All those millions of lives, gone in an instant.

Immediately, he heard the noise of the drone come closer.

Even before Judgement Day, Ashley Mears had been fast. At an incredibly young age, his coach had said he was promising – had the best natural sprinting technique that he’d seen in years. Of course, back then, a naïve Ashley hadn’t thought of it as a gift, but he certainly did now. He skidded on the dusty floor as he tried to change direction, panting heavily as he ran for his life underneath the night sky.

The noise was much louder now, engines were screaming in his ears. Gasping for breath, he took a sudden left at another indistinguishable pile of rubble. But it was there. Ashley threw his hands infront of his face to shield his eyes from the fierce light that had struck them. He dropped his food from his hands as he squinted. He could just make out a weird shape - sort of like a small, metallic glider supported by two turbines.

He knew what happened next, he had seen many of his friends go the same way. Ashley closed his eyes and waited. He heard the guns slide out. He breathed slowly, thinking of all the people he had known and lost. Only seconds until he saw them again. He wouldn't live in hell any longer.

An Explosion ripped through the night sky.

Ashley opened his eyes. The drone had crashed into the ruins of a building, burning flames lighting the whole area. One of the turbines had broken off and landed on the opposite side of the post-apocalyptic street. As the fire danced infront of his eyes, Ashley had no idea what to do.

“Hey. Hey You! Are you hurt?”
Ashley spun around. A man had emerged from the rubble across the street. Ashley judged that the stranger was slightly older than him was. He was wearing worn black clothes, and held a huge rifle in his hands.
“Can you run? Speak? Fight?”
Ashley was still in shock. He couldn’t even think, let alone reply.
“You better be able to do something, or I am leaving you here.”
“No – no” Ashley stammered “Don’t…I can help…please…”
The stranger paused for a moment, and then made up his mind.
“Fine, then follow me. We’d better hurry; more of those drones are going to be on their way now. Nothing that interesting happening in the whole of London – hell – possibly even England, I bet.”

And he darted into the ruins. Ashley followed, his eyes adjusting to the dark underworld he had just adopted as a sanctuary.

***
Resistance Base - Newark - East Coast 2024

“Negative Jacobs, you hold for my command.”
There was a pause
“No. You have to wait for the metal to get right in your face, otherwise we can’t draw them into a crossfire.”
Another pause
“Listen, I know it’s dangerous, but we’re fighting a damn war, for God’s sake! You’re fighting in this resistance for all of humankind!”
He waited for the order to get through.
“Good, I’ll try and send some support there as well, but I can’t promise anything. Skynet’s attacking the southern perimeter as well. Understood. Over and out.”

Major Alexander Birchwood ran his hands through his hair. This was going to be close. The machines had never come this near to their base before, and the resistance that they were finding would only confirm to them that they had nearly found its location. He consulted his map. If Skynet had actually taken the bait, then they would still need some support in taking out any HK-Tanks that would surely be present if the machines really had fallen for their trap. It seem to easy though, and he couldn’t help being cautious.

He stepped out of the Ops-Room briefly.
“Where the hell is Muñez? Somebody bring his sorry ass in here!”

He thought he heard a shout of recognition down the dusty hallway, but he wasn’t able to tell. People were running everywhere. Soldiers, Officers, Civilians…he simply couldn’t tell in the swirl of people. Alexander walked back into the dark room, getting back on the radio as soon as he could.

“Come in Jacobs. This is main base Alpha, repeat, main base. What is the situation?”
Over the static, and what sounded like heavy gunfire, he heard a familiar voice.
“Pretty Fucking Bad.”
“What? Clarify situation.”
“Sorry, Pretty Fucking Bad Sir. Well, the tin cans walked right into the trap, but they’ve pinned us down pretty good. But they’re bringing up...”

There seemed to be a huge explosion at the other end, Birchwood couldn’t make anything out above the crackling sounds for several seconds.

“Jacobs. Are you there? Repeat? Are you there? Over.”
“Yes sir. They are definitely bringing up the tank sir. Tell the other company to open fire or we are simply fucking screwed.”
“Affirmative soldier. This is main base. Over and out.”


Birchwood tried furiously to connect to the other company leader. Around him many Officers were trying to do the same thing. Amongst his feverish work, a man rushed to his side.
“So, boss, what’s the situation.”

Birchwood looked up. It was Muñez. Muñez was a fine soldier, a Hispanic man - merely a boy at J-Day, who had a passion for destroying anything remotely mechanical. He should have been promoted ahead by now, but he did not want to stray to far from the battlefield.

“Right then Muñez. I want you to take a team into the Helicopter, and fill up with E.F.P’s. I need you use the chaingun to distract the 600’s and take out that Tank. You are how we win this battle. If you succeed, we win. Skynet won’t have found our location and we can scavenge valuable equipment and Intel.”

Muñez nodded once, and quickly left the room. There was a soldier you could count on, Birchwood thought. However, he was quickly interrupted when he finally made radio contact with the Captain of the other company.

“Douglas? Come in Douglas, do you read? Copy, do you read? This is main base Alpha.”
“We hear ya base, you gonna give the order or what?”
“Do you have the metal in the kill zone?”
“A-fucking-firmative. Sir.”
“Proceed to engage. Air support is en-route to deal with the tank.”
“Wait, you’re sending the chopper? Fucking swee-”

Birchwood cut Douglas off. All he could hope for now was for Muñez to get there in time before the company was obliterated by the tank. The battle was now out of his hands. Alexander Birchwood did not like that feeling.

***

Two plasma beams tore through the wall that Captain Jacobs was sheltering his men behind. The machines had been caught squarely in the middle of the crossfire, and had taken some damage. However, this did not seem to have altered their ‘primary objective’, and they seemed just as intent on wiping out this company before.

“Report!” Jacobs shouted, as he ducked from another burst of fire. “What is the strength of the squad?”
“Around 50%, Sir.” A voice replied, “We’ve taken it pretty bad.”
Jacobs looked upwards, to something, anything.
“Alright, men, listen up. We’re going to retreat to the far wall.”

The Tank had been brought up, any second now it would open fire – and the chances of surviving a full-on blast by a HK-Tank had been well documented by the Resistance in this war already. Zero.

“On the count of 3. One, Two…”

He didn’t get to finish the countdown. A metallic hand burst through the wall and dragged Captain Jacobs back out. There wasn’t time for him to scream. His men looked at each other in shock. Then the Ogre’s main cannons fired…

Across the street, Captain Douglas saw the machines eliminate the rest of the company. He paused for a moment, taking time to remember their sacrifice – for the good of humanity. He opened his eyes again.

“Don’t stop firing men, those metal motherfuckers are headed straight this way!”

He could see the fear etched on their faces. What chance did they have? They had already used up the element of surprise, and while they had inflicted losses on their enemies, the Skynet forces would be able to take them out – the last line defending the path to the base. Captain Douglas loaded his rifle.

“Remember, aim for the chips. Top-right of the head.”

The Resistance fighters unloaded their weapons at their metal foes. They did some damage, but received much heavier losses to their company for each machine they brought down. Their cover would soon be non-existent, when that Ogre reached its optimum firing position.

“Goddamnit!” Douglas cried aloud “Where the hell is support, we need them now!”

And in the dying light, his call was answered.

From the dusk sky, the helicopter appeared. It swung around the street, rockets smashing into the back of the Skynet tank, chaingun ripping into the 600’s on the ground, who were trying to pinpoint their new adversary. It swung over the Tank, and several E.F.Ps landed on its back. The helicopter climbed as the Tank’s guns swivelled towards them.

“Detonate now!” Muñez screamed, “Do it now!”

With the push of a button, the devices exploded. They tore through the back of the Tank, splitting it in half. One spark found its way to the fuel cell, and the whole thing went up. Captain Douglas had to shield himself from the blast as it ripped through the battlefield. He waited for the dust to settle. Looking out, he saw Muñez and his soldiers destroying the few operational 600’s that survived the blast intact.

Douglas could not believe his good luck. A few minutes later, it would have all been in vain, and he and his men owed their lives.
“Muñez! My friend!” he called as he ran into the now quiet scene of conflict.
“You fucking called it close pall.”
Dios mio I know.” The hispaniard was beaming. He always seemed to look calm and assured, even in the midst of hell.
“Well let’s get this thing wrapped up them. I’ll radio back to base.”

***

An hour later, they were back at base. Command had set up a perimeter, and Resistance troops were moving through their tunnels once more, trying to find the best positions to defend from an attack that would surely come through in the future.

Birchwood greeted Muñez back at base. Alexander thought of himself as the young man’s mentor. He was so young, yet so eager to fight. Alexander himself had been motivated to fight to bring humanity back, but it seemed to him that Muñez was motivated by the pure enjoyment of destroying metal.

“Glad to see you made it.”
His protégé ran towards him “I know, I know. This one was close though.”

Alexander rested his hands on Muñez’s shoulders. He’d been through a battle and didn’t seem to be tired at all. Those bright eyes just kept gleaming, no matter what they had just seen in the war.

“Listen, you better get yourself cleaned up, before we can debrief you.”
“Oh sure, boss.” Muñez began to walk away, but turned back.

“I can tell you, we salvaged some more of those plasma rifles. They bring down the tin cans just…”
he clicked his fingers “…like that. Once we put them in action you have no idea how high morale is going to get.”

Birchwood smiled and watched him go. Humanity could always surprise you – often in bad ways, but sometimes - just sometimes there was someone you could depend on. Like Connor. Birchwood had never met the legend. The one who had come out of the ashes of the nuclear war with a knowledge, and a strength. The one who took over the resistance when it looked to be at its worst. The one who had driven Skynet back, and made this a full-scale war, rather than an extermination.


“Alex.”

Birchwood was lost in his thoughts.

“Hey, Alex, wake up.”

He swivelled around. Looking at him was Olivia Carter. One of the highest-ranking female officers on the east coast. And probably the west. She was one of the few people who had access to the messages sent by Connor. Olivia worked as Birchwood’s, among others, Lt. Colonel. The rank meant she had to move quickly between Battlefield Ops and Main Command.

“We need you.”
Birchwood paused.
“We?”
“Yes. Command will be receiving a message from Tech-Com. And we want you in the room.”
“Tech-Com?” Birchwood paused. “You…You mean…Connor’s Command?”
Carter smiled. “Yes. Connor’s Command.”
“Er…so…what do you need me for? I’m not senior enough to listen to those messages.”
“You are for this one. You need to follow me. Now.”

She walked off quickly. Birchwood pushed a few junior soldiers out of the way to keep up. They passed through a few guarded doors – and after each one the hallways became less and less crowded. Eventually, the came to one that was deserted, except from soldiers standing to attention with assault rifles at the side.

“Is this it?” Birchwood asked out of the corner of his mouth.

Olivia nodded. She walked forward and knocked three times on the door. She placed her hand on a scanner. A second later, a voice answered from inside.

Who is there? Answer the question!”
Olivia sighed.
“It’s me Sharp. Open up, I brought Birchwood.”
There was a pause before the other man replied.
“How do I know you’re not one of them?”
“Because you have cameras. You’ve seen us coming, there’s been no gunfire and the dogs that I know you have on the other side of this door are not barking. No open the fuck up!”
“Jesus Carter.” Sharp replied, “Don’t know why you’re so angry. Can’t be too careful.”

Olivia stopped. She knew Sharp was right. When Skynet brought those new machines online - the ones that could wear human skin - she hadn’t slept for months. Then again, she rarely slept anyway. Connor had warned them about the new 800 series, but they still had managed to cause a lot of damage before word spread to every base on the east coast.

She led Birchwood through the door and into a large hall. At the far end a group of men were working on a bunch of devices, scuttling around, trying to find a connection. The Commanders themselves were looking around a table, trying to plot the next moves in the war.

“Commanders.” Olivia announced, “I brought Birchwood. Has Tech-Com sent word yet?”
“Negative Colonel.” Said one of the commanders. “Not yet. Glad to see you here Major. Your efforts in this war have not gone unnoticed.” “Thank you sir.” Alexander began, but he quickly found his original train of thought. “If you don’t mind me asking, why am I here? I’m nowhere near senior enough to be here, or listen to this message.”
“I have to disagree Major. I think that you’re just the man that we need.”

Before Birchwood could reply, some of the men at the transmitters shouted. They pooled around one device and ran to connect some cables.
“We’ve got it, we’ve got it. Connection coming online in three…two…one…”

The officers and mechanics alike turned to the screen. At first, nothing happened, then static flooded the audio, and lights flickered across it. Eventually, the sound and picture both stabilised, and everybody in the hall held their breath. Another communications officer was at the other end.
“Right.” He said, “We’ve got the line secured.”
“Excellent.” Said a voice from somewhere behind the man. “Let’s begin.”

Birchwood had been fighting for many years now, but he had rarely been in the company of the generals of the Resistance – the people who had the hopes of humanity. A one person in particular. Looking at the face of his leader, Alexander had the feeling that the war had only just begun.

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