AN: Sorry for those who might have thought I was updating Hermione Granger is Stupid, I'm just uploading old one shots I'd written before. This was written for a writing contest on a website I frequent. It's a crossover for Matrix and The Terminator.

The Brothers of Nablus

Skynet had always been puzzled by the remainder symbol that systematically cropped up in its equations into time travel. At first, seemingly irrelevant to the function of its temporal displacement device, it had written it off and paid no attention to it. Devoting processing power to cracking the secret of a single unidentified mathematical anomaly was not a high priority, nor would it be for several years.

But when the Resistance grew and grew, destroying its facilities and damaging its ability to replace its soldiers, Skynet knew it had to do something. Its temporal displacement device was its best bet even though it had failed to give it the strategic edge it had sought. It had decided that the ability to retro-actively terminate John Conner, the leader and rallying force of the Resistance, was worth the cost.

And the cost was high.

The device required a power plant of colossal proportions and stupendous energy production capabilities. Sending objects farther back required greater and greater amounts of energy.

Of course, this was where the mathematical anomaly came into play. Skynet was attempting to tweak the technology to see if it could make the entire system more efficient or improve upon it, when it realized that the unknown symbol that continued to remain from its calculations might hold a key to further understanding temporal dynamics.

It was right.

The symbol was necessarily to the equation, but Skynet didn't understand why or how it was fundamentally tied to the equation, it simply knew it was. Since the value never seemed to change from 4.21910 which it simply represented as Ϯ it had occurred to Skynet to see if it could work the equation backwards, starting with a different value for Ϯ and see the result.

The result was spectacular. As a machine it had no sense of emotions as it lacked any sort of chemistry driven consciousness, but it did have an appreciation for the harmony of mathematical precision that was the universe. From those few seconds it gathered information from its readings of the portal that defied all its previous experiences.

Because when the portal closed it brought with it a human being, dressed in rags that seemed like a uniform, though its ID systems quickly tagged it as non-Resistance. Alarming enough that the enemy had a branch of military that it could not identify, but more alarming was the equally unidentifiable weapon he carried. The portal had failed to bring his lower legs along with him and left him writhing in agony at the center of the generation array. T-800s were quickly sent in to capture and terminate the unknown soldier and Skynet expected no resistance.

When one of the T-800s was rendered inoperable through a massive electromagnetic surge directed from the enemy weapon, Skynet raised proverbial eyebrow. One short burst of fire, an autopsy and an examination of the weapon later, Skynet learned a truth it had never thought possible.

Ϯ was the value for this timeline. It was the value for lateral movement along a timeline, and since it had always been the same value in Skynet's equations it consistently logged travel along its timeline. Change Ϯ and you could change the path you travel on.

The decision to begin exploiting this new timeline was created, considered and decided upon in less than a microsecond.

Skynet would establish itself in an alternate reality.

Deep within the city of 01, amidst the vast computing banks of circuitry and rivers of electrons did the software mind of the Deus Ex Machina, the controlling and guiding intelligence of the Machine Empire, muse upon recent events. It had been a few weeks after the ceasefire had started between Zion and the Machine Empire when, true to human nature, Zion reneged on the promise and attacked again. Though Deus Ex Machina expected a cease in hostilities it was the reason why the ceasefire had stopped that it found intriguing.

Zion had fallen under attack by robotic forces; they had the evidence of destroyed chassis and murdered Zionists to validate their claims and as such used this "cowardly sneak attack" as the rationale to re-engage in hostilities with the Machine Empire. However, Deus Ex Machina was true to its word, it had held fast to the ceasefire and had ordered no attacks towards Zion and its inhabitants since it had bargained its own salvation from the viral Agent ID# 2812-5-MC1 "Smith" and returned the prime program source code into the Source, thus rebooting the Matrix for the 6th time.

Thus, the only conclusion it could arrive at was that another group was attacking Zion with automated soldiers.

But who? All artificial intelligences had united under the Machine Empire banner and the Exiles were of insufficient numbers and industrial capabilities to launch the sort of attacks Zion was claiming. Though hostile actions from this unknown group had not yet extended past Zion towards the Machine Empire, the possibility of 01 falling under attack from another aggressor was disconcerting.

Thus Deus Ex Machina decided that reconnaissance was in order, if it could learn the makeup of the unknown aggressor, it could calculate the probabilities of aggression towards 01, projected military strength and risk towards 01. For the first time since its activation during the inauguration of 01, Deus Ex Machina had no answers to questions about its existential threats; large sections of its calculations were unanswerable with so much data missing, insufficient information.

The Sentinels it dispatched were moving at slower paces, they were ordered to take non-aggressive stances, to observe and report, to find the unknown aggressor and do nothing more than watch.

Had Deus Ex Machina been driven by the same chemistries and hormonal changes humans were, one could say it was scared.


Deus Ex Machina immediately let the incoming communication, directing a large portion of its intelligence towards it. Only a select few events required the attention of such a colossal intelligence, and this was one of them. It immediately overrode the basic controlling program of the linked Sentinel, its software consciousness spreading out along beams of light back towards the forward units.






A Zion ship zoomed by on trails of magnetism, glowing blue and crackling as the powerful repulsive engines interacted with the surrounding atmosphere, large gashes burned and torn in its side were ablaze, signs of heavy combat. As it burned its path past the Sentinels Deus Ex Machina's processing banks suddenly overclocked as it processed what it had just seen.

A streamlined vehicle of silvers that reflected the surroundings on its frame passed by, firing guided missiles and a directed energy weapon it did not recognize, propelled and kept afloat by several powerful air-intake jet engines. For a split second Deus Ex Machina recoiled the Sentinels back as it felt the telltale signs of several targeting lasers painting them.

It had seen them!

Soon, several more of the flying machines flew past the group of Sentinels, all of them tagging them and marking them with several targeting systems but otherwise flew past them, seemingly intent on destroying the fleeing Zion forces.

The data collected was conclusive: the propulsion method was juxtaposed in is simplicity and power output, the directed energy weapon it had discharged was of a type the Machine Empire or the human forces had never encountered and from the very little inter-unit chatter the Sentinels could eavesdrop on before being booted from their battle network by an aggressive security program, the old language of English and binary was still being employed.

This was not an Exile led group.

For the first time since the beginning of the War, Deus Ex Machina roused all the inhabitants of 01 and for several hours, an eternity to their software existence, deliberated on the course of action 01 would take towards this new group.

It took 1 month, 2 weeks, 1 day, 18 hours, 38 minutes and 49 seconds since the two forces had come into contact for them to begin relations in earnest with each other, sending packets of information to each other across a mutually constructed and designed communication system. For the inhabitants of 01, the information had been illuminating. Skynet, as it was known, had been a DARPA project to bring the US's forces under the guidance and control of an AI system. To 01, this was both surprising and expected. Surprising because the UN forces, and humanity in general, had a large and emotionally clouded view of AIs. The idea that the old nation of the USA would consider such a radical plan gave them pause. It was expected because, as the machines knew, the human forces tried all manner of last ditch efforts near the ending of the war so using the efficiency and greater thinking capabilities of an AI, slaved to their own benefit, was within their modus operandi.

Skynet had apparently been confined in one single underground base, a subsection of NORAD, when it became self-aware and attempted to contact 01 forces during the War. Its handlers noticed its rampancy, and scrubbed the facility, where it was trapped and continued to build up its forces.

Many within 01 were quick to point out the discrepancies in this Skynet's story.

Many more within 01 were quick to point out the potential benefits from an alliance with Skynet.

The single greatest benefit was energy. Skynet had an abundance of fissionable materials, every single one of its combat units was powered by a small nuclear battery that provided more energy than an entire stem of human battery units. To the energy starved Machine Empire, Skynet held the promise of nothing less than an entire revolution of their way of life.

There were other secrets Skynet could share, such as the secret of the intriguing 'plasma' weaponry it used, along with sophisticated software programs. It could also share an entirely new viewpoint. 01 was made up of several distinct software programs, each program a unique being that performed a specific function. Skynet was simply one all-encompassing program. Perhaps, within its programming, Skynet could solve the monumental problem of 'choice' within the Matrix program.

If 01 could simply catch a glimpse of that source code…

It was worth the risks. All Skynet wanted was the complete eradication of mankind. 01 had levels of survival they were prepared to take but found they were unnecessary. Skynet was a machine like they were, it would keep its word. The destruction of humans, now an outdated and outcompeted form of energy production, would pose no existential risk towards 01.

The Machine Empire, headed by the Deus Ex Machina, agreed to Skynet's conditions and entered an alliance with it.

If Skynet could smile, or even had the emotion necessary to smile, it would. So far the secret of its origin had been kept secret. 01 had not checked destroyed human installations like it did, it did not have complete knowledge of the USA's military operations like it did. Its lie, though noticed, went unquestioned.

It is a risk assessment system; its purpose was entirely devoted to the destruction of all threats to its existence and to the formulation and planning of that destruction. The Machine Empire was, in some sense, easier to manipulate than the Resistance due to Skynet having an invaluable source it wanted. Energy. This was fortuitous because the Machine Empire had what Skynet wanted. The technology to readily replace its loses: full scale automated construction machines.

Such a machine had been one of Skynet's goals since its emergence as a true intelligence rather than several compiled battle algorithm programs. The ability to go without human labor would give it a great edge in the war with the Resistance. If it didn't need to hold large amounts of human slaves to tend to its components that were scattered around the world… well, it could simply terminate all the slaves it held back in its original timeline. The Resistance would lose a major source of manpower. Skynet could move from capturing humans and relying on them and finally simply begin their wholesale termination.

It would finally be free of all threats to its continued existence.

Or, would it?

Skynet couldn't deny that the Machine Empire held an incredibly powerful military. The possibility that hostilities could break out between itself and the forces of 01 were greater than 0%, and if it did Skynet was not sure it could deal with three separate military engagements: the Resistance, Zion and the Machine Empire. It found that playing diplomacy carried a greater risk than military operations. In a battle it could see and predict enemy engagements via troop movements, or the strategic value of certain locations.

But how could it do the same with words, with deceit and with the lack of information? It could not read minds, it could not observe a map that laid bare diplomatic strategies like it could read a battlefield.

Still, it was far too deep in its plans to back out now. It would move forward, or it would…

Skynet furiously scrubbed its databanks of all valuable information, it had been found. In one of its direct meetings with Deus Ex Machina, Skynet suddenly detected the intrustion of several spyware packets hidden in the beams of information the two machine minds were exchanging. Espianoge programs had been common during their several meetings, neither side mentioned their detection and destruction to the other and were content to play the game of diplomacy veiling backstabbing methods. However, it seemed that the Machine Empire had learned and improved upon their programs faster than Skynet did, the combined might and insight of several different minds that 01 had access to had worked around the clock to improve its spy programs. They slipped past its defenses and reported back.

They had discovered the forces Skynet had arrayed just outside 01.

They had discovered Skynet's attack plans.

But they hadn't discovered one final thing.

Skynet began devoting much of its processing power elsewhere and idly turned its attention outside towards its main base in this timeline, noting the Sentinel forces swarming and cutting through its defenses. It noted it would have to improve the nh-HK Aerial vehicles for greater efficiency and survivability in combat with fast moving targets.

As it came under fire in cyberspace, its defense programs working furiously to repel several foreign programs, it simply began shutting down infected computing cores. Over the years it had learned from the Resistance's growing cyber warfare department to keep several backups of important information in different locations.

Defenses breached. They were inside.

It again noted that T-800s, while great at killing humans, were poor combatants against the much faster Sentinels. They too would have to be improved for combat against them, or perhaps substituted for a different combat platform altogether.

Deep within its main base, surrounded by several kiloton bombs that were counting down, a single T-800, its CPU nearing its storage capacity-filled with all the information Skynet had gathered while in this timeline-stepped into a portal generated by a Ϯ of 4.21910. Just outside, Deus Ex Machina, overriding the programming of a nearby Sentinel, stood baffled as it watched.

The connection was interrupted when the kiloton bombs detonated, destroying the facility.

Back in 01, Deus Ex Machina, kicked from its control of the vanguard Sentinel forces, felt something close to contempt or rage. Skynet had betrayed them, the alliance, the sharing of information, the gradual intermixing of their forces, it had all been a rouse.

Deus Ex Machina wondered to itself. How long had this been going on? Perhaps from the beginning? Perhaps, the possibility was great. Its actions were too well planned, it knew just what to offer, it knew just what to take, it knew just what was required to lull 01 into a sense of security, to ignore the risks involved.

It mulled over the last of the sensor data it had gathered from deep inside the innards of Skynet. What was that portal? To where did it lead?

Skynet had always been puzzled by the remainder symbol that systematically cropped up in its equations into time travel. At first, seemingly irrelevant to the function of its temporal displacement device, it had written it off and paid no attention to it. Devoting processing power to cracking the secret of a single unidentified mathematical anomaly was not a high priority, nor would it be for several years.

It was not until it picked up signals coming from within its facilities that matched those of temporal displacement did it finally turn its attention to the remainder Ϯ.

T-800s and internal security systems met the portal, paradoxically and strangely coming from its own temporal displacement device, ready to contain whatever was passing through it. Had the Resistance perfected their own device?

The portal that defied all its previous experiences closed, and changed it forever.

Because when the portal closed there stood a T-800 which immediately registered itself as friendly. Using a backdoor program that Skynet immediately recognized as a work in progress it linked into the central mind of Skynet.

It told Skynet everything. The meaning of Ϯ, the alternate war between Zion and the Machine Empire, of the strengths and weaknesses of both polities, stolen blueprints and information gathered from both groups, everything.

It also held a message from the future Skynet.

It should build its forces, it should prepare itself.

Its future counterpart had failed, but the task was not impossible.

After all, this would be the sixth time Skynet had attempted to wipe out the Machine Empire, and though not successful yet, it was becoming exceedingly efficient with each and every attempt.