"Alright, so what if we tried to get a squad from one of the downtown bunkers?" Colonel Aaron Lewis questioned, leaning against the table
The tall, African American captain, Leroy Conway, crossed his arms and shook his head firmly. "No way. Too much damned metal in that place to take any number of men from the D-T zone. Best bet would be to take a couple squads from one of the outskirt bunkers. Not much metal out there, now is there?" Conway stated, laying his M16 against the table.
Lewis clenched his fists together. "Son of a bitch. Any block in this city the metal doesn't control right now, captain?"
Conway stood, staring down at the maps laid out in front of them. The tunnels shook and dirt and dust fell from the ceiling. "We've lost contact with most bunkers in this fucking area. The closest bunker we have contact with is Romeo Bunker and they're about to be over-run by a set of Ogre tanks and T-800s. We might be able to take in whatever soldiers get outta there but we gotta be careful about the triple eight infiltrators Skynet's got running the show now." The captain said, grabbing his helmet off the table and securing it onto the top of his head.
"Yeah, no shit. Tell me something I don't know. What about Connor and his bunker? They still online?" Lewis questioned his subordinate.
"Last I heard he was back at Bakersfield." Conway stated, lighting a home-wrapped cigarette into his mouth, lighting it with a grateful inhale.
Suddenly, interrupting the two, a soldier bursted in holding an old, pre-Judgement Day M249 machine gun. He took off his helmet, set down his weapon and saluted the two. "Sirs, bad news from D-T bunker. We got overrun and scattered. Most of us made it out thanks to a reprogrammed metal holding off a couple of the T-800s." The soldier, a male Hispanic sergeant reported.
Conway slammed his fist down on the table. "Fuck. D-T bunker was the last stop before ours, colonel." The captain paused and turned to the survivor. "Sergeant, name?"
"Sergeant Hernandez, J." He responded with a quick wipe of his dirty, black smudged face.
"Alright, Hernandez. Captain Conway at your service. And this is Colonel Lewis. You gather up some tunnel rats and start setting up explosives out on the main roads for those metal fuckheads. Slow 'em down a bit if you can but don't do anything crazy. We don't have the plasma to spare, as you probably know. We lost a good chunk of our stores at Seronna point, as you probably already know since you're lugging an M249 around. It's gonna be a bitch to take down metal now." Conway stated, pausing as another explosion shook the core of the bunker tunnel. "The armory's next door. Talk to Corporal Skinner. Tell him to give you some AP rounds for that thing and if he don't got any find a weapon that he does have AP for. Good hunting, sarge. Dismissed." Conway saluted Hernandez, who returned it as swiftly as it came.
The captain returned to discussing tactics and map work with the colonel as Hernandez left. He exited the radio room and immediately went left to the armory. There was no line, only a single Resistance fighter standing behind a cage-like wall, with stacks of weaponry, ammo and explosives on the racks behind him. "Skinner, right? I need AP rounds for an M249." Jack said, laying his heavy machine gun down on the shelf in front of the Staff Sergeant.
"No can do, sarge. I'm fresh out of AP for just about everything that isn't a handgun. I've got an RPG and three rockets you can take instead but that's all. I'd grab an M4 or M16 as counterweight." Skinner advised, handing the unloaded RPG through the lockable cutout in the cage to Jack.
Jack took it and began removing the three hundred round ammo belts that he wore around his chest. He set those down and slung the RPG around his shoulders. "I'll take an M16." Jack opted, choosing the accuracy of an M16 over the rapidness of an M4 carbine.
Skinner nodded, grabbing an M16 from the wall behind him. "This model has two functions. Single and three round burst. I can give you four full jungle-taped magazines. So eight magazines in retrospect. Two hundred and forty bullets. Won't put a dent in one of those metal fuckers but it's better than nothing. Try and save the RPG for Ogres or Centaurs. You won't stop the ogre but it'll slow it down. Good luck out there, tunnel rat." The armory master stated, crossing his arms as Jack loaded one of the three rockets into the rocket launcher.
Jack nodded. "I'll need it, brother. Stay safe." He stated, about facing to leave the armory in a brisk jog. Metal was getting closer. He could tell. The shaking was becoming more and more frequent from the explosions top side. "I need six rats!" The sergeant shouted to the groups of soldiers that were sitting idle, standing in front of a -Hang In There, Baby!- tag depicting a Terminator skull inside of a large sized wolf's mouth.
Two men stood up immediately, one private and a corporal both of which armed with the now more rare plasma rifles. Jack sure as hell missed his. It had been requisitioned for a, quote-unquote, better cause. He knew that was such bullshit. Some officer at the back of the lines just wanted something shiny to pretend to shoot it in some no-name skirmish with some stray metal. "I still need four more. Volunteer or I'll volunteer you myself." Jack stated, holding his M16 relaxed with the safety off across his chest.
Three more stood up, these ones holding different weaponry completely. The corporal of the bunch was holding an M4 while the first private held a twelve gauge Mossberg security shotgun. He had sawed off half of the barrel for closer combat. The second private held only a forty five caliber submachine gun.
Jack waited until a large, meaty sergeant, who he happened to know, cradling a rocket launcher in his arms with the plasma equivalent of a heavy machine gun slung across his back stood up with a nod of his head towards Jack.
"Good. You six listen up. The downtown bunker has been overrun. I know Joey, the Goliath of sergeants right there, made it out with me. That means the metal is heading this way. We're gonna setup a couple gifts for the tanks along the main ways. We don't have long. Metal's mounted and they've got air support. Three Hunter Killers and two Ogres, last I saw. Could be more. At least one tracked transport. Basically a large APC. You see that thing you best tell me so we can hit that S.O.B with everything we have. Understood?" Jack questioned, holding his M16 casually in one hand, pointing upwards.
A murmur of yeps and yeahs came from the six Resistance fighters. "Make sure whatever squad you're in knows you're out in the soup. Grab chow, too. If your will ain't written I'd grab chow to go and get a pen and paper. Meet at the door topside in ten mikes." Jack ordered, flipping the safety of his rifle on and off.
The group scattered to various places, most of them heading to grab whatever slop they were referring to as chow today in the mess. Jack sighed and hopped into the line, grabbing an old pie pan that was being used as a tray for slop. The line slowly shuffled forward as every soldier and civilian got served their allowance for the night. When Jack reached the slop bucket, a civilian who drew the short straw slopped on a spoonful of some white mush.
"Rice and cat food. Think of it as meat. Another spoonful for all topside patrols. That means you and whoever you chose, sarge." The well informed server stated, pulling up another spoonful of the mush to slop onto Jack's tray.
Jack grimaced and moved to find a quiet spot to sit. Another explosion shook the bunker and dirt fell from the ceiling. Jack hunched over his food to keep it from getting into his dinner. He laid his M16 up against an old cabinet and sat down next to it, legs crossed. The door topside into the subway was one more tunnel down the way.
The sergeant took his mud soaked, fingerless gloves off only to expose equally dirty hands. He picked up a piece of cat food with his fingers and shoveled the salty mush into his mouth, thankful for every bite he got. Jack knew he'd puke it up later but it was good for now. He pulled his canteen off his belt and took a swig of the water.
As he went to put it back into its holster on his belt, his eyes caught someone else. A boy. Couldn't be over ten. The boy stared blankly at the sergeant as he ate. Jack paused and motioned for the boy to come over.
The boy hesitated before standing up from his spot opposite of Jack and walking over.
Jack smiled and pulled his backpack off. He unzipped the pack and dug around a little before smiling as he slowly pulled something out. He paused, staring at the anxious, nervous kid. Jack pulled his hand out the rest of the way.
The boy's eyes lit up as he saw what Jack held in his palm. A snack cake. Not the post-war crap either. A genuine cupcake from before the bombs.
Jack's smiled widened as he handed the snack to the boy who snagged it and ripped into the wrapper. "Slowly." The sergeant scolded with a chuckle as the boy tried to shove the entire thing into his mouth. "It's not going anywhere. Here, sit down." He said, patting a spot in the dirt next to him.
The boy nodded and, with his cherished snack clutched in both hands, sat down next to Jack. The sergeant wrapped his arm around the boy's shoulders, pulling the obvious orphan closer to his body, protectively. "I'm going topside soon but I'll be back. If I find anything up there I'll try and snag it for you. But don't expect anything." Jack explained to the quiet boy. He took another handful of the cat food-rice mix.
Jack didn't think it was too bad considering the date they were at. Two thousand and twenty two. That meant the cat food had to be over fourteen years old. Not bad. Jack licked the pie pan clean just as the boy finished his cupcake. "Do me a favor bud?" Jack asked, staring down at the orphan.
He nodded, staring right back at Jack.
"Could you take this back? I've gotta get the boys together for our mission." Jack asked, motioning to the plate.
The boy nodded and took the pan before leaving.
Jack stood and watched as the boy turned around and gave the soldier his best salute with a wide smile on his face. Jack returned both the salute and the smile. If what they were doing didn't fail, the boy might actually live to see some sort of life without machines. Jack grabbed his rifle and began checking to make sure he had all his gear.
Jack wore a brown duster that hung down to his knees. Over that, he wore two bandoliers that used to hold his M249 ammo belts but now, in place, held his pipe bombs, extra ammo and the rockets for the RPG. He wore a flak jacket over a long-sleeved black shirt. His pants were drab olive and the end of the legs were tucked into his black, dusty combat boots.
Holstered on his right boot was a eight inch long knife not including the worn down grip. Around his left leg, he had a red checkered handkerchief wrapped right below his knee. Jack wore a homemade leather belt that not only held his size-too-big fatigues up around his waist but also held forty four caliber rounds for a revolver that he had in a hidden holster under his right arm, hanging around his shoulder.
He grabbed his helmet off of his head and began examining for weak spots. The helmet had a net around it and reminded Jack of pictures he had seen of tank operators from before the war. The tank helmets were surprisingly similar to the ones many Resistance fighters wore now. Hanging in the net was a deck of cards that helped Jack pass the time in the many boring posts he had been in since he had joined when he was sixteen, four years ago. The helmet also bore his sergeant chevrons on the front. He
Satisfied that the helmet was good to go, he slapped the bucket back over his head and secured with the flimsy chinstrap that it had come with. He reached the door topside, petting the guard dog mutts that sat, quietly protecting the door.
In a bunker, dogs were one of the most important resources. They had the ability to detect metal. Whether it be friendly or not, dogs did not care. They knew when metal was near and that was all that mattered to Jack. He squatted down and pet one of the younger pups of the three dogs, all of them held by three heavily, heavily armed door guards.
"Like 'er? 'Er name's Tex." The southern accented guard stated.
Jack nodded. "Good hound. Keeps us safe, more or less." The sergeant agreed.
The guard chuckled. "Hell no they don't. Keep us alerted. If metal wants in, ain't nothing gonna stop 'em. I know sure as rain Kent, Lee and me can't scrap a triple eight." He said.
Jack was about to say something when there was a loud knocking on the thick, metal door. The guard opened the slot and, satisfied that they were human, began unlocking the four different locks. The door swung open and four tunnel rats ran in while the guard pulled the door closed, shutting all the locks in record time.
The tunnel rats panted. "We've got three tanks en route from the North to this fuckin' bunker. Four maybe five skinjobs on foot. Another three exos with them. One HK flyin' round." The sergeant of the patrol reported.
Jack stepped forward. "Is there a way that'll get me there?" He questioned as a few others that had volunteered for his patrol joined them at the door.
The sergeant panted for a second, mulling over possible routes. "Two that I can think of that will get you out of this bunker with no fighting. Once you leave and enter the subway, bare right and there'll be a utility door and a route behind that will lead you all the way to the outskirts. Since I'm guessing you don't wanna go all the way to the Hollywood sign, the only other one will lead you right in front of the bastards. Perfect ambush spot." The soldier stated, holding his plasma rifle across his chest. "Once you leave the bunker and leave the subway, bare Northwest for a block and a half and take a right at the blown up Resistance tank, an old Abrams. They'll be going right through there for a straight shot here." He explained.
Jack nodded, taking all of the information he had gotten from the patrol. "Anything else?" He questioned pulling the action of his rifle back, setting a 5.56mm round into the chamber.
"Yeah." The sergeant nodded before handing over his plasma rifle. "You need it more than me, bud. That peashooter won't take down shit without AP. Gimme yours and your ammo." He said, handing Jack all of his plasma ammo.
He took it, replacing the M16 ammo clips with plasma rifle ammo. Jack set the M16 down and took the more advanced weapon and ammo. "Thanks, sergeant. I owe you one." Jack said appreciatively.
The sergeant shook his head. "Just take care and be careful. We'll hold down the fort." He stated, offering his hand to Jack.
Jack grasped it and shook. "Hang in there, baby."
"Hang in there, baby." The sergeant echoed before moving off with the M16 in hands.
The rest of the patrol followed. Another soldier handed over his plasma rifle to Private Ford who had only been armed with a less-than-useless MP5. Ford took it and gave the beaten soldier a quick, reassuring pat on the shoulder before joining Jack.
Jack slammed a fresh clip into the plasma rifle and readied himself. "Everyone here?" He asked himself mostly and began counting. Six fighters. Seven including Jack.
Sergeant Joey Wilson with his heavy plasma repeater and rocket launcher. Corporal Saraphina Eriksen, the only female of the group, armed with her plasma rifle. Corporal Felix Gonzalez, a small-framed Hispanic, Jack guessed Dominican, holding an M4. Private Kristopher Loftus, a tall Germanic, holding his plasma rifle at the ready. Private Aaron Ford was the one who had a submachine gun but had replaced it with a plasma rifle. And finally there was Private Ox Mills who stood with hisheavily modified twelve gauge security Mossberg. Close range guy.
That was the rag-tag squad that Jack had gathered in less than half-an-hour. "Alright." He stated to the door guard. "We're leaving. Everybody lock-and-load!" He shouted, raising his rifle to the ready.
The door guard unlocked the door and prepared to swing it open. Always had to be careful, in case the metal got through. "Go!" The guard ordered, forcing the door forward.
Jack and his group charged forward, weapons up and ready to fire on anything that moved.
Remembering the patrol leader's directions, Jack led his squad directly out of the subway and onto the rubble covered roads of old Los Angelos. He motioned for the group to take cover behind a burnt out bus as two Hunter Killers scanned either side of the street with its spotlight. Jack waited for the flier to passover before standing and sprinting into a nearby building that was still partially standing.
The building's solid, steel supports must have kept it partially protected when Skynet launched the nukes all those years ago. Jack busted through the two stubborn doors with his shoulder and moved in, clearing to the left.
Wilson followed, clearing to the right. "Clear right." He whispered.
"Clear left." Jack responded, lowering his weapon for the moment. He turned to the rest of his men entering. "Clear the rest of the first floor. You." He paused and pointed at Private Ford. "Check the second floor. Start clearing windows of leftover glass if there is any. Secure it and then get back here. Go." Jack ordered his men.
Ford nodded. "You got it, sarge." He stated before turning around and jogging off to find the stairs up while the rest of the group began sweeping the building.
Wilson stayed behind with Jack. "Hernandez. Jack, sorry. I know you hate going by last name. Anyways, Jack, you sure we've got time for this? Those tanks are going straight for the bunker. We could move right now. No problem." Jack's fellow sergeant said, heaving his heavy plasma repeater with both hands.
Jack sat down on a grimy table top that creaked with the soldier's weight. "I know that, Joey, but they can't know for sure where the bunker is so they'll be sweeping each station. We've got some time. No doubt they're gonna come straight up the avenue. So we can set up here. I want you and your launcher covering the skies. You see an HK you wait for my go 'head. You've got the weaker launcher and more ammo. I'm gonna save mine for the Ogres." Jack explained.
The bear-of-a-man sergeant nodded in agreement. "Alright. I'll head on upstairs with Ford and find a good hole in the roof." Joey said.
"Isn't that what you always look for?" Jack stated with a quick smirk.
Joey smiled. "Har har." He mocked before walking off, following Ford's footsteps.
Jack walked over to the front door and leaned out, watching the North side of the street. Metal was close. He could hear the distant sound of tracks plowing over cars. Jack decided to give a quick word of warning. "Metal about a mile or two away. Everyone setup upstairs!" The sergeant ordered, grabbing his pack from his back and opening it. He pulled out a detonator and two IEDs. Jack also grabbed several sets of triggered frag mines to hide in the husks of cars and trucks out on the road.
He sprinted out and began the careful work of setting up the dangerous improvised explosives on either side of the road, further down towards the North cap of the road. Along the way, Jack threw mines in just about every husk he could. No time to be pick about the placement. It would work. Just different levels of effectiveness.
Jack quickly dug a little pit in the ash, soot and dirt before placing one of the IEDs, very carefully, on the left side of the road. He then sprinted to the right side, doing the same thing on this side too. The tracks of the metal tanks came closer and closer, along with the whirl of Hunter Killer engines. Jack finished up and sprinted as fast he could back to the building where he had had his men setup in the upper floor's windows.
He ran into the open doorway and went to find the stairs. He found them and quickly climbed up, avoiding a bleached skeleton, bones strewn about the stairs. Jack found where Joey Wilson and the others were. "Spread out. I only want two to a window." He ordered, joining Joey at his window.
The sound the Skynet built machines made while moving grew louder and louder. All of them tensed up, fingers on their respected weapons' triggers. This was gonna be hellish.