Major General Justin Perry

Perry

Major General Justin Perry
 

Avila Beach, California
Serrano Point Nuclear Power Plant
July 2nd, 2027

 

"For by wise council thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counselors there is safety" -Proverbs 24:6, The King James Bible

"You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop the war, which can only be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride." -General William Tecumseh Sherman, letter to the City of Atlanta

"I regard the death and mangling of a couple thousand men as a small affair, a kind of morning dash — and it may be well that we become so hardened." -General William Tecumseh Sherman, in a letter to his wife, (July 1864)
 
 

Cameron walked the facility. Coltan silently stalked behind her.

She'd long ago stopped trying to understand the metal dog or its odd obsession with her. The truth is in time the whole thing had become mildly amusing.

It was probably just a machine thing. There was something positive about the rhythm and pattern to the liquid metal being's actions, it was an almost soothing regularity in the chaos.

That and it took much of the sting out of who she'd need to talk to next. Tracking and watching Coltan's odd behavior let the TOK-715 not obsess over what to do or how to act in ten thousand different ways.

She spent those moments watching the facsimile animal tail her. She dutifully ignored the shadows and let the LM dog think she didn't know it was there.

Her own predator instincts calculated its patterns and tracked its movements. She ignored it as if it was a target she was tailing.

Her HUD treated the whole thing as a combat situation. Targeting windows came up. Sound syntheses tracked sounds and estimated distances. She ran continuous estimates on its actions which varied in their actual accuracy to what happened.

The dog had adapted to the game. It was increasingly less predictable in its stealth movements.

The time for the game had ended however. Cameron had arrived...




There was a storm coming. Perry could feel it in his bones. These days of quiet would end soon enough.

Mankind would have to face the machines in battle again. This issue was what was left of humanity to pick up that fight.

The General scowled at the troops in front of him. He noted their ability to move as a group, it was less than impressive.

Given the high stakes and the horrible urgency involved, nanite fast loading was an acceptable way to get the troops that weren't trained up to speed. The knowledge and skill imprintings didn't seem to teach things that were critical though.

Perry would have to close the gaps between what the people should be and what they were. Then, he'd have to see who could adapt to actual combat pressure and who survived.

Perry noted Cameron's approach. Even as he watched the field work of the fifty two earlier volunteers that had just become the officers of the new division Perry was building.

Being to the point by nature, Perry simply and coldly inquired, "So are with us or them now?" He never even bothered to look at Cameron.

Cameron was mildly shocked, "With you, how can you even ask that?" Her face was less than machine like. Without meaning too, she showed how much it wounded on her face, the way Sarah had once taught her.

Perry pressed, "You refused a direct and lawful order."

Cameron replied, "The order had potential consequences negative to the mission and your lives." She was stunned that Perry couldn't clearly see that.

Perry informed "Then it was your duty to respectfully inform your superior of that. If he didn't change his mind, it was your duty to comply exactly as lawfully ordered. You knew better." Perry's manner was cold, like a father bitterly disappointed in a wayward daughter.

Cameron became silent and reflective. Perry was right, in the military sense it was what she should have done. She wasn't exactly why she had failed to do so at the time, so she remained silent.

Perry continued, "Over three billion people died because people were doing what they wanted. People started getting sloppy and self righteous. The mob is almost always the stupidest expression of human will and that collective stupidity had a high price."

"On that note of people acting like retarded jackasses, what the Hell were you and John thinking?"

Perry glared at Cameron. She shrunk a bit from the gaze.

She thought of ten thousand answers. She went with the only one that made sense. She simply said, "It just happened."

Perry repeated, "It just happened." Unexpectedly, Perry let the matter drop. The General smiled like a wistful father with a fond memory.

He offered, "Did you ever wonder how you were caught by us in the first place?"

Cameron remained silent. She just looked at him.

Perry continued, "You were perfect. Warm, living eyes, personable and likeable, other than dogs, there was no way to tell you weren't human. You were a perfect illusion, nothing like any of the other models we saw before or since."

"So what was my earlier model's mistake?" Curiosity got the better of her. Her own perfectionism wanting to know how mot to fail again.

"You came in wearing Derek's Lieutenant bars and a 132nd jacket. I always know all of my officers and I didn't know you. I let you pass by me, with a smile, and I put you down with a plasma pistol shot to the back of your reactor and then your back up. I never would have gave it a second thought."

"So why was I spared? How did I end up in John's inner circle?"

"John got curious. It was probably a mistake telling him how you had done such a good job being an illusion. He wanted to see what you had been programmed with personally. We got the shock of our lives when he opened up your head."

"Which was?"

"Do you even know what your chip is Cameron?"

She calmly answered, "A TOK-715 chip."

Perry clarified, "It is an altered legacy chip. It is what Skynet uses to make advanced backup copies of itself to send back in time to make sure it can't be completely killed by us in the present. They're normally internally carried by a terminator series back in time, but it is never an actual part of a carrier unit. You are the closest thing we've ever done to actually capturing Skynet."

Cameron could have felt the world slipping beneath her. She had dozens of conversations with John insisting she wasn't Skynet. To be tied somehow so closely to her Dark Father was the most demoralizing and degrading thing she could calculate.

"You see a legacy chip isn't something we could have studied, it simply would have loaded its AI viruses and taken over anything we put it in. We'd encountered these things before with units we destroyed when capturing TDEs. There was no translation point though. There was no way to study or learn from what we had captured."

"You were our Rosetta Stone. You were our first chance to really understand the enemy. So you were spared and brought right to our inner circle, so we could learn from you."

Perry continued, "We went through your visual records first. Which is how we learned that you had captured, killed and downloaded Allison Young. Her mind imprint was there but it wasn't something we could completely access; otherwise, we would have known about her and Derek's relationship, which would have added morale implications to keeping you in that body."

"Next we learned about you capturing and interrogating Derek Reese with several others in an abandoned basement. It's where you got your bars from that damned you. Lucky for John, he didn't lose his Uncle like he thought he did."

Cameron continued to be quiet. Her entire world was numbed by what Perry was saying. She felt alone, ugly, and disgusting.

Perry mused, "You know the funniest thing happened where Derek was involved too."

Cameron asked, "What would that be?" She was so off kilter that her voice modulation was off. She sounded like a cheap copy of a machine.

"He was spared by Skynet. Right at the moment he should have been slaughtered, he was spared with his group. The interrogation site was abandoned. An axe was left behind to make their escape even more convenient."

She blurred, "Why?" Cameron's voice was so off it sounded like she was damaged.

Tears streamed down her eyes as they glowed red as her own inhumanity displayed itself. She never wanted to be human or envied that.

However, Cameron felt defective and substandard to any other machine at the moment. She was somehow tainted. The legacy chip comment was only increasing her distress the more she thought about it. That and Skynet's strange actions, even when it was something she would have wished for.

Perry continued explaining in length, "Yeah, that's the real question. It's all the things happening at that time. Allison Young is captured in August and is declared a recruit MIA. Skynet builds you on September 2nd, 2027. You fail an attempt to infiltrate a recruitment camp on September 5th.

Derek's group goes missing looking for Skynet's first TDE that John predicted on September 6th. September 8th, you begin interrogating Derek Reese in some abandoned house's basement."

You attempted infiltration of the 132nd's forward command on September 9th and I take you down. We reprogram you and take you and twenty T-888s with us on September 12th, capturing Topanga. Thus, we have a prototype TDE created with Jet Engines. We also end up sending Derek's brother SGT Kyle Reese into the past to protect John's mother from assassination."

September 14th, against any precedence, rhyme or reason, Skynet directly chooses to spare Lieutenant Derek Reese and his team. Skynet even goes so far as to abandon the place where you had interrogated Derek at and leaving them an axe to escape their chains with."

Cameron asked, "Why?"

Perry theorized, "Yeah, Cameron, that's the real question. Why did the most sophisticated intelligence in the world set into motion something that would upset its own infiltration operations that quickly? Did it not trust you? Did it fear you were captured? Did it fear you had defected to us or the free machines? Did it know you had been in the Topanga operations even after we cut all surveillance? If it did know where you were and where we moved the TDE, why didn't Skynet nuke the facility instead of letting us do time operations for four months?"

Cameron stated, "I don't know."

Perry said, "Neither do I and that's what bugs me. You were with us for just four short months. We did more than we ever had before in that time, but we also lost the entire world."

He continued, "You stayed with John. I took Derek to Serrano Point for pre operation training. He jumps a month prior to you, which was a longer wait than intended, but he got sick on a special operation that he volunteered for."

He offered, "You rescue John and I from an apparently unstoppable loss. When we reviewed your new back up chip here, we learned Skynet had captured you.

This was when both John and I should have been dead. The odd thing is Skynet releases you, yet again. Why would it do that after all of its efforts to capture or destroy you?"

Cameron stated, "I don't know."

"Again, Cameron, it is the not knowing that bugs me." Perry's message in that was clear. Skynet never did anything without a purpose. Whatever that was should be enough to worry both of them.

"Why John?" Perry's tone was almost amused, yet reflective.

"I don't understand the question, Justin." Cameron was shocked enough that her eyes stopped glowing and her tears stopped.

"If you were going to bond that way with any human being why did you have to pick John Connor?" Again, Perry seemed amused by the absurdity.

"He was hurt and he was in pain." She could recall that first November night like it was happening right now. Everything had grown from that moment.

"The whole damn world is in pain. That doesn't help me understand."

Cameron feebly asked, "Do you know why he picked me?" Justin had successfully shattered her self esteem for the moment, she really was asking the question. She had gone back to feeling so vile from the legacy chip knowledge that it didn't make sense to her.

Perry shared, "World Leaders have always done strange things Cameron. You know what the Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill all have in common from World War Two?"

Cameron stated, "They were leaders of large nations of the Allies, each was their own human cult of personality. At the time, they were each considered to be great leaders too their respective peoples."

Perry mused, "That, plus each was an alcoholic by today's standards and each was having an affair on his wife." His meaning was that what the people saw in mass, wasn't always the entirety of the man. That no matter how much someone was revered, they were in the end, only human. That no matter the irrational double standards, imposed by the do as I say and not as I do masses, leadership was typically just as human and prone to mistakes as they were.

"Perry, that's not fair." Cameron knew this was a comparison to John, it was pissing her off. She might have felt disgusting, but she wasn't about to hear someone smear John's character.

"You know John F. Kennedy was married and had a pool built at the White House just to check out the girls he wanted to have affairs with." Perry had no original intention of continuing examples, but Cameron's reaction had now made this funny. He was now just goading a comrade.

"There is nothing wrong with John Connor or perverted about him." Anger coiled within her, tears streamed even as she accessed savage levels of electronic rage.

"Says his robotic girlfriend." That Justin Perry said it with a smile didn't reduce the sting of the words. He found the look on her face to be priceless.

The general switched verbal tactics, he wasn't done yanking her chain. "I thought you would have had more self esteem than this Cameron."

"I don't understand."

"Does John even take you seriously?"

She was stunned at the question.

"You bonded with a man that never follows your advice or security assessments. Are you sure you mean something to him?"

Cameron was silent. Her answers wouldn't make sense to someone who was sense blind.

"Do you remember when John sent you to find Jeep headlight fluid?"

Cameron sheepishly replied, "Yes." Cameron had dutifully gone looking for the nonexistent liquid for three days on the base. Even though her chip's mechanical data storage had not known the ingredient nor its mechanical use. She had assumed it was a resistance modification on blind faith that John Connor had said it was needed; therefore, it must exist. It had happened in September 2027, when the resistance had first reactivated her and she was only a few days old.

"What about when he sent you around the base for an ID Ten Tea form?"

Once again, she sheepishly replied, "Yes." ID Ten Tea forms were a phonetic joke, it worked out to spell ID10T or the word idiot in English. Again, it had been within a day of the last prank.

"How about the staff meeting where you looked at a vacuum sealed cookie jar and asked for one. Then John said the jar wasn't cookies, he had filled it with the remains of his beloved grandmother. Do you remember that?"

Cameron failed to respond to that one. It had occurred October 3rd 2027, at her first tech meeting as John's technical adviser and proposed AI diplomat. Cameron had been momentarily mortified at gravity of the social mistake. Her non emotional look of shock had caused great amusement for the rest of the inner circle staff.

"Do you see my point?"

"That I am not worthy of John?"

"That isn't what I'm saying Cameron. Did you ever meet Kate Connor?"

"No."

"She was a great lady. She was also an Irish redhead, she gave as good as she got. If you are to survive being in the human land of the alpha dogs you might do better to be more like Kate."

"I don't understand."

"John embarrassed the Hell out of her in public one day, so back at base, she shot him in the rear with a tranquilizer gun. It was one of the funniest things I ever saw."

Cameron just looked at Perry. He wasn't making sense. Shooting someone with a tranquilizer dart was not an acceptable means of peaceful mediation to a relationship problem.

"Ok, John pulled some of his practical joke crap on me when we first met. Being a man of classic maneuvers I filled his boots with oatmeal one cold December morning, right before we were inspecting a new base. Something that took us three hours. That was the last time John Connor showed me his more obnoxious side."

Cameron watched Perry intently. She didn't get the metaphor. Right now she was calculating a waste of food, what must have been a miserable experience for John, and a slight risk of sickness from temperature exposure.

Perry smiled and stated, "You'll figure it out. I have faith."

"Why would you?"

"You know that quiet reflective nature you have Cameron? The part of you that questions everything? The part of you that wants things to be right no matter what?"

"Yes."

"John might have programmed your base commands and functions. However, I was the one that re-programmed your personality. As dangerous as you could potentially be, I needed to absolutely know you would be something other than the Skynet drone that was part of your core nature."

"Why would that way of thinking make you believe I would be something different?"

"I knew someone like that once."

"You aren't making sense Justin. Why would you think those traits would make a good person or machine?"

"Because before a Skynet attack took her from me forever, that was the personality of my little girl."

Justin was finished talking. He'd shared more than he had intended too. Cameron knew not to press.

Perry went back to observing the troops. There was a storm coming...









Summer
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