NOTES: This is a prequel to "Only Lonely" and "Fuzzy Dice". It's not necessary to have read those stories, but I'd recommend it.
SUMMARY: After capturing a new type of terminator General Connor faces a personal crisis while his future father confronts a frightening new enemy in the forbidden wastes of the Arctic Circle. Prequel to the 'Only Lonely' series.
DISCLAIMER: All characters herein are the property of someone other than me. No profit has been earned.
"The Killer I Created"
Allison Young was dragged by her spindly arms through the murky metal passageway, her meek form splayed like a fallen scarecrow between the might of the two terminators as they hauled her through the gloom. Her flesh bruised beneath the hydraulic vice of unyielding metal as her legs dragged out behind her, kicking uselessly against the grimy floor as she was pulled deeper into the soulless facility.
"Where are you taking me?!"
The metal warriors strode on, boots echoing, faces taut with indomitable will as they loomed upon an old steel door pealing with paint and rust. One of them extended a muscular arm, thrusting the portal open in a yawing whine like the gates of an ancient castle, revealing a creaky metal staircase that led down into darkness.
Horror sank inside her like a rusty nail, her body stiffening against their grip, unleashing a reserve of strength and defiance as she struggled in a wild flurry of resistance. The machines watched dispassionately as she clawed against them like a scalded cat, their hold on her never threatened as she scratched and yelled and her teeth sank down until she tasted metal.
Before long she had exhausted herself, sinking uselessly in a pile of defeat where they hauled her back onto uneven legs, marching down into the blackness of an unhallowed dungeon. A place of suffering and nightmares she had been every night in her dreams. Scabby walls pealing with paint and rust, water and mildew fermenting with the tang of oily metal as a light bulb sizzled to life at the end of a cobwebbed chain, illuminating the chamber in all its hellish detail.
At the centre lay a menacing chair and table, metal and carbon fibre, polished and new, the legs fastened to the uneven floor with industrial bolts and welding. She hung limply in one of the machine's grasp, legs twisted beneath her as she shivered against the cold, watching as its partner prepared the appliances of the torturous berth.
Her eyes glistened as they slid over the blood-stained floor of Skynet's charnel house, her voice whimpering in a last crush of finality.
This was the end of the line.
Once the machine had finished she was yanked into the chair, limbs bending painfully against inhuman strength as built-in restraints were snapped shut over her wrists and ankles. She screamed as one of them seized a fistful of hair, holding her head as the other fitted a metal collar around her neck, pulling her against the back of the chair where it was anchored with a length of industrial cord.
Human beings have a strength that can't be measured. Human beings have a strength that can't be measured.
She repeated the mantra back to herself the way John Connor had taught her, gleaning the strength that the words evoked as the machines marched out and the door slammed shut behind them, abandoning her to the deafening silence.
Human beings have a strength that can't be measured. Human beings have a…
Her face contorted, tears spilling over her cheeks. It was useless; the words feeling hollow and feeble in the face of certain doom.
She had never been so scared in her life.
All she wanted was to be far away from this nightmarish place. For the building to rock with some distant explosion and the sound of gunfire grow near. For the door to burst open and John to be standing there, the tunnel beyond a graveyard of smashed metal, wrap her in his arms and take her home to the place she was warm and safe.
In a screech of metal and blinding light the door swung open, flooding the dungeon with pallid radiance, soaring her heart as though her prayers had been answered as her senses were barraged by light. The heat from its source prickled her skin, blinding her to all beyond the brightness as the sound of footsteps approached and the light was placed on the table.
"What's your name?"
The voice seemed strange and distorted, alien to her as she squinted through the glare. She dug deep and remembered Johns' words again, finding that last vestige of defiance that overcame all fear and doubt.
"My name? Why should I tell you?"
Her answer was silence and she sat firm in the dazzling haze.
"Where are you from?"
Defiance turned venomous, her teeth gritting together. "Why does it matter? It's not there anymore."
She almost jumped out of her skin as a fist smashed down on the table, echoing like a gunshot or the crack of a whip before it drew back beyond the light.
"I asked you a question! I want a fucking answer!"
The voice remained ominous but the words where unmistakable; angry and emotional, impatient for her response and in no mood to be trifled with.
No machine would make that mistake.
"Wha… who are you?!"
Allison watched as blurred shadow moved beyond the brightness, reaching for the light before it clicked out of existence, revealing the source as a directional lamp as it ticking itself cool in the twilight. Tears stung her eyes as her sight adjusted, the daze fading as she looked beyond the table to the figure that slid into focus.
Before her stood a man of fearsome proportions; tall and severe, short hair and shadow, brilliant eyes of emerald green glaring into her. His arms looked strong enough to knock the head off a terminator, his cheek and forehead marred by angry scars. A man forged in the fire of a nuclear war, every bit as menacing as his legend described.
When he spoke it was a gravely baritone, rich with confidence and authority, eyes vaunting a frightening intelligence he plied with chilling effect.
His words rang out between them like a death knell, the instant they echoed aloud triggering a bolt of schizophrenia.
Deep down inside her, somewhere secret and in the dark, something began moving. A spectre in the darkness. A lurking monster snapping its eyes open in the depths of her brain.
Metal squealed and buckled in a blur of lightning motion as she burst forward from the chair, body wrenching against the manacles that contorted beneath the might of inhuman strength. The band holding a wrist snapped open with a metallic ping and her hand lunged out toward him, snatching for his throat, stretching futilely for Connor to her greatest extent where he stood stoic and unwavering mere inches beyond her reach.
"You think I was born yesterday?" His voice snarled with contained fury, looking over her dour expression as she grasped in midair. "You don't think I can spot one of you from miles away?"
Reaching down to the table his fingers flicked open a hidden panel, revealing a keypad of green and yellow where his finger slid over an innocuous button before pushing it down with a click.
In an instant, Allison convulsed in a rigid spasm as the electricity flowed through her body, locking her limbs in a useless tremble and gritting her jaw like a vice. After a few moments, Connor released his finger, killing the flow and her body slumped like a discarded mannequin, slouching in the chair in an unnatural pose as its eyes lay open and lifeless.
Silence deafened the room; the buzz of the light bulb the only companion to Connor's racing heart. He felt like he was falling, the world torn out beneath him, downward and feet first as slow as a Luna landing.
With saturnine motion he flipped the keypad closed and slumped forward against the table, his senses coming down off an adrenaline high as a part of his world fell down. He felt like he had been drop-kicked, the will to fulfil what needed to be done summoned from the darkest depths inside him, ruinous in their power, changing him from within like a spreading sickness.
He looked over the aberrant frame of the replica sent to kill him, flawless in every detail, from the sound of her voice to the scar on her brow. His soul languished beneath the sickening sight and the thought of what it had cost to create it, but a part of him only saw what his eyes afforded. The innocent girl that he had known, cared for, entrusted with so many secrets and shared himself for a time.
With mechanical motion he prepared a syringe, fixing the needle and drew the plunger in and out as he stepped toward the chair. Her arm was stiff as he pulled it out, like opening a rusty hinge, fingers tapping the skin and awed by its perfection. The vein in her arm bulged to which he placed the bevelled tip, withdrawing a sample before pulling out the needle.
With a delicacy and reverence few had ever seen, Connor placed his hand beneath her kneecap, lifting her splayed leg and neatening it next to the other like the leg of an antique piano. Her arm he drew upward with both of his hands, placing it back on the armrest, the sculpted appendage that had snatched for his throat nothing less than the Venus de Milo's.
"I'm so very sorry…"
In the last few moments before she rebooted he leaned in close and kissed her, the ruby flesh of her cheek so soft and real before he snatched the syringe and its content, marching from the cell with vengeful intent as the machines swung the door closed behind him.
Within the vast, uninhabited wilderness of the Arctic Circle a storm roared in across the landscape. A mountainous and forgotten realm of snow and ice abandoned by all of humanity. Within the glacial wastes were jagged ice boulders as big as houses, temperatures that could kill in minutes, and howling emptiness for a thousand of miles in every direction.
High amidst the stark clouds of this oppressive kingdom an AgustaWestland AW101 helicopter, more commonly known as a 'Merlin', bucked like a thundering mule in the arctic turbulence, its pilot Andrew Falcheck fighting to maintain control as the aircraft came through the worst of it and finally levelled out.
Palpable relief spread through him and his backside gradually unclenched, his hand adjusting the heads-up display of his helmet as he whistled all the air from his lungs. He reached out and patted the rim of the instrument panel, muttering sweet nothings to his aircraft in the recognised and time honoured manner of the pilots that had gone before him.
His precious Merlin was a tough old bird, the two of them sharing many a misadventure together since she was rescued and lovingly restored from an abandoned weapons depot on the tip of Scotland, the Resistance sparing no scrap of resources or equipment in their relentless struggle toward victory.
A victory Connor had promised for years, but now, in the twilight of 2026; a melody in the hearts of minds of all who followed him.
"That's your idea of smooth, is it?!" The voice of Lieutenant Bacchus crackled over his headphones. "I've had smoother Egyptian whiskey!"
The chopper-jock felt his back teeth grind together until he summoned his most affable smile.
"Apologies lieutenant, but all things considered we should count ourselves lucky." He responded before mouthing the word 'asshole' and extending his middle finger toward the closed door of the passenger cabin.
Fuck Bacchus anyway. He had said from minute-one this mission was jinxed.
In a screech of un-oiled metal the compartment door slid open and Bacchus shuffled inside, his form bent over in the cramped conditions before he wrestled the door closed behind him.
"Lucky my ass! You said you could handle this thing!" The lieutenant looked out across the barren, featureless desert as he parked himself in the narrow space behind the cockpit. "Where the hell are we anyway?!"
"About four klicks out, not that we'll be landing anytime soon mind you."
"How's that, corporal?"
Falcheck gestured out to the pristine white abyss beyond the windshield, the meeting point between sky and horizon a barely discernable line. "These clouds keep moving in and we'll be in total whiteout. You ever been in a whiteout, lieutenant?"
"Why? Should I have?"
Falcheck scoffed without humour. "Joke all you want but if I can't put her down in less than fifteen minutes, we're RTB!"
"The hell we are! We've got a mission to accomplish, soldier!"
"Lieutenant, we set out from the Charybdis with enough fuel to get us where we wanted to go then get us back. Three hours in, three hours out." His finger pointed to a digital chronometer amidst the wealth of electronics on the console beside him, the LED figures an ominous crimson amidst a field of reassuring green.
"We're coming up to two hours and forty-six? Know what that tells me, lieutenant?"
Bacchus rolled his eyes and knew he was there for the duration, listening to Falcheck and his litany of complaints. The young man had been a last minute addition to the team after their original pilot got sick and had to stay behind on the boat. Bacchus had picked Falcheck from his seat in the pilot's mess; his face a vacant expression, mouth dangling tendrils of tasteless spaghetti as the lieutenant had singled him out.
It was either that or wait for the preferred replacement to return from another mission the following morning.
The future would tell if he had chosen poorly.
"No Falcheck, what does that tell you?"
"It tells me that logically we should be halfway through our fuel supply, and low and behold," His finger shifted, indicating the aircraft's fuel gauge as it hovered at fifty percent. "We're half empty."
"That makes you a pessimist, Falcheck."
"Guilty as charged, sir. But that doesn't change the fact that if we don't put her down soon, we won't have enough fuel to get back…"
Bacchus felt like arguing, pressing his authority home and putting Falcheck in his place, but one look across the radiant abyss made the lieutenant as culpable a cynic.
"Give me all the time you can, corporal," He said, tone shifting down several gears. "If we can't put her down in the next ten minutes, we'll be going to plan-B."
The cantankerous chopper-jock was a born survivor and had not reached the ripe age of twenty-three by taking unnecessary risks. If Bacchus wanted to delegate how long they stayed out here looking for some god-forsaken airstrip, then for once he was not going to complain.
In the rear of the aircraft four Resistance soldiers lounged in the vast passenger cabin as Bacchus and Falcheck locked horns, the compartment large enough for the deployment of an entire platoon, cavernous in such wasteful vacancy. The rear though contained boxes and chests of supplies tied back with straps and netting, enough food and equipment to satisfy a small militia.
"Wonder what they're talking about?" Asked Specialist Charlie Pace, a well-meaning Southerner and the youngest of the team, boyish and happy to be here, balling his hands together and warming them with his breath as his legs bounced up and down on the deck plate.
Private Holden looked up from his tattered copy of Frankenstein, the team's emergency field medic, eyeing the kid with long suffering experience through the ill-fitting lenses of his glasses. "Probably Falcheck bitching about hazard pay," He remarked, flicking over a page with a moistened fingertip. "Either that or the lack of stewardesses."
Pace rubbed his hands on his thighs before hoping onto his feet, reaching for the handrail as he peered out of the window, squinting through the ashen glare.
"Jeez…" He murmured, cuffing the shoulder of the man beside him to wake him from his pre-mission snooze. "It looks fucking freezing out there, Carter."
Carter was a civilian in his late-thirties, pasty and undernourished, one of the few people left in the entire world that ever had any formal education. It made him one of the most valuable people the Resistance had, though he had found the majority of his time spent reminding others of the past, the ones born after the day of fire and brimstone that slid ever down the path of nescience.
Pace was no exception.
"That's nothing kid," He wrote off. "We're only going to the eightieth parallel. Beyond that it gets cold enough to put ice crystals in your blood."
Pace shivered at the thought, returning to his seat and buckling in as the chopper buffeted in the storm.
"So what can we expect in this place, Carter?" He asked as he slipped his arms through the harness. "You're the smarts of this outfit."
"It's called Svalbard, private. It's an archipelago with lots of ice and rock."
"And cold! Very, freaking cold!"
"It's not the cold you need to be worried about. It's the polar bears."
Paces' eyes widened and even Holden glanced from his book.
The scientist nodded with grave intent. "Big as Volkswagens I've heard. And they attack humans on sight."
"I'll take bears over Skynet any day," Holden threw in his two cents. "At least up here there isn't any metal."
Pace nodded, seizing the silver lining that had sold him on the mission in the first place. Though nobody had mentioned bears.
"Relax guys, so long as we keep out heads together, we'll be back on the ship before nightfall."
Holden and Pace eyed one another, a little piece of the mission's secrecy slipping through Carter's support.
"That reminds me, Carter." Holden asked. "Isn't it about time someone gave us some orders?"
"The mission's classified, private. I only know my small part. Bacchus has all the details."
"What about the second-in-command? He must know something."
Carter just shrugged. "Go ahead and ask him then."
Pace turned his attention to the man sitting off from the three of them, after all this time still unspoken as he twirled a photograph in his hand, studying the image like a priceless painting.
"How 'bout it, Reese? What the hell are we up here for?"
Between two crates of supplies and a strongbox of ammunition, Kyle Reese looked up from a faded Polaroid, in no mood to talk as he was pulled back to reality by the strident twang of Pace's Southern drawl.
He had just been off on vacation. A place he went all the time. To clear blue sky and sandy desert, all bathed in golden sunshine. The passenger of an old Jeep Renegade on the road to fate and destiny, ridding next to the girl of his dreams.
"That's 'sergeant' or 'sir' to you, specialist."
Pace made a swift back-peddle, deflating in an instant. "Uh… yes sir. Sorry sir."
Without elaborating further, Reese looked back to his photograph, content to ride out the storm in his own little paradise as the chopper hit another rough patch, shaking the cargo about.
"Trust me kid, you've got nothing to worry about." Carter spoke up, filling the silence. "Now on the other hand take Holden and Reese." He pointed both parties out like the specimens of a study. "Holden is the bright young black guy and Reese still wears his lucky red armband; if anyone's getting killed on this mission it's bound to be one of them."
Carter chuckled at his own joke as Holden flipped him the bird, eyes never leaving his book as the cockpit door slid open and Bacchus made his formidable presence known.
The running joke amongst the men in his company was that Bacchus was a T800 in disguise, the man's towering frame and powerful physique a stark contrast to the majority of Resistance fighters. Rumour was that he was a bit of a borderline psycho, eating the flesh of the terminators he killed to keep himself strong and athletic. In any other environment he would have probably run foul of the law and civilisation a long time ago, but in the bleak arena of the War of the Future, he was right at home.
"Looks like we're in the neighbourhood, so drop your cocks and grab your socks, people!" He roared over the din of the rotors before sealing the door shut. "We may have to jump for it."
The hair prickled on the back of Pace's neck. "Jump sir?"
Bacchus nodded as he took position at the head of the craft, straight and tall, legs riding the width of the bucking chopper like a surfboard. Oozing cock-sure confidence and uppish swagger, he began laying out the imminent sequence of events.
"Our pilot, and I use the term in its broadest possible sense, is unconvinced he will be able to put us down in the severe weather before we run out of fuel for the return journey. If that happens we will be deploying via parachute to the target area. Any questions?"
A shivering hand raised in the compartment.
"What is it Pace?"
"What's the mission, sir?"
"Classified until we arrive on site. Anything else?"
Pace raised his hand halfway and Holden rolled his eyes before the young private thought better of it.
Bacchus then moved down the cabin, his muscular arm flexing as he gripped the handrail on the ceiling to steady himself as he advanced upon Reese.
"Now I won't lie to you gentlemen; it's cold enough to freeze piss out there, but this mission has come down from the top! From John Connor himself and God-as-my-witness we are going to see it through!"
With the lightening speed of a cobra strike, Bacchus snatched the photograph from Reese's grasp before the sergeant had realised what had happened, his gaze and mind only half in the briefing. He had to bite back the instinctual response of a swift knee to the lieutenant's happy sack and settle for diplomacy instead.
"That's mine, sir!"
"Relax, sergeant. I'm just taking a look at what keeps your head out of the game."
Bacchus ran his eyes over the snapshot, turning it over between his finger and thumb like a beer-stained playing card.
"Who's this then? Your piece of ass on the side?"
Reese felt his cheeks colouring, like a teenager busted with porn, his most sacred and personal possession on display to a crowd of degenerates for all the world to see.
"Let's take a look sir!" Came Pace's eager request.
Bacchus handed it over and Reese slumped back in his chair, watching as Carter leaned closer for a better angle and even Holden abandoned his book, listening as the three of them studied it with glee.
"Whoa! Who the hell's this then?" The Southerner cried as his eyes nearly bulged from their sockets. "I see why you hang onto it, sarge!" He whistled through his teeth, leering at the picture with an appreciative nod. "She is one hundred percent MILF!"
Reese felt a surge of fury flash through him, passing as soon as it came, launching him out of his seat and snatching the photo back. He looked it over like an ancient parchment for any damage that may have been caused.
Pace immediately deflated, the cockiness draining in an instant as Carter slid off from his side and Holden drew his book to his face.
"That's John Connor's mother, private," Bacchus revealed, not the least bit concerned. "So be careful what you say in front of Reese."
"Reese knows Connor?"
"Sure does. The two of them did time together in Century."
Bacchus smiled as he belted himself in the chair at the head of the cabin, mischief veiling his face. "Hey Reese! Tells us a bit about Connor."
Reese immediately felt a familiar sinking feeling, nothing to do with the ride.
Asshole. He thought, giving the lieutenant careless eyes. Here we go again.
"I don't know what you're talking about, sir." He feigned ignorance as he slipped the snapshot to its usual place beneath his combats.
Holden smiled and got the ball rolling, the bullshit then coming thick and fast.
"I heard that John Connor only needs an hour of sleep a night." He grinned, nodding to Carter to take over.
"I heard there's more than one John Connor, and that's how he gets so much done."
"That's nothing! I heard that John Connor once killed two stones with one bird."
"Go to hell…" Reese exhaled, the tired joke seemingly never growing old. "Every last one of you."
The compartment filled with good-natured laughter, Bacchus' booming chortle piecing the cackle. Reese was such an easy target sometimes.
"Come on, Reese. We we're only…"
The lieutenant never got the chance to finish.
With the lurching jar of a runaway rollercoaster, the chopper suddenly dropped like a stone. The compartment exploded into life or death chaos and Reese was lifted clean out of his seat, rolling over in a tangle of painful limbs where his back was flattened against the ceiling.
"HOLY SHIT!!" Pace cried over the roaring anarchy as smoke billowed through the cabin and Bacchus fought his way toward Reese, reaching for the sergeant as cargo boxes strained against their safety netting and Falcheck crackled over the intercom.
"Everyone hold on! This is going to be bad!"
In the flashing chaos of the cockpit, alarms and warning lights screeched like crazy, the field of electronic green across the centre console sliding into amber and red. The canopy filled with spinning terrain as black smoke and shrapnel blazed from the rotor, the G-forces crippling and the control column jerking like the horn of a charging rhino.
Falcheck wrestled for control, the master alarm wailing in his ears as he tried to pull the aircraft from its perilous spin, a charcoal cloud trailing them like the tail of a meteor as they spiralled down towards the Earth.
Hope you like the start and thank you in advance for any reviews. This story should be around ten chapters and I'll post them as soon as I can.
Special thanks go to Hinotima24 and Visi0nary, I appreciate your support.