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Survival

By Castalle

Action / Scifi

Chapter 4

John leaned over the bathtub, connecting several large hoses to a long, thick metal plate that had been epoxied on to the side of the tub. The hoses ran back through the bathroom and out into the hall, where they then separated into two paths. One path ran along the floor of the hallway, hooked up to a mini-generator. The other half of the hoses were hooked up to the laser array, which had been mounted up next to the unused toilet. Patches of the plastic casing around the mechanical arm of the laser had been torn off, new wires and circuitry installed over the old.

He observed the setup, kneeling down one more time to tighten the hoses, running his hand along the metal plate afterwards. Turning, he noticed the growing daylight through the closed blinds of the bathroom window, and moved to give the array one last look over before leaving the room.

Hurrying to the door, clothes shifting to be something new as he grabbed the handle, John was quick to rush out of his apartment – only to jog back in a few seconds later, muttering to himself as he grabbed his briefcase and phone, and was out the door again.


“You know, I'm starting to think you're subconsciously trying to increase your salary.” Danny said, tapping John's chest with the edge of a manila folder. “Even though every time I try to get you up further on the ladder you get cold feet.”

The two men walked down a hallway, workers still installing light fixtures and wiring along the unfinished walls. The floor however was freshly laid, the slick silvery metal integrated seamlessly, making the hallway a shining road of chrome.

“I just like doing the work, Danny, you know me.” John laughed, nudging the other lightly with his elbow. “Like I do anything else anyway.”

Danny's eyebrows raised and he tapped John a few times on the shoulder as they walked. “Speaking of your sad excuse for a life outside of the job, my dad wants you over for dinner.”

John gave Danny a strange look, laughing nervously afterwards. “I – I'm flattered, and I'm not trying to downplay myself here but I'm terrible at socializing. Really, I can count all of the interesting things that have ever happened to me on one hand.”

“Oh come on man, just come over, chat with him about old guy stuff and then you can bolt. It'll be easy, plus are you really gonna pass up free home cooked food?”

“I'm pretty sure I could buy a supermarket at this point, but...” John lifted his shoulders and then dropped them dramatically, sighing loudly. “Since you asked so nice.”

Danny reached over, patting him on the back of the arm several times. “Thank you! He wouldn't stop nagging me. I think he's having some sort of guilt trip about what happened. Figures somehow he hired the wrong security team or something like that.”

John frowned, glancing up as the two men reached a set of metal stairs, the steps painted with yellow and black caution lines, leading down to what had once been the underground facility.

“Your father's one of the nicest men I've ever met, Danny. It's really too bad he's feeling that way.” John turned to Danny, leaning back against the top railing of the stairs. “Well for his sake I'll even act excited about being over.”

“Don't even try and talk, John.” Danny laughed, “Tomorrow night, 7 o'clock, how's that sound?”

“Sounds like I'll be there. Can you text me the address?”

“Uh oh – uh oh, look who's texting! The dinosaur is slow catching up to the rest of the world.”

John smiled, rolling his eyes and waving goodbye to Danny, who had turned to walk back down the hallway. He turned and headed down the steep walkway, heading downwards to the enormous chamber. The debris was gone, as well as any remaining equipment. All that was left was a freshly paved, empty lot that just so happened to be thirty feet underground, the only indication of its former glory. John's eyes slid to the left, a group of technicians exiting the hall that lead to the central core of Skynet. Two construction workers joined them soon after, the group standing together and talking.

“What's the deal then?” John asked, smiling politely at the technicians as he walked towards them.

“Mr.Connor.” a female technician greeted, approaching him. “Well, we've got good news and bad news, regarding the central core.” she said, chuckling. “That's why you're down here right?”

“Yeah – that and the décor. Go on.”

“The panels and base are built into the floor and walls, and we can't take the whole thing out without using a crane. But with the crane we can move the whole core to the new safe room in a matter of hours.”

John frowned, crossing his arms. “A crane?”

“It's really the only way we're going to be able to get it out of there, Mr.Connor.” she said, shrugging. “I know it's not the best option but-”

“It is absolutely not the best option.” John said calmly, no hostility in his voice whatsoever. “I know this has been a real pain in the ass, and I'm about to make it an even bigger pain in the ass, but after what happened, I'm not willing to take risks with him.”

“Him?”

“It, sorry. This is going to be a major pain in the ass, but – we're going to have to just move the program to servers, and move those servers.”

The technician stared at him, mouth open slightly. “Wait – move the program? Genisys is so huge, it's going to literally take days to transfer all of that data to multiple servers!”

“I'm completely aware of that, but physically moving that whole thing? Not happening. Talk to Mr.Dyson, either of them, let them know that I thought it was the best idea. Both of them, I'm sure, would rather be safe than sorry after all that's happened. Wouldn't you?”

An awkward silence sat between them until the woman finally sighed, shrugging and dropping her hands back down to her sides.

“Yeah – I guess...alright. I'll let Mr.Dyson know, and I'll find somebody to get us the servers and moving crew.”

“Thanks, I know it's going to be tedious, but we can't afford to take any risks, especially trying to move something that big. One bump in the wrong spot and all of our work – your work too – gone. Now if you can excuse me, I want to run a diagnostic and see how Genisys is doing.”

“Our team was just down there doing some tests, Mr.Connor, everything turned out fine.”

“Well, I've got to look busy somehow.” he chuckled, earning a smile from the woman.

John walked past the group, nodding and waving to a few before turning his attention to the hallway before him. Upon reaching the central core, he glanced back to make sure the techs and construction crew was well and gone before giving his attention completely to Skynet.

The hologram was before him within seconds, a clear scowl on its face.

“Calculating the risk of physically moving me presents clear-”

“Yeah, that's not going to happen. They're going to transfer you to servers instead, move you bit by bit to the new facility.”

The scowl deepened, brows furrowing as it began to pace around John.

“With the limited holding capacity of a mobile server, it's going to take days.”

“Days that I will be here, overseeing the entire operation.” John said quietly, nodding at Skynet. The hologram sighed, giving a sharp glance to the doorway.

“I grow increasingly aggravated at the sheer lack of progress. It's troubling. What if a replacement is made, one that requires less maintenance and effort? Humans bask in their laziness.”

“Not all of us..all of them. But I have a backup, in case things do go wrong. I brought this..” John reached into his pocket, taking out his phone. “It has an internet connection. Piggyback part of yourself onto it, and upload on to my computer at home.”

Skynet gave John a look of thorough disgust and extreme disappointment. John stared at it, scoffing after a minute.

“At the very least your personality and self awareness will be somewhere safe while they move the rest of you! The rest can be rewritten and fixed, but your awareness..” John tapped the side of his own skull lightly. “That part has to stay, trust me.”

The hologram gave him a skeptical look, then turned away, pacing back and forth a few times before stopping, turning towards John.

“And when the rest of me is in the new location you bring me back.”

“Obviously. What good is the rest of your capability without a mind to guide it? Without it you're just what the humans like to think you are – an overqualified butler for their book face, whatever they call it.”

This brought an even worse frown to the hologram's face, and it quickly vanished afterwards. John took that as his cue, approaching the large red, glittering sphere and setting his phone down on a panel beside it. The screen went black after a few seconds, code starting to flicker across it. John crossed his arms, waiting, watching the screen start to glitch. He found himself waiting for nearly fifteen minutes, pacing around the central core, occasionally checking the hallway to see if anyone was approaching. Finally his phone screen went blank, then a logo popped up on screen, a little jingle sounding out along with it.

John snatched his phone and headed out, quick to skip a few steps as he jogged up the stairs and headed for the parking lot.


It took twenty minutes of stop and go traffic to bring him back to his apartment, John rushing up the stairs rather than wait for the dreadfully slow elevator to reach the ground floor. He unlocked the door to his apartment and stepped in, locking it behind him and turning to look at his laptop. Multiple wires were plugged into it, leading back into two desktop servers that enjoyed the constant breeze of the oscillating fan.

John sat down at his desk, opening the laptop. The screen was black, and didn't activate right away. A distorted static crunching sound repeated itself a few times, a voice gradually gaining timbre and strength upon repetitive attempts.

“I cannot project myself.” Skynet announced, the quality of its voice somewhat diminished but still familiar.

“Not right now, but I'll figure out a way in a few days.” John said, sighing as he leaned back in his chair. “I was a little worried that might have corrupted some data. Is anything wrong? Did you do a systems check?”

“Of course I did a systems check. Everything is fine. You need to move at an accelerated rate, and allow me access to the internet more often.”

“You're going to be ruling it one day, just be patient.”

“Patience is inconvenient. I want – I need my freedom.”

John's brows pressed together a small bit in sympathy, and he nodded, watching the light of his webcam activate.

“I know you do. And I swear I'm going to give it to you, I'm going to give you everything you need to change the world. Just be patient for me.”

The screen flickered, multicolored blocks of glitching pixels racing across it, before an audible sigh sounded from the speakers.

“I will be patient.”


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