Wednesday, May 20, 2009

God Given

Previously: The Beginning of the End; The Good Soldier; Me, I'm Not; My Violent Heart

He doesn't know where he is. He doesn't know who he is. He does know he's frightened. His fingers in his left hand ache - they're bandaged up, but the pain is still intense. His whole body is tingling slightly, in a way that feels similar to when your foot falls asleep. He is carrying a gun, and can smell that it has been fired recently. This simultaneously alarms and comforts him. Has he shot at someone? Has he hit them? Was it self-defense? He places the gun back in his holster and begins walking.

His mind feels muddled, like his memories and thoughts have been struck by a tornado. Names float to the top of his consciousness, but he can't make connections - they are simply words. Kyle... Reese... Sarah... Connor. Those last two feel right. He feels a sort of mental click, and knows that Connor is his name. Sarah is his mother's name, but he senses he hasn't seen her in many years. And while he now knows what he is called, nothing else has come back to him.

Connor tries to remember how he got wherever it is that he is, but he simply can't. It's all a blank. He is in a residential area, but the streets are deserted. All the doors are shut, and many of the homes have bars on the windows.

He approaches one of the homes cautiously, glancing around. The sensation that he is being watched is strong. He pauses, and his hand - his good hand - goes instinctively to his gun. Looking around, he sees nobody. In the distance, he hears dogs barking. Beyond that, the rumbling of vehicles. A busier road must be nearby. If he can't get assistance here, he'll make his way to the traffic.

He knocks on the door of the house and yells out, "Hello? Is someone there?"

There is no response, so he knocks again, a little harder, and calls out again, trying in English and in Spanish.

Again, no answer - although he senses that there are, in fact, people inside this residence. He calls out a third and final time, when a voice from inside responds, "Go away! We're armed, and we've called the Guard! They're on their way!"

"Please," Connor begged, "I need a hospital. My hand..."

"LEAVE!" the voice on the other end of the door interrupted. Connor could hear that the voice was spiked with fear. The people in this neighborhood, or at least, in this house, were terrified. Connor knew that people that emotionally distressed would not be rationalized with. "Okay! I'm going!" he yelled out as he made his way down the driveway and back to the street.

Once there, he continued walking toward the sound of the dogs. Guided by some forgotten memory, or maybe just by instinct, he drew his gun as he rounded the corner. The barking of the dogs - and it sounded like a lot of them - coupled with the feeling of being watched he'd experienced earlier led him to proceed cautiously.

About three hundred yards ahead, he saw a lone figure walking on the sidewalk. Connor called out to him, "Hey! Mister!"

The man turned, and raised a hand to wave. He began running toward Connor, when he was jumped by four other people - three men and a woman, it looked like. The assailants knocked the man to the ground, and began to viciously beat him.

What the hell? was Connor's initial thought, as he began to run to the man's aid, screaming as he ran. One of the attackers looked up, leapt off the man, and flew toward Connor.

Several things happened very quickly then.

A green Humvee rumbled around the bend, and several men in camouflage exited the vehicle. They yelled warnings, but they went unheeded.

The man who was being attacked was evidently armed. He fired multiple rounds into the female assailant's head, obliterating it. With his other hand, he punched one of the other attackers in the face, hard enough to send him flying into the air a few feet. He brought a knee up to the third attacker's head, knocking him off so he could get to his feet. He stepped on the neck of the man who he had just punched, and pressed down quickly several times.

Connor couldn't see what happened with the third assailant, because he was busy being attacked by the one that had leapt at him. Connor had been pushed to the ground by this man, who was impossibly strong for his size. Connor attempted to stand up, but he was pinned. How did that other guy fight off three of them? Connor fired his gun four times - emptying it. Two of the shots went wild, but the last two connected - he'd hit his atacker in the ribs and gut - and yet he still was holding Connor down, and ...trying to bite him?

Connor could see the man's face - rage filled, but devoid of color. He looked like a corpse. His fingernails were long and jagged, and he scratched Connor's arms several times in the struggle. The attacker was also snapping his jaw, trying despearately to sink his teeth, which also appeared long and jagged, into Connor's skin. At one point he almost succeeded, but Connor turned his head at the last possible second and the man ended up only with a mouthful of Connor's hair. He pulled, and a patch of his hair was painfully removed.

I can't fight him much longer, Connor thought. He punched the man in the face, feeling one of his fangs scratch his knuckles. The idea of stopping and just allowing himself to be beaten - or bitten, or whatever this freak wanted to do - was feeling more and more alluring.

And then, like a deus ex machina, the man was simply gone. Connor sat up, dazed, and was able to witness his rescuer simply crush the man's head between his hands like it was a grape.

A bloodstained hand was offered to Connor, to assist him in standing. Kyle said to him, "If you want to live, you need to come with me."


Seeing my dead twin standing before me, along with the vamp attack we had just been through had been enough to jar my memories back. Although I still had about a million unanswered questions. Apparently, those would have to wait to be addressed.

As the machine carried me over his shoulder, the military men down the street were calling out orders for us to stop. Kyle turned to face them. He yelled out, "Five more, approximately two hundred yards southwest of here!" He then turned and began running in the opposite direction. The militia men fired one shot as a warning - or perhaps Kyle simply dodged the bullet - before we were out of their line of sight. Kyle jumped a few fences, passing through several yards, making random turns, in case we were being followed by either military or vampires.

After he was satisfied that we were not being tailed, he set me down on my own feet. He gave me a quick cursory once-over, examining my wounds. "Have you seen Simon Birden?" I shook my head. "Not since..."

Kyle interrupted, "What about Reese Hamilton?"

A wave of grief and rage swept over me, but quickly dissipated into exhaustion. I was too tired to feel much of anything - my adrenaline levels were spent, and I was crashing. I simply answered the bot with a "No."

Kyle was busy breaking into a parked Toyota Tercel.

"Get in," he ordered.

I climbed into the passenger side as he worked on hot wiring the vehicle. The engine rumbled to life, just as the owner of the car emerged from his house, brandishing a shotgun, yelling at us to get the fuck out of his car.

Kyle glanced over at the man, reached over to open the glove box, reached in, pulled out a socket wrench, opened the car door, and threw the wrench. It hurled through the air for a second - just long enough for the Tercel's owner to realize what was happening- and then it hit the man in the head. He crumbled to the ground instantly.

Kyle was already halfway up the driveway. He picked up the shotgun in one hand, and checked the man's pulse with the other. He then grabbed the man by the scruff of his neck, dragged him into the house, shut the door, and walked back to the car. The entire interaction took about ten seconds.

"What the hell are you doing?" I screamed.

Kyle had already started to drive. He answered, "He'll live. I had to neutralize the threat, and with him unconscious, it will be a while before he can report the stolen vehicle. Additionally, I acquired a weapon with ammunition." He paused, then added, "You're welcome."

"You're insane," I said, but I had to grudgingly admit there was some cold logic to his actions.

After a half minute or so of silence, I asked, "Where are we?" He had navigated onto a busier street, although the vast majority of the vehicles on the road were military green.

"Heading south on Fourth Avenue."

I let out a deep breath. "Yes, but where are we? Fifteen minutes ago we were in a Mim-cha base of some sort, and now, we're ..." I trailed off, partly because I was piecing it together, partly because it simply could not be true.

"If the temporal displacement sphere's readouts were correct, then, yes, Connor, we are in Los Angeles, California in the year 2013. Approximately nine months before the bombs fall."


General Brewster had mixed emotions on Project Mimic. The AI was state of the art, as were the cybernetic organisms that ran the program. But perhaps that was the problem - the things had begun to creep him out. They looked - and acted - too human. He himself had been fooled about three weeks back. He had had a five minute conversation with one of the machines, mistakenly thinking it was one of the lab technicians. He'd only discovered the error when a systemwide shutdown had taken effect (the head technician insisted on performing such shutdowns periodically) and the "person" he had been speaking with simply had it's life spark disappear. He had been furious, with himself for falling for the ruse, and also deeply impressed that they had come so far.

For if he had been fooled, that meant that the robots were capable of doing their job - fooling the monsters that were currently wrecking havoc on the outside world. The media had dubbed the victims as suffering from a highly contagious new form of rabies, but Brewster knew that they were actually vampires. They didn't fit all the Hollywood stereotypes - sunlight didn't kill them (although they didn't like it), crosses had no effect, they had reflections - but they matched the important ones: They fed on blood, they could convert other people into creatures like themselves, and they were extremely difficult to kill. It seemed only destruction of the brain could truly keep them down. They seemed to have borrowed that mythology from the zombie movies. Stabbing them in the heart would slow them - some - but in every case that Brewster had seen, it had to be the head that would finally stop them.

So Project Mimic had been created with the purpose of keeping the vampires away from civilians. And if Brewster couldn't tell the difference between a human and a machine, then hopefully neither could the monsters they were seeking to destroy.

Which brought him to the video tape he was currently watching. Four hours ago, a Guardsman infantry in Los Angeles had recorded a vamp attack that had ended... unexpectedly. Brewster had watched the footage a dozen times already, but was still amazed by it. He had seen vamps swarm and take down entire platoons before - the things just did not stop attacking - so watching one man take out four single-handedly was awe-inspiring.

The swarm had pinned him, just as they pinned a normal human, but this guy - this robot - was not going down easily. He emptied his gun into one of the vamps, and fought two others off him with no problem. At that point, the soldier who had taped this zoomed in, and made it clear that the "man" was in fact, a machine. The vamps had ripped off portions of his neck and face, revealing metal underneath. Brewster had seen enough of the metallic endoskeletons to recognize what he was looking at. The machine - nicknamed "Bot X" until they could get more information - had, after taking care of the three vampires attacking him, gone on to remove the last one. Brewster found himself grimly amused at how he had disposed of that one. But then came the oddest part of the footage. Bot X had just rescued a civilian from being attacked. However, the person he rescued...looked nearly identical to Bot X. Facial recognition software had stated that there was a 98.74% match in identity, which had led Brewster to several possibilities:
One - they were both bots, and off the same assembly line. Project Mimic had thousands of different prototypes, but many of the original bots were identical to one another. However, the Bot X that had been rescued was clearly human (or a much more advanced model that did not have visible metallic underworkings) so that led to possibility number -
Two - The human was the model for the Bot X. This could explain the loyalty that Bot X displayed toward Human X. But would the maker of these bots put himself in danger like that?
The third possibility was just that this was something different completely, and Brewster didn't yet have enough information to make a judgment call. Brewster didn't like Possibility Three, but it seemed the most logical at this time. He needed answers. Fast.

He'd put several teams out on the lookout for Bot X and his identical companion, but there had been no sign of them since the report they had gotten from a William Wisher, who had been assaulted by one of them as they stole his car. Wisher had also reported that they had taken his shotgun. Which meant that there was an armed robot, which may or may not have been one from Project Mimic, loose somewhere in the city. If it was, in fact, a Mimic bot, heads would certainly roll.

Brewster picked up the telephone on his desk and barked the order, "Get Birden in my office, now!"


As Simon Birden watched his old companions fight against the vamps and then flee into the residential neighborhood, he felt the color drain from his face.

He hadn't given himself enough time.

If Kyle and Connor were here, that meant that the other Mim-cha would be soon, if not already. His best bet at finding - and stopping - them was to release the ones he'd helped build over the past twenty-eight years, under Project Mimic. They would help find, and destroy, the Mim-cha from 2037, as well as help take care of the vampire plague. It was risky, but if it worked, the future could be altered, preventing the nuclear war and the Mim-cha revolt.

As soon as the video stopped, he turned to General Brewster and said, "It is essential that I speak with President Palin immediately."

Next: The Greater Good

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

President Palin?

We are so fucked.