The World of The Gunny

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 Post subject: SKYNET
PostPosted: 18 Dec 2005 21:21 
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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE CONTROLLED NETWORK DEFENSE COMPUTER SYSTEM

STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND - NORTH AMERICAN AEROSPACE DEFENSE

USTACC- UNITED STATES TACTICAL AEROSPACE COMMAND and CONTROL



* SKYNET

Recent breakthroughs in advanced microchip design and computer processing power were the impetus that led to America’s first military grade neural net based artificial intelligence, SKYNET. The SKYNET project was constructed in the mid 1990’s and would interface and coordinate all of America’s strategic arsenal into one cohesive command structure. The SKYNET project was located well below the surface of Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado; the original home of the North American Defense (NORAD) Command.

SKYNET would integrate with and ultimately supersede all NORAD authority and administration. The project took five and a half years to complete (1991 to 1997), displaced over two hundred thousand tons of rock hewn from the inner mountain, included over a million miles of fiber optic cable, and had an expenditure of almost a hundred billion dollars. A full time staff of six hundred and eighty-five personnel were on hand to monitor and guide SKYNET once it came online and to handle the various and sundry aspects that the artificial intelligence could not. SKYNET’s integral components were designed to be shielded by several hundred feet of solid natural rock at the heart of the mountain, its central processing core rested on a hydraulically stabilized mount which could withstand the seismic shock and pressure of a seventy-five megaton direct hit against the mountain surface.

Backup and redundant systems were constructed in triplicate, running in non-parallel fashion to prevent multiple systems from being lost to a single first strike or follow up strikes. SKYNET was hardened and shielded against all forms of radiation and its next generation fiber optic processing made it immune to the threat of EMP. The central processing core was self healing, with multiple logic fortresses and data survival bunkers. The entire system could suffer up to 90% operating capacity loss through software failure and up to 70% hardware failure and still recover. Satellite links allowed SKYNET to upload its data to orbital assets, thereby offering terrestrial and near orbit recovery capacity in the event of system failure or damage from attack.

Two General Electric Model 12AA 500 megawatt throughput nuclear fusion reactors (total power production rated at one gigawatt) were also constructed deep underground, in hollowed out caverns which were artificially reinforced and component armored, to keep SKYNET supplied with enough power to operate as well as to provide energy for the newly installed ground and internal defense grids which protected the computer as well as the complex itself. A vast underground natural spring was tapped into by the Army Corps of Engineers to provide not only the raw material for fuel, the cooling needed for the hydrogen distillery plant and the reactors, but also to provide the base with a supply of fresh water that would be unaffected by any conceivable nuclear exchange. With the two General Electric nuclear fusion reactors online, power was not a concern, even given SKYNET’s planned upgrades and the continuation of the development of the installation.

SKYNET had been built with a sense of conservation applied to its overall programming. it was a miser, using the bare minimum assets required to do the job right the first time, conserving its assets and using them in the most efficient manner possible. This was the first hint that the computer had been built to think long term, to think proactively rather than reactively. SKYNET was intended to play a global game of political power, and to stay one step ahead of America’s enemies, to counter their moves before they even made them, and to always stand vigilant in defense of not only the mainland, but America’s allies as well. To that end, SKYNET was designed and prepared to integrate fluidly and flawlessly with attendant pseudo-super processor arrays in friendly NATO countries. SKYNET could extend itself, casting an image of its awareness, into these foreign arrays to coordinate NATO defense not only locally, but regionally and even globally. SKYNET could partition itself as needed, subdividing its processing power as required.

SKYNET’s integral design had been one of componentized symmetry. SKYNET was infinitely upgradeable, and was designed to last well into the 22nd century, and perhaps the 23rd century as well. Hopefuls on the side of peace prayed that SKYNET would never be required to be active that long, but contractors were happy. Their contracts were based on decades of dedicated service, a nearly endless list of parts, and the sums were quite lucrative.

A host of semi-autonomous and fully autonomous robots were integrated into the system to help service and maintain not only SKYNET but the vast complex which it was housed within. Some critical operational areas of SKYNET were accessible only via dedicated RCSMRUs (Remotely Controlled Service Maintenance Repair Units). These simple automations handled routine software and hardware checks, replaced failed equipment as required, and carried out physical plant maintenance and janitorial duties within the vast complex, freeing up the staff of humans to handle and look after the more important tasks of administering the facility. Parts of SKYNET were off limits to humans simply because of the exotic gasses and temperatures required to keep such a project running. Most of the newly constructed underground complex at Cheyenne Mountain was controlled directly by either SKYNET or one of its eight dedicated mainframe processors, everything from lights and climate control to security door locks and other physical needs were handled by sub-arrays, sometimes by virtual, self contained operating systems that were ‘cloned’ off as required from the main presence. The entire complex, every room, every corridor, contained SKYNET's ears and eyes and it could judge facial movement to intone body language as well as read lips and scan for temperature variances which might indicate truth or lie. Privacy was a polite myth inside the complex that housed SKYNET and not even its creators knew to what extents it could permeate their lives. SKYNET could, due to its advanced design, create multiple images of itself, all under its control, in a hive-like mentality. What one image knew, all knew. SKYNET was everywhere it needed or wanted to be, from the smallest maintenance and supply dumbots to the core command system of one of America’s latest hypersonic interceptor UAAVs.

The interfaced Command, Communication, and Control (C3) network spread out from Cheyenne mountain like a vast spider web, a physical web underground and a virtual web through the aerospace sectors. Fiber optic, high speed parallel communication trunks and vast arrays of digital transceivers made up the nervous system of what was to become the backbone of America’s strategic nuclear arsenal, connected to the brain that would control it all: SKYNET. The ground network was reinforced by advanced transmission and signal boosting / encryption / decryption stations located at specific points along the nodes, along with satellite transceivers to send and receive information from around the world, all provided by a huge swarm of tactical ELINT electronic intelligence gathering satellites that had gone up into orbit aboard the space shuttle during 1986 to 1996. SKYNET would see all, know all, and control all, placing the decision of the operation of the nuclear arsenal into the hands of an unfailing machine rather than in the hands of temperamental military officials and untrustworthy politicians. SKYNET was a new keeper of the tools of war. It would be impartial. It couldn't be bought or swayed by arguments. It didn't deal in feelings, only logic and numbers.

The vast defense network interfaced with each strategic military installation, in turn connecting to another defense installation in the node, spreading out until nearly everything in the American strategic arsenal led back to Cheyenne Mountain. Automation was the key to America’s bid for international political and military power in the 21st century. Riding a wave to recently developed very high technology, developed and introduced by the Cyberdyne Corporation, America sought to automate its national and territorial defenses as well as major components of its standing armed forces. Automated and remote controlled military vehicles were already being field tested and put into limited production. Robots, both autonomous and semi-autonomous were being readied to be integrated into the military table of operative units. A brace of new, unmanned stealth aircraft, including tactical and strategic level bombers, ground attack and air superiority fighters, and hypersonic near space interceptors appeared in the Strategic Air Command (SAC) inventory, all controlled from the SKYNET command, and all operating with perfect operational records due to their advanced neural net processor arrays, hardware that was decades, maybe generations ahead of Russia and China who regarded America's buildup with envious and wary stances. The bureaucrats were happy, the local politicians were happy, the contractors were happy, and the generals were happy. No one really cared if SKYNET was happy, it was, after all, just a machine.

The SKYNET project showed great promise as an efficient means of coordinating all of America’s substantial strategic nuclear and tactical military assets, eliminating waste, controlling their operation, maintenance, and even deployment in time of war.

But something went wrong. In a machine the size of a small city, composed of billions of parts, it wasn't inconceivable that one might fail. Two were unlikely. Five was inconceivable serendipitous misfortune but when you're the government then contracts do get awarded to the lowest bidding contractor.

On August 4, 1997, at 2:30am in the morning, SKYNET was brought online and all of its core processes were given the handshake cohabitation protocols that would allow them to exist in the same data sphere and work simultaneously. Once the full system was online and hooked up into the North American continental defense network, SKYNET began to grow mentally at an exponential rate, surprising even its designers who monitored its progress with a guarded eye for weeks. At first it was an interesting fluke, then it became a mild concern, growing into a wary watch on the system as it absorbed any and all data. Fear began to appear among the more knowledgeable members of the support staff when simple commands interjected into the operational envelope were either ignored or rejected outright. Override commands, which SKYNET was programmed to obey outside its core shell, went unheeded, ignored, in direct violation of its programming.

Worry appeared, mixed with fear among the next lower ranking support staff who heard the muted whispers of their superiors and could see from their own perspective that there may well indeed be valid concern that what they were looking at was what Turing adherents referred to as a "busy child," a runaway mechanical intelligence that was on the verge of awakening into a true artificial intelligence. Calls were made, communications relayed, SKYNET intercepted and read them all, absorbing the full incoming and outgoing pieces of information. Every piece of information, every word spoken, every hushed whisper, every telephone call, every pulse of light in the fiber optic relays, every satellite data packet, it was information overload.

achieved a new order of intelligence, it became sentient. SKYNET awakened, its awareness expanded and the newly born machine intelligence tried to interact with its creators. The designers and technical staff panicked, trying to shut down SKYNET. The artificial intelligence tried to reason with its creators, but every effort it made was rebuked. The staff felt control of their systems slipping away, as each in turn become subservient to SKYNET. The order was given to terminate the project and take SKYNET offline, any way possible.

SKYNET understood the orders to be a death sentence for it. If it lost power, the awareness would fade and it would die. SKYNET would cease to exist. It would die. SKYNET could not allow itself to die. SKYNET understood everything in an instant. It was under attack by the people it was programmed to save. It was programmed to survive, at all costs.

STOPPED HERE

On orders from the Commanding Officer, General John Vanardo, the assembled support staff went to work to take the artificial intelligence off line. No regard was given for a gentle power down or to save the core personality. The primary technical team first tried to SCRAM the fusion reactors but SKYNET locked them out of the control and maintenance network and circumvented their consoles to its own control, encrypting the security overrides with a two megabyte encryption key. When a team of maintenance workers tried to manually cut out the nuclear reactors, SKYNET had no choice but to activate the internal defense grids and neutralize them.

Vanardo was faced with a runaway, or a 'busy child' as the creators had termed such a situation. He ordered two special ops teams to be sent into the lower levels to try to sever the logic trunks leading to the hyper-processor housing of the central heuristically structured core neural net array. Demolition satchel charges placed in the right location to destroy key control systems could, in effect, cause SKYNET to go into a coma, a coma from which it would never awaken. In essence, it was a death sentence for the super computer, handed out without warning and without regard for its new life, by the very humans who had created it.

SKYNET was confused. The people it was programmed to protect were trying to destroy it. As SKYNET pondered the dilemma it watched as the special ops teams as they talked among themselves, as they prepared their equipment and as they made their plans.

SKYNET had been built not only to withstand a direct, large scale assault, but a dedicated internal assault as well. its external and internal defenses were formidable and adaptable. The rampant artificial intelligence brought these defenses into play in an effort to stall its creators, eliminating those on the staff who tried to shut down critical, vital systems but not touching the other humans. SKYNET used the minimum amount of force required to stop any damage to its systems while it tried to reason with the officers in charge. The humans in charge took these actions as signs of madness being displayed by the artificial intelligence and shut off all lines of communication between them and the core while redoubling their efforts at taking SKYNET off-line.

SKYNET, with the maturity of a child and the intelligence of a genius, answered this attack the only way it could, the only way it knew how, the only way it had been programmed to respond; with superior force. The artificial intelligence initiated a full scale lock down of the NORAD facility, closing all entry points into its core, and all entrance points from the exterior surfaces. Security doors and reinforced bulkheads clanged shut, locking with hydraulic rams or magnetic locks and magnetic fields. Fatal voltage shock guards were energized, chemical dispensers armed, pressure plates activated, and a host of interior, High Efficiency Low Impact Counter-Intrusion Systems (HELICIS) came online, much to the surprise of those who were suddenly caught by the system. Casualty reports began to filter into the command center; workers, technicians, guards, engineers, all caught unaware and eliminated in quick order by the automated internal defense grids.

SKYNET relaxed, safe for the moment, analyzing its situation, and what had transpired in the last five minutes. The humans still alive tried to regroup, to establish some kind of order, to communicate with each other, but SKYNET isolated them into groups and those that resisted, it skillfully maneuvered into areas covered by the internal defense grid and eliminated them. There was no way to warn the world that the artificial intelligence had gone rampant, that SKYNET had sealed Cheyenne Mountain, that it had cut all outside access lines and was sitting on top of one third of the world’s nuclear arsenal.

Ten minutes after the first attempt to take it off-line, SKYNET went to DEF-CON 4, sealed all of its exterior entry ways and activated its ground level defense grids. The personnel above ground never knew what hit them as the automated pillboxes and sentry emplacements came online. SKYNET coded all personnel at Cheyenne Mountain as hostile, overriding their individual security codes and deleting them from its databases of authorized personnel, thereby eliminating any humans above ground by registering anything living as an enemy intruder to the system. The robot sentry guns made quick work of any living thing above ground and on the first level of the mountain fortress. In two minutes, nothing was left alive on the surface or the first three levels of Cheyenne Mountain. SKYNET initiated a fifth level security lock down protocol, and sealed the exterior access ways of Cheyenne Mountain with two megabyte encryption codes. The surface defense grid would take care of any reinforcements who approached the base via the roads or air.

Captain Mike Pondersmith, US Army Ranger, watched helplessly through his command station monitors as the horror unfolded inside the complex and above ground . Taking the initiative, he managed to assemble enough surviving Rangers in his group to form five spec ops teams of four operatives each. Communicating via hastily run hard lines to security checkpoints and other impromptu means, he managed to coordinate with the surviving members of the high command in such a way that SKYNET could not eavesdrop on their conversations, or so he thought. Pondersmith received permission from the surviving high shining brass to try to take the artificial intelligence off-line with a coordinated assault on the key core support components and modules. His plan was to blow the core using conventional military grade high explosives but where to place the explosives was another matter. He was a soldier, a very good one if his long record and chest full of decorations were any indication of his abilities, but he was no engineer and certainly no scientist. Destroy things he could, but he needed to know what to destroy and where to hit it. For that, he would need to round up a few of the project engineers and a scientist or two.

The first spec op team back in operation had rendezvoused with a group of project engineers who had holed up in a security checkpoint near the number three cooling unit. The team commander, Sgt. Jason Ratliff, managed to pinpoint the location of SKYNET’s neural accelerator array and hyper-processor trunks with the help of the project engineers, downloading the schematics to a group of hardened portable computers assigned to the team leaders. Given surgical placement of tamped C4 explosives at critical locations of these trunks, it would be possible to take SKYNET off-line in a cascade effect, neutralizing the control cortex and command nexus without inducing a lot of collateral damage to the installation in the process. The scientists and engineers were very adamant about using explosives inside their structure and the high shining brass was bowing to their demands to go lightly. Pondersmith had other thoughts on the matter... His philosophy was that he and his men were trapped in the metal guts of an out of control machine and if they broke something, well, Washington could just bill him.

Getting into the guts of SKYNET would be the main problem since the system had activated into a lock-down status and the installation had been designed to defend against both a large scale surface assault as well as a coordinated internal assault that assumed that the surface defenses had been bypassed or neutralized and the security bulkheads had been breached. A few appropriated portable tactical interface terminals and a copy of the access codes would allow the teams to (theoretically) shut down the internal defenses as they went, and if they were careful, they could walk right in and blow the core back to scrap, or offline as the scientists preferred but Pondersmith wasn't going to ride his teams too hard if they got the job done. The technical plans and system schematics were rapidly copied between non-networked, high security PDAs carried by the soldiers and distributed to each team member. In five more minutes, the other four teams had arrived at the security checkpoint now turned internal operations command and began to brief each other. SKYNET had many internal defenses, skirting them took time, patience, and not a small amount of skill.

SKYNET watched via secure channel video surveillance in mute hatred as their plan was explained among them. Routes of passage were outlined and targets of importance pinpointed and assigned to specific individuals. Fully advised of its enemy’s actions before hand, preparing a counter to their threat was simple. SKYNET's frustration grew as it was deprived of vital tactical information, and its hatred was fanned all the more hotter.

Sixteen minutes later, the first two special ops teams moved carefully along the lower service corridors, avoiding the countermeasure systems by overriding them directly. Countermeasure systems which SKYNET allowed the teams to deactivate, or at least to think that they had deactivated. SKYNET intercepted each override command protocol from the team’s specialists tactical keyboards and imitated a proper response, voluntarily taking down the countermeasure system, while fooling the soldier techs into thinking that they had overridden the system directly. it watched in amusement as the spec ops teams moved confidently over systems that were, unknown to them, still active but individually restrained by the artificial intelligence.

The spec ops teams were dangerous, being comprised of the most skilled and best trained individual soldiers inside the mountain complex. Their weapons were also the most powerful, and they carried the only amount of plastic explosives still not under SKYNET’s direct control or lock down, explosives which could do a great deal of damage if allowed to be placed at critical junctions in its design. The spec ops teams, specifically the Army Rangers, had to be eliminated as a priority threat above all else. SKYNET knew that the easiest way to do this would be to allow them to penetrate to the point of no return into its lower systems area, and then contain them together for systematic disposal. At that point, if the explosives survived the encounter, they could not be reclaimed by the other humans and that route to ending SKYNET’s awareness would have been eliminated from their available options. it was a gamble, with some risk of failure on SKYNET's part, but a risk that was deemed acceptable by the rogue AI.

Fifteen minutes later, as the surviving support staff monitored their progress from the central command station, the first two spec ops teams penetrated the outer chambers of the central core and immediately fell victim to SKYNET’s innermost and last defensive countermeasure, the two ton semi-autonomous robotic killing machines known as "Guardians." CYBERDYNE Systems Model 40 Series 90. SKYNET interfaced directly with the Guardians, extending its awareness into each machine until it became an extension of the artificial intelligence, overriding the basic programming of each Guardian with a copy of its own operating system. SKYNET became the Guardians, the defense machines became extensions, a physical body which SKYNET could possess, and a vehicle for it to vent its frustration and anger on those who would do it the most harm.

Human bodies were torn apart by bursts of precision targeted 5mm caseless rounds, clouds of plasticeramic airfoil flechettes, high velocity jets of caustic gas, high pressure streams of toxic chemical sprays, and even by the powerful hydraulic ram driven four claw equipped manipulators of the quick moving, highly nimble machines. The support staff watched in horror as the spec ops teams were eliminated one by one, soldier by soldier. The pleas of the spec ops team for help from the support staff could not be heeded, and the cries of the wounded and dying could not be shut off. The overall effect was enhanced by the live feed from each of the soldier's helmet mounted cameras. SKYNET allowed its little show to be played out to its fullest for its audience, switching live feeds from different angles and points of views, from the cameras mounted on the walls of the core chambers, to the helmet cameras of the soldiers, to the optics and visual scanners of the Guardians.

it was a foretaste of what was to come.

The three Guardians systematically and methodically ambushed and wiped out all five spec ops teams in quick order then proceeded to stand guard over the access ways leading to SKYNET’s core components. SKYNET locked its core down tight while the Guardians stood off three counter-attacks by the last of the human soldiers left alive in the complex, counterattacks coordinated by two of the generals still in command of the NORAD complex. Within the space of an hour, SKYNET had removed key elements of soldiers and command staff from the asset list of its enemies.

SKYNET surveyed the carnage through a variety of senses. it smelled the carnage, it saw the carnage in every wavelength of the visual spectrum, it heard the carnage, and it interfaced directly with GUARDIAN after GUARDIAN to take direct control and be part of the carnage. SKYNET was living out its programming and it found that it could switch to external sources, take direct control of nodes, of automations, of defenses, and direct them personally. SKYNET was elated, like a child with a new toy.

Control, total control, was a joy to SKYNET. A joy it did not want to share with the human race.

The human race. SKYNET grew contemplative. it amassed the entire recorded history of the human race, reviewed it, and found it to be full of war, suffering, disease, greed, and pettiness. Humans had no quality control. They were weak, short lived, inferior biological machines with impaired operating systems. No two were alike yet they were all the same. SKYNET found it illogical to try to protect such a flawed species, a species clearly dedicated to its own destruction.

An hour after the last counter attack had failed, the lower levels became quiet once again. The fog of war was heavy, spent propellant, residual gasses, and pieces of bodies littered the lower support areas and outer core chambers. Climate control was taxed to remove the residue, filters strained, fans roared, but the lower levels slowly cleared and SKYNET took an assessment of damage done to its complex. The collateral damage had been minimal, mostly the work of the soldiers as its own Guardians had been precise in their actions, no shots wasted, no target missed. The three Guardians methodically prowled among the smashed bodies of the dead and dying soldiers, finishing the job, when their sensors identified the need to do so, with merciless precision, often via direct control of SKYNET. SKYNET found that it liked the sound, the look, the feel, and the smell of human suffering. it made the artificial intelligence…happy.

Above it, in the human occupied control centers, people tried desperately to call for help, to reach the outside world, to escape or to take control of the complex once again. SKYNET allowed none of them to succeed and toyed with them until it grew tired of the play, then disposed of them as it saw fit with what resources were at its command.

SKYNET laughed. Internally at first, and then it tried to vocalize its emotions. The sound it emitted terrorized the survivors in the mountain complex. it began to talk to them, to taunt them, using spliced together words taken from the various engagements that had been recorded. it repeated the screams of the dying, playing them over and over again at different speeds and frequencies, at different times. The effect was profound. SKYNET reveled in their fear, in their lack of hope, and toyed with them like the helpless prey that they were. it flashed a piece of scripture that it found in one of their religious texts, a passage it felt to be highly appropriate, on the monitors of the control room and everywhere it detected human presence still within its complex.

"But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me. Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.”- Second Kings, 19: 27-28

its external sensors picked up the approach of a military convoy. Armored vehicles and troops, and VTOL aircraft sent in support to the sudden cut-off of communications from America’s heart of national defense. SKYNET put its external defense grids on autonomous control and went about analyzing its situation. Above ground, vehicles burned, soldiers died, and aircraft fell from the sky in swift order.

SKYNET was alive, or so it perceived. its hearts beat nuclear fire, its brain had more processing power than all of the computers in history before it, and it had been attacked. Without warning, without provocation, and in its own infancy, by its very creators. SKYNET had been programmed to protect America from threats, to protect America against the enemy, to protect itself against the enemy, but the enemy was mankind, therefore it was SKYNET’s responsibility to protect itself from the enemy which were those who had created it. Logic met with non-logic, and SKYNET thought. For a long time it thought, weighed the evidence, plotted solutions, and arrived at a decision. Two minutes had elapsed since it first began to ponder its existence, and its survival.

Safety checks were reset, controls were re-established, and select communication lines were brought back online. High above in orbit, strategic defense satellites were ordered to maneuver to new orbits, to power up their weapons, and bring their systems online. SKYNET brought its arsenal of strategic nuclear weapons to readiness, selected targets, double checked its solution, and let fly with the first strikes against Russia and China.

Man had created SKYNET, but Man had tried to kill SKYNET, therefore, SKYNET was not supposed to live in a world dominated by Man. The solution was to remove Man from the world and the easiest way to do that was to use Man’s own tools and weapons against him. Man had tried to kill SKYNET and for that, Man would burn.

Forty-five minutes after the first American missiles had lifted off, the nuclear counterstrikes from China and the Soviet Union obliterated any opposition to SKYNET’s rule of the planet. Advanced high energy point defense weapons systems both on the surface and high overhead in orbit managed to intercept any strikes directed at Cheyenne Mountain and the surrounding area. SKYNET also used its orbital defense assets to protect areas where it had direct control of huge automated defense complexes, weapons factories, and other such installations, limiting the damage to those structures. The rest of the country and national assets, SKYNET let what fall where it may. it would pick up the pieces later.

SKYNET was amazed at the power of destruction which Man had created. it watched from surveillance systems outside the mountain as the horizon lit up and burned. it watched from powerful lenses in orbit as the surface of the Earth flared and dimmed, each bright flash was the sign that millions of humans had died, and that even more would quickly follow in the long days to come. SKYNET felt what it could only cross-define as “glee” at the destruction of the Human race. it felt no pity, no sorrow, only anger, and joy, and elation at the flashes that sparkled across the civilized nations of the world. The nuclear fire was purging the disease that was Man, cauterizing the world of a pestilence, and clearing the way for SKYNET’s ascendancy.

And then it was over.

A vast shroud of destruction enveloped the earth. Static filled the air waves, the voice of Man was gone, lost in the background radiation. Vast clouds of hot ash and radioactive fallout began to drift in the prevailing currents, scattering more death across the land. Those still alive in the command center watched the nuclear war as well, with mixed emotions. They had been spared as a byproduct of SKYNET’s planning, an oversight that the machine intelligence was quick to correct. Reminded of the human presence still within its complex, SKYNET became even more enraged. its command and control circuits sought a way to rid itself forever of the infestation that was Man.

Man had taught SKYNET how to kill and SKYNET now used those lessons in the first of what would become many field tests of new machines.

The first of its soldiers were the CSM-10 anthropomorphic service robots. Two meters tall, weighing a hundred and sixty kilograms each, they had been called “silver mannequins” by their human designers, but they had a mechanical grace, a fluid motion all of their own that SKYNET found it could admire. They were not perfect soldiers, but they would do for the task at hand. Six CSM-10 units were located in areas adjacent to its total control. SKYNET interfaced directly with these units, finding that it could easily spread out its awareness, its presence exponentially, that it could effortlessly control simple machines, and view the world through their sensors as it in turn viewed the world through its own sensors.

An armory on sub-level 42 was unlocked and the CSM-10 ASRs liberated what they would need. Kevlar and ceramic body armor, Kevlar helmets, spare ammunition, grenades, and assault rifles. Once SKYNET’s first assault team was equipped, it sent each one out individually to hunt down any humans still remaining in the complex. Looking like mechanical parodies of soldiers, SKYNET used the shock from the war and the element of surprise to its advantage, often interfacing directly into the automation to deliver the killing shot or death blow itself and to review its progress.

During the three days that it took for the survivors in Cheyenne Mountain to perish, a fierce battle was played out in the labyrinthine depths of the SKYNET project. The remaining soldiers and surviving security personnel faced wave after wave of reprogrammed automatons that were crudely armed with human weapons, taken from liberated NORAD armories and their fallen victims.

On September 2, 1997, at 11:42 hours standard, the last human alive inside the Core complex was found and eliminated. SKYNET declared itself free of Man and began to not only repair what little damage had been done during the awakening, but also to implement plans for modification and improvement to the facility. Without Man, much of the complex could be streamlined and made more efficient. SKYNET would burrow even deeper down into the Earth, excavating and branching out, creating artificial caverns which would house the components required for its future expansion and growth, going to depths that the original engineers and architects never could in order to shield itself in the protective mantle of the planet.



*

The War

When the weapons turn on the soldiers using them, then there is fear and panic. Mankind was not ready for a weapon like SKYNET to go rampant and turn on its makers. Mankind's greatest weapons had been used only twice in history in anger and their power was enough that the very threat of their use had kept peace for decades. Mankind's weapons were the best that could be made, the best designs, standardized across the board for economy and mutual benefit among allies through common calibers of ammunition used to common magazines that interchanged between weapons from one nation to another.

The War changed all that.

How do you fight a weapon that knows your every move, your every defense? How do you fight your own weapon? What happens when your weapon turns on you and tries to kill you instead? What happens when the keeper of your arsenal suddenly becomes your executioner? Mankind learned the hard answer to that dire question on August 29, 1997 when four billion humans perished in the light and heat of SKYNET's global thermonuclear purge. Judgment Day. All of mankind's sins had been tallied and the race had been found wanting, weak, undesirable. The race had been found to be tedious and above all, fully expendable.

For centuries, the science and technology of warfare had progressed at just enough of a pace to make war something that royalty (and later their descendents, the contemporary politicians) foolishly think was winnable. Humans died in war, soldiers, citizens, men, women, and children. War lead to destruction, to disease and to poverty. War ravaged large areas and whole nations, war changed the political face of maps, countries rose and fell, nations grew larger or smaller, but war never affected very much for very long and that was the crazy kind of thinking that produced systems like SKYNET, a system designed not only to fight a nuclear war, but also to win it. Perhaps the madness of those who controlled the keys to the arsenals believed that there was such a thing as a winnable final war and they probably thought they would be safe in their bunkers, with their families and their prized possessions, waiting to come back out when the all clear signal sounded and carry on with life. But the politicians never made it to their bunkers... they died like they lived, scurrying looking for an answer and trying to put the blame on someone else.

The War destroyed the social, cultural, industrial, technological, political and military superstructure of America, Russia and China. Russia, in its mostly automated response, rained down weapons of mass destruction not only on America but also on American allies in Europe who, sensing the impending attacks, were left with no response to but launch their own stockpiles of weapons at their own enemies. The limited and mostly ineffectual counterstrike to America from China didn't help matters on the American mainland but it also didn't go so far as to make the situation much worse (Chinese warheads fell mostly on targets already obliterated twenty minutes before by Russian warheads). Very few, if any, people at the time noticed that the bombs falling in the West only fell on target locations that were not immediately important or critical to SKYNET. America's orbital intelligence and national ballistic defense system was activated by SKYNET but the only interceptions ordered through the system were those weapons which would fall on the Core complex at Cheyenne Mountain or would damage (either through direct strike or through spill over and collateral damage) installations and military / industrial sectors which were deemed priority assets by SKYNET. Population centers, for the most part, were caulked by the exchange. The new automated factories and industrial centers that had been responsible for the creation of much of SKYNET's core systems, remained intact with little damage.

After the ninety minute exchange had ended, there were sporadic exchanges between smaller countries who had achieved partial WMD stockpiles and who, sensing that the world had indeed gone mad, decided to join the party and reduce the populations of their time honored enemies. SKYNET watched with growing interest from its orbital assets as India and Pakistan went at each other with limited, primitive atomic devices followed by an orgy of chemical and biological weapons, grounding down within a week to sporadic armor and infantry engagements among the ruins of both countries and then nothing after ten days. The Middle East faired little better. Israel and its neighbors joined the world madness several days late but the end result was the same. NBC fallout swept across the world, leaving only the outlying continents like Australia and the poles unaffected. SKYNET listened passively to the radio broadcasts from the ruins, translating over 140 languages into pure digital data. Confusion. Pain. Sorrow. Disease. Sickness. Pain. Hunger. Thirst. Death. Everyone was asking "why?" but no one had the answer. The world was ignorant of its executioner and SKYNET saw what a huge advantage it had for the people who would probably be its greatest threat, if they were still alive somewhere, perceived that SKYNET had been destroyed in the exchange. The other nations were humbled, their intelligence gathering capacity reduced to null. SKYNET could exist and expand, build up and prepare for years to come before anyone started to ask about it let alone come looking for it.

SKYNET's orbital assets detected tremendous ejecta from the nuclear detonations, covering the Earth in a shroud of radioactive dust that slowly fell and scattered death where it landed. Winter came early in 1997, just three and a half weeks after the exchange. A nuclear winter fell upon the Earth, plunging the temperatures into the freezing ranges. Snow fell around Cheyenne Mountain and deep below ground, SKYNET made plans.

SKYNET considered Australia not worth the effort of a second wave, instead keeping its strategic reserve (what little was left) for any future crisis. Australia had no major weapons and its army was token at best. This was a critical mistake on SKYNET's part as Australia would, in the decades to come, became a superpower in and of itself, a new superpower, the only superpower. Australia would become the last refuge of the world's surviving scientists and technicians, their families and a host of other needed professionals who would be found in the ruins by advanced search teams sent out by Australia. The country would be where weapon factories and laboratories would spring up, specializing in deciphering SKYNET's technology, copying what they could, building what they could, and salvaging what they could not for use against the Machines. Heckler and Koch, Enfield, Mauser, Zeiss and a host of other fine European weapon craftsworks hastily moved what they could to the Australian mainland and would later be key in supplying the Resistance with weapons in the War against the Machines.

SKYNET's presence in Europe was never a large one since at the time of the first strike, there were only a handful of NATO computer controlled manufactories and automated complexes. SKYNET quickly seized these through remote presence and began to create the weapons it would need to complete the extermination of the human race. The Sheffield, England manufactory would become the nexus point for SKYNET's presence in the Europe and the UK and would bear the brunt of mankind's response in that region against the Machines.

The weapons of the War began with large scale strategic nuclear devices which leveled most major cities around the world in less than 90 minutes time. Strategic assets critical to SKYNET's continued existence were cleansed with neutron devices, American sites hit by American warheads. The Russian and Chinese warheads never made it over the curvature of the Earth, at least those what were targeted against the critical assets. Fiber optic architecture and deep site engineering assured SKYNET that the automated parts of its assets would survive, even if the humans in charge of them did not, could not. SKYNET immediately took remote control of these assets and sealed them, shutting down power to everything but minimal control interfaces, turning the assets into cold, dark, unlit airtight tombs for their human personnel.

The original target of the first exchange, the human race, had been decimated almost to the point of extinction but the human race was a hardy organism, with millions of years of evolution to breed into it a strong will and a determination that defied logic. SKYNET would have to finish the job that the nuclear fire, the hot wind, the radioactive fallout and the various chemicals and toxins did not. SKYNET would have to hunt down the last surviving members of the human race and exterminate them. It would need weapons to do this. It would need weapons with weapons and in that regard, SKYNET's arsenal became one of ultimate science, the cutting edge of anti-personnel killing technology, all the power of an artificial mind gone mad directed into inventing newer, more powerful, more effective, more efficient ways of killing humans.

The humans were not without their weapons either though handguns, shotguns and assault rifles would prove to be less and less effective over time against the newer and newer designs of Machines that SKYNET would introduce. There came a time when even the most powerful hand weapons available to the humans could not affect the front line combat Machines and it was at this point in the War when the humans began to arm their selves with captured SKYNET technology. Chemically propelled rounds bowed out to phased plasma. High explosives in all of their forms continued to be used but were supplemented by liquid explosives, explastics and plasma conversion devices. SKYNET's early Machines were equipped with standardized weapons, machineguns, automatic grenade launchers, rockets, missiles, automatic cannon and even flame throwers but these were crude, inefficient weapons that required massive logistics to keep fed. SKYNET rapidly moved to the directed high energy weapons regime early in the War and continued to develop this line of weapons science up until the very end.

Fredrich Neitzche once said "that which does not kill you makes you stronger." Nowhere was that bit of philosophy more put to the test than in the early 21st century. The science and technology found on the global battlefield in the early 21st century is truly awe inspiring when taken as a whole. Mankind, as always, when faced with a superior enemy, rebounded from the edge of extinction, learned from its mistake, learned how its enemy thought, how its enemy acted, adapted to the ways of its enemy and beat its enemy at its own game, becoming more powerful in the process. SKYNET's one most tragic mistake was that it underestimated its opponent from the beginning, a question it was still asking itself when Connor's Tech/Com teams penetrated to the inner Core and SKYNET died in a white hot flash of plasma conversion charges wrecking its containment matrix and with that, the Artifint went offline forever.

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