Chapter Thirty Seven: The Stranger
My name is Sergeant Jacob Rivers, Tech-Com, Resistance North Division, DN46890, on what is to be my final mission. It was tempting to have the war over with, and live a peaceful life, but how could I ever ask another soldier to risk their life to keep me safe? I don't understand it, not even a little bit, but here I am several months in the past. Passing through the TDE was painful… painful and cold, but suddenly Conner and the others were gone, and I was laying naked on the street in Pasadena.
The Resistance is still here, meaning the Annihilation Line hasn't come online yet… I still have time. Both time to prepare for my past self's arrival, and also to find weapons and clothes of my own, since in addition to cold and painful, my arrival was also very naked. God, its tempting to go see Jennifer and Patrick at their father's house, and Ryan and Erin… but they won't know me. I was even tempted to go see Baron when I spotted her at one of the checkpoints… I wanted to thank her for… no, damn it, she won't know me, either… she can't until the right time.
I remembered that the Stranger prepared an escape route from the hideout we would end up using, so I left the city and headed there… damn, this place is a dump. I knew that a good amount of prep-work had been done before we arrived on that broken down old bus, but I didn't realize how much. Apparently that hooded man, my older self, was the one who gathered all the provisions and weapons for us, on top of building the escape tunnel, which was a pain in the ass… took a long time, too.
Well, it's taken a couple weeks, but I've got the hideout just the way that it was when we got there… when Colin urged me to recon the warehouse district with him, and… and is it possible to save him, too? I know that the tunnel will save Mark and Laura, and that my younger self can convince Jennifer and Patrick to leave the bunker before things go bad, but what am I going to do about Colin, Erin, Ryan, and… and Baron? Could I even save the South Division Commander? Would she listen to a warning that was suspicious as hell?
The Resistance has begun discreetly pulling out of Pasadena, and as painful as it is to watch the civilians go about their lives as if nothing's wrong, I can't warn them. After all, if the Annihilation Line doesn't roll through and cause the exact amount of destruction needed, then my younger self might not end up where I need him to be. Part of me is jealous of him… young Jacob Rivers, so naive, not aware of the hell he's about to be put through… and getting to meet Jennifer for the first time.
Jennifer… when I agreed to come back as the Stranger, Conner told me that the TDE facility was going to be destroyed so that nothing else could go back… there's no way home for me or anyone else who was sent back to protect the Infiltrators' targets. This means that the only way I'll ever get to be with Jennifer again is to somehow keep myself alive until the end of the war, and then take my own place when he goes back. Yeah, I probably should have looked at the coordinates for Skynet's real location at some point after getting them, but… but how the hell was I supposed to know that I'd be traveling back in time to protect myself?
It's begun, the Annihilation Line is advancing into Pasadena, and everyone is in a panic now that they've noticed that the Resistance is gone. That's not my problem, though… my problem just entered the ruins, scared and exhausted with an Infiltrator tracking him down, this God damn moron is blundering his way right into a patrol of T-800s… holy shit did I really do that? It's not a problem, though… I'm prepared for this just as long as he goes right where I need him to, and… really, Jacob? God damn, I really was a jackass back then… how the hell did I survive without my future self?
I felt the old wounds for a second as I watched him get tossed around by that Terminator, but then the look on his face… damn, the look of shock and terror on my younger self's face was almost enough to make me laugh after I shot the machine with red plasma so that he could crawl to where I left that radio. Red plasma… how did we ever fight a war against Skynet with this junk. All right, it's time… and I know just how to end this log.
"I know who you are, jackass! Now listen to me if you want to live."