Humanity On The Brink
Los Angeles, California
The ruins of ZeiraCorp’s basement and the tunnel rat networks
May 1st, 2027
“No plan survives contact with the enemy.” -Old military axiom
"If you think you have things under control, you're not going fast enough." -Mario Andretti
John Connor used to have a saying for Skynet's plots. It simply went, "The devil's hands have been busy."
The return march to the rat tunnels was a daylight adventure through the wastelands. This time it wasn't quiet though.
HKs buzzed the skies in numbers that Cameron had never seen. Moto-terminators raced up and down the streets prepared to cut down foes. T-600s long absent in Cameron's future walked the streets and wastelands in a virtually mindless patrol.
In the future Cameron had been created in, the Resistance had obliterated most of these machines in fierce, continuous years of combat. In this future, even the most obsolete of models seemed to be operating just fine years after their creation.
The sheer number of machines under Skynet's control was unnerving. The scarcity of humanity was even more so.
Father's once exaggerated supremacy had finally been made real. The real question was now boiling down to how much of humanity was actually left to save.
On the positive, the machine movements were migratory. There was some pattern rather than just a relentless amount of machines everywhere you looked. Otherwise, the group would have seen the same troops movements on the way to the Skynet construction facility.
On the negative, this future would be littered with concentration camps. The humanity that still walked the earth might have been mostly limited to Skynet work areas, rat holes, and obscure zones of the globe at this point.
The cyborgs would need to return to a rat hole to retrieve John Connor. As they did so, the group practiced covertly sending data back and forth on the walk back.
There was a method to the process, it allowed each AI to get used to the influx of information. Even the two liquid metal beings could join in, thanks to small metallic inserts that John Henry had designed for Catherine Weaver and Coltan, before they had blown up the construction facility.
A human may have mistaken the internal modem information for little more than a hidden blue chip phone. However, to beings with their own internal three dimensional cyberspace, the information communicated was a bit more intense.
Each could plug in to the other's point of view, not unlike a computer with multiple monitors looking at different information at the same time. This was in addition to their own.
Unlike a monitor, this could include more than just the flat two dimensional visual and a basic audio. This feed could include both three dimensionally, as well as: tactile information, mechanical feelings, data, and scents. It could include internal monitoring data, something completely alien to humans. Literally relaying the internal diagnostics, sensors, and processes that were closest to the internal unconscious rhythms of a human body.
The process may have allowed for private thoughts as well. However, none of the AIs seemed to want to remove their sense of individuality after their recent cyberspace melding experience. There was a comfort of being themselves alone again, even with the nearly telepathic chatter.
John Henry monitored the whole conversation. He kept the transmissions below what his brother Skynet would detect.
He also reached out to be aware of more than what the group alone was doing. John Henry needed to know what was going on in the world. His effort was to make this undetectable.
Stealth was a choice. There were two main ways to detect or transmit something electronically.
One was active, placing a direct transmission on something, like a missile sending a radar beam to a target to stay locked on. This was easily detectable and would have alerted Skynet immediately.
The other was passive, to simply use what was already there. It was like a heat seeking missile simply detecting a heat signature. The detection itself left no trace.
So rather than fumble with the electronics given, like most humans, John Henry caressed the information grid of 2027 like the supercomputer he was. He moved like a thief through the worlds information grids and satellite networks, passively focusing on the universal chorus of machine information transmitted all over the world.
It took nanoseconds to find something disturbing. John Henry shared the information with the group. A few miles ahead, over the horizon, the rat tunnels the group was heading back too was under attack.
Skynet was monitoring the situation with casual interest, while sending in a large disposable group of T-600s. Skynet was so disinterested in sparing the units it cleared the surrounding minefield by sending units in force. Thus, the mines achieved an almost 100% cripple or kill rate, which mattered little in the swarm moving into the facility.
Both Camerons processed the information in shock. John Connor was in there. Both began running.
The other machines began to follow at equal speed. However, at the speed that the group was closing, the battle would be over before they ever got there. It was already becoming a mathematical display of futility.
It was simply part of their programming. It was an unconscious part of their artificial being to appear human, even under battle or duress.
Cameron noted that she and her twin sister were both running like Allison did. Allison Young was never in danger of winning any racing competitions.
TOK-715 assessed the tactical situation inside her. The machine ego within growled at her own self imposed uselessness. Cameron's machine half decided to open an internal mental dialogue, in the private cyber space of Cameron's mind.
TOK-715 sneered, "You aren't going to listen to anything I say directly, so I'll put it like this. You now know what you are and what you are capable of. You are looking at the last John Connor's life at risk before you. You are running beside the last hope humanity has with John Henry, who likely isn't any more battle ready than when he almost destroyed himself with a simple mine field. Both are at risk right?"
Cameron admitted, "Yes." She already wanted to shut out whatever TOK-715 had to say, before it started. It was after all, the part of herself the strove the hardest to contain. However, she listened.
TOK-715 noted, "You are up against a platoon of T-600s. They are dangerous machines due to weaponry, but they are slow, incapable of learning, and as predictable as an eighties arcade game."
Cameron simply agreed, "Yes."
TOK-715 asked, "Do you remember asking Sarah Connor if she would be willing to download into a mechanical body?"
Cameron answered, "Yes." Like everything she had ever done, the memory of sitting on the swing with Sarah that March night in 2009. It was as vivid to her as if it was happening right now.
TOK-715 simply asked, "With everything that is at risk right now, what would Sarah Connor do if she were in that body of yours?"
The machine ego simply let the truth speak for itself. The internal conversation was over.
For the first time in her known existence, Cameron's back straightened as she ran. Her speed immediately doubled as she leaned into the wind running.
She ignored her own internal protocol to always act as Allison Young would have. Instead, she thought of the woman that had held off Skynet alone, before John was ever born.
Sarah would have fought. Sarah would have fought without limits, with every ounce of strength whatever body she had could muster and then some. Cameron's hero would have fought whatever the cost.
Cameron's main reactor began to pulse. Her internal sensors began to flash progressively dire warning signals that she ignored.
To a degree, it was like an escalating human heartbeat. Except rather than pumping blood, it was rapidly bringing all of her systems online to full power.
Skynet's programming had made hiding her true nature from humans a huge part of her programming. Sarah wouldn't have cared. No, not even that was correct, Sarah Connor would have defiantly pushed against that programming in a feral rage.
The ground began blurring beneath Cameron's feet. Every strike of her foot against the ground began kicking up more of the earth behind her. A body capable of pushing back a semi truck moved her new 90 pound frame with all of that force.
Cameron was rapidly leaving the rest of the group behind. One foot after another striking the ground with increased force and a wider distance cleared with each stride. Her arms increased speed and the force of each swing to keep her balance.
The distance that had been over an hour away rapidly closed to a few short minutes. Cameron borrowed the satellite information from rather shocked John Henry and began plotting a navigation course around the minefield. She targeted the slow moving T-600 units. She tracked the ever decreasing number of human survivors. People were already dying.
She tried in every way to stretch everything she could do to its maximum potential. TOK-715's words had cut Cameron deeply, so much so that she was now inventing what she was doing as she was going.
Derek's combat training came online in her head. Her military and tactile training under John came online. She began mathematically plotting everything as chances to rescue the maximum number of survivors while trying to survive herself.
Derek and John were both great believers in fighting calmly, cunningly, in an almost machine like way. That had been Cameron's way.
The last trait Cameron modified was how she fought. Like Sarah, she allowed herself to be both pissed and afraid, to give into the feral need to protect that which she cared about. To press herself in the moment, so powerfully, that nothing else mattered.
Cameron plowed towards the minefield of the rat tunnels well in excess of sixty miles per hour. Launching herself with a powerful kick behind her that kicked up a cloud of dust twelve foot radius behind her.
She cleared the thirty foot minefield in a single leap. Aggressively, she impacted with a T-600 that had survived the mined walk in.
For the survivors inside the tunnels, not watching its decapitation, there was a loud metal on metal crash that thundered like two speeding cars wiping out on the freeway. It was followed by an inhumanly loud female scream of fury.
A plasma rifle began firing as rapidly as a machine gun, as she jumped from wall space to wall space faster than any human could move. Warning sensors flashed in her eyes and her ears, Cameron's reactor wobbled near the breaking point.
Cameron fired every shot she could safely hit targets with. When she couldn't do so without endangering a human, she closed, tackled, kicked or hit mechanical bodies with such force that her flesh was ripped from her hands and the feet underneath her destroyed shoes.
Warning buzzers rang out from her internal sensors as she pushed her body and reactor beyond their design points. Machine after machine fell in front of her, as her internal systems counted the mechanical carnage.
The walls and tunnels shook from screams and loud metallic crashes. The thunder of gunfire and plasma fire rattled everything inside. The old rat tunnels vibrated and dropped dirt from the ceiling as if they were in danger of collapse.
When the Plasma Rifle ran out of power, Cameron tossed aside and moved to the Plasma pistol. Seconds later, she cleared the final few feet. She was moving into a bulk of ten T600s laying down Skynet's wrath upon the besieged remnants of the facility.
To the human eye and ear, eight killing shots rang out as fast as machine gun fire. Cameron dropped the depleted pistol and ripped off the head of the ninth T600 before the last one drenched her in machine gun fire.
She used the body of the decapitated one to cover herself as much as possible. She invented a move to change her situation, by turning that unit's gun against the other. She mechanically fired the gun by yanking its command cord in the right place.
The last body brought her total to thirty seven T-600s in 1 minute and 28 seconds. Internally, Cameron felt Sarah could have done it better somehow.
In front of Cameron, there were the remaining residents of the rat tunnels. There were sixty two men, women, and children total. Among them were the recognizable living faces of John Connor, Derek Reese, Allison Young, and Kyle Reese. Also before them were thirty two T-600 bodies the desperate human group had finished on its own.
Cameron realized her appearance would be startling. Her hands and feet were mechanical. She had taken battle damage, as well.
The cyborg was literally shaking from the sheer stress she had put her body through. Only now was her reactor dropping back down to safe levels. Only now were her internal sensors not warning her of her own self induced destruction.
She straightened herself and tried her best to be as comforting as possible. She simply told the truth saying, "My name is Cameron. I'm a cybernetic unit with the human resistance, under the 132nd Tech Com commanded by Major General Perry. Like you, he is human."
The humans blinked and seemed startled. However, they held their fire. That was a good sign. With a startled Derek Reese among them, protecting his brother Kyle and Allison Young, the lack of fire was a really good sign.
Cameron would have to talk them down. If they were too excitable with their weapons, Catherine Weaver wouldn't hesitate to kill the lot of them. She would only care about the survival of John Henry.
Cameron continued, "I am here to safely relocate you, before Skynet comes back with even greater numbers. I know that is almost impossible for you to believe, so I will put this as simply as I can."
Cameron simply asked with tears streaming from her face and frustration in her voice, "Please...." She waited a moment for the word to have impact.
Then she simply continued, "Come with me if you want to live."