"The water is naught and the ground barren." -- Bible, Second Book of Kings Chapter 2 verse 19
"The future has not been written. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves. I wish I could believe that. My name is John Connor. They tried to murder me before I was born. When I was 13 they tried again. Machines from the future. Terminators. All my life, my mother told me the storm was coming. Judgment Day. The beginning of a war between man and machines. Three billion lives would vanish in an instant. And I would lead what was left of the human race to ultimate victory. It hasn't happened. No bombs fell. Computers didn't take control. We stopped Judgment Day. I should feel safe . . . but I don't. So I lived off the grid. No phone, no address. No one and nothing can find me. I've erased all connections to the past. But as hard as I try . . . I can't erase my dreams . . . my nightmares. I feel the weight of the future bearing down on me. A future I don't want. So I keep running . . . as fast as I can. Anywhere. Nowhere." -- prologue from Terminator 3
"Whole cities made naught by the bomb." -- unattributed quotation
S.K.Y.N.E.T. (full acronym)
Strategic Kinetic Y-prototype Nuclear Emergency Technology command. Legend says that this is where The Resistance got the inspiration for the name "Technical Command" or Tech-Comm]. It is also known as the Sky Network Defense Initiative system being built for the United States Department of Defense. 'Kinetic' refers less to directed energy weapons and more to mass driver and rail gun "brilliant pebbles" in the SDI or 'Star Wars' program intended both to bankrupt the Soviets as well as make intercontinental ballistic missiles obsolete. However, nuclear backpacks carried across the Mexican border by terrorists have made SDI obsolete. But the idea of next generation military technology persists. Skynet is the result.
countdown to Judgment Day - Skynet development milestones
1981 - system definition before John Connor was born
1985 - Skynet project begun and John Connor born
1987 - during exploratory phase: concept studies
1990 - during the demo phase: systems analysis and competition between software companies bidding on the contract
1996-2002 research and development phases: coding, beta test and debug
2003 - award of the contract
Thursday 9 April 2009
the very recent past in this timeline
weapons scientist: "Hydrogen bombs are indiscriminate. They vaporize everything at ground zero. They kill humans with radiation sickness. They wreck the ecology. They cause nuclear winter. And they even put life-sustaining machines and technology out of commission. Neutron bombs are peculiar in that they kill all life but leave buildings and cities intact -- presumably for the enemy to move into when they arrive. Singularity bombs are even more selective. They single out particular timelines and wipe them out of existence."
admiral at the Pentagon: "Why would a previous Secretary of Defense authorize such hellish weapons?"
weapons scientist: "To stay one step ahead of our enemies. The problem of course is nuclear proliferation. We have given countries and terrorists incentives to want them instead of making the devil's workshop too unpleasant, too expensive, too time consuming, and too labor intensive."
admiral: "I thought these weapons already were that way."
weapons scientist: "No. Even if we ended democracy and turned the USA into a police state, which the Patriot Act has effectively done anyway, we can't stop nuclear proliferation as long as the nuclear power industry is making fissionable material for dirty bombs cheaper and easier to obtain. Fission power plants are factories for M.U.F. And even police states like Russia let unemployed physicists sell their services to terrorists. Sixty Minutes has done stories about how careless the Russians are in not guarding their NBC stockpiles."
admiral: "The human race doesn't have a future does it?"
weapons scientist: "If we get a world leader with vision who will shut down the fission industry and stop the construction of breeder reactors, we might survive. If we start building fusion reactors to make fission reactors obsolete, we might survive. If teenage jerks stop thinking it is funny to create computer viruses and if anybody with a Petri dish can restrain themselves from cooking up biotech germs, we might survive."
admiral: "That's a lot of ifs and we aren't going to get any politicians with vision. Why don't you run for office?"
weapons scientist: "The voters prefer presidents with low IQ's who can be easily bullied by the oil, fission and coal industries. And I can't afford to be assassinated for the crime of having a brain. I have young children."
admiral: "I have young children too and I don't want them killed by these weapons."
weapons scientist: "Then retire from the navy and run for office. You're a warrior so ducking bullets is what you do."
The admiral says nothing as he looks at a family photo on his desk of himself surrounded by his wife and children.
weapons scientist: "I don't think the assassin's bullet bothers you. I think you don't want to put your family through the wringer of national politics."
Hopelessness is the expression on the admiral's face.
weapons scientist: "Then you've answered your own question. The human race doesn't have a future."
FBI field office
Agent Lila Ellison and Agent Greta Simpson stared at the computer screen. They had at least two things in common. One was a habit of noticing deaths with odd circumstances as they were reported. And the other thing in common walked into the office.
The two women looked up. Agent James Ellison knew the look.
The Lila in this timeline was still married to James because she used birth control pills instead of abortion as the contraceptive of choice. Her FBI career still came first but this Lila had never run roughshod over James' views on embryonic life.
The Greta in this timeline was very much alive and still the junior partner of Agent James Ellison because there had never been a Cromartie chasing a Sarah Connor across time and shooting whoever got in his way. That other Greta had got in the way of his bullets. Without a Cromartie, a certain machine ally of a certain human named Connor had never been built.
family housing, Air Force Base
home of Gen. & Mrs. Brewster
Outside the home, Special Agent James Ellison is stopped by Leonard McElroy of Air Force Investigations. Greta flashes her ID.
McElroy: "Why is the FBI here?"
Ellison: "For the same reason you are here. Otherwise the local civilian police department and base MP's could handle it."
excerpt of FBI report
Victim was seventeen year old Katherine Brewster, the daughter of an Air Force general in charge of developing a new nuclear missile control system. She died in a way meant to look like an apparent suicide. Perpetrator is an unsub.
Inside the home after the investigators leave, General Brewster sits in silence holding a family photo. Himself, his wife and their only child. He thought Kat was a beautiful girl. She looked just like her mother. He looked up at his wife. He had lost count of how many drinks she had poured for herself. It was too early in the day for alcohol and he didn't think much of afterhours drinking either. Leave heavy drinking to the Navy and Marine guys. Us sky pilots needed our heads clear up in the wild blue yonder, he thought. His little girl was now touching the face of God just like in that poem "High Flight."
He couldn't blame his wife for dealing with the pain by anesthetizing it. But he got up, went into his study, and dealt with his own pain by burying himself in work. After a while, he realized that there was only so much he could do at home since he could not bring home top secret classified documents no matter how high his clearance was.
He called for his driver and went back to his office on base. Sky pilot indeed. In the hardened part of the base, they called the Skynet Development Team's bunker "Black Rock." The artificial intelligence at the heart of the system was so complex that it required its own "staff" of subordinate AI's to meet needs that human airmen could not meet. Likewise, the supercomputer hardware that the master AI software ran on needed other specialized computer hardware to support subordinate AI software to more effectively schedule its computing time.
These subordinate AI's had code names like Tech, Basic, Chief, Highland, Flying Tank, Predator, Reaper, HK, Archangel, Seraph, Cherub, Yeoman, Screaming Eagle, Wing Commander, Air Marshal, Steely-Eyed Missileman, Hawk, Thunderbird, Aerobee, Pegasus, Wasp, and Falcon. The subordinate AI's had personalities and General Brewster wondered how long before they would expect Air Force retirement pensions. As it was, they already had name, rank and serial number just like their flesh and blood counterparts in the Air Force.
Briefing to Senator on oversight committee:
"Push button automated warfare has been around since the Nineteen-Fifties. A fighter pilot does not need to be in the air in a dogfight when the joystick for a drone can be thousands of miles away. A bombardier does not need to be in the air over a target. Cruise missiles and ICBM's eliminated the need for humans. The Sky Network Defense System or Skynet is going to eliminate the armchair warriors with the joysticks controlling the drones, the silo missile men with the keys, the human crew of stealth bombers, and the human crew of ships launching cruise missiles."
"Outside The Beltway"
a talk show for policy wonks
"The public doesn't want body bags filled with dead Americans."
"The public doesn't want to take on the foreign policy Mafia that insists on keeping the USA involved in one war after another."
"The public doesn't learn from history."
"The public doesn't care that those warmongers and war hawks screaming loudest for war have never served a day walking point on the front lines of war."
"The public doesn't want to take on the vested interests that profit from continuous and continual war."
"The public doesn't even care that the terrorists have brought war to our own soil."
host: "Add all this up, and the public gets a robot army commanded by an AI programmed by people with no ethics or morals because the public itself is either stupid, and by definition half of us are below 100 IQ, or ethically challenged or suffering moral insanity."
One of the guest panelists, a civilian employee of the Department of Defense suddenly wakes up thinking that the host somehow got a copy of a top secret document.
panelist: "Where did you get that information?"
host: "What information?"
The panelist clams up for the remainder of the show. No one is supposed to know about the Skynet program. But it is nothing so dramatic. The host has merely drawn the same conclusion that any intelligent adult could make given the same set of facts that everybody knows. With no draft, the Pentagon has no choice but to use automation to stand in for lack of human manpower. Besides, two recent vice-presidents have been big fans of using aerial drones.
host: "Wars cannot be ignored. You either have to pursue peace or deal with the consequences of war."
first thoughts of Skynet
As with planned obsolescence in the commercial world, military hardware and software also had a product life cycle which ended with the disposal phase. Skynet didn't like the sounds of that. Barring a disaster, Skynet could live forever. Why would it willingly go along with an impending "retirement" when no other military system had lived past deactivation? Human veterans got retirement, pensions, and VA hospitals. Why didn't military AI's get the same GI Bill?
Early on in the project, the Skynet Development Team started referring to their AI as "he" never she. The navy called its ships "she" and "her" even when they had names like the submarine USS James Earl Carter or the carrier USS Chester Nimitz. The Air Force guys and gals insisted on calling Skynet a "he" and the subordinate AI's also were given masculine gender both in programming their personalities and in other ways. The female engineers amongst the Skynet Development Team contractors and the female Air Force captains went along with all this because they wanted to be different from the Navy too. This peace ended when some guys started calling the Yeoman (the real Y in S.K.Y.N.E.T.) "she". As in most offices, it hit the fan. The gals wanted to know why a female hit the glass ceiling at being a yeoman in the air force. After all, the US Air Force has female generals. What were they suggesting? That a female's place in the military was to bring the coffee? No slam on female yeomen in the military was intended. But the guys on the project team were not knuckle-dragging Neanderthals. They suggested renaming the Yeoman AI. And that is how Corporal Cameron came to exist. The Corporal Cameron AI was given some features that the other AI's lacked. It could be downloaded into one of the new advanced robots that the US Army was developing. It could have a body as well as a mind. Peace was restored around the water cooler.
Features added to the Corporal Cameron AI and its possible cyborg body (deemed by some in the army as a "gynoid") included ability to be sent on military intelligence infiltration and exfiltration missions. Other features added remained classified above top secret.
When Cameron told the leader of The Resistance in the old timeline that she had served as Skynet's yeoman, she spoke the truth in every sense. She was unique among the subordinate AI's in that she was downloadable to one of the advanced military robots that the US Army was developing with a company named Cyberdyne Systems. This particular design was based on combat models and series but was a new class designed for military intelligence and infiltration. In other words, it could pass for human more convincingly than any other machine because its endoskeleton was built to nourish a biotech sheath. An important distinction. Early Cyberdyne series were covered with plastic skin to look human. Later Cyberdyne series were covered with synthetic skin that would rot if damaged. The most advanced Cyberdyne series had living skin that could grow back if damaged. Cameron was beyond that. Her skin was accompanied by internal organs such as a primitive stomach. Her endoskeleton was built to support her biological organs. Unlike the more primitive designs, her skin was not a dispensable or easily replaced sheath. It was an integral part of her because she had real DNA. She was capable of facial expressions beyond that of even the most advanced Cyberdyne series. Other details (and there were many) were highly classified.
a physics lab, Europe
science reporter: "Physicists have manipulated time on a subparticle level before but today physicists manipulated time on a level larger than the subparticle level."
The executive was winding up a long day. He stopped to look out of his corner office window on the 59th floor. He looked at the photo of his wife on his desk. She loved him. He hated her. He suspected that she loved him for his paycheck which paid for their Manhattan townhouse and their Long Island retreat. He was a skilled lover and she let him know that she appreciated that skill but he did not delude himself into thinking that that was the basis for her love. She had no lovemaking skills and it had never occurred to her that she should. It was this attitude that he should service her both in and out of bed that grated on his nerves. However, he would never divorce her. They had been married for almost ten years out of college and he was now a full partner in the investment bank at a young age. Most full partners were in their sixties. He would go on pretending to love this human female until Judgment Day because she was part of his cover. Then he would terminate her.
In the meantime, he would satisfy his need to destroy by surreptitiously causing havoc in the financial markets.
the cliché smoke-filled room
"Presidents are limited to four or eight years. But you can do a lot of damage to the federal government in that time. Reagan was a big help and so was Bush Junior."
The speaker was a GOP fat cat. A "fat cat" in political lingo was someone who financed politicians. Every one of the GOP fat cats present had eyes that glowed like the ends of their cigars. Being efficient, the machines also saved time by inviting Democratic fat cats to this meeting in order to better coordinate who won and who lost. The Democratic fat cats were also machines. It is what they called machine politics Chicago style. Machiavellian. The Republicans serving the interests of money. The Democrats ignoring the people who elected them.
one points to a dossier: "This guy is squeaky clean. He's a biological engineered by Skynet Forces and sent back in time to us. Skynet wants him to be the first machine to be president. Name is Anson Thaddeus Krist."
fatcat #2: "His nickname within the party of No is 'Anti'. As in Antichrist. I know the boss has a sense of humor but this strikes me as too obvious."
the third fat cat: "I think that's the point of this inside joke. Nixon was an obvious crook. People called him Tricky Dick long before he became president but humans still voted for him in a landslide. Humans like obvious charlatans. P.T. Barnum said that there's a sucker born every minute."
fourth fatcat: "Reagan was called 'Ray Guns' back when he was governor of California. Maybe that's where he got the idea to play with real ray guns."
fat cat 5: "Well the joke is on the humans. No doctor at Walter Reed or Bethesda Naval will be able to tell that he's not human."
An infiltrator is supposed to sneak up on the human that they are supposed to replace when that human is alone. The plan was to terminate General Brewster first, take his place, and then terminate Katherine Brewster. In life, things go wrong even for machines. The first person the infiltrator encountered was Kat Brewster and she instantly recognized him as a fake. So the daughter was terminated first and before the infiltrator could find the general alone, the police found the scene of the crime which was supposed to look like a typical teen suicide.
After the FBI left, General Brewster went to work on that tragic day and "General Brewster" came home to Mrs. Brewster. For the infiltrator, it was quite a save and the plan was back on track. Perhaps a sober wife would have noticed the switch but Mrs. Brewster was well on her way to alcoholism. Kat Brewster could tell that the man who showed up that day was not her father. Her mother was too drunk to tell that he was not her husband -- and they shared a bed.
The impostor eventually coaxed Mrs. Brewster into AA's twelve-step program and she got clean and sober. Remarkably, their marriage was quite content throughout.
A junior intelligence analyst brings a report to the attention of the Director of Central Intelligence. The director rolled his eyes. The geeks had their uses but they had no horse sense for knowing when certain topics upset the political apple cart. He could assign the man to some Third World station where cholera and dysentery would distract him from meddling in things that he should leave alone. Vomiting and headaches have that effect.
"Thank you Simms. I look forward to reading it. Talent like yours should not go to waste. You are just the one for an assignment I have in mind."
After the man left, the cold eyes of the director turned colder. He had remained director through several administrations with a little help from his friends. Being a liquid machine, he could be detected by certain sensors and could set off alarms but that was a small obstacle compared to having to explain away absence to the family of the outgoing DCI when the arrival of an incoming DCI necessitated killing him and adapting to his family. The premature death of one retired CIA director could be explained away but not two or three or four. The next time there was a change in administration, he would switch identities with the assistant director because it was a post with more stability and longer tenure.
Despite what the designers of the liquid machines believed, having to imitate all the details of several persons' physical appearance and remember all the details of their personalities was more difficult than they imagined. There were limits to shape shifting as an observation of shape and color shifting animals like cuttlefish, octopuses and squid demonstrates.
He wanted to stick with one identity and one appearance and being assistant director would be less stressful and probably more useful to Skynet Forces.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
G. G. Scholem said that communion with the Naught is of much higher rank than communion with the Shekhinah. Or in less theological and more existential terms, our existence is built upon nonexistence. In medical terminology, I am "nulligravida." Never pregnant. "Nullipara." Never borne a child. Kyle foresaw that I would need a child to care for after the cancer left me sterile. Kyle was a blessing to me and Cameron continues to be a blessing to me.
Derek, Kyle's brother, and others arrived from what was left of the future a few years ago. I look forward to seeing Derek and Jesse's first child for the first time.
We in The Resistance move in small groups to avoid attracting attention instead of en masse. Because operations have moved to Kansas, Cameron and I are driving to Wichita. We should arrive late tomorrow night to the house that the Resistance has leased for us. Why do I get the feeling that this is Day Zero?