Chapter 2 - Recoil

Chapter 2: Recoil

100 Metres South of Resistance Base - Newark - East Coast

Birchwood looked up at the night sky. This was the only time when he could relax, being on guard at night with no damned HK’s in the sky, though admittedly this rarely ever happened. But, at these moments, he could look up at the stars and forget, just for a moment, that he wasn’t actually where he was. He could remember that he was at home, in Virginia. He could think that he was looking at the sky with his family…

It never lasted for too long. Every so often, he would here the noise of one of the Skynet machines circling above, their lights scanning the distance. The ominous sound they made as they skimmed over the Hudson. Skynet always assumed that the Resistance would be found in New York. It had the largest population before the war, so logically…

Birchwood smirked. He couldn’t believe the machines had actually fallen for that one.

The other members of the guard were in their positions. They had masks over their faces, and were crouched underneath camouflaged pieces of cover, but Birchwood wasn’t as wary. He knew how the machines fought. He’d been fighting them for over 10 years after all. They wouldn’t attack now, but regroup to ‘optimum efficiency’, and then try to storm the base. He leant back on a wall, and slid down to the ground. He still rested his rifle on his lap, with his finger on the trigger. If the machines had planned a surprise attack, or one of those HK’s got lucky, he would be ready. He had more combat experience then any of the other men, and he bet he could survive longer than anybody else out here too.

It was a cold night. Alexander watched his breath become a mist in the chilling wind. He thought of how long he had been fighting, and how much longer there seemed to be. His past was full with the faces of people that he had lost, before and after J-Day. He was 29 years old on that day. He was coming home from work to his young son. And everything had gone. It had all perished in the fire.

“Are you Ok? You seem dazed.”
Alexander snapped out of the past. He looked into the face of Olivia Carter, her long brown hair falling over her overcoat.
“What are you doing out here? You don’t have a gun!”
She smiled, and sat down next to him.
“I’m not a Private, Alex. I know how they work. They won’t be coming for us now.”
Alexander chuckled. You couldn’t fool her. His eyes kept scanning the sky though, just in case.
“So.” Olivia began. “About what Connor said.”

Birchwood closed his eyes. It was foolish of him to think that she would leave the base and talk to him about anything except the war.

“Well, what about it.” He replied, “How much is that different to his ordinary transmissions.”
“I can’t really tell you that.”
“It’s classified.”
Alexander turned away again. “Of course.”
“But you understand the severity of the situation.”
“Well, what do you think? The commanders wanted you in that room for a reason.”
“Oh really?” Birchwood tried to keep the tone of annoyance out of his voice. “And why was I there? I’m not an expert on chemi-”

“Don’t finish that sentence.” There was an icy tone in Olivia's voice as she said that.
“Oh, let me guess.” Birchwood whispered, “Is it…Classified?”
“It is on a need-to-know basis.”
“Well, that’s certainly a different case then.”
She sighed. “It isn’t about that. We need your help. We…”
“Listen Olivia.” Birchwood stated. He spat it out, much louder than he had intended. “I don’t know anything about…about what Connor said. So you go and tell Command that I’m sorry, but I just can’t help.”

She nodded, and was about to get up before stopping.

“Alex. What do you remember most about the world? Before Judgement Day…I mean.”

Birchwood stared at her, but his mind suddenly raced back to pictures of that final day, and the rockets flooding the sky…

“I’m sorry. I guess it’s personal.”
She stood up, and walked away.
“Wait, Olivia.”
She stopped before reaching the entrance of the base, and turned to face him.
“Who was that girl in Connor’s command room?”

That caught her off guard.

“I mean, I know Perry and the others. They’re legends here, but she wasn’t wearing Army Uniform. She didn’t even say anything. She just left with Connor. Is she classified?”
She stared at him.

And then she left, leaving Birchwood to his thoughts underneath the stars.


London - United Kingdom

In a deserted underground room, three men were near to a small fire. Two were trying to warm their hands, trying to keep their mind off the cold. The other was sleeping. He didn’t seem to have a care in the world. His wavy blond hair fell off his head nonchalantly, but he held a pistol in his lap. It was something he had learned through experience, being older than the other two.

Suddenly, there was a crash at the door, followed by a knock. The men got up swiftly and pointed their guns towards the door. The glanced at each other nervously. The one who had been sleeping slowly crept towards the door, with his pistol pointed at the door straight ahead of him, not wavering a centimetre.

“Hey. Who is it?”

The man tried to keep fear out of his Southern American accent. “Tell me.”
“It’s me Dan.” Was the reply.
“Oh. James? Thank Jesus.” Dan jogged to the door “Let me get this thing open.”
“I found another survivor.”

Dan stopped. He looked at the two other men. They both had similar looks of frustration.

“We don’t have the food to support a fifth man James. You of all people know that.”
“We’ll just have to try harder to find food then. But I’m not leaving him, and you’re not going to leave me outside.”
Dan pondered this, running his free hand through his hair. “Fine. But if we don’t have enough food for him, it’s coming out of your portion.”

He flicked the locks back, and opened the door. James came inside, and dragged Ashley with him. He helped Dan shut the door, and locked it himself. When it was shut he breathed out slowly, and propped his gun up against a wall. He turned to the two other men.
“William. Simon. Good to see you.”

He walked over to the fire, and sat. They all joined him, wanting to hear what he had to say.

“So. James.” William began. “How’d you find him?”
“I didn’t.” James replied. “One of those drones did. I got him just in time.”
Dan looked at James warily. “So you took down a drone?”
“No.” James replied sarcastically “It just left him alone. Of course I took it down.”

“Shit.” Dan said. He formulated his reply. “You shouldn’t bring attention to this place.”
“I didn’t. Those machines still have no idea where we are. Relax.”
Dan smirked “Relax. Oh sure. That’ll be easy.”

He jumped up. “Give me the guns. I feel like loadin’ ‘em.”
James merely nodded. The other two complied.
“Excuse me.” Ashley started, and immediately the other three men stared back at him. “Are…Are you…soldiers?”

There was a brief silence, before they all looked at each other. Smiles started to creep onto their faces one by one. Simon was the first to burst into laughter, and the other two quickly followed. Ashley sensed that they hadn’t done so for a very long time. James was the first one to reply to the question.

“Soldiers?” He started, still chuckling. “Ashley, how old are you?”
“Er…What year is it?” Ashley asked.
“It’s 2024. December though, so it’s going to be 2025 soon.”
“Oh...Ok. Then I’m 24. Soon to be 25.”
“Really?” James asked “When were you born?”
“6th January.”
“Well Ashley.” James started. You know what day J-Day was, right?”

Even Ashley knew that one.

“April 21st 2011.”
“Ok. So, a few years later, people start coming out. Nobody knows what the fuck happened, and the military tried to impose order. By 2018 word started coming on from America that they were fighting a war. Not many people believed them. I mean, come on, a machine revolution?”
He paused for breath.
“So, gangs appeared, there was no law. It was kill or be killed really. Anarchy in the UK. Anyway, nobody was prepared when, the next year, and wave of those machines came flying over here and killed every dumb motherfucker in the open. There’s been more and more of them every year. I lived by myself for a while. Found Simon a while ago, Dan and Will last year. And now you.”
He paused again.
“So. To answer your original question. No, we’re no soldiers. There’s no army to fight for. We’re just trying to survive.”
“Not strictly true.” Said Dan, he approached the conversation, counting shotgun pellets in his hand. “Tell him about the recording.”

Ashley looked up at Dan. “Recording?”

James sighed. He glanced towards the American. “That thing? Come on. That was 6 years ago. It’s not going to tell us anything new.”

But Ashley kept pressing him. “Wait…A recording of what?”

William took the question.

“Of a message that was broadcast six years ago. From America. It’s faded, and we missed parts. I mean, they were broadcasting it worldwide. Just trying to contact somebody, anybody, I guess.”
Dan interrupted again. “I’ve found the damn thing. Wanna hear it, new kid?”
Ashley nodded, and leaned closer. However, he was disappointed with what he heard. He couldn’t really make much out. There was a lot of static, and bits of it were missing. The only parts that he could clearly make out were: “If you’re listening … are the Resistance.” And the name “Connor.”

“Who’s Connor?” Ashley asked instinctively. “What’s the Resistance?”
“Be fucked if I know.” Replied Dan “But I bet it’s that American Army what we was hearing about a few years ago.”
“Do you think he’s still alive? Do you think he lives like us?”
“Listen, Kid, Don’t asked so many questions. Seriously, just try and survive like the rest of us.”
James put a hand on Ashley’s shoulder.
“You’ll do fine." He said "Trust me.” He got up. “I’m on guard duty tonight. So try and get some sleep.”


Resistance Base - Newark - East Coast

Oscar Muñez ran through a crowd of soldiers. He pushed many to the side, earning many abusive retorts. But he didn’t care. He had to find his CO. There was an emergency, and he didn’t know what to do. He had to find the only man that could find a way out of the situation.

“Has anybody seen Birchwood?” He shouted down the halls “Major Birchwood. I need him.”

Nobody replied. Muñez tried to think of anything that could help him. Birchwood wasn’t in the Ops room and he wasn’t in his quarters. He wasn’t at the weapons depot. Nowhere. It’s as if he wasn’t in the base at all. And then it came to Muñez. He’d missed the simple truth in the chaos of the moment. Birchwood was outside. He launched himself to the nearest exit, disregarding the shouts of the guards, and burst into the open.

“Birchwood! Birchwood! We have a problem.”

His eyes scanned the rubble. Alexander was just getting up off the floor, and quickly ran towards him.

“What is it Muñez? Tell me?”
“A patrol.” panted Muñez, “A Patrol in Queens, and a big one, got blind sighted by some of those 800’s.”
Birchwood swore under his breath.
“Yeah – but they’re pinned down good. We need to get some support...”
But Birchwood was already gone, rushing inside to get to the Operations room. Muñez followed him quickly. Nobody else seemed to have noticed what had happened. Then again, Birchwood thought, that patrol had been under his command. What could he do? He asked himself. The machines would probably be sending in air support right now.
“Alright Muñez? You there?”
“Yes Sir!” The young man shouted.
“I want you to try and find commanders with patrols in that similar region. I think Richardson does, Walker does – I know that for certain. Tell them that-”

“You won’t tell them anything.”

“What the-” Alexander looked up “Olivia, what now? What now! People’s lives are at stake.”
“Command has already given orders. That patrol made a mistake, it’s nearly finished. We can’t send more men to fix the mess, we would just incur heavy losses on ourselves and probably give Skynet a clue to the location of this base.”

Birchwood started at her for a second.

“Alex.” She continued “I know it isn’t easy, but –”
“Easy? Olivia! There are men out there! They need to be saved! We can’t let the machines have them, we have to –”
“We have to do what. Listen Major, I know it’s tough, but we can’t save everybody in this war.”

Birchwood swept past here into the Ops room and went straight for the radio.

“Don’t do anything Major.” She shouted, “That is an order.”

Birchwood paused, but found the frequency anyway. Immediately, sounds of gunfire came through. Sounds of explosions, maybe some screams. It was hard to tell, everything blended into a weird wall of sound. Birchwood tried to make the signal clearer, but it didn’t really help.

“Is…Is somebody there?” said a voice over the radio. “Can someone hear me…”
“Calm down soldier.” Birchwood said, “Who is this?”
“Oh…me…I’m no-one, a Private. Just got the radio…”
“Listen. What is your position? This is Major Birchwood.”
“Thank God. Yes, Sir, they’ve pinned us down. They’ve got some pretty big weapons as well, and I think those HK’s are going to appear soon too…”

Olivia walked up behind Birchwood.
“You can’t help them Alex.”

“We need support…” The Private said, “We need it now, otherwise we’re all going to be dead...”
Alexander grasped the transmitter again.
“How many members of the patrol are still alive?”
“Oh…er…I guess…fifteen of us here. Maybe some more scattered…somewhere…”

“Listen to me!” Olivia said sternly “We can’t win every fight, we don’t have the power to do this. They don’t have the time.”

Alexander didn’t say anything.

“Please!” The voice continued, “Help us. Help us! Please! We need support!”

Birchwood looked up at Olivia. She shook her head. Alexander looked down at the floor for a second, and then returned to the transmitter.

“I’m sorry Private…” he began.
“What…What? Sorry?”
“We don’t have the men…the time…We can’t do anything.”
“No! You don’t have to this. We need help. HELP! PLEASE!!”

But Alexander had put the transmitter down. He turned a dial in the midst of the Private’s screaming, and broke the connection. Nobody in the room said anything, and the silence seemed to stretch out. Eventually Alexander stood up, and walked away. Olivia wanted to say something, but she couldn’t think of the words.


A few days later, Alexander received some orders. They’d been passed down from Command to him. He, along with three other special-ops fighters, were to escort Olivia to a location outside of Newark. It said it was a top-secret mission, and that the location was only to be revealed ‘On a need to know basis.’ He grudgingly went to the command room later that day. Only one of the Generals - Commander Wallace - was there. He smiled as Alexander entered the room, and tried to embrace him, but didn’t receive the warm welcome that he’d expected from the Major.

“A Covert Operation? What the hell!”

The commander tried to calm him down.
“Listen Major. This is a secret mission of the upmost importance. We cannot risk it being jeopardised in any way.”
“What other kind of mission is there? But what I still don’t get is why you need me.” Birchwood said, pointing to himself.

“We need you” Wallace explained “Because you are an excellent soldier.”
“And she needs protecting?”
“Lt. Colonel Carter is one of our best officers, and we need her to collect these orders. Now, I need to ask if you will be able to comply with this mission, or we need to find somebody else.”

Birchwood paced for a few more seconds, but didn’t carry on with his rant. He tried to control his frustration and turned to face the Commander again.

“What about Muñez?” he asked.
“As soon as you leave, we shall inform Major Muñez of the situation.”

This made Birchwood pause.

“Major Muñez?”
“Well, I thought it’s about time you did that.”
“So did we. Ah, here she is.”

Olivia walked through the door, with the three Special Forces agents behind her. They were bulky, dressed in black, and were carrying the largest assault rifles Alexander had ever seen and a healthy collection of grenades.

“Olivia, would you care to explain to Alexander what this is about.”
“Yes Commander.”

Birchwood turned to face her.
“We need to rendezvous with a group of fighters sent by Connor.”

Birchwood waited for her to continue.

“Wait. That’s it?”
“And they came from Tech-Com?”
“Some of them, Yes.”
“Where are we –”
“Need to know.”
“Fine. If you’re not going to tell me where then tell me why.”

Olivia and the Commander exchanged looks.

“I’m serious." Alexander continued "You tell me now, or I’m not going.”
The Commander turned to Birchwood.
“You know those heavy Skynet patrols over the North-East?”

Birchwood nodded.
“Well, it turns out that they aren’t really Patrols. We believe that Skynet is delivering something. They’ve got a lot of HK’s and larger aerial mcachines."
“Wait…delivering where?”
“The UK.” Birchwood paused. “Ok. So they found some Resistance in Britain. Big Deal."

The commander stepped closer to Birchwood.

“Oh, it is a big deal Major. Btecause there is no British Resistance – and Skynet is doing something there.”

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