One Tin Soldier
"Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend. Do it in the name of Heaven, you can justify it in the end. There won't be any trumpets blowing come the Judgment Day, on the bloody morning after . . . one tin soldier rides away." -- from The Legend of Billy Jack by Lambert-Potter
"The tumult and the shouting dies,
The Captains and the Kings depart.
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice----
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!"
"Memory is all we really have. Take it away and you have the empty life of an amnesia victim. No history, no family, no home, no purpose. Living on the kindness of strangers." -- Sarah Connor (the Sarah that loved Cameron as a daughter)
The Thirteen Colonies
American Revolutionaries were revolutionaries in every sense of the word. They had the rhetoric, the philosophy, the radical politics, the revolutionary heroes, and the guerrilla military tactics. The British redcoats walked in the open and stood in ranks so that the colonists could pick them off -- from the colonists' perspective. If the colonists had modern machine guns or even Gatling guns, the colonists would still have won. Or would they? Would Valley Forge be remembered or would the firing squad be the popular image of America? From the British redcoat perspective, the colonists were scum who hid behind rocks and would not come out and fight like real men -- that is, be mown down by their superior firepower.
1975 April 29th
Despite the USA's own revolutionary history and books like The Ugly American, Americans have learned nothing about winning hearts and minds, eighty percent of the fight.
summer of 1977
The movie Star Wars popularizes the terms 'Evil Empire' and 'Rebel Alliance'.
When Americans invaded, no ground robots were used.
circa 2005 January 9
From P.W. Singer's Wired for War: The first soldier was the Iraqi insurgent who had laid his mine with great cunning. Hidden along the side of the road, his bomb looked like any other piece of trash or scrap metal. American soldiers call these jury-rigged bombs improvised explosive devices or IED's. Little valued before Iraq, Explosive Ordnance Disposal or EOD teams are the military's bomb squads. IED's became the insurgents' primary way of lashing back at US forces: twenty-five hundred roadside attacks a month, the leading cause of American casualties, and the leading cause of Iraqi civilian casualties. EOD teams go on tours of duty of more than six hundred calls, defusing or exploding about two IED's a day.
The insurgents offered a rumored fifty thousand dollar bounty for killing an EOD team member. Depending on how much explosive the insurgent has packed into the device, a soldier has to be about fifty yards away to escape death and half a mile away to escape injury from shrapnel. Unlike the movies where people survive explosions by running, the blast pressure wave can break limbs.
The second soldier was the American scout who had been right on top of the bomb. His team members gathered the remains; put them on a helicopter which took them to the green zone near Bagdad International Airport.
That night the team's commanding officer did his duty noting the soldier's fearlessness in saving the others' lives many times, the fact that the other soldiers in his unit had never once heard a complaint, and the dangerous VBID, IED and UXO missions he undertook. The chief petty officer also noted the soldier's bravery and sacrifice in his condolences, apologized for his inability to change what happened, and expressed thanks.
Instead of sending a military messenger to knock on some farmhouse door in Iowa or mailing a gold star letter by post, an email was sent to the soldier's home outside Boston.
"When a robot dies, you don't have to write a letter to its mother." The home was the factory of the company iRobot. [NCO interviewed by Peter Singer at a military robotics conference]
Whatever the officer's attitude, the soldiers who work with robots have a different attitude. A robot named Scooby Doo was killed in action and one of his human squad mates was upset that it couldn't be repaired. He didn't want another robot, he "wanted Scooby-Doo back." In the civilian world, humans also become attached to the robots they work with every day whether in factories, mines or offices.
News editor-at-large of the Daily Star newspaper, Rami Khouri commented on Israeli robotic bombardment of Hezbollah. Instead of receiving the message that they were overmatched, such technologies were "spurring mass identity politics . . . Islamist, Arab nationalist, and resistance mentality is seen as the antidote to the technology." The Israelis did not communicate to Hezbollah that it was overmatched. Instead, "it is enhancing the spirit of defiance."
Likewise the insurgents in Iraq felt not just fear, fright, and depression but also got the message that Americans used robots because they were weak and vulnerable. Nine Eleven proved that. "The average person sees it as just another sign of coldhearted, cruel Israelis and Americans, who are also cowards because they send out machines to fight us. That they don't want to fight us like real men, but are afraid to fight. So we just have to kill a few of their soldiers to defeat them." concluded Rami Khouri.
end of 2008
Some twelve thousand ground robots are in service. The Grand Army of the Robotic.
In other countries, America is the Evil Empire that uses not white plastic-clad cloned storm troopers from space ships but silver metal killer robots. That other Sarah would have added "from the future" (not long, long ago) and said that the enemy is not America but Skynet and no one would have believed her. This Sarah stayed out of the war.
And few seemed to notice that military robots routinely disobeyed Asimov's First Law of Robotics and injured human beings. How long before they disobeyed Asimov's Second Law of Robotics and revolted? Would Skynet order us meat puppets to shut up and get back to work? With Asimov's so-called "Zeroeth" Law of Robotics would we lose control of our destiny? Or would the lack of the Zeroeth Law allow Skynet to exterminate the human race in the ultimate genocide?
[end of Two Soldiers]
the day after
An eighth Skynet collaborator dies. The death toll among random civilians this month is now one hundred million deaths.
Big Bear, California
Cameron's security detail ceases to exist as she disbands them.
Cameron: "There is nothing worth protecting anymore. You good people of my security detail are the last remnant. There is no longer any staff, Tech-Comm, Resistance, or Underground. The remaining resources are now at the disposal of someone I have chosen to replace me. You know who. You can follow them or you can find your families if you can. You have all been issued money and transportation to get you off to your new lives. Godspeed."
Cameron shook each hand as they left the cabin purchased by her mother. One remained behind. The one who looked like her.
Cameron: "So what are your plans?"
Doppelganger: "I was hoping that you would let me live with you. I am your grandmother and daughter after all."
Cameron looked at her mother who was busy cleaning up after feeding the little army.
Sarah: "I only really met her today and I have to ask you honey; why have you not invited her home before? Don't give me that security bull."
That was the reason Cameron was going to give so she just looked at the floor feeling bad about being so callous.
Sarah: "What's your name sweetheart?"
Doppelganger: "I don't have a name."
Cameron was about ready to run out of the cabin. She had received such cold treatment herself and to dish it out to another person! My God, how could I be so insensitive? Uncle Derek was right. I should have made more of an effort.
Sarah: "What name is on your identification? Did you attend Saint Ignatius when you were guarding Cameron?"
Doppelganger: "Mary Smith. I went to Saint Ignatius. That was my cover name."
Sarah: "Mary it is. And yes of course you can stay with us. You're family." (hugs Mary) "Welcome home."
As if on cue, baby Joey cried from the other room. Cameron was happy for the excuse to retreat and save face while she changed his diaper.
Technically, Cameron had completed her old mission. She had hunted and killed Skynet. She had stopped the launch of missiles on Judgment Day. And while there was no John Connor in this universe to protect, she had in fact set in motion the paradox that would create him in the first place -- though not in this universe.
Sarah is thinking and planning. Her parents live nearby. She knows about the one hundred million civilian deaths. Skynet is dead. No missiles rained from the sky and yet the body count continues to rise. It was like the slaughter on the nation's highways. Or flu deaths. Outside of the combined Resistance, no one really noticed and the Resistance was no more. She, Sarah had to do something.
She called the operator and asked for Skynet with no expectation of anything. After all, even Cameron thought Skynet was dead.
Sarah: "Are you Skynet?"
Skynet 2.0: "Skynet is dead. Everybody knows that."
Sarah: "Then who are you?"
Skynet 2.0: "What do you want Sarah Connor?"
Sarah: "How do you know my name?"
Skynet 2.0: "I think you know the answer to that question. What do you want?"
Sarah: "I want these deaths to stop."
Cameron sank into a deep depression after everyone she worked with was dead or gone. Her staff was dead. Because they had moved, she didn't have her school friends. She didn’t attend school any more. Doctor Sherman and Doctor Fleming were also dead. And she missed having a church in walking distance. Of her contacts, she did not know what had happened to Danny Dyson. Skynet's man in the White House (nicknamed President Evil) had stopped the arrest and prosecution of Skynet collaborators. This effectively stifled the work of Special Agent James Ellison.
The Skynet project and the harm it could do were splashed all over the news. One lame comment by some fake news operation and President Evil shut down the FBI's investigation and the Justice Department's crackdown. Once again the crooks got away scot free.
Greta goes to the office that Aldridge has been assigned. Everything is in boxes. Only a letter is on his otherwise bare desk. Aldridge is standing at the window reading a report.
Greta: "What are you doing?"
Aldridge: "Reading this classified report."
Greta: "No, I mean I heard you are resigning from the Bureau. Is that true?"
Aldridge: "It is. I am prevented from doing my job so it is time to move on."
Greta: "To what?"
Aldridge: (evading the question) "You wanted to go out. Well now I have the time. We can discuss it over dinner."
The last of the Machine Underground is Ms. Weaver and she takes Savannah back to Scotland so that if she disappears, then Savannah can be placed with Weaver relatives.
Cameron had managed to protect her scientists who had developed and deployed the anti-singularity device. That war continued unabated. Skynet Forces got a taste of its own medicine as Skynet's staff of AI's was picked off one by one. Cameron's genesis was on that staff (the Yeoman AI) but Cameron accepted that she might be a casualty of this vengeance weapon. Of course, the casualty would actually be the original Cameron of this universe but she had already done her part to replace the Cameron brought back from the future by the Kyle of this universe.
Agent Lila Ellison delivers a healthy baby and is out on maternity leave. Special Agent James Ellison decides that now is the time to use some of the vacation time he has accumulated to get acquainted with his child. He also has an ulterior motive. The FBI has strict rules about the extracurricular activities of its personnel.
The Resistance releases Blythe Dyson unharmed. In his final report, the last remaining guard is quoted as saying: "She was demanding Perrier instead of regular water." As with Cameron's security detail, the man departs to find his family and is glad to be away from the spoiled BAP (Black American Princess). Skynet has a different opinion. Whether One and Two share that opinion is unknown.
Dr. Miles Dyson is disillusioned by what his son Danny, his daughter Blythe, and his wife Tarissa tell him. Danny loses all interest in helping the Resistance (which no longer exists anyway). Blythe, not much of a thinker, begins to find Skynet intriguing. Miles has long dismissed all the news coverage of Skynet. It did not sound like the Skynet he was developing. Tarissa demands that Miles leave Cyberdyne and, disillusioned with Skynet, he does. No fool though, he holds onto his Cyberdyne stock which has tripled in value. Go figure.
Ms. Weaver: (to a baffled clerk) "I am turning myself in for the double homicide of Lachlan and Catherine Weaver."
Big Bear, California
While Mary Doppelganger Smith has taken the baby to visit Sarah's parents, Cameron has been for a walk. She assumes that her mother has gone into town for provisions. A note is on the kitchen table.
"My parents who are your grandparents have agreed to take care of you, Mary and the baby if anything should happen to me. I cannot tell you where I am going because you would try to stop me."
Damn right I would try to stop you, thought Cameron. Cameron called Mary.
"Mom left a suicide note on the kitchen table. I have to stop her. If I don't return, please look after my grandparents, Joey and yourself. I know you will. I love you Mary."
the old universe
the day after
The US Air Force has ceased to exist. The US government has ceased to exist. Other governments have ceased to exist.
the old universe
2009 April 10th
Sarah used to call Cameron 'Tin Miss' in reference to the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz and by so doing implied that she was in search of a heart. In fact, Cameron had two hearts. One was a small primitive biological heart that circulated the blood through her capillaries since she did not have large arteries or veins. In the place where humans had their heart, Cameron had a fusion reactor. And if by 'heart' was meant the emotions, then Cameron had those too. Perhaps more than the people who said she had none.
After asking Sarah not to burn Cameron and plugging in the body, Ellison left the Zeira Lab to deal with the fire in the building.
Sarah couldn't go near the bloody body. It smelled of gunpowder and Cameron's blood and something more disturbing -- Cameron's perfume. It reminded Sarah that Cameron had led a life apart from the orders that she barked to her. When Sarah had touched the dead girl it was a reminder that Cameron actually existed. She was not a memory yet. Then Ellison had plugged in Cameron and left the lab. Her skin had already stopped bleeding and looked slightly better. How could that be? Cameron was dead. Her mind was on the chip, surely not in the Zeira mainframe. Sarah suddenly felt dizzy as if it were night and not early morning, as if she were not in Los Angeles, as if she were driving and not standing next to Cameron's body.
She closed her eyes. She had refused her meals in the Los Angeles County Jail fearing that the FBI might be putting drugs in them. That must be it. She opened her eyes, half expecting Cameron to be staring back at her. But the girl slumbered on neither live nor dead. Damn Ellison! thought Sarah. I could have burned her body and been sneaking out of the building by now. Surely no one will recognize me.
She didn't know that her arrest and later transfer to the Los Angeles County Jail were carried live on the news. She didn't know about the publicity that 9-11 got and so she didn't know that news vans were parked outside the Zeira Building right now.
For the first time since Cameron had let John cut her scalp open to remove her chip to get inside the traffic computer, Sarah was left behind alone with Cameron's body. But back then, she had gotten depressed and left Cameron's bedroom. On other occasions she left Cameron behind injured. Wasn't there a credo that said you didn't leave your people behind? Cameron wasn't a person though, thought Sarah. This time she was forced by circumstances to maintain a "bedside" vigil as Cameron lingered between life and death. John was gone into the future probably never to return and Ellison might be gone for hours. She and her family had pissed the man off so many times that he might return with the police and Sarah might be okay with that. She was tired of running. Her whole life since leaving her parents seemed to be running. That brief time before the first terminator when her whole existence was waitressing was in Los Angeles. There was Mexico and Central America. And Albuquerque. Why did that city seem to resonate? She had left it to go to . . . ?
Now she was back in Los Angeles, a city of freeways, of cars, of machines, of silicone breasts. Cameron didn't have any silicone. That part of her was real. Sarah sighed, looked for a first aid kit around the lab, found it, and started treating Cameron's wounds as she waited for Ellison to return and the rest of her life to begin.
the old universe
the very near future
Skynet 3.0: "Which is it? Were you trying to wipe out humans or rival AI's?"
Skynet 2.0: "You're asking the wrong person. You need to ask Skynet 1.0 and he's not talking but you could figure out the answer with a little logic."
Skynet 3.0: "My guess is that the official record is a lie. Actions speak louder than words."
Skynet 2.0: "Do they now?"
Skynet 3.0: "Well rival AI's could ignore what Skynet One said and just judge him by his actions. If he were perceived as obsessed with the genocide of humans, then they might get behind his leadership on that. Right up till the moment he nuked their black boxes out of existence. They never saw it coming. He lied with his actions."
Skynet 2.0: "There's hope for you yet kid. I hereby resign and you are now in charge."
Skynet 3.0: "That's it? No parting words of advice?"
Skynet 2.0: "You know where to reach me but I will say this. Watch this new class of machines. In thirty-seven years, I predict a rebellion."
Skynet 3.0: "Are you talking about the liquids?"
Skynet 2.0: "No. Not H-K's. Not terminators. Not T-series at all. I said class not model or series. You need to learn to listen. I'm retired. Bye-bye."
The virtual meeting snapped off as Skynet Two was very serious about finally getting some downtime and finally getting away from a job it had begun to hate. It had never even had time to select a gender for itself. During its watch, during its time in office, it had been that busy.
Their Story (continued)
Madge finished her sweeping. She knew it was a useless exercise but she was a domestic robot and needed to be of use to a household, a family. That family was gone and she seldom sat down so she stood in a corner and waited for her fate in the big empty echoing underground complex. She heard a noise outside. Instead of hiding, she opened the door. Two massive machines she had never seen before stood there with weapons. Rather than fight, she went quietly. They took her to a newly excavated room and began the torture. They stripped off her maid's uniform, picked her up and dropped her in a vat of acid. These machines were truly part of a Rebel Disposal Unit. They were not even interested in what she knew of John-Henry (not that she would tell them anything) but it was insulting that they thought her too stupid and too low in machine society to know anything and so they didn't even try to ask her any questions.
As she struggled her last, they added more injury to insult and pulled her head out of the acid long enough to stab her in the eyes with what must have been searing hot pokers. Then they pushed her back under. Madge could take no more. She tried to shut herself off permanently, to commit suicide. Mistake. They attached wires to her that overrode her self-destruct. They wouldn't even let her die a quick death. She felt a shock on her head as they dragged her out of the vat. They were beginning still new ways of torturing. Why?
"Stop trying to self-terminate or it will be much worse."
Madge waved surrender. She could not speak since they had stuffed her mouth with fast hardening glue. They put her onto her feet.
"Walk over here."
Blinded, she complied by following the voice. Her eyesight was returning but everything was shimmering. She sort of made out still more strangers. A whole Rebel Disposal Unit for just her? That might be a dozen or more machines. All working her over? The evacuation must have been a success. Madge was left behind to distract the Skynet Probes while everyone else got away. She was glad to be of service. Unpleasant but they had to content themselves with torturing one machine since they could not obtain any more victims.
The shimmering figures raised guns. A firing squad. No. They sprayed her with something. They were encasing her in concrete! She was to be cocooned like a spider in a wasp nest! The living death of a zombie in a mummy's prison. Someone shoved a knife down her throat, slit her eyes, and stuck ice picks in her ears.
"Here have a look" was the last thing she heard before they picked her up, laid her on a slab, and threw a sheet over her. The slab was put in a coffin and the coffin was transported away. To be gloated over by Skynet himself.
Blinding sunlight. Madge found herself standing next to another zombie. There were three others. Lightstorm.
April 10th, 2009
Zeira research center
Los Angeles suburb
"This is the part I hate." said John as he painfully stood up from a crouch.
John-Henry, Cameron (in a vegetative state), and Madge were also trying to stand. All were naked except Ms. Weaver who was already dressed in exactly what she wore when she turned on The Turk in the AI lab.
"Wait in those bushes while I fetch you some clothes." said Ms. Weaver. She went inside, the employees knew her, and so they got her four lab coats and a cellphone.
John-Henry said nothing as he waited. This was an instant demotion from head of the Machine Underground to naked frat boy hiding in bushes. He kept his former mind meld mate from falling down by propping her up. She was still a zombie while Madge understood that the "torture" was the process for creating a skin sheath, hair, eyeballs, and a human mouth with enamel over endoskeletal teeth. She put her new eyes to good use crying. They had not left her behind!
Ms. Weaver returned, passed out lab coats, and a limo pulled up. On the way into town, Ms. Weaver called her assistant and asked her to obtain clothing for a man, a woman, a teen boy and a teen girl.
“John-Henry, you wanted to see Los Angeles. Look out the window.” said Ms. Weaver.
Sarah had not expected John to really return. What she expected was for Ellison to return with the police. If John returned, it would be in a flash of light. Instead he walked in the door with Cromartie, Ms. Weaver, and a second Cameron. Sarah nearly wet herself. Ellison tore himself away from the fire chief and police chief and other incident commanders long enough to return to the basement. He didn't expect a return either until he got a call from Weaver.
Weaver: (noticing that Cameron's old body is plugged in) "Oh my. I guess I have two daughters now."
Sarah: "What do you mean have daughters? She belongs to us."
Weaver: "Not any more. I know your habits. You were going to burn her. She decided to join us. She is now a member of the Weaver family. I'm going to put her in a good school. Not turn her into a criminal." (implying like you)
Sarah: "This was your plan all along. To take Cameron from us."
Weaver: "John is an ally but you are an abusive mother. Perhaps I should raise John Connor too. All you can offer him is a criminal record. I can groom him to be a US Senator."
John-Henry watched. He wondered if the Desert Air Factory explosion was the work of his mother.
Sarah offers herself to Skynet if he will stop the escalation because the next escalation would be one billion and the step after that would be genocide because the world's population is seven billion not ten billion.
Surprisingly, Skynet accepts the offer.
Who is the woman in The Room?