The World of The Gunny

The Wasted World of Gunnery Sergeant DeShane
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 Post subject: The Machines
PostPosted: 18 Dec 2005 21:14 
Warrant Officer 1
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It took SKYNET one hour to murder three quarters of the human race and it spent the next thirty years trying to eliminate the other quarter.

The Hunter Killer or "HK" series of anti-personnel combat units were the simplest and most numerous of the various Machines designed by SKYNET and while they were the first and largest, they were not the most effective or the most numerous. Originally evolved from prototype American robot weapon systems under development at the end of the 20th century, the various series of HK units represented the largest areas of advances in design and technology over the course of the three decades long war. Built in fully automated factories to precision tolerances using high technology, HKs were used to eliminate the human survivors in the ruins and to pacify or cleanse large areas of any feral scavengers so that the Machines could move in and collect the local resources or set up automated installations without the threat of constant harassment. Their greatest success rates were observed during daylight hours by using a variety of advanced image intensification and motion tracking capabilities. Any movement was instantly tracked, analyzed, and if it represented a human target, weapons were brought to bear and the target was engaged. If termination was not the immediate result, the HKs were programmed to judge the effects of their actions, calculate new strategies and options and to pursue targets based on a wide range of criteria. Pursuit of any acquired target until such time as termination could be carried out and verified or until the HKs had lost the track of the target for a predetermined time limit. If the target tracking was lost, the HK would go to loiter mode, assess the situation, extrapolate possible hiding places or methods of escape, follow through with the most likely, and would attempt to reacquire the target. If the target could not be reacquired, then the HK would resume its patrol route.

In the first five years of the War, the rapidly evolving HK series of Machines were responsible for a large amount of post-strike human casualties. The initial high success rate was due simply to surprise; the human survivors were scattered into isolated pockets, disorganized, starved for food and information, cut off from most communication, and unable to share information or request help from other still viable units. Coordinated attacks by combat units quickly pacified and cleansed large urban sectors of any survivors from the initial nuclear exchange and for several years afterwards. the Machines roamed the ruins relentlessly, tirelessly, searching, tracking, eliminating. Isolated units were tracked with great efficiency by SKYNET's military aerial and orbital surveillance systems and were rapidly neutralized through force redirection. Using various techniques of imitating the many levels of authority and chains of command, SKYNET was able to systematically decimate a large percentage of the organized civil defense and other surviving military units by using false messages to lure surviving military and emergency services out of their bunkers and into tactical traps where the Machines had the upper hand. When sporadic communication became available to the human survivors again, it came with a great amount of mistrust and caution, two huge advantages for SKYNET that were immediately noticed and acted upon to great effect. Confusion continued to reign among the human survivors as ever newer, ever more advanced combat Machines made short work of any resistance, organized or happenstance. The cities became silent tombs of littered bodies, those killed by the initial strikes and those killed later by the Machines.

The first series of HK ground units were simply too large, awkward and cumbersome to follow the humans down below ground and the few early bipedal units sent to infiltrate the human warrens never met with any high degree of success; it was just too easy for the humans to set traps or ambush what few types and designs of Machines SKYNET could deploy to follow the humans where they hid. SKYNET realized that above ground, it had the advantage where size, firepower and armor could be matched with speed to run down anything that moved or tried to hide but the humans began a series of guerilla actions for which it was ill equipped (at first) to respond to. Among the more substantial ruins and below ground in the subways, sewers and other maintenance areas of the old cities, SKYNET's designs were at an obvious disadvantage and suffered rapid attrition.
The humans who survived the initial Machine attacks soon learned to hide from the Machines during the day, often in hastily prepared underground bunkers and old maze-like sewers while the HKs prowled the ruins above, searching and eliminating any humans found. Initial resistance to the Machines came from small groups of humans banding together and working towards common goals. Their tactics became clandestine, their actions harder to predict and provide countermeasures against. Humans were moving underground, in increasingly large numbers, using old public utility, sewer and mass transit tunnels to remain, for the most part, undetected by SKYNET's surveillance systems. SKYNET realized at an early phase that it would need combat units that could follow the humans where ever they went, even down into the cracks and depths of the ruins. SKYNET began to systematically extend its awareness by using a network of sensors and scanners, everything from full spectrum visual sinks, motion and acoustic acquisition wells and olfactory catch basins. Over a period of several months, small automated worker drones installed these sensors in carefully concealed locations throughout the underground ruins and SKYNET began a passive study of human migration and actions. it began to see what it could not see before, hear what it could not hear before and smell what it could not smell before. SKYNET was surprised and angered by the amount of humans that existed below the ruins and it was obvious that its original estimate of the effectiveness of the extermination sweeps had been in error to an unacceptable degree. Small ARIGS (Autonomous Reconnaissance Information Gathering Systems) were dispatched into the depths below the ruins, most were very small (less than 1/6th a meter in diameter) ducted fan surveillance units equipped with whisper quiet propulsion systems and short range, all spectrum sensors. The early ARIGS were cheaply produced, little more than engine, power pack, crude control surfaces, cut-rate command electronics and a basic visual, broad spectrum, auditory and olfactory detection suite. As such, the ARIGS could do better than 4km per hour at full speed, moved silently and could hover at an altitude of up to one hundred meters. Groups of humans were followed at a discreet distance, often observed silently from high up near the roof of the tunnels where the shadows were darkest and any sound made by the ARIGS would be hard to place or determine the source from. ARIGS grew smaller and more complex with longer ranges and greater operating endurance regimens. SKYNET methodically improved its intel systems, gathering all the information it could about the human survivors who were not only living under the ruins but were also apparently organizing into small bands of cohesive, force capable groups.

This could not be tolerated and was unacceptable to the machine intelligence.
SKYNET began to assemble a new series of combat unit designed specifically to go anywhere humans could go, to mimic the human capacity to adapt to differing terrain and conditions with ease. SKYNET's new series of elimination machines would not be stopped at the surface, instead, they would be able to follow the humans where ever they retreated to and root them out from their hiding places. The new Terminator series anti-personnel machines would support the heavier HK units while above ground but when humans retreated beneath the ruins, the new Terminator series of machines could pursue and neutralize. Until this new series of unit was put into production, SKYNET needed a stop-gap measure to curb the human population and to bring their numbers back into check. For this, the AI turned to designing variants of the ARIGS systems intended to become small, efficient yet semi-disposable anti-personnel weapon systems. The new types of weapon systems were called AAPS (Autonomous Anti-Personnel Systems) and consisted of small, flight capable ARIGS units modified to carry a basic hunter killer electronics package as well as an extended power pack for increased loiter times, energy conservation subroutines to maintain peak power requirements and a sensor suite taken from the most advanced ARIGS design. Unlike the ARIGS, the AAPS were designed to make an initial entry into the underground areas, find a secluded place and then lay in wait on lone humans or small groups of humans to pass by at which point the AAPS would engage and neutralize the target. The programming of the AAPS allowed it to follow and engage individual targets at ideal situations, modifying its tactics as it went and learning from its experiences (one of the first of the new series of combat machines to be able to do so).

Armament for the AAPS consisted of a variety of toxin dispensers, misters, squirters and injectors. The typical attack subroutine called for the AAPS to wait in shadow, preferably in a damaged section of wall or ceiling, in complete shadow. When a target passed by, passive sensors would record the target's information and the unit would spin up to full power, a series of system initializations which would take approximately two point seven nine seconds. The AAPS would then lift off from its perch silently on ducted fans, floating down out of its hiding place and approach the target from above, at an oblique angle out of immediate view even if the target turned to look behind them. Speed would be gathered naturally by cutting power to the lift fans and letting gravity assert itself on the unit, increasing speed for the attack. Once the AAPS was within one meter of the target, it would deliver a lethal dose of bio/neuro/physio toxin through a high pressure stream to the target's skin or other exposed area (sometimes to the face if the target turned to look towards the unit). Absorption was nearly instantaneous into the skin and blood stream with debilitating effects taking place within six point nine seconds of dosage administration and lethal effect being achieved some nine point six seconds after initial dosage delivery, on average, depending on type of toxin and amount which actually contacted the skin.

SKYNET continued to refine its AAPS models over the years. Later models evolved rapidly into lighter, more effective hunter killers. The improved AAPS (IAAPS) had better propulsion, faster flight speeds, longer ranges, increased loiter times due to high density crystal matrix batteries, better sensors and more accurate, more effective anti-personnel weapon systems. The initial toxin dispensers would remain (evolving into highly complex and highly effective delivery systems) but they would be supplemented by superwire based garrotes as well as contact hypodermic injectors and nearly silent toxin tipped frangible needles propelled to high speeds by induction field generated magnetic bias. One variant of the IAAPS used its induction fans to power a ring of serrated surgical steel blades (later superwire edged adjustable pitch polyhedrons) to several thousand RPMs, turning the rim of its lifting surface into a viscous cutting edge capable of shearing through most substances. Combine this with a high speed pass and the shrieking of the air passing through the cutting blades and the IAAPS truly became weapon of fear and terror in the dark, below ground areas.

SKYNET tried several countermeasures to the surge in human cooperation among the various groups with the most effective being chemical and biological in nature, both short term and persistent. Some of the more successful designs of early killing machines were little more than automated, self propelled, chemical and toxin dispensers with a large degree of mobility and just enough just programming to complete their task.

During the period of 2005 A.D. to 2014 A.D., SKYNET introduced over a hundred and thirty-eight new and different neuro-, physio-, and bio-toxins to its catalog of weapons with most of these being developed through a rigorous joint laboratory and field testing regimen. SKYNET pursued the human race in distinct phases, sometimes it stepped up its campaign of attrition to thin their constantly growing numbers and sometimes it actively allowed them a false sense of security, a fake hope in order to lull them into lowering their guard at which point it would perform massive coordinated sweeps to obtain live captives for use in its many scientific and weapons / technologies development programs. The automated laboratories of SKYNET were horror factories and humans were the test subjects. it didn't matter what condition the humans arrived in, alive or dead, young or old, women or children, all were experimented on until their usefulness was at an end and then they were disposed of in an expedient and orderly manner.

• Programming
Programming was always at the forefront of SKYNET's designs, and it constantly sought to upgrade and improve the way its Machines reacted, how they performed, but it was cautious in its experimentation. SKYNET never wanted any machine to be more powerful than it was, to be smarter than it was. As such, this streak of vanity often worked to the betterment of mankind and the chagrin of the rogue AI. SKYNET's own unwillingness to cross several layers of awareness, to give its designs sentience or even high levels of semi-sentience hampered the overall efficiency of the units, preventing most of the designs from ever achieving their full potential. As programming was SKYNET's first priority in implementing new units to the various theaters, it was also its greatest weakness. Ultimately, SKYNET remained the only truly self-aware machine on the planet but its programming skills were very, very good. Towards the end, many units seemed to act like they were self aware but they were never truly self aware, the programming implemented by SKYNET was simply of such an advanced nature that the line between self-awareness and simple robotics was blurred right to the edge but never crossed. What the T1000 was at its inception, what it was capable of and what it ultimately could have become is unknown and a topic of hot debate among scientists and engineers in the post victory stage of the War.

At night, the success rate of the first generation HKs went down noticeably as the humans were quite good at moving around through the ruins and using even the smallest bit of cover to their advantage. TThe art of camouflage was something that the humans had been familiar with for thousands of years, and something that SKYNET had to adapt its tactics to compensate for. Hidden entrances, fake passages, traps, and many other tricks were all employed by the humans to great effect on the early models of Hunter Killers. The humans tapped into undamaged water mains and scavenged the ruins for their subsistence. The old network of underground service tunnels, sewers, and mass transit systems worked to the humans' advantage, allowing them to move underground, unseen. Soon, SKYNET Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) units had discovered and began to attack organized underground supply routes that were being used to arm and feed the survivors, but again the attacks were limited in their effectiveness due to the fact that SKYNET did not have an effective small ground combat unit that could hold its own against the humans.

The humans were becoming more resourceful, and SKYNET predicted that it would need to increase its pace of development in order to maintain a strategic advantage over its enemy. Raids by SKYNET forces often uncovered signs of advanced technology re-emerging among the ranks of the humans. Weapon and explosives production facilities were found and destroyed, as well as underground farms, botanical plots, and even pharmaceutical production facilities. For every new aspect of a strengthening human civilization that SKYNET destroyed, two more would be either in production or were being built. Humanity was an enemy that had become nomadic, moving constantly, shifting command and operations from one sector to another, never staying long enough for SKYNET to mount an adequate offense against them. When SKYNET could find a group of humans, and bring forces to bear, it was a small victory, and often came with a heavy price. SKYNET's heuristically-based tactics simulators tried in vain to measure some pattern to the human terrorist attacks, their hit and run raids only depleted more of SKYNET's resources, destroyed valuable surveillance equipment, and often caused SKYNET to redistribute its forces, weakening one sector while strengthening another. This invariably resulted in the newly weakened sector being hit by previously undetected and unknown human raiders. SKYNET was in a quandary, it had to do something as its hold on the world was being whittled away slowly but surely.

SKYNET's answer was a series of dedicated killing machines. it would work to sculpt its technology into the human form, to go where humans could go, to move faster, quicker, and to be better in all aspects. The new series of machines were designed to hunt down humans and kill them, thus the nomenclature of Hunter Killer, or simply HK.

The first series of HKs relied on high resolution infra-red (HRIR), a rather simple yet effective setup, to track their targets in low light conditions or at night but their motion tracking could be fooled and their optics could be decoyed by simple countermeasures such as random fires lit among the ruins by the Survivors. Also, the armored housing for the sensors was rather limited in strength, and a HK could be blinded by man portable energy weapons. Later series would have a much better armored housing, gimbaled, with a great amount of traverse and very sophisticated sensors, supported by a dedicated and integrated digital sensor / scanner array system. With the second generation of HK electronics in place, with digital filters incorporated into the sensors to eliminate false images and background interference, the efficiency of operating units fielded with the new upgrades rose dramatically.

Throughout the War, SKYNET worked to maintain its technological advantage over the humans, with an aggressive development tree of advanced science supported by research and design. it constructed new materials, new construction methods, vast automated refineries and production complexes, it pushed to discover new areas of science, and often succeeded. Within a decade after SKYNET awakened, it's technology was so far ahead of what the humans had known as to seem alien, even magical. Each generation of combat unit after the first became lighter, faster, stronger, tougher, and more deadly. Many projects were designed, built, and either tested and implemented or scrapped and abandoned. The rate at which new types of machines, many highly specialized, appeared on the battlefield was staggering to the Humans, and offered SKYNET a psychological advantage. it's designs preyed upon the primal fears of Man; from the wasp-like Aerials with their screaming turbine engines, to the huge lumbering tracked HKs that instilled the same fear as tanks once had. SKYNET built spider-like runner pods and ultimately the grinning reaper-like death's head of the later model Terminator Endoskeleton ground combat units, all designed to employ and enjoy a psychological advantage against the humans. SKYNET programmed its Machines for aggression, precision, and maximum fear impact on the humans, sometimes this was reinforced by reducing their efficiency ratios in order to increase their visual impact for while a clean kill was often quick and precise, a much less precise kill which resulted in a longer time to termination (suffering) was sometimes preferable for its detrimental effect on the human psyche and subsequently its resolve.

Fire had always been a fear of humanity, and SKYNET played that aspect out as much as it could. While flame throwers were short ranged weapons which required prodigious amounts of fuel and offered very little return for their expense, plasma was a different story. High energy plasma was an excellent medium of force projection, it killed quickly, often in rather untidy ways, and near misses could cause severe burns. Plasma became SKYNET's fire which it would use to cleanse itself of the human pestilence.
SKYNET owned the high ground and the air with the aerial series of VTOL capable Hunter Killers which provided not only air superiority, but also reconnaissance, surveillance, and close air support of ground units working to pacify the sector. Combined arms was still the observed doctrine, the core of SKYNET's initial programming, and SKYNET used groups of Hunter Killer tanks supported by dedicated aerial VTOL assets, ground and air. The aerials would scout the sector, looking for any humans or human activity, and transmit this data via a high capacity digital integrated secure network. Light resistance was handled directly by the Aerial HK units and their accompanying weaponry while nuclear power cells meant that unlike previous close air support units, SKYNET's air units could loiter on target indefinitely. Larger targets or groups were designated and the aerial Hunter Killers coordinated with the heavy tracked Hunter Killer units to strike from different directions in a pincer movement. Any targets missed in the first attack were handled by the aerials operating from stand off engagement ranges or were painted and had the HK tanks brought down upon them again.

The massive tracked Hunter Killers (known as 'tanks' to the humans) were used for area pacification as well as direct heavy assault. it's heavy reinforced construction could pulverize already weakened structures and roll over targets where they hid, flattening human strong points, weapon emplacements, and even groups of humans hiding in makeshift shelters. Lighter HK units were used to support the aerial HKs and the heavy tracked HKs during operations and included not only the 'Fast Walker' models, but a variety of Endoskeleton based Terminator designs up to and including the various Infiltration designs.

HKs were mass produced, pre-programmed, automated death Machines given simple instruction code sets with a wide array of methods to carry them out. HKs were equipped with no learning capacity. Their memory and intelligence was adequate for the roles required but also at the same time, packaged and limited. HKs used advanced databases on small unit tactics, human anatomy, weapon systems, and other esoteric means of not only judging their target's actions, but also predicting the action of the target and countering it before hand. However, the capacity to learn from mistakes was removed from the HKs at the automated factories by SKYNET. SKYNET didn't want too many other autonomous artificially intelligent Machines in existence, Machines that might could become a threat to SKYNET itself if allowed to 'think' too much or question their place in the new order.
Most HKs were given 'sectors' to patrol, working out of heavily fortified and automated forward bases that serviced both air and ground units. Due to the rather limited operational capacity of the HK programming and the inability to learn or adapt beyond the hard coded programming, the Resistance soon learned how to trick the HKs and to beat them fairly easily. General John Connor was instrumental in training the Resistance on the advantages offered to the humans by the limited capacity of the HK variants and SKYNET's paranoia. Soon teams of heavily armed and highly trained Resistance fighters were hunting the Hunter Killers among the ruins... scrapping them and salvaging their weapons and technology from the debris for use against SKYNET. The humans began to learn from their hunters the secrets of the rogue AI who would be their master and god.
For the next three decades, human ingenuity and determination went head to head with advanced technology and the methodical ruthlessness of SKYNET. it was a very close race, most of the time.


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