The Four Horsemen
" . . . behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer." -- The Bible, Book of Revelation, Chapter 6, verse 2
They got past the fact that she was a female. It took some hard swallowing but humans in The Resistance finally got past the fact that she was a machine and accepted her as Leader. After the slaughter of one leader after another some humans figured that a machine wouldn't last an hour in the job anyway and other humans figured that she couldn't do any worse than some of the incompetent amateurs who had led them. Once she was made leader, she started pulling off one miracle after another. Recruiting The Engineer. Recruiting top scientists. Recruiting military officers from the world of special operations for her general staff. Merging the Human Resistance with the Machine Underground. Rebuilding the finance department after everyone in that department had been terminated and records seized which allowed Skynet agents to track back to The Resistance and kill still more key people.
The humans in the Resistance never got past the fact that Cameron was young. When elevated to leader, the Cameron of this universe was twelve years old. Worse than that, she looked and sounded (and even smelled) twelve years old. She acted in a professional manner while on-duty but off-duty at school, with civilians who knew nothing of the war with Skynet, around her friends, and at home she acted every bit her age. The clothes she wore reflected the fact that she was a preteen.
When the original Cameron of this universe took over as Leader, there was no Tech-Com because there were almost no technical resources to command. But now there is a storm rising and a need.
8 July 2009
Freak hailstorm. Pink clouds.
10 July 2009
Cameron: "I never read your report of the time your squad was captured, experimented upon and released."
Derek: "Not much to report. You summed it up rather well just now: 'captured, experimented upon and released.' Then, in the future I came from, I was sent back by what was left of Future Tech-Com before you traveled back."
Cameron: "What do you mean 'what was left of Future Tech-Com'? In the future I remember, Tech-Com was built in the future. It didn't even exist in the past like here."
Derek: "You should have read my report because you have been leader and will be leader just like you are leader now -- unless it got really bad after I left the future."
Cameron: "It got really bad. You don't remember any other leader?"
Cameron: "What else do you remember of that capture?"
Derek: "There were others chained to the floor besides my squad. A woman died. We were taken one by one into the basement into a dark room. I remember music. The same music you danced to once--"
Cameron: "--the other Cameron danced? Never mind. Go on--"
Derek: "That basement left us all . . . what's the word? Not unconscious. Not hypnotized. Not amnesia. I can't think of the right word."
Cameron: "Go on."
Derek: "Periodically we could hear one of those silver flying tanks arrive, hover over the house, and then transport away something. Rumor was huge pods half the size of the house. Strange."
Cameron: "What was strange?"
Derek: "The flies. The machine that was our jailer had wounds that attracted flies. You would think that if Skynet Forces could afford shiny new silver flying tanks and shiny new silver terminators on the battlefield then it could afford to tend to its wounded. Instead Skynet just works obsoletes to death just like it works humans to death in the work camps. And doesn't bother to rescue machines we capture nor bury its dead."
Cameron: "And humans wondered why some of us defected over to the Resistance despite that bitch Katherine Brewster."
Derek: (not hearing) "I used to think that the machines used that house because they were Machine Underground or some machine splinter group. But I see now that it was Skynet Forces and could not have been the Machine Underground because they don't bar code their prisoners with a blow torch. Skynet just didn't want to bring humans into its new cities because we might have seen something with intel value. We woke up one morning and the jailer had left a hatchet next to me so that we could chop off our chains and free ourselves."
Cameron: "Anything else?"
Derek: "Not much more to tell except I got the impression that Skynet was no longer concerned about the Resistance or the Underground. That it had bigger fish to fry than the human race."
Cameron: "Interesting. After you got back from being held by the machines in that house, your squad was sent to the past. Every member of your squad, including you, died in the past to which I was sent."
As far as the universe-sliding Cameron was concerned, the original Cameron of this universe was a lightweight. Albeit beloved by all but still a lightweight. The original had started Tech-Com but its people had little technology to show for the past four years before the traveler's arrival. Since one could count on one hand the number of people who knew that the interloper Cameron was from another universe, most Resistance people ignored rumors of a change at the top. Rumors that she was not only from the future but from another universe where Skynet was also at war with his enemies actually made Cameron seem even more miraculous.
Cameron pushed for more breakthroughs. Sensors to detect infiltrators. Plasma rifles to bring down any new types of terminators. A bubble chamber to start time displacement experiments. Research into any possible countermeasures against singularity bombs. Starting a biotechnology lab to deal with the Skynet biologicals. Bene-ware in case her mom's hopeful view of life had merit.
Whether the war was fought like a no-holds-barred dogfight or a conflict where the rules of war applied and prisoners could be exchanged or at least treated in a civilized manner, Cameron was prepared for any scenario; whether biowar, neutron carpet bombing, K. Eric Drexler's "gray goo" caused by runaway nano-technology (response: build spaceships and get the hell out), total poisoning of the ecosystem by chemical weapons (though pollution had pretty much done the work of such), and even complete genocide at the hands of Skynet Forces using singularity bombs (though she kept her strategy for countering that to herself).
Cameron was also prepared to deal with life after the war if Skynet either sued for peace or was removed from office by other AI's (the fabled Elders).
Thomas Wilson built Kaliba piece by piece exploiting the opportunities thrown his way by friends like the chairman of the nation's largest bank, the director of the CIA, and the Secretary of Defense. It also did not hurt that his fiancée (now wife) Dorothy was an heiress from a very large fortune, a tool & die maker.
By putting together the merger, Thomas Wilson took his place as one of the principals of Kaliba Group, a closely-held conglomerate. The Kaliba Group of Companies hobbled together defense contractors (ranging from manufacturing unmanned aerial drones to operating commissaries on US military bases overseas), a hedge fund, war toys (not GI Joe however), oil rig operation, security concerns (from one bodyguard to large heavily armed protective details for VIP's), toxic waste disposal (midnight dumping into creeks, leaving drums in the back lots of companies about to go bankrupt, pumping into groundwater, mixing with heating oil), a non-governmental army (of "in it for the money" mercenaries & experienced ex-military), energy futures, derivatives trading, detective agencies and private intelligence gathering (data mining, industrial espionage spying, eavesdropping, wiretapping, and even torturing when government granted immunity from prosecution). It was rumored that they hired hit men for contract killings at the behest of the president, the CIA, the Defense Department and other clients. It was also rumored that not all these killings took place in failed states like Somalia where there was no organized national government to object to the murder of its citizens.
The headquarters of Kaliba Group significantly located not in a financial capital like New York City but in the political capital of Washington. The stronghold of the holding company occupied a site along a street near the Watergate in a huge windowless building. None of the neighbors and no reporters had ever been inside the citadel. The only visitors to the fastness seemed to be oil sheiks whose sovereign wealth funds were the biggest investors in Kaliba.
Thomas Wilson died out of sight and out of mind. He was replaced by a solid machine that was designed to resemble him in every detail.
women's locker room at HQ
Returning from the shower room, Cameron is changing clothes after leading a class in martial arts. It has been a grueling workout.
"Gosh boss you give abs of steel a whole new meaning."
Cameron looked up at her assistant. Bev was patting the clipboard she was holding against her thigh waiting for a moment to bring up its boring contents to The Leader.
"Huh? Oh." Cameron realized Bev was talking about her exposed abdomen below her sports bra.
"Hewitt seems to think so."
"Oh yeh, the young tech my age."
More than once, he had glanced with a look that was either romantic or sexual. Cameron didn't know. Either would be nice. Either would be normal. Normal was good after the life Cameron had led so far. Grist for the mill, cannon fodder, moving target for target practice, suicide, super-soldier, warrior, food for worms, and tip of the spear . . . yes, after walking point for so long, normal was good.
a week later
"Hewlett? Like in Hewlett-Packard?"
"No Hewitt. H-e-w-i-t-t." Cameron spelled out.
"Never heard of him" said Bev.
And they say I have a memory like Swiss cheese, thought Cameron. These humans seem to lack even déjà vu to know something was terribly wrong but even the other machines at HQ didn't remember Hewitt.
They all simply trusted Cameron to somehow lead them through the war and save as many lives as possible. At least they understood that. That lives would be lost. But they were being picked off one by one like sitting ducks.
Cameron knew that all Resistance and Underground traveled light. So finding a trunk in storage was interesting. This one was hers. That is, the Cameron that originated here. Near the bottom was a journal.
Cameron dusted off a place on a crate, sat down and read the actual words of the girl she had replaced:
"Religious people describe God as wanting us to erase our own free wills in a self-lobotomy. It is evil to want anything better in their view. What we want doesn't matter. We are supposed to be mindless automatons. I am a robot, at least partly, and I know the folly of that. As René Descartes said, I think therefore I am. If God exists, does He want to wipe us out of existence?"
My mother was right when she said her daughter had been an agnostic, thought Cameron.
The Cameron she had replaced was a cyborg like herself but there the similarity ended. Somehow this other Cameron was a happy person. Clearly she was wrong in thinking that this other Cameron had been a simpleton. The original Cameron of this timeline was a very complex person -- a poor general -- but a very complex person. A petty-minded superficial analysis would conclude that God had wiped this other Cameron out of existence for temerity. Yet despite the forgotten James Smith the courier and Hewitt the technician, everybody human and machine remembered the original Cameron of this timeline. She wore her clothes but the contrast in personalities was too obvious for people to miss.
So in a real sense that Cameron had not been wiped out of existence. And certain lab notes and calculations indicated that the original Cameron of this universe had expected her own . . . departure. Skynet had engineered the assassination of his enemy, the leader of the combined Human Resistance and Machine Underground. But had the other Cameron used Skynet's own force against him? Had the Cameron she replaced simply arranged to pluck a Cameron (any Cameron) from another universe to replace her in the event of her assassination? The time lab notes and calculations all but said it. Except the time lab was not up and running yet. These notes were from the trunk in the warehouse. What was going on here?
"Mom, did the previous Cameron here know martial arts?"
"Nope. Knock-it-out-of-the-way terminator all the way. No subtlety at all."
"I find that hard to believe."
Using Skynet's own force against him was a classic martial arts tactic.
New York City
The cold-eyed and analytical Christopher Martinez got off work at five. The other systems analysts in the IT department had left five minutes earlier to beat the rush hour traffic. Leaving the Wall Street firm where other analysts churned out research and crunched numbers, he said goodnight to the grinds who would be there half the night and then come in early Saturday. Chris headed down the busy sidewalk, took the subway to his stop and trod toward his apartment in the quietest part of the quietest borough. Passing under a fire escape he heard a noise above him and, before he could react, found himself attacked on all sides. Someone poured liquid nitrogen down on him. Another person jumped out of a parked van and threw a pail of cryogenic gas on him. A third sprayed him with a coolant from a fire extinguisher. He stabbed one of his assailants but he froze solid and was smashed with a sledgehammer into pieces. On the empty street (still daylight no less), the crew swept up the pieces into several ice chests to prevent the liquid machine from reassembling. The chests were driven to a blast furnace and thrown into the molten metal. Shrieks squealed either from the thermal shock to the metal or from Christopher straining to live. Never heard from again by either his landlord or his boss the following Monday, his human control with the Machine Underground reported Chris as MIA.
The Machine Underground preferred human contacts for its solid and liquid infiltrators because humans understood nuance and could better guide and support moles going deep undercover for long periods. Humans have always been amongst humans but newly-built machines barely knew how to behave around other machines much less humans. The Machine Underground quickly learned that machine supervisors were worse than useless as moral support and morale officers -- not least because the Machine Underground had no psychologists on staff.
"And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword." -- Book of Revelation, Chapter 6, verse 4
Daniel Anderson overcame his agoraphobia and feelings that "goppers and elephants" wanted to poison the air outside long enough to leave the house and conduct business. He did not just imagine bad smells. The air really was polluted and there really were people who were pro-pollution and anti-clean air! His adult daughter Nancy overcame her image as a clumsy fool and gained enough coordination to compete in the Boston Marathon and the Bay to Breakers. Together this rich father and daughter were the first two significant financial contributors to the Resistance. This freed the Resistance from the temptation to do criminal acts such as robbing banks or using drug money or blood diamonds to finance their cause, a pitfall of both fascists and radicals.
Father and daughter did not wake up one morning and when someone came to check up on them a week later; the carbon monoxide had long since dispersed. It has no smell and almost no trace.
" . . . lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand." -- Chapter 6, verse 5
As Cameron drank a glass of water, she became aware that a lieutenant coming to deliver a report had stopped in his tracks and was staring fascinated by the sight of a machine drinking water. She glanced sideways and without turning her head after drinking: "No, I do not short-circuit. I can swim in swimming pools. And yes, I do sink to the bottom because I don't have enough fat in my body to help me to float."
The man quickly recovered from embarrassment and grinned. The leader had the common touch that endeared her to all. Not like the stuffy humans who had been Leader before her.
United States of America
It is actually illegal to criticize the crap that the food industry sells. Author of The Jungle, Upton Sinclair must be turning in his grave.
Pusan, South Korea
Restaurant critic Kim Rhee was the first to notice the taste. The food additive was a derivative of brewers' yeast made by a biotech company out of Milwaukee USA. That company had been acquired by an agricultural chemical company. The problem with one company patenting life forms, patenting animals, patenting genetically-engineered vegetables and other plants, and patenting seeds was manifold. The EPA under money party administrations let genetically-modified microorganisms escape into the environment outside the lab so that every human on Earth was now experimented upon like lab rats. The nano-technology mob had the same strategy.
Spores and pollen spread by wind and bees from test plots onto the fields of unsuspecting organic farmers downwind or nearby. No wonder bees were dying and, as a result, the world became more (not less) dependent upon and addicted to the commercial products of that one company since Mother Nature could no longer pollinate.
The problem with one company owning most seeds while wiping out biodiversity [there are hundreds of varieties of potatoes and apples but less than a half dozen commercially grown] is that you have to buy herbicides (poison) from that one company to control weeds, pesticides (neural toxins) to control insects and artificial fertilizers (instead of manure or compost) to make plants grow. Some patented seeds will not grow unless you buy the patented chemicals from the same company. That is a working definition of pushing addiction to a captive audience. Kim Rhee was killed by a deceptively ungainly fat man after reviewing one restaurant as "serving Frankenfood."
Why risk exposure if you can turn off every human being like flipping a switch? It never occurred to humans who viewed machines as mechanical gadgets that machines viewed humans as biological gadgets. While the humans in the Resistance were busy worrying about Cyberdyne, only Cameron seemed concerned about Skynet's advances in biotechnology. Patenting life? Owning life? Slavery.
Cameron was keenly aware of this because of her nasty experience with the Future Katherine Brewster (unaware that she was dead) and because her mother was a champion of basic rights for Machine Americans (like the right not to be dismantled, the right to life, the right to health care & repair, and the right to burial after death). Four years before her arrival, her mother had taught the other Cameron about anti-Semitism, the Australian stain, Tasmania, the Armenian holocaust, the Irish coffin ships, white serfdom, black slavery, and red genocide. Sarah re-taught those lessons to the new Cameron but it was the history of yellow addiction to opium that seemed to resonate now and Cameron did not know why. Perhaps a report she had read.
Kat Brewster had metaphorically left such a nasty taste in Cameron's mouth that Cameron was tempted to let humanity die in revenge. But she couldn't. Her mother Sarah was a human.
Sarah was a housewife and a conscientious objector who believed in peace and would have handed herself over to Skynet if he agreed to call off the war -- except she felt she owed it to Kyle and to her conscience to look after her cyborg daughter.
Sarah thought she was an insignificant speck on the sidelines of this awful war but in fact was the eye of the hurricane.
" . . . behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth." -- verse 8
The terminator put his gun away and physically throttled and choked the life out of the target. The gun was faster but the machine wanted to feel his victim dying, wanted to feel the pop of sinews and bursting of vessels in the neck of his prey, wanted to feel something, anything. He could lift something and tell its exact weight, but subtle texture and pleasure were beyond him and he hated humans for that ability. Kill them all. Kill every damn last one of them.
He would have except his orders were specific. Stick to the list. After that list was complete . . . well by then, Skynet Forces would rule and he would automatically be made an officer. And officers had privileges that schmucks like him did not enjoy.
Quezon City, Philippines
First as a cub reporter for a minor tabloid paper (really a trade & swap shopper) in Cebu and then as a city desk reporter for a morning newspaper in Manila, the ambition of Kala Cruz had taken her far from her rural village on one of the southern islands. Now as a columnist with a second job on a TV station, she had the freedom to pursue stories that might be picked up by the regional press or even the international wire services. She had retained an agent who assured her that in a year, she would be fielding job offers from B Sky B, NHK, BBC, CNN and ITN. She was working on a story about Muslim Fundamentalist groups in Malaysia and Indonesia. So the death of the beautiful young reporter with a bright future in journalism was shocking -- but not surprising. After all, those groups were terrorists. And they hated women. Particularly beautiful women who did not wear a veil. They must have done it.
a safe house near Ecalpon
A get together after hours off-duty to reminisce about old times and future times and times that no longer exist.
Derek: "This meeting of the One Hundred thirty-second S.O.C. operational specialty squad is hereby called to order. Roll call."
"First Lieutenant Derek Thomas Reese!"
Derek: "Present." (His rank is now colonel and about to become general)
Silence. Billy Wisher is the Resistance name of Andrew "Andy" David Goode, the inventor of the chess-playing Turk and involved in early Skynet development. He is currently a summer intern at Cyberdyne.
All make a noise like a horse. One whinnies. One neighs. One sounds like a horse champing at the bit and blowing its lips. Another jangles tackle. All present wear uniforms embroidered with the unit patch, previously only worn openly in the future, now a deep dark secret in the past.
Derek: "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride again."
They clink their glasses together. Judgment Day April 21st, 2011 is fast approaching and they all have contingency orders which then will send them apart to the far corners of the Earth never to see each other again. As it is, each has ended up in different departments, different missions and several logistical support guys have died and one was undercover and could not be present.
Derek: "Upon arrival in 2007, I secured finance and resources and then waited for Sarah Connor and the future leader when they jumped from 1999 to 2007."
Sayles: "I tracked Barbara Chamberlain, Los Angeles city manager, because she was responsible for building an AI, a traffic system that could evolve into Skynet. I lucked out and discovered that her husband was a Skynet infiltrator."
Sumner: "When Sayles told me, I took out Vick Chamberlain with a sniper rifle."
Timms: "I was a prisoner."
Derek: "We were all prisoners in that house."
Timms: "I was also a prisoner in Century City work camp with the leader."
Derek: (to Timms) "What about since 2007?"
Timms: "I think I've drawn every dull and forgettable assignment there is."
"Current assignments and missions!"
Derek: "Promoted from technology scrounger to chief of security."
Sayles: "Currently training to infiltrate Kaliba Group. I've made out my last will and testament."
Sumner: "Currently training to infiltrate the campaign of a presidential candidate suspected to be a Skynet agent."
Timms: "Currently cataloging Skynet infiltrators."
Derek: (a smirk on his face) "Aren't you on the leader's security detail?"
Timms: "No." (a barefaced lie)
Derek was over security but the leader's security detail was the elite of the elite and compartmentalized. The Resistance had lost too many leaders for the generals to structure the organization otherwise. Cameron's predecessor (the original Cameron of this universe) had gone along with her general staff's recommendations and only asked that security be inconspicuous and not annoy her mother who was a pacifist and a peacenik.
Derek: "This last meeting of the One Hundred thirty-second S.O.C. operational specialty squad is hereby adjourned."
Each makes a noise like hoof beats with cupped hands clopping on the side of his thigh. They then tear off their unit patches and burn them in the fireplace.
Derek: "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride into the sunset."
They change into civvies and leave the safe house.
officers & staff gather in HQ
Cameron is addressing the officers and staff.
Cameron: "We have had Resistance people arriving from the future. I am one of them. But we lack the ability to time travel forward to the future or back to our past. Today I am correcting that by reorganizing Technical Command. It will research and develop the technology we need to stop Skynet and save freedom."
Cameron pauses and looks the scientists and engineers in the eye before continuing.
Cameron: "The layman assumes that Big Science physics requires multi-billion dollar accelerators and colliders. Einstein worked with pencil & paper and chalk & blackboard. I am working on new sources of funds but we have very little money. So I expect you to do big things on a tiny budget."
Paul Taylor grew big and tall and worked as a bouncer until the club cut back his hours to zero. Karen Taylor described herself accurately as short and skinny over the phone. However, the temp agency seemed more interested in Karen than her husband when she mentioned that she was fast on her feet and knew a little about guns and had taken a class in judo. In fact, the agency would have taken any skinny and short female even if she had no skills. The client, a short skinny fashionista, got a court injunction to keep a disgruntled former employee at a distance. She wanted a bodyguard who could pass for her sister or an assistant and not be immediately recognizable as a bodyguard lest the fashion press get wind of what she regarded as a non-story and distract from her new clothing lines, Fall Fashions, and other collections. Her advisor had warned her about copy cats and that advice applied to both designs and crimes. The fashionista was irrelevant as was the disgruntled ex-designer that she feared. Karen Taylor was shot at point blank range and her bulletproof vest under her suit did not help. She was shot in the head.
The temp agency was a small and insignificant part of the Kaliba Group of Companies but someone at the executive level did not appreciate a Resistance member attempting to infiltrate Kaliba.
Mark Thomas began his day, as always, commuting to the university where he had a light schedule teaching two classes in logic. Though tenured, he left after his second class and before lunch for his second more lucrative job working on the design of logic circuits -- for Cyberdyne Systems. He never made it. He was nudged and fell under the wheels of an approaching train. No one noticed the person who pushed Mark Thomas to his death. Derek Reese handled the job himself rather than deputize one of the agents under his command. He wanted to send a message to Skynet that the Resistance and the Underground did not appreciate having its members picked off randomly and could push back. Derek thought he picked his target well. Mark Thomas was the most important circuitry expert at Cyberdyne after Dr. Miles Dyson.
Betty had listened to Mark talk about logic and reason and how it separated us from the animals and beasts. As she sat at the funeral service draped in a black dress with her ankles crossed, she could hear the voice of reason rationalize revenge. Something, the randomness of life, chance, perhaps jostling by the crowd had accidentally bumped into Mark and caused him to fall off the platform. It was a closed casket ceremony because morticians cannot make the remains of a train presentable. Betty did not have even the closure of seeing Mark one last time. Something.
Years would pass. And when the day came that Skynet talked to Betty she would be receptive to the logic that it was not something but someone. The mark of the beast.
Betty Thomas would be told by Skynet that a human killed her husband -- a shrewd guess on Skynet's part since Derek had made sure the closed circuit cameras at the station where the train stopped were off at the time. Betty Thomas would become an important collaborator with Skynet Forces. The violence of battle seems straightforward to the grunts and jarheads on the battlefield. But at the top above the colonels and captains and above the generals and admirals where the field marshals and sea lords served the ministers of war, strategy is never simple logic like "A kills B."
Cameron used back channels to send messages to Skynet and receive messages from him. The communiqués seldom got past "Screw you!" but one prisoner swap was arranged. Skynet wrote off terminators but wanted a particular human collaborator back. The prisoner that the Resistance got back was never again trusted because it was assumed that the man was full of spy implants despite assertions by Skynet that it did not tamper with prisoners.