Chapter One: The New Model
"Get your fucking head down!" A harsh voice ordered. "Rivers, down!"
There might have been more words, but they were drowned out by the deafening sound of an engine up above, while a hand roughly pushed the Private's face down into the rocky terrain. The helmet he was wearing absorbed some of the discomfort, while Rivers' right cheek scrapped up the rest, and from there he was able to get his first close up look at one of Skynet's Aerial Hunter Killers. As a boy he had seen them from a distance, always at night when it was slightly safer to go out searching the ruins for supplies, illuminating targets on the ground with a searchlight before destroying them with glowing plasma weapons, and then just… moving on.
It was so loud hovering right above the Resistance soldiers that it hurt the Private's ears, the Aerial's shiny metallic body slowly rotating around in a standard sensor sweep, while a set of large vertical rotors at the end of each wing kept the HK stable. Finally the awful noise began to soften, the Aerial's rotors tilting slightly for a forward thrust that moved it away from the soldiers, and finally allowing Rivers to lift his head back up once the HK flew behind the skeletal remains of some nearby skyscrapers.
"For the last time, Rivers… Aerial comes in, get under cover." The man who pushed him down said with an irritated tone. "I mean, Jesus, you can only hear the damn things coming from a mile away… did it sneak up on you?"
"Sorry, Commander." The Private replied as a nearby soldier shook his head. "I was just… I was trying to get the picture before it moved, and…
Field Commander Ramirez interrupted him, the big man pointing his finger into Rivers' face while harshly whispering that even if he got the picture, it wouldn't be worth a damn if that Aerial barbequed them before they could get it back to base. It wasn't enough to simply accomplish an objective at any cost, there had to be a plan for escape as well, especially when that objective was something that needed to be brought back for analysis. Yes, they needed a picture of the new Terminator model, but Ramirez wanted his men to be smart as well as brave… battlefield was covered with the bones of brave idiots, as he said in the briefing.
Unfortunately, while the soldiers were trying to avoid the Aerial, the new model in question left the area as well, forcing their team to follow it deeper into the ruins of the city. In recent months Skynet, the bastard supercomputer responsible for all this, had really stepped up its offensive against the Resistance, releasing some new models of Terminators that put the 600 series to shame, and starting to mass produce them. This report wasn't unique to the Resistance's Pacific Division, either; North and South Divisions had recently reported that Skynet's factories along the coast were running day and night to build these things, like they were being used for some kind of massive new Army.
"Spread out." Ramirez ordered as they prepared to leave cover. "Move in teams of two, stick to cover, and if any of you get the pictures, call for immediate withdrawal. Rivers, you're with me."
Crawling out from underneath the pile of burned up vehicles that they had been using for cover, each team had to wait to make sure it was clear to move, since the sun hadn't quite gone all the way down yet. Normally, a mission like this would have been conducted at night, but according to Command, time was of the essence, and even a few extra hours might be what made the difference. The machines could see in the dark better than a human could, so there was no guarantee of safety after the sun went down, but…
"Rivers, go!" The Commander harshly whispered. "Get to our next position, move!"
Getting up into a crouched position, the Private stayed as low to the ground as possible, constantly looking around for any signs of movement just like he had been trained to do… too bad the small amount of training Rivers had received upon joining the Resistance was nothing like facing Skynet for real. Not half a mile after venturing into enemy held territory, one of their team had been surprised by a Spider Scout, and it was over before she had even been able to raise her weapon. Disabling the woman with a bright flash of electrical energy that threw her backwards, the small multi-legged machine leapt upon the woman and impaled her torso with its legs several times before Ramirez was able to shoot it, and she was dead even before the Spider stopped functioning.
The Private had been informed that Skynet's machines were fast and tough to put down, but this was still quite the wakeup call for his first mission. As a boy he had seen people get killed by such monsters, or at least heard it happen while the rest of their scavenging group escaped, but seeing it up close was… it was insane. And this was what the resistance did; go out and meet these machines head on, and this wasn't even one of the worst ones… not by a long shot. There were HK's that were even more deadly than the Aerials, and other versions of the Spiders that could fly, and even larger ones that had guns.
None of these were the reason that Pacific Division sent this team out, however, although each one was a serious threat. It was because of the Terminators, Skynet's go to takers of human life ever since three billion lives were ended on August 29th, 1997, a date that every living person knew by heart, even though Rivers hadn't even been born yet when it happened. The first Terminators were on treads with mounted guns, like miniature versions of the massive HK Tank, and slowly over the years the versions had evolved into more humanoid forms to take advantage of the mobility and range of motion that human beings enjoyed.
The first humanoid model was called the T-400, and it was a horrible, blocky looking monstrosity with a bright red glowing eye. It was strong, but slow and loud, with lots of wiring exposed, which made a pretty obvious target. There might have been others, but the next one that was produced in great numbers was the T-600, a much faster and more subtle model, but also more heavily armored, and some were covered with some kind of strange rubber skin. The rubber coating was ridiculous and easy to spot in the daytime, but at night or at far distances it was a little harder to spot, and was the cause of a lot of Resistance casualties.
As tough as the 600 series was, a lot of them were being destroyed by heavy weapons, and this loss of effectiveness was what was believed to have prompted the supercomputer to create the new model. There wasn't a lot of data so far on them, but these new ones, the 800 series as they were being called, were supposed to be a major upgrade. Bigger than the 600's, but faster, more agile, and there was a rumor… just a rumor, now, that a lot of the weapons the last model was susceptible to, well… this just wasn't the case. It was hard to believe that there was such a thing as an invincible Terminator, since even the mighty HK Tank could be taken down with enough firepower, but that was the primary reason for this mission… data gathering.
Why else would a team, led by the Commander of their Division no less, be sent all the way up to one of the coastal factories without fire support or backup? This walled fortress had probably once been some kind of factory before Judgement Day, but the walls had been fortified, and there were drones patrolling the perimeter both on the ground and hovering above. The good news was that they didn't have to actually go inside the building, as long as one of the new models showed up outside, and hopefully that would happen as soon as Rivers and Ramirez got a little closer.
"I'm seeing a lot of patrolling Drones and Spiders." One of the teams replied after everyone was ordered to check in. "Entrances guarded by… oh, wow, these T-400's are looking pretty rough."
"I've got a partial visual inside the building." Another team reported. "I can see some of the 600's, but… I'm not sure, but it looks like they're being melted down for some reason."
The whole time the Commander was receiving these reports and relaying his own information about the Drones he could see flying up above, Rivers was scanning around the one visible entrance he could see with his binoculars. So far he saw some Spiders walking around, and a few… wait a second, was that it? It looked like the same thing he had tried to get an image of earlier, shiny and metallic frame, standing a whole head taller than the 600's, two glowing red eyes… and a large rifle with parts that were glowing red.
"Commander, think I see it." The Private whispered, passing him the binoculars. "Is that it? Is that the T-800?"
"Yeah, I think so." Ramirez whispered back, patting him on the shoulder. "Good eyes, Rivers… this almost makes up for the Aerial. Get the pictures… get a few of them… try to get different angles as it walks."
Zooming in with the camera he had been given, which was kind of awkward to do, the Private managed to zoom in on the Terminator's metallic leg, taking the image just after pulling back a little in order to see the whole thing. It sure was a lot more intimidating looking than the previous models, appearing almost like a human skeleton, and walking… and walking smoothly like a person did too. Following his orders the Private took a few images, capturing the T-800 from the side when it started walking away from the door, and then another one exited the factory… and then another one… and then another one… and then another one, all armed with rifles that glowed red in places.
"Plasma rifles." Rivers commented, taking another image. "Commander, they've all got plasma rifles."
One or two of the 600's had been equipped with plasma, as were several of the Aerial and Tank HK units, but as far as the Resistance knew, such weapons weren't exactly standard issue for the machines. However, this seemed to have changed at some point, since every endoskeleton that walked out of that factory was armed with one… and there were a lot of Terminators coming out of that factory. Dozens upon dozens of them were walking out of the main doors, getting into formation as if they were preparing for some kind of major offensive, and more of them just kept coming.
"Commander, we've got almost a hundred of these things on the west side." One of the teams reported in. "The T-400's are getting melted down, too… I thin Skynet's using the old model Terminators for new parts."
Yes, the Resistance had recently acquired plasma weapons of their own, thanks to some scientist or whatever, but on this team only the Commander had one, since they were even more rare for humans to have than Skynet. A plasma rifle could tear right through Drones, Spiders, and even the T-600's, but it was a proven fact that eventually the machines would adapt to any strategy the humans used, so were these new ones made to be more resistant? Every team reported in again a minute or so later, saying that T-800's were still coming out of the building, and even though Ramirez told Rivers to keep taking pictures of the formations, the Commander was starting to sound concerned once the endoskeleton numbers reached the hundreds.
"All right, Private, that's enough." He said, turning his radio back on. "Christ, they just keep coming… Ramirez to all teams, that's it, people, we're done here. Fall back, and take separate routes back to base. Come on, Rivers, let's get out of here before one of them sees us."