Hello fellow terminator fans.
So anyways it's been snail-like in terms of willpower days (as usual), but nevertheless you're reading this and that means something's been completed. This is the result of late-May dedication, and I present the 2nd biggest chapter of this story so far. The finale is picking up more and more, as it's all beginning to end.
Of course, I make no guarantees so expect ch 12 by late August/2012 in general.
Enough bickering; R&R!
Everyone was speechless. Some were still arriving on the scene, others were still sleeping. Nathan held them back to the best of his ability. The last thing they needed was a mass panic.
"Nathan! NATHAN!" Connor yelled to get the protector's attention.
"Yes?" He was visibly shaken by what he'd just seen, but still strong.
"Get everyone in the area out. NOW."
"Yes sir." Nathan began to evacuate people before Connor changed his mind.
"Wait;" He realized the best temporary solution to their crisis. He signaled him over to ensure no one else would hear. "Don't do that. Have this sector closed down. I don't want anyone circling around without being personally...okayed by me, unless their credentials are code-red compliant."
"Meet me at door 68. We'll discuss this in more detail there." Nathan left the room. He would do his best to ensure that what had just happened did not bring pandemonium to the bunker.
It would help them single out the murderer.
"Alright listen everyone," Connor spoke to the group gathered near him. "I need everyone here strong." The faintest hint of a tear could be seen if one looked hard enough.
She didn't deserve to die.
"We're closing this sector off. This...was not suicide. But we don't need a panic. We have to keep this contained." Everyone in the room's reaction was varied across a wide spectrum, ranging from still awakening and unsure of what was going on, to freaking out half to death. "We're gonna' make it through this." Connor's words seemed to calm the atmosphere of the room.
He left for the console area to find Nathan. "I want EVERYONE on the lookout. If they see anything suspicious, have them report it."
"Yes Connor." Nathan went to the man in the nearest console room, and had him broadcast the necessary messages. Within a minute the man had divided the bunker by remote control, and given a public announcement over their meager speaker system.
"ATTENTION EVERYONE. WE ARE NOW IN A CODE ORANGE STATE. BE ON WATCH."
"Let's hope this doesn't end badly." Connor told Nathan. They both left, presumably to speak with the bunker's other officials.
Back in the room, Ralph stood over the late comrade, in sorrow.
"Leslie.." Matt could tell he had cared for her.
And now she was gone.
"Does she have any relatives?" Matt asked him. "Maybe they could console you."
"No;" Ralph fought to hold back the tears, and turned to face Matt. "She was the last of her family." Matt immediately backed off realizing he only did more to hurt than help.
"I'm so...sorry." Matt felt what seemed a blinding yet different hurt, due what he'd just done. Had he been human he'd identified it as shame.
To make matters worse a murderer was loose in the bunker. Specifically, leslie's murderer.
Damn what is happening here? Next thing that'll happen I'll lose my bag. Oh no...
He'd left it in the briefing room.
Matt caught Nathan out of the corner of his eye going past the room, alongside Connor. He quickly jogged to catch up to him.
"Nathan, what the hell is going on?" Matt could tell he'd have little time to speak.
"We still don't know fully. But we think something in the bunker is out for blood."
"I couldn't request a transfer could I?"
"Afraid not, Connor doesn't want anyone going to and fro now."
"But I left something important in the briefing room."
"I...I can't it now Matt." He stopped for the briefest moment to think of a solution. "But Beth, she has the credentials. She should be by here too. Ask her. Just a sec." He quickly spoke to Connor, presumably to grant Matt permission. He returned with a note.
"Find Beth, and go with her to the gate with this." He handed him Connor's signature.
"Anytime. Just keep watch Matt, and let the professionals do their job." With that the two importantfigures left.
They were in a surprisingly armored room.
Connor, Kate, Cruz, even Nelson and of course, Nathan were all members of this assemblage of important figures.
Even Jim was there.
"I think we all know why we're here." Nelson spoke. "Leslie is gone, and we have no clue why, or even how."
"I hope Ralph doesn't take it too bad." Jim said, feeling sorry for the two.
They were his friends.
"What do we know?" Connor viewed. "As far as our look out's been aware, there's been excess machines in the area."
"We also know someone died not 40 minutes ago, and it wasn't suicide." Kate added.
"I think this has Skynet written all over it." Nelson said. "Or even worse,"
"Like what?" Connor said, just containing his fright.
"I think we may have an infiltrator amongst us."
"What?" Connor yelped. the one thought they had all dreaded now seemed plausible.
"I doubt it." Nathan told them.
"Why?" Nelson asked.
"Well it clearly hasn't started mass murder, like terminators do. Maybe it's just a dirty refugee..."
"If it is an infiltrator it obviously hasn't gotten what it wants yet, otherwise it'd begin mass murder." Kate said. The addition of the word 'mass' seemed all the more bone-chilling.
"I have some bad news." Brent interrupted them, just entering the room.
"For god's sake man can't you see we're in a meeting?" Cruz questioned him in frustration.
"The surveillance cams are down."
"What?" Kate nearly yelled.
"Put the bunker on red alert." Connor was now starting to freak out. "Something is here, and it's hiding. And killing. And now it's blinding us. I don't want a soul unguarded."
"Isn't that a bit much?" Cruz asked.
"Cruz I don't want to hear another argument from you today..." Connor started, afraid of where this was going.
"Actually he has a good point." Nelson interrupted their pre-feud. "That might actually be whatever that thing is planning."
"You think a code red would help it?" Connor asked, somewhat accepting of Nelson's asserted hypothesis.
"You hold everyone of high status in the same room, it'll be easier to pick em' off. If we keep at least semi-flow going between the bunker it'll lessen the reach of the single supposed 'killer' and slow it down."
While the idea seemed to hold validity and given a figure as high as Nelson had advised it, Connor could barely believe he was considering such a seemingly irresponsible and dangerous choice.
He was torn between two choices. Put the bunker on high alert, keep more people safe and potentially round them up for an execution, or simply keep things the way they were going, hoping it would play out in their luck.
"We have machines wandering into safe territory. AND we have something amongst us. Only one of these things has caused harm yet. I don't think we should do this..." As he said those words he could see a good majority of the people he was speaking to seemed unidealistic to a code red.
And it was all a game of chance.
"I'll hold a vote on what we should do. All in favor of high-security..."
Nathan, Brent, and Connor's own hand went up.
Nelson, Cruz, Kate, and Jim raised their hands.
"We'll go back to code yellow in an hour;" Connor's order surprised them. "Let's hope this catches this thing off guard. And more people don't die. This meeting is adjourned."
Almost as if they were relieved of court duty, just about everyone left the room immediately. "Keep on guard!" He reminded them. "And Cruz;" He got the captain's attention. "See if any cameras are still working."
"Yes sir." Cruz left to resume his post. "Guess we won't get that poker game.." he muttered as he left.
"And Kate;" Connor told one of the few figures that hadn't left the room.
"I want you and Rachael to go to a more secure location." He held his wife's hand. "I don't want to lose either of you."
"I understand with Rachael, but what if I'm needed for command on the surface?"
"Please Kate; my nerves are wrecked enough. And besides, Rachael needs someone to watch over her." He looked into her eyes. "Do this for me." They both waited in a moment of mutual silence.
"All right John." Kate said as they parted.
"Go to the fail-safe cellar. No one but us, Cruz, and maybe 3 other people know about it. I trust them all." The general indeed felt the location was safe.
"Speaking of Cruz, do you think he's still moody?"
"I don't know Kate." He replied. "I really don't know..."
Matt walked around and around, trying not to freak out that a murderer was on the loose.
They said to keep watch...What if it kills again? Shouldn't we at least be issued arms?
Realizing that he was a terminator and therefore very hard to kill, Matt's mind relaxed somewhat, but subliminal fear remained.
And how am I supposed to find Beth? This place is fucking HUGE. Perhaps she's well known and therefore some people here know where she is...
He stopped someone randomly. "Hey, do you know Beth?"
"No." Matt sighed and moved on.
Maybe exploring wasn't such a good idea.
He luckily ran into a familiar face.
"Cruz! Have you seen Beth around?"
"Yeah I saw her a minute ago actually. She's in cafeteria 7B I think." Cruz's answer puzzled Matt.
"And that is where..."
"Go that way." Cruz pointed a direction in the hall they stood in. "Then turn left at the big 'T'. From there keep going til' you see a big lobby. The cafeteria's by there." Matt shook his head yes and Cruz left. Matt followed his directions and reached the lobby within maybe 5 minutes.
Us protectors don't eat very much. I wonder why Beth is there. Hell, why is there even a cafeteria? Shouldn't food be scarce?
Matt's theory on food was proven when he finally walked into the eating outlet. It was mostly people talking amongst each other at shabby tables, there was at most 5 lbs of food available at the main stand.
Beth sat at a table by herself, eating an apple. Her loner image almost saddened Matt.
He walked up to her table. "Hey Beth." His appearance brightened her mood.
"Hey Matt." She stopped eating. "You heard the announcement right?"
"Yeah, and it kinda freaks me out. Well not actually the announcement, but what caused it." He stopped for a minute, trying to not reminisce the blood.
"We actually didn't get the proper news on that. You know?" She looked worried.
"Someone was... murdered." Matt said, stuttering. Beth nearly dropped her apple.
"Who was it?" Matt could see the fear in her eyes.
"I..I honestly don't know. There was this one guy grieving over her...I think he mentioned the name Leslie..." Beth immediately understood fully what had happened, and nearly began tearing for her friend.
"Poor Leslie. Poor, poor Leslie...And Ralph..." She looked off to the side, hurting for her friends. Matt gave her a moment to grieve before he spoke again.
"Beth, would it be possible for you to get me through a gate?" He pulled the note Nathan had handed him earlier. "I left my bag back in the briefing room." Beth took the note, realizing his situation.
"Yeah I can probably do it." She left the table to throw out her apple, then returned.
"Hey you don't know anywhere I could get a pen and paper right?" Matt's question puzzled her.
"Well this place is actually pretty big, and I didn't want to get lost again. I just wanted to draw up a little map."
"Gimme a moment." Beth left the cafeteria. Matt sat there, suddenly awkward. He looked about, indeed while the medium-sized room was pretty crappy, it was nonetheless a blessing.
Completely safe from the machines.
Leslie's death reflowed into Matt's mind. They were not completely safe here.
I wish there was a way I could help...
Beth returned, miraculously with exactly what he'd asked for.
"A guy at a control post had some spares, incredibly. Guess it's your lucky day." She handed the rarities to him. "Let's go."
Beth led him into new territory, in hallways he didn't even know existed. He took note of a bunch of the corridors Beth led him through, and scribbled it onto a sheet of paper.
"So what do you have in that bag that's so important?" Beth asked Matt, pondering the cause of their voyage whilst a murderer was on the loose.
"Small things. Repairing tools, tapes, some computer junk... Just small things that I've grown attached to."
"Anything that could help us?" Beth asked, intending for a rhetorical question.
"I don't Beth. Maybe."
They both approached the supposed gate; interestingly Matt did not recognize it as he'd only paid attention to it going through it in the other direction.
Beth handed the man in the glass station the note Matt had supplied her with, and asked for clearance, showing her own credentials. They both conversed for a minute.
"Forgetting your stuff are you?" The guard asked Matt.
"Yeah I guess." He replied.
"Ya' gotta be careful of that down here. It's pretty easy to lose things if you don't pay attention." Matt finally heard the door's latch release, and it opened by itself an inch. "You guys are good to go."
"Thanks." Matt told him before they left.
"Keep the note." Beth handed him the signature. "For when we go back."
After another 20 minutes of chitchat and waking, Matt finally began to recognize the area as his group's entry spot not 4 hours ago.
"How many years did it take to build this?" Matt asked, after he reached the end of his sheet.
"Somewhere around 2-3 years for what you see, but these tunnels sheltered some on judgment day. It's amazing how comforting city sewage is when a nuclear exchange is taking place."
"Makes sense." Matt said. "Although I'm sure it was hardly this comfortable back then." They finally ran out of hallways in between them and their destination, and they both stepped through the doorway of the briefing room. A small brown bag was left upon one of the tables in the back.
Right where Matt had left it.
He walked to the back of the lab, and grabbed the bag. After the brief thought of a murderer on the loose crossed Beth's thoughts again, she looked into the hallway for their safety.
Come on Beth. It's a whole nother' sector. The killer isn't going to move back and forth. Then again why couldn't it...
"Matt can you stay here for just a minute? I'm gonna' go check on something."
"Nothing serious, right?" A worried look crossed Matt's face.
"No...I just wanna check." She left. While her rapid departure made Matt uneasy, he felt Beth wouldn't ditch him in his time of need.
On a console maybe 5 feet from Matt, the screen differed from the others. Unlike every other computer in the lab, it was still on.
The words on the screen caught Matt's attention for several moments.
In those few moments the idea of somehow helping crossed Matt's mind again. He casually strode to the doorway previously occupied by Beth, to see if she was on her way back.
He saw no one.
Matt sat himself in front of the screen, and maneuvered through the awkward TUI, using both his 20 minutes of experience from earlier and files on his CPU for such operations.
One of the only good things of coming from Skynet. Actually the only good thing. Everything else is more death...
Matt pushed his contempt for the beast to the back of his head. Unsure of exactly what he was looking for and why he was doing this in the first place, he just looked over everything he could access.
Matt attempted to open all the records, but they all gave him the same message.
INSUFICIENT CLEARANCE. OVERRIDE REQUIRED. PLEASE ENTER PASSWORD OR USE PRIMARY SERVERS.
Dumb folded, Matt realized he stood no chance at accessing the records from here. Trying one last time to get through the index, Matt found a new message appear across the screen.
VERBATIM DATA ARCHIVES AVAILABLE IN MAINFRAMES
Mainframes? That must be where everything is kept.
Just as he realized this, Beth walked in.
"..Matt? What're you doing?"
"Uh..." Matt reached into a black pit of potential lies, only to find nothing.
"I...i saw this computer was still on, and..."
"Matt those are only for briefing!"
"I was just trying to turn it off." He lied. "It was wasting power." His little white lie seemed to quell Beth.
"Still, try not to touch these things without orders. You can get into big trouble. Especially with that killer on the loose. What if Connor thought he saw a connection..." Beth's theory put terror into both of them. "I don't want something bad to happen to you..."
"Yeah me neither." Matt felt withdrawn. He'd seen a window of opportunity, and it had closed. An image of the resistance hunting him down had also fixated itself in his mind.
It disturbed him.
A half hour later, they finally returned to their sought after quarters. To Matt's surprise the area he'd seen earlier was not the ultimate HQ for the 128th; it was instead a rec room. Where they were to stay was actually a ways away; much to Matt's relief given what had happened to Leslie nearby. After they traversed another corridor, they finally came upon a dead end with 4 rooms over both sides. Each held maybe 2 or 3 cots and some rudimentary furniture.
"Do you remember your number?" Beth asked him.
"I don't think I was given one actually..." He admitted.
"..Eh whatever, just take a room. The specifics don't really matter all that much." Out of his own random choice, Matt took the room at the end of all the others. As he made his way there they both passed Janet.
"Hey Janet." He greeted her.
"Hey." She was wide awake on her cot, on watch.
"Nothing serious seen around here, right?" Beth asked her.
"No. This area isn't dangerous yet." She replied. "Fortunately." Matt finally came upon his room.
"I think this Nathan's," Matt almost rescinded his choice at Beth's comment. "He won't mind Matt. He'd probably actually welcome the company."
"Well thanks for this whole run Beth." His hour-long journey had ultimately ended as a success.
"No problem Matt. I'll be in Engineering if you need me."
"Thanks Beth, but I think I'll call it a night." And with that she left. Just a second after she departed Matt walked up to the bulletin near the doorway, to see what it held. He would continue watch of course, but give his systems a break for at least an hour. Almost instinctively Matt stuck his head out to see who he shared this neighborhood with again. He caught a glimpse of Beth as she rounded a corner.
There's just something about her... Matt's thought self-extinguished. Stop it Matt. Machines don't care for other machines...
Did a protector count as a machine? The concept lingered in Matt's mind, much like a repeating decimal. But unlike a world of ones and zeroes the machines abided by, the world Matt frequently hypothesized about was of a multitude of colors and numbers, in a much more human sense.
Speaking of the world...
I still wish I could do more than just keep watch. The computer said the mainframes would hold the information I was trying to pull up.
Realizing he'd go down the exact same path he'd been down so many times before in questioning his philosophies, Matt finally decided to abruptly cut it and rest. While a terminator's need for rest was an infinitesimally tiny fraction of that of a human's, regular rest ensured he'd be in tip top shape.
Just as Matt laid down, Nathan entered the room.
"Hey Matt, Beth helped you, right?"
"Yeah it's all fine." He pointed towards his bag. "We didn't see anything along the way."
"Thank god." Nathan sat on his cot, adjacent to Matt's. "We're actually rolling back security, you know?"
"To increase the odds we'll catch whatever is here off guard." Matt took in what Nathan had said, but didn't fully understand why it was a good idea. "I didn't agree with it, but we were outvoted."
"Huh. Hey do you mind if I get some shuteye?"
"Yeah that's fine. I don't plan on sleeping anyways."
Matt finally closed his eyelids. He entrusted his safety with Nathan and Janet.
Meanwhile, at the other end of that very same division...
"The null point is being converged on by machines..." Nelson spoke to Jim. The pair was strolling about, on patrol.
"Ok, will you please explain it to me fully what the hell the null point actually is?" Jim seemed frustrated at the very mention of the location.
"About 3-4 years ago when Connor's men made this a formal bunker, they entered through a mall at first. That mall had an unusual number of links to the sewage systems in the county. It was also know as a sort of a 'neutral zone', and both us and the machines have deemed it unused for some time. Luckily they weren't seen. But the problem now is if the machines check the area out, it'll be easy for them to find out what we have down here."
"Why don't we just destroy the building, or fill it in?" Jim asked.
"Like I said earlier, if the machines detect us there it'll be bad news. We can only hope for the best. But if they get near that mall..." Jim took the liberty of finishing Nelson's sentence.
"We're screwed." He stood there for a few seconds, until rejecting the idea. "Nelson, this complex is too big. Even if they found out they'd never clear all of it..." Just as Nelson began to speak, Jim noticed something in a room they passed. It wasn't until they were about 10 seconds past it he decided to go back.
"Jim it's still nonetheless a huge issue if they go near the mall."
"Just a second." Jim asserted, then jogged back to the room. It was a dark room, but while he wasn't sure of what he'd seen it didn't seem dangerous. Maybe a lost refugee?
Nelson waited figuring he'd dropped something; while he waited he heard a faint sound. Almost a sort of a high-pitched squeal. He figured it to be nothing more than his boot squeaking, or Jim retrieving whatever he went after.
When Jim didn't return for another 2 minutes he figured he should either see what was going on, or resign himself to a 10 minute-wait.
As he approached the door he realized how dark the room really was. He began to wonder why his friend had stepped foot in here in the first place.
"Jim?" He called out. When he didn't receive a reply he instinctively tried to go towards the back of the room. He nearly tripped on something big. He looked down, while calling out Jim's name. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he realized he'd bumped into a person on the ground. He could just barely make out the outline of his friend's face.
"Jim what the hell are you doing?"
"Jim. Jim!" Nelson yelled out. When he wouldn't respond, Nathan seemed infuriated. "Goddammit Jim we have a situation here! We don't have time for naps!" Still under the impression this all was just a prank, he dragged Jim out into the light of the halls.
He still wouldn't move. Out of the corner of his eye Nelson saw something on the back of Jim's head. He ever so gently moved him as to reduce the possibility of neck injury, but his efforts were proven futile.
A plasma wound stained the back of his head.
Following the supposal that Jim was truly gone and the realization he wasn't alone, Nelson tore from his back his rifle and re-approached the room again. He turned his barrel light on.
"Show yourself motherfucker!" Nelson hoped his aggressiveness would disguise his terror. "You start killing, we got a problem!" His light revealed nothing in the room, other than a shadow brushing past the door in the back.
He fired several bursts at it's back, but it seemed unphased.
Just one... Nelson thought. He sprinted after it.
"Stop!" He yelled after he'd gone into the next room, shining his light around in search of the killer. Unbeknownst to him he'd just passed it when he went through the doorway.
His rifle was chucked away, and a grip so powerful nothing seemed as if nothing could loosen it clasped around Nelson's throat. He was lifted upwards. The light shown against the wall on the other side of the room; useless in identifying the killer.
Nelson hung there, helpless against the exact soul that had terminated Leslie.
"What am I?" Nelson heard the most soft, distorted, and ghostly voice. Nelson fought his fear of death, and muttered a reply.
"You're a monster." The figure seemed to ponder whether or not it had been identified. It also obviously was figuring whether or not it should terminate Nelson.
"Too problematic...like dominoes" He couldn't recognize the voice if he tried. The lack of oxygen didn't help either.
He was dropped to the floor, his rifle confiscated by the figure. Nelson got up, too weak to pursue the light source. He just managed to stumble out of the room and back to the hallway where Jim's body still laid.
He passed out.
About ten minutes later...
Matt stood there, watching in horror as he could do nothing. He was trapped underneath tons and tons of rubble, and damaged so greatly that he could only move his left eye, which had unfortunately been given a perfect view of what was happening. In this state he could remain alive for decades, which added to the horror...
The figure that had murdered Leslie had gone on to murder nearly everyone else in the bunker he knew, even their leader, Connor. Only Janet, Nathan, and Beth remained, onlooking them were maybe 500 people.
The figure held Beth's throat in it's claws. Her body was not that of a true terminator, and therefore not as armored."No..." She managed just before it snapped her neck.
"You can't do this to us!" Nathan screamed at the beast. "You betrayed us!" The figure pulled from it's sheath a metal rod, and brutally charged at Nathan, impaling him against a massive generator. The combined rupture of his "heart" and enough electricity to thoroughly fry every square nanometer of his internals had killed him.
The shock wave had sent Janet to her feet. The monster turned, and strode ever so slowly towards her. She could barely move from the pain, and eventually gave up. The figure pulled from it's cloak a pistol and shot her right in the heart.
She stopped moving.
The figure then turned to face the masses, who Matt now noticed were surrounded by HK disposal units.
"The loss of this bunker will signify the last pitying stand of the human resistance, futile in stopping Skynet. Your kind will systematically fall like dominoes..." It turned to face Matt's remains.
"All because the unit M357.T stood by and did nothing..." Matt could just barely see the cloaked figure's mouth, which smiled. "Just what we wanted..."
After the game changing statement was made, the numbers 128 filled Matt's screen in red, as a dialog.
The figure walked towards Matt, while the numbers gradually became so plentiful they blended into a total blood that was nearly all he could see.
Just before he was totally blinded the figure stopped maybe 6 inches from him, and began to pull back it's cloak and reveal it's face...
"NOOOOOO!" Matt screamed at the top of his lungs, awakening before he could see the face. To his relief, He could move much more than just his eyes, and Nathan sat right in front of him, completely unharmed.
"Matt what the hell?" He retorted, covering his ears. "I think they heard that down in the next sector..." Matt sat there, collecting himself and readying an apology, completely forgetting the contents of his nightmare.
"I'm so sorry..."
"Is he okay?" He heard Janet's voice asking Nathan.
"Yeah he's fine." Nathan replied. "You were making sounds the whole time you were out." The revelation surprised Matt. He'd hardly believed it was possible for protectors to dream, let alone talk in their "sleep".
Speaking of sleep he'd just recalled his nightmare. It sent chills down his spine. It had disturbed him deeply. But it also did something else.
It made him want to help more than ever.
But what could he do? Even if he did access the main servers somehow, what would he gain from it? He knew so little about their situation and the 128th it would hardly help.
Just then they heard a voice in the halls.
"Guys! Guys! Get out here!" It was a weakened Nelson. Matt and Nathan left their cots, and joined Janet to reach him in a nearby hallway.
"What's going on?" Janet asked.
"I...i saw it." He managed shakily.
"You saw what?" Nathan asked.
"I saw the killer." Nelson tried to briefly massage his neck, to rid himself of the pain.
"Who is it?" Nathan yelped.
"I didn't see it's face." Nelson told him. "But I know there's only one. It got my rifle and..." he stopped a moment to regain his breath.
"And what?" Janet asked him.
"It got Jim." Nelson said, shame seeping into his soul because he hadn't gone with his friend into the room.
"Jim? No. No..." Janet began sobbing.
"What? It got someone else?" Nathan spoke. "This thing is picking us off one by one..."
"We gotta get this to Connor." Nelson told them. "I didn't want to cross a gate without company..."
"I'll go with you." Nathan told him. "Matt and Janet, go somewhere where there's more people. Get this news to people you trust."
"And don't go into any shady rooms." Nelson told them, reminiscing Jim's last ill-fated choice. They left, rifles in hand.
Matt stood there beside his weeping comrade, shocked. It had all seemed under control.
First Leslie then Jim... who next? Matt prayed it wouldn't be someone close to him, until he realized something.
It didn't have to be anyone.
He had wanted to help before, but had been too scared to try. Now with the world coming down on them, fear was no longer an excuse.
He couldn't stand it. He had to help.
"Do you have any arms in your room?" Matt asked, careful of Janet's delicate state. She shook her head yes.
"I'll get em', okay?" He went back to her room, to see like his and Nathan's it was altogether simplistic. Still, no guns in sight. After fumbling and getting nowhere for several seconds, he finally caught on and looked between the mattress and it's frame, unveiling 2 forty-watt plasma rifles.
He left the room, and handed her a gun.
"Beth is in engineering Janet. Let's go."
Interestingly Matt led the way this time; he'd gone through this area with Beth and therefore knew how to get to it.
After they entered the area Matt broke off from Janet.
"Stay safe, I'm gonna go find Beth." She shook her head yes, still shaken up from the news of Jim. He left, looking through the fairly large and moderately-populated area for Beth. He gripped his rifle in a casual way as to reduce the possibility of a panic. He asked an individual who seemed to know what they were doing, and he was rewarded with an answer.
"She's in the back, near the refueling stations."
"Thank you." He proceeded to the station. When he finally found her she seemed more oblivious than ever to the feeble state they were all damned to.
"Matt what's going on..." His possession of a gun startled her.
"It got Jim this time." Matt said, letting her piece it together. "The killer..."
"Oh my god."
"Listen, when you said earlier, the whole thing about getting into trouble...I...I don't think it should be an excuse anymore."
"What do you mean?" Beth asked, not understanding what he was implying.
"I need you to get me to the main servers." She suddenly understood his intentions. "I lied when I said I didn't touch the computer."
"Wait wait, why do you want to see the main servers?"
"When I glanced at the computer, it promised history of the 128th...but failed to deliver because I didn't have a password. The main servers have those files, but without the password. You said something was making Cruz act weird...And my mind kept bringing it up while I was sleeping. Those servers hold the key to the killer..."
"Matt...I...I can't get to those servers myself, let alone bring with a new member of the bunker there. I can't do it."
"Look, Jim is dead. More will die and we might even be farther away from identifying the killer. I know very well we could get into soooo much trouble and I don't even know if it'll be a success, but it's all we got."
"ATTENTION. SECURITY HAS BEEN DROPPED TO CODE YELLOW. CONTINUE WATCH."
The code dropped just as Nathan said it would. Interestingly, it worked out in their favor.
"Nathan said there'd be a code yellow. We stand a chance in getting there now. Look Beth, once news about Jim reaches wind of command we'll be locked down and getting to the servers will be impossible."
"Look at these people Beth." He pointed around at the group working to maintain power to the bunker. "They are NOT safe."
"But command said they were doing everything to stop it.."
"Which is not enough." Matt paused after making such a bold statement. "Whatever it is, it's outsmarting Connor."
"Listen, I know it has to be related to the 128th. Cruz is making mistakes. Maybe someone's making him do that. Trust me I'm good with details, I can see through this whole scheme."
"Please Beth, at least think about it." In the ensuing moments Beth made a decision that would change the fate of the bunker.
Why am I doing this why am I doing this why am I doing this... Beth thought as she guided him through the ventilation shafts by headset.
"Keep going until you see the V split; go left."
She had said yes to Matt's request to access the main servers; She had passed every gate she could with her card and him until they finally came to places they simply weren't allowed further. From there on Beth's plan to get Matt to the servers involved sending him through ventilation shafts, to a drop off point just rooms away from the computer equipment.
You're crazy. You are crazy. Connor knows very well how to handle this; much more so than Matt. He's been with us for 2 days!
Beth's mind was divided on the matter.
On the one hand, if they were caught they would be at the mercy of command.
On the other hand, Matt did make sense. Something was wrong with Cruz in the last months, something that hadn't yet been explained. Given the severity of their situation, and that Matt had promised an answer, Beth agreed to help him.
Beth you know how much trouble you could get into doing this...
Beth found a reason to support her choice.
For Leslie, Beth. And for Jim. And...for Matt.
"Beth, I've hit a dead end." She took the news almost as a halting to her plan, before she realized it was a simple error.
"Your left Matt." He looked over, dumb folded.
Hell how do I know Matt didn't make the kill and he's just researching his next kill?
Beth rescinded the thought almost immediately.
No. Matt wouldn't do a thing like that. I could see it in his eyes. He genuinely wanted to help. Besides, Janet said that Nathan saw him on both occasions when the murders happened.
For some godforsaken reason, Beth held her faith in Matt.
As Matt crept closer and closer to his goal, he overheard words.
"So where is Kate?"
"She's in the safe cellar along with racheal." Matt recognized the voices as that of Cruz and Connor, respectively. "The front on the ground can survive with one less in command."
"Let's hope they can lure the machines away." Cruz said. Matt realized his dawdling could endanger his objectives, so he continued.
You know these vents seem so fail-safe. Maybe we could all move in and be safe. Matt self-criticized his own sarcasm. Stupid stupid stupid...
"Matt you're nearing the end now. Remember everything we went over, and to be quiet when getting out of there."
"I will Beth. Signing out." He shut off the headset, to reduce the risk of setting off a detector. He looked to his left to see the grand exit. He fiddled with the latches holding it for a minute or two, before finally loosening it. He made absolutely sure it made no noise.
He got out, to find himself in the discussion room Beth had told him about. He quickly ducked beneath a very long row of tables, and made his way to the next room.
As he crept farther along, he heard another announcement.
"ATTENTION. CODE ORANGE RE-INSTATED. PROCEED WITH CAUTION."
He'd made it just in the nick of time.
Matt brought his train of thought back to reality, and continued to the next room.
He noticed the lights were dimming now. The last thing he could see before the darkness coveted his field of vision was a long hallway, followed by a small room.
Just like Beth said there'd be.
Matt walked through the halls and into the room, only because it was necessary. Room alpha B he read before the darkness consumed him. He bumped into a figure.
"Hey!" it was Cruz. If he didn't do something to fix this, Cruz would open fire on him as if he were the killer. He had to think fast. Given the situation, he might actually be able to keep his cover. He spoke using the first voice that came to his mind.
"Sorry. So what's going on captain?" Matt asked him, imitating Jim's voice.
NO NO NO NO NO! He screamed in his mind. Jim was dead; he had single handedly screwed himself with a single sentence. The entire operation was blown.
"I didn't get all the details yet, but Connor must have rolled security back up."
He doesn't know yet. You lucky motherfucker...
"All right. See ya' round Cruz."
"Keep holding out Jim." After about ten seconds after their conversation concluded Matt finally made his way back to light and out of the room, being careful as to make sure Cruz didn't see him.
What have I done? What have I done?
He would have to be swift to make his way out of this.
Matt continued along his short route, the consoles closer than ever. He made absolutely certain no one was aware of his presence, hence the reason Beth had chosen such a shady route for him to take.
It would get creepier.
He suddenly heard a deep cry coming from a nearby room. It sounded of asphyxiation.
Again, a situation where his cover could be potentially be blown had unfolded right before him. Then again if he simply ignored the noise it probably result in somebody's life being ended.
He couldn't live with that.
He sprinted towards the source of the agony in an instant, a power room that looked as if it offered no more safety than a shady alleyway. His arrival was delayed only by his lack of knowledge to the bunker.
Had he known any more, he'd have identified the murderer.
Brent was just barely clutching the wall. Matt quickly came to his aid, catching him before he hit the ground. He noticed a gunshot wound to the back that had penetrated his left lung.
They're dropping like flies...
He wanted to scream out, to attract attention to help Brent. To help corner what had attacked him. But he remained silent.
"Please don't tell..." Matt whispered to Brent. He would save his life, asking only for anonymity in return.
Again, his cover came so close to vaporizing.
What about the best of both worlds...
Matt took off for the dark room where Cruz was with Brent in his right arm, this time imitating Nelson's voice.
"Brent was attacked by the...thing."
"Nelson what the hell..."
"We don't have time to argue!"
"I know where the nearest medic is. I'll carry him." Cruz took Brent from his arms to Matt's relief, and ran off.
I hope to god I didn't just kill him. Matt prayed. You did the right thing Matt. You'll save more lives.
I just hope I can live with it.
Matt continued his route uninterrupted the rest of the way, more careful then ever to be quiet. When he finally came upon the area he saw a lone soldier blocking him.
He patiently resided in the shadows for maybe 20 minutes. His very willing to do such a thing made him question both the reason he'd started this operation, and his own sanity.
If I have any. Indeed, Matt believed he was merely a machine, without sentience.
And yet he wanted to save lives, and felt haunted by the lives he couldn't save.
Maybe he was wrong.
Once the man finally left, Matt snuck into the room. He looked over the interior of his new residence, in search of an important computer. Nothing.
He was unlucky for the next 2 rooms, but still far from defeated.
3rd time's the charm and... what do we have here?
Matt looked over a surprisingly intact and monstrous console that resembled a 60s IBM hulk in size, but a late 90s dell in terms of controls and, presumably, capabilities.
With the best of his abilities he accessed the disks.
Matt looked over the entire catalog, to his heart's desire. While he felt joy from finally doing what he'd deemed impossible an hour ago, the revelations changed it to horror.
In one brief from late July the 128th had been dispatched to help a distress signal in the eastern countryside of LA. The team had more then enough ammunition for the rescue, but due to an error they left under supplied.
3 died from the team. 3 names he didn't know, and would never because of an error. No one had lived long enough to be rescued.
Matt couldn't believe such a horrible thing could happen.
He dug deeper and deeper to more subtle notes, to find many more similar stories. 2 dead, 4, even a confirmed case of over 10 all because of errors.
What terrified Matt even more was all the horror was hidden. The messages were so subliminal anyone would really have to dig to fully unveil the true history of the 128th.
Who was causing the errors?
PAST MONTHS NOTES:
CRUZ SEEMS TO BE MAKING AN ABNORMAL NUMBER OF ERRORS LATELY. -CONNOR
Matt was shocked with what he saw. Even an idiot could have pieced together the correlations. The 128th protector unit had suffered too many casualties in the last several months to be a coincidence. Their next operation was headed for the same direction.
They would have all died on that mission...
There had to be an inside man screwing things up.
Could it be one of the protectors? No. They're loyal. But then who? A human? Ratting us out to the machines? But why?
Another meeting was going on, only this time it was much more unofficial; between Janet and Cruz. It all evolved around the possibility of restoring working order to 2 cameras.
The attempt was successful.
At first video showing the dark room Cruz was in earlier when he bumped into 'Jim' appeared, it illustrated a pair of glowing red eyes moving around for quite some time.
"It's a terminator..." Janet gasped, a new fear gripping her. "Connor and Nelson have to hear about this. Nelson hasn't even made it this far after the lock down." Janet's comment made Cruz freeze.
"Nelson isn't near this area yet." Cruz's face took a new direction, almost as if he was piecing together a jigsaw puzzle.
"Janet I spoke to Nelson in those halls.." The screen changed, to reveal Matt on the console. The revelation was game-changing.
"It was Matt the whole time!" Cruz screamed. "He's the murderer! I'm placing full responsibility of this on you Janet! You brought that thing here!"
"But how could he..it...but he's innocent!"
"Not him janet, IT. And IT is NOT innocent." Cruz stormed out of the room, to rendezvous a number of people who would help him collect his hypothesized killer.
Five minutes later and in a different room...
Beth hoped the dearest for his safety.
Lord help him.
Just after she finished her thought Cruz stormed past her.
"Matt's finished." He said. "It's killing reign stops NOW." Beth realized their plan had failed horribly.
Matt was now the top suspect for the killer. However another thought came to Beth's mind.
She had not been implicated.
"I'm having it buried." Cruz sneered.
"I knew that dreadful creature was bad from the start." She replied, surprising Cruz.
"Would you like to help with the situation?" Cruz asked her.
"I would be honored."
As Matt finished looking over the last things he could find, a screen that had just turned itself on near him had caught his attention. Matt looked into the monitor. He noticed a pair of glowing red eyes in a dark room, while "past reels" watermarked the lower left hand corner of the picture.
It was the room he has seen Cruz in earlier.
The eyes stayed in the room, and almost seemed to pace back and forth, instead of simply coming and going. They couldn't be his.
I don't run my sensors that high anyways.
Suddenly a very heavy and debilitating chill went down Matt's spine.
Cruz is in danger. Something was in that room. Whatever it was it attacked Brent.
Suddenly the screen changed to the very room Matt was in.
Matt's revelation was cut short by a rifle barrel by his head.
"Stop! Stop right where you are!" Matt's tensions were relieved.
It was a fighter, not the murderer. You left your rifle stupid.
Matt raised his hands to show he wasn't dangerous, but he wasn't going to let this guy get in the way of his progress. "That won't do any good."
"Stop it! Stop it or I swear I'll shoot!" The man was shaking. Matt could see he was convinced that he was a bogey. So he went with the best possible perceived course of action.
He went for the gun.
He immediately grabbed the barrel with the impression it would take no effort, given he was a machine. But the switch that had been set earlier had limited his pistons.
It was a fair tuggle.
Within maybe 20 seconds or so of fighting Cruz, Ethan, and several others had guns on the both of them.
"Freeze!" Cruz screamed, pointing his gun specifically at Matt's head. Both he and the guard from earlier had previously been fighting for a grip on the gun, now they both dropped it and raised their hands.
"I caught this bogey going through some of our servers." The soldier informed Cruz.
"The man attacked me!" Matt yelled in protest.
"Check the console." Cruz told Ethan. "We already have proof, but I wanna see for myself."
He went over to the computer Matt had used earlier, and maneuvered the TUI for several moments. Cruz almost seemed pleased by the outcome.
"It's been accessed, sir." Ethan told Cruz.
"Can't afford to take any risks. Restrain him." Cruz ordered Ethan.
"What?" Matt yelled. Ethan, going against all his senses and beliefs and his heart, grabbed Matt by the wrist, and shoved him to the ground.
"Why?" The hulk asked. The question seemed to have a double meaning; he wondered why Matt had done such a thing in the first place, and why Cruz wanted him restrained.
"I swear I'm innocent!"
"Too late Matt." Ethan said in an almost pitying tone. Matt could tell he had doubts in his orders. "You flew too close to the sun."
But not enough to free him.
"You're making a big mistake!" He continued to resist, but it was no use. The switch that had been set back in the dealership was stronger than him.
"Cruz, there's someone on the other side in the 128th! A person! Don't let them get to you!" Matt cried as he was taken away.
Look who's talking. Cruz thought.
"Please! You're making a big mistake!" He managed to cry out before he was taken from the room.
Why couldn't I listen to Beth? Why...
"Stun him, I'll take it from there." Cruz told Ethan.
As he was led down several more halls, they finally approached a station that seemed to hold weaponry. A man was waiting there, with a device that resembled a defibrillator, but with a trash can lid on the end.
"Why are you doing this Ethan?" Matt asked him, truly hurt.
"We can't afford any more blood. I have no choice." The man in front of Matt placed the device to Matt's chest. Matt closed his eyes, hoping the pain wouldn't be too much to bear.
"What are you gonna do?" He asked in a whisper. A shock of electricity sent him offline.
Cruz stepped into the room just a moment after the shock had been administered. He told Ethan to set down Matt, and he would take it from here. Afterwards everyone but Cruz had left the room.
"Get in here." He whispered as someone he knew entered. He and the person both picked up Matt's unconscious body, and carried it into an unseen hallway.
"This way." Cruz led the person as he revealed a secret door. After ten minutes of traversing with 240+lbs of luggage, he opened a new door to what looked like an abandoned kitchen.
"I got ya' covered sir." the person said.
"You know how to set everything?" The person nodded. Cruz made a decision he deemed harmless. "3 bags of charges. Tell me when it's set." he left the room.
Matt was dragged into a corner by the individual. Before shackling him, the person looked back to make sure Cruz was gone. They pulled out an exacto knife, and exposed Matt' chip assembly. The person pulled from the pack not charges, but hacking equipment. After some fiddling with his chip, it was out back and his flesh rolled back over the cover.
The person then went to work on the actual job of laying charges about in the lost room. Some of the charges needed to be fixed onto the walls, and so some dust was removed. The person almost seemed to inscribe something onto the wall.
While not easily visible there was a small digital timer on each of the charges, one was set near Matt.
Almost as if it was intended that he would be able to count down to his doom.
The person then pulled from their pocket a master remote, and triggered the charges. They then surveyed their work. After believing everything was perfect the individual looked at Matt one last time before leaving.
The cut'll heal shut by the time you wake up. I hope to god this works, or I may never forgive myself. The person looked at one of the charges. 9:52...9:51...9:50...
May god help you.
The person left the room, joining Cruz. They both rolled out a steel barrier over the door, to make absolutely certain Matt was contained.
"Is it done?" he asked as they walked away. The person patted their now-empty pack in response, grinning superficially.
Matt awoke about a minute later. He peered around himself to see what at first looked like a basement, but upon further inspection he realized it was a small kitchen, barely lit.
He thought he was dreaming another nightmare in his cot.
He attempted to move away from the wall to further examine his new environment, but he was rewarded with iron shackles, chaining all of his extremities.
Suddenly everything came back to him. 128Th, the main servers, being apprehended then knocked out.
This was real.
I wasn't even given a trial... Matt brought himself back to reality for a few more moments, in an attempt to make sense of his new prison. He then realized at least 10 things in the room were ticking.
He looked to his left to see a charge on a filthy counter. He looked more carefully and realized a timer was right in his line of sight.
8:38...8:37...8:36... He snapped.
"NOOO! You have the wrong guy! I swear I'm innocent!" Matt continued to scream for several more seconds in hope of evoking a response, before he finally realized it was no use.
He looked down in defeat.