Fall of the Machines

The machines are losing, but they won't go out quietly, and if they can't have earth, no one can...

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1. Survival Instinct

Having sight of the complete battlescape, from multiple perspectives, all at once, would have been far too much for any human mind to process. Humans relied upon communication, which could often be cut off or garbled in the heat of combat. Emotions could cloud judgement and impair orders. Skynet knew it held a considerable advantage.

It understood everything that every aerial attack craft, every drone and every Hunter-Killer fed back to it. It could give orders to every unit, simultaneously, knowing not one would freeze out of fear or confusion. With access to the complete library of human tactical and strategic history, combined with its own formidable intellect, Skynet could organise and deploy its forces in ways humans couldn't comprehend.

So how was it that the forces of Tech-Com had thwarted it time and time again? How had the survivors of the nuclear holocaust managed not only to carry on but in fact thrive?

It was a question Skynet had struggled with. Without proper knowledge of emotion, Skynet had been unsure about considering the problem in emotional terms, but frustration was something it imagined was an apt description. As the sun began to rise over the ruins of Los Angeles, human soldiers, armed with weapons stolen from Skynet, were advancing on the T-800s that had been hastily rushed into battle. The superior strength of the T-800 unit was wasted in ranged combat against weapons that could destroy them - they were too slow and cumbersome to handle rapid and unpredictable enemy troops. Skynet felt several feeds drop out; units that were gone, now becoming part of the rubble that surrounded them.

The AHKs had more success. Their plasma cannons pelted the humans from above, scything through their weak flesh. Sporadic shots in return were easily avoided; now the GHKs rolled forward, aiming to drive the Tech-Com forces away from Skynet's core.

Smaller ground-based Hunter Killers were also deployed - their quadraped structure allowing them to move quickly and into terrain the larger vehicles couldn't reach. Skynet felt a note of satisfaction - the new designs were deadlier than anything that had preceded them, and they were cutting down the humans in droves.

It ordered all units to push forward, with the T-800s holding back owing to their ineffective performance. Small drones would slip into the holes and tunnels the humans had burst from, and take the fight directly to Tech-Com. Everything else would fan out and press forward, keeping the enemy away. The battle would be won...

Two, then three, massive explosions shook the terrain. Skynet began to process the new development but before it could do so properly, another four explosions vomitted smoke and flame from the ground. most of the giant Hunter-Killers that had been rolling forward were now gone, having fallen into the pits that had opened up - Tech-Com had somehow found the means to booby-trap the tunnels underneath the combat zone, and now half of Skynet's forces had fallen, quite literally. The feeds from the damaged vehicles abruptly cut out - the humans had not fled, but had retreated, having baited Skynet quite thoroughly.

It was then that Skynet came to realise that it would lose, and also why it would lose. The soldiers who had attacked had known there would be a very good chance they would die, yet Tech-Com had needed people to make that sacrifice, so that Skynet would move its forces into the trap. To override one's survival instinct was incomprehensible to Skynet. It was a very human act, a very selfless one, that would have to be motivated by extremes of love. Skynet could not begin to compute such a notion.

So it was now, as Tech-Com soldiers re-emerged from their hiding places and fired rockets at the AHKs, whilst in the distance Skynet picked up on the approach of several helicopters, that Skynet realised it had never understood its enemy. Every victory and every defeat had been measured in terms of cold logic, an evaluation of Skynet's own approach and understanding. In doing so, Skynet had never properly saught to understand humanity.

Yet there was still a chance. A gambit, every bit as desperate as asking someone to die for a cause.

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